Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Trusting What I Smell
by Kenneth Schneyer

Taking Flight
by Peter Wood

Dumpster Dive
by Clint Spivey

To Die a Great Death
by Stephen L. Antczak

A Taste of Oranges
by Jacey Bedford

Athena’s Children
by Travis Heermann

Sinking Holes
by D. Thomas Minton

Free Range
by Kathleen Molyneaux

Shorter Stories

by Douglas J. Ogurek

Out of Her Head
by Amy Power Jansen

Icarus and Daedalus
by Sean Mulroy


Hearts on Demand
by Anthony J. Melchiorri

Internet Undercover
by John McCormick



Comic Strips





Out of Her Head

By Amy Power Jansen

HER BODY LAY ON THE TARMAC, HER head bandaged in a towel stained with blood and sweat and ash. The body had been there for days but showed no signs of decay. The stench that should have risen had never started and the carrion birds had taken one look and left.

Crickets that hadn’t noticed the first rays of daylight continued to chirp and a light morning breeze rustled through the long grass surrounding the abandoned landing strip. The predators that lurked in the shadows had slunk home, leaving the still body for another night. Their instincts to rip the prone body apart were overwhelmed by something more primal, some recognition that told them their prey was not as helpless as she seemed.

The sun rose in the sky and the wind dropped. By midday, the air hung heavy enough to stifle the moan that escaped the woman, the first sound she’d made since the man had wrapped the towel around her head and then jogged to join his fellows in the last of the retreating fliers. He’d glanced back once but she hadn’t moved.

Now at last she did, stretching her legs out of their cramped position half-curled into her body. She didn’t waste any more energy moaning. She lay there, as still as before, until the wind whipped up again and the clouds moved in, sheltering her from the harsh sun. The thick air parted and a crisp, clear smell replaced it. A smell which promised rain.

She moaned once more when the first raindrops reached her, a light mist. She twisted her body so that her mouth could catch the falling water. Her hands reached for the now-damp towel. She examined its edges, prodding and pressing as she searched for something. Her hands came away from the towel covered in flakes of dry blood and dark ash. She stared at them and a soft cry escaped her, though whether one of pain or relief it was hard to tell.

Then she fell back into unconsciousness and the rain battered down around her, soaking her body, her clothes, and the towel that had held her head together. When the dark clouds finally passed, to be replaced by a wan late afternoon sun, a soft glow surrounded her, a glow which previously might have been mistaken for a heat haze rising off the tarmac.

She opened her eyes as the last rays of daylight disappeared behind the looming mountains. She took a deep breath and drew her knees up to her chest. She reached up, pulled the wet towel free of her head and allowed it to fall down beside her. She pushed her hands through her black shoulder-length hair, and they came away covered in a gummy sludge. She wiped her hands off on her fatigues.

“How long has it been?”

Four days, five hours and twenty-three minutes. More or less.

“And you’re still there?”

Of course.

“Of course,” she repeated. Then she laughed, a dull sort of sound. “They’re going to leave us here.”

She hugged her arms around herself, bending her head in against her knees. She rested like that for some time, her body shaking slightly. A little while later, she looked up. “Why are you ignoring me?”

I’m not ignoring you.

“I asked you something and you didn’t respond. You always respond.”

I didn’t hear the question.

She pursed her lips, her forehead wrinkling. “Well, what do you say?”

What do I say to what?

She stared at the mountains, visible only as shadows against the moonlit sky. “You’re not in my head anymore, are you?”

She scanned the tarmac around herself, searching for something.

“You’re not,” she said again. She smiled. “So it worked. It worked.”

She pressed her hands against the tarmac, pushing herself up into a crouch. Then she pulled herself upright. She reached down into a pants pocket, extracting a long, curved knife. She set off away from the tarmac. About a metre into the long grass, she paused, slashing her arm crossways and watched the blood well out; she waited and it didn’t heal. She smiled.

You should come back.

She didn’t respond. She unclipped her radio from her belt and verified the frequency. As she opened communication, she couldn’t restrain her smile, even as her arm continued to bleed.

“Major McDougal, this is Lieutenant Wang. This time whatever you guys did worked. It’s not dead, but that parasite’s out of my head.”

“Good to hear, Lieutenant. A medical team will meet you at the rendezvous point to confirm.”

“Copy that.”

She glanced back at the tarmac. “Looks like I’m free. I’d say thanks for saving my life but ...”

You should come back. You are hurt. I cannot follow you.

“That’s the idea.”

You should come back. You are my host.

“Not anymore. Looks like you’re going to have to find a new one. No, wait, there isn’t any sentient life on this planet. Oh well. Looks like we might win this war after all.” She laughed again but it didn’t sound dull.

They would have killed you. I would not.

She walked away. END

Amy Power Jansen lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her husband, Stephen. She has previously been published in “Abyss and Apex,” and has received an Honorable Mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest.