Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Stolen Dreams
by Joseph Green
and R-M Lillian

Boon’s Mutiny
by Harold R. Thompson

Dancing in the Right of Way
by Cyn C. Bermudez

Esterhazy’s Cadence
by Guy T. Martland

Ghosts of Space Command
by Milo James Fowler

by Jeremy Szal

White Russians and Old Lace
by K.C. Ball

Shuttle 54, Where R U?
by Jack Ryan

Shorter Stories

Faraday Cage
by Timothy J. Gawne

Rose Coloured Tentacles
by Gareth D. Jones

Screaming His Scream
by Tim Major


Making Real Life X-Men
by E.E. Giorgi

Taking the Temperature
by Pierre Duhem



Comic Strips





Rose Coloured Tentacles

By Gareth D. Jones

THE WATER IN THE TANK MURMURED quietly in the current from the filter and Dr. Tertius Goddard stared into the soothing interior at the small octopus. The rose-coloured creature, only ten centimetres long, was the pride of his lab. He was sure it was vital to the future of marine biology, and mankind’s understanding of advanced animal intelligence was on the cusp of one of its biggest leaps in recorded science. Not to mention the fascinating insights into camouflage techniques.

The creature was a singular wonder.

He stood up as Dr. Berenice Kingston entered the lab. She was a couple of years younger than him, closing in on forty, and a couple of lab-coat sizes larger. Tertius turned to watch his colleague cross to a nearby screen that scrolled slowly through a set of results from some far-less-interesting seaweed analysis.

Berenice looked up from her display. “The seaweed project will finish soon,” she said. “We need to start work on your octopus, if you wouldn’t mind finishing up the protocols.” There was more than a touch of sarcasm in her voice.

Tertius was used to it. Nobody else shared his enthusiasm for the cephalopod. Berenice seemed to have no interest in his hypotheses and had displayed no confidence whatsoever that his pet would reveal anything even vaguely interesting about the secrets of the ocean.

“Or we could just chuck it back in the sea,” she said, and returned to her seaweed.

Tertius stared into the tank, thinking about the protocols. He wasn’t entirely sure where to start on them. Sometimes his aims were very clear and he was sure the creature was worth caring for and spending the time on. Other times, like now, he couldn’t exactly recall where his ideas had come from, or where they had gone. Exactly how the octopus was fundamental to the understanding of marine biology had temporarily fled his mind.

The octopus clung to the glass just beneath the surface. Tertius dipped his fingers into the cool water and swirled them around.

“Don’t you worry,” he murmured, stroking one smooth tentacle. “I’ll take care of you.” He left the lab with a renewed sense of optimism.


As he lounged in his favourite armchair, sipping from a large mug of tea, feet up on a footstool, watching a bland sitcom, Tertius’ phone bleeped. It was, of course, at the far side of the room. He huffed and muttered as he clambered up and padded barefoot across the carpet.

Nat Geo now, the text read, a rare thing indeed to receive from Berenice. Frowning, he sat down and flicked to the National Geographic channel. His breath caught as the camera panned across to a small octopus clinging to a rock, delicate pink tentacles shifting slightly across its surface. Even with that unclear shot he knew it was his octopus, that someone else had found another example living in the wild.

“This small octopus has a remarkable defence mechanism,” the voiceover said. A sinister shark nosed onto the scene. The octopus stopped moving. Suddenly the shark veered away, only inches from its prey. “After this phenomenon was observed with a number of predators, the divers discovered that the octopus secretes an invisible ink. Unlike regular octopus ink that serves as a visual distraction, this previously unknown species exudes a chemical that simply turns its enemy away, as though it has totally lost interest.”

“I knew it!” Tertius jumped up from his chair. “I knew there was something special about her!” He looked at the clock and sat down on the edge of the chair again. Ten thirty. It wasn’t too late to head in to the lab, but his momentary excitement quickly faded with the realisation that his research was too late. The octopus had been in his lab for months, and he had been overtaken by someone else.


“Are you going to get on with it?” Berenice asked.

Tertius nodded, resigned. He’d already siphoned some water into a transport case and porters were standing by to take his octopus off to a new home in the local aquarium. He was sad to see her go, but it was for the best. He rolled up his sleeves and slipped his hand into the tank, started peeling tentacles from the glass one at a time.

“You know,” he said, pulling his arms back out and letting them drip on the floor, “maybe it’s best to leave her alone.”

Berenice raised an eyebrow at him. “I thought we’d decided.”

“Yes, but, I’m worried about the stress. It’s probably best not to move her.”

“Look, Tertius,” Berenice came across the lab, hands in lab coat pockets. “We need the tank. The octopus has to go.”

He put up his hands to ward off her approach, torn between saving his pet and overcoming his discomfort at the thought of touching a fellow researcher.

Berenice stared into the water. “How ’bout if I move her?” Her voice softened slightly and she pushed up her sleeves.

“I really don’t ...”

Berenice slid her hands into the water and took hold of the nearest tentacle.

Tertius whimpered.

One tentacle came clear of the glass, two, three.

Berenice let go. “Maybe you’re right,” she said, pulling her hands free of the tank and shaking them off over the lid. “She’s not doing any harm. Maybe we should leave her alone.”

Tertius almost hugged her. “I’ll cancel the porters.”

The two scientists each pulled up a stool to sit and stare into the soothing waters. END

Gareth D. Jones is an environmental scientist and writer from Essex in the U.K. His stories have appeared in over forty publications, including: “Daily Science Fiction,” “Bewildering Stories,” “Nature,” “Murky Depths,” and “Bards & Sages Quarterly.”




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