Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Running Tangent
by Dale Ivan Smith
and K.C. Ball

Food, Glorious Food
by Joey To

by Dave Creek

by Siobhan Gallagher

An Island in Your Arms
by James Patrick Riser

Rim’s End
by John Walters

by Holly Schofield

Ooze Love
by Andrew James Woodyard

Shorter Stories

Deus Ex Machina
by Erin Lale

It’s, Like, So Boring at the End of the World
by Amy Sisson

by Robin Wyatt Dunn


Making Sense of it All
by Libby McGugan

Is There Life in Space?
by Peter Cawdron



Comic Strips





Food, Glorious Food

By Joey To

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 099

I am so hungry. Food storage on our vessel is below one-third. I suspect the same goes for the rest of the colonial fleet. Our queen has initiated rationing protocols. I hope we can reach a world with sufficient food soon.

On a related note, one of our scouts returned with another alien vessel in tow. Inside was a small nest of bipedal individuals, visually similar to Species 220200. It is not much food but these are opportunities for more experiments which may save us. Our engineers will also examine the vessel itself although even I can see that it is not very advanced technologically.

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 100
Subject: Species 220200

Subject 11 screamed as soon as my feeder wrapped around his neck. At that point, I had not actually started the feeding process. I then let go and patted him on the head in an attempt to calm him but he continued screaming and yelling something. Because our linguistic translator was undergoing maintenance, I could not inform him that the feeding process is painless.

When I finally began feeding, I monitored the amount of anaesthetic released. The levels were normal (by my body’s standards) but he screamed and howled throughout. He must have been in great discomfort after all. I have never heard of a species where the males can vocalize such a high pitch and at such volume.

Experimental regenerative enzyme Batch 15 failed to revive Subject 11 afterwards. Had he lived, I would have named him Vulgaria, after my neighbor from when I was young. She was loud on a nightly basis.

Anyway, whilst I felt rejuvenated by the bio-mag energy of Subject 11, his proteins are ... complex. I fear we do not have the time to decipher it but my efforts must continue.

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 100

Personal reminder: I should record the screaming of Species 220200 and archive it just for laughs. The crew, and probably the entire Colony 78, can always use a distraction.

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 101
Subject: Species 220200

The latest subjects from the recently salvaged vessel have been verified as Species 220200. There are eleven males and eleven females. All have been placed in stasis pods and are in stable condition.

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 102
Subject: Species 220200

Batch 16 failed to restore Subject 12 after partial feeding. He is shrivelled like all the other species we have fed on in the past. And like all those other species, whilst their proteins are beneficial to us via our bio-mag feeding veins in our proboscis, they are useless to us through every other form of intake. (As usual, oral ingestion yields no practical benefit even though it does improve our dental health. See previous reports for details.)

That said, Species 220200 has one of the highest bio-mag intensity levels recorded. In that respect, they have the most promise as a food source.

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 102

It is ironic that as the most biologically and technologically advanced species we know, our civilization has yet to discover naturally-occurring, or artificially reproduce, a chemical to regenerate our own bodies. Instead, we have relied on one food source after another.

To make matters worse, we have so far failed to regenerate other species. There have been some success in simpler organisms but as their bio-mag intensities are low and our intake correspondingly high, we nevertheless ate them to their extinction.

Species 220200 is it. I felt its energy when I fed on it. If only we can acquire a sufficiently large number and develop a method to sustain them.

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 104

I was so famished today that I finished eating Subject 12. At least we have a few more from the recent salvage.

Our queen has changed course although I have not been told the reason.

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 105
Subject: Species 220200

Batch 17 failed to restore Subject 13 after partial feeding. Unlike the others, this one spoke clearly. The linguistic translator is processing it, albeit slowly. From what I can see so far, it is a messy language composed of at least several grammatical systems. It looks as bastardized as Colony 2110.

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 106

I found out why we have been changing course regularly. Certain colonial fleets have lashed out at others and then turned on themselves. Our queen has wisely avoided unnecessary conflict.

According to our long-range scans, Colony 29 and Colony 71 have been annihilated. I also witnessed Colony 22 in battle with Colony 40 to their mutual near-destruction. A handful of nests from the former escaped intact and have requested to join our fleet. I hope this act of mercy will not be our undoing for we have our own problems. The theft of food from storage has increased and the queen has placed guards in those sections.

At this rate, I do not need a model to tell me that this generation will probably be our last.

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 107
Subject: Species 220200

According to the linguistic translator, Subject 13 seems strangely concerned about my mother. There are innumerable references to her. This is fascinating considering I tried to eat him. I smiled. It was my way of thanking him for his concern. He was very quiet after that. Such a biologically complex species and yet seemingly intellectually deficient.

Batch 18 failed to restore Subject 13 after a further partial feeding.

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 108
Subject: Species 220200

Batch 19 failed to restore Subject 13.

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 113
Subject: Species 220200

An interesting discovery today: Subject 14, a female, was recently impregnated. Sadly, our simulation models indicate that the gestation period is over two trimesters and that single births are most likely the norm.

On a related note, according to our linguistic translator, Subject 13 was not concerned about my mother but instead wished to mate with her. I finished eating him.

Year 7229—First Trimester—Day 121

We have been changing course on a daily basis. Several more colonies were reportedly destroyed.

Our engineers have been working hard to mask our signatures to enhance stealth.

Someone also tried to break into the lab to steal the lab subjects. Stealing food (or the attempt thereof) whilst under rationing protocol is punishable by exile. Because we were in no position to exile the offender onto some planet, our queen ate him, his desiccated shell then “exiled” out of Airlock 2.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 001
Subject: Species 220200

Another astonishing discovery: whilst it is our intention not to feed on Subject 14 in order to monitor the pregnancy, I simulated the feeding process for a moment using drugs. It seems that a pregnant female is drained quicker than a male or a non-pregnant female. This is because her body is forced to maintain the young. In that moment, the simulated feeding process had no effect on the latter. No doubt feeding off a pregnant female will ultimately kill both the mother and her young, but it seems the latter has some resiliency seen only in our species.

Batch 20 failed to restore Subject 15 after partial feeding. That part was not astonishing.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 002

We have many words to describe the state of hunger except I am so weak that I can only remember one: hungry. That recording of Subject 11 no longer serves as an entertaining distraction. Most of us have sunken cheeks, our skin sallow instead of white. When I enter the lab, the eyes of each subject widen and bulge. I think they are actually afraid of us.

A few more engineers collapsed. I attended to them but ate one because he was too far gone. There is one piece of potentially good news. They have finally decrypted and translated the nav-logs of both vessels of Species 220200. They reveal the location of their journey’s origin, possibly one of their colonies or even their home world. It is a star system with ten planets, they being from the third planet. It is not close, located between the spirals in Sector 65, but it is within reach, our queen having decided to plot a course there after our rendezvous with the remainder of Colony 22.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 003
Subject: Species 220200

Batch 21 failed to restore Subject 15. Our lab team finished feeding off him.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 004

Our rendezvous with the four remaining nests of Colony 22 was not a trap. We boarded and inspected their vessels and they subsequently transferred command control to us. Based on their logs, we are now better able to avoid other fleets. The chaos is more widespread than we thought. More colonies have turned on themselves. Despite starvation, I am glad our queen is of sound tactical mind. I can see why Colony 22 survivors wanted to join us.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 005
Subject: Species 220200

Batch 22 failed to restore Subject 16 after partial feeding. He grunted something about my sister and tried to bite me. I removed his incisors, then informed him that my sister was fed on by some fool from Colony 2110.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 006

Another individual attempted to steal our lab subjects. He managed to bypass the security fields and was about to feed on Subject 14. Thankfully, I had just returned with the med-case in hand, having attended to an engineer who had fainted. I swung the med-case at the offender’s head, rendering him unconscious. When I informed the queen’s guard who then arrived at the lab, he called the queen and she summarily pronounced him guilty and gave him to me for supper.

Unfortunately, there have been other cases of food being stolen from storage.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 006
Subject: Species 220200

Batch 23 failed to restore Subject 16. I was about to finish eating him when he made comments about my mother. Unlike Subject 13, he did not wish to mate with her but rather eat her. Given his lack of teeth and their digestive system, I cannot see the benefit even if given the opportunity. Although an empty threat, I decided to keep him alive as punishment.

The abdomen of Subject 14 has enlarged.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 008

The bastards from Colony 2110 have taken out several other colonies. Despite our course changes and having masked our signatures, they have begun trailing us.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 010
Subject: Species 220200

Batch 24 failed to restore Subject 16. And I have learnt to ask him about his mother. He did not seem to appreciate it.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 012

Our rations are almost depleted. The fleet of Colony 2110 continues to gain on us as more of us collapse and die.

I suspect there is a saboteur on board. Although the mask is not perfect, there is no way our pursuers can match our course so consistently. Whether he was from Colony 22 or is one of us, I am uncertain.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 013
Subject: Species 220200

Batch 25 failed to restore Subject 16.

The abdomen of Subject 14 has continued to grow and her rate of intravenous intake has doubled. She is the only one on board not in a state of malnutrition.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 014

Colony 2110 fired on us. They engaged their jamming so we could not even inform them of our latest plan which can save us all. We jettisoned a damaged engine and detonated it. Along with our torpedoes, half their fleet was destroyed.

Although we survived the assault, we have lost speed whilst the rest of their fleet have regrouped. I hope we can reach our destination and find food. That is the only way to avoid battle and destruction.

My own investigation to find the traitor has been slow. However, I did find scrambled comm-logs of messages to Colony 2110. Unscrambling them made me very hungry. I will feed on him when I find that—

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 015

I did not include this in my previous lab reports because I have no idea how my brethren will react, especially in our weakened state. But I have to record it somewhere. There is strong evidence that Species 220200 is related to us. Certain bio-mag properties are similar, too similar to ignore. In any case, this does not directly help our situation. We still need a food source.

As for the traitor, I suspect it is someone in the queen’s guard. The comm-logs were scrambled in a manner consistent to one with military rather than engineering expertise.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 016

We have lost a second engine in the latest battle. This is one of two ships left of Colony 78 whilst Colony 2110 also have two. Those inbreeds are still in pursuit.

My conversations with my colleagues have been helpful, they having overheard several of the queen’s guard voicing discontent. I then suspected the one who foodattended the lab. He must have been in league with the thief who broke into the lab and, when the latter failed, convinced the queen to get rid of him. Malnourishment has prevented me from seeing the obvious immediately. When I confronted him, he trembled and dropped to his knees. He denied any connection with the theft of food. Rather, he had suspected another in the queen’s guard, one whom he did not wish to believe would be a traitor. I believed him when he showed me some more logs.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 017

Another battle erupted just as we limped into Sector 65. In the chaos, I confronted my primary suspect. He said that my aunt and my mother are the same individual which upset me as my aunt had been suffering emotional problems. So, I informed him that I had surveillance logs of him mating with his first cousin. That was a mere fabrication but he hesitated in his confusion and I kicked him in the groin and used the stun baton. Then I ate him.

As for the battle, it ended when we disabled their engines. We have resumed our original course. Our power core is damaged. I fear we may not make it. But I did eat well today. I will continue my work.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 018
Subject: Species 220200

Batch 26 to Batch 32 failed to restore Subject 16.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 019
Subject: Species 220200

An idea hit me like a falling bulkhead. This was because there have been quite a few falling bulkheads. Given the resiliency of the young in Subject 14, I extracted a small bio-sample. Preliminary scans show that total bio-rejuvenation is impossible but perhaps partial bio-rejuvenation is possible. Extraction and use of material from the young is impractical so I have commenced artificial reproduction and modification of certain proteins.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 021

We have reached the star system. The remaining two ships of Colony 2110 arrived soon after and agreed to a cease fire for even those fools saw the scans. Then we took advantage and discharged torpedoes. They will never again discharge anything. For a moment, their screams were heard through the comms and they were surprisingly louder than Vulgaria.

Our initial scans show Species 220200 to be living on the third planet, their population estimated to be approximately eight billion, sufficient for generations even if it takes a long time to develop a method for their bio-rejuvenation.

Even with our reduced forces, we are technologically superior and can render this planet combat ineffective within two days. Our queen has sent a message to other colonial fleets. If only a few arrive, I am confident we can subjugate this planet before the end of this trimester.

Year 7229—Second Trimester—Day 027

So far, this has been easier than I had anticipated, they having previously weakened themselves through armed conflict. Neutralizing their nuclear missiles was delicate but we managed.

Several colonial fleets did arrive and we have begun processing the population. I have since discovered many other lower species, including a small agile quadruped some of the natives keep, strangely not for food but rather for companionship. Despite their size, they hissed and tried to scratch me. But they tasted great. They make a perfect snack. I shall also develop a program to maintain their population.

This has been a difficult trial for our species. We were on the brink of extinction. Whilst I was feeding, I cried tears of joy. Despite not knowing us, some of the population also cried. Others wailed. I still think this species is intellectually deficient but perhaps they are not without compassion. END

Joey To is an artist as well as a writer. His short stories have appeared in “50-Word Stories,” “Needle In The Hay,” “Aphelion,” and “365 Tomorrows.” He has designed custom t-shirts for CharGrilled Ltd., and has illustrated for several webzines.


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