Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Peace Bug
by Stephen L. Antczak

Shipping Error
by Robert Dawson

In the Garden With the Little Eaters
by L Chan

Species of Revenge
by Lance J. Mushung

To Live if it Kills Me
by Andrew Darlington

Freddy Norberg’s Fantastic Flight
by Finry

Death Egg
by Kim Daniels

by Sean Monaghan

Shorter Stories

Love in the Time of Alien Invasion
by Samuel Marzioli

They Call Me Wizard
by Robert Lowell Russell

Reverse Logic
by Sierra July


Let’s Fry Chicken Little
by Carol Kean

UFOs and Rockets
by Preston Dennett



Comic Strips




Love in the Time of Alien Invasion

By Samuel Marzioli

BEN RAN THROUGH THE STREETS of Everdale City, one of thousands fleeing the coming invasion. Cries of panic surrounded him, merging into a barely human sound. No one seemed to care who they hurt or knocked aside in their manic rush for safety—and he couldn’t blame them. Because when a squadron of alien ships stalled overhead and fired into the crowd, he felt his heart buck against his ribcage, and he realized he wouldn’t be any kinder if someone blocked his path.

A man dropped to his knees on a sidewalk corner. “It’s Judgment Day!” he screamed.

Ben felt the man’s voice resonate with the trembling of his own body. He gazed beyond the city limits, to the flood of people scurrying toward the distant hope of shelter. Maybe it was out there, a tunnel or an underground bunker that could save them from this raging, unstoppable storm. But survival would be meaningless without Rita by his side.

Rita. The thought of her was a silken cord holding him together, a force that pulled him homeward. They’d first met as children. She was five and he was four, candy-cane friends at a Christmas party both of their families attended. They were too young for meaningful words, but when the hook of his candy cane fell onto the tree’s skirt, collecting a pine-needle beard, she hugged him close until his tears dried. Thirty years had passed and he couldn’t forget that day.

Cars barreled down the road and he leaped for the sidewalk. Some drivers swerved to avoid the throng of pedestrians; most were too distracted by the alien bombardment. A woman holding a Pomeranian passed through a momentary gap and an SUV wasted no time crushing the life from her. If it was any other day, and the sky weren’t filled with lethal beams of light, Ben would have screamed to witness such a gruesome death. But here, now? The sight held no meaning.

He scrambled for the relative safety of neighborhood backyards. Briefly, he wondered how much time he had left before the aliens ripped the sky apart and the fires rained down in fury, consuming them all.

He thought again of Rita. At a high school dance, she’d found him straddling a chair. “Hi. Do you remember me?” she said, though they hadn’t spoken since that Christmas, almost too long ago to remember. He shook his head and waved her off, to impress his friends. But by the end of the night they’d shared the last slow dance together.

Ben hurried through a corner of the city set ablaze, the air suffused with ash and smoke. A few men and women lost in the chaos succumbed and fell to the pavement. He leaped over their prostrate bodies, coughing, hacking, barely able to breathe. Somehow he pressed on. Only three decades worth of memories guided him through the suffocating blur of the streets. When he passed the Y-shaped trunk of Mr. Johnson’s pine, he knew he was close. Almost home. Almost there with Rita.

After college, he and Rita had ended up working in the same office down on Main Street. Over the following months they shared occasional laughs, telltale touches and longing glances. At an office party, after scores of almost dates and flirtatious conversations, he finally mustered up the courage to ask her out. She said yes. A few years later, while they gazed at meteors streaking through a smear of blackened sky from the balcony of her second-story apartment, he asked her to marry him. She’d said yes then, too.

He rounded his block, the front door of his house a taunting ripple. He couldn’t help thinking about how close it was to the end, but he only feared that he wouldn’t get home in time. Death was all around and yet his mind focused on his one true source of life. Rita. His everything.

He felt a stab of regret over that fight they had last night, one of many pointless arguments that absorbed the extent of a day. It took fifteen minutes before their shouts gave way to a sliver of politeness. For the rest of the evening they waited for the other to admit fault. This morning, he’d left for work without a word, without a kiss goodbye, still bristling with anger.

It can’t end like this, he thought. Not with the many choices and happenstances that led them to their blessed life together. With only a pocketful of seconds left, he vowed to make things right.

He raced into the house and slammed the door behind him, finding Rita huddled in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. He threw himself beside her and kissed her like there was no tomorrow, cursing the fact he’d waited until there were no tomorrows left. An explosion shook the house down to its very foundation. The walls cracked and shifted, and shrapnel pattered across the rooftop. He pushed these sounds, these threats, away and cupped Rita’s cheeks with his hands.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

She shook her head, confused. “Why?”

“You’re the best thing I ever had and I don’t think I ever said it enough.”

She smiled, a joyful resignation filled with tears. “I feel the same way about you.”

“About that argument, whatever started it, whoever started it, I’m sorry.”

“I know and you’re forgiven,” she said.

Despite the danger, they shared a deep and full laughter.

“No more regrets?” he said.

“None. And no more worries.”

A shadow slipped over their house, blotting out the sunlight. The high pitch squeal of an alien ship pierced their walls, followed by the patient thrum of its weapons powering up. Ben and Rita held each other close, unafraid, comforted and satisfied in that last of all fleeting moments. END

Samuel Marzioli is a writer of mostly dark fiction. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in “Apex Magazine, “Intergalactic Medicine Show,” “Shock Totem,” “Penumbra” ezine, “Ares Magazine,” “Stupefying Stories,” and more.




robin dunn