Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


On the Road Again
by Michaele Jordan

A Prince of Blood and Spit
by Guy Stewart

by Brandon L. Summers

Little Ships
by Harold R. Thompson

Road Rage on the Hypertime Expressway
by Ken Altabef

Bug Out
by Cas Blomberg

By His Jockstrap
by Eamonn Murphy

Tamera’s Engagement
by John Hegenberger

Shorter Stories

From the Other Side of the Rubicon
by Sean Mulroy

To Be Carved
by David Steffen

Final Frames of the Eldrisil
by J. Daniel Batt


About That Colony
by John McCormick

Tesla and Newton
by Eric M. Jones



Comic Strips




From the Other Side of the Rubicon

By Sean Mulroy

LONG STALKS OF WILD WHEAT DANCE like melting gold, shedding yellow hairs of fibre, as the wind whips them. These cereal grasses own long flat fields of produce, crooked cultivated rows slithering in uneven lines, that go on endlessly for as far as the eye can see. Above this canary blonde meadow, in a clear morning sky, the silver-flyer shoots out of Earth’s atmosphere. Resembling a falling star in reverse, it too drops shining debris which will no doubt evaporate before touching ground.

Jiala watches the fiery spaceship till out of orbit. “Why do they still come here?” the little girl asks angrily. She picks ears of sun-warmed grain from heads of wavy slender stems; throwing spikelets and sheaves into large crates connected to the farming tractor.

Her grandfather does the same, but keeps his eyes earthbound; he has now for quite some time. “Depends who you ask. I’ve heard all the explanations, all the rumours. Everything from they’re here to steal resources ...”

“Like our wheat ...”

The old man grumbles at the interruption. “Perhaps, although it’s said iron-ore deposits still remain on this continent. No doubt that may interest them. Also it’s rumoured, and I like this idea the best, that they simply fly back to Earth because they miss the place.”

“Yeah,” giggles Jiala. “Hey Grandpa, where do you think those Visitors come from?”

“I don’t know.”

“Mars! Do you think they could be Martians?” the thought excites the girl.

“No, not Martians. Mars has a completely ruined economy. I doubt if any flyers on the entire planet still exist which could reach Earth. And if there are, they wouldn’t waste the fuel. Besides, Martian flyers looked much different than that one, in the old days, when Martians had such things ...”

“Well before you were born, hey, Grandpa?”

“Well before,” he agrees chuckling. “The atmosphere the original colonists built on Mars was said to be better than Earth. Air cleaner, water purer, environment more fertile; however, it was the gravity that done them in. Took a few generations to do so, but once the process started, there was no way to stop it.”

“Martians are very small and stupid, aren’t they, Grandpa?”

“Yes ... Now they are. Although their bodies would’ve adjusted to the terraformed landscapes there, oh, at least a millennia gone by. Martians have become suited to that artificial ecosystem. They won’t be getting any smaller or dumber. And of course even though they lost a lot in the evolutionary change, they still gained some new adaptations, things even we don’t have.” Letting out a wheezy groan the old man suddenly stretches both arms out, abandoning work, then reluctantly, looks up into a blue morning sky.

Jiala smiles. “I’ve seen pictures of Martians, really old ones, from a long time ago. They look like animals. That’s why we stopped trading with them wasn’t it, Grandpa? And kicked ’em out of the Planetary Union. Because they were so stupid.”

“Back in the days when there was a Planetary Union. Each planet is on its own now. We are all on our own.”

The little girl glances skyward, using her hand as a visor, searching for any remnants of the silver-flyer. “Venusians?” she asks. “Maybe that’s who they are.”

“Possibly, but Venus provides everything Venusians need. Of the original forty colonies seeded there, only one or two now survive. It’s said they still hate us anyway, and after the last conflict, well, why would they want to restart old wars?”

“What about the Floating-Worlds, Grandpa? Those Visitors may be from there.”

“Unlikely. The Floating-Worlds are flyers; just humongous ones. They were the Planetary Unions attempt to stop any more generational transformations, well, at least try to control them. Floating-Worlds aren’t shaped like flyers, either. They look like rings, rings as big as the Sun that revolve around and around. Although if you lived on one you wouldn’t notice; it would feel just like living on Earth. I doubt the Visitors are from them; the Floating-Worlds long ago left this solar-system, and I suspect by now, even this galaxy.”

“It didn’t work though, did it, Grandpa?”


“Keep everyone the same. The Floating-Worlds didn’t?”

“No, the people there changed too. Who knows what they’d look like now. Unlike Martians they left the Union of their own accord, they evolved in a different way, a better way I guess. Now they see us as the animals.”

Jiala looks down from the sky and continues on with her work. “I wonder who those Visitors are and why they came here and where they’re going.” She shivers. “I don’t like aliens, Grandpa. I wish they’d all go away for good.”

Brushing the child’s hair in a comforting manner her grandfather confirms the worst of all assumptions. “Many think that, and believe me, you don’t have to be a child to feel fear of the unknown. Sometimes I think it helps ...” Suddenly he withdrew his hand—realising words won’t be beneficial at all. “Just remember that all the Visitors, all the aliens, were once human too. Our ancestors tried so hard to keep the colonised planets and their fake environments the same, to stop the changes, but it could never be done. Most took longer to change than others. Some, like the Martians, happened quickly.”

The girl holds up her hand and studies it. “Even though we all look so different now, well ...” she wiggles five fingers, as if waving goodbye to the Visitors or hello to the Sun. “We’re all still Terrans aren’t we? I mean we’re all still human, inside of us.”

The old man bows his head and sighs. “I don’t know, sweetheart. I’ve heard it said that being different is what makes us the same, although I’ve never really understood that saying. Lots and lots of animals, such as canines, appear completely unrelated yet they are the same species and amazingly can breed. I suspect that is still so with us humans and the aliens which inhabit seven out of the eight planets in this solar system. But maybe there is a point, a barrier when crossed, means we can’t go back; we can’t go home. I don’t know though, maybe no one does. What do you think?”

At that moment a powerful wind whipped up and stole across the valley, brushing long stalks of wheat forward, like an invisible hand, and continued on, going out much farther, out to the ends of the ripe fields, out to where human eyes can not penetrate. END

Sean Mulroy is a writer from Newcastle, NSW, Australia. He has worked on a farm, at
a fruit shop, and in Student Services at the University of Newcastle. His short stories have previously been published in “AntipodeanSF” and “Oblong.”




robin dunn