Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


How to Build the Perfect Woman
by Timothy Mudie

Sound of Chartreuse
by Nancy S.M. Waldman

Finding New Roads
by Allen Demir

Smart Home Blues
by Mark Ayling

Drone Dreams
by Hayden Trenholm

Game Changer
by Iain Ishbel

Safe Bet to Appelane
by Derrick Boden

Aquilonia, My Zelky
by Barton Paul Levenson

Shorter Stories

Princess Zenla and the Encyclopedia on Mars
by George S. Walker

See No Evil
by K.S. O’Neill

QSFT7mk2.7853 Has a Name
by Kurt Hunt


God From the Machine
by KJ Hannah Greenberg

And Bugs on the Menu
by Carol Kean



Comic Strips





See No Evil

By K.S. O’Neill

A TV WAS ON ABOVE THE BAR. Dorothy ignored it and focused on her beer. Kind of surprising they’d even have a TV in a place like this. Wyoming was pretty strong on anti-tech, and there was a big sign above the bar; a phone with a red circle and slash. As though anyone would try bringing a phone into a place like this, in Wyoming.

Or even New York, these days. Nutcases, everywhere. The Right to Not Know. What an idea.

She had a phone, actually. It was stashed on her bike out in the parking lot. Not in the saddlebags, people got those tossed all the time. No, the rear fender had a hidey-hole welded into it. Probably to smuggle weed, back twenty years ago when the bike was new. Now her little palm-sized Nokia was wrapped in a bandana and tucked in there, safe if she wanted it.

It even had the app on it.

Of course it did. Who would have a phone and not have the app? She wanted to know, sometimes. What they all wanted to know, sometimes, was the truth.

Dougie’s face appeared on the TV, startling her. Poor Dougie.

“Man, turn that shit off.” One of the bikers playing pool was not a fan. The rest of the bar stopped, looked up at the TV, and looked back at the biker. “Fuck that guy, anyway. Causin’ all this fuckin’ trouble. Turn the fuckin’ thing off."

“Calm down. People like some TV, the TV stays on. You don’t like the TV, maybe you should take a walk and not shout at us about it.” The bartender was a big, tattooed Native American looking guy. He didn’t seem impressed with the bikers, and one hand was dipped under the bar in a way that suggested a shotgun might make an appearance pretty soon. The bikers turned back to the pool game, still grumbling.

The sound was down on the TV so she couldn’t hear what they were saying about Dougie. Of course, they always said the same things. Where they had lived, and where he had been in school, and the experiments, and the realization.

We Are Not Alone. Hurray! Everyone had been so excited. He’d published on Reddit, because that’s how he was back then, and there was an app online in hours. You could download it and see them. See aliens! Aliens everywhere! All around us!

She took another drink. Yeah, aliens everywhere. Tall, thin. Humanoid, but not human. Big heads, big eyes, small mouths. Aliens!

But they never said anything, never did anything. They walked through walls, they gathered around people. Some people. They liked fights, sometimes, and people having sex, sometimes. They liked soft serve ice cream stands and clarinet players and children fishing.

She looked up at the TV. The show was about Carlos Sanchez, the mechanic in Dallas who’d had thousands of them crowd around him for no apparent reason as he changed people’s oil and balanced tires. He quit his job and they left. Some scientists got a grant and offered to pay him to go back, but he refused. I don’t need a phone, he told them. He held up a bible at the TV crew who had tracked him down; this book is all I need.

She poured the last beer from her pitcher and looked around the bar. Were they here? Probably. Maybe. Who knows? Without a phone there was no way to tell. They were silent, invisible. They didn’t do anything. They didn’t interact, they didn’t signal or respond.

How long had they watched us? And why? Where were they from, how did they get here? No one knew, no one was any closer than Dougie had been that first day, when he’d posted his results on the r/science subreddit with instructions, what the frequencies were and how to make the filters needed to see them.

The first year had been awful. She had awakened in her apartment one night and turned her phone on and found her room full of ghostly, silent shapes, crowded around her bed. She got up and walked through them and went to a hotel.

“Man, fuck that guy,” the biker said, again, and she got up, strode over to the pool table and shoved him hard in the chest.

“That’s my little brother. So you shut the fuck up. He didn’t invent them, he didn’t bring them here. He just showed them ... ” She lost the thread of the sentence. “Shut the fuck up,” she finished, and walked out, unsteady, into the thin Wyoming sunlight.

She got on her bike and got it started and roared off before they stopped thinking it was funny and decided to come after her.

She never did that. What good did it do, to stick up for Dougie out here, to these people? But she felt better.

She thundered down the road as it got dark. Maybe she should call him. See how he was doing. She’d get the phone out, maybe, and give him a call.

Were they here? Was she driving through one right now? She thought of them clustered around people, in cities, in the suburbs, in hospitals and malls, no rhyme or reason to it. Ice cream. Clarinets. Sex. Kids fishing. Why?

Better not to know, she thought. Damn it, Dougie, we were better off not knowing. Maybe they’ve been here for centuries, maybe they’ve been here for thousands of years. But no one back then knew, and it was better. We were better off not knowing.

But still. Maybe at the next rest stop, she’d get the phone out. Not to look. She wouldn’t look. Just to give him a call, that’s all, see how he’s doing, then put it away.

She twisted the throttle, and the bike roared and cut through the empty night. END

K.S. O’Neill teaches math at a small college on the Texas coast. His stories have been frequently published in “Daily Science Fiction.” He has also had stories in “Plasma Frequency Magazine,” “Every Day Fiction,” and “Mad Scientist Journal.”






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