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




Aquilonia, My Zelky

By Barton Paul Levenson

MY GREAT AMBITION IN LIFE is to make love to a Zelky.

I suppose that sounds pretty stupid. Other people have more meaningful ambitions. Write a best-selling novel. Found a successful business. Discover a new planet.

Hey. To each his own, okay?

When the Zelkies landed, everyone was afraid of them—especially after, “All your governments are abolished. We will rule the planet now.” The Internet rumors ran wild. They want to eat us! Yeah, right, aliens with a different biochemistry. They’ll change the planet’s atmosphere and kill us all! Sure—those warm-blooded oxygen-breathers who enjoy our temperatures and our gravity. They’re going to enslave us! Like folks with star travel and almost unlimited energy sources need slaves.

But in any case, they turned out amazingly benign. God knows they’ve done better running the planet than we ever did. Liberals love the comprehensive welfare state they’ve set up. Conservatives love how they handle crime—executing all the murderers, rapists and child molesters was very popular. Libertarians love the private property rights, the lack of laws about personal conduct, and the guarantee of all those First-Amendment-type freedoms. Environmentalists love that the Zelkies saved the ecology from collapsing, and now we get all our power from mass conversion. And with mass conversion we can get rid of any kind of trash, even radioactive waste, for good.

And perverts like me love them because they’re so gosh-darned cute.

They said they chose that appearance because it would be “the least alarming to the greatest number of you.” They sure got that right. Zelkies look like pretty young women—not super-stacked, but with nice figures nonetheless. They have freakishly large eyes, which scientists think makes them resemble babies, triggering feelings of affection in us. Their expressions tend to be blank, and they rarely smile, but when they do, they’re beautiful. And they’re small—usually about five feet. They never look intimidating.

But God help you if you attack one. They’re invulnerable to anything you can think of, and strong as an ox. No compunctions about hurting attackers, either.

And what are those pretty young women? The Zelkies themselves, in disguise? Robots or bioengineered androids they made to deal with us face-to-face? Probably not illusions, because you can touch them.

And who cares? Enough about the Zelkies. What about me?

My name is Ronald Kolarsky—please make it Ron. I’m a student—a perpetual student, like so many nowadays, with free education available. I started out studying astronomy because I thought it was cool, and hoped I could travel on a Zelky starship someday. But the math was pretty hard, so I switched to political science, then economics, then philosophy.

Philosophy is fun, and I seem to have a knack for it. Is God real? Do we have free will, or are we predetermined? What makes an action ethical, its consequences or its intrinsic nature? I usually win debates, and I’ve got published articles out the wazoo, despite being only twenty-eight.

And I’m an absolute sex freak. Why not? Contraception is perfect and free. STDs are eliminated. Anything’s legal for consenting adults.

I’ve made love to girls, guys, multiple partners. I’ve got a reputation as a heartbreaker, but it’s undeserved. I always make clear that I’m just looking for a romp in the hay, no strings attached. If a girl or guy insists on hanging around, that’s fine—I’ve never yet told anybody to get lost, or that I didn’t want to see them again. But I’m not monogamous, and when it becomes clear I won’t stop sleeping around, the clingy types fade away.

Like every big housing complex, the Pitt dorms have a Zelky political officer to enforce what few laws exist and help people with problems. Ours is Aquilonia Pacifica.

I tried the direct approach first. I got up at four a.m. to make sure of minimal traffic in the halls. I put my hand on her door so it could read my prints. The door opened, and there she was, my Zelky beauty—fully dressed, of course. They always are. I don’t think they sleep, either.

Aquilonia has aqua hair. Her eyes are bright pink. The only other look you get with Zelkies is pink hair and yellow eyes. All their eyes have big double irises. They look like pretty young women, yes, but alien women—easy to tell apart from humans.

I think they’re gorgeous.

“Hey, Aquilonia.”

“Good morning, Ron. How may I help you?” Very gentle voice, very calm, loud enough to be heard, but not overly loud.

“Aquilonia, you’ve helped me a lot already. Helped me get through tests, helped me with, uh, interpersonal problems. You’ve been a real friend.”

“I’m glad to hear that.”

“I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately.”

“I see.”

“The fact is, I’m really attracted to you, Aquilonia.”

“In what way?”

I put my hands on her shoulders. You can touch a Zelky if you go about it right. They won’t fight unless you’re being coercive or rude. I leaned over to put our faces closer together. “I would very much like to make love to you.”

“I’m afraid that’s not really possible. I’m very flattered, however. You make me feel good about my appearance and femininity. But I cannot.”

“Seriously? Are you sure?”

“Yes, quite sure.”

“Why not?”

She tilted her head a bit to one side. Uh oh. “You do not need to know the details, Ron. You need only internalize the rule that when a girl says no, it means no. Take your hands off me, please, and go about your business.”

Crap. So much for the straight approach. “Okay,” I said, backing off. “Are we still friends? You’re not mad at me, are you?”

“Not at all.”

Thank God.


Next I tried subtlety. I started giving her presents. Home-made cakes—I can cook a little, and banana bread and applesauce cake are easy. The Zelkies in their true form, whatever that is, can’t eat our food, or so they’ve said. But the human forms they appear in can.

Little bits of jewelry. Science toys, because Zelkies are so hipped on science. I got her a gyroscope, then a big fossil trilobite (“big” here meaning “two inches long"). Then the pièce de résistance—a virtual trip through landscapes on all the planets. I got an astronomy major ex-lover to write it for me.

Aquilonia clapped her hands delightedly and said, “Ah! This is so nice!” when I demonstrated it on my Pad. “Thank you, Ron, thank you very much indeed!”

“You really like it?”

“Very much!”

“May I kiss you?”

Again, her head tilted, very slightly, to one side. When that happens it always means a Zelky’s onto you. “Was this a bribe, Ron? This and the earlier series of presents?”

There’s only one safe answer to that. “No, of course not. I’d just like to kiss you.”

“Given my knowledge of you, I feel that would stimulate you sexually. It is impossible for me to mate with you, so this would cause frustration and disappointment. I’m very sorry, Ron, but no.” She added, “Thank you again for the astronomy program.”

I sighed. “You’re welcome.”


What finally worked was pretending to be depressed.

Well, not pretending. I really was depressed that I couldn’t talk Aquilonia into bed with me whatever I did. But it didn’t make me dysfunctional, just glum.

I sat on a bench in the dorms patio, leaning back, looking up at the high glass ceiling, sighing. I didn’t realize Aquilonia was nearby. She came up and stood in front of me before I knew who it was. “Ron? Are you all right?”

Depressed, yes, but not enough to fail to exaggerate. My Casanova instincts kicked in and I began outlining how the conversation should go. “I’m ... okay, Aquilonia. Just ... sad.”


“Because I can’t even get you to kiss me.”

“Ron, there are multitudes of young people about who would be very glad to kiss you, or even copulate with you. Why should you wish to do so with me in particular?”

I shrugged. “Because you’re beautiful. I love your hair, your eyes, your sweet face, your wonderful voice. I just wish I could get closer to you, and you apparently don’t return my feelings. So I’m depressed.”

“You are not suicidal, are you? Have you any thoughts of harming yourself?”

Never overdo it. “Thinking about it. Not seriously, though. I have the feeling it would hurt.”

“Ron, is there anything I can do to help?”

How far could I go? I’d asked her twice for intimacy and she’d flat-out refused both times. Could I ask her to make love again? What could I say that would go along with her “It’s just impossible” idea?”

“I know you say you can’t make love to me. But I ... I just want to get close to you, to feel a close connection to you. If I could just ... Oh ... I don’t want to offend you.”

“I am difficult to offend, Ron.”

I touched her face. “If I could just hold your naked body in bed, that would be enough. I’d be happy. I’d know you really care about me.” Once there, I was pretty sure I could get in enough subtle foreplay to turn her on, and if I took it slowly, making her think each step was her own idea, I’d be screwing her in twenty minutes. I was sure of it. My technique is good. I’ve persuaded a lot of girls (and guys) just by taking it a bit at a time and waiting for them to feel aroused.

She looked serious. I nervously expected that head-tilt again, but instead she merely looked down for a moment. “It is definitely stretching things, but I suppose I could accept that. You must not advertise it, however. It must remain between you and myself.”

“My lips are sealed,” I said. “I will never betray you.” Not that way, anyway.

“Come to my room, then.”

That simple!


I grinned like a loon as I followed Aquilonia through the halls and into her bedroom. “So you do need sleep?”

“Rarely, but I often need to rest. I lie down as much as two hours per night, assuming no events occur which need my response.”

Her room was interesting—much larger than I expected, plenty of floor space, but the only furniture in the room was the bed. One wall held a closed door, presumably to a closet or bathroom. A single light-panel on the ceiling, and somehow I got the strong feeling it was there only for visitors. The color scheme was all light, pastel blues and purples.

I smelled vanilla.

I sat on the bed and patted the area next to me. She startled me by getting all the way onto the bed behind me. I twisted to look at her. She was unbuttoning her uniform.

I didn’t waste time. Elastic band pants, T shirt, socks, underwear. We were both naked, and God, she was gorgeous—breasts to dream about, even if they weren’t super-sized. Without looking carefully, I got on top of her and put my arms around her.

She was warm! Yielding! Felt just like a human girl! I kissed her. Did a lot of lip kisses, but she didn’t open her mouth. “Please, may I French-kiss you?”

“I suppose that would be all right,” she said. I did.

Boy, was I hard. I pressed my stiffy against her belly. She didn’t object. “I have to make love to you,” I said.

“Ron, that is not possible.”

“Why? Why not? Is it a racial thing, because I’m human?”

“No, of course not.”

“Some regulation you have to follow?”

“Not that either.”

“Then what? What? Aquilonia, I won’t hurt you. I love you!”

She gave me that slight, brief look down again, before meeting my eyes once more. “Ron, sit on the foot of the bed, please, and I will explain visually.”

Visually? What the hell did that mean ... Uh oh.

Cursing myself for a fool, I slid down to the foot of the bed. Not physically possible, obviously. She was an alien. She probably had weird alien genitals of some kind. Still ...

She spread her legs wide for me, bending her knees to give me a full look.

A small slit of a urethral opening. An anus in the right place.

Nothing in between. Just smooth flesh.

I think my jaw must have dropped. “You’re asexual?

“No. I myself enjoy a rich sex life. But this body is asexual. While I am in it, my sex drive is put in abeyance. Would you like to see what I really look like?”

“Sure,” I said tiredly. God knew what I was going to see next.

The door I’d assumed to be a closet opened. The thing inside must have been nine or ten feet long, but it was only about six feet high, because the front end was rearing up off the ground to look at me. Dark red in color. A hundred pairs of long, multijointed, chitinous legs, the forward six or eight with handlike manipulators. A small head with a huge array of compound and simple eyes, some pink, some yellow. A mouth constantly in motion, full of clashing parts opening and closing at different angles, like little guillotines. Antennae and feelers all over the head, some hair-thin, and all moving, moving, moving.

“Do you see?” the thing said with Aquilonia’s voice. I looked at the bed. Aquilonia as I knew her lay in the same position, staring sightlessly up at the ceiling, motionless. “This is our normal appearance. It is unpleasant for humans to view, and would make personal interaction difficult. In time, you may be able to accept our true appearance, but I doubt that will happen soon, Ron.”

One tries not to be impolite. You don’t laugh at ugly or crippled people, or condescend to them. Nor to ten-foot, intelligent millipedes from outer space. “Uh ... I guess you ... Make love with your own kind, right?”

“Yes, with males. After which I bite their heads off and eat them. They’re quite tasty.”

I must have given some indication of what I was about to do, because the millipede froze. Aquilonia revived behind me, and she caught me before I hit the ground. “Ron! Ron! It’s all right! I will not hurt you!”

I was sweating profusely, my sight covered with green and orange blotches. “You eat the males? Jesus, you’re male sexual fears of women come to life!”

“Do you think I would act unethically, Ron? I would not harm a sentient being. Our males are not intelligent. We decided long ago to bioengineer ourselves such that—”

“I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know, okay? I’m sorry, this was a mistake.” I got dressed as fast as I could, trying not to touch the millipede-body. “Could you, um ... Could you, um ... Go back in the closet? With that body, I mean. Please.”

The millipede started moving again. “Certainly,” it said. “I am sorry if I distressed you.” It backed into the closet. The door slid shut.


My name is Ron Kolarsky. I work at the philosophy department at the University of Pittsburgh. I’m not as sexually active as I used to be.

I have a new great ambition: Never to touch a Zelky again ... END

Barton Paul Levenson is a two-time winner of the Parsec Short Story Contest. His
fiction has appeared in "Electric Spec," "Daily Science Fiction," and other publications. His latest novel, "The Celibate Succubus," is from Barking Rain Press.


winchester 11/16



crazy liddy 9/16