Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


This is the Hardest Thing I Do All Day
by Alexandra Grunberg

by Fábio Fernandes

Sixteen Tonnes
by Robert Dawson

It’s Not What You Think
by Davyne DeSye

Dreams of Clay
by J. Rohr

Mundane Applications
by Philip Margolies

by Eric Del Carlo

My Parking Space is Near the Door
by Gustavo Bondoni

Shorter Stories

Clothes Make the Man
by Peter Wood

For All Time
by Simon Kewin

You Belong to Me
by Tom Borthwick


More Than “Zarathustra”
by Dennis W. Green

When Words Divine
by John McCormick



Comic Strips




This is the Hardest Thing I Do All Day

By Alexandra Grunberg


Peter cursed as he jumped out of his chair and tugged at the paper. The paper ripped and he fell back, clutching the crinkled and smudged data as the printer continued to try to print out more paper, making the internal jam even worse.

Peter sighed and looked up out of the small window above his desk where he could just barely see the stars. Once he had thought they were beautiful, but after three years of working at the same job, same time, five days a week, the stars were only a reminder that it was the end of his shift, and looking at them made him more exhausted, if that was even possible. It was 2:00 a.m., just time for him to clear out and head home before the next employee came in for his shift. But he could not leave with the place a mess like this.

Though he supposed it would not really make much of a difference if he ran now before Zachary came in and saw his little gift. The data was always the same. The radio waves from the black hole never changed. Once, there was the hope that these waves were a message from some extraterrestrial life forms, a hand reaching out across the galaxy looking for an answering intelligence. But it only took a year to realize that the waves repeated their same pattern every month, no matter what answering waves any scientist sent back, and if it was some kind of code, it had not yet been cracked.

Peter, who actually had no scientific knowledge after he graduated high school, guessed that the waves were just the black hole doing its black hole thing. But there were worse jobs than getting paid to sit around all night.

Peter kicked out at the printer, missing it completely, though it still sputtered and shook as if it registered the insult. He muttered under his breath as he stood up, unplugging the machine, which shuddered violently, knocking all the other contents of the table onto the ground, before it stilled. He bent down and picked up a pen. It immediately broke open, dousing his fingers with blue ink. He sat down, finding it difficult to muster the energy needed to wipe up the mess.

How long had the company been using office supplies from storage? Decades? Everything in this place was outdated, broken, and useless.

Peter pushed the debris on the floor under the desk with his feet, and realized just how futile it was to try to clean up this mess before Zachary got here. If he left now, before Zachary came, no one would know who was responsible. Peter was not normally one to let others clean up his dirty work, but he could barely open his eyes and his mind was filled with images of his bed, waiting for him at home.

A soft whirring sound filled the room, followed by a click and a flash. Peter’s groan morphed into a yawn as he turned to face the robot that masqueraded as help.

“How are you doing BB?”

“I’m fine, thank you,” replied the robot.

BB looked like something a kindergartener would make for an art project, not the pinnacle of scientific technology. In fact, BB was not the pinnacle of scientific technology. Ten years ago his design was already considered dated. But, because he continued to work, barely, the company refused to buy a replacement.

“There was a paper jam, BB, help please.”

The little robot rolled over to the printer, his squat box of a body supporting a squat box of a head, which doubled as a camera that was supposed to be removable; but once it was taken off, the rest of BB’s body shut down, leaving only the robotically sentient head. Before starting his work, he flashed a picture of the broken printer, keeping it in records that would be read or discarded at the end of the month. So much for no one blaming Peter.

BB’s rod-like arms lengthened as he inserted them into the subdued machine. Peter could just see the hand extensions change into thin little wires before they were lost in the deep mechanics of the printer. BB’s hands could also change into hammers, pliers, plungers, and a manner of other little tools, but it seemed like every year one or two of the extensions were lost. Peter thought that perhaps they found their way into the apartments of disgruntled, underpaid employees.

There was a soft click and BB withdrew from the printer, but as he began to roll away, Peter saw that one of his arms had been left behind, sticking out like a stray antenna.

“Come on back, BB, you left something,” said Peter.

“I’m fine, thank you,” said BB, but he rolled back.

Peter removed the arm and reinserted it into BB’s shoulder socket, or his upper left appendage hole. BB rotated the arm and it clicked into place.

“Golly!” the robot said. Peter wondered just how old he was.

“Could you take these papers up to the rooftop?” he asked, handing BB the mass of smudged data and depositing it in his arms.


“Yeah,” said Peter. “They still haven’t fixed the incinerator.”

All scrap paper was supposed to be shredded and burned in the incinerator in the same basement where BB was stored, because for top secret experiments involving meaningless waves, shredding alone was not good enough. However, due to an overwhelming amount of recent printer jams, the incinerator became overworked, overheated, and broke down. The employees used this as an opportunity to create a makeshift incinerator on the roof that was little more than a bonfire, a party waiting to happen with a constant stream of fuel.

“Is there a problem, BB?”

“No sir, I’m fine.”

The little robot zoomed out of sight, almost knocking into Zachary on the way out.

“Little guys in a rush, huh?” laughed Zachary. He picked up a handful of pens, which now had the decency not to break and drip all over his shirt. “Did you get a little cabin fever? Got out some aggression, huh?”

“No, friggin’ printer went on the fritz again,” said Peter. “BB’s taking it up to the bonfire.”

“Speaking of bonfire,” said Zachary, slipping back into an office chair and spinning himself in circles. “We’re having a bonfire here Friday night, my shift.”

“Do you ever do any actual work during your shift?”

“Not if I can help it,” said Zachary. “Besides, if I don’t do it, the data will, in fact, collect itself. Come on man, everyone will be there. You do know how to have fun right?”

“Well, I come here to work.”

“If you’re hoping to make any significant contribution to the scientific community, I think you’re in the wrong place.”

“I don’t know enough about science to make a difference.”

“Then you might as well come,” said Zachary, scooting himself over to Peter in jerking inches. “Plus, if the transmitter is still broken, there won’t be any waves to watch anyway.”

“The transmitter isn’t broken.”

Peter looked at the computer and swore. Instead of a steady stream of radio waves, there was a steady line of nothingness. He started clicking around the screen, but everything was frozen.

“Peter, you’re done. You’re off the clock. Go home. BB will fix it.”

“Where is BB?”

“I’m fine.” BB rolled back into the room and started meddling with the hard drive.

“Took your sweet time, didn’t you, buddy?” laughed Zachary.

BB paused for a moment. A small stream of air seemed to escape from his a/c vent, and his body compacted slightly, or almost deflated.

“I’m fine,” BB repeated.

“What are you still doing here?” Zachary asked, pushing Peter out the door. “Go home. I’ll see you Friday.”


“I’ll see you Friday.”


The roof was packed with partying employees, empty beer cans, full beer cans, and too much broken company property for Peter to get anywhere near comfortable. He sat at the edge of the flat roof, his feet dangling into the darkness below, clutching a half-empty beer and praying to fate that the cops did not show up, or worse, his manager, Mr. Perez.

Zachary sat down next to Peter, guzzled down his beer, and threw it over the edge.

“I finally get you to go out, and you’re spending the entire party stargazing. Aren’t you going to have fun?”

“It’s hard to have fun when you actually care about the consequences of this party in the morning.”

“Wow, you literally have no idea how to have fun. Here, let me help you,” said Zach, jumping to his feet and pulling Peter up with him.

“You see that girl over there?” he asked, pointing to the far corner. Of course Peter had seen her. She was the first person Peter saw when he arrived that night.

She was the reason he always arrived ten minutes late on Tuesdays, because he knew that she left work ten minutes late and he wanted to pass by her in the parking lot. She was the reason he had bought a big book of Sudoku puzzles, because he had seen her making her own puzzles in a notebook during a D-Section employee meeting and hoped that one day she would catch him working on them. She was the reason he had started listening to classical music and researched St. Bernards, because he had overheard her telling a friend she always thought of the dog when she heard the name “Beethoven.” She was the little piece in the puzzle of his life that never quite fit, forcing in a special spot each day, a small imperfection to an otherwise unchanging routine, and therefore made it perfect.

“The one with the black hair?”

“Yes, the beautiful girl with the black hair,” laughed Zachary. “That’s Rose. The girl she’s drinking with, Kelly, well, she and I have a bit of a history, and I was just chatting with them and happened to figure out that Rose is single. Hint, hint. Maybe we should go over and talk to them.”

“Do you really think I’m so lame that I need you to set me up with someone?”

“Yes. Yes I do.”

“You can go over and talk to them,” said Peter. “I’m going to get another beer.”

“Jesus Christ, you’re making this difficult. Well, just so you know, Kelly was open to having a mini get-together back at my place after this blows over. If you’re interested, I’m sure Rose will be there. If you’re not interested, I’m making you go anyway.”

Zachary wandered off to help a couple of interns who were setting up a beer pong table. Peter walked over to the bonfire where someone had brought up three large ice coolers. The ice had already melted, but there were still plenty of cans in the lukewarm water.

Peter was surprised to see BB standing by the bonfire. Because the fire was still going strong, Peter guessed that BB had been ordered to bring up a steady supply of unusable data. But at the moment, the little guy was frozen still, his little head tilted upwards, the camera facing the night sky. He was so still, Peter worried that he had suffered some major malfunction.

A young man whose shirt had come completely undone staggered over to BB and placed his beer on the robot’s head. Peter saw the flimsy metal cave slightly under the weight. He ran over and grabbed the beer, throwing it off the roof.

“What’s your problem, dude?”

“This is expensive company property,” said Peter.

The man staggered off toward the beer pong table and BB rolled around to face Peter.

“How are you doing, BB?” asked Peter.

“I’m fine, thank you.”

Peter waited for the robot to roll out, but it did not move.

“Got some work to do?” asked Peter.

“Yes, sir.”

The robot stayed in place. Peter was worried. First the printer, then the transmitter. He hoped BB was not failing on him, too.

“What’s wrong BB?”

Peter heard that strange sound again, the small release of air as BB lifted his head to the sky.

“This is the hardest thing I do all day.”

Peter’s mouth dropped as BB rolled away, leaving a trail of crushed cans behind him.

“Oh shit, the cops!” someone shouted, and Peter turned around to see the faint glow of red and blue lights flashing in the distance. He looked over the edge of the roof to where he knew he had left his car, but the darkness was complete. He would never be able to find it before the cops showed up.

“Come on,” said Zachary, tugging Peter down the stairs.

Next thing he knew, he was sitting next to Rose as Zachary drove a small party back to his place. No matter how he maneuvered, he could not prevent his leg from touching Rose’s in the cramped car. He leaned forward to Zachary, muttering.

“I hate you.”

Zachary only laughed.


“Have you tried kicking it?”

“Of course I tried kicking it!”

They had managed to move the printer to the middle of the floor where it was now bucking and spewing black ink across the tiles. The table was broken, cracked down the middle, where the printer first began its violent, blind attacks,BB robot and all of the pens, paper, and files had been thrown to the ground.

Zachary reached to grab the printer and was blinded by the light of the scanner.

Meanwhile, the transmitter was screaming at them, flashing from a blank white screen, to all black, back to the steady line of no information, then to a hectic line jumping all over the screen. All the while, it was emitting a high-pitched screech, like the whistle of a teakettle. Anywhere an appliance was plugged in, the socket was smoking and letting off sparks.

Zachary reached to grab the printer again, but this time the edge of the angry machine slammed into his wrist. He pulled back with a cry and the two men ran from the room, down the hall to the kitchenette.

“That was terrifying,” said Zachary. “I can’t believe I’m terrified of a printer.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t have kicked it,” said Peter.

“Where is BB?”

“He took some of the data down to the incinerator,” said Peter.

After the incident on the roof, Mr. Perez had made it a first order of business to get the incinerator fixed and any trace of a bonfire was erased. It was not as fun, but Peter hoped that BB would be happier if he did not have to go up to the roof anymore. However, if anything, BB seemed to have become noticeably unhappy. Peter constantly heard him sighing out those little releases of air, and sometimes after hours of looking, he would find BB in a corner, facing the wall, doing nothing. Whenever Peter tried to figure out what was wrong, BB insisted that he was fine, but Peter was unconvinced and had no idea what was the problem.

“Little guy sure takes his time,” said Zachary.

“Don’t blame him, he’s an old model.”

Peter looked out the window at the stars. The window here was much larger than in the office, a thin long rectangle that ran the length of the kitchenette, and he could see a much larger swath of sky. The stars brightened the night sky so much, it could fool a person into thinking that it was not as late, or early, as 3:00 a.m. If it were not for company “punishment,” making the hours longer so there would be employee overlap, a method of ensuring that more reliable employees could keep an eye on less reliable ones, he would already be home. Peter sighed and reached into the fridge for an energy drink. When he turned back to look at Zachary, his friend was smirking.

“What is it?”

“You’re thinking about Rose, aren’t you?”

“Shut up,” said Peter, blushing.

“So how are things going with you two?”

“I told you to shut up.”

“I will not shut up,” said Zachary. “I brought you guys together, I want to know how things are going.”

“They’re going well.”

“Well I assumed as much, since you moved in together,” laughed Zachary. “And?”

“And what?”

“Are you happy?”


“Do you miss her?”


“Do you love her?”


“Wait,” said Zachary. “You love her?”


Zachary was shocked into silence. Before he could respond, BB rolled into the room.

“The printer’s all messed up again,” said Peter. “Could you help us, please?”

The little robot snapped a picture of them, then zoomed off toward the sound of the malfunctioning machine, which at the moment seemed to be throwing itself against the door. For a few minutes Peter and Zachary stood together awkwardly as the chaos down the hall receded into silence. BB rolled back into the kitchenette, both arms intact this time.

“Super-fast work,” said Zachary, patting BB on the back and creating a small dent. “How’d you get it to calm down?”

“I let it know I was here.”

Zachary started laughing.

“How romantic. I’m sure you appreciate that, don’t you Peter?”

“What do you mean, BB?” asked Peter.

“I let it know I was here.”

The little robot rolled away.

“Cryptic little fellow, isn’t he?”

The two men walked down the hall to their office. The room was still a mess, but the printer and transmitter were calm now. The printer was already spitting out a steady stream of pages. Peter picked a couple up and frowned.

“Do you know where BB went?”

“No idea,” said Zachary, who had begun spinning in the office chair.

“Well, get off your butt and help me make a scrap pile.”

“What’s wrong?” asked Zachary, helping Peter scoop up handfuls of paper. “Isn’t it fixed?”

“Yes,” said Peter. “It’s just still printing the haywire messages from before. This data is unusable. I bet it’s running on a bit of a delay. If we wait a few minutes, the data should revert back to normal.”

And sure enough, after ten minutes of creating a pile of scrap, heaped in the corner, the printer began sending out the same information that corresponded with the familiar, even transmission.


Peter lay next to Rose, tracing the smooth skin of her shoulder with his fingertips. It had been three months, but he was still fascinated by her skin, the dark curls that cascaded from the milky white, the little freckles and imperfections that seemed to burn hot against his fingers as he moved up and down, memorizing the pattern that twisted and curved and dotted against the endlessly perfect canvas.

Rose mumbled something as she tugged the blankets tighter around her. Peter found her hand and their fingers interlocked.

It was truly fascinating for him. Three months ago his life was so simple, so boring, so much like every other life on the face of this Earth. Data was inputted. Data was exported. A constant ebb and flow of information, mechanical steps in a clockwork day that started when he arrived at work and ended when he went home, each day suffused with meaningless events that, when looked at from the outside, were impossible to differentiate among themselves.

This life of repetition, of movement without feeling, had transformed into a way of life Peter was convinced no one else had felt before or would ever feel again.

Whatever a person saw when they woke up, whatever they dreamed about when they went to work, could never match just lying here with his beautiful Rose, his blank canvas painted with freckles that he ached to memorize, to imagine as he sat at his desk waiting for the printer to break, that he longed for while sipping his coffee, counting the hours until he could be with her again.

No one cursed like he cursed when they worked on opposite schedules, dooming him to be without her all day and then come home to an empty apartment. How could he work without seeing her face? How could he even begin to think about rewiring the transmitter when he could not recall the exact curve of her lower back, could not feel her fingers looped around his, could not grab a handful of her hair and feel the curls wrapping around each finger, trailing his wrists, tickling his cheek and neck?

How could he go to work when even now his stomach ached with loneliness, his limbs heavy with a melancholy so deep a part of him truly believed he died each time he left her, and each little death made it all the more impossible to do every repetitive, meaningless task he was forced to do each day? It physically hurt him to leave, to even think about leaving, to let go of her small, graceful hands and detach his gaze from the gentle arch of her foot.

Rose mumbled again.

“What did you say?” Peter asked.

“You have to go to work,” said Rose.

“No, I don’t.”

Rose laughed, and Peter was overwhelmed with happiness and filled with an awe that such a sound could exist in his life.

“Come on,” said Rose. “We’ll see each other soon.”

Peter sighed. The pain was almost unbearable. But Peter did this everyday, he could do it again. And again. And again.

Rose turned to him, frowned, and pressed her hand against his cheek.

“What’s wrong?”

“This is the hardest thing I do all day.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, Peter jumped out of bed and began pulling on his pants, trying to secure his belt and find a shirt simultaneously.

“Are you okay?” asked Rose, sitting up, suppressing laughter as Peter attempted to turn the tangle of fabric into a presentable outfit.

“I love you, I’ll see you later,” said Peter as he ran out the door.


Mr. Perez sat in the office chair, but he was in no mood to turn in circles. He had his head buried in his hands, giving Peter a perfect view of his shining bald spot. His normally precise black shoes were marred with ink and a fine coat of dust.

“Let me get this straight,” said Mr. Perez. “This was caused by a malfunctioning printer?”

“When the printer is broken it gets pretty violent. It cracked a table in half.”

“Peter, the entire wall is gone.”

And so it was.

Where there had once been a fine, albeit boring white wall behind the office desk, there was now a gaping hole framed by rubble. The inside of the room was chaos, but the view was outstanding. On such a high floor, when Peter looked out of this new and improved window, he could have believed he was floating among the stars.

But this was not for Peter.

BB had rolled in ten minutes before, stopped next to Peter, saw the view of the stars, and had not moved since.

“Why wasn’t I informed about the intensity of the printer malfunctions?”

“We were never told to tell you,” said Peter. “And BB always was able to fix it. Isn’t that right BB?”

“I let it know I was here,” said BB.


“Is there anything else I should know about?”

“Yes,” said Peter. “The basement’s flooded.”

Mr. Perez groaned.

“So we’ll probably have to use a bonfire on the roof again for scrap data,” continued Peter. “And since the basement is unsuitable for storage, and this room is unsuitable for work, we should probably just store BB in here. That is, until the company gets around to updating this place.”

“Okay,” sighed Mr. Perez, as he began shuffling out of the room. “It’s four in the morning. I’m tired. I’m going home. We will deal with this more at the beginning of your shift tomorrow.”

“See you tomorrow, BB,” said Peter.

BB did not answer. He was entranced by his new room.


The chairs in the new office did not have wheels; instead, smooth stickers on the bottom allowed them to glide across the floor. Zachary entertained himself by pushing off with his feet and making little laps around the room while Peter watched BB fix the transmitter.

“So, did you two set a date?” asked Zachary.

“No, but we won’t be getting married until she graduates, so make sure to keep your schedule completely free for sometime next spring.”

“You got engaged just to wait a whole year before getting married? Lame. Take my advice. Elope in Vegas.”

“Sure,” said Peter. “And you can explain to Rose’s parents that we gambled away all the wedding money.”

It had been three years since he had first spoken to Rose, the night of the bonfire party. Time had gone by as methodically as before, but no longer mechanically. Where there was once meaningless repetition, now there was real life. Peter could not wait to put his life with Rose on repeat for years and years into eternity.

And Peter had seen a change in BB, too. If a robot could be happy, this little guy was the happiest. He no longer sighed or stared for hours, unless he was looking at the stars. He no longer had to face the pain of leaving them when they were right there when he went back to his room after coming down from the bonfire.

The glowing line on the screen was still going haywire. Peter sighed and opened up his Sudoku book. He had an awful feeling that he had messed this one up completely.

“How are you doing, BB?” he asked, as he located the dreaded two fives in a row. He looked up at the robot whose arms were inserted deep into the tangle of wires.

“I let it know I was here.”

“Good,” said Zachary. “Keep up the good work. Put down that puzzle, Peter, and race me. Peter?”

Peter had already put down the Sudoku and was staring intently at the screen. The lines were haywire, but Peter just noticed that they were outputting information as well as inputting. The same small, jerky line would be sent out, followed by a series of seemingly random responses.


The radio waves were messages.

“BB!” shouted Peter, jumping over to the robot. “What is it saying?”

“I let it know I was here.”

“I know that,” said Peter. “What do the incoming waves mean? What are they saying?”

“Would you like a translation?”


For a moment the screen went blank. Then it was filled with text, scrolling on and on without showing signs of stopping, multiple phrases being sent to them at once, flooding the screen and making the transmitter work overtime. The wires began to spark once more and the printer started to shake. Peter was not surprised that these old machines were unable to handle the sheer volume of information coming at them that was so much more complex than the simple repetitive waves they were designed to transmit and relay. The printer began shooting out paper, flooding the room with messages.


Who are you?

Can you hear us?

We want to talk to you.


Peter and Zachary ran around the room, doing their best to pick up the papers and put them in some semblance of order. Each of the pages were dated, and Peter found himself picking up data from more than three years ago.

Every series of messages had a corresponding output message.

I am here.

BB had been speaking for years with extraterrestrial intelligent life.

Peter picked up the little robot and swung him around, laughing, while Zachary continued to scramble, reading the messages with his mouth agape. When Peter placed BB back down the robot was rather disheveled, but seemed to be pleased with himself as he repositioned his removable pieces.

“BB, do you know what this is?” asked Peter, his mouth stuck in a permanent grin.

“Yes,” said BB. “I am talking to the stars.”


“I can’t do it,” said Peter.

Mr. Perez once again had his head in his hands. Peter sat across the desk from him, resolute.

“Peter, this is an amazing opportunity,” Mr. Perez said. “You are being offered an honorary position and a seat on the first ship that is setting out to meet extraterrestrial life. Do you know what a big deal this is? You have no scientific background. You don’t even have scientific aspirations. You are little more than a clerk who was lucky enough to be the most qualified person in the room when the messages were translated.”

“I can’t do it.”

“Come on, Peter,” said Mr. Perez. “I know the astronaut training will be difficult, but this is space travel! This is an experience straight from the dreams of children. Don’t you want to know who has been contacting us? Don’t you want to see what is out there?”

“It can’t be any better than what I have right here on Earth,” said Peter.

Mr. Perez sighed.

“I know that you’re in love,” said Mr. Perez. “Believe me, I know. But I’m sure that Rose would understand. You weren’t even planning on getting married until next year. You’ll be back by then, no problem.”

“Excuse me, sir,” said Peter. “But if you think that I’m going to leave Rose, then you don’t know anything. Besides, I wasn’t the most qualified person in that room.”

Mr. Perez sat up and laughed.

“Please don’t tell me you think Zachary is more qualified than you. Give yourself some credit.”

“I’m not talking about Zachary. I’m talking about BB.”

Mr. Perez frowned and ran his fingers through what remained of his hair.

“I’m not sure what you’re getting at.”

“Let BB have the honorary position,” said Peter. “He’s the one that was communicating with the aliens, anyway. He’s the one that made the translation. And, sir, listen to me, he loves the stars. You have no idea how much he loves them. They are his life. They are the only thing that gets him through the day.”

“That’s a very romantic sentiment for an inanimate object, Peter. Besides, it would be impossible.”


Mr. Perez sighed.


BB rolled into the room to Mr. Perez’s side. Mr. Perez picked up a small flowerpot from his windowsill. He brought it over to BB and placed it carefully on the robot’s shoulder, which began to cave under the weight. Peter jumped out of his seat and picked up the flowerpot. The damage was not too bad, but Peter still dared to glare at his manager.

“While your ship is taking off into space, you are subjected to about six Gs,” said Mr. Perez. “That is six times the force of gravity. Do you think that our delicate little buddy would be able to survive that kind of trip?”

Peter stared silently at all of BB’s visible dents.

“That’s what I thought. If we sent BB up to the stars, he would essentially die.”

“I don’t care.”

Peter and Mr. Perez stared at BB.

“I don’t care if I die. I want to go to the stars.”

“BB,” said Mr. Perez, kneeling down to be at eye-level with the robot. “We can’t let you go. You are too valuable right where you are. If you went away, who would translate the data? Who would fix the printer?”

“The company could buy a new robot,” suggested Peter.

“Why should we do that when we have a perfectly good one right here?” asked Mr. Perez. “That’ll be all BB.”

“I want to go to the stars.”

Mr. Perez frowned.

“That’ll be all BB. You can leave now.”

The little robot rolled off, and though Peter knew BB did not have a heart, he would have sworn he could hear it break. He raced after the robot and found BB in his room, staring out of the gaping hole in the wall at the stars, sighing.

There was no way now that BB could ever enjoy the view again. The stars had been taken from him.

“BB,” said Peter, and the little robot turned around to face him. “I am going to get you on that ship.”


Peter and Rose sat on the roof, cuddled under a large fleece blanket as they looked up at the live feed of the take-off being projected above them. The other employees partied around them, but the two were in their own warm bubble. Their fingers intertwined and Peter saw the engagement ring, a stone too small for someone as beautiful as Rose, and he smiled. He remembered seeing her across the roof at that first party, so far away, infinitely out of reach. Now she was here, in his arms, and she was his.

The camera was moving over each seat in the spaceship, and the roof erupted into cheers when it passed over Zachary, who waved frantically at the viewers and snapped a picture of it with his camera, then cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted.

“I love D-Section!”

Peter and Rose, as well as all of the employees around them, cheered at the shout out.

One of the partiers knocked over the table next to them, and the spilled beer almost seeped into their blanket, but the tragedy was avoid quickly by DD.

The new robot, slightly taller than Peter with a more humanoid body than his old friend, had twice the gadgets that BB had and was superior in almost every way. The only thing her perfectly monochrome body lacked was personality. Peter knew he would soon miss his friend.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to her,” muttered a nearby partygoer to Rose’s friend, Kelly.

“I know,” said Kelly. “It’s weird not having BB around.”

“I can’t believe someone stole his head,” said another employee. “That’s a pretty cruel prank. But he was really old. It was probably his time to go, anyway.”

“The countdown’s starting!”

Everyone began cheering as large numbers blinked across the screen. Peter noticed a small flash that told him Zachary had taken another picture.

“God, Zach is such an idiot,” laughed Kelly. “That camera won’t survive the trip.”

Peter hugged Rose closer as the countdown reached its end. Everyone began laughing and cheering, and Peter could see fireworks go off in the starry sky as the ship began to take off. And in the midst of the noise and chaos, the sound of the excited people left behind, and the rumble of engines setting off toward new life, Peter smiled for his old friend, outdated but full of love, as he journeyed to see the stars one last time and never have to leave. END

Alexandra Grunberg has previously been published in “Daily Science Fiction,” “Fantastic Stories of the Imagination,” and “Flash Fiction Online.” Her short story “Compassion” was published in the 12-JUN-2013 issue of “Perihelion.”




frank wade


bone wall 2/2016