Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Narrative of a Slave
by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Song of C
by Jørn Arnold Jensen

Ready or Not
by Holly Schofield

Each Day I Walk These Hollow Streets
by Andrew Barton

Neanderthal Autumn
by Kurt Heinrich Hyatt

Plasma Breach
by Mord McGhee

By the Light of Several Silvery Moons
by Eamonn Murphy

Packrat Machine
by Karl Dandenell

Shorter Stories

Teaching Acute Coronary Syndrome to an Alien
by Devin Miller

by Bill Suboski

We’ve Only Just Begun
by Chris Bullard


Tales From the Greenhouse
by Joseph Green

And a Tale of the Tail
by Eric M. Jones



Comic Strips




Plasma Breach

By Mord McGhee

GOLDEN TRIANGLE ABE SAW a brilliant flash of pink light. He had to blink to see if he was awake or dreaming. Though he’d be in trouble if anyone found out, Abe had been taking a nap on the job. Small chunks of concrete dropped from above, the air thickened with dust. Then, as soon as it arrived, the bright glow was gone.

He rose, small pieces of concrete trickling off his body as sleepy cobwebs broke. Abe scrambled to the viewing porthole. A gasp left his lips, a mushroom cloud wafted skyward from Sector 7.

The platform’s processor displayed a host of visual alarms. “What the,” Abe started to say. There was no time to finish the thought. Golden Triangle Canaan’s voice raked across the rescue channel.


Abe received an update, not realizing it would be the last one he’d ever see about friend Canaan. GOLDEN TRIANGLE CANAAN: NON-RESPONSIVE. The reality that something had gone wrong sank in. “Oh God,” Abe exhaled, shaking.

He opened the channel. “Golden Triangle Abe to Golden Triangle Canaan.”




The living suit twitched, pinching Abe’s skin. Further updates appeared, floating in his field of vision.




PLEASE WAIT scrolled in an endless loop across his view. Abe breathed, watching normality wear away. His helmet snick-ed. GEIGER ENGAGED. AIR PURIFIER ENGAGED.That’s new. You’re full of surprises.” The suit tingled and a second explosion rocked the shelter, rattling rafters and raining rubble again. Abe rushed to an arched doorway and opened the emergency channel; the words coming out of his mouth in clips as his heart raced. “Golden Triangle ... Rescue Abe ... to Base.”

Base responding. Go ahead Abraham.” No inflection, no panic. Computer deadpan.

They don’t have a clue something just occurred, he thought. “Didn’t you people see Sector 7? We have a situation here.” Abe leaned out when the rumbling ceased. He opened the door slowly, stepping outside to a new world.

Error. Abraham, please rephrase for support.”

The platform quavered beneath his boots. Coils in the tread energized, locking him into place as he left concrete for spider-steel. The suit told Abe that it detected no airborne toxins although the temperature was elevated to dangerous levels. The living suit compressed around Abe’s biceps and thighs, telling him that it had a bad feeling.

He said, “Base, GT Canaan isn’t responding from 7.” He took another step, unable to comprehend what he saw. A flock of birds whizzed by the station, crumpled into lifeless balls. They struck concrete and dropped out of sight, leaving red smears to mark their passing.

Golden Triangle Abraham. Do not open the door. Remain within the shelt—” It was as far as the message got. An acoustic tidal wave consumed Abe, the planks, and the entire rescue station. Glass and concrete burst into billions of shards. Spider-steel buckled, becoming a giant spiral pretzel. Abe vaulted through the air, flipping a dozen times before he hit a solid. He screamed while the violent vibration tore his world apart.

It lasted 1.13 seconds but felt like eternity.

Abe couldn’t tell up from down. The Geiger popped with warnings. What came next was behemoth silence. The living armor triggered closed-captioning, white letters contrasting against black.


Abe wanted to move but his body had other ideas. He wasn’t sure if he was pinned ... or dead. The symbiotic armor wove a magical tapestry of microscopic medicine. If he hadn’t been wearing it, Abe would be dust. Pain and pressure surged through his body as the armor pulled him back from the brink of disaster.

“Hello,” he shouted, though all remained soundless. His chest rose and fell, panic working fast bellows. The symbiotic helmet spritzed antibodies into his ears and sound exploded ...

“Base to Golden Triangle Abraham. Please Respond.”

Abe gagged on the taste of blood though he couldn’t know if it were his own or the symbiotic armor’s. His tongue moved over a loose tooth as the suit stabilized the volume and the helmet filled with soothing mist. His ears no longer ached, the incisor no longer budged, and he tasted nothing but peppermint. He hacked, “Abe here ... ach ... go ... ach ... ahead Base.” The living armor reported that a repair sequence was at thirty-eight percent complete. Abe groaned, “It’s going to be ... ach ... a long day.”

Base to Abraham. Please repeat.”

“Nothing.” His limbs throbbed as he pulled himself free from the ruins. Abe wasn’t near a hundred percent yet but he could move. That was more than he expected a moment before. He came to rest atop a slab of what he guessed must’ve been the east wall. “I’m ... ach ... alive.”

Base to Abraham.”

“Yeah.” Each breath steadier than the one prior.

An entry point has been marked on your Universe positioning matrix. We have detected two survivors. Please engage rescue protocol.”

“Yeah, about ... ach ... that ...”

Base to Abraham. Please confirm that you have received the rescue order.”


“Got it,” Abe said. “Might ... ach ... be a few ...”

Confirmation acknowledged. Base out.”

“Wait ... ach ... What about Canaan ...?”



Branches of dark smoke pushed into the heavens, a thick tree of carnage. Abe disengaged the suit’s thrusters and dropped until his boots crunched smoldering ground. The suit detected a mixture of core-thirteen plasma, sand, synthetic construction gravel, spider-steel, and hydraulic cement. It also reported trace human DNA, animal and insect matter, and very high levels of radiation. He stepped over a wasteland of burning embers, moving cautiously towards the first set of vitals.

3.14m SSW.

The ground quaked. Abe took a breath, staring at the utter devastation. It was unbelievable. Nothing’s alive here he thought though the suit tingled with a different opinion.

0.67m SSW.

It urged him to shift a chunk of concrete and Abe saw her. He’d no idea how she found an emergency shell before the explosion but somehow she had. He couldn’t see her face through the shimmering outer skin though he noted auburn hair with blue tips. She’s young. Good reflexes maybe. Abe tapped the rainbow bubble, “Golden Triangle Rescue. Hang in there. I’m going to get you out of here.”

The woman’s vitals spiked. She was alive, she’d heard him.

He pulled the safety shell out of the wreckage, lifted her over his shoulders, and rocketed into the atmosphere. Abe dropped the survivor onto aid station Old Pointe and a dozen first responders emerged from the entrance; most were covered head to toe with white blast particles. They took her inside. Abe watched the door close.

The sound of thrusters approached and Golden Triangle Omri plunged out of the grim clouds. Her eyes flashed blue through her helmet’s silver face shield. She said, “One Hell of a show, Abe.” He remained motionless. “You okay?”

“Hey.” His voice was dreamy, “Sorry. There’s a second marker.”

“I saw it. Base called us in.”

“Omri, this signature can’t be real.”


“The vital signs at ground zero.”

“Nope,” she sighed. “No one could’ve survived there. But it’s what we do.”


Omri said, “Ready? Enosh and Bathsheba are on their way.”

Abe’s suit updated the status of his organics: REPAIR SEQUENCE COMPLETE. 100 PERCENT. “Yeah.” He turned towards the impossible beacon at the epicenter of death.

9.38 km W.

Thrusters ignited, lifting each airborne. Abe studied the last vital signs coursing through the lingering plumes from the damage below. “Something isn’t right,” Abe said, darting after Omri.

“It’s a glitch, Abe.” They cruised above the ruins closing in on the suggested position. “Shouldn’t be a big deal to clear it. I’m worried about fixing this tube.”

Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One.

“Good point,” Abe agreed. It was going to be a Hell of a day.

They decelerated, dropping straight down. Dozens of reconnaissance drones buzzed loops and risers at the scene; it was an electromechanical hive swarming with silver and yellow synthetic insectoids. Above the confluence, Sector 7 was no more. Abe held three fingers high, lowering one at a time as he counted down. As the last finger fell, they slipped headfirst into superheated liquid plasma.

The rupture in the tube wall went farther into the gloom than they could see. “Fires of damnation,” Omri gasped.

“Unbelievable.” Abe’s brows crinkled, “The vitals. It’s close. Do you see anything?”

“That’s funny.”

Steady heartbeats blipped, caring little for the implausible chance that somebody made it through the blast. They pushed further into the flowing river, black blobs drifting in an enormous lava lamp. Abe’s thrusters roared at full power yet he crept forward slowly against the opposing force of the stream.

Blip. Blip.


A percussive penetration broke the surface behind them. Then came a second ka-thud-whooosh. Abe saw four blue glowing dots approaching. His helmet’s visual feed flickered oddly, making it feel as though he were stuck in an early Edison moving picture. “About time you two showed up. Keep your eyes peeled,” Omri said. It was Allegheny team, Bathsheba and Enosh.

Blip. Blip.


“They wanted someone who knows how to do the job,” Bathsheba chuckled.

“This is bad,” Enosh said. “I didn’t know it would be so hot.”

“From the sun shards,” Abe said as he scanned the length of the tear. It was worse than he imagined. “I’m glad you’re here,” he said. “It’s not going to be any fun stitching that up.”

Blip. Blip.


“Anyone see anything yet?” Omri asked. The fissure loomed behind them, a jagged black shadow against the swell of a phosphorescent river.

Abe looked again but saw no possibility of survival. “The vital signs are still ticking but I don’t see how anything could be alive.”

“Roaches survived the big one at Hiroshima,” Bathsheba said.

“It’s a glitch in the system. Nothing more,” Enosh said. “Has to be.”

“I’m not risking my neck for a cockroach,” Bathsheba told them.

“Abe, let’s close the hole,” Omri said. “I agree. It’s a glitch. Look at the update from corp.”

He did. The GENIe newsfeed didn’t lie: “Golden Triangle Power has suffered a solar plasma breach. Fourteen essential workers reportedly missing. Details withheld pending family notification. Official statement in ten minutes Terra Global Time.”

Enosh said the obvious. “This is the worst accident G.T.’s had in fifty years.”

“Worst ever,” Bathsheba said, looking at Abe. “Tell me you weren’t napping.”

“Screw you.”

Blip. Blip.


Omri said, “Let’s close it up.”

The team ignited specialized welders built into the sleeves of their living suits and went at the work. The rupture was twenty-five meters long and more than ten across. It was too big for the four of them. “Call in a shutdown, Abe,” she said. “This is too big. There’s no way we can’t do it live in the vein.”

Abe hovered over the black hole. “Yeah,” he said. “Abe to Base.”

Go ahead, Abraham.”

Blip. Blip.


“Base, G.T. Rescue Squad 101 Sierra-Echo requesting shut-down on tube,” he read the identifier on the remaining portion of the wall, “1-1-2-2-6-3.”

Repeat ID, Abraham.”


Coordinates verified. Input requested duration.”

“Twenty minutes. On my queue.”

Synchronize onboard positioning, please.”

“Done,” Abe said.

Diversion failure.”


We have no further information at this time.”

“What the Hell does that mean?”

Abraham, proceed freehand repair until further notice.”

Blip. Blip.


Abe sighed, drifting towards the opening. “Base ... try again. There’s no way we can do this without your help!” No answer. The channel shut down without another word. “Sorry guys.” He moved forward, glow-torch prodding the void. Theplasma breach breach became so loud Abe couldn’t discern between his team’s voices. He engaged closed caption, helping translation though not identifying the speaker. It was another bug with the symbiotic system that needed a report. Endless paperwork ahead, he thought.




Blip. Blip.


Abe said, “Four meters to the vitals.” The rift in the tube was worse than anything Abe had seen in fifteen years of power maintenance. “Wait. We should clear the alarm before we close it. It’s right here somewhere.”






Abe knew they were right; there was no chance anything lived through the initial explosion, let alone the aftermath. However, the vital signs continued to grow stronger.

Blip. Blip.



Abe didn’t see anything. “What was what?”


Blip. Blip.


“Two meters. I’m right on top of it.” Abe’s thrusters fought the gushing plasma, “There’s nothing here.” A wave of luminescence rippled across his face shield, part of the leaking delivery mixture spoiled from exposure to Earth’s atmosphere. “If I can just move a little more ...” The suit’s thrusters had nothing more to give. Momentum stopped.










Abe was there. There was nothing between him and the crack in the power tube; beyond was a well of bottomless black. “I’m fine,” he said. “I still don’t see anything.”


“Got it,” he said, driving a tether into bottom of the structure. He flicked helmet lights on. “Hello?” He called into the fissure. “Golden Triangle Rescue.” He felt ridiculous but the vital signs continued to blink. Abe turned to the team. Omri’s eye blazed vivid azure. He heard screaming before the words appeared in closed captions.




The living armor shrieked in protest, helmet sparking and hissing. The anchor popped free and Abe shrieked, suspended in anguish. Abe felt his head blow out as the symbiotic suit died around him. Abe saw flashes of reality. What he thought he saw was impossible.

An indescribable creature lurked beyond the rupture in the delivery tube as though it were a hole in the known universe ... an abhorrent, slobbering mass of claws and tentacles. The gelatinous horror pulsated, writhing as it devoured Abe’s dead shell. The creature sucked and slurped, squeezing through cracks in the armor. It seared his skin as it crept across his scalp until ...

... a ripcord jerk pulled him out of the collapsing void.

Omri dragged Abe’s convulsing body to the top the nearest platform. “Abe! Hang in there! Oh my God!”

He wasn’t breathing. Abe’s suit was dead. Hope slipped away. She desperately jammed a needle through Abe’s arm port. Abe shuddered as the chemicals shocked his system. He opened his mouth and foam dripped from the corner of his lips. He didn’t move again.

“Help’s on the way, Abe!”

A shadowy curtain fell.


Abe had no way to measure passing days. His eyes opened for short glimpses, each of which blended indiscernibly. He escaped the same awful dream every time. Feeling had returned to his limbs the first time he stayed awake for more than a few seconds. He sat forward and held a hand over his breast, sucking air through a computerized machine. He saw something move, he wasn’t alone.

“Good morning,” a woman in a powder blue smock said. Her voice wasn’t exactly right. She looked and acted normal yet there was something slightly off. It tweaked Abe’s nerves.

“Who are you?”

“Calm down. This won’t take long,” she said.

“What won’t take long? What are you doing?”

“Lie back. It’ll only take a second.” She came at him, hiding something behind her back.

“Wait.” Abe shook his head, “Stay away from me.” Was she real or part of the awful nightmare? He couldn’t ever remember any of the actual dream. He lost sight of her and a medical robot popped up from under the bed, chirping as it bit into Abe’s arm. The world blurred. That’s when the slurping began. He’d never forget the horrifying noise that the creature from the other side of the plasma breach made while devouring his head.

His breath raced. He couldn’t move. The thing was near, under the bed! The bed frame shook and the medical robot exploded into a burst of blue electric fire. It was nothing more than a plume of black smoke and sizzling chunk of metal and wires. The slurping crept closer until the door flew open with a bang. He heard the voice of an angel.



Did he simply think it or say her name aloud? Omri tore at his wrists. At first, he struggled. He stopped as he realized she was real. “Get up Abe. Now!” She pulled him off the bed and put his arm around her shoulders. “It’s in the room!”

He felt the ground under his feet, but his legs were mush. Omri dragged him out the door, into the hall. She turned back as the door creaked shut. Through the narrowing gap, she saw a dark shape slither out from under the bed, clawing at the very spot Abe had been. Omri screamed.

Abe’s lips moved but nothing came out. Omri yelled into their team’s channel, “We’re coming out. First floor, south.”

“Hurry,” Bathsheba answered. “It’s right behind you!” The channel wavered.


Omri dragged Abe around the corner as the sucking, slurping hunger trailed on their heels. She kicked a door open then stumbled down a flight of stairs. Momentum carried Abe headfirst into concrete. He crumpled, coming to rest facing the monster bearing down on them. If he could move at all, he would scream. The blob of pulsating goo quivered ominously, three meters above. Tendrils stretched forth, a lethal octopus. Slime dripped off foul limbs as it rushed forward, obscuring all else. Abe closed his eyes, succumbing to fate.

The infernal slurping drove his mind over the edge of madness. What remained started to spin out of control. Abe heard burst explosions of Harvey guns. Something latched onto his leg and a weight hammered his chest. The smell of death was all he had but somehow Abe knew his team had saved his life.


Omri’s voice woke him up. It was soft, unlike the last time he’d heard it. “Hey there,” she said.

Abe looked up to see her standing in the golden glow of morning. She wore a dress, his instinct was that he’d died and gone to Heaven. He hadn’t known Omri outside her rescue armor. “Are you a dream?” he asked.

Omri leaned in, hugging him. Abe saw Enosh and Bathsheba standing behind her, also out of their gear. “It’s okay, Abe. We’re really here.”

“But ...”

“They wouldn’t let us see you after the accident,” Enosh said.

“Yeah,” Bathsheba said. “We found you anyway.”

“What happened?” Abe’s brows rose. He absorbed the surrounding hospital room. There were no leather straps holding him down and no creepy nurse. “You saved me ...”

“We saw you get sucked into the breach,” Bathsheba took a step towards him. “It killed your suit. Left you for dead.”

“It wasn’t the breach. Something attacked me. You saw it. All of you!”

Omri glanced at Enosh and Bathsheba. She held Abe’s hand. “You got too close to the gap and it destabilized. A black hole formed and you got sucked into stasis.” She pressed against his arm gently, “Lay back down. You need rest.”

“No,” Abe resisted. “It was chasing me,” he pointed at Enosh and Bathsheba, “and they shot it!”

“Abe,” Omri said, eyes glistening.

He shook his head. “What’s going on here?”

Enosh came around the side of the bed. “You were sucked into a black hole, Abe. You died instantly. Nobody knows how but your symbiotic suit kept you alive.”

Omri frowned, voice drifting. “They told us you wouldn’t make it. They wouldn’t let us see you ... wouldn’t tell us where they were keeping you.”

“Omri! You saw it crawl out from under my bed. You carried me away and you two blew it away. I fell down the steps and saw the whole thing. It fell on top of me.”

“Oh,” Omri bit her lip.

“Calm down,” Enosh said. “It’s okay, Abe. Whatever you think you saw, it’s over now.”

“Whatever I think I saw! Are you kidding?”

Bathsheba glanced at the door, “It’s okay, Abe. We believe you.” A bead of sweat rolled off her forehead.

Abe looked into Omri’s eyes. “It wasn’t my imagination.”

“I know.” She leaned forward, whispering into his ear, “Abe, shh. She’s watching us.”

Abe hissed, “Who?”

Bathsheba touched Enosh on the shoulder, “We should go. Let him sleep.”

Enosh nodded, “Get some rest, Abe.” The door closed and Omri and Abe were alone. Their eyes met. There was something there he didn’t expect. Omri was afraid.

“What’s going on?” Abe asked, the fear spread into his own heart.

She held him close and whispered, “We don’t know who she is but she’s watching us.”

Abe’s expression screwed. “Don’t leave me here!”

Omri squeezed his hand until it hurt. She pulled away and spoke loudly. “Abe, when you lost the symbiotic bond you suffered brain damage.” Abe shook his head, blinking confusion. She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. “Just say okay and lay back down.” Then she was gone.

Abe sat staring at the door, breathing in and out slowly. He ran his hand over a massive lump where his head had struck during his fall. “Bullshit it didn’t happen,” he said, pulling fingers back from the sore spot.

The door opened.

It was the nurse. She entered without looking at him, limping and wheezing. “Hey!” Abe hissed. “Get out of my room.” She said nothing as she came closer. Abe craned his neck but couldn’t see her face. He called out as the door clicked shut, “Omri!”

The nurse turned her back to Abe. She gagged ...

... slurped!

Abe cried out. “Stay away from me! Help!”

She turned, again holding something behind her back. Abe threw a pillow but missed. Her voice was deep, gurgling. “This won’t take long.” The noise in the back of her throat was the same slurping horror as the creature of the abyss!


The nurse pulled her arms out from behind her, no longer concealing a set of jelly-slick pincers with a protruding neck and teeth like pins. The end snapped shut, mucous slavered out as it opened again. The nurse’s mouth opened and a black tendril oozed forth, slapping onto the bed with a wet plop. It pooled into ghastly lump, sucking and slurping towards his leg. The blanket darkened and the slime burned his flesh.

Abe roared, “Nooo!”


The nurse dropped onto his legs and fell off the bed, leaving a trail of icky gray goo. The gaping maw stopped moving and slid onto the blue smock on the floor. Omri appeared. She hyperventilated, in her hand a wet knife.

“It’s over Abe. It’s finally over.”

“No,” he gasped. “You’re not real. This is a damned dream!”


Enosh, Bathsheba, and Omri carried Abe out of the hospital and never looked back. It took three days for the hallucinogenic crap they’d been feeding him to dissipate from his system. Abe’s world quit spinning, the dreams didn’t come anymore.

Omri was in the living room by the time Abe figured out he could walk. She was in rescue gear, heading to work for the day. Her helmet lay on a glass coffee table in front of her as she pulled boots on one at a time. She smiled, “You’re getting around today.”

“I feel awful.”

She stood and the living suit crackled with energy. Abe missed his symbiot, the old friend that defied company orders and sacrificed itself to save him. Abe said, “Three more weeks, right?”

Through the silver shield, her eyes flashed bright blue. “Three weeks, Abe. Then we get out of here.”

“Thank God. I don’t trust them anymore.” He sighed, glancing at the door. “You never finished explaining.”

“Abe, you know as much as I know. Something attacked you through the plasma breach. Something that wasn’t part of our world. Enosh thinks the explosion created a wormhole.”

“Yeah, I know that part. The rest ...”

“Oh,” she said. As she moved, the suit performed minor updates and repairs, whizzing and whirring a normal morning sequence. Abe knew the routine like the back of his hand; he’d done it for more than a decade. Omri exhaled. She said, “The vital signs weren’t a glitch. It was that monster ... alien.”


“We don’t have another explanation. It’s all theory, Abe. None of it’s possible.”

“The rest?”

“The company took you away seconds after I pulled you out from the breach. Your suit was dead but it gave its life to keep you alive. They wouldn’t tell us where they had you. Enosh watched the vital signs follow you away. We followed it.”

“There was something alive.”

“It wasn’t much, but it was all we had.”

“And you found me.”

“We found you ... and her.”

“The nurse.”

“I don’t know who she was but somehow the vital signs were coming from her.”

“Why couldn’t I see it when I was right there? Facing the breach ...”

“We don’t have a clue, but it was inside her at the hospital. Both times.”

Abe exhaled, shivering with the memory. “Why me?”

“Don’t know. I’m sorry, Abe.”

“It’s dead?”

“The vital signs stopped. I have to go. I’ll be late.”

“Three weeks,” Abe said. Omri blew him a kiss and stepped out the front door onto the launch pad. Abe heard her thrusters send her into space. He dropped into a recliner and daydreamed about the Irish coast, where they’d be in three weeks. As long as Omri comes home again. END

Mord McGhee is a heavy metal musician turned writer. He is the author of the 2014 Silver Global eBook Award Winner in Science Fiction, “Ghosts of San Francisco.” Mord is also a regular contributor to “The Horror Within” online magazine.


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