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




Teaching Acute Coronary

Syndrome to an Alien

By Devin Miller

THE EMS CREW WORE IDENTICAL expressions of distaste when they wheeled the colonel—or rather, the host who was once Colonel James Weir—into the room. I watched his heart rhythm dance across the monitor before I confirmed my diagnosis: a major heart attack.

“We gave him pain medicine,” one of the EMS guys spat. He added, “Should’ve given him enough to put him out of his misery.”

They left me alone with the colonel. I scanned the papers in my hand, then rolled them into a tube and stuffed them in the pocket of my white coat.

“My name is Doctor Mary Lehman,” I said.

“Why don’t you just ... kill me?” He clutched his chest, gasping though they’d sat him up forty-five degrees before leaving—they’d done that much, at least.

“Here at Orbital University Hospital, we treat all who need our help,” I recited, “even if they’re part of a race of hostile aliens controlling a human and trying to commit genocide.”

“You only want to help because my host is important,” the alien said in the colonel’s voice. “I hear him thinking ... how much he wants to kill me. He’s asking you to kill him, Doctor Lehman. He’s asking you to kill me by killing him.”

“I’m not going to do that,” I said. I’d never spoken to a host before, and it sent a cold chill down my spine that traveled all the way to my toes. “I’m going to help him.”


“He’s having a heart attack.”

“Heart ... a body organ?”

“That’s right.” The aliens didn’t have organs like humans; instead they had dozens of appendages that commandeered a host’s neurons. “It pumps blood to the other organs to bring them oxygen and nutrients.” I slid a table beside his bed and opened my kit. “Give me your—his—wrist, please.”


“I’m going to access his arterial system.”

“To fix the ... heart attack? How?”

I felt his wrist for a pulse and rubbed some numbing cream over it. Then I inserted a needle into the artery and watched as bright red blood pumped into a hollow tube and mixed with a milky gray solution.

“The heart also needs oxygen and nutrients,” I said. “It has arteries called coronaries that feed it. When one gets blocked, it starves, and that’s a heart attack. I’m going to use these nanobots to open it back up.”

I depressed a button and watched as the homogenized solution flowed back into the bloodstream. Once it was in, I removed the needle and placed a sealant bandage across the site. The nanobots fed their images back to a small screen in my kit, and I steered them upstream toward the heart.

“How did it ... get blocked?” the alien panted.

“The colonel didn’t have the best diet, did he? And he smoked cigarettes.”

“I love cigarettes. The only thing ... lungs are good for.”

“Cigarettes make your—his—arteries tortuous, and high cholesterol levels cause deposits along the artery walls, which can rupture and clog up the blood flow.”

“Why is something that brings pleasure ... bad for this host’s body? Your species doesn’t make sense.”

“Just because you evolved to be parasites inside other creatures’ brains doesn’t make those other creatures inferior,” I said. I took a syringe of clear liquid and injected it into the IV the EMS team had started. The anxiolytic took effect at once—I watched the colonel’s eyes roll back before he could retort. Then I referenced my papers for thirty seconds before hiding them again.

On the screen, the nanobots reached the heart and split into two parades, one down the left artery and one down the right. I punched in a code that made them release a dye formula into each artery.

The blockage was as obvious as a kink in a garden hose. The dye lingered long enough for me to highlight the area and direct the nanobots. In seconds they began attacking and digesting the clog.

Then the colonel’s body started to twitch. His arms and legs convulsed wildly. I retreated a few steps; his eyes popped open and he muttered, “What’s happen—” but then he was drooling, and I could only see the whites of his eyes. I fished out the papers and flipped to the last page, scanning feverishly.

The seizure-like activity started to abate, then calmed to mild tremors, and at last ceased altogether. I checked the monitor, waiting, then rubbed my knuckles on his chest. “Colonel Weir?”

“Hmm?” His eyes popped open; he blinked and stared up at me. Then his mouth dropped open. He moved his arms, his legs, gingerly; I read the incredulity on his face and smiled.

“It’s all right. It’s gone. The alien—it’s dead.”


“You’ve had a heart attack.”

“Yes, I know. You still know everything that’s going on, when you’re ... when ...”

Then the colonel burst into tears. He extended his hand—it occurred to me that this might be the closest this strong soldier came to affection, and it moved me. I shook his hand.


“The dye I used is toxic to them,” I said. “We’ve only just discovered it. A few of my colleagues here at Orbital University wrote a top secret report on it.” I patted my pocket.

“So it’s ... dead inside me? Will I have to have surgery to remove it?”

“Oh no,” I said. “The dye sticks to the alien’s appendages and dissolves its adhesion to your neurons. It breaks the alien down into its base proteins. Then your kidneys just filter it out of your blood.”

“You’re saying I’ll ... pee it out?”


“Satisfying,” Colonel Weir said. “That’s goddamn satisfying.” END

Devin Miller is an annual judge for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. His fiction has appeared in “Daily Science Fiction,” “Ray Gun Revival,” “Electric Spec,” and many other magazines. He previously appeared in the 12-JAN-2014 “Perihelion.


wade ad


gawne 3/16


robin dunn comp


martin hanford