Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Astronaut Dreams
by Joseph Green
and R-M Lillian

Virus Smugglers
by Erin Lale

Clone Music
by Guy T. Martland

Adventure of the Durham Monograph
by Robert Dawson

by Timothy J. Gawne

Too Much to Dream
by Richard Zwicker

Tour de Force
by Richard Wren

by Stephen L. Antczak

Shorter Stories

Free Wi-Fi at the Bordello
by Santiago Belluco

Ambivalence of Memory
by Jamie Lackey

Welcome, Distant Traveler
by Andrew Vrana


Pandemic: Zika
by John McCormick

Descent and Ascent
by Eric M. Jones



Comic Strips




Free Wi-Fi at the Bordello

By Santiago Belluco

PONG APPROACHED THE FIRST half-naked prostitute he saw at the Red Hat Gentleman’s Club and asked if he could see her cell phone. The young woman blushed and the madam at the front desk widened her eyes in shock.

“Sir,” the prostitute replied, “we are not that kind of establishment.” Pong stepped back and raised his palms in a shrug, as if to brush off the request as a simple misunderstanding, but the madam had already signaled to the bouncer sitting in the back.

“Wait, maybe just a peek at your home screen’s wallpaper?” Pong stammered as the bouncer pushed him out the door.

A woman wearing a leopard-print unitard and plastic jacket smiled at Pong from the alley entrance nearby. “Hey sailor. In the mood for some hot personal data?”


The woman’s smile faded a notch. “Uploads cost extra.”

Pong nodded and they went halfway into the alley. He pulled out a cord and his phone, fumbling to stick one into the other.

“Sorry, hun, I’ve got my own wire.” And Pong could see her phone was already attached to its connectivity cord. So hot.

Somebody coughed nearby and Pong looked up to see a hobo huddled against the dumpster farther down the alley. The hobo was holding a bottle of cheap liquor and staring at Pong. No data on him, not even a phone or tablet, most likely, so Pong just ignored the man; his watching didn’t really mean anything.

Pong plugged his phone into the other end of the wire and uploaded his company’s work profile and a recent CV. Then he looked at the prostitute’s neutral expression as she read his data. Then he sent a compilation of his childhood media. The last file was just the best, a recording of the piano recital where he wet himself in front of everybody. She even raised an eyebrow at that and stifled a chuckle.

In turn, the prostitute let Pong look at her list of apps, her calendar for last month and, much to his surprise, even a sampling of her emails! Pong couldn’t stop reading one particular message from her mother complaining about neighbors stealing her gardening equipment. Pong never got data so rich, not even from his wife.

“Hey,” Pong said, still looking at the screen and emboldened by this treasure trove of rare erotica, “how about we turn off the firewalls? Full access.”

The woman rolled her eyes at him. “Come on, pal, this is my life here. No glove, no love.”

Desperate for more, Pong opened an illegal app on his phone, which displayed a rotating skull as it tried to hijack the phone across the wire. Both phones buzzed angrily as Pong’s own firewall stopped the operation—he had forgot to turn it off before running the program. Despite Pong’s particular vice, he’d never been that good with technology.

A yanked wire and a swift knee to the balls later, Pong lay on the sticky alley floor, cupping his bruised testicles and moaning to himself. He lifted his head to catch sight of his muse walking away, his wallet open in her hands: Sarah Powell, age thirty-seven, recent purchaser of Nutrevita yoghurt and TigerBalm heat pads, avid reader of Jane Austen novels.

“Wait,” he groaned at her, “your mother can get a new pair of gardening shears for only 19.99 at!”

As Sarah turned the corner, Pong heard a faint hum coming from above. An enforcer drone, its six stabilizing propellers dampened for stealth.

“Dear Vericast user Pong Adams,” a robotic voice boomed from the floating machine as Pong tried in vain to hide his phone, “you have unfortunately violated the End User License Agreement clause of your contract in the following ways: attempted hijacking of third-party user, unapproved cross-platform mingling, and breach of sponsored-content exclusivity on data mining.”

“Wait!” Pong wheezed as he got to his knees, the drone rising a bit, almost as if it could smell the alley on him, “it was all consensual data sharing, we were just transferring files socially, honest!”

“This is your third infraction. We at Vericast regret to inform that your cloud-storage access and social application privileges have been rescinded. Your phone may still operate on standalone mode. Thank you for using Vericast.”

“Wait, stop!” Pong almost flung himself at the drone, but it was already far up between the buildings.

The hobo in the corner chuckled softly, “those be tough breaks, son.”

Pong turned to his phone but it was already bricked. No sharable content enabled at all. He felt like a wounded animal looking down at a mangled paw.

“Hey, wanna drink, man?” the hobo asked, raising his plastic bottle of vodka.

Pong sighed and sat against the dumpster, then took a long swig from the hobo’s bottle. He’d have to make do with old-fashioned entertainment. END

Santiago Belluco is a writer from Switzerland. He attended last year’s Viable Paradise Workshop in Martha’s Vineyard, and has since had stories accepted by the “Straeon Quarterly” and “Stupefying Stories” anthologies.


gawne 3/16


martin hanford