Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


From Gaia to Proxima Centauri
by Milo James Fowler

Suck the Oil Out With a Straw
by Robin White

L’enfer, C’est la Solitude
by Joe Vasicek

Tea With Silicate Gods
by Auston Habershaw

by Andrew Muff

Gina Starlight’s Got the Blues
by Sandra M. Odell

Passing History
by Bill Adler Jr.

A Planet Like Earth
by E.K. Wagner

Shorter Stories

Cold Deaths
by Michael Haynes

Leviathan Buffet
by Sarina Dorie

by Hall Jameson


How Far is Heaven?
by Gary Cuba

A.I. Invasion or A.I. in Education?
by Jason M. Harley



Comic Strips





Leviathan Buffet

By Sarina Dorie

“YOU HAVE ALLERGIES,” said the healer, waggling a sleek, black tentacle at me. The purple eyeball at the end stared at me expectantly.

Considering the multiple swellings and rash on my ten tentacles, the putrid odor excreted from my three dorsal fins, and the pain coming from my second stomach, this wasn’t a revelation.

“What exactly am I allergic to?” I asked. Due to my fatigue, I could barely keep from floating away in the torrent of wind. The thick soup of the upper atmosphere where the healer located himself on my planet shook with violent winds. The viridian mist of ionization in this patch of air was thicker and itchier than the slightly higher section where I tried to reside.

The healer swiveled two more eyes in my direction. “It might be the toxins in the atmosphere which have worn down your body’s immune system. Or your food source may be polluted with environmental contaminants, industrial chemicals, and radiation created by the Bottom Feeders.”

In the last hundred years, the large creatures that dwelled below my airborne home under the planet’s crust had exploded in population, their industries increasing as well as their waste.

Anger welled up inside me, feeling like it was about to implode out my dorsal fin. “So what should I do? Do I need to ingest atmospheric particles in a higher strata of sky? Are there certain colors I should stick to? It’s not like I can stop the Bottom Feeders from running the planet into ruin.”

“Take two doses of airborne plant pathogens every planetary rotation and come back in a moon,” he said.

I swam in different layers of the atmosphere, attempting to feed on microscopic particles that wouldn’t make my second stomach feel like it was hemorrhaging into my third. Within weeks, my symptoms grew worse. When I ate refreshing sparkly space dust, I oozed painfully from my fins. When I sampled rich, buttery purple particles with a touch of ionization, I instantly regurgitated them. I tried the savory green and the sweet-hot, red dust, but my rash grew worse than ever. One of my eyes fell off a tentacle, then the whole arm shriveled up and snapped off, leaving a gaping wound in my side. Others of my kind avoided me like I was contagious. Again, I returned to the healer. He had no solution for me. I tried a second doctor who joked that I should stop eating.

By the third healer, I was so emaciated and weak, I broke down and gurgled in frustration. “I’m starving, but there’s nothing I can eat. I’m allergic to everything.”

I expected the newest healer to scoff and tell me I was exaggerating. Instead I was told, “This has been happening more and more often to our kind. Scientists estimate that in another hundred years, no one will be able to tolerate our food sources as they’re becoming too contaminated with radiation and genetically defective bacteria. Fortunately, that day hasn’t come for most of us yet. In another hundred years we will have found a new planet to colonize.”

Hungry, itchy and crabby, this was too much. “Fortunately? For you, yeah. But what about me? I need a new planet now.”

The healer gave me the name of a specialist. I expected him to be another healer, but it turned out he was in charge of interstellar travel between worlds.

“Forget everything you’ve ever eaten on this planet,” he said, tentacle-tipped eyeball examining the oozing wound in my side. “Wait until you have a taste of what other worlds have to offer.”

I paid him everything I owned for the journey: my horde of negatively charged particles, a rainbow buffet I had collected, as well as a secret stash of rare bacteria I’d stowed away. The travel guide hid me inside the cargo hold of one of the Bottom Feeder’s spaceships where I rode to another world. I was barely able to cling to the interior of a wall in my emaciated state. Still, I fought to remain hidden. I knew I would never be able to eat the buttery, rich green or mouth-watering yellow dusts again if I didn’t.

As soon as I was out of the planet’s system, my rash faded and I stopped regurgitating. Unfortunately there was nothing to eat in the bulkhead where I was hidden other than stale space dust. It was hardly palatable, nor was there enough to sustain me. My wounds refused to heal and I grew even weaker. The ship made stops in other star systems, I switched ships, and by the time I reached the blue-green planet, my stomachs were imploding from famine.

The planet was full of primitive bottom-feeding life, like that of my own world, only these creatures hadn’t yet destroyed their planet. The air was clear and unpolluted. Unfortunately, the thin atmosphere was barren of sparkly particles, savory purple ionization and sweet-hot, red dust. The constant gravitational pressure was greater than I could comfortably tolerate, making my eyeballs feel as though they were about to pop out the end of their sockets every time I tried to swim through the air. It wasn’t so bad once I discovered the vast expanses of water, though. It was in the depths I found my sanctuary.

Just under the surface, I discovered crunchy krill and sumptuous plankton, savory amoebas wrapped in tendrils of kelp. And the bacteria ... oh, the joys of the blue-green world’s bacteria. Rich, creamy and sweet. At first it was just a bit of it here and there, mostly in the bed of the ocean floor and among the rotting carcasses of decaying animal matter. As I grew back to my former size and strength I was able to enjoy bacteria-laden fish and then larger sea life. Over the years, the bodies of land dwellers occasionally fell into the water during storms or battles and I was able to nibble on the flesh of these tasty treats. Soft on the outside, crunchy on the inside, they melted in my mouth. Can you imagine my pleasure the day I realized I’d grown large enough to swallow one of these creatures whole?

I’ve gorged myself on this delicacy, growing to ten times my former size. Once I was even able to find a wooden vessel traveling across the water, filled with crunchy, delicious beings jam packed with bacteria. Having grown so big and strong in this environment, I was able to yank that sea ship down and slurp up every last bacteria-laden creature.

I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven. I’m so strong. I’m no longer tired all the time. My tenth arm has grown back. Soon I’ll be able to journey up onto land. That’s where all the crunchy, sweet, bacteria-stuffed bodies await.

Best of all, I haven’t had one allergic reaction yet. END

Sarina Dorie has sold over 100 stories to markets like "Fantasy and Science
Fiction," "Daily Science Fiction," "Neo-Opsis," and others. Her novel, “Silent Moon,” won 2nd place in the Duel on the Delta Contest and the Golden Rose Contest.



Also by Sarina Dorie


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