Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Conversations With a Garbage Truck
by Margret A. Treiber

Freshly Brewed
by Preston Dennett

by Barton Paul Levenson

Gift of Nibelung
by Olga Godim

by Fonda Lee

Send in the Humans
by Harold R. Thompson

Rhythm of the Rain
by Samuel Van Pelt

Worms of Titan
by Brian Biswas

Shorter Stories

by C.R. Hodges

by David Steffen

Fast Time Machines at Ridgemont High
by Fred Coppersmith


Madness of the Winter Soldier
by Erin Lale

Resistance Fighters
by John McCormick



Comic Strips






By David Steffen

MY DESIRE FOR UNION DRAWS me to the planet. There are so many sparks of life bound to this tiny rock. Why so many, so small and frail, when together they could be a colossus? In my curiosity and desire I am too hasty, and I fall toward the planet before I can prepare myself for adversity. Hot winds buffet me and tear away piece after piece of me. I mourn for their loss, that mass that had taken me eons to collect. I pull what I can into the tightest ball I can make. Though the ground yields and makes a cradle for me I am still shattered further.

I am nothing but a burnt fragment of my former greatness, just a lump in the crater of my impact. This is the price I pay for haste. I am too damaged to heal, and will die here. Perhaps one of my other pieces that broke away will survive.

Three creatures rise above the lip of the crater and I rejoice. Redemption! They will subsume me and together we will go on, as is right.

The creatures approach, improbable towers of flesh on two stalks. Why do they walk apart? They shift the air with concussive waves, for no purpose I can discern. One of them reaches toward me. A generous offering.

With the last of the energy in my shattered body I take hold of the outstretched flesh. The creature’s acoustic bombardment grows in pitch and volume as it waves the appendage in celebration.

Oh, the joy of union, the gift of subsumation! My body quivers with the ecstasy and the effort of it, as the creature’s body gradually becomes ours. Up its arm I spread, and over its abdomen. So many wonders in the abdomen, marvelous organs adapted to life in gravity and atmosphere.

One of the other creatures departs over the lip of the crater. Perhaps it will come back to join me, but for now I can spare no time for it.

The third creature touches me with great velocity, another generous offering. A piece of me breaks free and clings to that creature as well. I am reluctant to be apart from it, but we will rejoin soon enough.

A flood of understanding washes through me as I find this creature’s brain. I stop screaming with its mouth, and my fear ebbs away. It had been named “Joe.” The other one who I am taking is named “Annie,” and they are breeding mates, what they would call husband and wife. We are in Texas. The third one was Pete. Annie is frightened, so I laugh and tell her she has nothing to fear, but she does not listen. She does not stop screaming until her brain is taken as well. Then she smiles. I understand their fear now, their solitude. They did not know the bliss of unity until I shared with them. They existed, ever alone, and were afraid to join with others. So sad, but now they are truly happy as they have never been.

Beneath the thin veneer of civilization, this brain is full of an animal urge to copulate with the body that had been Annie. I follow the urge. Clothing melts into our flesh, and my body joins with the other in the way natural to them. I relish the sensations and the process and improve upon it, joining the lovers truly as one, molding them together into something better. I conjoin groin to groin, face to face. I leave the legs separate to provide a stable base for my new body.

The third one returns, named Pete, shotgun in hand, and I recognize in him the fear that had ruled Joe and Annie. I try to speak, to tell him that I have not harmed his friends, that I can give him everything he needs. I try to speak this, but my mouths have fused. On four legs I arise and reach toward him to draw him into my embrace. He will only understand if I show him.

Pete pulls the trigger, and my head explodes into a red mist. My body collapses. I had not yet had time to distribute my nervous system for redundancy, and I am badly broken. I extend two legs and drag my body toward him. He has broken me, but if he will only let me touch him I can fix everything. I would give myself to him if he knew how to make use of me. But he cannot, so it is only right that he should give himself to me instead. Anything else would be a terrible waste.

He backs away, keeping the shotgun trained on me. I form a mouth from the gaping wound where my head had been. I speak with Annie’s voice. “Please,” I say. “Help me, Pete. I’ll die without you.”

I see recognition in his eyes, and disgust, and fear. He fires the shotgun into my body again, tearing a new wound. I lose what little control I had left, collapsing paralyzed to the ground.

He leaves me alone without a word, returning back to the Jeep which took him here. The sun beats down on me, and I cannot escape it. Over the next few hours my body begins to decompose, sending up waves of putrid stink. My life ebbs. I wait to die.

But soon I feel the weight of a creature landing upon me. It is a vulture, come to feed upon me. A sharp beak drives into my flesh and tears away a piece, and another. After making a short meal, the bird seems to sense something is wrong, and it tries to fly away, but the pieces of me inside it are already spreading through its body. It flops to the ground, writhing in pain and fear that soon become pleasure. I can already see others of its kind circling overhead. I am fortunate. The creatures of this planet are so accommodating. END

David Steffen lives in Minnesota where he works as a software engineer, writing algorithms for traffic cams. He also writes speculative fiction with sales to dozens of publications, including “Daily Science Fiction” and “Stupefying Stories.”