Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Across the Distance
by Eric Del Carlo

In the Not-So-Helpful Unit
by Jeremy Szal

I-Juca-Pirama and Rosegarden
by Santiago Belluco

Snow Sharks
by Mord McGhee

A Chip Off the Old Block
by Eamonn Murphy

Girls of Summer
by Rick Novy

Most Certainly
by Brad Preslar

Psi Prison
by Michael Andre-Driussi

Shorter Stories

Revolution 2038
by Darren Goossens

by Jason M. Harley

Junkyard Dog
by Devin Miller


Playing With Dinosaurs
by Chett Gottfried

Prehistoric Monsters Roar on Screen
by Andrew R. Boone



Comic Strips




Snow Sharks

By Mord McGhee

ANISTE LOOKED OUT INTO the storm. She couldn’t believe what she saw.

She banged, punched, and prodded. The window wouldn’t budge; in a minute it’d be too late. No matter how hard she struck nor whichever clever angle she tried, it wouldn’t open. Herbie chirped, offering aid. The horseshoe crab robot swept out of the way, back flattened as pincher legs clacked excitedly. Herbie worked wonders when she needed a button or snap closed, but now strength and power were what was missing.

Her inability to open the window wasn’t because she was limited to a wheelchair, nor was it because an arm had been one of several things bitten by a bull shark while wind-boarding off the coast of Zihautanejo. Sure, these factors slowed her down. But it was something more. Aniste couldn’t open the window because, “the damned thing’s frozen shut!”

Herbie skittered past, jumping as he sensed tones of stress in her voice. He stopped against the wall below the sill. It was no use, there was no time left. Even if she’d managed to open the window, the driver of the oncoming tanker wouldn’t have seen the warning from the window. She did the only thing left to do, she yelled.

“Watch out!”

Aniste’s brother Amadeo came running. He appeared at her side, “What’s going on?” It was then Amadeo understood exactly what had drawn the sound from his sister. A vocal panic he’d only heard once in his life before ... during that rotten, stinking shark attack. “Oh my God,” he gasped, staring at the impending collision, palm over mouth. “They’re headed straight for each other!”

A football field beyond, a hover-truck’s engines clogged and it skidded sideways into the massive snowdrift. From the opposite direction, a fueling rig with traditional ground wheels hurried forward at a pace leaving no room to alter its course. Through the glass, Aniste and Amadeo heard frantic horn blasts as the rig’s tires locked. The enormous truck curled, jackknifing forward like an unstoppable bomb. Aniste shrieked, turning her head to the side as the out of control truck slammed into the disabled hover-truck.


Amadeo’s eyes opened wide. Brilliant flares of orange and yellow licked at the gray, powdery sky, then propelled like sizzling dancers, jigging across silver slush. The glass pane rattled, threatening disintegration. Amadeo and Aniste recoiled, covering themselves. Amadeo pulled his hands off his face when the rattling halted; Aniste had already pressed her face to the chilly surface. Breath created a foggy circle.

Amadeo forced a dry, painful swallow. His lips moved though the voice which followed that was barely audible. “I’ll call for help.” He dashed out of the room. Aniste wiped the misted frost on the glass until she made a spot she could see through.


The fiery truck debris snuffed below heavy clumps of ice and snow which kept dropping from above with what Aniste could only describe as celestial wrath. Fresh-driven flakes bigger than baseballs pounded the expressway, burying the smoldering vehicles in under a minute. In sixteen years, the squall was the worst Aniste had seen in Greenwood.

It felt weird ... wrong somehow. It brought to mind childhood stories of ice wizards and snow queens, faraway places like Buffalo and Bangor. Amadeo hyperventilated and the unnerving sound floated in from the next room. Time had stopped around Aniste and a dome of silence swallowed the world. A chill ran up her spine; it was all too much to comprehend.

The apartment was close to the expressway and she’d grown accustomed to hearing traffic night and day, but now she perceived not one roaring engine. She squirmed. It turned the pit of her stomach. Herbie chirped, nudging her leg which retained feeling but no longer had working muscle. She leaned over, picked up the small up, and plunked him into her lap. She shoved the window’s frame again and again. It ignored her. Solid, steadfast, stubborn.

Amadeo’s voice struck her as flaky, screeching. He wasn’t in her line of sight.

“Please, yes. Give me emergency highway patrol ... an ambulance, anyone!”

Another tanker truck appeared on the expressway, rushing towards ruin. The driver didn’t see the danger lurking below the whiteout until he was upon it. Reality struck a wild chord, sound returned to Aniste in an amplified wave. It was a hover-truck, engine whooshing.


The previously bleached snow blanket turned black, with steam vents spiraling into the violent gale. A squelch of helpless horror climbed into Aniste’s throat and strangled her. Herbie’s pincer held Aniste’s finger firmly, noting the fright engulfing his human. In the middle of the disastrous impact, the tanker’s operator climbed out from the crumpled cab, his body ablaze. He took haggard, drunken steps which concluded with a face-first freefall. Her throat released and a blood-chilling scream left Aniste’s lips.

Amadeo appeared in the doorway, pulling on his boots. “They’re on the way,” he said.

“What are you doing? Where are you going?” Herbie let go of her finger and flattened himself. Aniste turned her wheelchair, bowling towards Amadeo.

“No,” he said. “Stay here. At the window.”

“He’s on fire!”

“Stay here.” He handed her their Home Identifier Module, her trembling digits placed it upon Herbie’s back. Amadeo said, “If they call us back, somebody has to be here. I have to go help.”

“No! You need me. I’m coming with you.”

The door slammed shut.

Amadeo had gone and Aniste’s boots looked suddenly lonely near the front door. “You need me,” she said. Half her heart was in the statement, the other half lost to traumatic shock. She twisted around and hurried to the window. The storm had claimed the burning body, Aniste could no longer discern which lump had been him ... or her. She began to cry, overwhelming helplessness cracked her soul as if it were thin as an eggshell, followed by a burning in her chest which was the yolk of fading hope.

The gruesome scene returned to sparkling swirls of ice and crystal.

Ice wizards, snow queens.

She inhaled as Amadeo appeared below the window, trudging against the intensifying tempest. She measured the storm’s sheer fierceness by the unremitting rippling of Amadeo’s winter jacket. She said, “Herbie, would you grab my social link off the end table, please?” Herbie’s mechanical legs clanked and he sprang from her lap. He landed, chirping happily at the prospect of a task he knew how to accomplish. He returned a moment later with her social link, a device synchronized to the implanted birthright GENIe-computer inside her head.

She swiped a finger over the small screen, pinging out a desperate plea to her brother as she watched him proceed through the gusting torrent. “Be careful, Amadeo.” Amadeo turned, he held an arm in front of his face and waved with the other. Her social link displayed his response.

I’m fine. It’s not nearly as bad as it looks. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Stay warm.”

He returned to trudging ahead. The storm enveloped him and Aniste leaned forward, petting Herbie. She wished there was something for her to do ... some way to help. Anything.


Disabled vehicles and emergency cruisers dotted the landscape along the expressway as far as she could see. The blizzard had conquered transportation. “Amadeo,” Aniste pinged. No response. “Amadeo, answer me please.” The blank screen on her social link remained still. If Amadeo received her signal, no reply came. It’d been eight minutes since the tragedy began.

The air from her voice misted the glass, “Where are you, Amadeo?”

A blur of motion caught her attention. It was past the end of the sidewalk their father had constructed before he left for St. Louis. She glanced away for one second and when she looked back, it was gone. It’d been different than Amadeo, bigger and thicker, more of a blur too. She held her breath and wiped a clean spot.


Frosty shards of moisture clung to her fingers, she pressed them to her lips. Bitter and musty, the taste of winter. She wiped her fingers against her pant leg and searched the storm. She thought she’d found Amadeo, there you are. “What the ...?” It wasn’t Amadeo. Aniste didn’t know what it was, but whatever she saw, it was big.

It stirred again, remaining below the drifts of snow; a dark, slinking splotch.

Aniste blinked. Her mind saw a shark. Dark, below the water. Rising ... teeth bared, maw open. She shivered, pushing the ridiculous vision out of her head. Using the power of the implanted brain GENIe, Aniste activated her brother’s universal positioning sensor. Amadeo’s location didn’t register. The internal readout floating through her field of vision read “Searching ...” and nothing more.

Aniste set the social link against the wheelchair’s arm and Herbie climbed up, strapping it in place. The robot circled in her lap and flattened. Aniste pinged him again, “Amadeo. Where are you?” No response. “Amadeo, why don’t you answer? Please, Amadeo. You’re worrying me.” The room felt too quiet and Aniste could only hear Herbie’s electromagnetic purr and the furnace ticking to life two floors down.


She focused with budding concern.

The dark splotch slithered below the surface. She saw enough of it to think she wasn’t being ridiculous, something out there didn’t belong. A glimpse of a solid black eyeball passed through her imagination, an unblinking onyx jewel as jaws chomped onto her unsuspecting brother’s leg. He bellowed for help ... from the depths of the sea. Aniste exhaled at last, “There’re no sharks. You’re being silly. He’s fine.” Her lips folded into a frown, “He’ll be right back.” She rocked nervously, “No sharks. No sea.”

Amadeo, please answer me or I’m coming out.”


“That’s it.” Pulse quickening. “Herbie,” she hissed as she pushed herself along, “if the module rings, ping me right away.” The robot slid from her lap and flattened against the carpet. Aniste gathered a coat, hat and scarf, a backup positioning marker, and trundled to the front door. She peered out the peephole while unlatching the handle. A dark object wormed out there ... on the far side of the street below the white lumps. It was too far for it to be the same dark splotch. Aniste gasped, it meant there was another.

The door cracked open and cacophony filled the room. Sirens, whistles, choking engines. Wind howled, whipping flakes of ice across her face. Aniste twisted the scarf around her neck, pulled it taut. Her chair drifted forward and, thud, halted at the lip of crusted snow. The wheels wouldn’t overcome the build-up. The surface of the frosted blanket was thick, heavy, and wet. She pushed harder and again the ice forced her back through the entrance. She slapped the wood, “Damn it, Amadeo!”

She turned back, now sobbing in anger.

The door slammed shut before Aniste released the handle.


The storm denied the attempt and it was done playing games with her.

Ice wizards, snow queens ...

... sharks.

She tore the scarf free, unable to stop irrational tears. She felt stupid, ashamed. She covered her face and bit the stump which remained of her severed arm. “Stop it, you’re not useless.” A light flashed over the window, calling her back. Herbie rose and crawled across the room, sinking into the warm air which pumped out from the furnace vent. Aniste wiped her cheeks and returned to her post. She gazed outward, fearing Amadeo was in trouble.

What if the dark splotch had been Amadeo? Was he trapped below the crust of ice? If he had gone under, he would suffocate. She stroked the social link with renewed urgency, “Amadeo, if that’s you ... you’re moving the wrong way. You’re going away from the house, come back. Turn yourself around.”

No reply.

The dark splotch glided back and forth, heading in the direction of the wreckage. A new set of spinning red and silver lights appeared in the distance, plowing through the unyielding snowsquall. Then, she saw him. A lone figure slipping, shoving forward. Hand over hand, knee into crust. He scraped for a hold in the layered ice and she immediately knew it was her brother. Aniste yelled, “Amadeo!” The figure scrambled and fell, skidded forward like a sled into a dip behind the white banks. She saw his head poke up and in one flashing instant, a dark splotch burst from the snow and wrapped itself around Amadeo.

Aniste screeched, “No!” Palm against window.

The tip of the dark splotch had been exposed as it dragged Amadeo. There was no mistaking it, it was a shark under the snow. The white layer turned red in a widening ring where Amadeo had disappeared. Aniste’s breath fogged the glass.

Squeak-squeak, she wiped.

The dark splotch was on the move again. Aniste shuddered, desperate for air which refused to materialize. Her gaze stayed planted on the red circle. She steadied, pressing until her nose touched the frozen pane of glass. A hand clung to the edge of the void in the snow for three heartbeats, then the storm reclaimed it beneath descending flecks.

The red ring faded.

The opening faded.

Aniste screamed, banging her hand against the social link, “Amadeo! Oh God, Amadeo! Come back, come back!”


Against all odds, a ping occurred on her social link. Amadeo said, “Aniste! Get Dad’s rifle. Help, help!” She froze. Her mind told her to go but fear closed around her, a fist of iron.

She replied, “You’re alive! I thought ... they got you?”

What? Who? Aniste, go get Dad’s rifle. Open the window.”

She shook her head, more questions than she could handle. Had it been Amadeo dragged underneath? Had there truly been a ring of blood ... a shark’s broad nose thrusting upward? Aniste saw dark splotch circling in a wide arc, joined by a second ...

... and a third.

She drove the wheelchair to her father’s bedroom. Bang, she hit her knee against the wall. The ache washed her thoughts until they lacked clear definition, a wave eroding footprints from sand. She put her hand onto the gun cabinet and the latch released. Snick.

Her social link pinged, “Hurry! There’s something out here. Help me, Aniste. I think it’s after me.”

She lowered the .30-06. It wasn’t easy with one hand so Herbie jumped onto her lap and provided the support to make it happen. Aniste rushed back to the window and pushed as hard as she could. It resisted, creaking protestation.

Oh my God! Shoot it, Aniste! Shoot it. Hurry!”

Squeak-squeak, she wiped.

There they were, circling. All three undulating shark torpedoes. Three dark splotches clearly identifiable. In the distance, a new ambulance hovered closer to the crash site. Its passenger door opened. Aniste watched in terror as the snow erupted and a huge shark attached itself to the hovering cruiser, pulling it to the ground. The hover blades threw showers of shimmering ice sky high, then the ambulance dropped dead.

A figure appeared, tumbling out of the ambulance door onto the drift. The dark splotch crushed over it, dragging its victim below. Red ring. Blood in the water. Aniste cried out. She felt her mind crumbling into madness.

Her social link pinged, “I’m bleeding, Aniste! Help me, shoot it!”

She shoved and shoved with all her might. She bashed the gun’s butt into the frame and finally, it gave way. Herbie crawled up and held the window open enough for Aniste to take aim. The robot flopped back into her lap and steadied the rifle. Shrilling wind and slivers of ices spattered Aniste as a burst of subzero temperature gripped her body.

She lowered her eye to the rifle’s sight scope, breath crystalizing with each inhale and exhale. Herbie worked the rifle’s bolt-action and chambered a round. She saw far more than three dark splotches now ...

... and a single staggering figure which left a trail of red spots in the snow. In the close-up of the magnifying scope, she saw, “Amadeo!”


Aniste threw the universal positioning sensor against the wall. The piece of junk had failed to register Amadeo in any way. Aniste rocked back, a dark splotch appeared behind her brother as he crawled through the snow towards home. Her trigger finger quivered. His gasps and cries rode to her in the gusting howl.

Aniste held the crosshairs over the shark. It churned below, cracking the crusty snow as it chased Amadeo. The trigger tricked her, a shot snapped off before she was ready. Her head rang at the surprise bang. Amadeo looked at the window and Aniste heard him yell a muffled word, lost in the storm. The dark monster under the snow closed the distance as Herbie operated the bolt and reloaded the rifle.

Amadeo held his hands in the air, unaware of the approaching danger. Aniste spat ice from her upper lip and aimed again. The creature’s fin broke through the crusted ice, splitting it neatly, a serrated knife through white bread. Amadeo fell, sliding over hardened ice. A thin crimson line trickled out of the corner of his mouth. He lay prone, right leg twitching. The shark’s fin disappeared and the monster was again nothing more than a dark splotch below the snow whooshing at her brother.

Herbie steadied, Aniste measured the cross-hairs and squeezed. The snow puffed where the bullet struck and the dark splotch changed direction, retreating immediately. It zipped in the opposite direction, zooming away below the surface.

Aniste saw no sign of the other sharks.

Her brother stirred. Herbie reloaded. She pinged her brother’s social link, “Get up, Amadeo. Run for God’s sake run!” Amadeo pulled himself up, slow and clumsy. The storm pelted down, promising to swallow him whole. Amadeo pushed ahead, Aniste held her breath and watched for any further pursuit.


Amadeo crept along at a clip so sluggish it was terrifyingly intense for Aniste to witness. Aniste yelled through the opening, “Hurry, Amadeo!” Ice bombarded her face with bee-sting force. “Hurry!”

Herbie chittered and pinched Aniste’s wrist.

Two dark splotches hadn’t given up the scent of blood quite yet.

Back and forth, slithering with enormous velocity. Tails swished ferociously, sending clouds of slush into the air behind while dorsal fins cut through ice crust. Within the blow-up of the scope, she saw teeth, nostrils, and horrific gullets large enough to gulp a human being down in one bite. Amadeo crawled over the two-step beginning of sidewalk, sliding backwards against his will. Closer, closer the sharks whispered forward.

Gale-force took charge of Aniste’s senses. The world evaporated, leaving only finger, trigger, and sharks. She squeezed a shot at the first to appear in the scope’s bead and puff went the snow. This time, a ring of black gore appeared. The crust cracked, breaking into chunks from the shark’s convulsive writhing. A third dark splotch turned, vanishing beneath the ivory, frozen shell.

The front door opened.

Aniste saw her brother and gasped, “Oh thank Heaven!”

Amadeo was safe. He dropped to the floor, panting for air. Herbie closed the window, sealing winter out. Amadeo pulled his hood back, “What ... what was that? What was it?”

Aniste went to him, “I don’t know. I ...”

“Tell me what you saw.”

“Sharks, Amadeo. I saw sharks, I swear!”

His eyes rolled back and he drifted into a dark, snoring state of peace. Aniste said, “Herbie, cover my brother with blankets from the bedrooms. As many as you can find.” She locked the door and slid out of the wheelchair, cradling Amadeo close. Together they shivered through the coldest night of their lives.

Aniste watched her social link for any news feed related to the accident on the expressway. It wouldn’t come until the sun rose the next morning. The floating display inside her field of vision read: SURVIVORS OF THE STORM ARE REPORTING THAT SNOW REMOVAL DRONES HAVE GONE BERSERK AND THEY ARE ATTACKING ANYTHING AND ANYONE IN THEIR PATHS. STAY IN YOUR HOMES UNTIL THE EMERGENCY HAS BEEN CLEARED.

“The worst blizzard Delaware ever suffered,” he said as he sat up.


Amadeo found his sister sitting before the window, the light of the sun crept into the sky around her. “Are you okay?” he asked.

She nodded, “They weren’t sharks, Amadeo. I was imagining them.”

“Of course they weren’t, we’re miles from the coast. It was snow, not ocean, Aniste.”

“I swear I saw them. They chased you. Tried to bite you. Fins ... teeth.”

Amadeo placed a hand onto her stump’s shoulder, “It’s okay, hermanita. It’s over. Your big brother is here and he won’t let them get you ever again.”

Herbie curled into her lap and flattened. Aniste said, “Whoever wrote the snow removal software is in for a long day.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Almost as long as last night.”

She sighed, watching an endless stream of rescue teams march across the glistening ice. Ants on crystal. The sun’s reflection cast vivid, golden lines from the expressway to the apartment’s sidewalk. Its majesty was breathtaking, another unrivaled sight in her short life. 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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