Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor



Originally published in Perihelion Science Fiction. Free science fiction stories, science articles, comic strips, reviews, and more, on the Internet. Every month, Perihelion presents solid stories with strong plots, intriguing characters, with a sense of wonder reminiscent of the classic science fiction pulp magazines from the ’60s and ’70s. Artwork is by award winning illustrators. Articles are by experts in their fields. Established in 1967, originally as a print magazine, by Sam Bellotto Jr. and Eric M. Jones, the magazine was revisioned in 2012 as an online publication, and has been published regularly every month since. For the best in entertainment and information, bookmark Perihelion on your favorites list.

Shorter Stories

Marvin, the Bringer of War

By James E. Guin

MARVIN SWERVED HIS CAR OUT OF THE endless line of vehicles into the entrance of the strip mall.

“What do you think you’re doing? We’re going to die and you have to go inside Harry’s Heavenly Hot Dogs to pee!” his wife screamed.

Dodging stranded vehicles and the unpredictable movements of looters, he drove to the center of the parking lot, slammed on the brake pedal, shoved the gearshift into park, and stared out the front windshield.

Next to the entrance, the left wing of a smoking military jet clipped the head off of the Harry’s Heavenly Hot Dogs sign. The jet crashed into the front of the fast food restaurant. As playground equipment launched into the air, Harry’s head landed on a man dragging a cart of boxes out the back of the fast food restaurant. White steam rising in the air, hot dog wieners rolled around on the pavement.

Like machine gunfire, countless fragments of plastic, foam, bouncy balls, and glass from Harry’s Heavenly Hot Dogs sprayed Marvin’s windshield. A child’s jungle gym tunnel landed a few meters in front of his car then bounced across the parking lot.

Her teeth chattering, his wife slid down the passenger seat into the floor board. Marvin reached down the left side of his seat and pulled the trunk lever.

Opening the car door, he said, “No, I do have to pee a little, but if I’m going to die, I’m going to die fulfilling my dream.”

He turned and placed both feet on the pavement.

“Don’t leave me!” his wife screamed from the floorboard, but he sprung to his feet and was already at the trunk by the time she finished shouting.

Marvin stood with his hands on the open trunk and looked into a light blue sky with sparsely scattered fluffy white clouds. Cylinder shaped alien ships blast bright yellow lasers at military planes and helicopters.

Sticking his upper body into the trunk, Marvin moved around shirts, pants, ties, belts, empty oil bottles, a hand gun, and porn magazines. Through the back seat wall, he heard his wife sobbing and screaming. Pulling himself out of the trunk, he stood erect holding a clear plastic case, a conductor’s baton in the center of it.

A laser beam hit a military plane sending it flying over his head and crashing into the woods behind the strip mall.

As if it were a double edged razor sharp sword, the baton was cautiously unsheathed. Gripping the light-brown cork handle between his thumb and index finger, he held the icy-white, meager ten inch fiberglass shaft in the air. A laser shot above his head and hit a car a few meters behind him. The car exploded into flames.

Tossing the clear plastic case back into the trunk, he bolted to the open car door, and stuck the upper half of his body over the front seat. Crouched down on the floorboard under the passenger dashboard, his wife glared at him through tangled hair.

“What do you think you’re doing?” she yelled.

Marvin reached over her and opened the glove compartment which made a hollow pop when it hit her on the back of the head. Before she could slam it shut on his hand, he took out a CD of Gustav Holst’s, “The Planets.” He opened the case, dropped it on the driver’s seat, and inserted the CD in the CD player. “Mars, the Bringer of War” displayed on the screen. In one swirl, he turned the volume dial to max.

As the orchestra played a low rumble, he walked a few meters away from his car and spread his legs for a firm stance. Stiffly hammering out the five beat tempo, he felt nervous. He had stood in front of a full orchestra only once in college.

Through the orchestra’s long swelling intro, his wife screamed, “You’re crazy!”

A military plane scraped the end of the strip mall and crashed into the edge of the woods. Their arms wrapped around flat screen TVs, laptops, and clothes, looters ran out of the mall stores. As if to cue the full orchestra to bring home its driving staccato rhythms, Marvin turned his torso in their direction and pointed his baton at the group of opportunists.

Gunfire bouncing off of the alien ships matched the percussive rhythms of the orchestra. The metallic sounds of a helicopter crashing into the endless line of vehicles on the highway reached his ears as the orchestra pounded out its two main themes. Waving his baton in the air, Marvin felt a sense of purpose and destiny.

“If Director Jones could see me now!” he shouted.

“If Director Jones could see you now, he would tell you what a psychotic loser you are!” his wife yelled.

She had slithered from floor board and now hovered over the gear shift with her knees on the passenger’s seat and her upper body supported by her hands on the driver’s seat.

She pressed the FM/AM button on the radio console: “... an alien invasion. All branches of the military and the National Guard are fighting against these bizarre wiener shaped craft ...”

“Stop it!” Marvin yelled and ran back to the car.

“All you’ve ever cared about is your music!” his wife screamed, her face turning red as the car behind them burned.

“... the aliens’ advanced technology is obvious ...” the radio continued.

“Leave me alone!” he said and pressed the CD button.

At the explosion of the entire orchestra’s piercing cadence, his wife covered her ears with both hands and fell face down onto the driver’s seat. The low strings and percussion emerged from the wall of sound and lilted back and forth like the battered military jets and helicopters that were falling from the sky. While Marvin marched back to his imaginary conductor’s podium, stray laser beams and gunfire pounded the pavement around him.

The sound of the orchestra gradually rose with a long crescendo until interrupted by overpowering staccato burst.

The music stopped.

Marvin turned and looked at his car. His wife threw the car keys and hit him in the head. Disappointed, his arms fell limp to his sides. The conductor’s baton slipped from his thumb and index finger. His chin dropped and rested on his chest. It was so white against the parking lot’s dark pavement.

Crawling from the driver’s seat to the ground, she screamed, “You pathetic excuse for a man! You’re supposed to protect me! I never should have—”

A laser beam zapped Marvin’s car and it erupted into flames.

He lifted his head from the grim sight of his fallen baton to see his car and his wife consumed by flames. People from the highway were running across the parking lot to take shelter in the strip mall or in the woods. Raising his head, he looked at the battle in the sky.

“Mars, The Bringer of War” played in his head at the exact spot where his wife had ripped the key out of the ignition. Marvin retrieved his baton. As the parking lot and the strip mall were blown to bits, he waved his baton in the air.

Orchestra. Orchestra. Orchestra. Orchestra.

Rest. Rest.

Orchestra. Orchestra. Orchestra.


Orchestra. Orchestra. Orchestra. Orchestra. Orchestra. Orchestra. Orchestra.

Rest. Rest.

Orchestra. Orchestra.

Rest. Rest.

Orchestra. Orchestra.


Instruments pounded and collided into each other. Laser beams, gunfire, cars, concrete, jets, and helicopters crashed and smashed around him.

Final rest. END

James E. Guin’s fiction has appeared in “Daily Science Fiction,” “Dark Edifice Online Literary Magazine #4,” “Vampires Suck Anthology,” and “Every Day Fiction.”