Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate 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.

Stroke of Mercy

By Edward Morris



Are you terrified of the politically volatile star system we live in? Questioning your existence? Depressed? Suffering from personal tragedy? Relationship problems?

Stuck in repetitive patterns? Tired of feeling disappointed in your career? Do you have a teenager who is skipping school, using illegal drugs, or Just Plain Incorrigible?

Ask yourself a few questions:

Do you feel sad much of the time?
Is your energy level down?
Are you eating or sleeping too much (or too little)?

NIB Biomedical is looking for individuals suffering from depressive symptoms to participate in an investigational research study on our ultra-clean Fusion Synth-Eroid sub-c MediWorlds™. All research-related care and study medication will be provided at no cost to those who qualify. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please call today.

Don’t give up! There is hope!

We’re Here To Help You™!



The words drift apart. I don’t know what woke me now. Flashing lights still echo on my retinas, falling away. We had someone on the ward flip out very badly last night. And I’m pretty sure that someone was me.

Darkness washes over my mind again. My mouth is sore. I think I remember dreaming something. I know I feel frightfully out of place. I am unhealthy. I am sick and I am bad. My teeth grind, nerve-confounding, drilling away ...


There are no windows here. Just the light from outside that’s not really Outside. There is no Outside any more. We’re in Space. I know what Space smells like. It smells like there’s no Outside.

They grabbed me off the street. They grabbed me off the street because who the hell would miss one more crusty gutterpunk? Who the hell would miss me? They grabbed me because they needed—

I don’t even know what I mean by that. The thought fractures like crystal, shattering everywhere. I’m shuddering. Struggling. Slipping away. The numbness is a filthy, indelible fog, broken only by the twin throbs in my forehead and the base of my skull.

What was I just talking about? The gray orderly-things will come again with their brain-melting drugs, their charts, the pain that makes my head shut off. This moment of sensory anything is just a fluke, but ... but ...

In the shorter term, I remember again that we had a bad freakout on my ward last night, or what my body tells me was something congruent to Last Night. Someone went over the high side.

I remember the sounds of the orderly-things snapping restraints, filling needles, while the light washed white everywhere and there was no place to hide. I wanted to say something, but my restraints were too tight as it was. I couldn’t handle them being cranked in another notch.

What was I just talking about? It doesn’t feel like I’ve been up here for that long; but, once more, I’ve got no way to tell. They burned everything out of me along with my name and my first kiss and every other dead baby in the bathwater.

They destroyed me in order to save something they needed, when I still don’t even know who They are or what that something was. I dummy up, and try so hard to remember anything in sequence for five seconds.

But to be conscious of all this is to be a step ahead. That scares me, because this is something they can’t erase. That must piss them off to no end.


They sent a gigantic orderly-thing in to shine lights in my eyes and grunt at me when I quavered my timid questions, just a moment ago. He smelled like low tide. No one would ever, ever mistake him for anything like a human person—

Like low tide! At Netarts Beach, back when me and Mom used to go look for agates up in the rocks. Mom would bring the little blue cooler full of sandwiches and pop and ice, pack it into the sand, and Aladdin would stick his snuffly wet nose in it when we let him off his leash. Every time he did that, Mom would squirt the big ashamed-looking golden retriever with a squirt gun she had in the picnic hamper—

Oh, Mommy, you been dead these seven years with that stupid heart attack,
but I ... I ...

My God. I remembered something again. I remembered remembering something, from the Before-time.

Then the orderly looked sorrowfully at me out of his eight clone eyes, going to his cart and grabbing something like a piston syringe with a trigger. A big, big trigger. Before I could blink—

Well, it wasn’t like I thought. I thought for sure that what I saw and felt next must be a dream. And that was strange to me, because I was certain I could never dream again.

I heard a song in my head. Something from the no-outside part of Space began to warm the tips of my fingers like needles and pins on a pad, pressing harder and harder each time. Warmer each time, and ...


Now I am present. But there is another presence. Something moves in me, something that heard me crying in the night, something that ...


But answer comes there none. Only the light, the light, growing in my head. Forcing my eyes open, making my mouth talk a few steps sideways from human tongues ...

Heedless deliverance comes, comes, and that right early. I draw up into the corner of my skull, and wait.

I let them come. They come, the quintessence of all salvation. I open my mouth, and let the new people sing me back into the stars. Toward their home, and out of the way ...



Supra-Space Transmission:
To: Council of 8,
Most High Forum Mainchamber,
Reaper Collegium

Esteemed Elders,

We had no idea what in the worlds we were going to find in the asteroid belt, or closer in, closer still, closer to the yellow-white Sol 3 sun and its flagship rock overstocked with teeming, starving hordes in ruin, choking on their own waste.

My fellow Expeditionaries and myself were quickly, rudely awakened. Earth looms large now in our view. What we found to cast the die wasn’t anything humans were doing on the worlds, but between them, in unclaimed space where the laws of no world technically applied (as if that legitimized any of it).

They look nothing like us, act nothing like us, have few congruent values, yet this has been so very challenging. After what I saw on those so-called medical ships back there, I retch through every pore at the thought of the potential madness and discord on Earth. They’ve only just evolved off-world travel. It must make them crazy.

Our first two Scout Craft, A and B, found the fifty-odd NIB vessels on the dark sides of several asteroids. The humans did not, of record, own or build such vast, nearly moon-sized craft as the one which hurtled, tumbling through the dark skies between skies, and caught our attention to begin with.

Nor did they say they could wield the kind of death the dark star quite verifiably possessed. Our Scout Craft B sent back scan after scan after scan of the interior of this first vessel, and the atrocities these creatures perform on their own kind.

I must gather my thoughts, kind Elders. The artificial light in every ward-ring on that ship turned, turned, turned the way the wheels within the big, artless ships themselves all turned, turned, turned, sucking in starlight, subtly changing hue. I found myself unable to touch anything but the readout back from my single probe.

I was Senior Officiant on the whole vessel. I had the right of dispassion. Yet my antennae, Elders, reading all this in the pricks and subtle heat-shifts of the pin-pad above my central ganglia, locked and retracted, after a point. I found I was weeping, silently.

Entire galleys were sterilized in every way down there, used for...what is the quaint human phrase ... hospital wards, if such they could even remotely be termed. The patients were human convicts, or the addicted, the insane, the terminally dissident.

A few of them were permitted hospital clothes, but most were naked and badly cared for. The signature of human waste was strong. I had to hold part of my breath. Most of their number were bedfast, or penned and fed chemicals in the food.

Some of them battered at the walls of their pens. Some of them had to be turned so they could breathe from time to time. Some were on respirators. One had beaten his ... oh, what do you call that organ ... his face, quite literally soft, against the walls of his cell.

After a while, I lost track of how many different experiments, combinations and permutations thereof, were being performed, by whom, and with what ostensible purpose, on that ship. With due respect, Your Eminences, that vessel was big.

But I started to sense, after a time, that the cloned humans officiating on all fifty such vessels in the nearest quadrant we could get a read on (the asteroid belt just a bit past Sol-3, if you recall) headed away from Sol, well ...

All the drones wielding all the electrified whips all smelled the same, wore the same sort of human enclothements from one Hive, one source. I strained to catch the flavour of the insight that fell across all my antennae as fast as my Pod could set the holding orbit around Vessel 54 and learn everything we wanted to know without thinking a word.

Even as our Scout Craft A was regrettably vaporized by that same vessel, I was learning more than I ever, ever wanted to know about rogue humans. I knew that we’d have to break the fifth wall and do something. Talking to the primates might be inevitable. I hoped the Pod would concur that talking would come first.

But even a human will carry a stick when s/he ventures into an uncharted wilderness for the first time. There might be predators. If there aren’t, the stick remains inert. It is much like this with our kind when we travel, as you know. Until we unknowingly roust a different sort of surprise from the dark.

Two of my Pod died in Scout Craft A, the sleek little skip-slingshot disk that handled so tightly in most geosynch orbits ... Blown out in a blinding white-hot ripple that mirrored its own shape a thousand, nay, a million worlds wide, in my watching touch, as the rogue human atomics followed their signature.

But the deaths of our brothers and sisters in Scout Craft A were quick, honorable. No, I wept then for the humans on those wards, for whom Death would have been the kindest touch. From a thousand ports around me, the pins were screaming with my shipmates’ unwise escalation of hysteria.

I wept for the overdoses on Vessel 54, its megadoses, glass-fronted organs, exposed brains, heads and guts in plastinated cutaway, all pulsing as they filtered poisons for the teeming huddled Earth hordes screaming like mindless tapeworms for some panacea they were led to believe they wanted.

The deaths on those wards were pointless. Illogical. Yet I kept my ganglia when all about me needed placed back in their own.

“Ship,” I addressed the main driver with my base-brain, “I’m projecting into that survivor forthwith. What better staging area? Patch me onto Life-Support-Main. I will open the way for the others by manual projection from the host. Do it. Now. I’ll be back in-body soon enough ...”

For an AI, Ship was remarkably cooperative. Your path, Wa’lach. We’ll provide covering fire, if it comes to that. Don’t do anything stupid ...

But I was already out, gone and away. And instantly wishing otherwise, though not for long. After a moment, I simply began to call the rest of them in.



The bolts blew on the big double doors. The patient who was blinking a lot suddenly fell to his knees in his cell, eyes rolling back in his shaved head (a big, veiny head, shoved so full of tubes it looked like the skin would split).

IN HERE, POD, the patient sang through the voice of his new rider. WA’LACH SUCCESSFULLY TRANSFERRED. HOST COOPERATIVE. ENGAGE.

At that, and no more, there was a wash of warmth, a lull, a wavering chorus of anemone shapes in white light, there on the ward, with no more fanfare.


The Makaliki stopped, swallowed hard ... then simply put their upper ganglia down, fanned out across that long, long ring-ward and continued the Op like the hard-carapaced scientists they were.

Now the bill would come due. Their science officers began recording footage immediately.

Better to let Earth see enough to be shocked. Their elders and betters might accept, nay, even agree that the Invasion and subsequent Occupation were, in fact, for Earth’s own good. END

Edward Morris is an author of anthologies and novels. His stories have been collected in “Shock Theatre: Collected Speculative Fiction” and “Beyond the Western Sky.” He is also the author of the “Arkadia” and “Blackguard” series of novels.


Yellow Glad Days