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

Subluminal 116

By Jeff Samson

HE HUNG NAKED AND WEIGHTLESS in the accumulator field generated by his Orgone system. A tightly woven latticework of beams bathed him in searing reds and ambers, turning flesh the color of fired steel. His body, though upright, looked to be reclining. Beads of sweat speckled his high forehead, navigated the valleys between his defined pectorals and shoulder blades in tentative rivulets. His face was pulled taut over his cheeks and jaw, eyes clenched shut, furrows running deep between his brow. He breathed hard and fast, chest heaving, heart pounding against his ribs like a caged animal. Were it not for the slight, northward pulse of his erection, he might have appeared to be in the throes of a nightmare.

It had taken him fifteen minutes to create and send his signal. He had used all thirty seconds of the allotted recording time, then spent two minutes editing—prolonging some moments, contracting others, adding flourishes of intensity where it was wanting, pauses where he was sure it would heighten the tension.

Prior to recording, he’d spent nine minutes constructing his signal with the sensibility of a poet. And before that, three and a half minutes regaining his composure after her signal—genius in its marriage of earnestness and restraint—completed its journey and brought and held him at the cusp of orgasm for what seemed an eternity.

But a signal only ever lasted thirty seconds.

It was a needless limitation. The Orgone technology had long since overcome the early issues imposed by bandwidth and the once immutable constraints of lightspeed. Quantum entanglement and Lorentz transceivers now allowed for a limitless and uninterrupted signal, and had reduced the time delay to under a thousandth of a second. It was as close to sex as two people on separate planets could get.

But they had met at the dawn of the Orgone Revolution, two lovers at the mercy of celestial mechanics. During the closest pass of Earth and Mars, a three-minute trip for a signal was the best they could hope for. Currently, with the planets just shy of opposition, the two were almost as far apart as their sacrosanct orbits allowed, which put the transit time for a signal at twenty-one minutes one way, and twenty-one minutes back again. And that didn’t include the interval they spent contemplating, conceptualizing, composing. In time, they would draw close again, slowly, tentatively at first, then faster, the light minutes between falling away until they were almost close enough to touch—and then the eternal pas de deux would begin anew. But in the now, the absolute minimum time either of them could expect to wait before receiving a response was ... excruciating.

Even without the delays of this cosmic constant—known to most as “c” and to some as “c-block”—a full session took several hours, even for experienced users. Most people lacked the patience, let alone the imagination. And were it not for rapid improvements in usability, the technology likely would have quickly fallen out of vogue. For a small fee, they could have both upgraded their systems years ago. But for them, there was no need.  

Their chance meeting in an Orgone mixer room had revealed a common proclivity. They both found a beauty in the confines of the outmoded designs, an allure in the world of time in which they could conceive and craft an experience, and in the brief window of time they had to convey it. The care that went into every touch, taste and smell—every rush of blood and burning heat. The consideration behind each delicate brush of a fingertip tracing letters on electrified skin. To know another so well as to be able to create for them an instance of perfection, crunched and condensed, translated and transferred, smelted down to the purest forms of masculine and feminine, ones and zeroes, and sent hurtling into the void. It was an art that seemed all but lost in the mindless immediacy of the upgraded systems.

Still breathing hard, he unclenched his eyes and waited for the room to come into focus.

By the clock on his wall—a three-handed relic from centuries past for which he’d paid a handsome price—she had received his signal just shy of an hour ago.

She was taking her time.  

The last signal he’d sent was a masterpiece—a soaring medley of smooth verse and searing refrain, syncopated beats and driving rhythms, the delirious thrill of free verse dopplering in and out of disciplined haiku form—playing upon her weaknesses without malice or abuse. He was sure it leveled her. And positive her response would make his advance look like the nervous fumbling of a schoolboy.

The sweep of the second hand was nearly becoming too much for him—the throbbing in his loins rippling out to his toes and fingertips, threatening to rob them both of the moment. He’d always been fascinated by how long that final quarter revolution took to pass. The hand slowing as it crossed the nine, slowing still across ten, crawling painfully from eleven to twelve. As if it were straining to pull the weight of his stare.

Still, he followed the sliver of brass around the quartzite face.



Reveling in the storm of anticipation that crackled through the air before the next explosion of sensation would leave him breathless and writhing again.

And a— END

Jeff Samson’s stories have appeared in “Nature Magazine,” “Daily Science Fiction,” “Every Day Fiction,” and more. His last story for us was in December 2012.