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.

Copyright © 2014 by Gerald Warfield.


Musicians End the World

By Gerald Warfield

I’D BEEN ON THE L.A. POLICE FORCE six months to the day when our monitor picked up residue from a concussion wave. Back then, c-waves were fired from shoulder mounted amp cannons, and the blast signatures lit up monitors for a hundred kilometers, so we were on them pretty quick.

“Hold on, Marge.” My partner, Stu, reached back for the Flypack. “You got the last one.”

I could fly circles around him, but he was right. I shrugged and he jumped out leaving me to bring the scooter. First report came in before I was halfway there: hysterical woman crying her son had gone hissy and was shooting up the neighborhood.

“Got a visual,” Stu cut in. “Musta dropped his cannon. He’s retreating to ...” the coordinates followed.

I was impressed he’d gotten there so fast. I was less impressed a minute later when I found his body. The CL took me straight to him: face up on a flight pad, his chest caved in.

“God Damn it!” I flipped the e-call, leapt off the scooter and snatched up the med kit. Ripping it open I pulled out the freezer shroud. My hands shook as I slipped it over his head, never used one of those things except in simulations. His face looked fine, like he was sleeping. I snapped the safety and it frosted over instantly. “Stay with me, Stu,” I said, gripping his shoulder. Best scenario, six months regrowing his vitals. Worst, my fiancé Mario lost a brother and, incidentally, best man at our wedding.

“He didn’t mean to.” A woman peeked from behind an elevated bed of nasturtiums. Her oversized head and spindly limbs indicated a mental.

I scooted close and released the shield on her side so we could talk. “What’s the make on the cannon?” I could calibrate my shield for it.

“He hasn’t got anything,” she said. “He was just rehearsing.”

Yeah, right. “He didn’t punch out my partner without a fucking cannon. What’s he got?”

“I don’t know.” She wrung her hands. “He’s just a musician. I think he took a little too much star dust ...”

The prodigy’s life story was interrupted by a blast that rocked my shield so hard it bowled me over sideways. Good thing I had moved closer to mommy or she’d been splattered all over the wall. As it was, she was just splattered with nasturtiums.

But she was right; he didn’t have a cannon. The kid hightailed it back into what looked like a hanger.

“What’s your situation,” snapped my com.

“Stu’s down, in a freeze lock. Send a pod fast. Concussion in his chest. Got a berserker. Don’t see a cannon. I’m shielding his mother.”

“Can you contain him till we get there?”

“I think so. I’ll try to gas him.”

About then, the guy bursts out the door screaming. Tall, ragged-looking with stringy black hair, he didn’t have a cannon, but I knuckled down by instinct. The impact didn’t knock me over this time. He was still coming for me, but when he spotted Stu he let out a shriek and gestured with one hand, his fingers wide. Stu’s body skudded across the launchpad spinning. Please God, he didn’t hit him in the head.

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. No cannon. He just gestured like he was some kinda wizard or something.

While he was distracted with Stu, I got off a gas pellet. When the thing popped, the kid looked up, all wild like, and raised a hand. I knew I was in for it. Stupid, because I had my shield up, but I was right to worry. The shock knocked me clean back on my ass.

The gas got him at that point, and he fell forward onto the concrete.

“Ludwig!” Mommy rushed out from the nasturtiums and scooped up the bugger who was bleeding from his nose. I didn’t bother to warn her, and then she reeled and crashed on top of him. Probably enjoyed the gas.

I scrambled over to Stu. His head had imploded in the freeze bag. He wouldn’t be regrowing any vitals—and he wouldn’t be Mario’s best man.

Security would have censored the thing, but a fly cam got to the scene about the time I did. The first incontrovertible evidence of concussive wave generation was right there for everybody to see. The cam also caught me kicking Ludwig in the ribs. That’s what got me bumped off the force. Funny thing, I coulda saved the world right then—if I’d have just killed the bastard.

My perp was the first to make the leap directly from brain waves to concussion waves—all it took was a bass amp converter, no cannon necessary. “All you’re doing is amplifying your own song,” he’s supposed to have said. Eventually, he taught his fellow inmates, who turned out to be better at it than he was. San Quentin didn’t survive their first jam session.

My little cabin in the woods is still standing, partly because it’s wedged deep in a gorge. Bad for when it rains, but good for when the c-waves come bouncing over the hills. All the trees up on the ridge are flattened.

That cabin was to have been our survivalist retreat, but Mario got caught three months ago when that band from Northridge flattened Pasadena. He was never reported dead. They don’t check bodies for ID any more.

I remember reading about when they invented old-fashioned guns and gunpowder. People thought a weapon that powerful—when anybody could just shoot anybody else—would be the end of the world. Well, when people can just think a weapon of mass destruction, it’s only a matter of time. Whenever the muses settle down out there, I wonder if there’ll be anything left at all. END

Gerald Warfield is a member of the SFWA. His stories have appeared in “Every Day Fiction,” “NewMyths,” and “Abandoned Towers.”