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.

Copyright © 2014 by Peter Wood.


Shorter Stories


By Peter Wood

IT TOOK ALL OF CONNIE’S WEIGHT to force the barn door shut. Earl still hadn’t cleared out his crap. The only evidence her husband had been here at all was a crushed beer can in the knee-high crabgrass.

She was so angry that she almost missed the six-foot lizard pointing a ray gun at her. She’d be late for her shift at the Waffle House.

“What?” she snapped.

The alien bowed. “I am Zurch.” He pointed to the barn. “What is in here?”


“I am always in search of ship supplies.” He clawed open the battered plywood door. One of Earl’s animatronic deer, from his bankrupt hunting lodge restaurant, plopped outside.

Zurch kicked the deer. “What is this?”

Connie shrugged. “A mechanical deer. It sings Kung Fu Fighting. Two badgers and a moose do backup.”

Zurch stared at her.

“Are y’all invading?” She knew she should be terrified, but she just felt relief she wouldn’t be working another double shift.

“We are a science mission.” He gestured with his ray gun to the field Earl still hadn’t gotten around to plowing. “My shuttle craft’s over there.”


Zurch guided Connie down a long dim hallway on the alien ship. Most of the light bulbs were burnt out. She heard a familiar rat-a-tat. Through a doorway she glimpsed aliens pecking away at manual typewriters.

They entered a larger room. Aliens lounged about a table with a pile of sparkling discs in the center. A lizard with a gold sash tossed a pulsating cube. Hovering in midair, the cube ran the spectrum of colors before stopping at crimson.

The lizard in gold laughed and raked the discs towards him.

“Your luck will not last, Commander,” a lizard hissed.

The Commander tossed the gambling cube from claw to claw. “Another game?”

Zurch coughed. “Sir.”

The Commander rose and announced to the gamblers. “I will return in a moment.”

In the hallway the Commander waved a faded sheet of paper at Zurch. The writing was barely legible. “Can you read this, Ensign?”

Zurch sighed. “No, Commander. We need new carbon paper.”

Connie perked up her ears. Earl had stockpiled dozens of water-stained boxes of carbon paper in the barn from his ill-conceived office supply and gun shop. Connie couldn’t imagine anyone wanting the stuff.

The Commander snorted. “There’s more ink on your talons, Ensign, than on all the ship’s carbon paper. Do not think just because you are my brother-in-law that you will receive preferential treatment.”

The tips of Zurch’s claws were purple. “I apologize, Commander. I operated the mimeograph machine earlier.”

“You could not wash your claws?”

“The lavatory is still out of soap. Do you wish to question the human, sir?”

“No, Ensign.”

“Then why did you have me—” Zurch paused in mid-sentence and glared at the Commander. “Your father was wise to appoint you Commander. Perhaps I should tell my sister about your job performance, especially how you fraternize with the crew. Like a certain female in the biology lab.”

The Commander bared his fangs. “Zurch, there is no need to consult my mate.”

Zurch’s response was stiff and formal. “No, sir.”

Connie’s mind raced with thoughts of her fate. Weren’t aliens supposed to enslave humans or perform experiments? But maybe there was a way she could bargain her way off the ship.

She crossed her arms “How’d y’all like some new carbon paper?”


Zurch and Connie relaxed on the porch of her doublewide. They sipped Cheerwine under the full moon.

The barn was gone. And it had only taken space aliens to haul away Earl’s clutter.

Connie took a swig of cherry soda. “Your Commander sure runs things on the cheap.”

Zurch snorted. “His commission would decrease if he bought better supplies. He will not even repair the dishwasher.”

Screeching tires interrupted them. Earl’s pickup, rebel flags fluttering on the hood, careened down the dirt driveway. It almost collided into Zurch’s space transport before it skidded to a stop. Earl tossed out a beer can. He staggered to the trailer.

“Where you been?” Connie asked.

Earl scratched his unshaven chin. “Job hunting. Got some good leads.”

“Stop lying, Earl.”

“Have a few drinks with the boss, shoot some pool. Next thing you know you got a job.” He pulled another beer from his jacket and pointed at Zurch. “Who’s Godzilla?”

Zurch turned to Connie. “You and my sister share the same problem.” He nodded to Earl. “I am Zurch.”

“That a fact?” Earl almost lost his balance. He noticed the cleared area where the barn had once stood. “Where the hell’s my stuff?”

Connie laughed. “Gone, Earl. You hadn’t cleaned it up in five years.”

“I want it back, you stupid little—”

“Space aliens got your stuff, Earl,” Connie shouted. “Your boxes are going to Jupiter or something on that ship over there.”

Earl chugged his beer. “Godzilla took my singing deer?”

She squinted at her husband. Was he really so dim? Then she noticed the lipstick on the collar of his NRA tee-shirt. “Why don’t you go with him, you son of a bitch?”

Zurch rose. “An excellent idea. Earl could wash the Empire’s dishes and make mimeographed copies among the stars.”

Earl looked confused. “Huh?”

Zurch twisted the barrel of his ray gun and fired a short violet burst at Earl.

A big dopey grin replaced Earl’s usual smug smile. “That’d be awesome!”

“We will bring him back soon.” Zurch held out his claw. “Come with me, sir.”

Connie made a mental note to change the locks before Earl returned. She wondered how Earl would do, but realized that she just didn’t care. Besides, anyone had to pay his dues with that first real job. END

Peter Wood is an attorney from Raleigh. He was recently published in “Asimov’s.” His previous story for us was “Foggy Planet Breakdown,” in the 12-DEC-2013 update.