Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.
Editor

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Fiction

Baby Wars
by Eric Del Carlo

Sandcrawlers
by Kurt Heinrich Hyatt

Genocide in Three Acts
by Jenny Duptsi

Memory Farm
by Richard Wren

Schrödinger’s Suicide
by Daniel Roy

Chandler’s Hollow
by Sean Patrick Hazlett

Test Case
by Kris Ashton

Pink Adventure 87
by Gregor Hartmann

Shorter Stories

Whiteout
by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Dropping Payload
by Mord McGhee

Breaking the 3 Laws
by Trevor Doyle

Articles

Sex and a Sensawunda
by Ann Gimpel

Sunshine 2: the Sequel
by Eric M. Jones


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Whiteout

By Robin Wyatt Dunn

I MUST BEGIN WITH AN APOLOGY, although that is inauspicious. I’m sorry I cannot do more; it is as I thought, that you have gone away and left me here. You are cruel.

Why was it that you―well. I will get to the questions soon enough. This record will condemn you; I will make sure of it. Even if the whole planet goes to hell, at least you’ll be first.

***

You who listen know now of my crime, xenophilia, and what followed from it, he who I was just speaking to―Kerru. Some of you are surprised? It is likely that he can still hear us. This trial will be even more public than most. Kerru and his kind grow ever more interested in us and our city, though I have never thought of it as a prurient interest, despite the moralizing of The Committees, no, I believe their curiosity is honest.

Of course, you are educated people, like me. You know that demonizing aliens is good for business. I don’t imagine that you are so easily fooled. No, you want to indulge your own pruiency―very well. You want to know how he was in bed, what we did, how we could have done anything at all.

I shall have to start at the beginning now. Which I hate doing. You can watch all the videos; but you’re busy people. And a trial is a compression. I am like the code to shrink the data down into a digestible chunk; the algorithm.

So:

***

... but it is not that simple. Perhaps you realize that too. Character may be fate but even so, chance exists.

Let us try to explain this by chance then.

Here is what happened.

***

I saw him on a summer’s day in 15995 of the Judean calendar. I am a Jew, technically, though I am not circumcised. I worship the stars, which I suppose makes me rather Egyptian! He was sitting in the cafe, his curly hair swirling around his features like a mane. He looked moody, and though it is was artificial, that didn’t matter, all performances are ultimately true, aren’t they?

I walked over and said―what did I say.

Perhaps you have a video of this? Can I see it?

[Can we show a video to the citizen?]

Please, I’d like that.

***

Not very good quality ... I’d always assumed the government cameras had perfect resolution ... you can see me, yes? I’m walking―God, I look so young. It’s only two years ago.

I’m sorry, I can’t watch it. At least you have it. To verify my statement.

I don’t know. He showed me things, simple things. Beautiful things. Made me fall in love again. Not even with him, just with life. Everything. He made the Earth seem new. That’s love, isn’t it?

[You knew he was a spy.]

I didn’t care. We’re all spies, aren’t we?

[All human spies.]

What’s the difference?

[That is blasphemy. Go on with your story.]

So we fucked. The Anaphreme fuck too, as you know. I’m sure you have videos of that too, right? Do you have the one of the time where we ... ha ha ha.

It’s funny, this, isn’t it. Whatever I say is wrong. I thought I could show you how wrong you all were, how wrong all Earth is now, but I see that’s not how trials work. Just opening my mouth, I’ve failed him ...

He was a good lover, if inconsistent. He knew how much I needed but he didn’t care to satisfy it ...

Xenophilia is ... it’s no different from any other kind of love, you know? Opposites attract, and all that. It’s the same thing ...

But we had to be careful. We knew that. He would take his hovership for long missions over the Channel, saying they were for science ...

It was very romantic.

[When did he first mention The Image to you?]

After we’d first made love. Sex is religious for him, and for most of his people. The Image, if that’s what we’re calling it now, I know you don’t want to hear their names―

[No, we don’t.]

Fine. Yes, he mentioned it then. He said it remembered all of them, and now it would remember me, too. I just thought he meant his version of God, you know? But later I realized he meant some form of a computer. What does it matter?

[Please continue.]

Do you mind if I smoke? These French cigarettes, they’re not bad. Hard habit to break.

I knew it was a betrayal. At the time. But later ... later I understood why he had asked me to place the bomb. And I knew that he had been right, that it was a betrayal not to do so. Let me explain.

Have you ever had a dream you knew was real? Some person in the dream you knew was really a person, somewhere, out there, even if only in dreamland, they were more than a dream; the dream was an expression of that other reality, a translation, a bad radio signal, but still, something getting through, information, at the least, a version of that real person. And that’s how Kerru made me feel, that I’d finally broken through to the―

[He made you worship with him?]

It’s nothing like that. It’s no different from the records we make! So many we make now! They just share them differently; they have different meanings attached to them. So, maybe, yes, maybe you’re right! So what! It was beautiful, to meditate like they do, and know someone cared, someone was really paying attention, and recording your experience, for a whole people! So what if they use it for government purposes too, you see? Because it was beautiful.

[When did he ask you to plant the bomb?]

It was our last night together. But you have to let me tell it. I’ll get there soon enough.

That dream experience, it was important. It showed me that I could be an instrument of change here, on Earth. I wasn’t trying to kill anyone. The bomb went off so late, four a.m. ... on a Tuesday ... please, won’t you tell me, did anyone get hurt?

[That’s classified information.]

That’s what you always say, but I believe no one did. I’d already be dead, wouldn’t I? Or have some broken kneecaps, at least. No, you just think me a spy, and a pervert. And so.

He was right, you see? I am that change now. And he knew I would be.

[Why did you plant the bomb? Religious reasons?]

No.

[You desire the overthrow of The Committees?]

Not even that, no. Just for you to wake up a little! To be alive! Didn’t you ever want to feel alive!

[I think we have enough.]

Please, let me finish. I promised him I would condemn him, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to use his word.

[Your belief that this trial is being broadcast on a frequency he can perceive is most naive of you.]

I see you’re calling him he now, though, aren’t you, instead of it? I like that. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.

[What’s that you’re saying?]

I’m sorry. But if they’re going to take over anyway, what’s the difference? You see, they’re just like you, just as paranoid as you. He was an exception; he wanted me to be better; he wanted me to blow up the fucking cafe but then not order the strike.

[You believe you’ve delivered a code word to the aliens?]

That’s just it, I have. Earth is finished, as far as I’m concerned. Kerru gave me the power, you see? But it meant I could never see him again. I’d rather live in his world, in his afterlife, and bring all Earth with me.

[And now you believe that you have called down an invasion force, is that right?]

Something like that.

[You know that is ridiculous.]

It’s not!

[We have been in contact with the Anaphreme for some time now. The truth is that they are just as upset by the sexual immorality as we are. The bomb hurt nobody, as you suspected―]

Thank God!

[But what we need to understand now is, do you need to be reprogrammed? Or are you still an Earth citizen at heart?]

Christ, I thought the reprogramming was a given. Why wouldn’t you reprogram me at this point?

[It has to be your decision. If that’s what you need.]

Look, we’re all going to be dead real soon, so I don’t see why it matters now.

[So you really do believe that the world will end soon?]

Yes!

[Why do you believe this?]

Because Kerru told me!

[He was lying.]

I don’t think you get it. He gave me a secret code word and he is listening right now, and when I said LOVE three times, that’s the order to bring down all the ships from hiding―

[There is only one ship in our solar system. The one you have seen. No others.]

So you say.

[We know. We also know that he drugged you. Not once but several times. Did he tell you that?]

You’re probably right.

[He gave you hallucinogens.]

You’re probably right.

[We are right. And it is for this reason that there is a feeling of leniency on this Committee. But we remain troubled because the evidence, and your testimony, suggest this deviancy began before any drugs entered your system. That is why you are here. Not the bomb. We need to know why you did what you did.]

Christ, it really is all about the sex. What does it matter now? I did it! It’s over! He’s gone! The aliens left!

[Some have remained.]

Kerru? Is he here?

[The feeling now is that a simple mea culpa will suffice for most of this. You were drugged; your weak personality was overcome. Renew your commitment to The Regulations and you can be back in your apartment before sundown. What do you say?]

Kerru! Are you there?

[Your family will appreciate it.]

Kerru!

[If you do not recant, we will wipe your brain clean. And start fresh.]

I can hear the engines ...

[Think of the ... wait a minute. What is that sound?]

Kerru. Kerru, I love you!

[whiteout]

END

Robin Wyatt Dunn is a writer, novelist, and filmmaker. His short stories have appeared in “Third Flatiron,” “Voluted Tales,” and dozens of other publications. He is a member of the HWA. His previous story for “Perihelion” was in 12-SEP-2014.

 

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