Aphelion Issue 279, Volume 26
December 2022/January 2023
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page

P&E Top Ten Hello and welcome to the November issue of Aphelion.

"There is something comforting in tending a fire. Campfire or fireplace--doesn't seem to make a difference. It's something primal, perhaps even spiritual, about being the one chosen to tend the communal fire. Almost tribal in a way. Well, if your definition of tribe equals my definition of family, so to speak. I had to build a fire today. Out on the patio next to the BBQ grill, where it was safe to set up the metal fire pit we bought a few years back. I say that I HAD to build a fire, but really I NEEDED to build a fire. I had to for psychological reasons. I needed the comfort of tending the ritual flame. That may be an impulse as old as human beings, or even older. Perhaps Anthropologists could answer that, but I have to throw another log on the fire. Why tend a fire, you may ask? That's complicated, sit down, up here close to me so I don't have to talk loudly enough to wake anyone who may be nodding off. Those kids, they need their sleep, they're going to rule the world one day. But for now, let's give them a chance to rest.

See the moon there? As big as your hand and reflecting enough sunlight to enable you to read a book. And the stars? You can see hundreds of light years into the past with every twinkle of any star you can see. In a way, they are a lot like a campfire. Oh, not in how bright they are, or how they flicker, but in how much history they are able to convey. Look there, in the South, right there. You see those three so close together? Well, they really aren't that close to one another, but they look that way from where we are. No look just a bit to the left of them--See that orange one? And about the same distance over to the right? That blue-white one, see how they make a sort of diamond pattern? Well, if it weren't for my fire, you'd be able to see two dozen more stars. That's Orion, the mighty hunter. The name is Greek, but the constellation is older than the Greeks, naturaly.

What's that got to do with my fire? I'm glad you asked. The night is too warm for me to need a fire just for its heat. No, the fire is ceremonial tonight, not for heat or light, it's spiritual. Oh! Sit back down. I didn't pass a donation plate or demand that you believe whatever I believe. And there's not going to be any bloody hymns to sing, this is history. Why the fire? Why the stars? This is old, old stuff. Here, have a drink and I'll explain. Yeah, apples, mostly. Tastes good, doesn't it? Well, go easy on that jug, Farmer Brown likes to laugh at people who get tipsy on his cider. Save some for me. Talking is thirsty work.

Fire, stars, the moon, and the cider, it's all part of something as old as humankind. Maybe even older than civilization. But it's all connected. You see, it's because I had a friend who died yesterday. Well, thank you, but the story is bigger than her. But yeah, she was always special. I'm paying her my respects tonight, Me, the fire, the stars, the moon--Yeah, the cider too. You're right. That's to let me open up about my feelings and have something to blame it on when I get sad. But her being gone isn't the real reason I'm sad. It's because I never was bold enough to tell her how much she meant to me, No! Not like that! She was a friend! But telling a friend that you care for hem--that you love them, that's tricky territory. One word out of place and no one understands what you actually meant. And they gossip.

What? Oh, the fire. That's a ritual. To light the passageway between this world and the next. The moon? That's just luck, this time of year. The moon lights the way, too. The stars? People have been finding meaning in the stars and how the planets move as long as they have been people--probably longer than that, even. No, I can't present anthropological proof. Oh! The cider? Alcohol helps people face those things that they could never face otherwise. Well, DUH! You're right, they don't actually need the booze. Try telling THEM that! It's like incense in a church. Just part of the rituals.

NO, she was not my girlfriend! She was a friend, a good friend, a sister in all but blood. Say that where her husband can hear it and you'll be playing hide & seek with your teeth somewhere near Yakutsk. I won't protect you from him. You gossip, you earn missing teeth, 'nuff said. Chill. Reality is stranger than your imagination. Oh? The cider? Because once we realize how frail our lives are, and how easily and how quickly they can end, and how many friends and family are hurt by our passing, a good stiff drink isn't a lick amiss..."

And this is about the point where I nodded off, and that's why this issue is late. Too many memories, too many hours, too many beers--what have you. I turned 60 years old last week. I tend to nod off a lot more offten than I used to. You've waited an extra day for this issue, so I'll get to the point and let you get to the stories. I've said my goodbyes to my friend, hoisted a few drinks in her honor, strolled down memory lane. Now it's time to get this show on the road.


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Mare Inebrium Collection


First off, if you do the Facebook thing, feel free to join us on the Aphelion page there. The link is Aphelion Webzine. As an aside, the Editorial Mafia and I have found Facebook to be very useful. Given our different locations and schedules, it's come in handy as a way to discuss production details of new issues. Sometimes there are several of us using Facebook at the same time, so it's almost like the old chat room days back in the 1990s.

My first collection of Mare Inebrium spaceport bar short stories was published in February of 2015 by Dark Oak Press. It is available in both Kindle an Nook e-book formats, paperback, and hardback. I also have three albums of instrumental music out through the Create Space self-publishing website. If you like, you can click on the photo or the link below to find all the info you would need to purchase my book in your preferred format, or an e-book of Flash of Aphelion, buy a CD of my music, or listen to tracks off of the albums on my Bandcamp website. Enjoy!

Dan's Promo Page




Title: Massive Star Makes Waves

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech