Cast of Wonders 118: Perihelion

Show Notes

Today we present Vajra Chandrasekera’s story, Perihelion.

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by Vajra Chandrasekera

Hold on tight, we’re coming around again.

This thing crumbles a little every time we hit perihelion. Almost lost my footing again. You okay? Good. We’ve got a moment to catch our breath, except we don’t breathe any more. Words stick in language like vestigial tails in the womb. Not that we have either of those any more, either.

We still have eggs, though. And if you’re ready to leave yours behind, now would be a good time. We’re about as far from the sun as we’re going to get.

No? It’s okay, it’s okay. Take your time. You’re all right, I got you. Don’t worry, all right? If you can’t bring yourself to make the jump, I’ll carry you. I just think you’ll like to look back later and remember your first time flying.

We’re all afraid the first time.

And your heart is beating faster than it should, because you were born sped up. We all were. Later, when we’re safely off this little rock, I’ll show you how to slow down to a normal speed.

The way you feel time, it needs to be anchored to the real speed of the galaxy. You’ll understand what I mean when I take you swimming in the star nurseries and you see them flowering fast around you, burning in every colour in the spectrum.

Our ancestors, when they first evolved sapience, were living so fast the universe looked black and frozen to them. All they knew was splashing around at the bottom of their dark hole, drowning in air and water, dying as soon as they were born. Claustrophobic, isn’t it?

You just need to brace, like this, and flex your shoulders. Your wings will pick up the solar wind when they spread, and we’ll blast off this dirty little snowball before it melts under our feet.

I was born on a comet too, you know. It’s best to jump off when we’re in the outer rim, give ourselves a nice boost to open space, and then we can head on out to meet the family.

Hold on, here we go again.

This is the sun – careful, don’t lose your grip. Say hi, kid. It took care of our people through some bad times, before we learned how to live.

All right, we’re heading for the outer rim. Stand up – it’s okay, I’ve got a good grip on you. Feel the rock wobbling under you? It probably won’t survive another perihelion. We have to jump now.

Jump, and spread your wings. I’ll talk you through it once we’re clear. Ready?

One, two–

About the Author

Vajra Chandrasekera

Vajra Chandrasekera

Vajra hails from Colombo, Sri Lanka. His fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Apex and Lightspeed, among others. You can find more stories via his website, He’s also a fiction editor at Strange Horizons.

Find more by Vajra Chandrasekera

Vajra Chandrasekera

About the Narrator

Graeme Dunlop

Graeme Dunlop is a Software Solution Architect. Despite his somewhat mixed accent, he was born in Australia. He loves the spoken word and believes it has the ability to lift the printed word above and beyond cold words on a page. He and Barry J. Northern founded Cast of Wonders in 2011 and can be found narrating or hosting the occasional episode, or working on projects behind the scenes. He has read stories for all of Escape Artists podcasts. Graeme lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife Amanda, and crazy boy dog, Jake. Follow him on Twitter.

Find more by Graeme Dunlop


About the Artist

Barry J. Northern

Barry is a game developer based in Bournemouth, England making freemium games for clients such LEGO and the BBC. His latest game is breaking all records on iOS, not surprising with a title like L”. It’s for younger kids, but if you fancy blasting alien brains check out LEGO Hero Factory Brain Attack.

All this game developing has meant that Barry hasn’t been as active in the podcasting and fiction world as he used to be. He still does the occasional narration for other shows, such as The Drabblecast, and appears on Cast of Wonders from time to time.

Find more by Barry J. Northern