I think the answer is . . . yes. Under a Perfect Sun is more sci-fi than erotica. More apocalyptic than horror. I haven't checked out the other stories in the collection yet, but knowing Mitzi Szereto, they are unique, well-written, and each one its own treasure.
Here's a wee sneak peek of mine, taken from Part Two:
Five Years later
Tesla died today.
I said before that no one ever went out, and that’s almost true. I went out once. I’ll never do it again.
The others—that’s what we called the people like the driver, and Michael now—had taken down the people who came to the Biosphere. I guess everyone in Tucson knew about the place. They came in droves at first, and we watched through the heavy-duty glass of the dome as they were taken down, eaten, turned into others.
After the people stopped coming, the others hunted javelina, mice, and stray dogs and cats.
The cat had wedged herself against one of the outer doors. I saw her from the cornfield, a ball of red fur jumping onto an electrical cable attached to the outside of the building. The others saw her too. They’d turned from the path above the dome, and a pack had started down the steps.
The door was a few feet away. The others at least thirty feet from the cat. I couldn’t watch. Not again. I had the cold bar of the bolt lock under my fingers before I could think it through. Yanking open the heavy steel door, I lurched to the side, scooped up the cat, all teeth and claws then. She shot out of my arms. I went after her. At the corner, she stopped, cowering against the concrete, her back arched and her hair standing on end.
“Here, puss, puss. Come on, baby. It’s okay.”
The others were ten feet away. Tears blinded me. I would have no choice soon but to leave the cat and save myself, and my friends—I’d left the door wide open.
I lunged into the corner and grabbed for its fur. Catching it at the neck, I yanked it up and away from me. It hissed, and the others moved faster as the sounds of something alive and struggling reached them.
“Jesus Christ, Sam!” Richard shouted from the open doorway. “Drop the fucking cat and run! Now!”
I ran, but I didn’t drop the cat. I named her Tesla.
She wasn’t young. She wasn’t old. She lived for a long, and seemingly happy, time with us. Still, her death—from old age by all appearances—took us all by surprise. We buried her in what used to be the rainforest dome. Everyone cried. We hadn’t seen a cat, a dog, or another person except others outside the glass in a long, long time.
After, we opened the jars of wine we’d put up with grapes from an unusually good crop. We’d been saving it for a special occasion, and this seemed as good a one as any.
We drank until dawn. In the middle of it, just for a fleeting few minutes, I was happy. Content to sit in the kitchen and drink homemade wine, and reminisce about a cat.
“Have you thought anymore about what Richard talked to you about? About Michael?” Christina asked.
Everyone else had gone to bed. We were alone in the kitchen. A candle burned between us on the table. I was drunk. Christina blurred when I looked at her.
I closed my eyes, resting my head on the back of the hard metal chair. “Yes. I think about it all the time. About him, all the time.”
“You love him.”
I nodded, without opening my eyes. “Yes. I do.”
“You know, he loved you too.”
A hot surge of anger flared in my chest. Opening my eyes, I found my eyes still blurred and my tongue quick. “You don’t know anything about him. About us!”
“Look. It was no secret I had a crush on Michael. He was smart, gorgeous, and funny. Who wouldn’t be attracted to that? But he loved you. I admit it. I flirted with him. A little. Just enough, you know, to know maybe he thought I was cute too. I didn’t mean any harm, and he wouldn’t have any of it. All he talked about was you. He loved you.”
“Stop talking about him like he’s gone! You want me to do this thing, but you’re talking about him like he’s not even here!”
“He’d want this, Sam. He’d want to be a part of something bigger than just keeping him alive because you‘re too chickenshit to end his suffering.”
I stood up, knocking my chair over. It clanged on the tiles, bouncing off my shin so hard it would make a mark I would not find until later. “You don’t know what he’d want!” This time, it was tears blurring my eyes as I ran away.
Alone in my apartment, I cried on my cot.
I had no pictures there to remind me of Michael—I hadn’t realized when I packed that I would need them—but he was all I thought about. His smile was becoming hazy in my memory. Did it tilt to the left or right? Were his eyes more sky blue or robin’s egg? The thing in the cage in the basement was Michael now. I’d come to accept it, and thought of him now like that—restrained, tested, drugged, bathed, fed, and always growling, always mindless, always staring with those vacant eyes.
What would Michael want? Would he have wanted to be studied the way I finally had allowed? They were gentle, kind, and did nothing to hurt him, but still...would he have wanted to be a lab rat? Would he want all this to mean something? Would he just want to be dead?
Would he feel me, if I went to him? If he was drugged but aware, still, and unable to hurt me, would my touch reach him in a way nothing else had? Would it be that flash fire, hot, quickening that came over both of us like a fever; sudden, and only cooled when we fucked, the world dwindling away to nothing, every problem I ever had gone when he touched me?
I’d never needed a man the way I had Michael. I’d never let down my guard so much, trusted as intensely or loved as fiercely. He’d returned it all and then some.
I owed him. I needed to do what he would want if he were able to tell me.
Why didn’t he write that down in those fucking notes he took before he turned into one of them? Why hadn’t he told me what to do? Had he not realized this might be it? The end? No hope of rescue, of a cure, the human race facing extinction.