It looks like you're running into some sort of resource limit and getting strange results. The perlfork doc says:
In the eyes of the operating system, pseudo-processes created via the fork() emulation are simply threads in the same process. This means that any process-level limits imposed by the operating system apply to all pseudo-processes taken together. This includes any limits imposed by the operating system on the number of open file, directory and socket handles, limits on disk space usage, limits on memory size, limits on CPU utilization etc.