A Perfect Plan

By Gary Estcourt

sfgenreIn the grim half-light two figures faced each other.

“It was a good plan. No, it was a perfect plan,” the younger man said.

The older man, Sachem, looked deep into the new arrival, but said nothing.

“It's not how I thought it would be here,” said the young man quietly, “I don’t know, it’s just different, not like in the movies.”

Sachem snorted in derision.

The old man’s mind drifted back to his own arrival an eternity ago. He’d been young, wild and carefree. But that had been Sachem’s shortcoming, being a little too much of each. He had lived his life by his own rules. He’d figured that nothing would catch up with him. Wrong, so wrong. The hardest thing here, the lack of freedom. Unbearable. The freedom to be whomever or whatever he chose, the freedom to go where he wanted when he wanted — gone! And the loneliness.

Sure, there were lots of people here, but always alone. And for each that managed the transition there were a hundred more that lost themselves, trapped themselves. Once that happened, there was nothing to be done for them. Sachem could see the misshapen shadows of those that had lost that battle in the dimness behind the new arrival.

Without turning his gaze back to the young man, Sachem whispered, “Tell me your story.”

The young man took a long time to answer. “It was greed pure and simple.” He seemed mildly surprised by his own candour, but in this place there were no lies, just simple pure truths, stripped bare of any deception.

“I had money and I wanted more. I came up with this plan, kill my wife and take the insurance money.” He faltered, the memory causing his face to writhe. “I set it all up. Found someone willing to give me an alibi. Some money now, a promise of more to come. Then the plan fell into place, and when it did…” He trailed off.

Sachem held himself in check. For this story to have any meaning it had to be given freely, not taken by force or guile.

After a time the other continued. “Alibi sorted. She thought I was going to be away for a few days. I went home and hid in the house until my wife came back. It seemed to take forever. Finally, when it all was quiet I snuck up to the bedroom. I had the gun raised, was ready to do it.” His voice shifted. He was pleading now. “I gave up at that point,” he said. “It was in that moment I realised how much I truly loved her, needed her. I don’t know, I must have made a noise? She opened her eyes. Saw me, saw the gun and then…”

“Enough,” said Sachem. He had heard all he wanted to, all he needed to. What happened now was irrelevant. He was sated, his need fulfilled. “I must go,” he said simply and began to walk away.

“What about me?” asked the young man; fear giving his voice a harsh edge. “You can't just leave me here alone.”

Yes I can, thought the old man.

The young man screamed, “I LOVED HER, IT WAS A MISTAKE”. No one gave him absolution.

Sachem stopped and turned; watched in silence.

The young man began to pace around the edges of his confinement. He counted out the perimeter, remeasured it, then repeated it again and again, sobbing occasionally. Eventually, scowling, he fell to the ground and read the words engraved on his own headstone:

Here Lies Robert Williams
Dutiful Husband
Taken By a Heart Attack
While Watching Over His Sleeping Wife

Sachem grinned, reading the same words from a distance. It was a mocking accusation.

Robert Williams looked up and out past the invisible walls that held him in.
Sachem’s eyes followed Robert’s gaze. Across the graveyard stood other doomed souls ensnared within the bounds of their plots — trapped for all eternity.

The lament came unbidden to Robert’s lips. “It was a perfect plan...”

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About The Author

Gary Estcourt

gary estcourt 200Gary writes about himself:

I am interested in the past, how we experience it and how we can understand its stories. An archaeologist by training, I tend to write in fits and spurts and have a mostly finished novel floating around.

I live on the outskirts of Sydney with my wife and an almost four-year-old. You can usually find me working in the garden or indulging a minor mid-life crisis by trying to relearn to skateboard.

I like coffee, good tequila, running and that slight tightening of your chest as you are about to do something scary.

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AntiSF's Production Crew

nuke conflux 2017 200Ion Newcombe is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia’s longest running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998, and conceived back around November 2007. He has been a zealous reader and occasional writer of SF since his childhood in the 1960s, and even sold a few stories here and there back in the '90s.

“Nuke”, who it turns out loves editing more than writing, lives in the New South Wales North Coast holiday destination of Nambucca Heads, where he is self-employed in IT training, computer support, desktop publishing, editing, writing, and website implementation. He is also the resident tech-head, skeptic, and board member of community radio station 2NVR, where he produces a number of shows including The AntipodeanSF Radio Show.

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mark web 200Mark Webb's midlife crisis came in the form of attempting to write speculative fiction at a very slow pace. His wife maintains this is a good outcome considering the more expensive and cliched alternatives. Evidence of Mark's attempts to procrastinate in his writing, including general musings and reviews of books he has been reading, can be found at www.markwebb.name.

One of Mark’s very best forms of writing procrastination is to produce the eBook series for AntipodeanSF, which he has been doing since issue 175.

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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 244

Darkstar
by Ishmael A. Soledad

Fairies At The Bottom Of The Garden
by Louise Burch

Hollywood Product
by J. H. Malone

Jerry Cornelius (The English Assassin)
by Roger Ley

Miscalculations
by Imogen Cassidy

Old City
by Trent Jamieson

Silver Lining
by Rex Caleval

Silverware
by Simon Petrie

A Necessary Intervention
by Zebuline Carter

Star Dream
by Theodore Irvin Silar

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AntipodeanSF October 2018

ISSUE 243

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

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AntiSF's Narration Team

garry dean narratorGarry Dean lives on the Mid Coast of New South Wales Australia, and has been a fan of SF for most of his natural life. Being vision impaired, he makes good use of voice recognition and text to speech in order to write. Many of his stories have appeared in AntipodeanSF over the years, and his love of all things audio led him to join the narration team in 2017.

You can read examples of Garry's fiction on his website <https://garrydean.wordpress.com>

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timonthy gwyn 100Timothy Gwyn is a professional pilot in Canada, where he flies to remote communities. During a lull in his flying career, he was a radio announcer for three years, and he is also an author.

In addition to short stories at AntipodeanSF and NewMyths.com, his SF novel is available internationally in print and ebook formats. "Avians" draws on his love of alternative aviation to tell the tale of a girl who runs away from home to join a cadre of glider pilots on a world without metal or fossil fuels.

On Twitter, he is @timothygwyn, and his blogs are at <timothygwyn.com>.

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carolyn eccles 100

Carolyn's work spans devising, performance, theatre-in-education and a collaborative visual art practice.

She tours children's works to schools nationally with School Performance Tours, is a member of the Bathurst physical theatre ensemble Lingua Franca and one half of darkroom — a visual arts practice with videographer Sean O'Keeffe.

(Photo by Jeremy Belinfante) 

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marg essex 200Margaret lives the good life on a small piece of rural New South Wales Australia, with an amazing man, a couple of pets, and several rambunctious wombats.

She feels so lucky to be a part of the AntiSF team.

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mark english 100Mark is an astrophysicist and space scientist who worked on the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn. Following this he worked in computer consultancy, engineering, and high energy research (with a stint at the JET Fusion Torus).

All this science hasn't damped his love of fantasy and science fiction. It has, however, ruined his enjoyment of rainbows, colourful flames on romantic log fires, and rings around the moon. He has previously been published in Stupefying Stories Showcase, Everyday Fiction, Escape Pod, Perihelion and also on AntipodeanSF where he is part of the narration team.

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david whitaker 200David Whitaker is originally from the UK though has travelled around a bit and now resides in India. He has a degree in Journalism, however decided that as he’s always preferred making things up it should ultimately become a resource rather than a profession.

His stories, covering everything from sci-fi to philosophy, have been published across the globe and links to each can be found at <wordsbydavid.com>

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lauriebell 2 200Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia. She was that girl you found with her nose always buried in a book. She has been writing ever since she was a little girl and first picked up a pen. From books to short stories, radio plays to snippets of ideas and reading them aloud to anyone who will listen.

She is the author of The Butterfly Stone (available now).

You can read more of her work on her blog Look for her on Facebook <www.facebook.com/WriterLaurieBell/> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

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pixie willo 100Pixie is a voice actor, cabaret performer & slam poet From the Blue Mountains in NSW.

She enjoys writing short fiction, plays for radio and stage as well as her own brand of weird poetry.

She hosts the 'Off-Beet Poetry Slam' held bi-monthly in Katoomba,

And is a theatre reviewer for 2SER FM in Sydney.

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SF News

SF News

Roger Ley's story in this issue "Pilgrimage"  has gained an Honourable Mention in the Writers of the Future competition.

Congratulations Roger!

 

Upcoming Aussie Cons

Oztrek 14 Adelaide — Saturday Oct 6, Brisbane — Sunday Oct 7, Melbourne — Saturday Oct 13, Sydney — Sunday Oct 14. Guests John Billingsley & Sara Mitich. <http://www.firstcontactconventions.com.au/oztrek14.html>.

2018 SciFi Film Festival 18-21 Oct Event Cinemas George St Sydney <http://scififilmfestival.com/>.

Monsterfest Horror Movie Festival 22-25 November, Cinema Nova Melbourne <https://www.monsterfest.com.au/>.

INDIE COMIC CON 2018 8 Dec Northcote Town Hall, Melbourne Free event. <http://www.indiecomiccon.com.au/>.

Nullus Anxietas VII: The Australian Discworld Convention — will be held in Melbourne on April 12-14, 2019, and is themed on Going Postal. More information: <https://ausdwcon.org/>.

Continuum 15 Other Worlds (Natcon 58): Continuum 15 is the Australian National SF Convention, to be held in Melbourne on June 7–10. More information and memberships <https://continuum.org.au>. AntipodeanSF will be at Continuum 15 and celebrating Issue 250 of AntiSF!

For more up-to-date Aussie SF info join the ASFF: <asff.org.au>.

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

AntiSF Radio Show

antipod-show-50The AntipodeanSF Radio Show delivers audio from the pages of this magazine.

The weekly program features the stories from recently published issues, usually narrated by the authors themselves.

Listen to the latest episode now:

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show is also broadcast on community radio, 2NVR, 105.9FM every Saturday evening at 8:30pm.

You can find every broadcast episode online here: http://antisf.libsyn.com 

SF Quote

Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.

Larry Niven