Back from the Dead

By Natasah O'Connor

sfgenreCandles flickered, throwing shadows over wooden beams. A deep voice rumbled, "Where shall we three meet again? In thunder —"

"Do we really need the dramatics, Ida?" another voice muttered.

"Where's your sense of occasion, Brenda? We're witches, not housewives," Ida replied, ruffling her grey curls.

"And we're not The Travelling Actors putting on a show, either," Brenda snapped. Wind whistled through cracks in the roof and eaves, filling the attic with the fresh, earthy smell of rain. Mossy water dripped down Brenda's neck. She shivered and hugged herself tight over her practical black frock.

"For that matter, we don't have to do rituals in draughty attics just because of tradition, either." Brenda rubbed her arms to drive her point home. Her mother always told her she needed more fat on her. Just this once, she agreed.

"You leave my attic alone. It's done nothing to you."

Brenda raised an eyebrow. "Anyway, where's Margaret? She's meant to bring the insect."

"You're a grumpy moo, today, aren't you?" Ida observed, tilting her head.

A third voice came from the stairs, "She's been that way since she got snubbed for the big midwinter fire last year." 

"Well, you weren't the one snubbed," Brenda replied, pursing her lips.

Ida looked heavenward. "Focus, ladies. We have an insect to bring to life. Wizard Higgins needs it, and we can't let him down."

"What's wrong with a live one? Don't see what's so special 'bout it," Margaret groused. Her slender face pinched in a frown.

"Not ours to question why, Margaret," Ida answered with a shrug. "Not when he's paying us."

"But, he's a wizard. Why are we doing his dirty work?"

Ida groaned. "You never pay attention to the magic world, do you, Margaret?"

Margaret's dark eyes narrowed. "What do you mean? I've been a witch for the last twenty years —"

"And you don't remember the last time we spent months cleaning up the wizards' necromancy mess?"

"What's that got to do with raising an insect? I mean, that's barely touching the subject." Margaret's harsh glare could set fire to clothes. Preferably Wizard Higgins' hat.

Brenda shook her head. "Will you two cut it out? We have a paying job at long last — even if it is for a wizard who can't do his own magic. Favours won't fix that roof," she finished, with a pointed look at Ida. The other witches nodded, and Brenda sighed. "Best get on." She rifled through the satchel and pulled out a desiccated grasshopper.

"Bloody hell!" Margaret gasped, her eyes wide as cauldron lids. "I didn't bother having a look before I left. It's the size of a small dog!"

Lightning cracked outside. The candles quivered again, and light bounced off grimy whitewashed walls and shelves of tattered books. "You're on chalk duty, Margaret." Brenda fixed her with a stare. "Try to make the symbols clear this time, so we don't end up with lemons."

"You've got to admit they went well with tequila, though," Margaret replied with a grin.

"Not the point. Besides, we're out of salt and necromancy is no laughing matter. Now, I'm on spell duties, which leaves you on chanting duties, Ida."

"Why do I always get the chanting? Can't I do the spell work for once?"

"You're the best we have and you know it," Brenda insisted, crossing her arms.

Margaret whipped out her chalk and marked symbols. She arranged the candles around the chalk, before sitting back to admire her handiwork.

Ida opened her mouth and let fly a high, lilting, almost otherworldly, melody. Brenda nodded and flicked open her spell book. Against the backdrop of chanting, she cast the incantation. Wind howled louder, thunder rumbled like fighting gods. Flames built higher 'til they nearly touched the roof. So far, so good.

The insect twitched. It jolted.

"Ah, Brenda… Is it meant to be doing that?" Margaret asked, furrowing her brow.

"Shhh," Brenda hissed and kept chanting. She finished the final word and stepped back. The air hung heavy with expectancy. The insect moved no more. "What happened? We did everything exactly how the book said." She scuffed the chalk. Still nothing. 

As if summoned by her disgust, iridescent wings sprouted from the grasshopper, beating a furious rhythm. Time froze for a second. The witches stopped breathing. Then chaos broke out as the insect darted for the roof and tore another rent in it. Wood and thatch sprayed everywhere. A deluge of water extinguished the flames and the three witches ran around in the ensuing smoke, waving their hands above their heads trying to stop the escape. A loud insectoid buzzing bounced from eave to eave. Silence fell seconds later as it got out and the witches exchanged horrified glances.

 Margaret cried out, hands on hips. "Bloody hell, now what?" Her breath came in ragged spurts. "What was that thing?"

"No idea, but we can't just let it get away," Ida replied. "I want paying for one thing."

"And what do you think we should do in this storm?" Brenda shot back, wringing out her hair. Lightning cracked again, and she grimaced. "Told you we should've done this elsewhere."

"We know. You've complained about the attic for months," Margaret griped.

Brenda pursed her lips. "Well, nothing to be done about it for now. Let's get a cuppa while we wait."

"Fine," Ida snapped. "Brenda can tell Wizard Higgins we lost his insect, though. She's the one insisting we don't go searching for it."

Margaret snorted. "Rather her than me. Now I think about it, I overheard him saying something about feeding his giant budgie. Looks like he'll have to find something else to give it."

Brenda glowered. "No chance. I'm having a bath after this tea. It should be your job, Ida. Your attic's the reason we're in the mess."

"Fine, but you can find us the money, then," Ida retorted.

"Why me?" Brenda countered. "You're keen on amateur dramatics. Maybe you could apply to be part of The Travelling Actors, Ida."

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About the Author

 Natasha O'Connor

Former Aussie former music journalist, now working in media Payroll and moonlighting as an author.

Fantasy and sci fi are hands down her favourite genres, both to read and write after she got the writing bug after reading the Discworld series as a kid, and Sir Terry remains her favourite author of all time.

When she's not writing, she loves hanging out with her family watching Star Trek or sport to relax.


In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 288

Blue Moon
By Harris Tobias

Fido, the Cat, and the Capsule
By KJ Hannah Greenberg

Three Eight Two (part one)
By Andrew Dunn

Yoni's Potential
By Greg Foyster

By Salvatore Difalco

Daddy's Always Right
By Chuck McKenzie

An Irregular Ode to the Loch Ness Monster
By Michael Leach

By Jared Bernard

The Hideous Deed
By Fulvio Gatti

Review - Not Death VR (Version 3.1.007)
By Rodney Sykes

By PS Cottier

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

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.


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

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.


AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

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Please consider joining the Australian Science Fiction Foundation, a prime supporter and promoter of speculative fiction down-under.


AntipodeanSF August 2022


Speculative Fiction
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Isaac Asimov, Foundation's Edge

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AntiSF's Narration Team

sarah pratt 200Sarah Pratt is an avid fiction writer and a Marketing Consultant.

She is currently working on her first novel but loves diving into short stories to bring a little lightness, intrigue or humour to the day.

Her work has appeared in Sponge Magazine and The Commuting Book.

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tim borellaTim Borella is an Australian author, mainly of short speculative fiction published in anthologies, online and in podcasts.

He’s also a songwriter, and has been fortunate enough to have spent most of his working life doing something else he loves, flying.

Tim lives with his wife Georgie in beautiful Far North Queensland. For more information, visit his Tim Borella – Author Facebook page.angle mic

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.

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alistair lloyd 200Alistair Lloyd is a Melbourne based writer and narrator who has been consuming good quality science fiction and fantasy most of his life.

You may find him on Twitter as <@mr_al> and online at <>.


geraldine borella 200Geraldine Borella writes adult short stories and stories for children and has been published in anthologies for both. In 2018, one of her children’s short stories placed second in The Buzz Words Short Story Prize and she won an ASA Emerging Writer’s Mentorship. She currently works part-time as a hospital pharmacist and as an online creative writing tutor.

She’s fascinated by stories that expand upon today’s technology, addressing the moral and ethical issues that might arise. Equally, she enjoys the creative freedom that writing for children allows. Right now, she’s writing a young adult novel, reworking a middle grade novel and writing adult short stories when inspiration strikes. She lives with her husband, Tim, in Yungaburra, Far North Queensland and dreams of one day taking a European gap year.

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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 <>

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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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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, 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 <>.

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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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ed erringtonEd lives with his wife plus a magical assortment of native animals in tropical North Queensland.

His efforts at wallaby wrangling are without parallel — at least in this universe.

He enjoys reading and writing science-fiction stories set within intriguing, yet plausible contexts, and invite readers’ “willing suspension of disbelief.”

He believes stories might also contain an element of humour — however small — to enrich the plot and/or heighten the drama.

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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: 

The Contributors

Former Aussie former music journalist, now working in media Payroll and moonlighting as an author.

Fantasy and sci fi are hands down her favourite genres, both to read and write after she got the writing bug after reading the Discworld series as a kid, and Sir Terry remains her favourite author of all time.

When she's not writing, she loves hanging out with her family watching Star Trek or sport to relax.


Roger Wang is a senior currently working towards his philosophy and media studies degree at Rutgers University.

His appreciation of things equally Kafkaesque as they are sublime is what drives his interest towards the speculative fiction genre.

He has been published at 365 Tomorrows.

jessie atkin 200Jessie Atkin writes fiction, essays, and plays.

Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Flock Lit, Writers Resist, Daily Science Fiction, and elsewhere.

She can be found online at <>.

Zach writes speculative fiction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

You can find some of his short stories at <>.

brian mahon 200Brian Mahon is a former cook, lab technician, submariner, and now-and-then writer.

He splits his remaining energies seeking knowledge, fighting age, doing laundry, and writing as a creativity relief valve.

He can be reached both on Facebook <@MahonMiscellany> and through his website, <>.

Bryan Keon Cohen 200Bryan is a writer, activist and retired-barrister based in Melbourne, Australia. He appeared in the High Court in significant constitutional, native title and refugee matters including the Mabo litigation, Bryan has published numerous legal articles, and the book "A Mabo Memoir" (2013).

Bryan’s insightful and engaging fiction has been published in Australia in Woorilla (2010), Idiom (2019), StylusLit (2019), Antipodean Sci Fi (2020), and in the UK, Bandit Fiction (2018).


deb sheldon 200Deborah Sheldon is an award-winning author from Melbourne, Australia. She writes short stories, novellas and novels across the darker spectrum.

Some of her titles include the horror novels Body Farm Z, Contrition, and Devil Dragon; the horror novella Thylacines; the romance-suspense novella The Long Shot; and the collections Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories, and the award-winning Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (Australian Shadows “Best Collected Work 2017”).

Her short fiction has appeared in Quadrant, Island, Aurealis, Midnight Echo, Breach, AntipodeanSF and many other well-respected magazines. Her fiction has been shortlisted for numerous Australian Shadows Awards and Aurealis Awards, long-listed for a Bram Stoker Award, and included in various “best of” anthologies.

Other credits include TV scripts, feature articles, non-fiction books, stage plays, and award-winning medical writing. Visit her at <>





Whenever he can, Ed likes to listen to people’s interactions — in real-life and/or through the media. Taking overheard conversations as a starting point, he then attempts to create what interactions might follow — regarding plot, character and motivation. 

Ed believes that what people say, and how they say it helps define their character; this notion transcends status, class, accent, race, and gender. Note Ed is not a spy. The stint he spends on eavesdropping real-life situations is severely constrained by the time taken for his coffee to get cold. 

His following spoken piece — ‘Like’ — was inspired by the beginnings of a conversation he overheard ‘twixt two young teenagers while awaiting the arrival of his auspiciously affordable affogato.


Tony Owens is an ESL teacher living in Brisbane with his wife and son.

His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies In Fabula-Divino, Zombies Ain’t Funny,18, Darkest Depths and Andromeda Spaceways Magazine 2017’s Best Stories.

He is a proud member of the Vision Writers Group and his ultimate ambition is to find the literary sweet-spot between H.P. Lovecraft and P.G. Wodehouse.


Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of two novels: The Greer Agency & A Felony of Birds. He has written dozens of short stories many of which are available on line at <>. He is the author of many children’s books including At The Robot ZooMoonRivet Saves His Skin and An Alphabet Book of Bugs available in print from CreateSpace and as ebooks for Nook & Kindle. You can find links to his writings here: <>

ps cottier 200PS Cottier is a poet who lives in Canberra, with a particular interest in speculative poetry.

She has been published widely at home and in Canada, England, New Zealand and the USA.

Two of her horror poems were finalists in the Australian Shadows Awards for 2020. Her latest books are Monstrous, which is a volume of speculative poems, and Utterly, which is non-genre.

PS Cottier is the Poetry Editor at The Canberra Times and blogs at <>


kevinjphyland 200Old enough to just remember the first manned Moon landing, Kevin was so impressed he made science his life.

Retired now from teaching he amuses himself by reading, writing, following his love of weather and correcting people on the internet.

He’s been writing since his teens and hopes he will one day get it right.

He can be found on twitter @KevinPhyland where he goes by the handle of CaptainZero and his work is around the place if you search using google or use the archive.