Freddy

By Robin Hillard

sfgenreRosalie nipped my ear and I swatted her, just as Dad came in. He waved a vase of roses to thump me. Mum’s favourite vase. She screamed and he lost focus. The vase crashed, Rosalie Buzzed off and the parents turned on me.

“Leave your sister alone,” Dad said. “You have a special gift…”

I groaned. What’s so special about Changing Shape? So I can spend my Saturday working on Uncle Desmond’s farm, as an elephant.

“Everything’s easy for you,” my uncle says. But even elephants get tired. Sometimes I wish I were like Rosalie. She’ll never grow bigger than a mouse and nobody expects her to work.

I made my first Change when I was three. I should have kept it quiet, but I was only a kid and Mum was searching for my Gift.

“Din-dins, Freddy,” she would say. ““Point to din-dins.” 

I waved my fist. 

“Show him, Reg. Show Freddy how to Move.”

Dad waved his hand and the plate rose. I screamed as it wafted away.

“It’s no good, Maude, he’ll never be a Mover. Dad waved my dinner back.

“Perhaps he’s an invisible, like me,” Mum said. “Hide, Freddy.”

I crawled under the bed.

“No. Hide like this. Ccch. . .” And she wasn’t there.

I screamed. 

She shimmered back. “Hide, Freddy. Ccch.” 

“Ccch.” I squeezed into a cupboard. 

She pulled me out. “Hide, Freddy.”

“He’s not an Invisible, Mum,” Raymond said. My brother tossed me onto his shoulder and took me outside.

Raymond isn’t a Mover or an Invisible, he’s a Seeker. When Mum lost her keys, he wriggled his fingers, sniffed, and found them on the kitchen floor.

Seeking is a comfortable gift. People ask questions and after you’ve solved their problem, go away.

I was five when Rosalie found her Gift and started Buzzing around Mum’s head.

“Such a clever girl,” Mum said.

Ugh! If I were a great black crow, I’d really make my sister Buzz.

I pictured the big, black crow—and I was IT. I flapped and cawed, a stupid little kid who was too proud of himself.

Mum was thrilled. “You’re a Changer, Freddy. A great gift!”

Changing was fun for a couple of years, till the family saw how useful a horse—or an elephant—could be, when there was work to be done.

One day I decided I had had enough. It was the afternoon of The Big Game, and I’d settled in front of the TV when Mr Jamison rang. His champion bull had disappeared. “Stolen out of the paddock!” 

I wondered where the thieves were holding the bull and as even as the words left my mouth, I knew I wouldn’t be watching the Big Game.

I Changed into a kestrel, and saw the bull, penned in the gully, ready to be trucked away. When Mr Jamison came to collect his beast, Dad offered my help. Have you ever tried to move a frightened bull? I Changed into a cattle dog, but it took all afternoon to get the animal home. 

I was still sore about missing the Big Game when Rosalie nipped my ear, Mum yelled about the broken vase, and everyone blamed me. I had had enough. I was sick of Changing.

I made my move that night.

“I’m not hungry, Mum,” I said, poking at my favourite sausages. “Can I go to bed?”

That worried her. “You might like some ice cream later,” she said. I refused dessert.

I probably should have missed more meals, but next morning I was ravenous.

“I’m OK,” I said in my weakest voice. “I just came over funny for a while. Sort of empty,” I improvised. “I feel — sort of light.”

Mum put extra bacon on my plate.

Later she wanted apples for a pie. She thought I’d Change to a monkey to climb the tree, but I dragged a ladder out of the shed. She wondered why I took so long.

“Sorry. . .” I turned away, as if I did not want to talk.

After dinner Mum dropped her glasses behind the bookcase and asked me to get them. An easy job for a mouse. I piled most of the books on the floor, then tried to move the shelves. I must have pulled too hard. They fell with a crash. I ran out of the room, rubbing my eyes.

After that, nobody talked about Changing in front of me. I tried to look miserable, which was hard because I had never enjoyed myself so much. I could watch as much TV as I liked or play football. Dad came home with a new computer game and Raymond let me practise driving his truck.

This went on for a couple of months, till one afternoon when I was sitting by the window, watching Rosalie Buzz outside, Aunt Margaret came into the kitchen with Mum. They did not notice me.

“Freddy looks all right,” Mum said, and my aunt agreed.

“He is probably just run down,” she said.

“Do you think he’ll ever Change again?”

“Oh yes.” Sometimes I thought Aunt Margaret saw too much. I’d have to be careful.

I sat very still, watching Rosalie. The silly little thing was stuck. Before I stopped Changing, I would have rescued her. Today, she’d have to wait till Mum got a ladder. That would teach her to be careful where she Buzzed!

But there were crows! Lots of them! I could see them circling over Rosalie. An easy meal. 

No time to open the window.

I Changed into an eagle. Heavy enough to shatter glass! Fast enough to reach the crows! 

“There was no time,” I said afterwards while Mum wiped off the blood and tried to bury me in bandages.

“So, you have your Gift again,” Aunt Margaret said.

“It just came back.” 

“Hmm.” She winked. “You’ve got a great Gift, Freddy, but you’re just a boy. Don’t squander it on little things.”

I looked serious, but I was grinning inside as I promised not to “squander my gift.”

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About the Author

Robin Hillard

Robin Hillard has had a number of stories published in magazines and ezines including AntipodeanSF.

She now lives in Melbourne with a bossy little dog who takes her to the off leash park.  

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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 285

A Babbler from Door-toDoor
By Leon D Furze

A.I. — Ay, Aye!
By Col Hellmuth

Conception
By Jon Michael Emory

The Implausible Rise of Z-97R
By Ed Errington

In the Perpetual Dining Halls of Vallhalla
By Michael T. Schaper

Lady Killer
By Diana Grove

Summer Solstice
By Kevin J. Phyland

The Alarm
By Harris Tobias

The Return of the Drongo, Reborn
By William Kitcher

Two Sons
By Botond Teklesz

AntipodeanSF May 2022

ISSUE 284

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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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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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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 <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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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

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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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 <alistairlloyd.com>.

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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: http://antisf.libsyn.com 

SF Quote

Science fiction writers, I am sorry to say, really do not know anything. We can't talk about science, because our knowledge of it is limited and unofficial, and usually our fiction is dreadful.

Philip K. Dick

The Contributors

jolie lindholm 200Jolie Lindholm grew up in small towns on Long Island, NY, later moving to Florida for college.

When not writing fiction, she is acting frontwoman for South Florida rock band The Darling Fire, along with her husband of twenty-three years. They share two chihuahuas — one attack and one docile — that rule the roost.

Sci-fi and horror are her biggest influences, and she has fond memories of playing adventure games on floppy disk. She holds an MA in Criminal Justice and a BA in Communication.

(Photo credit: Billy Cessna Jr)

Chana Kohl works in Jerusalem in clinical trials and research, trotting the globe and writing speculative fiction in her spare time.

An avid sci-fi reader since adolescence, Chana only recently turned this passion towards writing, frequently incorporating cultural and religious elements from West and North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Middle East.

Her flash stories have previously appeared or will appear on 365 Tomorrows and the upcoming anthology Planetside: Science Fiction Drabbles.

chana kohl 200You can follow her creative writing journey on Twitter: <@chanakohl> or on her blog: <www.chanakohl.wordpress.com>.

chris karageorge 200Chris Karageorge is a lover, brother, son, neighbour and a keen observer of all things in sight. 

He reads, writes and cooks in his spare time and dreams of coffee darker than a moonless night. 

He is from Melbourne, Victoria and can be found walking his pug Monty during the weekends.

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bethany tatman 200Bethany Tatman is an aspiring writer who currently resides in one of the more hipster suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.

She has previously been published in Lot’s Wife.

In her spare time, she enjoys reading a variety of genres of books — but fantasy will always be her favourite.

She can be found at <@bethany_writes> on Twitter.

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william kerr 200William Kerr is a self-professed science fiction enthusiast. He was born and raised in Tasmania but now calls Canberra home.

His personal preference is hard science fiction and dystopian-style stories which definitely influenced his first published piece ‘The Burning’.

He is looking forward to publishing more flash fiction and is hoping to become a regular contributor.

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Robin Hillard has had a number of stories published in magazines and ezines including AntipodeanSF.

She now lives in Melbourne with a bossy little dog who takes her to the off leash park.  

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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 and The Tiger's Eye (YA/Fantasy) White Fire (Sci-Fi) and The Good, the Bad and the Undecided (a unique collection of short stories set during the events of White Fire/Sci-Fi). 

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

Rambles, writing and amusing musings

Smile! laugh out loud! enjoy the following

<www.solothefirst.wordpress.com>

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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 <quantummuse.com>. 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: <harristobias-fiction.blogspot.com>

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 <https://pscottier.com>

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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 antisf.com.au archive.

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