Hell Is A Witch

By Pamela Jeffs

sfgenreMy bathroom window looks out over Hell. It frames, to great effect, the glowing lines of the far brimstone mountain ranges and the red of the Hades fire pits. It is usually a magnificent view but of late it’s marred. Mrs. Appleby, the witch I killed last week, haunts me from that window. She stands there every morning, watching me.

That old witch … if only she would concede that she deserves to be in Hell.

I tip my head in greeting to her as I brush my teeth, “Morning,” I mumble at her. Her watery blue eyes thin. Hell has done nothing to diminish her signature malevolent glare.

I spit out toothpaste, fill my glass with water and lift it to drink, but stop just before the vessel touches my lips. I sigh. “Really, Mrs. Appleby? Water into blood? We’re going to go through this again?”

She bares her teeth at me — a line of yellow stumps behind her pencil thin lips. Water dribbles down her chin as she speaks. “You murdered me.”

That is all she ever says. I place the glass beside the vanity sink.

“So we are going to go through this again.” I reach for the towel and wipe my mouth. I look back up at her. She’s frowning at me, the lines of her face looking all the deeper for the Hell’s ash embedded in her skin. “I did not murder you. You were killed because you were stealing children. The townsfolk were upset.”

“You murdered me.”

I sigh again. I am sick of dealing with this.

“Mrs. Appleby. I. Did. Not. Murder. You. I killed you yes, but you were a witch. You abused your position in the village and the townsfolk turned on you. And once the goat is sacrificed and the blood burnt, I can’t just not turn up. It’s bad for business.”

Mrs. Appleby’s face falls. Her long wet hair hangs in limp ropes by her wrinkled cheeks. Tears fall from her eyes. “You murdered me.”

“I’m sorry Mrs. Appleby, I know the drowning was difficult for you, but it is the traditional method for dealing with your kind.”

“You murdered me.”

I throw the towel into the sink.

“For God’s sake and my own, Mrs. Appleby. There are plenty of other witches here. Why don’t you go and make some friends.”

Her eyes narrow further and with a flick of her fingers, the glass of blood tips over into the vanity sink. “You murdered me.”

I roll my eyes and with great effort rein back my temper. “Mrs. Appleby. I’m sorry. I can’t stay to discuss this any longer. I have to go to work.” I reach up and pull down the blind. Mrs. Appleby’s face might be hidden but I can still feel the heat of her scowl hovering outside.

I’m rinsing the spilled blood down the sink when my mobile phone vibrates on the bench. I glance down. A text message from my wife, Persephone, blinks bright on the screen.

Hi Sweetheart, it reads. Witch to pick up in South Australia. Hahndorf Settlement. Goat already sacrificed. The blood is currently being burned.

I sigh for the third time this morning. Not another witch. Hell is a place for sure, but hell is a witch drowned. I reach over and pick up my horns off the nightstand. I settle them on my head. Time to go to work.

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About The Author

Pamela Jeffs

pamela jeffs 200Pamela Jeffs is a prize-winning speculative fiction author living in Brisbane, Queensland with her husband and two daughters. She is a member of the Queensland Writers’ Centre and has had her work published in both national and international anthologies and magazines. Pamela grew up in rural Australia, and likes to draw upon the natural world for inspiration in her work. Visit her at <www.pamelajeffs.com> or on Facebook @pamelajeffsauthor.

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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 238

A Hand Full Of Sand Can Save Your Life
by Laurie Bell

A Man Full Of Shadows
By Eugen M. Bacon

A Short Tail
By Michael T. Schaper

Fuel
By Sean Mulroy

Help Us
By Wendy Campbell

Meeting With A Misanthrope
By Bart Meehan

Non-Zero
By Lynette Frey

Senseless
By Kevin J. Phyland

The Hyperspace
By Botond Teklesz

Waking Up
By Chris Cole

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"Trust me, you want this free speculative fiction e-zine."
(Rob Hood)

AntipodeanSF April 2018

ISSUE 237

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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laurie bell 150Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia. She spent years writing and making audio plays with her sister using an old tape player. Life is a performance! She is a singer and has performed on stage once for her local theatre company. Now she helps out as a volunteer. She loves to read her stories out loud to anyone who will listen. She has recorded several audio readings of her own short stories here at Antipodean SF and is now a member of the audio team.

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

Laurie's debut book The Butterfly Stone will be published in Autumn (Aus) 2018 and another titled Blood Fever will be published in Winter (Aus) 2018.

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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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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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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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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

Congratulations Edwina Harvey

Edwina Harvey, a contributor to AntipodeanSF since the very first issue, is a worthy recipient of this year’s A. Bertram Chandler Award.  She has been an active member of Australian science-fiction fandom: writing, publishing and with her amazing artwork for 40 years.

Read more information about Ed's Award here at the ASFF.

Swancon (Natcon) ASFF Short Story Competition 2018 Results

Under 14s

  • First place: "Butterflies - Rebecca" by Bryn Eremaea
  • Runner-up: "The Dark Night Labyrinth" by Cayley Adams

Under 18s

  • First place: "Advik, Chantelle, and That One Time a Portion of the Moon Was Turned Into Leeks" by Annie Budgie

Open

  • First Place: "A Burning Thing" by Lachlan WaterRunner-up: "A Light Over Fathom" by Brett AdamsCongratulations to all the winners. We look forward to seeing your future work.

For more SF news why not join the ASFF and get the ASFF newsletter “The Instrumentality” delivered straight to your inbox!

Upcoming Aussie Cons

Speculate <https://www.specfic.com.au> — Victorian literary festival that celebrates Fantasy and Science Fiction by bringing together Australia’s finest speculative writers for a day centred around the craft of writing. April 28 2018, Gasworks Theatre, Middle Park, Melbourne.

Supanova, Peter Capaldi and John Barrowman. Melbourne Show Ground 20-22 April. Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre, 27-29 April: <http://www.supanova.com.au/events/melbourne-2018/about/>

Continuum XIV: Conjugation. Melbourne’s SF Convention. 8th – 11th June, 2018. More information: <http://www.continuum.org.au/>.

Conflux 14 - The Unconventional Hero — Vibe Hotel, 1 Rogan Street, Canberra Airport ACT 2609. 29/09/2018 - 01/10/2018. More Information: <https//conflux.org.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/>

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

AntiSF will be at the National Convention, Swancon (2018) over Easter in Perth. Rock up and say hello!

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 

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SF Quote

There’s no real objection to escapism, in the right places… We all want to escape occasionally. But science fiction is often very far from escapism, in fact you might say that science fiction is escape into reality… It’s a fiction which does concern itself with real issues: the origin of man; our future. In fact I can’t think of any form of literature which is more concerned with real issues, reality.

Arthur C. Clarke