I Am Sorrow

By R.E. Diaz

sfgenreOne more year — I told Devon that’s all we needed. I was so sure that working together we would find the key to prolong the reaction. But Devon doubted. His allowance consumed and the debts mounting, his pride could not abide the shame of failure. Even though I told him it did not matter to me, that I had already found two families that would have hired me as governess, that I knew we could succeed together, he would not have it. So we went to America to see this John Keely. It was December of 1887; the man was at the height of his fame.

In explanations that language could scant keep coherent, one third mysticism, one third music theory, one third apparently scientific, Keely claimed to have liberated untold pressures by resonating the aetheric force. Devon did not believe one word. But the man used platinum wires, the same kind we did; and the motive power demonstrated by his machines matched Devon’s predictions. 

After one of the demonstrations, Devon approached him. Soon they were at the centre of a circle of admirers, important men, business leaders eager to share in the limelight and the assured riches to come. They continued late into the night, until I could stand the apprehension no more. I tried to pull him away, but he refused; he would rather cling to the hope and legitimacy of that company than me. I left in anger, taking the flushing of my face for righteous indignation rather than the alarm it was: for I had noticed, in passing, the furtive glances of the two men at the back of the room.

Devon never returned to the hotel that night. He was found by the police in an alley, murdered, in an apparent robbery. And by the end of the week Keely was again discredited in the local papers. Someone did not want the secret of this power revealed. Had I been with Devon, I too would have died that night.

But that is not when I died.

After a year of mourning, I continued Devon’s work. Switched to palladium stabilized on silica. Sold what was not needed, kept the country cottage, spent ten years as governess, taught piano... Then my younger sister married a wealthy businessman and supported my work until they lost it all to the Second Republic. It took 40 years.

~*~

“Madam…” the attaché to the prime minister struggles to decipher the proper way to address me, his voice drawing me out of memories I thought had been left behind forever. My original letterhead has my full name: Agustina Pilar Araujo Leon, Lady Devon Hamilton. He finally tries my first name, mangles it, and I interrupt him gently.

“Call me, Angustia.” I decided on that change decades ago. It means Sorrow. It is my calling.

Professor Uritsky snatches the document from attaché Van Blerk’s hand and stares again at the equations. His eyes squint as he tries to see beyond the dark veil that covers my face. “How do you know this will work?”

“Many others came close.” My manner feigns vanity, to feed his own. “But I was the only one to realise the calendar periodicity in the results. If Graham had performed his experiments a few years earlier, he may have noticed the effect. Eight years later, and Paneth would not have retracted his discovery. Tandberg’s exploding wire experiments could have succeeded, three years earlier, with catastrophic consequences.”

Uritsky counts forward, from the names to the dates. I go on.

“Then I proved it: The year 1933, at 1,500 feet. No one else had thought of that either; yet the evidence was there already before the Great War. The altitude test was the crucial piece of the puzzle, the final proof.” 

By then, that’s all that mattered to me. 

I explain: “If the recorded results correlated to the airplane's hops between landings, it would have been incontrovertible proof that cosmic rays mediate the reaction.” He notes that ‘would have’, so I motion him to turn to the end of the document, the newspaper clippings, and the story of United Airlines flight 23. The United States Bureau of Investigation concluded that the explosion that shattered the plane over Chesterton, Illinois, had been a nitroglycerin device. They were off by at least three orders of magnitude.

“It was a portable electrochemical cell, with a built-in magnetic wire recorder,” I explain. “In the baggage compartment, in the post,” I lie. “It only had 8 micrograms of deuterium.” I manage to add that before my voice breaks, and I let it sink in.

Uritsky’s eyes grow wide with greed. “Cosmic rays?”

I turn aside before answering. Had I any cheeks, tears would be streaming down them. “Yes, that’s what Professor Millikan called them. My plan was to take my results to him.” I swallow against the knot in my throat and go on. “But that cosmic ray shower of 1933 was extragalactic in origin. Ultra-high energies — the muon flux was much stronger than it has ever been since. And the solar wind was weak; the magnetic envelope of the Earth was no match. I have confirmed the data.”

“You proved room temperature fusion works!” He nods with approval and wonder. “In that pressure range, inside the palladium lattice, the silica operates as a helium getter; you removed the alpha-sticking channel.”

I couldn’t have known. 

The muon was not even discovered until 3 years later. It took another 17 years for physicists to theorise on the possibility of using it as a catalyser, and 6 more years to witness experimental evidence. But ignorance brings no absolution. I killed seven people! Eight if you count me, the last-minute passenger. I had the package with me, on my lap. I felt the sudden temperature rise. I ran toward the rear of the plane trying to get it away from everybody else, tried to tear it apart. Too late. I was vaporised.

That the tragedy gives him no pause, confirms all my suspicions about him and the attaché and whoever is financing their traffic of death. He peers at my veiled face again. He is doing the math. From 1933 to 1979 is 46 years. Assuming I was a genius of age 20 back then, he expects a woman in her mid-sixties. But the veil hides my face, the long black gloves hide my hands; and the drape of the hooded dress reveals nothing. 

He knows my terms. I will only deal with his master. Even as a tinge of suspicion lingers on the back of his mind, the greed wins out. He makes the call for the seaplane that will take us to the ship.

If only he knew how far the deception goes. It took me years to learn that I could touch things in this world without rendering them immaterial. With decades of practice, I learned to turn the page of a book, grasp a pen, make the keys of a typewriter pound away, hold a disguise in place. But in my natural state, I walk through steel and stone. In my natural state, I can stand still and let the planet rotate past me, and go anywhere despair calls. 

Though I relish the quietude of holy ground, I don’t think I am a ghost. I don’t know what I am. But I know who I am. 

I am Sorrow. And her tears called me to this sorrowing land.

~*~

Her name is Sibongile. His name was Bryan Morobe. She was a teacher; he was a doctor. Married, they dedicated their life to the work in Soweto, until June of 1976. The imposition of Afrikaans as a language of instruction, curtailing the use of indigenous languages, sparked a student uprising. Police started firing on the crowd as it reached Orlando West High School. Bryan was shot trying to rescue one more child.

Seeking to understand the sickness tearing her country apart, Sibongile became a journalist at the Daily Dispatch in East London. But she did not find closure. Instead, she discovered a trail of international conspiracy, at the highest levels of the government: rumours of uranium yellowcake being traded for nuclear capable missiles, with the output of the infamous gold mines making the intermediaries rich.

She got too close. They beat her. They threatened her family. And that was too much. She relented: to her, a betrayal of Bryan’s memory. She poured out her heart at his grave. And from there I heard her.

~*~

By 2:30 in the morning, the plane delivers us to a cargo ship, halfway to the Prince Edward Islands. I am not surprised at the identity of the man that meets us. Sibongile was right. 

“Lady Hamilton, what is it that you think we can do for you?”

“Artificial muon sources are now possible. With the resources at your disposal, surely you could make me one.”

“Why would we want to do that?”

“The international community forced your government to abandon the underground test site in the Kalahari, two years ago. Incommodious; wouldn’t you agree? Funding my research, as evidence of a commitment to safe nuclear energy for peacetime applications, would go a long way toward diverting the eyes of your critics… giving you breathing room to pursue your private interests.”

He smiles. “That is very generous of you.”

“For a cut of the gold,” I add.

That I ask to see their latest payment doesn’t surprise them. They take me to a counting table with a shining array of krugerrands: a square, 12 stacks on the side, each stack 20 coins deep. Worth, I estimate, a quarter million pounds. I lay down the folder with all the details of my experimental set-up on the table and start removing my gloves. 

Uritsky wastes no time in picking the folder up, and leafing through the papers within, to verify that there is much more there than I had revealed before. He smiles. They nod to each other and to another man that has just entered the room.

They haven’t noticed the translucency of my hands. The third man clears his throat, reaches for my arm, but all he seizes is an empty sleeve. As they recoil at the dress collapsing in his grasp, I reach the coins and push, not my body through them, but coin through coin through coin. 

“What the hell?”

I could almost respect the single-mindedness of this man. The presence of a discarnate entity bothers him less than the fact that the coins appear to have been fused into each other. He tries to pick one up, but together, that’s 95 kilos of gold. 

He takes the gun from the third man’s hand and wields it as a hammer. 

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. That’s not just gold anymore.” I turn to Uritsky. He ought to understand. “Where the coins come together it is gold within gold… I am sure in most places the nuclei just slipped past each other. Those crystal lattices won’t last long. But I calculate there is about half a percent chance that I have created element 158 at those interfaces. And, as Burkhard Fricke will tell you, 158 is not stable.”

With a snarl, he slaps the butt of the gun through my face, harmlessly. The flash of fear that finally shows in his eyes is only a fraction of the horror in Uritsky’s as he sees his master’s next move, swinging the gun down to the table. 

I close my eyes and let the Earth slip by. In two seconds, I am almost a kilometre away. Not far enough. I feel the blast sweep through me, carry me along like flotsam on a crashing wave. Maybe I will finally die.

But it is not to be. 

I find myself walking again among the tombstones of this valley of tears. There is still too much despair in this world.

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About the Author

Rudy Diaz

rudy diaz 200A Physicist in Engineer’s clothing, Rudy worked 20 years in the Defense Aerospace Industry, from performing Lightning Protection analysis on the Space Shuttle to the design of Radar Absorbing Materials. He then joined Academia as a Professor of Electrical Engineering, where for another 20 years he attempted to infect unsuspecting students with a love for Maxwell’s equations.

Since High School he has spent most of his free time either writing Science Fiction or trying to figure out how to make Science Fiction a reality. (His students' latest work has led to the realisation of efficient RF antennas that radiate using true magnetic (not electric) currents.)

His speculative fiction short stories have appeared in Residential Aliens, Ray Gun Revival, The Untold Podcast, and Antipodean SF. He blogs on the subjects of Science, Religion, and their intersection. The rest of his work is in the peer reviewed Physics and Engineering literature.

Rudy has also been involved in Jail Ministry for about 30 years. He and his wife Marcy live in Phoenix, Arizona.

Links: <https://rediazauthor.com/>

AntiSF & The ASFF

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Please visit the ASFF website and consider joining for up-to-date info about Australian SF cons, awards, competitions, and to receive the Foundation's newsletter, Instrumentality, and more.

<https://asff.org.au>

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Newsflashes...

  • Publishing News

    KJ Hannah Greenberg's newest book, Owmapow Rides Again, launches Jan. 2nd.

    Find out more at her website:

    kjhannahgreenberg.net

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 281

Arrival Date
By Stephanie Koorey

Far From the Tree
By Tim Borella

Friday Afternoon, Third Trimester
By Emma Louise Gill

Inflicted
By Ben F. Blitzer

Inversion
By Brian Biswas

Mater Tenebrarum
By Keech Ballard

Mr. Denton Explores the Universe
By Andrew Kozma

Property Acquisitions
By Chad Bolling

Starshine
By Andrew Dunn

The Order of Things
By Chris Karageorge

scifaiku
By PS Cottier

AntipodeanSF January 2022

ISSUE 280

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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AntiSF's Narration Team

ed erringtonAlthough a writer of the baby boom persuasion, Ed has not boomed for quite a while.

He lives with his wife plus a menagerie of non-domesticated — native Australian animals intropical North Queensland.

His writing within the ‘real’ science fiction context of COVID-19 is intermingled by long night sky vigils — searching for pesky aliens intent on maintaining their social distance to the nth degree.

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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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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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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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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

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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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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.

angle mic

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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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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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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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 dogma, primarily based on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.

Isaac Asimov, Foundation

The Contributors

rhiannon stevensRhiannon Stevens is a professional game designer and illustrator originally from New Zealand.

In her spare time, she writes and illustrates an ongoing xenofiction series which is primarily published through her website.

She lives and works in Brisbane.

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michael j leach 200Michael J. Leach <@m_jleach> is a writer and academic who lives in Bendigo on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung Country.

Michael enjoys writing about science. His science poems reside in Meniscus, Rabbit, Cordite,Consilience, Pangyrus, the 2021 Hippocrates Prize Anthology (The Hippocrates Press, 2021), and elsewhere.

He has published a sci-fi short story in Painted Words 2017 (Bendigo TAFE,2017) and penned two science-themed plays performed by Bendigo Theatre Company.

Michael’s first book is "Chronicity" (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020). You can read more about Michael’s work on his website: <https://mleach11.wixsite.com/writing>

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sr malone 200S.R Malone is a writer living just outside Edinburgh, Scotland.

He has been published in Synthetic Reality Magazine, 365 Tomorrows and Entropy-Squared.

When he is not writing or reading, he likes to spend time with his family and dog, going for walks in the Scottish wilderness.

Get in touch on Instagram: <s.r_malone>.

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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rudy diaz 200A Physicist in Engineer’s clothing, Rudy worked 20 years in the Defense Aerospace Industry, from performing Lightning Protection analysis on the Space Shuttle to the design of Radar Absorbing Materials. He then joined Academia as a Professor of Electrical Engineering, where for another 20 years he attempted to infect unsuspecting students with a love for Maxwell’s equations.

Since High School he has spent most of his free time either writing Science Fiction or trying to figure out how to make Science Fiction a reality. (His students' latest work has led to the realisation of efficient RF antennas that radiate using true magnetic (not electric) currents.)

His speculative fiction short stories have appeared in Residential Aliens, Ray Gun Revival, The Untold Podcast, and Antipodean SF. He blogs on the subjects of Science, Religion, and their intersection. The rest of his work is in the peer reviewed Physics and Engineering literature.

Rudy has also been involved in Jail Ministry for about 30 years. He and his wife Marcy live in Phoenix, Arizona.

Links: <https://rediazauthor.com/>

col hellmuthCol Hellmuth lives a quiet, uncomplicated life, off-grid in the Daintree rainforest of Far North Queensland.

He has scratched out a living in a variety of different jobs (and locations) over the years; these days he scratches out words in various sequences, and dreams of a day when he might be able to convert some of these ramblings into food.

When he is not writing or enslaved at work he is usually found bumming around his local beach dodging crocs in his kayak or jamming on the blues-harp.

He doesn't have any fancy letters after his name, or a pet cat, but does read a lot.

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ishmael soledad 200Ishmael, a regular contributor to Antipodean SF, hails from Brisbane.

His flash and short science fiction have appeared in Aphelion, Far Cry Magazine, Planet Web Zine, Schlock! Webzine, Short-story.me and Unrealpoloitik!, and are published in his two short story collections "Hawking Radiation" and "Sex and The Single Cosmonaut".

In 2021 his debut novel, "Sha'Kert: End of Night", was released through Temple Dark Books of Ireland.

You can connect with me on Twitter <@Ishmael_Soledad>.

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Tony Steven Williams was born in Penzance, Cornwall, UK (that’s right, the one with the pirates!).

He eventually saw the light and became an Antipodean, emigrating to Adelaide in the last millennium.

Tony and his artist wife now live in Canberra.

He is a short-fiction writer, poet and songwriter with work published in anthologies, newspapers, print and online magazines, and broadcast on the radio.

He writes across the genres but has not yet settled down to any particular species; however, SF is a very frequent visitor both in his short stories and his poetry.

His debut poetry book "Sun and Moon, Light and Dark" was published by Ginninderra Press in (2018).

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botond t 200Sometimes I can see what others don't.

Sometimes I listen to the silence and Iknow there is way too much of it down here in the countryside.

All the trees grass wooden gates and sleepwalkers are letting me down.

Very rarely I go out to thefront yard in the night and look at the stars. And I can feel in my guts it is allgoing to sink down the drain.

I look at the photo of my nephew whom I have not seen for 5 years.

I look into the mirror and see my white hair at 45.

Then I stare at the cross on the wall and I want to puke.

Somebody has already decided for me in a nice kind of way.

Too many pieces of the puzzle missing.

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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kj hannah greenberg 200KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs.

Thereafter, she's been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than three dozen books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.

Find out more at her website: <http://kjhannahgreenberg.net/>.