Lucky Bastards

By Kim Rose

sfgenre“I have cancer.”

“Oh, my God.”

“I know.”

“Dude, you’re so lucky! What kind is it?”

“Throat cancer.”

“Is it from the smoking?”

“I don’t know for sure.”

“I mean, should I take it up? Smoking, I mean. I already maintain a bunch of other risky behaviors.”

“It couldn’t hurt, mate.”

Jerald’s voice sounded a bit flat. I’m not surprised. It’s not one of those things you can actively get excited about, but it must be such a relief to know when and how you’re going to die.

“What treatment are you having?”

“Well, I’m still talking it over with my doctor.”

“Don’t be a fucking dick, Jerald! Just live with it. It’s the best option you have. You’ll be safe.”

“Don’t lecture me, Francis! You have no idea what I’m going through.”

“No. But I know what I’m going through.”

Jerald hung up on me, which isn’t surprising. I’m sure this is a very emotional time for him, and I don’t blame him one bit for being reactive. I can’t help being a bit jealous, though.

I wander over to the window, the small, square space of my apartment easily covered in five long strides. I’m up high — way up, like twenty something storeys — and it isn’t unusual to see people hurtling by on their way to the ground when the waiting just gets to be too much for them. I press my fingers and forehead against the cool glass while I think.

I can’t see the streets below because of the low, dirty clouds surrounding us, but I know that they are there. Everything is a dull, flat grey with perhaps a lighter or darker shade here or there. Not much variety, that’s for sure. If people didn’t kill themselves from stress, boredom would do it.

All of us live in tiny boxes like this now. We don’t know, exactly, when the great population explosion got out of control. Humanity simply couldn’t deal with it. We built lots of buildings like this —  too tall and too close together —  so every rat got his own cubicle in the maze. I think the room we have to ourselves compares roughly to a cage-laying chicken back in the late nineties to early 2000s.

The history books are vague. Maybe we don’t know. Maybe someone doesn’t want us to know. The only thing that everyone knows beyond a doubt is that something is determined to cut our population. There are a bunch of conspiracy theories saying the government did it, but truth be told, I think they are as terrified as the rest of us.

Apparently, it used to be the dark that was the boogeyman. Now we just call it The Light.

It can strike anywhere, anytime. It hits both young and old. It’s a flash, like lightning. If you can feel yourself breathing after the flash, you know it didn’t get you, but someone is going to be dead. It doesn’t discriminate. It takes babies, disabled people, athletes, soldiers. Sometimes only a few. Sometimes hundreds.

The only discrimination it does make is if you are terminal or so badly injured you aren’t expected to live. If you manage to make it to eighty, then you will die of natural causes. Otherwise, it is like playing a game of chicken until the end of your days. Staring head on into the void with an unwavering gaze, hoping your nerve is stronger than the great force that takes at will. 

Is it today? Tomorrow? What does it matter if I poison myself eating bad food, or fall while mountain climbing? It can only be a step up from the daily anxiety of wondering who — and how many — will disappear today.

Weather and natural disasters have stabilised as the planet dies. We are too fucking terrified to kill each other anymore. It is impossible to do a population count under these conditions. We don’t even know how close we are to extinction.

As I gaze through the thick clouds, I imagine people scurrying around down at ground level. It always looks like there are far too many of us, and people are getting scared to have babies. Not many of those around anymore.

We all have assigned jobs. Everyone’s busy almost all the time. There aren't enough resources for customisation, personalisation, and convenience. You take what you fucking get and pay any price you have to, just to live.

Live. What a fucking joke.

Yeah, those twenty first century bastards had it really good. They had everything. They could optimise any experience by tailoring it to their specific wants and I mean right down to their preferred temperature — set to the degree for fucks sakes! Back then, if I didn’t like the colour of my damn cutlery, I could buy any colour I wanted. Purple forks must have been a real hoot.

As always when I get like this, my guts twist, and my chest aches. I just can’t stand it.

“Lucky, lucky bastards.”

How wonderful each day must have been, not just waking up knowing that your world only existed to make you comfortable and happy, but waking up without the threat of The Light hanging over your head. 

Because of the way they could create their own existence, they all knew when and how they would die. It’s a very simple calculation when you factor your habits and living conditions against your physical limitations. I mean, sure, accidents happen — but for the most part, they walked around blissfully, just knowing that they had a good, long life span. 

Those lucky, lucky bastards.

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About the Author

Kim Rose

kim rose profile pic 200Kim Rose has been a professional ghost writer for five years, specialising in paranormal and sci fi romance. She has her own self-published romance series which is her answer to the restrictions of the current market, pushing the idea of what happily ever after really means.

Kim is also an accomplished photographer and model, creating a wide variety of digital art. 

She lives in Central NSW on a large property where she runs Crescent Moon Lodge Animal Refuge, supporting the animal rescue effort. 

You can follow Kimrg666 on these pages: 

The New Recruit (Tales from the MadHouse Book 1) eBook: Rose, Kim: Amazon.com.au: Kindle Store

<https://www.deviantart.com/kalikapsychosis>

Kim Rose (@kimrg6_6_6) • Instagram photos and videos

Crescent Moon Lodge Animal Refuge - Home | Facebook

<https://www.facebook.com/Kimrg666-Artist-112433517156278>

<https://www.patreon.com/kimrg666>

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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 275

Big Yellow Taxi
By Ishmael A. Soledad

Heart of Lightness
By Gary Griffith

Hunting in the Dark
By Marcelo Medone

Hydra
By R. E. Diaz

Lunch
By Jenny England

On the Brink
By Ed Errington

The Gods in Their Galleries (Part Two)
By Rick Kennett

Shadows of Icarus
By Stephen R. Brandt

The Letter
By Robin Hillard

The Story of the Match Between Areseth the Magnificent and Noj the Invincible
By William Kitcher

This Time, For Sure
By Rex Caleval

AntipodeanSF July 2021

ISSUE 274

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Download AntiSF E-Book

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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tim borellaTim Borella has never lost his childhood passion for SF and writing in general and has been lucky enough to have worked most of his life as a pilot — in other words, he’s never properly grown up.

He lives in country Far North Queensland, has won awards for songwriting, and has had various other writing achievements, the most recent being an honourable mention in the 2018 international Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition.

He also has bachelor degrees in science and teaching, and has completed a couple of as-yet unpublished SF novels. He’d dearly love to spend more time writing, but will have to continue juggling for another couple of years until the kids have fully left the nest.

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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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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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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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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 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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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.

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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

...today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups...So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms...it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.

Philip K. Dick

The Contributors

Dan McNeilDan McNeil's short fiction and reviews have appeared in a plethora of publications, including Alienist Manifesto, Antipodean SF, Bewildering Stories, Fantastic Metropolis, Fugitives & Futurists, Ink Magazine, Laura Hird’s Showcase, Mad Hatter’s Review, Outsider Ink, Redsine, Sein und Werden, The Short Review, Whispers of Wickedness and Word Riot.

Dan's website is at <www.dan-mcneil.com>; he can also be found on Twitter as @TheMcVariations, and Instagram as <@thedanmcneil>.

pv andrews 200P.V. Andrews lives in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs with her husband, children, and cat.

Past jobs have included karaoke hostess, English teaching in Tokyo and assessing ethics applications for research projects.

She has a master’s degree in bioethics, loves travel and is currently fascinated by CRISPR.

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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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Len BaglowDreams of worlds that might be, and the clash that brings them into existence.

In past lives he was a policy advocate in Canberra and an environmental activist in Queensland.

In awe of such great Australian SF authors as Glenda Larke, Garth Nix, Trudi Canarvan and Kate Forsythe, he dares to dabble in the arcane art.

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kyosuke higuchi 200Kyosuke Higuchi writes science fiction, speculative fiction, and literary essays. His debut novel, Kōzōsōshi [Structure Elements], won the fifth Hayakawa SF Contest in 2017. 

His short fiction has appeared in Syosetsu Subaru, S-F Magazine, and Bungei, among others. 

His latest book is a collection of essays entitled Subete namonaki mirai (2020). 

Kyosuke lives with his wife and young daughter in Nagoya, Japan. Find him on Twitter at <https://twitter.com/rrr_kgknk>.

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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Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas.

His translations have appeared in venues such as Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and World Literature Today.

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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kim rose profile pic 200Kim Rose has been a professional ghost writer for five years, specialising in paranormal and sci fi romance. She has her own self-published romance series which is her answer to the restrictions of the current market, pushing the idea of what happily ever after really means.

Kim is also an accomplished photographer and model, creating a wide variety of digital art. 

She lives in Central NSW on a large property where she runs Crescent Moon Lodge Animal Refuge, supporting the animal rescue effort. 

You can follow Kimrg666 on these pages: 

The New Recruit (Tales from the MadHouse Book 1) eBook: Rose, Kim: Amazon.com.au: Kindle Store

<https://www.deviantart.com/kalikapsychosis>

Kim Rose (@kimrg6_6_6) • Instagram photos and videos

Crescent Moon Lodge Animal Refuge - Home | Facebook

<https://www.facebook.com/Kimrg666-Artist-112433517156278>

<https://www.patreon.com/kimrg666>

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ProfilePic 2Natalie has tried everything from Air Traffic Control to Zoology, but writing has been the one constant across all the years.

She had her first publication in Antipodean SF and can still remember the heady excitement of that first acceptance.

She is eternally grateful for that first flush of encouragement, and is proud to be one of the regular contributors.

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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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rick kennett 200I'm a life-long resident of Melbourne, Australia, where I work in the transport industry. I like to explore graveyards, an odd hobby I call necrotourism, although I believe the correct word is taphophile.

I've been writing since 1979 and have had SF and ghost stories in many magazines, anthologies and podcasts. In 2008 my story "The Dark and What It Said" won a Ditmar, and in 2013 my podcast stories "Now Cydonia" and "The Road to Utopia Plain" won two Parsec Awards. I'm presently the podcast reporter for the M.R. James journal Ghosts & Scholars.

"The Gods in their Galleries" is a sequel to my novel "Presumed Dead", available on Amazon.

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