Mavis

By Chris Karageorge

sfgenreLet me ask you something, have you ever seen a baby crow? Of course you haven’t, no one has. By no one, I mean no living person, but Satan though...he is not a living person, he is the un-living among us. Crows are born and grown in Hell, they come up from the ground, but not just anywhere. If a child loses a tooth, take the tooth and keep it in your shoe for a day. Crush the tooth with a hammer and poke a hole in the dirt with your thumb. Crows love ground up teeth and can smell it all the way from their growing sacks down below. 

You may think you have seen dead crows, but let me tell you, crows do not die. The ones you see on the ground in the park after a storm, they are not dead. Their corpses lay for weeks, sometimes months before they are reborn out of their own dirty carcasses, feasting on their old bodies for sustenance before their great flight.

***

Sometimes I hear whispers in my head. It’s only when things are quiet all around me that I start to hear them. You see...I can’t understand the voices, but my ears prick up, the hairs on my nape unfurl and a cool finger chills my spine. It is as if I am listening to something, but I’m not. When I strain to listen, the voices speak very fast and in hushed tones, almost like they are urgently trying to tell me something.

***

Now what do you do when a refrigerator is broken? I’ll tell you what you will do. You will wait until Tuesday because that is when the man on the horse comes from the next town. Ask him for one sack of lime the next time he passes through Gremasi. Gremasi was built at the feet of the great Hizbanthen mountain ranges, quarries and large rocks all around — their views will take your breath away, they really will. Once he returns with the lime you will take it and put it into a big steel barrel with the same amount of water as lime. Bring it to a boil and let it cool, then you can put in anything you want to preserve or keep cool — anything can last up to one year in a lime bath. Anything.

***

Sarah Foster, a local of the town, was infamous for her dependence on stimulants and required large doses of mental support from her doting sister Tracy. Tracy would often collapse in fits of tears, pleading with Sarah to abandon her dangerous vices. During the day Sarah would be dizzied by the light and remain shut in her room until dark. The night sky would signal her awakening and Sarah would be guided by dim lights and lanterns — her sister's tears soaked into her clothing. Sarah would tap her turquoise fingernails on windows and be startled by the light of someone’s kitchen light flickering on to investigate the noise she made.

The other night I found her at my front door, rubbing her face and arms, she was rubbing them so hard her skin had dried and dust puffed off her each time she moved. The skin on my cheeks itched and that cool finger chilled my spine. That was the night I found myself with an unexpected guest in my cottage.

***

Certain vacuum cleaners don’t do a good enough job on carpet, they push the dirt, skin and hairs deeper into the fibres, down into the pile, the base, the root of all that you feel when you walk. The trick is to use the small plastic attachment on the vacuum cleaner and massage the carpet back and forth with it, allowing the deep dirt to be removed. The deep dirt must be removed.

I’ll tell you this, several days later a gentleman came to repair a section of carpet that had been soiled with an irretrievable stain. He came in, and I swear, he said, ‘Excuse me, but the carpet in here...has it recently been laid?’ and I looked at him funny and I said, ‘Excuse me, but what do you think? Do I look like I have that kind of money? It’s just that the carpet is so well-looked after and clean that it looks like it was laid yesterday’. It’s how I clean it,’ I told him.

***

I’m reminded of a dry skin remedy my employer taught me. Take a cool egg from the lime barrel and leave it on a saucer that catches the moonlight. Wait until you hear the first creak the house makes as it settles in the cool night air. Now, dip your arm, foot or elbow, whatever is dry into the lime barrel — keep it in there until the light of the sun catches the egg.

***

Let me ask you something, have you ever seen a giant moth? I have — several times. Did you know moths use the moon as their compass? Any type of light will grab their attention. Some moths in the Amazon drink the tears of sleeping birds, while other moths eat fear. You cannot destroy a giant moth any old way. First, take a sickle from the back paddock shed and dip it in vinegar. Just a minute...I’m sorry but you’ll have to excuse me, I must turn the kiln off. 

***

Sometimes when I want to remember a person, do you know what I do? I get a big slice of white bread; it’s much nicer if it’s crusty on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Now there is a bakery, goodness...it might not be there anymore, but there was a bakery up on Hill Street, Fred, the baker, whenever I go in there he says to me, ‘Mavis, I just got the white loaves out, would you like some?’ Now I’ll tell you what I do, I get a big slice of white bread, dip it in a bit of water and sprinkle sugar on it. I stand at the kitchen sink, stare out the window and eat the bread. 

Now you see those roses, you wouldn’t know it but they are actually growing out of barrels of lime. You must be wondering, Mavis, how did you grow roses in lime? If a moth loses its antennae, pick it up and bake it in the kiln for three days. Grind it up and sprinkle it in the lime to feed the roses. Roses love ground up antennae, particularly ones with turquoise nails.

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About the Author

Chris Karageorge

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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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.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.

J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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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