Pilgrimage

By Roger Ley

sfgenreNestlings, hatchlings, juveniles, we, your brood mates, send filial greetings and news of the successful completion of our sacred journey. These returners who carry our message back to you will guide you on the pilgrimage next season.

Well can we remember our parting from the warmth and light of our home colony. How your good wishes and scintillating coruscations encouraged us as we set off across the cold and barren lands. Led by the steady lights of our guides we left the comforts of our home behind and began our long and hungry passage through the darkness.

We winked and flashed to each other to help keep our spirits up. There were those that lost faith part way and turned back, but we had travelled far and they had no one to guide them. I weep at the thought of these poor lost souls floundering helplessly through the blackness, their lights and signals flashing feebly and to no avail, finally to be extinguished as they succumbed to the dark and loneliness. I pray that they stayed together and could give each other some consolation at their ending.

 The rest of us kept the faith and pushed on, after long journeying and many trials, we arrived, hungry, cold and exhausted. We fell into the welcoming arms of the Guardians of the Perimeter of the fabled City. Strong and armed though they were, they took us to the House of Healing, they comforted us, stroked us, gave us food, watched over us as we rested and regained our strength. When we had all recovered, we were ready to observe the Rituals and complete our pilgrimage.

Guides came and led us from the House of Healing to a cliff overlooking the City of the Queen. How can I describe its beauty? The fragile splendour of the towers shedding light and warm from above. The beautiful curves of the streets and plazas, the parklands and buildings and, at its centre, the ring wall of the Queen’s Palace.

Our guides took us to see the first ritual, the Parade of Strength, in the central plaza. We watched as our soldiers displayed themselves in red and black, silver highlights shining as they moved in geometric patterns, their actions jerky and synchronized. Each squad performing their own fighting routine, some with weapons others not. How we gasped and quivered, our colours reflecting those of the warriors as we were drawn into their display. Several of our party were so affected by the sight that their colours became fixed and, after much twining and stroking, they left us and joined the Parade. We respect their sacrifice.

The guides led us on to the Palace of Tears. Words fail me as I try to tell you of the pathetic sights we saw within its smooth and graceful interior. The twisted limbs and bodies, the monsters with several heads, the giants, the dwarfs, the imbeciles. How we wept in the presence of these poor benighted, malformed creatures, our brothers, members of the Chosen. We showed our sympathy, reflecting the restful blues and greens of the carers. With their colours flowing gently up and down their limbs some of our number elected to stay and help these unfortunates. We writhed and flashed goodbyes to our brood mates and wished them well.

It was a great relief to enter the Theatre of Laughter. There were creatures of all types, even of the Chosen. They performed tricks and stunts, they made garish, seemingly impossible (and sometimes highly inappropriate) combinations of colours. Several members of the group were shocked but others mirrored their displays and, with reassuring movements they left to join the Theatre’s company while we continued the Pilgrimage.

Our guides led us to the Arena of Light, where all the remaining pilgrims, from all the colonies gathered to share the Miracle of Choosing. We drifted high towards the dazzling illumination of the upper reaches, and some were taken but most were not. We hid our disappointment with shows of fluorescence and blushes of many hues. Then, after dallying as long as our guides allowed us, they led us on to the next ritual, flashing and blinking our gossip as we followed them.

They led us to the Museum of Mysteries. I shall try to explain its contents. There were displays of strange, alien artefacts, found and transported across the dark and barren lands to the City. We could only guess at their functions, metallic objects, some reflective, others not, some generating heat or light from within, others cold and lifeless. Their forms were regular and unnatural, straight edges, cylinders, spheres. I can say no more.

What a relief it was to enter the Library of Smiles. Here we could examine the shapes and colours left behind by earlier pilgrims. Our guides encouraged us to leave messages of goodwill and happiness. They gave us food, and we rested before the culmination of our pilgrimage, the Dance of Love and Light. Suddenly our guides became business-like, they had received word. She was ready. With flashes of excitement and arousal they herded us to the Palace of the Queen. We approached the walls of obsidian and began the circular dance. Hundreds of pilgrims, thousands, joined in from all directions, flashing and sparkling dazzling displays of colour combinations we had never expressed before. We soared and looped in our rapture, becoming creatures of light and flight and weightlessness. We drifted above the perimeter wall through milky clouds, as the Queen released her eggs and we gave ourselves to her. Millions and millions of glistening opalescent pearls rose, combining and clumping into groups, drifting away to form colonies of their own, if conditions favoured them. How we flashed and scintillated our encouragement to them, knowing most would be lost in the dark lands. Only those that found an empty colony with its towers of light and warmth would prosper.

Soon it was over. Listlessly we drifted back, our displays dim and subdued, a numbness, a lassitude suffused us all. Our guides led us to the Well of Endings and, as we waited at its rim, before we began our spiral descent, we chose the strongest pilgrims to return to the home colony with this, our message of hope.

“Siblings, we have completed the Pilgrimage, served our purpose, stayed strong and delivered our precious contribution to the Queen. Pray that you too will have success in your turn, when you follow us to the City of the Queen. Now we go, descending into the dark and warmth, hoping only for rest and tranquillity, peace and forgetfulness. Our journey is over, yours is yet to begin. May Fate and Circumstance smile upon you.
Remember that more is expected of you than of most, for you are the Chosen. We salute you.”

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About The Author

Roger Ley

roger ley2 200Roger Ley was born and educated in London and spent some of his formative years in Saudi Arabia. He worked as an engineer in the oilfields of North Africa and the North Sea, before joining the nuclear industry and later pursuing a career in higher education. 

Roger's short stories have appeared in a dozen ezines this year.

His time travel novel ‘Chronoscape’ protects causality by using a branching model for the Timestream. If you go back and change things you start a new branch, simple.

Find him at <rogerley.co.uk>.

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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.

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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.

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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 244

Darkstar
by Ishmael A. Soledad

Fairies At The Bottom Of The Garden
by Louise Burch

Hollywood Product
by J. H. Malone

Jerry Cornelius (The English Assassin)
by Roger Ley

Miscalculations
by Imogen Cassidy

Old City
by Trent Jamieson

Silver Lining
by Rex Caleval

Silverware
by Simon Petrie

A Necessary Intervention
by Zebuline Carter

Star Dream
by Theodore Irvin Silar

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AntipodeanSF October 2018

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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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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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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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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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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 (available now).

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

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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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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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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

Roger Ley's story in this issue "Pilgrimage"  has gained an Honourable Mention in the Writers of the Future competition.

Congratulations Roger!

 

Upcoming Aussie Cons

Oztrek 14 Adelaide — Saturday Oct 6, Brisbane — Sunday Oct 7, Melbourne — Saturday Oct 13, Sydney — Sunday Oct 14. Guests John Billingsley & Sara Mitich. <http://www.firstcontactconventions.com.au/oztrek14.html>.

2018 SciFi Film Festival 18-21 Oct Event Cinemas George St Sydney <http://scififilmfestival.com/>.

Monsterfest Horror Movie Festival 22-25 November, Cinema Nova Melbourne <https://www.monsterfest.com.au/>.

INDIE COMIC CON 2018 8 Dec Northcote Town Hall, Melbourne Free event. <http://www.indiecomiccon.com.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/>.

Continuum 15 Other Worlds (Natcon 58): Continuum 15 is the Australian National SF Convention, to be held in Melbourne on June 7–10. More information and memberships <https://continuum.org.au>. AntipodeanSF will be at Continuum 15 and celebrating Issue 250 of AntiSF!

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