Terminating Train

By D.A. Cairns

sfgenreClick, clack! Click, clack! The train sliced through the dense green scrub of the Royal National Park, its rhythmic clatter combining with warm sunshine on the window to smother Shawn with drowsiness. His head lolled, and his heavy eyelids closed him off from the world.

Murmuring, and an angry voice disturbed his sleep. Someone was speaking loudly, wanting everyone to hear, swearing…about…it was hard to focus. Shawn blinked, dazed. Dark windows. They had stopped inside a tunnel.

“These bloody trains are always breaking down,” said the irate passenger.

“Stop whining, mate!”

Shawn surveyed the carriage. Almost everyone sat calmly — continuing to read or sleep or just stare through the windows. Loudspeakers crackled harshly, snatching everybody's attention, yet conveyed nothing but disappointing static and word fragments.

The train shuddered forward then stopped, its violent jerking jolting Shawn fully awake. The lights flickered out. Darkness engulfed them. A child started crying. Soothing tones clashed with anxious voices as they waited in the artificial night.

Shawn sat still, trying to remain calm. He could not see anything, and soon all the voices faded away, leaving him desperate, alone and too scared to speak. He shivered involuntarily as a creeping coldness washed over him.

A brilliant white light flashed for a fraction of a second. Somebody gasped nearby. Blackness returned, leaving spots of colour blinking before Shawn’s eyes.

Silence. Shawn felt he was truly alone but how could that be? He was here in a carriage full of people. He wiped sweat off his forehead despite the trembling cold, and clamped his eyes shut.

Shawn smelled something horrible — a biting stench that made him want to vomit — and when he re-opened his eyes, his fellow passengers were still and quiet in the gloom. Something else was wrong. Then he heard crying again, but as Shawn searched for the child he caught a glimpse of his hand. Heavy wrinkles now lined his loose, pale skin. And the hair of the person in front had turned white.

His mind reeled. What? A flash of light had aged them all? How? This could not be real.

Shawn rose slowly, fighting a surprising stiffness in his back. He tottered down the aisle, checking the other passengers. They were mostly grey-skinned and thin, looking so fragile that they might shatter if Shawn even breathed heavily on them. Dead.

At the front of the carriage, Shawn found a woman who appeared to be in her forties huddled on the floor, whimpering like a child. Gently, he touched her. She flinched before looking up at him with fearful confusion on her face. Neither of them spoke.

Shawn reeled with dizziness. Overwhelmed, he returned to his seat, but as he sat a sharp pain stabbed his chest. He gasped, clutched at the pain, and breathed his last breath...

The train lurched forward and resumed its journey through the Royal National Park. Click, clack! Click, clack!

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About The Author

D.A. Cairns

Heavy metal lover and cricket tragic, D.A. Cairns lives in Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory, where he works as an English language teacher and writes stories in his very limited spare time. He has had over 50 short stories published (but who’s counting right?) He blogs at Square pegs <http://dacairns.blogspot.com.au> and has authored five novels, Devolution, Loathe Your Neighbor, Ashmore Grief, A Muddy Red River and Love Sick Love which is available now, from Rogue Phoenix Press.

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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.

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 241

A Fairy Tale
by Susan Cornford

Fat Of The Land
by Bob Carlton

Freckle Face
by Kris Ashton

Getting To Know You
by George Nikolopoulos

Poem For Fa And Jed Who Sailed The Ocean Red
by Chris Kelso

Salvage Rights
by Kevin J. Phyland

Stranded
by Martin Lochman

The Way Things Went
by A. Katherine Black

Whats App
by Edwina Harvey

Zap!
by Matthew Harrison

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AntipodeanSF July 2018

ISSUE 240

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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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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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SF News

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Get Roger Ley's Novel "Chronscape" Free

AntiSF contributor Roger Ley tells us that his novel "Chronoscape" is free for a limited time at Amazon this weekend, July 14 and July 15. Get it now!

Lillicat Releases "A Betrayal and Other Stories" by Brian Biswas

Lillicat Publications has relased AntiSF contributor Brian Biswas's new story collection "A Betrayal And Other Stories", now available at Smashwords and Amazon. <Find Out More>

Meerkat To Publish Eugen M. Bacon's "A Woman's Choice"

Meerkat Press has acquired AntiSF contributor Eugen M. Bacon's literary speculative novel "A Woman's Choice" for publication in 2019. Go Eugen! <Read More>

 

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2018 Aurealis Awards Open

2018 Aurealis Awards overseers the Continuum Foundation (ConFound) announces that the 2018 Aurealis Awards are now open for entries.

The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, are for works created by an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2018.

Full guidelines and FAQ can be found on the Aurealis Awards website: <https://aurealisawards.org/rules/>

 

Upcoming Aussie Cons

Oz Comic-Con Brisbane — Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Merivale St and Glenelg St, South Brisbane, 22/09/2018 - 30/09/2018.

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>. AntipodeanSF will be at Conflux 14!

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antipod-show-50The AntipodeanSF Radio Show delivers audio from the pages of this magazine.

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