The Diner

By R. J. Sadler

sfgenreHe sat and sipped his coffee. The vinyl booth squeaked as he shifted in his seat. He couldn’t get comfortable. Wedged between his legs was a bag of money. He clenched the bag discreetly with one hand. His head was killing him.

He continued to sit and quietly sip his coffee. His reflection in the window next to him was distorted but clear enough to see his hair was a mess and his shirt was filthy and dingy. He could hardly remember where he had come from much less where he was going.

He felt an urgency to get moving, but something about this booth kept him lethargic.

He sat hunched over the coffee, continuing to sip. He looked around trying to understand where he was. From what he could see, it was a typical diner with big booths nestled along a large picture window, and running parallel was a long sprawling bar equipped with stools.

“Need a warm-up?” asked the waitress. Startled, he sat up straight and let go of the bag, freeing his hand. He nodded, studying her face and quickly squeezing the bag between his shins. He didn’t find her particularly attractive, but her eyes and her persistent eye contact possessed a strange magnetism. She leaned over him, filled up his coffee, smiled. “Anything else?” she asked politely.

He shook his head no.
As she walked away, he reached down and felt the bag of money.

He heard a loud diesel engine, and glanced out the window. It was a big pickup truck with heightened suspension sitting on monster sized wheels. Down from the big truck stepped a man dressed in weathered black denim. He wore a cowboy hat dipped low, and the angle of the sun obscured his face. There was something familiar about him. The waitress met this dark cowboy outside the front door. As he approached her, her posture shifted. She held a nervous tension in her shoulders. She stood there as the cowboy barked at her. The cowboy kept his back to the window in front of the booth where the other man still sat sipping his coffee. The waitress continued to stand there listening and nodding.

The man in the booth watched, blankly, still sipping his coffee. The dark cowboy turned slightly, still obscuring his face, and pointed right at the man in the booth. Slightly alarmed, the man in the booth sat up rigidly and fumbled for his bag of money. The waitress turned, locked eyes with him briefly, and then returned her attention to the dark cowboy — who climbed back into his truck and drove away.

The man in the booth sat and watched the truck crawl down the endless desert highway until it disappeared into heat waves over the edge of the horizon.

“How much do I owe you?” the man in the booth asked the waitress as she came back inside.

“That was the owner,” she replied. “He said your money’s no good here.”

The man in the booth sat there for a second. He didn’t know what that was supposed to mean. Maybe he did know the dark cowboy. He took one last sip, laid down five dollars anyway, and stood up. He immediately lost his balance and had to lean against the side of the booth for stability. His head still hurt. His steps felt heavy, like walking through mud. He clutched the bag of money as if he was a running back, and powered through to the door.

“Sir,” said the waitress.

He didn’t acknowledge her. He continued for the door, getting closer and closer. “Sir, you can’t just leave!” said the waitress.
He gripped the door handle and pulled. The door opened, but to his surprise he was not greeted by any heat coming from outside: only cool, still air. As he crossed the threshold, he was somehow back in the diner, except everything was backwards. The counter, the booths, the big window were all reversed. He saw only one man sitting alone with his back to the door. The man he saw had a massive head wound that was bleeding profusely. That man was also sipping coffee.

He turned around and went back through the door, back to his seat, and sat down. The waitress came over and handed him his five dollars.

“Sir,” she said, “Here, like I had said, your money is no good here.”

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About The Author

 R. J. Sadler

R.J. Sadler is writer and educator from eastern Pennsylvania. He has been previously published in 365 Tomorrows. He lives with small human-like creatures whose existence challenges his ability to read, write, edit, and keep his home clean. When it comes to his fiction writing, R.J. neither enjoys nor regularly adheres to publishers’ serialized thematic guidelines. He is uncomfortable talking about himself, even in third person.


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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

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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 244

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

by Imogen Cassidy

Old City
by Trent Jamieson

Silver Lining
by Rex Caleval

by Simon Petrie

A Necessary Intervention
by Zebuline Carter

Star Dream
by Theodore Irvin Silar

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AntiSF's Narration Team


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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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 <>

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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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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, 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 <>.

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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 <>

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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 <> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

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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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SF News

SF News

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

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Upcoming Aussie Cons

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2018 SciFi Film Festival 18-21 Oct Event Cinemas George St Sydney <>.

Monsterfest Horror Movie Festival 22-25 November, Cinema Nova Melbourne <>.

INDIE COMIC CON 2018 8 Dec Northcote Town Hall, Melbourne Free event. <>.

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: <>.

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