The Frog in the Well

By Roger L Wang

sfgenreLeaning on the edge of the well, Anhelina crossed her legs meticulously. She threw her golden hair onto her shoulder despite there being no one else around to see. Meek hues of the morning sun peeked through patches of scattered fog, gently kissing her outer thigh. After a bit of time, she finally turned towards the dank well. 

“Mr. Ribbit!” she cried, “Come out! Come out!”

“Here again? Let the simple amphibian be!” bellowed Sheldon the frog. 

“This world is vast and great! There are so many wonderful places to be and people to meet! Please give it a chance!” pleaded Anhelina.

“Bah! In your wildest dreams,” said the frog, rolling his many sets of eyelids. “Not four jumps out and I’ll be swatted about by some housecat! Now, leave me alone!”

“You have to try at least once, right? Pretty please?” persisted Anhelina.

“Says who? The law? Even if it did, I am a frog and I am exempt from the law! Let me be,” croaked Sheldon.

Anhelina bit her tongue. “It must be awfully dark and damp down that well. Don’t you want to leave and explore?” she pressed. “Perhaps adventure across and inhabit a spacious pond?” 

“I have been down this well my entire life,” said Sheldon. “In fact, I’ve grown content with the water that drips down here and the nibbles of moss that sprout about. Time and again, my needs are humbly met and I know not of want. An abrupt and hasty departure would bring nothing but corruption — I would forsake what little I have for this heedless proposal. Have you considered this may be what’s best for me?”

“You don’t know that,” grimaced Anhelina. “Whether you want me here or not, I just want what’s best for you. And that can’t be rotting away in this prison.”

“I am not an ambitious amphibian. If this is enough for me, then isn’t that what matters?” challenged Sheldon. “Alas, that world out there is yours and down here is mine. While yours is indeed vast, think how small and insufficient it may be for a giant! And how even more so for a god, a timeless supply of worlds and galaxies in his grasp! But, does this diminish the beauty of your own little well? Of course not, my dear. You may not see or understand the wonders of my plane, but there is little use of me to try and convince a giant otherwise!” ribbited Sheldon. 

“That’s not the same!” protested Anhelina. 

After a pause, she continued gently. “I’ve heard you enjoy gazing at the starry sky, for whatever fleeting, miniscule glimpses at least. Out here, there is tenfold…no, hundredfold…no, even more than that! You couldn’t possibly imagine how many beautiful constellations there are in every color and combination,” she said dreamily. 

“I mean, have you ever seen a shooting star?”

“Perhaps not,” said Sheldon, unable to contain his interest. 

“It’s like…a gracious and heavenly streak of light amongst a sea of stars.”

“A sea? Like the ocean? What does such a thing look like?” Sheldon asked, betraying his awe.

Anhelina smiled. “Forget the pond. The sea is the harmony of a million discordant streams converging into one. ”

“Sounds…spectacular,” Sheldon finally let out after a sigh. 

“It looks spectacular too,” suggested Anhelina.

“Well, it does sound nice,” admitted Sheldon. “Perhaps a sight for one day — yet impetuosity is anything but necessary. There are other things I must tend to first; I need more time.”

It was Anhelina’s turn to exasperatedly roll her eyes. “Besides from deciding which damp spot to languish and mope around in today? Sometimes, you just have to take a chance! That time is now!”  

“Such haste, Anhelina, and for what?” scorned Sheldon. “My kind may not live long relative to yours, however, we have ascertained patience as a teacher to us all. It is those with years to spare in often the greatest need of introspection and inner peace of mind.”  

“Sorry…it’s just, nevermind,” muttered Anhelina.

“Besides, where would I even go?” invited Sheldon. 

“Anywhere but here. The ocean is but one of many grand sights awaiting in the great beyond!” 

Anhelina hesitated before continuing.  “It’s unorthodox…I’ll admit, but I can bring you past it, the great beyond, I mean. We can traverse to 1492, then venture and explore from there.” 

“Dates within the anthropocene do not concern me,” warned Sheldon.

“I thought we might begin our journey with the voyage of Christopher Columbus since you love the sea so much,” professed Anhelina. “I’ve heard those he acquaints end up with an excellent time! From there, we can visit considerable paradigm shifts in Earthrealm’s history to see if any strike your liking — one perfect for a start anew. I need not burden you with the rest of the logistics, but I can assure you these earthen dates occurred within similarly pleasant reputations — my, were Hiroshima’s cherry blossoms a sight to behold in 1945! I’ll take you myself, come; let’s leave this instant.” She lent out her hand, her patience starting to dwindle. “I promise you won’t regret it. Please.”  

“What’s all this deceptive urgency I perceive, Anhelina?” Sheldon said, clearly dissatisfied. He raised his eyes knowingly, “it’s as if the world might end.” 

Anhelina glared, her pretenses faltering. She maintained composure with a sad smile. 

“Let’s not play games now, Sheldon Ribbit. Hmm, perhaps I do see the appeal of your well now, after all it does seem quite…quaint. What is it made of?” she deflected, running her fingers alongside the well’s ghastly edges.   

“Rubble and cobblestone gathered from the collapse of the Berlin Wall,” mused Sheldon. 

“The Berlin Wall was made of concrete,” Anhelina retorted impatiently.

“Whatever,” shrugged Sheldon. As he looked up, the distant tones of church bells began to ring. 

“Thank you for the visit, Anhelina, but it appears time is up once again; perhaps another time, dear.”

Angrily pushing herself up from the decrepit well, Anhelina stormed off into the shattered morrow.

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About the Author

Roger L Wang

Roger Wang is a senior currently working towards his philosophy and media studies degree at Rutgers University.

His appreciation of things equally Kafkaesque as they are sublime is what drives his interest towards the speculative fiction genre.

He has been published at 365 Tomorrows.

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Daddy's Always Right
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An Irregular Ode to the Loch Ness Monster
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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.

“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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AntipodeanSF August 2022

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Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
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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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ed erringtonEd lives with his wife plus a magical assortment of native animals in tropical North Queensland.

His efforts at wallaby wrangling are without parallel — at least in this universe.

He enjoys reading and writing science-fiction stories set within intriguing, yet plausible contexts, and invite readers’ “willing suspension of disbelief.”

He believes stories might also contain an element of humour — however small — to enrich the plot and/or heighten the drama.

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

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The Contributors

Former Aussie former music journalist, now working in media Payroll and moonlighting as an author.

Fantasy and sci fi are hands down her favourite genres, both to read and write after she got the writing bug after reading the Discworld series as a kid, and Sir Terry remains her favourite author of all time.

When she's not writing, she loves hanging out with her family watching Star Trek or sport to relax.

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Roger Wang is a senior currently working towards his philosophy and media studies degree at Rutgers University.

His appreciation of things equally Kafkaesque as they are sublime is what drives his interest towards the speculative fiction genre.

He has been published at 365 Tomorrows.

jessie atkin 200Jessie Atkin writes fiction, essays, and plays.

Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Flock Lit, Writers Resist, Daily Science Fiction, and elsewhere.

She can be found online at <jessieatkin.com>.

Zach writes speculative fiction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

You can find some of his short stories at <https://medium.com/@zachary-deinreisch>.

brian mahon 200Brian Mahon is a former cook, lab technician, submariner, and now-and-then writer.

He splits his remaining energies seeking knowledge, fighting age, doing laundry, and writing as a creativity relief valve.

He can be reached both on Facebook <@MahonMiscellany> and through his website, <www.mahanimalism.net>.

Bryan Keon Cohen 200Bryan is a writer, activist and retired-barrister based in Melbourne, Australia. He appeared in the High Court in significant constitutional, native title and refugee matters including the Mabo litigation, Bryan has published numerous legal articles, and the book "A Mabo Memoir" (2013).

Bryan’s insightful and engaging fiction has been published in Australia in Woorilla (2010), Idiom (2019), StylusLit (2019), Antipodean Sci Fi (2020), and in the UK, Bandit Fiction (2018).

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deb sheldon 200Deborah Sheldon is an award-winning author from Melbourne, Australia. She writes short stories, novellas and novels across the darker spectrum.

Some of her titles include the horror novels Body Farm Z, Contrition, and Devil Dragon; the horror novella Thylacines; the romance-suspense novella The Long Shot; and the collections Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories, and the award-winning Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (Australian Shadows “Best Collected Work 2017”).

Her short fiction has appeared in Quadrant, Island, Aurealis, Midnight Echo, Breach, AntipodeanSF and many other well-respected magazines. Her fiction has been shortlisted for numerous Australian Shadows Awards and Aurealis Awards, long-listed for a Bram Stoker Award, and included in various “best of” anthologies.

Other credits include TV scripts, feature articles, non-fiction books, stage plays, and award-winning medical writing. Visit her at <deborahsheldon.wordpress.com>

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ed-errington

Whenever he can, Ed likes to listen to people’s interactions — in real-life and/or through the media. Taking overheard conversations as a starting point, he then attempts to create what interactions might follow — regarding plot, character and motivation. 

Ed believes that what people say, and how they say it helps define their character; this notion transcends status, class, accent, race, and gender. Note Ed is not a spy. The stint he spends on eavesdropping real-life situations is severely constrained by the time taken for his coffee to get cold. 

His following spoken piece — ‘Like’ — was inspired by the beginnings of a conversation he overheard ‘twixt two young teenagers while awaiting the arrival of his auspiciously affordable affogato.

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Tony Owens is an ESL teacher living in Brisbane with his wife and son.

His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies In Fabula-Divino, Zombies Ain’t Funny,18, Darkest Depths and Andromeda Spaceways Magazine 2017’s Best Stories.

He is a proud member of the Vision Writers Group and his ultimate ambition is to find the literary sweet-spot between H.P. Lovecraft and P.G. Wodehouse.

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Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of two novels: The Greer Agency & A Felony of Birds. He has written dozens of short stories many of which are available on line at <quantummuse.com>. He is the author of many children’s books including At The Robot ZooMoonRivet Saves His Skin and An Alphabet Book of Bugs available in print from CreateSpace and as ebooks for Nook & Kindle. You can find links to his writings here: <harristobias-fiction.blogspot.com>

ps cottier 200PS Cottier is a poet who lives in Canberra, with a particular interest in speculative poetry.

She has been published widely at home and in Canada, England, New Zealand and the USA.

Two of her horror poems were finalists in the Australian Shadows Awards for 2020. Her latest books are Monstrous, which is a volume of speculative poems, and Utterly, which is non-genre.

PS Cottier is the Poetry Editor at The Canberra Times and blogs at <https://pscottier.com>

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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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