The Sacred Order of the Guardians of the Last Door

By George Nikolopoulos

sfgenreThe Sworn Brethren of the Order watched intently as Brother Leopold the Lecherous tap-danced an intricate set of instructions. From time to time, some of the Brethren turned and threw furtive looks at Brother William, silently snickering.

It was to be the last day of Brother William in the Sacred Order of the Guardians of the Last Door, and this left a deep wound in his heart. The Order was ancient and hallowed, and joining it had been a unique honour and the fulfilment of his lifelong ambition. The Brothers sat all day at a semi-circular table, guarding with the utmost diligence a rather plain-looking wooden door in the middle of a stone wall, as the greatest prophets and seers had portended that the World's Doom would come right through it. "Lo and behold," said the prophecy, "the Great Horned Beast that passeth through the Door, the world entire its own to devour, unless prevented by a man foolhardy with the succour of an appliance fashioned of a certain bovine animal by-product."

Over the centuries, countless silent discussions sprung from the prophecy. Many of the Brethren, like Brother Ulrich and Brother Ursulus in our own times, obsessed over the nature of the appliance to be wielded by the World's Champion, while others, like Brother Cuthbert, became obsessed with the Last Door and craved to know what might lay behind it. The current consensus was for all the Brethren to be equipped with swords made of cow bone, and for no one, under any circumstances, ever to try and open the door — which left Brother Cuthbert fuming.

As the centuries passed and nothing happened, however, the Brethren became a little bit weary of just sitting and watching a door. As if that wasn't tedious enough, the Brethren of the Order had sworn a vow of silence — so they could only communicate through an elaborate set of taps. Then, a few centuries ago, it was Brother Frederick the Frivolous that had the revolutionary idea of transforming the simple taps to tap-dancing, thus infusing the Order with new life and vitality.

***

That morning, Brother William silently cursed Brother Frederick for the thousandth time. The Abbot had given him an ultimatum: "You have seven days to finally master tap-dancing or you must leave the Order forever." Or, at least, that was what Brother William supposed that the Abbot had said; he was so bad at deciphering tap-dancing that he scarcely understood his Brethren and this had already caused some rather unfortunate accidents, like the time when he emptied a pail of night soil on the head of Brother Ursulus the Unlucky who had simply asked him to pass the salt.

When Brother Leopold finished his tap-dance, Brother William stood uncertainly for a while. Then he did a quick series of backflips, somersaulted twice and proceeded to scratch his left ear with his right leg. As his Brethren burst into silent laughter, Brother William knew that he'd botched it again. His days in the Order were sadly over.

With silent tears in his eyes he started to gather his belongings. He never got to finish packing, however, because Brother Cuthbert the Criminally Curious picked that exact opportunity to satisfy his most consuming passion; as all the Brethren watched Brother William, Brother Cuthbert dashed to the door and threw it open.

All the Brethren but Brother William gasped when the door began to open. They gasped louder when it was revealed to open to a cupboard filled with brooms. Then they all started to speak at once, breaking their silent vows and cursing the prophets who had made fools of them for so long. "Let's get out of here, dammit," cried Brother Ulrich the Unworthy and many took up his cry, except Brother Nelson the Nerdy who watched the brooms with unfeigned interest and exclaimed "They're all made of yak hair, fancy that."

They all left in the end, despite Brother William's desperate attempts to stop them. "It only opens to a cupboard from the inside," he wanted to shout, but he was determined not to break his vow of silence — and, alas, he was so dreadful at tap-dancing that no one understood what he was trying to say.

And so it came to pass that when the Great Horned Beast of Babylon burst drooling and slavering through the Last Door, the only foe that it faced was Brother William the Weakling, silently crying, "Thou shalt not pass!" and stamping his borrowed broomstick hard upon the floor tiles. The Beast opened its terrible maw, making ready to devour him whole, broomstick and all, only to realise to its dismay that it was fatally allergic to the hair of yaks.

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About the Author

George Nikolopoulos

George Nikolopoulos is a speculative fiction writer from Athens, Greece, and a member of Codex Writers' Group. His short stories have been published in Galaxy's Edge, Daily Science Fiction, Factor Four, Grievous Angel, Helios Quarterly Magazine, Unsung Stories, Best Vegan SFF, The Year's Best Military & Adventure SF, Bards & Sages Quarterly, Havok, SF Comet, Mad Scientist Journal, Truancy, Digital Fiction QuickFic, The Centropic Oracle, StarShipSofa, 600 Second Saga, Antipodean SF, Manawaker Studio's FFP, Fifty Flashes, 9Tales from Elsewhere, Event Horizon 2017, and many other magazines and anthologies.

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AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

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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.

<https://asff.org.au>

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

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 261

A Tale of Tyl Feánn: In which a High King is laid to rest
by steve duffy

Imagining Dragons
By Bart Meehan

In the Beginning
By Emma Riley

Speck
By Simon B. Pointer

The Night D Came to Life
By Zebuline Carter

Dear Friends
By Ben F. Blitzer

Relief Efforts
By Dmitri Christopher

The Third Law of HAVOC
By David Kernot

The Wood for the Trees
By Ishmael A Soledad

Conversation in a Utopian Future
By Denice Penrose

The Ghostship
By Maree Collie

The Door Into Last Night
By Hassac Naminov - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

The Contributors

hassac naminov 200Hassac Naminov is a freelance writer and editor.

He was born in Tokyo and grew up in Shinshu.

Later, he moved back to Tokyo to pursue his literary career.

In 2016, he founded the Sci-Fi magazine Alternia.

A regular contributor to the literary journal Hametuha, he is the author of the science fiction comedy Organization series (2015-2016).

Katlina Sommerberg is from San Francisco.

As a security engineer, she hacks software and machines, but finds this technical knowledge terrible for enjoying science fiction; she can't decide whether she likes science or fiction more.

Contact Katlina via Twitter <@houndom16>

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 Abyss & Apex, Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Samovar, and Star*Line.

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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steven fritz 200Steven Fritz graduated from the University of Maryland, became a Naval Aviator and flew helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft in the US Navy.

After leaving active duty, he earned a Ph.D. in Radiation Biophysics at the University of Kansas and spent several years as a medical school faculty member and senior administrator.

After university he managed a seed stage venture fund and did a stint as an avionics entrepreneur. He’s been infatuated with science fiction since his youth and has been writing SF full time for three years. You can follow Steven on his website at <InigoPress.com> or on Twitter at @StevenLFritz1.

 lynne lumsden green 200Lynne Lumsden Green is enjoying the aging process, contrary to all expectations. She completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, and after her midlife crisis went back and completed a B.A. in Creative Writing. She writes both fiction and nonfiction, and owns more books than bookshelves.

You can find her blog at: <https://cogpunksteamscribe.wordpress.com/>.

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col hellmuth

This story is a linking piece to two stories previously published in Antipodean SF, Coffee With God (Issue 245) and Frank's Best Friend (Issue 250) both first drafted whilst living in Western Australia, where I spent the best part of two decades. This piece (ironically written whilst sitting on the bank of Emmagen creek in FNQ) is an attempt, not just to further develop some recycled characters beyond the limitations of the short short story format, but also to give these stories a sense of place, a nod to the multitude of unique landscapes (and people) to be found in WA. The huge distances and wide open spaces between locations are also riddled with untold stories, so many that I find myself still writing them years after moving back to North Queensland.

Col Hellmuth lives a quiet (excepting weekly jam nights,) uncomplicated life, off-grid in the Daintree rainforest of Far North Queensland.

His day jobs over the years have found him contracted to do various work around the country in such exotic locations as mine-sites, SAS barracks, a Collins-class submarine, prisons, operating-theatres, swanky restaurants and wineries, chicken sheds, the Great Barrier Reef and the open road. He does not have any fancy letters after his name, or a pet cat, but does read a lot. 

When he is not enslaved at work he is usually found bumming around his local beach dodging crocs in his kayak or jamming on the blues-harp with his fellow bandmates, the Excruders.

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George Nikolopoulos is a speculative fiction writer from Athens, Greece, and a member of Codex Writers' Group. His short stories have been published in Galaxy's Edge, Daily Science Fiction, Factor Four, Grievous Angel, Helios Quarterly Magazine, Unsung Stories, Best Vegan SFF, The Year's Best Military & Adventure SF, Bards & Sages Quarterly, Havok, SF Comet, Mad Scientist Journal, Truancy, Digital Fiction QuickFic, The Centropic Oracle, StarShipSofa, 600 Second Saga, Antipodean SF, Manawaker Studio's FFP, Fifty Flashes, 9Tales from Elsewhere, Event Horizon 2017, and many other magazines and anthologies.

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andisha 200Andisha Sabri Carey is an Australian writer and poet who has lived in the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and most recently, Israel.

Her work has appeared in Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Potluck Magazine and Cordite Poetry Review.

"Last Resort" was originally inspired by a running joke with her husband about the Havens in "Pandemic Legacy: Season 2".

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Wesley Parish is an SF fan from early childhood. Born in PNG, he enjoys reading about humans in strange cultures and circumstances; his favourite SF authors include Ursula Le Guin, Fritz Lieber, Phillip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard and Frank Herbert. He lives in Christchurch, NZ, is an unemployed Java and C programmer, and has recently decided to become a mad ukuleleist, flautist and trombonist, and would love to revert to being the mad fiddler and pedal steel guitarist..  "Where oh where has my little pedal steel got to ... ?"

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steveduffyhusband, father, brother, son
poet, writer, artist, friend (et al.)
the list of pigeon holes
into which I fit, is endless

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AntipodeanSF May 2020

ISSUE 260

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

Kindle version:

AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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 (YA/ Fantasy — available now) and White Fire (Sci Fi — 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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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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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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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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ed erringtonFollowing two decades of working in the area of scenario-based learning (particularly speculative scenarios) within the university sector, Ed maintains an interest in Futurology.

That is, evidence-based suppositions and theories about potential trajectories of humanity, science, technology and civilisation into potential futures.

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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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alistair lloyd 200Alistair Lloyd is a Melbourne based writer who was raised on a steady diet of Douglas Adams, Iain M. Banks, David Brin, Neal Stephenson and Richard Feynman.

He feeds a healthy and somewhat nerdy interest in space travel, theoretical physics, design and organisational psychology.

Alistair once won a competition for his pitch to “Sell ice to the Eskimos”, holds a Master of Business Administration and has a seemingly inexhaustible knack of describing things through analogies.

You may find him on Twitter as <@mr_al> and online at <alistairlloyd.com>.

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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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SF News

Upcoming Cons

Most up-coming cons have been postponed until next year because of the current COVID-19 situation, but please visit the ASFF for up-to-date information.

CoNZealand the 78th Worldcon from July 29 till August 2 is to be a "Virtual Worldcon", held online. More information at <https://conzealand.nz/>

 <asff.org.au>.

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

There’s no real objection to escapism, in the right places… We all want to escape occasionally. But science fiction is often very far from escapism, in fact you might say that science fiction is escape into reality… It’s a fiction which does concern itself with real issues: the origin of man; our future. In fact I can’t think of any form of literature which is more concerned with real issues, reality.

Arthur C. Clarke

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