Things That Might Help

By Karen Andrews

whiskers 200Dearest Clara,

As I mentioned over the phone, the cat’s name is Madeleine. That’s Mad-eh-line. She will not respond to any other pronunciation and must not be let outside under any circumstance. 

I refresh her water twice a day. Some people buy those fancy water fountains, but that’s an outrageous indulgence if you ask me. Look at Madeleine — she’s got to be at least fifteen years old and is as nimble as she was when she arrived on the doorstep as a kitten with matted ginger fur and needle teeth. Her pewter bowl is perfectly acceptable. Now, food. I give her a bowl of kibbles morning and night. She ABSOLUTELY can NOT have wet meat, as we discovered when she escaped for that day.

All the fresh kill (three rats, one swallow and a GUINEA FOWL!) nearly sent her feral. She will meow to complain about her diet, but don’t fall for any tricks. Her litter tray needs to be scooped and raked over hourly as it is. Leave it any longer than that and… well, it’s best not to think about it. Just take my word for it. This is why I need you to be a live-in house sitter. Don’t get too close to her either, lest you find yourself in my situation, needing specialist tests for a scratch that won’t heal. Father also gives her a wide berth, which I think is the cause for her distemper for they used to be such firm friends. On the other hand, I suspect she revels in her position of command in the household.

Now I’ve gotten the most important details out of the way, let me thank you again for your agreeing to housesit for me while I am away on this necessary business that, unfortunately, cannot be delayed. Forgive the detailed nature of this letter; as it happens, writing it became as much for my benefit as I hope it is for yours. When one is so used to the patterns of daily life it is easy to forget how rigorous they can be. No wonder father watches me as close as he does. Even since I’ve sat down in the last half hour to write, I’m feeling this mystery illness quite keenly but will press on because I do not want you to worry about the situation you’ve landed in. I realise that might be a temptation once you see how many tips there are! However, you have a steady head, more insightful than my own, and I anticipate that you will need to reference these pieces of advice but once before committing them to memory. And if you do, I hope they help.

Feel free to watch the television! You might need to buy new batteries for the remote as I don’t use it. It’s hard to sit down and concentrate when litter duty is so taxing on my time, although I do enjoy those crime procedurals set in sleepy little towns such as ours.

You have your choice of any of the upstairs bedrooms. I recommend the front room as it has a nice view of the river. I haven’t slept up there since I saw the ghost of my dead sister, Agnetha, in the hallway. It’s just too upsetting. If you do happen to see her, just speak aloud that you are a friend of the house and she will stop trying to hand you the black bag she’s carrying and then fade away. Although I won’t lie, her crestfallen expression is heart wrenching.

Wi-Fi password: watchthecat (one word, all lower case, father won’t let me change it).

Every bedroom has either a cricket bat or a golf stick tucked away in the closet. My mother used to say you never can be too careful, and I heartily agree.

Speaking of careful, father always stops in on his evening walk to see how I’m going. He has lived in the cottage at the back of the property since Agnetha died. It’s hard for him to stay in this house too long. Bad memories. Mum’s cancer, long ago, was easy in comparison. I daresay you’ve heard all sorts of gossip about him, but NONE of it is true. He’s just an old man who’s lived through tragedy and didn’t come out the other side quite right. It could happen to any of us. Well, except me. I experienced the same familial loss and I’m perfectly normal.

When Madeleine swipes and growls at him — and she will — just give her a bop on the head and she’ll swish off and hide somewhere. 

I’ve tried to explain to father that you’re young and won’t want to be bothered with his company. He can lay on the charm when he wants, but if you see him coming and don’t want to entertain just don’t answer the door.

The spare house key is hanging on a hook underneath the tank stand that’s closest to the family cemetery. Father knows it’s there as well.

If you get a chance, I would be most appreciative if you could go through the desk in the library to see if you can find father’s passport. I didn’t know he even had one until he said that the passport, along with every other kind of identification, had gone missing around the time the police ransacked the place following Agnetha’s death. Sorry, “executed a warrant”. It’s hard to know what went on because I wasn’t living here at the time. I said that the identification, even if it had been taken, should have been returned as no charges were ultimately laid against him regarding what was quite clearly an accident. Besides, where do you want to be off travelling at your age? I asked. He didn’t answer. Either he didn’t hear me or he was too busy studying the way Madeleine, standing on her back legs on the sideboard, had hooked a claw over the latch of the front door with methodical, feline grace. Clever, corrupted cat. 

You are most welcome to peruse the library shelves and read anything that takes your fancy — however, I would exercise extreme caution around the top-shelf titles. They are from my father’s student days when he was interested in the odd combination of occultism and botany. I would get rid of them, but every time I try Madeleine jumps up and attacks me. That’s how I got the scratch on my arm. It’s like she’s protecting them. Father reacted most curiously to my injury, grabbing my limb with a mingled expression of horror and relief. You have had a lucky escape, he whispered. But you must tend this wound with especial care. 

Not wanting to stir up his emotions, I shrugged him off with a laugh. I’m sure a dab of iodine and a small bandage will do, I said.

No, I do not think that will be sufficient. He sucked his breath in through pursed lips. I shall speak to my university contemporaries.

For what possible reason? I said. Are any doctors? And even if they were, they’d be long retired.

They cannot, for evil doesn’t rest, he said quietly. 

Confused, I asked him to repeat himself. 

They’d know best, he said in a louder tone, which was less perturbing, but I’m not convinced that was what he originally stated. 

I must finally concede that I am outmatched here, he said. Curse my cowardly nature, for exposing my children to this — here he paused — force and not having strength enough to stop it.

Oh, it chills my spirit just thinking about how forlorn his face went. And as I am starting to feel faint, I will make my final thoughts.

The only number you need to memorise is for the local pizza place because they don’t charge for delivery. The emergency services number is on the fridge if something goes wrong. But they don’t rush out when you call. Take Agnetha. Having tripped and fallen, she laid at the bottom of the stairs long enough for her blood to have dried on the floor when the paramedics finally arrived. In that time Madeleine had tracked red, sticky footprints all over her face, nibbling at her nose and ears. Again, I insist: NO WET MEAT.

Speaking of those who are supposed to help us, the police did a terrible job investigating her death. I’ve mentioned their mislaid suspicions regarding father, but they ignored the evidence of the black duffel bag next to her body. Was someone here to rob the house and Agnetha disturbed them? If so, why would they leave it behind? And why use a bag that was stained with a tincture of strong catnip, unless it was to trap…

Bin collection is on Tuesdays.

Enjoy your time in my wonderful home.

Kindest regards,

Esme.

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About the Author

Karen Andrews

karen andrews 200Karen Andrews is an award-winning writer, author, editor, poet and publisher. Her work has appeared in journals and publications throughout the country.

She has blogged at <www.karenandrews.com.au> since 2006 and is one of the most established and popular parenting/personal bloggers in the country.

She is a two-time finalist in the Best Australian Blog Awards. Her latest book is the Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity. She can be found at <@KarenAndrewsAU>.

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Issue 250 Print Edition

AntipodeanSF Issue 250 is now ready via print on demand.

Please visit <https://lulu.com> and order now!

All profits donated to Australian Science Fiction Foundation fan funds.

Ebook version also now at Smashwords

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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 256

Evolution
by Botond Teklesz

Hairy Story
By Tim Train

COLN
By Derek Smith

Dear Humans, Your Rent is Due
By Martin Lochman

Dear Santa
By S.A. McKenzie

Fortune Telling for Beginners
By Col Hellmuth

Kindling for the Fire
By JD Campbell

Mallcity 14 Child's Play
By Shaun A Saunders

Origins Unknown
By Jacob Edwards

Out of Africa
By Ishmael A Soledad

Space Station Interlude
By Terry Persun

The Dream Report
By Chris Kelso

The Truth Bomb
By JT Velikovsky

The Contributors

terry persun 200Terry Persun’s poems and stories have appeared in many magazines including Wisconsin Review, Kansas Quarterly, Riverrun, Rattle, Hiram Poetry Review, Bluestem, NEBO, Cirque, Eclipse, Bacopa, and many others.

His poems have appeared in six, chapbooks and five collections.

He was recently included in the 2019 Rhysling Anthology for sicnce fiction and fantasy poetry. He is also a novelist and has recently won first place in the Book Excellence Awards for science fiction.

Terry speaks at writers’ conferences and universities across the country. <www.TerryPersun.com>.

Colin Howe has been a fan of Science Fiction since the middle of last century, and is especially interested in time travel.

He has had many articles, and a book, published, all in the non fiction category.

This is his first published (intentionally) fictional story (notwithstanding some of the reports he has written for his job).

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Ryan Priest is an American writer who lives in Denver.

He's a former screenwriter and now makes his living developing software. For more of his writing please see <www.RyanPriest.net>.

andrew dunn 200Andrew settled in the state of Maryland on the eastern coast of the United States after living in southern California for many years.

Andrew’s goal with each story he writes is to produce something readers will enjoy without relying on the typical, the predictable, or the cliché. That said, Andrew likes to put people, places, and things into his stories that often aren’t found in fiction.

When Andrew isn’t writing chances are he’s at work, out for a jog, playing blues guitar or reggae bass, exploring abandoned things, or quite possibly spending quality time with the pets. Andrew hopes you enjoy his work, and he will continue to work to give you stories that entertain.

grace chan 200Grace Chan is a Melbourne-based speculative fiction writer and doctor. Her family immigrated from Malaysia to Australia before her first birthday. She completed a medical degree in 2012 and is currently working and training in psychiatry. In her downtime, she enjoys coffee, space operas, and thinking about where we come from and where we’re all going.

Her writing can be found in Going Down Swinging, Verge: Uncanny and Clarkesworld (forthcoming). Her novella, The Ship of Theseus, was shortlisted for Viva la Novella VII. You can find her at gracechanwrites.com.

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Timothy Yang lived and worked in Sydney and Melbourne as a doctor for ten years.

He previously won the Singapore National Arts Council award for short fiction, and his work has previously appeared in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore.

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karen andrews 200Karen Andrews is an award-winning writer, author, editor, poet and publisher. Her work has appeared in journals and publications throughout the country.

She has blogged at <www.karenandrews.com.au> since 2006 and is one of the most established and popular parenting/personal bloggers in the country.

She is a two-time finalist in the Best Australian Blog Awards. Her latest book is the Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity. She can be found at <@KarenAndrewsAU>.

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mconlyMichael Connolly lives in Bowraville NSW, Australia. He has worked as an art teacher, music teacher, printer and illustrator among other things (such as chicken de-beaker), and has a keen interest in science-fiction and the natural sciences. He has illustrated for the magazine Tabula Rasa, which specialises in the horror genre, and is a regular contributor to AntipodeanSF.

consig

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eugenbaconEugen Bacon has sold many stories and articles, together with anthologies. Her stories have won, been shortlisted and commended in international awards, including the Bridport Prize, L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest and Copyright Agency Prize. Literary speculative novel — Meerkat Press (2019). Creative nonfiction book — Macmillan (2019)

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botond t 200I am a chap who speaks four languages to the perfection.

As to the background, in the communist era in Romania we did not have laptops or cell phones. Those who had done some reading made it later to college. Those who did not still enrich the large mass of oblivion.

I tend to spend my time with translating literature, mainly sci-fi. Why sci-fi?

You see, I believe in God, but how they sell a white Jesus in an African church is beyond me. I am in a constant search for someone no human would ever understand. Call it God, call it UFO, what you will.

The stars will still be twinkling.aus25grn

Zeb writes:

Last week, on a whim I submitted some of my own musings to ‘Nuke’, and when I checked back today — my time in my ‘verse, which is plus six years comparative to you — I saw that he had published some of them! I wasn’t even sure the contrived email and attachment would get through, let alone end up published on your internet of things. (BTW — We have nothing quite like your ‘net, but we’ve gone far further into the solar system than you have. Figure that!) Now that I know a connection is possible, I thought I’d tell you a little more about myself and where I’m from. So, from the beginning…

Hi. My name is Zebuline Carter — that’s Zeb for my friends or Zeb-you-leen if you want to get formal — and I’m a forty-two year old former astronaut now working as an administrator at Farside, on Luna. Farside is a research base, where innerscopes are just starting to peel back layers of our sheath of the local multiverse. Because our work is so sensitive to em influences, Farside is situated within a one hundred klom diameter exclusion zone.

In my late teens I earned a double major in aerospace and business but passed over grad school for civilian astronaut training. As a kid I collected coupons from cereal boxes until I had enough for my first telescope, and built scale models of all the commercial shuttles and orbiters. Growing up, I’d always felt slightly out of place, like I was meant to to be somewhere else and part of me already was — until, that is, I had my first trip into low orbit aboard a high-riding intercont-cruiser, or ICC. That was a high-school graduation present from my Uncle Jim, and during the fifteen minutes of freefall I found that other part of myself, grabbed it tight, and never let go since.

Did I also mention I’m 180 cents tall with bobbed chestnut hair? Or that because of heart damage from a bad landing, I’m also marooned in low gravity? But heh, there are now six bases around Luna, supporting a permanent population of around twelve thousand Lunans, and a transient population of several thousand tourists and stopovers returning form the outer system, so it never gets boring and I don’t get lonely. And living in low G means I won’t age or sag as fast, either.

Until next time —

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Shane is an ageing scientist, cricket fanatic and long term indie writer. He lives in Australia at the foot of the Blue Mountains with one phone obsessed teenager. He has completed many short works, several novella's and one novel. Shane also now publishes via his own independent publishing label —Poupichou Press via Smashwords.

His other works can be found here;

<https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/drgriffo13>

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david-scholesDavid has written over 200 speculative fiction short stories. Some of these are included in his eight collections of short stories (all on Amazon).

He has also published two science fiction novellas and been published on a range of speculative fiction sites. Including: Antipodean SF, Beam Me Up Pod Cast, Farther Stars Than These, 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories, the WiFiles and the former Golden Visions magazine.

He will soon publish a new collection of science fiction short stories “Contingency Nine and Other Science Fiction Stories”.

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AntipodeanSF December 2019

ISSUE 255

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

Kindle version:

Poetry by Terry Persun

By Terry Persun

sfgenresuit up
climb in
set course
check systems
wait…wait

great pressure
difficult breathing
shake, rattle
another push
speed adjust

check systems
call ground
go weightless
recheck course
wait…wait

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About the Author

Terry Persun

terry persun 200Terry Persun’s poems and stories have appeared in many magazines including Wisconsin Review, Kansas Quarterly, Riverrun, Rattle, Hiram Poetry Review, Bluestem, NEBO, Cirque, Eclipse, Bacopa, and many others.

His poems have appeared in six, chapbooks and five collections.

He was recently included in the 2019 Rhysling Anthology for sicnce fiction and fantasy poetry. He is also a novelist and has recently won first place in the Book Excellence Awards for science fiction.

Terry speaks at writers’ conferences and universities across the country. <www.TerryPersun.com>.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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SF News

SF News

AntiSF contributor Stephen Pool has news of the release of the first issue of his comic book "Taurs" co-created with artist Whitney Buckley, at Amazon, and he also has a new horror anthology "Terror Bites" out with three other writer friends, available also at Amazon.

 

Upcoming Cons

Swancon 45 - National Convention 2020. Swancon is Australia's longest-running science-fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction convention, and is the premiere event in Perth for fans of all forms of speculative media.More information: <https://swancon.com.au/>

WorldCon 78 2020 ConZealand, 29/07/2020 - 02/08/2020 Wellington, New Zealand Worldcon 78 in 2020 is to be held in Wellington, New Zealand, on 29 July – 02 August 2020. Antipodeans, mark it in your calendar now — and the rest of the world, well, it’s time for you mark it in your calendars too: to visit the other side in 2020. Facilities for the event include: TSB Arena and Shed 6, the Michael Fowler Centre and the Intercontinental Hotel. More information is on offer at the official website of ConZealand: <https://conzealand.nz/about-conzealand/>. AntipodeanSF's editor, Nuke, will be at ConZealand!

For more up-to-date Aussie SF info join the ASFF: <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 

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Michael Shermer

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