Snatchers

By Eugen M. Bacon

sfgenre‘SOMEONE’S COMING,’ whispered Junkie. He ducked into a bloomy bush that licked at peeling moccasins thieved from a drunk months ago outside Reefers.

‘Shush it,’ said Art. The cold of the device in his hands … nicked from a tourist from Earth.

Earthlings, most gullible: holding their maps, unguarding their rucksacks, sticking their devices out of back pockets …

the device initially trembled and wailed, and flashed messages. Then it ran out of juice. Still, it served a purpose.

He felt charged tonight. That Acapulco gold they’d smoked was nowhere near the real thing, nothing like angel mist. But better than none. Stank like shit, still took you places.

‘Just a doll with a kid,’ whispered Junkie.

‘Shut it, airhead.’ Art’s mind worked on a plan. ‘Stay,’ he said.

Only visiting Earth folk took strolls this time of night in this part of town. And she was pushing a wheeler.

 ***

Metres away, security guard Sherrie Porter wheeled a pram. Not every day did a single mum win a lottery, let alone one awarding you the trip of a lifetime light years away. Didn’t matter this world was awakening from some terrible winter or scourge. Rebuilding was everywhere: construction sites, half-baked cityscapes rising from ashes. No matter the surround, the galactic getaway was remarkable. If someone blindfolded you and brought you here, you’d never tell different: folk looked human, spoke human.

Only yesterday Sherrie stumbled upon this natural park isolated from wasteland. None of the dishevelled starkness of a reconstructing planet ravaged by war. Banging, clanging, drilling, whirring—tools and machines everywhere in a world devoid of colour. But in this park silence and a splash of brilliance: flowers like heart-drops, like the bellies of bees, like tiny fluorescent dragons, kissy lips, humming birds, upside-down umbrellas … the park reminded her of the botanical gardens she and Earl strolled back home before he discovered she was pregnant and went AWOL.

This trip stoked the realisation how kettled her life had been. No wonder she’d swooned in the arms of the first goon that poured her a grin. Now she smiled softly to herself, as twin moons lit her path. An orange horizon marked the end of the park and the start of the stark city beyond the empty park.

Junior stirred under the blanket.

***

Shrubbery rustled as Art peeled out.

‘But …’ said Junkie.

‘But nothing. I said stay.’

‘The kid, man,’ mumbled Junkie to his shoulder.

***

A draught hissed past Sherrie’s neck. Then a hard press into the small of her back. She stiffened.

‘Squeal and you’re dead,’ a voice said from behind. ‘Turn real slow.’

Now she faced him. An unshaven teen with dreadlocks, a pockmarked face, a chin grey as emery. Yellowed eyes burning like coal. He pointed what resembled a gun inside sleeves. A dragon and genie tattoo snaked along his free hand.

Behind her, the pram shook. A wail cut the air.

Art beckoned Sherrie with his gun. ‘Slide from the wheelie.’

She saw the glint in his eye, and took a step back.

He moved toward the baby, the weapon never leaving Sherrie. The crying became a babble. ‘Da da da da.’ A soft moon face gazed at him, a wide-eyed stare designed to melt a heart. Fat legs kicked, kicked a fleecy blanket sprigged with daisies and butterflies.

A bag matching the wheeler swayed from its hook like a pendulum, charged seconds ticking.

Sherrie’s swirl and cry were instinct. She lunged at Art. Her hair fell from its ribbon, big hair that had a heartbeat. It blinded Art as they crashed onto grass. They struggled for the weapon. Art won. He kicked her off with his boots, lost his grip on the stupid thing, dropped it to the ground. He made to rise.

She grabbed him from behind, muscled him down. ‘A mobile phone? Is that the best you’ve got for a weapon?’ Thin nails formed streaks on his skin.

Where’s Junkie? his wild thought, a burning trail on his face. ‘Unhand me, bitch!’

She punched, kicked, stomped his scar-face with her heels. He leapt. She grabbed at his knee and caught air. He shoved her as he sprang, planted a blow to her shin. She fell. He grabbed the bundle from the pram, dove and surged into the wind. Behind him, Sherrie’s enraged cry.

He gunned through the park, weaved through trees against a bitter gust of wind. The unlaced tongue of his moccasins lapped on something. His fall was scattered, limbs everywhere. He sat on the ground, wheezing.

Someone tumbled into him from behind. ‘Hey, dog.’

It was Junkie. Saggy trousers, yellow boxers sticking out.

‘You got me there a big one,’ panted Junkie. He eyed the bag. ‘Gotta hand it to you.’

Art sucked his teeth. ‘Bitch fought like a trooper.’

But all was well now. He unzipped the bag, pulled out a rattle, a dummy, a handful of cheesy clothes.

‘Where were you, punk?’

Junkie shrugged.

Art’s fingers closed around stuffed paper. He withdrew a brown envelope, grinned. ‘You owe me the moon for this.’

‘You ripper!’ Junkie hunched beside him. ‘Go on, better be some boom.’

‘Yeah, mate. No more angel dust, hey?’ said Art.

Junkie’s breath brushed warm on Art’s shoulder. ‘You done good, mate. You done good.’

 ***

Sherrie leaned into the pram, fondled Junior’s tiny moon face. He cooed.

‘Joke’s on them, buster. Wait until they find they nicked a soiled nappy,’ she said.

*** 

Somewhere in the distance, a dog howled.

Art and Junkie slid under a melancholy tree denuded of leaves, under the gaze of an owl.

Art tore open the envelope, found another wrapping. He ripped it open. A piece of towelling or other absorbent material. It was wet. A stench filled the air. Art smiled at the sight of what was buried inside.

Junkie took one glance at a load of creamy baby poop and grinned. Human baby shit made the best El Diablo; sold steep in the black market.

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About The Author

Eugen M. Bacon

eugenbaconEugen M. Bacon has published over 100 short stories and articles, and has a creative non-fiction book out with Palgrave McMillan in 2017. Her stories have won, been shortlisted, highly commended, commended and long-listed in the Copyright Agency Prize 2017, Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) National Literary Awards 2016, Alan Marshall Short Story Award 2016, Lightship Publishing (UK) international short story prize 2013 and Fish Short Story Prize 2013/14. Eugen’s creative work has appeared in literary, science fiction and fantasy magazines and scholarly journals worldwide, including Award Winning Australian Writing, AntipodeanSF, Andromeda, Aurealis, Horrified Press anthologies, Meniscus, TEXT and through Routledge in New Writing.

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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 236

Australia, A Story
by Ovidiu Bufnila

Castle Bridegroom Bear
by Michael Richards

Decrypted Message Thread
by Theodore Irvin Silar

Non-Event Horizon
by Kevin J. Phyland

Satisfaction
by Nicholas Sheppard

The Traveller
by Robert David

The Twelve Moments
by Eugen Samolin

Upstairs
by David Scholes

You Can Always Change The Past
by George Nikolopoulos

You Can't Always Get What You Want
by Wes Parish

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AntipodeanSF February 2018

ISSUE 235

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

20th Anniversary Issue

Online Since Feb 1998

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AntiSF 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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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 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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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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laurie bell 150Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia. She spent years writing and making audio plays with her sister using an old tape player. Life is a performance! She is a singer and has performed on stage once for her local theatre company. Now she helps out as a volunteer. She loves to read her stories out loud to anyone who will listen. She has recorded several audio readings of her own short stories here at Antipodean SF and is now a member of the audio team.

You can read more of her work on her blog Look for her on Facebook <www.facebook.com/WriterLaurieBell/?fref=ts> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

Laurie's debut book The Butterfly Stone will be published in Autumn (Aus) 2018 and another titled Blood Fever will be published in Winter (Aus) 2018.

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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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SF News

SF News

AntiSF Author Eugen M. Bacon Publishes Two New Anthologies

Antipodean SF author Eugen Bacon has published two new speculative fiction anthologies:

Dying & Other Stories, <http://www.fiction4all.com/books/b13195-dying-and-other-stories.htm>. Literary speculative fiction that offers up death. Dirges that cross genre.

Thirteen Wicked Tales, <http://www.fiction4all.com/books/b13148-thirteen-wicked-tales.htm>. A collection of literary speculative fiction by Fiction4All

Congrats AntiSF Author Laurie Bell...

Laurie Bell is set to have two new novels published in 2018. One is an adult sci-fi noir thriller novel "Blood Fever" through Incendia Books, and the other is a young adult urban fantasy "The Butterfly Stone" from Wyvern's Peak Publishing.

ASFF Supports The Swancon Short Story Competition 2018 - Entries Now Open

Swancon 2018, the 57th Australian National Science Fiction Convention, is running a short story competition with the support of the Australian Science Fiction Foundation. More information at the Swancon website. Theme: Transformation

For more SF news why not join the ASFF and get the ASFF newsletter “The Instrumentality” delivered straight to your inbox!

Upcoming Aussie Cons

Walker Stalker Convention: Walking Dead convention The Dome at Sydney Showgrounds. 3-4 February 2018 and 10-11 February 2018 Melbourne Showgrounds. <http://walkerstalkercon.com/sydney/>.

Confurgence 2018: Furry convention 23-25 February 2018. Amora Hotel Riverwalk, Melbourne. <http://ausfancons.com/confurgence/>

Swancon 2018 (Natcon): Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth. This is the 2018 Australian National Convention: “Transmogrification”, (Easter) 29  March to 02 April 2018 . Guests: Kameron Hurley, Ryan Griffen, Barb de la Hunty.  More information: <http://swancon.com.au/>

Continuum XIV: Conjugation. Melbourne’s SF Convention. 8th – 11th June, 2018. More information: <http://www.continuum.org.au/>.

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: <https://ausdwcon.org/>

For more up-to-date Aussie SF info join the ASFF: <asff.org.au>

AntiSF will be at the National Convention, Swancon (2018).

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:

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Reality is the part that refuses to go away when I stop believing in it.

Philip K. Dick