Trouble In The ACT

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Issue 193

July 2014

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up!
ISSN 1442-0686

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By Wes Parish

sfgenreWe all agreed. Dick was lucky to have bought his house in Schlich Street when he did.

We? Tom and his girlfriend Alison, and me and my squeeze, Karen. Tom worked in the University of Canberra Linguistics Dept, and Alison was a policewoman, but I never held that against her.

I've never seen a woman so besotted! When Tom was in the room, I did not exist, except for special circumstances, such as his birthday — and now. I worked in the ANU library, and Karen, I think, worked just up the road in the American Embassy. I think she must have been a CIA analyst, because she knew things about me that I had forgotten. Someone must've done some security checks. Not that I'm paranoid.

Something terrible had happened to Dick, though. No one knew what. We only knew that his much-loved sixties Cadillac El-Dorado was now scattered all over Weston Park, and various bits of bone as well.

Alison was trying to find out, ringing various departments, while Karen confessed to me, "Harry, I will admit to an unusual feeling of dread. I wish I could pinpoint the exact thing that's sparked it off in me."

By mutual agreement we had all convened to Dick's garage workshop. Tom raided Dick's drinks cabinet for liquid encouragement, which Alison took to with much gusto. She seemed to be making progress — she raised her glass to us in a silent toast, then started ringing around again. Meanwhile, Karen pulled her phone out of her pocket as if hit with a sudden idea, then started ringing some of her own numbers.

"Hello? Yes, I know this is late in the evening, but you're the Department of Defense. You should be used to this. Listen, you know my ID. Has there been a shipment of autonomous drones to the Australian Capital Territory Police within the last couple of years?"

All further conversation was drowned out by Alison's outrage, "Yes, it's Dick Harrison I'm ringing about, you ... you useless piece of ..." but I could see Karen's face turn white while sweat beaded on her face. She clutched my arm protectively.

Somewhere in the background I could hear a high-pitched whine, and a sudden roar. Karen turned to me, "Why, Harry, in your youth, did you have to join a minority Socialist party?"

Before I could reply, Alison shouted at her phone, "Listen, you gutless halfwit, it was only a parking ticket!"

And then the world exploded...

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About the Author

Wes Parish

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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