A Morning with Grey Clouds

By Swylmar S. Ferreira, Translated by Toshiya Kamei

sfgenreThe day started out rather strange, and not only because I hardly slept. After all, four and a half hours sleep is hardly enough. But what the hell.

I checked out of my hotel and took a cab to the airport. I was eager to go home after a tough week at work. At the airport cafeteria, I ordered coffee and toast while waiting for my flight call.

As I sipped my coffee, something peculiar caught my eye. A young man in a stained T-shirt wandered aimlessly around the boarding area, a tattered backpack hooked onto his back.

What’s wrong with him? I wondered.

“Looks like he needs help,” said a woman at the table next to me, pointing to the young man.

Then a desk agent’s soft voice came over the intercom, informing that my plane was boarding in a few minutes. The woman got up with a half-smile on her face. I adjusted my backpack and shopping bag. If I didn’t bring Adélia a little souvenir, I’d be in trouble.

Boarding was a bit stressful. Another passenger accused me of occupying his seat. He gave up only after a flight attendant checked his ticket and ushered him toward the front. The idiot didn’t even apologise.

The flight was supposed to be a short one. An hour, maybe an hour and a half, tops. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Right after takeoff, I grabbed an in-flight magazine and began flipping through the pages. Soon I dozed off, but I was woken a little later by loud shouts, with some passengers crying, others screaming their heads off. A few, like me, had no idea what was going on.

I twisted sideways in the seat, craned my neck, and saw a flight attendant leave the captain’s cabin held by another flight attendant and another crew member, perhaps the copilot.

“What in the world is going on?” I asked the man across the aisle.

The man was livid. He had a drool-like substance running from the corner of his mouth. He shook his head as he tried to grab the barf bag in front of him.

I couldn’t take it and turned my face away, only to see a woman screaming with a peculiar cut on her palm. Strangely enough, she wasn’t bleeding. A cut that didn’t bleed? That was too much. I unbuckled my seat belt and tried to get up. A sharp pain in my left leg made me lose my balance. I fell, hitting against the armrest. The pain almost made me piss my pants. I took several deep breaths until the pain subsided.  I crawled back to my seat.

I grabbed the magazine again and tried to read but in vain. A sweet substance came out of my nose and went through my mouth. Another bump caused a new round of screams on the plane.

I took my handkerchief out of my pants pocket and wiped my nostrils. I glanced sideways and saw the passenger next to me also had a bleeding nose, as did the man across the aisle, and even the idiot in front. He was bleeding when he got up to go to the restroom, like half of the passengers.

I had never seen something like this before. Things started to calm down somewhat when a flight attendant made everyone sit down and said that if they didn’t stay calm they could wreck the plane.

I took a deep breath half a dozen more times and managed to control myself. I screamed a few times during the last few bumps. I turned around and helped the injured woman clean herself. She tried to use the scarf she had around her neck, but she could only use one hand. Despite the look of it, the cut on her hand showed no sign of bleeding. Still, she writhed in pain.

At last, the flight attendant managed to get the passengers to close the overhead compartments and go back to their seats. Even so, the rest of the trip was far from smooth.

After landing, the injured woman was the first to get off, straight to an ambulance that arrived during taxiing. When I limped off the plane, I stole a quick glance at the captain’s face. He greeted the passengers as they disembarked. Despite the smile on his face, his eyes were vacant. I wanted to stay as far away from the plane as possible. All the passengers seemed to share my thought.

The airport exit was absolute chaos as always. My phone ran out of battery. I flagged down the first taxi I saw and headed straight home, even though I knew Adélia wouldn’t be there.

Our small townhouse faced a quiet street. When I opened the windows, I realised for the first time that the grey rain-laden clouds we had passed on the flight had arrived in the city, or at least in my neighborhood. A cold drizzle was falling, reminiscent of snowflakes.  Lying on the couch, I listened to the murmurs of a Saturday morning TV show. My body ached all over, which made me turn off the TV.  I shivered with cold.

I woke up to some startling news. An accident occurred near the airport. One of the local TV stations had managed to get close enough and started broadcasting live. Horrific images. The aircraft shattered, mutilated bodies scattered, mixed with metal parts and pieces. Firefighters and rescue workers arrived, looking for survivors. I paid more attention and learned that the accident happened shortly after I landed.

“How come I heard nothing about this in the cab?” I mumbled.

The cab didn’t have the radio on. Although short, the ride was unusual. The driver and I exchanged no words. I simply gave him my address and he drove in silence. I handed him a bank note and got out of the cab, without waiting for my change. Not even a single word.

I shivered again. I sat in front of the TV, but it went back to normal programming. I turned it off.

“Something’s wrong,” I mumbled, alone in the dimly lit room.

I recalled the earlier events, focussing the people I saw, like the shabbily dressed young man at the airport, the tough flight attendant demanding manners from the passengers, the woman with a cut on her hand, and finally the terrified pilot.

But what else? What happened while I dozed off?

Then something more urgent came to mind. Where was Adélia?

With the advent of cell phones nowadays, few households had land lines. We were no exception.

“Where did I put my phone?” I wondered aloud. “I’m an idiot.”

“Inside my travel bag, of course,” I said. “Where did I put it?”

I found my bag in the bedroom. I opened it and took out my phone. Then I remembered that the charger no longer worked. My spare was in my downtown office, so I gave up. I went to the living room and sat in one of the armchairs, the one in the corner, my favorite.

I began to relax. The TV remote control slipped out of my hand, and a strange image flashed through my mind. I was still inside the plane, except that the cabin was lit so brightly that we could hardly keep our eyes open.

Several people stood in the aisle of the aircraft. They were neither crew members nor passengers. They were strange, tall, rain-thin, their hands with large fingers and without hair. They reminded me of something. I tried to run, scream, but I was paralysed. The strangers were lifting me from the chair. I was floating in the air, and they put me in line behind another passenger. He sobbed and begged to be left alone.

Then I was lying on a bed. In a Herculean effort, I managed to sit up and saw dozens of people on odd-looking beds identical to mine and at each of the beds two or three strange figures poking at their bodies. Two hands grabbed my shoulders, forcing me to lie down. Then a blinding light directed at my face completely immobilised me. I heard screams, calls for help, loud cries from women as well as men. An acute pain in my head made me pass out. But I felt everything.

My leg was cut with something so deep that it seemed to touch the bone. A cylindrical object and other spherical objects flashed before my eyes. They stuck in my neck and hands. A large needle penetrated my eye.

“Lucas?” Adélia shouted, entering the house. “Oh, honey, I was so worried. I was terrified when I heard about the plane crash.”

She held my face, kissed me, and burst into tears. As she wrapped her arms around me, an unfamiliar fragrance stung my nostrils.

“What happened to your phone?” She continued. “You should’ve called.”

I remained silent.

Adélia kissed me again and we lay on the couch together.

“Are you all right, honey?” she asked, squeezing my hand.

I hesitated for a few seconds and ran my hand over my neck. I tried to convince myself that it was a nightmare but in vain.

“Yeah,” I said, cowering beside Adélia on the couch.

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About the Author

Swylmar S. Ferreira

swylmar ferreira 200Swylmar S. Ferreira lives in Brasília, Brazil's capital city.

He is a passionate reader of fantastic literature and an apprentice in the art of writing.

Writers he admires include Philip K. Dick, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King.

He blogs at Fantasticontos, escritos e literários.

 

About the Translator

Toshiya Kamei

Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas.

His translations have appeared in venues such as Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and World Literature Today.

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>

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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 274

A Quindecillion of Cain
By Dan McNeil

Best Laid Plans
By Kevin J. Phyland

Fiction to Fact Technology
By P.V. Andrews

Lucky Bastards
By Kim Rose

Mavis
By Chris Karageorge

The Boy Who Cried Woof
By Col Hellmuth

The Gods in Their Galleries (Part One)
By Rick Kennett

The Mouse
By Natalie JE Potts

The Paragon Abyss
By William Kerr

The PM's Horns
By Len Baglow

The Witch of Borsevo
By Kyosuke Higuchi - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

AntipodeanSF June 2021

ISSUE 273

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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ed erringtonAlthough a writer of the baby boom persuasion, Ed has not boomed for quite a while.

He lives with his wife plus a menagerie of non-domesticated — native Australian animals intropical North Queensland.

His writing within the ‘real’ science fiction context of COVID-19 is intermingled by long night sky vigils — searching for pesky aliens intent on maintaining their social distance to the nth degree.

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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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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

If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.

J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The Contributors

Alex Iurovetski FB 200A very few words about myself: impossible.

A bit longer:

Alexander Iurovetski lives in Melbourne, Australia.

He had gone with the wind of freedom from the former Soviet camp to the former British colony.

Alex codes and debugs for the sake of living, and bugs living for the sake of writing.

Occasionally, he helps his wonderful wife to raise their two sweet and mischievous boys.

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scott steensma 200Scott is a Melbourne based librarian, writer and son of a cat fancier.

He has written non-fiction for The Age, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and other magazines and dailies, but it's writing and reading Science Fiction that really fires his imagination.

He tweets at <https://twitter.com/scottsteensma?lang=en>, and if you're on Goodreads he would love to chat SF with you at <https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/36819318-scott>.

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dr stephanie koorey 200Steph Koorey really wants to get out more, and exercise a lot more, but as it is, she is a home-body Canberra-based academic, and writes occasional fiction, non-fiction and science fiction.

She published her first SF in the High School yearbook, and was mesmerised around the same time by discovering the work of Kurt Vonnegut.

Many decades later, she is reading David Mitchell (not the comedian) and John Birmingham, and is trying to learn from them, including by shamelessly following them on Twitter.

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Sele Hanakusa is a Japanese writer from Chiba.

In 1999, she received an honorable mention in the Cobalt Short Story Prize for New Writers.

In 2020, her story won an honorable mention in the first Kaguya SF Contest.

swylmar ferreira 200Swylmar S. Ferreira lives in Brasília, Brazil's capital city.

He is a passionate reader of fantastic literature and an apprentice in the art of writing.

Writers he admires include Philip K. Dick, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King.

He blogs at Fantasticontos, escritos e literários.

João VenturaJoão Ventura writes short fiction, which has appeared in several websites (AntipodeanSF and Bewildering Stories among them), and also in printed form: Somnium, in Brazil; Dragão Quântico, Hyperdrivezine, Phantastes (Portuguese fanzines); Universe Pathways (in both the English and the Greek versions).

He had short stories in several Portuguese and Brazilian antologies: A Sombra sobre Lisboa (2006), VaporPunk (2010), Antologia de Ficção Científica Fantasporto (2012), Lisboa no ano 2000 (2013), Lisboa Oculta - Guia Turístico (2018), O resto é paisagem (2018), Almanaque SteamPunk (2019), Winepunk (2019), Regiana Magna (2020).

In 2018, a collection of his short stories (in Portuguese) came to light, with the title Tudo Isto Existe.

He likes reading, writing (surprise!), has a blog and is a university professor (now retired).

He is married, with two children and he lives in Lisbon.

Those who read Portuguese can have a glance at some of his stuff in Das palavras o espaço.

chris karageorge 200Chris Karageorge is a lover, brother, son, neighbour and a keen observer of all things in sight. 

He reads, writes and cooks in his spare time and dreams of coffee darker than a moonless night. 

He is from Melbourne, Victoria and can be found walking his pug Monty during the weekends.

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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 Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and World Literature Today.

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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bufnila authorOvidiu Bufnilă was born and lives in Romania. He has headed up Waved Philosophy since 1977.

Ovidiu Bufnilă binds everything so beautiful that the universe seems to be born of a wave that has shattered.

His novel Jazzonia was awarded as the best Romanian SF Novel.

He received the award for the best Romanian SF Story, Mandhala, 2002, and was also awarded for excellence in Romanian SF and the Sigma Award for the best Romanian SF Novel, Moreaugarin’s Crusade.

He received the annual Clouds Magazine Award (USA).

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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