Be Here Now

By Harris Tobias

sfgenreBe here now. That was what was written over the door of the Zen Center. Where or what exactly “here” was was never explained, but that was the whole point of Zen. To be so in the moment you were the now.  Alexander Morris understood the now to mean paying attention to the world outside himself. But, as a scientist, he was sceptical that the Zen ideal of being in the “now” was even possible. What exactly was the damn now anyway? It bothered him. The more he thought about it, the less “now” he became. Wasn’t that ironic? Purposeful thinking about something, even the now, took you further from its essence. He wondered how physics would explain the now, or was it merely a mental state?

One day, when his questions and doubts overwhelmed him, Alexander approached Nom, the Zen Centre’s Zen Master. Alexander bowed low with the respect due an enlightened one, and in a humble voice asked, “Master, can you please tell me, what is the now?”

Nom smiled a secret Zen smile, and, striking a small gong he kept at his side, answered enigmatically. “The waterfall looks continuous but is made of countless drops.”

Alexander meditated on the Master’s statement for several weeks. At first he saw no connection between the now and a waterfall, but slowly it came to him that the now was like a single drop in a continuous rushing stream plunging headlong into the unknown.

He checked this realisation with Nom. The Master tinkled a small brass bell, smiled his enigmatic smile and said, “You are not the drop, you and everything are the drop.” The bell meant he was on the right track. The gong meant he was going wrong. He pondered the Master’s words some more.

After several more weeks of meditation, Alexander thought he’d figured out what the Master meant: the now was a single point on a line. A point containing no dimensions and no time. It contained the entire universe and all time. Alexander was sure he had made a great stride forward in his understanding of the ineffable now. Bursting with confidence, he ran his new interpretation past Nom.

The old monk banged his gong and told Alexander this story:

Once a Monk was walking along, his begging bowl in his hand, thinking about nothing when, in that very moment, he was eaten by a tiger.

Again, Alexander struggled to derive any relevant meaning from the story. Maybe being mindful was dangerous. How else to explain the tiger?  How could the monk fail to see the tiger if he was being mindful? Wait, the Master never used the word mindful. What did he say? “The monk was thinking about nothing when the tiger attacked him.” What does thinking about nothing mean? Is the now nothing? Was that the danger to look out for? Is thinking of nothing the same as being mindful?

When he asked Nom for help, all he got was the dismissive gong. That meant more weeks of meditation. Then he thought, maybe the tiger represented enlightenment, that elusive “satori” moment everyone at the Zen Centre was striving for. Maybe the monk in the story found his satori moment as he walked along. Maybe the tiger was the totally aware now he had been seeking the whole time. That must be it. The realisation gave him an aha moment and it thrilled him.

When Alexander presented this new understanding to Nom, he was rewarded with the opaque smile and the brass bell which told him he was on the right track. Now he felt he was getting somewhere in his understanding of the elusive now. If he could only wrap his head around it, he could join the ranks of those enlightened individuals who knew the now intimately. Those fabled few who could ride the now like surfers ride waves.

On his way home from the Zen Centre Alexander tried to empty his mind and tried to be in the moment. He was so close, he could almost taste it. What would he do once he reached that exalted state? Would people call him Master? He saw himself advising those young seekers — striking the gong when they were going wrong and rewarding them with the bell when they grasped his subtle truths. Nom would be his equal. Alexander knew that he shouldn’t let his ego cloud his perception, but he couldn’t help it, he was proud of himself, damn proud. He felt he was only moments away from a life-changing breakthrough. He could practically hear the now rushing at him ready to sweep him along.

It was at this precise moment that Alexander stepped off the curb and was struck by a taxi. Before he lost consciousness he realised what the tiger in the story was — it wasn’t enlightenment, it was ego.

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About the Author

Harris Tobias

Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of two novels: The Greer Agency & A Felony of Birds. He has written dozens of short stories many of which are available on line at <quantummuse.com>. He is the author of many children’s books including At The Robot ZooMoonRivet Saves His Skin and An Alphabet Book of Bugs available in print from CreateSpace and as ebooks for Nook & Kindle. You can find links to his writings here: <harristobias-fiction.blogspot.com>

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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 285

A Babbler from Door-toDoor
By Leon D Furze

A.I. — Ay, Aye!
By Col Hellmuth

Conception
By Jon Michael Emory

The Implausible Rise of Z-97R
By Ed Errington

In the Perpetual Dining Halls of Vallhalla
By Michael T. Schaper

Lady Killer
By Diana Grove

Summer Solstice
By Kevin J. Phyland

The Alarm
By Harris Tobias

The Return of the Drongo, Reborn
By William Kitcher

Two Sons
By Botond Teklesz

AntipodeanSF May 2022

ISSUE 284

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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ed erringtonEd lives with his wife plus a magical assortment of native animals in tropical North Queensland.

His efforts at wallaby wrangling are without parallel — at least in this universe.

He enjoys reading and writing science-fiction stories set within intriguing, yet plausible contexts, and invite readers’ “willing suspension of disbelief.”

He believes stories might also contain an element of humour — however small — to enrich the plot and/or heighten the drama.

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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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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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tim borellaTim Borella is an Australian author, mainly of short speculative fiction published in anthologies, online and in podcasts.

He’s also a songwriter, and has been fortunate enough to have spent most of his working life doing something else he loves, flying.

Tim lives with his wife Georgie in beautiful Far North Queensland. For more information, visit his Tim Borella – Author Facebook page.angle mic

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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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.

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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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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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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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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

The advance of civilization is nothing but an exercise in the limiting of privacy.

Isaac Asimov, Foundation's Edge

The Contributors

jolie lindholm 200Jolie Lindholm grew up in small towns on Long Island, NY, later moving to Florida for college.

When not writing fiction, she is acting frontwoman for South Florida rock band The Darling Fire, along with her husband of twenty-three years. They share two chihuahuas — one attack and one docile — that rule the roost.

Sci-fi and horror are her biggest influences, and she has fond memories of playing adventure games on floppy disk. She holds an MA in Criminal Justice and a BA in Communication.

(Photo credit: Billy Cessna Jr)

Chana Kohl works in Jerusalem in clinical trials and research, trotting the globe and writing speculative fiction in her spare time.

An avid sci-fi reader since adolescence, Chana only recently turned this passion towards writing, frequently incorporating cultural and religious elements from West and North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Middle East.

Her flash stories have previously appeared or will appear on 365 Tomorrows and the upcoming anthology Planetside: Science Fiction Drabbles.

chana kohl 200You can follow her creative writing journey on Twitter: <@chanakohl> or on her blog: <www.chanakohl.wordpress.com>.

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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bethany tatman 200Bethany Tatman is an aspiring writer who currently resides in one of the more hipster suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.

She has previously been published in Lot’s Wife.

In her spare time, she enjoys reading a variety of genres of books — but fantasy will always be her favourite.

She can be found at <@bethany_writes> on Twitter.

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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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Robin Hillard has had a number of stories published in magazines and ezines including AntipodeanSF.

She now lives in Melbourne with a bossy little dog who takes her to the off leash park.  

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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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Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of two novels: The Greer Agency & A Felony of Birds. He has written dozens of short stories many of which are available on line at <quantummuse.com>. He is the author of many children’s books including At The Robot ZooMoonRivet Saves His Skin and An Alphabet Book of Bugs available in print from CreateSpace and as ebooks for Nook & Kindle. You can find links to his writings here: <harristobias-fiction.blogspot.com>

ps cottier 200PS Cottier is a poet who lives in Canberra, with a particular interest in speculative poetry.

She has been published widely at home and in Canada, England, New Zealand and the USA.

Two of her horror poems were finalists in the Australian Shadows Awards for 2020. Her latest books are Monstrous, which is a volume of speculative poems, and Utterly, which is non-genre.

PS Cottier is the Poetry Editor at The Canberra Times and blogs at <https://pscottier.com>

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kevinjphyland 200Old enough to just remember the first manned Moon landing, Kevin was so impressed he made science his life.

Retired now from teaching he amuses himself by reading, writing, following his love of weather and correcting people on the internet.

He’s been writing since his teens and hopes he will one day get it right.

He can be found on twitter @KevinPhyland where he goes by the handle of CaptainZero and his work is around the place if you search using google or use the antisf.com.au archive.

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