Issue 293

By Mel Ifield

Struggling with the knot, I tried to skip after my team. Damn it, each time! I’d tie the damned boot laces because they undid and swear I’d undo it at the end of shift, and each time I was exhausted, so I just toed them off.  Each. Damned. Time.

Finally, the knot succumbed to my fiddling fingers and I pulled the standard issue shit-kicker boot on. My team was merely a memory and whiff of too much sprayed-on deodorant. Grumbling, I trotted through the swinging doors, flapping slightly in their wake, following the path of scent and echoes of movement.

“Where do they think they’ll get without me?” A rhetorical question. I was their Sergeant and they would sit on the tarmac, slow clapping my arrival like the bunch of smart arses they were. 

A glance at my wrist piece had me picking up the pace. Orders to clear my team off-planet and back to the staging post meant I couldn’t fart-arse around. Transport was blasting off in less than half an hour. We had to check everyone in, baggage and all. The last time we’d tried this — leaving a planet hard and fast — some scientist had thought to take home something exotic. Only, it had escaped its container and eaten him mid-flight. I’d managed to kill it with a knife, because, you know, shooting the damned thing in mid-air with my side arm would have probably blown a hole in the bloody ship and then where would we be? Had he thought of that, the nerdy twerp? No, he had not. Not that I could tell him off, what with him being chow and all. Really pissed me off, that.

I huffed my way through the last corridor, swinging the outside door open and breathed in the thin air. Planet BZI236 wasn’t the worst place I’d ever been, but damn, I would be happy to get a lung full of thick, humid Earth-style air. The starship’s engines were firing up and I could see my team all loafing around the cargo bay doors. What were they thinking, the twats? 

“Oi, you lot! Secure that stuff, but make sure you scan it all, yeah? No mistakes or laziness this time out.”

We had the bloody Ambassador onboard. She hadn’t wanted to leave, not getting a signed partnership with the locals, but hey, they didn’t want us and the spiked ell dropped into our compound sent a message: ‘Sod off or we’ll kill the lot of you.’

Not exactly the friendliest, but then again, we were expanding all over the star system. Every diplomatic mission had to have military protection details. Kind of lent us an aggressive image. I could see the confusion. Gave off a bad smell, it did. Kind of like the maddened, six foot, crazy-eyed spiny ell. Did a lot of damage; made its presence felt, caught the Ambassador across her arm with a seven-inch spike. Shame. 

I stood for a moment, looking at the makeshift compound we were deserting. Everything that could tell these locals anything about us was packed. They’d get no warning if we came back. Poor silly sods. Spike our Ambassador? Her brother is the commanding General for the entire Earth Fleet. This was one planet that was about to find itself in a world of pain. Shaking my head, I picked up some cargo and walked it up the ramp. 

Bye, BZI236. Next time I saw this place, well. It wouldn’t be a diplomatic mission, that was for sure. If we came back, we’d come back hard. We hadn’t been in space that long, but already Earth had stamped its familiar mark on its surrounds. Play nice, accept our brand of partnership, or we moved in, jackboots and all. 

Real peaceful and friendly-like.

Like the good neighbours we all were back on Earth.

I put down the crate and the ramp started to close. The last thing I saw of BZI236 was two locals watching from the tree-line. Couldn’t really tell from their green and white faces, but I got the feeling they weren’t worried if we returned. 

They’d be ready.

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

mel ifieldMelanie is a disabled, rural Australian writer of fiction and poetry.

She has published two adult and five children’s novels, short stories in literary journals and poetry in three collective chapbooks.

She is currently a judge for the 2022 Aurealis YA short story awards, after completing her Masters of Creative Writing in November 2022.

Issue Contributors

The AntiSF Radio Show

antipod-show-50Our weekly podcast features the stories from recently published issues, often narrated by the authors themselves.

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Meet the Narrators

  • Carolyn Eccles

    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 —

  • Mark English

    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

  • Geraldine Borella

    geraldine borella 200Geraldine Borella writes fiction for children, young adults and adults. Her work has been published by Deadset Press, IFWG Publishing, Wombat Books/Rhiza Edge, AHWA/Midnight Echo, Antipodean SF, Shacklebound Books, Black Ink Fiction, Paramour Ink Fiction, House of Loki and Raven & Drake

  • Michelle Walker

    michelle walker32My time at Nambucca Valley Community Radio began back in 2016 after moving into the area from Sydney.

    As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I recognised it was definitely God who opened up the pathways for my husband and I to settle in the Valley.


  • Sarah Pratt

    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

  • Emma Gill

    Emma Louise GillEmma Louise Gill (she/her) is a British-Australian spec fic writer and consumer of vast amounts of coffee. Brought up on a diet of English lit, she rebelled and now spends her time writing explosive space opera and other fantastical things in

  • Ed Errington

    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

  • Sarah Jane Justice

    Sarah Jane Justice 200Sarah Jane Justice is an Adelaide-based fiction writer, poet, musician and spoken word artist.

    Among other achievements, she has performed in the National Finals of the Australian Poetry Slam, released two albums of her original music and seen her poetry

  • Tim Borella

    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

  • Juliette Cavendish

    juliette cavendish 200Juliette Cavendish was born in Liverpool UK and is of Welsh and Norwegian heritage. Juliette has an interest in Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Science and writes in both Science Fiction and Contemporary Fiction genres. Juliette was fascinated with space as a

  • Barry Yedvobnick

    barry yedvobnick 200Barry Yedvobnick is a recently retired Biology Professor. He performed molecular biology and genetic research, and taught, at Emory University in Atlanta for 34 years. He is new to fiction writing, and enjoys taking real science a step or two beyond its known boundaries in his

  • Marg Essex

    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.


  • Laurie Bell

    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.


  • Alistair Lloyd

    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 <...

  • Timothy Gwyn

    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, his SF novel is available internationally in print and ebook