Change Day

By Maree Collie

sfgenreIt’s Change Day! How exciting. I’m bubbling with anticipation, and I have to admit, a little trepidation. Everyone is gathering up their personal things. I’m ready, packed. I keep a tidy square. The music is upbeat and it’s not raining. I hope I get a good square. Some are asphalt, with white lines, and some are strewn with broken bricks and things. And I hope for congenial neighbours this change.

Neighbour Left hasn’t said one word to me in the year he’s been here. All he does all day is pace around the thirty metre perimeter of his square. He’s got a ritual going on. Wakes up, touches the border, gets catapulted across his square, and then paces, like some caged animal. Neighbour Behind introduced himself as Tim, but we don’t use names — not allowed. Well, he sits crossed-legged in the middle of his square beside his drinking tap. But at least he talks.

I call out: 

Hi ya Behind. You excited? Great day!

What’s there to be excited about? I like it here.

I reckon it’s my turn for the tree.

Tree? Why would you want that shit thing?

I’ll hug it all day long. The last living tree! 

Shit thing, all it does is make mess.

It makes fruit too.

Ya can’t eat it — it’ll kill ya!.  

I hear it’s apricots.

Got apricots in my box last drop. Don’t like ‘em. Pity I can’t toss ‘em over the forcefield to ya.

Canned or dried? 

‘spose they’ll put em in someone else’s food box. 

Probably.

And why do ya think that you’re for the tree?

I’ve been calculating the pattern, complicated, but I know, so it should be me.

Nahhhh. It’s been eight years, so the pattern starts again.

My insides heave, heavy, my heart cramps. My eyes run along all the scratches in the hard dry soil, all seven hundred and thirty of them, and I’m broken. I hope that he’s wrong. Please be wrong. Please.

Neighbour Front is talking at me.

What do you want Front?

Why ya so glum! It’s Change Day!

Yeah I know. Just hoping for the tree but Behind has dashed my hopes.

You and me both! It’s the best day!

Least you have a chair.  Not sleeping on the ground like me.

Just want to sit under the tree with a faraway look.

When are they coming?

When they get here.

Well I’m ready. 

Well ya should be! You aint got anything. Why’d ya not bring anything with ya?

What a funny time to ask me. He’s never been interested before. Maybe it’s the camaraderie of the day. They’ve made a nice day, sunshine, not too hot, no wind, with a scent in the air. Can’t place it. It’ll come to me. Something old. Purple flowers I think it had. 

It’s been so long. So many Change Day’s have come and gone. I don’t really remember how I got here. It all happened so quickly. There wasn’t a lot of time to think about what one might need. I suppose it was all about survival. Now, I just lie here all day watching the cloud movies. Think my brain’s stagnated. The days just flip along. Everyone’s in the same boat, just watching movies and listening to the news in the air. They’ve never shown a movie about how it all came to be. Funny that. How did it come to this? Think brain, think! There was the war, then the plague, then the Solution. Yes! The Solution!  

Well!?

Well what Front?

Why’d you not come with stuff? 

Didn’t have any.

Everyone had stuff. Lots of stuff.

Not everyone, Front. 

Why? Were you a Plaguee?

No.

Were ya livin’ rough? 

Probably. Lots were. Can’t remember much.

Well they don’t want us to remember anyway. 

Neighbour Right has been standing near the edge waiting, probably wanting to say her goodbyes. She hasn’t said much over the years either. I hear her cry a lot at night. She probably had family once, before the war. 

Hi Right. I wish you all the best. Hope you get somewhere nice.

What’s the point? 

Better than the alternative.

Is it? 

Of course. We’re all fed, secure, not a worry in the world.

For what? 

Don’t need for anything.

And don’t have anything either. 

We live in global peace, controlled climate, no poverty.

No animals, no birds, no flowers, no life either! 

It’s my turn for the tree.

Only spiders and cockroaches left. 

Life was so hard before the war, worries, stress.

But it WAS a life. I made my own choices, my own decisions.

She must have been one of the lucky ones, with a job, maybe a house, could afford food, maybe even a car! I should have tried to talk to her sooner. I wonder what it was like to live like that. 

But Right, it was a culture of greed and waste!

The only things that have freedom here are the spiders and the cockroaches. 

Freedom? What does that mean?

The ability to come and go as one pleases.

Oh Right, I think that was just an idea. All I remember was people living in fear.

There’s no point in human existence any more.

Was there ever? 

She has stormed off, and is now aggressively tossing her things into a large bag. I don’t understand why everyone isn’t happy living in this Solution. No one has to work, or struggle, just endless entertainment. Everyone has their own square serviced monthly with a food box and garbage collection. 

Neighbour Front is calling at me again.

What’s wrong with her?

I don’t know, Front. I don’t understand her.

My neighbour Right said that she was famous once.

Oh! I wonder why she’s not in the Green Solution?

My Right said that she’d lost all her money.

Still she must have known people.

Maybe they didn’t want to know her!

That’s a bit callous.

Power corrupts... absolutely... 

She said a funny thing... that the cockroaches and spiders had freedom. They do come and go as they please, but they have to forage for food and shelter. And they often pay with their lives. I wonder why she thought that was a better option.  

Front continues: If I don’t get the tree, I hope I’m moved down near the young people. They can fraternise you know. 

Front, are you going to leave that book behind?

Yep. I’ve read it a number of times now.

Wish I had a book.

The Young People, yes, down the far end of the Solution. I’ve never been down there but I hear tell that they can move into the adjoining squares. And that’s needed for population. And then the people who used to be the elite — used to be? still are! — have lawn squares and are allowed to have a few more things, so I’ve been told. They get more pleasant weather too, apparently. But they still have to move every two years. Must be a bother to have to try and carry two large bags to the next square. 

Neighbour Left is still pacing around. I wonder how they will move him. He arrived one night after the previous resident, an old man, died. One day old man, next day him. I liked the old man. He had stories about how things used to be. How he’d tilled the soil and grew plants to eat! And about animals and birds and the apricot trees. 

Here they come, the robots! One assigned to each square. How quickly they materialise and take up their positions. Looking around every which way I see row after row of little black machines stretching all the way to the horizons, standing, as if, at attention. I wish I had a camera to record the event but no such item exists any more. There’s total silence. Everyone’s standing in the middle of their squares holding their belongings, waiting, seemingly unable to speak. I notice that I’m holding my breath. Neighbour Left stands like a statue, frozen in time, waiting. 

Ravel's Bolero begins to sound and each robot takes its assigned person and marches off.  My robot marches me toward the apricot tree and I am excited, but alas, past it, and on and on. My calculations could not have been more inaccurate. Finally, the robot stops and I am afforded my new square. In the centre, next to the tap, is a small tree covered with large red flowers. I can smell the perfume. I know that I’m smiling. The last occupant has left other things, a small box and a bucket. I wonder what magic lies within the box. The daylight is fading fast so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to explore my new treasures, my food box, my new clothes, and to scratch day 1 in the dry soil. 

My tree though, I inspect. It has nasty thorns. There’s an irony — such beauty — such thorns. There’s a note pressed into the fork of the tree: 

Hello new resident:  My name is Rose.   I need to be watered regularly, but not too much, and I will reward you with beautiful flowers. My previous owner could not take me with him as I have grown too big. With heavy heart we are torn apart. 

There are several more pages but I cannot read further in the depleting light. My heart skips a beat. I have a connection, a link to another soul. I’ve never felt that before. A shared moment, something special, a secret. 

There is a loud crack of lightning and the forcefields are in place again. I wonder where my old neighbours have gone. I wish them well.

The night air is turned up warm, and as I lay awaiting sleep, I think about the author of the letter. The paper has a distinct ‘old’ scent. Its rich texture feels silken against my face. I try to imagine the hand that caressed the writing implement, willing it to divulge his pain, the love he left behind... A pang of sadness, a longing for something lost, long gone, stirs deep inside, begins to well up, wetting my cheeks.

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About the Author

Maree Collie

Maree Collie loves the idea of Flash Fiction. So much to say in such a little space. She also dabbles in short stories, monologues and plays.

Maree has had pieces published in anthologies, a play performed in 2018, and a monologue slated for performance October 2019.

She has completed a BA in Professional and Creative Writing at Deakin University.

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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>

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

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 266

And Then There Was One
By Tim Borella

Barkeep
By Bethany Tatman

Beyond the Cold Light
By Kevin J. Phyland

Body Dysmorphia
By Daniel Purcell

Chase v. Lee, or, The Green Sheep Hip Wiggle Case
By Anya Ow

Hullu City Murder Mystery; East Texas Town Rocked by Killings
By Wes Parish

Implant
By Roger Ley

Smoking
By Kyosuke Higuchi - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Sneak
By Robert W. Caldwell

The Interview
By Chris Gladstone

The Rorne Model
By David Scholes

The Sponsor
By Shaun A. Saunders

The Visitor
By Thomas Tilton

Time Warp Donors
By Barry Yedvobnick

The Contributors

danielmackisack 200Daniel is a sociologist, social entrepreneur, sci-fi fanatic and belligerent optimist.

Raised on Star Trek, other early influences include Kim Stanley Robinson and Douglas Adams.

In addition to writing, Daniel is a former diplomat, cofounded media transparency organization 'Write In Stone', spent 4 years studying revolution and democracy in the Arab Spring and leads workshops on collective decision making.

Umiyuri Katsuyama 200Umiyuri Katsuyama is a multiple-award-winning writer of fantasy and horror, often based on Asian folklore motifs.

A native of Iwate in the far north of Japan, she later moved to Tokyo and studied at Seisen University.

In 2011, she won the Japan Fantasy Novel Award with her novel Sazanami no kuni.

Her most recent novel, Chuushi, ayashii nabe to tabi wo suru, was published in 2018.

Her short fiction has appeared in numerous horror anthologies in Japan.

Benny Thang was born to immigrant parents and lives in Melbourne, Australia.

He enjoys stories in all its forms and hopes to write more things in the future that others might perhaps one day come across in-between the mundane things of their everyday lives.

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kyosuke higuchi 200Kyosuke Higuchi writes science fiction, speculative fiction, and literary essays. His debut novel, Kōzōsōshi [Structure Elements], won the fifth Hayakawa SF Contest in 2017. 

His short fiction has appeared in Syosetsu Subaru, S-F Magazine, and Bungei, among others. 

His latest book is a collection of essays entitled Subete namonaki mirai (2020). 

Kyosuke lives with his wife and young daughter in Nagoya, Japan. Find him on Twitter at <https://twitter.com/rrr_kgknk>.

Daphne has read SF since childhood. She writes poems, flash fiction and short stories which vary from the darkly humorous to the vaguely sinister. She is currently working on a flash novella, and a collection of short stories.

Daphne reads regularly at Perth Poetry club and has recorded two podcasts for ILAA on Kalamunda radio.

She lives with her partner and a holographic cat.

Her pamphlet The Blue Boob Club is published by Indigo Dreams Press: <https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/daphne-milne/4594486684>.

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rudy diaz 200A Physicist in Engineer’s clothing, Rudy worked 20 years in the Defense Aerospace Industry, from performing Lightning Protection analysis on the Space Shuttle to the design of Radar Absorbing Materials. He then joined Academia as a Professor of Electrical Engineering, where for another 20 years he attempted to infect unsuspecting students with a love for Maxwell’s equations.

Since High School he has spent most of his free time either writing Science Fiction or trying to figure out how to make Science Fiction a reality. (His students' latest work has led to the demonstration of efficient RF antennas that radiate using true magnetic (not electric) currents.) His speculative fiction short stories have appeared in Residential Aliens, Ray Gun Revival, The Untold Podcast, and the Crossover Alliance Anthology Volume 2. The rest of his work is in the peer reviewed Physics and Engineering literature.

Rudy has also been involved in Jail Ministry for about 30 years. He and his wife Marcy live in Phoenix, Arizona.

<https://rediazauthor.com/>

In recent years, Ben F. Blitzer has produced three unpublished literary novels and an unpublished novella, set in or around Perth, Western Australia.

Some of his shorter works of fiction, however, feature science-fiction, fantasy, and horror themes.

He lives in Western Australia.

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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.

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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Maree Collie loves the idea of Flash Fiction. So much to say in such a little space. She also dabbles in short stories, monologues and plays.

Maree has had pieces published in anthologies, a play performed in 2018, and a monologue slated for performance October 2019.

She has completed a BA in Professional and Creative Writing at Deakin University.

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roger ley2 200Roger Ley is a retired lecturer in Computer Aided Engineering. He writes speculative fiction because it stops him drinking hard liquor and chasing fast women.

‘Lone Orbit’ is one of the stories in his speculative fiction collection, 'Dead People on Facebook' which will cost you half a cup of coffee.

His three other speculative fiction books are similarly available on Amazon AU or visit his website.

Find Roger at: <https://rogerley.co.uk>.

Roger’s Amazon author page: <https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01KOVZFHM>.

His YouTube playlist: <https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHDmc8dxD57cPaMnsYfuJhQIirRohnaWY>.

George Nikolopoulos is a speculative fiction writer from Athens, Greece, and a member of Codex Writers' Group. His short stories have been published in Galaxy's Edge, Daily Science Fiction, Factor Four, Grievous Angel, Helios Quarterly Magazine, Unsung Stories, Best Vegan SFF, The Year's Best Military & Adventure SF, Bards & Sages Quarterly, Havok, SF Comet, Mad Scientist Journal, Truancy, Digital Fiction QuickFic, The Centropic Oracle, StarShipSofa, 600 Second Saga, Antipodean SF, Manawaker Studio's FFP, Fifty Flashes, 9Tales from Elsewhere, Event Horizon 2017, and many other magazines and anthologies.

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Where you see strange dreams, cockatoos and other nonsensical nostrums congregate, there’s a good chance you’ll also come across our author.

By day he’s all manner of mundane things: a board member, business association manager, policy adviser, researcher and scholar - in Canberra.

At night he lets those wild ideas of his run, well, wild.

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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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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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Shaun Saunders lives at the beachside suburb of Merewether, in Newcastle, NSW. He particularly enjoys Asimov's Foundation universe, and stories from the 'golden age' of SF. He is a regular contributor to AntipodeanSF, and winner of 2003 & 2004 AntiSF awards, and the inaugural 2005 SFSSC. His novel Mallcity 14 has been favourably compared with both 1984 and Brave New World.

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AntipodeanSF October 2020

ISSUE 265

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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 (YA/ Fantasy — available now) and White Fire (Sci Fi — available now)

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

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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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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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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

We should grant power over affairs only to those who are reluctant to hold it and then only under conditions that increase the reluctance.

Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune

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