Dystoria

By Chris Karageorge

sfgenreIn the light of the sunrise a little idea spawned, as I lay on my bed early one morning. One hour later as the warm sun came up — POP, out of my coffee came a bigger, better, greater idea. I started looking for a pen and began writing in my den.

I jumped up to my feet in a moment: I looked up, but it was all dark overhead; before me was the clock, and while the hour hand was still in sight, it was hurrying down towards closing time. There was not a moment to be lost — away I went like the wind, and was just in time to hear it say, as the hour turned a corner, “It is now five o’clock.”

 ‘How late it’s getting, oh! The Manager, the Manager! Oh! Won’t he be savage if I’ve kept him waiting!’ I thought.

I was close to the building when I turned the corner, I found myself in a long, narrow street, which was lit up by a row of street lamps, each laden with a noose.

In the lowest basement of the tallest building in town where the Drain Crawlers lurk and the bins smell hot and sour and no people can be heard...is the Department of Published Futures.

And deep within the basement, some people say, if you search deep enough you can still see, today, where the Author once stood just as long as they could before they were taken away.

Who was the Author? Why were they here? And why were they taken somewhere from the far end of town where the Drain Crawlers lurk? The old Manager still works here.

Ask him, he knows.

You might not see the Manager. Don't knock at his door. He stays in his office at the end of the floor. He stays in his office, where he makes his own agendas out of tip-tapped type. And on certain blue evenings in July, he peeks out of the shutters and sometimes he speaks and tells how the Author was taken away. 

‘I’ve read this story before…perhaps. I’m sure. Something seems familiar, I can’t quite tell.’ I thought. 

Within his agenda he lists his norms and protocols — and once I agree, he opens the window and takes my manilla folder, which has my big, best, greatest idea.

He flips through the pages carefully. The Manager’s eyes are hard to see, since they have to see through a forest of brows, and a brush of big bad hair.

“Now you’ll tell me,” he says, with his breath sounding like coffee, “What kind of a story you’ve got here…”

“Well,” I began “It all started way back...such a long, long way back…”

“Is this a story about overcoming adversity? Rising up through the ranks to right wrongs only to find out it is impossible or very difficult? Or maybe your characters do make changes…or are they rising up to defy their past, to prove something? Let me guess, your characters go on a trip or mission, and over this trip they overcome evil or some difficulty and of course they return changed or…unchanged.”

“Well…not quite. On the way here I was thinking if this was all worth it, I was nearly knocked flat by a Drain Crawler’s snuvv.” I replied.

“Ah, perhaps then your story is about discovery. Finding oneself, or the truth about something close to the character within them or their world. THAT could be what is driving them, what keeps propelling them to find out the meaning of it all. God, we do love that type of story.” The manager adds a dot point to his meeting minutes.

“I’m not sure about that…but hopefully at the end of our meeting I can work that part out.” 

“Something comedic perhaps? A confusing or humorous series of events that are all clarified successfully or happily towards the end? Hmm? Not one of those romance comedies I hope.” I catch a glint of light in his eyes, and I think he frowns as he types ‘romance comedies’ into the minutes. 

“Maybe you’ve gone the other way, something tragic and sad — YES, a gritty portrayal of the future where a lesson is lurking for us all in the present. Or is it yet ANOTHER retelling of the past through a particular lens that AGAIN is trying to teach us something or shed light on a subject? A favourite of mine is the undoing of the protagonist due to a critical error in their actions or their being.”  

“Not quite a retelling, I hadn’t really thought about the lesson, that is a good idea.”

“Well…there is, of course, the follow-through to the previous example, where an event guides or forces the protagonist to change their ways and often become a better individual.”

“You know…maybe I should have revised this before I brought it to you, I’ll try to do that next time.”

“It’s not that? Hmm, are you retelling an existing story, but focusing on particular elements to highlight a current issue, a bit of social commentary, eh?”

“Well there’s so much to comment on, but I wouldn’t know where to start. That’s not what I was intending though.”

“No? Not any of those. Then…then all that is left is…OH! Are we dealing with an anti-narrative, something from the auteur archives, a slice of life that does not tell a conventional story but shares events with the reader?! Then of course the reader is invited to compare and contrast with their own life…how deep.”

The Manager said nothing. He just gave me a glance, through the forest of brows and the brush of big bad hair, a very deep, sad, thoughtful glance. He saved the minutes from our meeting, and as he got up and stood by his big chair, I'll never forget what he said next. 

“The grim look on the Author’s face when he took himself out of here, and took leave of our office through a door in the wall, without leaving a trace. And all that the Author left here in this mess was a small pile of papers, with one word...AGAIN. Whatever that meant, well, I just couldn't guess.” The Manager packed up his things and walked through a door, shutting it behind him. I was alone once more.

That was long ago. Each day since I've sat here and worried and written away. Through the years, while the buildings, libraries and museums have fallen apart, I've worried about it with all of my heart. But now I think, as the new Manager, now that I’m here, the word of the last Author seems perfectly clear. AGAIN these stories will be told until we begin to rot, nothing much is new, just a different packet, a different pair of shoes, a new pair of socks.

‘Not unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. Catch those ideas! I call out to you all, in the desolate towns and burnt book urns. Let the pen fall, it's a start. It's the last hope of all! You're in charge of your ideas. And ideas are what everyone needs. Sprout a new story, treat it with care. Give it some time and feed it fresh air. Let it become its own and protect it from comments that attack. Then the Author and all of their friends may come back.’ I finish typing and send it on through. Through the tunnels and pipes, beneath the drains and across the oceans, on to the screens of hope-fulls and hope-nots. 

“Who cares for this?” said one, “You’re nothing but a box of paper and old ideas!”

At this the whole pack rose up through the thread, and came flying down upon me. I gave out a scream, half of glee and half of anger, and eventually beat them down, and found myself at the top of the thread, with one remaining Lurker, their face a big smile in the centre of the screen, who was gently writing ideas that had fluttered down from the words upon their screen. 

“Such a curious tale,” they wrote. “I do remember some of these tales, all these strange accounts that you have just been talking about, is it all true though? Is it worth a shot?” 

“Trust me,” I replied. “People are very gullible. They’ll believe anything they see in print.”

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About the Author

Chris Karageorge

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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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 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

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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 your God is everywhere, if He is always watching, why should your people make houses to go to worship Him? Faced with an all-seeing, everywhere-being God, I would think what is needed is a place to hide.

Tad Williams, Caliban's Hour

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>

aus25grn

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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