AntipodeanSF Issue 307

By JM Cyrus

The lady Oriadia roused from sleep, dream vestiges leaving her skin like chiffon puffs. The room was dark, the cocooning air smelling like sleep. She pushed herself to sitting, swivelled her body and stood in her bare feet on the woven rug.  She made a sound, something between a yawn and groan, and unplaited her waist-length silver-white hair.

She ran her hands, cold from being outside the blankets, from her cool face down over her warm arms and body, flesh warmed from the bedding, enjoying the contrast. She moved her window curtain to one side and grunted at the dark sky beyond.

Taking a sip of water from her bedside cup, she struck a match. She lit a small candle on a looped iron holder and carried it as she walked.

“One day you’re going to have to wake me,” she muttered to the sleeping frilled lizard she passed on her way out of the bedroom, lying in repose on a tapestried cushion.

The reptile opened one black eye and yawned, mouth pink.  It stretched, elegant and sinuous, unfurling its flame-orange ruff for a moment before shrugging and tucking it away.  It gave a rippling shake from its nose to the end of its tail, and jumped to the floor, following her.

“I don’t suppose we have time for breakfast beforehand do we, Sanu?” Lady Oriadia muttered, more out of routine than anything. Sanu gave a short breath out of his nose in answer and clambered onto the table beside her.

“Suppose not," she whispered, giving his chin an affectionate scratch. Sanu purred.

She climbed the steps to the roof, leaving the candle on a side table by the newel post.

She didn’t light any lamps, knowing the way almost more than her own body; a body that was ageing faster than her mind's eye could keep up with.

With a creak, she shoved the heavy angled door at the top and exited into the cold night.

Sanu finished the stairs with a clacking shuffle, and sat beside her as she paused, breathing in the dark.

Her skin pimpled with goosebumps beneath her night dress, still layered with the memory of the bed's secure bubble. A smear of a million stars illuminated the sky above her.

“Alright chaps,” Lady Oriadia said, “It’s time to go to bed now.” Sanu huffed in echo.

She looked at her feet, arranging them to shoulder-width apart. She tossed her shoulders back, straightened her spine, took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She raised her arms in a smooth, slow motion; straight out, hands relaxed but fingers splayed, until her hands met above her head.

Sanu sat between her feet and upturned his face, expectant.

Lady Oriadia took three deep breaths into her expanded rib cage, and let her senses wander.

She felt the eddying breeze in the creases of her ears, felt the tails of her hair brush her neck, watched the prickly darkness on her eyelids, listened to the sound of leaves and small animals moving, and felt the warmth on her ankles as Sanu breathed. She could taste a small vegetable flavour in the air from the spring growth waiting for dawn, and she felt the tingle of starlight on her face and hands.

With a hum low in her chest, she lowered her arms so they were parallel to the ground at her sides, with palms facing the sky.  She bent her knees, felt them click, and squatted beside Sanu, who gave her an encouraging exhale in the face.

She smiled, eyes still closed, and muttered “Ready?” to Sanu, who yipped in reply.

Her scalic hum restarted and continued unabated as she began to bring herself back to standing at an almost tectonic, planetary pace. Her brows creased with exertion and her jaw clenched, one could see the ripple of tendon about the hinge. Her arms tensed with an unseen weight.

When her knees were at a right angle, Sanu opened his ruff and faced the horizon with her, an open, welcoming expression upon his face.

When the lady Oriadia was past halfway to standing, the sky's colour shifted. Sanu’s eyes reflected the change from black to dark navy to grey-purple to dark rose to pink-orange.  Birdsong restarted, it had been interrupted by the dark.

The sky lightened until Lady Oriadia was standing straight, and then the change slowed to an almost pause. Lady Oriadia opened her eyes, a little out of breath, and looked at the majestic display, resplendent clouds and rays arranged into a picturesque array.

With the rise and fall of her white linen-clad chest, she watched the bright line of sun peep over the horizon, almost furry in its brightness.

For a few moments, the line thickened.  Lady Oriadia felt and saw the colours further morph in the sky above her; the stars now hidden by their brighter sister.

With a deep breath, she faced Sanu, who rotated his head in answer, blinking blue eyes.

“Breakfast time, Sanu?”

He hiccuped and rubbed against her leg.

“Alright then.” She lifted him, and cradling him she walked towards her door. “I think today we can have yoghurt and oats, what do you think?”  He emitted a small note of agreement, followed by another more questioning tone. “Yes, I think there might be some honey left.”  Lady Oriadia answered.

The sun continued to rise, and the new day began.

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About the Author

jm cyrus 300

JM Cyrus is a speculative fiction writer living in London, UK.

With a bachelor's in Classical Studies, and a master's in Reception Theory, she enjoys finding new worlds, and looking at how she found them.

She has work published all over the place, including Luna Station Quarterly, All Worlds Wayfarer and Inner Worlds.

See the full list at her website <> and say hello at jmcyrus.writer [at]

Issue Contributors

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Meet the Narrators

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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.

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  • Emma Gill

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

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  • 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

  • Alistair Lloyd

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  • Laurie Bell

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    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

  • 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

  • Sarah Pratt

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    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

  • 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.


  • 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

  • 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