Kayla

By KJ Hannah Greenberg

sfgenreKayla unfurled her fist. Her palm hurt where her fingernails had made indentations. Not Mom, not Dad, and certainly nor Grandma had given any indication that they cared whether or not the next door neighbour had commented on Kayla’s childish thighs and nascent breasts.

Consequently, the young girl vowed never to play on her swing set, again. She promised herself that, similarly, she would no longer walk her dog, Juniper, past Mr. McGraw’s house, even if going “the long way,” meant she would have to spend twenty minutes on that chore instead of five. What’s more, Kayla pledged to herself to immediately begin wearing skirts that covered her knees and loose-fitting hoodies.

That little miss regarded the quickly fading depressions on her skin. It would be years until she entered high school and then more years until she was old enough to leave home. Masking her body and changing her route were the best solutions she had to her awful problem.

Grandma commented on Kayla’s dark-coloured, unstructured ensembles. Mom muttered that suddenly it was taking Kayla longer to walk Juniper around the block. She asked, with a smirk, if Kayla was meeting a secret “friend.”

As for Dad, he said nothing about those changes since he rarely got home before ten and since, when he reappeared, he exhaled a terrible smell of something which Kayla suspected made him forgetful. It had been a long while since Kayla willingly gave him goodnight kisses.

Hence, except for Mom and Grandma’s occasional sniping, Kayla’s limits remained her sole armour against her neighbour’s provocations. That is, they were her only protection until the day when Juniper got loose. 

When the dog eventually came home, her fur was matted and one of her ears looked scorched. Furthermore, she carried something in her mouth.

Kayla extended her palm to her pet. Juniper spit out a curiously tiny, silver disc.

Years ago, in elementary school, David Something-or-Another had shared with Kayla and everyone else at their lunch table a tale about his own dog encountering miniature “aliens.” At the time, none of the other children had remarked to him or to each other about his narrative — as first graders, they were supposed to be imaginative. In fact, one boy interjected to spill a story about a purple giraffe. He, in turn, was interrupted by a girl who wanted to disclose how she had become a princess.

Now, a full middle schooler, Kayla remembered David’s story. She wondered if the “spaceship” that Juniper had fetched had just landed or had long sat in abeyance. She deliberated, as well, whether or not any “entities” were sheltered within it. 

While she was cogitating, Mom called her to empty the dishwasher. So, the tween used the edge of her hoodie to wipe dog saliva and mud from the “vessel”, then placed it on the shelf adjacent to her bed before running downstairs. When she got back to her room, she forgot about it so busy had she become with thoughts of finishing her math homework.

However, when Kayla woke up and smelled something burning, she remembered Juniper’s find. After all, it was odd to smell smoke, other than bar-be-que tang, wafting from outside. Besides, no one lit their grills, even for roasted marshmallows, early in the morning. 

Kayla peered out each of her bedroom windows. Looking out the first one into her backyard, she noticed a rabbit sampling her family’s vegetable garden and saw their clothesline swaying beneath drying swimsuits. Past their property, she heard birdsong as well as the voices of students who were so diligent as to be already en route to school.  

The view from her other window, though, was extraordinary. A crater stood in the spot where Mr. McGraw’s house had sat. No clatter arose from that direction.

Kayla rubbed her eyes. She turned to regard the shelf where she had placed her minute, shiny treasure. It was still there. It was still stationary.

Juniper clawed at Kayla’s door. Kayla let the pup in. 

Juniper wagged and wagged at the preadolescent and would have continued to do so had she not spotted the “otherworldly” ewer. Juniper barked.

Kayla carried her outside of her room. She shut the door.

That night, her father failed to materialise. In due course, two police officers came to the house. They told Mom that Dad had been fatally struck by a car and that he had been in the company of a known doxy.

Mom fainted. Grandma cursed and shooed Kayla upstairs. 

Dad’s funeral was closed casket. Only immediate family members were made welcome at his gravesite.

When Mom, Grandma and Kayla, along with Juniper, relocated to a small apartment, Kayla took along her silver “star yacht.” Since she shared a room with Grandma, she hid her “rocket” under the friendship bracelets that filled her jewellery box.

One day, when she was looking for her favourite set of purple plastic beads, she discovered that her pod was missing. That afternoon, Grandma was rushed to the hospital. 

At the hospital, an attending nurse disposed of the weird, diminutive husk that the octogenarian had grasped in her hand. The nurse, likewise, helped herself to the contents of the elder’s purse that the paramedics had brought along. Within the year, that nurse was found among the bodies collected after a tsunami had swept a popular vacation destination.

By the time that Kayla had entered high school, she had been experimenting with wearing short-sleeved shirts and with skirts that ended slightly above her knees. She had stopped worrying over the fate of her “intergalactic ferry” and its alleged passengers, too.

Meanwhile, Juniper’s muzzle had greyed. Plus, Mom was resolving to remarry.

Kayla lettered on the school’s basketball and volleyball teams. Though more of an athlete than a geek, she excelled in English. Her favourite assignments were the reports she had written about W.W. Jacob’s “The Monkey’s Paw” and about Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

KJ Hannah Greenberg

kj hannah greenberg 200KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs.

Thereafter, she's been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than three dozen books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.

Find out more at her website: <http://kjhannahgreenberg.net/>.

KJ Hannah Greenberg's newest book, Owmapow Rides Again, launches Jan. 2nd.

AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

ASFF logo 200

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

Newsflashes...

  • Publishing News

    KJ Hannah Greenberg's newest book, Owmapow Rides Again, launches Jan. 2nd.

    Find out more at her website:

    kjhannahgreenberg.net

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.

aus25grn

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.

aus25grn

In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 281

Arrival Date
By Stephanie Koorey

Far From the Tree
By Tim Borella

Friday Afternoon, Third Trimester
By Emma Louise Gill

Inflicted
By Ben F. Blitzer

Inversion
By Brian Biswas

Mater Tenebrarum
By Keech Ballard

Mr. Denton Explores the Universe
By Andrew Kozma

Property Acquisitions
By Chad Bolling

Starshine
By Andrew Dunn

The Order of Things
By Chris Karageorge

scifaiku
By PS Cottier

AntipodeanSF January 2022

ISSUE 280

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

rocket crux 2 75

Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

Kindle version:

AntiSF's Narration Team

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.

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.

old style mic flat 25

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>

 old style mic flat 25

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) 

old style mic flat 25

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>.

aus25grn

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.

angle mic

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>.

old style mic flat 25

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>

old style mic flat 25

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.

old style mic flat 25

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

I have been a sore-headed occupant of a file drawer labelled ''Science Fiction'' and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The Contributors

rhiannon stevensRhiannon Stevens is a professional game designer and illustrator originally from New Zealand.

In her spare time, she writes and illustrates an ongoing xenofiction series which is primarily published through her website.

She lives and works in Brisbane.

aus25grn

michael j leach 200Michael J. Leach <@m_jleach> is a writer and academic who lives in Bendigo on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung Country.

Michael enjoys writing about science. His science poems reside in Meniscus, Rabbit, Cordite,Consilience, Pangyrus, the 2021 Hippocrates Prize Anthology (The Hippocrates Press, 2021), and elsewhere.

He has published a sci-fi short story in Painted Words 2017 (Bendigo TAFE,2017) and penned two science-themed plays performed by Bendigo Theatre Company.

Michael’s first book is "Chronicity" (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020). You can read more about Michael’s work on his website: <https://mleach11.wixsite.com/writing>

aus25grn

sr malone 200S.R Malone is a writer living just outside Edinburgh, Scotland.

He has been published in Synthetic Reality Magazine, 365 Tomorrows and Entropy-Squared.

When he is not writing or reading, he likes to spend time with his family and dog, going for walks in the Scottish wilderness.

Get in touch on Instagram: <s.r_malone>.

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.

aus25grn

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 realisation 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 Antipodean SF. He blogs on the subjects of Science, Religion, and their intersection. 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.

Links: <https://rediazauthor.com/>

col hellmuthCol Hellmuth lives a quiet, uncomplicated life, off-grid in the Daintree rainforest of Far North Queensland.

He has scratched out a living in a variety of different jobs (and locations) over the years; these days he scratches out words in various sequences, and dreams of a day when he might be able to convert some of these ramblings into food.

When he is not writing or enslaved at work he is usually found bumming around his local beach dodging crocs in his kayak or jamming on the blues-harp.

He doesn't have any fancy letters after his name, or a pet cat, but does read a lot.

aus25grn

ishmael soledad 200Ishmael, a regular contributor to Antipodean SF, hails from Brisbane.

His flash and short science fiction have appeared in Aphelion, Far Cry Magazine, Planet Web Zine, Schlock! Webzine, Short-story.me and Unrealpoloitik!, and are published in his two short story collections "Hawking Radiation" and "Sex and The Single Cosmonaut".

In 2021 his debut novel, "Sha'Kert: End of Night", was released through Temple Dark Books of Ireland.

You can connect with me on Twitter <@Ishmael_Soledad>.

aus25grn

Tony Steven Williams was born in Penzance, Cornwall, UK (that’s right, the one with the pirates!).

He eventually saw the light and became an Antipodean, emigrating to Adelaide in the last millennium.

Tony and his artist wife now live in Canberra.

He is a short-fiction writer, poet and songwriter with work published in anthologies, newspapers, print and online magazines, and broadcast on the radio.

He writes across the genres but has not yet settled down to any particular species; however, SF is a very frequent visitor both in his short stories and his poetry.

His debut poetry book "Sun and Moon, Light and Dark" was published by Ginninderra Press in (2018).

aus25grn

botond t 200Sometimes I can see what others don't.

Sometimes I listen to the silence and Iknow there is way too much of it down here in the countryside.

All the trees grass wooden gates and sleepwalkers are letting me down.

Very rarely I go out to thefront yard in the night and look at the stars. And I can feel in my guts it is allgoing to sink down the drain.

I look at the photo of my nephew whom I have not seen for 5 years.

I look into the mirror and see my white hair at 45.

Then I stare at the cross on the wall and I want to puke.

Somebody has already decided for me in a nice kind of way.

Too many pieces of the puzzle missing.

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>

aus25grn

kj hannah greenberg 200KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs.

Thereafter, she's been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than three dozen books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.

Find out more at her website: <http://kjhannahgreenberg.net/>.