Lady Killer

By Diana Grove

sfgenreA flying beetle, the size of an open umbrella, crashed into the bifold door. Its curved pincers made a horrid squeal as it slid down the glass. Watching from across the lounge room, Theo was both horrified and thrilled. 

The beetle had left a smear of yellowy-green goo on the middle glass pane and remained slumped on the paving stones. Theo took a few steps forward — his curiosity getting the better of his fear. Leaning precariously sideways, the beetle scratched against the glass with long spiky legs.

“Open the bloody door,” it grunted.

Theo jumped back with a yelp.

The beetle stared at him with unblinkable, bulbous black eyes.

“T-H-E D-O-O-R.”

Brain zinging like it was floating in Berocca, Theo fumbled with the lock and swung open the door.

“’Bout time,” the beetle said, stumbling inside.

The wound on the underside of its thorax oozed a little. Theo stared, unsure what was going to happen next.

“Man, the light in here was mesmerising. I stopped thinking for a second there.” 

“You’re a talking insect,” he said in a strained voice. “I’m talking to a talking insect.”

“Yeah. Long story. I don’t normally look like this.” 

The beetle wandered over to the leather sofa and, popping open its shiny back, sprouted huge translucent wings. With fast flaps it rose, and then plopped down on the sofa.

“Nice place,” it said looking around.

“What is going on?” Theo asked, keeping a safe distance.

“My Master is in need of someone with your particular skill set and proclivities,” the beetle said, now all business. “Someone filled with darkness but never overwhelmed by it.” 

“I’m just an accountant.”

The beetle laughed like a barking rottweiler. “And I’m just a hot bartender.”

A claw punctured one of the embroidered cushions and got stuck. While trying to free it the beetle lost its balance and toppled over. 

“Oh, come on!” it cried. “Turn me back! I’m repentant. Honest.”

Suddenly a woman wearing a purple mesh top and tight black leather pants lay sprawled across the sofa. She ran a hand through her long black hair and sighed with content before continuing in voice no longer hoarse, “You Theo are a murderer. A murderer with no conscience.” 

Theo’s pale grey eyes widened. 

“It’s ok. It’s what my master likes about you.” She winked. 

When she stood up, she was almost as tall as Theo. Even without the stiletto boots, she would be pretty tall. 

Drawing uncomfortably close, she said, “He has a proposition for you. Kill twelve pesky people and you get to live for three hundred years.”

“Who is this guy?” 

“I can’t tell you that.”

“Who does he want me to kill?”

“I can’t tell you that.”

“Well, how can he make me live for three hundred years?”

She ran a black-nailed hand along her décolletage and frowned at the blood coating her fingertip. Then it was gone and her ivory skin unblemished. 

“Magic of course,” she said, with a smug smile.

Theo’s face took on a hungry look that had nothing to do with eye candy. 

“And you are?” he asked with a tilt of his head.

“Carmen. Apprentice of the Unholy Bleeding Hearts Club.” 

They watched each other for a silent moment. 

“I’m not like bargaining my soul, am I?”

“Do you really think you have one?” Carmen replied, straightening an abstract picture on the wall behind him without touching it.

Spinning round, Theo ran a hand across his dark stubbly jaw and breathed deep. He didn’t like people seeing real emotion on his face. “This is so—”

“Weird? Surreal?” Carmen said with loud affectation. “Look, you don’t have to decide now. I’ll leave the contract with you.” 

A leather folder appeared instantly in her hand, and she handed it to Theo.

Job done, the apprentice of the Unholy Bleeding Hearts Club sashayed to the open door. 

“Wait! How can I reach you?”

“No need to, Lady Killer,” she said over her shoulder. “If you sign the contract, he’ll know.” 

Then she disappeared into the still darkness as if swallowed whole.

Theo placed the folder on the kitchen bench and stared at the embossed bleeding heart on the front. He didn’t have time to read the contract now. He should have left half an hour ago; it was important that he stick to his routines. And Wednesday night was beach fishing night. Before the arrival of his strange visitor, Theo had packed the SUV with everything needed for his excursion — fishing rods, lantern torch, light beers and digging shovel. The plastic wrapped body in the boot had been there for days and, with the recent hot weather, the stink was dry retch level.

Theo scooped up his keys and smiled a creepy smile twelve unlucky people were soon going to see.

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About the Author

Diana Grove

diana grove 200Diana writes speculative fiction about weird people doing weird things.

Her short stories have been published in anthologies by Trembling With Fear, Night Parrot Press, Crystal Lake Publishing and Black Hare Press.

She also writes dark stories for kids, and they have appeared in The Caterpillar and Balloons Lit. Journal.

She lives in Perth with her feline friends, and you can find her on Twitter: <@ImaginaryGrove>.

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Please consider joining the Australian Science Fiction Foundation, a prime supporter and promoter of speculative fiction down-under.

<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 286

A Fish Story
By Harris Tobias

A Girl Among the Stars
By Malena Salazar Maciá - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Aye Robot
By Tim Borella

Butt F**k Nowhere
By Col Hellmuth

Dreaming in the Clouds
By Yuki Fuwa - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Her Laughter, Bright and Sweet
By Myna Chang

Linda and Elton's Lucky Day
By Althea Hughes

Swimming with Daffodiles
By Marc Ruvolo

The Chartist
By Michael T Schaper

The Inverness Soliloquies
By Andrew Dunn

Zippo
By Ed Errington

AntipodeanSF June 2022

ISSUE 285

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Download AntiSF E-Book

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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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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 disbelief.”

He believes stories might also contain an element of humour — however small — to enrich the plot and/or heighten the drama.

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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.

Tim lives with his wife Georgie in beautiful Far North Queensland. For more information, visit his Tim Borella – Author Facebook page.angle mic

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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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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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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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

Any sufficiently advanced ETI is indistinguishable from God.

Michael Shermer

The Contributors

diana grove 200Diana writes speculative fiction about weird people doing weird things.

Her short stories have been published in anthologies by Trembling With Fear, Night Parrot Press, Crystal Lake Publishing and Black Hare Press.

She also writes dark stories for kids, and they have appeared in The Caterpillar and Balloons Lit. Journal.

She lives in Perth with her feline friends, and you can find her on Twitter: <@ImaginaryGrove>.

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leon d furzeLeon D Furze moved to Australia in 2009 and now lives on a farm in Western Victoria with his wife and three children.

He is an English teacher and school leader and until recently stuck to writing educational textbooks and resources for other teachers.

After a lifetime of reading sf, he decided to give fiction a go, and hopes that it will lead to a long and fruitful career of writing strange, speculative, and surprising things. <leonfurze.com>.

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Jon Michael KelleyJon Michael Kelley is an internationally published author and novelist of literary speculative fiction.

His debut novel Seraphim from Evil Jester Press received stellar reviews, and he has been anthologised with such genre luminaries as David Morrell, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, and Thomas F. Monteleone.

His short fiction has appeared in a variety of publications, to include the multiple award-winning anthologies Chiral Mad, Chiral Mad 2, and Qualia Nous (2014 Bram Stoker Award Finalist for Best Anthology) by Written Backwards Press.

He has also worked with music industry professionals as a collaborative lyricist, assigning copyrights of numerous authored song portfolios to a prominent New York City producer. Jon currently exhumes his inspiration from a small gold mining town in the mountains of Colorado. 

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.

Wes 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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 lynne lumsden green 200Lynne Lumsden Green lives in Queensland, Australia, though – in reality – she lives inside her head (it’s cosy in there). She writes both fiction and nonfiction.

She has had stories and articles published by Queensland Writing magazine, DailySF, AntipodeanSF, Every Day Fiction, Aurealis magazine, and in over a dozen anthologies of fiction.

She wants her stories to live in her readers’ heads.

You can find her blog at: <https://cogpunksteamscribe.wordpress.com/>.

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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.

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Botond's bio is missing at his request...

ed-erringtonEd enjoys creating stories that ideally enable readers to relate to content with believable contexts — realistic relationships - and characters with something to say. All set at some exotic/ or imaginative but relatable point in the future and/or past.

He enjoys unpacking what characters make of the situations they find themselves in — and what they do about it — and why. Ed likes to incorporate the occasional political comment when fictional characters’ experiences overlap with those in the real world.

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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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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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