By Kevin J. Phyland

It had been my biggest mistake and it had been a doozy.

I'd thought, mistakenly, that the gap between the two building roofs was easy enough to cross with a simple run-up and jump, but had badly misjudged the amount the alcohol had affected both my judgement and my co-ordination. 

To be fair, I'd almost made it. The deep grazes on both knees and my fingertips were brief testimony to that, but the drop of five floors between the buildings made those injuries a mere trifle. 

I had just enough time to shout an epithet and wonder what the hell happened next when I hit the ground and whatever happened next became more than an academic exercise.

There was a white light. It wasn't at the end of a tunnel though, and it was a whole bank of white lights. They lit up a huge concourse that my addled mind gradually interpreted as what looked, for all the world, like a large airport check-in.

I was in a long queue and was dressed in an off-white one-piece shift, much like a hospital gown, but it shimmered in my vision so that I couldn't make out its material or how it fastened. The whole area was abuzz with muted conversation and occasionally an announcement came over speakers which I couldn't locate nor make out their meaning. It all seemed both mysterious and normal at the same time.

A woman in a three piece uniform with a cap reminiscent of a 1960s airline hostesses' smiled at me and asked if I needed assistance.

“Yes,” I muttered. “What's going on?” Nothing more pressing occurred to me.

She smiled another glossy magazine smile and pointed to a large map set up on a plinth. It made the unhelpful statement “YOU ARE HERE!” and on closer inspection had directions to different counters up ahead, set out like different airlines: Buddhist (Window 3), Catholic (Window 7) etc. With an ironic smile I noticed that Atheists could report to Window 1.

While the line gradually approached the array of counters, I stared about me and noticed with some surprise that there were a few people I knew in other lines. Clearly time ran on a different track here, as two of them had died years before me. One waved, smiled at me and told me how lucky I'd been.

Above the windows, covering the entire length of the concourse, was an electronic board showing arrivals and departures — names and dates and status — pending, departed, arriving soon — and I scanned it idly until to my surprise I found my own name. My status was pending.

When I reached the counter I noticed I had a keycard. I swiped the card and a monitor showed a whole list of accounts, some in blue, a lot in red. It didn't take Einstein to follow this logic. 

A loud beeping startled me and my status changed to CANCELLED.

Through a haze of pain I woke, as the hospital staff rushed over to me.

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About the Author

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 archive.


Issue Contributors

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Meet the Narrators

  • 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 Pratt

    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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Emma Gill

    Emma Louise GillEmma Louise Gill (she/her) is a British-Australian spec fic writer and consumer of vast amounts of coffee. Brought up on a diet of English lit, she rebelled and now spends her time writing explosive space opera and other fantastical things in

  • Laurie Bell

    lauriebell 2 200

    Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia and is the author of "The Stones of Power Series" via Wyvern's Peak Publishing: "The Butterfly Stone", "The Tiger's Eye" and "The Crow's Heart" (YA/Fantasy).

    She is also the author of "White Fire" (Sci-Fi) and "The Good, the Bad and the Undecided" (a

  • 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

  • Ed Errington

    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

  • Tim Borella

    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

  • Juliette Cavendish

    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

  • 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

    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 <...

  • Michelle Walker

    michelle walker32My time at Nambucca Valley Community Radio began back in 2016 after moving into the area from Sydney.

    As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I recognised it was definitely God who opened up the pathways for my husband and I to settle in the Valley.