Screams Mean Fear Or Pain

By Kyra Thomsen

sfgenreThere’s blood on the floor of the lab, but I know how to clean it up. I use the mop. Using the mop is written in my program. I wring out the mop and the water in the bucket turns cloudy and pink like the sky at sunset. I’ve seen sunsets, outside. Sometimes I see the sun setting when I ‘get rid of’ the empty bodies. Sometimes I see nothing but the trees at night. Whether it’s dark, or light, or somewhere in between, I see Sir looking over me from the door of the laboratory. But not today. Today I’m looking over Sir. Or, at least, I’m looking over what Sir used to be. I mop up the blood.

There is so much blood.


Back then, I cleaned the floor of the lab and dug the graves (one for Sir and one for the failed experiment) and then I waited. And waited. It’s been 342 days since then and I don’t know what to do next. I watch the monitor screens. I turn on the generator when the power goes out. I watch the monitors, until one day I see something different. I see something human. And suddenly I know exactly what to do.

Two humans. Hiking. They don’t know it but they’ve taken the wrong track about five miles back. They should be heading north but they’re heading east instead. They’re heading east right towards the cottage that Sir built. Sir built the cottage and lived there alone for a long time and then he built me and together we built this lab and dug out the passage between the two. The hikers don’t know it but they’re heading to the cottage and the cottage leads to here.

I watch the hikers point at the cottage and put their packs down on the front porch. The monitor screen is blurred but I can tell from their shapes that there is one man and one woman. Sir would have been happy.

I wait until they enter the cottage and make a fire in the hearth and I can tell the sun has gone down because they turn on the lights. I watch. I’m not programmed to do anything until midnight. So I wait. I wait until my programming tells me to, and then I make my way down the passage in the dark.

As I walk down the passage, I think I see smoke — just like Sir used to make when he lit his cigarettes — but I think it’s just my lenses adjusting. I almost remember Sir. I almost remember what his face was like. But I’m not programmed to remember the faces of the dead. And so I get to the end of the path and I nudge the door open, slowly, so as not to frighten the humans. Frightening the humans is not written in my program.

First, I grab the man and wrench his arm behind him, hitting him on the back of the head with my metal fist. I hear a scream and I know that screams mean fear or pain. And sometimes pleasure, as Sir discovered. I make the screaming stop.

I drag the bodies down the passage to the laboratory, as I am programmed to. I put the woman in the cage that says SPECIMEN ONE and I put the man in the cage that says SPECIMEN TWO, as I am programmed to. I wait for Sir to tell me I’ve done a good job. I wait until the sound of crying stirs me and I see that the woman has squeezed her thin arms through the bars of the cage and is saying something I can’t hear. The man is still unconscious. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. As I walk away, the crying turns to screaming and screams mean fear or pain. I go outside. I watch the sun rise. Sun rises are very different to sunsets. I go back inside the lab but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. I wait for Sir to tell me.

There’s blood on the floor of the lab, but I know how to clean it up. I use the mop. Using the mop is written in my program.

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About The Author

Kyra Thomsen

kyra thomsen 200Kyra Thomsen is a writer from Wollongong, NSW. Her fiction and poetry have been published in Kindling, Seizure, Mascara, Space Place & Culture, and Tide. She was selected for the 'Slinkies Under 30s' program by Spineless Wonders in 2016, won the Questions Writing Prize in 2012, and was Deputy Editor of Writer's Edit until 2017.

You can find her at <> or on social media @KyraThomsen.


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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.


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.


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

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 241

A Fairy Tale
by Susan Cornford

Fat Of The Land
by Bob Carlton

Freckle Face
by Kris Ashton

Getting To Know You
by George Nikolopoulos

Poem For Fa And Jed Who Sailed The Ocean Red
by Chris Kelso

Salvage Rights
by Kevin J. Phyland

by Martin Lochman

The Way Things Went
by A. Katherine Black

Whats App
by Edwina Harvey

by Matthew Harrison

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AntipodeanSF July 2018


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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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, 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 <>.

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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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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,

And is a theatre reviewer for 2SER FM in Sydney.

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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 (available now).

You can read more of her work on her blog Look for her on Facebook <> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

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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 <>

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david whitaker 200David Whitaker is originally from the UK though has travelled around a bit and now resides in India. He has a degree in Journalism, however decided that as he’s always preferred making things up it should ultimately become a resource rather than a profession.

His stories, covering everything from sci-fi to philosophy, have been published across the globe and links to each can be found at <>

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SF News

SF News

Get Roger Ley's Novel "Chronscape" Free

AntiSF contributor Roger Ley tells us that his novel "Chronoscape" is free for a limited time at Amazon this weekend, July 14 and July 15. Get it now!

Lillicat Releases "A Betrayal and Other Stories" by Brian Biswas

Lillicat Publications has relased AntiSF contributor Brian Biswas's new story collection "A Betrayal And Other Stories", now available at Smashwords and Amazon. <Find Out More>

Meerkat To Publish Eugen M. Bacon's "A Woman's Choice"

Meerkat Press has acquired AntiSF contributor Eugen M. Bacon's literary speculative novel "A Woman's Choice" for publication in 2019. Go Eugen! <Read More>


Aussie Awards News

2018 Aurealis Awards Open

2018 Aurealis Awards overseers the Continuum Foundation (ConFound) announces that the 2018 Aurealis Awards are now open for entries.

The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, are for works created by an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2018.

Full guidelines and FAQ can be found on the Aurealis Awards website: <>


Upcoming Aussie Cons

Oz Comic-Con Brisbane — Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Merivale St and Glenelg St, South Brisbane, 22/09/2018 - 30/09/2018.

Conflux 14 - The Unconventional Hero — Vibe Hotel, 1 Rogan Street, Canberra Airport ACT 2609. 29/09/2018 - 01/10/2018. More Information: <https//>. AntipodeanSF will be at Conflux 14!

Oz Comic-Con Sydney — ICC Sydney, 14 Darling Dr, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia, 29-30/09/2018

Nullus Anxietas VII: The Australian Discworld Convention – will be held in Melbourne on April 12-14, 2019, and is themed on Going Postal. More information: <>

For more up-to-date Aussie SF info join the ASFF: <>

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: 

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SF Quote

We should grant power over affairs only to those who are reluctant to hold it and then only under conditions that increase the reluctance.

Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune