Taila2

By Geraldine Borella

sfgenreI stood in front of Taila2, praying I had enough CC’s for Andaya’s meds. Lights blinked and mechanical arms whizzed and whirred between rows and columns of pharmaceutical excipients, the monstrosity waiting to make a tailored biologic fit-for-purpose. I’d be short this time, for sure, using all my Contribution Credits to purchase the last supply, along with child support allocations too. There’d be no hope for higher education for Zella, her CC’s going fully towards Andaya’s meds and astronomical medical bills. She’d be consigned to a menial job like me, providing personal care to the elderly. There wasn’t an algorithm written to make robots suitable for wiping dribble and redirecting the demented mind yet. If only Shawnan hadn’t been injured in that mine blast. If he’d been able to make his mining quota this quarter, we might have made it. It would’ve been tight but doable.

Andaya’s last bio-supply had been stretched out to cover three months instead of one, but her chest had become clogged and her wheezy cough had returned. Her weight had dropped, and she was at serious risk of contracting a fatal chest infection. I simply couldn’t hold out any longer.

So, I punched her Cit-Number into the keypad, took a deep breath, and swiped my wrist across the scanner to pay. 

Please, by some miracle, let there be enough!

But Taila2 displayed an indifferent message: Balance Insufficient.

Fuck!

My wrist buzzed — a call coming in — and I pressed to answer. Saraiya Galt’s shrill voice screeched through my earbuds. 

‘I need your help. I know you’re not due for another hour, but I need you now.’

‘What’s going on?’

‘She’s at it again, emptying all the cupboards and trying to bust out of the apartment. I don’t have time to sit with her. I’ve got an important report to finish.’ I sighed and stared at the intractable Taila2, fighting the urge to smash it into shards of glass, metal and data-chips.

‘Look, I’ll pay you triple CC’s for the overtime,’ Saraiya said, misinterpreting. ‘I need you here.’ I fought the urge to scoff. Saraiya knew the unfairness of it all. She knew how the system could push you down and keep you there. Christ! She helped perpetuate it. The CC’s she amassed for compiling useless middle-management reports was laughable compared to the pittance I received for personal care work. But, if you removed either of us out of the equation, who would be missed the most?

‘Sure,’ I said. ‘I’ll be there in five.’

‘Thank the stars,’ she muttered, before cutting the call. 

Saraiya met me at the door. Dressed in a black glittery sheath, her white-blonde hair pulled into a tight chignon, she looked ready for a cocktail party. So much for the night at the office writing reports.

‘I’ve locked her in her room, but it’s a mess. Could you calm her down, feed her dinner and clean up?’ She didn’t wait for my reply and pushed past, high heels clicking down the corridor.

‘Sure,’ I muttered before closing the door.

In her bedroom, Hellenzi stood before a pile of clothes. She glanced up, annoyed at the interruption. I sidled in and sat quietly on the bed.

‘You’re a busy bee,’ I said.

‘They left me to do everything,’ she replied, flinging her arms in the air.

‘I see. Maybe I can help?’

‘Oh, Lord, look at this mess!’ she said, as though seeing the mound of clothes for the first time. ‘I don’t have time for this!’

‘No. But don’t worry, I’ll do it for you.’

Her shoulders lowered and she turned to stare. ‘Who are you?’

‘Kajulla,’ I said. ‘I’m Kajulla.’

‘Been here before?’

‘On the odd occasion.’

‘And have they told you how to get out? They won’t tell me.’

‘Not yet. I’m waiting to be told too.’

‘Well, don’t hold your breath,’ she said with a huff. ‘Anyway, where did those meteors land?’

‘Oh, miles away,’ I assured, playing along. Approaching meteors were blasted into dust nowadays and no longer posed a threat. ‘Don’t worry, we’re not in any danger.’

‘Good.’ She nodded then said, ‘And who stole the fish paste?’

‘Um…I don’t think anyone stole it. I think it just ran out.’

‘They should have ordered more.’

‘Yes, they should have.’

It was always best to follow Hellenzi’s convoluted discourse with agreement and calm reassurance. She’d get riled up if you didn’t. Admittedly, it wasn’t always this bad. There were moments of lucidity where she would carry on a proper conversation, but lately they were rare and getting rarer, despite Taila2’s biologics. Still, Saraiya kept her topped up on a weekly basis, desperate to wash away plaques, bump up proteins and reset thought patterns. I couldn’t help but wonder if she was throwing CC’s away for nothing. It seemed like an awful waste. After all, Andaya was barely twelve, Hellenzi a hundred and eight. Who deserved Taila2’s biologics more?

When Hellenzi calmed down, I managed to get a few spoons of dinner into her. Settling her into bed, I set the air to ‘Somnolent Lavender’ and flicked on a relaxation hologram. As she drifted off, I bustled around cleaning the room. 

***

It was my next shift with Hellenzi that led to my current predicament.

I somehow happened upon an open window in time, a perfect moment where Hellenzi’s treatments had combined to allow me to see the woman she once was. I cleaned and folded and she chatted quite lucidly, painting a lovely still-life of colourful hydrangeas. And after lunch, I settled her into bed for a nap. As I tucked her in, she reached out and grabbed me by the arm. 

‘I’m slipping away again,’ she whispered. ‘You have to help.’ She stared at me, her dark eyes glassy but steadfast. ‘I don’t want any more of these expensive treatments.’

‘But Hellenzi, Saraiya is —’ 

‘Doing it for the money,’ she said. ‘She knows I’ve left everything — my condo, my CCs, all of it — to the Social Equality Alliance. She’s only keeping me alive to milk me dry. You have to help me.’

‘How can I?’

She handed me a slip of paper. 

‘Transfer all my CC’s to SEqA. Please! I beg of you.’

I looked at the two bank account numbers, one for Hellenzi, the other for SEqA and I found myself nodding. 

***

I wish I could say I did what she asked, but I can’t. Well, not to the letter anyway. I waited until she slipped back into her usual confused state and transferred all the CCs to my own account. Then, I went straight to Taila2 and paid for a lifetime supply of Andaya’s biologics. That’s why I’m here now, incarcerated.

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About the Author

Geraldine Borella

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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AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

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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.

<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 269

Aberrant Orbitlusa Channellings
By Sultana Raza

Candy Town
By Amy Logan

Curiosity Coil
By Myna Chang

Emergency
By Bruce McNair

Morning Garden
By Umiyuri Katsuyama
Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Night Music
By Connor Orrico

On Demand
By Kevin J. Phyland

Space Train
By Laurie Bell

State of the Art
By Carl Walmsley

The Broken City
By Michael Casey

The Demise of Major Strom
By Timothy Dwyer

The First Artifact to Reach the End of the Universe
By Haneko Takayama
Translated by Toshiya Kamei

The Polishing of a Knob
By Kerrie Noor

Turn the Tables
By Ashley Noel

Woman Apart
By Keech Ballard

The Contributors

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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NatsumiNatsumi Tanaka is a writer living in Kyoto, Japan. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous Japanese magazines such as Anima Solaris, Kotori no kyuden, and Tanpen.

She is the author of the short story collection Yumemiru ningyo no okoku (2017).

Translated by Toshiya Kamei, her short fiction has appeared in various English-language publications, including Daily Science Fiction, Japanese Fantasy Drabbles, and The William & Mary Review.

evan sheldon 200Evan James Sheldon’s work has appeared recently in American Literary Review, the Cincinnati Review, and New Flash Fiction Review.

He is a senior editor for F(r)iction and the Editorial Director for Brink Literacy Project.

You can find him online at <https://evanjamessheldon.com>.

jakedean200Jake Dean is a writer and waverider living on Kaurna land in South Australia.

His fiction has appeared in White Horses, The Fiction Pool, Sweaty City, Underground Writers and others.

He's utterly convinced there's a perfect wave breaking somewhere else in the solar system right now.

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Yen Ooi is the author of Sun: Queens of Earth (novel), A Suspicious Collection of Short Stories and Poetry (collection), and Road to Guangdong (computer game), and SF series editor at Brain Mill Press.

Her short stories and poetry have been featured in various publications; most recently, her short story 'The Butterfly Lovers' was published in The Good Journal 3. She is a PhD student at Royal Holloway, University of London, focusing on Chinese science fiction, where she is interested in the evolution of the genre and the discourses between native and diasporic voices.

As a writer and editor, Yen hopes to develop writing that is rich in culture that will steer genre fiction into a future that is humanity-focused. Yen is also a lecturer at Westminster University's MA Creative Writing course, a mentor in marketing and publishing, and co-founder of CreateThinkDo.

matthew r dohertyMatthew R. Doherty currently resides in Leeds, England, where he spends most of his free time writing about military history, but his other consuming passion is for science fiction.

His main influences are Patrick O’Brian and Philip Jose Farmer.

His favourite single book is “A Canticle For Leibowitz.”

He is currently working on a space opera novel, which will be finished at some point in the 22nd Century.

joanna barrettJoanna is a writer who lives in the bush near the Glasshouse Mountains in Queensland.

She writes both fiction and non-fiction.

Her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications including Griffith Review, That’s Life magazine and The School Magazine.

She used to be a journalist but much prefers making stuff up.

At the moment she’s having fun working on a historical novel called What Eddy does for Louis.

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Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas.

His translations have appeared in venues such as Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and World Literature Today.

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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andrew dunn 200Andrew writes science-fiction and fantasy from the state of Maryland on the eastern coast of the United States, often drawing ideas from jogs through forest trails at sunrise or a tasty beer at sunset. 

Andrew writes each story with the goal of giving readers something they will enjoy, without relying on the typical, predictable, or cliche'. His work has previously appeared in AntipodeanSF, 365 Tomorrows, and soon Daily Science Fiction

When Andrew isn't writing chances are he's playing guitar or bass, exploring abandoned places, or spending quality time with a bulldog. Andrew hopes you enjoy this story, and he will continue to try and write stories that you'll love to read! 

tim borellaTim Borella has never lost his childhood passion for SF and writing in general and has been lucky enough to have worked most of his life as a pilot — in other words, he’s never properly grown up.

He lives in country Far North Queensland, has won awards for songwriting, and has had various other writing achievements, the most recent being an honourable mention in the 2018 international Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition.

He also has bachelor degrees in science and teaching, and has completed a couple of as-yet unpublished SF novels. He’d dearly love to spend more time writing, but will have to continue juggling for another couple of years until the kids have fully left the nest.

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Robin Hillard as had a number of stories published in magazines and ezines including AntipodeanSF.

She now lives in Melbourne with a bossy little dog who takes her to the off leash park.  

Everybody (including Robin) knows their dog is the most beautiful and the variety of size and shape gave her the idea for this story.

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Tony Owens is an ESL teacher living in Brisbane with his wife and son.

His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies In Fabula-Divino, Zombies Ain’t Funny,18, Darkest Depths and Andromeda Spaceways Magazine 2017’s Best Stories.

He is a proud member of the Vision Writers Group and his ultimate ambition is to find the literary sweet-spot between H.P. Lovecraft and P.G. Wodehouse.

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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>

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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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. He 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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simon petrie 200Simon Petrie, born and educated in New Zealand, now lives in the Australian Capital Territory, where he is paid to be careful with words.

He's had a few stories published before, both in AntipodeanSF and elsewhere. He has been shortlisted several times for the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards, and is a three-time Sir Julius Vogel Award winner, most recently in 2018 for his SF/crime novella Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body.

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AntipodeanSF January 2021

ISSUE 268

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Epub version:

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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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tim borellaTim Borella has never lost his childhood passion for SF and writing in general and has been lucky enough to have worked most of his life as a pilot — in other words, he’s never properly grown up.

He lives in country Far North Queensland, has won awards for songwriting, and has had various other writing achievements, the most recent being an honourable mention in the 2018 international Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition.

He also has bachelor degrees in science and teaching, and has completed a couple of as-yet unpublished SF novels. He’d dearly love to spend more time writing, but will have to continue juggling for another couple of years until the kids have fully left the nest.

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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 (YA/ Fantasy — available now) and White Fire (Sci Fi — available now)

You can read more of her work on her blog Look for her on Facebook <www.facebook.com/WriterLaurieBell/> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

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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.

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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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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.

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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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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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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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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.

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