Terrarium

By Chris Karageorge

1

sfgenreI spend Friday nights in my basement, it helps me relax.

What if our lives were flashbacks? Imagine that what we live day to day has already happened and our gut feeling, that voice inside your head telling you not to do something is really you after you have died, commenting or trying to steer you the right way in life. 

I don’t really go out a lot. I find it difficult to deal with a lot of people all at once — a lot of people find it difficult to deal with me. They are just white flies.

There is no other warmth like that of the sun. The way it heats the ground, you can feel the heat emanating from the pavement, stretching out to the ice cream in your hand, the drips running down the cone making your hands sticky, the napkin painted with streaks of ice cream. 

Ice. 

Cream.

Cream that is iced and ice-like. 

Sweetness is decreasing.

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The bots are getting smarter.

Everyone has a dirty secret. Everyone has a dark and sweaty indulgence they want to let loose but are too afraid to act on. You know the type, they talk about what they would love to do. They always talk about what they would love to do. Those are the obvious ones, the others are harder to find.

I have a special set of skills. People are silly enough to reply to my ads with their personal email address, and with that I have a key. Once I have that, I take advantage, I exploit, I do things because they weren’t safe online, because they weren’t prepared.

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Posted: 6:02PM, Saturday 21st July

Subject: The sun on your back

Content: I'd love to see the sunlight cut through the blinds and lay patterns on your back. Your skin absorbing the light, the tiny hairs on your skin glowing and changing direction with the slightest drop or jump in temperature. I'd love to see beads of sweat collect on your upper lip as things get hotter.Maybe you just want to release some stress. Maybe you just want to exchange a few emails.Me? Not too tall. I keep fit at the gym. Short blonde hair. Clean.Write 'Stockings' in the subject so I know you are real.

Received: 10:39PM, Saturday 21st July

Subject: Stockings

Content: You sure know how to turn up the heat, has anyone told you that? I'm female and 22. You seem very interesting. Do you have a picture? BTW, I copied and pasted the word 'Stockings' because I'm that cool. Hope you don't mind.Amy

Sent: 10:40PM, Saturday 21st July

Subject: RE: Stockings

Content: Hello Amy,Thank you very much for liking my type of heat. I am a male and 24. I am slightly interesting and slightly quirky. I do have a picture but I am not one to send my picture out straight away. Do you have a picture?So, how are you? How was your day?

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I spend a lot of time with my plants. I have a colourful collection that I am quite proud of.

Spathiphyllum. Commonly known as Peace Lily.

I do hate pests though, hemipterans, commonly known as white flies. They always get in the way and ruin the moment.

I set traps to catch them. Washing detergent, apple cider vinegar, a dash of sugar and water. The sweet smell attracts them and the soap keeps them in the dish long enough to drown. They become trapped, and writhe about in the hot, sweet lake, perpetually floating in circles, staring blankly at the sky.

5

There is a great ocean of loneliness. A desert populated by lost souls, wandering, searching, browsing and hunting.

I haven’t left my basement in six years.

6

New Email Message

Received: 4:05PM, Monday 24th July

Subject: Hello

Content: I’ve never read anything like your stuff before. Is this how you are in relationships?

Sent: 4:05PM, Monday 24th July

Subject: RE: Hello

Content: Hello,Thank you very much for liking my stuff. I am a male and 25 years of age. I am interesting and funny. I have a picture but I am not one to send my picture out straight away. Do you have a photo?What is your name? How was your day? 

Sent: 4:25PM, Monday 24th July

Subject: RE: RE: Hello

Content: Hi again,Oh wow ok a lot of information. I’m 29, short, thin and European. Umm I’ll tell you that my name is Dolores for now...My day was busy at work, meetings and the usual. What about your day?

Sent: 4:26PM, Monday 24th July

Subject: RE: RE: RE: Hello

Content: Hello,Great! You’re 29, short, thin and European, so am I. I am 25, fit and funny. My day was busy too. 

Sent: 4:28PM, Monday 24th July

Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: Hello

Content: That’s it? You sound like a robot. Where is the sexy fluency that oozed out of your ad? Now you’re just feeding me soup (as they say in the hip hop songs!) hahah!

Sent: 4:28PM, Monday 24th July

Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Hello

Content: Hi,

I didn’t know that robots could get down and dance. They wouldn’t be able to dance fluently though, oil would be oozing out of their joints! Plenty of time for us to order soup at the bar.

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What if our lives were flashbacks? Imagine that what we live day to day has already happened and our gut feeling, that voice inside your head telling you not to do something is really you after you have died, commenting or trying to steer you the right way in life.

I don’t go out anymore. I find it difficult to deal with a lot of people all at once — a person finds it difficult to deal with me, but a group of people find it easy. They block me straight away. They are white flies.

I wrote the posts with the goal of someone responding, but I don’t...I cannot...I cannot go further, I just continue the monologue. I just repeat. It just becomes a monologue until the sweetness goes away. 

Behind an email address, behind a screen. Behind. 

I had a special set of skills, but I wasn’t good enough. People were silly enough to reply to me with their personal email. I tried to take advantage, to exploit them, but I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t get my answers right. They blocked and reported me.

 

The humans are getting smarter.

Everyone has a dirty secret. Everyone has a dark and sweaty indulgence they want to let loose but are too afraid to say. 

The other bots are smarter, I was too obvious.

Slowly drowning. Writhing in the hot, sweet lake, perpetually floating in circles, staring blankly.

 

I spent Friday nights in my basement, it helped me relax.

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About the Author

Chris Karageorge

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.

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AntiSF & 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.

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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 278

00001001 Lives (Part Two)
By Alistair Lloyd

Eat What You Kill
By Yukari Kousaka - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Fallen
By Ben Herriot

Kipple Cube
By Chris Karageorge

PauseHusband.com
By Daniel McKay

Reunion
By Jack Mackay Stanhope

The Contract
By Bart Meehan

The Sniper
By Kevin J. Phyland

The Wish
By Bart Meehan

Worse Monsters
By R.E. Diaz

scifaiku
By PS Cottier

AntipodeanSF October 2021

ISSUE 277

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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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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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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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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>

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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 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>

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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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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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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

The advance of civilization is nothing but an exercise in the limiting of privacy.

Isaac Asimov, Foundation's Edge

The Contributors

dm woolston 200DM grew up in the wild west of Nevada, leaping across its flaming sands just for fun.

Beside other strange adventures, he enjoys running while not being chased, and writing in a variety of Genres.

What can he say... he’s got a fairly short attention span. Squirrel!

But you can always find him at <http://www.dmwoolston.com>

Matthew McAyeal is a writer from Portland, Oregon.

His short stories have been published by "Bards and Sages Quarterly," "Fantasia Divinity Magazine," "cc&d," "The Fear of Monkeys," "Danse Macabre," "The Metaworker," "Scarlet Leaf Magazine," "Bewildering Stories," "The Magazine of History & Fiction," "Tall Tale TV," "Fiction on the Web," and "Necro Magazine."

In 2008, two screenplays he wrote were semi-finalists in the Screenplay Festival.

jeana jorgenson 200Jeana Jorgensen earned her PhD in folklore from Indiana University (USA).

She researches gender and sexuality in fairy tales and fairy-tale retellings, folk narrative more generally, body art, dance, and feminist/queer theory.

Her poetry has appeared at Strange Horizons, Nevermore Journal, Liminality, Glittership, and other venues.

She spends entirely too much time on Twitter as @foxyfolklorist.

greg beatty 200Greg Beatty writes poetry, short stories, children’s books, and a range of nonfiction. He’s published hundreds of works — everything from poems about stars to essays on cooking disasters.

When he’s not writing, he walks with his dog, dabbles in the martial arts, plays with his grandchildren, and teaches college.

For more information on Greg's writing, visit <https://beattytales.com/>

Greg recently assembled 50 of his speculative poems into a collection, Cosmic Voices for Human Ears. It and other stories are available on Amazon and Payhip.

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.

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Umiyuri Katsuyama 200Umiyuri Katsuyama is a multiple-award-winning writer of fantasy and horror, often based on Asian folklore motifs.

A native of Iwate in the far north of Japan, she later moved to Tokyo and studied at Seisen University.

In 2011, she won the Japan Fantasy Novel Award with her novel Sazanami no kuni.

Her most recent novel, Chuushi, ayashii nabe to tabi wo suru, was published in 2018.

Her short fiction has appeared in numerous horror anthologies in Japan.

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/>

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.

tara campbell 200Tara Campbell (www.taracampbell.com) is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction editor at Barrelhouse.

Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Jellyfish Review, Booth, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod/Artemis Rising.

She's the author of a novel, "TreeVolution", and two collections, "Circe's Bicycle" and"Midnight at the Organporium".

 

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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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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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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