The Heart

By Ovidiu Bufnilă

sfgenreI don't know exactly. How did it happen? Maybe it had to happen. At first it was like that, a move. When I met several people on the subway, I found out it was the same for them. That move brought us there. Yes, the morning was a strange movement in my body. I didn't much think about what it actually was. It was a sunny morning. That's what I remember. An ordinary day. There were all kinds of events all over the world. Nothing unusual. The news flowed like waves. From everywhere. Social networks were shaking.

People expressed their fears, joys, victories, upsets. The movement occurred at 10 o'clock. I checked. It happened all over the world at the same time. That was incomprehensible. 

I went to the supermarket to buy cigarettes. Everyone there was talking about the strange movement. Everyone felt it. Very strong. That's how I understood that we were all the same. I sat on the curb on the sidewalk. I smoked a cigarette. I thought. Something was happening in the world and I couldn't explain it, let alone myself. I watched a TV across the street. The TV was on the terrace of a restaurant there. People laughed, talked loudly, seemed well. I thought I'd go and ask them. I crossed the street. I'm glad I can sprint. Hello. Hello to you, too, they said. Did you feel the movement? Wow! Sure you do. It was beautiful. A beautiful move. I didn't like those people much. But they were right. It was a beautiful move. 

It rained the next day. It rained lightly, without lightning and thunder. I saw many shadows on the street, and I felt other movements in my body. Very strange. I talked to my neighbors. And they found the same thing as me. I watched TV but no one was talking about that phenomenon. Maybe it wasn't time to talk about it yet. There were only two or three testimonies on social networks. I would have liked to find more testimonies. I looked for them. Nothing.

On the third day I received a strange impression. I began to have fuzzy thoughts that were not mine. I began to inventory my own thoughts. I wanted to distinguish them from the outside thoughts.

On the fourth day, there was an avalanche of new thoughts. Lots of thoughts. An impressive moment. And I started to have other sensations. I felt the temperature in my room differently. It felt like the air was two different temperatures at the same time. In reality, it was the same temperature, but I felt it in two different ways. I talked on the phone with a friend from overseas. He told me the same thing. In his city, there were more and more people who felt the same way. I laughed a lot during that conversation. 

My friend knew all sorts of jokes. He tried to reassure me. He told me that it must be a planetary phenomenon and that I must not be afraid. More and more people felt the phenomenon. That was beautiful. It was as if something mysterious now united all humans. I hung up and kept laughing. My friend collected good jokes. He had been doing it since he was a student. He told us all his jokes and we all laughed.

I went out onto the street. I talked to many passers-by. Each had their own story. Each began to feel different in many ways. They had thoughts that were not their own. I asked them if they were feeling well. They said it was a new and interesting experience. They liked this new experience. Some of them had started talking about it on social networks. It was an increasingly popular topic worldwide. That's how I found out that journalists had started writing about this phenomenon.

I talked to a few women. I talked to a cop. I talked to a saleswoman. 

They all said the same thing. 

I thought about driving somewhere. But I had to fill the tank with gas first, so I went to the gas station. There were a lot of people there. Everyone was talking about the phenomenon. They said they were reading each other's thoughts. It was a new thing. And it was real. People read others’ thoughts and laughed.

I read the thoughts of a university professor. Someone read my thoughts. Such an interesting moment.

I drove several kilometres. Out of town. From there stretched the desert. In the distance sat mountains. The mountains were snow-laden. 

Something drew me to them. They were high. I drove there at speed.

And then I felt someone's thoughts nearby. A man in need of help. I got out of the car. 

I found him. The man had fallen into a pit. 

He couldn't get out. He had hurt his hand. 

I helped him out of the pit. He told me he knew I was coming to help him. 

Some of my thoughts were already on his mind. He asked me for a cigarette. He’d been walking there and slipped into the pit. He thanked me. We both smoked in silence. My thoughts were his now. His thoughts were mine now. I asked him what he thought of the phenomenon. “It's a beautiful phenomenon,” he said,  “It's weird and beautiful.”

Will it be all over the world? I think it will be all over the world. It's a beautiful phenomenon. All people feel the same heart. That was the explanation. In a way, all of a sudden, a single heart was born all over the world. It's a beautiful truth. Regardless of each person's ideas, all people now had the same heart.

When I got home, I met a woman who worked at the town hall. She was scared. She told me she couldn't read anyone's thoughts. She was very upset. I tried to calm her down.

“Let's talk about this,” I said. “How is it?” 

“I do not feel anything,” she said. 

“Then you have to open your heart. Maybe you are too upset. Maybe you're scared.”

  She smiled. I did not. I was too upset. I’ve had some problems. But now I can look at things differently.

“Give me your hand,” I told her. “Do you feel it now?” 

She began to giggle. Now she felt that she was like all of us, that she was with us all in one heart.

In the following days I met other people who did not feel the heart. I talked to them and they understood. Astronomers told the public on television that these were cosmic phenomena, but I knew it was the heart that changed people's thoughts.

Doctors tried to clarify the phenomenon around the world. Many officials took security measures. But people everywhere told them it wasn't necessary. We all felt with one heart now. It was a unique phenomenon in world history. We didn't even care if it was related to cosmic phenomena. Maybe it wasn't related to that. The heart was evolving. The heart evolved in the universe independent of the movements of the sun or stellar explosions in other galaxies.

I went to the cafe to meet others. It was as if we were one human, one entity. We now knew our worries, our desires, our joys. We were all convinced that something extraordinary was about to happen. A new phenomenon was coming. We talked about it. 

Meanwhile, I drank coffee. I laughed, I joked. Across the river, there were other people like us. Ships crossed the river. On their deck were people like us. And we were all one heart.

But one morning, something unusual happened. A neighbor stopped me and told me he didn't know his name anymore. He was worried. I tried to calm him down. I reminded him of his name. He thanked me for ten minutes. Then he left happily. I thought it was a singular event but it was not so. There were more and more people who had problems. 

There were all kinds of problems. Doctors prepared a treatment suitable for memory loss. But that wasn't it. It couldn't be that. It was no ordinary memory loss. Events rushed onward. People began to panic. I talked to some people at the cafe and told them my opinion. I also wrote on social networks.

A few days later, the phenomenon stopped as suddenly as it had appeared. No more thoughts in my mind. All I had was my own sensations. I don't know what had happened. The phenomenon was quickly forgotten around the world. People continued to live their lives. I went to the cafe again. I tried to talk to the people there. No one would listen to me. It's sad. It's incomprehensible. It must be a mess. Maybe I don't understand what's going on. All humankind has the same heart and the same thoughts. I lived this. It's true. But no one remembers. They looked at me, amused. 

I stopped talking about it.

I've been driving often since then. I travel far and wide. I know new people, now. I try to read their thoughts, but I can't. I try to feel their heart, but I can't. I think it was a strange phenomenon. Really, very strange. Maybe we humans have received a sign. 

Maybe we should have learned something from that phenomenon.

Yesterday, I walked through the park not far from my house. It is a beautiful, bright park, full of vibrant, coloured flowers. It has wide alleys and comfortable benches. I sat on a bench and watched the boats floating on the lake. The park has a clear, sparkling lake. Swans often come to this lake. The birds flutter their wings elegantly, and sit on the water making waves. Swans impress me. I look at them and try to understand what's on their minds. Swans probably have elegant minds. They have supple movements. And they fly so beautiful and strong.

There are also squirrels in the park. Squirrels are cute. Hop everywhere. Jump from branch to branch. Come to you if you call them with nuts and peanuts. Squirrels are agile. So must be their minds. I think about the thoughts that squirrels have. I sometimes think that squirrels think only of nuts and peanuts.

A childhood friend of mine passed down a nearby alley. I invited him to sit with me on the bench. We remembered all kinds of beautiful childhood events. We’d played together many times. We’d seen many movies. We’d eaten cotton candy. Every child in the world wants to eat cotton candy. What could be better than cotton candy? But chocolate is also great. I always opened chocolate with emotion. We’d filled our mouths with chocolate. We were soaked in chocolate to our ears. 

And ice cream. What beautiful memories. My friend is working at Central Station now. Directs the trains. Trains come and go at the station and people run either to get on or to meet them. I think it's a great job. And important. 

My friend left.

After being alone for a few moments, I felt something strange. I don't know how to explain it properly. It was amazing. I didn't expect it. I never even thought it could happen to me. As a student, I’d had a few premonitions, but I never paid attention to them. But now I understand their importance. Maybe I should have taken them into account. Maybe I should have been more careful. The truth is, I'm kind of amused. Or maybe careless. Sorry about that. I hope one day I won't be like that again. I could tell jokes, too, or I could get hired at Central Station to run the trains. I could do important things. Why not? Many people have critical jobs. Many people think lofty thoughts. I should do that too. I could think seriously about these things.

So there I was on the bench thinking. People were walking by in the alleys. They laughed, held hands, told all kinds of stories. I looked at them with joy. They walked down the alleys and laughed. How pretty. Swans made waves on the lake. The squirrels hopped through the bushes. A puppy ran after them. A child rode a bicycle. Someone launched a colourful balloon that flew quickly over the park. I tracked the balloon as it flew off into the distance. As a child, I used to throw balloons on my street. The balloons rose quickly, wafted by currents of hot air. Beautifully coloured. I was glad to remember them. The truth is, there, on the bench, I felt good. 

And then, as I said, something extraordinary happened. I didn't think it would happen. It was something strange in my mind. Like a song. 

Yes, of course, a melodious song. I'm sure I'd never heard that song before. 

Where did it come from? What was that music? I looked around. Nobody singing. Nobody there. The alley was deserted. But someone had to be singing that song that I now heard in my mind. How pretty!

I wasn't scared. I was upset. Maybe someone was making a joke. No. Could not  be. Definitely no one around. The sun was preparing to set. 

Maybe that had something to do with it. I have often seen songlike sunsets. I’d heard the visual song of the sun when I was in the mountains. But it wasn't like the song I was hearing now.

The swans flew away across the lake. The squirrels looked at me curiously. No, it wasn't their song. Now, I wondered, do swans sing? Now, I wondered, do squirrels sing? I cannot know. The music faded. Now — once again — I felt a thought that was not my thought at all.

It was a pure, soft thought. It was a happy thought. It was an exceedingly joyous thought — and my heart started beating strangely. I looked around me again. Where did all this sensory intrusion come from? There had to be an answer. I was ready to receive an explanation...

...And, just then, I heard the heart of a butterfly in my heart. And that butterfly sailed through the air and alighted on my hand.

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About the Author

Ovidiu Bufnilă

bufnila authorOvidiu Bufnilă was born and lives in Romania. He has headed up Waved Philosophy since 1977.

Ovidiu Bufnilă binds everything so beautiful that the universe seems to be born of a wave that has shattered.

His novel Jazzonia was awarded as the best Romanian SF Novel.

He received the award for the best Romanian SF Story, Mandhala, 2002, and was also awarded for excellence in Romanian SF and the Sigma Award for the best Romanian SF Novel, Moreaugarin’s Crusade.

He received the annual Clouds Magazine Award (USA).

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 274

A Quindecillion of Cain
By Dan McNeil

Best Laid Plans
By Kevin J. Phyland

Fiction to Fact Technology
By P.V. Andrews

Lucky Bastards
By Kim Rose

Mavis
By Chris Karageorge

The Boy Who Cried Woof
By Col Hellmuth

The Gods in Their Galleries (Part One)
By Rick Kennett

The Mouse
By Natalie JE Potts

The Paragon Abyss
By William Kerr

The PM's Horns
By Len Baglow

The Witch of Borsevo
By Kyosuke Higuchi - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

AntipodeanSF June 2021

ISSUE 273

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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AntiSF's Narration Team

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.

J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The Contributors

Alex Iurovetski FB 200A very few words about myself: impossible.

A bit longer:

Alexander Iurovetski lives in Melbourne, Australia.

He had gone with the wind of freedom from the former Soviet camp to the former British colony.

Alex codes and debugs for the sake of living, and bugs living for the sake of writing.

Occasionally, he helps his wonderful wife to raise their two sweet and mischievous boys.

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scott steensma 200Scott is a Melbourne based librarian, writer and son of a cat fancier.

He has written non-fiction for The Age, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and other magazines and dailies, but it's writing and reading Science Fiction that really fires his imagination.

He tweets at <https://twitter.com/scottsteensma?lang=en>, and if you're on Goodreads he would love to chat SF with you at <https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/36819318-scott>.

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dr stephanie koorey 200Steph Koorey really wants to get out more, and exercise a lot more, but as it is, she is a home-body Canberra-based academic, and writes occasional fiction, non-fiction and science fiction.

She published her first SF in the High School yearbook, and was mesmerised around the same time by discovering the work of Kurt Vonnegut.

Many decades later, she is reading David Mitchell (not the comedian) and John Birmingham, and is trying to learn from them, including by shamelessly following them on Twitter.

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Sele Hanakusa is a Japanese writer from Chiba.

In 1999, she received an honorable mention in the Cobalt Short Story Prize for New Writers.

In 2020, her story won an honorable mention in the first Kaguya SF Contest.

swylmar ferreira 200Swylmar S. Ferreira lives in Brasília, Brazil's capital city.

He is a passionate reader of fantastic literature and an apprentice in the art of writing.

Writers he admires include Philip K. Dick, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King.

He blogs at Fantasticontos, escritos e literários.

João VenturaJoão Ventura writes short fiction, which has appeared in several websites (AntipodeanSF and Bewildering Stories among them), and also in printed form: Somnium, in Brazil; Dragão Quântico, Hyperdrivezine, Phantastes (Portuguese fanzines); Universe Pathways (in both the English and the Greek versions).

He had short stories in several Portuguese and Brazilian antologies: A Sombra sobre Lisboa (2006), VaporPunk (2010), Antologia de Ficção Científica Fantasporto (2012), Lisboa no ano 2000 (2013), Lisboa Oculta - Guia Turístico (2018), O resto é paisagem (2018), Almanaque SteamPunk (2019), Winepunk (2019), Regiana Magna (2020).

In 2018, a collection of his short stories (in Portuguese) came to light, with the title Tudo Isto Existe.

He likes reading, writing (surprise!), has a blog and is a university professor (now retired).

He is married, with two children and he lives in Lisbon.

Those who read Portuguese can have a glance at some of his stuff in Das palavras o espaço.

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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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.

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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bufnila authorOvidiu Bufnilă was born and lives in Romania. He has headed up Waved Philosophy since 1977.

Ovidiu Bufnilă binds everything so beautiful that the universe seems to be born of a wave that has shattered.

His novel Jazzonia was awarded as the best Romanian SF Novel.

He received the award for the best Romanian SF Story, Mandhala, 2002, and was also awarded for excellence in Romanian SF and the Sigma Award for the best Romanian SF Novel, Moreaugarin’s Crusade.

He received the annual Clouds Magazine Award (USA).

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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