Issue 300

By Michael T Schaper

They stared resentfully at the huntsman as she rode out of town, their gold jangling in her pockets. Her last job for them.

This was a poor town, and its residents could barely afford the fees she charged.

Thea glanced back just the once, glaring at them all until they looked away. “Walk on,” she urged her colt

Hunter and horse left the road and made their way up into the highlands, the climb becoming increasingly steep as they went. The hills above the small village were vertiginous, riddled with unexplored caves and hard to navigate. A perfect hiding place to escape those unfamiliar with the territory, but she knew her way. By late afternoon Thea had reached the point she was looking for.

The sun wouldn’t be setting for another hour or so, which suited her perfectly. Wyverns didn’t usually emerge until late in the evening, and Thea had a clear recollection of where the cave would be. Plenty of time to get there before dusk.

She dismounted and drew her sword. Many years ago she had come to the same place and burnt a previous lair to the ground. The old trail hadn’t changed that much in the meantime.

She left the horse to crop, and didn’t bother to tether it. The colt had been her only companion for some time now, and deserved a fighting chance to escape the monster if she failed to return.

This concludes things, she realised. The last huntsman, and the last monster. Together, one final time.

Thea could hear it now, in the cave in front of her. She crept in closer and regarded the sprawling beast dozing unaware, filling up most of the space within.

A pregnant animal, almost at full term, slow to move and easy to find. Dragged down with the young it was carrying inside, weakened by many months trying to feed both itself and the eggs within her. Unable to eat enough apart from the occasional villager or two down the valley.

Thea looked at her coin pouch. Payment for what was an easy job, she now realised.

How unseemly, she knew. Blood money to wipe out the last of a whole species.

And what would she do next? After she pulled the sword out of its quivering carcass? How does one create a new life, a new livelihood?, she pondered. Huntsmen didn’t take a family, were recruited from orphanages. No one was waiting at home for her after this.

And there’d be no more money. A hunter’s job was to eradicate monsters. Once she removed this final one, no one need pay her again.

She raised her sword, stepped forward to make the fateful plunge, and then stopped.

One wyvern could spawn a dozen offspring. And they bred quickly. In a few years, they’d repopulate all of these hills.

And then they’d need someone to keep the numbers down.

Carefully, slowly, Thea sheathed her sword and stepped back and left quickly, quietly.

Let the wyvern sleep. She didn’t want to short change her pension fund.

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About the Author

hunter horse 32Where you see strange dreams, cockatoos and other nonsensical nostrums congregate, there’s a good chance you’ll also come across our author.

By day he’s all manner of mundane things: a board member, business association manager, policy adviser, researcher and scholar - in Canberra.

At night he lets those wild ideas of his run, well, wild.


Issue Contributors

The AntiSF Radio Show

antipod-show-50Our weekly podcast features the stories from recently published issues, often narrated by the authors themselves.

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Meet the Narrators

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Timothy Gwyn

    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

  • 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.


  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 <...

  • 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.