The Monk...He's Poor

By Tony Owens

sfgenreIt was midnight. The audience had gone home. The three friends sat inside the caravan discussing the parlous finances of Hernandez’s Circus of Terror. ‘Our creditors are getting a bit toey,’ said Vassalli, circus strong-man and lawyer. 

Klinko, the King of Klowns, sighed. ‘They’re always toey. I would suggest toey is their natural state of existence. They wouldn’t be out of place at a polydactyly convention.’

Mung Bean, the dwarf, reached into his backpack. ‘I think I have the solution,’ he said. 

He pulled out a severed hand, gnarled and crudely stitched at the wrist. 

Vassalli spluttered the coffee he was drinking. ‘Where did you get that?’

‘More to the point, why did you get that?’ asked Klinko.

‘Online. At It’s a lucky monk’s hand. It grants you three wishes.’

Raised eyebrows were the order of the day. ‘No, hear me out. They even give you a certificate of provenance. This one belonged to a monk who had gambling debts with the mob. He sold them his right hand to pay them off.’

‘What, and because it’s a monk’s hand, it has magical powers?’

‘Obviously, it’s not that simple. It’s infused with magical essence.’

‘I think that’s formaldehyde,’ said Klinko.

‘C’mon. Let’s give it a go. If it doesn’t work, well, what have we lost?’

His comrades were silent. They had no answer for that. 

‘So, what do we wish for first?’

‘There’s always a trick to this. Let’s think this through carefully before we …’ said Klinko.

Too late. Mung Bean held the hand aloft and said, ‘I wish for an unlimited continuous supply of money for the circus.’

Klinko glanced at the banking app on his phone, which had started to ping.  ‘Hmm. Our account balance is increasing, even as we sit here.’

Vassalli looked worried. ‘Where’s the money coming from?’

‘I’m not sure. White and Morris Investments. Do you know them?’

Vassalli shook his head. Mung Bean was grinning. ‘Problem solved.’


Over the next few days, Klinko had to turn his phone to silent, as the continual pinging of the bulging bank account was starting to get on his nerves. A small price to pay though, if this major cash injection saved the struggling circus. 

It was Vassalli who punctured his pecuniary optimism. ‘Klinko, you should see this,’ he said, indicating the television.

It was a breaking news story. Several clowns at a rival circus were being arrested. ‘What’s going on?’

‘Seems to be some sort of investment scam. Smuggling of red noses and big shoes to avoid humour taxes.’

‘Let me guess. White and Morris Investments.’

‘Yep, which means the circus is receiving illegal funding. The authorities are going to be coming after us next. We need to get seriously lawyered up. This isn’t my area of expertise, and good representation doesn’t come cheap.’

‘Who do you suggest?’

‘Well, there was a firm called Caveat, Emptor and Nickelback. They were experts at making this kind of thing go away but….’

Again, Mung Bean held the monk’s hand aloft. ‘Get Caveat, Emptor and Nickleback to represent us.’

‘You really need to work on your impulse control,’ said Vassalli. ‘I was about to say that they were killed in a freak laundering accident six months ago.’

‘Money laundering?’

‘No, actual laundering. Office Christmas party. All three senior partners got drunk and tried to break the world record for the number of lawyers in a washing machine. They drowned.’ Vassalli shrugged. ‘Looks like I better go and read up on financial law. We can’t afford outside help.’


He didn’t make it to the door, however. There was an ominous scratching noise outside. Ominous, in that it wasn’t the circus dog trying to get in, or even the scraping of a random tree branch. This was scratching, accompanied by moaning, of the kind generally favoured by your undead types. 

Vassalli leapt to the window and peered out from behind the curtains. ‘Dear god in heaven,’ he mumbled. It's Caveat, Emptor and Nickleback. Remember when you told me the only good lawyer is a dead lawyer, well, you’ve got your wish. Thrice.’

Indeed, the three dead financial lawyers were pawing at the door moaning, ‘Billable hours, billable hours’.

His two comrades glared at Mung Bean. ‘We can’t go to court with corpses for barristers,’ said Vassalli.

With a sigh, Mung Bean produced the hand. ‘Make those last two wishes disappear,’ he said.

There was a thud as the three reanimated lawyers returned to their more natural deceased state. Then a hard to describe oozing sound, and a pop.

This was coupled with a ping on Klinko’s phone. He sighed as he checked the banking app. 

‘The money’s gone. Hopefully that’s the end of it.’

The other two nodded wearily. 

Their reverie was interrupted by an urgent banging at the door. 

Vassalli sprang to his feet, and peered out through the curtains.  

‘What is it now?’ asked Klinko warily.

Vassalli turned to them. ‘There’s a one-handed monk out there, and he looks really pissed off.’

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About the Author

Tony Owens

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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By Salvatore Difalco

Daddy's Always Right
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An Irregular Ode to the Loch Ness Monster
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By Jared Bernard

The Hideous Deed
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Review - Not Death VR (Version 3.1.007)
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By PS Cottier

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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

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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). 

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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.

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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 North Queensland. For more information, visit his Tim Borella – Author Facebook page.angle mic

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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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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 disbelief.”

He believes stories might also contain an element of humour — however small — to enrich the plot and/or heighten the drama.

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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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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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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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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 <>.


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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The Contributors

Former Aussie former music journalist, now working in media Payroll and moonlighting as an author.

Fantasy and sci fi are hands down her favourite genres, both to read and write after she got the writing bug after reading the Discworld series as a kid, and Sir Terry remains her favourite author of all time.

When she's not writing, she loves hanging out with her family watching Star Trek or sport to relax.


Roger Wang is a senior currently working towards his philosophy and media studies degree at Rutgers University.

His appreciation of things equally Kafkaesque as they are sublime is what drives his interest towards the speculative fiction genre.

He has been published at 365 Tomorrows.

jessie atkin 200Jessie Atkin writes fiction, essays, and plays.

Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Flock Lit, Writers Resist, Daily Science Fiction, and elsewhere.

She can be found online at <>.

Zach writes speculative fiction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

You can find some of his short stories at <>.

brian mahon 200Brian Mahon is a former cook, lab technician, submariner, and now-and-then writer.

He splits his remaining energies seeking knowledge, fighting age, doing laundry, and writing as a creativity relief valve.

He can be reached both on Facebook <@MahonMiscellany> and through his website, <>.

Bryan Keon Cohen 200Bryan is a writer, activist and retired-barrister based in Melbourne, Australia. He appeared in the High Court in significant constitutional, native title and refugee matters including the Mabo litigation, Bryan has published numerous legal articles, and the book "A Mabo Memoir" (2013).

Bryan’s insightful and engaging fiction has been published in Australia in Woorilla (2010), Idiom (2019), StylusLit (2019), Antipodean Sci Fi (2020), and in the UK, Bandit Fiction (2018).


deb sheldon 200Deborah Sheldon is an award-winning author from Melbourne, Australia. She writes short stories, novellas and novels across the darker spectrum.

Some of her titles include the horror novels Body Farm Z, Contrition, and Devil Dragon; the horror novella Thylacines; the romance-suspense novella The Long Shot; and the collections Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories, and the award-winning Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (Australian Shadows “Best Collected Work 2017”).

Her short fiction has appeared in Quadrant, Island, Aurealis, Midnight Echo, Breach, AntipodeanSF and many other well-respected magazines. Her fiction has been shortlisted for numerous Australian Shadows Awards and Aurealis Awards, long-listed for a Bram Stoker Award, and included in various “best of” anthologies.

Other credits include TV scripts, feature articles, non-fiction books, stage plays, and award-winning medical writing. Visit her at <>





Whenever he can, Ed likes to listen to people’s interactions — in real-life and/or through the media. Taking overheard conversations as a starting point, he then attempts to create what interactions might follow — regarding plot, character and motivation. 

Ed believes that what people say, and how they say it helps define their character; this notion transcends status, class, accent, race, and gender. Note Ed is not a spy. The stint he spends on eavesdropping real-life situations is severely constrained by the time taken for his coffee to get cold. 

His following spoken piece — ‘Like’ — was inspired by the beginnings of a conversation he overheard ‘twixt two young teenagers while awaiting the arrival of his auspiciously affordable affogato.


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.


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 <>. 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: <>

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 <>


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 archive.