Issue 300

By Laurie Bell

I am the ship’s guardian. The Rescue Voyager is a long haul vessel carrying the remaining population of my planet to safety. But the voyage is long. Thousands of years long. When we left the people were put into stasis and the ship’s crew — the departure crew — managed take off and the difficult task of entering the minute course changes that were necessary to get us out of our home system and on our great journey.

The departure crew then shut all systems down, other than those needed to protect life onboard and to keep the ship performing within standard parameters then put themselves into stasis too. Before the final pod was sealed a lottery was drawn and one passenger — one out of hundreds of thousands — was awakened and entrusted with the ship’s safety. The guardian is a life-long position. They are told the awakening codes should anything life threatening occur, otherwise, they are to live their life in solitude and silence, until age wearies them and they are forced to awaken the next guardian. Their final job is to hand over the awaken codes and explain the workings of the living pod complex to the next poor soul before succumbing to their final passing.

At least, that was what I was told when I was awakened.

I am guardian 974 and our journey is only a quarter over.

I remember a little of my life before.

I was a scientist once — a biologist actually. Married with two beautiful children who still sleep onboard this vast craft. I’ve been awakened for ten years now. The previous guardian explained the lottery and how my number had come up. I’ve long since come to terms with what my life has become, though I do not think I will ever accept my loss.

Or the boredom.

Every day is the same.

I wake in the living pod’s bed and check that all of the systems are green lit. I eat — long storage nutrition bar — and then my day begins. My job, my only job, is to travel the length of the ship and ensure all life onboard slumber peacefully. Even with the speed walker it takes all day. I eat at the midpoint, another bar like thousands I have eaten before, and return to the living pod to produce my evening meal. This is different. It’s a replicated shake mix. I write my simplistic, repetitious report that is identical to the one I wrote yesterday and go to sleep, for it all to begin again the following cycle.

The most dangerous time is in the thirty minutes before I fall asleep. That is when I allow myself to think.

I find I am having more and more odd thoughts and I wonder if it is the solitude or the silence that is to blame. I am lonely.

I know that my role is important.

By doing what I do I continue the great tradition of the guardians and allow my people to creep ever closer to the great awakening. A time I will not live to see.

To combat the silence, I have the computer in the living area set to shuffle through the great musical library that we carry with us and I dance like nobody is watching.


As you can see, I also tell terrible jokes to keep myself entertained.

I’ve listened to so many audible books and plays and dramatic presentations that I can repeat them verbatim. I’ve read through the thousands of files that make up the great library. I’ve even written half a dozen books myself. Taught myself the flute and the guitar. I’m not great but by all means I am not terrible either. These days, my thoughts have turned inwards and I find my gaze lingers over the unlock codes more and more. To distract myself I scroll through the lottery list.

I thought about it once.

Awakening my husband.

But then, I would trap him in this non-life with me until our end, leaving our children alone when they are finally awakened sometime in the future.

I thought about choosing a stranger.

But I have no idea how that would go either.

Each day the temptation grows.

You see, once a pod has been opened it cannot be closed again.

I’d condemn anyone I wake to this same awful never-ending existence.

I have other thoughts.

Of leaving this life.

But how can I do that? I would condemn the entire ship to never awaken. To drift in space, alone and silent, forever.

My last resort is to enact the lottery and activate the next guardian. Every night I stare at the blue button as I drift off to sleep.


I open my eyes on my bedroom ceiling. A brand new day has begun. My gaze drifts to the emergency awaken button. I shake off my melancholy thoughts and push up off my bed to get dressed.

Perhaps I will remain in my pyjamas today.

Be a bit of a rebel.

After all. There is no one to see, and I can dance like nobody is watching.

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

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 unique collection of short stories set during the events of White Fire/Sci-Fi). "Boss From Hell" is an Australian supernatural mystery, with a dash of comedy a hint of horror and a touch of romance. Her latest release is a darker Sci-Fi mystery coming out 20 July 2023 - "Blood Fever: A Daeh's Private Investigators Story".

You can read more of her work on her blog <>.

Look for her on Facebook: <> Twitter: <@LaurienotLori> and Instagram: <@writerlauriebell>


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

  • 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

  • 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 <...

  • 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

  • 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.


  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.


  • 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