Issue 300

By Darren Lipnicki

John lit a candle, the wick flaring brightly at first. He placed it on a low shelf, from where the now softer yellow light danced within the edges of a silver bowl on the floor below. He’d try to sleep soon, with plans to rise early and leave before dawn. A hiking backpack and duffel bag lay ready in his living room, the pack filled with purified water and supplies that he’d almost starved himself over two weeks to accumulate. Without these he would have little chance of surviving once outside the city. Officially declared a dangerous wasteland three years ago, it would be unsafe out there but very likely not as unsafe as staying here. 

John was once an optimistic microbial engineer, believing that his work would help to reverse the environmental decline in time. His team had been focused on bacteriophages, developing and adapting these to neutralise toxic microbiota teeming in the city’s effluent. Having become resistant to all treatment, this liquid detritus was being pumped further and further out — forming an ever-growing zone of polluted and unusable land. 

But the government played to the solipsistic electorate with a myopic eye to the future, and the funding was withdrawn, the lab closed. Reading the changing climate well, John had flouted both his ethics and the law to squirrel away enough equipment and cultures to continue the work once his job was redundant. 

In the absence of treatment and rehabilitation, the large loss of arable and grazing land threatened food security, and shortages were common. Queues outside the remaining and heavily secured shops and government ration stations were long, swollen by migrants from outer regions. Protests by those with sufficient outrage and calories were daily. 

It was amidst this chaos and hunger that a nefarious black market for domestic animals arose. Rumours passed down the food lines, suggesting that the masked and armed gangs snatching pets were sanctioned, unofficially of course. It did indeed suit the government to have more mouths fed while other mouths needing to be fed were removed from the system. 

It was at a point during this time that John’s thoughts and motivation turned — he no longer wanted to save the world. 

Now, in the dim flickering light of his apartment, he opened the duffel bag he’d lug along tomorrow, checking on the five plastic containers with four large strawberries each. Delicacies like this were now rare and dedicated home growers such as himself the only source of supply. These voluptuous red treats would be eagerly received and devoured by those at the food queues John met as he exited the city. His simulations indicated that the viral payload of a single berry would be more than enough to cause severe destruction of the gastrointestinal lining within forty-eight hours. With a high probability, death would soon follow, but only after copious diarrhoea and vomiting of blood, both fluids extremely infectious to family members, medical staff or hapless bystanders. 

By the time the first person-to-person transmission occurred John would be well outside the city, another apostate among the sparse population of emaciated ferals shunning city life. 

It was heinous that the government allowed and even facilitated the environmental collapse, but they really shouldn’t have killed his dog.

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

lipnicki grug 200Darren’s written output typically aligns with one of two arguably antipodean forms — scientific journal articles or dream reports, the latter more frequent and voluminous than the former.

Penning the occasional speculative mini-story lets him gambol between these textual poles.


Issue Contributors

The AntiSF Radio Show

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

Listen to the latest episode now:

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Meet the Narrators

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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 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

  • 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

  • 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