The Tower

By Mathew Nelson

sfgenreI shiver, stumbling forward as the rain lashes at my clothes. I can’t feel my nose, or my ears, or the tips of my fingers. I can barely see. Where the hell am I? The sky has grown eerily dark and I’m sure that the sun has now set behind the rain clouds. A brief fragment of light remains on the churning ocean. Violent waves crash against the rocks ahead.

Alone, and evidently quite lost, I am drawn like a moth to a peculiar light far off in the distance, and freezing, teeth clattering, soaked through with my boots squelching at every heavy step, I pursue it towards the sea. A flash of lightning reveals the unnatural structure reaching high into the clouds and drooping slightly over the sea, some kind of wooden spire laden with mould and seaweed. There is a lifelessness about this thing, a sense of death and decay that repels me. Thunder rolls from over the ocean and sinks deep into the earth. I shiver, and move forwards.

The tower groans painfully against the raging of the storm and I stare up at it, filled with dread and awe. There is no soundness to its structure, no logic beneath its unruly frame as pieces stick out and plunge back in again, doors open to nothing but a fifty-foot drop and stairs trail along the outside wall, some of which seem to lead to nowhere. But I’m frightened and alone.

I bang on the splintery front door and am surprised when it swings open. I step cautiously inside and the floorboards creak under my feet. It’s warm and dry, except where I’m dripping on the floor. The air smells musty. A wood fire crackles across the room, my only source of light as I glance up to see a flight of stairs disappear into a looming shadow.

“Hello there,” says a man I had not noticed. He is bald with a pale face and shallow eyes, and he sits in a lounge chair reading the paper. “We’ve been expecting you.”

“You have?”

“Yes.” The man licks his finger and turns the page. I notice the story on the front page: Local Church Burns Down: Community Mourns Death of Local Priest After Tragic Church Fire. I see flames raging over the cries of women and children, and I am suffocated as clouds of ash and smoke pour into my lungs. The man sets his paper aside. “I suppose you’ll be wanting to talk to the man upstairs.”


“You’ll know which one. He’s quite like me. Impossible to miss, I assure you.”

Until now I had been under the assumption that there was only one man in the tower, but then I raise my eyes to dismal green lights flickering to life all along the stairway. Amidst the constant groaning wood comes new sounds, shuffling feet and deep, almost inhuman mumblings, as well as heavy breathing and something like swishing water.

I turn to the bald man. “I don’t understand —”

“Ah, don’t worry, he’ll explain everything. Go on. Go on!”

With a sigh, I stroll past the fireplace and ascend the stairs. I can’t remember where I came from or what I’m doing. I am floating higher and higher, immersed in subtle green, until I look to the right down a shadowy hallway with a stained rug down the middle. I step onto it and take a few paces, swearing that I could have heard gargling somewhere. When I turn back to the stairs I almost stumble to my death. They’re gone, disappeared like they never even existed. I lean over and stare at the bald man’s shiny head way below, and then back at the hallway, and then back at the non-existent stairs. “Oh…”

I try one of the greasy doorknobs but can’t get it to open, so I move on. So many rooms, at least one of them has to be open. I’d have to break one down either way because there’s no getting out of this hallway. I consider the door at the end, the one oozing with green slime, and I place my ear against it thinking I had heard a bubbling sound. I shrug, and slowly turn the knob. Better than nothing.

Immediately the gross odour of puss and decay spills from the room, and I hold my nose and shuffle inside, expecting to find myself in a swamp or to stumble upon the remains of a corpse. What I encounter instead is a creature beyond what my sane mind can comprehend, a foul… thing, and yet it is unmistakably alive. I can only describe it as a large shapeless blob with stubby arms, slick with gooey mucus. The thing turns at me and opens its black gaping mouth, wide enough to swallow me whole. I shut my eyes and scream that the thing isn’t real. But its eyes, dark shallow eyes, are human.

The thing slowly bears down on me, grunting and gurgling, so I do what any sane man would do and I flee. But to where? I reach for the door before remembering that there is no way to escape from the hallway, so I scurry around the edge of the room — away from the monster — and make for the window.

The storm hits me full force as I climb onto a narrow ledge outside the room; the rain so sharp it seems to slice into my skin. Where do I go now? I glance up at the distant light so far above me, and I know that I can never reach it. I stare down into the dark abyss below me. I wonder…

How did I get here? What was I doing before I entered this abysmal tower? Since when were monsters like that real? I only occurs to me now that I am dreaming. So, what if I just… jump?

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About The Author

Mathew Nelson

mathew nelson 200I am a Western Australian writer who recently completed my Creative Writing degree at Curtin University, which is a wonderful place to spend time and study.

I’m a passionate novelist and short story writer. My appetite for genre fiction spans all forms of media from novels to video games and branches beyond creative works and into research, reviews and theory.

I’ve been surrounded by fascinating stories my entire life, and as I’ve grown older my passion and curiosity has only gotten stronger. I grew up watching Star Wars, reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and playing video games like Ratchet & Clank.

In high school I was intrigued by science and mathematics, even though I wasn’t very good at either, but I knew by that stage that I was a writer!

I started off small, working on cheesy fan-fictions for Star Wars and Assassin’s Creed. Then I started writing novels and inventing my own stories, and I’ve been doing that ever since.


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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

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 249

A King May Look At A Cat
by Lynne Lumsden Green

Applicants Must Be Able To Cackle
by Nikky Lee

Crash Dummy
by Roger Ley

Invisible Giants And Little Types
by AE Reiff

Infinite Monkeys
by Aiki Flinthart

Kitting Up
by David Scholes

She's Dead
by Mark Towse

Surfing On Neptune
by Eugen M. Bacon

The Forgetful Visitor
by Barry Germansky

The Sin Of Envy
by George Nikolopoulos

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AntiSF's Narration Team

david whitaker 200David Whitaker is originally from the UK though has travelled around a bit and now resides in India. He has a degree in Journalism, however decided that as he’s always preferred making things up it should ultimately become a resource rather than a profession.

His stories, covering everything from sci-fi to philosophy, have been published across the globe and links to each can be found at <>

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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,

And is a theatre reviewer for 2SER FM in Sydney.

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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 (YA/ Fantasy — available now) and White Fire (Sci Fi — available now)

You can read more of her work on her blog Look for her on Facebook <> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

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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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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 <>

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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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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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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 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 <>.

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SF News

Upcoming Cons

Nullus Anxietas VII: The Australian Discworld Convention — will be held in Melbourne on April 12-14, 2019, and is themed on Going Postal. More information: <>.

Swancon 2019 — 18/04/2019 - 22/04/2019,  Esplanade Hotel Fremantle by Rydges 46-54 Marine Terrace, Fremantle WA 6160. Swancon is Australia's longest-running science-fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction convention, and is the premiere event in Perth for fans of all forms of speculative media. More information: <>.

Continuum 15 Other Worlds (Natcon 58): Continuum 15 is the Australian National SF Convention, to be held in Melbourne on June 7–10. More information and memberships <>. AntipodeanSF will be at Continuum 15 and celebrating Issue 250 of AntiSF!

Worldcon Dublin 2019 — An Irish Worldcon 15/08/2019 till 19/08/2019, The Convention Centre Dublin (CCD). <More info here>

For more up-to-date Aussie SF info join the ASFF: <>.

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