A Man Full Of Shadows

By Eugen M. Bacon

sfgenreLEAVES CRUMBLE UNDERFOOT. Ralph Cooper steps into the mouth of woodlands awash with starlight. He carries night with him. Darkness chases his path. An owl leaps from a branch with a fearsome cry.

Ralph pushes his way inwards. There is blood on his face, arms, bare legs and feet. No sound escapes his lips. Fear is non-existent. He shreds through forest tight with black trees, gray leaves. Shadows. Claws and toes slash at undergrowth. Slash. Slash.

Lightning cracks overhead.

No rain. No pain.

Slash. Slash. Reason is diminished. Buried.

Ralph staggers out of the woods and breaks into a quiet place. Here, he takes one weary step forward. His spirit is willing; his body fails. He falls, drained. Bathed in blood at the jaw of a new world.

He opens his eyes to a face full of light. Green eyes. Cascading hair.

She smiles.

‘How are you?’ she says.

‘Rent money is dead money.’

‘Are you in pain?’

‘Elusive peace.’

‘Do you understand why you are here?’

He lifts his head off the ground. ‘The scallywag,’ he says in a dry rasp.

His head falls. He is unconscious.

* * *

Something soft and warm drapes around his shoulders. He opens an eyelid to blinding light. A blanket rubs his chin. He shrugs it off. Tugs at his shadows to hold him. He cannot stop the shaking. His night fights the light of this world. The room blinks with darkness and then brightness. Darkness. Brightness. The world resists. Darkness. Brightness. Finally, spent, Ralph stops fighting the light. His fog wraps around him like a wrap. His fingers shake oddly. His mind is a mosaic. A cascade of rocks.

* * *

‘You are in parallel reality,’ a voice says. ‘You have travelled between levels of consciousness. A portal of time.’

He blinks. Green eyes, a cascade of red hair swathes her cheeks. She is bending over him. He watches her without thought or fear. His fingers uncurl. Slowly, he reaches out. Touches the silk of her hair. Spreads his fingers, slides them to the white of her coat. The corners of his lips pull down. Fingers trace upwards to her face. 

‘Pretty,’ he says.

‘And so are you.’ She strokes his face. ‘In a complex way.’

He looks at her. She looks at him.

‘I think I can help you,’ she says. ‘I want to.’

He gazes one last time at her exuberant face before his eyes close.

* * *

Cables. Sockets. Circuitry.

Peripherals clasp him. He lies horizontally in the belly of a capsule strewn with gadgets. Two chips grip either side of his head. One end of the capsule elevates. His feet lift upwards. His head lowers into a square of glass that swallows him. Wires plug into him.

‘It won’t take long,’ a voice says in the distance.

‘Dead money,’ he mutters.

Light. Darkness. Light. Stillness. Tremor. A tomb. Buried.

Scallywag, he thinks. Elusive.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

His eyes are shut. He tries to move his limbs. They refuse instruction from his brain. He can’t move. But he can see through the eyelids. He can see what she sees.

Information download. She surfs through his memories.

Coo…There is the child in him: fat legs. Moonface. Cobalt eyes. A tuft of honey hair stands in a natural Mohawk on his head.

Softness. Warmth. Music: his mother.

Now he is a toddler. Asleep. Swift breaths.

Older. Long hands, all knees.

Older. Small town: pub, general store, post office, petrol station. The last two are an extension of the pub.

There’s Harriet. Lying by his side on a golden meadow mottled with violets. Legs entwined. Whispers. Giggles. Touch. He combs grass from ebony hair. Touch. Sun and chocolates on Harriet’s lips. Flowers on her skin.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

His limbs jerk. The controller circuit network strains to hold him.

War. He sees war.

Marching. Running. Crawling. Swamp. Bog like black jelly. Pits. Caves. Field: abandoned. Dust: heat. Building: engulfed in fire. Tanker: rolling. People: screaming. Bullets: cracking past his head. Jungle. Jungle. Jungle. Explosion. Shouts. Bayonet: blood. Smoke: stench. Horizon: cloaked orange. Soldier: head blown off. Hospital: hysteria. Straitjacket: madness.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

He is roaming naked in the streets.

Clank! tins tied to his ankles.

A hoard of children yell behind him, tailing him as he mutters over and over: ‘Rent money is dead money. Elusive peace. The scallywag. Pretty.’

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Keyboard. Command. A screen opens. Inoculation, it says. Memory buffer. New profile module. Installing permanent blocker, it says. War memory deleted. Insanity deleted. Monitoring information upload, it says.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

* * *

Cloud. Blackness. A burst of light. He is floating, floating, floating... He opens his eyes to a shaft of sun through the window.

Perfume. Purple magnolias, heart drops and white lilies stand in a vase half-filled with water. Sound fills the room. Two swallows sing on the ledge.

A stir on the left.

He turns his eyes.

Jade eyes. Cascading hair.

‘How are you?’ she says.

‘Good. My head feels light. What happened?’

‘Your fog of shadows has lifted.’

‘What fog?’

‘Tell me about Harriet.’

‘Who are you?’

‘Radiance,’ she says. Cool fingers touch his arm. ‘Tell me about the war.’

‘What war?’

‘I think the treatment has worked. Tell me your name.’

‘Ralph. Cooper.’

‘Ralph. Don’t close your eyes. Look at me. Ralph.’

He looks at her.

‘What are you thinking?’

‘You are beautiful.’

‘As are you.’

Ralph Cooper smiles. He is no longer entombed in a head full of shadows.

‘Yes. Beautiful,’ he says. ‘In a complex kind of way. Now get me out of here.’

 rocket crux 2 75

About The Author

Eugen M. Bacon

eugenbaconThe artist sometimes known as Eugen Bacon is a non-android, full-blooded creature with two Masters Degrees and a Doctorate in Computing and Writing respectively. The said qualifications do not endear this artist to editors any more than other artists. With much grovelling, repeat submissions, threats and sometimes fierceness, the artist has managed to secure publications in literary, scholarly and speculative fiction journals or magazines worldwide. Her creative articles were nominated for the 2017 Aurealis Convenors Award For Excellence.



Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version: 

Kindle version: 

AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

asff img

Please visit the ASFF website and consider joining for up-to-date info about Australian SF cons, awards, competitions, and to receive the Foundation's newsletter, Instrumentality, and more.


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 www.markwebb.name.

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.


The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 239

Alea Iacta Est
by Chris Cole

by Kevin J. Phyland

Gathering At The Bubble
by Robert W. Caldwell

History Comes Alive
by Ken Schweda

Leading The Swan
by Hari Navarro

Stupid Robot
by Col Hellmuth

The Centaur
by Salvatore Difalco

The Circus Act
by Ferne Merrylees

by Robert David

War On Terror Just Blows Me Away
by Wes Parish

Get Dimension 6


Get Dimension 6 Speculative Fiction

From Coeur De Lion Publishing

Here at AntiSF
Download D6 Now!

"Trust me, you want this free speculative fiction e-zine."
(Rob Hood)

AntipodeanSF May 2018


Speculative Fiction
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

rocket crux 2 75

AntiSF's Narration Team

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 <https://garrydean.wordpress.com>

 old style mic flat 25

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 NewMyths.com, 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 <timothygwyn.com>.

old style mic flat 25

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 <wordsbydavid.com>

old style mic flat 25


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.

old style mic flat 25

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 (available now).

You can read more of her work on her blog Look for her on Facebook <www.facebook.com/WriterLaurieBell/> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

old style mic flat 25

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.

old style mic flat 25

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.

old style mic flat 25

SF News

SF News

Vale Tony Plank

AntiSF contributor Tony Plank was a computer programmer, web designer, SF writer, active member of the Australian SF community and an all-round good guy.

He passed away peacefully on 21 March, 2018. A kind, fun-loving man, he contributed a lot to the Aus SF scene and will be sadly missed.

(Edwina Harvey).

<Read More>

Congratulations Edwina Harvey

Edwina Harvey, a contributor to AntipodeanSF since the very first issue, is a worthy recipient of this year’s A. Bertram Chandler Award.  She has been an active member of Australian science-fiction fandom: writing, publishing and with her amazing artwork for 40 years.

Read more information about Ed's Award here at the ASFF.

Ishmael A Soledad Publishes "Hawking Radiation"

Ishmael A Soledad, a recent AntiSF contributor (and more to come in our future pages) has recently published a collection of his SF short stories. Love, telepathy, suicidal androids, purple dragons, and machine-gun-toting rabbits. More information here.

Dimension6 Issue 13 - Mark Webb

AntipodeanSF is an affiliate site for Dimension6 from Coeur De Lion Publishing, the best in Australian Speculative Fiction, free every April, July, and October. In the latest edition (#13), long term AntiSF contributor Mark Webb has a novella length story, “The Reclaimers”, about Ulanda, who travels the edge of civilisation, cleansing border towns of a deadly residue that lingers from the magical weapons of mass destruction that ended the war. It’s the only job still allowed for the paranormally-inclined and life is adequate, until an old girlfriend appears with a questing opportunity that Ulanda knows she absolutely should refuse… Dimension6 can be found free on the AntiSF website here in both mobi and epub formats.

For more SF news why not join the ASFF and get the ASFF newsletter “The Instrumentality” delivered straight to your inbox!


Aussie Awards News

2018 Norma K Hemming Finalists Announcement
The Australian Science Fiction Foundation (ASFF) is delighted to announce the 2018 shortlists for the Norma K Hemming Award, which covers works published in 2016-2017. Finalist list is here.

The winners of the 2018 Norma K Hemming Award will be announced at a ceremony taking place on the evening of Friday 8 June, 2018, at Continuum in Melbourne, with citations and a monetary prize being presented.

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


Upcoming Aussie Cons

Continuum XIV: Conjugation. Melbourne’s SF Convention. 8th – 11th June, 2018. More information: <http://www.continuum.org.au/>.

Conflux 14 - The Unconventional Hero — Vibe Hotel, 1 Rogan Street, Canberra Airport ACT 2609. 29/09/2018 - 01/10/2018. More Information: <https//conflux.org.au>

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: <https://ausdwcon.org/>

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

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

AntiSF Radio Show

antipod-show-50The AntipodeanSF Radio Show delivers audio from the pages of this magazine.

The weekly program features the stories from recently published issues, usually narrated by the authors themselves.

Listen to the latest episode now:

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show is also broadcast on community radio, 2NVR, 105.9FM every Saturday evening at 8:30pm.

You can find every broadcast episode online here: http://antisf.libsyn.com 

S5 Box

Login Form

S5 Register

You need to enable user registration from User Manager/Options in the backend of Joomla before this module will activate.

SF Quote

There’s no real objection to escapism, in the right places… We all want to escape occasionally. But science fiction is often very far from escapism, in fact you might say that science fiction is escape into reality… It’s a fiction which does concern itself with real issues: the origin of man; our future. In fact I can’t think of any form of literature which is more concerned with real issues, reality.

Arthur C. Clarke