The Return of Rahab

By R.E. Diaz

sfgenre“Cuneiform?” Air Marshall James Garrett of the Royal Australian Air Force bristled as his eyes swept through that roomful of alliance cryptologists. In the end, he just hung his head and muttered. “Why the hell would a technologically advanced civilisation, centuries ahead of our own, store their classified data in cuneiform?”

Lieutenant Santu, the Basque team leader, stepped forward. “Sir, with up to a thousand logo-syllabic combinations, it appears cuneiform was designed to accommodate multiple unrelated ancient languages from Sumerian to Hittite to Old Persian.” He nodded toward the old man in the dark cassock by the door. “Padre Bernal suggested it.”

“Even Mayan could be encoded in it,” the priest offered. “I have always thought it might have been the original human script, you know, before Babel;” he added, a smile almost crossing his face; but not quite. His eyes again took on a faraway look.

“We can translate it?” Garrett’s eyes fixed on the alien black-box, kept hermetically sealed within a transparent blast shield. With over a hundred coloured cables inserted into every suspected signal port or crevice on its jagged surface, it was the only good thing to come out of the Americans’ preemptive nuclear strike on two of the motherships. We can? The warmth that swept through him at that thought, dropping his blood pressure ten points and setting him momentarily back on his heels, shook him to the core. Hope: He had forgotten what that felt like.

When the surface and underwater vessels of every Navy in the world were destroyed in one fell swoop, he couldn’t fault the survivors who surrendered to the enemy. When every fighter or bomber that approached the hovering motherships plummeted out of the sky as if they had hit an invisible wall, he couldn’t begrudge the orders to retreat. Cruise missile warheads eroded away on approach and shattered harmlessly 200 meters from any alien asset. Railguns rated at 200 km range barely reached 20 km before the projectile crumbled into a cloud of dust. Yes, the human alliance had to fall back, regroup, come up with a new strategy. But not quit!

The nations of the world came together against a common enemy for exactly one month. Then the enemy crushed every ship in the Suez Canal, the Strait of Malacca, the Strait of Hormuz, the Panama Canal, and Gibraltar, plunging the world economy into chaos. It became every nation for itself. All armies were called back to protect their own borders. So, the aliens parked their thousand ships in the sky, just beyond the range of Earth’s hamstrung weapons, and sent down their emissaries.

“We have already deciphered 50% of the weapon’s system specification.” The end of Lt. Santu’s reply snapped the Air Marshall out of his memories; but the look the priest gave him belayed the onset of a triumphal grin. 

“It is not good news,” the priest began. 

Before the flash of anger fully materialised on the Air Marshall’s face, Santu cut in. “Padre Bernal taught theoretical Physics for 20 years at the Autonomous University of Madrid.”

The priest went on. “It’s water. Their weapon is water.” 

“What?”

Given enough time, Padre Bernal may have been able to explain the fraction he understood to a panel of Nobel laureates. All he could do here was use analogies. “They create microscopic model systems of macroscopic regions of our planet and then entangle them, couple them together, at the quantum level. Whatever they do to their model, they do to our world.”

Garrett glared. “You are talking voodoo?”

The priest nodded his head slowly, that connection had not occurred to him, yet. “Well, yes, like it. But all they can really control is water.”

“That explains the destruction of our ships,” the Air Marshall paced the floor. “But they could have used tsunamis all over the world to really bring us to our knees. We all saw the freak mountains of water forming out in the oceans, racing toward land, and then falling apart before they could do any damage. What were they doing, toying with us?”

“Our water is different.” That comment silenced Garrett’s rant. “They use clouds of instant hail to foil any projectile fired at them, the refractive index of atmospheric ducts to refract our lasers away. But when they tried making boulder-sized hail rain on our cities, their projectiles dissociated harmlessly into snow. They don’t have full control.”

“Without weapons to destroy us…” Garrett understood.

“They are counting on us to do the job for them.”

“The emissaries.” Air Marshall Garrett’s hope had died the day he saw the news reports from all over the world. The aliens looked like perfect human specimens, sauntering inland from the beaches of the world, saying nothing but causing agonising pain at the flick of a finger. “They describe the effect as being irradiated with full force microwave riot control at point blank range.”

“We are 60 percent water, our lungs over 80 percent,” the Padre nodded in agreement. “Painful, yes. Not enough to kill but only one way to stop it.”

That scene, repeated over and over worldwide, was etched in Garrett’s memory: Kneel before them, kiss the offered hand, and receive a shielding IFF chip on your forehead. By the time the aliens left a city, those who had bowed to them realised their chips did more than protect them, they retransmitted the aliens’ power. They had license to do as they pleased.

“Five months of anarchy, five months of carnage, human against human... Why? What do they want?”

“To take their planet back.” Padre Bernal’s answer sank to the pit of the veteran’s stomach. “You’ve heard of Atlantis. Snippets of the story are recorded in the Bible as the fate of Rahab the proud, the antediluvian empire the Lord himself wiped out.”

“You mean the Flood?” 

“That story is recorded by civilisations all over the world. An entire continent was sunk. It appears some of them escaped to the stars.”

“And they are back for vengeance.” There was some comfort in knowing the enemy’s motivation, but Garrett couldn’t turn that into hope.

The priest went on: “They chose their weapon in irony but the joke is on them. The properties of water in our world were changed after the Flood.”

Garrett scratched his head as memories of childhood and Sunday School came rushing forward. “The rainbow?”

“As long as there is a rainbow, our world cannot be destroyed, certainly not by water.” Padre Bernal assented. 

The way he paused meant there was more, but the expression on his face also told the Air Marshall that whatever he was about to offer was beyond desperate. “You have a proposal.”

“Yes. I want to tell them.” 

He stared at the priest’s forehead; but he knew there was no IFF chip there; and he could see no trace of insanity in his eyes. “Why?”

“All it would take is a slight change of the angle between the OH bonds of the water molecule. If they modify their model system accordingly, with all their ships hovering all over the world, just below the ionosphere, they should be able to force that change on all water on Earth; eliminating the rainbow.”

Garrett scanned the room in disbelief. Padre Bernal took his pocket Bible out of his cassock and held it up. “They haven’t read the story. And they won’t.”

“So?”

“They are bent on precipitating the apocalypse,” the priest stretched his arm and held the small book at the Air Marshall’s eye level, opened to a highlighted passage. “Maybe they should.” 

Beyond desperate didn’t quite do it justice. 

Air Marshall James Garrett, remaining senior military officer of the Australian Defence Force, hadn’t received any reply from the Prime Minister or the Governor General in over two weeks. They were too busy trying to keep the country from being torn apart by the advance of the alien secession movement. Without the other members of the alliance, and with the survival of humanity in the balance, there really was no other choice he could make.

He had an armored platoon deliver the priest to the nearest alien sympathisers’ enclave, with instructions not to engage the traitors, only to defend themselves if necessary. The soldiers retreated to the edge of the city block and watched as an alien shuttle landed; and two perfect aliens emerged to escort the priest to the ship. Then they waited.

A week later, Padre Bernal was returned: his face swollen, the skin of his arms and torso mottled with deep bruising, but no IFF chip on his forehead. To the look in Air Marshall Garrett’s face, all the priest said was, “They were a little hard to convince.”

Eight hours later, the whole world came to a standstill. What could only be described as a plague of the bends incapacitated every human being. It turns out, less than 8 milliradians deviation in the angle between OH bonds in the water molecule has dire consequences on the chemical reactivity of the universal solvent. 

Sustained by stimulant and pain killer cocktails, Air Marshall Garrett’s team reactivated the Defence communication lines. LEO satellite imagery confirmed the beginning of the end. Columns of water, over a kilometer in height, sprouted out of every sea and ocean in the world. But just as the barrage of mega-tsunamis was about to be unleashed, a streak of blinding light sliced the sky in two, from east to west, horizon to horizon. 

Where daylight had been, the blue sky was cleaved by a swath of utter darkness surrounding an impossibly bright sun. Where night had been, the wound appeared as a slice of the deepest star-filled night ever seen. And then the edges of those discontinuities curled upon themselves and unfurled violently, northwards and southwards, dragging within their roiling shock fronts the alien armada, crushing them into twin singularities above the north and south poles.

As the unearthly roar subsided, Padre Bernal’s voice could finally be heard, reading once again the passage from the prophet Isaiah: “And all the host of the heavens shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll; and all their host shall fade away…”

The Air Marshall finally breathed. “The bends are gone.”

“Water must be back to normal,” the priest replied. He waved at two of the screens, one showing the coast of Perth, the other a view off west India. Rainbows lingered on walls of mist left behind by the collapsing mountains of water.

Lt. Santu brought a print-out from the radio centre and handed it to his commanding officer. “Scientists from around the world are weighing in. They say the aliens’ distortion of water destabilised the stratosphere, inducing a large-scale cavitation catastrophe.”

“Indeed.” Air Marshall James Garrett shook his head and gave his final command of the day. “Lieutenant, dismantle the team. Tell all our forces to stand down; return to base. The government will want to give the secession movement a chance to fizzle down before taking action.” Then, he turned to the priest and asked, “How did you know it would not be the end?”

The priest finally smiled. “I am pretty sure we’ve always had the right to choose our own apocalypse.”

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About the Author

Rudy Diaz

rudy diaz 200A Physicist in Engineer’s clothing, Rudy worked 20 years in the Defense Aerospace Industry, from performing Lightning Protection analysis on the Space Shuttle to the design of Radar Absorbing Materials. He then joined Academia as a Professor of Electrical Engineering, where for another 20 years he attempted to infect unsuspecting students with a love for Maxwell’s equations.

Since High School he has spent most of his free time either writing Science Fiction or trying to figure out how to make Science Fiction a reality. (His students' latest work has led to the realisation of efficient RF antennas that radiate using true magnetic (not electric) currents.)

His speculative fiction short stories have appeared in Residential Aliens, Ray Gun Revival, The Untold Podcast, and Antipodean SF. He blogs on the subjects of Science, Religion, and their intersection. The rest of his work is in the peer reviewed Physics and Engineering literature.

Rudy has also been involved in Jail Ministry for about 30 years. He and his wife Marcy live in Phoenix, Arizona.

Links: <https://rediazauthor.com/>

AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

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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.

<https://asff.org.au>

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

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.

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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.

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In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 278

00001001 Lives (Part Two)
By Alistair Lloyd

Eat What You Kill
By Yukari Kousaka - Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Fallen
By Ben Herriot

Kipple Cube
By Chris Karageorge

PauseHusband.com
By Daniel McKay

Reunion
By Jack Mackay Stanhope

The Contract
By Bart Meehan

The Sniper
By Kevin J. Phyland

The Wish
By Bart Meehan

Worse Monsters
By R.E. Diaz

scifaiku
By PS Cottier

AntipodeanSF October 2021

ISSUE 277

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

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Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

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AntiSF's Narration Team

tim borellaTim Borella has never lost his childhood passion for SF and writing in general and has been lucky enough to have worked most of his life as a pilot — in other words, he’s never properly grown up.

He lives in country Far North Queensland, has won awards for songwriting, and has had various other writing achievements, the most recent being an honourable mention in the 2018 international Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition.

He also has bachelor degrees in science and teaching, and has completed a couple of as-yet unpublished SF novels. He’d dearly love to spend more time writing, but will have to continue juggling for another couple of years until the kids have fully left the nest.

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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 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>.

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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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geraldine borella 200Geraldine Borella writes adult short stories and stories for children and has been published in anthologies for both. In 2018, one of her children’s short stories placed second in The Buzz Words Short Story Prize and she won an ASA Emerging Writer’s Mentorship. She currently works part-time as a hospital pharmacist and as an online creative writing tutor.

She’s fascinated by stories that expand upon today’s technology, addressing the moral and ethical issues that might arise. Equally, she enjoys the creative freedom that writing for children allows. Right now, she’s writing a young adult novel, reworking a middle grade novel and writing adult short stories when inspiration strikes. She lives with her husband, Tim, in Yungaburra, Far North Queensland and dreams of one day taking a European gap year.

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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 <alistairlloyd.com>.

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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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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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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). 

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

Rambles, writing and amusing musings

Smile! laugh out loud! enjoy the following

<www.solothefirst.wordpress.com>

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ed erringtonAlthough a writer of the baby boom persuasion, Ed has not boomed for quite a while.

He lives with his wife plus a menagerie of non-domesticated — native Australian animals intropical North Queensland.

His writing within the ‘real’ science fiction context of COVID-19 is intermingled by long night sky vigils — searching for pesky aliens intent on maintaining their social distance to the nth degree.

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carolyn eccles 100

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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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 

SF Quote

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke

The Contributors

dm woolston 200DM grew up in the wild west of Nevada, leaping across its flaming sands just for fun.

Beside other strange adventures, he enjoys running while not being chased, and writing in a variety of Genres.

What can he say... he’s got a fairly short attention span. Squirrel!

But you can always find him at <http://www.dmwoolston.com>

Matthew McAyeal is a writer from Portland, Oregon.

His short stories have been published by "Bards and Sages Quarterly," "Fantasia Divinity Magazine," "cc&d," "The Fear of Monkeys," "Danse Macabre," "The Metaworker," "Scarlet Leaf Magazine," "Bewildering Stories," "The Magazine of History & Fiction," "Tall Tale TV," "Fiction on the Web," and "Necro Magazine."

In 2008, two screenplays he wrote were semi-finalists in the Screenplay Festival.

jeana jorgenson 200Jeana Jorgensen earned her PhD in folklore from Indiana University (USA).

She researches gender and sexuality in fairy tales and fairy-tale retellings, folk narrative more generally, body art, dance, and feminist/queer theory.

Her poetry has appeared at Strange Horizons, Nevermore Journal, Liminality, Glittership, and other venues.

She spends entirely too much time on Twitter as @foxyfolklorist.

greg beatty 200Greg Beatty writes poetry, short stories, children’s books, and a range of nonfiction. He’s published hundreds of works — everything from poems about stars to essays on cooking disasters.

When he’s not writing, he walks with his dog, dabbles in the martial arts, plays with his grandchildren, and teaches college.

For more information on Greg's writing, visit <https://beattytales.com/>

Greg recently assembled 50 of his speculative poems into a collection, Cosmic Voices for Human Ears. It and other stories are available on Amazon and Payhip.

chris karageorge 200Chris Karageorge is a lover, brother, son, neighbour and a keen observer of all things in sight. 

He reads, writes and cooks in his spare time and dreams of coffee darker than a moonless night. 

He is from Melbourne, Victoria and can be found walking his pug Monty during the weekends.

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Umiyuri Katsuyama 200Umiyuri Katsuyama is a multiple-award-winning writer of fantasy and horror, often based on Asian folklore motifs.

A native of Iwate in the far north of Japan, she later moved to Tokyo and studied at Seisen University.

In 2011, she won the Japan Fantasy Novel Award with her novel Sazanami no kuni.

Her most recent novel, Chuushi, ayashii nabe to tabi wo suru, was published in 2018.

Her short fiction has appeared in numerous horror anthologies in Japan.

rudy diaz 200A Physicist in Engineer’s clothing, Rudy worked 20 years in the Defense Aerospace Industry, from performing Lightning Protection analysis on the Space Shuttle to the design of Radar Absorbing Materials. He then joined Academia as a Professor of Electrical Engineering, where for another 20 years he attempted to infect unsuspecting students with a love for Maxwell’s equations.

Since High School he has spent most of his free time either writing Science Fiction or trying to figure out how to make Science Fiction a reality. (His students' latest work has led to the realisation of efficient RF antennas that radiate using true magnetic (not electric) currents.)

His speculative fiction short stories have appeared in Residential Aliens, Ray Gun Revival, The Untold Podcast, and Antipodean SF. He blogs on the subjects of Science, Religion, and their intersection. The rest of his work is in the peer reviewed Physics and Engineering literature.

Rudy has also been involved in Jail Ministry for about 30 years. He and his wife Marcy live in Phoenix, Arizona.

Links: <https://rediazauthor.com/>

Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas.

His translations have appeared in venues such as Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and World Literature Today.

tara campbell 200Tara Campbell (www.taracampbell.com) is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction editor at Barrelhouse.

Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Jellyfish Review, Booth, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod/Artemis Rising.

She's the author of a novel, "TreeVolution", and two collections, "Circe's Bicycle" and"Midnight at the Organporium".

 

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 <alistairlloyd.com>.

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tim borellaTim Borella has never lost his childhood passion for SF and writing in general and has been lucky enough to have worked most of his life as a pilot — in other words, he’s never properly grown up.

He lives in country Far North Queensland, has won awards for songwriting, and has had various other writing achievements, the most recent being an honourable mention in the 2018 international Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition.

He also has bachelor degrees in science and teaching, and has completed a couple of as-yet unpublished SF novels. He’d dearly love to spend more time writing, but will have to continue juggling for another couple of years until the kids have fully left the nest.

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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 <https://pscottier.com>

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