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Edition 30: Seeds of the Strangling Vine by Michelle E Goldsmith

Escaping the grief of miscarriage, Helena and Jonathan head into the tropical rainforest of North Queensland. Lena starts to accept their drifting away, while finding a renewed vigour amongst the green and leafy forest. A walk down the path of grief, of rediscovering herself, leads Helena to startling changes she could not have expected. – SY

Helena stares out the passenger side window as the four-wheel drive winds up the narrow trail, her reflection transposed over lush Daintree rainforest. Ancient trunks shrouded in moss and vines, dense carpets of ferns, conifers and prehistoric cycads; a world displaced in time, a sea of green deep enough to drown in.

In the driver’s seat, Jonathan glares straight ahead, hands gripped firmly to the wheel. Every line of his body radiates tension. It seems he still hasn’t forgiven her for her morning breakdown.

‘God, Lena. I’m doing this for you,’ he’d said, standing in the doorway of their bedroom. ‘You need a change of scenery. It’s been months now. You can’t spend the rest of your life hiding away inside the house!’

Lately everyone seems to be telling her what she needs, and what she can or can’t do. It doesn’t stop the tears though, doesn’t still her shaking hands. She never used to cry. Now she can’t seem to stop.

‘Come on, Lena. Please.’

But she hadn’t responded, just sat on the end of the bed, staring at her half-packed suitcase.

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Edition 16: Internal Exile by Jim Lee

flag USWhat if your worst memory or your most regretted action was replayed for you over and over again. Welcome to corrective therapy, the capital punishment under the current planetary government. Jim Lee’s science fiction world shows us that it is our ideas which can be dangerous to the powers-that-be. SY

They roused Sidi Mohamed Daoud from a very old nightmare—one he once dared imagine he’d left behind with his troubled and far-distant adolescence. Ironically enough, it was the one that had driven him into social activism in the first place. And now, with a secret and shameful certitude, he knew it would be used against him.

And the ones who were about to do this unspeakable thing to him had no idea, no conception what he faced. If they did, perhaps they would understand his attempted suicide. But would they care—even if they knew?

He looked at the Senior Attending Physician’s impassive face and doubted it.

Two brawny orderlies, one of either gender, deactivated the restraints. They slipped his naked form into one of the new ‘smart’ hospital gowns—one that would detach itself and slither away upon the Senior Attending Physician’s order.

With the SAP, the orderlies escorted Daoud from the temporary holding cell. They ushered him down one final hallway to Corrective Therapy Room D427.

“That many?” Daoud blinked, turned to the SAP. “Doctor Sayem? Each inmate does require a separate room?”

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Edition 16: Running Shoes by Ken Liu

flag USGiang works in a sweatshop in Vietnam, making running shoes on a production line. When the unthinkable happens, Giang goes on to see a different world to the one she’s known. This magical realism story by Ken Liu is one to make you stop and think about our consumeristic society and what exploitation is worth. SY

“You’re under quota again!” Foreman Vuong shouted. “Why are you so slow?”

Fourteen-year old Giang’s face flushed with shame. She stared at the angry veins on the foreman’s sweaty neck, pulsing like fat slugs on a ripe tomato. She hated Vuong even more than she hated the shoe factory’s Taiwanese owners and managers. One expected the foreigners to treat the Vietnamese badly, but Vuong was from right here in Yên Châu District.

“Sixteen hours is a long shift,” Giang mumbled. She lowered her eyes. “I get tired.”

“You’re lazy!” Vuong went on to spew a stream of curses.

Giang flinched, anticipating a flurry of strikes and blows. She tried desperately to look contrite.

Vuong considered her, his lips curling up in a cruel smile. “I’ll have to make you stronger through punishment. Run five laps around the factory, right now, and you’ll stay as long as you have to tonight to make up your quota.”

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