I’m not sure how to start this post. I’m so used to having some concrete things to say on my weekly blogs over on my personal site, but it has been nearly a year since I’ve posted here. I suppose I just want to let any visitors know that Christian and I are still kicking, doing stuff on our own websites, doing lots of stuff in out in the world. We’ve managed to keep the events page on this website updated, so continue to check out what we’re up to there. We’d love to see you at one of our readings, or at some random convention we attend. If you tell me you know us from the Adventure Worlds website, I’ll see if I can’t give you a discount. (more…)
The Thinking Machine, the new book from Adventure Worlds Press author Ben Van Dongen, is out now!
It’s a cyberpunk novella straight out of the 80s. Printed as a pocket paper back (at 4×6 inches) it’s a short, fun read that should take you no time and keep your pulse racing. Technically, it’s the first part of a new series of novellas, but you’ll have to wait until the fall to learn more about that.
The book page is up here and on Ben’s own page. Stay tuned there for his behind the scenes writeup coming in the near future. For now, the book is available at Anchor Coffee House on Huron Line in Windsor, and wherever Ben will be for the foreseeable future, including all our upcoming events.
Ben Van Dongen
Jagged talons and a cracked beak snapped at Aen. The old Aquillo, Lethwin, flapped his leathery wings, but they smacked the inward curving walls. Instead, the old bird screeched, sending spittle like sea spray. The dim candle went out, turning the shadowy corner into a dark void.
Jumping back, away from the grasping talons, Aen saw no more than the shine of the bird’s eyes. His skin burned from within as he fought his urge to change form, the recent rebuke from his mother fresh in his mind. Instead, he took up a defensive hunting stance he learned from his human tribe. He had no spear to keep the beast at bay, but the reflexes drilled into him on the hunt helped him dodge the swooping attacks from Lethwin.
“Mother. What do we do?” Aen stepped behind a nearby table.
“Be quiet! The old fool cannot see properly,” his mother chided. In a flash, her own eyes reflecting the meager remaining candle-light of the room, she charged at Lethwin. Ducking under a swooping wing and sidestepping a raking talon, she struck the Aquillo in the midsection.
Aen heard the huff from the old bird, a half cough, half wheeze. He could not make out her actions in the dark, but heard her call out in pain. Lethwin laughed, making Aen’s blood boil. He felt his bones ache to change. To give him the power to cut down the foe who threatened his mother. A shrill cry escaped him as he fought the desire to transform. (more…)
Aen crouched in the brush, surveying the path that curved between massive redwood trunks and lesser conifers. The young hunter, no longer a child but still absent a beard, concealed himself beside a rotten and shattered pine. Having been there since dawn, dusk now deepened the shadows that filtered down from the towering forest canopy above.
Green eyes still focused on the path, Aen’s finger touched the knapped flint head of his best throwing spear. He left the weapon on the ground beside his knee to glance at the ash wood shaft of his second javelin. It leaned upright against the stump, beside a stout fighting spear.
Aen heard a shift in the birdsongs around him, and turned a keen ear to listen as the calls fell silent one-by-one. His gaze returning to path and forest, the growing hush was interrupted by a chittering treetop squirrel. He saw it drop a pinecone to the ground before skittering branch to branch.
His tanned limbs and back moved with a controlled, lean strength. Shifting his squat in a buckskin loincloth, Aen licked a finger and tested the air. Confirming he was still downwind of the path, he crouched deeper in the leaves and took hold of the spear on the forest floor beside him.
Slow, padded footfalls barely disturbed the carpet of orange pine needles upon the animal path. Yet Aen heard their approach, and eyed the bend that disappeared around a great redwood trunk. (more…)
“I knew you wouldn’t believe me.” Allen said. His pale face was completely serious, even though what he was suggesting was ludicrous.
His skinny girlfriend Sheila shook her head, her long chestnut hair catching a shine in the light. “You’re right. I don’t believe you,” she looked again at the metal cage on the dresser and the small black and white rabbit that wiggled its nose within. “Bunny Hopwell wouldn’t hurt a flea.”
“I knew I shouldn’t have told you,” Allen said sullenly, brushing a lock of pale blond hair off his forehead. “You never believe anything I say.”
“That’s not true. Besides this is just a little too much- do you really expect me to believe that he turns into a monster at night?”
“Not every night. Just certain nights. I can’t tell if there’s a pattern.”
Sheila shook her head. “Nope. Don’t believe. How would you know this anyway?”
“I saw it happen. I had let him out to stretch his legs. A shaft of moon light hit him and he transformed into this big scary thing. His ears- he still had big bunny ears- they were touching the ceiling. That’s how big he was. And he looked- demented.”
This time Sheila laughed. “Stop it,” she said. “You’re just making it worse. “
Allen became pouty and it made Sheila laugh even more.
“Come on you big goof, give me a hug. I love you even if you do have a weird sense of humour.”
They cuddled on the couch for half a bit and then he wanted to watch a movie on TV. She fell asleep near the middle of the martial arts and bang bang flick and when she opened her eyes again the house was in darkness, and she was shivering and alone. Allen must have gone to bed. She padded to the kitchen to get a drink of water before joining her boyfriend and passed by the room where Bunny Hopwell’s cage was located. The little door was open and the rabbit was nowhere in sight. A long beam of moon light shone in through the window and caressed the green shag carpet. (more…)
Edwina almost fell as she ran to catch the elevator. Her yellow heels– a brave choice, bright yellow- were far too high and likely she caught them in a fold in the carpet or something like that. The apartment building was old and frankly pretty much everything about it was worn out, smelly and crappy. She managed not to fall though and changed that forward momentum into a comical hop, step, jump and then bang, she smacked into the elevator doors. They hadn’t been cleaned since Moses had used the elevator but there were still patches of shiny and after she’d regained her feet she checked out her reflection to see if anything had come unglued.
She was tall, really tall with the yellow heels, and wore a tight matching yellow dress. She thought of it as her Tweety Bird ensemble and she’d given herself extra long and full eyelashes to complete the effect. Her pale blonde hair was piled up on top of her head to make her look even taller. Her lips were red, her eyes brown, and the black dot beauty mark on her left cheek completely fake. She smiled. She always looked better when she smiled. Not bad. She was going clubbing, hitting the lounges and night hot spots on the strip where the cool people hung. She did not consider herself cool. She was hot stuff.
The elevator dinged like a stupid toaster oven and she prepared herself in case there was someone inside. Head high, shoulders back, padded bra out and one foot in front of the other because she thought it made her look curvy. The elevator doors slowly parted and sadly there was no one inside. Well, there was a smell, but it was a permanent resident in the elevator- Reminiscent of sweaty gym socks and dead squirrels. It was the kind of smell that makes you take the stairs, but that was impossible for Edwina in the Tweety heels. She dropped her facade and clunked clumsily into the elevator and pressed G for ground floor.
Nothing happened. She pressed the button again and more nothing happened. She was not going to walk down nine flights in her bare feet either, holding her shoes, so she punched at the button panel in frustration. She was a lover and not a good puncher and the elevator continued to do even more nothing. At least the smell was more tolerable with the doors open. (more…)
Abigail was walking home from the dollar store when she heard the little voice. She had the day off and needed some new rubber gloves for washing dishes, as she was allergic to the soap. It was a beautiful Fall morning; warm and breezy and the few leaves that had already deserted their branches were racing with the wind across the road and through the grass.
Abbey liked to look around, she found other people, and the hints about their lives you could see in passing, fascinating. She was on a quiet street and at first the voice sounded like a squeak. She kept walking, ever mindful of rats in this city but then she heard it again, and recognized words this time.
“Hello, hello,” the little child’s voice called.
She tried to see where the voice was coming from. And then there it was- the house she was passing had the front door propped open and the little girl was standing there looking out. Abbey gave her a quick wave and kept walking.
The sound of little bare feet slapping concrete followed her and the little girl grabbed onto her shirt.
“Hello,” the little girl said.
Abbey smiled warmly at her. The girl’s clothes were worn and tattered and her face was smudged with dirt.
“My mother won’t wake up,” the little girl said. (more…)