The Stakes – Part 2

Below is part 2 of The Stakes, a short Nick Ventner tale that will conclude with Part 3 in a week or so. If you like what you read, be sure to share it around!

Link to Part 1 

TheStakes

Part 2 – Midnight

David and I exchanged ‘pleasantries’ through the barricaded door for hours. Every time one of us was about to give ground, our resolve would stiffen and we’d be right back at the start again. I should have known it would go nowhere, vampires love to talk. When you think about it, they’ve got all the time in the world, so long as some stake-happy hunter doesn’t get any bright ideas. For the most part, the days of hunting vampires for the sake of it were over, so long as certain lines weren’t crossed. Luckily, any sort of tribunal would have a hard time pegging David as benevolent…

I was starting to feel that while tired there was a possibility I was going to be able to hold the door through the night, even if only by distraction. David’s pet hadn’t made much progress, and it didn’t take much more effort than leaning.  It wasn’t going to be pleasant, but I wasn’t going to die either. That’s usually the space I operate in. I was content with the situation, until a shrill howl cut through the door like it wasn’t even there.

“Well Mr. Ventner, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you, but that sound means I’m going to need to step away for a bit. You know what they say about werewolves and full moons.” There was a pause as he chuckled to himself. “Have a nice evening.”  Just like that, negotiations ended, and we moved on to the next logical step, war.

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The Stakes – Part 1

This is the first of a 2 or 3 part (We’ll see how the story goes) Nick Ventner Tale that I will be releasing over the coming weeks. I’m about halfway done with the rest, so expect to see it soon!

Also, we have an official release date for Whiteout of May 1st, 2018! We’ll be posting the pre-order page soon, and for those of you interested in reading the book early, check out Aberrant Literature’s advance reader program, it’s free! https://mailchi.mp/04340f2cea01/aberrant-lit-advance-review-program

TheStakes

Part 1 – Cabin in the Woods

“Do you know what a monster hunter’s least favorite day of the year is?” Nick was already slurring and was on the verge of double vision. It had been a night of very heavy drinking, like most, had ended with nearly empty pockets. The only way to get a few more rounds was telling a good story.

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Coaster Addict – Adventure Boat Ride

Hello Planet Coaster fans! It has been a long time since my last Coaster Addict post, but I’ve been busy with other projects. Today I wanted to share an early look at two rides I’ve been working on using the Adventure pack. Originally I started this project with just the mine train coaster, but then wanted to have it cross paths with a more gentle water coaster. So, without further adieu, here’s a look at the ride layouts and the park as it stands currently.

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The mine train coaster traverses most of the park’s adventure-themed area, and actually bunny hops over the entrance. Eventually, the point where it crosses with the water coaster will be a volcano, but that’s for next time. Most of this post focuses on the water coaster as it is the farthest along.

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When I started this coaster, I was going for a cheesy dark-ride feel, but then quickly got lost in decorating. Where I’ve landed is somewhere between Disney and Cedar Fair. The shot featured above is where guests first enter the show building after boarding the boats. The ride begins as a lazy ride through the jungle, but then transitions to the crocodile lagoon.

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Not pictured here are several jumping crocodiles that terrorize guests. I also plan on putting a few waterfalls to hide the matte walls of the show building.

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After encountering “Bertha”, a massive crocodile that has just sunk a ship, guests float into a foreboding temple filled with spikes, snakes, and all manner of traps.

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Most of these traps are triggered to add a little jump factor. The roof of the temple will likely stay open to just be covered by black matte roofing. It fits with the halfway-to-Disney theme in my opinion.

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At the end of the temple, guests will encounter my best attempt at an Indiana Jones boulder scare. I’ve thrown strobes on it to add a sense of urgency, and on-ride it actually came out well. This was the last section I finished this morning, but next it’s on to creating the volcano where the two coasters will cross, and adding some of the other terrain for the mine-cart coaster.

But, here’s a sneak peak at some of the mine coaster themeing. Looking forward to sharing more soon!

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Want to see other coaster addict projects? Here’s a link to some of my past galleries as well as my Steam Workshop.

Steam Workshop

Blogs/Videos:

Haunted House – [Ride Through]

Back to the Future Coaster – [Ride Through]

Dueling Mountain Coaster

Volcano Dark Ride – [Ride Through]

Crystal Caverns Log Flume – [Ride Through]

 

NanoWriMo – The Basics

What is NanoWriMo?

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Logo courtesy of nanowrimo

For those who are unfamiliar, every November thousands of writers get together and encourage each other to the common goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in just thirty days. It is an exercise in embracing the word vomit to be sure, but for me, it has always proved to be the motivator I need to get words onto a page.

What makes 2017 special?

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Other than my ten year Nanoversary, this year also marks a special occasion as it coincides with the publication of my first novel, Whiteout. I first wrote this book for NanoWriMo 2014, and have been going through rewrites and edits ever since. Over the past year, Aberrant Literature has been working with me to get Whiteout published in February of next year. We’re also going to be starting a crowdfunding campaign tomorrow, November 1st to help cover some of the publishing costs.

Crowdfunding?? Donate?? $$$??

Now, publishing a book is not without cost! Aberrant Literature has paid quite a bit of money already to get Whiteout looked over by professional editors and started the process on distribution. To aid in their monetary efforts, I will be starting a crowdfunding campaign tomorrow, November 1st. Every penny we receive is going to go straight into helping get Whiteout out there, and we’ve got some awesome backer goals as well.

What am I writing this year?

Last year, I worked on Downpour, the sequel to Whiteout. This year, continuing to ride the wave of inspiration, I’m going to be capping off the Nick Ventner trilogy and writing Maelstrom. Maelstrom sees Nick  in the employ of the CIA hunting sea monsters in the Bermuda Triangle. For those who didn’t get a chance to read Whiteout or Downpour while they were online, I will warn that Maelstrom does contain spoilers. I will be putting all Maelstrom chapters in the NanoWriMo tab of my site with the [SPOILERS] tag. The rest of the site, including the homepage will still be safe to check out spoiler free!

Alright, end rant! I will be posting updates daily about my Nano progress  to the main page, and for those who are interested, Maelstrom chapters will be in the NanoWrimo tab. If you can, please check out the crowdfunding page when it goes live on November 1st (will post several links here, on Facebook, and on Twitter), and share it around to your friends. 

Thanks,

–Ashton

Whiteout – Werewolves Don’t Howl

What follows is the first chapter of my first novel, Whiteout, now available for purchase on Amazon as well as other online retailers! If you like what you read, order a copy on KindlePaperback, or Hardback, and add us on GoodReads! Every share, add, and pre-order helps us get this story out there. Thanks for your support, enjoy.

Link to Prologue

Chapter 1: Werewolves Don’t Howl

We should have brought matches.

The thought rang through my head clear as a bell, even after everything else had become a frozen blur. James sat beside me, panting on a rock. His boyish hair was slick with sweat, and his parka was crusted with a fresh coat of frost.

Correction, I thought, should have brought matches and left the kid behind. I had never liked partners. More often than not, they just slowed me down or haunted me in between benders with memories of their death.

Six months prior, I ran into an eager undergrad who had drunkenly spouted off about cryptozoology. A few silver bullets and a modicum of training later, James became my apprentice. I was still amazed that even after seeing the uglier side of the world, he managed to fight off the cynicism in it well. Despite being half-frozen in a blizzard, and likely five minutes away from a horrible fate uncomfortably similar to becoming a popsicle, James managed to keep a positive, albeit sarcastic, attitude.


“Hold on, where were you?” Winston inquired, taking a sip of his tea.

Nick sighed quietly, swilling ice around the bottom of his empty glass, wondering when the butler would be by to bring refills. “If you would wait a minute, I’ll tell you.” Winston’s interruptions were beginning to irritate him. “I’ve got plenty of other jobs that don’t involve me rehashing painful emotional memories to old men in their parlors.”

This was untrue. Even after the encounter with the yeti, very few letters had come through asking for help. While most people in the monster-hunting community had heard tell of the story, they also did not believe it.

“Of course, I am so very sorry.” Winston’s words came out false, but they were accompanied by the sudden reappearance of a fresh drink on the table next to Nick.

Nick looked at the glass, astonished. “How does he manage that? Let me guess, he used to be a ninja. Got tired of the bloodshed and turned to butlery?” Nick took a sip of the fresh glass at his side and nearly gagged on some of the worst whiskey he had ever tasted.

All the money in the world, and he still drinks this piss?

“Oh yes, he’s quite good,” said Winston, avoiding the question. Nick must have made a sour face at the drink, because Winston waved his hands apologetically. “My apologies for the drink. I like to start at the bottom and work my way up.” He let out a hearty laugh. “Tastes much better in tea.”

Nick laughed in spite of his suspicions about the magical butler. “An efficient drinker even amidst opulence. Now that I can respect.”

Winston raised his cup and drained it. “One picks up a few tricks on their way to wealth.” His cheeks flushed a bit with the fresh drink, and he even seemed a little friendlier. “Now, I’m terribly sorry to have interrupted you. Please, continue.”

Winston’s attitude had changed significantly, and it set Nick on edge. Fortunately, the feeling did not last long as the whiskey quickly made its way to his core, warming him on the inside. All traces of misgiving were temporarily erased from his mind.

“Yes, where was I?” He drained the highball glass and set it down on the table loudly, hoping the butler would hear.

After pausing a moment and seeing no sign of him, he continued on. “We had been tracking a werewolf through the mountains for days. Supposed to be a quick job. Silver bullet, bring back the head, in and out; simple as that. But there was one big problem: The villagers lied to us. It wasn’t a damned werewolf.”


At midnight, the howling started. James and I had made camp in a small cave tucked into the side of the mountain. At that altitude, with the cold wind whipping through our bones, the world grew fuzzy around the edges. For the first few minutes, neither of us was sure we had actually heard howling at all. We simply sat by the glow of the flashlight, hoping that it wasn’t the day we would be sent to meet the gods that our profession so strongly opposed.

“Is that it?” James asked, his teeth chattering from where he sat in a corner of the cave. Despite his best efforts to hide it, his body shivered violently, and his lips had turned slightly blue, drying out around the edges.

Should have brought matches. We could have burned our clothes. Anything to stave off the damned cold. Matches were dead useful. They started fires, created distractions, and lit my cigarettes. Unfortunately, I had left them in a pile on the bed with the rest of the accoutrements relating to my “nasty habit” as one of my many ex-girlfriends called it. I was too damned busy pouting about the cigarettes to remember the life-saving matches that had been chucked out with them. Without the heat from a fire, thinking was impossible. The cold took up every ounce of my mental capacity, rendering my mind useless.

Upon our departure, it had been a beautiful sunny day without a cloud in the sky. But the unfortunate thing about the mountains was that it only took a moment or two for things to turn sideways. What had been a distant glimmer of fog atop the mighty mountain turned into a full-blown blizzard in less than an hour.

After a few moments of silent processing, a thought broke through the icy curtain around my mind. James’s question had revealed the true nature of our predicament.

Werewolves don’t howl.

Movies and TV might portray it otherwise, but in the wild, it never happens. Werewolves are apex predators and lone hunters. There’s no need for them to communicate. They don’t reproduce, they don’t have families; they just hunt. When they want to create more werewolves, they go and bite another villager. It’s almost elegant in its simplicity.

Werewolves don’t howl. The statement floated through the air lazily, allowing both me and James to get a better look at it. I glanced over at James, hunkered against the side of the cave wall, and cursed myself again for forgetting the matches. That’s it, double checking for matches from now on. Had it been the day trip I billed for, it wouldn’t have been a problem. But the client had flat-out lied, and now things were getting dicey.

“We’re not hunting a werewolf, are we?” James mumbled from deep within his parka.

I wished we were. Werewolves were so easy to track—big feet, lots of fur, and a swath of blood laid out behind them.

“Not anymore,” I said. Then came another earsplitting howl. It was long and mournful, shaking the walls of the cave with its intensity. My already chilled blood dropped a full degree as the howl trailed off.

The animals that could have made such a noise were few. I pulled out a leather-bound tome from my satchel, which bore the scratches and scrapes of every journey I had ever been on. It had been written by the “master” that taught me the ways of monster hunting. I never left for a journey without it.

It was mostly filled with crude drawings of various hell-bound creatures that the author had tried to seduce. He may have had a coke-addled mind, but he was a damned good hunter when it came down to it. I flipped through the pages, hoping that somewhere between poetry about the dismembered head of a warg and amateur comic strips detailing the mating habits of Romanian banshees, there would be useful information.

The sound came again. Like a wolf, only longer, lower, and far louder. To be heard over the fury of a snowstorm was no easy feat. Even in the cave, we could hear the roaring of the wind outside battering the mountain in nature’s best attempt to bring it down. I continued to shuffle through the book until I happened upon the page I was looking for. Most people at the time thought that the upper slopes of the Himalayas were barren and uninhabited.

Most people were wrong.


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