Saturday, October 03, 2009

Abandoned Towers October update

It's October, and that means it's time for an update on Abandoned Towers magazine.

Starting this month off, we have a brand new story from Michael McGlasson called The MacDonegan Bear.It's a scottish folktale, written by Michael and here's a small piece of it:

And after all the terrible tales that grandfather had told him, Roddy knew in his heart that the bear, the mighty enemy of his Highland clan, had to be killed someday, a thought that filled him with great sadness and pain. But it had been many, many years, perhaps thirty or more, since the giant bear had lumbered from the Caledonian forest hungry for fresh meat from the bones of a MacDonegan.

One bright autumn day, when he had finished stirring and churning three oak barrels of delicious maple syrup, Roddy sat down on an old tree stump and gazed out upon the land before him. He saw the red of the rowan, the purple bloom of the heather and the gold of the aspen, all wonderful to behold. And far below in the glen, beautiful flowers were everywhere and the violet Rose of Sharon grew lovely in big bunches. And then Roddy smiled because he was happy to live in such a pretty place, but he was also sad because he had no friends, a lonely young laddie in the land of Glenfinnan, all alone on a tree stump with only his thoughts and his Scots heart a-thumping. But then something strange happened, for Roddy heard a small voice coming from somewhere below his knees. He looked down, but saw nothing. And then he felt three hard taps on his shoe -TAP-TAP-TAP- and when he looked down again . . . .

"Top of the day, laddie."

It was a Scottish Brownie, standing almost as tall as the spines of a Highland thistle. His clothes were in tatters, his face was smeared with dirt, and his hair was long and shaggy, just like the tail of a Shetland pony. His eyes were wild and they blinked a lot and in his hand was a walking stick with the bark still on it.

You can read the entire folktale by visiting Abandoned Towers, accessing the General Fiction section, and clicking on Michael McGlasson's name.

We also have a brand new, completely redeisgned site for you to explore. All the pages have been given a face lift and things have been organized a little better. New stuff is still listed under What's new, which is still availble from the home page, so you won't have to chance missing anything.

Along with all the cool stories and articles, we've got several fun features. We've put a children's activity page online. At the moment it's got a couple of mazes and a couple of how to draw items, but we expect to add more to it on a continuous basis. We've also got a household hints page. Unfortunately, it's empty at the moment so if you have any cool tips and tricks for making it easier to do stuff around the house, why not write 'em up and send 'em in?

Also online is a new Oddcube review and a new article by Eric S. Brown.

Rounding things out is a short story by Jelata Clegg called Soul Windows. Have you ever wanted to know what someone else was thinking? Here's a small excerpt:

"The eyes are windows to the soul." Blake's lips twitched in an ironic smile.
"Our philosopher." Talbot lifted his tiny cup of Turkish coffee in the air.
"Just what do you mean by that?" Jim asked, ignoring Talbot as he leaned farther over the tiny table.
Blake shifted his gaze to Jim, an older man studying the folly of youth.
Jim challenged him with his stare, daring him to answer, demanding treatment as an equal.
"Merely something I heard in the bazaar today." Blake turned his bland blue stare to the sinuous dancer weaving magic in the sultry night.
"Blake hears every last odd rumor spoken by the natives," Talbot said flippantly. "His real problem is he believes what they say. Been here too long, old chap." He pointed at Blake, who ignored him.
Jim shot him an annoyed look. "What if you truly could see into someone's soul? Would you?" Jim's intense gaze drew Blake's eyes back to the table.
"Lighten up, Jimmy boy." Talbot nudged the younger man with his elbow. "Have a drink." He poured more of the syrupy coffee into Jim's cup. "Heathens. No alcohol," he muttered with a sigh.
Blake ignored Talbot as he searched Jim's boyish face. "Would you want to see the darkness lurking in your own soul, or have it bared for another?"
"Nothing in my heart I'd be ashamed of." Jim thumped his chest with his fist.
"You're certain of that?"
Jim nodded, although a trickle of unease crept across his neck. It was as if Blake could almost read his mind, see his soul in the hot, heavily scented darkness.
"Load of toff, if you ask me, which neither of you chaps are doing." Talbot finished off his coffee and surged to his feet, his knees popping as he stood. "Sitting on the floor drinking that rubbish is for the birds. I'm off to beddy-bye."
Blake and Jim took little notice of Talbot's departure. The music throbbed around them, weaving a seductive spell, making magic possible in the deep violet night. The cloying smell of tropical blooms hung over the café. The dancer wove between tables, delicate scarves fluttering around her like the moths that swarmed the guttering candles.
"Not everyone hides evil, Blake. There are innocents in this world."
"Are there?" The ironic smile was back, Blake's blue eyes bland and unreadable.
"What of children?" Jim pushed, defensive now for reasons he did not wish to explore. "Or her?" He pointed at the dancer. Her face appeared young through the thin veil, the eyes wide and innocent as a doe's. "She can't be much older than my sister. What dark secrets lurk in her soul? I say none." Jim sat back, chin out in stubborn challenge.
"You would be surprised, I think," Blake said. "If you could look into her soul, would you take that chance?"
"It's all hypothetical, anyway. There is no way to look into someone's soul. Eyes are windows. Hogwash."
Blake merely smiled. One hand dipped into a pocket and produced a strangely worked pendant. It glittered slightly in the candle flame. Blake laid it on the table between them. "A charm from one of the wizards of the bazaar. It supposedly opens the windows of the eyes so that you can see into the soul."
"Rubbish," Jim said, but weakly, a protest of habit. "The wizards are all fakes."
"Then it won't hurt for you to try."
Jim reached out then hesitated. The music pulsed through him, drums beating and voices wailing. Like a heart beating secretly in the darkness, he thought. Strange things had happened since he forsook the boring security of life at home for the intrigue of foreign adventures. Blake had been here much longer. Blake was a believer in the strange. They often ribbed him about it in the barracks. But now, here, under the spell of music and perfumed flowers, in the flickering candlelight, suddenly it seemed not so much rubbish. Magic was suddenly possible and not at all friendly. Jim's hand hovered over the charm.
"Are you afraid?" Blake was gently mocking. "Maybe innocence is much more elusive than you think."
Jim grabbed up the charm, his hand clutching tightly to squeeze away doubt. "There are more innocents than you believe, Blake."
"Maybe, maybe not." Blake shook his head as if it didn't matter. "A word of caution. Once you have used the charm, you can never go back to who you were before."

Want to know more? Just visit Abandoned Towers Magazine, which you can find fairly easy by going to Google and searching on Abandoned Towers Magazine, and visit the General Fiction section. The author is Jaleta Clegg.

One last reminder, our next print issue goes on sale on Nov. 1 and it's packed with all sorts of cool things. But in case you haven't gotten your copy of previous issues, they're all still availble in print. Just go to the Abandoned Towers home page and click on the icon that says "click here to buy print issues" on it in large letters. That'll take you to a page full of virual previews and if you like what you see, just click the "Buy a printed copy" link underneath of the virtual prview and grab a copy for yourself.

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