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Hague Publishing

Asparagus Grass


Adrian Deans

A secret tale of pan-cosmic enormity.

Mitch Kuiper works in the parks for Newtown Council and the bane of his life is asparagus grass – a tough spiky weed that will conquer entire suburbs if not ripped out wherever it takes root.

Mitch is a man of simple tastes. He loves drinking beer and watching sport but, as the story opens, becomes involved with two quirky young women. Lisa is a permanent uni student engaged in some very arcane research. The other (Marty Mindshadow) has an even more mysterious secret and, as Mitch is drawn into their worlds, finds his head exploding with the enormity of the perils before him – a galactic war, in which he has suddenly become a key player.

How can a Sydney gardener save not just the Earth, but the galaxy that contains it?

Reader's respond to Asparagus Grass

‘Kurt Vonnegut meets Jason Bourne. Another imaginative Adrian Deans rollercoaster ride on an extra-terrestrial scale’
Peter Goldsworthy AM, Author of ‘Maestro’ and ‘Honk If You Are Jesus’

'Asparagus Grass catapults everyday life into an interstellar spectacle. With a beer-loving gardener as our unlikely hero, this tale weaves cosmic chaos with terrestrial toil, resulting in a narrative as gripping as it is hilarious. Adrian Deans' narrative style is a whirlwind of humor, excitement, and genuine emotion. Five stars for this out-of-this-world adventure!'
Carola Schmidt (Reviewer and award-winning author)

'If you enjoy science fiction and unconventional narratives, you'll find this book to be a delightful and captivating read. It combines everyday life, cosmic battles, and eccentric characters to provide a fresh take on the vastness of the universe and how unlikely heroes can arise from ordinary circumstances. I recommend it to every reader.'
Heather (BookGirlBrown Reviews)

'A great binge read for someone who likes sci fi romance with a little conspiracy.'
Jmortiff (The Book & Beverage Review – Youtube & Goodreads reviewer)

'Good satire is rare these days so it’s a joy to find a book dealing with important social and political issues without ramming its preachy message down your throat. Add a cracking plot and you have a winner.'
Karen (Goodreads)


For David Bowie and for secret aliens everywhere


Greta Thunberg
United Nations, September 2019.

We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.

It had taken a great deal of time, but he had finally found her.

He stood outside the building and checked the device – camouflaged in its smart-phone cover. Yes, she was close.

He glanced over both shoulders, then entered the building. The reading came from above, so he climbed the stairs and paused outside each door.

On the third floor the reading was much stronger, and outside Apartment 303 he pressed a button on the device, then slipped it into his pocket.

He knocked on the door.

After half a minute, he heard movement. The door opened.

She matched her file image perfectly, but showed no sign of recognizing him. She should have, but she just stood there staring at him.

He spoke in her native speech, but there was no response.

Glancing up and down the corridor to check he was not observed, he pushed past her into the apartment.

‘What do you want?’ she asked, in the local tongue.

‘Come and sit down,’ he told her.

She obeyed willingly enough. He pulled the device back out of his pocket, adjusted the settings and passed it around her. Then he sat on her sofa and examined the readings for some time, slowly shaking his head.

‘I cannot make sense of this,’ he said. ‘Something has happened.’

He got up from the sofa and started exploring the apartment while she stayed in her seat – staring patiently at nothing.

In her bedroom’s side table, he found a device similar to his own. He spent a few minutes going through menus, then made some adjustments and put it back in the drawer. He returned to the open plan area.

‘I have set your comm for a final reckoning but will arrange to have you picked up well before.’

She made no response.

‘Your shell . . .’ he said. ‘What have you done with it?’

She looked up at him, blankly, and he ran another reading.

After examining the device for a few more moments, he shrugged and repeated: ‘I will have you picked up. Be patient and keep to yourself. This is a bad world.’

He took a last glance around the apartment, then let himself out.

She would never see him again.

Chapter 1
A Team Leader

It’s not every day you save the world.

I’ll get to that, but my story started on the night that . . .

Well, when does a story truly begin?

I could say the day I started work in the depot, but now I think about it there were any number of prior events without which the story wouldn’t have happened. Even going back as far as starting at the depot is probably overdoing it – although that’s when I first met Marty Mindshadow, and this is her story as much as mine.

Probably best I leap straight into the action, so I’ll start with the morning of Old Norm’s retirement party. I was cleaning up Excelsior Park, which was a bloody shambles after the Dog Walkers’ Club had met the afternoon before. Most of them were alright but there’s always one who can’t control their mutt – bloody great eating and shitting machines they are – and sure enough, on that Friday morning, just off the path, was a huge stinking mound. Labrador or Shepherd, I’d reckon, with an excellent appetite.

At first, I pretended not to notice. I was just a tad hung over so was hoping Norm (or McNormal as I called him) would deal with it, but the old Scottish bastard was an experienced hand and knew how not to see an unpleasant job. He grabbed the secateurs and headed off for the rose garden, leaving me to mow the grass. He normally loved the ride-on mower, so I knew he’d spotted the problem. Whoever mowed the grass would have to deal with it.

Well, that could wait. I started up the ride-on and planned my attack – big wide sweeps to start – and was quite enjoying myself. The smell of fresh cut grass on a summer’s morn is one of the main pleasures of work in the Parks, so I was breathing deeply, enjoying the thrum of the machine and my artistic mowing pattern. It always takes me off into a bit of a trance, the ride-on, and before I knew it Excelsior Park was the Sydney Cricket Ground and I was nearly fifty against the Poms. Stuart Broad was bowling and served me up a juicy ball on a length outside the off stump which I strode into and smacked past cover. The whole ground was off their feet and applauding, but in the midst of my celebration I was confronted again with the dog shite.

There was no delaying it now. I’d spoil my cricket-ground mowing pattern if I didn’t continue along the side of the path before spiralling into the centre, so I ran through my various options. The official policy was that we use the plastic bags provided for public use but that turns my stomach. My preferred method was to get a shovel and dump it onto a garden bed for burial, so I paused by the truck and checked out the tools.

No bloody shovel. There was a fork, a hatchet, a chainsaw, any number of clippers, but nothing with a wide flat surface that could be used for scraping. I glanced over at Norm, whistling happily in the rose garden, then wondered whether the side face of the hatchet could serve my purpose. Too small.

I had no choice but to use the bag method and felt myself retching in advance at the prospect. The sweat was beading on my brow as the heat intensified and my hangover lurched back into place. I knew switching to scotch was a bad move last night – and I was going to have to go through it all again tonight at Norm’s party.

‘Fucking hell!’ I swore aloud.

The dog bag dispenser was empty. Now what?

I went back to the truck to check out the tools again. Still nothing.

I’d just about made up my mind to use the hatchet (which would mean a very delicate operation) when an alternative plan suggested itself. The clippings bag was almost full on the ride-on, which meant some grass would spill out at the top of any tight turn.

I got back onto the mower and changed my pattern to parallel lines so the offending article would be at the end of a swing. Sure enough, a spill of clippings was deposited perfectly. Problem solved.

Time to empty the clippings bag. I lifted the blades and rode over to the compost heap, which I noted with dismay had been partly taken over by asparagus grass. That would mean an unpleasant job in the immediate future – so hard getting rid of it – but once more I was at the SCG and approaching my ton. I’d been pinned down for a while by Phil Tufnell and Monty Panesar bowling in tandem, until I danced down the track and lifted Tufnell into the Noble Stand. The clippings bag was heavy and cumbersome when overfull, and I had to drag it past the spiky, tangling asparagus grass. But I eventually got it close enough to empty and returned to the mower.

With the bag back in place and the blades lowered, I contemplated the mess I’d made of my pattern and how best to get it looking cricket-esque.

Bugger it. I returned to my original pattern, going back over the parallel lines (except for one little pile of clippings), and spiralled perfectly to a halt in the centre, just as I smacked Bob Willis behind gully to take me to ninety-nine.


I was wrenched back to reality at the sound of my shouted name – loud enough to reach me through the cans and the idling motor.

Bloody Garrett, the Parks Superintendent, was striding across the freshly mowed lawn and looking more than usually unpleasant.

I turned off the mower and awaited his arrival.

‘Where’s your uniform?’

For fuck’s sake.

‘I erm . . . well, it’s a really hot day, and I didn’t want to get it all sweaty.’

‘It is a term of your employment agreement that you wear the uniform provided,’ snapped Garrett, visibly sweating in his suit. Why a Parkie would wear a suit – even a Super with a mainly office job – is completely beyond me.

‘Yeah, I know . . . but the material’s really heavy and on a day like today—’

‘It doesn’t matter what the day is like,’ he interrupted. ‘Your contract clearly states that you wear the uniform at all times when on duty.’

‘Who’s gonna care?’

‘Many people will care, Mr. Kuiper,’ he said, switching from his angry voice to the sing-song sarcastic voice he favoured when explaining rules. ‘Members of the public will care as they expect to see council workers looking smart. The council itself will care because we are protecting you from skin cancer . . . and ourselves from liability should you one day try to claim that skin cancer was sustained due to your outdoor employment.’

‘I’d never try and—’

‘And most importantly, I will care,’ he said, reverting to his angry voice. ‘I’ve told you before to keep your shirt on and I don’t enjoy having my orders ignored!’


‘Where is the shirt?’

‘In the . . . erm . . . in the truck.’

I got off the mower and walked over to the truck with Garrett strutting along beside me like Hitler’s big brother. But then he did the thing I hate most – he tried to be friendly.

‘Look, I don’t mean to come across all officious, Mr. Kuiper . . . Mitchell. May I call you Mitchell?’

‘Mitch. Everyone calls me Mitch.’

‘Mitch . . . good. But I need you to understand that rules are important. You in particular.’

‘Eh? Why me?’

‘Because you have it in you to rise higher than a mere labourer. You’re intelligent, Mitchell. Show me you want it and I’ll make you a team leader, and after that . . . who knows? There are roles in management for those with ability and brains.’

We paused by the truck. I reached in and pulled my shirt off the seat.

‘But I like working in the parks,’ I said. ‘I don’t think I could handle the office.’

‘It’s not where you work that matters,’ he said, with an eye on Norm and lowering his voice. ‘It’s what you do, and how well you’re paid.’

‘The parks are alright.’

‘Alright for the Norms and Jimbos,’ he agreed, ‘but leadership and management are a challenge. Putting a plan together with a budget and implementing those plans to fruition . . . moving men and resources about to achieve the vision. It’s like being a general on a battlefield. Exhilarating, in its way.’

‘I guess you would have to be pretty smart to get all that done,’ I said, struggling into my shirt.

‘It does require a certain level of intelligence, no question,’ he agreed.

‘Well, if you’re so smart,’ I said, ‘why are you standing in dog shit?’

Garrett looked down at his nice oxblood brogues, deeply immersed in grass clippings and sloppy turd.

Fuck!’ he shouted, as I buttoned my shirt and snapped to attention with a mock salute.

* * *

‘You didn’t!’

The saloon bar at the Empyrean Hotel was only three-quarters full at five p.m. on a Friday, but it was seething around our table in the corner – gathered for Norm’s farewell. McNormal was there with his wife, Phyllis, plus all the usual suspects: Graham and Micky from the arborists’ gang, Karla and Jimbo from the warehouse, a few others who were mates of Norm’s – even Marty Mindshadow was there.

Jimbo had placed a tray of drinks on the table and was trying to make sense of the story he’d just heard about me.

‘He did,’ said Norm, ‘I heard every word.’

‘Bloody hell!’ said Jimbo, with a bark of laughter. ‘That told the bastard.’

‘I’m amazed he didn’t sack you on the spot,’ said Phyllis.

‘For what?’ I asked, picking a glass from the tray that looked like my Coopers Bitter.

‘Dinnae know . . . laughing at his misfortune?’

‘That’s not a sacking offence,’ said Jimbo, the resident work-to-rule expert. ‘We’d have the union all over him if he pulled that stunt.’

To tell the truth, I was a little worried about the possible repercussions, but I wasn’t going to admit that. The show must go on and all that.

‘Tell me this,’ said Norm, sipping on his favourite Guinness. ‘Was it in any way your fault that Garrett wound up knee deep in dog shite?’

‘Not exactly,’ I said. ‘I didn’t push him, but . . .’

‘But you knew the shite was there and steered him toward it.’

You knew it was there too, you sneaky Scottish bastard,’ I laughed. ‘Grabbing the secateurs and running for the roses!’

‘You’d have me handle shite on my last day?’ he asked, getting a general laugh until Marty Mindshadow piped up out of nowhere.

‘He wants you to be a leader!’ she said, all intense in that way of hers. She never said much, but when she did it could shut everyone up like they’d been unexpectedly drenched in ice water.

‘Not much chance of that,’ said Jimbo, after a pause. ‘Not now.’

‘But disnae someone need to be a leader?’ asked Phyllis. ‘Someone’s got tae be in charge, I suppose. Someone’s got tae sign the paycheques.’

‘Not necessarily,’ jumped in Jimbo. ‘There are alternative economic models you know.’

‘And none of them fuckin’ work,’ said Norm. ‘Naw . . . it’s got tae be capitalism but it disnae have to always work out so piss poor fae the workers!’

Norm and Jimbo were quickly into their favourite argument while I found myself staring at Marty. Martina Vader was her name, but she’d always been known as Marty Mindshadow because of her strange, obsessive silences, and the time she’d famously complained about shadows in her mind.

I hadn’t been present so didn’t know the full details, but apparently she’d gone off in the middle of a senior management briefing – complaining and moaning and causing a bit of a scene.

They actually called an ambulance it was so bad, but all they got out of her was something about shadows in her mind. She was off for a couple of weeks on stress leave, then was back on light duties – warehouse work and records keeping, which she was really good at, apparently. That was around the time I started, so I’d only ever known her as Marty in the Warehouse – or Marty Mindshadow.

There was one other thing about Marty that needs to be understood. She was absolutely, one hundred percent, drop dead gorgeous. I don’t just mean girl-next-door gorgeous, either – I mean ‘Holy fuck! What-on-Earth-is-she-doing-here-should-be-on-the-cover-of Vogue-magazine gorgeous.’

But she didn’t have a boyfriend (or girlfriend), as far as I knew. Every new bloke who joined the Parks gang would try it on with her – once. But as soon as they realised what a head case she was they gave her a wide berth and sought the less-spectacular-but-easier-to-catch specimens of the female kind. It’s all about return on investment. (Bloody hell, I’m turning into Garrett!)

But Marty was staring at me now, as I sipped my Coopers, with a look of startling compassion on her face – like I was a wounded soldier, and she was Florence Nightingale.

‘Well . . . I don’t have tae worry about any of that economic job shite anymore,’ said Norm with satisfaction. ‘We’ve got the payout and the super, we’ve got the caravan. We’ve got—’

‘Nay fuckin’ kids,’ said Phyllis, getting a laugh from everyone but Marty.

‘Aye, nay fuckin’ kids,’ agreed Norm. ‘We’re off tae be grey fuckin’ nomads and you’ll no see us fae dust. Next stop Kakadu, aye Phyllis?’

‘Aye,’ she agreed, holding up her glass with a wink.

‘Whose shout?’ demanded Jimbo, and I got to my feet.

‘Can’t let Mitch shout,’ said Graham the arborist. ‘He won’t have a bloody job next week!’

‘Yes he will,’ said Jimbo. ‘Get your arse to the bar, young Mitchell.’

I didn’t have to remember the order. The bar staff knew us like the backs of their hands, so the production line went into action as soon as I showed my face – mostly schooners of Coopers or Carlton, with Norm’s Guinness and a couple of mixed drinks for the women. A pricey shout, but I’d only have to shout the once.

‘Why are we here?’

I turned to see Marty Mindshadow had followed me to the bar.

‘Why are we here? Norm’s retirement, Marty.’

She pursed her lips and shook her head.

‘I have something really important to do,’ she said, ‘but . . .’

She trailed off thoughtfully, then headed for the Little Girls’ Room. I checked her out without trying to make it too obvious. I had no interest in trying it on with her, but wow! She was like a cat, the way she moved. And she had one of those athletic figures that could make you swoon with desire, until you remembered who she was.


My head whipped round. Jill behind the bar was grinning at me.

‘I saw you perving at her arse,’ she said.

‘No I wasn’t,’ I protested, then grinned back at her.

‘Don’t be embarrassed,’ said Jill. ‘She’s got a spectacular arse . . . I was just having a quick perve myself.’

She placed the last of the drinks onto the tray for me and buzzed my cash card.

‘You ever asked her out?’

‘Who, Marty? God no.’

‘I think she likes you,’ said Jill with a sly eyebrow raised, then she was off to the next customer.

I picked up the tray and negotiated my way back to the table, which opened up like the Red Sea to allow me to place the tray gingerly among the shredded chip and Twisties packets. Everyone seemed to know their own drink, so the tray was empty in seconds – except for Marty’s vodka, lime and lemonade. She was still in the LGR. Marty likes me?

This was a troubling idea. She was a nice enough person and (as I’ve said) ridiculously gorgeous, but I had no interest in getting mixed up with a head case.

‘Aha! Found you!’

We all looked up to see Timmy O’Toole smirking at us, and the room temperature dropped instantly. Tim was Garrett’s offsider and a more smarmily obsequious sycophant never kissed arse.

‘You’re not welcome, O’Toole,’ said Norm, way more aggressively than he would have done just hours before.

‘Oh, I’m not staying,’ said Tim. ‘Just delivering a message.’

‘If it’s best wishes for my retirement from you or Garrett,’ said Norm, ‘you can stick it in your hole.’

‘Thanks Norm, that’s sweet of you,’ said Tim, ‘but my message is for Mitchell Kuiper.’

I groaned inwardly, knowing very well what the message would be.

‘Mr. Garrett wants to see you in his office, seven o’clock Monday morning.’

‘Fuck!’ I muttered as Timmy grinned in evil triumph.

‘Why are you so happy?’ demanded Jimbo of Timmy. ‘Why take pleasure in another man’s misfortune?’

‘Take pleasure?’ queried Tim. ‘I’m just full of good spirit, that’s all.’

‘You’re full of something,’ agreed Jimbo.

‘So don’t forget, Mitchell,’ said Tim, turning to leave, ‘Mr. Garrett’s office at seven o’clock. Have a lovely weekend.’

He went, leaving a trail of muttering and anger.

‘Danger,’ said Marty, who had reappeared behind me.

‘You’re not kidding,’ I sighed, passing her the vodka.

‘Danger!’ she insisted, with a catlike snarl at Timmy’s departing back.

She was even more disturbed than usual, and the idea that she might ‘like’ me was about as appealing as being ‘liked’ by a Tiger Shark. Or so I thought, because she gave me that deeply compassionate look again and I felt my heart melt a little. So beautiful, so vulnerable – she was like an endangered species, the last of her kind, and I felt a sadness go through me. Marty must be incredibly lonely, I realised. No-one would ever want to be intimate with such a casualty – no-one worth knowing at least.

‘We should call the union right now,’ said Jimbo. ‘Turn up on Monday with a union lawyer and see how Garrett likes that!’

‘Can we already make a complaint about bullying?’ asked Graham. ‘Sending that prick O’Toole around to put the frighteners on Mitch for Monday is way out of order!’

The conversation sort of swept over me – a wave of indignation on my behalf – as I found myself still troubled by Marty’s terrible sadness.


She glanced up at me like a startled bushland creature, still sipping her vodka.

‘Why am I in danger?’

She put her drink down and examined me – looking more beautiful and feline than ever – then she swept up her bag, jumped out of her chair and said: ‘Come.’

‘Come where?’

‘Come,’ she said, giving the table a last glance before turning and leaving.

In that moment I felt this incredible surge of destiny – like, I had only seconds to change my life. The opportunity was passing, fading. Marty walked through the door, and I was on my feet racing after her, as the others debated my best next move.

Chapter 2 – Reason Could Wait

Marty was already some twenty metres ahead of me and moving quickly, slipping from shadow to shadow in the violet dusk. I was all but running to keep her in sight.

I had no idea where she was going, but curiosity dragged me in her wake, and no little excitement. There was something oddly portentous in her manner, as though something important was happening and I just had to know what it was – always bearing in mind that this was Marty Mindshadow and in all likelihood she’d turn around and ask why the hell I was following her.

Then I lost sight of her.

I ran a few more paces then slowed down, feeling a bit of a fool.

What on Earth was going on?

In fact, I almost turned round to go back to the pub, but Marty emerged from behind a tree, gave me a smouldering look, and kissed me hard on the mouth.

Then she was running again, and my head was whirling with lust. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad being with Marty? Maybe a steadying influence could make her more relaxed, more normal? I was finding her strangeness less of a turn-off every second.

She paused at the doorway to an apartment building and waited for me to catch up. Her eyes seemed to burn into my soul, and I found myself wondering: why me? It’s not like we’d had a lot to do with each other in the past.

Anyhow – reason could wait. I followed her up two flights of stairs to Apartment 303 and restrained myself as she fumbled in her bag for a key. Then we were through the door and she was all over me – kissing me and dragging me toward the bedroom while I pulled at her shirt (the same as mine). Both shirts were soon on the floor, followed by our shorts and we fell onto the bed – a flurry of hands and our underwear was gone.

I was briefly conscious of needing a shower, but Marty didn’t seem to notice. She smelled fantastic – no perfume, just a natural healthy sweetness in which I wanted to bury myself. Before I knew it my face was between her thighs, kissing and probing and my brain filling with the white noise of unutterable bliss.

Sometime later I lay in the dark, totally spaced out by a mind-snapping orgasm. It’s possible I slept because I seemed to be dreaming – staring into a darkness imbued with coloured lights, as though some alternative reality was trying to burst through the sensual cracks of night.

Marty was talking and I was barely listening. It sounded like she was reciting a free verse poem, but then she changed.

‘Not much time left . . . listen . . . crisis coming. Must help me so I can help you.’

‘How can I help you?’ I asked, still not properly awake.

‘Find the shell. Get me back.’

‘Back where?’

It vaguely occurred to me that this was the longest conversation I’d ever had with Marty. She also seemed unusually focussed – even if I hadn’t a clue what she was talking about.

She leapt out of bed and I assumed she was going to the bathroom, but she didn’t come back. After a few minutes I woke up a little and started wondering where she’d gone. After a few minutes more it occurred to me to go looking.

I found her in the kitchen, sitting naked at the table and staring into space. In front of her was a pen and paper, on which were a few scrawled words. The writing was childish and trailed away as though she’d lost the strength to hold the pen.


She stretched, as though emerging from a deep well of meditation, then pushed the paper toward me.

The shadows clear when we do this . . .

‘What’s this? A poem?’

I opened her fridge and found some mineral water. I poured us both a glass then sat at the table next to her – waking up a little more as the cold water hit my oesophagus. She’d been making some kind of weird sense back in the bedroom, I recalled, but what was this poem all about? And she seemed distressed again, her fingers twitching, and I remembered my wariness of getting involved with her.

Maybe it was best I did something to get myself out of this situation before I got in too deep?

She looked at me searchingly, as though she knew exactly what I was thinking, then turned away with a look so aching it bruised me into a small display of compassion.

‘Is this a message for me?’ I asked her.

She nodded without meeting my eye, and I re-read the words.

The shadows clear when we do this . . .

‘The shadows clear? Is this something to do with your nickname?’

Immediately, she turned back to me, her eyes bright and encouraging.

‘Okay,’ I said, sipping thoughtfully at the cold water, ‘the shadows clear . . . does that mean you feel happy?’

The look on her face suggested otherwise.

‘Okay, is it something to do with there being no shadows in your mind?’

This time her response was more animated, and she put her hand on mine.

‘So, there usually are shadows in your mind . . . but not when we do this?’

It was a bit like asking directions from Skippy, but she smiled and nodded, taking my hand in both of hers.

‘When we do this,’ I repeated, staring into her beautiful, troubled face. And then the answer came to me.

I stood up and took her by the hand, leading her – a little against my better judgment – back to the bedroom.

* * *

Like most blokes, I’ve always been pretty keen on sex, but having reached the age of 27, I’m not usually ready to go again straight away. I love the idea of going again, but it does take me a while to get back into my stride.

Not that I wasn’t turned on by Marty – absolutely no issues there – but the feeling wasn’t the same as before. It was like I’d gone numb, and it might have taken me a little while to get properly interested, but Marty was a machine; before I knew it, the feeling was really strong – too strong – all of a sudden it seemed like it was going to be over too soon so I desperately distracted myself the only way I can when fending off premature ejaculation. I put myself back at the SCG. I was on ninety-nine and Monty Panesar was bowling nice juicy longhops down the leg side. He’d even put all his fielders on the offside, but I kept letting the balls go. Not yet Monty . . . not yet Monty . . . not yet . . .

Marty started moaning deep in her throat and wrapped her legs around my arse – squeezing me in as Monty bowled a full toss at my head, which I automatically smashed over square leg, the ball sailing into the crowd as my brain tore in two. Marty gave a little shriek and went utterly rigid as I poured myself into her, and then she was talking calmly:

‘Yes . . . yes . . . the shadows clear better than before. Help me find the shell . . .’

I wouldn’t have been in any state to pay much attention, except that her change of demeanour was so sudden and strong, and she stared at me with something that looked worryingly like adoration.

About The Author

A lawyer by day, ADRIAN DEANS has been writing seriously since 1992 developing something of a reputation in the niche field of offbeat crime. Making his debut in 2010, his first two books were popular enough to make it into the airport bookstores.

In 2017, he expanded his range with the publication of The Fighting Man – an historical novel reinterpreting the Bayeux Tapestry and culminating with the Battle of Hastings. That book featured also a subtle foray into “the hidden world" – the main romantic interest being a druid, giving the story the ambience (if not the reality) of magic.

Welcome to Ord City (2020) extended his range yet again but it is Asparagus Grass in which Adrian finally gives full vent to his speculative fiction soul.

“You might say everything I’ve done has had an aspect of spec fiction to it. My first books were technically crime, with a splash of surrealism here and there, but the trajectory has always been towards spec fiction and sci-fi. If I were to describe my own approach and style, I would say that I focus on the oddities and imperfections that others seem to miss. I write about the extraordinary within the ordinary, the strange illogicality of accepted norms and the life that happens between the cracks.”

Adrian is an occasional contributor to Newswrite – the Writing NSW magazine and blogs at The Book Hammer where he rants about his various obsessions du jour, including books, films, theatre and people in public life who really piss him off. He is also involved with The Kones – a secret musical project, which he’s not allowed to talk about.

Published works
Mr Cleansheets, 2010, Vulgar Press (Melbourne)
Straight Jacket, 2013, High Horse Books (Melbourne)
Political Football: Lawrie McKinna’s Dangerous Truth, 2016, High Horse Books (Melbourne)
The Fighting Man, 2017, High Horse Books (Melbourne)
Welcome to Ord City, 2020, Fighting Man Press (Sydney)

For more information visit Adrian's facebook page.


The moral rights of Adrian Deans to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher.

Copyright 2023 Hague Publishing

Cover photo by Mel Macpherson
Cover design by Jade Zivanovic,
Other images used under license from

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