Friday, 10 September 2021

The Valley


Nestled between the Columbia and Cascade mountain ranges in south-central British Columbia, the Okanagan valley is both a geologic oddity and a paradise.

Formed by the massive receding glaciers of the Pleistocene Epoch over ten thousand years before the coming of humankind.  The long valley is flanked on either side by rolling hills and stepped plateaus and cut through its middle by a chain of long lakes carved out by the glacier's meltwater and sustained by the thousands of creeks that drain the snow caps each spring from the two mountain ranges.

The lakes, from Swan and Kalamalka, through the eighty-four mile long Okanagan and south through Skaha, Vaseux, and Osoyoos lakes, are interconnected by the Okanagan river that eventually finds its way to the mighty Columbia.

The resident natives of the Sylix nation who used the valley's lakes and river as a highway to follow game and forage in their sturgeon-nose canoes, call the valley 'sookanhkchinx', which translates as; 'transport toward the top end'.  The valley was their home until the white men came and discovered its rich silt and sand soil was exceedingly valuable for rangeland and orchards and its surrounding hills laced with enough placer gold to tease but never satisfy.

To the south lies Canada's only true desert; the northern tip of the Mexican Sonora with sand as soft as talcum powder whose swath can be followed all the way to Mexico itself.  The scrub pines and cottonwoods that grow through the arid, semi-desert hills above Okanagan lake give way to cedar and hemlock in the north.

It is the desert that gives the Okanagan its unique weather.

All summer long, a slow northerly flow of hot, dry air wafts up from Mexico until there comes a day each year in early October when the frigid outflow from the Bering sea overpowers it and brings frost to the valley.  It's said that spring and autumn go by so quickly there are really only two seasons in the valley; summer and winter.  It grows warm in April, hot in May, then inexplicably, the rainy season occurs every year in June.  July and August remain scorching hot when the lakes become popular destinations.

The McBairn ranch is spread across one of the plateaus above Okanagan lake, the original log cabin porch having a spectacular view of the lake from Penticton through Summerland and Peachland located where the lake bends slightly on its way to Kelowna.  The McBain land was once a working ranch, its outbuildings now blackened and twisted tombstones of the industry of the previous century.  The only buildings still maintained are the large log cabin and the patchwork barn that is home to Random, the only working horse left along with the hay and oats that feed him in winter.  The barn doors are rarely closed, so Random can come and go as he sees fit and spends most of his time grazing the grasslands of the ranch and drinking from the natural spring that feeds the clusters of pine and cottonwood trees that give him shade.

The spread is also diligently patrolled by Chance, Devil McBairn's mongrel dog who harasses the whitetail deer that share the grazing land with Random and alerts Devil if anyone crosses the ranch's property lines.

Devil McBairn heard the clattering ring of his phone early on that Thursday morning in late April, nineteen thirty-four, but made no move to run to the cabin to answer it.  He knew the caller would give up by the time he got there and so continued to pour out the bag of oats in the trough was Random chomped beside him.

"They'll call back." Devil told Random, "They always do."

But just after the phone stopped ringing, the squawk of the two-way radio in Devil's 1929 Buick Master Six sedan patrol car told Devil it was police business.  With a sigh, Devil crushed the empty oat sack and dropped it in the burn barrel on his way to his car parked at the side of the cabin.

"Base to Chief." came the crackling voice of his deputy, Will Smalls, "Base to Chief, come in?"

The sun had already started to bake the interior of the Buick when Devil slid into the driver's seat and picked up the microphone.

"Go ahead, Will."

"We've got a situation here, Chief."

"What sort of situation?"

"We ... Deputy Rutledge found a lady wandering Cage Creek road on his way in this morning."

"And how is that a situation?"

"She's ... well, she's naked."

"Did you get a name for this naked lady?"

"She ain't talking, Chief."

"Get Carl to run her over to the clinic.  She might need a Doc more than a cop."

"We've got her in the cell, Chief.  She's ..."

"She's what, Will?"

There was a pause, then;

"She's covered in blood, Chief."

Shit.

"I'm on my way." Devil said and hung the microphone back on its hook.

"Mayor Brusker wants so see you first thing.  He's been calling."

"To hell with Brusker and any horse that would carry him." Devil muttered to himself as he got out and held the door open.  He let go a shrill double-whistle and called; "Chance!" and waited while his white and grey mutt came bounding across the nearest field and leapt into the car, taking his usual station in the passenger's seat.

"No rest for the wicked." Devil told her as he got in behind the wheel.  Devil pushed in the clutch and slid the Buick into second gear before releasing the handbrake.  Like he always did, Devil had parked the patrol car facing down the incline that led to the ranch's main gate on account of sometimes the radio drained the battery.  He let the car pick up some momentum and turned the ignition on before popping the clutch.  The old Buick lurched and coughed and came to life as Devil drove it down the hill through the gate and down Arawana Road toward town.

The town of Arawana was actually a district that covered a wide expanse of territory that spread out like a fan above the lake.  Aside from the Constables in Penticton, Summerland, and Kelowna, Devil and his two deputies were the law on this side of Okanagan lake and were responsible for the safety of a wide variety of people; the small Syilx families that lived off the reservation, the poor and wealthy orchardists and ranch owners, and the lone and sometimes ornery placer miners who were scattered far and wide between the valley and Bridesville.

As Devil rolled off Arawana road onto Main street, the town was just waking up.  Marta was flipping the Closed sign on Ruby's Diner to Open which meant the coffee was already perked, Harold was sweeping the sidewalk in front of Ritchie Hardware and Lumber, Mister Fitch was lowering the fabric awnings over the windows of the Arawana General Store, and Lance Gilbert was propping open the fold up wooden front of the Gilbert Fruit and Vegetables shack.

Devil parked where he always did at the mouth of the alley beside the brick Police Department building, backing in to take advantage of the slight slope in case the battery died again.  Then together, he and Chance walked around the corner and in through the front door.

"Morning Chief." Stuckey Brusker said as he limped past him toward the radio desk with his half cup of coffee.  Stuckey was once a deputy but now filled the role of Dispatcher having a fused hip-joint from taking the bulk of a double-ought buck shot during an eviction in '29.

"Morning, Stuck." Devil greeted him as he pushed through the swinging gate that separated the front complaints counter from the operational area of the station, "I heard your nephew wants to see me.  Know anything about that?"

"Most like it's about that Provincial Police nonsense." Stuckey strained as he lowered himself into his swivel chair, "All the individualism is being sucked dry out of us.  We should never have joined the Confederation."

"That was a fight that was done before either of us was born, Stuck." Devil said, "The only constant is change." Then to Deputy Smalls who stood nervously in the centre of the bullpen, "How's our naked lady, Will?"

"Still hasn't said a word, Chief.  We got her a blanket, but she won't wear it."

Devil turned the corner and looked at the woman in the cell.  She was in her mid-thirties, dark hair and eyes the colour of aged whiskey, body slightly gone plump with silver stretch marks laced across her belly and sides of her breasts.  Her nails were short and her hands calloused, and like Will had said over the radio, her hands, arms, and face were covered in dried blood.

"Any of that blood her's?"

"I couldn't see any wounds, Chief." Will told him.

Devil studied her emotionless face as she stared back at him and noted the pinched sides of her eyes, the pug nose, and heavy eyebrows.

"Carl?" Devil said, still studying her face.

"Yeah, Chief." Carl looked up from his desk where he was writing his report.

"Run down to Simpson Sawmill and ask Kirill Sokolov to come back here with you."

"What are the charges?"

"No charges.  I think our lady here might be Russian." Devil said and noted that the naked woman reacted to the word, "Maybe she'll talk to him."

Devil walked toward his office passing Stuckey in the way.

"Stuck, your wife is about the same size as her, think she can part with something she can wear?"

"I'll call her." Stuckey said, picking up the phone.

Chance was already curled in her favoured armchair in Devil's office when he walked in and hung his coat and stetson on the coat tree inside his door.  He had to get to the overnight reports called in from the other Police stations in the surrounding area and see what went on in Arawana according to Carl who'd been on-call.  It was usually the first thing he did, barring any naked ladies covered in blood.

"Will?" Devil called as another thought came to him.

"Yes, Chief?"

"There any picker camps that over-wintered up Cage creek way?" Devil asked and by the time he sat down, Will was in his office door.

"Some of the Chinese stayed down by the creek over the winter, and Carl said there was another one that just went up in March further up the road."  Will reported.

"Chinese or caucasian?"

"Not sure."

"Find out, will you?"

"I'll get on it."

"Chief?" Stuckey called him from his desk trying to keep the wear and tear on his hip down.

"Yes, Stuck?"

"Irene's coming in with some old blue jeans and a flannel shirt.  She's gonna bring some drawers as well."

"Sounds perfect."

"And Chief?"

"Yes."

"Mayor's here."

Shit.

"Send him in." Devil leaned forward and looked at Carl's call report.

"'Morning Constable McBairn." Harold said as he entered Devil's office and huffed as he sat in one of the wooden chairs in front of the desk.  The chair creaked alarmingly.

"Hello, Harold."

Mayor Harold Brusker was a soft man who'd edged past chubby after he married Abigail Simpson five years before.  He fancied himself a progressive frontiersman and sported polished western boots that had never seen a stirrup, a white stetson that had never seen rain, and a rodeo buckle he'd bought from a pawn shop in Penticton.

"I guess you know why I'm here."

"Not a clue, Harold."

"Come on, Devil.  Ignoring it isn't going to make it go away."

"What is it I'm supposed to be ignoring?" Devil asked as he underlined an entry on the local overnight report with a pencil, set it aside and looked up.

"Detective Sergeant Locke from the British Columbia Provincial Police Boundary District is arriving tomorrow to evaluate my Police services."

"Your police services?"

"Arawana's police services." Harold said and Devil saw the colour rise in his cheeks, "We may be overstaffed and Sergeant Locke will look to keep some of you on.  Then again, he may consider replacing all of you with one or two of their Constables trained up in Victoria."

"How long will this evaluation take?"

"Hard to say." Harold said, rubbing at a smudge on the toe of his right boot, "He'll want to interview all of you one on one and observe your department in the field."

"Alright." Devil nodded, then stared at Harold a moment, "Anything else?"

"Well, while I'm here I might as well collect your Chief Constable badge."

"You have a copy of the last District Council meeting minutes with you?"

"No, I do not.  Why do you ask?"

"So you can show me the vote on the motion to remove me from office."

"I'm the Mayor."

"Yes, and I'm Chief Constable until the Council votes otherwise."

"I'm the Mayor, god damn it."

"So you keep reminding me, but you didn't hire me, the Council did."

"You're on your way out, Devil."

"Maybe.  But right now you're on your way out."

"I'm not leaving without that badge."

Devil made a soft double-whistle and Chance - who'd been napping quietly in her chair - lifted her muzzle and growled softly at the Mayor.

"You're going to sic your mutt on me?" Harold's voice rose an octave as he scrambled from his chair.

"She's deputized and more than willing to show you to the door."

"This isn't over, McBairn." Harold sputtered and stormed out of the office.

"Nothing ever is." Devil said softly to himself as Chance lowered her head onto her paws, watching the doorway with suspicion.


Aaron D McClelland
Penticton, BC

Thursday, 12 August 2021

My Girl

 


I worry about my girl.

I worry about the mysterious sadness that envelopes her like an old woolen blanket late at night.  It shrouds her as she huddles in the armchair by the fire, wrapping itself so tightly around her that it squeezes silent tears from her eyes as she stares deep into the coals, seeing an old memory of pain flickering within.

I worry about her health.  She doesn't eat enough and when she does it isn't wholesome food, just prepared meals from a tin made in a factory, so saturated with preservatives and chemicals that its noisome odour burns my eyes.  I didn't used to be sensitive to such things, but I am now.

I worry about her state of mind as she struggles to write her latest novel.

She sits at the small desk in the sitting room, fingers playing at their rhythm as she stitches letters into sentences on her small machine.  It is green and comes with its own little house.  Yet each time she performs this literary ritual I watch the worry line appear as her brows knit and the lines she sews begin to unravel until her fingers falter and the machine grows silent.  Her words become unwanted artifacts as she reads what she has written and the dissatisfaction is plain on her face.

She's written seven novels, I've seen them in the bookcase in the corner of the sitting room instead of amongst my books in the grand library.  She doesn't think her books are good enough to stand beside Dickens, Shakespeare, Austen, and Brontë.  Yet writing a book is a monumental thing for any human being, and she has done it seven times before.

I think she has forgotten that.


Aaron D McClelland
Penticton, BC

Friday, 23 July 2021

Fog


Each night as the sun lowered to the western horizon to sink into the far misty sea, the fishermen in the cove would work a little faster, folding and rolling their nets and stowing them back in their boats now that they had dried hanging on the poles that lined the shoreline of the cove.  Once the nets were stowed, they would check the mooring lines of their boats one last time and hurry up the slope toward home.

Mothers who lived in humble houses up the slope from the cove would begin calling their children home, their voices musical, each different from the next and each calling their own children to their thresholds with their particular song.  Timid children, hearing their songs, would drop what they played at and run home all knees and elbows, knowing that Nightbeast had awoken and was coming down from the mountain.  Bolder children would casually walk home, giving each other knowing looks of boastful pride, knowing that one night they would stay out until the village was dark and bravely face Nightbeast together.

But not this night.

Once the fishermen and the mothers and the children were safe within their homes and the heavy drapes were pulled and pinned over all the windows, only then would lamps and candles be lit.  Then the mothers would serve up the supper she had brewed all day over the coals in the fireplace while the husbands would lay the curfew over the coals to let them sleep and cease sending smoke up the chimney.

Families would eat then, nervously listening for the sound they dreaded, and when it came as it did every night they would set down their spoons and lay their hands on their laps and stare at the table.  The  sound grew louder and become a tremble beneath their feet, then a shaking and a deep rumble.

Nightbeast was walking toward the village, and all over the village the people would pray silently that it would pass them by. 


Aaron D McClelland
Penticton, BC

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

50,000 words ...

    I've been told by numerous sources that the industry standard for a novel length acceptable for publication is 60,000 to 100,000 words, and anything outside of that window will receive an automatic pass.
    Leaving Wonderland is an espionage thriller with unique characters facing novel challenges that moves non-stop from its haunting opening scene to its explosive climax.  I'm on my third editing pass to try and bulk it up from its current 51,630 word count and I can't find a way to do it without tripping up the pace of the story.
    The story doesn't even have chapters – it has a timeline; a countdown toward a planned terrorist attack such as this, the opening pages;

>Day:10:2111

>rabbit


    She lay dead at his feet and seeing her crumpled body limp on the cobblestones under the night sky, arms and legs at disturbing angles, sent a rush of sorrow through the core of his chest.  Discordant church bells echoing through the manmade canyon between the old brick buildings in the narrow alley seemed apropos to the sadness that choked him.  Yet something was wrong.

    It was her hair he decided as he tilted his head studying her, ignoring the growing awareness of pain in his left shoulder.  Her hair wasn't supposed to be that long nor that colour.  She was supposed to have shorter black hair, not long and brunette.  Although a flash of her as a blonde scampered across his memory and was gone as quickly as it appeared.

    And she wasn't supposed to be dead.  It was impossible that she was dead, and a small helpless sound vibrated his throat as he remembered that he loved her.  He couldn't remember her name, but he knew that he loved her.

    The pain in his shoulder was getting worse and was now matched by its twin in his left hip.

    What was her name?

    He grimaced as his the pain in his hip lanced across his lower back, the arhythmic tolling of the bells annoying him now as he searched his memory for her.

    The last thing he remembered was the dream; running across a grassy meadow in the moonlight, chasing a playful rabbit.

    Rabbit.  Was her name Rabbit? 

    He shook his head; that was wrong.

    In the dream Rabbit could talk.

    "Hurry." Rabbit had said, "Hurry or we'll have to jump."

    And he ran as fast as he could as Rabbit pulled him along by his jacket cuff, her long legs sleek and sure in the darkness, her feet light on the grass.  His own feet clumsy and heavy as he ran, his legs stiff and weakening quickly.  He was about to beg her to slow down when she fell.

    They both fell.

    "Who are you?" he whispered to the dead girl, lowering himself painfully to one knee his hip screaming in shattering agony, his hand trembling as he reached out to touch her.

    There was blood on the back of his hand.  It was scraped, a bruise forming, purples emerging through the seeping blood.  Behind him the church bells were growing louder, drowning out the shush of traffic passing on the streets at either end of the alley.  This was becoming surreal, like a bad European student art film.

    The skin of her cheek was pale, as soft as silk and still warm.

    "Who are you?" he asked again, pleading, "I can't remember." and he felt tears begin to well in his eyes, blurring his vision of her.  How could he not remember her name?

    "Run." said Rabbit in a barely audible whisper that caused him to pull his hand back, startled.

    The girl's lips, slightly parted, hadn't moved but the voice had come from her.  Then he realized that lips didn't have to move to form that word – it was all in the tongue and the breath.

    "Run!" Rabbit hissed louder and he felt a cold rush trill up his spine and over his scalp.

    Those weren't church bells

    He turned to see two men clamouring down the old fire escape on the building behind him, their pounding feet setting the metal rungs to sing like badly pitched bells.  One of the men clutched a pistol with a comically fat extended barrel.

    Not a barrel – a silencer.

    They were coming to kill him.

    Or worse

    He looked down at the girl, his chest hitching at the thought of leaving her that way, but he was alive and needed to stay that way.

    "I'm sorry." he whimpered, and ignoring the pain in his left hip he rose and ran down the alley away from the men, zig-zagging to make a poorer target.  He heard the throaty 'chunk' from behind and saw the limestone dust kick up from a cobblestone in front of him where the bullet skipped.

    They were definitely trying to kill him.

    When he reached the end of the alley he didn't slow, just changed direction and shot past the edge of the last building onto a broad sidewalk.  At the end of the block he saw the intersection was wide, and knew there were four lanes for each crossing street, both one way; one northbound, the one he was on westbound.


>Day:10:2119

>tradecraft


    How did he know the direction the streets in front of him before seeing traffic or a sign?  How did he know that out of sight across the street he was running toward there was a hotel half a block south with a lobby open to both that street and the one a block to the east?  And how did he know that a block east of that was a bar that was always crowded and had a rear exit that wasn't alarmed?

He had no time to wonder why he knew those things.  He just ran, and running wondered why the word –

tradecraft

– had arisen in his mind.


    And so on.  The 'Day' number is how many days remain before the terrorist attack that has the potential to trigger World War III, and the time is standard military time of that day.  The dilemma in the story is that the only person who knows the details of the attack is the guy in the alley standing over the dead girl.  During his capture and torture by enemy agents he induced his own amnesia by packaging his memories, encrypting them and burying them deep in his subconscious with an obscure password that only the dead girl would know.
    It's a good story, and I promise that once it's published you won't be able to put it down, and as a bonus, it's got a pretty sweet and steamy love story to boot.
    But there's that 60,000 word barrier.
    I did some research and discovered that the following novels all came in around 50,000 words or fewer;

  • Animal Farm
  • Of Mice and Men
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Speak
  • The Outsiders
  • The Great Gatsby
So I've decided; fuck it.  At 51,630 words it will be in good company.


Aaron D McClelland
Penticton, BC

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Twinkie ...

 


Mom named me Twinkie because she wanted me to stay fresh and sweet for a thousand years. But I know that I really survive in this wasted city because of Oscar.  Like his namesake, I keep him sharp and he's clever and quick in my hand and with his help I find people to talk to. They don't talk back but they're still company until they start to stink.  The best part of those relationships is that I can tell them all my secrets and they keep their mouths shut.  The worst part of those relationships is dragging them up to the open air to burn them once their stink keeps me awake because I'll be double-buggered if I'll drag them all the way down to the forest to bury them there.

Boys are easier to trap or hunt than girls.  I think it's because us girls are always alert to predators and because we're smaller and not as strong we have to be like little grey foxes when we move through the waste and feral little demons if we're cornered.

Boys are stupid, and come in two breeds – well, three if you count the ones who only like other boys.  Most boys want to rape you or fill you with babies or both, and no way I want either of those to happen to this body.  So I trap them or hunt them and take them quick so they don't bleed too much.

It's nice to take them just before the night shadows creep up out of the tunnels because their bodies are still warm when you cuddle with them.  I love the smell and feel of a boy's skin against mine when I'm safe with them in my bolt hole, I always sleep best that first night.  And don't think I'm a creeper; I don't eat them like some do, but I do take everything they've foraged and find some flavourful things in their backpacks and sling bags.


Aaron D McClelland
Penticton, BC

Saturday, 8 May 2021

The Other Fallen ...

"Ya' wanna tone it down, Meatball?" Lilith called from the server station at the end of the bar where the under-counter beer fridges were.  Meatball laughed her off, lobbed a couple more wife comments at Erastus before wandering off to the pool tables.

"Did I not tell her?" Riot said, shaking his head.  Told her or not, Lilith walked behind the bar and brought Erastus a fresh beer on the house and leaned forward with her elbows on the bar to engage him in quieting conversation.

Lilith had gotten a bit chubby and gone goth out of spite since we three landed here in Humbolt, but she was still my favourite cowgirl.  Even with a purple stripe running through her silver hair and wearing outfits that looked like she'd raided a steamer trunk from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, she was the secret crush of half the men in Mad Dog's, myself included.

"Yeah, you told her." I agreed with Riot and smiled when I saw Erastus nodding his head and looking sheepish.  Lilith leaned further in and kissed him on the cheek before walking back to the server station and winked at me.

I felt a smug satisfaction that Lilith had diverted the situation so Humbolt could keep its population steady for tonight at least, when out of the corner of my eye I saw Riot make a little hand flick and the next song that cued up on the Wurlitzer was 'Stand by Your Man', and I swear it was just that much louder than Twitty and Steagall.

"You're a son of a bitch." I told Riot.

"Yep."

Right on cue I saw Erastus' shoulders tighten before he downed the rest of his longneck, set the bottle down on the bar and walked over to the pool tables.  I was still hoping he'd just use his fists or even a pool cue, but he grabbed the brass-headed rake and took Meatball down with one shot then proceeded to beat him to death with the heavy end like it was a potato masher as everyone in the vicinity backed away.  A circle of no-man's-land grew around the two men that was just a little bigger radius than a swinging pool rake.

When he was done, Erastus stood up, spat on Meatball's bloody corpse and dropped the rake before walking out through Mad Dog's front door like nothing had happened.  Half a dozen heartbeats later, Meatball got up and walked out too, but he used the wall.


'The Other Fallen'
Aaron D McClelland
Penticton, BC

Thursday, 6 May 2021

No Character of Mine ...

 

Though I at times write some pretty badass characters and gnarly scenes, I have never written one of my characters raping or forcing or even coercing someone sexually.  The act sickens me.  People who do it sicken me.  And for the life of me I can't imagine how committing that vile act on someone could be pleasurable.

Years ago, while working as a security supervisor in Vancouver, I was visiting our guard at Queen Elizabeth park (aka “Little Mountain”).  As we were checking in, two full-patch bikers rode up the hill to the upper parking lot.  One of the bikers had a female passenger who almost fell off his bike as they rounded the last curve.

The guard and I walked up into the parking area and saw that the bikers had ridden onto the grass and the female was lying on her back, the bikers standing over her.  As we approached, the female - who was very intoxicated - was reaching up, inviting both bikers to have sex with her.  I overheard one of the bikers say to his brother; “This ain’t right, man.”  The other agreed.

The bikers saw us approach and one noticed the portable radio on my belt.

“Can you call for an ambulance?” he asked, “I think she needs to go to the hospital.”

I radioed our Dispatch and they called 911 for us (I specified an ambulance and not the police as both bikers had been drinking as well).  As we were waiting, the female started vomiting and choking and one of the bikers rolled her into the recovery position, rubbed her back and even held her hair as she vomited.

It turned out that the female was unknown to those men - they had picked her up in a bar, and despite their intention to have sex with her, they knew she was in no state to give proper consent for sex and suspected she was approaching medical distress.

Shortly after the ambulance arrived, the female stopped breathing and the paramedics had to intubate her and use a breathing bag.  If the bikers hadn’t felt empathy for her and acted on it, that female may have died.

My big question is; Why is it that two bad-ass 1% full-patch bikers respond with empathy when they see a passed out female and ensure she gets medical attention, but a bright university athlete or a politician or a millionaire decides to rape her instead?

Has two decades of “rape culture” in rap music, online homemade porn videos featuring men dominating and abusing women, and examples by a few professional athletes turned some young men away from their natural empathy?
I wish I had the answers.

But I do know one thing that we should all be alarmed by …

We have mirror neurons in our brains that activate an empathic response to someone else suffering.  These mirror neurons and our entire Limbic system are all part of our survival system - survival of self and survival of species.  As Dr Bruce Perry said in one of his books; “We are born for love”.  We are hardwired to care about and care for each other.  But what is happening to our society through rapes, murders, assaults, mass shootings, and religion-driven violence is evidence that there is a growing number of people who have lost touch with that survival system.

As authors, people honour us by reading our short stories and novels.  It is a privilege that very few are afforded, but with it comes responsibility.  We need to lose the tropes where the big strong man grabs the girl and bends her to his will.  We need to purge our novels of anything that glorifies rape or coercion.  We need to write strong women, strong transgendered characters, and men with a moral compass.  To sit passively by while rape and coercion continues in our society and do nothing about it, well … “This ain’t right, man”.

Aaron D McClelland
Penticton, BC

Author's Website

The Valley

Nestled between the Columbia and Cascade mountain ranges in south-central British Columbia, the Okanagan valley is both a geologic oddity a...