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Rod Raglin


Rod Raglin is a journalist/photographer/writer, and a passionate environmentalist, living in Vancouver, Canada.

Website : http://www.rodraglin.com

Eagleridge Bluffs

Written By: Rod Raglin
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Miriam is forty and frustrated. In an attempt to enhance her living-just-to-breathe life, she joins some neighbour...

Time seemed to be suspended and Miriam had no idea if her comrade had been gone two or ten minutes. Her mind drifted back to that day on the Bluffs, her fortieth birthday, when she'd felt so succinctly that change was at hand. She could never have imagined how it would manifest itself. It was both frightening and comforting, she realized, depending on how you embraced it.

Zaahir appeared beside her and time resumed its march toward eternity. She watched as he taped a brick of clay-looking material to the fuel tank of the truck she was crouched beside, set a timing device and then stuck the wire that protruded into the clay and taped it to the metal as well. "We've got four minutes, let's go."

As they began to retreat back up the Bluffs they heard voices. Two figures had emerged from the command post and were talking casually as they walked, unsuspectingly, towards the equipment depot. They both carried powerful flashlights.

"We have to warn them," Miriam said, without hesitation.

"Keep with the plan." Zaahir shrugged off his backpack and removed a flashlight from it. "And remember, don't wait more than fifteen minutes for me at the car."

"Zee." Miriam was trembling. She clutched his free hand. "I'm afraid."

"So am I."

"Please come back. I think I…"

Zaahir put a finger to her lips. "Shh, Orang. We will have our time together yet." Then darting from the cover of the bush, he ran towards the officers. When he got within twenty-five meters of them, he turned on his flashlight and aimed it at their faces.

"Hey, you. Stop." It was a woman's voice.

Zaahir ran swiftly past them only ten meters to their left.

"Police, stop," The startled officers began to give chase, away from the equipment depot. "Call for backup, Jill. I'll go after him."

The female officer angled off and headed for the command post while her male partner took off after Zaahir who was disappearing up the logging road.

The first small explosion lit the night like a brilliant flare. Both officers stopped and turned in time to see the subsequent blasts erupt in a huge, orange fireball. They barely had time to shield their eyes before the shock wave knocked them flat. The sound of the explosion bounced off the Bluffs, its ferocity shaking windows in the Caulfield community across the highway. White, hot shrapnel zinged past Miriam and ricocheted with a deadly whine off the surrounding rocks.

The parking lot was now illuminated like a movie set and nothing moved on the pavement except the dancing shadows of the flames and debris still falling from the mushroom cloud billowing up over the blast site.

"Get up, please get up," Miriam prayed as she stared transfixed at the fallen police officers.

The female officer was the first to recover. Painfully she stood and looked about her like a shell-shocked combat soldier. "Sarge, Sarge!" She limped toward her fallen comrade who wasn't moving.

Miriam couldn't breath. The sea wind was blowing the acrid smoke and the sickly, sweet smell of burning diesel back onto the Bluffs, over the spot where she was concealed. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she repeated, her apology suffocated by the angry roar of the conflagration. She knew she should go, that she must go, but her limbs failed to respond.

As the officer knelt, her sergeant lifted himself on his elbows. He reached over and touched the woman's leg and retrieved his hand, dripping with blood. He stood quickly, assessing the situation, and barking orders into his two-way radio. Taking the constable's arm, he assisted her towards the command centre.

Miriam breathed, then vomited on her army surplus boots. Turning her back on the carnage, she weakly continued along the escape route.

Miriam is forty and frustrated. In an attempt to enhance her living-just-to-breathe life, she joins some neighbours protesting a highway bypass that will destroy Eagleridge Bluffs. Not only are the Bluffs her special sanctuary, they’re also the beautiful home of rare and endangered plants and animals. The protest gains the support of environmental organizations, including the attention of a group of eco-radicals led by an enigmatic young man named Zaahir. Miriam is mesmerized by this charismatic leader and sees him as someone that can save her as well as the Bluffs. But is Zaahir just using Miriam to help him further his radical political agenda? As legal channels fail and civil disobedience falters, Miriam is seduced into the murky world of eco-terrorism.
Price: $5.99
Not Wonder More

Written By: Rod Raglin
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Maggie talks to trees. Dieter talks to corporations. Maggie embraces mystery and flirts with magic. Dieter adheres...

"Dieter, wake up. It's time."

The long journey up from unconsciousness seemed to take forever. Was he fully awake? He couldn't tell. His brain seemed slow to respond, unwilling to deal with reality.

"Dieter, get up."

An unearthly glow back-lit a mass of curls. "Maggie?"

"It's me." She helped him into a sitting position.

"What's happening? I feel strange." There was light but it didn't seem to have a source. Like twilight or predawn but different. "Is it morning already?"

"Not quite, my dear." Maggie took him by the hand and led him outside. The grove glowed with a ghostly luminosity casting everything in high definition. The huge trees crowded the clearing, waiting, anticipating. She wore a simple white dress, a garland of green in her hair. Her face was radiant, her eyes opaque and charged with flecks of indigo. An aura exuded from her being.

"You look like a goddess."

"Come." Maggie glided across the clearing to the natural altar in the hollow of the massive trunk of the Western Red Cedar.

Steady and soft, the source of the light emanated from the interior of the tree without heat or shadow. Dieter found himself drawn to the light, like iron filings to a magnet. He had no will of his own. This is a dream, he thought, but had no desire to wake up.

Maggie painted a symbol on his chest. He didn't remember taking his shirt off. She pressed her cheek against his flesh and smiled up at him. She spoke now, but not to him.

"We ask for your blessings, your guidance, your inspiration, your healing power… Awen."

Dieter heard, then felt a droning, pleasant and soothing.

“…time and of the year, of seasons and goodness, of birth and growing, of dying and rebirth…" Maggie sprinkled water from a cup on his head.

The droning grew, intensified.

Maggie lifted a clay pot of fragrant herbs beneath his nose. The aroma evoked some ancient memory, indistinct yet familiar. She continued speaking with a lilt and a rhythm as if reciting a psalm "…in the eye of the Sun here and now, between past and future. In this is sacred time. In this is sacred space. Awen. Ahh-oo-en."

The droning became a harmonious swelling chord all around him and, yes, even inside him.

"…the longest day of the year, at this Place of Light, to witness the zenith of the Sun, to harness the power of the Solstice."

Simultaneously the light and the sound began to pulse in rhythm to his breathing, to his heartbeat. Outlines became diffused and images blurred. Dieter had the sensation of his own body disintegrating, merging with the trees, the earth, the air, until it was all one, all one liberating life force.

An overwhelming feeling of wellbeing enveloped him. He felt purified, cleansed - physically as well as spiritually. A wonderful peace accompanied an intimate feeling of understanding, of belonging, of being connected. I'm dying, he thought, but felt no fear. Instead he embraced the mystery as consciousness eluded him.

Maggie talks to trees. Dieter talks to corporations. Maggie embraces mystery and flirts with magic. Dieter adheres to logic and the doctrine of Nietzsche. Dieter's client wants to destroy the trees. The trees want Maggie to protect them. Dieter has terminal cancer. Maggie is schizophrenic. Maggie says she can save him, if he'll save the trees. Dieter thinks she's crazy, but what choice does he have? A week together alone on Deadman's Island changes everything for both of them. Is it madness? Is it magic? Or is it love?
Price: $5.99
Spirit Bear

Written By: Rod Raglin
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Kimberley James is hoping her new assignment will jumpstart her stalled career with a New York corporate relations...

Getting airborne through the heavy overcast was, as her reluctant pilot promised, a harrowing experience. But once the twin engine Otter broke through the clouds, it settled down and sunlight, now low in the western sky, glistened off the snow-capped peaks that jutted above the cotton-batten blanket below.

Though a break in the clouds Kim saw a tiny lake and thought of her father. He’d said there was great fishing up here. Perhaps she could arrange for them to stay at a place like Baker Lodge. They hadn’t spent any real time together in…she couldn’t remember. But there just wasn’t time. Not yet anyway. The drone of the engine and the long day of traveling caught up with her and she began to feel drowsy.

A knock on the side of her head woke her up. Surrounding the tiny plane was thick shroud and the turbulence was bouncing the aircraft around like a toy. The pilot was sweating as he concentrated on his instruments. Suddenly, Kim had the feeling she was in an elevator with a broken cable.

“Hang on, lady! We’ve hit a downdraft!”

Her first thought was would she survive? Her second was if she did, would anyone find her? With a jolt, the plane leveled out, but before she could congratulate herself for being alive, the pontoons were trimming the tops of huge evergreens. Then there was the flat black surface of the lake rising up far too quickly.

The next thing Kim knew, she was hanging upside down and the cockpit was filling with water. A quick glance to her left and she realized she needn’t worry about the pilot. His face was covered with blood and his head was twisted at an odd angle. The windscreen was shattered where he had made impact.

She unhooked the harness and promptly fell into numbingly cold water that could only be described as glacier fed. Her door had sprung open on impact. Had it not, the rising inky blackness would have made it impossible to budge. Bobbing beside her was the contract- filled attaché case. Kim grabbed it and struggled out of the submerging craft.

Treading water, she turned and watched the tail section of the plane sink out of sight. The shore was a dark silhouette in the dwindling twilight, at least a hundred yards away. If she was going to live, she’d have to swim for it.

She struggled free of the pantsuit jacket that was weighing her down and constricting her arms. A Gucci loafer slip from her foot and she momentarily wondered if she should try to retrieve it.

What am I thinking?

She kicked the other shoe off and pushing the attaché case ahead of her, began to head for shore. With every stroke, she swallowed more water. Water so cold it had already left her extremities without sensation and made her head ache.

After a minute or so, she stopped swimming and looked to see if the shore was getting any closer. It was nowhere in sight. In her confusion, she had turned around and had been swimming toward the middle of the lake. Panicking, she flailed wildly, then stopped exhausted, coughing up mouthfuls of frigid liquid.

I’m not going to make. I’m going to die.

Adrenalin surged through Kim’s body and she swam with renewed energy. But it was no use. She was no longer cold, just numb, and so very tired. I’m sorry I never got back to see you, Dad, she whispered to the black water and relentless wind. Hot tears ran down her freezing cheeks when she thought how devastated he would be.

She’d been too busy. Too busy, she realized, with things that didn’t matter. I want to sleep now, but first, she wondered, will my life flash before my eyes?

It didn’t. Instead, something grabbed her by the collar of her blouse, then clasped her beneath her arms, and pulled up and out of the deadly bath and into a canoe.

 

Kimberley sat shivering in the bow of the tiny vessel. In the dark, she couldn’t get a good look at her rescuer and her vision kept fading out of focus. He wasn’t a big man, about five foot ten perhaps, and lean—the word sinewy came to mind. He had a mane of long fair hair that was hanging lose around his faced, further concealing his features. There was a no nonsense confidence in his movements and he handled the canoe with skill and agility. She could feel it respond to each strong stroke of his paddle as they slipped through the black water towards the shore.

“Are you hurt?” he asked. His voice sounded rusty, like it wasn’t used much. It was quiet, but distinct.

“I don’t think so,” she replied, her teeth chattering. Her mind felt anesthetized, her limbs sluggish and there was a ringing in her ears that distorted sound. Something wet ran down her face and into her mouth. It tasted salty.

The canoe nudged the shore and he sprang from the stern, pushing it up onto the beach. When Kim got out, her legs were unresponsive and she collapsed. He picked her up without effort and carried her up the beach. She wrapped her arms around his neck and despite herself, began to sob uncontrollably against his chest.

“Frank, the pilot?” she muttered.

“I’m afraid he didn’t make it.”

“I made him fly today,” she moaned. “He didn’t want to, but I was behind schedule and I had all the documents for the signing,” Kim continued, her voice filled with anguish and tinged with hysteria. “The Coliseum Mountain Ski Development will make my career. There’s millions of dollars on the table. I had to be there. But now I won’t and a man is dead and it’s my fault,” she said, convulsing again into choking sobs.

“It’s not your fault. He knew the risks. You’re lucky to be alive.” His tone was soothing as he carried her toward a lean-to, beneath a huge evergreen at the edge of the forest. Carefully, he laid her down in the shelter on a bed of soft moss, covered her with a sleeping bag and knelt beside her. “You’ve got a nasty bump on your head,” he said, parting the strands of her wet hair and examining the cut. His hands were warm as they wiped the blood from her face with a bandanna. “I’m going to find something to put on it to take the swelling down.” He began to rise, but she clutched onto his arm.

“Please, don’t go.” Suddenly Kim was terrified of being alone. “I’m…I’m afraid.”

He clasped her hand in both of his and settled down beside her. “Sure,” he said, and his voice calmed her. “I’ll stay right here.” As the adrenaline wore off and the shock set in, Kim found it impossible to keep her eyes open. The last thing she remembered was her rescuer stroking her hand and crooning, “You’re alright. Everything is going to be okay.”

Later that night, she awoke screaming from a nightmare of sinking into infinite darkness. The blackness disoriented her, but again he was there, stroking her hair and telling her everything was all right. She tried to make out his features, but his face was backlit by the flickering campfire. Again, her mind took refuge in a deep sleep brought on by shock and despair.

In that semi-conscious state before becoming fully awake, Kim fleetingly thought the plane crash had been a bad dream. But when she poked her head out of the sleeping bag and surveyed her surroundings in the weak morning light, it all came rushing back.

She wiped her eyes with the edge of the sleeping bag, summoned up her resolve, and sat up. The sudden movement sent spears of pain through her temples and she felt nauseous. Ever so slowly, she lay back down and the queasiness subsided.

She took a physical inventory beginning with the tips of her toes. Except for her right shoulder, which was extremely tender, and some pain when she breathed deeply, all parts seemed operational and, miraculously, undamaged.

Gingerly she touched the crown of her head. There was not much of a lump considering how much it hurt, but what was this green slime on her fingers?

She heard the crunch of footsteps approaching across the rocky beach. It could only be the man who rescued her and she was eager to express her gratitude to this stranger, who not only saved her life, but who was taking such loving care of her? But as the tarp flap was lifted, she was struck dumb by what she saw. Gazing down at her, with a look of compassion was…

“Jonah Baker!” She winced at the pain the noise of her own voice made reverberating in her skull.

Kimberley James is hoping her new assignment will jumpstart her stalled career with a New York corporate relations firm. Her client wants to develop a mega ski resort in northern Canada. Her job is to convince the current owners of the land to sell. With millions of dollars to be made, it seems like a done deal. Until she runs up against Jonah Baker. Baker is part owner of a lodge on the land and an ardent environmentalist. He’s not about to permit a development that threatens ancient rainforests and the habitat of the rare and endangered Spirit Bear for any price. Kim begrudgingly respects his principles before profit, but cannot allow a tree-hugging, bear-loving zealot to derail her fast track to success. Jonah admires her determination and worldliness, but will fight to the end to stop a materialistic corporate climber from destroying something rare and unique. Will their mutual attraction to one another be a catalyst that helps develop an understanding? Will the mythical, white Spirit Bear survive, and what role will it play in resolving what appears to be irreconcilable differences?
Price: $5.99