• www.inkwellwriters.ie

Denis McClean

Location: The Banner County


I confess to being a disgruntled airplane man currently in withdrawal from the blissful intoxication of burned kerosene and screaming turbo-fans on wet and windy runways. My chosen therapy to aid recovery is taking people on virtual flights using digital pen and paper. My first effort is non-fiction (Book of Plebs_Amazon) but subsequent publications of SF&F (Science Fiction & Fantasy) have Irish undertones so strong that you can almost smell burning turf and feel the rain. I aim to keep even the most far fetched story as real as it can possibly be and maybe to touch base with those who are similarly handicapped. Why not visit my site to collect a free e-book and more …

Current project

Climate change was the buzzwod before the Covid-19 lockdowns which created the headspace that should’ve been ideal for a frenzy of book production but not if the subject is the pandemic itself. I had to identify the direct and also the more subtle links between the pandemic and climate change due to global waming. Anyway, I could only work at the same speed as the virus, so I could learn from it … as it arrived, became established and then conquered, well … more or less. Anyway, this project is almost complete and subject only to final proof reading and cover graphics. Watch this space.

Here’s the Synopsis:- We’ve survived the worst global pandemic since Spanish Flu but first things first:- All hail our fallen heroes, those who didn’t make it with us. That done, we might assume it’s all over bar remembrances but cast your mind back to the weeks before society opened up again.

Mutations from everywhere sprang up to scare the living daylights out of us. Evolution knows no bounds and whether all those exotic mutations will succumb to our latest versions of the ‘jab’ is not a foregone conclusion.

Question: Are we conceited enough to believe that all those mutations affected only us humans because that would be ‘THE’ gravest mistake.

Countless other mammals also succumbed but they don’t get taken to the ICU and that means no statistics. Dogs, cats, mice, rats, stoats, ferrets and weasels caught it too. So did the bigger breeds like deer, cattle, horses, seals and bats of course. Funny that, since bats are maybe where it all began.

Let’s park that for now and have a brief look at what caused that Wuhan bat to bark in a human face in the first place. It’s called human encroachment and it happens when people get closer and closer and then too close to things they don’t understand. It’s a function of increasing human populations.

Way back, when our ancestors were so few that they almost went extinct, the wide open spaces between those unseen dangers was sufficient to nullify them but further, bat wasn’t on their menus. Even ‘Primitives’ had very strict rules about what could be safely eaten. Nowadays we exploit everything before someone else does but let’s also park that item for another minute.

A good pandemic can have many positive effects on the environment. When we get locked down we don’t or can’t drive. Markets dry up and fossil fuels don’t get burned in aeroplanes, ships, trucks and so on. Businesses fold and jobs are lost, suicide rates climb but these are bad for us, not for our environment.

While confined to our homes, sea levels still rose because more ice than before was still melting. That’s proof positive that either global temperatures were still rising regardless of our decreased carbon footprints, or that critical mass in melted ice was already reached. In other words, we have already crossed the Rubicon.

Now, let’s release those parking breaks together because Murphy’s Law states quite unequivocally that when shit happens it won’t be limited to just one fan. Real post apocalyptic futures will not be confined to Hollywood.

You are therefore invited to join young Aaron Maxwell in the pristine Mountains of Mourne in County Down, Northern Ireland. That’s where he has skillfully survived for the last four years since the second floods came to London, Dublin, Belfast, Amsterdam, Jakarta, Miami, Shanghai and so on.

They didn’t come alone however. Those novel mutations were already on the move with the refugees and the warring mobs when it all just fell apart under the weight of plagues revisited.

Writing sample

This is the Prologue to my latest and it will be published late May 2021 – Amazon Only as usual:-
Title Subject to Approval, as in, Watch this space: – 1000 words limit ??? Gimme a break. I like Prologues.
A good prologue is like the start of a movie as in:- “QUIET … LIGHTS … ACTION and cameras roll:-

A storm can no longer arrive by surprise. Unseen behind our smiling Jack or Jill weather presenters there are teams of specialists wielding the ultimate in meteorological wizardry. This enables them to describe storms with a single digit from one to five. This number is intended to guide us in deciding whether we should run away, board up the windows or simply stick the garden furniture in the shed for a few hours.

But what if some people decided that they knew better and chose to disregard all the science? What if a storm arrived unannounced because bureaucrats couldn’t agree on the number that should have been assigned?

Well, in that unlikely event, it would be prudent to batten down the hatches anyway. Then, when the dust settles, we can lodge complaints with our insurance claims. After all, you can buy insurance for just about anything these days, as long as you’re prepared to fight when they refuse to pay out. And yet, those claim forms will likely include a box, into which that same number must be entered.

The thing is, the vast majority of us can guesstimate a storm’s strength without science. It’s done by comparing the contrasting stillness of the calm that invariably follows. The bad news however, is that we must go outside and listen while it howls, so do be careful. That done, we apply the number 1 for appreciable up to 5 for a ‘so called’ deafening silence.

In an age of believing only what can be seen or touched, crying wolf is an outdated concept, even if you see one. Big numbers with more red than orange warnings were bandied about for years before the first churning clouds rolled over the horizon to turn our supposedly halcyon days into one endless night. But suddenly and quite literally out of the blue, there it was looking at us eye to eye.

Seeing the biggest, wildest and most dangerous of anything ever recorded was a strangely thrilling prospect at first. Memories of selfies taken on rugged coastlines the previous spring stirred the adrenaline junkie that most of us prefer to hide. Those video clips of monstrous, apparently slow-motion sea-surges under clouds of wind-blown spray backed with indecipherable soundtracks. J-Pegs, Tiffs and GIF’s of drenched clothes, matted hair and salted squinting eyes globally shared, but this was a different kind of storm.

The primal human spirit, breathed into humanity at the dawn of creation was forcefully exhaled by a tsunami of horrors flooding over the land. Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ masterpiece was instantly re-rendered on countless human canvases and then brought to life through shock and awe to make us multitudes of Frankenstein monsters.

Subsequently silent and other worldly wails added critical mass to universal misery which dumped the accumulated weight of all human woe on every street. Accumulations grew like wet snow to lean higher and higher against each insulated home until the sound of shattered glass invited the beast inside.

To this day, short, sharp echoes of more recent, though equally ‘untimely’ deaths still arrive sometimes on the breeze. They are reminders of unanimous guilty verdicts with life sentences in which we will never forget our follies. After the fact, no-one dares to take the legacy of this eerily silent and hopeless world for granted.

A very wise man once told me that personal qualities like generosity, cruelty and even wisdom can be measured against the time it takes to forget that person’s name. To those three, I now add the attributes of arrogance, greed and stupidity because the full impact of our ‘climate change’ storm is now etched on a much chastened human psyche.

To be totally honest, when I first met Oisin o’Farrel he seemed anything but wise. He struck me as a simpleton as well as an obvious cripple. His debilitated state was the only reason I felt confident enough to risk showing my face, though I did keep my distance.

I took his tendency to jump from one subject to another as the nervousness that naturally comes with defencelessly facing life or death. I mean, what can Celtic fairy tales and obscure word definitions have in common?

We were all more primitive and even savage versions of our original selves back then, but I still clung to memories of my ‘normal’ childhood, when respect for elders was a practised thing. So I pretended to listen, while trying to figure out the best way to send him quickly on his way, so to speak. And don’t dare judge me for that because for me, respect was also the practical exercise of kindness and not merely showing it.

He had a dazzling way with words that seemed to dare me to make sense of the gibberish he was spouting. It was so unreal that I was obliged to listen in order to make some sense of it. This in turn distracted me from mentally massaging my devious plan. When I realised how easily he was manipulating me, I began to see him in another light.

He could have been either of a class ‘A’ bullshitter or an academic in his previous life. Each of the two made him as useless to me just then, as a one legged man at an arse kicking party. Except that is, for the very subtle way he was pulling my strings. That showed him up as being mentally adept despite his physical appearance.

When the death of one or both is the most likely result of any meeting of two strangers, killing one outright was a prudent option but I had time and I was curious. It also amused me that despite all appearances, he seemed to be offering his experience of life in exchange for his life. He was making a sacrifice to me and I was young and stupid enough to feel good about that.

So, instead of begging me, like any rational man would, he chose to lecture me like he would a student and the lesson he chose centred on the word ‘Bleak’. He began by offering the original definition of the word, like maybe it had a hidden double meaning or something.

I was barely a teenager back then and like all survivors, I thought I’d already seen every shade of desperation there was. So, having pretty much decided how I was going to put him down, I thought I’d oblige him for a minute or two as a kindness, like I said.

So I parked my butt well out of reach and listened to his nonsense. But what he had to say left no doubt that I was looking at more than just another piece of worthless human wreckage.
At the time, I didn’t know that he’d just smashed his set of false teeth. So, once he regurgitated a toothless cackle, he told me that he lived through times when the word ‘Bleak’ was as useless as a mumbled apology. Those were his words not mine. It was, he said, once used to describe abstract discomforts that might disappear with a sympathetic frown or an imitation shiver.

Oisin told me that ‘Bleak’ was a word once used to describe minor irritations like having to wear double socks in March or coming home to find that the central heating timer didn’t trip on. In common with mother’s rhubarb pie, I also vaguely remembered what a central heating system was.

Anyway, he said that ‘Bleak’ meant little more than ‘unpleasant’ and that it was a word that was usually reserved for polite ‘tinkling glass’ conversations. That definition only disappeared, he whispered, when people could no longer exchange plastic cards or brightly coloured paper for ready made meals … served hot, no less. Now that was new.

The power of ‘Bleak’ as we all now know, is inversely proportional to the silence that embraces our land. The word has fully evolved and now genuinely chills to the bone while simultaneously stinking of stagnant death, especially in winter.

The ‘so called’ Festive Season with Thanksgiving, Xmas or Christmas for those who still stubbornly cling to hope, has been re-consigned to the human dream-time for safe-keeping.

Winter is now the stalking season and when there isn’t enough to go around, everyone must keep a personal stash of something somewhere. So, you either stalk or you get stalked or like the legions of our dearly departed, you get extinct.

  • The Dark Room by Sam Blake
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