August 30, 2011

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 27: We Will Become the Borg. Resistance is Futile.

Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

SF Trope: bodily transformations

Current Event:

What we’re talking about this week is what I’d like to call, “the Borg Syndrome”.

People have been talking about enhancing humanity or transforming the human body for years. Ever since the first kid put spring-loaded bouncy shoes on or doctors implanted the first pacemaker to keep someone’s heart beating, we’ve gotten more and more into this whole idea of transforming the human body into something it wasn’t – or isn’t anymore. How many of you have grandmas, grandpas, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, cousins or yourself who had bodily transformations? Hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery, hearing aids, pacemakers and hormone replacement therapy are all forms of bodily modifications.

So let’s say we gots us a kid – about 17.

He’s no great athlete, but mom and dad and brothers and sisters are TOTAL jocks! Have been. Always. As the oldest boy, he was expected to be a FOOTBALL or baseball or hockey or…whatever star.

He went out for plays instead. He geeked out on science and after a fierce competition, he’s at the University of Minnesota as a sophomore in the biomechanical engineering program. He gets to play with “body transformative equipment” all day long. He ignores his family, they ignore him…except for his little brother, who loves hockey but accepts HIM for who he is.

Over the holidays – he turned down his mom begging him to come home – there’s a terrible fire – no one survives. He figures it was the crazy Christmas tree decorations his family has always put up. He’s alone in the world now.

That’s fine by him. After the holidays, he grimly goes back to his normal life; only a few friends, no one he’d call close.

Then this chick comes up to him in the biomech lab and while he thinks she’s coming on to him, he quickly discovers that she is neither interested in him THAT way, nor is she from the present. She’s from 139 years in the future, the murder of his family was no accident, and she’s here to “help” him…

“Help me what?” he asked, scowling.

She sniffed, “I don’t know. They didn’t give me any details. I’m just here to help you.”

Shaking his head, he said, “Great. The future sent me a dumb jockette to help avenge the murder of my family.”

You can take it from there!

DO NOT REWRITE TERMINATOR for children! Do something NEW with this!


August 28, 2011

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY: Star Trek vs Star Wars – the Real Future Factor

In the perennial fan battle between Star Trek and Star Wars, both sides point to extensive media tie-in products ranging from novels to Halloween costumes. Both sides are quick to note how their favorite product has insinuated itself into American –indeed WORLD – culture.

Former President Ronald Regan promoted his “Star Wars” defense system and in England, more people claim that they are religiously Jedi than claim they are religiously Jewish.

“Beam me up, Scotty” and “My God, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a…” are phrases that are endlessly parodied and repeated and are meaningful to most Americans. The character of Uhura inspired actor Whoopi Goldberg to break out of the only role African American had ever been portrayed as in television: the maid; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. talked Nichelle Nicols (Uhura) out of quitting Star Trek because of her impact civil rights in the late 1960s.

THAT is the point I wish to make – Star Trek was a coherent (usually) attempt to alter the culture of this planet to make a better future. Star Trek quotes such as, “Gillian asked sarcastically, ‘Don’t tell me they don’t use money in the 23rd century,’ and Kirk told her, ‘Well, we don’t.’” reflect a philosophical shift and a dream.

Captain Picard explains in a round-about way to Lily Sloane in 2063 that, “…on Earth, war, poverty, disease, and the causes thereof have been eliminated.” Gene Rodenberry’s intent was to show a future in which Humanity reached its true potential. Warp drive had come about through the researches of one Dr. Zephram Cochrane and tested by using a converted Titan II nuclear weapon launch vehicle.

George Lucas wanted to lift us out of the darkness of a deep recession in the spring of 1978 – and he did an admirable job. But never at any point did Lucas wish to promote the idea that republics should be dissolved and emperors installed. His was a purely entertaining world where the laws of physics were happily ignored and spaceships made squealing-buzzing sounds and lasers made “bew-bew-bew-bew” sounds when fired in the vacuum of space.

Star Trek was propaganda wrapped in entertainment.

Star Wars was entertainment wrapped in money.

This also raises the point – which is better: propaganda or entertainment? Which reflects the “human spirit” better? Hmmm, maybe let’s not answer that questions.

Star Trek attempted something noble. Rodenberry had a dream, as much a dream as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Star Trek was the vehicle he used to promote that dream. He fervently believed that humanity’s destiny was – IS – out among the stars. He convinced others to believe that given time and wisdom, humanity could perfect itself and take its place as an equal among the aliens who had to be “out there”.

George Lucas had no such intent and while there may be people who claim to be Jedi, there’s still no proof that anything like The Force exists. In fact, George Lucas back-pedaled on that as well. In the first Star Wars movie (which now styles itself Episode IV: A New Hope), The Force is clearly metaphysical, mystic and magical. Then in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Lucas makes it little more than some weird form of infection as when the future Obi-Wan Kenobi says, “...the reading’s off the chart... over twenty thousand. Even Master Yoda doesn’t have a midi-chlorian count that high!”

If someone in Star Trek ever got a midi-chlorian infection, then Dr. McCoy, Dr. Crusher, Dr. Bashir, Dr. Emergency Medical Hologram and Dr. Phlox would make SURE that they were cured so they could get back to the business of reaching humanity’s true potential!


August 23, 2011

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 26: The Zombie Researcher

Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

H Trope: zombies

Current Event:

I am going to write a short story or novel called ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE STILL LIFE WITH LILIES – this has given me an impetus to do it!

But what if it happened at YOUR school?

Doesn’t matter if it was in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s or even 1os – what if a kid you knew, maybe his or her dad is a chemist and they’ve picked up a thing or two from Dad…

On vacation at the Hotel Florita, Jacmel, Haiti, they sneak out to the countryside and having done a bit of internet research (using this very article as a reference!), manage to get the chemicals.

On their return, they practice in the old playhouse – on a mouse; then a guinea pig; a cat; Chihuahua; a lab; a St. Bernard; a homeless kid…finally on their least favorite school enemy.

But not everything goes as planned and working with the chemicals have left residue on the hands, clothes and skin of the zombie researcher…


August 21, 2011

WRITING ADVICE – Kristine Kathryn Rusch #2: “Postponing Your Dreams”

I first ran across the work of Kristine Kathryn Rusch when her named appeared on the bottom of a standard rejection form I got from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, where she was head editor for several years. A short time later, I ran across one of her short stories (“Retrieval Artist” in the June 2000 ANALOG), which of course, led me t0 her RETRIEVAL ARTIST novels. I’m a fan now and started reading her blog a year or so ago. As always, I look for good writing advice to pass on to you as well as applying it to my own writing. I have her permission to quote from the articles. You can find the complete article referenced below, here: 2009/11/26/freelancers-survival-guide-postponing-your-dreams/

“By the time Baby Boomers realized they weren’t doing what they wanted to do, that they were running out of time to make a real difference in the world, to follow their passion…they [we]re embarking on a career that can take ten years to ramp up…

“I’ve watched others who have postponed their dreams struggle with years of learned behavior…The feeling that anything is possible that you had in your twenties is gone. As a middle-aged adult, you know that some things are no longer possible…Postponing your dreams is a dangerous thing to do. Because time does eventually run out. In order to freelance, you need to learn how to take risks…freelancers can’t survive without it…What most people who postpone their dreams fail to realize is that when they retire, they might have the time to work on their dreams full time, but they might not have the time to achieve them.

“So many people postponed their dreams because they felt they had something to lose…They could…risk the fortunes of everyone they love, not just their own fortunes.”

Dire and dark. Dark and dire.


I cannot shake the feeling that a Ringwraith is standing behind me in the bus, breathing cavern-cold breath on my neck. The hairs of someone who is prey rise up both to protect from the sudden drop in temperature – and in order to make me look larger to the Wraith so that it might think twice about swallowing me.

And yet while I have no track record compared to Kristine Kathryn Rusch and her husband, I have still been paid for my writing. I am still a professional writer. It’s just that I am not a full-time professional writer.


I have been accused of being a “hobby writer”. “Hobby” and its accompanying sesquipedalian “avocation” are (no matter how respectfully you say them) condescending – and not even true. You could call Benjamin Franklin a hobby politician or just as easily have said that inventing stuff was his avocation.

“But, but, but…” you might stammer. “That was then! This is now!” All right then, I have a good friend who once played NFL football for the Seattle Seahawks and the Buffalo Bills. That wasn’t all he did. You could have called him a hobby clinical pathologist as well or said that his avocation was playing for the NFL.

I have been working at creating more and more of my income through my writing and its allied professions. For example, my current income-related writing is around $10,000/year. That is because in addition to my publications, I also travel as a speaker/teacher to Young Author’s Conferences and teach both in the summer and as a writing coach. I have also been a Writer in Residence in my home state. My income that could be directly connected to writing was higher in those days. As I build my career, the number of published pieces increases and my royalties increase as well.

Will I be among the best-paid authors like James Patterson, Stephen King, Stephanie Meyers, JK Rowling? Most likely not, but I’m not going to rule it out, either. I won’t be taking out a loan to buy that new 2012 Jaguar XJ. But I will write as if I’m going to move into their ranks. I will continue to scribble ideas at odd times and in odd places. I will keep my eye on e-publishing as people do new and innovative things, but I will also peek around the corners of high school libraries, county libraries, independent bookstores, and root around in the plywood shelving of the neighborhood Half-Price Books as well as sip lattes at Barnes & Noble whilst thumbing FORBES.

Realistic writing like this is what INSPIRES me and while my dreams may not be grandiose, I am still working them, still having them and still believing them.

Comments from anyone reading this?


August 18, 2011

SHORT LONG JOURNEY #29: July 14, 1946

This series is a little bit biographical and a little bit imaginary about my dad and a road trip he took in the summer of 1946, when he turned fifteen. He and a friend hitchhiked from Loring Park to Duluth, into Canada and back again. He was gone from home for a month. I was astonished and fascinated by the tale. So, I added some speculation about things I've always wondered about and this series is the result. To read earlier SHORT LONG JOURNEY NORTH, click on the label to the right. The FIRST entry is on the bottom.

Neither Tommy Hastings or Freddie Merrill had a peep to say when they were standing across the street from Glensheen Mansion.

They didn’t recognize it. The first person who passed them on the sidewalk laughed at them and said, “The Glensheen Mansion makes everybody feel like it’s the Great Depression and you don’t got a job; that is to say poorer than a churchmouse and twice as scruffy!”

They’d both nodded slowly and Freddie even had to wipe the drool from his chin after the first ten minutes. When he’d done that he said, “They don’t even have mansions this big up on Mount Curve Avenue!”

A woman passing them laughed as well and said, “Boys, there isn’t another mansion like this between the Rockies and the Appalachians! The Congdon’s are practically the richest people in Minnesota – why they’re practically royalty from what I hear!”

The boys continued to stare at the immense house surrounded by trees and a wrought iron fence. A drive entered the fence at one side of the estate, wandered through the woods and eventually stopped in front of the mansion itself.

“How we supposed to get in there?” Freddie asked.

“What makes you think I wanna get in there?”

“Ain’t that what we come here for, to get in and see your uncle?”

“My uncle’s name ain’t Congdon,” Tommy said. “Mom’s maiden name was Ruth Ellen Heinke. She was a domestic.”

“A what?”

“Like a servant.”

“Your mom was a servant?”

Tommy shrugged. “That’s what she said. She was only twenty-one when my dad married her.”

“Your dad was like what?”

Tommy shrugged. “Dunno. A lot older,” he replied staring at the mansion. Then he said, “We have to wait until it gets dark. I saw a crick back a bit. We wait ‘til night, then slide under the fence. I remember Ma saying they had horses and gardens and stuff, so there should be a barn and a gardener’s cottage or something. We can talk to someone there and nobody’ll guess we’re nothing.”

“We’re not nothing!” Freddie exclaimed.

Tommy looked at him and lifted an eyebrow. “Big words from somebody who was afraid of his shadow not a few miles ago.”

Freddie shrugged as well. “I ain’t the same kid I was in Loring Park. Stuff has happened.”

Tommy nodded slowly and said, “I think more stuff is about to happen.”


August 16, 2011


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

F Trope: heroes

Current Event:

I know this is much like the previous entry in which I directed your attention to a similar subject last week – but these are people who dress in “outfits” like Flash and Green Lantern and other super heroes.

Now, I’ve read my fair share of comic books. I’ve worn my share of super hero outfits months after Halloween was over. I’ve even made paper masks from old grocery bags…

I was roundly laughed at and chased back into my bedroom until I “got real”.

So here we have heroes who DRESS the role – nicely I might add – who have no super powers or anything else to distinguish them from the rest of the masses of Humanity.

So here’s the challenge: in an average high school, in an average suburb, an average principal and an average teaching staff have pretty much let things slide and their school is lower-than-average. Kids get harassed (fat ones, skinny ones, GLBTC ones, jocks, geeks and well….everyone) until ONE finally gets tired of it.

No, he/she does NOT bring a gun to school and start shooting people. They read the website and come up with a solution. They become a hero…

WHO WAS THAT MASKED PERSON? What do they do and HOW do they do it?


August 14, 2011

SLICE OF PIE: Why do we LOVE Harry, Ender and Frodo?

For Americans, the answer to the question of why we love Harry Potter, Ender Wiggins and Frodo Baggins is simple: they’re all athletes.

A fair number of pages of the million-word Harry Potter Saga (with the exception of THE GOBLET OF FIRE) are given over to quidditch – an imaginary game played by witches and wizards on broomsticks with beaters and snitches and various other VERY sporty equipment. Arguably, it’s Harry’s quidditch skills that actually help him defeat Voldemort in DEATHLY HALLOWS.

The same is true for Ender Wiggins in the (also) million-word ENDER’S GAME Saga. Ender, who along with other smart kids, is trained to be a soldier in Humanity’s desperate war against the Formics, by playing endless null gravity games against other teams – as well as playing that other World-class sport, computer games.

And Frodo? SURELY I can’t be serious! But think about it: by the end of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, Frodo is a proficient fencer, horseman, rock-climber/rapeller and sprinter! In fact, he goes on later to become Samwise Gamgee’s trainer, whipping the other pudgy Hobbit into a virtual Schwartzenegger mini clone.

There are few imaginary characters in speculative fiction who have captured our hearts more effectively than these hard-working jocks. If you know of any, please let me know. If you disagree, also please let me know!

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go create the next great speculative fiction Saga in which a soccer/football-playing Canadian-Kenyan kid who emigrated from the US and is the team goalie, saves Earth by defending so well that the scoreless game is upset when his arch-rival (and secret love interest), a girl from Kansas scores against the aliens and saves Earth. Of course, during the victory hogpile, she admits she couldn’t have done it without him…


August 9, 2011


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

SF Trope: super powers

Current Event:

This is NOT going to take a lot of thought. So, I’m going to put a twist on this and then a restriction!

First of all the main character of any story that comes from this has to LOATHE themselves. They have to really believe that they are worthless meat-sacks. (The Bug from MEN IN BLACK I –

Secondly, the super power has to be used in secret and has to result in something GOOD happening. It also has to happen to a teen. Final restriction – don’t rewrite or recreate in any way The X-Men or Dr. Xavier’s Academy for “gifted teens”. They have to be alone, deal alone and HELP alone. No fanfare, no spandex costumes and NO “best friends who just happens to be the son/daughter of a super hero or some other downtrodden group who can help overcome the sense of loneliness by introducing them to a small/huge/select group of humans/aliens/human-aliens who are “just like them”.




August 7, 2011

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAYS: Poor Doesn’t Mean “Without a Sense of Humor” or “Unable to View Society with Wisdom”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Octavia Butler.

Stephen King.

Jane Austen.

What do these people have in common?

Probably the same thing that this person did…

On my way to work a few months ago, I was driving through a neighborhood that many of my students come from. The major features of that neighborhood are a small plane airport (purported to be busier than Minneapolis/St Paul International), an abandoned lot that once held an egg-packaging plant, a revamped apartment complex that has been renamed four times since I was in high school, an international medical supply company that has slowly taken over all the buildings near it, a strip-mall with an UNbank, a hair salon specializing in weaves and a convenience store, and a burned-out gas station. In this neighborhood, there have been two murders in the past five years, uncountable assaults and two OTHER shootings (besides the murders).

As I said, a large number of my students come from this neighborhood and I have driven through it and to it for years.

Gas prices had been shooting through the ceiling for some time, but the corner gas station caught fire when prices were $2.59 a gallon (oh, for THOSE days again!). The sign was untouched for months as weeds grew around the station, the police investigation tape blew away and the plywood over the shattered windows below the smoke-stained exterior started to discolor and warp.

One afternoon on my way home, I turned the corner and caught sight of the price sign. Some wag had rearranged the numbers to read: $9.52 a gallon.

At first I paid it no attention – kids getting a kick out of rearranging the sign.

Then I started to think about it. While it was a simple rearrangement of numbers – actually only TWO were switched – what it said was profound. As long as I was paying attention.

It said to me that satire doesn’t have to be book length (like Pierre Boulle’s MONKEY PLANET (aka PLANET OF THE APES) (“a wry parable on science, evolution and the relationship between man and animal.”)), and it doesn’t have to be a political cartoon (Like Richard Guindon drew ( It can be a very simple statement in a very simple neighborhood in a very simple city – and it can have a very profound impact. At least on one person.

The moral of this parable for me is that I don’t HAVE to write long to say a lot.

Now I just have to apply it. I agree with Princess Mia Thermopolis in PRINCESS DIARIES 2 when she says, “The concept is grasped. The execution is a little elusive.”


August 6, 2011


I read the play version of Daniel Keyes’ FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON when I was in eighth grade. It has stayed with me for decades, a haunting symbol for both the overwhelming possibilities of the human intellect and the overwhelming impossibilities faced by a profoundly challenged human mind. I’ve started and stopped this novel a half a dozen times in eleven years. I want to bring the original idea into the present millennium. To read RECONSTRUCTION from beginning to here, click on the label to the right and scroll four pages back until you get to the bottom.

The cop put his hand on his gun and started to draw.

CJ Hastings said, “You can’t shoot anyone in a hospital!”

“I can shoot anyone…” the cop began.

The other one, an older man, put his hand on the younger man’s shoulder and said, “I think it would be a really bad idea, Jonterrius, to start shooting patients and families in hospitals.”

“But that doctor said…”

“You mean Dr. Chazhukaran?” CJ asked.

The older cop frowned. “That was the name he gave.”

“He just tried to kidnap my sister ‘cause he thinks she’s his personal experiment.”

“Excuse me?”

CJ’s mom stepped in and said, “My daughter is under his treatment with an experimental drug, but the side-effects have been so bad – her falling into a coma is only the last straw for her – that she called him and told him she wanted to opt out of the program. He got very angry and sent some of his graduate students to harass my daughter into staying in the program.”

The cop scowled even more and reached for his gun. “What kind of treatment?”

Mom didn’t say anything so CJ said, “You probably don’t want to know as much as I didn’t want to know but found out anyway.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

CJ shrugged and said, “You really wanna know?”


CJ took a deep breath and said, “You asked for it: my sister has really, really, really bad periods, you know. Like she bleeds all over everything like she got stabbed or something? But that’s not the worst, see, she has really, really bad PMS – like she doubles over screaming when she get cramps and then practically like takes knives after us just before her period starts. And like, she goes crazy and has even –you know, like wrote stuff on the walls with, you know…”

The officer wrinkled his nose and started to say, “That’s enough, kid…”

Warming up to his story, CJ continued, “But see, like that ain’t the worst. She has to use like a new pad like every fifteen minutes, and lately it’s started to get really, really, really bad and she and mom had to like send me out for like six boxes of pads…”


CJ shut up as the cops stepped back. CJ raised his hand, and the cop nodded to him cautiously. “The experiment was to make it so she’s like, you know, a normal human when she has her period.”

Behind the two cops, one woman cop said to another in a low voice, “I could use some of that medication.”

Following his mom, CJ hurried into the hospital room. Mai Li was sitting up, staring at the door as they walked in. She didn’t say anything until the door closed behind them. Then she snorted. “Nice save, Kid.”

“Thanks,” CJ said.

She looked away then turned back to them. “Listen, I think something’s gone wrong with the nanomachines. You have to contact Dr. Chazhukaran and let him know…”

“He just tried to have you kidnapped!” CJ exclaimed.

“He what?” Mai Li asked, looking at her mother.

“You collapse in the basement at the foot of the stairs. I called 911 and when the ambulance arrived, the people hurried down the stairs. I didn’t question them. Then a second ambulance came and Dr. Chazhukaran tried to take you to the U. The real paramedics intervened and you came here…”

She pursed her lips then said, “I need to talk to him. I’m pretty sure I know what’s going on, but I need his help to see if I can stop it.”

“What’s happening?” asked CJ.

“The nanomach…” Mai Li’s eyes rolled back into her head at the same moment the hospital room door was shoved open from outside. CJ’s hands went up and he shoved back.

Someone outside cursed then Dr. Chazhukaran’s voice carried through the door, “Everyone stand back! She’s extremely contagious and I’m afraid the kid and his mom are dead already!"


August 2, 2011

IDEAS ON TUESDAY #23: The Ghosts in a Minnesota English Mansion

Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

H Trope: ghosts

Current Event:

My daughter and I were talking about camping today. A few days ago, I had scribbled a question a few days ago: “Are there English-type mansions in Minnesota?”

I mentioned that we might someday head north through the city of Duluth because I had frequently passed the Glensheen Mansion on Lake Superior and I related to her its grisly past – which had happened the year I graduated from Golden Valley Lutheran College. I remember the hoopla and the delicious chill it sent down our backs whenever we talked about it.

But what if me and a couple of friends headed north and to Duluth a few days after the news of the double murder – pillow suffocation and a bludgeoning with (shades of CLUE!) a candlestick. Of course, because of the place is swarming with police and detectives (zillions of dollars in inheritance is now up for grabs by relatives – and of COURSE there’s a will, handwritten, from three days before the murders!


This is a prime setting for ghosts peering, lost from the window.

But what if the ghosts of Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse Velma Pietila turned up on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Duluth where me and my friends are staying, sleeping on the floor of some summer school friends?

And what if we were laying in the dark, gazing up at the stars on the Griggs Football Field late at night and suddenly a ghost hovers over the field, reaching out to us as the air around chills. I can see my breath and a voice before us breathes lightly, “It’s not who they think, son. Not who they think.”

A second ghost appears, this one an older woman, though not as young as Elisabeth – and she’s obviously been murdered, her head bashed in; blood still stains her face and dress. She raises one hand, palm to you and softly hisses, “Stop them. Stop them.” The ghosts dance around you in a tighter and tighter circle then disappear…

What will YOU do?