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?


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