July 2, 2013


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: Ghost Towns
Current Event: http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/mn/taconiteharbor.html

Mary Croft may have been the only certified dredge operator on the North Shore of Lake Superior – but she hadn’t expected to be the ONLY operator in the abandoned town of Taconite Harbor.

The dredge she captained was mostly operated by an “artificial intelligence idiot”, which was why she was required by Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company to actually direct the floating suction dredge boat. The harbor was a small one, the taconite loads mostly taken out by rail, and the robots inside did most of the work in the town.

Her job would take a week and the company wanted her to work as much time as possible, so they’d given her one of the floating suction dredgers with an actual bed, galley and deck. “Henry?” she said.

“Please call me Hal,” said the idiot.

She shook her head. “I’d rather not. I have an original DVD of the old movie 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.”

“You can’t,” said Henry.

“I can’t what?”

“Have an original DVD. The movie 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY was filmed in 1967 and premiered in 1968. The first true DVD was not manufactured for movies until 1995.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I do not.”

She sighed and shook her head. “Let’s call it a day and shut down operations,” she said, tapping the shutdown key on the flat screen.

“Very good, ma’am.”

Mary rolled her eyes toward the ceiling and stepped out on the deck. Henry would take it from here until the actual docking procedure which she would do in the gloaming. She loved that word, she thought, unfolding and dropping into the lawn chair she kept carefully stored until the end of the day. No one would have said anything if she’d lounged about all day, issuing orders to Henry via her cellphone, but that had never worked for her. When she did a job, she wanted to actually DO something. For the time being, however, Henry was working hard pulling in and storing the collapsible pipe they used to siphon sediment from the floor of the harbor. It was pumped to a barge where it was dried and shipped down to Duluth for further processing or shipment to central North American markets.

The sun had fallen behind the steep shoreline to her left. It was a calm evening, a choice night on the cool waters of Superior. Such a night was rare enough to make her sigh.

Farther out across the water, to her right on the lake, waves rippled like a thin band of diamonds reflecting sunset light.

What was left of the town was now invisible as was the power plant. It had once operated on coal and had had a solar conversion during the third term of America’s first black president. There was no one left living there.

When the three remaining streetlights farther up the shore, intermittently lining the stretch of road that had once been the main street of the long-abandoned town, abruptly lit, she frowned.
When lights on either side of the abandoned basketball court at the near end of the street, close to Taconite Harbor itself, suddenly lit, the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. She went into the boathouse and grabbed a pair of digital binoculars, took them out and scanned the shoreline.
The lights were gone.
Frowning, she lowered the binoculars and rubbed her  eyes. When she looked again, the lights were on and in the distance was the slow, faint thup-thup-thup of a basketball bouncing...
Names: Hebrew, English; ,

Image: http://i01.i.aliimg.com/img/pb/854/581/453/453581854_293.jpg More: http://www.flickr.com/photos/capwell/2805175118/in/photostream/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dredging; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Lakes_Dredge_and_Dock_Company; http://www.panoramio.com/photo/84736305, PS – While I didn’t take these pictures, I was HERE three weeks ago…

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