Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The Great Invader readies for school August 26, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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An abandoned rural Minnesota schoolhouse, used for illustration only. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo 2016.

ONCE UPON A TIME in The Land of Plenty, a rising revolt threatened the kingdom, especially the remote villages.

The Great Invader observed the discontent, the disagreements, the squabbling and outright lies. He delighted in the division permeating the land. He was an opportunist who wasted no time sneaking into villages and even cities. The more misinformation spread, the more he gloated, the easier his mission to inflict sickness and death upon the land.

When he learned the Ministry of Education was meeting to discuss plans that would thwart his efforts, he took note. He needed to gather information, to strategize and then to implement a strong plan of attack.

So The Great Invader slid into the meeting room, tucking into a corner unseen. His invisibility was especially useful in situations like this. Already, he liked what he saw—people packed together, most without protective armor. Perfect. He felt giddy inside. He had allies.


When the villagers stepped up to address the Ministry of Education, The Great Invader could hardly contain his joy. They—with the exception of two—sided with him, expressing outrage toward any efforts to protect the young children of the kingdom. This was going so much better than he had hoped.

“You will not tell us what to do,” said one defiant mother, her son posed beside her. “My children will not wear masks when they are in the village school.” That defied official recommendations from the Ministry of Health to wear protective face masks.

The Great Invader nearly revealed his presence by pumping his arm in celebration. That sent a ripple of air into the room. He reminded himself then to sit still and listen.


Another mother stepped forward, claiming a mask would traumatize her children, that a face covering was unnecessary, and that she, and her children, had rights. The Great Invader nearly danced right there in the midst of his powerful grassroots allies.

But even he couldn’t believe the mother’s statement that “No kids have died (from the virus he inflicted).” He knew this to be a bold lie and hadn’t expected such an uncaring and uninformed public declaration of untruth. Yet, this only bolstered his campaign, so he quietly applauded.

And he applauded, too, when a villager attacked the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and called face masks “child abuse.” He hadn’t even considered that, noting the need to share this with his Office of Misinformation. He felt such gratitude for the angry villagers filling the room.


But he loathed the two mothers who spoke in support of masking in the village school. The shared their concerns for the health and safety of their children, all the children and the village educators. This was not helpful. Not at all.


In the end, The Great Invader needn’t have worried. The Ministry of Education voted only to strongly recommend (not require) wearing of face masks in the village school. He noted, though, two dissenting votes. One ministry member expressed her deep concern about the safety of the young village children. The Great Invader filed that for future reference before slipping from the room. He felt certain many of the village children would come to school unmasked. Oh, how this pleased him. He could roam freely, infecting the youngest with incredible ease.

Now, with schools opening soon, he had work to do. Routes to map. He would target the children of the kingdom, especially those too young to take a magic potion that helped many of the village elders and others keep him at bay. He held deep disdain for those who chose to protect themselves, their families and friends, and other villagers. How dare they challenge him. How dare they try to stop him. How dare they…

NOTE: In every story truth exists, this one no exception. The setting and quotes in this story are, sadly, real. Be safe. Be well. Care about our children. And each other. The Great Invader (COVID-19) is still hard at work in The Land of Plenty and beyond.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


10 Responses to “The Great Invader readies for school”

  1. It is so very disheartening. I just don’t understand. Our BOE took the same stance and our hospitals are now overflowing with children. I just keep praying.

    • Disheartening is right. Not only am I frustrated with parents who vehemently object to masking, but I’m also frustrated with decision-makers. Last year, when teachers demanded every level of protection, they got it. As they should have. But now, when it comes to protecting our children, that same level of concern is missing. I don’t get it. My granddaughter starts kindergarten soon in a school district which recommends, but does not require, masking. Why, oh, why? I ask the same question of Faribault and Brevard, N.C., and all those schools who are not doing their 100 percent best for the health and safety of our children.

  2. Not surprising. I was reading the online paper about the Carlton County Fair (one near and dear to my heart time time each year) and saw a picture of a crowd watching a fair event, not one mask at all! Crowded together adults and children. I know that maybe I am not getting the full picture, as it has been 18 months since I was last in MN but, still… the numbers are crazy there!!!!

    • Oh, you are getting the full picture, Paula. Most people are acting like the pandemic no longer exists. I’ve seen footage of the Minnesota State Fair, and same thing. Yesterday the grandstand was evacuated due to storms and guests crammed into the space underneath for shelter. The TV footage I saw showed minimal masking. Yup. Makes no sense.

      As far as schools, the Albert Lea schools opened this week and already have 36 cases of COVID with nearly 300 students required to quarantine as a result. Masks will now be required for students in grades 6-12. This ought to reveal to school boards, educators and parents all across the state how important it is to do everything we can to protect our children.

  3. Norma Says:

    I spoke to my grandson in Mississippi recently. They started school but after 2 weeks took a break because of Covid . He’s a teacher at a local high school. No masks required in that state. Makes me angry.. What’s wrong with people? What would the world be like if the polio vaccine, or the smallpox vaccine had been in the hands of the people we have objecting to masks and vaccine now?

    • Oh, Norma, I’m sorry about that outbreak in your grandson’s Mississippi school. Unfortunately, I expect this to repeat in school district after school district after school district.

      I often wonder the same…what if people hadn’t gotten vaccinated for polio and smallpox, etc.? My parents were happy we could get vaccinated. And in school. We would line up and get our vaccines. I do NOT understand the anti-vaccine, anti-mask view. And, yes, that angers me, too. Soon I will need to decide whether I want to attend family gatherings with unvaccinated adults. If those individuals are in attendance, I likely will not be. Not worth the risk. Nor do I want to spend time with individuals (family or not) who don’t care about the health and safety of others/their loved ones.

      • Norma Says:

        EXACTLY!!!! I also remember my smallpox vaccine at my school. Everyone got it.!!

      • Just heard from a friend in Worthington (in sw MN) that, within two hours of school opening today, the school is switching from optional masking to “required” masking due, apparently to COVID cases in the school. After only TWO HOURS. Thankful for the policy change, but wish it would have been in place right away.

  4. Susan Ready Says:

    My goodness, what a creative approach to getting your point across. I hope you are thinking of where else to publish this well written satire. Sort of reminds me of the Grinch talking!
    Well done on all accounts

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