Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Into the fire September 20, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo July 2021, used for illustration only.

ONCE UPON A TIME in The Land of Plenty, the disbelieving villagers decided they’d had enough. They’d had enough of the Ministry of Health and its ongoing efforts to keep The Great Invader from continuing his march across the land. They were weary of being told what to do. They were weary of anything that limited their freedom. They were simply not going to listen. They would live their lives as they wished, unencumbered. And so they did.

Most, but not all, carried on as usual despite increasing reports of illnesses and deaths caused by The Great Invader. They didn’t fear him. After all, they’d gone this long without encountering him. Why worry now? They mocked those who expressed concern. They dismissed the daily lists of dead posted on multiple scrolls in the village square. They ignored, too, the stories of healers overwhelmed by the sick now lying on cots in the streets. They refused to listen to anyone who expressed even the slightest concern about the health of the kingdom.


Yet, despite their best efforts, they could not completely squelch the stories that circulated. It was rumored that The Great Invader had infected many in the region who refused a life-saving potion that would protect them. It was rumored, too, that many of the children in neighboring villages (and perhaps some of their own) had also fallen ill. And when a representative of the Ministry of Health tacked official documents from the Office of Truthfulness onto a post in the village square proving the stories were fact, not rumor, they ran him out of town. They built a roaring fire, ripped down the scrolls and burned the words of truth to ashes.

They would have none of this They danced in the square, hands joined in celebration. They sang, their boisterous voices rising. And when they grew weary from all the song and dance, they crammed onto long plank benches and drank their fill of ale. Their tongues loosened. Spittle flew. And they determined that no one, not even The Great Invader, held power over them or their village.


Days later, The Village Know-It-All, who led the local anti-Ministry of Health campaign and subsequent celebrations, fell ill. The villagers heard him hacking, his voice raspy with phlegm. He looked unwell. Pale. Weak. Perhaps even running a fever. Snot dripped from his nose. Still, his adoring admirers circled close as he barked at them in a hoarse voice. He instilled fear in most. Few dared challenge him.

Yet some in the village, noticing his declining health, discreetly distanced themselves from a man they’d never liked, whom they secretly considered a bully of low intelligence. Doubt crept into their thoughts. And they began to wonder if perhaps the Ministry of Health officials had been right all along. Perhaps The Great Invader had infiltrated their village. If only they’d read fully the words of warning posted in the village square. If only they’d chosen truth over fire.


NOTE: In every story, truth exists, this one no exception. As The Great Invader (COVID-19/delta variant) continues to ravage The Land of Plenty and beyond, please choose truth. Take care. Be safe. Be well. Think before you dance or sing in the village square. And, above all, care for one another, especially our children, our seniors and those who are health-compromised.

This marks the fourth in my ongoing series about The Great Invader. Click here to read my previous three posts.

NOTE: I moderate all comments on this, my personal blog.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “Into the fire”

  1. Ruth Says:

    I hope some of the villagers read your excellent stories and take heed.

    • Me, too, Ruth.

      I’m so frustrated by the lack of masking, the resistance to the COVID vaccine, the selfishness, the fill in the blank.

      I was thrilled to hear this morning that Pfizer has determined its vaccine to be safe and effective for ages 5-11. I want my grandchildren vaccinated asap.

  2. Good news on the younger kids being approved to be vaccinated. I recently read an article about George Washington and mandating for small pox vaccines – did not know that. I know one truth/myth going around was vaccinations create variants and in actuality vaccinations can decrease the variants. Discovery and learning is happening every day on this and I know I have learned a few things along the way (amazing what habits you do not think about because it is the norm – made me more aware). Take Care

    • Thanks for sharing that info about George Washington. Now I need to Google that and inform myself.

      Yes, you’re right. We can always learn. It’s just that the information needs to come from reliable and trusted sources.

    • I agree with you in reliable and trusted sources.

    • jhc1218 Says:

      George Washington ordered the Continental Army be inoculated against smallpox. Inoculation procedure at that time was rather repulsive by today’s standards. It makes the shot appear to be a walk in the park. Library of Congress article https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/GW&smallpoxinoculation.html


      • Thank you for sharing that link.

        The Faribault School Board last evening voted to follow CDC guidelines in determining whether to require or recommend masking based on the county’s COVID rate. I just listened to the meeting online. The board asked all in attendance to wear masks. If not, the meeting would go into recess. That happened three times…until folks either masked of left. In the end, the vote board voted to follow CDC guidelines for masking. However, it was not a unanimous vote… Based on our current rates, masking is now REQUIRED. I am grateful to those board members who understand that masking will help protect our students, staff and community and will help keep our kids in school.

  3. I hate the Great Invader. With a passion. Last night our school board voted 4-1 in favor of extending the mandatory mask mandate in the school buildings for another month. A step in the right direction at least.

    • I don’t like him either, not one bit. I’m thankful to hear your school board is extending mandatory masking. Our school district is also now requiring masks. Masking will now be connected to the case rate in the county (per CDC guidelines). We’re at HIGH and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

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