My mom likes to go to Second-Hand Shops, Library Book Sales, and Garage Sales in order to buy cheap books for my boys. The books are usually sci-fi and fantasy for my older two or picture books for the toddler. Almost all are from the 80s or 90s and are not exactly classics. Often we will start reading one at bedtime and stop after a few pages. The book then gets thrown on a shelf until we decide to clean up and donate it to Goodwill. As a result of being stuck in the house for the 3,000th consecutive day because of the COVID lockdown this was the situation we found ourselves in a few days ago. We started cleaning out a spare room previously used as a catch all to space so that we can use it as a combination work space/play room during the quarantine.

When we got to the bookshelves this book was put in the donate pile and my oldest son, always ready for a break, started leafing through it.

And then this fell out:

This is real!

So many questions! Who is Mika? Why was she in the hospital? Did the author of the note hurt her? Know her? What was this frickin plan? Did it work? Is this an open police case? What does “if not more” mean? On my goodness, this sounds like an elevator pitch for a Steven King novel but it seems totally legit. My wife and I were searching for cold case files and missing persons poster for the name Mika in the county where the book was bought between 1989 (when the book was written) and 2017 When it was putchased.

I posted the picture of this note on Twitter and a few people and I all came up with an idea independently. Take away the terrifying implications and this would be a great creative writing prompt (thanks to @jonathanspike and @WaymireL). Imagine opening a textbook or some seemingly forgotten folder and sometging like this falls out. If it is an addition to an already gamified classroom what an amazing way to build some world building narrative opprotunity. Here is my vision – a student is issued a textbook on day 2 with a note like this tucked into the pages. On the back is a url address or qr code linking to a website with a “hidden message” from the teacher seeking a story to explain this to the class. Maybe the characters in the note are related to NPCs in the class narrative – like a grandparent that was a coworker of the big bad and this note was grandpa witnessing something at work. What was it? What was the result? The student gets to play a role. Maybe different students get different notes and they all contribute in growimg thebclass in some small way. Maybe they are allowed to bring their friends into the conspiracy. In my US History class we are always talking about primary sources. Maybe they could think of and create ‘primary sources’ for tge event – Security camera footage, old reciepts, photographs, newspaper clippings. This could be an interesting side quest that would build historical thinking skills, a class narrative, and game but in.

From a terrifying discovery comes a terrifically awesome idea.

Still, I sincerely hope whoever Mika is was ok.