It’s a beautiful day on campus at Dakota State University. The birds are singing, the sun is shining…and the snow piles are seven feet high. Students are beginning to get nervous; it seems that the spring they have been promised is being held for ransom. Random attacks come at any time of day and night in the form of light snow, heavy snow, freezing rain, flurries, high winds, and the occasional blizzard. It seems that these sudden storms are attempts at psychological intimidation, increasing fear and dread indiscriminately.

It is in the face of these dire circumstances that we find DSU’s private detective, I.M. Rising, sitting calmly in Beadle Hall (he likes the company of ghosts and English professors) and regretting that he cannot smoke a pipe in honor of his hero, the beloved Sherlock. However, our good detective is determined to abide by the rules and respect the “thank you for not smoking” sign printed in the pattern of the rug on the ground entrance. “You’re welcome,” he says aloud, just in case the rug is waiting for an answer.

While he contemplates his lack of a professional air (drinking from a Stanley cup really doesn’t give the same vibe as smoking a pipe), it occurs to Detective Rising that campus is not the same place as it was last year in March. Everywhere he goes, he is confronted by the anxious faces of distraught students and faculty as they battle through the endless opposition of snow, snow, and also snow.

Never one to back down in the face of a challenge, our brave and bold detective marches down to the first floor and gets some peanut butter M&Ms from the vending machine. While he waits for the machine to accept his card (third attempt and counting), he contemplates what he might do to track down the suspect and bring that wily villain to justice. “Ah, well, every skilled detective must have his nemesis,” Rising sighs. Compared to Moriarty, this recurring terrorization is nothing. However, it seems he is up against impossible odds, although the snow does make footprints easier to follow, it also seems to effectively bury any helpful evidence before he can get his car dug out of its parking space.

Eventually, I.M. Rising hits upon an idea that might just fix his problem and bring back his prestige (although putting stickers on his deerstalker hat may have destroyed that for good). “The only way this mess can be solved for good, is to hide inside until it is over,” he says aloud with a shake of his fist. “We’ll outwit this nasty Winter and give it a taste of its own medicine.” Detective Rising designs some posters while the vending machine works on authorizing his card. An hour later, he gets them printed and strides importantly around campus, ripping other posters off of the bulletin boards to make room for his.

“Stay inside,” his posters warn. “When moving between buildings, do it as quickly as possible; do not attract attention to yourselves. Stay inside. Play video games. Do homework.” He reasons that the absence of life on campus will make it possible for him to do his important sleuthing work and confront the suspect face to face. Looking around, it seems that everyone is following his advice. It is almost magical; how could they all have seen the posters already? He feels very pleased with himself.

“Just another busy day at the office,” I.M. Rising reflects as he settles back down in his worn chair, stroking his beard. “I’ll beat this case yet. If only I had a pipe to smoke as I consider where the evidence leads.”

Somewhere outside, the sky rumbles with a sound like the beginning of a snowstorm, or deep laughter.