The Flat Earth Society



Location: Isolation cell on Starship Oumuamua, somewhere in the Pegasus Constellation. Earth distance:643,425,000 km. Sun distance: 546,000,000 km. Speed: 100 km/s (At that speed Dear Leader Duh-wite could get in his Audi A8 in St. John's, NL and be in Vancouver, BC in 1 minute 15 seconds flat.) Earth calendar: February 10, 2018, 2.20 AM.

Few people other than spouse are aware of my considerable experience with teleportation--the ability to travel great distances on earth or throughout the solar system by harnessing the power of ordinary AM radio waves--the things that bring you voices and music when you turn on your radio.

I have not shared this knowledge widely less some unscrupulous politicians like Dear leader Duh-wite and his gang find out what I am up to and send the constabulary over to my house to conduct a raid in the middle of the night. Spouse does not like to be disturbed when she is lying on a beach in the south sea islands of her dreams.

It all started back in the 1960s before spouse came along, interrupted my nocturnal fantasies, and according to her set me firmly on the path to a normal productive life. I learned at the time that big radio stations like WHRP, a 100,000-watt AM border station in Rosarito, Mexico, boomed in at peak power every night at 1 AM. There and then I got the idea of rigging up a satellite dish made from heavy duty aluminum foil to reflect the powerful radio waves in such a way as to beam myself up to any destination I chose. A few misadventures came my way and I nearly disappeared altogether in one incident.

Another time I accidentally beamed myself through a black hole in outer space which is like the whirlpool in a toilet when you flush it, only much bigger. That was the time when I beamed myself up in late 1965 and wound up 60 years into the future at the bottom of 2025. I landed right on top of Muskrat Falls. As I flashed over Newfoundland that night, I saw long lines of refugees dressed in rags and moaning from starvation as they trudged through the snow towards Canada. And to think I could have warned people about all this but, nobody would have listened.

I won't get into further details because, as I said, I'm being watched.

What got me thinking about giving it another try was the breaking news just a few days ago from the scientists at NASA that Ouamuamua had gone mysteriously quiet, not a peep, no cell phone signal, total radio silence, nothing.

That's when I got a late-night call. RS from MP was urgently whispering into the phone.

"Duh-wite has been trying to contact that spaceship," he said. "I overheard him telling Big Eddie he wanted to find out how they got free energy on their planet. Big Eddie told him to forget it until he'd done an environmental assessment on the sun."

"For God's sake," I said, "you have to sabotage his phone. If he talks to them, they'll find out how stupid we all are and they'll hightail it back to Lyra."

"Ok," he hissed. "I'll see what I can do but I don't think I can get near his office without Big Eddie's gang stopping me."

Later that night, I knew RS from MP had failed in his mission. Oumuamua took a sharp left turn, increased speed, and headed for the constellation Pegasus, otherwise known as the winged horse.

Greek myth, by the way, tells about a guy named Dann..., I mean Bellerophon, who flew about the land on the winged horse, Pegasus, slaying all sorts of monsters like Stephen Harper, and Quebec and making all the people happy. Nobody questioned what he was doing because he made everybody feel proud and told us he would build a city of gold just outside St. John's.

Then one day he let all the successes go to his head. He tried to fly to Muskra..., I mean Olympus, and join the Gods. He didn't succeed. He fell off the horse and back to earth but not until he had saddled us with great calamity.

Pegasus Constellation is pretty easy to find once you've been there. All you do is line up the two outer stars in the rim of The Big Dipper withThe North Star and then draw a position fix on Pegasus.

A few nights ago, I broke the news to spouse after we had finished our humble meal of boiled beans and dandelion roots. She had just cracked open yet another bottle of Fifty Shades of Bay. I poured a (L)iberal glass of Raspberry Screech with a splash of bog rosemary tea to help me along on my night's journey.

"I'm thinking of beaming myself up to Oumuamua, tomorrow night," I said. "It's just the right conditions after two solid months of rain, drizzle, and fog. I want you to come with me."

"God only knows what you're up to," she said. "I have no intention of being part of it."

Spouse is very shy about meeting new people, so I didn't push the invitation.

"But while you're at it," she said, "take that useless bunch in Confederation Building with you and leave them there."

"You are becoming very anti-government," I said. "I'm concerned about your state of mind."

With that, she downed her glass of Fifty Shades, said goodnight, and went off to bed.

I went outside to pry the small satellite dish off the side of the house but as I began, I saw a bigger one on the house next door. I was trying to figure out a way of stealing that one when my neighbor came out his back door and saw me eyeing his property.

"Go away," he said, "or I'll call the constabulary and have you charged with visual trespassing."

With his big words, I suspected that he was probably a spy for Dr. Dale, Minister of Illiteracy.

I took my small satellite dish down to my basement, tuned the RCA Victor, battery-operated radio to the 100,000-watt station, put a Duh-wite Ball dummy in the chair, stuck a needle in it, aligned the dish to the AM radio waves, and to the Pegasus Constellation. The dummy disappeared instantly.

When spouse came downstairs in the morning I told her excitedly about my test run and the disappearance of the dummy.

"Then how come you're still here?" she asked.

Spouse's sense of humor can be quite biting at times. She obviously does not understand the mysteries of quantum physics and the beam-me-up phenomenon.

So, that's how it happened. The next night at 1 AM I tuned in to WHRP and set it on blast as the DJ played Michael Jackson's Everybody's Somebody's Fool. I sat in the chair facing the satellite dish with the radio behind me and in a millisecond I was inside Oumuamua.

But not right inside. An invisible presence ushered me into an isolation cell. The presence talked like the sound of wind chimes which was instantly translated into the St. John's dialect.

"We have to send you back," It chimed musically. "If you come to Lyra, our planet will be ruined in no time. And who is that dimwit who was trying to phone us?"

Next morning, spouse found me sprawled on the carpet, sound asleep. I just knew she wouldn't believe where I'd been.

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Dancing on Air: New Edition: New Publisher

Dancing on Air

The revised edition of Dancing on Air(Boulder Publications) is now available from Boulder -- also from Chapters/Indigo and Coles bookstores across Canada as well as at

Advance Reviews:

     "What a fascinating read this is. It has all the suspense of a true crime novel ...Newfoundland itself emerges as a colorful character..." -- editor, Friesen Press

     "In Dancing on Air, Eric Colbourne exposes the raw politics and behind the scenes intrigue of critical events in Newfoundland and Labrador history. In the process, he has skilfully unveiled the human faces of tragedies which have remained with us for well over half a century."   --Mervin Wiseman, Political Activist, NL.

     "This is a great way to present history. It's emotionally engaging, highly instructive, and jam-packed with fascinating details."  --Editor, Friesen Press.

     Dancing on Air: A Tale of Vengeance, Mercy, and the End of the Death Penalty in Newfoundland is a story of justice and injustice amidst war and political upheaval.

     On St. Patrick's Day, 1942 Herb Spratt, the youngest son of a prominent St. John's city councilor, murdered his girlfriend, Josephine O'Brien. A weak defense at a two day trial in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland resulted in a guilty verdict coupled with a strong recommendation for mercy. The chief justice pronounced a sentence of death on April 28, 1942, but that was not the end of the story.

     Six years later, on October 23, 1948, during a night of terror in the town of Norris Arm on the central north coast of the island, Alfred Beaton stabbed his girlfriend and shot to death another young woman. At least 10 other individuals narrowly escaped death as Beaton rampaged through the community with a high powered rifle.

     Beaton went to trial in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland on January 31, 1949. The jury returned a guilty verdict without a recommendation for mercy. The chief justice again imposed the death penalty.

Alfred Beaton (center) after the death sentence

The incidents come together as a gripping account of a flawed justice system and of the impact of public opinion. With its cast of powerful characters, the story reads like fiction but what happened was only too real.  

The Dancing on Air Mystery: Who was Portia?



On Monday, February 7, 1949, two days after Judge Emerson handed down the death penalty in the murder trial of Alfred Beaton, a mysterious letter appeared in the St. John's Evening Telegram. It contained an emotional plea for mercy and a call to action against capital punishment in Newfoundland. 

The eloquent letter writer persuaded thousands of citizens in the city and across Newfoundland and Labrador to demand an end to a barbaric practice. The final outcome was a surprise. Who was the mystery lady, Portia? For the first time in over 60 years, it is now possible to identify her--but the reader has to pick up the clues in the text.







Eric Colbourne grew up in the small community of Lush's Bight-Beaumont on the northeast coast of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. His earliest memories are of the tales spun by village elders under the flickering light of oil lamps in the kitchen of the family home on the isolated island. This tradition of story-telling is captured in his first book Disappeared: Stories from the Coast of Newfoundland which has enjoyed international success.


His latest work, Dancing on AIR: A Tale of Vengeance, Mercy, and the End of the Death Penalty in Newfoundland, published in October 2016 by Boulder Publications, represents an enduring fascination with the issue of capital punishment which he has researched extensively over many years in this country and around the world.


Colbourne was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland, The University of Reading in the UK, and at McGill University in Montreal. He has enjoyed a varied career in education, community development, tourism and senior management in the public service of Nunavut and the NWT. He currently devotes his time to writing and historical research.

Back Cover:Dancing on Air

Public Executions: Dancing on Air

At 5.32 a.m. on August 14, 1937 a young black man, Rainey Bethea was executed at Owensboro, Kentucky after his conviction for the rape of a white woman. A crowd, estimated at 20,000, gathered in Owensboro the day before and held 'hanging' parties throughout the night. One reporter likened the scene at the scaffold next morning to a sporting event. The hangman was intoxicated and barely managed to trip the lever. It was the last public hanging in the US.

The practice of public executions was abandoned in Canada in 1869 and in the UK in 1870. Many countries, notably Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Iran continue the practice to this day for crimes such as drug trafficking, witchcraft, disloyalty to the government. and homosexuality.


If you have comments on this site or reviews of Dancing on Air, please e-mail me at

Advice for Writers

Elmore Leonard, a well known mystery writer who died last year offered a number of rules for good writing. A few of them:

1. Never open a book with weather.

2. Keep your exclamations points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.

3.Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."

4.Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.

From the Ballad of Reading Gaol

 It is sweet to dance to violins

  When love and life are fair:

To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes

  is delicate and rare:

But it is not sweet with nimble feet

  To dance upon the air!


                       ...Oscar Wilde

Historic Vote

In 1948, residents of Newfoundland and Labrador decided their future in two referenda. In the first vote, held on June 3, Commission of Government was eliminated but neither Confederation with Canada nor Responsible Government received a majority, making a second referendum necessary. Voting was heavy, nearly 89% on June 3rd and 85% on July 22nd. 52.34% of voters chose Confederation on the second ballot.

Where to Buy Disappeared

     Disappeared:Stories From the Coast of Newfoundland is available in print and e-book from and in e-book format from Kobo, Chapters etc. To locate it on Amazon, type 'Disappeared Colbourne' into their 'find' bar. Delivery is about one week.

     Author copies are also available directly from Click on the facebook link and send the author a message. Price is $15 plus postage.

     Due to the short print run the book will not be available in most bookstores.

New Edition: Dancing on Air

More Questions About an Execution

The case of Wilbert Coffin who was convicted of murder and hanged in Quebec more than 60 years ago raises many new questions. For the full story see:

Excerpt from Dancing on Air

(A Hanging in Quebec, 1902)



...Until the mid-1800s some 200 offences were regarded as capital crimes that carried the death penalty. In a modern age most of those offences now seem absurd.


John Dean, variously described in the records as a child of eight or nine, may have been the youngest to suffer death by hanging. On February 23, 1629 he was convicted of arson at Abington, England for setting fire to two barns in the town of Winsor. The judge saw evidence of wickedness in the boy's actions, an attitude which led directly to his death sentence.


In early August, 1814, an unfortunate William Potter received the death penalty at the high court in Chelmsford, England, for damaging an orchard. He had chopped down an old apple tree for firewood. To no avail at his trial, William pleaded ignorance of the law. The judge had second thoughts several days after sentencing, but with the wheels of justice already in motion, William was hanged about a week later on August 12.

From our Readers: Dancing on Air

I finished the book this morning and my only regret is that I couldn't read more....The exacting research gives real context in shaping the period, but it's Colbourne's ability as a writer that allows the reader to feel the crisp bite of the wind, smell the damp night air, and experience the pain and anguish of the characters. Colbourne's deft footwork in handling the historical record while giving life to the characters is to be applauded, and it separates this work from the pack.  (Glen Tilley)


An absolutely lovely read...The book reads like a richly textured novel but the story is flawlessly woven into the historical account (or borne out of it). It is clear that the book is meticulously researched...An excellent read on all fronts. Difficult to put down! (Monty Henstridge)


Excerpt from the story 'The Black Arts Book' in Disappeared: Stories from the Coast of Newfoundland.


...Old Meriam was indeed dead but no one seemed to know how she had died or where she was buried, all of which added to the mystery of her life  and the power of her witchcraft.


After her death, the old house seemed lonely more than anything else, sitting way out on the point by the landwash, facing the September storms and enduring the sad soundings of the ocean swells.


With each passing season it added a deeper tone of grey as the harsh weather of late fall and winter took its toll. Nobody in the village could understand how the old house could withstand so much punishment.


Disappeared: Stories from the Coast of Newfoundland  has been named a top seller on KOBO, one of the largest e-book distributors in the world. It continues to receive positive reviews in Canada and fifteen other countries. Disappeared is also available from and in kindle and print format.