Puzzles

Hurricane Isaias has hit Philly, so I’m writing and listening to the rain. It’s rather nice. We are now in Week 31 of prompts at More Odds Than Ends. I am still having a hard time believing that I’ve been doing this for more than half the year. And, it’s likely given me the first (and several ideas for the second) book in what would be my second series. I’m very happy and grateful for that. This week ‘nother Mike and I traded prompts. His prompt to me was: Someone had tossed a cellphone with a puzzle piece taped to its back into the car. I was able to work it into the ongoing Cursebreaker saga (earlier entries can be found at the link above). This one picks up right where the last one left off. I hope you enjoy!

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Jack pulled up in front of Greg Leland’s house and sat for a minute looking over the front of the house. Nothing seemed out of place, but he still had an itch between his shoulder blades…as if he were being watched. Pulling out his phone, he lowered his head pretending to read something on the screen while his eyes scanned the area. The three dogs in the back seat were quiet.

After a minute, and not spotting anything out of the ordinary, Jack got out of the car, walked around to the curb and opened the back door to let the dogs out. Jake and Scout immediately headed toward the side gate leading into the back yard, Captain close behind. After glancing around once more, Jack followed the dogs to the side gate.

Pulling out the set of keys that had been attached to Jake’s collar, Jack found the one that opened the gate and followed the three dogs into the yard. The fence was high enough that anybody in the yard could not be seen from the street. As that thought struck him, Jack put a cautionary hand on Captain’s head. Captain gave a short, low bark. Jake and Scout stopped their forward movement into the yard and turned towards the big German Shepherd. Jack gestured to the two dogs and they returned to his side. Flanked by all three dogs, Jack walked cautiously into the yard.

Nothing seemed out of place. Dog toys were dropped here and there around the yard, and a small plastic kiddie pool sat just off of the patio. Jack straightened up from a crouch he didn’t realize he’d gone into and continued to scan the yard. Suddenly Scout froze and pointed, eyes trained on the sliding glass doors opening onto the patio. The door was partially open.

Jack lifted his hand from Captain’s head. “Go!”

All three dogs raced toward the door and into the house, Jack following on their heels.

The front door slammed as Jack and the dogs skidded into the entry hallway. Cursing, Jack pushed through the canine bodies clamoring at the front door and pulled it open. The dogs rushed down the front path, but stopped at the sidewalk, whining and looking in all directions. Jack ran to the middle of the sidewalk and looked up and down. There was nobody and nothing in sight.

The dogs huddled around Jack, tails now between their legs. “What’s up guys? What’s going on?” Jack kept staring up and down the street but couldn’t see anything but a quiet suburban street, looking perfectly normal in the middle of the day.

Glancing around one more time, Jack patted each dog. “C’mon guys. Let’s go in and see if we can find what we came for.” He moved back up the walk leading to the front door.

Back inside, Jack carefully closed and locked the front door. He turned in the small entry hallway to orient himself and find Greg’s office. He spotted a small den a few feet down the hall and headed into that. This was clearly an office. A very nice, very big desk, with a closed laptop sitting on it, filled one corner. Behind the desk were four or five rows of shelves. In the place of honor, in the center of the first shelf was a bobble-head doll of Greg Leland in his NASA space suit.

Jack pulled out his camera, pointed it at the doll and took a picture before moving toward the shelves. The digital photo did indeed reveal a human figure trapped inside the bobble-head. Breathing a sigh of relief, Jack reached up and carefully pulled the doll off of the shelf. He wrapped it in a dish towel and tucked it into the backpack he had brought for that purpose.

“Okay, guys. We’re good. Let’s lock up the back and get out of here,” Jack looked down at the dogs. On impulse, he pulled the doll back out and held it toward Jake and Scout. Both dogs sniffed at the doll and whined. “I’m going to take that as confirmation,” Jack muttered putting the doll back into the bag.

He made a quick tour through the rest of the house making sure it was secure and locked up the back. Leaving through the front door, Jack surveyed the neighborhood once again before walking to the car. He let the dogs into the back seat and then moved around to the driver’s side. As he sat down, he noticed an object on the front passenger seat. Someone had tossed a cellphone with a puzzle piece taped to its back into the car. What the hell? Note to self, don’t leave the windows open even a bit, no matter how warm it is…

Jack stared at the phone for what felt like an hour, although it was probably less than a minute, before picking it up. The puzzle piece provided no clues. It was an edge piece…sky blue, with what looked like the tip of a blade of grass. He shrugged and tucked the phone into the backpack without taking the puzzle piece off. Getting Greg out of the bobble-head was the top priority right now. He’d worry about the puzzle piece and the phone after that.

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As always, please feel free to join in the fun! What few rules there are (well, okay, there aren’t any rules) can be found at More Odds Than Ends. This is the first group I’ve ever done the prompt thing with, and I’m loving it. This group of people is very encouraging and helpful for the newbie and the experienced writer.

Image by Zoltan Matuska from Pixabay

3 Replies to “Puzzles”

  1. I am really liking where this story is going. And that prompt really did fit well, didn’t it?

    And like you, I’m blown away by how long I’ve managed this prompt challenge, and the sheer quality of what the group produces. It’s amazing.

    1. I haven’t been in the group long, but I have to say that as encouraging as you all are, I’m still somewhat intimidated by the quality of the stuff you guys write and your ingenuity in working prompts into ongoing stories. We haven’t quite gotten the hang of that yet.

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