Yesterday was the first day of classes. For the last 20 years, I would have been on campus in the midst of the frenetic hustle of lost freshmen, growing sophomores, confident juniors, and worried seniors. Today, a Tuesday, I would actually be standing in front of my first classes of the semester (I taught Tuesdays/Thursdays). Today, for the first time in 20 years I am not on an academic calendar. I am not teaching. Today I got to spend the day working on my own projects, writing my own stories…stories, not research articles. It’s a little weird. But feels very right.
This is also Week 34 at More Odds Than Ends. My prompt this week was It involved a flatbed truck, a raccoon, the bones of a rat, and a dragon (or was it?)… and was gifted to me by Cedar Sanderson. My prompt about an expanding closet went to Leigh Kimmel.
I worked this into the ever-growing Cursebreaker story. The entire series is here if you haven’t read the previous installments.
Jack stared at Greg. “Okay. So, you saw a gargoyle crossing the road. Let’s start there. Which road and in which direction?” He was going for simple in the hopes that something, some clue, some idea would jump out at him.
“Richardson Street. Um…it goes east-west, I was driving…um…west, so the gargoyle crossed from south to north. Why does that matter?” Greg stared into his mug, absently rubbing both dogs. He sat back on the sofa and Scout immediately climbed into his lap. Jake shoved himself in closer as well.
“I don’t know yet. But, I’m just trying to get a handle on things. I think there has to be a pattern. When this first started, I just thought that an unusual number of magic workers were pissing off witches. Then, I discovered it was the same two witches. And always magic workers with dogs. And the dogs show up here…but one died…” he trailed off petting Captain who laid his head in Jack’s lap.
Greg glanced up sharply. “What do you mean one died? Who died?”
“Caitlin Blackwell. Captain here was her dog,” Jack replied quietly.
“Yeah. Oh, and somebody threw this in my car this morning when I went to your house. I found it when I left. I haven’t really looked at it and I don’t know what it means and I don’t know if the phone works,” Jack fished in his pocket for the cell phone with the puzzle piece taped to the back, that had somehow found its way onto his passenger seat.
Greg took the phone and stared at the puzzle piece. He turned the phone over and hit the power button. The phone lit up and Greg swiped the screen.
“Well, there’s no password on it,” his voice was wary.
“Ooookaaay…anything else?” Jack leaned over to look at the phone.
“Looks like there’s a text message here…um…that’s a little strange…it’s addressed to you,” Greg handed Jack the phone.
“What?” Jack read the message. “What the hell? Jack, Find the flatbed truck with the racoon carrying the rat bones and guarded by the dragon. That’s not exactly informative.”
“Tell me about it,” Greg set his mug down on the coffee table. The dogs were still intent on maintaining their places on and around him. He wasn’t moving any time soon.
“I think I can help,” Monica’s voice came from the kitchen door.
Jack looked up at her. “This makes sense to you?”
“Not completely, but while you were at Greg’s house, I went out to run some errands. I came back past that house you said was haunted…the abandoned one over on 47th? As I was passing it, I saw a flatbed truck parked in front of it and I swear there was a racoon sitting on the back,” she paused. “I didn’t see a dragon, but then, I didn’t look up.”
“That house. It’s all coming back to that house,” Jack rubbed his temples.
Greg’s eyebrows went up. “You mean that house that’s been abandoned for a few years? The one that developer built and then left? It’s haunted?”
“Yeah. Hang on,” Jack went into his office and grabbed his camera. He came back and sat down next to Greg. “This camera shows what’s…um…inside of things. So, like it showed me you inside the bobble-head. Here. These are the pictures I took at the house.” He scrolled through the photos until he found the ones from his excursion to the house.
Greg stared at the photos, scrolling back and forth between them. Jack was beginning to wonder what Greg saw, when the astronaut looked up. “I think I know what’s going on,” he said quietly.
I’m working on melding these things into a cohesive whole. It’s at least a stand-alone novel and possibly a series or at least a world I can go play in. Who knows how this is going to turn out. If you want to join us in our prompting, just go to More Odds Than Ends. It’s simple, easy, and most importantly fun!