A snippet of an ongoing project worked nicely for this week’s prompt!
“We’re taking an unmarked?” Shelby grumbled as she followed Johns out into the parking lot.
“Captain said not to take personals on this run.” He shrugged. “And I will be damned if I plant my flat old ass in a patrol car.”
“I’m driving.” Shelby informed him. “It’s my turn.”
“Wanna fight me for the keys?” He asked, lifting his brows comically. “I fight dirty.”
“I’m tellin’ your wife.” Shelby held out her hand, palm flat.
He dropped the keys into it. “That’s my girl, fighting dirty right back.”
“And put that thing in the back.” She pointed at the brown paper package he was holding under his arm.
“Why?” He got into the passenger seat, and put it on his lap.
“It blows up, you won’t be able to fight dirty no more, old man.” She pressed the power button on the built-in GPS unit. It flickered, and she waited. They were slow, and notoriously out of date. “Let’s see if the map even shows this address.”
“It’s not going to blow up. Ahmed needs us.” Johns pointed out rationally. He prodded at the package, which crackled, but gave. “Whatever it is, it’s soft.”
“Bomb wrapped in a towel.” Shelby wasn’t really paying attention to him, as she entered the address into the built-in. She hit the enter button, and leaned back in her seat, waiting. And waiting, and…
“Heck with this, I’m using my phone.” She gave up on the ancient piece of technology. “You’re supposed to update the maps like once a year. I’ll bet it’s been longer than that.”
“Costs to update maps on that.” Johns pointed out. “I’d bet it’s never been done, and they put ‘em in, what, ten years ago?”
“Before me.” Shelby set her phone up on the dashmount that would allow her to follow directions without moving her eyes off the road.
“Rub it in, why don’t you. What neighborhood is that, anyway?” He leaned forward in his seat while Shelby pulled out of the lot.
“Runnalls, looks like. Not a street name I recognize.” She turned as her phone directed in a dulcet voice.
“I thought you knew ‘em all.” He joked. “I’m lazy, I never go driving around the precinct looking for trouble.”
“I don’t.” She protested. “That one time! I was trying to find a guy who had a grill on craigslist.”
“Girl, you lookin’ for ways to die.”
She drove in silence for a while. This area gave way to the ghetto in a few streets. Their jurisdiction was run-down residential, this was urban decay straight off the poster for Broken Windows. Humans of indeterminate height, weight, and color, buried in heaps of clothing, shambled alongside the road. Rusted out hulks of cars squatted on bare rims alongside the street in yards, or, as they turned onto a side street, intermingled with flashy SUVs.
“Ahmed seems to fit in here more than Wonderland.” Shelby broke the silence as her phone directed them to take a left turn in a quarter mile.
“Ayuh.” Johns grunted. “Vice keeps their spoons stuck in this area pretty deep.”
“Maybe we should have driven a patrol car.” Shelby slowed, skeptical about their turn. “Does that look like a road to you?”
“There’s a sign.” He pointed.
“Storybook Lane.” She read. “Hell of a name for a place like this.”
“That’s where it says to go.” She turned onto the narrow road. “Huh.” They left the dilapidated hulk of a burned out house on the corner behind them, and wound into an unexpected vista. The road dropped down a steep slope that had Shelby grateful for the lack of snow and ice despite the season. Then it turned, taking them around an old barn that still showed streaks of the red paint that had once brightened the now-silvering boards.
“This is unexpected.”
“It’s a bit out of our world,” Johns responded, leaning forward in his seat. “That’s a garden.”
It was, although seasonably brown, unmistakably a large kitchen garden. Rows of pole tripods lined one side, and neat furrows of brown earth showed where other crops would be planted in a couple of months. Shelby slowed almost to a stop and looked around. They were in a deep hollow in the hills. From city – urban wasteland, even – they had abruptly transitioned into a peaceful paradise of the past.
“There’s a goat.” Johns pointed.
The small black and white animal had trotted around the shed beyond the garden and was staring at them with big golden eyes, it’s ears perked forward in curiosity.
“We’re not in the city anymore,” Shelby murmured, enchanted.
This week’s prompt came from Leigh Kimmel with: “It was supposed to be an ordinary delivery job — until you got an address that was nowhere in this world.” The story bit was born of a trip I took, to a native plant nursery in Cincinnati, OH. I literally drove through the ghetto, made a turn onto a side road, and was suddenly in a pocket of farm and garden land, surrounded by the city. It was delightful!
I prompted Leigh in return (luck of the draw!) with “What if, when you found that thing in the last place you looked, you didn’t stop looking? What would you find?”
If you would like to read more prompt responses, or perhaps take part in the Odd Prompt challenge yourself, head on over to More Odds Than Ends and read all about it!