Odd Prompts

Odd Prompts: Running with Scissors

This is more of the Chloe story, from the Groundskeeper world. 


They dashed across the lobby, Chloe weaving between bemused shoppers, and out the doors where the ghost had vanished. Chloe stopped dead on the sidewalk, right on the curb, and looked around. There was nothing besides a scattering of regular everyday people. 

“He went this way.” Mark’s voice got her attention, and she turned toward him. He had nearly dematerialized, leaving only a mirage shimmer of himself in the air. “I can see… traces that you cannot.” 

“That’s useful.” Chloe walked briskly after him. “Why are we chasing this guy, again?” 

“I want to know his story. I’m a historian!” Mark sounded indignant, although she couldn’t see his expression. They turned into an alley. 

“So why am I involved again?” Chloe was wondering what would happen if their quarry had slipped through a wall. 

“Same reason I got involved when you showed up at the library. Both times.” 

“Curiosity? I’d make a crack about what happened to the cat, but you’ve already done that.” She’d learned that Mark didn’t think of being dead as a bad thing, and she enjoyed twitting him. “Besides, the first time I was researching a serial killer who’d been killing after death. This time it’s just weird.” 

“Best kind of research project.” Mark had stopped at the foot of a set of metal stairs. They led up to a loading dock, and a door, about four feet from the alley surface. “Not today, I guess.” 

“You can’t go in there?” Chloe looked up at it. She didn’t see a camera, but she really didn’t want a trespassing charge, either. 

“You can’t. So I won’t. Besides. We left your teacher’s notes.” 

She headed back toward the library door, his wispy self flanking her. “Not really notes. It’s weird. I went to the mailbox and there was a package from a teacher I had years ago.” 

“How long have you been out of school?” Mark was right beside her even in the narrow subterranean hall that led to the research room that she had been given the key to. She wasn’t sure anyone else used it or at least she’d never seen anyone. 

“Two years, now. So this was like… four years ago. The weirdest thing is that it showed up at work. Addressed to me. So he knew I was there?” She unlocked the door and went into the room. She probably wasn’t supposed to have food and drink in here. At least her coffee had a lid. The scone she would just eat over her bag to catch any crumbs. Not that a mouse would dare set foot in here. Not with Esmeralda and Kang on patrol. 

“Probably the news coverage.” Mark pointed out, shimmering into partial visibility. 

“Oh. Right. That.” Chloe was disgusted. “My luck it was a super slow news cycle.” 

“People are interested in crimes. Like your teacher.” 

The package from Mrs. Gray had been nothing more than a stack of newspaper clippings. Not even an explanatory note. Chloe had packed them back up after a bewildered few minutes of looking through them, and taken them to her boss. Mr. Cruor had set his teacup carefully to one side, and spread them out over the top of the table in his study, pursing his lips as he read them. He’d turned them over from time to time to see what was on the other side, which mystified Chloe until he’d raised his head and looked at her. 

“Some of these are quite old.” He pointed at the advertisements on the back of one article. “And some are more recent. I think if you were to arrange them in chronological order, that would be helpful.” 

“How?” Chloe had looked down at them, her brow furrowed. “There’s no dates on any of them.” 

“Ah! A good question. I think the answer may lie at the library, and I suggest a trip forthwith.” 

“I have work…” 

He raised a single slender white finger. Chloe stopped talking. 

“This is work.” 

She blinked at him, and he gave her a faint smile. “The package came to the cemetery. It deals with the unexplained. Ergo, it is work. I pay your wages, child, and will give you a per diem for the day spent in the city.” 

Which was when he’d given her the cash. Chloe had boarded the bus, and now, here she was. Albeit a small side track having been taken chasing a random ghost. 

“So,” She said aloud to Mark. “All of these are about missing women.”


My prompt this week came from Leigh Kimmel, with “You go to your mailbox and find a package from a teacher you had years ago.” I took some liberties with the prompt, fitting it with the story. 

I prompted Becky Jones with “A printer starts printing predictions for the future.” 

You can find all the prompt responses, and play along yourself with the prompt challenge, over at More Odds Than Ends! 


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