Reluctant Backup

Upon completing Decisions, I turned my attention to the middle story to kick off twenty twenty-four, a ghost story. While I’d been on a kick to revisit my roots with ghost stories, see Journey of Thanks, I wanted to get back to a pair of characters I enjoyed exploring, Marcus and his ethereal partner, Benjamin. At its core, I have a wonderful mystery to solve, Benjamin’s murder. However, I’m not in any hurry to unravel that complicated puzzle. Instead of leaning into the embedded mystery, I wanted to highlight the ethereal nature of the pairing. Yet, I didn’t have a good seed for this tale. As a result, after tossing my story cubes, I faced piecing together a shooting star, a lock, and a magnifying glass. A trio of things that don’t scream, cohesive story.

Despite the odd collection of inputs, I turned toward something that’s becoming more and more commonplace when interacting with story cubes, treating the icons more like the code, from Pirates of the Caribbean:

And thirdly, the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.

Which means you’ll have to look for and interpret some of the words in the tale to find their inspiration. Either way, these guidelines instantly gave me a structure to explore. With the story in hand, settle into your favorite chair and us witness the latest installment of this partnership.

Armed with a warrant, Marcus goes to execute it with only his ethereal shade as backup…

Reluctant Backup

A man stopped in front of a dark building amidst a line of lively homes. He gripped the front of his fedora and pulled it down, obscuring his eyes, as he inched closer to the silent home.

Instantly, an ethereal figure emerged from behind the solitary man and laid a wispy hand on his shoulder. “Marcus, I don’t think you’ve given this reckless course of action enough thought. Wouldn’t it be wiser to return with proper backup?”

Wry laughter filled the evening sky as Marcus released his hat and tugged his coat tighter around his shoulders as he sauntered to the front door. “Benjamin, I have a warrant to go inside and search the house.”

The verdant shade swirled around his partner’s body for a moment before coalescing between Marcus and the front door. He placed his ethereal hand into his friend’s chest and leaned forward as his eyes scanned the street behind the detective. “I’m not arguing about the legality of your actions. I am questioning the legitimacy of your decision to enter the building by yourself.”

A smirk cracked Marcus’s visage as he reached through his partner’s chest and gripped the doorknob. “Last I checked, with your presence, I’m far from alone.”

The shade gestured at the hand piercing his ethereal body. “I can’t do much to assist you, as you can see.” The ghost’s head drifted closer to Marcus’s as his hands groped at his friend’s collar. “All I’m able to do is yell and point at approaching danger.”




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