The photos for this prompt can be found on the blog: .com. Thanks to Kimmydonn for running the blog and letting me play. Inspiration came from the pics but the story is my little drabble. :)

Week 57 Pictures

Posting Date: June 23, 2011

Picture Choice: Both

Title: Hearts So Deep Part 5

Casey stared at the picture that she took from Professor Enger's office and compared it to the other picture she had of Julianne. It was hard to reconcile the sweetly sexy picture that the professor had compared to the hippy chick depicted in her photograph of her aunt.

What was more puzzling was the code written on the back of the picture from Professor Enger. It had to refer to something but she had no idea what. Her first thought was that it was Julianne's initial and the year that the picture was taken, but the picture didn't seem that old. It definitely wasn't a new photo, but it didn't have the paper or exposure quality that photos printed in the 70's did.

Since she had already spent several hours that morning at the university's archives, she decided to do some online sleuthing. Casey checked the nearest campus map and headed towards the university's library and computer labs. She hoped she wouldn't need to be a student to use a computer for awhile, although if she had to, she could always show her Penn State identification.

Thankfully, they did allow for guests, as some of the members of the community used the university's resources. She signed in and got to work trying to find what J 76 meant. Google wasn't much help, not that she expected it to be, but thought it was the best way to start. After several minutes of scanning useless search results, she sat back in her chair puzzled.

Casey looked around the room, trying to focus her thoughts. She froze when her eyes landed on a map of the campus. A map that had letter and number designations for the columns and rows. Could it be that easy?

She scrambled out of her chair, startling a few students that were quietly working around her. Her fingers danced over the map, lining up the lettered columns with the numbered rows. Casey huffed in frustration when the numbers stopped at twenty-five.

"Gotta find a bigger map," she muttered to herself. Feeling inspired, she looked up where history classes were taught. The building wasn't far from the library. This would work out to her advantage nicely.

Racing across the campus, she ran into the History building and stopped as soon as she got into the entryway. Running through the halls would make her look like a bigger loon than she already was. As she caught her breath, she walked down the halls, peeking in the empty class rooms for an easel of maps. Finally, she hit pay dirt.

At the end of the hallway was an empty open classroom. The lights were off and a large easel with a stack of maps hanging from it stood in the corner. Before she walked in, Casey looked down the hallway to make sure no one was coming. In the clear, she stepped as quietly into the room as she could. Thankfully, the room had windows so she didn't need to turn on the lights, which she didn't want to do.

Casey carefully flipped through several of the pages of the maps that depicted the world in different eras until she got to the state maps. Finally she found one of the state of Pennslyvania, Eagerly, she ran her index fingers along the rows and columns until she got to "J 76." In the square that was J 76 was a suburb of Pittsburgh called White Oak.

"What's in White Oak, Professor Enger?" she whispered.

As she was leaving the building, she ran into the professor again. His eyes bugged out of his head in surprise, clearly not expecting to see her there.

"Ms. Thomas, what are you doing here?" he asked, his voice tight.

"I was looking at a map, Professor."

His face paled as he looked between Casey and the building. "Why?"

"I wanted to find my aunt. I am hoping I can find a clue in White Oak." Casey thought quickly about not telling the professor her intentions, but she felt she should and she wanted to see his reaction.

He did not fail to disappoint. Professor Enger's already pale complexion turned a sickly shade of green when she said where she was going.

"White Oak?" he asked in a whisper.

"Yes. I am hoping to find some clues there that can answer some of my questions."

Casey stood there and merely looked at the professor. He made it clear earlier that he was not going to divulge any further information voluntarily, so she was going to have to find what she was looking for herself unaided. Professor Enger closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, letting out a slow breath.

When he opened his eyes, his gaze was steady. There was some doubt there, but it was apparent that he had come to some kind of decision. He reached into his bag and delicately pulled out a dog eared book. It was water-stained and dirty, but was clearly a prized possession by Professor Enger.

"Ms. Turner, I can't talk to you about this, but perhaps you will find some answers in this book. It may help you in White Oak."

Before Casey could reply, he turned on his heel and walked away quickly. She held the book in her hands, running her fingers over the rough cloth texture of the cover. With as much care as Professor Enger used, Casey put the book in my bag and pulled up directions to White Oak. By the time she made it to her car, Casey knew exactly how to get out of the clusterfuck that was downtown Pittsburgh and into the suburbs.

A half hour later, Casey was in White Oak, but no idea where to go from there. She stopped at a park and decided to check out the book that Professor Enger gave her. She wasn't sure what to make of the old book.

Casey looked up when she saw movement out from the corner of her eye. A woman was walking through the park, older with long white hair, the front pulled back with a bow. Casey couldn't see her face quite yet but something seemed familiar about the woman.

Casey closed the book and watched the woman as she walked. The woman turned towards Casey's car and if Casey had been standing at that moment, she would've collapsed.

It was Julianne.