Wednesday, 1 May 2013

An A-Z Story - Done!


So, it's all over for another year. I've discovered a wealth of knowledge, happened upon some cool books to add to my TBR pile, expanded my vocabulary and thrilled to some awesome fiction, but most of all I've loved sharing the Challege with friends both old and new. Thanks to every single one of you who stopped by to offer your word suggestions for my story, whether you got to one post or all of them. I started April with a blank canvas and ended it with a massive range of new words and ideas for what has the potential to be a whole series of books! You're amazing!

I'll be offering further thoughts in my Reflections post, but for now let's wrap up this saga. 146 Z words were offered for the final sentence and the final batch of choices is as follows:

Zeal (suggested by J.L. Murphey)
Zinnia (suggested by J.L. Murphey)
Zig-zag (suggested by Melanie Schulz)
Zippy (suggested by Jessica Schley)
Zilch (suggested by Mina Burrows)

And that story in full:


Angels had always had a certain ambiguity, being both human and divine, reflected Acatour with an acute sense of malaise as he looked down on the arable fields of medieval England. A bird flew past making a belligerent shriek, unnerved it seemed by a boggart; Acatour descended, thinking it would take a brainiac like him to unravel the poor soul’s beginnings and why it had not reached Heaven.
     York Cathedral hove into view, shrouded in wooden scaffold as part of the local bishop’s campaign of restoration; but before he could challenge a carpenter over whether any of his colleagues had fallen to their doom, his presence was announced by the crawdad he’d eaten back in 20th century New Orleans repeating on him. He wiped dribble from his chin as the remains of the crustacean narrowly missed the workmen to land in the dew of the graveyard, berating himself for his debauched and unangelic behaviour the previous night; why did that dame have to desert him? The effervescent Ella had always been eager for exciting adventures, but when he’d asked her to accompany him on this esoteric time travel mission, she’d called him a crazy drunk and left.
     It did sound rather fabulous, in the true sense of the word, he thought to himself as he descended further before landing on an empty area of scaffold, all the better for making himself visible; next to him was some viscous fluid, making him think that any fall from this precarious structure would surely be a fluke. Stepping away from the gel-like substance, he felt something watching him and turned to see a Gardengoyle on the wall next to a carved bunch of grapes, which caused the gregarious sounds of the workmen to die away as two thoughts rang clearly in his head: what was it doing here, and did he detect guilt in the creature’s eyes?
     That horrendous stare was starting to give Acatour a headache when a workman with a harried expression shimmied up onto the platform via a hemp rope, his arrival causing an apparently hilarious reaction in the Gardengoyle. “Hey, you!” said the workman, stomping towards Acatour, but something seemed to interrupt his progress, drawing him inexorably towards the island of iridescent liquid, which seemed entirely illogical to the angel until he sensed the impish carving’s illicit intentions.
     The workman slipped on the puddle and waved his arms frantically like a jester, trying not to fall over the edge; in that moment Acatour sensed the wickedly joyful mirth of the Gardengoyle and grabbed the man’s arm, saving him from jeopardy and causing the creature’s joy to dissipate as it contemplated a future in Paranormal Jail.
     “Thank you,” said the man, “my darling Kate is too young to become a widow,” but upon saying this he started to keel over as if affected by his own version of Kryptonite; Acatour had been ready to show kindness to the grotesquely kitsch Gardengoyle, but now saw the only solution was to destroy it. While struggling to hold on to the lanky workman - who had become rather loquacious and kept babbling about his wife and lover, who Acatour hoped were the same person - and stop him from being lost over the edge of the scaffold, he cast around for any tools or discarded carvings he could use as a weapon and finally alighted on a rather hefty rock lobster, which, it occurred to him, would be much more effective than a crawdad.
     A look of merriment crossed the creature’s face that was quite deranged considering it was about to be smashed to smithereens, before it melted into the rock leaving nothing but smooth stone - it was magic, of course - and Acatour quickly descended the monumental structure, past more workmen and a rather flustered merchant, and burst through the main door just as matins was beginning. Two hundred heads turned towards him in a space as quiet as a nunnery, and he felt like a numbskull for interrupting, but he had a need as urgent as a junkie looking for his next narcotics to get that Gardengoyle before it did any more mischief; the next thing he knew, a numbing pain and squeezing sensation on his head told him the Gardengoyle had found him.
     “Oh Father, hallowed be thy name-” began an officious bishop, quickly interrupted by a loud “Ouch!” from Acatour and an earsplitting shriek from the monster at an octave which must have been unreachable by humans as the besieged angel finally wrestled it off his head, before pitching it to the black- and white- tiled floor which looked like pieces from an Othello set, where it smashed into a thousand pieces.
     “Your Holiness,” said Acatour before the stunned bishop could speak, “it is paramount that the remains of this wretched creature are scattered as far as possible, otherwise it will reassemble; and I suggest the privileged members of your congregation would like to take a piece home, one to perhaps repair a dry stone wall round a potato field, another to form part of a whimsical garden frequented by a pixie,” but before he could go on, his eye was caught by the twinkle of precious stones among the debris and he realised the scoundrel had been a thief as well as a murderer.
     By this time the congregation had gathered around the scene, and a man seemed to quiver as he stooped to retrieve a diamond ring before saying to Acatour, “Thank you, good sir, this belongs to my wife; I am a quartermaster, please accept this Quark cheese and flagon of mead to quench the mighty thirst you must have garnered in your quest to quell this monster.”
     Acatour regretted that the being wouldn’t be able to repent, but reflected that it would have probably been quite recalcitrant in that regard; turning to the quartermaster, he accepted his offerings with a rapacious stomach and hopes of rejuvenation from a meal that that great do-gooder, Robin Hood, would be glad of.
     The next sight that met his eyes, however, threatened to saturate his mind as the sensational Ella walked in through the open door; as she called out “Hey, stud!” he recalled the synchronicity he’d sensed between them and his first thought was to take her away somewhere more secluded. Although this tabernacle was not the place for such unangelic behaviour, he couldn’t resist pulling her behind the nearest triptych for a torrid kiss that made him thrum, and noticed she was wearing the necklace he’d left that acted as a tether between them through time and space.
     “Do you believe me now, you upstart?” he teased, glad that their unilateral thinking had led to this union; glancing out of a stained glass window, he noticed it was raining and made an umbrella materialise in a nearby urn, although such a thing was yet to be invented.
     “Of course, my valiant angel,” she replied with a smile, but as they walked out into the rain another thought came to vex him as he realised the downpour would make the viscous deposit left by that vile creature even more treacherous, and the workmen would be vying with each other to be the next casualty. Throwing caution to the wind, he lifted the weight of Ella - she was no wallflower and would want to help - and flew back up to the scaffold, wondering if any writer for the cathedral would record this weird tale of a winged man who came to correct wrongdoing; if they had, then they already would have done, but this was no time to think about time travel’s paradox.
     On reaching the platform, Acatour found the threat had gone; what was in its place was revealed under his X-ray vision to be xylose, a type of sugar which must have formed when the acid substance left by the Gardengoyle had mixed with the xyloid scaffold in the rain and had been coloured yellow by the xanthin from a madder that had fallen from the wall and been trampled in, and he clicked his tongue in relief in the style of the Xhosa people from South Africa.
     Starting to yearn for the next mission, which would take place at the River Yarrow in Scotland in the 16th century, Acatour lifted Ella off the platform with a yank; as they departed, she winked at the youngest of the mystified workmen and said, “Ya’ll should be glad this man showed up today!”
     Acatour looked into her eyes and saw zilch but excited zeal, and they started to zig-zag over a field of zinnia in a zippy fashion, invisible to those below.

And that's it! Once again, thank you all. I'll be taking things a bit quieter over the next few days, but I'll be back in full force soon, as I look forward to seeing what all my new friends get up to next! I hope everyone else had as much fun as me, and I'll see you all for the Reflections. Toodle-oo!

45 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Considering the words of the day, you wrote a really great short story over the span of a month. Good job, Nick!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I thought this was such a fun idea/theme for the Challenge. Well done, Nick!

Rachel Morgan said...

Well done for getting to the end of the challenge, AND for managing to write a piece of fiction every day! I did that last year and it was exhausting!

loverofwords said...

It was fun to check on your blog, participate every day and stretch our vocabularies a bit. And I know it took some effort. Thank you

Dee said...

Congrats on finishing! And what a lovely way to end your story. Well done!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I love how it came together. Congrats!

Shell Flower said...

What a nice ending. You've definitely learned the art of the sentence, eh? I admire your willingness to challenge yourself with such a creative take on A-Z. I'd love to hear this story read aloud, but I doubt you'd get through it without laughing :) Really awesome work, Nick. Congrats on finishing!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick - I have to say I admire you hugely for taking on this task - it became an excellent read .. and so well done ... and I love the thought of Acatoura and Ella skipping across the zinnia field to find some zen life ...

Really really good .. so well done - cheers Hilary

Rhonda said...

Brilliant story. Delightful ending.

Rhonda @Laugh-Quotes.com

Ella said...

Bravo Nick and tah-da!
I love the zippy and Zinnias... ;D
Yes, Zen is always good!

Congrats on a great challenge!

J.L. Murphey said...

LOL! great final imagery!

Julie Flanders said...

What a perfect ending. This was easily one of my favorite themes of this year's challenge. So fun to read and to participate in! :)

S.P. Bowers said...

Congrats on finishing!

Al Diaz said...

You are amazing, Nick. I would have never dared to try to write a story like that. Bravo for you!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great job with that story and all those words, Nick!!!

Julie Luek said...

You did it! Well done and creative. I hope you had fun with your alphabet prose.

Suzanne Furness said...

Well done for getting to the finish, Nick. Your theme was great.

Melanie Schulz said...

Yeah! You used my word! Loved the story; very creative way to include your readers in on your a to z posts.

Carrie Butler said...

You rocked this challenge, Nick! Good job. :D

Laura said...

That was really interesting to read! You did a great job with the words provided :)

Carol Kilgore said...

This was so much fun! Thanks for coming up with this great idea for your theme :)

michelle said...

Congrats on crossing the finishing line, Nick!

Writer In Transit

Bish Denham said...

Good job Nick! I'd like to see and zinnia field, myself.

Gwen Gardner said...

Yay, we made it! I loved your interactive theme, Nick. It was one of my favorites! Congrats on finishing the A-Z!

Christine Rains said...

Yay! Congrats on finishing the Challenge. Your story was fantastic!

Heather Holden said...

Dittoing all the congrats before me! So impressed how you used this challenge to write a story. It turned out really well! :)

JeffO said...

Congratulations, Nick. Nicely done!

Cynthia said...

Congratulations on finishing your story, Nick. I'm really impressed with how you stuck through this and how you got the vocabulary from us, your readers, so that each writing day was an unpredictable one for you.

Bravo for finishing A to Z!

Empty Nest Insider said...

A perfect ending to a fabulous story! It's unbelievable how you creatively wove the alphabet together in one perfect piece! Bravo Nick!

Julie

Mama J said...

This was such a brilliant and unique idea for the A-Z Challenge. Well done on getting a whole story out of some pretty tough words!

C. Lee McKenzie said...

Yay! THE END and with zip, too. Congratulations.

lostinsidethecovers said...

That was awesome - excellently done and impressive - this challenge is time consuming already without having to write each post each day.
Congratulations on surviving :)

M Pax said...

Yay for Z! What a fun approach you had to the challenge, and you ended up with a great story.

Gina Gao said...

This is really great! I enjoyed reading this very much.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Lexa Cain said...

Wow, it's incredible that 27-letters and some suggested words could add up to that huge, exciting story.
Big congrats on completing the challenge in such a spectacular fashion! :-)

Chuck said...

Amazing story Nick. You are very creative and quick of thought. I read the whole thing twice...very well done, buddy! And unique theme for the challenge. A+

Misha Gericke said...

Wow. That's just... impressive. :-D

Deniz Bevan said...

So much fun to follow this story from beginning to end! Love the idea of zigzagging over a field of zinnias!

cbwentworth said...

Congratulations on completing such a unique challenge! You did a fantastic job! :-)

Julia King said...

Great story! Now it is time for you to get her published. :)

Medeia Sharif said...

It was great seeing everyone's contributions and adding my own words. You did an amazing job.

Crystal Collier said...

Have I told you recently how awesome I think this is? You deserve a cheese badge. =)

Jay Noel said...

Great job! This was really fun. Interesting to see your story continue to grow every day.

Mina Burrows said...

Well done! And a great story too. You're a true talent, Nick!

nutschell said...

wow. I think you wrote a whole novel this month. Amazing!
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com