A SIMPLE PRAYER

My first #fridayflash piece, inspired by the ABC Challenge. The rules are this: write a story that is 26 sentences long. This first sentence must start with the letter ‘A’, and every following sentence begins with the subsequent letter of the alphabet, ending with ‘Z’.

******

An entire hour passed without Evan Pyre moving so much as an inch from his perch amidst the gothic spires of the Duomo. Beneath him, just as immobile, was one of the cathedral’s gargoyles, a duck-like creature with a serpent’s tail and teeth worthy of a predator. Chance — or perhaps destiny? — had made fools out of them both, and Evan could not help but feel kinship towards a creature so outwardly hideous and inwardly harmless as himself.

Dawn was fast-approaching; the horizon was a line of pale pink light amidst the darkness. Evan could already feel his skin prickling in warning, every hair on his arm standing on end, and he had to swallow back the urge to retreat into the crypts, back to his coffin.

Fido—the gargoyle—sniffed the air, then began getting into position, his neck outstretched, his tail curled around his lower half.  “Good weather coming today,” he grunted.  “Hot.”

“I hope so,” Evan said, for the stronger and brighter the sun, the faster his death, and the end of years of torment. Just then, the thought struck him that he should have done this years earlier, and saved himself a lot of trouble. Killed himself with daylight, and consequences be damned. Let the consequences take care of themselves.

Minutes crawled by, the light on the horizon stretching upwards, pale and weak at first but with increasing vigour, until the edge of the sun made its appearance. Night, all of a sudden, had been passed over for day, and Evan stood dumbstruck as he saw the sun for the first time in three hundred years. Ominous crackling filled the air; he thought it was his skin burning at first, but no — his skin was unmarked — it was Fido solidifying into granite. Perplexed, Evan examined his hand, awash in the morning light.

Quietly at first, and then with increasing urgency, Evan began to mumble one word: no, repeated over and over again.  Rays of light struck his skin without leaving the faintest mark, without burning or igniting or anything they were supposed to do.  Supposed to do, he thought numbly, almost choking on the irony of it all.

Throughout the years, Evan had come to learn that nothing else worked: not stakes nor crosses nor garlic.  Unless struck by light or flame, he and his kind were immortal, so he had placed all his hopes for peace on the morning sun. Vampires were only unmourned souls, and not sinners; surely they deserved to rest in peace eventually?

Why some were cursed and not others remained a mystery.  Xero the Elder claimed it was the work of God, but only destiny could be cruel enough to make Evan a vampire when he had committed no crimes. Yet there was Fido, a truly cursed soul, and even he was allowed the luxury of sleep that Evan was denied.

 Zealously, awash in the growing morning light, Evan bowed his head and prayed for another way to die.

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37 thoughts on “A SIMPLE PRAYER

  1. Expertly done! I loved the double tension in this story – the tension of the story itself (which you held with wonderful precision), and the tension of finding out how you’re going to use awkward letters, like K and Q and Z.

    Which was the most difficult letter for you?

    • Thank you! I love this little challenge as it really bends your mind, forcing you away from the classic sentence starters such as ‘He’ or a name.

      I have to say ‘Z’ was the hardest letter. Not only because I couldn’t think of Z words, but also because I wanted a strong ending, and couldn’t think of a good one that started with Z. The other awkward letters — like Q and X — didn’t create as much pressure, since they were lost in the middle.

  2. How long did it take you to write this? And did you have the whole story in your head when you started?

    That’s some achievement there!
    Excellent stuff
    And I wouldn’t worry about the Z, I was immersed enough not to notice it and had to go back and re-read to see what you’d chosen!

  3. Wow! Fantastic detail here – you can feel his anguish so thoroughly.

    I love that prompt – will have to try it sometime, but it would be quite a challenge to top what you’ve done with it. Great job!

  4. I’m extremely impressed, firstly that you were able to complete the challenge and secondly that you were able to create such an interesting story in the process! Great work!

  5. Nice! Interesting challenge… and you did a great job making a story that works while sticking to the technique. I’m not sure I would have noticed right away if I hadn’t read the introduction. I kind of want to try an ABC story now.

    From a new visitor wandering around… really enjoyed your #fridayflash! :)

  6. Sounds like a fun writing prompt, though I don’t know if any of my stories are long enough for me to actually try this ;) I like the irony of prayer as a means to commit suicide.

  7. A tremendous entrance into the #fridayflash world! I am also a newbie, this being my second week.

    This story is great. Oh the curse of immortality.

    I like the ABC challenge style too. I may be trying this in the future.

  8. How did I miss this?
    Excellent stuff Anna, and I think the different challenge each week idea, though challenging, could be really cool.

    You could’ve always let Zorro make a cameo appearance at the end!

  9. I relate to those who didn’t pick up on the “rules” of the story. I wrote a similar story for a short story class and boy is it bad! In fact, I may submit it in the next couple of weeks as a contrast to yours which is so well done.

    Welcome to Friday Flash.

  10. I thought I’d submitted my comments but I don’t see them there. I thought this was an excellent version of a short story using the method. We were given this assignment in a short story class in Taos last July and what I produced was laughable. In fact, it was so laughable that I’m using it for the next FridayFlash to add some levity. Impressive work.

    • Sorry – I hadn’t gotten around to approving comments as I haven’t had internet access! My first attempt at this challenge was laughable, actually… I think I used “Zorro” for Z? It takes a while for the novely of the challenge to wear off and to try take it seriously, or at least it did for me!

  11. My complaint? I wish you’d told us the parameters of the challenge at the end of the story. I found myself watching sentence beginnings more than paying attention to your story, which was a grave disservice to you, because the story was wonderful!

    I was wondering about X more than any other letter, and smiled as I read with the clever way to get around that–just use a name.

    Welcome to #fridayflash.

  12. What a great debut piece for #fridayflash. I sort of wish you had not mentioned the challenge, in that I’d love to know if I would have caught on or not simply by reading. You did a great job of fulfilling the challenge without it coming out as contrived. Nice story in its own right.

    Welcome to #fridayflash.
    ~jon

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