As I’m making the effort to actually write, I’m working on some writing challenges to shake off the dust a little. After the first challenge of sentences with 1-10 words, this is the second.
I hadn’t seen anything like this before, but it was a spin on a little Easter Egg I put into one of my earlier works. A very weak Easter Egg, but one I put in because it amused a younger me. Very simply, I wanted to start consecutive paragraphs with the words “Once Upon A Time”. There. Nothing to write home about, is it? It’s not something that anyone would particularly notice. It doesn’t stand out. It just got snuck in there with the text to amuse an audience of precisely one. Me. And a lot of the time, that’s what most writing is about. Sure, authors write for audiences, but there’s also a great piece of advice which runs along the lines of “If the book you want to read doesn’t exist, then write it”. I maintain that every book has an audience that will enjoy it, even if that audience is the author alone.
That idea always stuck in the back of my head. At some point, I wanted to try writing a novella, with the first word of every paragraph ultimately forming another short story. Bloody painful, most likely, so I didn’t do it. Or, at least, I haven’t done it yet. I may well do at some point, but that’s for another time.
This exercise plays a little with that, having taken the idea and changed it around a little.
I wanted to write a short story with each sentence starting with the next letter of the alphabet. Twenty-six sentences. No easy cop-outs (like using ‘I’, or names for difficult letters. Goodbye Xavier! Farewell Queenie!). Otherwise, have at it.
This is the result.
At the end of it all, bloodied and broken, we fell against each other, and slumped to the ground.
Behind us, someone groaned, low and pitiful, and soon the air was filled with the sounds of the dying.
Coughing gave way to retching, moaning gave way to weeping, and prayers gave way to pleas for forgiveness.
Despite everything, the two of us held onto each other.
Every breath hurt, every movement an agony.
Few had made it as far as we had, and even fewer remained conscious, knowing that they weren’t long for this world.
How we’d survived this far was nigh on miraculous.
Instead of falling at the first, as we’d been expected to do, we’d fought our way through to the end, until it was the two of us left.
Just her, and me.
Killing hadn’t been easy, not for either of us, no matter how much we’d boasted and bragged at the beginning.
Like we’d had a clue.
My first had been an older guy who’d looked like my father.
Neither of us wanted to pull the trigger, but in the end, we’d had no choice, and I’d taken that shot.
Open-mouthed, he’d stared at me, his expression a picture of bemusement, as that scarlet bloom on his chest spread.
Perhaps he was going to kill me first, perhaps not.
Quips were never really my thing, and I’d stared at him as he fell, desperate to make some witty one liner.
Shaking, I’d watched him fall to his knees, and then drop face first in the mud.
Thirty minutes later, and I’d added another dozen to my kill list, and she’d added a dozen more.
Until we were alone, the last two standing, as it were.
Victims and killers.
We knew what we’d done, why we’d done it, and what we had left to do.
Xenophobia is a terrible thing.
Yet, there we were, surrounded by the bodies of couples from around the world, dead and dying.
Zeroes and heroes, they called us, going into this, and I felt nothing like a hero.
I will freely admit to being challenged by some of the letters here. (Good morning, Q, X, and Z!) Forcing myself to choose words that weren’t immediately obvious, but didn’t smack of being shoehorned in was another challenge. The story itself changed a little as it went along, but overall, I’m pretty pleased with the result. It speaks to a bigger picture story, and again, something which could be comfortably expanded.