All, Tumbling Down (AtoZ Challenge)


The blast sent bricks, metal, furniture, and Mrs. Beatty, raining down on the parked cars and beyond. The damage to the vehicles on the street and parking lot was substantial, and a five car accident resulted from Mrs. Beatty landing on the windshield of a SUV speeding by.

The building, itself, was ablaze with smoke alarms blaring and a roaring fire that was ripping up the left wing apartments. Most of the residents were luckily at work, saving their lives if not their possessions. The not so lucky were many of the cats, dogs, fish, and other assorted pets that were locked up on that side of the building. The yappy little house dwelling dogs yapped their last.

(c) Paul Martinka / AP

Fire trucks arrived, their sirens wails mixed in with police cars, ambulances and car alarms honking.  The (ex)inhabitants of Swan Rise Apartments, who had been home when the blast occurred,  were being treated for smoke inhalation, shock or left to their own devices, milling about Swan Road aimlessly. Many clutched their pets to their chests, matted fur from tears and dribbled noses.

The Super was being questioned by the fire chief; his wife was standing with two of her five girls, arms crossed across her chest and glaring at him. Ida, Evelyn, Helen, Dotty and Bella-the Laundry Room Mafia-were in various states of dishevelment. The Weather Man was lost, muttering to himself, pacing down the long block only to return, looking at the fire, wearing a confused mien.  Frank just stood, jostled occasionally as others moved about, not noticing him, as normal.

It took hours to put the fire out. Spreading from the second floor of the late Mrs. B all the up to the fifth floor, the flames also took out inner apartments and was reaching towards the right wing. The heat was intense, melting the elevator works and welding shut the third and fourth floor doors. Smoke was the new inhabitant, seeping under every door of the six floored architectural mess. If it wasn’t just scorched, the remains carried the smell.

By dusk, all but five of Swan Rise were accounted for. Mrs. Beatty and three others were dead, and fourteen  were in the hospital, none too serious (although Mr. Bob Fields did have a heart attack and was being closely monitored). Swan Road, just off the Swan River Parkway, near the ever flowing trickle of Swan River, was a mess of apartment dwellers, accident rubber neckers, and the remains of the first responders.

The fire was out, smoldering remains were being taken care of, and the fire chief made a determination: the property had been cited before for old gas lines and disruptions, as complained about by the Swan Rise Apartments Committee. Mrs. Beatty’s stove was the epicenter of the deflagration. A full inquiry would be made and the Super and the building management were put on notice. Lawyers were already drawing up arguments.

Damaged and unsafe, no one was allowed back in. Weeping and very heavy hearts continued as night settled in. The temperature dropped, forcing all to finally make their way to makeshift lodgings for the night.

Swan Rise Apartments died this day.

…ashes, ashes…it all falls down…


Author’s Note:

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge.

During the month of April, over 1,200 bloggers are joining in on this blogfest.  Writing 26 posts using the letters of the alphabet to prompt the posts, you’ll find a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. While impossible to read all 1,200+, the idea is to open yourself to new readers, hopefully attain new followers, and to discover others to follow yourself.

For me, it’s to just get my writing chops back in gear. I’ve allowed a lot of distractions to do just that: distract me.

Last year, starting with the letter C, I wrote an ongoing story that was a combo of Speculative Fiction/Humor/Thriller. I still plan to revisit Winston, Elora and Daniel (and cast) one day.

This year, I have an overall theme of creative fiction: The Apartment Building.

The letter A sees the destruction of said building. From B to Z, I’ll be exploring stories of the characters that lived in the building, and aspects of the building itself. As of this writing, I  have the titles planned out as my only outline.

I’ve previously written about The Apartment Building, which is what gave me the idea to flesh the whole thing out on this blogfest: The Whistler Is Dead (February 2, 2012) and in a slightly different vein, Velocity (February 25, 2012).

I’m excited about the upcoming stories and I hope you enjoy them. I also hope you discover other blogs through this. You can click on the link above, the logo in this post or on my sidebar to take you to the main page of the AtoZ Challenge.


49 responses »

  1. Well I must say that this is one heck of a start to the story. This should attract a crowd on gawking onlookers to see where this story goes. Great way to start your Challenge.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z


  2. Hi Stuart, hey I remember you from the Renaissance blogging thing! This is such a great narrative – full of details and the pace is riveting. Can’t wait to read more!


  3. Excellent concept for fleshing out a story. You piqued my interest from the very first sentence. I’m hoping that Mrs. Beatty will be a major focus on Day B. 🙂


  4. Great structural concept for a story. You had my interest piqued from the very first paragraph. I hope Day B focuses on Mrs. Beatty. 🙂


  5. That’s an interesting premise for the A to Z challenge. I’ll have to follow along and see what the characters are like who go with the Apartment Building.


  6. Great start! I’m doing a similar idea (although my story will unfold as each letter develops the characters in flash fiction style!) so I’m definitely keen on keeping track of the creativity displayed in others’ posts. Apartments have so many different personalities that this is sure to be an awesome project for you to explore!


  7. My April schedule is not flexible enough to make room for the A-Z challenge, but I just might join the ranks next year.

    For now, I’ll just hang around and keep reading…


  8. Due to being offline for a while, I have read your A-Z entries backwards so far. I found this first piece very interesting , and am looking forward to the rest of the month, and reading them in order. The weather man seems a bit of an add duck, so I hope to hear more about him.


  9. Wow, this is powerful. I especially love the first line, the surprise of having Mrs. Beatty in the list of things raining down. Sorry I have been a slacker in terms of reading/commenting this month, but I plan to catch up.


  10. I didn’t get to your blog during April & have just of of it from Vikki of The View outside via her reflective post. What a great start off. Shame I have to go out, but later I plan to read B-Z and I am sure I will enjoy them. Will be looking forward to yor development of the series. Congratulations!

    My A-Z is over at


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