Welcome to my A to Z Blogging Challenge Posts.
This month I’ve challenged myself to not only do 26 blog posts in 30 days based on One Word Writing Prompts, but also to try to link them together into some kind of cohesive whole. I’d love to hear how you think I’m doing. If you want to start the story from the beginning, check out the Angel post from April 1.
Today’s One Word Writing Prompt:
The definitions are from the Oxford English Dictionary via their on-line access (which I have through my University employer). Feel free to skip down to the story segment if you don’t share my fascination with words, definitions, and shades of meaning.
1. a. The main stem of a herbaceous plant, bearing the flowers and leaves; also, a scape or flower-stem rising directly from the root.
b. The woody core of hemp and flax.
†c. ? nonce-use. A bit of straw, a ‘mote’.
2. a. The comparatively slender connecting part by which a vegetable organ is attached to the plant; the petiole of a leaf, the peduncle or pedicel of a flower, fruit, or inflorescence, the stipe of an ovary, or the like.
b. A similar slender connecting part by which an animal organ or structure is attached or supported.
†3. The shank n. of a hawk. Obs.
4. Applied to various erect slender objects.
†a. The upright of a ladder: = stale n.2 1.
b. The shaft of a chimney. Cf. stack n. 5b.
c. A columnar rock; = stack n. 7. local.
d. coarse slang. A penis, esp. one that is erect.
5. a. The main part of anything long and slender, as distinguished from the extremities.
†b. The shaft of a quill; a quill. Obs.
†c. The stem of a fork or spoon. Obs.
d. The tube or stem of a thermometer.
e. colloq. A lever mounted on the floor or on the steering column of a motor vehicle, which controls the gears or such devices as horn, indicators, lights, windscreen wipers, etc.
6. A slender upright support; the stem of a wine-glass.
†7. Sc. Some appendage to a halter. Obs.
1. a. An act of stalking game.
b. attrib., as †stalk-hound.
2. A striding gait; a stately or pompous mode of walking.
†1. a. intr. To walk softly, cautiously, or stealthily.
†b. said of an animal. Obs.
2. a. †To go stealthily to, towards (an animal) for the purpose of killing or capturing it (obs.). Hence, to pursue game by the method of stealthy approach, esp. by the use of a stalking-horse or of some device for concealing oneself from the view of the hunted animal.
†b. trans. ? To involve by cunning devices, inveigle. Obs.rare—1.
a. To pursue (game) by stealthy approach. to stalk down: to follow or track (an animal) stealthily until one comes within range.
b. To go through (a tract of country) stalking game.
4. a. intr. To walk with stiff, high, measured steps, like a long-legged bird. Usually with disparaging notion, implying haughtiness, sullenness, indifference to one’s surroundings, or the like. Also †to stalk it.
b. said of a bird or animal.
c. often said of ghosts, and fig. of quasi-personified maleficent agencies, as pestilence, famine, etc.
d. trans. To march proudly through (a country, etc.). Also quasi-trans. with advb. accusative.
1. intr. To put forth stalks. rare—1.
2. trans. To remove the stalks from (fruit).
Today’s Story Segment:
Uriel tried very hard not to look surprised by everything when they reached Rosario’s office. He didn’t comprehend much of what was going on or much of the equipment that seemed to be everywhere. He just collected the words that referred to them and hoped that Rosario would have the right books to explain it all to him later.
He was honestly relieved when they left the office several hours later to make Rosario and Savino’s rounds to the various houses where the previously homeless teenagers lived together.
The first house they came too didn’t really fit the definition of house that Uriel was familiar with. It was seven stories tall, and seemed to be divided up into various collections of rooms the way Rosario’s home was, based on the little diagram that was displayed in the entry way.
“This is technically an apartment building,” Rosario whispered as they walked across what felt like a receiving room of some kind. It reminded Uriel of an audience chamber at the home of an aristocrat.
“You will need to find books that explain this, and all the things I saw at your office,” Uriel replied.
“We’ll stop somewhere on the way home,” Rosario replied. “There are several dozen teens living here right now, as well as three full time employees who are supported by six part-time employees.”
“I’ll go check in with them,” Savino said as he moved toward a hallway leading off to the left.
“Is there anything you’d like to ask before we see everyone?” Rosario asked.
“Do you make these rounds often?” Uriel asked.
“At least once a week,” Rosario replied. “I like to stay connected with the teens. Many of them need as many good role models as they can get.”
Uriel nodded. The young needed good examples. He could understand that. But something about the place set his teeth on edge. He tried to focus on what was going on around him but there was something teasing at the edge of his mind.
When Savino returned with a gray-haired woman and a slip of a boy, Uriel forced himself to focus on the now.
“Savino said you had a friend with you today,” the woman said.
“Yes, Mary,” Rosario said, greeting the woman with a hug. “Uriel will be with us for a time, and I wanted to introduce him to everyone.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Uriel,” Mary said, holding out a hand to him.
“A pleasure,” Uriel replied as he gently took her hand in his. Hers was so much smaller, but she gave his hand a squeeze, so he carefully returned the pressure. It wasn’t quite the same as the clasping of forearms he remembered from Roman times, but it looked like a familiar ritual for her when she simply released his hand and stepped back.
“And this is Avery,” she said, motioning to the boy beside her. “He’s been shadowing me a bit since he’s considering staying on part-time after he graduates to give himself more time to decide on a path before college.
“It’s nice to meet you, Avery,” Uriel said, smiling down at the boy.
“Hi,” Avery whispered, gazing up at him with bright blue eyes.
Uriel could feel the wounded innocence radiating from the boy. He had been hurt.
“Why don’t you lead our tour today, Avery,” Rosario suggested. “It will give you good practice with a less skittish audience.”
“Okay,” Avery said brightly, beaming up at Rosario.
Uriel watched the boy as he led them off to the right down another hallway.
“We have shared space down here on the first floor. Kitchen, dining room, lounge, that kind of thing,” he said, pointing out each room as they passed it. Avery was even able to turn and walk backwards as he led them down the hall.
“We have elevators, but I prefer the stairs,” he said. “A lot of our residents don’t like the confined space of an elevator, so the stairs get a lot more use, even when we live on the seventh floor.”
Avery pushed open the door to the stairs and Uriel felt it again, the wrongness that had set his teeth on edge. There was something here, in the building.
Uriel tried to focus on Avery’s talk as they climbed up to the second floor, but it was difficult to hear the words over the feeling of menace that grew as they ascended the staircase.
When Avery pushed open the door to the second floor, the feeling intensified.
Uriel’s eyes narrowed as he looked down the hall, trying to find the hallmarks that would tell him what was stalking the humans in this building. There was no scent of decay or disuse to the building, so it wasn’t the type of demon that dealt in rot and desiccation.
Avery continued to talk as they moved down the hallway, but Uriel was no longer able to attend to his words. It wasn’t until they were moving past the elevator that stood in the middle of the hall that Uriel felt its presence fully. He didn’t think, he simply reacted as the ding sounded the arrival of the little metal room.
There was a crashing noise, and pain against Uriel’s back as something heavy moved through his wings.
He gasped, finding himself leaning against the wall with his left arm wrapped around Avery and his right arm braced on the wall.
“Avery!” Mary shrieked.
“Savino, quickly,” Rosario said,
Uriel didn’t dare move.
“Are you alright?” he asked Avery.
“Yeah,” he practically squeaked. “I thought I was gonna die.”
“I would not let that happen,” Uriel replied. The malevolence was gone. It was a cowardly sort. Attacking and then fleeing, and aiming for the weakest person in the group. Uriel would have to explain the situation to Rosario. His teenagers might not be safe. There might already be a history of accidents that would give him a clue as to what he was dealing with.