October Twitter-Splosion

Another month of #vss365! For October I followed the mis-adventure of Aodh, a creature of the night a-prowlin’! Things didn’t go according to his plans.

OCTOBER

10/1/2019

Rain slashes against the windowpane. Hunger drives me out into my dominion. I am one with the #night, melting with shadows, treading silently upon my victims. Desire claws at my insides. I kill or I will be killed. Light shines through the glass.#vss365

10/2/2019

A shard of light stabs my eyes. It must die! The darkness is my merciful companion. Outside the window I lurk, another sense assaulted. A human singing. My blood boils. The urge to dig my claws in and #murder the cause of my pain drives me insane. Restore dark and silence.#vss365

10/3/2019

Scent mingles with water, not just rain. The aroma of dead flowers mixed with soap. I try not to sneeze. The victim must be in the shower. A shriek. “Stupid dull razor!” The scent of #blood hits my nostrils. Every muscle primes. Claws on windowpane, no turning back.#vss365

10/4/2019

Wet glass, cold to the touch. The only barrier that prevents me from my prey. Just the scent of the blood through the cracked pane is enough to tease me with the flavor of my favorite #organ. Some beasts crave the heart. I prefer the liver, the holder of a man’s sins.#vss365

10/5/2019

I savor the sins I am about to partake. A monster of varied taste, I am not particular of my victims’ transgressions. Envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, wrath, each tenderizes in different ways. Each takes #away a piece of humanity seasoning the soul.#vss365

10/6/2019

Curtains flutter out an open window. Easier ingress. I crawl inside the darkened room and creep across the floor, carpet muffling my steps. Light from the bathroom draws me near. Kill. Kill. Kill! A sweet voice dripping with innocence behind me, “Are you a #demon?” I turn.#vss365

10/7/2019

What is this? A tiny human, clutching a stuffed animal to her chest, stares at me. Her voice drips with #music. The fire within quells. The urge to kill dwindles. I only desire to hear her speak. “No, child,” I rasp, what am I? “I am not of Hell, but Earth.” She blinks.#vss365

10/8/2019

Frozen in place. I could not move as her scent filled my nostrils. A be-spelling #perfume that seduced me. But she was a child! Still, I lowered my head to her eye level as she smiled at me. “Are you an angel?” I shifted my shadowy wings and chuckled, “Do I look like one?”#vss365

10/9/2019

Before I knew it she reached out and her soft palm touched my muzzle. Contact, I shuddered, but not out of disgust. Something resonated. I should be crunching this child’s #bones, yet that felt wrong. I met her fearless gaze as a bond forged an unbreakable chain. “Mine.”#vss365

10/10/2019

She had not spoken, but I felt the claim. My claws would serve her, protect her with a bond as a deep as any #lovers. Where did this twisted sense of loyalty lie? The stuffed animal shifted, the gleam of a gem around its neck. Shit! How did a CHILD get that binding relic?#vss365

10/11/2019

Fearless the child approaches me still clutching her relic laden toy. I bow my head to her as hunger ravages me. Tiny plump fingers plunge into my spiky fur, their contact hot against my #skin. I would do anything for her. Even kill. She smiles all the way to eyes. Murder.#vss365

10/12/2019

She pointed to herself, “Trine.” Then her palm cupped my nose. “You…?” I swallowed, did she know? Once she knew I would be her #monster. Compelled to answer, my lips betrayed me, “Aodh.” The void within me vanished. My claws dug into the carpet. I was Trine’s to command.#vss365

10/13/2019

Trine giggled and crawled up onto my back. I could not resist her, my little black #pearl in a sea of human refuse. “Aodh, fly!” To the window I obeyed, even as the light from the bathroom grew wider, a voice called out, “Is that you? You should be in bed, Trine sweety.” #vss365

10/14/2019

My claws gripped the sill. Trine’s hand clutched my spiky fur, her heels thumped my shoulder blades. I dove out into the rain, bathed once more in soothing darkness. A voice screamed out, “Trine!” But we were gone. For better, or #worse, I was bound to obey my tiny tyrant.#vss365

10/15/2019

What a turn of events, I pondered as I soared through the stormy streets. I began the night as always, hunting #alone. Who would imagine that a child would embrace me? Who would guess that it would feel so … right? Who was this Trine? So many questions. “Hungry! Snack!”#vss365

10/16/2019

“What do you tiny humans eat?” Trine leaned to my ear, “Sweeties. Candy, cake, cookies. Cookies with #chunks of candy!” I almost vomited in my mouth. Sweetness? The only sweet I liked was innards. “Cookies! Cookies!” I had to do something. “Hush, or they’ll escape!”#vss365

10/17/2019

Trine sucked on a finger. “Escape? But cookies don’t gots legs.” I crouched down in stalking mode. “Shh! Look there in the #darkness do you see them? Crumbs. Should we follow them?” Trine bobbed her head. “Yes! Follow the dark chocolates!” My bloodthirsty tiny tyrant.#vss365

10/18/2019

The trail proved hard to follow, they were nothing but #ghost crumbs. My stomach turned at the mere thought of sweets, I would probably retch at the actual scent. What could I do? Trine demanded sustenance, I was bound to obey. To hunt that which made me violently ill.#vss365

10/19/2019

There it loomed over us. A shop that looked like it had vomited bright paint. Trine skipped to the sweet shop window. “Break it!” I shattered the pane. Trine jumped in and instantly began to #devour with savage intensity. I stepped back, besieged by … ugh, sweetness!#vss365

10/20/2019

By the time Trine toddled out the window the shop was naught but a frosting massacre, gobs of it clung to her gap-toothed smile. She shuffled through the #dirt and held out the remnants of a cookie in the shape of a racked man. I shut my nostrils from the assaulting scent.#vss365

10/21/2019

My stomach turned. Thoughts cast into #oblivion as my true hunger devoured my senses. Trembling I needed flesh, blood, organs. Not something in the mere shape of my prey. I stalked away from the broken window. “Aodh, down!” Confound it, I found myself prone to her command.#vss365

10/22/2019

“Child, I hunger.” At my words she held out the cookie. “That will not sustain me.” I flashed my fangs. “I require flesh, blood, something with spirit and a #soul.” Trine stared at the man shaped cookie, a tear rolled down her face. “Did someone hurt you?” She nodded.#vss365

10/23/2019

Fed by her earnest tears, I became #invincible, a creature of pure vengeance. “Name them!” She rubbed her eyes, “Billy.” I ground my claws into the dirt. “And for what offense has he begged for consummation?” She sobbed, “He stole my lollypop!” That was … shallow.#vss365

10/24/2019

We stood outside his house. A storm #cellar door yielded to my claws. This Billy stole something precious from my master. This lollypop truly must be a great treasure. I would retrieve it for her. Stairs creaked as I climbed toward my target, saliva flowing.#vss365

10/25/2019

The door to his room creaked open. Who was this mastermind I would devour #alive? I tugged back the covers. Billy … was a boy? Great, this one was snack-sized. I needed a meal. I pondered starting with his parents. But if he ran … I needed to find this lollypop.#vss365

10/26/2019

Billy awoke with a start and blinked at me. I growled, “You stole a great possession from my master, I have come to retrieve the lollypop.” With a shaky finger he pointed at a plastic wrapped object, bright and colorful. To my #horror her precious thing was candy.#vss365

10/27/2019

I gave a #shriek. “Candy? Her precious stolen item is candy?” Backed against the wall, I pondered my fate if I should break the binding spell. Could I resist? But if sugar should contact me, I shivered, I knew my fate. Head buried in claws I reeled at my impossible task.#vss365

10/28/2019

Against the burning through every fiber, I drew back from object I’d been compelled to retrieve. The sensation promised the #grave, but I did not care. Better to risk eternal slumber than unspeakable torment. I must find whomever gave that child a binding relic.#vss365

10/29/2019

The throb within me grew the further I tread from her request. Despite my desire for flesh, and my compelling to obey her, I found I would risk #eternal punishment for one chance, one swipe at the bastard who let this happen. “Who gifted the relic to this child?” I asked.#vss365

10/30/2019

A trail of deep violet light drew me through the alleys back to the apartment complex. #Warm sensation grew to heat as I closed in on the apartment, her apartment. Walls covered in artifacts. On the phone, a frantic man—outlined in purple. So he gave her the binding relic!#vss365

10/31/2019

A #raven perched upon the windowledge. I smiled a savage smile to my brother of the night knowing his presence not happenstance. “Finally,” saliva flowed through my teeth as I entered the open window, hunger blazed within, “let the feast begin!” I lunged, the man screamed.#vss365

OCTOBER

10/1/2019

Rain slashes against the windowpane. Hunger drives me out into my dominion. I am one with the #night, melting with shadows, treading silently upon my victims. Desire claws at my insides. I kill or I will be killed. Light shines through the glass.#vss365

10/2/2019

A shard of light stabs my eyes. It must die! The darkness is my merciful companion. Outside the window I lurk, another sense assaulted. A human singing. My blood boils. The urge to dig my claws in and #murder the cause of my pain drives me insane. Restore dark and silence.#vss365

10/3/2019

Scent mingles with water, not just rain. The aroma of dead flowers mixed with soap. I try not to sneeze. The victim must be in the shower. A shriek. “Stupid dull razor!” The scent of #blood hits my nostrils. Every muscle primes. Claws on windowpane, no turning back.#vss365

10/4/2019

Wet glass, cold to the touch. The only barrier that prevents me from my prey. Just the scent of the blood through the cracked pane is enough to tease me with the flavor of my favorite #organ. Some beasts crave the heart. I prefer the liver, the holder of a man’s sins.#vss365

10/5/2019

I savor the sins I am about to partake. A monster of varied taste, I am not particular of my victims’ transgressions. Envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, wrath, each tenderizes in different ways. Each takes #away a piece of humanity seasoning the soul.#vss365

10/6/2019

Curtains flutter out an open window. Easier ingress. I crawl inside the darkened room and creep across the floor, carpet muffling my steps. Light from the bathroom draws me near. Kill. Kill. Kill! A sweet voice dripping with innocence behind me, “Are you a #demon?” I turn.#vss365

10/7/2019

What is this? A tiny human, clutching a stuffed animal to her chest, stares at me. Her voice drips with #music. The fire within quells. The urge to kill dwindles. I only desire to hear her speak. “No, child,” I rasp, what am I? “I am not of Hell, but Earth.” She blinks.#vss365

10/8/2019

Frozen in place. I could not move as her scent filled my nostrils. A be-spelling #perfume that seduced me. But she was a child! Still, I lowered my head to her eye level as she smiled at me. “Are you an angel?” I shifted my shadowy wings and chuckled, “Do I look like one?”#vss365

10/9/2019

Before I knew it she reached out and her soft palm touched my muzzle. Contact, I shuddered, but not out of disgust. Something resonated. I should be crunching this child’s #bones, yet that felt wrong. I met her fearless gaze as a bond forged an unbreakable chain. “Mine.”#vss365

10/10/2019

She had not spoken, but I felt the claim. My claws would serve her, protect her with a bond as a deep as any #lovers. Where did this twisted sense of loyalty lie? The stuffed animal shifted, the gleam of a gem around its neck. Shit! How did a CHILD get that binding relic?#vss365

10/11/2019

Fearless the child approaches me still clutching her relic laden toy. I bow my head to her as hunger ravages me. Tiny plump fingers plunge into my spiky fur, their contact hot against my #skin. I would do anything for her. Even kill. She smiles all the way to eyes. Murder.#vss365

10/12/2019

She pointed to herself, “Trine.” Then her palm cupped my nose. “You…?” I swallowed, did she know? Once she knew I would be her #monster. Compelled to answer, my lips betrayed me, “Aodh.” The void within me vanished. My claws dug into the carpet. I was Trine’s to command.#vss365

10/13/2019

Trine giggled and crawled up onto my back. I could not resist her, my little black #pearl in a sea of human refuse. “Aodh, fly!” To the window I obeyed, even as the light from the bathroom grew wider, a voice called out, “Is that you? You should be in bed, Trine sweety.” #vss365

10/14/2019

My claws gripped the sill. Trine’s hand clutched my spiky fur, her heels thumped my shoulder blades. I dove out into the rain, bathed once more in soothing darkness. A voice screamed out, “Trine!” But we were gone. For better, or #worse, I was bound to obey my tiny tyrant.#vss365

10/15/2019

What a turn of events, I pondered as I soared through the stormy streets. I began the night as always, hunting #alone. Who would imagine that a child would embrace me? Who would guess that it would feel so … right? Who was this Trine? So many questions. “Hungry! Snack!”#vss365

10/16/2019

“What do you tiny humans eat?” Trine leaned to my ear, “Sweeties. Candy, cake, cookies. Cookies with #chunks of candy!” I almost vomited in my mouth. Sweetness? The only sweet I liked was innards. “Cookies! Cookies!” I had to do something. “Hush, or they’ll escape!”#vss365

10/17/2019

Trine sucked on a finger. “Escape? But cookies don’t gots legs.” I crouched down in stalking mode. “Shh! Look there in the #darkness do you see them? Crumbs. Should we follow them?” Trine bobbed her head. “Yes! Follow the dark chocolates!” My bloodthirsty tiny tyrant.#vss365

10/18/2019

The trail proved hard to follow, they were nothing but #ghost crumbs. My stomach turned at the mere thought of sweets, I would probably retch at the actual scent. What could I do? Trine demanded sustenance, I was bound to obey. To hunt that which made me violently ill.#vss365

10/19/2019

There it loomed over us. A shop that looked like it had vomited bright paint. Trine skipped to the sweet shop window. “Break it!” I shattered the pane. Trine jumped in and instantly began to #devour with savage intensity. I stepped back, besieged by … ugh, sweetness!#vss365

10/20/2019

By the time Trine toddled out the window the shop was naught but a frosting massacre, gobs of it clung to her gap-toothed smile. She shuffled through the #dirt and held out the remnants of a cookie in the shape of a racked man. I shut my nostrils from the assaulting scent.#vss365

10/21/2019

My stomach turned. Thoughts cast into #oblivion as my true hunger devoured my senses. Trembling I needed flesh, blood, organs. Not something in the mere shape of my prey. I stalked away from the broken window. “Aodh, down!” Confound it, I found myself prone to her command.#vss365

10/22/2019

“Child, I hunger.” At my words she held out the cookie. “That will not sustain me.” I flashed my fangs. “I require flesh, blood, something with spirit and a #soul.” Trine stared at the man shaped cookie, a tear rolled down her face. “Did someone hurt you?” She nodded.#vss365

10/23/2019

Fed by her earnest tears, I became #invincible, a creature of pure vengeance. “Name them!” She rubbed her eyes, “Billy.” I ground my claws into the dirt. “And for what offense has he begged for consummation?” She sobbed, “He stole my lollypop!” That was … shallow.#vss365

10/24/2019

We stood outside his house. A storm #cellar door yielded to my claws. This Billy stole something precious from my master. This lollypop truly must be a great treasure. I would retrieve it for her. Stairs creaked as I climbed toward my target, saliva flowing.#vss365

10/25/2019

The door to his room creaked open. Who was this mastermind I would devour #alive? I tugged back the covers. Billy … was a boy? Great, this one was snack-sized. I needed a meal. I pondered starting with his parents. But if he ran … I needed to find this lollypop.#vss365

10/26/2019

Billy awoke with a start and blinked at me. I growled, “You stole a great possession from my master, I have come to retrieve the lollypop.” With a shaky finger he pointed at a plastic wrapped object, bright and colorful. To my #horror her precious thing was candy.#vss365

10/27/2019

I gave a #shriek. “Candy? Her precious stolen item is candy?” Backed against the wall, I pondered my fate if I should break the binding spell. Could I resist? But if sugar should contact me, I shivered, I knew my fate. Head buried in claws I reeled at my impossible task.#vss365

10/28/2019

Against the burning through every fiber, I drew back from object I’d been compelled to retrieve. The sensation promised the #grave, but I did not care. Better to risk eternal slumber than unspeakable torment. I must find whomever gave that child a binding relic.#vss365

10/29/2019

The throb within me grew the further I tread from her request. Despite my desire for flesh, and my compelling to obey her, I found I would risk #eternal punishment for one chance, one swipe at the bastard who let this happen. “Who gifted the relic to this child?” I asked.#vss365

10/30/2019

A trail of deep violet light drew me through the alleys back to the apartment complex. #Warm sensation grew to heat as I closed in on the apartment, her apartment. Walls covered in artifacts. On the phone, a frantic man—outlined in purple. So he gave her the binding relic!#vss365

10/31/2019

A #raven perched upon the windowledge. I smiled a savage smile to my brother of the night knowing his presence not happenstance. “Finally,” saliva flowed through my teeth as I entered the open window, hunger blazed within, “let the feast begin!” I lunged, the man screamed.#vss365

September Twitter-Splosion!

All of September’s daily #vss365 (Very Short Stories, or tales in a tweet) in one shot! It’s all coming your way in a crazy rush of eclectic of whatever crossed my mind with each prompt.

gifs critters cute fennec foxes funny - 7702035456

SEPTEMBER

9/1/2019

She held her breath as the light faded in the sky. It had all been a silly nursery rhyme, right? Right?! And yet in the #gloaming she hastened on the path home, dropping her basket. The stars provided little comfort as the howls of wolves chilled her blood. Grandma!#vss365

9/2/2019

Her head rests on my knee. Her eyes stare into my soul. As she lifts a paw and places it in my palm I am consumed by the fires of her #love. No human devotion can begin to approach the depth of a dog’s.#vss365

9/3/2019

“Oh wise mystic, I come bearing life’s most critical #mystery.”

“What query have you that has defied normal men?”

“Why do hotdogs come in packages of ten and hotdog buns in packs of eight?”

“I … wow, that’s a tough one!”#vss365

9/4/2019

My home behind me, my harp slung over my back, I stepped onto the open road lured by the fleeting #horizon growing ever distant. This village had been my world, how woefully small it had been. Time to discard childish things, time to grasp reality as a bard.#vss365

9/5/2019

Sam smiled as the visions of her family in a warm embrace ran through her mind. Soon now, soon they would all be together again. Before her eyes her breath began to #crystallize, hanging in a death pall. Rapid gun fire filled the air. Soon … they would be reunited.#vss365

9/6/2019

Bird song carried on the breeze at #daybreak joyful of the void left behind when the machinery ceased. Wind stirred the curtains through the open windows. Eyes lay open, unclosing to elements. The war had ended and left a world spoiling in its wake.#vss365

9/7/2019

It was raining … jello? I put my hand out into the sugary desert glopping from the sky. Jim laughed, “Just like our high school prank! Remember how mad the principle was?” I blushed, heart aflutter. No ring. Was this #serendipity? He opened an umbrella, “Going my way?” #vss365

9/8/2019

“Zephyr’s #comet is a once in a lifetime event!” I sat atop the hill staring through the telescope beside my niece. She eagerly took the lens, a moment later fear plastered her face. When I looked again I realized the truth of my words. Prepare for impact!#vss365

9/9/2019

“I love you with all my #soul”

“I love your soul more.” Her eyes blinked and glowed red. “Open up to me, sweetheart.” When she finished her meal, the succubus licked her fingers and checked her cell. “Mmm, men that tender are hard to find these day. Who’s next on Sinder?”#vss365

9/10/2019

I never felt at home here. Not in this ordinary world. A current flowed through me from the depths of the earth, occasionally it crackled at my fingertips. I may look human, but I wasn’t. A changling #uprooted from the Otherrealm, the magic seed will not sleep in me.#vss365

9/11/2019

Silvamord the kitsune grinned through the twisting incense #smoke rising from each of her nine tails. The crude kobold stomped into her shop brandishing his glave. He inhaled the fanned smoke, his jaw went slack stone infested his scales. She admired her newest sculpture.#vss365

9/12/2019

My heart still pounding, the cold #floodwaters lapped at my toes. A lake where my farm had been moments before. So this was what the government meant by relocation program for the greater good. Eddying in the current ragdolls that once were my neighbors.#vss365

9/13/2019

My body tingles, all the hairs standing on end as the sun set fills the sky. Momma holds me close and whispers, “Soon now.” The bright eye wide open in the night fills the sky, changing us, primaling us. We lift our muzzles, singing to honor this #lunar holiday. “Aoooo!”#vss365

9/14/2019

My claim to fame? Oh yeah, that’s a great story. My niece asked me, “Can you do a #somersault?” I said, “Hold my beer.” Woke up here, in traction. Good news is, my best friend Larry sent the video to a contest. Says we’re a shoe-in to win. Should cover the medical bills.#vss365

9/15/2019

I swallowed hard at the undeniable evidence. There it was, preserved in a lump of #amber. No matter how many times I reran it, the data never varied. Our promised end stared me in the face locked in tree sap, and no one believed me. Countdown T minus…#vss365

9/16/2019

The music tugged and pulled on every limb. We found ourselves slaves to the #euphoric rhythms, feet pounded the pavement in time with the drumbeat. Our world dissolved into one ruled by measures and tones. Had we only known the spell the siren wove, we would never stop.#vss365

9/17/2019

The mouse-widow wailed into her paws. “My poor husband!”

“Naught but a snack,” the fox continued for her with a flick of his tail. “Apologies for the tone, but that it is what one gets for foolishly approaching a lion, the king of #carnivorous beasts.”#vss365

9/18/2019

“Before Alice there was Trixie, then Monica. I tell yah, Mark gets #infatuated at the drop of a hat. It’s all innocent, he moves on.” I leaned back in the interrogation chair, smiling up at the detective. Of course Mark moved on, the moment the his target vanished.#vss365

9/19/2019

“Mercy!” the villagers cried out to the beast using the mountain as his bed. Behemoth’s tail coursed down like a raging river. The beast yawned and with a single slash wiped the occupants and their village off the map, a display of the apocalypse bearer’s #cavernous heart.#vss365

9/20/2019

Gaia observed patiently as creatures upon the surface decimated her generosity. There had been enough for all, until they evolved. For the sake of the remaining species she sent storms, fire, and flood to #devour humanity. The Earth would heal, cleansed and repopulated.#vss365

9/21/2019

“A man’s worth is in his #marrow.” Strageth the savage smiled down at her students. A moment later she cracked a femur like a twig. “You see? This human is rotten.” Her hatchlings bobbed up and down on their claws and she proceeded to use a bone-sliver as a toothpick.#vss365

9/22/2019

“My, what a lovely #garden. This must be what takes up your time after William’s passing?” Mary’s guest inquired on the leisurely tour.

She smiled demurely, her gloved fingers toying with a fresh rose plant. “The key is good fertilizer and tilling the soil thoroughly.”#vss365

9/23/2019

The forest shivered in anticipation. Foliage speckled with the upcoming autumn waved beneath the vibrant horizon. The sun sank giving way to the moon’s reign. A unicorn pranced through the enchanted woods sparkling with the power of the #equinox. The change hers to bring.#vss365

9/24/2019

I swallowed, sound echoed in the cavern revealing its immense size. I gripped my sword with both hands wishing it had been a torch to break the darkness. An ember flickered. I took a step back. A moment later a huge maw burst in #fire. Well, I found the dragon. What now?#vss365

9/25/2019

Elder Grah pulled the thread through the hoop in a delicate design. I sat at her feet enthralled by the rhythm. She smiled, “Never forget this art we make as tribute. Not every tribe can make a life-catcher.” Each pass of her victim’s #sinew thread sewing spirit’s power.#vss365

9/26/2019

“I didn’t know Jimbo could #consume an entire vat of chili.”

“He’s a dog. What did you expect?”

“I also didn’t know it’d come back out both ends as nearly an identical substance.”

“Sigh. Just keep mopping.”#vss365

9/27/2019

“I’m convinced #universe has it out for me.”

“Don’t be so dramatic, Emily.”

“Stupid f’in cat on the stupid f’in stairs. Fine. Can you at least scratch my nose? The casts won’t let me.” #vss365

9/28/2019

Forces aligned as the forests entered their season of slumber. Darkness poured from the henge in thick swirls. The sidhe opened wide releasing the #chthonic spirits to cavort in the crisp night air. A dark beast slunk in the world on poisoned talons. His age had begun.#vss365

9/29/2019

The morning sky blazed red. Flocks of birds engaged in a strange #dance , murmurations in various patterns. My heart thundered. What was that old saying? “Red sky at dawn, sailors take warn”? I was no sailor, but the hazy horizon promised nothing but death.#vss365

9/30/2019

The hooded man with a scythe extended a hand. “Name’s #Inevitable.”

“I—I thought it was Death.”

“Nah, we’re re-branding. Marketing says that the grim aspect is too retro. So we’re trying to lighten the spin. Is it working?”

“Umm, I’m still dead. Right?”

“We have T-shirts.”#vss365

August Twitter-splosion

All of August’s #vss365 tweets in one shot! Enjoy!

AUGUST

8/1/2019

Joy trembled as the #cellar door rattled. Not again, she thought. No one believed her last time. They wouldn’t again. It must be a rat, remained the excuse. The frame broke and the chimera beast lunged against the wall ready for his kind of play. Joy gulped!#vss365

8/2/2019

The cave stood before me, an epic reuniting journey. My call echoed back to me, nothing more. Had I taken too long to reach? My heart sank. Then, a flicker of a connection. The bright flash of feather and claw. My gryphon #familiar flattened me. We were whole again.#vss365

8/3/2019

The elk herd took flight from the howling pursuit of the wolves they could not shake. At the rear a wise old elk slowed and stared at the tails of the herd vanishing into the safety of the trees. The rest would live as he waited to pay #sacrifice as so many had before him.#vss365

8/4/2019

“That light on the horizon, that’s odd. Can’t be Venus, that’s the wrong way. Should be #Jupiter. But it’s getting-”

“-bigger. Alarmingly bigger! Planets don’t do that. What the fu-”

Just then the radio blared, “Citizens of Earth, we have assumed control.”#vss365

8/5/2019

The dragon wrapped her tail around her young. “When I was young we were ruled by the fair dragon #empress.”

“What happened to her, mama? Why do we hide?”

“A dragon declared himself our first emperor. And then our first civil war.”#vss365

8/6/2019

One tiny spark in a void does nothing. But, if that tiny spark happens near kindling it can catch and spread. Without boundaries it can grow into a devastating #wildfire, for bad or for good in some cases. What kind of spark you are depends upon intentions.#vss365

8/7/2019

Love is an #emotion she was immune to. Many fawned over her in displays of lavish affection that resulted in nothing. Nothing to them. For her it revealed the shallow nature of desire at how rapidly loyalties changed.#vss365

8/8/2019

Rain fell on the cracked earth and hissed on impact. Despite the downpour it did no good to alleviate the drought in the unending heat. Too late to change fate. The world watched hope #evaporate one drop at a time.#vss365

8/9/2019

She wiped her brow with her apron around the corner, out of sight. Fixing a grin on her face she covered the exhaustion as well as any could, and buried the fear that ends would not meet. There’s no #glory as a waitress battling poverty.#vss365

8/10/2019

Constance adjusted her corset and walked out with soundless steps onto the darkened stage. No one had told her the price when a soul #peaks too soon. The audiences came to see the living perform … no one ever “saw” her. #vss365

8/11/2019

“What a strange name for a town, #Vermillion. I wonder why it’s called that?” An hour later I regretted that question, for the master scholar dropped a tome in front of me. It was all in the history. The night a dragon painted the town “red”. #vss365

8/12/2019

In a line they stretched from the ocean, or was it into? She couldn’t tell as her feet drew her along the #shell line. Waves dappled in foam danced, the lure pulled her ever forward. The moment her toes touched the water one world gave way to another … she was lost.#vss365

8/13/2019

Society called her a #renegade when she protested. They ignored her logical argument and called her insane. In the present they made her a villain. When the system fell under their own foul dealings … society forgot the derogatory nicknames, history called her a visionary.#vss365

8/14/2019

“I don’t like how things are. Why can’t we just fix the problem. The solution is ea-”

“I’ll tell you why, Grandpa. It’s because everyone thinks they have the one true answer and people are too #stubborn to talk shit through.”

“The answer is-”

“My point exactly.”#vss365

8/15/2019

Silence is the most disturbing thing, when applied to a puppy. I stood from my desk and entered the room hoping to find him sleeping. Instead I was greeted by an #explosion of what once was my couch. Around his gleefully wriggly body, a selection of untouched dog toys.#vss365

8/16/2019

I close my eyes and my world becomes a #symphony. Everywhere there is music, though most call it noise. The rumble of car tires holds rhythm with the whistle of the wind. Even if no one else appreciates it, I move to the world’s orchestra.#vss365

8/17/2019

No matter how many times I tell myself the monster isn’t real, I feel claws in my flesh. I fight to #imagine the time when I didn’t know the crippling pain, the poisonous anxiety that stole my life. I cry out, but no one hears me. I cannot escape this unseen beast. #vss365

8/18/2019

“Eh, new dog.”

“Name’s Mais-”

“Don’t care. Listen, there’s an order around here. I’m the #favourite pet and don’t you forget it.”

“I can’t help it if the human likes me more.”

“You better, or you’ll wind up like the cat.”

“What cat?”

“Precisely.”#vss365

8/19/2019

The world lay silent before me. Everything bathed in shadow as I #linger, my gaze cast over my home. Where I was born, I rode a bike and played tag, shared lemonade with a friend. All it took, one millisecond of hatred to wipe out all life. Assholes, hope they’re happy.#vss365

8/20/2019

Every stroke of the brush is an escape. The troubles of reality fade away. Don’t disturb me as I wander through my #haven of paint. I will return to your world when I am ready, and not a moment before.#vss365

8/21/2019

Hearts pounded, lungs burned, every hoof tore up the ground in the herd’s panicked flight. They ran toward freedom with the wolves biting their flanks. It wasn’t freedom that greeted them. The cliff, the pack’s strategic #blindside, provided a leisurely buffet.#vss365

8/22/2019

Despite impressions of stylish elegance, the city wasn’t her scene. When the cameras turned off and control of her life returned, deep in the woods she shed the civilized cocoon and let her #wild side out. For her, bathing in the moonlight did not require a bikini.#vss365

8/23/2019

Intelligence ain’t Roy’s best trait. After all, it was his #bright idea to hold the Running of the Chihuahuas. Never thought I would see a man mauled by land-piranha. On the plus side, he saved in funeral costs due to the casket size. Actually, may have been his best idea.#vss365

8/24/2019

With that one word I felt my world #shatter. And yet it didn’t even register in the chaotic shock. One four letter word whispered in my ear and my life relinquished. “Mine.” If only I had fought back.#vss365

8/25/2019

The dusk #skyline burst into an array of colors including the brightest red against desert sand. Cradled in the dunes a lost albatross fought to keep her eyes open. Lost in the largest beach imaginable, her last thought, where did the ocean go?#vss365

8/26/2019

The door opened on ground zero: the kitchen. Boxes and cans with contents spilled over the floor. The trashcan knocked over and rooted through. Two debris covered dogs groveled amidst ketchup paw prints. One sat perfect as his trash lid necklace #confess to his crime. #vss365

8/27/2019

“Tsk tsk, little midge.” Aunt Madge pulled out her wand even as I withered under her gaze. “Did I not tell you to take care how you channeled manna? Of course the spell backfired. You’ve #tangled the pull. Lucky you didn’t finish summoning that demon.”

Demon? Oh fuck!#vss365

8/28/2019

Balance. Each creature had its place on the island engaged in an eon long dance to find each and every niche for plant, bug, bird, and mammal. All except one. Eager to exploit the hidden treasures of the #fragile land; dollar signs in his eyes, a match in his hand.#vss365

8/29/2019

Mother Earth blinked her eyes, a #million years passed before she opened them again. The creatures walking on her changed so dramatically. In another blink, they were gone. Something new took their place. Ever dynamic, she marveled at the flexibility of life.#vss365

8/30/2019

My hand tingled as I pulled it out of the hole. “Dammit! It must be #somewhere. Not like it’s easy to misplace a doomsday device!”

“Don’t you remember which dimension you left it in?”

I reached into another portal, a burst of smoke. “Found it! Bad news, it’s used.”#vss365

8/31/2019

I danced in circles interrupting it with every trick in my repertoire. Come on, human! Get your act together. Why does it take #forever to pour kibble in a damn bowl and set it on the floor? I sit up at the perfect moment. Snout meets bowl. Let’s MEAL!#vss365

July Twitter-splosion

Another month of #vss365 prompted Twitter-tales. There are daily micro-stories in a Tweet. This month they went all over the place. Enjoy!

JULY

7/1/2019

The lady clutched her designer handbag. “$5? For that poor excuse for food? That’s a fortune!” As she swung away from the stand in her huff a bill fell from her pocket onto the ground.

The ragged girl picked up the rumpled $5 bill. Her eyes widened. “Look, a #fortune!”#vss365a

7/2/2019

The black horse approached me from the water’s edge. A pondweed infested #braid slapped his neck. “You didn’t put that in yourself.” I reached a hand toward his glistening side. A ghost child appeared between. I leapt back, inches from sharing her fate with the kelpie.#vss365a

7/3/2019

“Master?” The apprentice knelt before the ancient dragon. “The world is dying, how can you gaze at it with such #equanimity?”

The dragon replied, “When you have seen countless civilizations rise and fall the only permanence is change.”#vss365a

7/4/2019

The stray barked at me, yapping that my leash meant I sacrificed my #liberty. I continued to assist my companion cross the street, pride undimmed to our comfortable home. The next day we passed the stray’s alley, and his crushed body. A sad fate.#vss365a

7/5/2019

The fairy ring’s light set Sionnach’s rusty fur a-glow. On the other side human voices beckoned her to come forth. Did they not know the mischief they summoned? The fault was theirs. She leapt through the portal, paws in #contact with mortal earth. Let the fun begin.#vss365a

7/6/2019

A ship glided in our wake. The lookout watched through the spyglass. We had to protect the king’s cargo. The slew grew larger, tacking the wind onto our coarse. A flag began to #unfurl. “Red!” the lookout yelled. Every sailor fell to his knees. In time … certain death.#vss365a

7/7/2019

The stone’s biting cold is a #sting to my belly. But I will not leave. My eyes trace the letters of a name I can’t read. But I know it. It’s carved into my heart, every day I spent with my paws in her footsteps. Life drains away on the grave of my master until reunion.#vss365a

7/8/2019

The knight rode his horse just shy of the foothill’s burn ring, his squad readied the trebuchet. “We’re out of your #reach, Dragon! Now you die!” Two eyes glowed in the cavern. A moment later a gout of fire erupted where they stood. Laughter echoed in the dead valley.#vss365

7/9/2019

The world changes at night. The once bright field lies somber and ominous. The pathway into the woods dark and foreboding. At the entrance sits the fox as if waiting for me. “Hello, friend.”#Beneath the surface of her eyes lies a promise of something … adventure … demise?#vss365

7/10/2019

A wild fox smiled at me in the moonlight. “Is this world getting you down? You can leave for another. But there’s a #trick to it.” Her paw swirled the pond and she dove through. “Don’t be afraid.” What was I to do? It’s not every night you meet a trans-dimensional fox.#vss365

7/11/2019

Inside me it twisted and turned in an ever increasing #fury until I doubled over with the pain. Either I unleashed it, or it tore me apart. In scream borne from all that society had insisted a good being kept concealed I let my true self out. I stood alone, but content.#vss365

7/12/2019

They say when you die your life flashes before your eyes as you spiral through a brightly lit #tunnel. That would have been a vast improvement from reality, lying 6-ft under, self aware, non-responsive. Anyone know when the end of the world is?#vss365

7/13/2019

Every time Jack turned around in the bedroom, there it was. Always on the bed stand, the crystal candy jar, Lucy’s#precious possession. On his knees he pleaded with the universe to stop reminding him. But her ghost kept replacing it. Time and time, again.#vss365

7/14/2019

“You’re either a girl or a #boy. Nature doesn’t make anything else.”

I pull out the biology encyclopedia and begin the filibuster of examples that debunk this ignorant notion. By the time I finish, eyes are wide. “Nature meets your bet, multiplies it, and calls; buddy.”#vss365

7/15/2019

I sat down at my desk, materials before me. A clear idea in my mind of what I’d create. A stray thought took over my hands and morphed it. Then another and another, until a #torrent of stray tangents poured through my hands. Nothing like what I’d planned, it’s much cooler.#vss365

7/16/2019

The mouse grinned. “I read in a book about our kind befriending a lion by removing a thorn from his paw. Don’t worry, I’ll placate the beast.” He skittered toward the lion to #delve his paws. In all four he found nothing. However, in the lion’s eyes he found hunger.#vss365

7/17/2019

Rumor has it I have a bad #reputation, something about anything that angers me mysteriously vanishing. I pull out the tome and special ink. I pen four more names on the list. A glowing specter emerges. Looks like that rep will be changing again.#vss365

7/18/2019

“In the #unlikely event that dinosaurs attack the aircraft we ask that anyone with firearm experience assist the crew. Other passengers retreat to the bunker room.”

What are the chances of that? I scoffed. Five minutes later the grating screech of claws filled the cabin.#vss365

7/19/2019

Elise stood in the #verdant field surrounded by wheat and heather bowing to the wind. A wind that grew stronger as the ground growled and buckled. She turned to watch the farmhouse of her birth drown in flood created by the dam. A place she would never leave.#vss365

7/20/2019

The child picked up the winged horse toy and stroked its faux fur. “Poor thing, it’s not real.”

The toymaker took it back and smiled. “Poor you, growing up too soon.” Calloused hands caressed the feathered wings. Pegasus blinked, nickered, and began to #fly. #vss365

7/21/2019

Roused by the ruckus in the kitchen, Joe flicked on the light expecting the typical antics of rearranged dishware. He grabbed his nose, his spectral roommate having outdone itself. In the corner he found his pesky neighbors … or rather bodies, in a neat #stack. #vss365

7/22/2019

Sam truly loved Amber, but when he told her her mind seemed #elsewhere.

Behind her distant eyes he could never have known the dark war that swirled there. A constant flight from the gashes and scars of the past invisible to the normal world.#vss365

7/23/2019

Chuck’s grip on the bat faltered. It took a few heartbeats for his #folly to register as the glowing eyes caught the moonlight. Claws glistened with fresh blood. “You’re not a zombie.” The werewolf growled. Alone, too late to regret his crack to Tom about silver bullets.#vss365

7/24/2019

The news rattled on, we stared at the screen captivated by the events. The thought running through our collective minds, “this must be some kind of #joke, right?” But to our horror we watched the gavel come down on the fate of humanity. Goodbye world.#vss365

7/25/2019

The gryphon narrowed her eyes. “Think carefully before you #answer, human.” The brash knight pounded his chest and opened his mouth. Before he got out a single word, the gryphon head-butted him into the nest to her hungry young. “Wrong answer.”#vss365

7/26/2019

My blind date went south rather quickly. Pushing him away I yelled, “Go to #hell!”

He laughed and grabbed my wrist. “Ok, come home, meet my mother.” Two fiery horns sprouted from his head. The floor opened in a portal. I never should’ve used CinderDate.#vss365

7/27/2019

The TSA agent looked me in the eye. “Declare your #intent.”

“Not sure I understa-” She cut me off and pointed at the screen where an odd substance shadowed my bra. “Oh…” about that time I realized that bags of powdered sugar are a poor choice for enhancements.#vss365

7/28/2019

We never had a chance, I thought to myself as I watched the society crumble. Time had worn away resolve, we perceived that the power was theirs. It wasn’t, it had been ours, but by our foolish silence we #renounced it. #vss365

7/29/2019

In the shadows of the full moon he appears. There is nothing more ancient than this #stray mongrel who wanders the earth awaiting the chance to claim his prize. Innocent eyes beware, for those who glimpse have seen their grave.#vss365

7/30/2019

The sheepdog rested his head on folded paws, the #flock grazed on the hill. From the woods the wolf crept up on the dozing sentry eager to steal a fat ewe. All looked good, until the wolf lost sight of the dog. Wisely he cut his loss before the dog cut his life short.#vss365

7/31/2019

The lioness sunk her claws into the rogue lion’s face. Her sisters protected the cubs as she drove him off. The would-be king’s tail vanish into the grass. She returned to her pride, head held high, the reigning #queen. Until her cubs matured, she didn’t need a male.#vss365

June Twitter-splosion!

Micro flash abounded all through the month of June, here you will find my responses to the #vss365a prompts on Twitter. Why the ‘a’ at the end? Because there is an anthology building. The ‘a’ marked my stories as seeking to be chosen for inclusion. Enjoy the mixture!

JUNE

6/1/2019

“What are you laughing at, child?” the artist asked.

“The ridiculous creature in your painting.”

The artist smiled, “Oh you mean the chanbersnatch, the #ancient beast enraged by laughter? Sleep tight tonight.”

Wide-eyed, the child gulped.#vss365a

6/2/2019

The weight of ages crippled his paws. Overwhelming pain closed his eyes. Over, so it seemed. But in the #crucible of death, pounded by his master’s fervent pleas, the end did not come. On ethereal paws he rose, and walked beside her … unseen.#vss365a

6/3/2019

“Careful dear,” Auntie said, “you don’t want to get scratched.”

I scoffed. “It’s only a pussy #willow, soft as down.”

A second later tiny red streaks marked my fingers. I bent down to find a miniscule snarling kitten. Not one, but hundreds!

“Pussy willows.” She grinned.#vss365a

6/4/2019

At the gate of the lost city an alluring women offered him a #lotus. He savored the precious fruit, telling her of his quest between each bite. She smiled as his words faded, eyes glazing over in the mist of divine pleasure. She lead the latest slave in. The gates closed.#vss365a

6/5/2019

From the doorway her frail shadow stretched out into the darkened room. Hand on the frame, she clung to a #phantasm of hope. Gone please! The light clicked on. A familiar toothy grin greeted. “Welcome back.” Her demon patted the couch beside him, gin bottle in hand.#vss365a

6/6/2019

The sea drake breached the waves and glared down at the ship thrashed in the wake. Nostrils flared, he shook his head and sank below the waves. His hunger deserted him, to the shock of the #craven sailors. The stench of spent bowels and urine was a terrible seasoning.#vss365a

6/7/2019

The fox’s shadow cast over a #century worth of dust and debris in the old apartment building. A world left behind at the foot of the cracked cylinders. She sniffed a rotted doll on a chair. This wouldn’t feed her kits. Mushrooms, savory and larger by residual radiation.#vss365a

6/8/2019

Nothing moved at the edge of the crater save for the swirl of #smoke. Miles of leveled land, countless life, flash incinerated. A cloud of mass extinction swept over the globe in a smothering storm. Humanity could not escape it. Wiped clean, Earth began to cycle again.#vss365a

6/9/2019

My nephew ran his fingers along my writing desk. “Oh hey, this is the same #motif that’s on the cover of your last book. You know, on that pedestal with the demon.”

“It is.”

“Inspiration, neat. Now if only Zarkel was real.”

Behind him large wings stirred. Not again.#vss365a

6/10/2019

“Never fear!” The knight held up his spear. “I will vanquish this wretched bird for the kingdom.”

The ‘wretched’ bird raised its head and scowled down at the shiny man. She spread immense #wings, burst into flames, and scorched his corpse clean off the earth. “Arrogance.”#vss365a

6/11/2019

Stroke the fur between her floppy ears. Look into her soft gold eyes as she sits on the floor. She beams back #empathy for a foreign species. She senses pain and panic; she brings relief and calmness. In her canine frame she embodies a vast soul unequaled in humanity.#vss365a

6/12/2019

Fox sat at the mouth of Lion’s sick cave. “Come in,” Lion rumbled.

Fox shook his head. “I’m fine here, thank you.”

Lion lunged, but only a mouthful of fur for his troubles.

“You are not so sick to eat, Lion. What a #ruse the rest fell for. Tracks go in. They never came out.”#vss365a

6/13/2019

Stroke of #midnight, says the grandfather clock with its chime. I sit on his chest, as is my nightly duty, and watch his eyes widen in the dark. He cannot move under my spell. Conscious, but unable to struggle beneath the weight of his mind. Sleep shall come no more.#vss365a

6/14/2019

Mitch raised his hands to the heavens and called forth the god’s fury to rain down upon his enemy. Thunderbird smirked and looked into the would-be mage’s heart. He unleashed a #bolt as requested, right down Mitch’s spine. That pesky ego made a great lightning rod.#vss365a

6/15/2019

Charity dashed for the mansion door toward her screaming butler. On the porch a hell hound stood dripping in blood, a telltale #vintage diamond studded leather collar pinched between his teeth. A note, “Reminder: Payment is due.” She grasped the talisman around her neck.#vss365a

6/16/2019

The old bat told me if I went into the woods and held up this stupid stone it would turn into my #totem and reveal my spirit animal. Hours of this and all I see is a snake eating its own tail. What kind of non-sense is—wait, what’s this shadow? Why’s it darker? Oh FUC–!#vss365a

6/17/2019

I drift through the night-shrouded cemetery on silent paws. My ethereal body cuts the #fog concealing me from the intruders. Shovels strike coffin. The steady thump accompanies my approach. They turn wide-eyed at my howl. The last thing they ever see. Cursed church grim.#vss365a

6/18/2019

Dirk cracked the bat against the tree! I cringed. “Relax sissy,” he laughed, “S’not like the tree’s live or nothing.”

I was about to remark on #sentient forests when the limbs groaned above him. I admit I did not watch that tree fall in the forest. But I heard it thump!#vss365a

6/19/2019

Alice narrowed her eyes at the #bistro menu. “Mug Puppy?”

Cheshire Cat flexed his claws. “Good choice.”

In a flash a coffee mug appeared filled with a tiny dog, staring up at her with wide eyes.

Alice palmed her face. “Right, Wonderland. Never mind.”#vss365a

6/20/2019

I knew the black horse was a kelpie as I stared into his eyes. They promised oblivion. Freedom from the scars plaguing me every step of the way. He shied back as I reached to #embrace his neck. Only a moment. Then, he nuzzled me and we walked into the dark waters. Home.#vss365a

6/21/2019

Beneath the moon the wolf sisters plunged paws into the hoof prints of a staggering elk. Survival pitted against one another in an #iron pact. For wolf to live, elk must die. The gleam of light off the eye drew them through the trees. A weary eye, unwilling to surrender.#vss365a

6/22/2019

In the dark cave he lie in wait, his fury simmered as he licked the #scars. He sharpened his claws, flexed healing muscles. The world continued on oblivious. Green eyes tainted with betrayal lingered. Rage flicked the end of his tail. Revenge approached on clueless paws.#vss365a

6/23/2019

The deluge lasted for days flooding the entire valley, bodies floated everywhere. Cumulonimbus scowled from his perch in the high mountains. The weather dragon’s #mood permanently soured. This village did not contain his stolen treasure. He took flight for the next.#vss365a

6/24/2019

I gazed up at the shaft of starlight and tried to laugh at the #cosmic joke. Our village had prayed to the gods for a bountiful harvest forgetting that it required fresh nutrients. In the smoke of volcanic eruption I reflected that our bodies would feed next year’s crops.#vss365a

6/25/2019

Mark’s heart throbbed as he slipped the engagement ring onto Red’s finger. He shut his eyes. Would she say yes? Her answer wasn’t a word, it was a pained howl. He opened his eyes to smoke wreathing her finger, and fur, and claws sprouting! #Silver “Oh shit—!”#vss365a

6/26/2019

The elder hung his toes over the cliff edge, gazing across the valley. The youths in the village had mocked his telling of the tribal #mythos. From up here he could hear their screams as he watched the firehawks drop flaming sticks on their huts. “Heh. What did I know.”#vss365a

6/27/2019

Verc the Sky Death sneered at the crowned dragon statue in the ruined courtyard. His tail lashed the stones as he racked his talons and beheaded the offensive symbol. “Your pathetic #regime is crushed!” he bellowed to the cowering men. “Now you will bow to a real dragon!”#vss365a

6/28/2019

I stood at the threshold staring down my shadow. How long had it been? A figure shuffled around in the grass. I stood taller … was it? Could it be believed? My hand pressed against my chest. Yes! Riley the dog finished and strode in the door. The end of an #epoch.#vss365a

6/29/2019

Somewhere deep with it hides, always ready to share but frightened of rejection. We coax it out in the quiet spaces, our private times though the world straightens our clothing even as we try to break free. Creatives #protect their inner child, and are more because of it.#vss365a

6/30/2019

I walked along the path clanking a stick against the zoo bars. They were nothing but animals, right? A snow leopard padded to the edge of her space. Her gaze caught mine. I froze, mesmerized by the human #psyche staring back at me. Every cage, human stares. Oh God! I ran!#vss365a

May’s Twitter-splosion

And so completes another month of daily Twitter micros for #vss365. May featured Ivy, my fox-out-of-forest as she explores the human city. Enjoy!

MAY

5/1/2019

Disrupted from her nap, Ivy raised ears to the #cadence of cries. More than one voice echoed in the dangerous corridors of the city. She followed the frantic voices hopeful to intercept before man nor beast could. In a storm drain three pairs of fox kit eyes greeted her.#vss365

5/2/2019

The kits’ overflowed with #effervescence as Ivy lifted each one and set them carefully on the pavement. Her heart thrummed with memories of her own lost family as they snuggled beneath her. She groomed their fur. “Will you be our mom?” they squeaked. “Yes,” she replied.#vss365

5/3/2019

Thunder rumbled in the distance. Large drops plunked into fluffy fur. The kits turned from wild to #demure, clinging to Ivy’s legs. She licked each of their heads. “It’s ok. Follow me and I’ll show where to find shelter.” Into the flashing storm she padded, kits under-paw.#vss365

5/4/2019

Nature’s #maelstrom poured furry down upon the newly formed family. The kits tripped Ivy’s progress as they scrambled to stay beneath her each step of the way. At last she leapt up into a protected crevice. Kit by kit she picked them up and settled them warm and safe.#vss365

5/5/2019

Three tiny bodies nestled into her side. Ivy groomed each of the kits thoroughly as they slept. Her thoughts drifted to #reminisce back to her own litter. Thunder echoed like a gunshot. She suppressed her shudder. Not this time. A chance to start anew in this strange city.#vss365

5/6/2019

Though none of the kits were large, among them was a shivering #waif. Ivy’s heart ached for him, to start out at such a disadvantage. She nosed him closer to her side right up near her heart. In moments their beats syncopated, calmed. He placed a paw in her fur.#vss365

5/7/2019

The ghosts of her mate and kits haunted Ivy’s memories as she tried to sleep. The #ephemeral state of life bluntly illustrated. Her paws tucked the foundling kits tight to her. Their heartbeats invaded her dreams with the patter of running paws. Nightmare turned bliss.#vss365

5/8/2019

Tiny paws danced in the green dappled light. The spring of abundance blossomed. With her mate at her side #love swelled Ivy’s heart. The future was assured…until it wasn’t. Until in one moment her world shattered in gunfire. She the sole survivor. Her heart left pining.#vss365

5/9/2019

The sun at its #zenith discovered the sleeping family and warmed them. Ivy stretched, followed by a full extension of each of the kits. They smacked their lips and looked up expectantly. “Well,” she smiled, “the storm has passed, now to eat.” Aromas lured them.#vss365

5/10/2019

The kits skittered around Ivy, the runt clamped his teeth on her tail. The sights, sounds, and smells built a #surreal world overwhelming them. The scent of the woods still clung to them. Ivy knew the disorientation, but knowledge drove her towards breakfast. Hamburgers.#vss365

5/11/2019

Ivy sat back, surrounded by the kits, watching the human work the burger stand. Time had taught her that some men are kind whilst others bear hatred in their #aphotic souls. A pigeon swooped down and nipped a piece of bun. The man smiled and tossed rest to the flock. Kind.#vss365

5/12/2019

Ivy padded forward, keeping low and soft. The kits copied her, peering from beneath. The man watched their approach. A #beatific smile crossed his face. He grabbed a hunk of slightly over-grilled burger and knelt down. “Here you go, sweetie. Happy mother’s day.”#vss365

5/13/2019

Ivy gently took the meat and backed up, chewing the patty into smaller pieces. The kits smacked their lips as they ground the meat. Satisfied squeaks hung in the air beneath the perfect #azure sky. She basked in this new memory, letting it overwrite the tragedy.#vss365

5/14/2019

The kits lay #supine against her side, paws twitching over stuffed bellies. Ivy licked each of their muzzles clean as they settled in for a nap beneath the shade of the hamburger cart. The man sat down at a distance observing the rare company in the concrete city. #vss365

5/15/2019

Afternoon sun faded into the chill of evening. Now alone in the quiet streets Ivy uncoiled her #lithe body from the kits. They tussled, trapping paws and ears between sharp teeth. Ivy perched on an iron fence as a lookout. Shadows drifted in the night. Her heart pounded.#vss365

5/16/2019

Headlights swung by and threw a shadow #chimera against the wall. Threatening claws, gaping jaws poised to grasp and devour. Ivy tensed for the beast’s arrival, to protect the wrestling kits. The beast never came. Lights passed and shadow once more melded with shadow.#vss365

5/17/2019

Footsteps echoed in the alley. Ivy remained on guard until the source became clear. A man, clearly by his tattered rags the #flotsam of society shuffled by. She had seen many of these in her travels, most paid her no mind. She guarded the foundlings just in case.#vss365

5/18/2019

Fat drops of rain plunked down. Ivy and the kits lifted their noses and inhaled, savoring the #petrichor lingering in the air. It sent shivers down her spine. Memories of forest set to life in the spring, refreshed by the shower from generous skies. Nature perpetuated.#vss365

5/19/2019

The damp air held onto everything. The #sillage of a floral perfume haunted the street as Ivy herded her little hooligans along the trickling gutter. A woman leaned on a long black car. Her body draped in—Ivy’s blood ran cold—fox fur! Greedy eyes turned her way. Death.#vss365

5/20/2019

A #myriad of fears marched through Ivy’s mind as the Lady Wearing the Dead loomed over her. The worst scenario: the tiny bundles of fur clinging to her legs turned into coin purses. She bared her teeth at the clawed hand, denying death it’s second run. “My family!”#vss365

5/21/2019

A #susurrus of voices echoed in Ivy’s ears. The courage of defiant foxes of the past—the voices of those cut down and worn by this monster. She launched herself forward and sunk her teeth into flesh. The woman withdrew and yowled, “It has rabies!” Ivy and kits ran. #vss365

5/22/2019

Only the strides of the kits slowed their progress as Ivy pushed them, guarding the rear. A #frisson ran down her spine triggered by the slap of countless shoes on pavement. Swiftly she leapt onto a stonewall and slipped each kit over the side to vanish into the bushes.#vss365

5/23/2019

Lying in wait, the kits seemed to sense Ivy’s unease. The mob stomped by the other side of the wall without so much as a pause. In the silence one of the kits crossed his eyes at the #gossamer spider web lining the bushes. In the middle crouched its creator.#vss365

5/24/2019

Mesmerized by the patterns of the web, Ivy traced each thread on its path. Beauty, no other word for it. The spider at the center shimmered with nature’s jewels, raindrops. How could a spider be deemed #vile? And yet, just as her kind, they were pests in spite of worth.#vss365

5/25/2019

The kits nestled up to Ivy’s side, weary from the already lengthy day. Her thoughts drifted back to the #verdant fields of her youth. The warm sunshine filtered through windblown grass. Insects capturing her attention. Life still thrived in the city, of a different sort.#vss365

5/26/2019

Each #breath felt stolen against the unnatural life around them. Ivy wrapped her tail tighter around the kits as if to protect them from the harsh truth of their world. A world that saw no place for them, save as a fashion accessory, or a target to hound across the land.#vss365

5/27/2019

Ivy lifted her head from the sleeping kits packed beside her. Something was off. There was nothing, pure and unbroken #silence. While this may have happened in the forest, she’d been in the city long enough to know it didn’t here. Eerie. She braced her senses for anything.#vss365

5/28/2019

It seemed like an eternity before the insects and birdsong restarted. Ivy settled into the cozy brush and nuzzled each of the kits. They were so helpless, there would be no #regret in her heart for taking them on. If only the forest was so far away.#vss365

5/29/2019

Stars spread across the night sky. Ivy turned her gaze to them. “Kits, see that cluster there? #Orion the hunter. This is the one hunter you need not fear. He is a guide.” She rose to her paws and set her eyes directly on his path, kits in tow. Bound for the forest.#vss365

5/30/2019

The first greenery to touch their paws was a #patch of sweet clover. Moonlight glistened off the dew drops recreating the heavens on Earth. The kits tussled in purple blooms as Ivy chased them in circles, delighting in the joy. Foxtail grass led them into the woods.#vss365

5/31/2019

In the cover of a pine tree, Ivy rested watching the kits tumble with their new found wonders, pine cones. In her #reverie she recalled first meeting her mate as a young vixen. A playful game with a pine cone. A borrowed future would now go on in these kits, not her own.#vss365

Next month there will be more!

April’s Twitter -Splosion

Another month’s worth of twitter stories from the #vss365 prompts, otherwise known as more sand in the sandbox.


 
4/1/2019

Chain links rattle. Blood-tinted slobber drips to the floor. Hard eyes narrow. Claws grip the floor. They know why they are here. To rip, to bite, to maul the moment the chain disconnects. The losing dog isn’t the sole #victim, they both are sacrifices of twisted humanity.#vss365

4/2/2019

It cannot be seen; but it can be felt. Cannot be heard, smelled, or tasted; but its effects can. Man does not always know when it arrives. But certainly knows when it has overstayed its welcome. The blackened graves always #verify the grim visitor. Beware the microscopic.#vss365

4/3/2019

I roll on my back, tail between my legs. “Dogs are stupid. Can’t talk!” He snarls and shoves me aside. But I can, we all can. We speak volumes in motions and cues; more than just #voice, which doesn’t always speak true. I read you, in every subtle cue you miss in me.#vss365

4/4/2019

Charity dropped a penny in the #vase on the mantel. Gloria glanced up from her book and scoffed, “Another one? Have you no self control?”

“Can I help it if they die for a young thing?”

“Young? Please! You were a ghost before they were a twinkle in their daddy’s eye.”#vss365

4/5/2019

Attract more flies with honey. Oh yes, such is the mantra of certain plants. One such lays out a viscous feast deep within its throat. In the fly wanders for the free bounty. With a #vicious snap the lid closes. Even one who lays roots can slay in the slowest process.#vss365

4/6/2019

The mists swirl, a graven shawl cast over the stony yard. The moment I step from behind the marker their #vacant stares lock. Empty shells, every wasted soul to trespass in my lot. I howl, their fate is sealed. They run. But the moment the Grim appears, already too late.#vss365

4/7/2019

Vultures rode on the hot air, circling spires. One called, “Looks like we have our #verdict.”

“We do!” another wheeled over the corpses strewn in the crumbled stone and twisted metal. The scent of gunpowder rank in the wind. “The age of man is over, let the feast begin!”#vss365

4/8/2019

The lion sleeps under the red tinted sunset, belly full, grunting his victory. Three silent lionesses huddle in the post #violence of the hunt. Their paws in the depressions where cubs used to lie before the rogue male claimed his throne, the only one to feast this day.#vss365

4/9/20109

Out of the darkness he creeps, rows of experience scraped into his hide. Paws stealthy, eyes steel. If you run, you’ll be dead. No one can evade the leader of the pack. No one can outwit the #veteran of the woodlands. His claws just wait for you to turn … #vss365

4/10/2019

The peacock spread his #vivid display before the camouflaged female. He cawed up a ruckus that carried through the woods enough that he failed to hear the breaking brush. Tiger jaws silenced him and put an end to his line. The female laid in wait for the next flashy idiot.#vss365

4/11/2019

“What is that?” asked Charity. “You’ve never had a baby before. It’s #vomit.” Gloria returned to her book. Holding her nose, Charity mopped up the mess. “So small, such a vast mess!” Gloria replied, “A ghost baby can do what a live on can. Don’t forget, check the diaper.”#vss365

4/12/2019

The chains snapped. Fenrir spat out the sword and glared at the puny #viking shuddering before him. “Fool!” the wolf snarled. “Legend declared that I would slay Odin and one of his brats would avenge his death. You humans killed your gods long ago. Ragnarok is assured!”#vss365

4/13/2019

Bundled in a parka, thick gloves, and eight layers of pants, she watched the world whitewashed as never before. On the east coast she’d known the power of hurricanes, thrilled by the display. In the mid-west the polar #vortex did nothing but depress under the weight of ice.#vss365

4/14/2019

“Ray, you said your roommate was a total #vixen.”

He peered around the corner, “She is, bro.”

Max blinked as she crawled into his lap, circled around, and dropped a motley jingle ball. The tiny fennec batted at it.

Ray grinned, “Told’ya she was real cute!”#vss365

4/15/2019

To ants the bird is a #villain. In a bird’s eyes a fox fits that bill. To the fox the hound is his harasser. Yet every creature on the top views themselves a victor, fails to see the threat they pose to others. Close the book on the “apex species”, Homo sapiens.#vss365

4/16/2019

She pads into the gloom where silence pervades. Her eyes search until they lock. Her tail wags soft behind her. Wrinkled human arms wrap her soft body, tears drench her fur. Words spill out about a past dog. For the elderly her visits fill that #void. A job well done.#vss365

4/17/2019

The child stood on the bank of the pond, enthralled. Beautiful, like glass. But in a moment the #veneer’s illusion shattered. An immense horse burst through. Sticky fur seized the child. Down into the depths the kelpie pulled the victim, beneath the smooth surface.#vss365

4/18/2019

“Mommy? Grandpa says I can’t be friends with Jimmy anymore cause he’s a –”

“Don’t say it, Darling. Grandpa is stubborn. He still spreads his era’s #venom, no one can convince him he can be wrong. You are wiser, Jimmy’s friendship is proof of that.”

“Okay! Jimmy-TAG!”#vss365

4/19/2019

Missy barely lifted her head to her owner’s call for dinner. Her stomach twisted in knots against her skin and bones. Energy deserted her entirely these past few months, ever since her cat food had been replaced with the homegrown #vegan diet. Death crept up upon her.#vss365

4/20/2019

They come when least expected, bearing their magical mischief as they cross through the #veil. Blessings and banes of all variety in search of a place to topsy-turvy. From strange sounds to dishes stacked upside-down. The mundane world is least prepared for a fae-party.#vss365

4/21/2019

The Easter Bunny chuckled, rubbing his paws together. All too easy. Not just children succumbed to the #vice, the adults committed to the frenzy as well. When the sun rose the crowds would gather to collect the candy filled eggs. Then the greed brawl would begin! Joy!#vss365

4/22/2019

“Dude, admit it, you’re lost!” “Am not, c’mon, we’re sea turtles, bro. We have this kinda homing beacon thing. The ocean is uh… that way.” “S’kinda #vague, and do waves come in pairs? Why are some white and some red?” “Dunno, but we’re gonna party soon!” HONK! SQUISH!#vss365

4/23/2019

She stood before him as every moment of anguish and shame he had forced her to bear all the years flooded back. Every fiber of her being burned with a #vehement desire to inflict the same suffering back on him. Instead she turned away. “I forgive, and forget you.”#vss365

4/24/2019

The fox licked her lips. Not one leap from her a rabbit snacked in a vegetable garden. His #vapid stare locked on nothing at all. One beast’s ignorance is another’s feast. Today the luck fell on her side.#vss365

4/25/2019

Slopes blossomed in a tangle of old growth. Forests as old as memory could recall sprawled with all manner of creatures surrounding. The first rumbles stirred the wildlife in droves. Humanity continued their way oblivious to the waking #volcano about to devour the village.#vss365

4/26/2019

The painted wolf pack scattered the antelope across the grasslands. The hunt leader targeted one, then she #vacillated to another. Wise antelope feigned weakness drawing her attention. Their game protected the slower ones. Dust swirled, the pack watched their meal escape.#vss365

4/27/2019

Sun-drenched sand lapped by the foam ridden waves stretched to the horizon. Gulls hovered above. I lowered the magazine and pined for that photograph. Outside my living room window robins shivered as fat flakes of snow fell. In April. “Fuck me, I need a #vacation.” #vss365

4/28/2019

It crumbled under the weight of an entire library. Yet, somehow it holds out in a tiny refuge of the soul. The last #vestige of imagination, slain like a reviled dragon as it sleeps cherishing the last coin of its once vast treasure. Adulthood, the true slayer of dreams.#vss365

4/29/2019

Broken spars broke the surface of the bay. Waves toyed with the shredded sail cloth. The pirate captain’s shadow cast over the cowering gun crew. “You call this a #victory?The cargo we were after is at the bottom of the bay! How the fuck is that a victory?”#vss365

4/30/2019

Tiny teeth gnaw and gnash the metal army. The precious chew toys gripped between paws diminished to mangled bits. In a series of swallows they are defeated. The puppy cocks his head, his fun #vanished. He lowers his head to take a nap.

“Honey? Have you seen my D&D minis?”#vss365

Twitter Micro Fic-Splosion

Late February a fellow writer brought into a writing group an exercise he’d stumbled across. Twitter had several tags going around with prompts. The trick was to write a story in a tweet, approximately 280 characters, based on the prompt word. Below is a collection of those twitter-tales based on the Very Short Story 365 prompts or #vss365. At first I did random… then Ivy the fox out of forest wandered in and I just explored her world. Enjoy! Each entry is dated with the prompt tagged.

2/23/2019

Honesty is my shield and my burden. I wish to do well by others, always, at my self-appointed task to sweep up the eggshells society is forced to walk on. But I keep coming up #lame. In this world no good deed goes unpunished. That’s what they say about good intentions. #vss365

2/24/2019

I drop the strands of leather on the ground. By the fire in his eyes he is not pleased with me. I lift my gaze laden with #humble sorrow. He lifts his fist in response. I cower before him. “I’m sorry,” I wish I could say, nosing the chewed slipper. “I love you.” #vss365

2/25/2019

The crumbling road terminated at my feet, the dreams I held for so many tomorrows tumbled away into the void. How did I get here in such an unaccomplished state? “Easy,” Death’s voice whispered, bony hand on my shoulder, “so many empty #yesterdays. Are you Ready, now?” #vss365

2/26/2019

I jamb the phone disconnect. I pace the room unable to dispel the ever building rage. The audacity! Silk fur caresses my hand. Soft brown eyes say “I understand”, they spread a warmth within. Tail wags away my anger. We embrace. #Epiphany, I love dogs more than humans. #vss365

2/27/2019

“What the fuck is with all these streamers?” The brittle paper tore between my fingers in a once dreary room now vomiting with a riot of $store cheer. Chairs overturned, stains on the floor. Frosting smeared words NOT OLD! Aha, birthday #celebration in a dementia ward. #vss365

2/28/2019

“Come down the mountain and face your fate!” The knight clanged his sword against his shield. “For I am #champion of the king—” The dragon’s jaws cut him short. After she swallowed, she picked her teeth with his sword. “Burp. A tenderloin. I prefer something tougher.” #vss365

3/1/2019

I trudge inside the house, the weight of countless shovelfuls of frozen water burns my shoulders. Behind me the whisper of fresh falling grates. I am Sisyphus of the snow. On the TV a cheery voice calls out, “#Escape to Tahiti!” My shovel answers with sparks. #vss365

3/2/2019

Nature bathed my world in endless white. A blanket that insulates all color completely. Muffled beneath I can still hear the music. If you #listen carefully you can hear it too. The soft melody of the land in slumber, winter’s sweet lullaby. #vss365

Ivy, tales of a Fox Out of Forest…

3/3/2019

The teeth of the city chewed up the night sky. Lost, the fox thought as she darted through the intrusive smog, inhospitable commotion. Humanity. Not even the stars visible to #orient herself. Memories of the lush forest called to her. Unsuitable, this must now be home. #vss365

3/4/2019

The city fox watched the passing car smash a rock beneath the tire as it passed. Aha. In the calm that followed, she padded out and deposited her prize next to the debris. No sooner had she cleared the way for her #improvised can opener then, pop, tuna fish was served! #vss365

3/5/2019

Down in the smog choked streets humanity’s wilderness seemed senseless. By chance the fox found herself on a rooftop. From this #overlook her perspective changed. The city’s chaos became a gift, a veritable rabbit warren. Let the hunt begin, she smiled. #vss365

3/6/2019

Sweet, the rare treat tickled Ivy the fox’s stomach with every tongue full.#Syrup resembled bee honey, but without the sting. Memories of their vengeance prickled her skin as she nosed further into the trash can. The city’s charms grew on her like a tree fungus.#vss365

3/7/2019

The pavement gave way beneath fox paws. Ivy stepped onto the cool grass. She shivered with delight in the refuge, temporary though it was. City shadows swallowed this oasis where she and this plant life did not #belong. Proof, she thought, resistance breaks through.#vss365

3/8/2019

Rain penetrates Ivy’s thick fur. Clean, #she ponders, scour away the foreign grime of this place. Moonlight cuts through the clouds and strikes the drops. Magic pours down from the sky. Toes grip grass, she closes her eyes, transported back to the forest of her birth.#vss365

3/9/2019

Through the apartment window Ivy gazed on a furclad city denizen. A creature called a cat slumbered on a heater. A mouse plucked crumbs from the cat’s whiskers. Cats, the#epitome of sloth, she thought, a dead mouse pendulum swinging from her teeth. Yet humans hate foxes.#vss365

3/10/2019

Ivy crept toward the bowl. Dog scent clung to it, though none could be seen. In front a #dot, magnified by the metal rim, drew her closer. On inspection it smelled like meat. She spat and backed away from the offensive dry bit. Meat shouldn’t crunch. Dinner elsewhere.#vss365

3/11/2019

Ivy spun around to the hostile dog growl. Immense shadow blotted the door light. He lunged for his bowl, spittle and kibble sent flying. Heart hammering, Ivy made a #quick egress through the hole in the chain link fence. Safe, she wrinkled her nose, what ill-manners.#vss365

3/12/2019

The sun began to #sketch an arc in the eastern sky as Ivy basked in the warm rays. A ball rolled across the park to rest against her paws. Two girls dashed after it. Slowed. Stopped. Ivy rolled onto her side, tail a-wiggle. Little hands, gentle strokes. Good morning.#vss365

3/13/2019

The girls cooed and giggled as they pet Ivy’s fluffy ears. “Soft doggy.” She chirupped and closed her eyes. A firm hand swept the kids away. “Vermin!” Their mother shrieked and kicked. Ivy froze wide eyed, pleasure had prevented her from seeing the harms #approach. #vss365

3/14/2019

Sunlight cut across the park. Ivy squinted, concealed in a #pocket under a bush. Humans hustled about even in their leisure, except one man. Seated on a bench, peanuts in the palm of his hand, he waited. Curious. Inch by inch squirrels came. Ivy licked her lips, promise.#vss365

3/15/2019

Step by step, paw by paw, Ivy crept toward the bench, belly scraping. Squirrels bolted, fluffy tails wagging fiercely. Prey too fast without ambush. Her nose tingled as she lifted it before the man. Those salty things in his palm she #craved. A breakfast that didn’t run.#vss365

3/16/2019

Ivy crouched before the man. He cocked his head, a #question in his eyes. Slowly he extended his palm with they peanut payload. She flinched, wary of his motive. But her hunger got the better of her. Leaning forward she snatched one and savored the morsel. “Like it?”#vss365

3/17/2019

Meat should not be crunchy, Ivy thought, mmm but these morsels should be. One after another she took the offered treat from his hand until she licked his salty skin. Finished she met his gaze in mutual #awe, both beast and man aware of the potential threat. Neither moved.#vss365

3/18/2019

“If you were to lie down you’d blend into the fallen leaves,” the man said. Ivy studied the odd creature and pondered for the first time humanity’s survival. In his bright jacket he was #cryptic to his environment, the city. In the forest that case would be very different.#vss365

3/19/2019

The man’s eyes teared up. “My wife was a dog lover, she would’ve adored you.” Was? Ivy’s nose twitched, his scent, his alone. Deep in his eyes she recognized that void, and her heart ached. #Mutual loss. Both alone. The memory of a gunshot, her blind flight. She keened.#vss365

3/20/2019

His soft hand caressed Ivy between her ears. Her keening faded to a muted whine. “Don’t cry, sweet Vixey.” The moment spoiled. Instantly Ivy sneezed and pulled back at the ridiculous #pseudonym. Humans, she thought, what was it with them and insulting names? He blinked. #vss365

3/21/2019

Squirrels laughed in the trees. To Ivy’s surprise she heard them chanting, “Vixey!” which did nothing but #magnify her ire to the nickname. With a huff she dashed into the underbrush in the wake of the man’s forlorn stare. Squirrels flocked around him for peanuts.#vss365

3/22/2019

Alone. Ivy’s sour mood bubbled in a keening as she threaded through the underbrush. Paired doves winged and cooed overhead. It wasn’t fair, the #riddle plagued her. How did Mother Nature choose who survived and who didn’t? The ghost of her mate chased her. #vss365

3/23/2019

Sundown. Alley trash bins bear the promise of Ivy’s meal. Foul, but essential. Deft paws open the lid and dig into the rotting refuse. No, not rotten. Spoiled. The sting of gasoline fumes and oil #sabotage any chance. Humans. Starved dog shadows line the alley. Ivy braced.#vss365

3/24/2019

Yet another #thorn in Ivy’s survival, the three dogs stood, determination in their eyes. Hunger hollowed their skin against bones. Ivy knew such a state. She puffed up, large as possible. They stepped forward, the light banished her impression. Desperation. They groveled.#vss365

3/25/2019

A can thrown from a window broke the spell. Ivy and the dogs dashed out into the street, in search of cover. All four cowered behind refuse. Collarless, every one of them. In this #frame Ivy realized humanity cast them out. Without survival skills their situation was dire.#vss365

3/26/2019

Darkness followed them like some blessed plague. The dogs tailed Ivy in every twist and turn. At last she turned to them. Domestication would #inhibit their survival. Tails down, they seemed to know it. Ivy sighed and set nose to wind. Like a mother someone had to provide.#vss365

3/27/2019

The scent of meat carried on the wind. Ivy and her new found cohorts followed it. A man turned the key in a #keyhole and opened the doors of a truck. Drool flooded her mouth. Who knew humans were such efficient hunters? In the shadows, followed by the dogs, she planned.#vss365

3/28/2019

Several times the human carried a large cut out of the truck and through the door. Ivy studied his rhythm. In,1,2,3,out. The dogs trembled beside her. Eager, yet scars betrayed past experience. In. Masterfully, Ivy slipped through to #collect their breakfast. 2,3…#vss365

3/29/2019

The juice from the meat mixed with her drool as Ivy slunk toward freedom. The man’s footsteps shook the ramp as he returned. Swift she #robed herself in the shadows of the meat truck and held her breath. He whistled a tune, and remained on task. Prize won, Ivy delivered.#vss365

3/30/2019

Into the night Ivy vanished with the three dogs in tow. Hidden in the safety of an alley she set the prize down. Four hungry mouths devoured the score in a #second. Victory. Ivy cleaned the blood from paws and turned to depart. A dog groveled before her, licking her maw.#vss365

3/31/2019

Do I have a pack now? Ivy wondered. She left the alley, they followed locked in rhythm like the raven #poet’s verse. Ah yes, birds have poetry. Don’t ask what the blue bird sings if young ears are around to blush. With her dogs all in a row, Ivy padded into the new day.#vss365

Next months will also be posted as a collection… stay tuned! Or… follow me on Twitter.

Thinkin’ It Through

journeysthrougha-brass-quill

Thinkin’ It Through, Anthropomorphic Characters Are a Small Logical Leap Series

Just a dumb animal.” For how often humanity expresses this sentiment it is often more of a reflection of our ego, our need to be placed on a pedestal above the “beasts of the earth, sea, and sky”. How remarkably sad it is to see the brilliance exhibited in other creatures that is buried by such baseless remarks.

From the intuitive nature of man’s best friend to the keen perception that fuels the steel-trap mind of the crow we are surrounded by creatures of profound abilities. Abilities human often claim to be solely their own. Surprise humanity! You are special, but not that special.

PhoenixDemonDog

“In everything there is the potential for complexity. You only see it if you open your eyes wide enough.”

That Deep Down Feeling

Animals don’t have feelings.” That is a turd the size an elephant dumps. Anyone who has a multi-pet household that has suffered a loss will have witnessed the surviving pets mourn. Yes—they know what death is. I have witnessed my own dogs after sniffing the body of their previous housemate react. They grieve in just as varied a degree as humans. And it seems if they have witnessed more than one passing, they recognize it from a distance.

Ash010

Ashenpaw, Ion, and Presto

The first loss in our household Presto experienced he approached several times, close and circling. He sniffed as if trying to wake up his playmate. It took him time to figure out that it wouldn’t happen. This December when our oldest, Ashenpaw, passed on just shy of fourteen years-old from a long struggle with congestive heart failure, Presto lay across the room on his bed. He moped as our typically bright-eyed border collie never had before. Without sniffing Ash, he knew this time.

We also had Phoenix, our youngest border collie and aussie mix. She’s been training to become a therapy dog. With a mixture of confusion and caution she approached Ash’s body. Every key in her body language from ears to tail told me she was concerned about what she experienced. I have no doubt that my perceptive little girl was also reading me. She had heard me tell Ash that I would be alright if he let go just moments before. She curled up next to me and stared at Ash’s motionless body. Her canine mentor was gone.

DSCN3414

One of the last photos taken of our beloved silver-muzzle Ash.

Phoenix has demonstrated extraordinary perception of human emotion. As a therapy-dog-in-training she ventures into a senior community and spends time as an emotional distraction to the residents and staff. She loves her job, it’s obvious because she wakes me up eagerly every Tuesday morning without fail. Yes—my dog knows what day of the week it is without a calendar. Roaming those halls she tells me through body language which residents need more time with her. Contrary to popular belief, dogs do talk. Most people don’t take the time to learn how to listen (aka read their body language).

PhoenixTherapyDog

Phoenix, the big girl, waiting for a skills assessment.

Now, my little girl wasn’t my first therapy dog. Before her came Ion.

Ion34

Ion entering the hospice therapy program.

This collie was a vibrant star earning his status into the program at one year old. For those who don’t know, that is very rare. Most one year old dogs are not mature enough to be reliable. Ion just was. His tiny eyes and long snooter worked magic. Sadly, my empathic boy proved to be a bright star burning out in four years. He succumbed to complications of an unknown disease that claimed him before the vets could figure it out. He is missed as he knew just who needed his warmth. It’s been years now and people still remember how he would wander up to them: excited if they were happy that day, or more somber if they needed a dog hug. He sensed. He knew.

He is not alone. Many dogs who are not even trained for such supportive things are known to develop them. Whether it is simply lying close to a loved one with the flu or a migraine, or standing next to them ready to bear weight for stability for someone who had a surgery—this last is a recent case a friend shared with me. The dog has not been trained in this, he simply did it for her after she got home. Don’t just take my word for it, there are countless cases out there.

Problem Solving Perception

Learning is such an amazing process to watch. Funny thing is it works the same across species. I always loved watching my border collie Ashenpaw work with a brain teaser toy. He learned quickly that there were treats inside.

Check out Ashenpaw’s demonstration of impulse control.

Animals, including humans, learn via association. If they do this, this happens. If it’s good results, keep doing the behavior. If it’s bad, generally they try to avoid it. But that only works if the consequence is cleanly correlated. There are great examples of complex chain behavior building. The sport of agility is a great example. And also includes running dogs in an excited state. This state of mind is largely run on adrenaline which overrides a lot of cognition. Ever had a dog chasing a rabbit that completely blows their recall? Yup. This is what happened. Too much excitement, thinking side of brains shuts off. The trick is to work with the dog and over time alter where the threshold lies. In time you get a dog that can think in that excited stage.

The same is true for the human animal. Jobs involving high stress release adrenaline. This can short circuit problem solving. To be able to behave reliably we also need to train up the performance level. Think of ETMs, police, soldiers—all of these involve moments of extreme tension. Average minds freeze up, or knee-jerk react. But with training the mind learns to control. Most of us are not born able to do this. And I promise you, working with border collies you learn to see real fast that border collies are not born to control that shit either. Which is why a good lot of them are surrendered at seven months old for behavior issues. 90% of the time it’s because their owners failed to work impulse control.

Work that impulse control and you can unlock some seriously kick-ass potential. From dogs that can work hillsides of sheep on their own, dogs who can run an agility course on verbal command while the handler remains behind the start line, to dogs who have enormous vocabs.

Chaser is an amazing border collie who knows over 1,000 words. Put a huge circle of toys on the floor, ask for one, and you get it! What’s more fascinating is that she can exhibit the ability to process eliminate. If she knows two of three toys and you ask for the one she doesn’t know, you get the new toy. That is not a “dumb animal” behavior. That’s fairly advanced learning. This border collie has appeared on many talk shows as well as scientific programs demonstrating how animals are not that far behind if we acknowledge them. So many of the things deemed to make us human are exhibited in the animal world. We have our own instincts too.

The Murder of Crows

An astonishingly advanced bird is the crow. Experiments have been done by researchers uncovering complex social behaviors.

Crows have funerals. Yes. You read that right. And what’s wilder, not just for members of their own flock. Researchers placed the body of a dead crow near a gathering of crows. They came, checked out the body, and immediately began to mourn the deceased brother. Vocalizations, behaviors like dancing, and circling.

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Behold the mystical crow. I tell yah, if a crow doesn’t trust a person, I’ll steer clear!

Using masks, scientists conducted further experiments on facial recognition. Using a face mask they fed the flock and gained a reputation with them. Then, being careful to use different masks, the same individuals performed a mock crow murder. When they came back wearing the murder mask on another day to feed the crows—warning cries filled the glade. Same person with the different mask later approached with food and no problem. The crows had distance facial recognition and were acting as a major form of security. The ultimate “eye in the sky”.

Scientists already knew that crows had incredible problem solving skills. And that they would even choose to share with another bird rather than hog resources for themselves. They exhibited a sense of fairness. Something we often see in children that is displayed to a lesser extent in adults. Interesting how that is. As we age, we tend to forget how to share.

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As we further explore the animals around us it becomes interesting to see how often they demonstrate the ideal human. Maybe this is why adults choose to confine them to a puerile state, because it further lifts the pedestal. After all, can’t have anything threatening that fragile human ego.

Next up: Egg-istential Crisis

Getting Lippy

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Getting Lippy, Anthropomorphic Characters Are a Small Logical Leap Series

The power of speech. Something many take for granted. So much so that the basics of the creation of sound often escape common knowledge. Write anthropomorphic works and I promise you this is a remark you will see, “But they can’t speak without lips!”

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“They said what? … no, no!”

Alright, for the purposes of the second entry in my series we will ignore the other forms of communication: body cues, sign language, writing. Today we’re talking about the ability of audible speech. I hope you have come with a sound mind, pun very much intended.

Inside the Voice Box

Most of us talk without thinking about how it is actually done. We developed the ability so long ago it’s subconscious. Inside our necks we have an organ called the larynx. This structure controls several things, including closing off your lungs from food when you swallow. But it also suspends the vocal chords. Controlling the air flow through these flaps of tissue is a large part of speech and pitch. What you hear is the vibrations of air. We’re basically wind instruments.

Most mammals have a version of this organ. Dogs have one very similar to our own, note the two diagrams provided. The parts correspond.

 

Birds have an organ called a syrinx. A bit more on that later. Reptiles, amphibians and even some fish have a simplified version, some utilize bone ridges to produce vocalizations. However some animals have opted to be voiceless and have evolved beyond the basic organ in favor of other adaptations. Yes, this does make it trickier to support the concept of the latter obtaining speech. The case is the strongest in mammals and birds. Remember, with anthropomorps we are talking about a fictional world with either a fantasy suspension of disbelief or a sci-fi explanation of genetic alterations or alien life.

Lip Locked

Dogs can’t talk, they don’t have lips.”

Well, there’s two things wrong with that statement. One, dogs most certainly have lips. I know, I have painted enough smiling dog lips as a pet portrait artist. Phoenix shows off her sweet smile, that fur-less flesh looking a bit like an earthworm along her teeth is her lower lip.

PhoenixLips

“You like my smile, no?”

Ashenpaw, my late border collie, disproves another aspect I have heard. That they can’t from shapes enough to effect sound. Oh yeah? Howling allows a lot of phonetic differences. And this old bad boy would grumble “momma” if I was late getting his dinner ready. There are quite a few videos online of dogs mimicking human speech, albeit limited by their real world physicality.

Ash111812

“I want my dinner now!”

Thing number two that’s wrong with the statement:Ventriloquism is proof that you don’t have to move your lips to speak, it’s merely easier to do so. Speech is largely the placement of the tongue in the mouth, where the tongue strikes the teeth (if at all), and internal mouth cavity shape with air flow. I am not a ventriloquist, but I love watching skilled performers like Jeff Dunham. Watching shows like this prove that even though the average person uses lip shape to form words, it is possible to produce speech without them.

Moot point though in animals that have lips anyway.

Stiff Lipped!

Of course birds don’t have any form of lip. Ever heard a parrot speak? That torpedoes any notion of lips being a requirement for speech.

Parrot

“Did you hear the one about the saltine?”

Parrots mimic human speech and other sounds through using the syrinx, an organ similar to the mammalian larynx, however the avian version is located at the fork between the lungs. This means they can actually produce two different sounds simultaneously by controlling the flow individually. Pretty neat. Parrots are capable of mimicking complete vocal patterns and are capable of forming associations if the context is strong enough, such as saying “Hello” when the phone rings. Some can form quite the vocabulary … including a colorful one if someone likes to cuss in their earshot.

As to why they copy so many different sounds including power tools, car horns, etc, the current theory is that in wild parrots could use the different vocalizations to determine where a potential mate was from and use that information for selection. It’s also recently been discovered that parrots have individual names for one another. There are unique sound combos used by parents to address individual chicks that they keep throughout their lives. Yes—this is in wild parrots.

Next time you hear a parrot screeching, it might be the avian equivalent of, “Johnny! Get your tail back here right now!”

Next in the series, Thinkin’ It Through