April ’20 Twitter-splosion

All of April 2020’s twitter tales in a single collection for your convenience. April featured a serial tale of Ivy the fox…

fox GIF

APRIL

4/1/2020

Ivy the fox sniffed the country air, her empty stomach rumbled at the teasing aroma. Live #chicken. Hard to get, but worth the effort. Through the trees she glimpsed the farmhouse, lights out beneath the stars. Perfect for a silent raid.#vss365

4/2/2020

Silent as a night breeze Ivy pressed herself into the coop of sleeping hens. Her mouth watered as she crept forward one step at a time. Breath ruffled feathers, she held it as her open mouth reached for a neck. Clamp! The #kicking hen couldn’t even squawk.#vss365

4/3/2020

Clamping down tight on the neck, the hen’s fussing didn’t disturb the remainder of the birds. Swiftly, Ivy exited the coop through the door and traipsed across the pen. A clatter. She froze. Nothing happened. At her paw she saw a #rock rolling, the obvious source.#vss365

4/4/2020

Over the fence, one paw hold at a time, Ivy landed on the outside in silence. Her mouth watered for the dead hen’s neck against her teeth. A gust of wind sent a tree branch onto the tin roof. The yard burst into a blazing #orange light, the window bore cross hairs.#vss365

4/5/2020

This was a #classic scenario, Ivy thought as she stared at the blazing evidence inches from her paws that the farmer was awake. Shrouded in shadow the fox eyed the distance to the wood-line even as the thud of his boots reverberated in the silence. Freeze or dash?#vss365

4/6/2020

The hinges squealed as the door opened, boots thudded across the porch. The farmer stared down the sight of his gun. In the shadow of the moonless night, Ivy lay curled in a ball, the white of her tail tucked, bird hidden. Her glance into the #chrome bumper confirmed it.#vss365

4/7/2020

Ivy held her breath, the hen’s blood drew saliva to her mouth. She couldn’t move as she stared through the fur of her tail. Not until the farmer, who #craned his neck as he peered down the gun sight into his yard. Ivy’s heart throbbed against her ribs.#vss365

4/8/2020

“If someone’s there they’re about to join the 6-foot under #club.” The farmer hocked a loogie into the dirt right beside her. Ivy fought the urge to flinch, but the shifty eyes swept right over her as he wandered past the chicken coop.#vss365

4/9/2020

The twitch of the farmer’s finger #telegraphed his desire for vengeance for disrupted rest. Ivy suppressed a shudder as she glanced at the offending branch. The moment he looked away, her tail lashed out and knocked the branch toward him. He spun, gun muzzle first.#vss365

4/10/2020

If the farmer fired it wasn’t Ivy’s life she was concerned with, but those of her pups in #isolation. The den by the field’s creek. She held her breath as the man pulled the trigger. The bullet split the wood. “Stupid tree disruptin’ my sleep!” He stomped off.#vss365

4/11/2020

When silence descended Ivy peered through her tail. The light from the window was gone. The farmer’s desire to sleep had come to her #rescue, preventing him from examining further. The feast in her mouth, she uncurled and slipped through the wire fence, headed home.#vss365

4/12/2020

A true thief in the night, Ivy ran like a #desperado. With the hen in her mouth, she slunk though the underbrush. On the crest of a hill, the vixen paused, ears pricked as she held her breath, listening. Only her heartbeat echoed in her ears. She darted for the den.#vss365

4/13/2020

Safe inside the den Ivy greeted her squirming pups nose to nose. “1, 2, … where’s 3?”

“He went out to find you, mama. Across the #road .”

Ivy spun in the den, kicking the hen to the hungry pups, in a blur of orange she shot out chasing the scent of her wayward pup.#vss365

4/14/2020

Headlights flared, the roar of the engine deafened Ivy as searched from the #shelter of a bush for some sign of her kit. “Why does he have to take after me?” Ivy dashed out onto the stiff asphalt. The assault on her nose made it difficult to find her son’s scent.#vss365

4/15/2020

There it was, his scent in a wandering line, cut down the center line. Ivy followed the trail. Headlights appeared. A long silhouette with pointed ears stretched toward her. She’d never reach him. Tires screeched. She jumped, the shadow of the kit #tumbling into the dark.#vss365

4/16/2020

Once more the night lay silent. Ivy emerged from the protective brush and into the road. #Desolation. Nothing but asphalt beneath her paws to fill her desperate gaze. “Where are you?” she screamed into the silence. For her answer, silence remained unbroken.#vss365

4/17/2020

The impact of that silence #arrested her once racing heart. Ivy could not breathe, her paws rooted on the foreign asphalt. Her eyes stared out taking in everything and nothing. It seemed like an eternity before she found her voice, a soft pleading whine. “Are you there?”#vss365

4/18/2020

A toying scent on the wind cut through the oil reek. Ivy’s ears perked up. Paw by paw she inched toward the edge, ears pricked. The horizon tinged with a pale #blue, streaked with red. Morning had come and Ivy smelled blood.#vss365

4/19/2020

Ivy’s paws straddled the white #street line stained with streaks of blood. Fox blood. Patches of fur clung to the grass. Her heart stopped beating and sank into the pit of her stomach. Even from here she could smell it. Death.#vss365

4/20/2020

Ivy closed her eyes and raised her muzzle to the dawn, a long shrill cry of mourning left her throat. She did not have to see her son’s corpse to know he was gone from this world. A #dab of shadows drifted through the wood toward her.#vss365

4/21/2020

The shadow moved on soundless paws, edging toward Ivy. A voice soft as a breeze teased her ears. “You know what has summoned me.” Ivy’s gaze fell to the #ruby red stains in the leaves. She could not speak, but it did. “This is not your first loss.”#vss365

4/22/2020

Like some form of telegraph or #radio wave into her mind Ivy heard kit cries. A chorus from so long ago squeezing her heart until she curled into a paw. “Please! I beg you! Do not remind me of their fate!” The shadowy fox coiled around her. “But … I must.”#vss365

4/23/2020

“Death,” the black fox whispered, “is the price of life. Such a strange #oddity. None escape the great equalizer. Neither great nor small. Some however have a knack for evading me. Your kind is among the gifted, but not in their youth, Ivy, as you well know.” #vss365

4/24/2020

Tears welled in her eyes. “You are cruel!” Ivy creapt backward. The #damage was done. The black fox bobbed its head. “I am essential, sly one. It is I who ensures the continuation of your linage.” “By taking them?” “By eliminating the weak that the strong my flourish.”#vss365

4/25/2020

Ivy cringed at the decree. Plagued by the sensation of tiny paws against her fur. Little black #mittens, softly caressing from beyond the veil. What would they have been had the black fox not collected them so soon? His voice whispered, “Why, your death, sweet mother.”#vss365

4/26/2020

The black fox climbed upon her back. She had not expected a shadow to be a #heavyweight pressing her into the ground. In her dirt-bound struggle images sprang forth of verdant glades filled with butterflies … her kit-hood.#vss365

4/27/2020

Under the black fox’s paws Ivy struggled as memories turned. Blood drenched the dens. The #killing time and time again of kits and kin. “No!” She clawed at the ground, unable to free herself. “This can’t be!” In the field lay her own body. “Unless…” the fox whispered.#vss365

4/28/2020

The black fox flicked his tail and Ivy’s whole body tingled, engulfed in a gleaming #resurrection she leapt free of him only now realizing she had freshly healed wounds. The car…He glanced toward the kit’s lifeless body. “I must take one. Make your choice, Vixen.” #vss365

March Twitter’splosion

It’s been a weird month with the encroachment of the Covid-19. These micros area a reflection. Enjoy all of March #vss365 in one shot…

50 Creepiest Movie Psychopaths

MARCH

3/1/2020

Tensions built to a breaking point. Solutions seemed so obvious to those impacted, funds to rebuild. However, the elite knew how #bridging the gap could be achieved. They offered those made homeless from the disaster free packs of paper towels to mop up the flooding.#vss365

3/2/2020

He laughed when they said she’d intimidate him. He was, after all, a macho man. That was before he stood before her, subject to the fury brewing in her #Atlantic eyes. He’d met more than his match, and the siren displayed his false bravado for all to see.#vss365

3/3/2020

“Storm today.” Half-blind Pete gazed up at a seagull winging over the calm seas. Younger crews left port and laughed. That was until the gulls vanished as the #whitecaps appeared. The sky darkened at midday to black. Pete watched their ships sink from his docked ship.#vss365

3/4/2020

The great wide blue stretched from horizon to horizon below. The sky over the ocean—the dwelling of the #seagull. She soared over the tall masted vessels, guiding them to shore. Of course humanity had little patience, calling her kind rats with wings. That’s gratitude.#vss365

3/5/2020

The beach-side city stood tall and proud, ignorant of peril. Time demanded it pay #tribute to nature’s fury when the storm surge flooded the very foundations, washing away the land on which the city stood. A reminder that it never should have been built there.#vss365

3/6/2020

In the beginning #seventeen set out in the party to save their city. All seemed well, until their number became thirteen. At that point the paladin counted, recounted, and fled in a panic from his own superstition—right off a cliff. The remaining dozen returned victorious.#vss365

3/7/2020

I went cross-eyed for a moment staring at it. “Sir? There is a sizable gray box in the field of my vision.”

VP of Health answered, “That’s just a #patch.”

I blanched. “On a hazmat suit helmet?”

“Relax, you’ll be fine. The virus isn’t smart enough to get past the patch.”#vss365

3/8/2020

Beneath the oppressive pall society shut down, fearing that just one wrong move would land them in jail. Until a melody built in the air, a #spark of rebellion rapidly gained momentum and burnt a hole in the fabric, making way for progress.#vss365

3/9/2020

She trembled with every step toward the altar. Her heart thundered as she gathered the courage. The noble stood there, waiting expectantly for his obedient future wife. She halted at the bottom of the steps, took a deep breath and declared, “I am already #spoken for.”#vss365

3/10/2020

I leaned forward on the table as she returned. “So? What’s the #word?”

“He says he’ll tell you where he hid the ledger over his dead body.”

I moaned, “He doesn’t know?”

She caressed her crystal ball. “Nope, the stubborn ox is quite convinced he’s still alive. My fee?”#vss365

3/11/2020

She cooed at the puppy’s #unfathomable cuteness. “Oh my God, I’ve never seen anything more adorabl—OUCH!”

The foster laughed. “Nor useful. That pup is in shredder mode at the moment. Everything has a price, and for this one—it’s a pint of blood.”#vss365

3/12/2020

Skeletons lined very ash-strewn valley. Proof of the ravaged land’s #insurmountable challenge to the dinosaurs. Yet in the rubble life remained. Smaller, drought resistant, hearty. From the ashes the warm blooded mammals claimed the empty throne.#vss365

3/13/2020

“Is this #normal?” I looked at the desolate aisle, nothing but kittywampus empty shelves.

“Pretty much. When shit hits in the fan in prepper-ville folks want to make sure their ass is covered.”

“That was thousands of rolls of TP for how many residents?”

“Population twenty.”#vss365

3/14/2020

See the world, they said. Experience the sights, they said. There’s nothing like a #foreign country, they said. No one mentioned over two weeks forced to stare at the same four walls of my stateroom on a petri dish ship. Yup, that was an unbeatable sight.#vss365

3/15/2020

He ran his fingers through her hair. “I couldn’t love you any more, my little #stroopwafel.”

SLAP! For a long moment all he saw were flashing lights, til his vision cleared to her furious expression.

“What? I called you a cookie! Don’t go! Oh shit.” One crumby breakup.#vss365

3/16/2020

I blinked and looked again. Had that #mannequin just moved? No wait. A moment ago it didn’t have the top hat. Blink. Nor the ascot. What the…?

It smiled at me. “Never fully dressed without a smile, gov’ner.”

I ran and never returned to Mens Surplus again!#vss365

3/17/2020

Everyone stared, captivated by the speech, by the gestures, everything played out with precision. That was what gave it away for those with discerning eyes. Too precise. That “man” behind the podium was a #robot, programmed to deceive.#vss365

3/18/2020

Men in designer suits pounded fists, shouting over one another, they couldn’t possibly fund outreach programs the golf course came first. Ms. Peaches #kindergarten class lined the room edges in orderly fashion, waiting to address the council about tissue shortages.#vss365

3/19/2020

Bravery won Dirk the pirate captaincy when he sunk a navy vessel. That same bravery cost him his life when he attempted the same trick … with the avenging #armada. #vss365

3/20/2020

“Follow the checklist. We must be highly #organized here for safety reasons.”

“Boss, why is there a space in the storage rack?”

“Oh fuck! Who took a vial without signing it out of the microbiology lab?”

“How bad?”

“Oh God, oh God, we’re all gonna die.”#vss365

3/21/2020

Augustus was obsessed with anything Japanese, to his family’s displeasure. When he died he took cultural appropriation to an extreme. His epitaph was a stolen whimsical #haiku. Due to copyright most was removed from the stone. “Smile, cherry blossom” is all that remains.#vss365

3/22/2020

“Seriously, we’re never going to find the treasure. This clue is too damn hard!”

“Son of a–! I should have noticed the clue is an #acrostic poem. First letters spell CLUELESS.”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t have a clue.”#vss365

3/23/2020

“I shouldn’t’ve run away. If there is one thing I’ve learned, life’s #short.”

I stared at the boy on the park bench beside me swinging his legs. We’d been talking for an hour when in the blink of an eye he vanished into thin air.

I dialed a number. “I love you, Mom.”#vss365

3/24/2020

Mama told me babies are brought by a #stork. I laughed and told her baby brother’s had it easy since he was so small. Mama cried and held me close, her eyes watching the crib where he lay still. “He didn’t come that way, honey. A scarlet ibis brought him on borrowed time.”#vss365

3/25/2020

The gull winged over the seaport. Below a #cosy village sprawled, draped in glorious spring blooms. She called out and waited for a reply, one that never came. Not a soul dwelt there now, a living one anyway. Each roof hid a collection of plague corpses.#vss365

3/26/2020

“Oh my God! After being stranded and going without food, this is absolutely #delicious! Is there any more?” No one gathered around answered Ralph as the sun-beaten life raft drifted onward. He shrugged and grabbed another hunk of meat from his silent partners. “Mmm!”#vss365

3/27/2020

“Do you think storms have feelings?”

“Good question.”

“Think about how calm things feel after a major thunderstorm.”

“Or a tornado. Hell, that’s the biggest #outblowing of them all. Even Mother nature needs a little stress relief.” #vss365

3/28/2020

“Damn it! He got everything he wanted, again! Meanwhile we didn’t get a thing!”

“Of course he did. I wouldn’t pay the price though.”

“What do you mean?”

“Not worth being that scumbags boot-licking #toad. I’d rather starve.”#vss365

3/29/2020

I never understood why Rocco chased his tail. Such a pointless activity. After weeks of self isolation revelation struck as I discovered myself spinning in circles in pursuit of my own #butt. The same four walls ran by a blur. I get it buddy, I get it now.#vss365

3/30/2020

“Is there a point to sailing the ocean forever, captain?”

“Any day now we’ll find it, #Finisterre!”

“The uh…the end of the Earth? Umm, you do know the Earth is round.”

“It’s fools like you who sail off into the void!”

“Right, and who’s done that?”

“Sven the Nearsighted!”#vss365

3/31/2020

“This AI shopper thing is going to far.”

“What now?”

“Well, it thinks I need a #zarf.”

“What’s that?”

“No idea, but apparently I have a set of them coming by breakfast tomorrow.”#vss365

Stories for the Apocalypse: “Circuit Breaker”

I wrote “Circuit Breaker” sometime ago for a call for slipstream writing, my first attempt at this genre. This unique piece never quite found a home, though it remains one of my favorites. In this time of self-isolation for Covid-19 I find the narrator is rather relevant. Read to find out how.

My blessings to share with proper crediting, please do not copy and post anywhere else without my permission.

Circuit Breaker

By Jennie Brass

Glitch

Some people are touched with uncanny good luck.

I am not one of them.

Ill-luck followed me everywhere. Why wouldn’t it follow when I moved to this old apartment on Washboard Avenue? It never occurred to me that the source of my trouble could be anything other than grade A bad luck. After all, I’d been ejected from my previous residence after my roommate’s cat squeezed out my bedroom window. Apparently Mr. Wordsworth was irreplaceable. I, on the other hand, apparently ‘destroy everything I touch’. I couldn’t even argue that statement. After all, for a self proclaimed techno-wiz it seemed just being in the same room as an electrical device eventually caused an epic failure. Kinda like some cursed shadow tagging along and waiting for the opportune moment to wreak havoc. Maybe it was time for the consequences of my life to be entirely my own.

I wasn’t about to write home about this one-bedroom apartment. The midnight blue walls swallowed any light from the grime crusted windows. Who wanted to look outside anyway? I preferred not to see the drive-by shooter armed with the stray bullet for me. The most I glimpsed of the world outside my window came from my computer screen when I took social media breaks from listening to irate people scream at me through my Bluetooth to fix their malfunctioning tech. Don’t get me wrong. I liked my job. I just don’t enjoy the ear-splitting denials after I asked, “Is your computer even plugged in?”

On my third cup of coffee for the evening, I snicked my cell phone setting to off duty and slumped in my desk chair. I would have loved a piece of toast, but that appliance became an industrial paperweight earlier this morning with a puff of blue smoke. The curse of the techno-wiz strikes again. On the computer screen, images paraded in my idle scrolling, reinforcing the idea that my tiny corner of the world was all I needed to be perfectly miserable.

Flick-flicky-fizzzt!

I narrowed my eyes. The reflection of the battered torchiere winked out on my screen.

“Again? Really? That’s the third light bulb this month.” I sighed and trudged out to the kitchen. The utility cupboard creaked as I opened it to sift through the avalanche of junk. A starving gold-rusher panning in a river of sludge for that one fleck of salvation. “I swear, high efficient means it should function better than a congressman.”

My precious bulb in hand, I abandoned the pool of utilitarian debris on the floor and shuffled through the tangled jungle in my living room. That ottoman had more than once managed to bite my ankles in the dark. The corner brushed threateningly against my leg as I crept by.

I smiled my victory. “Not this time!”

Sometimes it sucked to be short. Replacing a bulb in a torchiere is one of those moments. With the stem in one hand I had to pull it over and balance the top heavy lamp as I groped for the spent bulb. A soft wad of dust drifted into the shadows out of the dish. Warm, like the bulb.

“Ouch! Hot! Hot glass!” I hissed and withdrew my scorched fingers. It was enough to make me abandoned the task, if I wasn’t so stubborn. I pulled my hand into the protection of my sleeve and braved the radiating heat. In a series of rapid squeaks, I extracted the thing and discarded it on the floor. Soon enough the newly seated bulb sprang to life and flooded the room.

“Good, now I can—what the … ?” Movement caught the corner of my eye. The room stilled before I could be certain. I tiptoed to the corner and leaned close to the floorboards.

Dust lay in a thick, swirled blanket. No prints of any kind.

I rubbed my eyes and laughed. “Mr. Wordsworth, if your spirit is haunting me, there is milk in the fridge. Help yourself, you ungrateful little homewrecker!”

When nothing else moved, I flopped down in front of my computer and resumed my ritual of re-affirmation.

Yes. I was content to be alone in my private little den. The world outside bore no significance.

Hrm, except perhaps to provide a new lamp. I didn’t want to buy stock in light bulbs.

I opened a search for new torchieres. If this one was dying, I wanted to replace it sooner rather than later. A few options presented themselves. Functional pieces without a lot of hangy things. This was an apartment. Not a brothel.

I turned the power on to my printer. It would be easier to run out with a list of possible places than to wing it. The machine hummed and sucked in a page. Inch by inch it crawled out onto the tray.

Zzzzzzccckkk! Pfffff!

I stared with my open palm over the machine poised to strike. But there was no point. The blue power light flicker-faded, arresting the process and creating yet another paperweight for my ever-growing collection. My head flopped onto my hands. Printer joined toaster, hair dryer, clothing iron, TV, and not one—but two previous coffee pots.

I wanted to scream, but what was the point? No one who cared would hear me. I took a deep breath instead and turned back to the computer. Perhaps I could find a replacement printer.

I touched the mouse. Pixels flashed on the screen in an erratic flicker of color.

Click click fiiiizzzzzttt!

Then, bright blue, to—black.

The mouse hung suspended, nestled in the curve of my hand. All I could do was stare at the dead screen. Minutes passed before I could summon the coordination to tap the screen.

“Come back … come back to life … please?”

Cold. Dead. Not even a pulse.

“Not a glitch. It can’t be a glitch!”

I could not give up on my closest friend. My only friend! The screws flew out of the back of the case as swiftly as I could withdraw them. I ripped off the side panel—and froze.

Two beady eyes stared at me from within a wad of midnight blue fuzz, hardly larger than a mouse. A muzzle, like that of a dog, opened to reveal sharp fangs. Light blue spikes poked out from its back as it reared onto its tiny back paws. Sparks leapt from one spike to another. Between its front paws I glimpsed the wires to my power supply pierced twice. The diminutive creature dropped the cable and hissed at me. The sparking intensified.

“You little—” I reached for him. On contact the electricity from the pest shot up my arm. I recoiled, shaking my hand in the air. The creature darted between my feet and made a beeline for the kitchen.

“Get back here you … you … glitch!”

Well, this certainly explained a lot. Had this unannounced roommate been here from the start? I suspected so. Of course, as I massaged life back into my fingers I cursed. Glitch hunts were the worst. The dang things get into everything and wreak havoc. Locating them proved hard enough. Eradicating them, even harder!

My hand still stung as I dashed toward the kitchen. The ceiling light flickered off with a zzzzzaaap!

Only the flashing time of the microwave clock and my functioning coffee pot light broke the shadows. But not for long. I stood glaring up at the fixture at tiny sparks dancing in the frosted globe.

“Greedy pest, aren’t you, glitch. You know, you keep this up and you’ll eat yourself out of a home.”

The chittering from inside the globe reminded me of a circuit crackling. The sparks gleamed brighter, snapping at the glass confinement.

Was it trapped? Could it even get out of there? I dragged a chair across the dark room tripping over the foothills of debris on the floor. Balanced on the chair, I inched my hand toward the globe. The moment I made contact the sparks arced toward my fingers, insulated by the layer of glass. This dang glitch had made a Van der Graaf generator out of my ceiling light!

Tiny paws shuffled around in circles of impossibly bright blue.

“How did you get in there?”

The paws tapped all around, up every side of the globe. The strobing lights lost their intensity. The chitters dwindled as the little glitch slid to the bottom of the light fixture. Its face pressed against the frosted glass, two beady eyes pleaded with me.

Some people wondered how flies got stuck in their ceiling lights. I longed to be them.

“I’ll make a deal with you. If I open this up and let you out, no more wrecking my stuff. Kay?”

Eeeep!” I heard a hard drive make that squeal once, right before it died.

“Relax. I know we all gotta eat. But there has to be some other way, you know, you trash my toaster I can’t eat toast. That makes me cranky!” I carefully loosened the globe and freed it from the base. Inside, the glitch huddled in a quivering mass of limp blue spikes. Its forepaws clasped in front, the brush tail curled around itself. “Let me lift you out. And don’t zap me. If I drop you, it might hurt.”

The glitch weighed substantially less than the trouble it was worth. The spiky, warm body remained quivering in my hand, radiating bolts of micro-lightning. They only brushed my skin with a static tingle. It watched me, eyes stealing a quick glance to the ground and back up. If it darted, the fall would be nasty for such a tiny creature.

It stayed in my palm as I climbed down from the chair. “You’ve made a pest of yourself.” Too late I realized I conversed with a mindless thing.

The glitch lowered its face and buried its muzzle in both paws.

“You … you understand me?”

It nodded.

“Hrm. Well then, I have a lecture for you! You killed my computer. That wasn’t funny. I need that machine.”

The glitch shuffled in my palm, pointing its nose toward the living room. I waded through the cast off tech books and tangles of wires across my floor to sit down at my computer desk. With a clumsy leap, the blue furball jumped onto the desk. It slipped into the open case and latched its teeth into the cord. A bright blue aura flowed over it from tail to snout. Furiously at first, but it faded in less than a minute.

Unbidden, my computer sprang to life! The loading icon a brilliant smile from my old friend. I almost hugged the screen.

But the limp glitch ceased my celebration. The body now a solid midnight blue, no sign of the spark. I snatched it from the machine and raced out into the dim kitchen.

Somewhere in this mess on the floor I hoped I still had it. My hand brushed against the dented case and I cried with joy. My old electrical circuit kit.

Back in the living room, beneath the light of the torchiere, I tossed together a quick sequence and cranked up the hand generator. The LED pulsed. I nudged the muzzle of the beast toward the bare wire. A spark arced toward its nose. Stronger, brighter. Until the spikes themselves began to pop with the bolts.

The glitch opened its eyes and latched onto the machine.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzeeeeeeeeeetttt pfffft!

A tiny blue tongue flicked out. But its ears drooped to the fading LED.

“Hold on. I can fix this.” I grinned, rebuilt the circuit and charged it to the giddy-pawed dance of my unexpected roommate. That was the nice thing about the old school kit. This was designed to fail and be rebuilt without sustaining lasting damage. The glitch drained the toy again and again until its body shown bright enough to light my room. “Hey pal, now can you fix my toaster?”

The glitch flashed its fangs at me. Apparently, I had two best friends now.

This apartment is all I need of this world. A roof over two functioning glitches.

END

 

January Twitter-splosion!

It’s a new year! And out comes the first month of #vss365 prompted micro-flashes! This month featured a role player theme with a party of … well … not so gifted heroes. Enjoy the hijinks! They may wander onto the scene from time to time.

game of thrones look at the fun we're having GIF

JANUARY

1/1/2020

On the stroke of midnight the old year stole away like the #charlatan it was. Let it take my broken dreams with it into the night. For in the new day and this new year I ignite fresh ones with a resolve to bring them to light. Time will not be a thief to me.#vss365 #HappyNew2020

1/2/2020

The tome lay open before me. I held my hands wide, prepared to cast the spell that would save our world. A whisper on the wind toyed in my ears and suddenly the letters #obfuscated the words. Shit! Laughter. I turned to see the sorcerer in a victory dance, “You’re doomed!”#vss365

1/3/2020

His pelt was as night, stars swallowing the light like black holes. The dark #unicorn stared down his horn, voice like thunder, “The light one, she is the beast of creation.” His horn touched the ground and it decomposed. “My power is not so benevolent.”#vss365

1/4/2020

Look deep into the mirror, though they warned me not to. I could not deny the twisted gleam in the corner of my eyes, a betrayal of #latent darkness within. Now I understood why the sparks came to my fingertips. Keep it hidden, don’t let them know I know the truth.#vss365

1/5/2020

“Damn it! Why didn’t someone notice the medallion on that asshole before we buried him. Now who the hell brought a shovel?”

The necromancer pushed up his sleeves. “Relax, with me around the corpse will #disinter itself. Just say the magic word.”

“Tch, please?”#vss365

1/6/2020

The summoning circle glowed, smoke billowed as the monstrous form manifested. I threw my head back in victory. Revenge would be mine! “Roar my mighty vassal of fury!”

“#yip”

I blinked as the smoke cleared. “A pomeranian? Shit! No more spell book orders from Amazon.”#vss365

1/7/2020

“Son of a—stupid door! How are we gonna get through?”

The mage stepped up and thrust his hand at it “Opensaysme!” Nothing happened. “#Obviate!” Nothing. “Uh, remove!” Nadah. “Vanish, dammit!”

POOF.

“Oh hey, that was easy. Just needed the right magi-thesaurus entry.”#vss365

1/8/2020

The paladin called down a bolt of lightning, nothing left behind. “Nobody likes a #usurper who bends the words of a god to their own ends!”

The druid cocked an eyebrow. “Screw that, what kinda screwball tries to take over the world via a pomeranian? That’s fucked up, man.”#vss365

1/9/2020

“The leg bone connected to the hip bone. Not anymore!” The barbarian threw his target. “Fun with #kinetic energy.”

“I told you guys, this is what happens when a science geek RPs a tank!”

“Alright, now let’s calculate the angle to throw him into the dragon’s mouth. Tangent …”#vss365

1/10/2020

“I hear your party is looking for a rogue. Kinda odd to advertise.”

“Eh? The last guy got a bit too #inquisitive.”

“Trap?”

“Nope. Mage’s bag of holding. He’s still there, I think.”#vss365

1/11/202

The rogue gripped his blade staring out at the enemy army. “You’d think they had something to fight for. Sure are a #lively lot.”

The bard stepped up, lute in her hand and smiled. “Just wait.”

Plugging his ears he sighed, “Can’t fight the music.”#vss365

1/12/2020

“Alright, snow gear, folks, this 1K mile journey to <yawn> huh? Oh hey, keep, another beer. Zzzzz” THUD.

Everyone looked at the bard, who grinned and ceased her humming. “Hope the paladin enjoys his #languor-over. I really don’t care for the cold.”

The rogue guffawed.#vss365

1/13/2020

“Haha!” The barbarian cheered at the chest of gems. “We’re rich! New ax here I come.”

The rogue peered at one and smirked. “No dice, bro. These aren’t real. Just #opaline glass. Looks like the townsfolk worked us for free.”

“Pay in BLOOD!” He brandished the dull ax.

“Shit.”#vss365

1/14/2020

A plate dripping of meat and gravy lay before the barbarian. The druid screamed, “Damn you! That’s where my companion went!”

The barbarian shrugged, “My diet needed more #fibrous content. Nothing was tougher than him.”#vss365

1/15/2020

The mage winced as the opposing party slid down into slumber, this wasn’t his doing. He eyed the bard as she stood triumphantly and waved jazz-hands. “Seriously? The #flourish isn’t necessary. Sleeping men can’t see it.”

“Hmph, it’s called style points, sourpuss.”#vss365

1/16/2020

“Sing it again, bard.” The paladin leaned against the prison bars as the rogue scowled.

“Who would have thought,” the bard replied, “we’d end up here because the rogue’s #yearning for a girl named Ruby, the sheriff’s daughter.”

“Caught with his hands on the family jewels.”#vss365

1/17/2020

“By the description of the villagers we’re looking for something #riparian.” The druid slowly looked up from studying the map, the whole party in blank stares. “You know, a river creature?”

“Oh! Yeah, why didn’t you just say that?”#vss365

1/18/2020

The party’s horses ran full tilt, angry pitchfork wielding villagers in their wake. “Well, this is a terrible #muddle!” The paladin glared at the bard. “You are NOT a virgin!”

“Ok, I get it! That’s the last time I use a Madonna cover in a spell!”#vss365

1/19/2020

“We’re about to meet his most highest honorable king of the region, so it’s important to #articulate. Don’t make him ask for a clarification.”

As the party entered the room, the berserker blurted, “Yo, your hindass!”

“Excuse me?” The king shot forward.

“Dungeon ho.” #vss365

1/20/2020

“Such a sweet, lovely woman. The scent of #jasmine truly be-YAWN-comes you zzz.” The paladin fell forward off the bed to face plant into the floor with a loud thump.

“It also covers the aromatic sedative.” The assassin pulled out her gleaming knife.#vss365

1/21/2020

The berserker tugged on the horse’s reins. “It’s just water, you #obstinate fool! You have to drink!”

The druid tugged back a bush and revealed a dead shrew family. “His stubbornness just saved our lives. This stream is poisoned.”

“Uh, I knew that.”#vss365

1/22/2020

“And next in my grand exploits,” the paladin continued with a hand to his breastplate.

The bard eyed the rest of the party. “And you all complained about me. At least my #rigmarole was for a legit distraction, not picking up chicks!”#vss365

1/23/2020

The druid rammed her fists in her ears and shouted, “What is that #cacophony?”

The paladin sighed, “Apparently the rogue thinks he’s a bard now and is convinced that playing mugs will earn the heart of a tavern wench. Just gives me a headache.”#vss365

1/24/2020

“Yo rogue, you wouldn’t #happen to know where my necklace is? You know, that family heirloom?” The mage dug through his chest. “Uncle Flaygar really hated when people took his things, used to curse everything he owned.”

Beads of sweat rolled down the rogue’s forehead.#vss365

1/25/2020

The mage stood with outstretched arms over the courtyard. Below the guards danced merry jigs, elbows into locked. “And now, A Chorus Line!”

“You never cease to #amaze me, mage!” The paladin applauded.

The bard grumbled, “Seriously? Camelot’s the obvious choice!”#vss365

1/26/2020

There it was, the row of arrows in the dirt betraying the citadels #range. The berserker danced just beyond it. “Haha! You pricks can’t get us!” The groan of a large siege engine under pressure squelched his bravado. “Ok, maybe you can! RUN!”

“Way to start a war, genius!”#vss365

1/27/2020

The paladin stared at the thick forest, “We have no idea where our #adversaries are.”

The bard gave a cheeky grin and pulled out her bagpipes. Three notes into Danny Boy and the woods thrashed with men covering their ears. “Works every time!”

“You’re a sadist.”#vss365

1/28/2020

“Sorry, but I’m spent.” The mage leaned heavily against the wall. “We’re going to need a true miracle now.”

The party turned to the paladin. He cringed. “Well I #could, except I’m still on my deity’s blacklist.”

“Told you that date with a priestess was crossing a line.”#vss365

1/29/2020

The bard leaned on the counter. “Trust me, no one in this world can compete with my friend here.”

The paladin grinned, thrusting his chest out.

“He is the most #tremendous prick yo–”

He clamped a hand over the bard’s mouth. “Ok, thank you, that’s too much honesty!”#vss365

1/30/2020

“So here’s the plan, we have the bard stand at the entrance and distract the monster while the rogue does a sneak attack.”

“Wait a second. You have a better attack, paladin!”

“Yes, but the bard is #extra annoying and you are expendable. So we have that. Let’s go.”#vss365

1/31/2020

“Don’t go in there!” The rogue was a touch too late as the mage opened the door to be pummeled by the scent of flowers pervading his chambers. “The druid thought it needed a little refreshing.”

“Isn’t this just #rosy.”

“It’s almost Valentines Day. Maybe she likes you.”#vss365

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

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!

Vessel and the Dying Light

Around the glades near the shire of Sruth Uaine not even the wind shifted the last leaf clinging to the ironwood branch. In the dwindling light I sat atop the ode-stone watching the perked ears of my fellow Slan as they wound silently through the deer paths. Every moment the sun journeyed closer to the horizon. Every moment hope died a little more.

I longed for that sensation beneath my paw pressed against the stone. Please, let some other Traveler sing to the stones. Let some Slan succeed, somewhere.

I spread out the toes of each footpaw. I was fleet. Perhaps if I joined in the pursuit? But no. Today, the shortest day of the year, did not belong to me nor any other of the bardic order. This day we were but witness to a ritual that belonged to the uninitiated youth. Who was I, a Traveler beyond her first life-span, to steal the honor from the fleet-pawed who had spent their seasons in practice sprints over hill and dale. My fingers caressed the stubborn stone. The magic thrummed against my pads, willing me to evoke the images of the past rituals. I nearly did before letting my ears fall. No, for I might miss the subtle song from another shire.

“Traveler?” A whisper stole my attention.

I leaned forward and stared down into the eyes of an adolescent stoat clutching a pouch on her belt. Stretched to her full height, she turned her gaze out to the filtering trees. I recalled her name from back in the shire, Dochas was a daughter of one of the druids not yet initiated into the order. She was not known for her grace. In fact her footpaws seemed to have minds of their own.

Her tail bristled and twitched as she went on. “Traveler, how … how do you know for sure today is the Solstice? I mean, could we … could we be wrong?”

“The sun speaks its truth. The path has stalled as only the eyes of those who measure know.” I smiled. “You fear that the search is for nothing.”

A tremble swept through her. “What if it was yesterday? What if we missed the opportunity? What if it is today and no one succeeds? Has that happened before?”

“Indeed, it has.” It took all my will-power not to summon the images of those pawful of harsh times. She already shook, no need to mire her fears. “Not in any age that I have born witness to, but in the distant past there have been winters where no beast of any shire has managed to locate the mighty Soitheach. And in some cases they found her in the dusk and failed to catch the wily beast.”

WinterSolsticeBoar

Her eyes searched with greater urgency.

“Without the touch of a paw and the connection to the legendary mother-boar, the harvest that followed was indeed meager. The forest ungenerous. Every shire in the land shed weight in the turn of the seasons. But don’t fret. Look to the sky. The sun’s rays still blush the horizon. So long as light remains, so too does hope.”

“Then … no one has found Soitheach?” She nearly climbed the stone pillar.

Silence reached out of the surface. No new song broke forth. I shook my head.

Dochas heaved a sigh. “How can no one find a boar that large?”

“The whole of our island is immense.” I shrugged. After all, ancient dragons filled the mountain caverns without a trace. Soitheach was indeed more massive than a normal boar, but she was no mountain.

Dochas’s ears drooped. A moment later they crept back up. A paw to rose to her lips.

I held my breath. Silence, for by now all of the young Slan had pressed away from us toward the distant stream.

Crack.

We both turned and gazed into the fiery rays piercing the wood from the distant hill. A mound moved through the bracken. A snorting shuffle carried through the forest. Dochas clung to the shadow of the stone, crouching low she slunk under a fallen truck of a tree and braced herself.

I narrowed my eyes against the blaze of the setting sun. The final fingers stretched into the sky. I sniffed, but no wind carried the scent. The stagnant air denied any hint as to the creature that came our way. Was it Soitheach’s hooves breaking a trail? Or some other immense beast?

Hold still, young one. Let this be your year. Soitheach, give this one the honor.

Yes, I am too old to believe in such a notion as to her hearing me. Or even my will calling forth a creature of legend. I know better than to assume they gave a damn about the lure of my insubstantial voice. A Traveler holds powerful magic, but the elements of nature hold to their own whims.

From the pouch on her belt, Dochas snatched out a mushroom the size of her splayed paw. Gently she blew on the cap toward the creature. Branches snapped and cracked. The ragged outline of the lumbering mound of flesh grew out of the forest. Tusks longer than a Slan’s arm arched toward the sky. Two beady eyes the color of a rippling stream glimmered beneath shaggy brows. A ridge of coarse frost-gray hair stretched along her back. In her wake the forest shivered, frost cracked the ground in her hoof prints.

Soitheach’s breath curled out of her mouth and rose into an icy fog. She turned her focus toward the tree. Dochas’s paw held the offering out like the wooden limb.

I cocked my head. What a clever little mite.

Step by frostbitten step, Soitheach wandered toward her with nostrils wide sucking in the scent. I clung to my perch. A faint finger of light speared the sky. If Dochas moved, the fleet hooves of the beast would carry her well out of range. All it would take was a flinch and the year would be of fallow fields.

Hold! Chasing now would be folly. Patience, young one!

A paw-width away. Every breath of the mighty boar stirred the fur on Dochas’s paw. Still as the steadfast oak she remained, not even blinking as Soitheach’s flanks twitched. Saliva dripped from her open mouth leaving behind a killing frost.

Soitheach lifted her head and engulfed the mushroom. A string of fluid connected paw and beast.

My heart thrummed. It wasn’t enough. Reach, slow… but reach!

Soitheach ground the fungus between her teeth, grunting with obvious pleasure. Her eyes hooded over.

Swift as lightning Dochas’s paw caressed down the muzzle.

Louder than thunder Soitheach squealed her displeasure. She reared her bulk up onto her hunches and nearly tumbled onto her bristly backside. That fate Dochas did not escape. She toppled tail over muzzle behind the tree. She narrowly missed being crushed by the hooves of the bucking boar.

The forest shattered as Soitheach plowed up the hillside leaving a breathless young stoat in her wake bathed in the final blush of the evening sun. Alarmed voices called from all around, ears bobbed in the distance. Dochas lay there gasping for breath, rooted to the spot as she stared where the legend has once stood in four frosted hoof prints.

My heart raced, the song this year … was mine to sing! I bore witness. From my neck I grasped my kenaz and willed the pendant into a fiddle. Already the prose formed in my mind.

Dochas of the shire of Sruth Uaine, you shall be ever-remembered. You, and you alone by your cleverness, have blessed the new year. Tomorrow, when the day grows longer, we may rejoice and sing your name.


A blessed holidays to you and yours, with a happy new year!

The Harpening

One would think that living in a shire surrounded by the next generation of elite story-tellers would be captivating. Well, life in the shire of Coarrunn is boring as watching moss grow on a fallen log. I’ve been here now for a couple years learning my bardic skills from Master Bard Ais from sun-up to sun-down. Nothing but sit your fuzzy rear here and listen.

We’re bards! We’re supposed to tell!

“Ealaidh.” Seinn, an adolescent wolf several years older than me, ruffled the hair between my ears as he joined me by the river. “Aren’t you supposed to be listening to Ais’s lecture on the Bones of Lore.”

I mock-yawned and smirked. “Makes me snore.”

“This isn’t rhyming class.”

With a toothy grin, I replied, “Why all the sass?”

He rolled his eyes. “You’re such a pain.”

“I can’t complain.”

Tweaking my ear, he couldn’t help a little grin. “That cheeky-nature of yours is going to get you into trouble.”

I wrapped my arms around my legs and sighed. “I just want to do something besides listen all day. We’re minstrels-in-training, shouldn’t we be playing instruments, singing, and stuff?”

Seinn adjusted the red scarf around his neck, a nervous habit of his. “Well, yeah, eventually. I mean, I am, but you won’t for a few more turns of the seasons.”

I shot bolt upright. “What? A few more … what will I be doing in all that time … listening to snore-fests?”

“Fraid so. It’s what the novice whelps do. Now, let’s go.” He turned and trudged off.

I lingered by the rippling stream, finding its voice more interesting than my tutor’s. The sensation of a glare burning at my back stirred me to my footpaws. I kicked a pebble and the water swallowed my offering. Grimly, I embraced my fate and followed Seinn back towards the shire.

We passed by the glade where his harping class was about to start. The wolf offered me a hard glare and pointed over the hill to where Ais would be lecturing. With my shoulders rolled forward, I padded on … until I heard the paws of my fellow slan on the strings.

The tinkling beauty called me. Scampering through the brush I edged to the backside of the class to watch as row after row of older novice bards plucked dutifully in echo of the Master Harpist at the front. The lure pulled me, my footpaws nearly dancing, toward an empty harp at the back of the group.

My paws itched, a sensation so dire that if I didn’t touch the strings to make them sing I would cease to exist. The world lived suspended in those strings and playing them released it.

The first touch, tentative, but it brought forth a delicate cascade of sound. My heart leapt. I slid onto the seat and listened to the tune as played by the Master. Fingers shifted, already knowing the way. The moment the silence fell, I repeated the simple tune with the others. Stopping at the end felt like clogging a river. But I listened again. This time more notes than what I had heard poured through. They didn’t stop at the end of the passage.

EalaidhHarpOdeStone

Behind my closed eyes, the glade dissolved to be replaced by a mighty star-fall and a celestial river of brilliant lights. Rich blues, purples, and pinks danced in the void. Around me will-o-wisps flickered in brilliant sequences. A speckled beast dove through the celestial waters, one of the mighty dragon-kin. She arched her head and extended her frill releasing a mighty roar that shook the heavens.

A paw grasped my shoulder. I opened my eyes to find the Master Harpist staring at me in awe, a strange twitch to the corner of his eye. “Young one, you should not be playing yet. You have yet to master your powers.”

I withdrew my claws from the strings and folded my paws pleadingly. “But, I must play … ”

He extended a paw over the class, drawing my attention to it. Every student, even Seinn sat slack-jawed staring at the glimmering images projected in the air around me … my celestial river! “You must release them from your enchantment, whelp.” He knelt before me, gazing into my eyes. “In all my years, I have never seen one of such raw power. No, you must be careful and learn slowly or you may convince a beast that something is there when it is not. Or lead them to be lost to the past.”

I stared at the strings, glimpsing the other bards trapped in my image fog. “I … I don’t know how.”

The Master Harpist heaved a sigh. “And that proves my point. You, most of all, must refrain until Ais has tempered your abilities. For now, I want you to mimic what I play.” He carefully plucked out a sequence.

When he finished, I played it. The moment I struck the last note, the bards all blinked and the dreamy expression faded. Seinn stared at me, confusion in his unblinking gaze.

The Master Harpist took my paws and folded them in my lap. “Now, you don’t touch another harp, understand?”

I couldn’t even nod. The lingering sensation of completeness called to me to touch the strings. The instrument itself promised power sweet and alluring. Without even knowing it I had enchanted a dozen other bards-in-training into an enthralled image fog.

My claw drifted toward a string. The Master Harpist pushed it back away. “There’s another class you should be in right now. Your time will come, whelp. But it is most definitely not now. Off with you before you steal my students again.”

Dutifully I left, over my shoulder I watched planning my next chance to play. At least I was no longer bored.

Halloween Reprise: Once Beatin’, Twice Die

Once Beatin’, Twice Die

Reposted twisted humor story in the spirit of the season of tricks and treats. This tale was inspired by a prompt with a 36 hour writing frame: Pooky and the Pumpkin Parlor. My story triggered a need for the creation of second place, previously only the top running story was to be awarded but they liked my tale so much and wanted to publish it online. Enjoy this delicious devilry …

quantumkitty

I clutched my pumpkin to my chest. Every jostle of the cardboard box I rode in threatened to dislodge my precious prize.

My pumpkin. No one could take it from me. I flexed my claws into the fleshy rind. The juice wicked into my fur. I purred.

The floor of my box dropped. I landed hard and rolled to the side with a hiss. A moment later her face appeared over the edge of the box. A face that looked like a frog had mated with a gourd. Madame Euphrasia.

I spat at her and flexed my claws into the pumpkin.

“Pooky, are you sure you want to go through with this?” She offered me a tight-lipped smile. “Come on now, it was a terribly long walk down here, to the Pumpkin Parlor. But I promise to forgive you.”

“Rowwwrrr!”

“Sweetie.”

I hugged my pumpkin tighter.

Madame Euphrasia reached up and adjusted her pointy hat. “Have it your way you little—”

My hackles rose. I fixed her with a glare.

“—darling.” She softened her expression.

My pumpkin. So soft and squelchy in my claws. Mmm.

The box rocked to the side and I tumbled onto the rust-tinted counter of the Pumpkin Parlor. Jack’o’lanterns hung from the ceiling and cast a warm glow over the spirits floating to the tables delivering alcohol. The entire room glowed in shades of unbroken orange. Well, all save the patrons. The collective monstrosities seated all around were exempt from the color code. A pack of werewolves dressed in black leather perched on stools further down the counter devouring a rack of lamb. In the corner booth a stitched man resembling a burly rag doll slouched with a daisy in his hand. A cappuccino steamed before him.

Even though I had not been here long, I remembered this place. I craned my head to see if I could find that nice wooden box I had once slept in.

A hand slammed the counter. Madame Euphrasia leaned over and glared at the swinging door. “Momordica! Momordica, you mountebank. This is your damn place. I know you are back there. Get your wiley ass out here right now!”

I scaled my pumpkin and curled around the coiled stem. The little curly twigs sproing when I bat them with a paw. I liked that.

“Momordica. Come out before I go back there and drag you out. We need to talk about that sh—“

I hissed and skewered the pumpkin with all ten claws.

She gulped. “—sweet transaction we had the other day.”

Why did that crazy old coot have to raise her voice so much? Never, in all my nine-lives had I known such an unappreciative human.

The door squealed open and Momordica sauntered in, bedecked in shades of ochre. Even his top hat was a rich shade as he flicked it off his head with a bow. “Madame Euphrasia. Pleasant to see you this eve. How may I assist one of my finest patrons?”

Several of the customers narrowed their eyes before returning to their meals.

I resumed playing with the curlicues. Twang. Twang. The hollow gourd responded with a thump. Thump. Thump.

“There is a problem with Pooky. It must be remedied immediately and with great care.”

Momordica glanced down at me and widened his golden eyes. “The darling kitten I sold you just a fortnight ago? He looks perfectly healthy. And I assure you that black cats are all the rage as witch’s familiars. Give him a bit more time. He’ll grow on you.”

She balled her fists and gave me a sideways glance. A bead of sweat rolled down her knobby brow. “I am running out of time. The little bea—creature won’t obey. This is serious, Momordica.”

Obey, schmobey. It’s not like she asked nicely. I rubbed my cheek against the stem of the pumpkin and purred. The hollow reverberated, thump, thump, thump. I wanted to open it. But it was too soon. Too soon to look see.

“Madame Euphrasia, Pooky is just a sweet little kitten. What harm could he manage aside from stealing a ball of yarn?”

“You see that pumpkin?” She smiled like someone pulled her lips apart with fish hooks. “He won’t give it back.”

“A pumpkin?” He burst into laughter. “A pumpkin? I have a whole field of pumpkins. What kind do you wish? Let Pooky keep that one.”

“You don’t understand.”

Light flickered through a glass of whiskey on the counter. Pretty. Must become mine. I slid down the side of the pumpkin and kept my tail brushing against it. With a paw I ticked the side of the glass.

It vanished. But the liquid remained. An amber puddle spread over the wood and dampened Momordica’s gloved fingers.

Where the glass was now was it half empty? Was it half full? Was there even a glass in the first place? If I looked I would know and that would spoil everything. Ohh, my tail is moving. Must get the tail.

He leaned back. “Remarkable!”

“You see? This is no normal cat.”

“Well, of course he isn’t. He’s a witch’s familiar now.”

“But I didn’t teach him that damn trick. You need to understand what he’s stolen.”

I leapt back onto the pumpkin and licked my paws taking care to get between each claw. She flinched as I eyed her.

Momordica leaned forward.

“He’s stolen my heart.”

He laughed so hard he ceased to breath for a moment. “Aww, now that’s so sweet. He’s not a bad kitty. He’s a miracle worker. Who would’ve known you even had a heart?”

“It’s not funny!” She tore open the first few buttons on her dress collar to reveal my claw marks on her flesh. “I mean he literally stole the damn organ!”

I arched my back and growled deep in my throat.

“The sweet, darling animal! I mean, he cares so much … but … but … I need it back. Momordica, I think he has it in the pumpkin. I have no idea how he did it. Where did you find him?” Her face grew pale as a saucer of milk.

Mmm, milk.

He took a few steps back eyeing me. I sunk my claws into the flesh of the pumpkin. My pumpkin. Thump thump, thump thump.

“I found him in a box in the graveyard. Poor thing was half alive, half dead. I carried him here not having any idea if when I opened the box he’d still be here.”

Thump thump. The beat in the pumpkin stuttered. Oh dear. Thump thump … thump … THUD.

She dropped to the floor.

I sighed and abandoned the pumpkin on the counter. No point in looking now. I already knew the answer.

Momordica grabbed it and smashed it open with his fist. Crimson mingled with orange pulp, the witch’s heart cradled in the core. Apparently my touch can only sustain an organ for so long. Who knew.

He looked at me. I glared back before raising a paw to groom off the pumpkin pulp.

“Who would’ve known! Tell me, Pooky, why did you do that?”

Curiosity. I leapt back into the box and pulled the flaps closed. Memories of a past half-life tumbled back to me. The inside of a box, and the musings of a human named Schrodinger.


Happy Halloween! Mwahahaha!

Shadow of Doubt

Shadow of Doubt

samhainsidhewyvern

I reached out and caught the leaf drifting down from the branches. A true masterpiece on a once living canvas. Red tips blazed at the end of the brilliant yellow center. The shrill cry of a sidh-wyvern caught my ear. I glanced up into the shivering autumn leaves and spied her unusual markings.

“What are you looking at, Ealaidh?” Seirm, my bard-in-training charge, flicked his stoat ears in the direction I was gazing.

I ruffled his headfur. “Tis the turning of summer to autumn. Surely you know about the lords of the seasons.”

He chuckled and flared out his short tail. “Of course I know the myth.”

“Myth?” Raising an eyebrow I cocked my head. “Surely you mean myths?”

He stared at me blankly.

“By the multitude of gods, what lazy tailed bard taught you? Oh never mind, it doesn’t matter. Sit. Learn as you should have been taught.” We settled on a fallen log dappled with lichen. The earthy scent filled my nostrils, that damp odor of deceased plants returning to the dirt that gave rise to it. Cycles.

“Seirm, my young bard—”

“I’m seventy-three.”

“My young bard.” I eyed him back into silence. “The seasons did not always turn. Ages ago, not long after the first tribes began the tell of time through Taliesin’s gift of music, Cernunnos turned to Io’s children. The earth had grown weary of supporting constant abundance. So in his great wisdom Cernunnos selected four special sidh-wyverns and gifted them with the power over the weather.”

“Yes. Everyone has heard the legends. But how can something so tiny effect the whole climate? They’re the size of hawks, that’s ridiculous.”

“You are not alone in thinking so. When first they were gifted, one of them suffered greatly under the burden of her task, even into the second year.”

The summer sun cast Muthadh’s shadow long as she stretched her scalloped wings over the hillside amongst the ghosts of shivering leaves. The hawk-sized sidh-wyvern let her translucent back frill tuck in tight as she wrapped her tail around her. Purple and orange scales hardly hid her among the ash tree’s bright green. She closed her eyes and shuddered.

“We are dragon-kin.” She swallowed, hugging the swaying branch with her clawed wings. “What a shameful jest. What am I compared to my larger cousins? A wisp to be blown on the wind?”

A distant cry shattered the air, Muthadh held her breath and spread out her wings prepared to bolt. But for what? She knew that boastful shriek, as did any who roamed the wood in the grip of summer. Luisreadh, the sidh-wyvern whose magic reigned over the season of prosperity. It was his breath that opened the flowers faces to the sun. The current of his wings that spread their pollen through the glades. His cry that summoned the heat of the blazing sun down on the earth.

Muthadh had woken. Luisreadh’s season … was supposed to be ending. Her claws gripped the branch as her eyes locked on her silhouette spilling on the ground. Thin, wiry, substanceless. She whimpered at her shadow of doubt. Green leaves buffeted her. Leaves that were her task to paint as vibrantly as Luisreadh painted the flowers. A warm breeze blew through the wood. Winds that were her task to whip into gales and strip the growth away. The sun winked through the canopy. The same sun it was her task to pull lower into the sky to let land to rest, if she could but summon the courage.

Memories of last year’s attempt paralyzed her. Last year … in what was to be the first turn of the seasons. She bowed her head and whimpered at her failure.

Autumn’s first day was today … and its bringer clung to the branch like a stubborn leaf. When she had opened her eyes on this day and seen the beauty Luisreadh had spread throughout the land, a lump grew in her throat. How could she wilt his beloved blooms? How could she rot this vibrant land? How could she possibly outshine the splendor of the sidh-wyvern of summer?

She spied him winging into the trees, Luisreadh swept through the branches screeching out his pride at his own work. His bright green scales splotched with all the colors of the blooms. Bright rows of spikes lined his back as he undulated through his domain. The spark in his eye lanced Muthadh’s heart. He wasn’t ready to relinquish. For the second time, autumn could not possibly come.

Her shadow shivered up from below, cast over Luisreadh’s masterworks. The shadow mocked her, she swore she saw it narrowing its eyes and laughing up at her. Coward! It whispered. Uninspired fool. Yours is the season of death. Who would ever embrace you? It’s no wonder that no one even missed your failed contribution last year. Crawl into a tree hollow and cry like again! It’s all that is left to you.

She tucked her head beneath a wing and stifled a sob. The gleam of bright blue sparked before her. She opened her eyes to gaze upon on will-o-wisp floating in the folds of her wing. The morpheous sprite floated down to the tree limb, brushing against the bark. “Listen …”

Muthadh bent down and pressed her ear close to the limb.

“Listen …” The wisp evaporated.

weary … rest … The limbs spoke to her in creaks and groans.

She snapped up her head. “You … you would suffer if I did not take over for Luisreadh?”

weary …

“But, you don’t understand. I would be killing you.”

sleep, not death … through winter … spring reawakens … without rest—as if to show her a leaf crisped on the twig and fell to the ground.

“Have you told Luisreadh?”

yes … he bids us to sprout eternal … we are not the evergreen …

Her frill crept up to full, flowing in the breeze between her spines. She watched the reigner of summer soaring on his breeze, oblivious to the cries echoing in the wood. He remained ignorant to the needs of the land. A snarl parted her scaly muzzle. Turning to the shadow of her doubt on the ground she glared hard at it. “Your pointless weight will not ground me. I am the reigner of autumn! This season does not come without my bidding. It is time.” She stroked the tree limb with her wing. “The land needs sleep.”

Throwing her head back, Muthadh released her harsh rasp. Her wings spread and slammed down against the warm current. A cold, crisp bite followed and enveloped her in a spinning frenzy. The skies overhead darkened, leaden with heavy rain clouds as a thunderclap echoed through the valley.

“Luisreadh! Summer has come to a close, the harbinger of autumn has awakened. Bow down and surrender.” She hovered above the tree grove, rain pelting her scales.

A brightly mottled arrow of sidh-wyvern flesh shot up from the canopy. Luisreadh led with his talons and a piercing scream. “I am not finished! I will never fall to you!”

“Spirited words.” She snapped her wing and rose out of his way. Enthusiastic as always, Luisreadh overshot and struggled to pull around and face her. “You know this is how it must be. The land calls to you, but you ignore it. Heed its cries, let it rest.”

Hotheaded Luisreadh bared his fangs. “You challenge me for the mantle? I would have thought last year when I beat you into submission you would have learned. You are not worthy!”

She cringed, the scar on her wing still tugged. But the pain had another effect. She wouldn’t let him win again. Autumn must come, even if he refused to heed the cry of the land. Rising toward him in the growing gale littered with shredding leaves she beat her wings, arching her talons. The chill in the air faded his colors. Each beat of his wings lost power as she stole the mantle from him.

His face lined with shock a moment before she collided with him, entangling him with her talons. He struggled, only to blink up at her. Muthadh carried him lower into the canopy, heading toward his favorite oak tree. “What … what are you doing?” His voice was barely a whisper in her gale.

“Laying you to rest for the turn of the seasons.” She gently nestled him into the crook of the tree, nudging his tail in.

The defeated summer sidh-wyvern’s eyes already were closing where he would sleep three seasons through. “But … why … I beat you into the hillside last year … left you broken.”

She breathed onto the oak leaves and they turned a brilliant array of reds and golds. “I already beat one opponent today. What need have I to prove to another?” A ray of sunlight broke through the clouds casting Muthadh’s shadow against the oak tree. Luisreadh’s eyes blinked back open as the shadow cringed.

Muthadh spread her wings and shot into the heavens, riding the rising gale with each pulse. Beneath her the world turned from one brilliant palette of colors to another of true beauty. The beautiful palette of change as autumn fell upon the land for the first time.

Out of the canopy Muthadh soared, wreathed in will-o-wisps.

Seirm jolted as the sidh-wyvern shot in a tight spiral over our heads and up into the leaden skies.

Placing a paw on his shoulder, I chuckled. “First time you’ve seen a myth, lad? Been around the bard camp too long. Welcome to the real world where there are creatures who truly command their surroundings. Take care to mind them. Especially the harbinger that prepares the earth for the winter sleep … she bares death on her wings.”