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

December Twitter-Splosion

Every day a different prompt, every day a different tale in a Twitter! Here is all of December’s in one shot. A wild collection of humor, morbidity, and whatever else popped into my head.

DECEMBER

It’s been a year!

cowboy bebop finger guns GIF

12/1/2019

Blue sky, an ill wind blew as I soared over the white capped waves. No gull who longed to live ignored such an #omen. I opened my beak and cried out the warning. Squall! The tall ship sailed out of the harbor. Wind tore at my feathers as I fought to warn them. Turn back!#vss365

12/2/2019

“But mama, aren’t we supposed to hoard treasure and stuff?”

In the crystal cave Drhak’raria lifted her head and smiled down at her whelp. “Some dragons do. But you can’t consume gold. Eat your #crystal, dear so you can grow up strong enough to devour other dragons.” #vss365

12/3/2019

Hail fell into the high beams, #rice from the leaden heavens. I pushed the pedal harder.

“Honey, maybe we should pull over?”

“It’s the holidays, we can’t be late!” A second later, the road skidded out from beneath us.#vss365

12/4/2019

Never mess with a kitsune. There’s a reason those vixens have nine tails, it represents their #fickle nature. One minute they lavish you with the deepest love possible. The next their claws rake sufficient to make you wish you were dead!#vss365

12/5/2019

She turned and smiled at him. Not a comforting smile, but one that sent a shiver down his spine. Frozen he could not move. “They call me the sadistic #guru. And you, my foolish trespasser, are about to learn why.” He didn’t see the strike, but he felt it in his liver.#vss365

12/6/2019

“You’re such a nerd.”

“I am a #pixel warrior! I am undefeated! SHIT!”

“Except by a power outage.”#vss365

12/7/2019

Underneath the #amber lights the world shimmered in the rain. A beautiful sheen that lent a magical quality to the city. A place that lay in stillness populated by the bones left behind of a race that failed to adapt. Fate is a cruel bitch.#vss365

12/8/2019

She pads on paws soft as #velvet, silent against the pavement. Making her way through the city no movement escapes her eyes. There is a reason not even a mouse stirs on the Eve, it is her doing. The kiss of death, Holly, the master mouser of all seasons.#vss365

12/9/2019

Save the world, like real life is based on a novel starring a plucky hero. In reality I have as much #sway as a fly landing on a suspension bridge coil while some crazy yahoo standing on the deck cuts it with a chain saw. At least in my vision I have wings. He doesn’t.#vss365

12/10/2019

Light shimmers pierced the darkness of the chamber I have inhabited for what seems an eternity. Vision, a sense I have long forgone in my solitude. Is the light real? Or merely a cruel #mirage, painful to eyes that have not seen in years? Reality seems the illusion.#vss365

12/11/2019

“Heyya, Grandma? Quick, what’s the best way to #curry favor with a demon? Asking for a friend.”

“Why you lookin’ ov’r your shoulder?”

“Ummm … well … I may have opened that trunk you told me never to touch.”

“Then you shit out a luck, child. No one befriends that ‘un.”#vss365

12/12/2019

I stared at the #serpentine stone in my hand, squiggles of bright green seeming to swim, locked in a black sea. Like magic. I focused hard, remembering the tome’s words. The rock shivered, a hundred tiny eyes opened as my minions sprang to life.#vss365

12/13/2019

I flick the blinker on and glance over into the middle lane, waiting to merge. The red Porsche pulls forward, seeing a half car length between me and the van. She wedges the nose of her can in. Blocked. She’s lucky I #vow no vehicular aggression at a hospital driveway!#vss365

12/14/2019

Visions twist and turn to my will. I had always been a #lucid dreamer, shaping to my desires behind closed eyes. What a shock it must have been to see their world change before their eyes when mine were wide open too. Welcome to my twisted reality.#vss365

12/15/2019

Light spreads a #pastel hue into the velvet sky. Another day begins washed out and empty as I wander down the hillside for a visit. The stone cold on my back. The deep cut letters say you’re here. I linger locked in silence, waiting for the comfort of night to fall.#vss365

12/16/2019

“One cannot #wring blood from stone.”

The necromancer folded his hands and smiled. “One can if one possesses the skills and said stone is fossilized bones.” He snapped his fingers and the figures unfolded from the cavern floor. “Foolish mortal.”#vss365

12/17/2019

A stitch in my side. A tiny #sliver of pain nagging, nagging, always nagging! I long to forget, but the constant stab of the thing I cannot remove has become a part of me, driving me to madness as I long to scratch an unreachable itch. A vile memory eroding my sanity.#vss365

12/18/2019

“You will not have the world, sorcerer! Because I have the magical orb!” CRASH! “Shit!”

My companion buried her face. “Real #suave, butterfingers. You do know there was only one of those.”

“Mwhaha! You just paved the way for my victory. Bravo, hero.”#vss365

12/19/2019

I close my eyes and fade away. The pain, the suffering, the bitter rivalry that is what some call the real world. It’s vulgar and empty. I embrace my #virtual world. A place built to hide from the nightmare of reality. A place of healing refuge in the eye of a storm.#vss365

12/20/2019

“Some heroes we are. Stuck in a frickin’ cave! Alright wizard, time to magic us outta here so we can save the world.”

“Hrm, I have a #profound feeling we’ve seriously fucked up.”

“Geh! That better be sarcastic.”

“We have about an hour of air left. Last words?”

“Son of a-”#vss365

12/21/2019

The embers die into a soft cheery #glow framed in the stones. I smile, warmed by the crackle-pop of the flames deep within still eating away. Feast, my friend. Well, the documents said he got the house … he can have what’s left of it. Merry Christmas, asshole!#vss365

12/22/2019

Moonlight cast it glow across the floor, tinged red in time for the holidays. I sit in the easy chair warming myself by the fire, a glass of cognac in hand. Through the broken window the sound of blood dripped down the #icicle my hit man eavesdropped on. How festive.#vss365

12/23/2019

The table creaked under the weight of the largest dish of #pudding the village had ever seen. Narka held her hands high and silence descended. “Today we celebrate our victory! No more will our enemies call us weak. No more shall they speak!” Vengeance in blood pudding.#vss365

12/24/2019

I awoke in the locked room, my arms bound to my body, the odd sound like a #jingle bell tinkling from the hallway. I dared not call out as the white clad orderly peered through the slat, a ring of keys on his belt. What a Christmas present, committed to Bedlam by Father.#vss365

12/25/2019

Curled in my arms, his fur shifted against my cheek with every breath. All the years of his life counted in each tick of the clock. My heart ached to feel his shudder. Midnight chimed, before the last #grace granted Ashenpaw mercy. The bitterest Christmas morning ever.#vss365

12/26/2019

The snow is cold beneath my paws, a sensation I welcome in this new form after the ache of life. I faded from reality and embraced death thinking it would be a numb void. Instead I rise to #find a world of deep feeling. More alive than I was in life, I spread my wings.#vss365

12/27/2019

The world below the surface of the waves, my world. Smooth scales slid by pillars of #coral flashing delicate fronds of tiny creatures, my subjects. Bubbles rose up from the intruders, landwalkers performing their last task. A death wish. Venom filled my fangs.#vss365

12/28/2019

The moon shown over the valley cutting shadows into the fresh snow. My nose caught the scent in the tracks. One of them was injured. In my throat the cry arose, piercing the heavens. Moments later the pack answered in #harmony. The wolf pack’s litany of death.#vss365

12/29/2019

Behind closed eyes everything changes. A #circus of fantastic beasts dance in colorful rings bedecked in finery fit for the highest courts. All those who had vexed me during the day met their judgment by tooth and claw. The next day, I woke to find them simply gone.#vss365

12/30/2019

I swear the moment I walked into my grandparents no one recognized me. It was as if each family member had lived in a #cocoon for the last year, ignoring the hard work I had done. “You look terrible,” grandma said, “should take better care of yourself.”#vss365

12/31/2019

“Hold my beer!” He took a running leap off the roof, poorly executed thanks to the alcohol marinade. The result? A plummet straight down missing the mattress target and striking the trashcans. We clapped as he moaned, cheering, “#Encore!” My brother is a glutton for pain.#vss365

November Twitter-splosion

The collection of Very Short Stories from the #vss365 prompts on Twitter, all in one shot! This month it’s just an array of wild off the cuff craziness. You know, normal for me.

NOVEMBER

11/1/2019

Rumor has it, I got a short #fuse. It’s funny, I guess from their perspective the shit only just hit the fan. Well, in my shoes they’d know better. They’d know the impact of every word they slung my way recklessly. Well, corpses can never hurt anyone, who’s laughing now?#vss365

11/2/2019

I asked my grandpa if our lives were predetermined. He laughed, “Oh child, life’ll try all sort of tricks to keep you inline. Fate’ll #cuff to the wheel, if you let it. Thing is, you still have your hand on the wheel in a world without roads.” Grandpa’s had 8 accidents.#vss365

11/3/2019

Sam closed her eyes. The tedious complaints of the man in line #grated on her nerves. It wasn’t like the cashier could save the world. At last, Sam stepped up to the cashier, whose eyes filled with dread. Sam just smiled, and got a smile back. They savored blessed silence.#vss365

11/4/2019

I gripped the sack tight, this was my first harvest and I didn’t want to drop anything as I climbed through the cavern. The chamber opened up lined with the #crop of crystal shards. I touched a black one, and recalled the legend just as something stole my body. I turned …#vss365

11/5/2019

Amber smiled as she stared right where here friend pointed at. Everything, the whole universe would come into focus, they all told her. Just breathe. She inhaled the smoke and resumed her search for clarity in the resulting #haze. Wasn’t much, but it sure was pretty.#vss365

11/6/2019

The man sat down in my chair and removed his hat. “Just a #trim, please.” I grinned into the reflection of my razor, already she sang to me, hungry for rubies. I placed her fine edge to his throat and gave him the closest shave he’d ever have. Within an inch of his life.#vss365

11/7/2019

Legend says to #tread lightly if you have to go through Mirewood. Of course, legends also say that there are unicorns and little folk. I don’t believe those either. Besides, I brought my rifle … what the … That a horse with a horn? No way, so swuuuucckkkk!#vss365

11/8/2019

“Did you hear, Trudy has a #crush on Dan. That’s so sweet.”

I raised my eyebrows and watched a monster truck roll by, Trudy scowled behind the wheel. “Dude, check your ears. I believe her exact words were ‘I’m going to crush Dan.’ ”#vss365

11/9/2019

Their eyes burned into me as I stood barefoot on the pyre of their scorn. An ember caught on a torch and flared to life, fed by the hunger for my death. It did not matter to them I #spoke the truth. No—it did matter. Their unjust fear delivered me to this grim fate.#vss365

 

11/10/2019

“Welcome to the first transdimensional Convention. Please step forward and pay the #troll.”

“You mean, toll. Right?”

“Oh no, I mean Groont the security troll. Have a good time!”#vss365

11/11/2019

Maximus thought himself an innovative leader able to conquer any nation on the continent. All of that proved true. That was until he decided the continental empire wasn’t large enough, and neglecting to start a navy, he ordered his army to #march over the sea.#vss365

11/12/2019

Things were quiet on that little blue ball floating in space, Loki thought to himself. Perhaps it was time to #crank up the chaos. He snapped his fingers and Fenrir’s chain broke. The gigantic wolf leapt down, his claws raked both man and earth. “That’s more like it.”#vss365

11/13/2019

The #wind speaks to me. Sometimes a whisper bearing the ghosts of the past. Sometimes it screams to me of the ravages of time eroding the world. Sometimes it’s a lover’s caress biding me to be strong in a world that no longer hears the wisdom of the ages. I alone listen.#vss365

11/14/2019

“This is just another walk in the park. You know the #drill, boys.” That’s what I said, but as the sulfur and brimstone engulfed us at the cavern entrance I white-knuckled my spear. Thankfully it wasn’t every day a dragon moved into the neighborhood. “Eviction notice!”#vss365

11/15/2019

This place is all I have ever known. Born behind bars, I’ve heard of this thing called “a lawn”. Sounds nice. The boy points into my cage, his parents drag him to another dog … a whole dog. I limp back into the corner. One day I’ll leave the #pound, if I live long enough.#vss365

11/16/2019

Anubis rubbed his chin as he examined the world. “Things are not going as planned, Sekhmet. I don’t care what Toth says, this #draft of Earth is deeply flawed. The problem is all these humans.” Sekhmet flashed her teeth, “That’s easily solved, get your scale ready.”#vss365

11/17/2019

“That boy has a lot of #pluck. Do you think he’ll save the village?”

“Are you kidding? He’s nothing but a goose for the gods to tenderize. But don’t tell him that. The gods prefer spirited sacrifices. Maybe next years crops will be better, then we can sing his praises.”#vss365

11/18/2019

There was nothing like dancing the #jive with her. The weight of her body capturing the momentum only to twist and turn. He basked in the memories, gnarled fingers stroking the piano keys. Soon now he would see her again, in each other’s arms.#vss365

11/19/2019

Jim sat on the bumper of the car. Karma really was a bitch, he reflected. The sign he’d held, California or #bust, well, he didn’t mean it to be true. The driver that picked him up was still arguing with the cop whose fault the collision was. So much for Sunset Boulevard.#vss365

11/20/2019

“How do you spell his name?”

“Oh my God, please sis, I beg of you, #play nice!”

“I am. Just need his name so I can kill him … in my novel. It lasts longer.”#vss365

11/21/2019

The field glowed beneath the pale sky blossoming with the rising sun framed by the monoliths. They stood, every breath hanging in the air frozen until at last the blackbird greeted the dawn. Her #refrain warmed every heart. No day was promised until she sang.#vss365

11/22/2019

Rod heaved a sigh as he stared at the candle, hardly any wax dripping down the perfect cylinder. Like so many others it ended early. The first #date was always the last. He turned to Annabelle and picked the doll up from the chair. “Guess it’s still just you and me.”#vss365

11/23/2019

Charity heaved a sigh. “You’re asking a lot of me, typically this type of gig isn’t my thing.”

“It’s real simple, all you gotta do is crash this schmuck’s house and scare the spirit of Christmas into him. Any ghost can do it.”

“That’s a lot to #tackle, the guy’s an atheist.”#vss365

11/24/2019

The music wound into my soul, moving me in ways no one ever should be. I don’t have wings, but I flew! All around me the dance floor vibrated with the emotional impact of countless creatures. You’ve never lived until you’ve attended an underworld #rave.#vss365

11/25/2019

“Gah! Seriously? Stop breathing on me. Your breath smells like … like … ”

“The Army of Nabrille? It should, they were tasty.”

“Then eat a #mint, even dragons should have table manners.”#vss365

11/26/2019

Back and forth she wove the shuttle on the #loom blending the threads in a vast tapestry. I stood powerless to stop her as my thread joined others, wrapped in scarlet red and ashen black, blood and death. “Take up your mantle.” Damn the Fates.#vss365

11/27/2019

Under the #lash I serve my master, doing his bidding without question. My claws sullied by the blood of his enemies. That cursed tool is my true master, now in the hands of his sister I turn my claws at her command. The end of his bloody reign is the beginning of hers.#vss365

11/28/2019

My world is locked in darkness. Black so thick it bears fur and breathes. The cave of beginnings. I inhale the void and steel myself. Against the rock I #strike a match. The flame springs to life, a faint circle of revelation. Eyes stare back. The fur no longer imaginary.#vss365

11/29/2019

Jimmy smiled, wouldn’t the family be proud of him for getting the best deal online! This would be perfect for grandpa. He opened the front door and stared in confusion. That was a rather small box. The label read “chihuahua coffin”. What a bad funeral day #slip up!#vss365

11/30/2019

“Master, what do you want me to do with this #part?”

He glanced at the nerve bundled organ in his assistant’s hands. “Crap, there’s always extra pieces. Just throw it out. Can’t be that important. Alright, let’s juice it up and bring this bad boy to life!”#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

September Twitter-Splosion!

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

gifs critters cute fennec foxes funny - 7702035456

SEPTEMBER

9/1/2019

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

9/2/2019

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

9/3/2019

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

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

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

“I … wow, that’s a tough one!”#vss365

9/4/2019

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

9/5/2019

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

9/6/2019

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

9/7/2019

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

9/8/2019

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

9/9/2019

“I love you with all my #soul”

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

9/10/2019

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

9/11/2019

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

9/12/2019

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

9/13/2019

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

9/14/2019

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

9/15/2019

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

9/16/2019

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

9/17/2019

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

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

9/18/2019

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

9/19/2019

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

9/20/2019

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

9/21/2019

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

9/22/2019

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

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

9/23/2019

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

9/24/2019

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

9/25/2019

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

9/26/2019

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

“He’s a dog. What did you expect?”

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

“Sigh. Just keep mopping.”#vss365

9/27/2019

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

“Don’t be so dramatic, Emily.”

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

9/28/2019

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

9/29/2019

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

9/30/2019

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

“I—I thought it was Death.”

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

“Umm, I’m still dead. Right?”

“We have T-shirts.”#vss365

August Twitter-splosion

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

AUGUST

8/1/2019

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

8/2/2019

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

8/3/2019

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

8/4/2019

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

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

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

8/5/2019

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

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

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

8/6/2019

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

8/7/2019

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

8/8/2019

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

8/9/2019

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

8/10/2019

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

8/11/2019

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

8/12/2019

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

8/13/2019

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

8/14/2019

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

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

“The answer is-”

“My point exactly.”#vss365

8/15/2019

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

8/16/2019

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

8/17/2019

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

8/18/2019

“Eh, new dog.”

“Name’s Mais-”

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

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

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

“What cat?”

“Precisely.”#vss365

8/19/2019

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

8/20/2019

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

8/21/2019

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

8/22/2019

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

8/23/2019

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

8/24/2019

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

8/25/2019

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

8/26/2019

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

8/27/2019

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

Demon? Oh fuck!#vss365

8/28/2019

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

8/29/2019

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

8/30/2019

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

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

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

8/31/2019

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

June Twitter-splosion!

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

JUNE

6/1/2019

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

“The ridiculous creature in your painting.”

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

Wide-eyed, the child gulped.#vss365a

6/2/2019

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

6/3/2019

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

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

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

“Pussy willows.” She grinned.#vss365a

6/4/2019

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

6/5/2019

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

6/6/2019

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

6/7/2019

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

6/8/2019

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

6/9/2019

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

“It is.”

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

Behind him large wings stirred. Not again.#vss365a

6/10/2019

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

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

6/11/2019

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

6/12/2019

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

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

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

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

6/13/2019

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

6/14/2019

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

6/15/2019

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

6/16/2019

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

6/17/2019

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

6/18/2019

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

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

6/19/2019

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

Cheshire Cat flexed his claws. “Good choice.”

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

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

6/20/2019

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

6/21/2019

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

6/22/2019

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

6/23/2019

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

6/24/2019

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

6/25/2019

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

6/26/2019

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

6/27/2019

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

6/28/2019

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

6/29/2019

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

6/30/2019

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

April’s Twitter -Splosion

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


 
4/1/2019

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

4/2/2019

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

4/3/2019

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

4/4/2019

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

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

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

4/5/2019

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

4/6/2019

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

4/7/2019

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

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

4/8/2019

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

4/9/20109

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

4/10/2019

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

4/11/2019

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

4/12/2019

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

4/13/2019

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

4/14/2019

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

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

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

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

4/15/2019

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

4/16/2019

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

4/17/2019

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

4/18/2019

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

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

“Okay! Jimmy-TAG!”#vss365

4/19/2019

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

4/20/2019

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

4/21/2019

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

4/22/2019

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

4/23/2019

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

4/24/2019

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

4/25/2019

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

4/26/2019

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

4/27/2019

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

4/28/2019

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

4/29/2019

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

4/30/2019

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

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

Thinkin’ It Through

journeysthrougha-brass-quill

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

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

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

PhoenixDemonDog

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

That Deep Down Feeling

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

Ash010

Ashenpaw, Ion, and Presto

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

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

DSCN3414

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

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

PhoenixTherapyDog

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

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

Ion34

Ion entering the hospice therapy program.

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

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

Problem Solving Perception

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

Check out Ashenpaw’s demonstration of impulse control.

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

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

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

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

The Murder of Crows

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

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

Signs 009

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

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

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

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

Next up: Egg-istential Crisis

Getting Lippy

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Getting Lippy, Anthropomorphic Characters Are a Small Logical Leap Series

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

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“They said what? … no, no!”

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

Inside the Voice Box

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

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

 

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

Lip Locked

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

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

PhoenixLips

“You like my smile, no?”

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

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“I want my dinner now!”

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

Moot point though in animals that have lips anyway.

Stiff Lipped!

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

Parrot

“Did you hear the one about the saltine?”

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

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

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

Next in the series, Thinkin’ It Through