VSS - 2021

February 2021

2/9/2021 - The #sunshine shoving through the hole in the clouds was the only warmth I had after the incident in the store today.
2/10/2021 - Coursing through the valley one more time, the #river dragon surveyed his domain. Something unidentifiable niggled inside warning him he should not go. But he had to. He’d given his word.
2/11/2021 - #Mistake number one was not recognizing her voice. Mistake number two was letting her trap me into a promise.
2/12/2021 - She walked away from the guy on #corner. When he grabbed her coat sleeve, I booked it toward her to intercept.
2/13/2021 - Was it even possible to become #lost in such a small town? I'd not thought so, until I held her in my arms. I'd been lost until that moment.
2/14/2021 - It wasn't a command. It was his way of saying #goodbye in the few moments there were left, and the one kindness I could manage for him. But my obedience will haunt me for the rest of my days.
2/15/2021 - "It was not #random chance that we met. You needed a purpose and another start in life, I need a replacement to watch over the shrine. Serving others will show your intention." She nodded as if it was decided.   Did she know how much I needed this?
2/16/2021 - Research to #curtail the resistance of the demon finally proved successful. The sacrifice of the old guardian was enough to bind the demon to take the magic drain for me, more than doubling my magic abilities for a good century.
2/17/2021 - I don't care if we aren't on the right side of the law, boy. If I ever catch you doing #shoddy work again, there won't be enough of you left to ID your sorry carcass. --Hiro
2/18/2021 - What do you #mean a kitsune revealed herself to you today? You know better than to go near a mythical fox. They're all vicious demons! I saw one lure and kill a man! --Matsuo Jun (Matsuo Eiji's father)
2/19/2021 - I had to #scramble to keep up with her as she yipped and sprinted, ears perked and tails wagging, up the stairs. Was she always this happy to visit such an out of the way place? Boy, was I wrong about these mythical creatures being reserved.
2/20/2021 - The last time I held a weapon, was when I was out of ammo. Hiro was down and I had to #load a magazine from his pocket into his Sig Sauer. I’d pledged to defend him. So many people died that day and I added to the number. I don’t want to know how many. --Umeji
2/21/2021 - My stomach was gnawing its way out of my belly and the #tendon on the table tempted me. But it would be better to pass out from hunger than eat food intended for the boss. (tendon = a bowl of rice with battered and deep-fried meat, fish, or vegetables)
2/22/2021 - Now that she knows my past, the metaphorical ice beneath my feet cracks menacingly. Any moment now I'll #plunge into the icy water of not being in her social circle anymore. Dammit! I really enjoyed her company.
2/23/2021 - I would not #cower despite the odds and recent loss of Yuki, who had always been at my side when I faced the vixen's attacks. It was time to stand on my own. So I whispered the word and blue fire lit in my hands.
2/24/2021 - The deep set of #scratch marks in the door and the sulfureous stench in the air sent a shiver through me. The officer didn't know what that meant, but I did. An oni had been here and they were looking for my husband's manuscript.

Mini Character Background

Can you guess who?
2/24/2021 - Her ears pricked and she froze. The #fox sniffed the air to see how much time there was before their approach. Her blood ran cold as the brays of a pack of hunting dogs filled the air. Not long enough! (#vssnature)   2/25/2021 - I was a #dart whizzing through the trees. With hounds on my tail and no ki for magic, I wracked my brain for options as my lungs burned.   Thundering hooves announced a presence. “Whoa! What have we here?” He met my eyes. He knew. “Call off the dogs!”   2/26/2021 - I inspected the pair of #folded cranes on the low table as a maid served tea. This samurai must be high ranked to have such a spacious office and so many servants. He said, "Please enjoy, Kitsune-san. Then tell me why you led my dogs on a merry chase."   2/27/2021 - When I recovered my magic enough to show off my human form, he was so enamored with my beauty he commissioned a Western style #gown and two luxurious kimonos worthy of the Empress herself. Reveling in this worship, I allowed myself to be his consort.   2/28/2021 - The guard’s tanto pressed to my neck as he hissed, “You will promise never to control Ii-sama.”   “Willingly. But you...” I growled, and gave a flick of magic to #rotate his arm so his dagger pointed at his eye. “You will be my thrall.”   He paled.   3/1/2021 - When my lover grew deathly ill, I knew he only lusted me. I had to act quickly. The best love potion and his favorite #spice were added to his dinner. Then I tucked a love charm into his pillow. Please, Kami-sama, let him care for me!   3/2/2021 - I #smoothed out the wrinkles in his forehead. He carried so many burdens for the country, and so few saw the his brilliance in his long term plan. At least the fever broke. Did this mean my prayer had been answered? Or was he doomed?   3/3/2021 - I’d spent my magic energy on helping him recover. My human guise failed, reverting me back to fox form. Curling up on his chest I let my #paws touch his precious face.   “You truly care for him,” my thrall murmured as he left a food tray.   “Yes.”   3/4/2021 - “Then, I #request to be freed, to protect you from the rumors circulating that you’re manipulating him, my Lady.” my thrall said.   How did a thrall keep that knowledge from me? Could my spell be fading after so little time? “I will consider it.”   3/5/2021 - "Do you require #proof of my ability to protect you?" my thrall asked.   My eyebrow raised.   "Probe my mind again," he hissed.   He could sense the touching of his thoughts? I had underestimated this samurai. He'd hidden that he was a magic user.   3/6/2021 - "The #name of one who will cause much trouble for Lord Ii is Yoshida Shouin from Hagi. Find him and set me free to serve you both unhampered. I can help hunt down the others."   I probed his mind to verify the truth and he winced as his mental shield fell.   3/7/2021 - When cracking the seal on a locked area of his mind, his hand darted up. How did he break my control? Shaking, he crushed my throat. "Stop!"   The secret? He was a double agent. The spy crumpled as I #shot electricity through him and his grip loosened.   3/8/2021 - The fool thought he could hide that he was a spy from me forever. I wasn’t a stupid #horse that was led easily. But now the spy was dead, I dreaded telling my lover he’d been wrong in trusting that samurai. We will hunt them all. Let the purge begin.   3/9/2021 - I'd been forced to take back some of the energy I'd given him to recover in order to deal with the traitor. When his #arms wrapped around me, I knew I was forgiven. His color was much improved as he said, "Forgive me. I did not know the treasure I had."

March 2021

3/10/2021 - I was #stuck between two choices with harsh consequences. Would I take go back to jail to protect the old lady who antagonized me? Or would I reveal her secret and anger beings I thought were just a myth and who far more powerful than myself?
3/11/2021 - #Wear the Nakamura crest today. Let it be known you are part of our clan. Not a stray. Your mother may not claim you, but she hasn't seen the man you've become like I have.

April 2021

4/15/2021 - Why do I #feel nothing but the trembling of my hands as I drop the knife? The spattered gore and stench should evoke some reaction. Have I sold my soul only to never be alive again?
4/16/2021 - Never will I feel #invisible with irezumi tattoos across my back. Now that I've gone straight, even when they're covered I could swear they're on fire when ever anyone glares at me or mentions yakuza. --Umeji
4/17/2021 - The #language of kitsune and foxes is difficult to learn because much of it is gesture based. Without a tail, much of the meaning is lost. --Tsuchimikado Yukitada
4/18/2021 - Nakamura-san, stop being so vain. The #blessing of looking old is you can get away with more than a young person can. Think about it. I know you can put that to use. --Dr. Aya
4/19/2021 - Did you #watch the news today? People are reporting they saw magic appear out of nowhere and protect a little boy. It had to be from somewhere, right? Was it the kami or a yokai? Or was it the boy?
4/20/2021 - I try not to take it in a #personal way when people speak about how yokai have harmed them. Not all supernatural beings are like that, you know? --Nakamura
4/21/2021 - “I #only want the truth. That isn’t too much to ask from your parole officer, is it?” Satou said. My hand tightened on the car’s door handle. What I saw was too crazy. He won’t believe me.
4/22/2021 -Can you believe I had to argue with my superiors that I was not just going to #settle on this candidate to replace me? They were convinced I was making my choice only because my term is up. They didn’t see his humility, just his past.
4/23/2021 - Why is there #thunder in January? Oh no. My gut clenches. That's not a storm in the sky. It's cannons firing. my country is at war again after more than two centuries and I'm in the middle of it.
4/24/2021 - How could anyone do this? I stared down at the concentric #rings of the tree that had been home to a kodama spirit—one I had known. The shaking started in my hands and spread. Red filled my vision. Someone would pay.
4/25/2021 - His horrified expression was #drawn into my memory with India ink before his ghost winked out of existence. He did not approve of my method of avenging him? Why? He'd killed more than I had.
4/26/2021 - The #adoration I have toward her is unusual. She's not family nor even my species, yet I consider her so—even though just a few short weeks ago she was cussing me out publicly. How did it change so fast?
4/27/2021 - I was used to doing the #cooking. That wasn't the problem. I just didn't know how to cook for 1 or 2 people. Scaling down from making soup for a crowd to this? Satou-san and I were sick of eating the same thing over and over.
4/28+29/2021 - I can't begin to #describe the #thousand swirling emotions screaming to do one very specific action when fight-or-flight kicks in. Though, in the yakuza, I learned to harness that compulsion. It saved my life many times. --Umeji

May 2021

5/3/2021 As I cleaned his grave, #nightfall crept in so slowly I'd not noticed. Thankfully, my eyes were perfect for low-light conditions. I just couldn't shake the feeling of someone watching me.
5/11/2021 A customer had the nerve to whisper #jailbird as I walked by. I bit my tongue instead of letting my arm shoot out and shove him into the shelves. When Matsuo walked away from helping the jerk, it was my victory for the day.

September 2021

9/28/2021 He wiped away the #rivulet of sweat, erasing evidence of the day's heat. No matter what the weather, Hiro always wore a suit. He said it separated yakuza from the street thugs. At least he let me have a casual day here and there.

October 2021

In the light of the #moon, a thick red drop fell from my bruised and broken hand onto his bloody face. "Wh-what have I done?" I #stuttered. 'Just following orders' would never cover such an atrocity. I'd become what I feared. A monster.
Slinking from #shadow to shadow behind the kitsune witch, I witnessed her #hunt for a sacrifice that would bind us further. I did not want this, but the powers I could learn from her? That was another matter.
#Blood drained from his face when we reached the #cemetery. Emptied urns littered the Hiragi clan plot. "I'm just glad they didn't get to Hiro's ashes. Any idea who it was or what they did with the remains of your yakuza brethren?"
The #mist lifted as a chill #wind blew into the valley. I'd only been in the area four days, and each was foggy. Everyone bragged about Okayama Prefecture's beauty. Maybe I'd finally get to see the landscape of my new home?
Last #autumn after I was released from prison, I was so damned #hollow inside. I couldn’t trust anyone, because I was sure they’d write me off. Just a few months later, just one person believing in me started a cascade of events.
Their father's music's #glow spread like #dandelion seeds in the wind, enchanting the tiny seahorses. They followed, confident that where ever he led, would it be safe. It was his last gift to them. I did not see him again.
10/7/2021 Why hadn't she been allowed to attend? She #staggered into the cemetery. When she reached his #grave she crumpled, but her hands moved of their own accord. She had to have part of him with her because, even in death, he had her heart. #Spooktober2021
10/8/2021 Legends say, a three legged #blackbird led the emperor and his lost expedition out of the mountains. But they don’t recall the #stone he landed on. There, in a basin surrounded by vast mountain ranges, they established the first capital. #Spooktober2021
#Ice covered my whiskers in #silver tendrils. At least I'd grown in my winter coat. The fool had wrapped me in his jacket, thinking he was being chivalrous. Would we make it home before he froze?
10/10/2021 The #rune was a single word from the language of dragons. He'd carved into the heartwood of a branch donated by the tallest tree in the sentient #woods. And he'd given it to her as a token of his trust. Would she use it to create or destroy? #Spooktober2021
10/11/2021 #Heron swallowed a fish, #bones and all. Fish cried, “If don’t you eat me, I’ll give you the riches of my kingdom!” Heron asked, “And if I don't? Will you take me to see your kingdom?” The fish king fell silent. He couldn’t risk his people. #Spooktober2021
10/12/2021 Among the twisted, #tangled and #rotting roots, beady, red, eyes shone in the black void of what should have been a face. Don't blink. It will steal yours. #Spooktober2021
10/13/2021 #Fireflies flittered, rising from their day’s hiding spot in the grass tufts and shrubs. They joined a #wild dance in these last warm days, hoping to find a partner before the frosts came. Was that flashing friendly or a foe ready to devour? #Spooktober2021
10/14/2021 He floated, carried by the #river to a new destination. His mangled, oozing form covered in muck and tangles of poisonous vines twitched with anticipation. Would he #ghast this community too? Oh he hoped so. The fear was the best of feasts. #Spooktober2021
10/15/2021 The thrill of the chase didn't #ebb in her blood. It filled every muscle with the need to run. Through a fallen log, over a hill, across a stream, they zigged and zagged. She just had to push a little more to sink her #fangs into breakfast. #Spooktober2021
The surprise of his kiss surpassed the Harvest Festival #fun we had as we #danced to the beat of the drums under the full moon. He's cute, but I'm an employee and he was tipsy. The next day he confessed his feelings, so I took a risk.
10/17/2021 In the silk kimono with #turtle shell hexagons edged in gold, I #shiver as the bearers carry my palanquin. But I am on display at the festival. No warm tea for any of us until we’ve finished the parade route. #Spooktober2021
10/18/2021 This year’s #harvest is #stranger than last year. I swore the ears of corn a familiar face. But I don’t dare say a thing. The neighbors will think it looks like the girl who went missing. I buried her where the corn grew. #Spooktober2021
10/19/2021 He draws his fingers through the #crimson tint on her lips. But when she doesn’t speak his language, he #hesitates. Was following a beautiful shape shifter fox a mistake? Bak Ai-Ri murmurs, “I may be Kumiho, but I’m not incapable of love.” #Spooktober2021
This Guardian stepping down, I don't #trust his #scent—faint blood and ammonia, fresh cedar, the reek of strong alcohol. It sends a shiver through me. My tails fluff and I back up a few steps. Has he been corrupted? —Nakamura Hisako
10/21/2021 #Dust caked the box that held the ornate tea set and plain kimono. Did it #signify that her time as a tea master had been forgotten along with so much else? Or had the memories been too precious to put on display? Her daughter wanted to ask. #Spooktober2021
10/22/2021 #Flames in the fireplace at the #cafe sputtered, threatening to go out. The one light in the tiny room for the last customer of the night. He slurped his noodles without a care in the world. Why wasn't he afraid of the legends around here? #Spooktober2021
10/23/2021 A little slime #spore in its #innocence slurped up all the energy around it. Full and content, it rolled into the hollow of an old log and slept off the gorging. A battle around it raged, it awoke the only survior. #Spooktober2021
10/24/2021 A circle of #dark death, centered on her and her son's limp body, #radiated out, snatching energy from everything in its path. Was she cursed for taking life from others to spare one dear to her? Would stealing ki to save him even work? #Spooktober2021
10/25/2021 Around the beach bonfire an #intimate gathering of theater friends was deeply engrossed in spooky stories. Their #hearts almost stopped when several ghosts snuck up behind them to listen and screamed in terror. A new acting troop formed. #Spooktober2021
10/26/2021 It was no #accident he spotted the #silver fox as he left the shrine. She'd been watching him the whole time, waiting for him to slip up. She knew he would. Yakuza don't go straight, not that she'd seen. Then she'd be able to be rid of him. #Spooktober2021
(I changed the second 'shiver' prompt to 'silver'.)
#Betrayed, I shoved my #blade viciously through the assassin’s ribs. If I went down, so would he. His dying gurgle wasn’t satisfying, though & my leg wound was bleeding out. Would my family ever know I wasn’t the shame of their lives?
10/28/2021 The #treacherous killing spree #ruined the plush white carpet he loved to sink his toes into. Why did the idiots attack here in the room to be his office? Sirens and pounding at the door startled him. What!? This was to be a quiet job! #Spooktober2021
#Hurt? No. Agony! My #claws grasped the wrist as I ran. I’d retrieved my detached arm from the accursed samurai who severed it. But could it be re-attached? Or would I have to make a prosthesis? How would that affect my magic?
10/30/2021 A #shadow smothered the light from above as a giant shikigami puppet sped toward us. Did the fox #flee? No, the stubborn idiot just stood there with his hand outstretched, the glow of ki ready for a spell. I #muttered obscenities and ran to help. #Spooktober2021
I didn’t know what the rapidly deteriorating patient’s #infection was until after a blood cleansing treatment. The idea that my family & I could have become ki sucking zombies #spooked me so badly, I had to be helped from our clinic.
#vss365 #VSSLiminal

November 2021

11/01/2021 Laying in the #meadow on that crisp winter day watching the clouds go by would probably be #inane to anyone else. But she was there with me. That made it the most important place in the world to be. I wish we could go back to that simplicity. #wod #vss365
11/02/2021 The #severing of the oni's arm #foreshadowed her future and her vision. She would not be just a lackey ever again, too costly. This determination brought a #passel of followers. For the first time, she understood true power. #vssLiminal #wod #vss365
11/03/2021 Do I #regret #sleepwalking into the Night Parade of 100 Yokai? Yes. Waking to a thump on the head & getting chased out was #lenient. The old stories say the supernatural creatures steal people away. But what a sight it was with so many spirits! #vssLiminal #vss365
11/04/2021 Cornered, out numbered, & looking way too young to be yakuza or a con #artist, I had to #ad-lib bravado I didn't feel and fight the urge to #sugarcoat a message for their boss. Why the hell did Hiro send me into another clan's territory?—Umeji #vssLiminal #vss365
11/05/2021 As Hoji and I sat around the #campfire toasting mochi rice cakes stuffed with chocolate, he was so mellow. Friendly even. It allowed a #camaraderie I hadn't seen with him. Such a #disconnect from the twit I'd first met at Soujoubou's. —Umeji #vssLiminal #vss365

The Bard and the Yuki Onna

11/06/2021 #Snowflakes swirled around the snow maiden—beautiful, out of a #fairfytale. Idiot me walked into her territory. Could I #propitiate her before she killed me? All I had to bargain with was my life and my music. Her lips trembled at my offer. #vssLiminal #vss365   11/07/2021 My shakuhachi music had drawn the snow maid's attention. Her #answer? A touch trailing down the flute leaving frosted #fingerprints. Each time she returned from the hunt, I performed #soporific melodies to soothe her blood soaked nightmares. #vssLiminal #vss365
11/08/2021 He didn't lead the country down a #primrose path, nor did he #demagogue and beguile the people. When I met him, he was a stubborn #spitfire that ensconced his reign as shogun by putting merchants as a low caste and corning any making of money. —Nakamura Nobu #vssLiminal #vss365
11/09/2021 Sheer #avarice lead the company's plan to dam and #truncate the valley's river. The dragon's nostrils flared and she roared. Even if she had to use every drop of her ki energy, she'd make HER river run #retrograde during the investor viewing to drown them all. #vssLiminal #vss365
11/10/2021 That #saga was of a #bevy of oni outlaws who #hungered for human flesh. A samurai troop tricked and slaughtered them. Ibaraki Douji was the only survivor. She's had centuries to grow stronger. Now she's out to kill all kitsune. How the hell can I defeat her? #vssLiminal #vss365

Kappa and the Ghost

(#vss365 #vssLiminal (ended 11/13) and Merriam Webster #WordOfTheDay)
11/11/2021 I couldn't find his murderer. All inside me fell #dormant. Hibernating for months didn't let me escape the numb lack of his #steadfast love and #lenity. After a century, rumors surfaced of a ghost in Kyoto. Did I dare investigate? —Sekiguchi   11/12/2021 The #enigma of witnessing his crumpled body vs reports of a wild ghost that sounded like him #hypothetically appearing a century later made my heart leap, urging me to go. But, father #edified against getting hopes up over baseless stories.   11/13/2021 I had #qualms about reopening a wound that'd not healed after his passing. But my heart #implored me to visit. And as a healer, I had to learn what #craft allowed a ghost lacking their ki well to endure? What would I say if it truly was him?   11/14/2021 I #resolved to release the #grisly memory & reconnect with my lover. Would his ghost have #amnesia or remember me? In Kyoto, they said sightings stopped. I still visited the site nightly, whispering his name in the dark despite hope fading.   11/15/2021 Kicking myself for childish fantasies, I was about to give up my hunt when a faint serpentine #plume flung itself over the waterfall and disappeared. To where? A #wormhole or some kind of permanent portal? It lacked the telltale glow. I HAD to find out!   11/16/2021 My attempts to track the ghost were only met with frustration. There was no way to #normalize what I’d seen. When I told my brother what I saw, he thought it #facetious. But he’d always dismissed my grief, saying the relationship was above my station.   11/17/2021 I wouldn't negotiate my visits to the waterfall. That brief glimmer was my lover's ghost! I was about to trek up the hill in the tsuuyu deluge, but a #neighbor warned of mudslides in the area. She didn't know I was a kappa. I'd swam through them before.   11/18/2021 There is no #shame in persisting toward #amity with the soul of an old lover. So I kept searching for any trace of him after that first sighting. It could help him find peace and pass on. But did I want him to do so? Was I too selfish to let go?   11/19/2021 I #consulted the vast kappa medicinal and historic archives. While the head librarian was #draconian and less than helpful, I found an ancient myth that suggested why my lover had turned into a ghost. Was it possible his ki well still existed somewhere?   11/20/2021 That #kind of news caused me #trepidation. How was separation of magic from the soul possible? Weren’t they linked? Ki flows though all things, including the soul. Is it enough to power a ghost? Or did he find a less savory source? Likely. I shuddered.   11/21/2021 Months went by where I didn’t see his ghost. Was missing something? Did he leave the area? Was I #stuck? My heart said #univocally not to give up. I’d glimpsed him once. It had to be possible again, right?   11/22/2021 When we were lovers, I accepted I’d never be his #spouse. But we could #roister with the best of the wild yokai. Could we have those days back? Would his children accept me into his family’s life again? There were too many what ifs.   11/23/2021 The #vulnerability of deep love can't be recognized until the worst happens. Unable to meet him again allowed voices of failure to rip through me. I sought refuge in an #enclave of sake casks, until summoned to heal a young kitsune & found something...   11/24/2021 My #worry over the kitsune's wounds kept me from noticing until the girl was directly in front of me. I couldn't #feign a lack of surprise as I scrambled backward. My heart pounded and all I could do was point and babble, "You! You stole that magic!"
11/25/2021 #Jovial, that’s the word for how I felt when I #journaled about my latest victory over Aya-sensei in the The Great Topiary Spat. His sputtering call upon receipt of the buttocks shaped hemlock plant made my day. What would he send in return?

Tragedy of Keiko, Resolution of Hiro

11/26/2021 The #maitre_d’ wouldn’t let me enter the establishment. Just because I wanted a #conversation with the lovely lady waiting at a table by herself. But a flash of my clan’s business card gained me grudging access. I couldn’t let on that I knew her. -- Hiro   11/27/2021 Her perfect lips formed a frown as she read the fine #text. "What's #commensurate mean?" I kicked myself. What the hell did they use legalese for? She's smart, but uneducated. So, I ordered dinner for us and quietly went through the contract with her.   11/28/2021 Keiko, if you encounter a #crisis, go to address 1-1-9 where Sakura Dori crosses the river. It’s the house with the #menorah. Though, the inhabitants aren’t Jewish. They just light the way for those who need help. I’ll find you there. Easy, right?   11/29/2021 Keiko's mission: retrieve #genetic proof of the Kudo-kai murdering a CEO that refused to take part in an investment scheme. But we had to #obfuscate her presence in the clan. My stomach twisted. They'd kill her if she was caught. Why did she volunteer?   11/30/2021 She’d play a #hoity-toity lawyer’s daughter looking for a good time and out to spite her dad. But what would she have to #persevere in the clan’s hands? Man, did I admire her bravery. I’d never be #worthy of her, but I hoped to protect her. #vss365 #vssliminal   12/1/2021 The night she left, a #longing filled me to caress her face that I couldn't fend off any longer. Smiling, she took the #ribbon from her hair. She whispered, "Wait for me," as she kissed it and placed it in my hand. Her words still haunt me. #vss365 #vssLiminal   12/2/2021 When she walked out the door, it didn't take an #oracle to know the odds of her returning were dismal. The #conclusion? I tailed her. #vss365 #vssLiminal   12/3/2021 Would the man she was supposed to be interested in on this mission turn out to be my #rival? #Dread filled me. So I slapped myself. Focus. On. Her. Safety. #vss365 #vssLiminal   12/4/2021 The #mantle of being her protector weighed on me. But I #welcomed it. It was the only connection I had to her. #vss365 #vssLiminal   12/5/2021 One fateful night I felt a #shift in her attitude that #imprinted on our souls. Someone had discovered her secret when I wasn't on duty. The next day she was gone and I was the one to ID her body. #vss365 #vssLiminal   12/6/2021 All the #gravity in the #universe would not stop me from taking revenge. I knew then I was no longer undercover, but yakuza. #vss365 #vssLiminal   12/7/2021 My partner caught me storming out of the corner's office. His #struggle to keep me from committing murder was effectively #crude, since he knocked me out. When I awoke, he poured sake in her memory and we plotted to bring the bastard down. #vss365 #vssLiminal #LiminalChronicles   12/8/2021 The price was #steep. Agents died. I #guess putting him behind bars for life was worth it. The next day, I gained a little brother in the clan I'd infiltrated. Could I keep him from going down the wrong path? I'd have to stop drinking first. #vss365 #vssLiminal

December 2021

12/9/2021 #Pressure from my fingers formed #constellation frost patterns on the grimy window. How long had this shrine been untended? By the dirt, dust, and moss, I guessed a good decade. It needed a keeper so Inari could bless the valley. —Nakamura #vss365 #vssLiminal
12/10/2021 Jiro had been emotionally #starved, despite his mother's best protection against his father and bullies from school. I had no idea he was a #prodigy. To see him light up as he solves a problem warms me from the inside. #vss365 #vssLiminal
12/11/2021 I crouched, transfixed and #invisible among the lake's reeds as he floated, majestic with his shimmering blue-green scales and long, lithe form. The humans entering our domain did not #pause to bow at the torii. So, today we would hunt. #vss365 #vssLiminal


12/12/2021 Her muttering was the #string ripped out, the #amalgamation of chaos that used to be the heel of her second sock. All she could do was wait and re-knit the mistake. Too bad relationships weren’t as easy to repair. Could he ever forgive her? #vss365 #vssLiminal   12/13/2021 I missed him, so #floated a frivolous #question. "Shall we meet on neutral ground? I'd hate for us to miss the Fox Festival." His reply, "Wear a mask and we'll be anonymous, able to court again." #vss365 #flexVSS   12/14/2021 His #charm swept in like the tide. I dove into its #water, not wanting to go back to the safe shore. #vss365 #flexVSS
12/15/2021 My kitsune guide replicated the path we took the first time I visited her den. I wouldn’t have found it without her. Fox magic hid it from humans like me. And I trembled even more than I did the first time. —Yuki #vss365 #bravewrite


12/16/2021 The risk of taking in the boy was far more dangerous than him becoming my mascot or sidekick. He could expose my secret. Yakuza all have secrets. But mine could get me killed. #vss365 #bravewrite   12/17/2021 The boy wasn’t the enemy. He was trying damn hard to be a proper Yakuza. I wanted so badly to tell him the truth. All I could do was push him and when he fell, cuff him upside the head. It tore me up inside. Drinking didn’t numb the guilt. #vss365 #flexVSS
12/18/2021 “You didn’t actually pick up that dusty old scroll at the Toji market, did you?” Mie asked. Matsuo hid the sack behind his back. She shoved him. “I can’t believe you fell for that!” “But it glowed!” he sputtered. #vss365 #vssmagic (next in this story)


12/19/2021 The barrage of secrets beat down the door and flung itself out of the room like a swarm of angry hornets. I couldn’t stop them. I couldn’t save him from them. But I could get him far away from the nosey town for a while. #vss365 #vssLiminal   12/20/2021 While the disguise injured his pride, he blended in well. No one noticed a bespectacled man in a suit, carrying a briefcase in the middle of Osaka. #vss365 #vssLiminal   12/21/2021 Shortly after moving to the big city, he visited. I thought it was to face the rumors. But he pulled out a badge that typified him as law enforcement. I almost fainted when I read ‘Paranormal division’. How had he discovered my yokai nature? #vss365 #TrickyTues   12/22/2021 I remained quiet, expecting him to unravel the mystery I’d hidden from all but my husband. He simply tilted his head. “Aunt?”

I replied, “So when did you join the Paranormal Division?”

”You didn’t even blink at the division name...”
#vss365 #FlexVSS   12/23/2021 There was a damned good reason I’d kept my true identity hush-hush. Families and communities had driven me out when they discovered my secret. I trusted my nephew. But his mother? Not at all. #vss365 #vssChristmas   12/24/2021 The story of how he joined brought flashbacks of him as a child—loud and unpopular. He used to stimulate an argument just to see what the other party would do. Now? He had to be the paragon of discretion, to listen, to draw others to talk. #vss365 #inkmine
12/25/2021 The scroll Matsuo picked up wasn’t for himself. He gave it as a birthday gift to his girlfriend’s son, Jiro. Together they poured over it, trying to unlock its secrets. I never saw the thing glow, but Jiro’s face sure did. #vss365 #vssdaily (previous in this story)
12/26/2021 Who am I to discourage a passenger wishing to gawk out the palanquin window? A human in the Night Parade of 100 Spirits was unusual. Instead, I said the curtains could be made translucent so her face wouldn’t be exposed. — the Yokai King #vss365 #vssdaily #LiminalChronicles


12/27/2021 She could only diminish the spotlight of writing the control app by hiding deep in the caverns of Sumichou. She’d meant well. But those who hired her to write it? They pushed the app to be far more intrusive than she’d intended. #vss365 #flexvss   12/28/2021 When she finally dared emerge, she took on a disguise. Her motive? Lull the Akumakai into thinking she was gone. And when they yawned, thinking they still controlled everything, she’d plant seeds of rebellion right under their noses. #vss365 #flexvss   12/29/2021 A bundle of comments provided the key to the rebellion. I didn’t want to bother the others, but they glanced over my shoulder at our developing story. Kappa and Phoenix wanted to share it with the world. But I insisted hiding it was best. #vss365 #flexvss   12/30/2021 The reward they put out for our heads only made rumors abound, but we would not be cowards. Sumichou was our home. We were the instigators of the fight to take it back. #vss365 #vssdaily   12/31/2021 Being legend was one thing. Being turned into a mystic and deified as we sought freedom? Uncomfortable! I knew we might not make it. But so many put their faith in us. The weight dragged me down, like a thousand children clinging to their mom. #vss365 #inkmine


These Very Short Stories (VSS) posted on Twitter relate to my book series the Liminal Chronicles.   The newest ones are at the bottom. So start at the top. Click here to read the newest vss.
What is #VSS365? Fun daily prompts for tiny stories that fit in tweets. The # is the prompt of the day.

All VSS Stories

Cover image: by Odette.A.Bach (Art), AWV (text)


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