Content Warning

Greetings and Salutations.
Because my stories have bite, they can contain content that isn't suitable for work or children. Not a lot of truly graphic sex or violence, but there are some questionable or heated posts. F-bombs are not uncommon, so watch your footing.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

VSS monthly download

All of December, all at once. Lots of tiny stories does that make it a super story?


Beth didn't know how to explain to the rest of her family that she didn't want stuff for her presents. Not the random crap purchased off a shelf that took no thought or effort. She wanted experiences, and items from the heart. She wanted meaning.  

Desdemona walked alone, staring straight ahead. At her embrace, she'd been told her beauty would become amaranthine and eternity would be hers. Two centuries later, she teaches would-be rapists that delicate flowers have sharp thorns.

She slumped to the couch. rubbing her lower back. "Yeah, so I was dancing and swaying through the aisles, and now my back hurts."
He came to rub her sore spots. "So, your wiggler is sprained?"
She laughed.

"So, if a demon offered to make all your books massive best sellers, but you would have to remain anonymous, would you do it?"
"Why a demon?"
"Okay then, a genie."
"Did I find a lamp?"
"Your fairy godmother offers!"
"When did I get one of those?"

It's fun to leave little messages all over town. Sometimes just copies of memes, sometimes dark and mysterious, sometimes threatening.
I never expected someone to track me down and cite me for littering.  

Louisa practiced her saturnine facade, crafting the perfect sigh, the subtlest of drooped shoulders, the slowest of blinks. Those she met couldn't stop themselves from wanting to lift her spirits and bring a smile to her face.
She ate every drop of attention.  

Velvet and silk were her facade, poisoned lips and smiles the tools of her trade. Aileen worked all the high society circles, learning names and making targets, searching for the Serpent Mage. Revenge would be hers.  

"Why are you so slow at making things?"
"Because I like to crochet on the couch."
"How does-"
"And when I do, all the pets come cluster around me, demanding attention. So I have to referee them instead of work."
"You have too-"
"And you've a big mouth."  

"Don't you ever use a crosswalk?"
"If they're close. Otherwise, it's crowstrut all the way."
"A what?"
"I decided jaywalk wasn't right. They just kinda hop and move quick. But CROWS know how to strut their stuff and be bold."
"I can't even with you."  

Sofia smiled gently. "You're trying to craft a homunculus to replace me?"
"Not replace, my love." David took her hand. "It will free your time, allow you to do more than answer the tiny questions I have."
"Darling, I will always be your vade macum."   

"I love speed dating, don't you?"
"That really your first question?"
"No, silly. What's your favorite food?"
"You're supposed to ask me something now."
"Wanna do something dangerous and illegal?"

Mae delves deep into the esoteric, seeking a way to break The Populace free. Logos does not work on them, for they have been blinded by the ethos of The Powers That Be, and even bald-faced lies are believed when dressed with pathos.   

Alzair stands beside his dragon Zeonell, crimson eyes surveying the valley. "They've never known war, have they?" asks Zeonell.
He shakes his head. "And that is why they've grown weak and decadent." Alzair mounts and they bring fire to the folk.   

I'm slightly jealous of her. Her makeup and nail polish always match whatever crystal pendant she wears. Today is amber, and I finally get the courage to ask her what brand she uses. "No pretense. Just my soul." Her eyes sparkle the same color.  

"One, two, three, four five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten....eleven, twelve."
"Aannd immediately stuck in my head. Appreciated. NOT!"
"Baby shark, do do-"
"Why do you hate me so much?"  

"How's the addictive brown liquid?"
"Your coffee. How is it?"
"Oh. Well, this is the seasonal flavor. Gingerbread spice with extra whip cream and cookie crumbles. I even got the caramel swirl."
"Did you want some caffeine with your sugar?"  

The Spawn of Chaos kicked aside the Agent of Order's creation. It clunked and clattered as it slid away, hard as stone and as unchangeable. "Your problem was making it too rigid. A pixel is not the same thing as a cell, no matter how hard you try."

"Trouvaille or not trouvaille, that is the question."
"We're at the Goodwill bins, getting stuff to upcycle."
"I forecast a mighty find for us both, worthy of our talents."
"Is it too late to let you become someone else's treasure?"   

The abandoned bike was the perfect lure. Good kids left it alone when they couldn't find anyone's name on it. Bad kids tried to take it for themselves. I took bad kids for myself.   

He renamed himself Velleity so everyone would understand him. They couldn't be bothered to look into it, and he couldn't be bothered to explain.  

"He's complaining again."
"Such a headache. Some customers, am I right?"
"Can't 86 them just for being annoying."
"I know. But what if I provoke him into being an ass?"
"Tempting...but no. Just do your job."  

Mia holds him close, stroking his head, listening to him whimper in his sleep. She doesn't know his name, has never asked. She simply loves him when he needs a break from his solivagant ways, provides him shelter for unknown days.
He will be gone tomorrow.  

"I'm lost and listless, just feeling kinda..."
"Yeah. How do I stop it?"
"You're smart. like an"

Tom spits it out, making a face. "The rice is poisoned, same as everything else."
Sally stares at the horizon. "Maybe there's some healthy ones left in the next valley."
He knows they won't make it, but he smiles anyway. "You're right. Let's go."  

"It's only Tuesday!"
"I can't wait for Friday."
"What happens then?"
"More Baby Yoda. But I have to wait SO LONG."
"Oh, how rough these first world problems are."
"You're supposed to make me feel better."
"We could rewatch Chapter 2."

Mina stood on the deck for the first time in a month. Illness had kept her in bed, had nearly taken her life. Happy calls greeted her, drawing her attention to the washing line. Her friends the grackles waited for their treats, happy to see her.  

The villagers called her a mooncalf, looked down upon her, thought she was too simple to understand.
As a changeling, she never understood they were insulting her. Racial memory of the other fae races showed her only the beauty of the hidden animal.  

"...spank my booty, spank spank my booty..."
"What in the hell are you singing?"
"...turned me into his soooooper spanky slut..."
"Maybe I don't even want to know."
"...come and spank me please..."
"Please don't do this when we get there."  

"Hey, whatcha rea-"
"Not interested."
"Don't need to be rude. I was just-"
"Being rude yourself, interrupting a person who clearly wants to be left alone while riding the bus, then having an attitude when they call you out on it."
"Psh. Bitch."

"Isn't that shelf getting a little crowded?" Vick snarks.
Roni grits her teeth, keeping quiet. There's no such thing as a writer having too many books, but he won't understand.
And he'll never get a chance to figure it out.  

Brian loved her eyes. The way they changed colors with her mood, both subtle and drastic. But he could never name the particular shade of green until he went to the lapidary shop. Dead center on the counter was a tourmaline crystal. He bought it for his beloved.

"He's like a real dog in a mini body."
"Whoa! That look could curdle milk."
"I know. Because you tried to say his shortness makes him less of a dog."
"He's a better person than you are."  

She strokes my hair like a mother, though she looks to be my granddaughter. Empty black eyes peer deep into my soul, judging me. "Do you have any regrets?"
I shake my head, ready to let go. "Not a one. My life was good."
She smiles. "Yes it was."   

Travis shakes his head and backs away. He has no more words for Elaine and her carefully constructed mystique. As if ennui were something to be proud of in a world of beauty and wonder. He wanted a woman at balance, not out of touch.  

Some days I hate this corrupt world. So plain, so boring, so broken. Other days, I'm happy that no one was able to read the omens, that I was born without incident. They can't stop me from shaking this place to its core because they don't know I'm here.  

Joe cuddled his wife, her head on his shoulder. Lazy mornings were the best; they got to remain close, Sue vulnerable to his tickles.
Sue cackled with laughter, eyes full of mirth, even as she told him to stop. How could he stop loving that sound?   

"I just need a little help."
"Please? I don't really ask that much."
"Still no."
"Why the bloody hell not?"
"Because the kind of aid you want is for me to just do it for you. And I'm done carrying your lazy ass."
"Sad eyes won't work."  

"Oh, quick, use the hand sanitizer."
"I'll pass."
"But you're going to get sick, and you're going to spread germs."
"Your stress over a cold is way worse than it could ever be. It's not the worse disease to catch, so why should I worry?"

"You know what I wanna do?"
"Help people get out of their promises."
"That sounds rude and immoral."
"I'll be a renege aide."

"It's not even that cold."
"It's frosty and the chill is seeping through my clothes."
"But it's so sparkly and beautiful out here. Let's go for a hike in it before it all melts."
"You could just say no."  

They're weak, but They're smart. They know the humans could banish them with the tiniest bit of resolve and conviction. But They've spent years removing the thought of hope from the bipedal cattle. Now They thrive off the misery of the masses.   

Every night, as part of the bedtime ritual, I take a curry comb to his hair. Keep it long and sleek and soft. I fall asleep with his scent in my nostrils, and dream of the day his soul returns.

Sammy slipped through the back window, nearly tripping on a garland. He snorted at the smell of cinnamon pine cones, and sneered at the explosion of holiday items. Some people really equated being festive with being full decorated. They deserved to be robbed.  

"Are you excited for the new Bill and Ted movie?"
"You haven't watched Bogus Journey, have you?"
"Not in like twenty-some years."
"Make the popcorn, I'll get the DVD!"  

"What's that? Timmy fell down the well and needs help?"
"Cujo has asked you on a big date and you're totally nervous?"
"Do I ask too many questions when you clearly want a bite of my sandwich?"

Marco finally found the lost mission of the Sangre de Cristos. The air smelled of animal and dust and lost time. Beneath the altar waited more of the Apocryphal Texts.
Just one more piece after this and godhood would be his.   

Lost, parched, dying of exposure, I spot shade and rescue in the form of a glorious waterfall and verdant oasis. It can't be real. But I remember that a mirage is always upside down. And isn't guarded by a wyrm.  

"Onefer clock, twofer clock, threefer clock, fourfer."
"Not how the song goes."
"Are you certain?"
"Even if I weren't, those aren't really numbers."
"But I saw them on the sales sign."
"Definitely fiction then."

He traces the tattoo along her spine, fingers feather light up the serpentine pattern.
She shudders, pulls against her restraints, and bares her throat to him. "Please."  

Villagers cheer for Adeline, a virago of great repute. She has vanquished the bandits and slain a monster, and her name will be praised.
At the feast, she wonders what it would be life to be a simple woman, caring for only HER family and not the entire kingdom.

The living room is an absolute disaster. Cardboard and fluff everywhere, dishes on the coffee table, blankets piled on the couch. My husband is cuddled beneath the covers, shivering, and I hazard a guess. "Little sick?"
"Couldn't stop the dog from playing."  

Boss harps on them, driving Workers hard, never giving them a moment of rest. TooFar snaps, finds Boss in his office, crushes his head. "Guess you CAN wring blood from stone." Mad laughter fills the air as he's taken away.  

"Great Catahoula-"
"-lies napping in lost Rely-"
"-waiting for the starts to align-"
"Good enough."  

"Whycome Jimmy's card has candles?"
"That's a menorah. It's how his people celebrate the season."
"Like our Yule tree?"
"Yeah. They remember a victory in their past, and we ask the Goddess for a good year."
"Well, I think it's pretty."  

Disuse has weakened the prison. Trains don't run often enough to keep up the charge. Thunderbird pounds at the barrier, seeking the weakest spot.
Finally, she breaks through, and the Yellowstone volcano celebrates with her.   

Chet's voice is enough to mesmerize me. I've never been one to fawn over some man, but I can't help myself with this one. Witty, charming, smart, wicked, and into black magic. Mama always said I'd know when I found the one.   

Elf creates a new picture in pastel. "It's all about how gently you apply and blend," he coaches.
Dragon stares at her canvas, stick of color in her claw. "How do you get a truly blood red with this, though?"  

"If you could be Jewish or Christian, which would you pick?"
"Why only limit it to two?"
"Well, the question-"
"Is one of your little 'thought experiments', but have you ever really thought about why you ask or set limits?"
"I'm going to ask someone else."  

"Ooh, yeah."
"Hun, really?"
"Definitely. Do it slower."
"I'm tired and sick and feeling fat."
"But I still love to watch you get naked."
"What about when I scratch my ass like this?"
"Just makes you funny to watch."  

Ben feels like he has three left feet, and they never move in the same direction. Even just shoulder dancing in the car is an object in clumsiness. Though he falters and balters while moving, his written words are sharp and precise. C'est la vie!  

It's a mixed blessing to be lucid while stuck in the combined Dream. I know not to fear nor to get too wrapped up in the fiction, but I'm also the only one not able to simply let go and have fun during the whole madcap romp.  

"It's the funny what this little tag can do."
"A clearance sticker."
"Yes. I've heard SO many little consumers justify their waste by saying 'it was on sale'."

"It's the weekend! Get up, let's do stuff and get out."
"Sigh. I wanted to sleep in."
"Why? We're just burning daylight."
"I see enough daylight while I'm driving for work."
"But I'm not with you and we're not having fun."
"Sigh. The things I do for love."  

Everything is subjective, though Julie finds few enough that understand. Her love of spiders and skulls and snakes was just part of her personality, though most considered that a sign of strangeness. She ignores their stares, unable to be other than herself.  

"Whoa! That's fascinating to watch. How does it work?"
"You could just say you don't know and we could go look it up."  

New year, new persona. Vick has been a ne'er-do-well, a noceur, and even a night watchman. Perhaps he shall try something intellectual. Scholar, student, or maybe a literary bon vivant.  

"Help me put together this photo album."
"What for?"
"Nanna's Christmas gift. Trying to put together pictures of all the grandkids next to their parents as kids."
"Sounds tedious."
"I'll make those cookies you like."
"Where do I start?"  
Joe treated his shame the way an oyster treats grit. He buried it deep inside himself, irritated by its presence, slowly building up a shell around it. He coped and moved on, and finally learned to live with something ugly grown into something more.

The expert novelist rambled on. "Being succinct is more than just using fewer words. You have to know WHICH words to use, which to cut. Be frugal with language. Cut right to the heart of what you're attempting to say. Less is almost always more in our books."  

The True Fae made a scathing vlog, trying to shake the status quo: Humans, you really can't be like the magical creatures. STOP TRYING TO BE! Be yourself, and let that wonderful charm of yours shine. Always be yourself.   

Alan thought poorly of himself. Not as funny, not as witty, not as strong, not clever, not as wealthy.
Petra saw past the broken facade, saw the love he had, just waiting to bestow upon someone who cared.  

The clock hand shifted, touched the 12, and Max began his blessing. He must finish the intonation by the final stroke of noon, or he would never be free of the curse.   

Rosey listened intently to her gramma, always at her knee, always learning. She grew up early when gramma died, her heart broken.
When Rosey opened gramma's jewelry box and saw the faerie, she knew the stories had all been true.   

He'd grown up in the desert, knew only hot sun, scouring sands, and burning winds. Visiting the winterlands was new and unexpected. He fell in love with the snow, the icicles, and the penetrating cold.

"Can't say as I understood why so many families on TV were dysfunctional."
"You don't?"
"I don't believe it's art imitating life. I think most families are just fine."
"Did you ever think it's to make everyone start acting that way?"

"Fuck me running sideways with a rusty chainsaw!"
"Oh, I do love it when you talk dirty."
"Not even the time."
"Anything I can help with?"
"The skein of yarn just barfed a huge knot, and now I have to untangle it."
"Moral support it is!"  

"Damn it, I made a mistake."
"Bob Ross says there are only happy little accidents."
"Did he ever put arsenic in the recipe instead of baking soda?"
"Oh dear."
"I know! And the cookies already went out in the mail."
"Time to change our names again."   

The Internet has become a wasteland. Only the loudest stand out, and they face no repercussions for the rude things they say. She sighs, wishing she could send a virtual smack to those who need it.

"I feel I've slacked on Christmas."
"You know the rest of us are over the whole commercial, stuff, consumer part of it."
"We'd rather have handmade gifts, or experiences."
"No more things!"
"So, the new Funkos should be out soon."

"Welcome to the Community."
"Thanks for letting me join."
"No problem. You'll just need to go through tech quarantine first."
"Everyone tries to sneak a phone or a tablet inside, and we need to make sure you're ready to get clean."  

Suave is all well and good, she thinks, but without any actual charm or personality, it means nothing.
He winks at her, touching her aura with his, and she knows there is more here. So much more. And she wants it.  

"Elephants are pretty cool, but I wish wooly mammoths were still around."
"Why not wish for smilodons and velociraptors while you're at it?"
"You're right! Imagine the havoc I could wreak with an army of ancient creatures!"  

Hiram affected the air of an aesthete, his opinion vociferously shared with any nearby. He pined for the belle epoque, though he never stated clearly which era he meant. Merely being more refined than his lessers was enough.

"You remember when you changed me, and you said that a decade would eventually feel like a year?"
"Of course."
"It finally did."
"Welcome to the club."   

The ice caps melted a little more, and Fenrir salivated. Soon, he'd make an encore, but there would be no Odin to fight him.  

"Did you make a New Year's resolution?"
"Never do."
"Why not?"
"While it's a great turning point, it's kind of arbitrary. I could just resolve to change on the third Tuesday of June and get the same results."
"Maybe try to be less cynically."  

Justine was a seeress, same as her mother, but she found a different form of augury. Her mother gazed into crystals, Justine pressed hard against her eyelids. The phosphenes formed the most beautiful futures.  

"I want to live!" he shouts, pulling against Reaper's grip.
Not another one. Reaper sighs. Marching toward the afterlife, struggling soul in tow, and he really wants to let go.
The man kicks him, and Reaper releases him. "Enjoy being a lost soul."   

"I love you."
"And I you. More than words."
"More than one lifetime."
"More than one eternity."
"More than one universe."
"I'm not taking the dog for a walk."

"I found out today that the Portugese have saudade, and it made me think of the melancholy of the Irish."
"It's the Atlantean ancestry."
"Probably because they all miss their home and all the crystal hum."
"You didn't want to keep learning?"  

Azazael slumps back in his throne, goblet in hand, unsure if he can drink another sip.
"The vintage pleases?" his soul sommelier asks.
"Very." He makes himself take another gulp, the burning brightness tingling down his throat.   

Mama called it my cocoon, told me would keep me safe until I were ready. When finally I broke out, I understood what had really been going on. "Mama, a prison by any other name is still a prison."

"I gotta piss like a Russian racehorse."
"Does adding a country of origin make it more or less urgent?"
"Well, would a Chilean racehorse have a smaller bladder, thus have less need to release?"
"Are you really overthinking my bladder?"  

"You really don't care what others think about you, do you?"
"Should I?"
"You're getting a reputation as a bitch, that you're kind of demanding and bossy."
"Good. That's what I was going for."

Dragon convinced Elf to work some magic, to change and come fly with her. "We'll spend the day nubivagant with the corvids."
Elf countered. "You might be kind enough to simply carry me."
Dragon growled. "No free rides."   

"The wolves want to eat us," he whispers, huddled with his siblings.
I grip my silver blade, wishing my partner would get here already. I didn't want to fight them alone. "They're not just wolves," I whisper.
The garou howl in the distance; they have our scent.  

The Emperor's advisors warned him of unrest amongst the Populace. "They cry out against your taxes and your scandals."
He merely laughs. "Give them another circus."
"Make it involve some of the foreign ambassadors. Let them get stirred up about that."

"You need to tell more people about your stories."
"I don't like to brag."
"How is it bragging?"
"It's like showing off."
"You got a story published, people should know so that they know to read it!"
"But what about everyone who hasn't?"

Jess cried. She didn't want him to die.
Paul knelt, wiped her tears away. "It's all part of the Balance. If no one died, the world would fall out of harmony."
"But you're the only black wizard alive!" She sobbed.
"One day, you'll be stronger than I."  

"I sent you a definition."
"For subtle? Why?"
"So you could learn to do it."
"I already am!"
"Like a brick to the head."
"Eat me!"
"Demonstrating those skills once more."  

"I wanna play the warrior."
"There are only five characters, and Todd picked that sheet. Try the rogue."
"No! I want to be him."
"It's just a premade. It's not a big deal."
"Let! Me! Play! It!"
"And that's the session folks. We'll pick up again later."  

The elves watched their forest burn with tears in eyes, unable to voice their grief. Yes, they could rebuild. Yes, the trees would return. But it would never truly be their heimat. Maybe their grandchildren would feel that way, but they could not.   

Dragon curled up in a ball, wrapped her wings around her head, and sighed heavily as she fell asleep.
Elf spread his bedroll next to her, as deeply in need of rest as her.
Dragon pulled him closer with her tail.   

Tom sighed. "With some judicious eating habits, you would be less rotund."
"You need to accept me the way I am and stop fat-shaming me."
"I saw your test results. You need to accept that I care about you and would like to help you be healthier."  

"YoUv'E LoSt ThAaT lOvIn' FeEliNg."
"Watching Top Gun again?"
"Yeah. Watched the new Maverick trailer, and it has me pumped."
"Me too. And Tom Cruise looks damn good."
"It's amazing what getting rid of your Thetons can do."
"I'm not getting scanned."  

Daughter held Daddy's hand. "This is a pretty sunset. I wish there was a word for it."
"There is, punkin. Abendrot."
Her eyes widen. "Oh! So, are there words for EVERYTHING in the world?"
Daddy smiles. "If you look hard enough."  

Michelle strove for bel hevi, continuously placing herself in uncomfortable situations simply for her gut to roil. Each moment she passed through gave her one more tale of anxiety from which to receive sympathy from her loved ones.  

They kept their status quiet, not wanting to make a big deal of it. But behind closed doors, the lovers could not keep their hands to themselves. All moans and sighs and bloody kisses.   

The Necromancer created a coral castle for his wife.
"How did you manage this?" the Sorceress asked.
"It's the corpses of sea life; of course I can control them."  

"How was work today?"
"Irritating. Corporate sent out emails about extra discounts on clearance stuff, but they left it vaguely worded."
"Had to explain it a lot?"
"Every other person asked about it."
"I'd have just started giving them what they wanted."  

"You never want to hang out anymore."
"Just isn't my thing. I guess I grew up."
"I wish we could return to the old days."
"Hunting humans in their clubs is too loud and annoying. Much easier to summon them via UberEats."  

"Beck's going through a postpartum moment. She could use some help."
"I don't know what to say."
"But you're a woman."
"Who has no experience with that type of depression. I have no advice to give."
"You could try being a friend."
"So could you."  

The Muse screams at the void, attempting to find anyone who can hear her. She doesn't even need an epic, just someone who can pen a story.
Her echoes mock her, and she doesn't know if she can go on.  

She rested against him, the two of them quietly reading separate books. The characters in hers were in false conflict, and all she wished was that someone would write about actual love.  

"Oh, wow, this gift is just too much."
"It's nothing."
"But it's so expensive. So fancy."
"I'm not trying to obligate you to get me anything in return."
"Just say thank you and appreciate it."  

The spirits of the various holidays got together, brainstormed ideas for reviving the reasons of the season. Christmas and Yule and Hannukah and all the others celebrated by the people should not fight each other, but celebrate and feel joy!  

The Warlord traveled away from his army, surveying the lands they'd ravaged last spring.
Homes had been rebuilt, crops had been replanted, and everyone had a kind word for their friends and neighbors.
Using war to bring peace was rewarding.   

"If you could have your own stan, would you?"
"You mean a superfan who's obsessive and knows everything about me, and is willing to kill?"
"Do you have to make everything sound so awkward?"
"It's a talent."  

No one else heard it, but Chris did. Jingle, jingle, jingle. Tiny, faint, all the time, everywhere, for the last year.
He gripped the screwdriver. Time to do something about it, he thought as he grabbed his own ear.  

Krampus returned to a world gone mad. He didn't even know where to begin. People only considered themselves merry if they shopped until they dropped. Maybe coal for everyone.
Burning coal, near the drapes.   

"Oh em gee, you wrap presents like a T Rex with broken fingers."
"That's what my sense of style said."
"Well, if it's such a big deal, I guess YOU can do all the presents next time."  

"She's a miracle."
"She's so precious."
"She's the best child ever."
Josephine could never tell anyone that she'd borne a dark god's child. She accepted their compliments with a smile, cackling madly on the inside. Just wait until they saw the truth.