Who Lives Beneath: A VSS365 Story

I’ve been doing the VSS writing prompts on and off for a year or so now, but like most people, I tended to do separate little stories, scenes or poems. But when it came to September, I had an idea.

If you don’t know what I mean by VSS365 writing prompts let me quickly explain. VSS stands for Very Short Story and the idea behind it is give inspiration to writers each day of the year. When you write your story or poem, you have to incorporate the given hash tagged word for that day into it however you wish.

Now back to my idea. It started as an idea that I would develop into a novel; it was a very basic idea about a homeless wizard, but like with And Then I Killed Her – my latest WIP – I wrote a VSS tweet based on the word for the day, but unlike ATIKH I decided to continue the story through tweets while including the daily writing prompt.

The story has been going since the 9th of September, and I’ve only missed a couple of days. I’m finding that creating a story whilst incorporating a writing prompt word allows me for more freedom and for the creativity to flow. I never really know where a story is going, but this way of writing is even more unknown as I don’t know what the prompt for the day is going to be.

The other challenge is that obviously, with Twitter, you have a limited number of characters that you can use, so I have to fit in what I need to say with only using the 240 characters. Sometimes this is quite easy, but other times (because I need to make sure that all the punctuation is in there) can be quite tight and I have to rewrite bits to fit.

I’m going to keep the story going for as long as I can, and, depending on how it works out, I might look at developing it further into a full novel, but we’ll see what happens.

Overall I’m enjoying the process, and I just hope that my readers are enjoying it so far.

Below is the progress of where the story is up to until yesterday (I’ve taken the hashtags out). Enjoy!


The war rages beneath the ground. The shufflers fight valiantly against the overworld bosses, but it just isn’t enough; we are losing.
I rush back to my hovel, take one last look around and grab my cane. I have to use my magic. It’s our only chance.
I scuttle through the old store, avoiding the overworlder patrols. They always do the same circuit, and I have their route memorised. A light suddenly shines in my face, and I have a moment of panic before I realise who it is from the ragged breaths. John had followed.
I stand at the shore of the river. The overworlders have already destroyed the bridges to their capital. I need to find a way across. John points at something across the water. A string of lights is coming through the trees. We can’t let them find us.
We hide in some nearby bushes and let the lights pass us by. John and I decide that we should walk along the river to see what the score is; see if we can find a point to cross. Eventually, we come across a section that has stones we can use to step across the water.
We cross the river and carefully tread through the woods. The lights we saw earlier have disappeared into the mist, and we are now alone in the darkness. We walk about a mile before we come to an old wooden shack. I push the door open with a creak. Inside we find steps.
I remember something from the shufflers’ lore. It’s said that under these woods are a network of underground tunnels that lead directly into an overworld city. These steps must lead into those tunnels. With trepidation, I take my first step down the stone staircase.
Slowly we make our way down the stone steps. When we are at the bottom, we’re not prepared for the gore that we find. The floor is strewn with bodies, both of shufflers and overworlders. Something big went down here, and not long ago.
“Well, at least it’s not us,” John says.
I go to remark on how glib that sounded, but I bite my tongue.
We step across the human detritus, always keeping our eyes on the darkness in front of us. Hopefully, we won’t be down here long. I try not to breathe in the death.
To save us from the worst of the darkness, I light a torch that hangs on the wall. Once it’s alight, we see the true horror of the underground tunnel. There isn’t an empty bit of floor. John mutters that he wishes we were still in the dark. We push forward.
In the dim light, we hear something hit the concrete floor with a wet splat.
“What was that?” John says with a tremor in his voice.
“I don’t know; it could be anything down here,” I say, raising my cane.
There’s a soft, squelching sound that seems to be getting closer.
“Jellies!” John cries.
In a matter of seconds, we are surrounded by several squelching slimy orbs emitting a horrible screeching like a demonic choir.
I waved my cane at them, and a blast of fire burst from the end, hitting the first Jelly. It burst like a balloon.
After several more bursts of fire, all the jellies are defeated. The dark tunnels return to their eerie silence, with only the crackle of our torch to keep us company. With my cane still raised, John and I venture forth further underground, hopefully towards our goal.
“Do you know where we’re going, l?” John asks. His words echo around the black tunnel. He quickly puts a hand over his mouth as if he didn’t mean to speak aloud.
“It won’t be far now,” I say, adding “I hope” in my head as I light a wall sconce with a flare from my cane.
After what feels like an eternity in darkness, we reach another set of stone stairs leading up. We see the pale light of the moon streaming through the entrance. At the top of the steps, I carve my symbol – a circle with two parallel lines going through – it into the wall.
We’re about to step through the stone archway out into the forest when we hear a guttural grumble from behind us. We expedite our exit and run into the trees, leaving the noise behind us. After several minutes we stop, both out of breath. I also feel a tad nauseous.
Prior to continuing our journey, I take a minute to check my small bag of supplies. Wrapped in my knapsack, I had all manner of substances and elements that would help me with spells and incantations. I didn’t know what I was going to face, so I’d grabbed all sorts.
“Where are we going from here?” John asks.
I’m feeling a bit brash, so I just say, “Into the city.”
John’s face says it all. He doesn’t want to storm into a city full of overworlders, but I know if we don’t do something, the war will be over, and we will be the casualties.
“Okay,” John says. I can hear the trepidation in his voice. He’s always one to fret about things, but given the situation we’re in right now, I can’t blame him, even I’m feeling it.
We move forward to the bright fires of the city walls. I have no idea how we’ll get in.
As we approach the high walls, we come across a rivulet of what looks about as far from clean water as you could get. With our eyes, we trace its source and see that it’s coming from a wide pipe that protrudes from the stone.
“Well, we’ve found a way in,” I say.
We approach the pipe and see that it is covered by a metal grate. I raise my cane, steadying my aim with my other hand as a blast of freezing air sprays from the tip. After a few seconds, I lower the stick and approach the grating. One swift kick, and it shatters.
I pull John up into the pipe and look out at the crepuscular light of the waning day. We will be inside by the time it’s dark, which should help us sneak through the streets. I hope.
We trudge further into the pipe through the thick sludge, trying not to inhale too much.
After a few minutes of walking through the pipe, we hear some noises up ahead.
“W…what was that?” John says with a stutter.
Standing in silence, we strain our ears—the Sound of talking approaches.
With nowhere to go, we flatten ourselves against the wall of the pipe.
Suddenly the minimal light in the space is blocked off by a shadow from above. I carefully peel away from the wall and look up through the vertical pipe and see someone stood over the grating. Cautiously we hold our breath until the figure passes and the silence returns.
Soon we approach a ladder. We consider continuing through the pipe, but looking at John, I see he’s pale and like he’s about to vomit.
At the top of the ladder, I lift up a grate and poke my head through. I’m greeted by a sea of tombstones in the cemetery above.


That’s it for now. I’ll do another update once I have another chunk of VSS tweets.

Let me know what you think of the story. Do you take part in the VSS hashtag? How do you use it?

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