A Halloween Treat

Posted by on Oct 28, 2016 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Book: Deadly Wish, Japanese Demons | 0 comments

sekiennekomataSomething scary to whet your appetite for Halloween: a tidbit from my upcoming novel, Deadly Wish! Our favorite ninja, Kata (familiar to readers from Deadly Flowers) has a spooky encounter when alone on the street at night….

This street held craftsmen’s homes: cobblers and potters, a basket-weaver, a man who made clogs and another who sold combs. One building showed the dim light of an oil lamp through a screen, with a shadow cast on the rice paper. Someone was working late. The hunched figure behind the screen rose and stretched, as if to ease an aching back.


I turned away. Time to keep moving. As I did so, I heard a soft sound from behind me, something between a pop and a crunch.


The sound of a paper screen breaking. I spun around.


The light from the house I had noticed earlier was brighter now, because two or three panels of the paper screen had been broken. And coming toward me, outlined against that light, was a shape on two legs—but not a human shape.


Oh, no. Not here, not now…


My knife was in my hand as I backed up carefully, putting distance between myself and the thing approaching me.


The creature should have been awkward, balanced on two legs, but it was not. Lithe and muscled, as tall as my shoulder, it stalked toward me, lamplight brushing soft gray fur. It let out a soft, hungry meow.


Two tails waved, helping the thing keep its balance. Its ears were flattened, its whiskers swept back; the green-gold eyes were narrow and hungry. A double-tailed cat, a neko-mata.


I’d been pleased to have finished my mission, to be out in the night, to be done acting like a timid and stupid servant girl to fool stupider men. And so I’d gotten careless. How could I have forgotten to be on my guard at every moment? Had I let myself believe that there was nothing in this darkened city more dangerous than I was.


Careless. I’d pay for that carelessness now.


The neko-mata faced me and pulled back the corners of its mouth back in a snarl. Its teeth were half the length of my longest finger.


“Mine,” it whined, an unnatural sound, human words forced out of an animal’s throat. “Mine, mine…”


Its back legs flexed as it drew itself together to leap.




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