Hour of the Ox

The oni considered the figure in white as she wobbled out of the mists, heading for the sacred tree.

“That one has the look of ‘he’s done me wrong for the last time’ on her face,” he said right before popping a glutinous rice ball the same shade of white as her robes into his mouth. He chewed it slowly. “What do you think, Fumihiro?”

“I think you had better share the mochi, Eiji,” Fumihiro said. His red, clawed hand pulled out several of the sweet treats from the bowl and gobbled them up.

Eiji did nothing to stop his elder brother from taking the mochi. He was used to it. Eiji wrinkled his snout. “I think there are toenails in that doll she’s carrying.”

Fumihiro sniffed the air. “Yes, that smells about right. She must be very close to her target.”

“Of course she is. You have to be close to someone to hate them this much,” Eiji said, looking at his brother. “And you truly have to hate someone to risk being out during the hour of the ox to cast a curse.”

The brothers watched as the woman balanced on her single pronged sandals and hammered a nail through the straw doll she brought with her, impaling it onto the sacred tree.

“Nice form,” Eiji said, nodding. “And she’s well prepared. She not only has the dagger and the mirror, she’s managed to keep the trivet with lit candles balanced on her head this whole time. There’s something to be said for doing things properly.”

“I guess,” Fumihiro said. He looked away from the woman and sucked on the ends of his matted hair, hoping to find any crumbs left from the mochi there. Finding none, he moved on to investigate his loin cloth for other traces of food.

Eiji leaned forward, tapping a claw on his red chin. He considered the woman, now screaming her desire to have her faithless lover’s heart devoured by jealousy. “There is something to be said about bad form though.”

“And what’s that?”

Itadekimasu,* Eiji said, flashing his fangs in the moonlight.




*Itadekimasu = “Let's eat”

This flash fiction piece was created for my prompt over at Poets and Storytellers United's Weekly Scribblings: Myth-placed.

Ushi no Koku Mairi by Matthew Meyer
Find more of his marvelous mythology work at Yokai.com 


Liner Notes for this Groove: Oni are a legendary ogre-like creatures in Japanese mythology. The only thing they like better than sweet rice balls (mochi) is human flesh. The cursing ritual described in the story has a basis in Japanese mythology. The ushi no koku mairi is a notorious spell, requiring several components to do correctly. It must be performed between 1 and 3 a.m., called the Hour of the Ox. This is the time when the border between the world of the living and dead is thinnest, and it is also the time when evil spirits have the most power.

Song Choice: I Put a Spell on You by Screaming Jay Hawkins

35 comments:

  1. chilly, as chilly as the straw doll the woman brought along. she must be regretting her trip out in the night.
    enjoyed this scary tale!

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  2. What a finely crafted piece of fiction - very immersive

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  3. This is deliciously dark and enticing, Rommy!❤️ The instant I read the opening line I squealed with delight as I knew what "Oni" referred to. Gorgeously rendered!❤️

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    1. LOL I'm happy you were familiar with the creatures

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  4. Wow the Oni sure will eat her up even worse a fate than her jealousy
    Happy Wednesday

    Much✏❤✏love

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    1. Terrible things have been known to happen during the hour of the ox

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  5. Some (all right, many) do go a long way to properly acknowledge those who make them feel strong emotions.

    The exchange between Eiji and Fumihiro made me think of the relationship between Crowley and Aziraphale. I can tell that those two have spend a lot time together, and probably eaten a lot of screams in the same way. But who can blame them? Bad form should never go unchallenged (or, untasted *cough*).

    Bon app├ętit. I mean, one must never forget one's manners.

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    1. I'm fairly sure it's not their first Hour of the Ox catching a meal together. :D

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  6. I thoroughly enjoyed your Japanese mythological srory, Romny. It's right up my street.

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  7. Great story telling!

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  8. Love and hate so intricately linked. This was a fantastic read. I had a bit of a giggle as he checked his loin cloth for something else to eat. (I'm always checking for the crumbs that inevitably tumble into my bra. Lol!).

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    1. LOL, it's the little details that sell a story sometimes. :D

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  9. Oh what a marvellous chilling story I enjoyed reading this Like Lori I found it amusing that he looked for crumbs especially at the end of his matted hair lol

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    1. Yeah, even when I try to go creepy, eventually I end up at a little silly. :D

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  10. ... those two might meet their match some day. But tonight it is her turn. Well told!

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  11. This is dark, Rommy. Sometimes we need to see the dark in characters like these to explain the world around us in no sugarcoated terms. I like this but does that me dark as well? Hmmm... ;)

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    1. LOL, I know that I need to let the darkness out a little in stories from time to time. I'm just glad people still read them. :D

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  12. One of my exes once cursed a work bully by stabbing a pig's heart repeatedly with knives and then burying the whole thing in a farmer's field at night under a full moon. She seemed to think it was effective.

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    1. Wow, hope you parted from her on good terms, lol.

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    2. LOL, that you are alive to tell the tale is a good sign, but I'd be careful if she ever invites you out on a full moon light 'just to catch up'.

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  13. Deliciously (sic) creepy. I loved that it was also funny and even a bit homely.

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    1. Yaaaaaaaaas. I really wanted to get those elements in there. A tiny format is super-challenging to play in, but it feels so good to pull things off.

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  14. Love this chiller. All the details you wrote into it give it incredible visuals for my imagination to feast on. Remind me to never roam far from home in the hour of the ox.

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  15. I like seeing how the promoters write, sometimes it shows their preconceived thoughts, others have nooo idea. Here I have nooo idea. BTW, I'm not familiar with Eastern mythology. Thanks for the prompt.
    ..

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  16. Chilling to the bone! Great tale and description of characters, emerging slowly, making it all the more creepy. Like "The hour of the Ox".

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