The sun was up. It had been raining for a week, and the plants did not need any more water.
Patrice suited up in leather, long gloves and shit-kicker boots, and risked stepping out onto her front porch.
She could hear sirens in the distance. She wondered if they’d cleared Main Street yet. She wondered what had happened with their “controlled burn.” She’d told them it was too wet for that. She was told them they needed to find the source, but the thing was too good at distracting them from the core.
The vines had grown up all around her fence, sealing it shut. Fruits the size of a mango hung off it, dripping tantalizingly. She could smell the magic from here. And that was the problem.
It had been a bad summer after a bad winter, and the economy was so far in the basement it was digging to the core. People were hungry. People were tired, desperate, and lost.
She grabbed a fruit, keeping the rest of her body far from the vines, and bit into it. They would not starve… if they could remember not to let the vine get them.
The vines had shown up where it was needed – abandoned lots and crack houses in the worst parts of the city. The fruit was rich, tasty, fatty like an avocado and just sweet enough to want you to eat more and more.
And then normal people started seeing the sideways world, the magical. And then normal people starting vibrating with power… exploding with power.
Patrice stepped back into the center of her yard and let the power wash over her. It was a rush, no matter how bad it was. It would keep them fed… and it would keep them happy.
It had been two weeks before the vines were found cradling the husk, barely alive, of a witch. Of a goblin. Of a werewolf. Or someone that was, as far as anyone could tell, human. The vines had been found reaching out for people, snatching them off the streets.
The fruits were richer, sweeter than they had been, and as the vines took over the city streets, they grew even tastier. Fire wouldn’t kill it; you couldn’t burn the thing without burning the city down. And it set down roots everywhere it could find dirt.
The power roiled through her. Patrice rolled her shoulders and unsheathed her machete.
They were running out of space. They were running out of time. She let power tingle down to her fingers and through her blade. She was going to chop down vines until they killed her or she reached the center.
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