“Shit.” Consia flopped down by her failed garden. “I have a black thumb. I can’t keep anything alive.” She ran her fingers through dead leaves. “Carrots! The book said they were great for kids.“
She wasn’t talking to anyone in particular – the cat didn’t care, and there was nobody else around. Her house had been isolated before everything ended; half her neighbors had died and the other half had fled. That left her and the cat. She was running out of food from her neighbors’ cupboards. “I’m going to die because I can’t grow a freaking carrot”
“You know, you could just come with us.”
That was not the cat. Consia rolled to her feet to face three men, the foremost of whom was leering at her. They weren’t skinny. That was the first thing she noticed. How in the names of a billion gods-like-rats were they not skinny when the world had ended?
The answers that came to mind seemed no more reassuring than the man’s smile.
“I’d like to stay here.”
“Well, we were going to take your food, but I guess we can’t do that. So we’ll take you instead, put you to some use. And if we can’t,” he leered, “then… Long pig gets tasty after a while.”
Consia stared at them. “Excuse me?” Her voice was steel; new, strange steel. Something was growing in her.
“I said, darling, we’re going to work you or eat you.”
“I thought so.” Not steel. Ironwood. She was standing, growing taller. “No. Go away.”
“Oh, darling, I don’t think-”
The vine that shot out of his mouth wasn’t a carrot, but it looked like it would bear fruit. Consia stretched; the yard, no, everything came to life.
The formerly-dead raspberry bush up front caught his friends. Consia glanced at the cat.
“Those are yours,” she told it. “I’m going to see to the carrots.”
Her thumbs were solid green. She figured that was a small price to pay.
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