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Cutting Room FloorBook OneBook TwoBook ThreeThe Menagerie


This scene takes place a few scenes after the May 29th Update. I've received feedback asking about Black Cherry's role in the story, so I thought this preview might be fun to post.

Warning! Serious spoilage below!




"Dee, I don't want to belittle you're feelings and I appreciate the gravity of your situation—"


"I know," Dee said.


"—but we need to think big-picture right now, and that means the most important question is—"


"I know," Dee said again


"—where the Hell is the rest of the nanomek?" Yves finished, pinching the bridge of his nose.


"I don't know," Dee said. "But I can guess."


The tin of SRU Thickener bounced around the metal mesh child seat of the shopping cart gamboling down the Baking Needs aisle. The burning red sunrise threw crazy shadows ahead of it. "Where's all the cherry Jell-O?" the pusher of the cart called out.


A sleepy reply came from a few aisles away. "Ma'am? We don't open until six o'clock, ma'am. The front door should have been locked."


"It was," said the customer, bobbing her head to peek into various rows of instant desserts and pie fillings. "I just slipped in." She adopted a breathy, pouting tone. "I hope you don't mind. It's only a few minutes before six. Could you help me with the cherry Jell-O? Please?"


"I'm sorry," said the sleepy voice, the squeak of sneakered feet approaching the Baking Needs aisle. "Some sicko came in last night and bought it all for who-knows-what."


"Oh, really?" the early customer drawled owlishly.


"Yah, really," the husky stock boy insisted, round the bend of the aisle. "We're all sold ow-wow-huh-how." He skidded to a halt, gawking.


Black Cherry's batwings stretched high and triangular like lanteen sails, crimson blazing and black veins glistening as they drank in the dawn. Her fingers riffled through the uneven rows of gelatin boxes. "'Peach,'" she read, picking up one box. "Maybe. If I had some schnapps." She put the box back on the shelf. "Hm. 'Grape?' Probably a boozehound. 'Mixed Fruit?' What the heck is that? Oh, who am I kidding?" A wing flicked down and scooped every last box into the shopping basket.


"I'll make as many as it takes for Master," she said, plucking out the boxes of lime Jell-O from the pile in her basket and pitching them into the next row, "give him more, and more, and more until he finally realizes I'm the only one perfect for him. Or they drain him dry, I suppose, and then I'll just claim what's mine. After all," she told the stock boy, "a girl needs her minions."


"Uh," he said. "Huh?"


"Ah," Black Cherry said, ignoring him, and pulled a handful of devil's food instant pudding boxes from the shopping cart. "Not cherry, but these will do for a start. Too unoriginal, though. She'll need something more. Time to think outside the box." She watched the inky black spiral across her wings. "Of course," she murmured. "She'll be perfect. Well, almost perfect."


Black Cherry fixed the stock boy with her bottomless stare. "Do you sell paint?"


"Aisle three," the stock boy said, unblinking.


She took a step closer. "Do you sell black paint?"


"Aisle three, freezer-side left."


She stepped closer still, her wings buffeting his fair. "Do you sell black latex paint?"


"Aisle three," the stock boy said, "freezer-side left, center shelf. Just a pint or two, though."


"More than I need, thank you. Say…" Black Cherry said, giving his cheek a friendly tweak, "has anyone ever told you that you look good enough to eat?"

Cutting Room FloorBook OneBook TwoBook ThreeThe Menagerie

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