Eric Vieljieux edited this volume. This is maybe my favorite short story that's in print and it's not available in English. Eric returned all rights to me so I've read it aloud and you can hear me do many funny voices on a podcast.

MUST.GENTRIFY.NOW Sin Soracco copyright 2014

The edges of the winter forest sprouted a new season's wildflowers. Tall redwoods bent shivering in the gusts of a storm. Their long scruffy branches eighty ninety a hundred fuckin feet up swooned then went still again.

Karen walked the rutted road down toward the river with her dog Dancer. The sky trembled, roiling the clouds into streamers of green. "Gonna rain, hey Dancer?"

Dancer shook her big head: "Don't like rain." She didn't like the storms that shattered madly through the forest, pounding down rain. Insane trees slamming spear-branches onto their roof. Through the roof. She nosed at some fat mushrooms popping up like greasy buttons at the base of an old locust tree.

"No, goofball, they're crap. Urban dog don't know shit, huh."

Dancer moved out in front of Karen, setting her huge paws carefully. She liked living up in the forest with Karen. She hadn't seen trees or dirt until Karen slipped the chains off of her one night, whispering: "Shhh-shhh, come along, we're going somewhere you won't get beaten." It'd only been a couple months but Dancer's thick double coat had grown in glossy black, white streaks where the old scars were--she'd learned about cookies and tricks and love and slugs--

They both stopped suddenly. Dancer rumbled, growling like a Harley warming up, her hackles rose. Urban dog knows danger.

Twenty feet in front of them, a monster swathed in an orange hazmat suit dug around the base of a redwood stump flinging tiny green plants onto a black tarp.

Dancer pulled Karen back: "Away."

Karen, never one for subtlety, hollered, "Hey, fuckhead! What the hell you doin?"

The man stood up, holding the shovel in front of him like a weapon. He shook it. "I am clearing out the poisonous weeds." He unzipped the front of his protective gear, pushing back the face guard and hood, showing beady little eyes, a far too clean-shaven chin for the neighborhood. His thin tidy mouth snapped at her with teeth some dentist had sent all their kids to college on. "Nasty noxious things you people let grow around here. I like a nice place."

Again, not one to keep hold of her tongue or temper, "The hell you move up to these woods for then?" Karen stepped closer, peering at the dying plants on the plastic. Dancer tiptoed next to her.

He glared at her. "Bought this one on the internet auction." He waved the hand that didn't hold the shovel at a sad two storey wooden house at the base of a cliff. "Sight unseen. The price was right." He nodded to himself. "Fix it up. Flip it. Or do a vacation rental." Smug. "Clean up all the crap first though." He peered at her as if she was some of the crap he was going to clean up. "Keep that vicious animal away from me or I will smack it."

Dancer knew from smacking. The rumble in her broad chest didn't falter.

"The hell you are. Those aren't noxious weeds, numbnuts. Them's wild flowers." Karen didn't step closer, but she pointed. "It's a five hundred dollar fine for destroyin endangered plants, man."

"Ha. Leaves of three! It's poison oak!" He scowled in righteous indignation. "Shows what you people know. Poison oak and poison mushrooms and poisonous snakes and poison slugs and deadly mosquitos." He threw the shovel in their general direction but not quite--as if it was a threat but not really.

Karen's voice, generally low and cool, was harsh. "The hell you say. Those plants are Wake Robin. Spring wildflowers. You needa learn about shit up here, mister."

He picked up a weed whacker, rrrzm rrrzam, flipped the spinning cutter in a circle. He wiggled it but was too chickenshit to actually hit her. He said, "I am cleaning up this god forsaken neighborhood. Someone has to take responsibility for the neighborhood. You people..." He shrugged. "Filth."

"Turn off that weed wacker til you know what you're doin. Fuck." Dancer pushed behind Karen as the man swung the noisy horrible thing at them, then remembered she had to guard Karen and dashed forward. Karen hollered, "Whoa! Dancer. Heel." They backed up out of whacker range.

"Vicious dog!" He tottered, unsteady on his feet. "That dog needs to be put down." He grabbed all his instruments of destruction, clutching them to his chest. The weed whacker string snapped at his pant leg. He shrieked, "That dog attacked me! I'm calling the police!"

The wind picked up, spun the tops of the trees creaking way up where the clouds raced, but down on the road it was silent except for Dancer's growl and the shrieking of the idiot man.

Karen's lip curled. "You do that, mister. You just do that."

Spitting the words at her, he said, "Every place has to gentrify! You people can not live in squalor forever! Decent people have to live here."

Karen walked backwards a few more steps then she cut up the hillside, disappearing into the woods. "Dumb fuck. Scumsucking bastard." Karen put her hand on Dancer's head, "Nobody threatens my girl."

They caught the upper road, headed back to the cabin. Karen got more angry with every step. "Vacation rental! Fuckers don't give a shit about anything but money. Fuckin assholes think they own us."

Dancer butted her head into Karen's hip, lifted her nose, sniffing. The smell of Chinese Take-Out floated down to them. "Hey! Gina's here!" Karen laced her fingers in her dog's ruff and raced up to the front porch. "With food!"

"And dope. Here you are in pot-growin central and you never have any dope. I am the angel of civilization that you weirdoes need." Gina exhaled a thin stream of smoke from her long nose, her best Zen dragon breath. "Fuckin trees are cryin like some horror movie. What is it--every time I come up here the trees go into a frenzy." With a stare like a very large owl, she said, "I don't trust em, your trees. You know?" She handed the bone to Karen as she stretched forward to hug Dancer. "My love! Ohhh yes, you are the love of my life. Are you getting all healthy up here? Are you happy?" She glanced over her shoulder at Karen. "Or is it all too primitive for you?"

Gina had wanted to run away with Dancer way back when the dog was chained up on the cement patch down her street, but her life was way too chaotic to take care of a dog, or even really take care of her own self. In jail. Outta jail. Stupid laws anyway. Gina said, "I can only stay until the food or dope runs out, then I gotta get back to the City. Hustle my ass to make rent." Big shining grin. "Wanna come back with me? We could start up a dueling lesbo pole dancer routine? Unload a pounda pot? Hit up a museum for some ancient swag?" She peered nose-to-nose into Dancer's eyes. "Make a movie starring The Divine Dancerrrrrr!." She rolled back, reaching for the joint.

Karen flopped onto the bench. "Nah. I can't bring Dancer back there. Those people try to take her away." She looked at the two most precious people on earth, here with her. Life was good. "She just got her Companion Dog certification. Next one is the Excellent certification. Working off lead."

Gina muttered, "Oh yeah. Now that should go smoothly."

Dancer rolled over on her back, kicked her legs in the air, took up the whole damn porch. The longest tongue on earth hung out of her mouth, she squinted her deep goldy-brown eyes at them.

"Well, it better." Karen poked her dog with her toes. "Move over, goofball." She pulled a cigarette out of her pocket, lit it. Her sense of the good life shattered. "Bastard down the hill wants to call the police on her."

Gina stood up all crazy eyes. "What bastard? I'll take him apart. Nobody threatens Dancer. Ever. Again."

"Yeah. That's pretty much what I was thinkin." Karen got up. "C'mon. Let's go eat some of that city chow you brung us. We can decide what to do after we eat." Karen waved her chopsticks at Gina. "People move up here and want to FIX it all. Cut down the trees.These trees around us here are just little redwoods, the originals were like three hundred feet tall and twenty feet across. Live for three thousand years."

"I don't think I'da liked the original forest here."

They put the bowls on the floor for Dancer to lick clean.

"Yeah. Fuckin spooky." The wind picked up, made a small giddy 'woo' noise through the trees. "It feels too old. Before people." She stared out into the trees crowded around the cabin. All that could be seen were sentinel tree trunks and the fringe fingers of the lowest branches, moving. "You can get away."

"You sure got away." Gina waved her hand in a loop taking in the cabin, overflowing with books, small paintings, three chairs around a wooden table, old gas hotplate, farmer's sink and a sideboard with cups and bowls. A black woodstove crouched in the corner next to the door to the loo. There was a curtain across the other door to the bedroom. Just big enough for Karen and Dancer. Sometimes a guest.

No one else. No one permanent.

Karen nodded. "Not away enough." Karen  glared at the stove, threw another log on.

"But you're happy here, right?"

Slow smile. "Yeah. Seems a stupid long way round to come to bein happy. But yeah, I am. There's more of me now."

Gina said, "Always seemed to be a lot of you. Just most of it was invisible. Hidden. No one ever knew quite what you were up to. There one minute, gone again. A shadow on glass."

"Well shit, Gina. That's crime. I mean, you should know."

"Yeah. But I'm not some successful retired con like you." Gina made a silly face.

"You fuckin nuts, Gina, you know that?" Karen got up, went back out to the porch. "Up here it's simple. Karen. Tall woman. With a big dog. Lives in a cabin somewheres up there. Simple. Except for that fucker. She gave Dancer's soft ears a tug.

"Anyone threatening Dancer should die."

"Of course."

Gina said, "Simple's good. So how ya wanta take that guy out? Shoot him?"

"Guns are messy. Bullets can be checked. I like the story where the woman bops her husband over the head with a frozen leg of lamb, calls the police--home invasion eek!--then cooks the lamb. Serves it to the cops." Karen's mouth curled up, "Nice."

"You gotta leg of lamb?"

"Well, no. Then there's poison. Rat poison? Ugly. Besides the whole thing about poison-is-a-woman's-weapon. Always seemed creepy to me, dividing murder into male kinds and female kinds."

"You ever kill anyone?"

"Not that I recall."

"So, we gotta just make the bastard move?"

"That's the plan, I think." Karen took another toke, handed the roach to Gina.

"No. No. I'm not ready to give up on killin him. We needa think more broadly. What about spontaneous combustion?" The roach flared.

"You or him? Come on. How about turn him in for cannibalism? Replace all his clothes with pink tutus, his food supplies with canned spinach? Sprinkle some bones around."

"Cold cock him and dump him in a patch of poison mushrooms? You got them up here, huh? That'd make him nuts."

"Challenge him to a sword fight and skewer him. Pour a concrete slab for a carport over his corpse. That's sorta a local tradition. The slab." Karen leaned forward, hands clasped, thinking. "Mafia ain't got nothin on us for creativity."

"I dunno. Not stoned enough. Shit." Gina scowled. "Why is it that when we needa do something like this it takes for-fuckin-ever to figure out what to do?"

"We careful. Well, sometimes."

"Might as well go back to robbin banks."

Karen thought about that. "Did we rob banks?"

"No." Gina sighed. "No, we did not." Another toke. "Probably shoulda. Too late now."

"Never too late! C'mon. Got to take Dancer for her evening walk. We'll go up the hill and stare down on his house. Bound ta thinka somethin."

Dancer did her dancing routine, paws thumping in excitement, eyes squinched

They took the top road along the cliff edge, scrambled around and stood in the brush looking down on the fucker's roof. Gina whispered, "I'm not getting any ideas here. And them trees be groanin like they wanta come down on our heads any minute."

"Storm's not here yet. Be here in another day. Havin a tree fall on his house isn't stupid."

"Can we arrange that?" Gina looked at the swaying trees. "Stand behind em and push?"

Karen turned away, "Not exactly. But yunno, trees come down alla time. Worth considerin. Yeah."

Back at the house Karen unrolled the bedding for Gina by the wood stove. Dancer made herself comfortable on it. Took up the whole damn thing. "Goodie," Gina said, kneeling on one corner, "I get to sleep with Dancer. Yay." She wrapped her arms around the big furry creature.

"She snores."

"So do I."

"Since when?" Karen figured she wasn't going to get much sleep at all.

"Decided I didn't want to talk to anyone over coffee in the morning. Fuckem and sendem home." Gina paused. "Last resort is to snore them outta my room."

"Lovely." Karen set up the coffee for the morning and headed into bed.

After a half hour of fighting over the covers, Dancer left Gina by the fire and climbed into Karen's bed. Karen was laying on her back glaring at the ceiling beams.

Gina followed Dancer, dragging the blankets with her. "Cold out there all alone."

"I fuckin hate that man. I want him to die. I want them all to die."

Gina curled herself around the longer woman, "We'll thinka something. Got to. It's what we do. Protect our own."


Dancer stretched out the foot of the bed.

Gina murmured, "Burn him out?"

"Fire spreads everywhere, even in the rain. That's no good. Go to sleep. And don't snore."

"That's not me. That's Dancer. I don't snore when I expect to get breakfast."

"Expectations are dangerous."

Ten minutes of Dancer snoring.

Karen sat up. "Plague of fleas!"

Gina said, "Black death!"

"Black mold!"

Gina suggested, "West Nile fever."

Karen hollered, "Man eating tigers!"

Gina said, "Bop him over the head and dump him in the river!"

Karen groaned, "Fill his house with slugs?"

Gina grumbled, "Sure, Karen. We'll put the pink tutus on the slugs. Go the fuck to sleep."

Karen growled, "Can't sleep."

Karen was up first, taking Dancer out. On their return they both jumped on Gina who was still in bed, spread out to take up the whole thing. "Rise and shine city girl. We got work to do."

"Coffee." Gina's voice was weak. "Coffee. And drugs. Many many drugs. I couldn't sleep at all what with the snoring and the trees screamin and all."

"Fuck you, Gina. Coffee's ready. Get up and put clothes on."

Karen was wearing a pair of dark coveralls, a dust mask hung down below her chin, her hair was covered with a black bandana, a cigarette stuck to her lower lip. "We're goin to a shack up on the other ridge. You carry these packs and handle Dancer so Miss Goofypaws won't get her nose into shit."

"Eh? Eh? You joined the Black Block?" Pointing at her outfit.

"Me? I'm a charter member." Her smile flashed. "Anarchist before I hit puberty."

"Okay, fine. But I'm the housebreaker here."

Karen said, "This shack is forest secrets. You don't know shit."

The climb was tangled, an agony of chopping through brambles and climbing over fallen branches. Gina said, "Um, Karen. You got poisonous snakes up here? I mean, I'm generally, you know, a friend-of-all-nature that crawls or flies."

"No you're not and no we don't. Too wet and cold for poisonous snakes."

"Ah. Well. That's good." Tiny horrible bugs were cascading down Gina's back.

"Okay. Stop here, don't come any closer. Hang onto Dancer, I don't want her goin in here."  

"Where?" Gina peered into the dimness making out the edges of what was maybe a tilted shack. "Looks like it fell over? Or what?"

"Some fuckers hadda meth lab five years back. Those chemicals are deadly if you're careless. Blew themselves up." Karen shook her head. "Poor stupid bastards. We cleaned up what we could, buried what was left of the people and shit." She pointed at a small hump to the left. "But I kept this place in mind, yunno?"

Gina swallowed. "Nobody missed them?"

Karen grinned without much humor, "Nobody missed them. That's one of the good things about livin here."

"You one very cold bitch, you know that, Karen?"

Karen nodded. "Yeah." She pulled out a series of baggies. "Comes in handy." She slid sideways around a post, began careful prying with a long sharp blade. Seemed like a long time to Gina, listening to the creaking of floor boards, the shifting of what might have been the roof, the cracking somewhere up over their heads--branches readying themselves to slash down pinning them flat to the forest floor. Nobody would miss them.

Dancer pushed her big head in Gina's belly: "Pay attention to me."

Karen appeared again, held out her hand for the pack Gina carried, "This will be a good start." She shoved in several thin boards, goopy black and wrapped in plastic. She shook a couple slimy baggies filled with pooh-looking creatures. "Put these on top so they don't squish. Banana slugs for the bedroom." She shrugged, "Slugs aren't poison so far as I know but they'll creep him out."

Gina wrinkled her whole face, "We should kill him. Slugs ain't gonna do shit."

Karen said, "It becomes a habit, I think. Killin."

"How low we've fallen." Gina stretched out her arms. Dramatic. "I give up the good life. Hardly break the law at all. Except for... you know. Cut down on processed foods, white sugar. Hell, I even stopped smoking cigarettes. Well, at least while I was in County jail. Fuckers." She stowed the creepy crawlies and poison thingies in the pack. "Now look what I end up doin. Teenage mischief." She glared at Karen. "Bullshit."

"Right. Right." Karen's voice was soothing. "We'll be home soon. After dinner we'll go over to the house."

Gina said, "Thrill a minute. I can hardly stand the suspense. Slug Avengers!"

"If we come up with something that fits your advanced sense of importance, we'll do that."

"I can't believe you managed to put enough together to retire." Gina shook her head, a small smile poking her mouth. "Why do I come up here?" She staggered down the treacherous hillside. "Why do I come up here? Every fuckin time it gets weird."

Dancer bowed: "Because you love us!"

They ate the last of the noodles while Karen drew layouts of how most of the old two storey houses were built. Gina chose to work in the upstairs of the place, Karen took the lower floor. Gina muttered, "I can.not.believe.we'" They sat on the porch, smoked a joint, went over it again. Gina pouted through both recitations, didn't say much.

Karen said, "That bastard gonna be sorry he ever bought that house."

Gina sighed.

Karen dug into the cedar chest, she flung clothes onto the floor. "Dancer! Not yours!"

Dancer paused, her jaws locked around a particularly interesting pair of black jeans, looked up surprised as if to say: "Of course these are mine."

"Drop it."

Dancer spit out the jeans and wandered out to the porch, grumbling: "Not fair, not fair."

Near the bottom there were a couple bundles of dark coveralls, bag of dark latex gloves. Balaclavas. A round tin of theatrical grease.

"You kept those around just cause you a member of the Black Block, huh? In case there was a demo or small local riot up here in the woods."

Karen tossed a set of dark coveralls at her. "Now you a honorary member."

"Never was one for joinin groups."

Dancer went into her crate and put her head on her paws. Flat. She figured it would be long night.

"Bye, Dancer. Guard our house. Good girl," Karen said. "If that bastard goes out or something, we're ready. If not, we got all day tomorrow to set up something more to your liking."

"Shoot the bastard. Or we'll end up waiting, doin nothin." Gina glared at Karen. "Good thing I brought a couple days worth of dope or I'd die of boredom. Fuckin forest."

Karen smiled. "Never know. Black mold spores multiply rapidly in dark moist corners and those old wooden houses are all dark moist corners. Kill a person in weeks."

"Weeks. Right."

Karen said, "We have all the bounty of the forest on our side. Here's the slugs, and the mosquito wrigglers. Oh yeah, I got a buncha rats in no-kill traps." She tied the cages to her pack. The rats were well fed, didn't much care they were swinging around. "Here's some splinters from the meth lab that are still oozing out goo. Dunno what they're good for really, not up on the chemistry, but I thought they'd be a nice addition."

"The hell you say." Gina stowed the baggies in her pack. "I must be outta my fuckin mind." She shrugged on the pack. "For very little damn reward."

"Our wonderful company is all the reward you ever wanted."

The temperature dropped as they crept along the cliff above the house. It was so silent they could hear the rats chittering. "Noisy fuckers."

They climbed down, crawled to the side of the house.

They heard a woman shouting, "I hate this place! It's creepy, Ronnie."

Ronnie rumbled something back. There were sounds of slapping. Him? Her? His voice was loud and slurry, "You'll stay here and LIKE it."

Gina whispered, "No, no. Don't stay. Go away." She was craning to see inside like a feral voyeur. Karen elbowed her.

The woman dashed out the front door, fashionista high heels and flowy dress, pale flowy hair, "I hate it, Ronnie! Take me to the airport now."

'Now' was a high wild whine. Ronnie came chasing after her but she didn't stop. She ran to the car, grabbed at the locked doors, screaming, "I can't stand it!" She stood pressed against the car, sobbing. "The trees are ugly. The house is horrible. There's no garden--THIS ISN'T THE FUCKING WINE COUNTRY, you lying bastard!" She snapped her teeth at him as if she would bite him. "Take me to the airport."

Ronnie, grim faced, said, "No. You're my wife and THIS is what we're doing." He headed back to the house. She ran past him, slamming the front door before he could enter. It bounced back open, the glass shattered from the tacky little window, spraying at his feet. He pulled her inside, leaving the door open.

Karen and Gina glanced at each other, smirking.

The sounds of crashing came from inside, punctuated by breathless shrieks, "I hate you! I think I've always hated you."

Gina said, "Ronnie seems to have his hands full. How long d'ya think this go on?"

"Not long," Karen whispered. "Here she comes again."

The woman reappeared, holding a wine bottle. Ronnie followed, hands outstretched. She swung. Missed. The bottle smashed on the house. She flung herself at him, pummeling. Landed a good slap on his ear. Ronnie peeled her off, dropped her on the ground where she sat pouting.

She whined, "You will take me to the airport or I will scream."

"Christ. Pull yourself together, Trulia. I'll take you to the airport. You are nothing but drama all the time." He didn't help her up. "Fucking drama."

The wind picked up. There was the smell of ice in the air. The tops of the redwoods were bowing, dancing and creaking. Trulia stood at the bottom of the steps glaring. Ronnie was taking his time in the house.

Gina grimaced, murmuring, "We shoulda shot him."

He finally came out clicking the car keys, carrying a pink leather suitcase, wiping his nose and muttering, "Bitchbitchbitch." He wore a turquoise windbreaker over his pale blue V-neck sweater, pulled on matching blue leather driving gloves. Flexed his hands in a predatory manner.

Karen hissed.

Trulia flounced into the passenger seat.

Ronnie attempted a race car start, all squealing tires and breathless excitement but his clunker SUV just fishtailed along the road.

It began to rain. Icy sharp needle drops sliced through the air.

Karen said, "Let's do it. Before we track mud all through. Leavin footprints."

Gina nodded. "Meet back up the cliff soon's we're done?" Gina was beginning to enjoy herself. "Bastard left the door open? Well, thanks. Asshole."

They stepped into the living room.

It was a stage set for suburban delirium: white primer paint on the walls, skinny furniture painted white, white wall-to-wall carpet. "What was he thinking with white in the woods? The forest is nothin but dirt." A white flokati rug looked like a dead sheep under a glass top table. A baggie with some phat-bud pot lay next to a glass ashtray, couple cigars half-smoked, couple cigarette butts, roaches. Gina scooped up the baggie, smelled it, pulled out half the buds, dropped them in her pocket. She glanced at the wide-screen teevee, "Hey, Karen? Wanta teevee?"

"Not tonight."

Gina stepped around the ugly floor pillows covered with bamboo pattern microfiber cloth, went on her way upstairs.

A sleek electric fireplace inset into the wall flickered in an inane parody of warmth. Living large.

Karen headed for the kitchen. Granite countertops, chrome and steel appliances. Stainless steel sink. He'd spent some money on the old place. She ran some water, plopped the slugs in the sink. She looked under it, the old crappy plumbing was still hooked up. Everything he'd done was only for show. She slid the moldy boards behind the pipes. Like they'd always been there.

The rats dashed into the cupboards.

Karen went around outside to the door down to the basement. "Whoa. Fuckin creepy." She turned on her flashlight, the thin beam showed water snaking across the dirt floor, the downhill corner had a stagnant pool. She poured the mosquito wrigglers in there, waved her hands in mystic passes, "Thrive and Multiply! I'm outta here."

She thought she heard a crack high up in the trees.

She listened. There was a deep round bark. Again and again.

She ran into the front yard. "Dancer?" She searched the gloomy edges of the yard, frantic. The rain slammed into her eyes. "Dancer!"

The hillside began to split where Ronnie had cleared all the vegetation, hand-width rivulets poured down getting wider and muddier as the rain pounded the naked ground. There was a bang as the power line came down. The lights went out.

Upstairs, Gina turned on her flashlight, flung the last of the slugs on the bed, wiped the white powder off the mirror on the bedside table, "This shit will killyas." Grabbed the bag of coke, started down the stairs.

She heard barking.

Smashing. Crashing. Huge. Deep earth creaking rumble.

Gina hollered, "Run, Karen! Runnnnnn."

The building shifted left-right. The bottom of the mudslide slammed into the back of the house, chopsticks filled the air.

Dancer began to slide down the cliff, the mud pooling up to her hips. Karen scrambled towards her.

Ronnie's car turned up the drive, skidded to a stop. Trulia leaped out of the car screaming, "Fucking roads! Fucking trees! Call me a cab, Ronnie! This place is hell!"

Ronnie got out of the driver's seat, slow, looking up at his house in the glare from the car's headlights. "Holy crap. Trulia, shut up."

Gina bolted out the front door, jumped down into the yard.

The facade of the house was still whole, but lifted up off the foundation as if taking a final breath before collapsing.

Trulia spun around, "What? What?"

As Gina ran past Ronnie he grabbed her left arm. "Hey!"

She hit him with a right hook to the chin. "I didn't DO it, fuckhead." He went down. Gina nodded, once. "Been workin out."

Trulia spun in a circle, saying, "What? What?"

Gina yelled, "Whole hillside comin down youstupidbitch."

Trulia said, "What?"

The front of the cliff caved in, carrying trees that once stood a hundred feet tall--monsters bent on destruction, unstoppable.

Trulia backed away, turning to run.

Ronnie grabbed Trulia's leg. He wailed, "My houuuuuse!" Climbing up her body with muddy handholds he hollered at Gina's back, "You'll pay for this!"

Gina's flashlight showed Karen and Dancer trapped half way down the cliff in the middle of a ten foot high pile of branches, a river of mud and trees rising behind them.

"Bloody fuckin hell."

The tangle broke with a groan, Karen and Dancer tumbled with it down to the road where they lay in a heap.

Gina pulled at them saying, "We gotta get the fuck away. Can you walk?"

Karen, half way to standing, grinned up at Gina, "Was this a good night's work or what."

Dancer shook her big head: "Stupids."

Karen braced herself on Dancer, said, "One at a time. One at a time. We can only neutralize the ones we can get at."

They disappeared into the woods, limping shadows in the silence after catastrophe.              



ladyland cover
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ronnie's house
Trillium aka Wake-Robin
redwood forest


towering redwoods
redwood stump
banana slug