Petals of the Rose
They drive down to the Shelter. The knuckledragger that took them to see Lucinda previously tells them that they can probably find the woman called Maggie in the garden. Going outside to the adjoining garden fenced in next to the building, they find her.
Maggie Mossmeadow is very much like one might conceive a dryad; her skin has a woodgrain to it, and her hair tangles with leaves. Moss takes the place of her eyebrows and collects in cracks in her skin. She wears an ill-fitting sweater and a long skirt. She’s tracing her fingers against the bark of a tree as she walks around it in circles when they approach.
Shika and Waconda begin to ask her questions, and her answers are vague and elusive. She obsesses over plants in the way she speaks. Shika asks, “Do you know someone called Demetrius?”
“I know a pale man in a suit. He talks to me sometimes.” Jacob comments that that could easily be Oleg.
“What does he talk to you about?”
“He asks me how my day was.”
“And what do you answer?”
“If the sun was shining, I tell him I had a good day. If it was not, I tell him it was bad.”
The questions continue, and grow less and less related to the actual investigation. Shika is intrigued by Maggie’s delusions, and it’s detrimentally affecting her queries.
Waconda grows tired of waiting, and steps up to ask, “So do you know Demetrius or not?”
“Yes. I know that man.”
“He’s a bad man. He was going to take me back.”
“Finally, getting somewhere.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you. You’re like him.” Maggie is growing very agitated now. “You’re trying to take me back!” She backs away from them. Dim lunges forward to grab her. Before he can, she pushes her hands out at them, and all of the vegetation of the garden goes crazy, growing instantaneously to choke the area. The motley is bound up in thorny rose bushes, hanging tree branches, and waist-high grass.