The kitchen door swung open and one of the lower-ranking guards, smiling, slapped two dead furry things on the counter.
“Oh my God, what is that?” Five screeched.
“My three-day pass, ladies,” the guard said, and sauntered out. “Enjoy.”
Valerie couldn’t tell right away even what animals they had once been. Then she remembered. Tomás and his scavenging friends had caught one in their traps and brought it to her to cook. She’d made herself watch as they hung it and stripped off the skin and cleaned it, showing her the scent glands and fat deposits that needed to be removed. Then she’d soaked the meat in brine and made stew. It wasn’t horrible. It would have been better with red wine and fresh herbs, and she’d have much preferred if it were venison, but it wasn’t bad—a definite improvement on rotting potatoes and rice.
Valerie turned to Two, who still looked aghast at what was in her kitchen. “I see we’re being given another test of our versatility. Do you have any good recipes for woodchuck?”
Two’s mouth merely opened and closed.
Valerie plucked up the carcasses, which were still warm, and took them to the back workroom, where she planned to hang, skin, and clean them, hating that she knew how. “Then we’ll use mine.”
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