Silver is superstition- but garlic holds power.
It was a very bad haze season, this year. Her neighbours were prone to blame her, owing to her ‘unnatural’ status as the boy who was a girl.
The haze knew, though. They knew when her body didn’t match her soul. It was proof enough for some, but others… Well, there was a reason she was headed to an Aunt’s house.
The sun was going down and there was no time to double back for her silver jewelry. Aunty Car had a spare set, but… the sun was going down and she wasn’t nearly there yet and all she had was a basket of assorted garlic products. Raw, roasted, pickled, and cream of garlic soup in a thermos that had chill-sealed itself irreversibly shut.
Men who knew her watched her running past, Ladyflame™ in one hand and the pack in the other. They all had bigger flamethrowers but few even readied them for her protection.
She should have expected this. Verification from a swarm of bloodthirsty insects was not proof enough for people.
Danny could hear the insistent buzz of the gathering swarm. Aunty Car lived a lot closer to the mines. She had flame fences and a basement safe room with supplies for months. All Danny had to do was get there before the haze descended.
If only she’d remembered her silver!
Flamethrowers roared behind her. Not enough to really protect her. Not enough to put confidence in her heart that she was going to make it.
They were right behind her!
Danny whirled, throwing the garlic basket at them and readying her Ladyflame™ as she continued moving towards Aunty Car’s. There was less fuel in a Ladyflame. She had to wait until they were almost on top of her before letting fly.
The swarm ricochetted the basket back towards her and the recalcitrant thermos spilled its load of garlic soup at her feet, and all the other garlic products around her.
The haze… rippled. Like waves on the ocean, it advanced on her and retreated, like it wanted to devour her, but couldn’t get near. Silver was meant to have this effect, but she didn’t have so much as a link on her.
It had to be the garlic.
Hypothesis. Experimentation… Danny grabbed a bulb of roasted garlic and flicked its gooey contents towards the swarm.
The bugs it hit died on contact.
This was going to revolutionize combatting the haze.
She smeared herself with the rest of the garlic, all over. Every inch she could reach. Re-oriented herself towards Aunty Car’s, and cleared a path with her flamethrower.
All she had to do was get indoors, and get safe, and survive.
She’d survived one swarm. She could do it again with another.