“You like Dust.”
Craven Lorne couldn't be sure if it was a question or a statement and asking Minty for clarification rarely yielded any useful result. “Yes, of course I do,” he agreed – or answered, he couldn't be sure. “Who doesn't?”
She regarded him with her signature head-tilt. “I don't.”
Craven Lorne narrowed his eyes at her. “Really? I find that hard to believe.”
She didn't answer him.
“So, are you a teetotaller, then?” He laughed what he hoped was cruelly. “You've never tried Dust?”
To Craven's mind, the conversation had already been going on too long. There was something about that field. It was usually so deserted, so stiflingly hot, so devoid of all life except for plant and insect – humans or no, it made him almost too tired to taunt Minty, too lethargic to think about torture. It wasn't like that now. There was a slight breeze, a change in the air, and the pleasantness of the afternoon made him disappointingly unwilling to argue or annoy.
Even putting aside Craven's schemes regarding Minty's downfall, she was not his ideal conversational companion; he was made uncomfortable by their joint attempts at small talk and became even more so when their dialogue turned serious.
There was something so judgemental about her electric green eye and unwavering stare, like she was always sizing him up, like she was some kind of divinity, in charge of his fate and trying to determine how best to punish him.
He deserved punishment. He knew that. He had made some bad choices in his life, gone down some wrong paths – but so what? Everyone had. It wasn't as if he was the only raider in Nod. It was practically the only viable profession anymore. That wasn't his fault. Craven Lorne had not introduced the human race to the printing press, he hadn't given them reality TV. He hadn't provided them with Fox News and the Internet. He hadn't told them to keep breeding until there were over seven billion of them, constantly dreaming, continuously pouring their misconceptions and misinformation into his world, making his life harder. No, they had done it all to themselves. And the wars it had caused, the civil unrest, that wasn't his fault either. So yes, the world had turned ugly. People did what they had to to get by – no one could blame them for that.
“It's not as if I enjoy it,” he told Minty.
Craven Lorne stared at her. The stupid, broken rabbit doll. She had no idea what she did to him.