Trixie and the Pandas of Dread
by Eugie Foster
Trixie got out of her cherry-red godmobile and waved away the flitting cherubim waiting to bear her to her sedan chair. She wasn’t in the mood for a reverent chorus of hosannas, and the sedan chair desperately needed re-springing. She felt every jostle and jounce from those damned pandas. A day didn’t pass that she didn’t regret adopting giant pandas as her sacred vahanas. Sure, it seemed like a good idea at the time. They were so cute with their roly-poly bellies and black-masked faces, but they were wholly unsuited to be beasts of conveyance. The excessive undulation of their waddling gaits was enough to make Captain Ahab seasick, and their exclusive diet of bamboo made them perpetually flatulent. The novelty of being hauled along by farting ursines in a stomach-roiling sedan chair had gotten very old very fast. But there wasn’t a lot she could do about it now. It was all about the brand. Pandas were part of her theology. If she adopted new vahanas, she’d likely end up with a splitter faction, possibly even a reformation. Such a pain in the ass.
So she’d started walking more—well, floating really, since gods weren’t supposed to tread the earth. Appearances and all.
Drifting a hairsbreadth above the pavement, Trixie pulled out her holy tablet and launched the Karmic Retribution app. The first thumbnail belonged to a Mr. Tom Ehler, the owner of the walkway and the two-story colonial house it led to. She unpinched two fingers across the screen to zoom up Mr. Ehler’s details.
Yesterday, Mr. Ehler, under the handle GodnessWins, had posted on a public forum a series of inflammatory comments in response to a YouTube video depicting a street fight. His sins were a nearly perfect fit for the specifications she’d told the app to flag, right down to the secondary parameters (Mr. Ehler’s toxic vitriol was also egregiously ungrammatical). But even reading, “yo n***rs, whiteman gave u freedom whiteman take it away” and “f**king street monkey deserved to get hang from a tree like the good old days,” only made Trixie feel tired. Where was the seething indignation? The fiery wrath and burning rage?
She knocked on the hardwood door, admiring the architecture as she waited. It was a pretty swank piece of real estate, red brick with whitewashed wooden trim. Definitely upscale.
The door opened at her fourth knock. The man glaring at her matched his profile headshot—receding hairline, thickening gut, age spots beginning to speckle his face—but she didn’t need the app to confirm his identity. Her omniscience had kicked in.
“What you want, missy? Knocking on decent people’s door this time of night?”
Trixie didn’t bother with any theatrical pyrotechnics or a “repent now” spiel. She just punched her fist into Tom Ehler’s chest and yanked out a handful of viscera. He collapsed, spraying blood and choking on his own bile. With disinterest, she watched him flail and shriek before calling down a white-hot levin bolt to finish him off.
She sighed. Yeah, it was still satisfying, ridding the world of another dickhead, but something was missing. Trixie had been a god for so long she barely remembered the time when she’d been mortal, just an earnest supplicant imploring the deities to smite sinners in the name of justice and an offended sense of Why hasn’t this asshole been horribly maimed or engulfed in hellfire yet? She did remember her euphoric rapture when the Karma Committee appeared at her door with an oversized certificate of godhood and a bouquet of burning bushes. But she hadn’t felt anything but a plodding sense of duty for a long time.
A middle-aged woman and a high-school-aged youth spilled out of the house—Mr. Ehler’s wife (now widow) and son. The woman began to sob and scream, but the boy just regarded the messy corpse of his father for a long moment before turning his scrutiny upon Trixie.
“You the god rained annihilation on my dad?” he demanded.
Trixie donned her divine aura with reluctance. “I am,” she boomed in her best holy thunder voice. She wasn’t so good with kids. On the one hand, it was wrong to smite minors. They were innocents, deserving of mercy and forbearance, blah, blah, blah. But on the other, it made her twitch, having to repress the urge to blast foul-mouthed brats into smoldering piles of ash, or at least pillars of salt.
“Guess you heard my prayers,” the boy said. “Thought the whole faith thing was a scam, but it was either religion or I pop him myself. So thanks.”
Trixie blinked. “Hold on, you prayed for your dad to get divinely served?” This was a first. Normally, the next of kin kicked up a big fuss, cursing her name and promising to blaspheme on their social networks and suchlike.
“Huh. You sayin’ you didn’t come from my prayers? Well, ain’t that random.” He scratched his head. “Yeah, I prayed. Dad was a wingnut. If Hitler were still around, Dad would’ve had him over so’s they could whip out their hate-ons and see whose was bigger. See, my girl’s a Latina, and her folks are undocumented. Me and Nydia are getting married, but Dad would’ve tried to deport them soon as he found out. You did me a solid, offing him like that. So do I burn an offering or sacrifice something?”
Trixie shook her head. “I don’t deal in prayers.” Once a god started taking requests, she ended up spending all her time answering supplicants and commenting on avowals of devotion, having to maintain a presence so her followers didn’t get resentful and disillusioned.
“That right? Go fig. I’m Roy, by the way.” He held his hand out, and after a moment, she accepted it.
“Trixie,” she replied, “of the Dark Hearts of Sunshine Pantheon.”
“Pleased to meetcha. I still wanna do you a plus, though. How ’bout I send you an invite to our wedding?”
She shrugged. “Sure.” And handed Roy Ehler her god card. It was simple, white cardstock embossed with stylized pandas and read: Shuffled off this mortal coil by Trixie, with her pantheon affiliation and e-mail address printed beneath. She hadn’t wanted anything ostentatious.
“Tight. I’ll drop you an e-vite.”
Trixie took that as her cue to de-incarnate and floated double-speed back to her godmobile. That had been a lot less unpleasant than she’d expected. For a change, she hadn’t needed her anger management breathing to keep from fiery-swording an under-aged douche. But Roy’s gratitude made her uncomfortable. She smited because it was her calling, her passion, her raison d’être, not for mortal thanks.
Whenever Trixie started descending into existential doldrums, there was one god who could always knock her halo straight. Bo-Bae was a fellow Dark Hearts of Sunshiner, had been doing the divinity gig for almost a century before Trixie’d been tapped by the Karma Committee, and was both her mentor and bestie.
Trixie parked her godmobile in a convenient cul-de-sac before fetching her tablet. Opening an invocation window, she flicked through her pantheon contacts. To her relief, the mandala icon next to Bo-Bae’s profile was illuminated.
She long-pressed the little round icon and tapped the Sacred Space option when the context menu appeared. The summoning brr-buzz sounded once, twice. On the seventh ring, it cut off. Trixie expected to hear Bo-Bae’s voicemail message inviting her to leave a benediction at the tone, but instead, Bo-Bae’s face filled the screen.
“Hey, babydoll, what’s poppin’?” Bo-Bae had eschewed her customary dupatta headscarf tonight, and her hair hung in raven-black cornrows around her face.
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
“You say that so grim-like.”
“I’m going through some lame emo crap.”
“Again?” Bo-Bae’s scarlet lips pouted in a flirty moue. “Can’t have that.” Her eyes lit with the unholy glow that always heralded tequila shots and an apocalyptic hangover. “I know what’ll perk you up. There’s this new club, Junk Yard, got some prime buffting on tap. Wanna meet up there and unload?”
“I’ll text you the link. You coming by panda chair?”
Bo-Bae laughed, a loud bray of amusement. “When you gonna requisition yourself some new vahana critters?”
“Shut up,” Trixie muttered.
Bo-Bae clicked off with another peal of mirth, as a link sprang into existence at the bottom of Trixie’s screen. The Junk Yard wasn’t far, about half an hour by godmobile—depending on traffic—less if there were asshole drivers to spur her along.
To her disgust, traffic was both congested and congenial. Drivers navigated the freeway with assiduous courtesy, cheerfully waving her onto the on-ramp with nary an irate horn or shouted expletive to be heard in the creeping, bumper-to-bumper traffic. Where was a speed demon or road hog when you wanted one?
The Junk Yard was situated in the newer section of the industrial parkway, nestled between a titty bar and a black-windowed, nameless “spa” with an around-the-back entrance. Unlike the spa, the Junk Yard brazenly flaunted its presence. An animated neon sign of a naked man with well-defined abs outlined in glowing pink blazed out front. As fig leaf and pedantic play on words—if one weren’t a hundred percent clear as to the type of establishment this was—a stylized piston and pair of gears pumped between his legs.
Bo-Bae’s unicorn-drawn chariot was already parked in the valet section, her nightshift charioteer flipping through a magazine in the prow. Trixie envied Bo-Bae’s coal-black vahanas with their burning eyes and venomous bites. In addition to not passing wind twenty-four-seven, they were multipurpose, being excellent steeds as well as chariot beasts. And they were as impressive as hell. Why hadn’t she said “white tiger” or “dragon” or even “bull” when the Dogma Depot came around? No, she had to blurt out “panda.”
The Junk Yard’s interior, in keeping with time-honored tradition, was dimly lit, overloud, and redolent of stale beer. A fluttering cherub in Bo-Bae’s regalia—black leather vest studded with silver unicorns rampant—bobbed and waved for her attention. It wore too much rouge and mascara for her taste, but the purple feather boa nicely complemented its lavender wings.
Trixie drifted after it, weaving around a raucous bachelorette party and through a clump of tipsy revelers on a boy’s night out, to where Bo-Bae lounged in a VIP booth cordoned off by red velvet ropes. A beautiful specimen of humanity—smooth golden-tan flesh, abs firm enough to do Jello shots on, and a wicked smile—bumped and shimmied in time to the driving beat atop the booth’s private stage.
“Trixie, yo!” Bo-Bae waved her over without looking up from the dancer’s gyrating derrière.
Trixie slid in beside her friend. A frosted margarita glass filled with something rime-hued and frothy appeared in her hand. She downed several gulps, savoring the frozen, citrus-coated burn as it hit her gut, and admired the view. The private stage, more a glorified coffee table with a pole, conveniently situated the dancer’s “junk” at eye level for the appreciation of those in the booth. And there was much to appreciate.
The song ended, and Bo-Bae gave the dancer a playful slap on the flank. He pouted and blew a mournful kiss as he sashayed away.
“What’d I tell you?” Bo-Bae chortled. “Prime buffting, yeah?”
The music started up again, a swell of tempo and distortion too loud to shout over. So Trixie just gave a thumbs-up and tossed back another swig of margarita.
“Anyone pretty catch your eye?” Bo-Bae’s voice cut through the noise, a minor miracle that Trixie had yet to master. “Just point and I’ll set you up, guaranteed to put a smile on your lips, if you know what I mean.”
Trixie shook her head. Another time, she’d have been tempted. Hell, another time and she’d have picked out a harem of glistening bodies to play one-up-Bacchus with.
“No?” Bo-Bae granted Trixie her full attention. “Okay, frowny, what’s up? Tell your Auntie Bo-Bae what storm cloud rained on your picnic, and we’ll blast it to kingdom cum.” She twittered at her own atrocious pun. Sometimes Bo-Bae and her sphere of consecration could get a bit over the top.
“I dunno,” Trixie yelled. “I’m just not feeling the conviction so much these days.”
Bo-Bae waved her hand, and a privacy aura cocooned them in a muted bubble. “Say what? Is this the omniscience thing again?”
Trixie grimaced. It was true that she had some unresolved kinks with her omniscience. It blazed up at random with pointless or redundant snippets of intel, and when she craved enlightenment, all she got was white noise. But she had her holy tablet as workaround, slower and less gratifying than the unadulterated rush of total certitude but way more reliable.
“I keep telling you, sweet pea,” Bo-Bae said, “Quit trying to force it. You’ll get there in your own good time.”
“I suppose. But that’s not what’s eating me tonight.”
“You not getting what you need in deitific fulfillment? Can’t go repressing yourself, y’know. Gods got needs. Start bottling up that divine fervor and next thing you know, it’s locusts and frogs all over the place. Hey, you considered upping your game, maybe going after more Osama-caliber lowlifes?”
Trixie shrugged. “I’ll fry ’em if they stumble between my crosshairs, but there just aren’t that many sinners in that weight class to change my focus. Too much work for the bang. Plus, I don’t wanna poach on Erwin’s turf. He’s got his zealous cranked way past righteous and deep into blacken-the-skies-and-salt-the-earth. Not worth a couple perkier smitings to get on the bad side of his apocalypse.”
Bo-Bae nodded, the pearl beads adorning her hair clacking in chiming syncopation. “You got a point. Then if it ain’t bigger fish you wanna cram in your barrel, what’s gnawing on your prettiness?”
Trixie dragged a hand through her hair. “Nothing I can nail to a cross, a bunch of little things, I guess.”
“Don’t blow off the little things. It’s always the little things. Gimme a for instance.”
“Well, I’m really done with pandas. Really, really done.”
Tiny crease lines appeared in Bo-Bae’s flawless brow. “Seriously? You don’t like your pandas? Sure, I rag you, but I’m just teasing, y’know. They’re hella cute.”
“Hella cute furballs of stink,” Trixie said. “They are utter fail as vahanas.”
“You just need to work with them. I mean, check out Ganesha. Poor sap lost a bet with Lei Gong and had to ride mice. Mice! But my man G totally stepped it up. You never saw a more hardcore deva than ole elephant-head come charging up on his number one mouse. Epic.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Trixie contemplated her empty glass. “I can’t muster any gusto to fear-o’god the raging tools like I used to, either. I dunno. Maybe I’ve lost my bliss.”
“Everybody gotta make their own bliss, babydoll.” Bo-Bae come-hithered a waiter in tiger-striped hot pants and matching kitty ears to refill their drinks. “Even gods.”
“Then there’s today, after I righteous wrathed some jerkwad, his kid comes out and thanks me. And, get this, he wants to invite me to his wedding. Since when does Trixie, God of Smiting, Scourge of Jerks and Dickheads, get thank youed? Next thing you know, I’m gonna have a franchise of prayer kiosks in all the shopping malls.”
Bo-Bae leered at the waiter’s orange-banded tail. “Don’t knock the prayer shtick, sugar-bumps. Sure, it’s mostly marketing and ego-boo, but there’s something to be said for putting yourself out there. I know adoration and adulation ain’t your thing, but having a direct line to your devotees can be a real pick-me-up.”
Trixie sighed. “It’s fine for you. Your worshippers are all YAOI fangirls and the LGBT crowd. ‘Course they adore you. But who’s gonna waste their veneration on me?”
“You might be surprised how many folks appreciate some chlorine dumping in the dickweed pool. I’m not only about pretty boys in g-strings, y’know.”
“Uh huh. You’re all about pretty boys without g-strings, too.”
Bo-Bae clucked her tongue. “You think I just stand around and watch while my glamboys get hate-crimed? Or my closet peeps get blackmailed? I been elbow-deep in wrathful fury plenty of times.” She tossed back the rest of her drink. “Y’know, honey-toes, vahanas and fear-o’goding and the whole godhead caboodle is what you make it.”
“I know, I know. It just seems so, I dunno, futile. For every assrat bastard I off, a dozen more step up.”
Bo-Bae waggled a finger. “Haters gonna hate. No point in keeping score. The happy comes in doing what makes you happy.”
“I do love my job, but—”
“Maybe that’s your probs. You still thinking it’s a job. It ain’t. It’s a sanctification. Don’t matter what your flavor of holy is so long as you got faith in you. You are a goddess, girlfriend, and you are f**king divine.”
Bo-Bae abruptly signaled her to silence, her head cocked in an attitude of intense listening. “Sorry, babydoll, one of my peeps is having a depths of despair moment. Gotta go talk him down. Help yourself to my tab—drinks, pole dancers, whatever you like.” A flight of lavender-plumed cherubim poofed into existence to escort Bo-Bae off. She de-incarnated with a flash, popping the privacy aura in a shower of unicorn-shaped confetti. Over the abruptly bone-rattling soundtrack, Trixie heard the whip-crack of Bo-Bae’s charioteer followed by the thunderous hooves of her black unicorns.
Bo-Bae did enjoy her crazy-spectacular exits.
A gorgeous dancer with dusky skin and hair down to his waist appeared at Trixie’s elbow with a brimming margarita pitcher. Trixie had a weakness for men with long, black hair. She let him refill her glass, and when he leaned down to whisper naughty promises of wicked deeds in her ear, she smirked. Why the hell not?
Trixie woke the next morning to a ray of buttery sunlight spearing from the heavens, straight into her eyes.
“Apollo, you asswipe,” she groaned and flipped him the bird.
Contrite cherubim hastened to draw the blinds as dim memories of doing body shots on a steady progression of ripped hotties percolated through Trixie’s Armageddon of a headache. Also, a bone-deep craving to rip the smug sun god from the offensively blue firmament. But that would require her to look upon him again. Damned devious sun.
With a transcendent effort, Trixie called forth a miracle to annul her hangover. In the space of a moment, she was mostly resurrected, snatched from impending martyrdom. However, headache banishment notwithstanding, Trixie remained in a foul mood.
Her tablet jingled.
After a haphazard rummage, discarded clothes and empty liquor bottles flung about in her wake, she found it propped against one of her four-inch sling-backs. The latest notification displayed an incoming e-mail pop-up. She’d also missed half a dozen Karmic Retribution alerts, a text from Bo-Bae, and a forum reminder of the Dark Hearts of Sunshine ice cream social next fortnight. Dismissing the app notices, she read Bo-Bae’s text (Home now, drama handled. Is the Junk Yard sick or what?) and opened her e-mail. To her surprise, it was Roy’s wedding e-vite. That was fast. She’d expected a delay, what with the funeral and all. Her omniscience sputtered awake and pinged her with the incontrovertible surety that Nydia was pregnant. Well, that explained it.
She rose to unleash her ire upon the world’s dirtbags and dickheads.
In the following days, Trixie emailed Roy her RSVP in between obliterating a sadistic elementary school PE teacher and blighting a soccer mom texting in traffic; picked out a wedding gift (a tasteful flatware set) after unraveling the intestines of a community garden vandal with a salad fork; and dithered over her dress—the frilly burgundy taffeta or the sapphire blue strapless?—while liquefying a train groper’s spine. (She decided on the burgundy taffeta.) And finally, as she ruptured the spleen of a drunken frat boy hollering movie spoilers in a theater, she debated whether to sport her divinity openly at the ceremony or conceal it.
On the afternoon of the wedding, she steered her godmobile into the parking lot of the tiny wedding chapel, still undecided. The chapel was consecrated to Pomona, God of Weddings and Wedding Planners. Trixie found Pomona to be a vacuous god, way too preoccupied with designer shoes and cake. But hey, Pomona wasn’t in her pantheon; who was Trixie to judge?
Also, due to a spur of the moment smiting (Trixie’s Fourteenth Commandment: Thou Shalt Give Way to Disabled Folks on Elevators, or Else), she was running late. More eleventh-hour impulse than mindful resolve, Trixie tucked away her divine aura, cloaking herself in mortality.
At the chapel door, an earnest young man in a rented tuxedo darted up to bustle her to a seat. The undignified pace didn’t permit more than flashbulb impressions: Mismatched decorations that highlighted the chapel’s paucity. Baby’s breath and honeysuckle wreaths over grimy windows. Dingy lace garlands draped across worn, wooden pews. Further consequence of her tardiness, she had to sit uncomfortably near the front, wedged between the pew end and a sullen-faced little girl with golden curls.
The moment Trixie plunked down, the organist began the opening chords of the bridal march, signaling everyone to rise. Trixie sighed and stood back up.
At the back of the chapel, an embroidered curtain parted and Nydia emerged, completely eclipsing the shabby decor and squalid surroundings. Shyly resplendent in white satin and lace, a soft smile lighting her face, she was lovely and serene and joyful. She stepped light as a doe down the aisle, still willowy despite her delicate condition. By the altar, Roy watched her with single-minded adoration. Enthralled, Trixie almost missed the cue for everyone to sit back down.
She perched on the wooden bench, less uncomfortable and more cozy than it had been before. Really, this spectacle of young love would be enough to warm the heart of even the most cynical god of wrath. That is, if said god didn’t have some ill-behaved sprog next to her getting on her nerves.
The little girl stared at Trixie, kicking her feet, bright eyes hard and suspicious.
Trixie glowered back. “What? Do I have something on my face?” she hissed.
“You floated,” the girl said, her hushed tone accusatory. “I saw you.”
Damn. She’d forgotten to switch off the holy levitation. “Yeah, so what?”
“You a witch? Witches ain’t allowed in church.”
“You see a flying woman and first thing you think is ‘witch’?” Trixie received an admonishing look from the next pew over and lowered her voice. “Why not fairy or angel or god?”
The little girl screwed up her face. “You can’t be them. You can be a genie, I suppose, but then you have to give me three wishes. I want a new PlayStation, a pair of real diamond earrings, and a pony.”
Mercenary thing, wasn’t she? “I’m not a genie.”
“Then what are you?”
Trixie rolled her eyes. “I’m a god. Now shut up and quit kicking your feet.”
The girl kicked harder. “Liar. You’re trying to cheat me of my PlayStation.”
Trixie took a deep breath. “Didn’t your parents teach you not to mouth off to a god?” she gritted.
“You’re no god. Can’t be.”
“And why’s that?”
“You ain’t white.”
Trixie felt her polite mask beginning to crack. “You think all gods are white?” She exhaled slowly. Calmblueocean. The girl couldn’t be more than nine, an innocent child parroting what her s**t for brains elders said. Calmblueocean. And this wasn’t her holy turf. Calmblueocean. She needed to back off, turn the other cheek.
“Everyone knows darkies and colored gods are fakes or devil whores. So you better quit lying and gimme my wishes, or I’ll tell everyone you’re a witch and they’ll burn you up.”
The last of Trixie’s good intentions shattered into jagged little shards. Cheek-turning simply wasn’t her gospel. She was more the eye-for-an-I-blow-your-head-off type. Her divine aura erupted from her in a dazzling starburst of fury.
“Enough!” she roared. “I am Trixie, Scourge of Assholes, God of Smiting. Behold me and—”
A screech cut her off mid-tirade. “You get away from her, you filthy devil-spawn!”
Trixie whirled. She’d been working up to a glorious pinnacle of wrath, a truly magnificent fit of righteous indignation. Who dared interrupt?
It was Mrs. Marissa Ehler, the mother of the groom (recently widowed).
“It’s bad enough that sperm-burpin’ gutter slut conned Roy into marrying her,” Mrs. Ehler shrieked. “Now the slutbag what did in my Thomas dares to show her face on hallowed ground?”
“Silence!” Trixie clapped her hands, and Mrs. Ehler’s mouth sealed shut. “I was merciful before. I let you live, gave you a chance to repent. But you have learned nothing!”
Trixie raised her arms and glared at the cowering child at her feet. Flush with the glory of her godhead, Trixie commanded the cosmos to bequeath its wisdom, and the cosmos obeyed, imbuing her with omniscient grace.
“Caley Alexis Ehler,” she boomed, her voice resonant and clear. “You are a vicious, self-centered little girl, taking pleasure in demeaning the weak and less fortunate. Your mean little spirit will ripen to that of a mean little woman’s, without compassion or kindness, doomed to an existence squandered in petty bitterness and perceived slights. A merciful god might look deeper, searching for a spark of decency or an iota of goodness in you to kindle. A just god would leave you to your fate, deeming your self-wrought misery punishment enough for this lifetime. But I am not a just god, and I’m sure as hell not merciful.”
Trixie flung her hand down, engulfing the little girl in a white-hot conflagration. In an instant, all that remained of Caley Alexis Ehler was a smoking hole in the threadbare carpet.
“As for you, Marissa Ehler,” Trixie swiveled to the red-faced widow. “Your sins—” she paused, scowling. “f**k it. You’re a stupid bitch, m’kay?” And she razed her to smoldering embers.
Trixie looked out upon the assemblage—standing, sitting, or kneeling in various attitudes of shock and horror. “Hell, most of y’all are s**tty-ass human beings.”
She slammed her fists together, and a white-hot inferno howled through the chapel. Bathed in fire, Trixie loosed the divine might she had, until now, not realized she’d been keeping leashed. She howled, exulting in the glory of her wrath, reveling as she sundered the unworthy to ash. Intoxicated and delirious, Trixie finally got it. She understood what Bo-Bae had been trying to tell her. Raised above the clay to be immortal and supreme, yet Trixie had been inhibited by mortal sensibilities, diminished by the meaningless dregs of insecurity and doubt. Well, she was so over that. She was a f**king god, and she would nuke the s**t out of anyone who pissed her off.
Panting, Trixie lowered her arms, and the flames snuffed out.
As she’d willed it, within the heart of the holocaust—alongside shrill red torches that used to be assembled dearly beloved—Roy, his bride, and nearly half the bridal entourage remained unscathed. (Briana, the maid of honor, could’ve gone either way, but Trixie had tossed her a bone. She was the maid of honor, after all.)
“Feel better, babydoll?”
Trixie spun, her fiery eyes skimming over the huddled survivors to find Bo-Bae leaning casually with arms folded against the scorched chapel wall.
“Didn’t see you there,” Trixie rasped.
“I was in the area when one of my peeps gave out a big ole ‘Bo-Bae preserve me!'” She pushed off the wall, revealing the shivering boy crouched behind her. Between childhood and youth, he was lanky as a colt in his borrowed tuxedo, but despite the ill-fit of his clothes and the fading bruise beneath one eye, the delicacy of his features and the promise of beauty were evident.
“‘S all right, Shandy,” Bo-Bae coaxed. “No call for you to quake and quail. You ain’t Trixie’s type.”
“Hiya,” Shandy mumbled, his eyes glued to the floor.
“Didn’t I say you needed to release some of that pent up wrath-o’goding?” Bo-Bae said. “Do you good, letting it out, didn’t it?”
Trixie stood over the charred remains of Caley Alexis and Marissa Ehler and grinned.
“You feel it in your gut now doncha, babydoll? You ain’t the judged no more. You’re one of the judges.” Bo-Bae linked her arm through Shandy’s. “See you at the ice cream social, yeah?” And they de-incarnated in a spray of unicorn confetti.
Trixie turned back to the wedding party. She surveyed the wrecked chapel and made a mental note to send Pomona a fruit basket and maybe a pair of next season’s Manolo Blahniks. But for now, she had one more item of business.
“Roy and Nydia?” she called.
The bride stepped forward, the groom a half-step behind. Despite the fear in her eyes, Nydia lifted her chin, defiant. Oh, yes, Trixie liked her.
“I now pronounce you man and wife,” Trixie said. “Sorry about the mess. Send me the bill.”
Nydia and Roy exchanged uncertain glances.
“I was set to give you some lame-ass flatware,” Trixie continued. “But instead, I bestow upon thee three blessings. One, for your unborn daughter, a bounty of virtues. She will be bright and badass and as beautiful as her mother. Two, in lieu of the asshole grandmother and grandfather I rid her of, I pledge to be her godmother. If your daughter ever has need of me, I will hear her prayers and come. That cool with you?”
Roy cleared his throat. “Yeah, totes.”
“Good. And three—” Trixie faltered, her inspiration run aground. Whose stupid idea was it to package these things in threes, anyway? “And three, um, I bless you with a pony.”
Nydia beamed. Roy blanched. The pony blinked.
In hindsight, she probably should’ve gone with the PlayStation.
“Right, I’m outie.” Trixie snapped her fingers. Her sacred pandas manifested with a pressure-change pop, bearing her sedan chair between them. They bowed in unison, a foreleg outstretched.
Charmed, Trixie scritched the lead panda’s fluffy, black ear and contemplated her vahanas. When she was ready, she issued a ringing Let There Be, and majestic ebony wings unfurled from their shoulders.
“Who’s a good boy, Pablo?” she cooed. “Who’s a good boy? Let’s go get some nummy bamboo shoots and a gallon of Gas-b-Gone, ‘kay?”
Pablo snuffled his approval.
On cue, a trio of black-masked cherubim alighted from the ether and bore her to the newly sprung seat.
Trixie took up the waiting reins. “Up Pablo, up Pierre, up Pavel, and Bert!” she called. “Up thou splendid pandas of dread! Fly my beauties!” And borne upon mighty panda wings, Trixie, Goddess of Smiting, Scourge of Jerks and Dickheads, ascended into the heavens.
About the Author
In her own words:
I grew up in the Midwest, although I call home a mildly haunted, fey-infested house in metro Atlanta that I share with my husband, Matthew. After receiving my Master of Arts degree in Developmental Psychology, I retired from academia to pen flights of fancy. I also edit legislation for the Georgia General Assembly, which from time to time I suspect is another venture into flights of fancy.
I received the 2009 Nebula Award for Best Novelette [for for her novelette, “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast,” ], the 2011 and 2012 Drabblecast People’s Choice Award for Best Story, and was named the 2009 Author of the Year by Bards and Sages. The Dragon and the Stars anthology, edited by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi, with my story, “Mortal Clay, Stone Heart,” won the 2011 Aurora Award for Best English Related Work. My fiction has also received the 2002 Phobos Award; been translated into eight languages; and been a finalist for the Hugo, Washington Science Fiction Association, and British Science Fiction Association awards.
My short story collection, Returning My Sister’s Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice, was published in 2009 and has been used as a textbook at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of California-Davis. Check out my fiction index for a list of all my published and forthcoming works.
I’m a voting member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), the non-profit writers organization founded by Damon Knight in 1965 and presenter of the Nebula awards.
Eugie Foster died on September 27th, 2014 of respiratory failure related to Lymphoma at Emory University in Atlanta. Her story, “When It Ends, He Catches Her,” published the day before her death, was nominated for the 2015 Nebula Award.
In her memory, the Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction (or Eugie Award) celebrates the best in innovative fiction. This annual award is presented at Dragon Con, the nation’s largest fan-run convention.
The Eugie Award honors stories that are irreplaceable, that inspire, enlighten, and entertain. We will be looking for stories that are beautiful, thoughtful, and passionate, and change us and the field. The recipient is a story that is unique and will become essential to speculative fiction readers.
About the Narrator
Mur Lafferty is the co-editor and co-host of Escape Pod.
She is an American podcaster and writer based in Durham, North Carolina. She is the host and creator of the podcasts I Should Be Writing and Ditch Diggers. In the past decade she has been: co-founder/co-editor of Pseudopod, founder of Mothership Zeta, editor or co-editor of Escape Pod (where she is currently).
She is fond of Escape Artists, in other words.
Mur is the 2013 winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.