Eugie Foster writes rather amazing short stories. She’s won the Nebula for her novelette “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” and published a collection of short stories in a market that mostly doesn’t do that.
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 niggers, whiteman gave u freedom whiteman take it away” and “fucking 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.