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Twist Ex Machina

H.L. Fullerton lives in New York and writes fiction--mostly speculative, occasionally about gods--which is sometimes published in places like Buzzy, Penumbra, Plasma Frequency, Grievous Angel, and Daily Science Fiction.
***Editor's Note: Adult content, themes, and language in the following story***
Twist--she's head of SINdicate--goes, "Got a job special just for you. Sunburst City."
And Caps, who's known Twist ever since the first schiz, gives it the old thumbs down. Caps and the Sisterhood--them nutty religious fucks who run Sunburst--go way back and none of it's happy.
But Twist she has a hard-on for them assassin-training nuns, and knows how to push Caps' button but good. She says, "Got wind Puke's kicking it in Kowtow slice," and Caps is on the next tram there. Says she'll bleed that nun-hole dry, fuck it up, and burn it down--with Puke inside. Caps isn't crazy, but she's crazed about Puke. Her and him used to shack up till things went sideways and Puke jumped while Caps was purging some dick over in Hashla province. Caps don't talk about it, but word is he left a note and signed it with tears. Tears. And Caps being a leech--not that anyone'd say that to her face less they wanted their eyes bled out.
So Caps hails off to Sunburst and Twist giggles like a hyena in heat just thinking about Caps and them Sisters going at it. None of us thinks to see Caps ever again. No one's tapped off book in Sunburst, not in 2K years--no one but Twist would even touch that bracket. Place is home to the fucking gods. It's a goddamn fortress.
If you never pilgrimmed, here's the low on SunCit. Temple--they call it the Heart--is dead center. It's holy place, heal-up, university, orphanage, and prison all rolled into one. Surrounding it is Prayer Circle, some huge fucking cobblegait where the faithful gather to pray and purge. Stay outta there during purging hours. Up to your ankles in shit and puke. Worse if the leeches--sorry, bleeders--are working. Twelve doublewide roads splay out from the Heart, end in twelvish gates. Scale high walls circle the entire city. Plus, it's protected by gods' own assassins.
And Twist done sent Caps to FUBAR a deit.
Caps marches up to Immolation Gate, skips the whole fucking line--three days deep--and shows the guards the welt on her palm. Mark makes her a blood-boon hemorrhagic warrior--the Sisterhood's chosen ones.
Head guard goes, "Prove it." Points at some lala tribute yo-yoing above a sheet of secretion-spotted parchment. You want fast pass, you flash your skills, and in like skin. One drop on the parch and Caps be golden.
So what does Caps do? Ignores the trib and tries to pink-eye the guards--it's her trade move.
But guards are wearing shield. Which Caps shoulda figured, but was prolly so keyed about Puke she forgot and egoed up. Alarms wailing, pilgrims falling on their bellies, and Caps gets handsy with the guards. Sisters show and Caps gets the old welcome home; here's your cell, have a rot. And there's no wind on Cap for a sun's year.
For time, Twist puts on like her underwire's snapped, but days go, brackets come. Sin gets had. Then the box shows. It got a sun on its lid, big enough to go boom but not much more. Twist lets it sit on her desk three days straight before opening.
Inside's a hand.
With a welt on its palm.
Can't say it's Caps or not, but Deecee gets the idea to bury it, so's we do. Twist and us SINdicate folk gather 'round a bitty hole and drop Caps in it, then tell tale. Twist goes so far as maybe she shouldn't of riled Caps up.
Then another box arrives and another. Hands with welts keep coming, and they can't all be Caps'. Twist giggles, happy as a monkey throwing shit.
Around now, I sees Puke--in all places--Hashla. He's pale but brown-eyed so Caps didn't leech him yet. I go, How was Kowtow? and Puke gives me a look so funny I know Twist lied about Puke bunking in the slice.
Which is about when all them believers start popping pink-eyed.
Twist goes, Sounds like there's a new abbess in town. But she don't send trib. Says, Sisters don't need hands. 'Sides, Caps's not the only ex-Sis around.
More boxes show with more parts. Some are unrecognizable. Then Twist gets a crate labeled FUBAR'd Deit. Gets me to open it. Inside's a statue--some god straight from Sunburst itself. 'Cept the face beens busted up. New one carved over it. Spitting image of Caps. But the eyes…
Shit, they'd been gouged out so the deit showed through. Stuffed with bloody orbs, stringy strands of people meat crying down its cheeks like tears.
Twist just goes, Fucking Caps--and sends Puke to Sunburst City as trib to the Sisterhood's new eye-pinking godling.
Wind is, Puke's still crying blood in some Kowtow alley. Sliced up good, I hear. Don't know what happened to the statue. Wouldn't be surprised if Twist has it on ice somewheres to prove them nutty religious fucks ain't the only ones that know how to hood a god.
Heard said once good friends make the best enemies. Think maybe Twist saids it to Caps talking about the first schiz. Coulda been talking about the two of them. Maybe Twist knew it even then. After all, Twist deals in futures.
Fucking Caps? Fucking Twist.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, July 21st, 2015


This story begged, borrowed, and stole its way into existence. Sort of a symbolic amalgam of Twist and Caps--little bit puppeteer, little bit leech. It started off with an aerial photo prompt, a world created for an entirely different story, and a toss-away character who demanded a bigger, better role as well as a title of her own.

- H. L. Fullerton

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