It was raining when Maebel went to hew the cyclopes from the eye-grid. She had to walk carefully, lest her feet slip on the matrix of rusty blades, throwing her to the rising cyclops flesh below. Each cyclops panted in its iron square, green and bloodshot eyes wobbling at the top, peering past the walls to a sky whose depth they could not grasp.
Today, it was grey.
The cyclopes smelled the worst when it rained. It was a bit of a wet dog smell with hints of summer sausage and garbage-dump run-off. Each cyclops murmured maw maw maw as she walked past, tiny mouths mewling for fish-heads, wood pulp and grease. But her feeding bucket was gone today, replaced with a hook and chain. She threw her leather cloak on an overhanging branch, trusting the rain to keep her clean.
Every time she started from the center, wincing as the hook sank deep into the monster’s flesh. The cyclops burped, confused. She steeled her nerves for screams. Her burly arms pulsated as she heaved the bloody chain, focusing on her breath as the cyclops began to howl. Things fell into its square all the time, morsels and shrapnel alike. But now, for the first time, it saw its walls receding, its vision taken over by a two-eyed girl against a flat and widening sky.
When the cyclops had been dragged about half-way up its pen, Maebel lashed one end of the chain to a piece of rebar and took her break. A cloud of froth and snot rose above the confused beast, mingling and floating with the day’s damp haze. It washed over Maebel, diluted, wicking into her pores as they distended to make room for sweat. It was never easy in the rain. The chain would get slippery and the cyclopes’ pheromones would ride the fog to cause a ruckus.
The cyclopes in the surrounding squares began to moan in eerie unison. They mistook the fear pheromones for their own and reacted identically, mouths twisting wide and teeth scraping the walls. Maebel unpacked her taser. It was easiest to make the divine imprint here where the monster was right at the cusp.
“I am the face of the infinite,” she recited with measured inflection. “All you perceive is my body, and what hands you will need are mine.” Then she stooped low to deliver the electroshock, arcing blue light into the cyclops’ quivering pupil.
This she repeated three times, until the cyclops stopped spreading its pheromones and bellows. She gave three yanks of her chain ’til the cyclops crept to the precipice, sides roiling against Maebel’s feet. She shocked it one last time, holding her ear close to its mouth, until she heard the maw maw maw of its hunger. She held out a single, sweaty palm. Its tongue reached demurely, lapping at the gathered salt. The creature giggled with appreciation.
She took out her paddle, and thwacked it twice on either side of its eyeball and mouth. The creature hissed, before reifying her paddle-strikes to form the stump of a head. She thwacked again at its blobbish, featureless torso, until it had flexed itself into something hand-like and dextrous.
A pillar of salt with a high golden base stood miles away from the grid. The cyclops could not see the distance, only changes in size. Fields of cabbage stretched in between. Maebel sank a hand deep into the cyclops’ nape and twisted three times clock-wise. “Move towards the pillar and pile your back with cabbage,” she whispered. “And in my name ye shall be rewarded.”
The cyclops panted through its malformed airtube before scuttling across the grate. It never looked down as it passed over its siblings, before tumbling to the fields below. There, it gathered cabbage blindly, its single eye fixed on the pillar of salt at the edge of the world.
Maebel pulled a small eyeball from the pouch on her belt, spat it down into the empty space. Red veins took root in the soil below as she spun her hook high overhead.