“What’ve we got?”
“Sir, two suspects, one female, one male, standard smash and grab. Took diamonds, nothing else.”
“Cashier said the woman had funny eyes. Like the song-”
“Kaleidoscope, yeah. And?”
“Fired light-blasts. Took out two cameras and a wall.”
“Sounds like Lucy Laser-eyes. It’s her style. What about the guy?”
“No ID yet.”
“Right. So … it’s Lucy and this guy, with diamonds.”
This post was written for the Chimera 66 challenge by Grammar Ghoul Press. Superhero fic never gets old. :)
Splat went Madeleine on the ice. She said a few choice words, words that wouldn’t have been appropriate had she still been at the gates of heaven. She wasn’t there anymore, unfortunately. Gaseous Girl had arrived in hell.
She had hoped to arrive in more dramatic fashion, kicking open a giant iron door, maybe blasting her way through a line of demons, that sort of thing. But St. Nicholas had merely shoved her through a hole in a cloud, and next thing she knew she had landed smack on her face in a vast icy plain. Madeleine had read her Dante. She knew where she was: Circle Nine, the lowest point of hell, a frozen lake in which traitors were eternally buried. The question was, why would Evil Madeleine be down there?
A standard supervillain could commit a lot of acts of theft, like smash-and-grab bank robberies, or stealing priceless diamonds to power one’s freeze ray. But thieves landed up in Circle Eight bitten by snakes and lizards, not Nine in the frozen lake. Madeleine wondered if she should try climbing up to Eight and looking for her alternate. But suppose she wasn’t there? Had she landed in Seven, the river of blood in which murderers were forever plunged? Madeleine shuddered to think that she might have been responsible for a murder. Given her flammable powers, whoever her evil self had killed had probably not died happily.
Then she heard a hollow voice call her name. “Hey…” the voice gasped. “Madeleine….help…” She turned. There was her evil self, locked fast in the ice, her head just barely sticking up like the world’s creepiest potted plant.
“Ah,” Madeleine said. “Figures. Who’d you sell out?” She looked round, trying to estimate where in the lake they were. “Your head’s out, so you’re not a traitor to a benefactor, or a guest…so either you betrayed family, or your country. Bet it’s America, isn’t it? I stopped a terrorist group just last year. Got a medal for it. You probably helped them. You would. ”
“No…” Evil Madeleine whispered. “It’s not that. It’s probably Evan. That’s what the snake at the front said, anyway.”
The good Madeleine was confused. She hadn’t had a relationship with anyone named Evan. She hadn’t had a relationship with anyone, really. The closest she’d gotten had been her high school boyfriend Ben, and he had cheated on her with Lizzie Dern-
Suddenly she knew. Ben had been one of those people who went by their middle name. His full name? Evan Benjamin Wizowsky.
“Oh my God,” she said, ignoring the irony of using that exclamation in hell. “You cheated on him. Not the other way ’round.”
“Yep,” Evil Madeleine said, giggling faintly. “With Lizzie’s boyfriend. Kyle. Oh, Lizzie was so mad. Like, raging mad. Then I broke a Botticelli painting over her head. That was fun. Little pieces flying, fragmenting everywhere….the painting, not her head. Though her head wasn’t in too great a shape either.”
“So that’s it,” Good Madeleine said. “You betrayed your boyfriend, which is more or less like betraying family, boom, frozen lake.”
“Yep.” Evil Madeleine giggled again. “And then I cheated on Kyle with Will, and then on Will with Jordan, and then-”
The good Madeleine was half appalled, half envious. Evil Madeleine had a way more eventful love life than she did. On the other hand, who was in a frozen lake and who wasn’t? “Yeah, okay,” she cut in, “Let’s skip the recap and go to the finish. Thing is, I’m here to get you out.”
Madeleine sighed. She hated the explaining part. “Somehow you broke reality, made all the alternate versions of us come together, probably collapsed the universe. I’ve got to fix it, only I can’t do that if you’re stuck in hell.” She wondered if she could just burn her evil self out of the ice. Then she glimpsed movement across the lake. All of a sudden Madeleine reflected that the current management of the place might not want to let Evil Madeleine go. “”Oh, joy,” she sighed. “This is going to be fun.”
Sal “Skipper” Carmine was an immensely practical otter. When an associate on Verin Prime told him of a way to enchant certain valuable objects so that they could always be found again, he didn’t stop to question it. He didn’t care whether it was really magic or tachyon particle displacement theory, so long as it worked.
He was careful, of course. Use a trick too often and people start figuring out how to beat it So he only used it on objects that were especially worth protecting, like for instance, the Orb of the Whangdoodle.
The trick worked, all right. If anyone anywhere so much as breathed the Orb’s name, two seconds later Sal Carmine would be there with a fully armed battle cruiser. This usually discouraged people talking about it.
He was unpleasantly surprised when he learned that someone had broken onto the casino starship Charlotte’s Moon intending to make off with the Orb. There was only one response. Blasting the starship itself into atoms, while unfortunate, would also deal with the upstarts who thought they could steal his stuff.
The starship reeled across the bridge’s viewscreen. Sal coldly watched it go. All at once his first officer, a water vole of considerable criminal enterprise, approached him with a distressing report. It seemed someone had gotten aboard the ship. Sal nearly shot the water vole out of irritation, but thought better of it. Reliable associates were hard to come by, lately. Instead he turned to the viewscreen and punched in a command. To his astonishment, he saw a figure he recognized. Sal almost smiled.
Mr. Stamper had a very simple plan: blow up the ship. A grenade in the engine room, a big kaboom, a warp core breach, and that would be that.
Unfortunately the battle cruiser came equipped with top of the line internal teleporters. Energies flared around him. Quite suddenly he was on the bridge, whether he wanted to be there or not.
Sal Carmine rose from the captain’s chair. “Mr. Stamper,” he said. “Let’s be reasonable about this affair. We’re otters of sense, you and I.”
“Reasonable,” Mr. Stamper said. “You killed Natasha. Blew up her moon. That sound reasonable to you?”
“Which moon was that? In the course of business…you understand… nothing personal…”
Mr. Stamper glared. “Luca Three.”
Sal Carmine blinked. Several pieces came together. He turned to his water vole, and spoke a rapid sentence. The vole slid a data chip into a computer, and a picture flashed across the viewscreen.
It looked like her. So much so that Mr. Stamper almost believed it was. But… he knew that spaceport. She had never been there. Not with him. And she didn’t like Swirling Supernovas, she’d said so. “Who…”
“Mr. Stamper, perhaps you know my daughter, Bianca.”
This story is part of the Angel and the Space Otter serial. Thanks for reading!
Doyle, the consummate burglar, had thoroughly scoped the place. No alarms, no dogs. Just a mom and dad, a kid, her insect collection, her guinea pig. Easy.
He got as far as the yard. Then, something tiny and squeaky blurred in his peripheral vision.
The police never did find out how all those wind chimes had been crammed into such a painful place.
But Quicksilver knew.
This story was written for the Grammar Ghoul Press Chimera 66 prompt. Credit for Quicksilver the Amazing Magnetic Guinea Pig goes to EagleAye and his own entry for the Chimera 66 prompt, “Never Leave Him Behind.” EagleAye suggested that Quicksilver might be a good pet for Gaseous Girl. I quite agree, and appreciate his permission to use the character. I expect we’ll be seeing more of Quicksilver. :D
The starfighter dissolved in light. Madeleine’s world flared. Then everything went dark. Gaseous Girl was pretty sure she had just died, again. This was getting old. She wondered if she would be a ghost floating aimlessly in space again, and whether Evil Madeleine would also be around. She did not look forward to spending eternity floating around in space with her evil counterpart.
Fortunately, she didn’t have to. This time there was a bump and a flash of golden light, and suddenly she found herself standing on a cloud before a set of shining white walls. “Ah,” Madeleine said, somewhat pleased. “I made it to heaven. Huzzah.”
“Not quite,” said a voice.
Madeleine turned to see who it was, and her mouth fell open in shock. “Santa?”
“Who were you expecting, Finn McCool?”
“No. Why would I be expecting a legendary Irish giant? I was hoping for Saint Peter, actually,” Madeleine said. “Tradition, and all that.”
“Peter,” said Nicholas, “handles ordinary arrivals. Your case is somewhat…complicated.”
“I’d imagine so.”
“And I’m not really Santa, I’m Saint Nicholas,” he went on. “You people never did get that right. And I don’t fly reindeer, or deliver presents to millions of children all over the world every Christmas. It was three bags of gold, down a chimney, one time, so one poor father could pay his daughter’s dowries. There were never elves.”
“There go my childhood illusions,” Madeleine sighed. “Right, well…back to me. Why am I complicated?”
“Because,” Nicholas explained, “you technically don’t exist. You were erased from time. And if you were never born, you can’t exactly have died, and…”
“Look, I’m here,” Madeleine said. “I don’t know how I got here, but I’m here. Can’t you sort out the theological explanations later? I want my harp and fluffy cloud.”
“There’s an even graver problem. You’re Madeleine Prime, so to speak. For every choice you make, another Madeleine exists in another world who made the opposite choice. If you don’t exist, none of the other Madeleines will exist either. Once you were punched out of reality, as it were, you left an awful hole. Reality,” Nicholas said grimly,” does not like having holes punched in it.”
Madeleine sank down on the cloud, burying her face in her hands. “Lovely. So how do I fix it?”
She expected Nicholas to assign some sort of task, probably very difficult, almost certainly messy. She did not expect him to say nothing. A long pause ensued. “Nick?” she said. “How do I fix it?”
“You assume that you can.”
That was not what she wanted to hear. “Look, I know it’s a time thing, and I’ve said before I hate time things, but even time things are fixable. Remember the Dark Earth Crisis of ’09? Remember when the Red Guardian tried to go back and change the War of 1812? Or that thing with Julius Caesar and the lasers? Been there, done that, hated it, still fixed it.”
“This isn’t just what you call a time thing,” Nicholas said. “This is a….reality thing. All the timelines could collapse. Every universe, everywhere.”
“Can’t the Big Guy fix it?” Madeleine said, motioning towards the Pearly Gates.
Nicholas shrugged. “Naturally. For example, he could wipe the slate clean and start over. But that seems a bit drastic. He’d prefer it if you worked out the problem yourself. Show initiative, so to speak.”
“I don’t get it,” Madeleine said. “You just said I couldn’t fix it.”
“No, you can’t… but another you can. And you can fix what you did.”
For the first time, Madeleine was glad she had died; otherwise she just know she’d have a splitting headache from all this. “You want to explain that, Nick?”
Nicholas said, slowly and patiently, “You, yourself, Madeleine Prime, are not the one who caused the breakdown in reality. But someone else did. Specifically, the evil version of yourself. And what she did, you can undo.”
Madeleine almost smiled. “Okay. That makes sense. So I just have to track down my bad self and stop her. You wouldn’t happen to know where she is, would you?”
“Yes. But you might not realize what finding and confronting her means. She was on your starship. So she has died as well. And while you went here, she went to…the Other Place.”
“Oh….dear, ” Madeleine said. She didn’t think it would be appropriate to use a stronger expletive at the gates of heaven.
This story was written for Grammar Ghoul Press and the Mutant 750 challenge; it is also a further episode in the ongoing adventures of Gaseous Girl. Who, one of these days, will require a theme song. I will have to work on that.
There is an art to faking your own death. For one thing, you can’t actually die. This part is crucial. It is also difficult to do. You want to arrange affairs so that your fake death appears convincing, but if it becomes so convincing that it turns fatal for you, the whole exercise becomes pointless. The key problem, of course, is the body. A body is the ultimate convincer of a death; but if you’re not actually dying, you obviously won’t have left a body for people to find. Without an actual body, people tend to be skeptical that you’ve actually gone and joined the choir invisible. Therefore, the ideal fake death is one where you’ve “died” in such circumstances that everyone knows a body would be irrecoverable. For instance, if a moon you were known to be living on has been disintegrated from orbit, everyone assumes that you were disintegrated with it.
A second problem is an escape plan. The problem with using a moon’s destruction to fake your death is that there needs to be evidence you were on the moon when it blew, but of course you don’t want to be on the moon yourself (see above). A good solution here is to arrange some sort of time-delayed transmission from your lunar-side quarters to someone else off-world. An especially elegant touch is to time the transmission so that it is interrupted by the explosion. Whoever’s watching will be so upset that they won’t think of investigating further. Meanwhile, you will have left the moon days before.
Finally, there is the reason you’re arranging your own demise .Faking one’s death is a one-shot deal. You can’t do it, for instance, just to avoid paying the licensing fees for your new pet terrier. Once you’ve “died” and started your new life somewhere else, you can’t go back. Ending a relationship beyond recall is one reason.
Bianca Carmine is very good at this. She’s faked her death in five systems. No one suspects she is alive, no one who shouldn’t, anyway. Now she sits in a suns-drenched cafe on a planet light-years away from the latest moon she’d supposedly died on, staring at a yellow-pink tinted glass in her paw. The Swirling Supernova is the most expensive drink the cafe offers. She can afford it. The Carmine otter family dominates the intergalactic crime scene. She is well provided for. She would not have been if, in another life, she had married someone working for the Otter Space Corps. The Corps takes a dim view of otter families that dominate intergalactic crime scenes. Otters, they felt, should know better.
So Bianca runs. If anyone gets too close, she runs. Even if it hurts, even if she’s met someone who’s solid and true and cares about her… she runs. She’ll probably keep running. Swirling Supernovas can only make her forget so much.
This story references characters and events in the ongoing Angel and the Space Otter series. Thanks for reading!
Last time, in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine had just arrived in Bethlehem for the first Christmas when Susan, her arch-nemesis, launched two nuclear missiles at it from an orbiting alien starship….
A new sun flashed into existence above the town of Bethlehem, and the entire population, from officious Roman centurions to sleep-deprived shepherds, vanished in an atomic fireball. That included Catrina. Next thing she knew, she was standing on a field of ash, as an extremely upset angel rushed towards her. “This wasn’t supposed to happen!” the angel said, tears streaming down its glowing face. “We were supposed to be singing to the shepherds, not watching them get vaporized!”
“You’re telling me,” said Catrina. “Am I dead again?” She glanced down at her arm, which had gone translucent. “Yep, I’m dead again.”
The angel stopped in some confusion. “You’ve…been dead before?”
“Several times. I lost count. I’ve been zombie-penguinified, kaboominated, turned violet and magenta, miniaturized, transformed into a theremin, stabbed with a pointy stick, died, been resurrected, died again, been resurrected again… my author hates me, he really does.” She signed, giving emphasis to her long-standing complaint. “He even forgets about me for months and months before resuming my adventures. Bethlehem is getting bombed, you’d think that would be important. But nooooo, he has to go running on with some space otter or whatever. I’ve friends with space hamsters, myself, but even so…”
“I don’t understand,” whimpered the angel. “I don’t understand anything. Bethlehem has been destroyed, the Christ Child is almost certainly gone, I can’t even…”
“Oh, cheer up,” Catrina said, throwing her ghostly arm about the angel’s shoulders. “I’ll fix things, you’ll see.”
“How?” the angel asked, waving at the devastation of nuclear-bombed Bethlehem around them. “How can you fix this?”
Catrina smiled her trademark half-smile, that spread slowly over her face and lit up her green eyes. “Easily. All I have to do is go back in time and stop the ship from dropping the bombs.”
“But… but you can’t just change time like that!” the angel protested.
“Because you just…can’t!”
Catrina raised her left eyebrow. “Very persuasive argument, there. I can, and have done, as a matter of fact. I saved the Library of Alexandria, kicked Gavrilo Princip into a flour barrel before he could shoot the Archduke, kicked the British halfway to Sunday at the Battle of Lexington and Concord….I’ve basically told time to go and get knotted. Why not do it again?”
“You’ll break the universe!” the angel blurted. “You’ll kill your own grandmother! The paradoxes!”
“Will sort themselves one way or another,” Catrina said. “Now then, I’m going to save the Baby Jesus. Are you going to assist me or not?”
“Even if I wanted to, how could I? How could you? You can’t just jump around in time whenever you feel like it!”
Catrina smiled again. “Sure I can.” She looked up at the sky. “Oh. Something’s coming in for a landing, looks like.”
A small shuttlecraft was indeed spiraling down out of the night towards them. It skidded to a bumpy landing in the ash. A door hissed open, and out came Susan, laughing hysterically. “I got you! At last! Finally! You’re a ghost, a real live ghost, and you’re dead, so I won! Woohoo!”
“Yes, I’m a ghost, and you’re a loony,” Catrina said. She would’ve liked to come up with a more witty riposte, but that really wasn’t what she wanted just now. “Incidentally, that time rift you kept jumping in or shoving me through? Do you know when it’ll show up again?”
Susan scowled. “It’s gone now. It has to be. I dropped a nuclear bomb on it! Two of them!”
“Ah. So you’ve destroyed Imaginary Time then.”
“And probably Imaginary Reality too, right? I mean, if time is connected to reality, then you’ve pretty much erased the fictional universe, right?”
Catrina paused. “So… how come we’re still talking?”
“What?” Susan said. That was the last thing she said before the Swirling Vortex of Imaginary Time opened up behind her. “No! NOOO!” she howled melodramatically.
“Bye!’ Catrina said, and threw herself into the vortex, concentrating very hard on where she wanted to go. Or, more precisely, when. There was a flash and a bang.
She found herself standing on snow again. Bethlehem lay silently below her, as stars rolled by above. She glanced down, and noted with relief that she was no longer dead. Then, looking back up, she saw a dark object, or perhaps two, falling through the sky where no dark objects should be. “Oh no you don’t!” Catrina said, and swung Mlrning (the Shovel of Thor!). A beam of blinding energy blasted into the sky, and encased the bombs in solid ice. They thudded down harmlessly in the snow. Catrina waved the Shovel again, and the dirt parted beneath the bombs, plunging them underground and burying them far from prying eyes. “There,” she said happily. “And that’s Christmas saved.”
Above her, in the starship, Susan was getting dragged away to an alien brig by offended alien officers, who were very upset that she had launched their atomic bombs without their permission. Catrina couldn’t see this happening, but she had a vague idea, and it made her very happy. Susan would probably be tucked away in the alien starship for a good long time. With luck, that might even change her destiny of becoming the mistress of Character Hell. She couldn’t do that as an alien prisoner, right? Of course right. Little knowing how wrong she in fact was, Catrina decided that she was going to drop by the manger and say hello. She’d saved Christmas, after all. Why not?
This has been another exciting episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, click on the Catrina Chronicles tab at the top of the page. And thanks for reading!