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Caitlin and the Song of Pain

by on March 31, 2011

It took a lot to  scare Princess Caitlin. Various random minions hadn’t done it. the small giant hadn’t done it, Vladimir the Marauder had rattled her a bit, but that was perfectly understandable, since he’d killed her and all. Still, even then, she hadn’t been as utterly, thoroughly, terrified as she was now. Caitlin, as a dutiful princess, had gone to Sunday morning services in her kingdom’s capital city monastery ever since she was a child, and she had heard many hearty sermons about sin and hellfire (and yes, some of them even had lepers). Now here she was, having died again (an experience that was really starting to get old), and she had wound up right in the Bad Place. This wasn’t good. This wasn’t good at all.

Still, she was a princess, and the heroine of several stories that she knew of. She had a reputation to uphold. So, as Caitlin stared into the sickly green eyes of Evil Susan, Mistress of Character Hell, she summoned up her last small resolve of courage, cleared her throat, and unleashed the first insult that came to mind. “Your mother wears army boots!”

Susan didn’t seem offended. She actually laughed. “You dingo,” she cackled. “I wear army boots! Which I stole from my mother, right before I pitched her into a piranha tank.” Caitlin had to admit, glancing at Susan’s army-booted feet, that her insult had misfired. Now that she thought of it, she wasn’t sure why one’s mother wearing army boots would be an insult in the first place. Susan, meanwhile, was moving on. “My turn. Do you know what I’m going to do to you? First, I’m going to rip you limb from limb, tear your head right off your shoulders. Then I’m going to feed those limbs to my own private pack of owl-demons. They’ll digest the nourishing bits and get rid of the rest as little owl-demon pellets. Then I’m going to use my evil magical arts to resurrect you from the pellets…and do the whole thing over again. Because I’m evil. And I don’t wash my hands, either.”

Caitlin wouldn’t have gotten that obscure Justice League reference even if she hadn’t been horrified that she was about to be demon-owl pelletized. Fortunately, it was at that moment that her author, being in a relatively good mood, took pity on her. All at once she felt the familiar cool hilt of her sword in her hand. The blade flicked through the air like a song. Cold steel rested against Susan’s neck. Caitlin suddenly wasn’t feeling terrified anymore.

“I have read,” she began, “that one is allowed to challenge the devil for one’s soul, or something along those lines. So I challenge you, Susan.”

Susan smirked. “What’ll you do if I say no? We’re in Character Hell (which I rule, fyi), it’s not like you can kill me.”

“Absolutely certain of that, are we?” Caitlin said, pressing the edge of the sword a little harder against Susan’s skin. “Positive that I can’t at least cause you a good bit of pain?”

“Fine, fine, you win.” Susan rolled her eyes. “Okay. A challenge could be, like, fun. I haven’t challenged anyone in eons.  So, terms. I’ll give you three tests. If you pass them all, you win, and you get to go back to your own proper world and live happily ever after, and I’ll even give up the whole destroying-all-fictional-realities thing.”

“And if you win?”

Susan gave a deliciously evil smile. “Pellets.”

“Done. First test, please. I don’t have all day.”

“I’ll need a few minutes to arrange it,” Susan said. “You can wait here till I get back.” She departed in a burst of flame, and Caitlin waited.

A half hour later, Susan returned to collect the princess, escorting her out the smoldering door of the library and into a puce-carpeted hallway, which ended in another door. “Behind that door is a room with a table, a chair, and a box,” Susan informed her. “You’re from a rather primitive world, so I’ll have to explain the box in simple terms. Basically, it’s magic. And it can play songs. Well, one in this case.”

“A box that plays one song,” Caitlin said.  “Whoop-de-do. My primitive world will never be the same.”

Susan ignored the snark, and went on. “This, Princess Caitlin, is your first test. All you have to do is listen to that song until you grow weary of it.”

Caitlin hesitated. “That’s awfully open-ended. What’s the record for how many times someone’s listened to it?”

“Three hundred and forty-seven…”

“Oh. That’s not so b-”

“Million.”

Caitlin, to her credit, didn’t even blink. “So if I listen to this one song for three hundred forty-seven million and one times, I pass the test?”

“Exactly.”

“What’s the song?”

Susan giggled a diabolical little giggle. “It’s something from the real world, the one your author exists in. It’s a fairly new song, actually. It’s called…Friday.

“That’s it? Not, say, The Screaming Song of Pain, Anguish, and Despair? Just…Friday? Good grief, that’s not even a horrid day like Monday, it’s actually a fairly nice day. Starts the weekend and so forth.”

“Funny you should mention that,” Susan said, giggling again. “I hear everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend. We so excited.”

“We so excited we forgetting our verbs, apparently,” Caitlin remarked acidly. “So when does the song start?”

“As soon as you walk through the door,” Susan replied. “Oh, and don’t worry about the time; yes, listening to a nearly four minute song 347,000,001 times would take, oh, a really long while, but Character Hell operates in a, how shall I put this, magical time-loop thing. You won’t age a day here. So, you can start whenever you’re ready. Have fun!”

Caitlin saluted her sarcastically, then without hesitating, opened the door and walked through. Susan waited until the door had closed, then softly counted down. “Five…four…three…two…”

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!”

“Okay,” Princess Caitlin said to herself as “Friday” began Round 2, “Okay, I can do this. I can beat this. I won’t go mad. I won’t. ” She breathed very fast, and tried desperately to think of a way to distract herself. What was it that one traveling mystic had told her last year while passing by her castle? Caitlin closed her eyes. “Okay. Think of an ocean. The ocean is my happy place. I’m falling into my happy place. Happy place. Happy place. Happy place…”

Caitlin was nothing if not imaginative. She could almost feel the cool salt water against her skin. almost see the ocean waves rolling before her. She pictured herself diving deep, beyond Friday, down, down, to the dark, quiet waters of the ocean floor. Caitlin’s breaths slowed, and her heart-rate calmed noticeably. Maybe she could pass the test after all.

Then a little pale grey fish swam before her eyes. “Hey,” it piped in its tiny fish-voice, (the advantage of being in an imaginary ocean is that fish can talk if they want to), “do you know what today is?”

Caitlin, blissful in her happy place, unmindful of distractions, asked the fish the wrong question. “What?”

“Iiiiit’s Fri-ee-day, Fri-ee-day, gotta get down on Fri-ee-day…”

The other neat thing about imaginary oceans: one can also scream in them. Which Caitlin did. Loudly.

Two thousand five hundred and eight point seventy-five years of Character Hell time laterapproximately…

Susan cautiously opened the door and looked through. The song, emanating loudly from the dark plastic box on the table, was on Round 347,000,002. Caitlin huddled against one wall, her face white as old paper, her left eye twitching nervously. “Congrats,” Susan said. “You won. You can stop li-”

Caitlin’s sword flashed in her hand. Smash. The sharp metal buried itself in the plastic right in the middle of the second chorus of “Partyin’, partyin’, yeah.” The music, thankfully, stopped.

The princess rose, and took one step towards Susan. She took in a deep breath. Her left eye wouldn’t stop twitching. In a low, tense voice she rasped out three words. “Next. Challenge. Now.”

This story was written for Prompt Number Thirteen of the Chrysalis Experiment. Stay tuned for more of the Caitlin Chronicles, as our heroine continues her ever-wacky adventures.

 


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8 Comments
  1. Having listened to that song about 0.5 times, then yelled my horror at the abomination that IS that song all over Facebook, I truly can’t imagine the torture Caitlyn just endured. YIKES!!!!!

    Just one thing confused me, and it was when Evil Susan said:

    “This, Princess Caitlin, is your first test. All you have to do is listen to that song until you grow weary of it.”

    Surely she could then stop the song after her first listen, when she was weary of it? 😀

    Anyway, I loved how this ended – with her smashing the music player. LOL.

    • Good point; I was trying to go for the idea that this was a test of endurance and then set it up for Caitlin’s question about the record. I suppose Caitlin could’ve gone for that loophole, if she’d thought of it. but then the story wouldn’t have been as much fun. 😛

  2. Jenn permalink

    Have you heard this? It’s Bob Dylan doing this song.

    It’s not a good thing when random people on youtube can cover the song in such a way that it sounds more legitimate than the original.

    I love this line “And I don’t wash my hands, either.”

    • I’d seen it, but hadn’t listened to it until now. …you’re right, it does sound better. Even the Chipmunk version sounds…well, it’s funny, anyway.
      That line, incidentally, is a reference to this one hilarious moment from Justice League when the Flash and Lex Luthor’s minds got switched (long story), and the Flash (in Lex’s body) is coming out of a bathroom in Lex’s hideout, and another supervillain asks him if he’s going to wash his hands. The Flash goes “NO….’cause I’m evil!” It’s hysterical.

  3. I must be one of the only people left on the planet who’ve escaped hearing “Friday.” And now, seeing as it has Evil Susan connotations, I think I’ll just avoid it altogether…lol.

    “We so excited.”
    “We so excited we forgetting our verbs”–
    Ba ha ha HA!

    (Your Caitlin stories always make me laugh!)

    • Sadly, I think Friday’s like the Borg of the pop-culture world. Avoidance is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. 🙂

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