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Who You Gonna Call? Not Catrina.

by on May 8, 2012

Catrina was dead. Dead as a Dickensian doornail, in fact. Of course, as Mr. Dickens himself observed, there is nothing particularly dead about a door-nail. And while he suggested a coffin-nail as a deader piece of ironmongery, I prefer a more modern simile. Catrina was dead as a raccoon that got run over by somebody’s semitruck on the highway and that now lies there by the exit sign all corpsified and gross. She was dead as a Norwegian Blue parrot, and she wasn’t pining for the fjords either. Not only had she joined the choir invisible, she’d switched their hymnbooks with copies of her theme song, and had swapped the string accompaniment for a rousing kazoo section. This is an ex-Catrina.

She wasn’t exactly thrilled about being dead, again. It had gotten a bit predictable. She’d gone to Character Heaven, she’d gone to Character Hell, she’d wished herself out of existence, she’d gotten written out of her story and into some sort of grey limbo…Catrina assumed that covered all the post-existence bases. She was hoping that this time she’d end up in one of those formless pleasant nirvana sort of things where she just floated about in pure consciousness, sort of like this one episode in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where a planet jumped back and forth between dimensions. Catrina was therefore disappointed when she opened her eyes to find herself staring at an outdoor toilet. “Well, crap,” she said, both literally and figuratively. “I must’ve gone to Character Hell again. I thought I did that!”

She wondered who was in charge now. She knew it wasn’t Susan anymore; the ex-mistress of Character Hell had gotten kicked out by her minions a good many episodes back. Catrina looked about, and saw a man approaching her. He seemed to be a decent sort of chap, wearing ordinary clothes from her own time, and she wondered what sort of crime he’d committed to get himself stuck in Character Hell. “You there!” she called. “Sorry to interrupt, but do you know who’s ruling this pla-”

“AYIEEEE!” the man screamed. “A ghost! A magenta-colored ghost! Saints preserve us! Begone! Begone foul purple-pinkish spirit from the underworld! Shoo! Shoo!”

“I beg your pardon?” Catrina said, highly insulted. “I’m not a ghost of any color, and certainly not magenta!”  But her protest was to no avail, as the man had already shot off towards his house, running inside and slamming the door with admirable speed. Extremely ticked, Catrina rushed after him, floating fast as she could float across the fields and through the door and…..she paused, as what she had just done crashed into her mind like a crash-dummy car hitting a wall. She looked down. She could see herself, sure, but…but she wasn’t all there. She could see right through the magenta-tinged outlines of her own form, right to her own ghostly fuchsia intestines. “Oh come on!” Catrina said in exasperation. “A ghost? Really?”

“Oh spirit from beyond the grave,” the man said, who all this time had been trembling in fear by his fireplace, “what message do you bring, what warning of the error of my ways?”

The princess was tempted to say something very impolite. You can’t blame her, really; finding out that one has become a spirit is a bit distressing, to say the least. Fortunately, Catrina managed to restrain herself. “Yeah, okay, um, ooooo….heed my words, blah blah blah….” she tried to perform a spectral wave but only succeeded in jerking about like a spasmodic marionette, “you should do….good….stuff.”

“Do good stuff,” the man repeated.

“Yes. Do that.”

“Perhaps you could be a little more specific?”

Question me not!” Catrina yelled dramatically. “Lo, I have journeyed from beyond the grave to bring you this message, so heed my words! Ooooooooo!” She waved about and rattled.

“Do good stuff,” the man said again. “That’s your big message. You came all the way from the afterlife to tell me to do good stuff.”

“What do you want, the scores from the World Series? You asked for a message, I gave you one, now go do it, and pester me not, or I shall return and haunt you agaiiiiiin! Ooooooooo!” She was really getting into it now; her “ooooooo’s” were in fine form. Very ghosty.

“Gee. Thanks. I’ll be sure and take that to heart,” the man said flatly.

“See that you do! Oooooooooo!”  With that, Catrina floated up his chimney and away. She never met him again; as it turned out, he decided to take her message and write a self-help book entitled Do the Good Stuff (It’s All Good Stuff), which sold millions of copies and allowed him to retire in comfort to a lovely shack by the sea. So that worked out nicely. Meantime, Catrina had to come to terms with her new reality. She was a bit miffed over her color; she’d always thought ghosts were either white or sort of blue-ish, like in Star Wars, not magenta. And, of course, there was the more important question: what exactly was she supposed to do now? She really didn’t think her purpose was to warn some random person to do good stuff. But was she supposed to warn someone else? Would she even be visible to anyone else? What if this was one of those stories where she would be only visible to one person? “Oh dear,” Catrina said. “This is going to be complicated.”

She looked about, wondering where exactly she was. Trees ran away on every side, resplendent in green leaves; it was going to be a glorious spring morning. Already birds were twittering, and I use that in the old-fashioned sense of the word; I do not mean to suggest that the birds were logging in to whatever the avian version of Twitter might be. Then Catrina noticed a black trail of smoke marring the sky to the east. “Bingo,” she said, and floated towards it. One advantage of being a ghost, she soon realized, was that she could move fairly quickly, she didn’t have to worry about poison ivy or getting burrs in her socks or sunburn. Intangibility had its benefits, she had to admit.

A few moments later, just as she was nearing the source of the smoke, Catrina heard the distinct sound of someone sniffling. She headed for it, and discovered to her surprise that it was Ermingard.  She hadn’t seen Ermingard since that moment in Episode 26 when she’d saved Ermie from an enchanted sleep. Catrina wasn’t sure why Ermingard was sitting huddled against a tree, head buried in her arms, and crying rather energetically, but then it occurred to Catrina that Ermingard might not know she was dead. Last Ermingard had seen Catrina, she’d been very much alive, and emphatically kissing Perry. Whatever tragedy had befallen, Catrina didn’t want to make it worse by startling the poor girl with her newfound ghostiness. So she hid behind a tree, or slightly in the tree, and waited for Ermingard to deliver some exposition, as story characters usually did.

But Ermingard didn’t seem in the mood for expositing. She was, ironically, rather enjoying her good cry; she hadn’t had a decent cry for a while, and this one certainly ranked up there on the scale of cryingness. Thus she was in no mood to stop and explain things to readers she didn’t know existed. Catrina finally lost patience, popped through the tree, and addressed Ermingard. “Hi there. How’ve you been?”  She paused, waiting for a reply, but Ermingard ignored her.

“Well…” Catrina said after an awkward moment, “you’re probably wondering how I’ve been, right? Well, that’s actually a bit problematic; I seem to have gone and gotten myself killed again. Some robot thing blew up in my face. It’s Susan’s fault, naturally, it always is. I’m actually a bit worried about Perry; I’m not sure if he’s alright. Have you seen him?”

Still Ermingard didn’t respond. She hadn’t even lifted her head from her arms. Catrina was beginning to feel put out. “Hey! Ermie! I’m talking to…” her voice trailed off, as a horrible thought struck her. “Ermie? ERMIE!” she yelled. No response. Catrina floated right in front of her and veritably bellowed her name. Nothing. She made a motion towards the girl…and her hand went right through Ermingard’s face. “I don’t believe this. I do not believe this!” Catrina exclaimed in exasperation. “I’m a ghost that’s not visible to the main character? The only person that can see me is that one bit character who’ll never be important to the story again?” (And indeed, he wasn’t). “Honestly!” She took a deep breath, or a semblance of one, since technically she couldn’t breathe. “Look, author, I think it’s time we had a polite chat. So far in this series I have been zombie-penguinified. I have been sent to Character Hell. I have been forced to listen to “Friday”. I have been stabbed. Several times. Once with a pointed stick right in the spleen. I have been turned violet, and now magenta. I have been cloned, transported, blown up, and now I’m a ghost that can’t even communicate with the other central characters. I’m curious: is there any sort of depravity you wouldn’t visit upon me? I mean, what could you possibly make me go through that I haven’t gone through already? What could possibly be worse than this?”

At that dramatic moment, the bushes rustled, and then in a flash of green light Katrina stormed into the clearing. “Hey! You! Crying girl! I need a minion!”

Catrina’s invisible mouth fell open. “….oh no. Oh you did not. Oh you did not!”

Ermingard leaped to her feet, a spork-arrow flying to her bow in one smooth motion. “Stay back, you! I’m not sure who you are, exactly, but I know you’re not the real Catrina!”

“Of course she’s not the real Catrina!” the actual real Catrina said, fairly shaking in intangible outrage. “She doesn’t even look like me! She doesn’t even spell her name right!”

“I am the real Catrina!” the not-real Katrina said. “I played her in a movie in 2016! I added real depth to her character, especially when she apologized to Susan for dropping the piano on her elbow, and they became besties!”

I didn’t do that!” Catrina shrieked, though no one could hear her. “I dropped a Jumbotron! A Jumbotron! Not a piano! That’s not even remotely close! And what do you mean Susan’s my bestie? Whatever that means, whatever modern slang term that’s supposed to represent, Susan is bloody well not it!” She was so mad she hadn’t even noticed she’d started using British expletives.

Ermingard was very calm. “No. I’d rather not be your minion, thanks. And if you don’t put down the Spork-saber right this instant and surrender, I shall put this arrow right in your face. Not your knee. Your face.”

“Try it, twip,” Katrina rejoined, assuming a battle stance with her Spork-saber. “As Catrina said in the movie…”

“Oh, please, no,” Catrina said, bracing her ghostly self.

“I’m on this like sparkles on Edward Cullen, yo. Word.”

Several things happened all at once. Catrina facepalmed. Ermingard loosed the string of her spork-bow. Katrina’s Sporksaber flashed through the air. And then-

And don’t you just love cliffhangers? I know I do. Perfect way to end a story, right? Of course right. To find out what happens, stay tuned for further episodes of the Catrina Chronicles, coming soon! You can follow the Chronicles on this page, or by clicking the subscribe button on the right of the blog, which’ll send new episodes going to your email like tiny winged hamsters of joy. Which is a bit of an odd metaphor, come to think of it, but no more odd than talking about the deadness of a doornail, and that’s classic, that is.




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  1. la la la la not reading yet, but i will when I get up to this point 🙂

  2. Very cool! I love the title and the body of text was amazing – as usual!

    • Thanks! I figured a Ghostbusters reference was obligatory, under the circumstances.

  3. “I’m on this like sparkles on Edward Cullen, yo. Word.”

    I am never disappointed by what each new instalment has to offer 😉

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