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Ermingard Goes to the Mall, and Hilarity Ensues

by on May 22, 2012

Last time, in the Catrina Chronicles, our new nemesis Katrina woke up in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, discovered the wreck of the Dangling Participle, and did not write a Canadian ballad about it, but instead got tranquilized into unconsciousness by a mysterious and unknown enemy. That would be an interesting point to pick up on, but instead we’re going to go see what Ermingard’s been up to, on her new adventure in the 21st century…

Ermingard was overwhelmed. Amazed. Stunned, even. She stood there gaping, her mouth hanging open like the codfish she wasn’t. Finally, after several long minutes of astonished silence, she managed to pull herself together enough to ask a question. “And…it really works?”

“Mostly,” Gaseous Girl replied. “Once in a while it eats my quarters, but fortunately they added a credit-card receiver to this one last year, so I don’t even need to use change anymore. Allow me to demonstrate.” She produced her card, swiped it through the reader, and then pressed one of the buttons on the front of the vending machine. Ermingard watched in profound amazement through the transparent panel as the plastic bottle clunked into a holder, rose up inside the machine, shifted over with a whir, and then dropped into the bottle-shaped opening. She reached out tentatively and touched it. “It’s still cold!”

“Modern tech. Amazing, isn’t it. Just wait until you see the iPad!”

“The what now?” Ermingard asked. Before Gaseous Girl could explain just what an iPad was, there was a sudden loud crash near the front of the mall. The two women spun around, and Gaseous Girl groaned. “Oh no. It’s Jill Polarity. I really did not need Jill Polarity right now.”

Ermingard had already put an arrow to her Spork-Bow. The one thing she understood clearly about the modern world was that there were villains, just like Susan or Katrina, and she knew what one was supposed to do with villains: fire sporks at them. She took aim at the new arrival, who was yelling something in high-pitched fury as she stomped around the mall’s main entrance, frenetically waving her arms around like a spastic cheerleader. Ermingard loosed her bow before Gaseous Girl could stop her. Jill Polarity saw the spork-arrow winging towards her, and suddenly purple beams of light (the exact color of her hair, incidentally) zapped out of her eyes and struck the arrow, whereupon it rebounded away from her and smashed into a nearby kiosk that sold calendars, stabbing right through one that had pictures of kittens making amusing faces. Jill cackled in amusement. Gaseous Girl seized Ermingard by the arm and dragged her into Foot Locker, where they could take shelter. “Look,” Gaseous Gird said quickly, “Brownie points for effort, but before you start slinging sporks at people you need to know who they are. That’s Jill Polarity, like I said, and her ability is that she can shoot Magneta-Beams out of her eyes, magnetizing any metal thing they touch.”

Ermingard knew a little something about physics, and she turned very pale. “She has power over electromagnetism? That is one of the four fundamental forces of nature! A person with that ability would be practically invincible! They could manipulate matter on a subatomic level, move whole asteroids, generate invulnerable shields, unleash shockwaves of incredible pow-”

“No,” Gaseous Girl interrupted, trying not to notice that Foot Locker had a sale on some really cute flip-flops, “she just moves metal. And only if it’s in her line of sight, and only if she’s first magnetized it with her eyes. She can’t fly or do anything else; she just moves metal things. And not big asteroids either; the most I’ve ever heard she moved was her cousin’s Volvo. And that was two feet onto the shoulder of a highway.”

“But…that’s stupid,” said Ermingard. “Completely unrealistic. If she has power over magnetism, why would she be limited like that? It doesn’t make sense.”

Gaseous Girl was going to explain that if Jill Polarity’s powers were realistic she really would be practically invincible, which would mean she’d win all that team, and supervillains just don’t do that. But again she was interrupted, as Jill Polarity launched a model of a pickup truck at her head (Jill had stolen the model from Kay-Bee Toys). Gaseous Girl burped a fiery burst that reduced the model to slag, but Jill wasn’t done yet. “I’m not done yet!” she exposited unnecessarily. “I’m going to make you pay! I’m going to make everyone pay!”

“Look,” Gaseous Girl said reasonably, “Jill, just calm down, okay? Everything’s fine. Just calm down quietly and we can talk about this. You haven’t been taking your meds this week, have you?”

Jill hesitated, a confused look on her face. “Well, not exactly, I mean, I did skip a bit, but it wasn’t my fault it was Andrew’s, we had an argument again you see and I got so upset and-”

But she became the next person to be interrupted in the story, as she was suddenly knocked off her feet by a massive torrent of white sludge, which sent her flying into another kiosk, this one selling sports memorabilia, mostly of the Edison City Carbon Filaments. Erminard cautiously approached the sludge and sniffed at it. “Is that….?”

Gaseous Girl sighed. “Andrew. Also known as Dr. Oatmeal. That’s his power; oatmeal manipulation. You’d be surprised how useful that can be.”

Andrew chose that moment to make his appearance, and he too was yelling in fury, but before they could work out what he was saying he was stifled by a collection of kitchenware the recovered Jill Polarity magnetically slung at him. Andrew, somewhat dazed after being bonked over the head by three cookie tins and a frying pan, rallied and fired off another salvo of oatmeal, this time flavored with little bits of apple. Jill, all over apples, rounded upon the Volkswagen Beetle on display in the center square of the meal, and fired up her Magneta-Beams. Just as she was about to unleash them, Gaseous Girl decided that she had just about had it with the two minor supervillains, and unleashed two massive burps that knocked them both out flat. “Honestly,” she commented to Ermingard, “I really wish they would just go to counseling like normal couples. But noooo, they have to work out their relationship difficulties in my favorite mall. Figures.”

“Does this happen all the time?” Ermingard inquired shakily. She’d gotten a bit of oatmeal on her 12th century tunic, and she’d never enjoyed oatmeal all that much.

“Always,” Gaseous Girl replied tiredly. “I guess that means you don’t want to stay in this time period, then.”

“Not terribly, no,” Ermingard said. “You wouldn’t know about a wormhole or magical cave or magical something-else, would you?”

The defender of Edison City gave an expressive shrug. “There might be a wormhole upstate somewhere. I’ll fly over and check. Will you be alright here till I get back?”

Ermingard glanced around, and then her face lit up. Across the way, past the little pools of oatmeal and the collection of frying pans laying about, was the biggest bookstore she had ever seen. She sniffed, as a warm, chocolate-y smell wafted towards her, valiantly completing with the significantly less magical smell of oatmeal. “I think I’ll manage,” she said happily, which was an unusual emotion for her. “After all, what could possibly go wrong in such a wonderful place as that? Truly, in there I shall discover the answer to life, the universe, and everything.”

“It’s forty-two,” Gaseous Girl said. Then she flew out of the mall and rocketed upstate to look for wormholes, before Ermingard could ask what question forty-two was supposed to be the answer for. Ermingard sighed, and wandered off into the bookstore, little knowing that something was indeed going to go wrong. Very, very wrong.

To be continued, as usual, because this wouldn’t be a Catrina Chronicles episode without a cliffhanger. For previous cliffhanger moments that generally resolved themselves in the next episode, go here. To subscribe and get the next episode delivered to you by flying space monkeys (not really, but one can dream), click the “subscribe” button on the right of the page. Also, this is the 42nd episode of the aforementioned Catrina Chronicles, thus the obligatory reference to Douglas Adams. 🙂 Thanks for reading!


  1. Awwww, yay, a 42 reference!!! But you know, I can’t claim to really know what that means except by what others have told me, ’cause I haven’t read any Douglas Adams. 😉 YES, it’s on my TBR.

    LOVE that Andrew manipulates oatmeal. hahaha

    • Oatmeal manipulation seems like a fairly useful power, I’d say.

      And it’s good to know Adams is on your TBR list. His stuff is hilarious. I do so love British wit. 😛

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