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Deus ex Catrina

by on June 20, 2012

Last time, in the Catrina Chronicles, all the main characters, Catrina, Susan, Ermingard, and Katrina, had finally gotten reunited. Unfortunately, an overwhelming horde of flying mutant zombie penguins had decided to crash the party….

This is not The Avengers. If it were, Catrina and the others would have worked out their sizable personal differences and wildly divergent philosophies by now and come together into an elite, efficient, incredibly powerful fighting team. Besides which, they would have worked out a coherent plan of attack. Ermingard had read some books on military strategy, but Susan had actually commanded a minion army or two in her time, and between them they would have created a tactically brilliant plan which might have involved Susan and Ermingard laying down cover fire while Catrina and Katrina set up a rallying point. They might also have coordinated with the city police and the military to set up a perimeter and contain the zombie penguins, and eventually their plan would’ve succeeded. But, as has been previously stated, this is not The Avengers, and so they didn’t do all that. What they did was charge off by themselves, with no coherent plan beyond the very basic idea of taking down as many zombie penguins as they could. It was crude and reckless, and for a while there it almost worked.

***

Susan had dashed off to the highest point she could find; ironically, it was the gargoyle-festooned steeple of St. Expeditus, the most well-attended church in Edison City. She planted her boots on the gargoyles’ heads, braced herself, raised her laser rifle, and let fly, yelling with wild abandon. Susan aimed generally at the zombie penguins, but she didn’t take too much trouble about being precise, with the result that seventeen power lines, four billboards, an assortment of television antennas and satellite dishes, and a very unfortunate pigeon disappeared in blooms of yellow-white plasma, right along with the zombie penguins. Her rifle wirped rapidly, until all at once the wirps died out, replaced by an insistent beeping that indicated the rifle’s battery pack had just gone dead. “What?” Susan shrieked. “I’m not supposed to run out of ammunition! How did I run out of ammunition? People never run out in the movies! Crap!” She fumbled about for a second battery pack, but unfortunately she didn’t have any with her.

Just then a swarm of zombie penguins screamed by, realized she was in trouble, and wheeled around, diving down towards her. Susan flung the useless rifle aside and decided to resort to far darker powers; specifically, her knowledge of arcane legal magics. She raised her hands high and pronounced the dreaded words: “Corpus juris secundum!”

Squawk?” the lead zombie penguin squawked inquiringly. Then the skies darkened with ominous clouds, and lightning cracked, and all at once a legal encyclopedia struck out of nowhere and walloped the zombie penguin right in the beak. Then another fell, and another, and soon legal encyclopedias rained down all around Susan. “Palsgrafica proximico!” she chanted again, and the legal encyclopedias exploded, taking a fair few of the zombie penguins with them in a blaze of flame. But Susan had forgotten one thing. Zombie penguins are undead, so even if you set them on fire that doesn’t kill them. All of a sudden Susan found that she was faced with a swarm of flying mutant zombie penguins on fire. “Oh….” said Susan as they closed in on her, each one of them very, very, ticked off,ย  “….character hell.”

***

Ermingard didn’t have ammunition problems; she was in tune with the Sporky Force, and that meant once she unleashed her spork arrows she could call them back with a mere thought. The problem she had was distraction. She was running pell-mell down a street, firing off spork-arrows as she went, when she flew past a bookstore, and then skidded to a stop. They had a brand-new edition of New Moon, with pictures from the movie! Ermingard’s eyes sparkled, and she immediately forgot all about the impending zombie penguin apocalypse. Instead, she ran into the bookstore, seized the book, and plopped into the nearest comfy chair, diving right into the first page. She didn’t even see Katrina go hurtling past the window, green Sporksaber whirling as she tried to fend off the seemingly unending assault of the chilly undead. “Hey!” Katrina yelled, catching a glimpse of Ermingard through the bookstore window. “Get out here and help me, you moron!”

But Ermingard paid no attention. Katrina slashed a zombie penguin right through the head, then dashed into the store. “C’mon! Now’s not the time to go reading paranormal romance! Although….” a thought occurred to her. She was technically a villain, and therefore shouldn’t she be on the zombie penguins’ side? Or at least giving a monologue somewhere about how humanity was pitiful and weak and deserved to be zombie-penguinified? Her thoughts were interrupted as a zombie penguin’s beak slashed through her sleeve, missing her elbow by mere centimeters, and Katrina decided that she could do the evil villain bit later. As she dispatched the penguin with a furious snap-kick and a swipe from her Sporksaber, she used her free hand in a brilliant display of multitasking and whacked Ermingard over the head. Katrina knew that generally this cured a person when they’d got their mind all brainwashy, but to her shock it didn’t work. Ermingard blinked rapidly for a second or two, and then kept on reading. Then it dawned on Katrina that if bad literature had gotten Ermingard into this mess, maybe good literature could get her out of it.

Holding off the zombie penguins with a flurry of her green lolzmic blade, she snatched the nearest book and read it quickly. By great good luck it happened to be something worth reading: Robert Burns’ letter to a critic who had upset him. Katrina yelled the words as loudly as she could.ย “Thou eunuch of language! Thou Englishman, who never was south the Tweed! Thou servile echo of fashionable barbarisms! Thou quack, vending the nostrums of empirical elocution! Thou marriage-maker between vowels and consonants, on the Gretna-green of caprice! Thou-”

But Ermingard broke in at that moment, looking rather upset herself. “Right, you can stop that, I’m fine now. But I am going to have words with Susan, indeed I am! The things she made me do….I shot Santa! I shot Santa.” She almost broke down with that thought.

“We don’t have time for heroic blue screens of death!” Katrina said. “You can get remorseful later! I’ll buy you a Kleenex box! Right now we’ve got zombie penguins, and I’m speaking entirely in exclamation points! That’s how stressed out I am right now! I might even get to three exclamation points in a minute! So get your spork-arrow things and get out here!”

“Fine,” Ermingard said shortly, and then shot a zombie penguin right between the eyes, just as it was about to nip Katrina from behind. “Splat is coming.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Katrina said, and the two charged back into the melee. Unfortunately, the more zombie penguins they took down, the more showed up, and soon they were backed up against the wall of a donut shop, fighting madly, and rather wishing they had a more epic place to make their last stand than a donut shop, more like that valley in the mountains where Mulan made her last stand. “If we die,” Katrina said, “we die with sprinkles!”

***

Catrina was in much the same predicament, only she didn’t have the consolation of being trapped in a place that stocked with yummy pastries. Instead, she’d gotten herself backed against a line of Porta-Potties at an amusement park. “Oh, lovely,” Catrina said. “Of all the places to get killed again. I’m really getting tired of this.”

Just then, as she tried to fight off the inexorable zombie-penguin tide, she saw a blue form emerging out of one of the Porta-Potties. The ghostly figure floated towards her, and all at once she realized who it was. “Perry?” she said curiously.

“Yeah,” Perry said. “Hey, how’s it going. Um, I have a bit of bad news, unfortunately, and you might want to sit down for thi-”

“You’re dead, right? I noticed. C’est la vie. ‘Scuse me for a second, would you?” She turned and casually sliced an approaching zombie penguin in pieces.

Perry was taken aback. He hadn’t quite expected her to collapse in hysterically wailing, but he had hoped for at least a bit of sadness, maybe a tear or two. He certainly hadn’t thought that she would react as calmly as if he had announced that he had eaten oatmeal for breakfast. Perry felt not a little insulted. “Well, then. I suppose I’ll just go on back to Character Heaven, then. I’m so relieved to know my horrible murder wasn’t terribly upsetting for you. Ta.” He started to float away.

“Oh, don’t be like that,” Catrina said. “I’ve died so many times I’ve lost count. I figured someone else would die eventually. I even thought it might be you, way back in episode ten, first paragraph, before you’d even been introduced. You’ll get resurrected anyway. So cheer up. By the by, I don’t suppose you have any sort of comforting message from beyond for me? Something like “Use the Sporky Force, Catrina” or anything? Maybe help me win this little scrap and all?”

“Well, seems kinda silly now,” Perry said dejectedly. “I had a whole speech prepared, with me consoling you and saying profound things about death and humanity and so on. I’ll just have to skip to the end, I guess.”

“Do that. Quickly, please.”

“Right, then…” Perry sighed ghostily. “It isn’t anything about the Sporky Force. Here it is: “”That’s life… one minute you’re on top of the world, the next minute some secretary is running you over with a lawnmower.”

Catrina’s mouth fell open.ย  “I…..what?”

Perry repeated the phrase. “I’m given to understand it originates from a television show about advertising in the 1960s.”

“I see.” Catrina said, though she didn’t really, at all. “And this is supposed to help me defeat the zombie penguin apocalypse.”

“Yes,” Perry said emphatically. “The key to victory is right there.”

“Well. Um. Okay….” Catrina did some rapid thinking. “The zombie penguins are winning right now, so they’re clearly on top of the world. That must mean I’m the secretary, so I can defeat the zombie penguins with a lawnmower. Lawnmower. What is a lawnmower? It’s a machine, so it has an engine, and some people have riding lawnmowers, so it’s a machine that has an engine and carries people, and it has blades, which it uses in an offensive fashion to cut little blades of grass. So it’s a machine that has an engine and carries people and is equipped with powerful weaponry, kinda like…..A SPACESHIP!” And then she knew.

***

Ermingard wasn’t thinking anymore. She was firing spork-arrows automatically by now, arrow on string, aim, fire, use the Sporky Force to call it back, repeat. She stood back to back with Katrina, who was flailing about wildly with her Sporksaber, trying frantically to hold off the advancing zombie penguin tide. They’d been forced back into the donut shop, right up against the shelf with the apple fritters. Ermingard desperately wanted a snack, but if she lost focus for one second she’d get bitten by the penguins and then- and then suddenly Catrina came tearing through the donut shop’s front door, cutting down penguins left and right, her eyes wide in excitement. “Ermie!” she yelled. “Shoot a spork at me!”

“Are you mad?” Ermingard said.

“Are you using that word in the British sense or the American? Never mind. I’m neither insane or irritated; I know what I’m doing and I want you to shoot a spork-arrow right at me and if you don’t do it right now we’re all going to end up as horrible mutant Arctic birds!”

Ermingard sighed, and reluctantly loosed a spork-arrow straight at Catrina. Catrina swung her Sporksaber right into its path; Katrina realized what she was doing and started to say something which might have been “No, you idiot, don’t-” but she was interrupted by a very big kaboom, and suddenly Catrina wasn’t there anymore.

A stunned silence fell, which lasted all of two seconds. Then there was a blaze of phaser fire outside, and a streak of white light past the window. Ermingard and Katrina raced outside, and gasped in unison (which is surprisingly hard to do, so, props to them). There, in the sky, flew the Dangling Participle, its powerful guns blazing as it shot down each and every last one of the zombie penguins. On its bridge stood its valiant captain, space hamster Ferdinand Roderick Marshalham Willingsford, the Seventh, waving his hat about and singing what he had been told was a heroic battle song sung by the bravest soldiers of Earth. “Here we come to save the daaaaaaaay!” Catrina, standing beside him and nearly brought to tears at the glorious epicness of it all, didn’t bother to point out that the song actually originated from Mighty Mouse.

This has been an episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, go here. And be sure to tune in next week, same Catrina time, same Catrina channel, as our heroines deal with the aftermath of the big battle, the author explains just how exactly Catrina saved the day, and Perry makes a radical new career choice. Thanks for reading!

 

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6 Comments
  1. This is a fun story! Palsgrafica proximo and the sporks cracked me up.

    • It’s been my longstanding theory that spork is an inherently funny word. Like spleen or kumquat. ๐Ÿ˜›

  2. Zombies – of any variety – always get in the way, right?

  3. Exclamation! Marks! Sometimes they take control ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Can you imagine all this as a movie? I would hate to see animated zombie penguins, I’d much prefer zombie penguin puppets. hehe

    • Yes, but then I’d have to do Puppet Catrina, and I don’t think she’d like that at all. ๐Ÿ˜›

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