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She’s Catrina and She Knows It

by on September 4, 2012

Last time, in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine wasn’t in any particular danger herself. Poor Jennifer, however, a minor character only recently introduced, had been tied to a railroad track by Susan, and was about to get run over by a train…..

“Remain calm!” Catrina said, as she searched her brain for a way to cut Jennifer free. Ordinarily she would just slash through the ropes with her Sporksaber, but that would’ve been too easy.

“Calm? Calm?” Jennifer shrieked. “Do calm and trains go together? CALM and TRAINS?”

“Will you stop paraphrasing The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and let me think?” Catrina rejoined. The oncoming train echoed her sentiment with a hearty toot.

It was at that moment of intense crisis that a sudden burst of golden light flared over Catrina’s right shoulder, resolving into a tiny angelic version of Catrina herself, except that it had little white wings and a golden halo. Celestial choral music hummed in the background. “Hail, Catrina, you whose life is highly complicated!” it said. “Er, sorry about the delay. When you got retconned and your name got changed in Episode 20, we lost track of you for a bit. ‘Pologies!”

“We?” Catrina asked, though she had a sneaking suspicion she knew the answer already. Sure enough, a microscope flame blazed over her left shoulder, and another tiny version of herself appeared, this one with little red horns and a tail. Instead of peaceful choir music, the new arrival went right into a spontaneous musical backed by a mix of kazoos and accordions (a truly diabolical medley). “When I walk onto your shoulder, this is what I see, this stupid shoulder-angel just staring at me. I got evil on my side and I’m not afraid to show it, show it, show it….I’m Catrina and I know it!”

“You’re not really me,” Catrina corrected with a sigh. “You’re a manifestation of my dark side that wants to turn me to the path of villainy. You’ll want me to just walk away and leave….erm….I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name?”

“Jennifer. J-E-N-N-I-F-E-R. My last name’s Villwock, I’ll have to spell that for you too, so you can put it correctly on the death certificate that’ll be issued when this train runs over me which it’s going to do ANY SECOND NOW!”

Shoulder-angel-Catrina decided that what the situation needed was, in the words of the Cabby from The Magician’s Nephew,Β  a ‘ymn. She twanged her harp experimentally. “Ohhhhh precious is the flow…”

“Not that I don’t mind hymns,” Catrina said, “but do you perhaps have a suggestion pertinent to the problem here? We don’t exactly have an abundance of time. And I am not,” she said, just as her shoulder-devil raised its hand, “going to walk away and leave her there.”

“Drat,” grumbled the shoulder-devil.

“I might have an idea,” said the shoulder-angel. “Verily, in the classics of Greek literature, it was said that Helen of Troy was so beautiful that her face could launch a thousand ships. And indeed, I have heard that scientists in the modern world have quantified her ship-launching power, so that, for example, one milli-helen is the amount of beauty required to launch a single ship. A centi-helen could launch ten ships, and so on.”

Catrina looked confused. “But we’re not trying to launch ships, we’re trying to stop a train. I’m not sure I see the relevance.”

The shoulder-devil suddenly started chortling. “Oh-ho-ho-ho, I get it! Oh snap!Β 

Bravely the shoulder angel plunged on. “Well, if there’s a certain amount of beauty that could launch naval craft in one direction, it stands to reason that a certain amount of…um….well….the opposite quality could launch ships or other sizable objects the other way.”

“And just what,” Catrina said archly, “are you implying?”

“Girl, you know exactly what she’s implying!” the shoulder-devil said, convulsing in laughter. “I didn’t expect that from Miss Shiny-pants, though!”

The shoulder angel looked very much upset. “I meant no offense, honestly, I was only trying to help….”

Catrina really hated when she got caught in the middle of her shoulder-companion’s disputes. “Okay, maybe you’ve got something. Maybe if I make a face at the train, it’ll stop. Why not? It’d make about as much sense as anything else in this story.”

“You’re going to make a face at the train?” Jennifer said in horror. “THAT’S your plan?”

Catrina shrugged. “Just roll with it, Jen. Just roll with it.”

“I CAN’T ROLL WITH IT BECAUSE I’M TIED TO THIS RAILROAD TRACK!”

“Oh, stop being so literal.”

“AHHHHHHHHHH!”

*toooooot* *tooooooot*

The train swept round the final bend and thundered down upon them. Catrina stood defiantly on the track, screwed her courage to the sticking place, and made the most hideous face she could think of. “Bleh!” she cried, sticking out her tongue for good measure. And, to everyone’s surprise (including the author’s) the train actually slowed down and came to a jerky stop, not two inches from Jennifer’s head.

“Voila,” said Catrina. “The day is saved. I’d estimate that as, minus two millihelens, wouldn’t you say?”

“I don’t understand…” whimpered Jennifer. “I don’t understand anything.”

“There, there,” Catrina said, giving her a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “Tell you what: I’ll find you a nice calm historical romance to get into, where you’ll meet a decent hero and live happily ever after, okay?”

“That would be nice…”

“Yes, yes it would. I’m married myself, I should mention, though I haven’t seen ol’ what’s his face for a while now. I wonder where he’s got to?”

At that dramatic moment, an arrow went zzzzzip-thwack into the dirt beside the railroad track, very narrowly missing Catrina’s shoe. “Oh, excellent!” she cried. “A message! I’m probably being called on to rescue somebody! Hurrah!”

“Betcha it’ll be some idiot in a tower who’ll fall out of it and then turn up and launch into a musical,” the shoulder-devil grumbled.

“Even idiots who fall out of towers are worth saving,” the shoulder-angel countered.

Catrina decided not to venture an opinion on that debate; instead, she did a much more practical thing and read the message. It was fairly short and to the point, and in Perry’s handwriting. Catrina, I’ve been kidnapped by a frost giant who calls himself Utgarda-Loki. He’s very insistent that I mention he’s not the other Loki, the one everyone’s raving over. This Loki says he won’t let me go until I or someone else brings him Mlrning. I thought Mlrning sounded like someone tried to spell “morning” and made a mistake. Apparently it’s not. So, you need to find Mlrning, whatever it is. Fast.”

Catrina pondered the cryptic message for several long minutes. “Mlrning… ” she murmured to herself. “Hm.”

Now, it was true that Catrina hadn’t had the most successful academic career ever; she’d flunked clean out of Beginning Quenya, as she much preferred running around with swords and having adventures to studying complicated Elvish languages. But she had paid attention to a few things in school, and one of those things happened to be a course she’d taken once on Norse mythology. Her eyes lit up with a wildly happy gleam. “Mlrning! Of course! The Shovel of Thor!”

“The….shovel of Thor?” Jennifer repeated. As it happened, Jennifer had also paid attention to her Norse mythology classes in school, but she didn’t remember anything about the shovel of Thor.

“Of course!” Catrina exclaimed in raptures. “Oh what a quest! The Shovel of Thor! The mighty digging tool with which he plants daisies or digs little ditches or scrapes ice off the Asgardian driveway when it gets cold! And I get to find it! Oh happy day! Callooh! Callay!” she chortled in her joy.

“…I still don’t understand,” mourned Jennifer. And indeed she never did. The next day she fell through a wormhole into a Victorian England romance, met a dashing marquis from Scotland, and lived happily ever after. Meanwhile, having solved that little difficulty, Catrina set out on her legendary quest for Mlrning, the Shovel of Thor.

This has been another episode of the Catrina Chronicles. To catch up on past episodes, click here. You can find a whole novel in which Catrina has adventures, “Catrina in Space”, on Amazon, by clicking here. Also, props to NaNoWriMo in general, and poster WrittenWord in particular, for creating the typo that led to Mlrning, the Shovel of Thor. And for some reason, typing that phrase amuses me to no end. πŸ™‚

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6 Comments
  1. Just letting you know I have started reading CATRINA : IN SPACE, woooo! πŸ™‚

  2. I’m glad her ‘ugly’ face stopped the train, otherwise things would’ve gotten really ugly!

    • Indeed they might’ve. It’s a good thing Catrina’s shoulder-angel is so familiar with Greek mythology.

  3. Typos can be SO USEFUL!! πŸ™‚

    WAHOOOOOOOO i am all caught up! πŸ™‚ Now I shall await the next adventures of Thoriness. love the ref to the current Loki everyone is raving about. i am a bit of a “that Loki” fan myself πŸ˜‰

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  1. Ermingard and Katrina vs. Vikings « Hypothetically Writing

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