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In Which Catrina has an Unfortunate Snack

by on April 8, 2013

Last time in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine had just been rescued by Krystelle the rogue elf and Krystelle’s dwarvish boyfriend Smudge from death by laser rifle. In the process, however Catrina learned something astonishing….

Catrina was thunderstruck. Flabbergasted. Completely discombobulated. “Pregnant,” she murmured, as if saying the word might make it more real. “Ye gods and little fishes.”

It wasn’t as if Catrina weren’t acquainted with the facts of life. After three or four extremely awkward conversations with her mother Queen Maralyn, she had gotten the point. Obviously she’d gotten the point, or she wouldn’t be in this situation. But when she’d read the classic princess stories, with damsels in distress and heroic princes, the stories had all ended with a glorious bells-ringing marriage, and then concluded with “And they lived happily ever after.” Now Catrina was beginning to understand what “happily” meant. Not to mention the “ever after.” She was going to have a sequel.

Catrina’s slow trademark half-smile lit her face. A new little princess who could carry on her story, or maybe twins. She felt like it might be twins. All the heroines were having twins these days. Triplets might be a bit much. Quintuplets were right out.  At any rate, Catrina realized that this put a whole new urgency on her quest. She had to get the shovel and track down Perry soon. As in, less than nine months soon. This, of course, assumed that she’d have her children like normal people; it suddenly occurred to her that her author might not know how this stuff worked. Suppose her author’s knowledge on the matter came entirely from TV shows like the Star Trek episode where Worf delivered Keiko O’Brien’s child? That settled it. She had to find Mlrning (the Shovel of Thor!) fast, so she could save Perry and get herself into comfortable surroundings where she could give birth in peace. She couldn’t let her author muck this up.

“Right,” she said, rounding on the startled Thrud, Thor’s daughter, “so, who’re we supposed to see about sneaking into Asgard?”

“You will not like him,” Thrud cautioned. “He is not a pleasant person. Very uncivilized.”

“Well, he can’t be worse than my brother,” Catrina said, scowling. She wondered how he’d take it if he knew he was going to be an uncle. Probably not well. Edmund was such a twip.

“Hey, you ain’t thinking of who I think you’re thinking of, are ya?” Krystelle asked.

“As a matter of fact…” Thrud started.

“Shoot fire,” Krystelle said. “This is gonna be fun.”

Beams of light criss-crossed each other on the receiving pad, and Catrina, Thrud, Krystelle, and Smudge materialized into view. The transport pod operator, a large green lizard, didn’t even glance up from his control station. “Clear the pad, please,” he said in a bored gurgle. “Next.”

They stepped off the pad, down a sterile white-walled corridor, and onto a wide causeway. Catrina looked about warily. The last time she’d come into an unfamiliar spaceport, she’d ended up in a fight with an alien blob that had led to her recent murder conviction. This time, though, things seemed different. The causeway was filled with people, true, but they nearly all seemed humanoid, no blobs or ghoulies or long-legged beasties, or things that go bump in the night. The streets were tidy and litter-free, the advertising signs subtle in their soft neon. Even the noise was different, mostly the low buzz of polite conversation. “So,” Catrina said. “Evelyn Spaceport. It’s less wretched than I’d imagined. Not even a hint of scum and villainy.”

“Oh, there’s villainy here,” Thrud said, her hand tightening on her spear. “It is merely non-obvious.”

“Hooray for non-obvious villainy. Now what about your friend….” Catrina’s voice trailed off. Across the way was a small wheeled cart, which bore (in lovely artistic lettering) an advertisement for what appeared to be a variety of puce apricot. Catrina’s left eyebrow twitched. Suddenly she had never wanted anything more in her life than she wanted one of those puce apricots. “Excuse me for a moment, would you?”

“I do not think we should be-” Thrud started to say.

“I’ll be right back. Honestly. Right back.” And Catrina was already moving, weaving through the crowd of people and apologizing to those she passed, her eyes fixed on the cart.

“What’s with her?” Krystelle ventured. Smudge, beside her, merely grumbled under his breath.

Instead of answering, Thrud scanned the crowd. She noticed a figure in a cheap fedora hat who looked slightly more disreputable than the well-attired people passing him. “There,” she said, pointing with her spear. “Our contact. You two, follow Catrina and protect her from harm. I shall attend to this.”

She moved off before the rogue elf could utter a word of protest. “Oh, sure,” Krystelle complained. “Stick it to the elves. Like I ain’t got anything better to do. Who put her in charge of this thing anyway?”

“Hmph,” Smudge said.

Meanwhile, Catrina had approached the cart. “Hi there,” she said to the cart’s operator, pointing to the puce apricots. “I’d like one of those, please.”

“But of course,” the man said.”That will be three credits.”

Catrina hesitated. She didn’t have a bit of alien currency, credits or squirtninks or anything. She shot a look over her shoulder for Thrud; after all, Thrud was the daughter of Thor and probably heir to a whole mountain of Norse treasure, so surely she could spare Catrina a bit for pears. But Thrud seemed to have gone off somewhere, and Catrina was getting desperate. “I, er, don’t suppose you could just put it on my tab or something?”

“Well…” the man said, and his eyes narrowed. “You aren’t an Earthling, are you?”

“Why would that be a problem?”

“Tell you what, they’re on me,” he said unexpectedly, shoving three of them into a plastic bag. “Have as many as you like.”

Catrina should have been suspicious. The plastic bag didn’t appear sanitary at all, and the man’s voice had gotten a peculiar edge when he’d said the word “Earthling”. But the smell of the puce apricots had just hit her, and though they didn’t smell exactly like your standard Earthling apricots, they smelled at that moment like the most wonderful delicacy ever concocted. Catrina was practically drooling as he handed the bag to her. “Thank you so much,” she said quickly, and darted off to a safe place where she could eat.

“My pleasure,” the man said, staring at her retreating form. “Earthling scum.”

It took Catrina about five minutes to work her way through the delicious alien fruit. She leaned back against the bench where she’d sat down, smiling contentedly. “Goodness,” she said. “I need more of those.” She glanced over to the cart again. Krystelle and Smudge were having an argument with the vendor, where Krystelle seemed to be doing most of the talking. Catrina ventured over that way.

“Oh yeah?” Krystelle was yelling irately. “Well, listen up, buster, I know she was talkin’ to you, and now she ain’t anywhere, so I wanna know what you said to her!”

“For the last time,” the vendor protested, “I didn’t speak with your friend. I haven’t seen any Earthlings today, not one!”

Catrina was confused. “Um, excuse me, but you actually did. I talked to you five minutes ago.”

No one seemed to notice her. “She was headin’ for your cart!” Krystelle snapped. “Where else would she have gone? You think she fell down a hole somewhere?”

“How should I know? Maybe she changed her mind while crossing the street. It’s not my affair if some Earthling goes and gets herself lost.”

“You keep sayin’ Earthling like that and I swear-”

“What is the matter?” Thrud cut in. “I have made arrangements for our passage. We leave in an hour. Where is Catrina?”

“I’m right here!” Catrina exclaimed, waving madly. “Hello! Hey! Right here!”

Nothing. Thrud got into an argument with the elf, blaming her for losing track of her charge. Smudge said nothing, only glowered. The apricot  vendor protested again that he hadn’t seen any Earthling whatever. And through it all, Catrina tried in vain to get their attention. Finally, when Thrud stepped towards the vendor to ask him her own questions, Catrina moved to block her path. “Hey, I’m right-”

Thrud stepped right through her, as though Catrina were completely insubstantial. It was a very peculiar feeling, having someone walk right through you, but the worst of it was, it was all too familiar. Catrina had been a ghost once, visible only to people not important to the story in any way. Now apparently she was a ghost again. If this kept up, she’d have to name her child Casper. She began to wish she’d never eaten those puce apricots. “Stupid cravings,” Catrina sighed. “This is going to be a long nine months.”

This has been another episode of the Catrina Chronicles. To read previous adventures, go here. To buy Catrina in Space, her first novel adventure, in print or e-book form, go here. Thanks for reading!

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  1. This was an interesting twist. I thought the result of eating the apricots would be worse than invisibility, though 🙂

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