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Like Footballs of Hope

by on April 15, 2013

Last time in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine had been tricked into eating alien puce apricots, which isn’t an advisable thing to do, and would soon have dramatic consequences….

There are very many kinds of elves. Some elves are good at not dying, looking like Orlando Bloom, and doing splendid things with trees. Other elves are good at being small, acting as domestic help, and referring to themselves in the third person. Still other elves are the kind that help jolly fat men deliver Christmas presents.

Krystelle was none of these. She was the kind of elf who would burn down a tree for a bonfire rather than write a lovely poem about its golden leaves. She was also the kind of elf who got very, very mad when someone messed with her friends. That explained why the point of her elven sword was now pressed tight against the unhappy apricot vendor’s throat. The sword had a lovely elvish name, written on its blade in elegant runes, but Krystelle didn’t care a bit for that. She’d named the sword Miranda. “And, buster,” she said to the terrified apricot vendor, “Miranda ain’t happy. So spill. Now.”

The apricot vendor duly spilled. “She’s an Earthling, you see, and we don’t care for Earthlings around these parts, and plus I was ordered to make trouble for a certain Earthling matching her description if she showed, so I let her have the puce apricots. But it’s not as bad as all that, she only had three, so she only lost about nine months or so.”

Krystelle had focused in on the “I was ordered” part of the confession, and she was about to demand more, when Thrud cut in, her eyes wide with sudden alarm. “What, precisely, do you mean that she lost nine months?”

“Well,” the vendor explained, “those apricots, the puce ones, have a funny effect on Earthlings. They get shifted out of the space-time continuum. It’s only temporary, and she’ll reappear any second now, she’ll only be nine months older, she won’t notice it one bit…”

“Oh, I think she will,” Thrud said grimly. “She is with child. She just learned. And if she’s now nine months gone, when she reappears…”

There was a sudden puce-y flash, and Catrina rematerialized. It was fairly safe to say that she noticed she had just skipped nine months forward in time. Before anyone could explain, her face twisted, and she let out a strangled “Urph!” sound. Water splished around her boots. Catrina gasped. “Am I…I’m going to…I’m not….” Her face twisted again as another pain hit.

“Oh, no,” she said, rallying, “oh, that is the limit. That is the absolute limit. I have had so many weird things happen in my life. I have been zombified. I have been kaboominated. At least, I think I have, that may have happened in an alternate timeline, or maybe it hasn’t happened yet, who knows. Anyway. I have been turned violet. I have….and I’m about to have another ow contraction so let me just cut this short. The one thing I wanted to be normal is suddenly happening now and it’s not normal! I didn’t want it to happen here!” Her eyes glistened with unusual tears.

Thrud raised her spear. “By Asgard, it jolly well will not!” Blue-white light flashed about them, and suddenly Catrina found herself in the infirmary of Shmirmingard Castle, materializing very tidily in a nice comfortable bed with fluffy white pillows, with some very astonished nurses standing by.

“Well, that’s better,” Catrina said, “But I don’t suppose you could get Perry here? He really should be on hand.”

The daughter of Thor waved her spear again, and Perry appeared in a flash of surprise. “Hello there,” Catrina said, wincing as a contraction hit. They were coming fairly fast now.

“What on earth?” Perry said, completely flabbergasted.

“Two things,” Catrina gasped, her face flushed. “One: I’m having a child. Two: it’s yours. Yes, I know we haven’t been married all that long, I had some puce apricots that skipped my personal timeline forward nine months, which is why I’m having it now. Got that?”

Perry sat down in a conveniently placed chair. “We’re having a baby,” he said in wonderment, as if saying it alone might somehow make it more true.

“Actually,” Catrina said, “I’m having the baby. You’re just-ow- standing there. And you know, you might really be better going outside in the corridor and waiting. I’m going to have a completely normal birth, and I’m given to understand this takes several hours. Not like in stories where it’s all over in seconds and everybody’s happy and smiling. There’s going to be amniotic fluids and things. So you’d better go out and wait. Read a-ow-book.”

“But shouldn’t I be in here to give you moral support or something like that?”

Catrina glared fiercely as she had ever done. “If you stay around you’re going to go all panicky and I really ow do not need panicky right now.”

“I’m not going to panic,” Perry said, quite calmly. “Why should I panic? I mean, I was only being held captive by Utgarda-Loki and suddenly whisked away here where I find that you’re not only pregnant but you’re actually giving birth right now. That’s not a situation one should panic about, should one, of course not, I’m perfectly calm, yes, perfectly-”

He might’ve gone on for hours had he not suddenly turned pale and fallen over. Colin the Mime Assassin stepped out of the shadows where he’d been lurking, as princess’s bodyguards were contractually obliged to do. “I’ll take care of him,” he said gruffly. “And good luck with the having a baby…thing.”

“Thanks a lot,” Catrina said as yet another contraction hit, but she smiled at him nonetheless. Colin had been her bodyguard for a good long time. His being there made this experience seem almost as it should be. Just like any other princess, instead of someone who’d gotten resurrected multiple times and completely blown through the fourth wall. It was almost normal.

***

Perry regained consciousness in the corridor outside the infirmary. He was sitting on a wooden bench, Colin the Mime Assassin next to him. “Here,” Colin said, pushing a tumbler of blueberry cordial at him, “It’ll calm your nerves.”

The librarian’s assistant, now turned Catrina’s sidekick, grabbed for it. “How long have I been out?”

“Oh, I should say a couple of hours,” Colin said. “And it’ll be a few hours more yet before anything happens. These things take time, you know.”

“Corks,” Perry said, still trying to get used to the whole idea. They hadn’t even discussed names, or spots for the nursery.

The clock ticked maddeningly on. Perry paced up and down the corridor. Occasionally he heard Catrina screaming bloody murder (or at least bloody manslaughter) in the distance, but when he poked round the infirmary door to see if he could help, the nurses informed him that everything was quite under control and proceeding normally.  Perry wondered: with him being Santa Claus (though he hadn’t had a chance to do his Santa bit yet, what with being kidnapped by Utgarda-Loki and all), and with Catrina being, well, Catrina, would their children even be normal? Suppose they had magical powers? Suppose they skipped forward in time like she had done? Suppose they came out wrong?

“You’re getting panicky again,” Colin said. “You want I should get another cordial?”

“No, well, maybe, yes, you probably should-”

But at that moment the infirmary door opened, and Sister Mary Patricia, the capable infirmary matron appeared. “You’d better come in.”

Perry wavered. “Is she…”

After a single second in which Perry imagined all sorts of horrible eventualities, Mary Patricia smiled. “She’s fine. They’re all three of them fine.”

“Three?” Perry repeated.

“She had twins,” Mary Patricia said. “It’s not uncommon. Boy and girl. And, as I said, they’re all fine. Perfectly normal.”

Perry followed her inside in a sort of stunned happiness. Colin didn’t move from the bench, but he relaxed just a bit. “Thunder-turtles,” he said in amazement to himself. “Twins.”

On the bed where Thrud had so helpfully transported her, a very tired but very happy Catrina lay back on the pillows, her new daughter held close in her arms, while a nurse stood by waiting with the other twin. “Hey,” Catrina said as Perry approached. “Surprise.”

The nurse carefully handed the baby off to Perry, who didn’t know what to say at all. “Well,” he said, looking down at his new little sequel, “What do we call them?”

“I picked out names, actually,” Catrina said. “I’ve got Tamalyn Marmoset. You’ve got Timothy Montgomery.”

“I like it…” Perry said. “Timothy and Tamalyn. It has a ring to it.”

“Actually, it’s Tamalyn and Timothy. She was three seconds first.”

“Right,” Perry said. “Well, then. Tamalyn and Timothy. Welcome to the story.”

He could tell by the look in Catrina’s eyes that he’d said the right thing. And so, for that one moment, they really were living happily ever after.

This has been a very special episode of the Catrina Chronicles. In case you wondered, the title is an allusion to one of my favorite quotes ever by the Tick.

“Everybody was a baby once, Arthur. Oh, sure, maybe not today, or even yesterday. But once. Babies, chum: tiny, dimpled, fleshy mirrors of our us-ness, that we parents hurl into the future, like leathery footballs of hope. And you’ve got to get a good spiral on that baby, or evil will make an interception!”  

I love the Tick.
For previous episodes in the Catrina Chronicles, go here
. To buy Catrina in Space from Amazon in print or e-book form, go here. Thanks for reading!

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4 Comments
  1. Well too bad she didn’t eat another apricot – then she could’ve skipped the whole labor thing! Twins…yikes 🙂

    • Good point; obviously she should’ve had one more. I’ll have to remember that for next time. 🙂

  2. I love the Tick to. I am stealing the quote and will be posting it on my blog sometime in the future. Therefore you do no have to send me a check this month for following your blog, I will take the quote in lieu of payment.

    • A currency based on quotes from cartoon characters….you know, that would be interesting. I must remember that for a story sometime. 😛

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