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A is for Accitent

by on June 24, 2013

Last time, in the Catrina Chronicles, Perry, our heroine’s loyal sidekick and wedded husband, had discovered the long-lost trousers of the great wizard Merlin. As an unfortunate consequence, however, he had gotten himself transformed into a bear. Meanwhile, his maiden fair, blissfully unaware that her Perry was a bear, was facing some troubles of her own…

Connecticut Smith was growing concerned. When Krystelle the rogue elf had teleported down to Catrina’s small raft afloat on the post-apocalyptic sea, she had helpfully left her communicator open. He’d been listening to the conversation between Catrina, Krystelle, and the dolphins of DERP, and decided that things had taken a most troublesome turn. He spun around in his captain’s spinny chair and pressed the intercom button. “Hey, Demi, would you mind teleporting Krystelle and Catrina out of there? Those dolphins are about to start shootin’ at ’em, and I don’t think they’d like that much.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” his pilot Demi La Monde replied, “but I can’t do that.”

“What, you can’t lock on to their signal? Some kinda electromagnetic interference blocking the transport?”

“Oh, no, their signal’s clear as a bell. No interference whatever. But, you see, there could be interference, there often is, particularly in emergency situations. So I decided it would be prudent to only use the teleporters in ordinary, non-emergency situations, when everything is quite safe.”

“I see,” Connecticut said, though he didn’t really. “So…you can’t teleport ’em back up, and we can’t teleport down.”

“Oh, no, you can go down anytime you like. You just can’t teleport back.”

“Now how does that make any kind of sense?”

He couldn’t see it, but the space explorer had the distinct impression that Demi was rolling her eyes. “Sir, didn’t you take that course in Abramsian Physics at Flight School?”

“Didn’t go to Flight School, Demi.”

“Oh. Right. Well, basically, the plot demands that we can send someone, or something, down, but we can’t teleport it back up. It’d muck up the whole story if we did that. Unsatisfactory resolution. The readers would be disappointed, think we were using a deus ex machina to dodge the conflict. And so on.”

“Okay. Fine. Whatever. So, Demi, would you mind tellin’ me just what you want us to teleport down there?”

“Well, sir, there is one thing….”

***

Back down on the raft, Catrina raised her voice in a last, desperate plea. “Honestly, even if I wanted to give you the Shovel, I don’t have it! Can’t you see that?” She held out her hands in demonstration. All at once light flashed, and something fairly heavy thwacked into her outstretched palm. Catrina staggered a bit, unaccustomed to the sudden weight, but quickly regained her balance on the raft. Her eyes grew wide as dinner plates. “Oh. Well. I stand corrected. It looks like I do have it.”

Indeed she did. In her hand was Mlrning, the Shovel of Thor, forged long ago by ancient Dwarven hardware-store owners, who had gone on holiday, gotten bored, and wanted something to do. Its arrow-shaped blade, grey as charcoal burned in a summer picnic which has unfortunately been interrupted by a plague of fire ants, glinted in the cold air. Its deep brown handle felt solid in her hand, sturdy as the very earth, and on it were ancient Norse runes scarred into the wood. Catrina wasn’t very good with languages (she’d flunked clean out of Beginning Quenya), but she had taken a class on Norse mythology once, and she remembered what the runes meant well enough. Whosoever holds this shovel, if he be worthy, shall never be Thor in the morning. 

For the first time in a long while, her trademark smile spread slowly across her face. “Well, now,” she said, her voice dropping an ominous octave or two. “It seems the situation has changed. I have the Shovel now. And if you stupid derphins don’t back off and let me and Krystelle go about our business, I shall not hesitate to bring this Shovel down, right smack on your flippers!”

The dolphins of DERP, curiously, didn’t seem too concerned. “Go ahead,” the leader grunted, “try it.”

“Oh, I won’t try,” Catrina said. “I’m gonna do.” And with that, she raised Mlrning above her head, and waved it in a dramatic circle, before bringing it down upon the water with a mighty splash.

She’d expected something to happen. She wasn’t too clear on what Mlrning (the Shovel of Thor!) actually did, but she had a few ideas. She knew it wouldn’t bring lightning, that belonged to Mewmew or whatever it was, one of Thor’s other garden implements. But shovels were often associated with snow and ice, so she’d thought perhaps a massive snowstorm would come bursting from the heavens. Maybe a sudden mountain of dirt would smack into the dolphins, or a gigantic flower garden would whack them over the head. She was prepared for anything. But then, nothing happened. Water splished about a bit, but then subsided. The dolphins looked unimpressed. “Didn’t ya read the inscription?” the leader said. “If he be worthy. Obviously it doesn’t think you’re worthy.”

Catrina was about to object that of course she was worthy, when suddenly a tiny figure materialized on her shoulder. At first she thought it was her shoulder angel, come to render helpful moral advice and convince her to follow the path of light. However, this particular small version of herself wasn’t wearing a halo, or carrying a harp. Instead it wore professional business attire, right down to color-coordinated heels, and carried a microscopic legal pad. “Hello,” it introduced itself primly. “I’m Catrina’s shoulder-attorney. I’m here to render legal advice and services to my client, and also to assist in issues of statutory and contract interpretation.”

“What?” Catrina said, completely flummoxed.

“Clearly, the language of the runes does not apply in this circumstance,” the shoulder-attorney went on, taking no notice of her bewildered client. “The inscription says, if he be worthy. This qualification obviously applies to any male Norseman who picks up the Shovel; however, it logically does not apply to a woman who might pick it up. My client is of course a woman, therefore she can pick up the Shovel and use its power without any qualification as to her alleged unworthiness.”

As Catrina was trying to follow along with the argument, one of the dolphins raised a flipper. He had, as it happened, acquired some legal knowledge from a friend of his who was a loan shark. “Yeah, but that’s the generic he, isn’t it? The generic  refers to the whole of humankind, not one specific gender. Thor’s got a daughter, right, Thrud, and he’d be expecting her to wield the Shovel sometime, so an interpretation that precludes her use of the shovel clearly goes against Thor’s original intent.”

“It might,” the shoulder-attorney returned, “but that’s clearly not what the language states in plain text, and-”

“Scuse me,” Krystelle interrupted. “But why the heck are we spending all this time arguin’ about some pronoun on a stupid shovel?”

The dolphin commander smiled, and leveled his laser rifle rifle again. “Good point. Let’s just skip to the part where I blast you people into tiny bits.” The other dolphins raised their own laser rifles.

“Thanks a lot,” Catrina said, glaring at the elf. Then she readied herself for what she believed would be her sixth death. Possibly seventh. She was beginning to lose count.  But then, just as the dolphins fired, a sudden blur of plastic swept in before her, blocking the shots entirely. Catrina gasped, as the entire raft was rapidly encased inside a protective bubble, outside of which the furious dolphins of DERP squeaked in frustrated rage. “What on…”

Her shoulder angel flashed into existence, looking very pleased with itself. “Ta-da!” it said with a flourish of its halo. “I’ve saved you! I deployed the Accitent!”

“The what?”

“The Accitent! You know, like when someone says something happened by Pure Accitent, or that Accitents Will Happen, or that something was a Happy Accitent? Well, this is it! The Happy Accitent! It’s a magical tent that protects you from harm!”

Catrina thought about observing that accitent didn’t quite mean what her shoulder angel thought it meant, and that in fact it wasn’t even spelled that way, but then she considered that the shoulder angel might get upset and go off in a huff, and take her Accident with her, and that wouldn’t work out well at all.

“Right,” she said, “So…how do I get this shovel to work for me?”

The shoulder angel looked very serious. “I think,” it said in its tiny chipmunk voice, “you’ll have to work that out for yourself. Listen to your heart, Catrina. What does it tell you?” It went into a brief snatch of song. “Listen with your heart, you will understand….”

Catrina closed her eyes, as a sudden helpful gust of wind swirled her black hair for dramatic effect, and attempted to listen to her heart. After a few moments, all she got was a steady thumpa-thumpa-thumpa. It was possibly a little quicker than it should be, but that was probable due to the stress she’d been under recently, what with Ragnarok and all. “I’m not sure I’m understanding. Should I be using a stethoscope?”

The shoulder angel flew into a tizzy. “I was speaking metaphorically! Not literally! Listen to your metaphorical heart!”

“Oh. Well, that would make more sense. Perhaps I should try again?”

“Yes. Do that.”

Catrina closed her eyes once more, ignored her steadily beating literal heart, and attempted to focus on her metaphorical heart. “I think…” she whispered. “I might be getting something…”  The wind picked up obligingly again. Catrina’s eyes flew open. “I’ve got it! I know what to do! I’ve got to-”


To Be Continued.

***

This has been another exciting episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, go here. To visit my Amazon author page where you can buy other tales of Catrina in print or e-book form, go here. Thanks for reading!

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4 Comments
  1. Jeff permalink

    Hey, Michael, found your blog. Good stuff. 🙂

  2. You truly just keep getting better and better, as a story all on its own this was my favorite installment so far, and I laughed my @ss off through the whole thing. From DERP, to derphins, to the shoulder attorney (you have to read Pratchett, seriously, and don’t skip the Wee Free Men trilogy) and the happy accitent, it was just ridiculous, clever, talented fun. Well done 😉

    • Pratchett is definitely on my reading list; I just have to get through Robert Jordan, and then I’m there. 😛 I’m so glad you enjoyed it; when one writes comic randomness, one is quite anxious whether other people will find it as funny as one does oneself. That’s my mission in life, it seems, to make other people laugh their derrieres off. With great comedy, comes great responsibility, and all that. 😀

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