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G is for Gnome Enthusiasts

by on August 5, 2013

Last time in the Catrina Chronicles, Susan and Doctor What had just captured Ermingard and Katrina, and were taking them off as part of their newest evil plan….

It was a dark and stormy night. This annoyed Susan to no end, since she knew perfectly well that it had been quite pleasant weather just a few moments ago. But they had just arrived at a ginormous castle with towers and a moat and all, and so of course the night had to be dark and stormy to match. “So freakin’ cliche,” Susan growled.

Just then, the gate creaked open. In a flash of lightning, there appeared a dour-faced man in a formal suit, complete with tails and a little bowtie. “Welcome,” he said stiffly, “to the Fort of Fortitude, castle of Morgana LeFay. Yes, I know, ‘tis a silly name. But when one is the most powerful enchantress in a millenia, one has license to be silly.”

“Right,” said Susan. “Obviously you’re not Morgana LeFay, not unless the Arthur stories got some details wildly wrong.”

“Correct. I am Madam’s butler. Have you business with Madam?”

“You bet we have,” Susan said. “I want the stick.”

The butler’s expression didn’t even flicker. “The…?”

Susan huffed in exasperation. “The Ugly Stick, ya dimwit! The one people are always talking about, when they say someone got beat up with the ugly stick? They keep using it as an idiom, only what they don’t know is that there’s a real ugly stick. Anything it touches, whether it’s a person or a Ming vase or a painting of some moron’s mother, gets cursed by surpassingly gruesome ugliness. I know my magical objects, okay?”

“Then you know,” said the man solemnly, “what the Ugly Stick of Morgana LeFay is actually used for.”

“Yeah. That’s why I want it. Duh.”

“You are aware of the price?”

Susan rolled her eyes. This was really getting to be unnecessary. “Yes, I’m aware, that’s why I brought them,” she replied, gesturing to the unconscious forms of Katrina and Ermingard lying on the ground. “You think I’m stupid?

“Hm,” said the butler, as more lightning flashed in the sky. “Only one is reqired for the sacrifice.”

“So I brought a spare.”

Doctor What had been looking more and more uncomfortable as the conversation went on, and now he turned positively green. “Sacrifice?” he blurted. “As in, blood? As in medieval unhygenic blood sacrifices where parts are removed and lots of other gruesome things happen?”

“Goodness no,” the butler said, looking quite shocked. “Madam would not be so…uncivilized. As it happens, she has a fondness for garden gnomes.” He gestured to the courtyard behind them, which was indeed littered with small statues of grubby bearded men with pointy hats. “Madam is quite the gnome enthusiast.”

Susan smiled wickedly, as Doctor What sighed in relief. “Oh, do I wish Catrina were here,” she said. “What I wouldn’t give to turn her into a garden gnome. Ah, well. Que sera sera. Let’s get on with the good bit, shall we?

“I shall summon Madam,” the butler said, and walked away, leaving Susan and the doctor standing at the gate.

“By the way,” Susan asked, “what exactly are you a doctor of?”

“What do you mean?” Doctor What returned, adjusting his sweater-vest.

“You call yourself a doctor. What of? You have medical expertise? Psychology, maybe? You went to law school? What?”

“It’s an honorary title,” he said, looking offended. “I was given it upon completion of my first world-domination scheme.”

“Almost completion,” Susan sniggered. “Till you got pounded by Frying Pan Man. Really? Frying Pan Man? That was your nemesis?”

“He was working with Lady Gnarly,” the doctor protested.

“Right. I remember her. Her only power is turning any color into tie-dye. And yet she still somehow stopped you. With her boyfriend the kitchen utensil. I’m really at a loss to understand why anyone’s afraid of you.”

The doctor sniveled. “Well, if you feel that way, why’d you bring me along on this thing?”

“Because you’re the only one who can work that stupid Time Lime,” she said, pointing to the small green object he still held in his hand. “And I don’t even know why you’re the only one, since you hate time travel. Whatever. Once I get the Ugly Stick, all you have to do is zap me over to the gates of Character Hell. Then you can go back to your own time period doing whatever it is you do. Honestly. Scariest Villain of the Decade. That awards panel must have been smokin’ something.”

Doctor What was about to object when he was interrupted by yet another convenient flash of lightning, Morgana LeFay appeared in a spray of light before them. Her face was hidden beneath a golden mask, but her voice still rang out cold and clear. “You wish to wield the Enchanted Stick of Uglification?”

“I prefer ugly stick, but yeah, I do,” Susan rejoined. “And yes, I know the price, yes I know only one person’s needed but I brought extra just in case, yes I know all the things you’re about to say so just get on with it!
Morgana sniffed. “You young people have no appreciation for ritual.  There are traditions involved here. In my day…”

“Oy,” Susan said. “Maybe I’ll just take my business somewhere else, and you won’t even get your stupid garden gnomes!”

The enchantress’s voice wavered, just a bit. “No, no, I was merely commenting. Just because you have no respect for formalities, that does not mean I wish to endanger our transaction. I have not made new additions to my collection, of late.” She produced a long silver wand from her sleeve. “Produce the sacrifices.”

Susan and Doctor What dragged the two forward. Morgana LeFay, the most powerful enchantress of the medieval time, raised her wand high and began reciting a complicated Latin incantation. Unfortunately, Susan had entirely neglected her studies before she became the Mistress of all Character Hell, particularly in Latin grammar, and so she had no idea what Morgana was saying. She only knew a few Latin words, which she used for the odd evil spell she’d picked up along the way, not nearly enough to translate. Perry could have, as he was a philological expert, but he’d been turned into a bear and was therefore of no help to anyone at present.

It was just then that Katrina regained consciousness. She’d picked an extremely inconvenient time. Just as her eyes flickered open, a green bolt of magical energy shot from Morgana’s wand straight to her. “Oh, no,” Katrina said, “you did not just shoot that green-”

She might have said something very inappropriate if she hadn’t abruptly transmogrified into a garden gnome. Her look of surprise and outrage was still evident on her gnomish face, even if it was slightly hidden by a puffy white beard worthy of those fellows from Duck Dynasty. Ermingard didn’t even have the luxury of waking up to realize what was happening before she was a garden gnome as well. Morgana snapped her fingers, and the butler (accompanied by a newly arrived gardener) whisked the garden gnomes away. Then she vanished too, and the castle gate slammed shut. On the mud-strewn pavement before it lay a stubbly brown stick.

Susan grinned like an insane rabbit. “Finally!”  The doctor gave a twist to the Time Lime, and they were both off again, leaving behind nothing but the pouring rain.

This has been another episode of the Catrina Chronicles. Be sure to tune in next week, as our adventure continues!  For previous episodes, go here. For my Amazon author page, go here. Thanks for reading!


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  1. A collection of garden gnomes sounds a bit creepy to me 🙂

  2. I laughed so hard at the idea of there being a real Ugly Stick I woke my cat up. By the look on his face I’m guessing he’s about to go hunting garden gnomes 😉

    • My apologies to your cat. 🙂 I have a cat myself; he’s not particularly thrilled when he’s awakened untimely either.
      And just wait till you hear what the real Ugly Stick is used for…. 😀

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