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R is for Repossession

by on December 20, 2013

Last time in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine had decided to rally her friends in a heroic effort to heroically fight the Atlantean fleet, in a battle that would be the stuff of heroism! First on her list, however, was the decidedly not heroic Susan….

The Lake of the Omnicides was the very lowest point in Character Hell, and the darkest. In its eternally frozen depths were locked the various fictional beings who had tried to destroy their whole universes. The ice around them was smooth and clear as glass, so any passer-by could look down and see the imprisoned destroyers of fictional galaxies. The only sound in the frozen lake was the whirring of the Zambonis of Terror, sweeping to and fro in their remorseless course.

At least, that was the way it was supposed to be. That was how Susan had seen it last, before she was overthrown and kicked out of Character Hell. Now, however, she had returned, and she was not happy. Not one bit. “This is crap. This is total crap!” she exclaimed in exasperation to her iguana guide.

“Well,” the iguana said diffidently, “the Lake is not supposed to be a pleasant experience exactly…”

Susan rolled her eyes. “No, you moron, I don’t mean it’s bad as in evil, I mean bad as in unprofessional! Evil has standards! I mean, yes, I like to subvert the usual cliches, maybe kill the hero right off instead of waiting politely for him to power up and come at me, that sort of thing, but I never let things get like this! Every level we’ve been, it’s the same. Like the Cafeteria of Calamity, where all the bullies of those high school stories go. They’re supposed to be served three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwiches (with arsenic sauce) forever, right? But nooooo. One of those idiots ordered pizza! You’re not supposed to get pizza in hell!”

“We’d run out of arsenic sauce, you see, ma’am,” the iguana attempted to explain.

“And why?” Susan demanded. “When I was in charge, all the arsenic sauce was delivered weekly! In special trucks! On time! But apparently that idiot brother of Catrina’s couldn’t even get the trucks running on time, and now look at this place!”  She gestured down to her feet. “What is that? Tell me. What is that?”

“Erm….slush?” said the iguana hesistantly.

“Yes. Hellslush,” Susan said, and her voice went very low and dangerous. “Since when does the Lake of the Omnicides have slush? Where are the Zambonis, you incompetent iguana? Where are the Zambonis?”

The iguana sighed. “They were sold off. We got behind in our bills to the arsenic sauce company, and then they gave us some credit in exchange for a security interest in the Zambonis, and when we still couldn’t pay, they repossessed them.”

“Repossessed,” Susan repeated. “My Zambonis of Terror got repossessed. By the company that makes arsenic sauce. Because you couldn’t pay them.”

“Right.”

“And why were we paying them in the first place? Don’t we have their president locked in Circle Six for all eternity?”

“He, er, got out on good behavior.”

Susan didn’t reply for a long moment. When she spoke again, her voice was quite calm. “Where are we?”

The iguana seemed lost. “Where, ma’am?”

“Yes. Where are we.”

“We’re in Character Hell, ma’am.”

“But that can’t be. We can’t be in Character Hell. Because, see, Character Hell is a place where one goes to suffer in eternal torment. And that isn’t happening here, is it? People are getting pizza delivered. There’s no Zambonis. And now you tell me that you let someone out on good behaviour. So, where are we?”

The iguana didn’t know what to say. Sadly, that didn’t stop it from saying something anyway. “It wasn’t my decision, actually, his request was approved by the Fifty-Third Iguana Committee, and-”

Susan didn’t even bother to ask about the iguana committees. Blue fire blasted from her hand and reduced the poor iguana to smouldering bits of ash.  She kicked a bit of the hellslush over the ash for good measure. Then she set out alone across the lake. She knew, deep in its center, was the official throne of Character Hell. She would go there and claim it, and then set about making things right again. And that pizza delivery would be the first thing to go. Of that Susan was sure.

As she marched forward, across the slushy surface of the frozen lake, she noticed that there seemed to be an obstruction up ahead. The smooth ice had piled up into a jagged ridge blocking her way. Susan wondered what could possibly have gone wrong now. Summoning all her dark powers, she fire-blasted a way through the ridge, and emerged on the other side. Then she gasped. For once in her long career of evil, Susan was truly shaken.

Before her, a wide crack yawned in the icy lake, gaping like the mouth of one of those singing fish you hang on your wall that sings “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and moves its tail. But all she could hear emanating from the massive crevice was a cold silence. Whoever had been down there had escaped. The worst of it was, Susan knew where she was. She knew who had been imprisoned in that particular spot. “Oh joy,” she said. “This is just ducky.”

All at once she heard a sudden rushing wind. She looked up, and saw a white figure blazing through the sky like a falling star. It drew closer, and Susan scowled when she saw who it was. “Catrina. Crap.”  Ordinarily she would have been happy to engage Catrina in a battle for the death; it’d been a while since she’d had a fight with her archnemesis. But she would’ve much preferred to face Catrina with her own house in order. It was freakin’ embarrassing, is what it was, having Catrina show up now, with hell-slush everywhere and the crack in the ice beside her.

Catrina landed with a bump, still holding on to Mlrning, the Shovel of Thor. In her other hand she held a steaming slice of cheese pizza. “I stopped on the way down for a bite to eat,” she said to Susan blithely. “I hadn’t known you had food like this in Character Hell.”

Susan snarled some unprintable insults at her. Catrina sighed. “So much for the pleasantries. Let’s get to the matter, then. I need your help.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Susan asked.

Catrina repeated, very slowly, “I need your help.”

The ex-mistress of all Character Hell snorted in derision. “The heck why?”

“Well, to summarize, the person I married turned out to be a spy for Atlantis, and now they’ve invaded my kingdom and they’re trying to take it over. They’ve got a fair few magicians with them, and I need all the magical help I can get to fight back. You helped fight the zombie penguins once before. I thought you might help again.”

“You do know I’m evil, right?” Susan said. “Why on earth would I help you? Or…” and now, for the first time since she’d arrived at Character Hell, Susan smiled. “What can I get you to do for me in exchange?”

Catrina hadn’t quite thought it out that far. “Erm. Well. You can’t have Shmirmingard. Beyond that…I suppose….”

Susan had all sorts of wonderful ideas. But then she remembered the crack in the Lake, and who had escaped from it, and with a sigh she realized what she had to do. “Okay, here’s the deal. I need to be in charge of Character Hell again. You know this, I know this. The previous management-”

“My brother. I know.”

“Yeah, your brother, let it all go to pieces. In the process, something got out. Or rather, someone. You help me round him up, and get me back on the throne of Character Hell, and I’ll help you kick your ex’s Atlantean butt. Deal?”

Catrina didn’t see as she had a choice. But at this point, she made a very serious error. She thrust out her hand towards Susan. “It’s a deal, then.”

“Perfect,” Susan said, clasping Catrina’s head in fierce glee. “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Catrina wrenched her hand away and wiped it on her shirt. “Yes, whatever. By the by, who got loose?”

It occurred to her suddenly that she really should’ve asked that question before she made the pact with Susan. The answer was even worse then she’d thought. “Oh, no one in particular. Piddling little sea monster type. Maybe you’ve heard of him. He goes by the name of….Cthulhu.”

“Oh dear,” said Catrina.

This has been another exciting episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, go here. For my Amazon page where you can buy Catrina stories of your very own, go here. Thanks for reading, and a very Merry Christmas to all!

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