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X is for Xylophonia

by on February 15, 2014

Last time in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine and her royal consort Perry had just summoned a band of otter warriors to fight against Cthulhu. While they’re doing that, our heroine’s archnemesis Susan is attempting to regain control of Character Hell….

The Lake of the Omnicides was cold and forbidding as ever, as the Zambonis of Terror whirred their way across the ice in eternal procession. Susan, however, wasn’t deterred at all. Indeed, she positively cheered when she saw the frozen lake, and watched the Zambonis of Terror sweep away the hellslush. She had been so ticked-off on her last visit to Character Hell, when everything had been so run down; she was almost giddy that it seemed to be running right again. She had passed by the Cafeteria of Calamity on her way down. There wasn’t a whiff of pizza. The scent of three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwiches (with arsenic sauce) met Susan as she went by, and she had to take a moment to sniff in fiendish delight. Finally, the place was getting good again.

Of course, as Susan had tromped through the Swirling Cesspit of Fictional Politicians, she had to admit, Character Hell’s repair had its drawbacks. Someone was in charge again. Whoever it was, Susan would have to take them down. She had no qualms about it; she was well armed, from laser pistols to the immensely powerful Gopherwood Wand, but still, she would’ve liked to know who had taken over.

She had reached the Lake at last, the lowest point of Character Hell. Yet another Zamboni of Terror whirred quietly past her. Susan climbed aboard and grabbed the wheel. She blazed across the frozen surface of the Lake, aiming right for its center. She skimmed past the massive crack marking the spot where Cthulhu had once been imprisoned. Susan giggled maniacally, like a deranged chipmunk. She’d once planned to pursue the Lovecraftian menace herself, but why bother, when the thing was headed for Catrina? Either Catrina would defeat it, in which case Susan wouldn’t have to, or Cthulhu would eat Catrina, which meant Susan would deal with the monster later, after it had messily devoured her rival. It was a win-win situation all around.

Finally she arrived at the Lake’s center point. Rising from the ice was a massive throne, metal and hard, looking exceptionally uncomfortable to sit in. When Susan had been in charge, she’d arranged for a nice cushion or two; she was evil, not stupid. What was the point of being the ruler over Character Hell if one couldn’t have fun with it? And metal spiky thrones without cushions weren’t fun at all.

The cushions had been replaced. As Susan approached on her Zamboni of Terror, a swell of dramatic minor-key music rose to meet her. She paused for a second to listen. It wasn’t quite the sound of her beloved diabolical kazoo section, or the Choir Dire, no, it was….xylophones. She blinked. It sounded suspiciously like Darth Vader’s Imperial March, but on xylophone. Susan had never before heard any minor-key villain theme played on xylophone. It was morbid and terrifying, but also oddly festive. She kept a tight grip on the Gopherwood Wand as she approached the throne. “Okay, then,” she said loudly, “Who in Character Hell are you?”

The figure on the throne had been cloaked in appropriate mist and shadow. Now the shadows fled back, and she rose. She was dark-haired, all in blue, and the xylophones rose to fever pitch behind her as she spoke. “Susan!” she said dramatically. “Ah, I have been waiting for you to return and-”

“Wait a sec,” Susan said, rudely interrupting the villain monologue her adversary had worked so hard to prepare. “I know you. You’re Lady Nicoletta! You did that thing with Y2K and the hell-hounds!”

“Oh, yes,” said Lady Nicoletta, picking up where she’d left off, “I am indeed. You’ve recognized my plan perfectly! My villainous, villainous plan! I was going to take over the world by changing everyone’s computer clocks to two digits instead of four, leading to inevitable chaos when people reached the year 2000 and computers thought it was 1900, but then I realized that was too small. So I created a new plan! I would unleash the hounds of Character Hell throughout the world! And not just then, but all other dogs everywhere! And when people found themselves under siege by hordes of dog-dom, they would know, for all eternity, that it was I, Lady Nicoletta, who let the dogs out! Mwahahahaha!”

She hesitated a moment, hoping for applause for Susan. But what she hadn’t noticed was that while she had been monologuing, Susan had been whispering a quiet incantation to her Gopherwood Wand.

“Who?” said Susan, looking up from the wand.

“I did,” Lady Nicoletta said archly. “I let the dogs out. I thought I made that clear. ”

Another sound like “Who” wafted across the lake. Now Lady Nicoletta was getting vexed. “I said, I let the-”

She paused. She had just heard a sudden fluttering of wings, and more sounds  of Who.  ““What was that?”

“Oh, nothing,” said Susan, casually giving her wand a flicker. “Just some owls.”

“Owls! Splendid! I didn’t know you had owl-messengers down here!”

“These aren’t messengers,” Susan said, as the diabolical parliament of owls swooped closer. “They’re old friends of mine. I was going to use them on Catrina a while back, but you’ll do just as well.”

“Hah!” Lady Nicoletta laughed. “What can a pack of owls possibly do to me?”

“Well, first they’ll devour you. Messily. Then they’ll digest the nourishing bits and get rid of the rest as little owl-demon pellets. Then, by my dark magical powers, the pellets will be reconstituted into you again, whereupon the owls will devour you again, and the whole cycle goes on and on and on and on…” she paused, waiting perhaps for the owls to join her in a rousing chorus of “Don’t stop believing,”  but the owls were distracted by their prey.

“Any last words?” Susan said. “Or screams?”

“I hadn’t prepared a last scream,” Lady Nicoletta said glumly. “But,” and she produced a flashcard, “I do have one final thing to say! I’ve been brushing up on my magic spells! And if I have to go out by owl, I’m taking you with me! Avada ke-”

But Susan didn’t wait politely for her to finish saying the words; instead she slammed on the gas pedal and ran Lady Nicoletta over with the Zamboni of Terror. The erstwhile ruler of Character Hell regained her feet in a fury, but then the owls slammed into her, and she disappeared in a scream and a blur of feathers. Susan let out an evil laugh and, to the chorus of the xylophones, took her seat on the throne of Character Hell. “Hello, owls!” she said dramatically. “I’m baaaaaack!”

This has been another exciting episode of Character Hell. Be sure to check back next week for the epic otter battle with Cthulhu! For previous episodes, go here. Thanks for reading!





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  1. Haha…Nicoletta let the dogs out… finally, an answer to the question that has vexed society for years. Who? Who?

  2. At first I thought I wouldn’t laugh harder than I did at the image conjured up by ‘deranged chipmunk’, but I lost it at the who let the dogs out. you really are a comedic talent, truly, because you can take the simplest words and with a clever little flourish (of your gopherwood wand, perhaps?!) you just make it hilarious.

    • I must confess, the credit in no small part goes to a friend of mine on Facebook, who requested that I write her character into the story, with the attendant speech. I generally don’t write real people in, as this can get awkward, but if they ask….:)

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