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In Which Catrina Quotes the Rule Against Perpetuities, to Great Effect

by on June 28, 2014

Last time in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine was trapped on board the zeppelin of Captain Ahab, just as Starbuck had opened fire on it in his starfighter. This was a very awkward position to be in. Fortunately, Catrina had remembered at the last moment a magic spell that would save her….

Catrina skittered about on the floor of the zeppelin, having transformed into a newt. As a newt, she had managed to escape the ice that had frozen her human form to the wall. She had also escaped the attention of Captain Ahab, who was frantically working the zeppelin about the sky in an effort to evade the thunderous energy blasts from Starbuck. The captain was evidently returning fire as well, the zeppelin quaking with every shot. Any moment, Catrina expected the zeppelin to burst into flames and take the captain with it. The problem was, of course, that it would take her too, and she didn’t much care for that.

Worse, her newty form was only temporary. She would get better any second now, and she didn’t have a plan for what followed. “As if that’s my fault,” Catrina complained. “It’s been almost a month since my last adventure. I’ve forgotten what I’m supposed to do! You can’t just set up a dramatic moment and leave me hanging like that!”

Catrina was, of course, unaware that her author was studying hard for the bar exam. Had she been, she might have sympathized. All she knew was that she had been waiting for a month, she was still a newt, and now that her story had started again, she was about to die. “Oh, sure. Kill me off, why don’t you,” she squeaked in her tiny newt voice. “It isn’t as if I haven’t been killed off before. Oh. Wait.”

At that inopportune moment, she got better. Quite suddenly she was human again, only now she was standing free on the bridge of the zeppelin, about five feet away from Captain Ahab. “By thunder!” the captain exclaimed. “You’ve escaped!”

“Yes. Yes I have. Excellent observa-” Catrina’s acid comment was cut short by a renewed torrent of energy blasts from Starbuck. Several alarms went off with shrilling cries.

A speaker crackled on the control panel. “Captain,” Starbuck said coolly. “You may not have noticed this, but your shields just failed. Another moment and your zeppelin will be destroyed. I’d rather not do that, since it rightly belongs to the Nantucket Star Alliance. You have one last chance to surrender and allow me to take custody of the ship and the proton harpoon.”

“Excuse me,” said Catrina, “I don’t care whether he surrenders or not, exactly. I only followed him because I was curious about what he was doing; apparently he’s on some crazy whale vengeance quest, and that’s not really my fight. All the same, I’m on the ship now, and if you blow it up I’ll go with it, and I’d rather not do that. So would you mind backing off while I have a civil discussion with the captain here?”

“I don’t know who you are,” Starbuck rejoined, “but if you’re with the captain, I will have no choice but to take you into custody as well. The Nantucket Star Alliance-”

Catrina was already upset at being left by her author for nearly a month. Starbuck wasn’t helping her mood at all. “I’m not being taken into custody by anyone, least of all your Nantucket Star Alliance.”

“Your shields are down. Mine are still intact. I am prepared to blast you out of the sky. I fail to see what you’re going to do about it.”

Now Catrina was really piqued. “Excuse me, sir, but I can do plenty about it. If you don’t back off with your starfighter in two minutes, I will….” she paused, glancing back at Mlrning, the Shovel of Thor. It was still encased in ice, frozen to the wall where she’d been a moment before. She could try to call it to her, using the mental summoning or whatever it was, but would the Shovel be able to smash through its own ice? That was a problem. In any event, Catrina suddenly had a more fiendish idea. “I will quote law at you.”

“I beg your pardon?” Starbuck said.

“The Rule against Perpetuities,” Catrina began, “states that no interest is valid unless it must vest, if it all, not later than 21 years after some life in being at the creation of the interest.”

“What are these dark words?” Starbuck exclaimed, aghast. “It’s worse than devil’s madness.”

Catrina plowed relentlessly on. “In the case of a taxpayer other than a corporation, losses from sales or exchanges of capital assets shall be allowed only to the extent of the gains from such sales or exchanges, plus (if such losses exceed such gains) the lower of (1) $3,000 ($1,500 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return), or (2) the excess of such losses over such gains.”

A whole new barrage of alarms went off, only now they were coming not from the zeppelin but from the speaker on the control panel. Starbuck’s ship, with what computerized intelligence it possessed, was rebelling in pure terror. “Stop that!” Starbuck yelled, both at his starfighter and Catrina in the zeppelin. “You’ve got no rights here! The captain will lead you to madness!”

“Now you’ve got one chance,” Catrina said. “Take your starfighter and go. You can pursue the captain once I’m off his ship and he leaves my world, but not till then.”

Starbuck’s answer was hidden in a burst of static. But when Catrina looked out the cockpit window, she saw his fighter turning back towards the ship for one last desperate firing run. “I didn’t want to do this,” she said. “But here goes. 28 U.S.C. 1391(b). A civil action may be brought in a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is-”

The starfighter vanished in a spray of light. The shockwave rattled the zeppelin, but in a moment it had steadied again. Catrina sighed. She had just glimpsed something small and person-sized filing away from the ship in the last instant before it exploded. She might have mistaken, or it could have been debris, but it was just possible Starbuck had escaped. She hoped he had; she didn’t really want to dispatch anyone unnecessarily. In any event, he wasn’t a concern anymore. She rounded upon the captain. “Right. Now I’ve saved you, but I’m not going to help you go after your whale. So you put your zeppelin down, I’ll retrieve my Shovel and leave, and then you can go on your merry way. Is that acceptable?”

Captain Ahab laid a hand on the proton harpoon.  Catrina rolled her eyes. “Oh dear. Don’t tell me we’re going to do this the hard way.”

Just then, a new alarm lit up on the control panel. During the fight, the zeppelin had bounced across the sky for some distance. Little noticed by the combatants, they had wound up over the sea. Now the zeppelin’s sensors had picked up something in the water. Captain Ahab knew what the alarm meant. ” “There she blows!—there she blows!” He ran swiftly to the window of the bridge and looked down at the waters below.   A hump like a snow-hill!  It is Moby Dick!”

“Of course it is,” said Catrina.

This has been another episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, go here. For my Amazon page with other Catrina stories, go here. You can also, if you are so inclined, review my work on Goodreads. And as always, thanks for reading!


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  1. I cracked up at the part where Catrina berates the author (you) 🙂 Did you have your bar exams yet?

  2. Not yet. It’s in four weeks, alas. Thus Catrina quoting the RAP. 😛

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