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The Shovel Heard ‘Round the World

by on September 20, 2014

Last time, in the Catrina Chronicles,  our heroine had just been shot at by Susan in the Library of Alexandria. Fortunately, the bullet missed. Unfortunately, it started a fire…

Catrina gazed in horror at the flames licking towards the invaluable scrolls. “We’ve got to stop this!” she exclaimed.

“Why?” said Susan, her eyes wild in the light of the fire. “It’s not a real library, is it? It’s only a made-up copy of the real library!”

“It’s real enough,” snapped Catrina, and started for the nearest water, a bubbling pool in the next chamber. What she planned to do with it she hadn’t worked out yet. Chain gang, swig and spit, make a cup with her hands and splash: so many possibilities. She never got the chance to pick one, however. Susan blocked her way, waving the pistol of Gavrilo Princip.

“This thing’s still got bullets in it,” she said dramatically. “And I will shoot you where you stand if you do anything about that fire.”

Catrina slowly raised her hands. “Very well,” she began, “I see your point. You do have your pistol.”  She paused, hoping her desperate plan would work, her eyes darting to the still open rift of the Swirling Vortex of Imaginary Time. A few seconds ticked by.

“Are you going to finish your thought, then, or…”

“Just a minute!”

More seconds.

“Any time now. I could just go ahead and shoot you. It would be easier.”

Finally, Catrina saw a glint of metal. She smiled her trademark half-smile that spread slowly over her face. “As I was saying, you have your World War One pistol. But I have Mlrning. The Shovel of Thor.”

The mighty Shovel flipped through the rift in time and smacked into Catrina’s palm. She raised the Shovel high. There was a bolt of white light, and suddenly a blast of snow and icy wind tore through the Library of Alexandria like a veritable snownado. In a trice the flames had been quenched. Only one scroll had been singed after all, and it was the minor fanfiction of a passing Roman centurion who had attempted to write himself into the Battle of Cannae, riding heroically upon an elephant he had seized from the Carthaginians. The rest of the Library had been saved for posterity after all. “Huzzah,” said Catrina. “That’s two horrible historical events averted, all before lunch.”

She had forgotten Susan. The stricken daughter of Lord Blackacre shrieked, and charged at Catrina, waving her pistol round her head in an apparent desire to bash Catrina’s brains in rather than fire at her. Catrina stepped back rapidly, not in fear, but more in an attempt to give herself room to swing the Shovel of Thor. Alas, she forgot to mind her surroundings. She took one step back too far: right into the rift of the Swirling Vortex of Imaginary Time. Susan, howling like a banshee, dove in after her.

Catrina’s face hit dirt. She was eyeball to eyeball with an ant. She had, apparently, landed smack in an open grassy field. The light was dim around her, but slowly growing brighter, and she guessed that the sun was only just beginning to rise. She heard noises around her, shouts and scurrying sounds, and she pushed herself up and had a look round. “Oh, dear,” said Catrina.

She was not alone in the field. On her right gathered a small company of ragged farmers, nervously holding rifles and staring past her. Catrina turned, and saw a larger company of men in red coats, their bayonets glistening in the dawn. Both sides looked ready to attack each other. One of the redcoat officers, on horseback, yelled loudly at the farmers, “Disperse, ye rebels, ye villains, disperse! Lay down your arms!”

One of the farmers, who had the look of an officer type, called back, just loud enough for Catrina to catch his words on the morning breeze. “Don’t fire unless fired upon…but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

“Actually,” ventured Catrina, “I’d really rather not have a war begin here, if it’s all the same to you. I’ve only just landed, you see, and-”

Susan picked a most inopportune moment to tumble through the time rift. She landed hard on the field, sprang up, and saw Catrina. In her fury, her finger tightened on the trigger of Gavrilo Princip’s pistol. It was more sensitive than she realized. The gun barked in her hand, and a single shot rang out across the Lexington green.

“Oh, lovely,” Catrina said, rolling her eyes. “Right, Susan, what did you start this time?”

Susan didn’t have a chance to answer. The redcoats on Catrina’s left had just opened fire. White smoke blasted from their guns, and bullets ripped into the militia on Catrina’s right. Then she saw the redcoats start forward, bayonets raised. “Hey!” Catrina yelled. “Stop that!”  She raised the Shovel of Thor and whirled it about her head, deciding that now would be a very good time to pull rank. “Drop your weapons right now! I am Catrina, Princess of Shmirmingard, and I command-”

In the smoke and confusion, the redcoats didn’t quite realize who she was. A number of them mistook her for a crazed provincial soldier waving his musket. They opened fire at her. Fortunately, they mostly missed. One musket-ball, however, zinged past Catrina’s cheek and left her a slicing cut. “Ow!” exclaimed Catrina, and her green eyes blazed. “Right, that’s it. You may have your musket things, but I have Mlrning! The Shovel of Thor!”

White bolts of ice and snow cracked across the Lexington green.

This has been another exciting episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, go here. For more of my writings, you can go to Amazon, or see descriptions of my stuff at Goodreads. And as always, thanks for reading.



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  1. Of course they couldn’t land in the middle of a quilting bee, could they? 🙂

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