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Last Christmas

by on January 4, 2015

Last time, in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine had just time-traveled to Bethlehem on Christmas night. Little does she know that her arch-nemesis has traveled with her…

Catrina had always loved Christmas, the whole Christmas season. Even before she started having battles on Christmas, like the Snownado Affair on Mount Elevenses, or the Attack of the Evil Snow Monster, she had still enjoyed the holidays. And now she was here for the very first one. She raced down the snow-covered hillside of Bethlehem, dodging startled sheep as she went. She could tell by the absence of shepherds that she had missed the angelic announcement, and she was slightly disappointed, but Catrina consoled herself that she would still make it to the manger on time.

Then she skidded to a stop in the snow, held up by a sudden thought. Shouldn’t she bring a gift to the Christ Child? All the songs she heard said that people had brought gifts. It would be rude to show up empty-handed. Catrina swiftly checked her pockets. She didn’t have gold, or frankincense, or myrrh anywhere about her. She wasn’t entirely sure why a small baby would want myrrh anyway. Catrina also didn’t have a drum set that she could play for him (pa rum pum pum pum). She didn’t even have so much as a kazoo. She could whistle something if necessary…. then her eyes fell on Mlrning (the Shovel of Thor!) that was still in her hand. “Oh dear,” said Catrina. Could she really give the Shovel of Thor to the Christ Child? Even assuming she could part with it herself, should she? Wouldn’t it create a massive theological quandary? What would the baby Jesus do with the Shovel of Thor anyway?

Catrina stood puzzling in the Bethlehem snow, trying to sort out the problem. She had entirely forgotten about Susan. Her newly minted arch-nemesis crept up behind her, still holding the pistol from World War One. By her count, it had two bullets remaining. Two would be more than sufficient. This time she wasn’t going to have an ethical debate on the subject. This time, she would do it. This time….

Susan, it must be remembered, was only just beginning her career of villainy and mayhem. She had not yet become the mistress of all Character Hell, nor had she matured into the dangerously genre savvy nemesis Catrina would come to know and hate. She hadn’t completely grasped the nature of her existence as a fictional character in a story. As a result, when she aimed the pistol at Catrina and pulled the trigger, she somewhat naively expected that the gun would actually go off. She failed to realize that if it did, the bullet would hit Catrina right in the back and kill her, thus bringing a premature end to her story arc. Catrina had been killed before, it was true, but never in a pointlessly random way. Susan was, therefore, quite unprepared for the dull click as the pistol jammed in her hand. “What?” she shrieked, throwing it to the snow. “It should’ve worked! Why didn’t it work?”

She didn’t know what to do now. She could throw herself bodily at Catrina and try to end her by physical force, but the princess was carrying a very big shovel. Susan had enough sense to know that an unarmed person against a person carrying a big shovel wouldn’t go so well, even without the shovel being magical. With no other options, Susan turned reluctantly to her own memory. She had seen things when she had stared into the Swirling Vortex of Imaginary Time. The truth of her own existence was one of those things, and Susan had more or less gone mad because of it. But she had seen other things. A picture of what she wanted flashed in her mind. At that moment she saw the flicker of light that meant the Swirling Vortex of Imaginary Time was opening up again. Rather than try to shoot at it, or complain about the fact that it just kept on opening and closing like a temporal automatic door, instead Susan deliberately threw herself into it, concentrating very hard on what she wanted. For once, the time rift did as she hoped.

Far above Bethlehem, in a lazy orbit round the moon, a single spaceship hummed along its way. Captain Zzip Plettski was most perplexed. The alien lizard had only meant to scout the planet in preface to an invasion. His probes had so far reported a primitive people armed with pointy bits of metal. The invasion fleet’s forces, armed with plasma cannons and ray shields, would mop the floor with them. But now a new star, or star-like anomaly anyway had flashed into existence, so close to the planet that its gravitational fields alone should’ve sent the planet spinning from its orbit. Still, the planet remained in its course. The star was tiny, but very bright, and it was moving in a peculiar pattern that kept it fixed exactly above a certain specific point on the planet below. The alien captain couldn’t make sense of it.

Then, quite unexpectedly, Susan materialized on his bridge. “Hello, there,” she said. “You have weapons, yes?”

“Intruder!” Zzip cried. “Kill her!”

“Oh, please, do not be so stupid,” Susan said irritably. “I know things you need to know. For instance, I know what that star means, and what you should do about it.”

Zzip paused. He was surrounded by his bodyguard, and they had blasters trained on the human female who had somehow transported on his bridge. He had nothing to fear. And if she had answers… “Very well,” he said. “Talk.”

“It’s actually very complicated, so I am going to sum up,” Susan said. She had put together what the star meant, and where she and Catrina had landed. She didn’t much care that she was about to ruin the first Christmas, if she could take Catrina with it, and fictional reality besides. “That star is fixed above the spot where a baby is being born, a baby that will change the course of human history. Mainly because he’s God, or at least a lot of people think he is. He’s also about to be met by Catrina, who’s carrying the Shovel of Thor. I won’t try to sort out the theological dilemma, but basically that shovel is powerful enough to swat your ship from the sky like an insect. So I’d suggest you attack now and blast them into oblivion with whatever strange weapons you have.”

“Well, we do have an atomic missile or two that could serve…” mused the captain. But then he caught himself. “But we are not going to strike a planet without warning, just on your say-so! We are a scout ship, not the invasion fleet! And if these people have such weapons as you say, it would be the much wiser course to leave this planet alone!”  He spun towards his officers. “Prepare the star drive. I declare this planet a failure as a potential colony site.”

Susan shrugged. “Oh well. I tried. By the way, those, er, atomic missiles you mentioned, would that big red button on the control panel have anything to do with launching them?”

“It does, yes,” Zzip said testily, “now, miss, if you don’t mind, I-”

Somehow the alien lizard captain had not picked up on how furious Susan was, and how much she wanted to blast Catrina. The instant he had confirmed her suspicion about the button, she leaped forward, vaulted over a surprised alien guard, scrambled to the panel, and slammed her fist down on the button. She got hit with a blaster bolt moments later that sent her collapsing to the deck, but she felt that deck shudder beneath her, and she knew she had launched the missiles. “Perfect,” she breathed as she passed into unconsciousness. “Take that, Catrina.”

The starship only had two nuclear missiles, for utmost emergencies. The button sent both of them diving down towards the planet, the little town of Bethlehem specifically, which had no idea that it was about to disappear in a nuclear fireball. Catrina, certainly, didn’t know. She had just reached the stable when she glanced up and saw the bombs descending. “What in the world?” she said as the missiles blossomed into light.

This has been another episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, go here. You can also find more Catrina stories at my Amazon page, and on Goodreads. And as always, thanks for reading.

 

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4 Comments
  1. Uh-oh… hope she can stop them or Christmas will be a bummer 😦

  2. I’m not sure I’ve ever read quite so many possible paradox / time-shifting / world changing possibilities in such a short story, well done 🙂

    • 🙂 I’m not even sure what happens to the timeline if Bethlehem gets nuked. I suppose we shall see…

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