Killer of Dreams

Writing is a hard business.  Not just the publishing end of it, but getting down in front of the computer or your typewriter, or even your paper, and you gotta put those words down, one after another, and you keep doing it until you finish the damn thing.  Start, write, finish.  That’s the deal.

Sometimes, however, that becomes easier said than done.  Things wear at you; things tear you down.  We all know stories about authors who are just one step away of completely losing they minds–or, in the case of a few, having lost it completely and they decided to write though the madness.

That’s how I’ve felt for a while; that I was writing though some madness that wouldn’t leave me alone.  It just gnawed at me like a beast picking you apart slowly but surely.

And last week it nearly won.

I had a hard time of things last Friday, and was pretty much at my wit’s end for more than a few things.  It was a tough time, and if not for the help of a lot of friends who came to my aid, I might still be rolling through that madness.

I haven’t forgotten what happened, and I’m truly moving ahead to make things better.  But last night . . . I had some thoughts I had to get out.  Thoughts that weren’t going to stay quite any longer.

I’ve been playing with video a lot of late, and getting some of the things I’ve said uploaded to a YouTube account.  I’ve had fun it with, because it’s a different medium and there’s things that come out on video that you can’t hide unless you’re a very good actor.  I’m not a very good actor; when it comes to my emotions, things tend to come spilling out these days, because hormones jack with you like you wouldn’t believe.

I put a twelve minute video together last night, after the television and computer were off, and talked a little about the state of mind I’ve labored under for a while.  It’s a hard video; there’s a lot of feeling in my voice, there’s true feelings coming out, and more than a few tears come out.  I don’t mind that last, because tears are good.  They mean I can’t hold back, and given how things keep welling up inside these days, I don’t want to keep them in.  I gotta let them out.

Jim Butcher was the one who, a few years ago, said giving up on writing is the same as killing your dreams, and there are no truer words spoken.  I mention that in the video, and you can see how it makes me feel to think about doing just that.  It’s a thing I’ve done before, and I know others have as well.  I’m a firm believer these days that dreams should never die, because without your dreams, what do you have left?

Watch if you like, but be warned:  it’s pretty raw.  That’s how stream of thought is–it’s real, and it just comes at you.

Like life.

But if it helps other writers out there articulate what they also feel from time-to-time, then I’ve done something good.

That’s what really counts.

Ground Time

First off, there’s a reason this post is coming a little late:  because I was recording video and writing.  What other reasons would there be?  Strange character, I am, but that’s how I roll.  Oh, and since it’s Saturday . . .

Never leave home without Idris around your neck.

Never leave home without Idris around your neck.

About the writing.  I managed another eleven hundred and fifty words this morning, and I did about twelve hundred last night . . . I’ve finished three scenes in four day, which works out to about five thousand words.  That’s a damn good amount for me, considering I’ve been lucky to manage five hundred words a night for a while.  Oh, and also:

I knew Kerry would push me over the top.

I knew Kerry would push me over the top.

Yes, I have reached the official “This is my Biggest Novel” moment, and everything from here on out is a new record.  It’s like a mental barrier has been breached–just like a certain fictional school’s defensive screens!  I crack myself up sometimes.

Speaking of that school, the scene just finished is called Ground, and since it isn’t comprised of the line, “Kerry hits the ground after falling one hundred an fifty meters . . . The End,” the chances are good he’s still alive.  Right?  Right?  Why don’t we check in on the lad?

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

17:09 to 17:17

Kerry fell out of the blue and into the black.

He was in a rapid, controlled decent towards the darkened forest below, trying to reach the ground before the enchantment ran out completely. He figured it would take less power to drop one hundred and fifty meters straight down that anything else they may try—

14 . . . 12 . . . 9 . . .

One hundred an fifty meters, five hundred feet, and if he lost the ability to fly anywhere above ten meters there was a good chance he’d still die. As it was the goggles’ low light function was only helping marginally; it was hard to make out details below. He thought he saw a small clearing between a few trees, but there was a definite possibility that the was going to hit limbs on the way in . . .

8 . . . 6 . . . 4 . . .

He had no idea were Emma was. He saw her begin her decent with him, but after that he was too busy looking at the area below him to know where she was. He hoped she was safe: he wanted her to be safe—

Right now, though, he was plunging into the trees.

It wasn’t enough to get close to the ground; Kerry had to arrest his downward speed least he crash into the forest floor. If he couldn’t slow before the enchantment ran out none of this would matter: he’d hit at high speed and . . .

He sensed limbs snapping around him; he pulled back on the broom’s control surface as hard as he could . . .

3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

Kerry was just under six meters above the ground when the enchantment vanished and he fell the rest of the way.

He’d managed to cancel out most of his rate of decent, but a six meter fall coupled with the left over speed he retained meant he was going to hit hard. Kerry tumbled to this left, pushing the broom away so that he wouldn’t get tangled with it before landing, and tried to roll as his feet touched down.

His left knee give way the moment Kerry had solid earth beneath him. Unlike the first time he injured his knee, the pain was tremendous. He flopped hard on his left side before rolling over to his right so he wouldn’t place any unnecessary weight on his knee. He bit down on his right glove and screamed into the leather so the sound wouldn’t carry, otherwise anyone within a couple of hundred meters would know he was still alive.

He didn’t know how long he lay there screaming, but he didn’t pull his hand away until he was certain there were no more screams left inside. He slowly rolled over onto his back and looked up, taking inventory of his pain. His knee was aflame: he knew it was damaged badly, maybe as bad as the first time. He flexed his fingers and toes: nothing seemed broken. He moved his arms slowly, then his legs. Other than his knee he seemed to have nothing more than bruises and a few cuts.

As he sighed into the deep purple sky titted with dark red peeking through the treetop, he took joy that he was alive. That he’d made it out of the sky; that he could be patched up; that he’d be able to see—

 

So he made it down, though it sounds like that bad knee just got bad again.  And while that’s not a good thing, at least he’s alive, and he’ll be able to see–who?  The Easter Bunny?  Humm . . . we’ll have to keep wondering.

The good think is Emma made it down, too, and they hook up.  However, with Kerry’s bad knee he’s not able to get around too well, and he also has to deal with the fact that they’re going to have to take their order a little too literally . . .

 

Emma went off to retrieve it, returning about ten seconds later with his broom in hand. When she knelt this time there was a serious look etched across her face. “The comms are down.”

“I know.” He sat up slowly. “I sort of figured that when they cut out in mid-order.”

“What are we going to do?” She looked around slowly. “We’re locked out now. We only had sixty second—”

“Emma.” Kerry’s voice was low and calm. “We go to ground.”

“We can’t.”

“Yes, we can.” He turned best he could so he could look at her better. “We find a place to hide and we stay there until the comms come back on and we get instructions. That’s it; that’s what it means.” Kerry grabbed his broom. “Help me up, please?”

Emma pulled Kerry up on his good right leg while he used his PAV as a crutch, keeping the processor on the ground while he leaned into the nose with his left hand. He found he could put a little weight on his damaged knee, but if he didn’t support his weight with his broom, his knee painfully bent outward. He got his right hand on the top of the broom and used his left hand to move it forward. After about thirty seconds of practice, Kerry figured he could walk in a fashion.

His wingmate was still concerned. “Can you get far like that?”

“Not very.” He turned to Emma. “We need some cover, but you’re gonna have to do the heavy lifting, Emma. I can’t move around too well.”

She didn’t look sure of herself. “What do I look for?”

“Good cover away from anything that looks like it might be a path.” Kerry smiled before reaching over and patting Emma on the shoulder. “You can do this, Selene. That’s why you’re Moon; you see everything.”

She giggled. “You think?”

“Yeah.” He nodded towards the ground. “Don’t forget your broom.”

 

Kerry’s being a good sorceress:  he’s keeping his wits about him.  This wasn’t what is signed up for, but it is what it is, and damned if he can do anything about it now.

As it is they find a place to hide, and once they’re settled in, the questions come:

 

It didn’t take long for Emma to break the silence. “What happened?”

“Up there?” Kerry finally slipped the goggles off; he was getting tired of seeing everything, including Emma, standing out in various shades of green.

She slipped her goggles off as well. “Yeah. What were those yellow flashes?”

“There was more than one?” This was news to Kerry.

She nodded, though Kerry barely noticed it in the gathering darkness. “That one south of us, and another close to Lake Lovecraft, I think.” She turned her eyes down so she didn’t have to look at Kerry. I saw a couple of fliers fall.”

“I did, too.” He sighed. “They were close to the southern blast.”

“What was it? What happened to our enchantments.”

He didn’t need to spend time figuring that one out. “I think there were massive drain spells.”

“What?”

He slipped off his helmet and ran his fingers through his short hair. “The last couple of weeks Annie and I have been learning about enchantments in Advanced Spells. A couple of weeks ago the last half of the class was all about powering enchantment, activating them—and draining them of power.” Kerry leaned against his right arm. “I think that was something like a huge drain bomb. These Deconstructors pushed something physical through the screen, and it was set up with a big Drain Enchantment spell, so when it got through it went off and—drained all the enchantments.”

“They were trying to knock us all out of the air?”

“It was more than that—” Kerry rubbed his forehead. “They were probably trying to knock the screens down from the inside. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened with comms; they must run off of some kind of enchantment.”

 

Drain bombs:  you hate ‘em, I hate ‘em.  Particularly when they make me fall five hundred feet out of the sky.  However, Emma saw something happening to other fliers when those bombs went off, just as Kerry did.  And it’s got her mind in a bit of a spin.

 

Emma sighed softly. “That’s good.” Something caught in her voice for a second. “Kerry, what happened to . . . the fliers who fell?”

Oh, man. He knew what happened—or at least suspected. But there was no way he wanted to get into that discussion here and now. “Emma, don’t go there.”

She was intent on going there, however. “They died, didn’t they?”

“Emma—”

“They’re dead—”

Emma.” Kerry kept his voice soft and tried not to sound mean or upset. He knew what Emma was saying was true, but the less either of them thought about the last few minutes, the better. “We don’t know that anyone died: they could have teleported, or maybe . . . I don’t know, there’s some safety thing that saved them. We don’t know, and I’m not gonna think about it, either.” He clumsily reached over and patted her arm. “We’re here; we’re alive. That’s what matters to me.”

 

Let’s face it:  it’s a bitch when you suddenly have to face your mortality at eleven–Emma’s birthday is in the middle of April, so she’s only a couple of weeks older than Kerry.  They both saw other flier on the High Road fall, and that means it’s likely they saw them plummeting to their deaths.  Like I mentioned to other people, it’s a tough ol’ world I created here, with kids coming into the school knowing death spells–I’m looking at you, Annie–and others suddenly realizing they came within seconds of meeting their own early demise.

It won’t be pretty from here on out, and their will be a death toll:  I’ll get to that in later scenes.  But there’s more magic coming . . .

 

“Yeah. We’re alive.” She laid her broom across her lap. “Though we can’t go anywhere.”

“Yeah, well . . .” Kerry reached for his broom. “I might be able to do something there.” He touched the processor. “HUD up.” He wasn’t sure if there was enough energy left in the PAV to display the HUD, but he figured the processor would draw on any energy flowing through him to power the system. It came up, glowing softly. He checked the Enchantment Power Level, which was flickering between zero and one percent.

Humph.” Emma exhaled a couple of times loudly. “It’s dead.”

 

You’re never getting anywhere with those negative attitudes, Missy.

 

“Give me a second—” Kerry half-closed his eyes. He knew what to do; Annie and he had done it more than a few times last week, and while he’d not worked on anything this big, the concept was the same . . .

He pulled as hard as he could and pushed energy and willpower into his PAV’s processor. Emma’s gasp told him all he needed to know; when he opened his eyes, he saw the Enchantment Power Level was now at eleven percent.

He shut the HUD off as Emma asked him the most obvious question. “What did you do?”

“Like I said, we learned about enchantments the last couple of weeks.” He slowly exhaled. “The first week was theory: last week was all about lab.” He patted his broom. “The processor is pretty much the PAV enchantment as well as the device that feeds it power: all I did was give it a jump start. In about thirty minutes the enchantment should be up around thirty percent.” He held out his right hand. “Lemme see yours.”

Emma handed her PAV to Kerry, who laid it on the ground between them. He brought up the HUD and did the same thing to hers as he’d done with his; seconds later the Enchantment Power Level for Emma’s broom was twelve percent.

Wow.” She set the broom behind her. “That’s impressive.  Good thing I’ve got a wingmate in Advanced Spells.”

“Thanks.” Kerry sighed again and tried to manage a slight smile. “Once they’re up around thirty percent we should be good to fly anywhere in the school if needed.” He lowered his head and began panting.

Emma touched his shoulder. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” He nodded slowly. “It’s just—that took something out of me.” He lay back on the ground and placed his helmet under his head. “I’m coming off the adrenaline rush, too.” Kerry folded his hands over his tummy. “I just need to rest . . .”

 

And that’s it; that’s the end of the scene.  What happened to Kerry?

I guess I’ll have to write about it, won’t I?

Triage Time

Yesterday was Attack, today I bring you Triage.

Whereas the last scene was all about Kerry, this one is all about Annie.  It’s the same time frame, but from a different perspective–as if I need to tell you.  That’s why the time stamps, so people will see this is all happening about the same time.

Let get right into what’s going on inside the Great Hall.

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

17:06 to 17:10

The lights were on in the Rotunda now that the sun was nearly set. They’d actually come on almost thirty minutes early; Annie suspected Nurse Coraline asked for them on, as the encroaching gloom was becoming a bit overwhelming for the other girls.

With the approaching twilight the blue dome over The Pentagram shone brighter than during the day. There was a light glow that was most noticeable when standing near the middle of the large, open space beneath the skylight, but even from the slides it drew the eye upward.

Annie tried not to spend a lot of time staring up into space, and once her noon rest had completely she’d set about sorting supplies with Nurse Bianca and Sahkyo, who was still in awe after her little demonstration before her rest. Annie wanted to keep busy so her mind wouldn’t wander and she’d begin thinking of all the nasty, horrible things that Lisa’s taunts had brought up, but there was only much they could do until it became necessary to spring into action and do what was necessary to tend to the incoming wounded—

She considered wandering across the Rotunda and walking up to the East Transept Gallery on the First Floor, because she wasn’t feeling sociable. Annie was tense because her sense was bothering her—the other sense that was developing, but that she’d yet to use. She stopped and rolled her eyes at that thought, because she knew better. I’ve had visions before, though not like that one . . .

But this wasn’t so much a vision as a sensation of something coming, that an event was about to occur, one so large—

 

Damn those visions.  And when she talks about that vision–hey, you know eventually I’ll get around to telling you what it was.  This makes Annie a bit like her mom, but we already know she’s special in a witchy way . . .

Unfortunately, we already know she’s right.

 

There were numerous flashes overhead bright enough to drag Annie’s attention. But these flashes were blue: they were red and crimson and orange, and were coming from beyond The Pentagram screen. She spun around towards the triage area. “Something’s going on out there.”

Nagesa was now looking up and out through the skylight. “That’s the outer screen.”

“You sure?” Before the girl could answer there were two yellow flashes bright enough to leave afterimages on Annie’s eyes. She saw the blue Pentagram screen vibrate and cycle through several different shades of blue before returning to its normal appearance. “What was that?”

Coraline teleported onto the ground floor from where she’d been in the hospital. “Did you see that?”

Nagesa nodded. “Yes. Annie saw it, too.”

 

Everyone starts seeing flashes in the sky, it’s not a good sign.  Well, anytime there were flashes in the sky people usually took it to mean that bad things were coming.  All they need now–

–is to hear a warning from the Voice of Doom . . .

 

“Attention, this is Fortress. Our outer defense screen has been breached and hostiles are now inside the school grounds.” The voice continued on as if they were announcing a change in the lunch schedule. “We are instituting Level Three Security protocols. All coven administrative assistants will escort their students to the safe zones in the coven tower sub-levels; all upper coven tower level are to be evacuated immediately. Students are to remain in the coven tower sub-levels until further notice.” There was a slight pause as if the person making the announcement was checking to see if there was additional information. “That is all.”

 

Get the kids in the basement–sorry, the sub-levels–and get them even more protected.  This is what is known as “Go Time” for the Triage Group, and it’s time to Coraline to rally ’round the troops.  As you will see, this is where people find out about that, “Did I sign up for this?” clause that usually comes from volunteering  for something and not thinking through just what that something really means.  Like, you know:  being above ground in an exposed area when everyone else is heading underground to safety . . .

 

Coraline clapped her hands together hard. “Everyone, over here.” She waited for all the nurses and triage volunteers to gather around before launching into her speech. “This is it, guys. We can expect casualties to come in at any time, because if there are bad guys on the grounds, that means they’ll be fighting.”

“Wait a minute—” Lisa moved around Nurse Gretchen so she was standing directly in front of Coraline. “They said to evacuate the towers—”

“Do we look like we’re in a tower?” Coraline spread her arms and looked around. “No, honey: you stay right here.  That’s the job.”

Sahkyo was the next with a question. “Is there any point where we would leave?”

“Yeah . . .” Coraline nodded slowly. “Security Level Five.”

“What’s that?”

Annie figured it best to stop anymore questions. “And what is Security Level Four?”

Coraline tackled the questions by order of their numbers. “SL Four has all the students evacuating the towers and moving to secure bunkers below the sub-levels of the Great Hall.”

This was the first that Annie knew there was something below the sub-levels of this main building. “And Five?”

The silence stretched on for close to five seconds. “Full evacuation of the school. If we ever get to Five we’ve lost, or are about the lose, The Pentagram.” She changed her tone to one of optimism. “But that ain’t happening today, kids. We’re gonna be okay. Just trust in our teams out there to handle the situation, and we’ll do our job if they come in. Okay?” She examined the faces of the four volunteers and knew she could depend on at least three of them, which meant Coraline wasn’t worried. “Let’s find our places, everyone.”

 

Look at Coraline:  is she bovvered?  Does her face look bovvered?  No.  And she’s pretty sure she can count on most of her girls.  There’s even one girl in particular she needs a favor from . . .

 

Annie turned and headed for her station, but she’d only walked a couple of meters when Coraline tapped her on the shoulder as she passed behind. “Annie? A moment, please?”

Coraline headed for the West Transept; once they were out of sight of everyone, she asked the most blunt question she’d ever asked a student. “Could you perform Exsanguination on a person if necessary?”

 

In case you were wondering from the last time Lovely Professor Lovecraft brought this up, Exsanguination is the draining of blood from a person in sufficient quantities to cause death.  That’s why it’s considered a death spell, because in right hands one could drain the blood from another person quickly enough to just up and kill them, letting them collapses in a heap around a pool of their own fluids.

Annie’s now got the school doctor asking her if she could kill someone for real.  What does Annie say?  What do you think?

 

Though she was a bit shocked by the question, Annie wasn’t surprised. Coraline knew about her skill with Air Hammer, and she figured she’d not only read The Foundation entry reports, but had received updates from Professor Lovecraft. There was only one answer she could give. “Yes.”

“You’re certain?”

“Yes, Nurse Coraline.” She glanced in the direction of the triage center. “If it means no one getting killed.”

“Okay.” She rubbed here chin. “Are there any other Morte spells I should know about?”

“I’ve practiced Resistance, but I don’t know if it is that good.”

Coraline nodded. “If there were any trouble in here . . .” She gently laid her right hand on Annie’s shoulder. “I don’t want you to hold back. You have my permission to go at any bad guys as hard as you like.”

Annie never expected to find herself in a position where a member of the school staff would give her permission to kill Deconstructors indiscriminately. Then again, this is what I get for not going to the tower . . . “I’ll do my best, Nurse Coraline.”

She gave Annie’s shoulder a squeeze. “I hate to lay this on you, but you’re the closest we’ve got to a bad ass sorceress right now. My nurses can help, but . . .” She also glanced in the direction of the triage center. “If it gets crazy in her, they’ll be busy.”

Annie placed her hand on Coraline’s. “I’ll do what I can.”

“Okay.” Coraline gave Annie a little pat on the shoulder. “Let’s get to our places.” She turned and headed out of the transept.

Annie started ahead for a few moments, going over Coraline’s words. She’s giving me permission to kill—just like I was a real sorceress. It wasn’t that Annie was bothered by the idea that it might be necessary to throw spells with the intention of killing others . . .

But she was troubled by the thought that she would find it enjoyable.

 

So there you have it:  Annie is promoted to Triage Bad Ass Sorceress and told to smite the bad guys as much as possible–and she’s worried that her inner Dark Witch is gonna enjoy the hell out of that should it happen.  Just what every twelve year old needs to think about:  Am I gonna like having to bleed out bad guys should it come to that?  Ah, that Annie:  don’t get on her bad side.

With this scene, almost another twelve hundred words, I’m close to going over my “Biggest Novel Ever” limit, and Kerry’s going to do that in the next scene.  Given that Annie started this mess way back in October, it only right that Kerry tip it over the top.    Maybe tonight, after I finish my nails, we can see if Kerry gets out of the sky in one piece.

I mean, if he doesn't, I'm gonna have to shorten the novel considerably . . .

I mean, if he doesn’t, I’m gonna have to shorten the novel considerably . . .

Attack Time

If it’s Wednesday night, then it must be time to get out and do some writing.  Of course I was out to Panera, for soup an a grilled cheese sandwich, and bottomless ice tea to quench my thirst.  See here . . .

You can't see food, but it's there.  Well, almost.

You can’t see food, but it’s there. Well, almost.

I had a bit of writing to do, because it was the start of Chapter Twenty-Two, otherwise known as Attack.  Simple and too the point, don’t you think?  The scene in question is Sky, because that’s where it takes place, up in the air.  Way up . . .

You’ll notice each scene will have a time stamp.  Every event in this chapter happens over the course of one and a half hours–really closer to an hour and forty-five minutes, but hey.  Particularly in the first four scene there is some overlap, so it should help the reader know that things are happening during these moments.  And if I want to pull them out, I can.  Very simple, yes?

Let’s find out what’s going on?

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

17:00 to 17:08

The sun was low in the sky and deep twilight was falling over Cape Ann and the school. Normally Kerry loved this time of day, but when one was flying around the inside of the walls looking for possible intruders, the gathering darkness made it difficult. The forest on both sides of the wall were steeped in gloom, and the contrast between the still-light sky and the darkness at ground level made using his goggle’s low light function difficult.

For the last ten minutes Emma and he were looking for any kind of movement rather than individuals. They figured someone making a quick move could be spotted easier—and then Kerry remembered how good Annie and he were getting at the Light Bending spell, and figured any Deconstructors hiding beyond the wall were probably far better than him.

Kerry sensed Emma getting eager for the upcoming rest break. She’s been fairly quiet throughout the day, and went right to a nap when they set down at Laputa for their fourteen to fourteen forty-five rest. Kerry figured she was busy doing her job, but there was a small part of his mind that kept flashing back to the question she asked on the observation platform during their first break. Is she really upset because I told her Annie is my soulmate? It puzzled Kerry, because Emma had to know, after seeing them together for the last two months, that Annie and he were together . . .

 

Kerry the eternal clueless dude, trying to figure out what’s on Emma’s mind.  Better off trying to figure out your own, dude.  Besides, Emma’s got something else on her mind:

 

Emma took that moment to clear her throat. “Kerry?”

“Yeah?” He kept his eyes focused on the lightly marked route and the wall tower ahead.

“Do you really think they’re going to make us fly at night?”

He’d half expected this question at some point during the last twenty minutes. They were told during their last rest that as things stood, it looked as if the emergency would continue into the night, and at that point Emma developed a rather disturbed look . . .

“We said we’d fly patrol, didn’t we?” Kerry looked over and gave her a smile that he knew she could see because his face was in light.

“Yeah, but . . .” She looked down to her right into the gloomy forest. “We’ve never flown at night.”

“It should be that hard; we can see the path, and we have night vision on our goggles.” He nodded towards the screens. “We should be able to see that better, too.”

“That’s what the professor said.”

He set up for the turn. “Double Dip tower . . . turn right now.” He swung out wide so there wasn’t a chance he’d run into Emma as she completed her turn. “If they’re going to sit us down, it’ll happen at our next rest.”

“Which should be in the next fifteen, twenty minutes—” She quickly glanced over to Kerry. “Right?”

Kerry almost laughed. “You in a hurry to get out of the sky?”

“No, it’s just—” She hunched her shoulders. “It’s getting colder.”

“Yeah, a little. It is getting . . .” As he was already looking somewhat off to the west Kerry noticed the strange lines rising up from the ground—no, they were too far away for that. Are they coming out of the ocean?

He got on the comm instantly. “Nightwitch, this is Myfanwy. There’s something strange happening in the west beyond the school; looks like it’s coming out of Ipswich Bay. Over.”

Seconds later another voice took command of the conversation. “All flights, this is Fortress. Hold your positions. Over.”

 

Yeah, you wanna fly, you gotta take the good with the bad–and that means flying at night, in the cold, even in the rain if necessary.  Just be glad it isn’t December . . .

In case you’re wondering where this is happening, I did a quick little diorama for you.  Because when you have a three-dimensional map of your school, anything is possible, right?  Here it is.

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

For a little reference, the walls are fifteen meters, or fifty feet high.  That pole–atop which sit Emma and Kerry–is one hundred and fifty meters, or four hundred and ninety-two feet, high.  And they’re not really flying west, but more southwest, but because of the swing around the tower, Kerry was facing west.  I got this, you know?

What’s coming next?  This:

 

Team Myfanwy pulled back on their brooms and came to rest one hundred and fifty meters near the northernmost turn of Green Line’s Double Back. Emma now saw what Kerry has noticed. “What are those?”

There thin, dark lines rose into the sky seeming to towers hundred of meters over Kerry’s position. He wondered how no one in the Cape Ann area could see these lines—but if The Foundation can hide the entire school . . . “I have no idea, but . . .” He gulped. “I don’t like it.”

“I don’t either.” Emma leaned forward over her broom. “Are they . . .” She sat up quickly. “Kerry.”

I see.” The line were no longer rising into the sky: they’d begun to pitch towards them and the school. The far end of the lines were now visible as the fronts approached the screen. When they were maybe a half a kilometer away Kerry was able to tell that the line on the left was heading off south of them, while the middle line was heading somewhere to their north—

He followed the line to his left and saw once it was within a hundred meters of them that the line was comprised of hundred—maybe thousand—of creatures. Kerry couldn’t make them out clearly, but he knew there was as far from anything human as possible . . .

His stomach seemed to dropped out of his body as the creatures slammed into the outer screen.

 

This is what the Deconstructors were waiting for:  sunset and a hell of a lot of reinforcements.

 

The area around the impact point flared as brilliant sparks of mystical energy flowed into the area to hold back the horde. The same thing happened to the north as the middle line of created did the same, and he figured the third line was striking the screens far to the north. The screen around them shook and wavered, flexing towards and away from them. The screen was no longer a dim red, but was shifting up and down the spectrum from black to a bright orange.

There were bright flashes outside the screen at the point of impact. Remembering what Annie and he had gone over in Advanced Spells just last Wednesday, he had a sickening feeling that what he was seeing . . .

The screen seemed to erupt inward and a number of creatures—he didn’t know how many—flew into the school grounds. At the moment of the eruption Fortress was on the comms. “We have a breach; we have a breach. Go to ground; go to—”

A tremendous yellow flash filled the sky over the southern school ground. The goggles compensated for the flash and Kerry recovered his sight immediately. No more creatures were entering the school, and the few that had appeared to be heading for cover. But something else caught his eye: the flight team on the High Road ahead and to the south of them. Both were falling out of the sky, their brooms tumbling beside and behind them. They were flailing their arms as they felt towards the trees—

 

And they get what they want:  penetration of the outer defense screen and access to the school grounds.  And for a couple of unlucky students, it looks as if they won’t need to study no more.

Which means things aren’t looking too good for Team Myfanwy.  This is what plays out until the end . . .

 

Kerry.”

The panic in Emma’s voice was enough to snap him out of his shock. He wasn’t facing her when she nearly screamed at him. “The enchantment: it’s loosing power.”

His eyes were drawn to his own HUD because a set of yellow numbers were counting down rapidly as a message in white shone next to them: Levitation Enchantment Power Level.

They were losing power. The enchantment that kept them flying was draining faster than it could be replenished by their bodies—

56 . . . 53 . . . 49 percent.

They were on the west side of the school, far from Carrier, farther from Laputa. They could depart at full speed—

43 . . . 39 . . . 35 percent.

—but there was no way they were going to make it. Kerry figured flying at full speed would drain the enchantment even faster, and when it was gone, then they would crash and . . .

31 . . . 27 . . . 24 percent.

He closed his eyes—

Do you both want to be good sorceresses? Then remember to keep your wits about you while everything it going to hell around you, and you’ll remain in control of any situation. There are no other rules.

He snapped opened his eyes.

21 . . . 19 . . . 16 percent.

There was no other choice.

He barked at his wingmate as loud as possible. “Emma.” He jabbed a finger straight down. “LAND NOW.”

 

Fourteen hundred and sixty-eight words.  A good output for a good scene.

More to come.

You can bet on that.

Talks Among the Ins and Outs

The new day is here, and there is a feeling of getting things done today.  Don’t know why–maybe I just woke up in a good mood.  It’s always a plus to have that happen.

But there was also writing last night.  Lots of writing.  You want proof?  Here:

See?  I wouldn't lie.  Much.

See? I wouldn’t lie. Much.

Almost twelve hundred words to finish up the last scene in Chapter Twenty-One.  Not only that, but the novel is over ninety thousand words, and I’m creeping up on another milestone here, which I’ll discuss in a moment.

But first, the writing . . .

There’s a five-way conversation going on in this scene.  Isis and Wednesday in the Security Center, Ramona Chai and Fitzsimon Spratt, the Practical Super Science instructor, on the ground at the scene of the break-in, speaking through a couple of magical floating cameras/monitors, and the Headmistress in her lair in Sanctuary.  Question of the hour is:  how did they break in?  Answer . . .

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

The Headmistress glared at all through the video display. “You have an explanation for what happened, Isis?”

“I do.” She’d seen this demeanor many times before: she called it the “Mean Headmistress Look” and it only appeared when the Mathilde didn’t want to leave any doubt as to who was in control of the conversation.

“And?”

“The computer analysis shows the Deconstructors threw a number of people as a small spot on the screen, one right after another, in an attempt to hammer through a breach.”

“When you mean ‘one right after another’—”

“I mean they teleported people into the same spot on the screen in a matter of about ten second. As soon as one person hit the screen, another was right behind them, doing the same.” She turned and indicated Wednesday. “Wends has looked at the data as well, and agrees with that analysis.”

On the Monitor Two Fitzsimon—who was sending and receiving images from a Spy-Eye, one of several that the Rapid Response kept on hand for this sort of thing—raised his hand. “If I may something, Headmistress.”

Mathilde softened her glare a little. “Go ahead, Fitz.”

“Ramona and I have had a chance to examine both bodies.” The Self Defense and Weapons Instructor nodded from Monitor Three, watching and recording about six meters from Fitzsimon. “It looks like the body I’m standing over—the one that wasn’t retrieved by our stone friends—”

Isis spoke up. “That would be Gahooley.”

This gave the opportunity for the Headmistress to sigh loud enough for all to hear. “Is it actually necessary to give all the gargoyles names?”

“I find it necessary.”

 

Leave it to Isis to name “her” gargoyles.  And should we ask how it is she’s come into command of gargoyles in the walls, because if she’s giving one a name, there are probably more out there.  In a way it’s kind of scary.

But they get back to the matte at hand:

 

“Thank you.” He glanced at the body lying on the ground but didn’t kneel, knowing the Spy-Eye would follow if he did. “Of the two who made it through, this one appears in the worst shape: burnt by the energies in the screen, and missing part of his right arm.”

“He’s the one that was DOA coming through.” Isis wanted the Headmistress to know that even with a breach, the effort wasn’t a complete success.

“Yes. But . . .” Fitzsimon’s turned back to the camera. “He was wearing a device, and it’s obvious it was imbued with an enchantment.”

This was of interest to both the Headmistress and Wednesday, though the Mathilde was the first to speak. “What sort of enchantment?”

“It’s difficult to say right now; there’s only the lingering presence of an enchantment.” Fitzsimon shrugged. “Isis, Wednesday: did you see anything in your data that indicated a drain spell was used?”

Wednesday was slow to respond, as if she was going over what she’d viewed from the computers trying to see if she missed a key bit of evidence. “I didn’t see anything that stood out as a drain spell, but . . .” She turned to Isis and shrugged. “If they were throwing themselves against the screen trying to hammer it down, the energy flares could have covered it up. Particularly if it wasn’t a large spell.”

“It wouldn’t have to be large. If it was formed correctly, it’d end up being like a shape charge.”

“Yeah.” Isis shrugged. “But you couldn’t use a lot of them; too much of a chance you’d waste them before you hit the screen.”

Fitzsimon nodded. “Absolutely correct.”

 

There you see magic being used for practical effects–magical shape charges, if you will.  And now coming the whys and wherefores of how they got in, plus a little digging from the Headmistress.

 

The Headmistress wanted to get back to the point which originally brought this conversation together. “What I see here is the outer screens were breached and intruders entered the grounds. Isis, you said this wasn’t possible.”

“Headmistress, I said the screens as they are now would make nearly impossible to get into the grounds—” She wasn’t about the let Mathilde put words in her mouth and then hold her to something that was never said. “There is no such thing as a perfect defense, and I’ve said this more than once, if you’ll recall.”

“What does this mean, then?” Mathilde didn’t want more bad news.

“It means the Deconstructors have noticed a weakness and tested it to see if it was viable.” She pointed at a spot on the hologram of the school grounds behind her. “The entered near The Narrows, so my guess is someone was over in the observation tower in Halibut Point trying to see how it all played out.”

 

Is there really an observation tower over at Halibut Point State Park, at the northern most point of Cape Ann?  Do you really have to ask?

 

“Which means they know they can get in—”

“Maybe.” Isis shook her head. “They’ll also know it’s not worth their time.”

“Explain.”

Isis was glad she’d taken the time to memorize the data before having this conversation. “The data indicates thirty-three people hit the screen in the same place trying to hammer it down. Two made it through, and one of those was dead on arrival.” She looked up at Monitor Three. “Ramona, the guy who made it through alive—how was he when you got there?”

“Once your—” She was loath to the name given to the gargoyle by Isis. “—’pet’ returned the individual, he remained alive about fifteen seconds. And he wasn’t in much better shape than the individual Fritz is standing over.”

Mathilde didn’t bother hiding her surprise. “He died?”

“Yes.”

“What if you’d arrived before the gargoyle had gotten to him? Would you consider him a threat?”

Ramona looked off to the side for about five seconds before staring back into the Spy-Eye. “No, Headmistress. Given the extend of his injuries, any one of the Rapid Response team could have handled him without requiring magic. He wasn’t in any shape to put up a fight.” She glanced in the direction of the wall. “I believe he would have died, gargoyle or not.”

 

Gargoyle or not, you’re gonna die.  It’s all a matter when you’re trying to bust into the school of if you want to die sooner, or later.

What is the response to this?  Isis isn’t too worried, and Wednesday, the Second Witch in the Security Center, has got her ideas down:

 

“And we could act against them instantly.” Isis felt she’d covered all her points and was ready to move on to the end of this conference. “The one good thing to come out of this is Wends thinks she can modify the existing enchantment to make the screens harder to breach.”

With this news Mathilde no longer felt the need to seem the stern administrator. “What will you do?”

“I can make a slight adjustment to the enchantment so that if it detects as massive pin-point assault against a single area, more energy will get rushed to that spot.”

“How long will this take?”

“I’ll need about ninety minutes to work up the spell and test it. After that I just need to go down to the master node and rework the enchantment—that’ll take five minutes, no more.” Wednesday smile was friendly and relaxed. “Easy peasy.”

 

Just as long as you didn’t say “okely dokely”.  That might have been too much.

The high point too all this is I’m heading into Chapter Twenty-Two, where things get bad.  That’s where this second graphic comes into play:

Just look at the numbers, Lizzy.  Look at the number . . .

Just look at the numbers, Lizzy. Look at the number.

I’ve come within striking distance of 241,450 thousand word.  The longest thing I’ve ever written, Transporting, topped out at around 245,000 words.  That means sometime during Chapter Twenty-Two I’m not only going to pass that novel, but I’ll hit a quarter of a million words.

More importantly, the end of this Act is in sight.

Then . . . we’ll see.

Living Beyond the Walls

I’ll tell you, I had every intention of getting into writing last night.  Computer was ready, I was ready, there was nothing on television, I was ready for music and typing out words.

But life never lets you do what you want to do, right?

As I’m leaving work I check my phone and find I missed a call.  I check it, and it’s from the place where I was getting my new glasses from, and they tell me they’re it.  So I get home, get ready–just to even go out a have to get ready a little–and head out.  Fortunately traffic isn’t bad, but I still have to make a run to somewhere on the north side of the city.  And I notice that traffic going into the city is bad because of a wreck.  Not something good, particularly when things are backed up for miles.

I get my glasses–yeah, they look great . . .

Oh, and new earrings, too.  Wonderful.

Oh, and new earrings, too. Wonderful.

. . . and after picking them up I decides I need to pick up a few things at Target, and then get something to eat.  I wasn’t planing on staying out long, but I didn’t want to try and fight my way back through the traffic, so I took my time with my dinner.

By the time I rolled back to the apartment to snap the above picture, it was about eight PM.

Then I had to roll out and do something on Facebook, because I’m hosting a book club this month, and I had to set up which three books people can choose from.  Since I’d made my selections months ago it was just a matter of doing the ol’ cut and paste and getting things in place before setting up a poll, but it still took time to get that and the notifications together.  And as soon as I finished getting that set up–

The questions came.

Because they always do when there’s a new book.  Because people want to know things, they have interests in what you’re presenting.  I should have known, but sometimes I can be . . . clueless.  It’s not an easy feeling.

Oh, and I didn’t mention the PMs from people wanting to get together in a couple of weeks.  Did I mention that?  No.  I have now.

This is life, and it’s something I haven’t experienced in a bit.  It’s where unexpected things jump out at you and you do what is necessary to handle them.  My plan had been to come home, start dinner, get the book club stuff set up, eat, then write.  Silly me:  what did I know?

It’s a nice change up to be able to do something unexpected–and I had been waiting for my glasses for a few days, so there was a bit of excitement there.  I just didn’t expect it all to happen like . . . this.

Writing tonight, I promise.  I’ve got Isis trying to explain a school break-in where there shouldn’t be one, and gargoyles hiding in the wall.  I’ll get back into my fantasy . . .

And hope that life doesn’t throw a curve at me tonight.

Return of the Last Week

Does that seem cryptic?  Like, oh, god, what sort of “Last Week” are you describing?  Hummm, maybe a little cryptic, but that because I come from a different time and place, not unlike a certain traveler who was on over the weekend.

A week from today is Labor Day, or as some people think of it, the traditional marking of the end of summer.  After that day women aren’t supposed to wear white shoes, men are suppose to stop wearing shorts, and everyone’s suppose to adapt to the idea that fall is here and winter’s around the corner.  It was also, in some places the start of the school year, and depending on the calendar, school either started today, or it started next Tuesday.

That simply isn’t the case any longer.  Today we start school like the first week of August, people don’t much give a damn about what they wear well into fall (something I’ve noticed as I’ve adapted my change in clothing and watched how other women to the same), and winter is now a meme to tell people to brace themselves for some life-changing shit.

And my head was chopped off a few years or over a decade ago, so totally not a spoiler.

And his head was chopped off a few years or over a decade ago, depending on the medium of your choice, so totally not a spoiler.

So we are in the last week of summer.  It’s here, and soon it’ll be Friday, and summer is going . . . well, it’s not going anywhere.  Fall doesn’t officially come for almost another month, and looking ahead for the weeks to come, I doubt that we’re going to see fall-like weather soon.  Which is good, because I don’t have all my winter clothes together yet.  I can get through fall okay, but winter–it’s gonna be a tough one in The Burg.

The only true season I ever used to pay attention to was summer, and that was because I grew up in a house with no air conditioning until about 1970, and so summer was as time of dread.  It was hot and sweaty and miserable, and I couldn’t wait for cooler weather so I could sleep and enjoy going outside without enduring the sensation that I was melting.

The summer’s been mild this year, and where it was super sweltering I’ve manage to stay out of the direct rays and stay comfortable.  Winter is suppose to be a total pain in the ass this year, and that only bothers me in the sense that it’s necessary to go out and share the road with hundreds of drivers who lose their minds whenever there’s the smallest amount of snow on the ground.

However, it’s not the weather going away that I’ll think about this year.  The summer was one of dramatic change for me, and in this last week I meet with my therapist and talk about all the stuff that’s happened in the month since I last saw her.  I’m sure they’ll be a lot of discussion about what’s going to happen at work this winter, and not a few mentions of my emotional state over the month of August.

And then we can talk about what’s coming in the fall.

All-in-all, it’s not been a bad summer,

Maybe I need to get out and enjoy what their is of my new life in the fall.

message

Changing seasons, changing gender appearance–pretty much the same, don’t you think?  It can still make for a good hike on a nice day.