Running on Sights

Long night–or should I say morning?  Was feeling a little emotionally out of it when I went to bed, and then I wake up at like three in the morning and having trouble getting back to bed because I’ve got a song stuck in my head and my dreams had me chased by the undead.  And as soon as I manged to fall asleep–zombie dreams come after me.  What did I ever do to them, other than have a couple of my students whack the hell out of them?  They should learn to mellow out.

Yesterday I said I’d post the video I made for one of my Facebook groups the other day, and when you get to the end of this post you’ll see it and a bit of my messy, somewhat stark abode.  But that’s at the end:  there are other things in between.

So three instructors arrive, two leave, and Annie is sitting there with Kerry and Professor Arrakis, and then this happens:

 

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

Annie was going to make a comment about the departing instructors, but Emma chose that moment to hurry over and stand across the coffee table from them. “Hi, um . . .” She turned to Kerry. “Would you like to dance?”

Kerry froze for a few second, his eyes locked upon Emma. “Um, yeah . . .” He cleared his throat twice, casting a sideways glance at Annie before continuing. “Um, I was, uh . . . I wasn’t planing on dancing—”

Annie jumped in to save her nervous boyfriend. “Kerry, go ahead. I don’t mind.”

He quickly turned to Annie as if to make certain she wasn’t playing with him. “You sure?”

She lightly touched his left hand. “Go ahead. I want to speak with Professor Arrakis anyway—” She leaned closer to him as she lowered her voice. “Girl talk, you know?”

He nodded. “Got it.” Kerry quickly rounded the table and joined Emma. “Okay, let’s do this.”

Annie was careful to note as the two walked away that he didn’t touch Emma—he placed his hand close to her back but never made contact—and kept her to his right as they headed for the dance floor. She’s not to his left; I’m the only one who ever walks on his left

 

Emma:  still being a buzzkill.  Though Annie did let he walk away with Kerry and she didn’t throw a spell at her back before she vanished into the crowd.  Because she’s talking “girl talk” with the School Seer–

 

“You were surprised.”

Annie looked straight ahead. “Yes.” She turned her head just enough to see her. “I was.” She finally turned her body enough that she wasn’t uncomfortable looking at the instructor. “I wasn’t expecting to hear him nearly tell Emma that he wasn’t going to dance with her.”

“He was going to say more than that; he was about to tell her that he wasn’t planing on dancing with anyone but you.” Deanna slid around so she was resting between the back and arm. “He’s changed.”

“Yes, he has.” She looked for him on the dance floor, then decided she trusted him enough that it wasn’t necessary to keep an eye on him.

“Quite a lot after his accident a couple of weeks ago.” She looked over her shoulder also searching for Emma and him. “His night in the hospital must have had a profound effect upon him.”

Annie didn’t want to speak of that night in the hospital. She didn’t want to speak of her anger at him, of her after-hours apology, and of the moments she spent in the near dark watching him sleep. Though she wanted to talk . . . “He’s so different tonight. Kerry’s always been attentive, but tonight he’s noticed so many small things . . .” She looked off to her right, towards the exit into the East Hallway. “He’s been so complementary tonight. Telling me I’m lovely, I’m beautiful . . .”

“You’re waiting to hear something else, aren’t you?”

Her eyes flickered over the seer. “Yes.”

Deanna nodded. “Perhaps—” She turned to watch the students dancing. “—he finally feels he’s worthy of giving you love.”

Annie’s attention snapped back to Deanna, her eyes filled with curiosity and interest. She knew it wasn’t an accident that the professor spoke nearly the same words that she’d spoken to Kerry that night in the hospital, telling him he was worthy of her love, and deserved all that she felt for him. “What do you know, Professor?”

 

Forget it, Annie.  you aren’t getting anything out of her.  That’s what it means to be a seer:  you have all these secrets you have to keep . . . and Deanna Arrakis is very good at keeping them.  This is going to cause a little back and forth between the instructor and Annie, but if you think Annie is going to learn her future while sitting at the Samhain dance, guess again.

I’m going to work on this scene right after this post goes out (at the moment it’s 7:10 AM, so figure before 7:20), because my afternoon is going to be way busy and I need to get my writing in where I can.  And I want to finish this scene and get then next going because there is fun coming, I tell you, fun!

The next chapter is nothing but laughs!

The next chapter is nothing but laughs!

Since a lot of you asked for it, here’s my video.  I’ve been asked in my Facebook group to do readings of my work, and there’s a very good possibility that’s going to happen.  For now, however, enjoy this.

 

The Calm Before the Seeing

First off, let’s move this out of the way:  after mentioning yesterday that I made a video for the first time, I had, shall we say, a few requests to see me speak.  Oh sure, I’ve presented pictures of myself, but never have I gone and made a fool of myself before one of those talky camera things.  So, today, I’ll upload the video to my YouTube account and present it here for you amusement.  You Have Been Warned.

And I had a session with my therapist, the first since starting my hormone treatment.  She was happy to see me, happy to see I appear happy, happy to hear how I’m moving forward in my life.  She also pointed out a few things she noticed about me, and this is where I do a Law & Order trope and invoke doctor/patient privilege so that I don’t have to go into just what it was she noticed.  While I’m open to a lot of things in my life, that isn’t one of them.

Which brings us to writing.  It must have been a good night, because I ended up just short of twelve hundred words for the evening, setting up a new scene at the Samhain Dance.  I also mentioned yesterday that I’d written six hundred and sixty-six words to finish the last scene, so imagine my surprised when I checked my word count this morning . . .

I believe I've moved into the Condo of the Beast.

I believe I’ve moved into the Condo of the Beast.

I love seeing number like that:  Ms. Rutherford would probably tell me that the Numerologists of the Foundation would find that an auspicious sign.  Given what I know is coming next in the scene, and the following scene, and the following chapter, they’re probably correct.

Onward to the party!

 

 

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

“Hope we’re not disturbing.”

Annie looked up along with Kerry and found Professors Sladen and Arrakis standing on the other side of the coffee table. Sladen’s costume was a simple affair: A rather plain halter top and matching brown wrap around skirt that feel to her knees, brown boots, and a braided gold and brown headband used to tie back her hair. She also carried a large fighting stick, maybe a jō, outfitted with leather bands to allow the user better control.

Professor Arrakis was far more elaborate and beautiful. She wore a bright green outfit that looked like a silk dress with a high collar and long sleeves, but Annie also saw what looked like the end of leggings just above her ankles. She also wore a helmet adorned with a feathered headband, and each wrist was covered with large gold wrist bands.

Annie shook her head. “No, Professor Sladen. We’re just sitting here enjoying the dance.” She was glad she didn’t need to raise her voice; there were enchantments in place to keep sound at a lower volume outside the dance floor, so people could enjoy the music and still carry on a conversation. “Please sit with us.”

“Thank you.” Erywin chose the chair to Annie’s left.

Deanna pointed to the empty spot on the soft to Annie’s left. “Would you mind if I sit next to you?”

She shook her head. “No, go right ahead, Professor.”

“Thank you.”

Kerry waited for both women to get comfortable before addressing Professor Sladen. “I recognize your costume—”

The right side of Erywin’s mouth curled up into a smile. “You do?”

“Yeah—where’s your Xena?” He looked around, grinning wildly.

Erywin laughed. “Either in the loo or preventing Armageddon from breaking out. She should be along shortly.”

“But your costume . . .” He looked around Annie at Professor Arrakis. “I have no idea.”

Deanna flashed Kerry a sweet smile. “You mean I’ve stumped you? I thought you knew everything.”

He shook his head. “Not everything. Not since coming here.”

“You have an honest boy there, Annie.” She smoothed down her skirt. “Razia Sultain, first female Muslim ruler in South Asia. She was the fifth Sultan of Delhi for four years, until 1240.”

 

See?  I not only give you a costume party, but a little history lesson.  And you discover that Kerry doesn’t know everything.

It’s not all fun an games at the dance, though.  As you can see when, as Kerry calls her, Erywin’s “Warrior Princess”, shows up to the party.

 

Professor Lovecraft walked up, greeted everyone with a hello, then sat in the open chair to Kerry’s right without asking. She leaned back and loudly exhaled her last breath before looking across the coffee table at both instructors. “I’m about to round up all your shieldmaidens and Celtic warriors and dump their asses somewhere north of the Observatory so they can beat the hell out of each other until no one is left standing.”

“Are they getting a big anxious for their annual skirmish?” Each Samhain the girls from the Åsgårdsreia fight team challenged the girls of the Mórrígan fight team to an “Ancestral Battle” fought with mock swords and shields. This had gone on for almost two hundred and sixty years, but in the last five years the lead up to the battle had begun to turn a lot more acrimonious, and it wasn’t unusual for the students to use the “Safe Space” status of the dance—meaning no one could be “called out” to settle their grievance with a real challenge fight inside Gwydion Manor—to start throwing a few non-magical punches back and forth.

“Coraline’s already fixed one broken nose—” She pointed at Erywin. “—that one of your girls threw, Honey.”

Erywin didn’t seem that concerned. She turned to Deanna. “I’m sure it wasn’t that bad.”

Deanna nodded as she he’d heard her fellow coven leader, but didn’t quite believe her. “Perhaps you could discuss protocol once again with them before they are unable to participate in the evening’s encounter?”

Helena nodded then stood. “That might not be a bad idea. I’ll help.” She turned to Annie and Kerry as Erywin rose from her seat. “You look lovely Annie. You’re . . .” She smiled slyly. “Good too, Kerry.”

Kerry almost laughed. “Thanks . . . Xena.”

Helena snorted. “I’m from New Zealand: who the hell else am I gonna come as?”

He pointed at her legs. “Your skirt’s a little long, though.”

Erywin stopped next to Helena as the later gave the skirt, which ended just above her knees, a tug. “Forgive me: I’m modest.” She turned and both teachers made their way through the crowd.

 

Helena?  Modest?  As with everything here, there’s probably a reason for that . . .

Also, you see the semi-informal school event that I actually blogged about way back on January 13 of this year, something I said I was going to write.  That post also included an excerpt from the first time Annie and Kerry attended Sorcery Class with Professor Lovecraft.  And here she is again, seven and a half months later, breaking up fights between the two groups of energetic fighting witches.  Just like Annie, I keep my promises.

Besides, these girls have been waiting months to kick each other’s butts.

"I'll break more than your nose, bitch."

“I’m gonna break a lot more than your nose.”

"You just screwed with the wrong Sheildmaiden."

“You just screwed with the wrong sheildmaiden.”

Let the Real Dance Begin

The strangest thing happened yesterday:  I made a video.  Really.  Not very long, just under four minutes, but it’s me, dressed pretty casually–like sweater over my pajamas casually–and I’m saying hi to a lot of women I know in a certain Facebook group to which I belong, and I’m talking about me and a little about my writing.  There was a time, even before my transition, that I’d never show my face anywhere:  I didn’t like taking pictures, and I never did video.  Now I’m sort of like:  eh, let’s just do this thing.  Actually I’m sorta like:  hey, I should do more.

Just one more thing to add to my multimedia empire.

I don’t know if this is a portent of something good or bad, but I wrote six hundred and sixty-six words lasts night.  Well, it is a Samhain dance, so you can excuse me if that number comes up and people are bothered.  Am I bovveed?  Do I look bovvered to you?  Actually, I’m at 668, so that makes me the Neighbor of the Beast, and they’re coming over tomorrow night for cocktails.

But seriously.  I managed to get out my video, get out my writing, watch a little television–which is probably why my word count was down–and even chat with people.  All in a night’s dealings.

But what about Annie?  Let’s see that gown.

 

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

Her gown was satin, the color of soft, creamy gold. It was sleeveless with keyhole shoulder pads, and she wore matching fingerless lace gloves on each hand. The gown pulled in slightly at the waist and spread away in a modified semi-tight A line. The original design of the gown has a plunging V line in the front and a scoop back; the back on this gown was normal, which the front dropped only low enough to allow her heart pendant to rest against bare skin. “Thank you, Nadine. I . . .” She leaned against Kerry. “It was all his idea, really.”

Kerry looked down as he grinned. “But you’re the one that makes the gown look good.” He brushed the back of Annie’s right hand. “I just thought about what would be nice.”

“Either way, you’re both killer.” Nadine continued to admire Annie. “I like the changes you made with the outfit, too.”

“I wanted something a bit more modest.” She touched her necklace. “I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing the original design.”

 

By original design she means wherever Kerry saw the outfit and got the idea.  She lets Mr. Geeky find the outfits, and she just does the alterations.

But there’s something else going on here:

 

“It looks better this way.” Kerry took Annie’s hand, raised it to his lips, and brushed a kiss against the back of her fingers.

Annie’s blush began spreading beyond her cheeks to her entire face. Kerry was his normal self throughout the day, but from the moment he saw her in this gown, his demeanor changed completely: he was attentive to her every need, he seemed to become more protective—and far more loving. Like now; Kerry wouldn’t have kissed me that way a few weeks ago

 

Ah, yes:  maybe Mr. Geeky is starting to get his feelings together  We might find out except for . ..

 

“Hey, guys. Hey, Kerry.”

Annie felt her stomach drop just a little as Emma walked up and spoiled the moment. There were many things she wanted to say, but as most of them were mean, she kept them in her thoughts. Though Kerry didn’t appear disappointed, he appeared to deflated slightly. Annie felt something float away from him—from them both, actually. It was the first time she’d felt this between them and wondered if it had something to do with the heightened magic permeating the grounds.

Kerry was polite to Emma, though. “Wow.” He didn’t move from Annie’s side, but did turn and twist his head as if he were taking her in from several different angles. “You decided to go all in on this, didn’t you?”

 

Emma:  buzzkilling relationships since two weeks before.  One day she’ll do that to the wrong witch–the wrong Dark Witch, I’m thinking–and she’s gonna have to watch her butt closely.

Here’s what I have:

Hey, looks different, doesn't it?

Hey, looks different, doesn’t it?

I’ve finished the entry into the dance, renamed the bonfire section, and altered the last part that I’d added.  The times are more in sync with what’s going to happen, too.  I’m doing this because, in my mind, I know how I want this chapter to now play out, and this is it.  Three little scenes, but I now know how they go.

Now for the magic to continue.

Twilight in the Night Ward

It is done:  Chapter Seventeen is done, finished, first drafted.

See all those "First Draft" labels?  I don't lie.  Much.

See all those “First Draft” labels? I don’t lie. Much.

In the last scene written Annie got caught, but the punishment . . . well, it’s not all that hard.  Really.  Nurse Coraline is a big softy.  Not only that, but Annie admitted something that she wouldn’t tell Kerry–probably not ever–but she would admit to another woman.

 

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

“It’s not just that, Nurse Coraline—” Annie hated to admit to anything bothering her; it wasn’t her nature. And it wasn’t like what she was about to admit to bothered her a lot, but given her current situation, she knew what she was about to say wouldn’t go beyond the person listening. “Kerry always sees me to my room. He’s the last person I see before getting ready for bed. And . . . we’re the only ones on the floor. Even though he’s on the other side of the tower, it’s comforting to know if I needed him, I only have to knock on his door.”

 

Now we know that there’s always a “Good Night” given somewhere on the First Floor of Cernunnos Tower, and that Annie had to go to the hospital to get hers that night–but that’s not the same, is it?  Doesn’t really have the same, loving impact that holding hands and giving someone a kiss and telling them “good night” before heading into your room to fall asleep has. Which is probably why Annie is back on the ward because . . . well, she has her reasons.

And Coraline has to lay down the law.

 

“Okay, Annie.” Coraline patted the girl’s shoulder. “Here’s what’s going to happen: first, consider this a warning. The rules I have about sneaking into my hospital are there for a reason, and I don’t like seeing anyone break them—even people I like. Should this happen again, there’s gonna be detention.”

Annie glanced down and nodded once. “It won’t happen again.”

“That’s good, because you don’t want detention from me.” She didn’t bother waiting for the question from Annie. “It’s always the same: you’re sent to clean up the morgue. In the lower levels. At night.” She slowly raised her eyebrows as she smirked. “No one ever wants a second detention from me.”

Annie met Coraline’s stare. “I don’t want a first.”

“Then don’t sneak onto my ward again.”

“I won’t.”

 

Yeah, girl, this is crazy, but you just snuck onto my ward floor, so how about heading down to the morgue at eight-thirty PM and doing a little dusting maybe.  No bodies lying about, but that doesn’t mean the place hasn’t been used.

But the Head Doctor/Nurse isn’t a total meanie:

 

“I believe you.” She slid her hand behind Annie’s shoulders and directed her back down the ward corridor. “Now, second: I’m gong to to walk you back to your tower—” She felt the girl stiffen under her fingertips. “I’ll see you into your commons, and I’ll give you something that will help you sleep. And I’ll watch you take it, just to make certain you have—”

Annie hung her head. “Yes, Nurse Coraline.”

“—after you spend some time with Kerry.”

Annie looked up, absorbing what she’d just been told. “Really?”

“Did you think I wasn’t going to give you at least a little time with him?” Coraline stopped in front of Kerry’s curtained-off bay. “Like I said, Annie, I’m a romantic, too. If I’d had a boyfriend in the hospital when I was an A Level, and I felt about him the way you feel for Kerry, I’d have probably risked detention to see him.”

“Thank you, Nurse Coraline.” Annie was genuinely touched. She knew Coraline was upset with her rule breaking, but she also sensed the honesty behind her actions. “How much time do I get?”

“I’ll give you thirty minutes.” She half way slid back the bay curtain and spoke softly. “I’ll come and get you when time’s up. No one will bother you, so Team Annie—” Coraline grinned broadly. “—can have enough time to comfort her sleeping boy.”

 

Team Annie.  Because only pervo vampires sneak into someone’s place of rest and sit their watching them while they sleep.  Nurse Gretchen already called Annie out on this, saying she was getting into some “strange Twilight stuff” with that, but that’s okay with Annie, because . . .

 

Annie sat and moved the chair as close to the bed as possible without scrunching her legs against the frame. She knew it likely seemed strange to both Gretchen and Coraline that she wanted to sit and watch Kerry sleep, but she felt that since she couldn’t share their dreams together—for whatever reason—this was the next best thing.

 

If I can’t see you in my dreams, I’ll do the next best thing.  Which means it must torture her to sleep across the tower from Kerry and not be able to do the same.  You can draw any conclusions you like . . .

But do it fast, because Samhain is up next, and believe me:  Halloween dances at a school full of witches and gifted kids might just be a lot of fun.

Anatomy of a Sneaky Girl

Well, now, it’s another day, it’s another Sunday, it’s another “The weekend is almost over” feeling.  We do this all the time, and it’s not a bad feeling–not as long as you do something with your time.

What did I do?  A lot.  Oh, yeah, writing, too, but I was doing a lot of other things as well.  So many that by nine PM I was falling asleep.  That’s an indication I was hard doing . . . something.  It’s not all just sitting on my butt in front of the computer.

Though it’s close . . .

If there’s one thing I have learned about Annie, it’s that she gets what she wants.  She’s explained that she’s been called “selfish” for this attitude, but she’s just a girl who knows what she wants, and she’ll keep at it until she gets it.  Or she just does whatever the hell she feels like doing, which is what she’s sort of doing now that she’s away from her parents and off to school with her Ginger Haired Boy.

What happens when he’s in the hospital and not sleeping across the tower from her?  What does she do when visiting hours are over?  What do you think?

 

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

Pushing open the door to the hospital waiting room slowly, Annie peeked in to see if anyone was present. The room was empty, as she’d expected, so she used the moment to slip inside and eased the door shut. She stood still for almost ten seconds, waiting to see if Nurse Gretchen came out of Coraline’s office, or from out of the ward. When she found herself still alone she moved ahead.

Annie knew what she was doing was wrong, that it was after visiting hours and sneaking onto the ward was going to be frowned upon. She also knew that using the Light Bending spell she’d learned in Transformation Class to allowed her to enter without being seen was also going to be viewed in a dim light.

She was facing a lot of detention to do this.

She didn’t care. She wanted to sit with Kerry for a little.

 

 

Who needs an invisibility cloak when you can just bend light around your own bad self? That’s a problem with this school: witches be roaming the grounds at all hours, sneaking into places they aren’t suppose to be.

Then again, all the instructors graduated from this joint, so what do you think that means?

 

She decided to move the chair between the beds so she could sit next to him for a while. If Nurse Gretchen walked in she could always jump up and get out of the way before she moved the chair back into place, but Annie considered the possibility of the night nurse walking in on her slim. It wasn’t like Kerry was a specialty patient in need of constant observation; he had only a broken ankle and a damaged knee. Unless he woke up and called for the nurse—

There was a tap on Annie’s right shoulder.

She turned and found no one there. A moment later the dim outline of a taller woman appeared, and within seconds the outline constituted into the form of Nurse Coraline. She cocked her right index finger at the invisible and motioned for her to come along. Annie dropped her Light Bending spell and followed Coraline into the corridor and to the far end of the ward where she’d held her conversation with Professor Lovecraft weeks before.

 

Coraline, she don’t miss a trick, and seems to know the same magic. She also knows something else:

 

Coraline didn’t bother with a privacy screen; she went right to the chastising. “First off, I have to say you really mastered that Light Bending spell that Jessica showed you. She told me Kerry and you both had it down pat, which doesn’t surprised me one bit.” She crossed her arms, trying to look as stern as possible. “What Jes didn’t tell you is while you can hide your physical form just fine, it doesn’t do a thing to disguise your aura. Which means you pretty much stood out like a beacon to me.”

“You were waiting for me?” Annie was surprised that her presence was expected. “Did Professor Arrakis say something?”

“Annie, I didn’t need a seer to figure this one out. The first time Kerry did an overnight you were in to complain that you were having ‘trouble sleeping’, and, oh, can I sit with Kerry for a few minutes? Then you were in just after visiting hours were over because you told Gretchen that you had to ‘apologize’ for something.”

Coraline shook her head. “No, no way. I figured you’d show up and it’d be a good idea if we had a chat. Of course, I didn’t imagine you were going to sneak into my ward . . .” She twisted her mouth up into a scowl. “There’s a half-dozen ways we know if someone’s coming into the hospital; even pretty much invisible, you still set off three of them. Just for future reference, in case you want to try this again.”

 

Here’s a woman who’s serious about kids sneaking into her hospital. Haven’t written the part up yet, but you never want detention from Coraline, because she’s a bit twisted when it comes to handing out punishment. And it’s not scrubbing bedpans, because there aren’t that many in this place. At least not used . . .

"Nurse Coraline, I don't know if I like the idea of using others for magical experimentation . . . what do you mean, you didn't say 'others'?  Why are you looking at me that way?"

“Nurse Coraline, I don’t know if I like the idea of using others for magical experimentation . . . what do you mean, you didn’t say ‘others’? Why are you looking at me like that?”

The Moment of Forgotten Love

I’ve written about love before, both times in stories set in a science fiction world I created over twenty years ago.  Actually there was a third story set in the same world that dealt with love, wanted and unavailable, and getting through that novel was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, because in pulling that story out of whatever crevasse of my mind held the damn thing, I also pulled out a lot of feelings that I’d not touched upon for a while.

You may have noticed I’m doing the same thing here, only . . . it’s a different kind of love.

The new scene I added to the novel was finished last night, with only a touch fewer than six hundred words needed to bring it to a conclusion.  After Annie’s profession of undying love, there weren’t a lot of places Kerry could go in his mind, wondering just what the hell this Girl From Bulgaria meant.  If I can figure it out, I’m sure he can . . .

 

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

“As would I.” Annie smooched Kerry on the right cheek, very near his lips. She lingered there for a few seconds, savoring the kiss. “Goodnight, my love.”

He folded his hands across his lap. “Night, Sweetie.”

She paused at the curtain. “See you in the morning.” She blew him a kiss, then departed.

Now alone, Kerry thought about the things Annie had said. He wasn’t all that interesting in her apology, or the information about her father—he continued going back to her talk of her love for him, and how she would love him—

He wanted to say “forever”, but it was more than that. And every day, as long as you live, you’ll hear me say those words to you. That was what she said. She wasn’t talking forever, not like someone would if they were talking about a long, indefinite period of time for which they didn’t know the end.

Annie said as long as I live. As long as I’m alive

From now until the day I die.

 

Yeah, dude, you’re getting it.  It’s easy to say, “I’ll love you forever,” because it’s a bullshit expression that runs out when the love does.  When you say, “As long as you live,” you’re setting a time frame for the object of the affection, saying you’re going to be their one and only until they kick this mortal coil, naturally or otherwise.  (Kerry needn’t worry that Annie’s gonna go all Dark Witch and plant his ass in the ground with some black magic–yet . . .)

Basically, she just set the limits for how long soul mates should exist.

And that brings out something else in Kerry . . .

 

But her saying that he deserved love—no one had ever said that to him before. Sure, his grandparents said they loved him, and when he was younger his parents told him the same, but it had been a long time—since leaving San Francisco—that he’d had anyone say “I love you, Kerry.” He’d not heard it from his father or mother. He’d not heard it from anyone else, because in all of Cardiff no one else was close to him.

The only person in the last five years who’d told Kerry they’d loved him was Annie. She was the only one who thought him worthy of her love—

Have I ever returned that love?

He lowered his head and a few stray tears dripped into his glass lenses. Why hadn’t he? Was it because he was unsure of his feelings? Was it because he didn’t know his feelings? Or was it because he knew his feelings, and he was afraid to express them? He’d told Annie he had trouble expressing his feelings, but there was a feeling deep within his self that told him . . .

There was a knock on the bay support. Kerry looked up and saw an outstretched arm reaching across the open curtain space. “Kerry?” Nurse Gretchen’s voice was soft, concerned. “Are you all right?”

 

It’s a kick in the brain pan when you finally realize that someone is madly in love with you, and you’re still uncertain about what you feel for them.  So what does he do?  Well, this is the event I called “First Night,” which means there are two other nights ahead, and during that time he’ll figure out what he should do–

Better hurry, Kerry:  Annie's waiting, and she'll probably wait another . . . five or six years for you to make up your mind.

Better hurry, Kerry: Annie’s waiting, and she’ll probably wait another . . . five or six years for you to make up your mind.

The Boy With the Long Emptiness

One of the maxims of writing is, “Write what you know”.  Which is a hard thing to do for this novel, because what do I know about witches and super science and secret organizations that run the world without us knowing anything.  Okay, for that last I have notes from last week’s meeting . . .

But this novel isn’t all about witches and magic and fighting off some dark, unseen presence–though give me a few more scenes and you might be surprised.  It’s also about feelings.  It’s about my two main characters learning about stuff, you know . . . things.  That’s what happened earlier in the current scene I’m writing:  Annie came back in to see the laid-up Kerry, apologized, and told him a secret.  It’s all good, right?

Kerry’s got a few secrets of his own.  He tells Annie he understands strange relationships with you parents, because he has the same.  But he doesn’t stop there:  oh, no.  That would be too easy.  Because Kerry’s been hanging around Annie for almost two months now, and he’s discovered that, after all the years of being around his parents and experiencing an unaffectionate relationship with them, he really does have feelings.

Which leads to this:

 

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

Annie nodded slowly, witnessing the emotions flowing across Kerry’s face. Something was bothering him, something that he wanted to say aloud, and she wasn’t about to leave him alone with feelings that seemed to bother him. “Kerry?”

He took two deep breaths before he quickly raised his head so he was looking directly at Annie. “A couple of years ago my mother told me she wished I wasn’t with them. I knew she didn’t mean that I wasn’t with them in Cardiff: she meant she wished . . .” He took a long, tortured breath as his gaze shifted away from Annie. “I wasn’t here.”

 

Write what you know–and I know that one.  Because my own mother dropped that bomb on me when I was ten.  Sure, I was probably driving her crazy with my depression and all the other baggage I was carrying, and this moment came after my parents pulled me out of therapy after two months–therapy that was suppose to help me learn how to “make friends,” because one of my mantras then was, “No one likes me.”  At that time in my life I never left the house except to go to school and places with my parents.  There was one point where I didn’t leave my room unless it was necessary for about two years.

I’m sure none of this had anything to do with the various sentences my mother threw at me from the time I was about six that always ended in, “Like a girl.”  Yeah, thanks.  Lots of help there.

Fortunately Kerry has Annie.  And while he might not understand everything there is to know about girls, he will understand this:

 

If she could have Annie would have taken Kerry and pulled him close and held him, but she couldn’t do that, not with him being unable to move. She moved as close to him as possible. “Do you remember when we had lunch in Russel Square?”

He didn’t look at her, but Kerry nodded. “Yeah. That was—”

“Do you remember telling me that you felt that no one cared for you, that you weren’t loved?”

Kerry gaze slowly returned to Annie’s hazel eyes. “Yes. I remember.”

She laid their hands upon her chest and held him tightly. “You’re wrong. You’re worthy of love, Kerry: you deserve love. You deserve to have someone tell you at least once every day that they love you. You deserve to hear those words and know them to be true.” Annie lightly, lovingly kissed his hand. “I love you, Kerry. I always will. And every day, as long as you live, you’ll hear me say those words to you.” She placed his hand against her right cheek and closed her eyes. “Every day.”

Kerry felt her warm cheek against his fingers, her skin against his. He started to smile, then the gravity of her words fell over him, and it was all he could do to stare opened mouth, his breathing coming in short, jagged bursts. As Annie opened her eyes and looked back into his, he finally found his voice. “Every day . . . That’s a long time.”

“Yes, it is.” Annie lowered his hand so it once more rested on the bed, though she refused to let it go. “Unless you keep letting Emma crash into you.”

He began laughing; Annie joined in a moment later. The seriousness of the moment was now in the past, replaced by their levity. Kerry coughed once. “Yeah, that could shorten my life considerably.”

“By more than a few years.” This time the lights across the ward were out for three seconds before coming back on. “And I think—”

“That’s your cue.” Kerry slid his hand from Annie’s. “You better get going before Nurse Gretchen throws you out.”

 

Of course he remembers, Annie:  it right there in that scene.

Of course he remembers, Annie: it right there in that scene.

The rest of the scene comes tonight, when Kerry starts to understand something important.  Something not just about Annie, but about himself.  Something that’ll bring another kind of hurt–

Don’t worry, kid.  You don’t have to stay empty forever.

The Girl With the Family Secrets

It was an interesting after-work situation yesterday, only because I did something I rarely do, which is venture out into public.  I was out because I had to pick up a book–yes, I still read–and then it was over for dinner.  However, the internet at my local Panera wasn’t working, so all I could do is write.  Damn it all, as they say, are you trying to make me productive?

It was a good thing there wasn’t an internet, because I cranked out nearly six hundred words in about twenty five minutes.  Ah, to be back in the old zone.  It was a good feeling.

 

 

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

“A little.” He nodded his head back and forth. “Mostly, though, I used to do computer racing.”

“I’m sorry?”

“A few years ago I got a racing program for my computer. It was really more of a simulation for grand touring cars—”

Annie couldn’t help but grin. “FIA-GT.”

“You know that?”

“Oh, yes; I know that. Go on.”

Kerry wanted to ask how she know about that particular series, but decided to tell Annie his story. “I have a steering wheel at home that I plug into my computer—gear shifter and foot peddles, too , so using the program was as much like driving the car as possible. The tracks were modeled perfectly on real courses, so when you raced at, say, Spa, it felt like you were really racing there with other drivers.”

“Did you race there?”

“Spa?”

“Yes.”

He nodded. “Yeah, that was one of my favorites. I did the twenty-four hour endurance race there a few times.”

This time Annie chuckled. “I know all about that one.”

How do you know about that?”

Like she’s going to tell you, kid.  Actually, you’re going to find out in just a bit.

This part was really easy to put together, because Kerry is speaking from the writer’s experience.  I used to do a lot of racing on my computer, using my GTR2 racing simulation game.  I also had the same wheel set up he had, which is how he know it was like driving a race car.

Ah, there you are!  Remember all the laps we put in before I wore you out?

Ah, there you are! Remember all the laps we put in before I wore you out?

That was my rig right there.  I wore out the gear shifter, and because I was unemployed at the time it went belly up, I didn’t use the rebate for the wheel to by a new one.  Which is probably a good thing, because I drove thousands of lap on that game.  Remember Kerry saying he did the twenty-four hour endurance race at Spa?  I did two.  The first one was in the rain and took 550 laps to complete.  The second one was in good weather and I managed 600 laps.  I didn’t drive both of them in twenty-four hours straight.  That’s insane.

He tells Annie about how racing was a challenge to him.  It wasn’t recklessness; it was about being good at what you do and having your car in one piece at the end of the race.  And he talks about setting Emma up:

 

“She threw a couple of blocks at me in the north part of the course. I figured out that she was trying to throw me off, to get me upset, so I’d do something dumb and lose ground to her. So . . .” His grin turned positively ornery. “I set her up on West End, and when she threw a block on me in Sunset—” He demonstrated with his hands how he got around Emma. “She wasn’t thinking about how this course is three dimensional. So I got her.”

Annie giggled and almost applauded. “I’m impressed. That’s a good thing you did there.”

He looked off to his left and scoffed. “Then again, if I hadn’t gotten in front of her, she wouldn’t have crashed into me.”

She gave his hand a stronger, lingering squeeze. “If you decide you want to race, you’ll quickly discover these things happen.”

“Is that what happened with your dad when he was here?” Annie grew still and quiet, though she didn’t turn her eyes away. “Professor Salomon told me a while back your dad used to race here, and Nurse Coraline told me the same.” He quietly swallowed, clearing his throat. “Does he still do that?”

“You could say that. He still races PAVs now and then, but . . .” She took his hand in both hers. “My father is Victor Kirilov; he races in the Formula One series. He also raced in FIA-GT for a while, which is why I knew about that.” She slowly breathed in and out. “The team he drives for is owned and run by The Foundation. They de-engineer super science technology and test it on their cars, so it can be used on Normal vehicles.”

 

So there it is:  it’s out.  Annie’s finally admitted that Daddy’s a big deal.  Of course Kerry is confused by the name.

 

“Oh.” Her smile was soft and enchanting. “That’s how it is with Bulgarian names. My family name is Kirilovi, with an ‘I’ at the end. My father’s name is the masculine version of the family name, which removes the final ‘I’. My mother’s name, and mine, are the feminine version of the name, with an ‘A’ at the end—hence ‘Kirilova’.” She leaned back slightly, hoping she hadn’t confused Kerry too much. “Do you understand?”

He nodded slowly. “It’s sort of like with Russian names.”

“Yes, something like that.”

“I get it.”

 

Clever boy.

The scene finishes with Annie’s true apology.  Sure, she was mad, but her real reasons for seeing Kerry tonight are as such:

 

“That’s okay; I understand—” He looked up as the lights in the ward flashed twice. “Is that your two minute warning?”

Annie was looking up as well. “Gretchen is letting me know my time here is almost over.” She took her time lowering her gaze, little by little, until she once more settled into his deep green eyes. “There’s my apology. I won’t be mad at you for the things you want to do, or at least try. I won’t ever tell you what to do or try either, Kerry. I can offer suggestions, or give advice, but you have to gain these experiences on your own. I’m never going to be that girlfriend who tells you what you have to do, what you must do, and what you can never do.”

She scrunched up her eyes and shook her head. “I know you like to fly, and there’s a fair chance you’ll want to try racing. And . . .” She tightened her grip on his hand. “I love flying with you, and though it might scare me horribly, I’ll watch you if you end up racing.” She bent over and kissed his hand. “I’ll never try and keep you from being the person you’re meant to be.”

 

And there you have it:  the real reason Annie’s there.  To let him be himself, she has to let him be himself.  Of course, there’s also something else going on here, because a while back she confessed to the School Seer that there was a lot more going on than meets the eyes.

Something I’m going to write about tonight.

They’ve got a few minutes before Gretchen kicks them out to get things said . . .

You are getting a lot bigger, you know that?

You are getting a lot bigger, you know that?

Finding Your Way Into First Night

When I’m putting together a scene I usually spend a lot of time figuring things out, looking at locations, getting a feel for the environment and characters.  Sometimes it takes days; sometimes weeks.

For the scene I started last night, I think I’ve spent maybe eight hours.

As I was writing about putting Kerry in the hospital, and the scene that comes after–which I’m not talking about, nuh, huh–I began feeling that something was missing.  What was missing was the sense that the way Annie left Kerry in his hospital bed, which right for that time, didn’t mesh with what came later.  So–how to fix that?

Easy:  add another scene.

Even though this story is plotted out to the max, that doesn’t mean things won’t pop up from time to time that either don’t make much sense and should be removed, or at the least, moved, or that something more is required.  In this case more was needed, and I obliged.  Because novels are a living work in progress, and sometimes you gotta fill in that work just a little more than it already is.

This is how we start.

 

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

Kerry was alone in the ward bay, the curtain cutting off Beds #1 and #2 from the ward corridor pulled three-quarter closed and open only near the wall on the other side of Bed #1. He sat quietly in his bed, his back and head raised so he could read—or, in his case, attempt to read. He’d spent the last twenty-five minutes since Annie’s departure trying to read, but he found it difficult. It wasn’t that he was dealing with distractions: rather, he found it difficult to concentrate due to his aching head.

The medication he was given was doing wonders to keep the pain at bay, but there were still small things that refused to leave him alone. If he turned his head too fast, it would start to spin. His right ankle was starting to itch constantly. And he found it bothersome to sit in the same position with his lightly wrapped knee locked in the same position, unable to move centimeter in any direction. It drove Kerry a little nuts to have to leave his left leg like that all day, through dinner, and now into the night before heading into lights out.

 

I have been in a similar situation, though not with broken limbs and a torn up knee.  I once damaged my neck in an accident and ended up in constant traction for two weeks, after which I needed to wear a neck brace for nine months.  I know all about lying there and being unable to do anything for hours on end–in fact, I couldn’t use the bathroom for the first two days, and couldn’t shower for the first week.  And when I was allowed to do either, I had a nurse standing right next to me the whole time.  Not a lot of fun, let me tell you.

But that situation changes quickly.

 

“Hi.”

Kerry looked up from his tablet: Annie was standing in the space between the curtain and the wall, dressed in her light blue flannel pajamas and her light robe. Her hands were at her side, and for the first time since he’d been admitted to the ward, she was smiling. “Hi.”

Annie walked in and pointed at the tablet. “What are you doing?”

He started the power down sequence and laid it across his lap. “I was reading.”

She chuckled softly. “What are you reading?”

Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. I’ve had it for a while, but . . .” He shrugged. “Just never found the time to start. Though I might try tonight.” Seeing that the tablet was off, Kerry slipped it into a holder on the right side of the bed. “I didn’t get very far.”

Annie stood close to him on his right, examining his bandaged head. “Concussion bothering you?”

“A little, yeah.” He didn’t want to mention that he’d thought about their time together only a few moments earlier. “It’s, um, past visiting hours.”

 

Of course it’s past visiting hours:  do you think a little think like rules bothers Annie?

I’ve run though this scene many times on my walk back and forth from work, which is really a good time to be alone with my thoughts and work out what’s going on with my characters.  I know why Annie’s there, I know what she’s going to say, and I’ve already had her say some of it.  I know how Kerry will respond, and how he’ll confide in Annie with something.

And I know how the scene ends, which is going to lay some heavy moves upon my red haired boy, because Annie’s gonna say something that’ll likely rock him to the core–no, not that.  Get your minds out of the gutter.

It’s First Night for them both.  That means something to me, something the reader will find out in time.  And second night is set up as well.  Just look below:

Over by der by da tower, in da garden.  You know?

Over by der by da tower, in da garden. You know?  That’s how we’d say it in Chicago.

And the Third Night is quickly approaching as well.  It’s in Part Seven.

That’s coming soon enough.

This is Rockport Lane

I have finally come to realize that distractions are killing me.  That and crying jags, during which yesterday I had maybe . . . four?  Yeah, that sounds about right.  It’s the mood swings; they’re starting to hit.  Thank you, demon hormones.  I always wanted to turn into a mess again.  Not that I wasn’t already.

But I got it done, though.  Though all that–reading things, crying, giving advice–I managed just over eight hundred and fifty words, and I set up a couple of things.  One, the start of an impromptu race–

And two, the introduction of Emma.

 

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

“Hello, Emma.” Annie tried to be friendly, but she’d begun developing an opinion about Emma during the last few classes, and it wasn’t the sort that should be repeated in public. She had been talking a lot of flying with Kerry during class, and often tried to get him to do thing that Annie felt was a bit reckless. This was, she felt, because Emma grew bored with flying around Selena’s Meadow, and preferred getting on a broom and flying free on the weekends, doing what she wanted and however she wanted.

Kerry wasn’t in anyway reckless, but Annie noticed that he tended to forget this when he was around Emma. She knew he wasn’t trying to impress her—he’d never given any impression that he was interested in Emma—but she couldn’t fathom why he was so receptive to whatever she had in mind whenever flying was involved.

“You guys enjoying the course? You’ve been upfront most of the run.” Emma looked behind her. “I just left the last group behind as we came out of the chicane.”

“It’s been . . .” Kerry looked over at Annie, then back to Emma. “Not bad. We have a good feel for it. I know my marks.”

“Listen to that: you sound like a racer.” Emma looked over to Annie. “Doesn’t he?”

As usual Annie didn’t show her feelings, but inside her stomach was churning. She knew what “hitting the marks” meant, because she’d heard her father say it more than a few time in conversations about his own racing experience. I’ve never heard Kerry talk about any kind of racing, yet . . . “Yes, he does, Emma.” She turned her gaze upon Kerry, who was starting to blush. “But he’s not quite a racer—”

Emma had to get in the last word, stepping in and interrupting Annie. “Yet.” She leaned over and tapped Kerry on the shoulder as they entered the stretch known as Rockport Lane. “I bet you’d like to go a little faster, huh?”

 

Girl, it’s a good thing Rick Grimes isn’t there; he’d have a choice warning for you.  ‘Cause Annie’s givin’ you the side eye, and that’s not a good thing.

Emma’s another ginger, a girl out of Bolder, Colorado, and when I came up with someone to be a model for her, and felt she was a young Kirsten Dunst.  She’s fairly clueless as well, because she seems to have decided that Kerry is her flying partner, and she’s trying to get him to do something that Annie obviously doesn’t want him to do.  The face that Emma’s completely obvious to all this may, or may not, bode well for her.

But that’s how she is.  Right now she just wants someone to race with her.  Kerry happens to be that someone.  Maybe Emma thinks they’ll somehow hook up later and one day have a lot of red haired kids, but right now she’s only interested in zipping off with him down the Green Line, starting here . . .

It'd look a lot more interesting with trees--it's also take me a lot of time to put them there.

It’d look a lot more interesting with trees–it’d also take me a lot of time to put them there.

Oh, and why is it called Rockport Lane?  Because not very far outside that wall, maybe a few hundred meters to the east, is the town of Rockport, which is where the kid’s train finally stopped on their trip in from Boston, way back on the night of 1 September.

Wow.  That seems almost like . . . months ago.

Girlfriend in My Pillow

First, the writing thing.  Though there was a bit of a struggle with the writing–motivations just weren’t what they should have been–I managed to squeak out a little over nine hundred and forty words in my newly added scene.  This did some interesting things to the word count–while the count for Act Two is now hovering just before forty-nine thousand, five hundred words, the count for the full manuscript hit a new milestone . . .

Yeah, two hundred thousand.  That could almost be the title for a Stargate episode.

Yeah, two hundred thousand. That could almost be the title for a Stargate episode.

I’ve only passed into the territory once before, and there’s a very good likelihood that this novel is going to surpass that other novel by some distance.  Just gotta keep going, moving forward, and remember that the next scene is gonna involve some math.  Just for me, though:  you won’t see it.  Science, bitches:  it makes writing better.  Or so I’m told.

Let’s put that behind me, though, because there’s something on my mind, something bothering.  Probably because I know the true meaning of what happened . . .

I’ve written a few times about how I’ve felt my dreams were either sadly lacking or simply non-existent.  Some of that has to do with my sleep habits, which are, frankly, pretty sucky.  It seems like if I don’t go to bed late and sleep for six hours straight, I wake up kind of out of it the next day.  Or for several days afterwards.

However . . . the last week or so the dreams have come back strong and with a vengeance.  Exceedingly vibrant as well.  Like last night, it seemed like I was spending a lot of time going to a job that I didn’t walk, and that it was cold and snowy in July, and when I arrived as said word someone tried to take the keys to my car, and I ended up breaking their arm to keep that from occurring.

It was Friday morning, however, that really hit me hard . . .

I’ve been in situations where I can’t tell if I’m truly asleep or not.  It’s like a waking dream; I know something’s going, I know I’m seeing something, but am I just thinking these things, or am I stuck in a dream so vivid that it feels like I’m awake?

Whatever I was feeling Friday morning, it doesn’t really matter.  What I felt was having a woman I’ve known for years, rolling over in bed next to me, saying good morning, honey, you’re up early, then leaning in close to me to plant a good morning kiss.  I leaned in close to receive said kiss and give her one of my own . . .

And that’s when I realized I was alone in bed.  Not only that, but my left hand was slowly rubbing the pillow I keep there to hug when I go to sleep.  I broke into sobbing, and it took me a good thirty minutes before I was able to drift off to sleep once more.

Unlike this young lady, I'm rarely smiling when I'm doing this.

Unlike this young lady, I’m rarely smiling when I do this.

With the return of the dreams have come the return of the emotions.  April was a bad time for feelings, and there were a lot of crying jags.  Tomorrow starts the first of my hormone treatments, or as some might say, “Welcome to Puberty 2.0!” and I have a feeling the next month or two are going to be crazy times at the casa.

Add to this a lot of heart string tugging on my part . . .

I can get through it.  Just takes a little perseverance, right?

Love and Torture

There are a lot of writing who talk about how hard it is to hurt their characters, or see them suffer, or even kill them.  They talk about the pain they feel when they bring bad things into their lives, or hurt them as part of the story, or kill those around them to bring them pain, or just flat out kill them.

And then there’s George R. R. Martin, who thinks you’re all adorable while he slaughters characters left and right, and jokes about how his last A Song of Ice and Fire novel will be a thousand pages of scenes of wind-blown snow whipping over the graves of every character who ever lived in Westeros.

Yeah, you gotta love that style.

I have made no secret that there are scenes I’ve written that make me cry.  Mostly because I’m feeling the same emotions I’m putting into my writing, and the sadness or hurt or pain that was there when the words were created remain to haunt me on later reads.  You probably wouldn’t feel the same thing, but there is one story I’ve written, that when I get to the final page, I’m always crying.  The ending of that story is personal to me, and I remember what was there when it was written.

But that’s usually in the area of love, and not in the, “Oh, did I break your legs again?” sort of stuff.  Physical pain isn’t a problem.  I’ve made no secret that the kids in my story are going to suffer all kinds of physical pain throughout their time at school.  I already electrocuted Kerry in sorcery class, which was actually sort of fun if you like that sort of thing.  Annie won’t get hurt so much this first year of school, but give it a couple of years, and . . . There Will Be Blood.

With that out of the way, lets get on to what happens in The Witch House . . .

"You're doing to do something nasty to me, aren't you, Helena?" "Why do you think that, love?" "Because you're an evil sorceress." "Ha.  That's just in novels . . ."

“You’re doing to do something nasty to me, aren’t you, Helena?”
“Why do you say that, love?”
“Because you’re an evil sorceress.”
“That only happens in novels . . .”

I don’t hide the fact that Helena and Erywin are probably two of my favorite characters.  They have interesting lives, they’ve both went through personal hells, and they would burn the school to the ground if it it was necessary to protect each other.  They love each other unconditionally:  they know their strengths and they know their faults, and they simply don’t give a shit what others think of them because their love for each other is all that matters.

So you bring your companion of thirty years into class to do a demonstration.  Trust me, everything’s gonna be all right . . .

 

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

Helena headed to a work counter set at the front of the room. She picked up a small vial containing a dark red liquid. “This is the draught in its final form. It looks a bit like a raspberry drink, but once ingested it’ll do far more than any drink you’ll find in the Dining Hall. And all one needs to sip is about a third of this vial . . .

“Since telling you what this draught does without having a true frame of reference, we’re going to give you a practice demonstration—the first of the class.” She waved over Erywin. “Professor Sladen is not only here to help with the lab, but has consented to be my test subject. You ready, Erywin?”

The Formulistic Magic instructor took the vial from Helena. “Of course, my dear. Ready as always.” She opened the vial, sipped about a third of liquid, then closed it and returned it to Helena. She shook her hands out. “Much better. Did you flavor it this time?”

Helena shook her head. She waited about twenty seconds, which she figured was more than enough time for the draught to take effect. “How do you feel?”

“Oh, fine.” Erywin stood calmly with hands folded before her as if waiting for something to happen.

Helena was about to bring that something . . . “You’re name’s Erywin Sladen?”

Erywin answered instantly. “Yes.”

“Tell me where you live.”

She didn’t hesitate. “Woodingdean, England.”

Helena nodded slowly. “How old were you when you came out here at Salem?”

“I was twelve. It wasn’t long after I started my B Levels.”

“Tell me, were there any problems coming out?”

Erywin shook just a little. “There were—”

“Let’s not talk about that. We started dating during your B Levels, yeah?”

The calmness that she started with returned. “Yes. You were an A Level.”

“Well, I always had something about older women. Was there anything special you used to do for me?”

For the first time Erywin smiled. “I used to sing to you.”

“You loved to sing, as I remembered.”

“Oh, yes . . .” She sighed, remembering those moments. “I did.”

 

And what song does she sing?  Ha.  Like I’m going to tell you.  Needless to say, Erywin sings for the whole class, and she loves it because there was a time when she loved singing–particularly to her “pretty girl”.

Everything’s going along nicely.  It’s sort of like one of those hypnosis acts where someone is made to cluck like a chicken.  What could go wrong?

This is Sorcery Class–remember?

 

Erywin almost seemed disappointed that she was ordered to stop. “As you wish, my dear.” She exhaled deeply. “I haven’t done anything like that in a while.”

“You still have a lovely voice.”

“Thank you, love.”

“I do miss your singing.”

“Well . . .” Erywin smiled coyly. “You know I love to sing for you.”

“You also loved rubbing my back, didn’t you?” She waved to the class. “You can tell them.”

There was more giggling from the students, mixed in with a few moans, but Erywin didn’t mind or notice. “I liked doing that because it made you happy—”

“Tell me you don’t love me.”

Erywin recoiled like she’d been pushed backwards. “Whuu—”

“Tell me you don’t love me.” Helena’s voice was calm and even. “You’ve told all these other things, you can do that.”

“Nuu—no.” Erywin’s hands and arms began shaking.

“You can do this.” Helena closed on her slowly. “Tell me you don’t love me.”

The shaking moved from Erywin’s arms to her torso, all seized in a slight tremor. “I cannn’ttt—” She whipped her head around and moaned between clenched teeth. “Please don’t make me—”

“Make you do what?” Helena seemed unconcerned about her companion’s discomfort as she began to slowly walk around her. “Say you don’t love me? That’s an easy thing to do.” He face became locked into a mask of indifference. “Say it and the pain goes away.”

But the pain wasn’t going away. Erywin was starting to cough and gag as she shook her head violently, her body convulsing. “No, please. I can’t say that.”

Helena moved up to her left ear and half-whispered in a soft voice that carried to every section of the silent classroom. “Yes, you can say it. You will say it. You’re responsible for your pain, love, and you can make it stop.” She stepped before the struggling woman and snapped at her. “Say it.”

“No, I . . .” Erywin choked out a scream. “Please, don’t—”

Helena was having none of it. Her face grew darker. “Say you don’t love me.”

Erywin dropped to her knees, jerking about in extreme pain. “I can’t.”

Say you don’t love me.”

She threw her arms around Helena’s legs, holding tight as she cried and jerked about, speaking in a tortured cry. “I can’t. I can’t ever say that.”

Helena’s face finally took on a look of compassion. “You don’t have to answer that question. You don’t have to answer any more questions.” She reached into an inner pocket of her leather jacket and removed a small gel ampule. “Take this, love; take it.” She slipped it into Erywin’s mouth. “You’ll feel better, I promise.”

 

And . . . the Dark Bitch of All comes out and brings the pain to the woman she loves.  Why?  She’ll tell Annie a few paragraphs down the line, but let’s just get this out in the open:  Sorceresses Aren’t Always Nice.  And Helena is among those sorceresses who scare the hell out of everyone, because she’s left behind a body count of Enemies of The Foundation–and there are more than a few of those–that is frankly stunning, and, oh, yeah, she’s torturing her companion in front of thirty-two students so they can see what the stuff they’re gonna make in class does.

Which brings the next question:  how will the students test their mixtures?

How do you think?

"You're not going to hurt me any more?" "I promise." "So now we watch the students torture each other?" "Wouldn't have it any other way, love." "You so know how to make a woman feel special, my dear.

“You’re not going to hurt me any more?”
“I promise.”
“So now we watch the students torture each other?”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way, love.”
“You do know how to make a woman feel special, my dear.