The Shadow Teaching

It’s way early right now, like five AM early, because I didn’t sleep at all.  Well, a little here and there, but not as well as I would have liked.  And I can’t make coffee this morning, so somewhere along all my driving today–yep, I’m out on the road once more–I gotta find some java.  And then a couple of rest stops along the way.

A question came up last night:  what’s you’re current word count.  Well, now that I have two of three scenes finished for Chapter Twenty-Five, it’s pretty easy to say, “I’m right here now.”  That’s means a couple of screen graphics are in order.  First, where am I with the Act?

Yep, right there.

Yep, right there.

And there where am I with the novel?

I'm at a point between foolishness and total insanity.

I’m at a point between foolishness and total insanity.

I’d mentioned, just off hand, that I’d hit somewhere around 280.000 words, and I was right there in the ballpark.  This makes me believe that Act Two will likely end up somewhere between 150,000 and 160,000 words, or just slightly longer than Act One.  And if Act Three is about the same . . .

Yeah.  Madness.

With that in mind, what’s the madness going on in my kid’s private lab?  Annie’s impressing Kerry with the thing she made for him–sort of . . .

 

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

Kerry wasn’t quite sure what to make of the . . . ribbon floating before him. “It’s pretty—” He gave Annie a puzzled look. “What do you call this?

“It’s called a shadow ribbon—at least that’s what the spell is called.” She waved her hand to her left and the ribbon moved to Kerry’s right, then up and over his head, to finally float back down on his left and settle back where it had started. “You can make them as big or small as you’d like, and once I know how to work this spell better, I can control more than one at the same time.” She nodded at the animated shadow. “Go ahead, touch it.”

He ran his fingers over the wavering ribbon. I shouldn’t be able to touch this, but I can. “It feels like silk.”

“Light and flexible, yet strong—just like it.” She came closer and placed her hand next to Kerry’s. “I’ve actually see people use these to suspend heavy objects from walls and ceilings.” She removed her hand and performed a quick circular motions with her outstretched index fingers. A moment later the ribbon partially wrapped itself around Kerry’s right wrist. Annie slowly waved her right hand off to one side, and the ribbon lifted Kerry’s arm away from his body. “I can use it to take you were I want you to go.” She chuckled, her eyes shinning brightly, happy that she could show off her abilities to her soul mate.

Kerry chucked as well. “It’s not like you need magic to have me go somewhere with you.”

“That’s true for now . . .” Annie waved both hand and the shadow disappeared into nothingness.

 

For a young lady who’s just starting out at a school for advanced students who can bend reality, she’s able to crank out the crafting.  And someone is noticing . . .

 

“Most sorcery is fairly blunt force in its application: shadow magic requires a deft touch to craft correctly. Lovecraft said it was like the different between punching holes in walls to working with rice paper.”

“I saw how you were working with it.”

“Yes.” Annie nodded. “Light touches everywhere.”

“That was pretty obvious.” Kerry smiled broadly. “I don’t know why Lovecraft was so surprised, though: she should know by now you’re really good when it comes to this stuff.”

“Well . . .” She blushed thinking about how Professor Lovecraft had asked her a couple of times if she had actually done Shadow Ribbons before, since she was able to craft a ribbon on her third time, and it had taken her weeks to manipulate her first one.

“After all—” Kerry stepped next to her, taking Annie’s hand. “You are my Dark Witch.”

“Stop.” She brushed her fingers down his chest in mock anger.

“And now you’re the Dark Shadow Witch.” He laughed, and Annie joined him a moment later. “I don’t understand why this is sorcery, though. I would imagine Wednesday would teach this to us.”

“It’s because it can be used against people.” Annie took Kerry’s left wrist in both hands. “As light and silky as that shadow felt, I could have tightened it until . . .” She pretended to pop his hand off his arm.  “It would have been easy to amputate your hand.”

“Glad you didn’t.”

“I’d never do that to you . . .”

She didn’t say about doing it to anyone else. “I know.”

 

Yeah, she never said anything about lopping off someone else’s hand.  You know, like nosy wingmates who are asking personal questions of your soul mate . . .

But that’s for the future.  Annie has something else in mind at this very moment–

 

Annie studied Kerry closely for almost twenty seconds. He said nothing, but she expected that: he’d grown used to watching her observe him. She though about how he’d looked when she’s created the ribbon, and how acted when she maneuvered it around his body and wrapped it around his wrist. It won’t hurt to ask . . . “Would you like to learn how to do this spell?”

Kerry’s eyes beamed. “You’d ask Lovecraft if she’d teach me?”

“No.” Annie’s eyes beamed back. “I’d teach you.”

“Wait . . .” He brows furrowed. “I thought you have a sorceress’ bargain with her so you could access the library in the Witch House?”

“I do.” Creating a bargain had been a requirement before allowing Annie into The Black Vault. “The bargain says that anything I learn in The Vault I can’t pass on to others—” She tapped Kerry on the chest. “I think that was designed to keep me from showing you everything I learned.”

He’d figure that as well after she explained the deal she’d worked out with Professor Lovecraft after she’d shocked Kerry into the hospital for the night. “What’s different now?”

“I didn’t learn this spell in The Vault.” Annie turned her eyes up towards the ceiling for a few seconds. “This isn’t the first spell I’ve learned, either—And none of them I’ve learned in The Value.” A slight, playful grin played across her face. “Lovecraft won’t let me practice any spells in The Value. She says it’s too dangerous.”

 

Now we reach the part of the program where Annie, after almost three months in the joint, decides it’s time to step up the game and start passing along what she knows to her significant other.  Though it would seem as if the wonderful Mistress of All Things Dark left a big opening for Little Miss Dark Witch to do just that.  And she’s realizing it, but . . .

 

It could be she wants to see if I’m going to take what I’ve learned and pass it along to him. She gazed deeply into his eyes. But this is something he should know—something I want him to know . . .

She made up her mind in an instant. “I want to teach this to you.”

Kerry chuckled and turned his gaze towards Annie’s feet. “I don’t know; I think—”

“Kerry.” He snapped his heard up and met Annie’s burning gaze. “You’re a good sorceress. Lovecraft said so, and I say so.” She ran her right hand down his arm. “It’s time you became my Dark Witch.”

 

No shits are given–she wants her own Dark Witch.

And we all know by now:  what Annie wants, Annie gets.

Shadow Lab

The action in the story returns to the somewhat infamous lab my kids have in the sub-levels of their home away from home, Cernunnos Tower.  And, for the first time in two chapters and a dozen scenes–I know because I counted them–the scene is told from Kerry’s point of view.  That’s unusual, but given that he spent nearly the time in one chapter in a coma, expected.

This time, however, he’s only sleeping on the sofa in the lab when Annie shows up with great news.  Well, she’s happen he at least wakes up, but there’s better news:  she learned a spell!  And she wants to show it to him.  What’s it all about?

Shadows.

Different shadows, guys.  Sorry.

Different shadows, guys. Sorry.

And it makes up a good part of what I wrote last night:

 

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

Annie stepped near the mid-point of the table and looked about the room as she adjusted the ambiance. “Lights, low.” The lighting dropped to something akin to the illumination they would have with a low fire. Annie moved towards a collection of shadows in the corner farthest from the sofa. “This is what you can do with shadow magic.”

She stood before the collection of shadows and spread her hands out before her, as if she were smoothing out an invisible sheet. She did it twice more, then began making a pattern on the invisible sheet with her fingers. Annie continued laying out her pattern, then slowly lifted her hands the slightest bit—

A section of the shadow darkened and coalesced before it parted from the rest of the mass and floated towards Annie’s outstretched hands. The section was maybe a half a meter long and ten centimeters wide, but from where Kerry stood, it seemed as if whatever his sweetie had created had no visible thickness.

The segment of shadow hovered a few centimeters from Annie’s fingers. She didn’t look away from her creation as she brought up the light to medium illumination; while the other shadows grew dim in the brighter light, the one hovering before Annie remained dark and solid.

She skimmed the shadow through the air towards Kerry and brought it to a hover about twenty centimeter in front of the amazed boy. Annie lowered her hands and approached. “How do you like that?”

 

Short and sweet, with a bit of a lead-in about what Kerry was working on for Ostara.  Actually, I’m trying to keep them all short and sweet at this point, but there are still a lot of scenes to write–and one or two that might just get the ax before I get to them.  I’ve got one in my sights right now . . .

You can guess which one of these, 'cause there's no guessing with me.

You can guess which one of these, ’cause there’s no guessing with me.

That’s my evening and I’m sticking to it.  I have something in mind for tomorrow, and since I’ll be on the road most of the day I’ll likely need to write that tonight.  And since I have to run out and fill up my silver beast . . . I know just the place to do that.

Out of the Transept and Into the Vault

Part Seven, the longest day in this school’s history–and it seems like the longest one in my writing history, too–is finally over.  The Wednesday Night Panera “Dine and Write” went well, oh so well.  I managed to close out the scene, which in turned closed out the chapter, which in turn closed out the penultimate part of Act Two.  So long, you Day of the Dead.  It was nice knowing you.

There are moments in your life when you want to cheer that you had a job well done.  This is one of them.

There are moments in your life when you want to cheer that you had a job well done. This is one of them.

And what happened in the final part of the scene, where Deanna looked about ready to rip Annie a new one?  You can find out for yourself . . .

 

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

Deanna leaned against the railing. “In all the years you knew your Kerry, did you ever imagine that he would become a witch? Or a sorceress? Did you ever imagine that you’d both go to school together? That this Normal boy would become as good as spell crafting as you, a witch whose lived with magic all her life?”

Annie glanced at her soul mate and realized a truth that had eluded her until this moment. “No.”

“Did you even wonder if it were possible?”

She shook her head. “No.”

“And yet, here he is alongside you at all times: in your coven where you sleep, in the Dining Hall when you eat, on the grounds as you walk, and in your classes where you learn. Even in the air along side when you fly.” Annie blushed at the mention that she had been flying around the school grounds with him on the weekends. “And let’s not mention the Midnight Madness, where you both are so close as to be inseparable . . .

“Let me as your opinion on another matter: we don’t know for certain what happened yesterday when Kerry rescued Emma. We know he was hurt, and we know he manage to draw it away.” While her smile remained friendly, Deanna’s eyes bored down into Annie’s feelings. “Imagine that it was you instead of Emma. You know your Kerry: what would he have done?”

Once again Annie glanced down at him, only this time her view didn’t waver. She continued staring in his direction, watching him sit with his hands in his lap, staring straight ahead, watching students as they walked through the large expanse.

Deanna didn’t wait for Annie to answer, because she knew she was afraid to say what she knew. “He’d have fought that creature for as long as it would have taken to know you were safe.”

Annie looked away from Kerry and nodded slowly. “Yes.”

“He would have fought that Abomination—something he’d never seen before—until either it, or him, or both of them, were dead.” Deanna leaned towards Annie, her voice cold and merciless. “You know this.”

Annie said nothing, for the seer was right: she knew Kerry well enough from their years together that, as he’d stated not that long ago, that she was everything to him, the most important person in his world. If there was anyone he’d do everything in his power to protect, it was her.

She finally looked up and slightly raised her eyebrows. “Yes. I know this.”

 

Annie does know this, too, because if you believe her hype, she’s known Kerry most of her life.  There’s no guessing with her:  she’s really certain that, as Deanna suggests, Kerry probably would fight some Lovecraftian creature to the death to protect her.  Because he’s that way.

And then Deanna lays this on our spoiled little girl:

 

Deanna nodded. “Maybe he doesn’t remember your dreams; maybe he doesn’t remember all the time you’ve already spent together; maybe he doesn’t remember that he loved you before you came to Salem. But he is your Kerry, and he loves you now. Actually, you have something special . . .”

“What’s that?”

“He’s fallen in love with you again. You: a girl he didn’t have any idea existed before you met him a little over two months ago. Without knowing a thing about you, he stood by your side, he spent his nearly every waking moment—and not a fun unconscious moments—with you, and he’s pledged his love to you.” Deanna finally turned so she could see Kerry sitting below, waiting for Annie. He looked up and waved; Deanna waved back. “In almost every way, he is your soul mate.” She turned her head and smiled at Annie. “There are a lot of people here who are envious of you, young lady. The first time they hear him say he loves you, they’re going to become jealous.”

Annie was facing in Kerry’s direction as well. She didn’t take her eyes off him. “That’s their problem, not mine.”

Deanna chuckled. “As I would expect you to feel.” She lowered her gaze and her voice took on a consolatory tone. “I’m sorry I called you selfish.”

“Well—” Annie sighed softly. “I was being selfish.”

“You’re in love; you’re allowed to be selfish now and then.” She stepped back from the railing and motioned for Annie to follow. “Come on; I want to say hello.”

 

I ended the scene pretty much there because to include anything else was to drag it out.  We know the kids did a great job, we know Kerry’s hurt, we know Annie’s pretty much happy and will find herself growing happier.  So th-tha-tha-that’s all, folks!  No more Attack Day.

But wait!  There’s more!

Damn right, because then I jump into the first chapter of Part Eight and not only started the scene, but eighteen hundred words later, I finished it.  It was probably the best day I’ve had writing-wise in a while, and I was well into NaNo word count territory, because I ended the evening with about twenty-three hundred words total.  (I managed almost five hundred words on the nose finishing up the last scene.)

We’re over to The Witch House now, and Annie’s down in The Black Vault, the area where all the pretty dangerous material on sorcery is kept.  (And if you want to know:  yes, the really dangerous material on sorcery is keep in the Library in the under-lock-and-key-and-spells Special Section which is protected by wards, enchantments, and Mr. Parkman.)

 

Helena pointed to the empty spot on one of the bookshelves. “Because a volume is missing, and it’s a companion to the other three volumes by Gilaromey.” She shook her head. “I know The Vault inside and out, and have pretty much memories the locations of every volume here.” She laid her right index finger against her lips and cleared her throat. “That way if when I need to look something up, I don’t have to go searching.”

“Makes sense.” Annie also suspected that Helena had probably put The Vault together, and was the one to determine where every book was place.

“So . . .” Helena positioned herself next to the still-sitting student and kept her eyes locked on the volume in Annie’s lap. “If you’re reading Gilaromey, you’re reading up on shadow magic.”

Annie looked up, chuckling. “Nothing escapes you, Professor.”

“Gilaromey is the expert on shadow magic, and required reading for anyone whose interested in mastering that particular craft.” She reached down and checked the title on the spine. “You’ve skipped the theory and went right for the practical application.”

“I’ve read Matters of Light and Darkness.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Helena waved over another chair and positioned it next to Annie’s, though she was careful to keep about a meter between them. She sat and made herself comfortable before saying any more. “Shadow crafting is the most difficult thing for a sorceress to learn, much less master.”

Annie had heard this mentioned before, but was never given a reason for this belief. “Why is that?”

“You said you’ve read Light and Darkness, yeah?”

“Yes.”

“What does he say about darkness?”

“That most sorceresses deal only with what is real, and that darkness isn’t real—it only appears real to the senses.”

Helena nodded. “You got it. Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light, which means it only exists when light doesn’t. If magic—particularly sorcery—is meant to be the manipulation of what is real, then how can one control something that doesn’t actually exist?” She held out here arms and groaned as she stretched. “It’s a concept that a lot of great sorceress couldn’t ever get.”

 

Now we’re talking:  a couple of sorceresses getting down into some strange magic.  And they do chat about it, and it comes out that Annie’s sort of in awe of Helena’s life, since she learned a lot of sorcery when she was like seven and eight, which is something that happens when you mother and grandmother are pretty bad ass sorceresses as well.  But Helena’s laughing this off, because from where she’s sitting, her life wasn’t that amazing.  In fact, it had a lot of sucko moments:

 

She pushed herself deep into her chair, looked up and sighed. “Let me tell you a story: we had chickens on our estate because my mother had a thing about using fresh eggs in her cooking. While we had setting hens, we also had a fair number of clucks walking about that were meant for the dinner table.

“When my mother felt like chicken, she’d go out, point at a bird, and Blood Hammer that bastard. Boom! The head not only blew right off, but the hen usually bled out on the spot. Hey, better butchering through magic, right?

“When I turned eight I was told that I would take over the duties of Family Hen Killer, and I would need to learn the Blood Hammer spell. But rather than have my mother teach me, she handed me over to my grandmother for tutoring—only because she was the Queen of Morte. If there was killing to be done, Grandma was the one to handle the deed.

“I start learning Blood Hammer from her, and I sucked at it. Yeah, she had their version of our practice dummies, but after a few days of practice she started me out on chickens.” Helena started guffawing while remembering her trials and tribulations. “At first I don’t do shit to these birds, except cause a few to pass out because I’ve got too much blood to their little chicken brains and they can’t handle the stress.

 

“Honey, go out and use some magic to kill a couple of chickens.  We have company coming over!”  They should have gotten the house elf to do that . . . oh, wait:  wrong world.  And it’s sort of assumed that when Helena says “estate”, she’s not talking about some suburban bungalow:  she’s probably talking a very nice joint where she grew up.  With chickens.  Whose heads exploded from time to time.

Then she talks about how she screwed up one spell and literally made a chicken explode.  No exaggeration:  the way she tells it there was a fowl mess all over the yard.  Get it?  I know . . . well, apparently someone else didn’t get the joke, either:

 

“I’m laughing my ass off, and then I get this hand grabbing me by my hair, and my Grandma is dragging me off to a quiet part of the yard where she proceeds to beat the shit out of me. She never laid a hand on me, didn’t have to: it was all combat spells, like that bloody Air Hammer you’re learning to control.” She looked down as she twisted up the right side of her face. “She wailed on me for close to five minutes, and when she was done she just turned around and headed back to the house. I laid there for about ten, fifteen minutes, then managed to get to my feet and walk to my room. I passed both my mother and Grandma in the kitchen, and neither said a word to me.

“I didn’t say anything for a couple of days, not until Grandma came back to continue the lesson. The first thing I asked was why she tore into me like she did, and she told me, ‘While that may have seemed severe, it’s nothing compared to what you would have felt had that spell Backlashed.’ I got it right away: you screw up a death spell, and the Backlash from said spell could kill you.” Helena finally raised her head and looked at Annie. “I never screwed up a spell that bad again.”

Annie wasn’t sure if she should say something or not. She’d never heard of any such cruelty like that in her family, but she didn’t discount that maybe, perhaps a few generations back, someone on either side of her family may have done something similar. I don’t know how I would have reacted if Mama had done something like that to me. But there was one question she had to ask . . . “Did you learn Blood Hammer?”

“Oh, yeah.” Helena grinned and nodded. “Got it right later that day, and took over the chicken killing duties the next day.” She laid her crossed hands upon her lap. “Was pretty good at it, too.”

 

There you have it:  the Mistress of All Things Dark started out as the family chicken killer.  Just point and Boom!  I got your chicken, Mama!

The end of Act Two really is in sight now.  And by tonight I’ll be at least half way, or maybe more than half way, through Chapter Twenty-Five, which isn’t a big chapter, but it’s setting things up for the next chapter, which is the month down the road that Annie is thinking about–and which is not making her happy.  I’ll get to that when . . . well, when I get to it.

Writers be writin' . . .

Writers be writin’ . . .

Above in the Transept: the Conversation

It’s now getting down to the End of the Act.  The last scene of the last chapter of Part Seven is more than half done, and what remains are Part Eight, four chapters, and maybe fourteen scenes.  These will get knocked off during NaNo, and in the very last moments of the very last scene of Act Two, you’ll be introduced to a character who is going to change the lives of a couple of kids a lot more than any of the instructors have. over the last few months.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump over from November to the End of December, and right into the end of January.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump over from November to the End of December, and right into the end of January.

There’s a conversation in the East Transept, one between Annie and Professor Arrakis, who seems to be popping up in these last few scenes.  And what is this transept you speak of, Cassie?  If you look at any old cathedral, they’re the “wings” that stick out of a building to make it look like a cross.  The West Transept of the Great Hall is where the Security Center is located:  the East Transept, as indicated in the scene, is the location of some of the offices used by the instructors, and it’s also where you’ll find the Headmistress’ Office.  The first floor on this side is unusual in that there’s a cutout in the middle of the floor, and one can look down upon the students coming and going out of the East Entrance–perfect for an instructor laying in wait for someone coming from classes there, or where they can spy on them walking through the Rotunda.

One East Transept, coming up.  Annie's in there somewhere . . .

One East Transept, coming up. Annie’s in there somewhere . . .

What happens in this conversation?  Just as mentioned the professor sees them walking in from the East–they wandered though the Pentagram Garden, around the south end of the Great Hall, and back up north towards Mórrígan Tower, and while Kerry is resting, Annie is talking . . .

 

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

Professor Arrakis had moved away from the Rotunda railing and was standing along the north side of the transept that led to the offices for some of the instructors that needed an office that was more accessible to students. Deanna stood close to the wall facing Annie as she approached. “Thank you for coming.”

“You’re welcome, Professor.” Annie wasn’t sure why she was being summoned, but she figured it was best to let the professor start the conversation.

Deanna did just that. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine.”

“And Kerry?”

“He’s . . .” Annie didn’t want to lie. “Not completely healed. He started limping after our walk around the garden.”

“But is he feeling well?”

“I think so.” Annie looked over her shoulder towards The Rotunda, but from where she stood it was impossible to see him. “He seems in a good mood.”

“I think we’re all glad he wasn’t too affected by what happened yesterday.” Deanna didn’t dwell on those matters. “So . . . has anything out of the ordinary happened with you both today?”

She knows something happened, but she doesn’t know what. Annie almost chuckled, but held back the urge at the last moment. “Yes, something did.”

Deanna raised one of her dark, expressive eyebrows. “Are you going to tell me, or will you keep me in suspense?”

“Kerry told me he loved me.”

 

So seers don’t see everything, though we do know that Deanna felt something would happen between them the night before, and that it would extend into today.  But there’s something else that Deanna missed which is still fresh in Annie’s mind.

 

Since Professor Arrakis was asking questions, Annie had to believe that she wasn’t aware of what happened in the bay last night. “Professor, Kerry remembered one of our dreams last night. The memories are still there.”

“That’s good then, yes?” She turned her head slightly to one side as if listening closely to Annie’s words. “That’s something of a breakthrough as well.”

“Yes, but . . .” Annie looked away as she clenched her fists. “He doesn’t remember any of it now. I thought he might, but it didn’t happen.” Annie moved a little closer to Deanna, shaking her closed hands before her. “The memories are there—why doesn’t he remember them?”

 

As one might say, “Again with the questions about the dreams.”  Annie won’t let it go, and now that she knows he remembers something, she damn sure wants to get to the reasons of why.

Unfortunately for Deanna, she asks Annie to wait and be calm and see what happens.  Annie doesn’t want that, and for the first time in the story we see an Annie that has only been hinted at, mostly be her:  we get the Annie Who Gets What She Wants.

 

Annie’s head snapped up as he gaze bored into the Seer. She wasn’t about to let someone else tell her what was and wasn’t important. “I want my Kerry back. I want my Ginger Hair Boy, the one who I shared dreams with for years, the boy I grew to love, the boy who loves me. I want him, Deanna. I want him to—”

Veruca Salt’s got nothing on this girl.  Boyfriend’s got memory’s locked up inside his head and they won’t come out?  Screw it:  “I want it now!”  This is the Annie here parents have seen, but who has never appeared at the school before now–

Unfortunately for Annie, my Iraqi Seers isn’t her parents . . .

 

You selfish girl.”

Annie immediately stopped speaking and stared dumbfounded at the Divination instructor. She saw a Deanna that was contrary to the woman she’s known these last two months. She towered over Annie; her face was a mask of disapproval, her dark eyes hard and unwavering—

And Annie had driven her to this moment.

Deanna walked around the now stupefied student, then turned and cocked a finger at her. “Come with me.” Annie followed her to the railing overlooking the Rotunda. Deanna turned and motioned her to a point in front of her. “You stand there. I’m going to talk, and you’re going to listen.” Deanna’s voice unfroze and went back to what Annie has always seen before: a calm, pleasant, cheerful woman. But the tone of her voice remained the same, indicating her appearance was for show. “You can smile and nod your head, make it look as if we’re having a nice conversation—but at the same time I want you to keep an eye on that boy sitting in the Rotunda: the one waiting for you . . .”

 

And that’s all you get for today.  I wrote almost twelve hundred and sixty words last night, and I’ll finish it up tonight and maybe even start on the next scene of the next chapter–something to do with shadows.

Can’t wait to get to that.

Good News Day

Monday–yesterday–was another of my long, “I’m on the road and can’t really get anything done” days.  I had to visit my HRT doctor, and it’s a nearly two-and-a-half hour drive to her office–I’m in The Burg and she’s off in the Swamps of Jersey–so there’s a bit of driving.  A lot of driving, actually, and it’s pretty much heavy traffic the whole way there and back, not including the rain I was in last night.  Needless to say, by the time I returned to my hovel at seven-thirty PM, it was hard to get worked up for anything in the way of writing.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good day yesterday . . .

See, my visit was to go over my labs, which I’d taken a couple of weeks before.  Lab work is important, because you don’t want to worry that what you’re doing to your body is killing you.  And it can . . . Bit of full disclosure here:  back in April and May of 2014, this year, I was on a DIY hormone regiment for about six weeks.  I did it because I wanted to get on them, and as I always do, I dug into my research and figured out just how much I could handle without hurting myself.

Wrong thing to do.  I stopped taking the hormones right before I started my lab work, and didn’t get back on them until I started my injections.  One of the thing my lab work discovered was my iron and some of my liver functions were way the hell off.  The liver function was due to taking oral hormones (after you’re fifty they break down in your system differently and are metabolized by your liver as well), and the iron came from mistakenly taking a women’s vitamin, which are full of iron that I don’t need.

The moral of that story is don’t do meds on your own.  The other moral of the story is that in April I was pretty much an emotional basket case because of lady hormones taking over my body, and let me tell you, it wasn’t fun.  It also makes me understand far better the sort of hell women go through from time-to-time, and makes me want to slap guys with large, smelly tunas every time I hear them say, “Wow, you’re moody today.”  Hey, try this stuff for three months, dude, and tell me how you feel.

But the news yesterday was good.  Hormone levels are where they should be; liver function is good save for a slightly elevated bilirubin, which may or may not be genetic and/or affected by my lack of a gall bladder, my weight is continuing to drop, and even my blood pressure was down a bit–and while still high, it wasn’t up in the hypertension range.  It was all great news.

That's why I look so happy here--glowing even, as some people say.  I'll take that.

That’s why I look so happy here–glowing even, as some people told me yesterday. I’ll take that.

It’s back to the writing tonight.  Today I’ll ponder over some of the comments I’ve received concerning Annie’s and Kerry’s relationship.  It seems as if there are a few people who thing something bad is going to happen to them.  Since I already know everything that’s going to happen to them, I’m sort of sitting here smiling and thinking, “How are they gonna feel when I get to this scene?”

But really:  nothing bad happens.

Well . . . nothing too bad.

Admissions in the Garden

This scene in the novel . . . this is one I’ve had in my mind for a long time.  Though, originally, it appeared way differently:  locations, reasons, appearances, things said–they’ve all be altered, because that’s what you do with a story as you go along.  Particularly if you’re had months to think about a scene before you get around to writing said part.

I also approached this scene with a little trepidation because–you’ll see.  You’ll see in a bit.

Annie and Kerry are outside now; Annie for the first time in over twenty-four hours, as she tells Kerry.  It’s a cool and crisp morning–

Because I always check my historical weather data.  I'm funny that way.

Because I always check my historical weather data. I’m funny that way.

With this in mind, with Kerry in his hoodie and Annie in her thick sweater from home, designed for that mountain climate she lives in, they decide to stay outside . . .

 

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

“No. I want to enjoy being outside.” She pointed down the path they were walking. “We could sit and get out of the wind.”

“Sit at our bench?”

Now it was Annie’s turn to chuckle. “You think of it as our bench, too?”

“Why not?” Kerry picked up the pace just a little, but not so much that Annie would think he was over-exerting himself. “It is sort of out bench now.”

“Not sort of—” Annie pulled Kerry along. “It is.”

Kerry nodded. It was sort of funny to think of it that way, but when he gave the matter any consideration, he couldn’t remember anyone else ever sitting there. It’s just like our sofa in the Midnight Madness; no one else ever seems to sit there . . .

 

Of course, Kerry sits there in silence, because a lot of times when they’ve come to this particular bench he’s thinking about something.  When Annie asks him, he remembers something she told him last night about Protectors being on the grounds.  He takes in the info and then goes back to being quiet, because it’s Kerry:  he’s like that.  We know how Annie is, however–

 

“Um, hum.” He stared straight ahead while keeping a firm grip on Annie’s hand.

“Kerry . . .” Annie wanted to move forward carefully, least she say something that might being on déjà vu. “You seemed surprised to see me this morning.”

He nodded. “I was a little.” He half turned his head in her direction. “I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating.”

Does he remember our dream? “What do you remember?”

“I remember waking up and I was crying.” Kerry closed his eyes for a few seconds; Annie though he might start crying again, but he didn’t. “I remember talking to you, and then . . .” He screwed up his face as if he was remembering something unpleasant. “Then drifting off to sleep.” He squeezed Annie’s hand. “With you next to me.”

“What about the things in . . . the middle?” Please let him remember. Please.

Kerry shook his head. “I don’t remember anything. It’s all so fuzzy, just flashes I can’t . . .” He shrugged. “It’s all disjointed; I can’t remember it clearly.”

 

Annie and her, “If I could only get him to remember our dreams,” thoughts and wishes.  There’s more on her mind, however, because she remembers a number of things that were said the night before.

 

Annie was a little crestfallen that Kerry couldn’t now remember the events of their shared dream. It wasn’t everything, however. “Do you remember what you wanted to talk about?”

Kerry returned to looking straight ahead and away from Annie. “Yeah.”

She didn’t like the quiet, down tone he was using. “Kerry—”

He slowly turned back around to face her. “You deserve better.”

Annie almost felt her heart skip a beat. “What are you saying?”

He cleared his throat. “You’re a kind, loving girl, and I’m not like that.”

“Yes, you are.” She moved slightly closer, holding his hand tight, the same as she’d done last night. “You heard what Coraline said about the little things we do—”

“I know; I do those.” He shrugged again as if it didn’t matter. “But you’re always telling me you love me, and I just . . .” He lowered his head and started at his feet. “I never say anything.”

What is he trying to say? “Kerry, that’s not—”

“It is true, Annie.” He pulled his hand out of hers and laid it in his lap alongside his right. “You’ve expressed yourself perfectly—and I act like like I’m still trying to figure this out.”

Don’t say this—don’t. Annie felt as if the bottom was dropping out of her world. Only last night Kerry whispered he loved her before falling off to sleep, and now it seemed like he was berating himself up for not being affectionate and telling her she deserved better. “Everything takes time, my love.” She could almost see Professor Arrakis saying the same thing. “You shouldn’t—”

“No.” Kerry slowly rose to his feet. “You need more than just me taking my time to get to where you are.” He took three slow, measured steps towards the other side of the covered walkway leading to their tower. He didn’t see Annie’s face, now a mask of confusion and fear that Kerry was going to tell her something upsetting—

 

There’s that saying about, “If you don’t like the answers, maybe you shouldn’t have asked the questions,” and right now Annie is wishing she hadn’t asked that question.  And that seems to be the road Kerry is headed down–and it’s making Annie worried.

 

He turned towards her. His face radiated fear, which was doing little to put Annie’s emotions at ease. He took a step towards her. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say.” He closed the distance between them and stood silently, looking down at her. He took his time reaching down so he could take her hands in his—

Annie was shivering, but not from the cold, not this time. Her heart and mind were racing, one hoping against the worst, the other expecting the worst. He’s going to tell me he doesn’t want me. She looked up into his eyes, fighting to keep her face impassive. He’s going to say he hasn’t any real feelings for me, that he doesn’t know why we are together

 

Well, you did ask for it, Annie.  You may as well hear what he has to say.  Which is . . .

 

“Anelie Victoreva Kirilova, I love you.”

She blinked three time fast. Her face unfroze, and for the second time in less than twelve hours she expressed shock over something Kerry said. Only this time it wasn’t the shock that came with him saying something that she knew was untrue: it was the shock that came from hearing something completely unexpected. “Kerry—”

“You’re the most important thing in my life, Annie. I don’t want you there: I need you there. I need you to be with me.” A tear slipped from his left eye. “I want to feel you with me. I want to—” He choked up for a few seconds. “I want to feel your love.”

 

And there it is:  he finally expressed the words she’s wanted to hear for a couple of month now.

 

Annie wanted to stand up and throw her arms around her Ginger Hair Boy, but she knew if she did she might pass out before she could raise her arms. “When did you realize?”

“The night I was in the hospital after my accident. I knew you were mad at me, but then you came back and told me about your family, and you said—” A few more tears escaped. “When you told me that I needed someone to tell me that every day, that you’d tell me that every day of my life—but most of all, that I was worthy of love . . .” He sniffed back her onrushing emotions. “After you left I knew I hadn’t shown you the same thing, and I knew I was wrong to not show you my affections. I woke up in the middle of the night, and after about five minutes of thinking about it, I knew I was in love.” He squeezed her hands. “With you.”

“Why didn’t you say something?” Annie shook her head slowly, trying to erase the disbelief from her face. “Why?”

“Because I was scared.” Kerry looked down and a way for a moment, trying to keep from crying while gathering his thoughts. “I used to tell my parents I loved them all the time—until I was like six or so. They almost never responded; they never showed any open affection. After a few years of that I just gave up: I didn’t say or do anything.

“And my grandparents . . . As much as I love them, as soon as we moved to Cardiff, they stopped writing to me. I didn’t hear from them at all. Not even email.” He closed his eyes but never let Annie’s hands go.

“I was going to tell you at the dance. That’s why I did the song dedication. I was going to dance, and then we were going to go somewhere—”

“Our bench?” Annie finally found the strength to chuckle.

Kerry joined her. “Yeah, something like that . . . And I was going to get you here and tell you.”

“Oh, Kerry . . .” Annie felt a little of what she was feeling just a few night ago course through her. “I would have melted. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because . . .” This time he did look away as the tears began to flow.

Annie slowly made her way to her feet. She stood face-to-face with Kerry, her hands still within his. “Because you were frightened. Because you were afraid.”

He nodded. “I started over-analyzing everything. I started wondering if it was just the event that would have made you happy, or if I wanted to say I loved you because of how the dance made me feel. And then I got scared, and starting thinking—”

“You thought once you gave your love to me I would abandon you.” She pulled her right hand from his and brought it to his cheek. “Like your parents did. Like your grandparents did. Like . . .” She stopped, because she couldn’t repeat what she’d heard last night, least she ruin the moment. “Like you thought I might.”

He wiped his face on his newly freed sleeve. “Yeah.”

 

Fear is a powerful motivator.  I know, because I was there all the time as a child.  My life seemed driven by fear, so it’s not unusual that Kerry has fallen into that same trap, becoming an alienated young lad who just wants affection.  And what is more scary than a first love?  And wondering if she’ll remain with you after you express your love to her?  It’s different when you’re an adult, because you come to accept that not all relationship last.  But when it’s your first time, and you experience that breakup–it’s a killer.

And Kerry would rather hide the rest of his life than feel that pain of abandonment.

Fortunately, he has Annie . . .

 

Annie re-took Kerry’s free hand and held them both close to her. “Kerrigan Rodney Malibey, I love you. You are the most important thing in my life. I don’t want you in my life: I need you in my life.” She pulled herself up against his torso. “I want to feel you with me, and I want to feel your love.” She glided her lips across his right cheek. “And I want to hear you tell me, every day of my life, that you love me.”

Kerry half-closed his eyes and relaxed his breathing. “I will.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

“Then—” Annie kissed him lightly on the lips. “You’ll never be afraid again. I will always be here. I will never abandon you.”

 

Kerry goes through four difficult night, and the night after the attack, the one where he shared a dream he can’t remember with Annie, was his third.  And the aftermath of that night led to him opening himself up to Annie in a way that was absolutely necessary.

It only took about 275,000 words, but Kerry finally spoke the Big Three Words.  Congratulations, kid.

It only took about 275,000 words, but Kerry finally spoke the Big Three Words. Congratulations, kid.

Now maybe I can stop torturing these kids for a while–

Yeah, right.

Releases of Future Past

This morning I’d like to thank everyone who checked out yesterday’s post.  The response was overwhelmingly positive, which lightens my heart considerably.  The post also led to several people coming out to me yesterday about various LBGT issues, which is more even more heartening, because it means people want to know, they want to understand and learn.  Thank you all.

I should point out that yesterday, 10/11/2014, was Coming Out Day, which is when, if you’re still hiding your real self, you’re suppose to make that first tentative step to announce yourself to the world.  10/11/2012 was the day Cassidy came out, first to a few of my friends, and then on profiles around the Internet.  This blog was the first to change, and my Facebook account was the second.  That was a huge, scary step for me, but I’m still here, so it much have been the right action to take.  Kind of interesting, even for me, to see where I’m at two years later.

Now, lets get back to the boring business of writing . . .

"Great.  What insane crap is she gonna talk about now?"

“Great. What insane crap is she gonna talk about now?”

Only the best, I assure you.

Kerry’s getting checked out of the hospital.  He’s already been giving the normal “Don’t do this or that” speech, but there’s something else he needs to hear as well . . .

 

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

“Another thing—” Coraline rubbed her hands together before speaking. “You are not to get anywhere near a broom for the next few days. Just like last time, you’re grounded due to the concussion, only this time I’m not going to give you a clearance check-up until Sunday morning.” She laid her hands in her lap. “Even if I do clear you I might tell Vicky to keep you on light flight duty for that week.”

“Was it really that bad?” Kerry knew concussions were bad, but he felt like he’d bounced back from the last one quickly, and this one didn’t feel any different.

“About as bad as it could get without causing a traumatic brain injury.” Coraline held her thumb and forefinger about a centimeter apart. “You were this close to a TBI: the only thing that saved you was you tumbled after you crashed. Otherwise you’d probably still be out while I let my magical nanoids fix the damage.

 

Remember, kids:  it’s better to slide along the ground for a few hundred feet instead of coming to a quick stop, especially if you’re moving along at speed.  Just keep tumbling, kids, and I don’t mean that stuff you do on the Internet.

Also–

 

“I’m not going to give you any pain killers because if you really need to take something for the pain of just being up and around, I want you back here resting.” Coraline set her hands on either side of her and stretched. “The only other thing I have is that I want you back here at sixteen-thirty for a checkup, and . . .” She flicked her gaze from Kerry to Annie and back. “I don’t want you trying to make your way up to your room in the tower, so I’m going to have you sleep here tonight.”

Annie covered her mouth with the back of her hand. “Ah, hum.”

“And, yes—someone else will sleep here as well.” Coraline dropped the tone of her voice into a lower register. “And I don’t want to come in tomorrow and find the same scene I found this morning.”

“We’ll be good.” Annie turned to Kerry and hugged him tight. “Promise.”

 

You know you can trust Annie, Coraline.  You won’t catch her sleeping with Kerry again–catch being the operative word here.

With that out of the way Coraline puts up one more question–and what she gets back was probably something she wasn’t expecting . . .

 

“I’ll hold you to that, Annie. Since classes are canceled for the remainder of the week, if you wanna stay up late, you call.” Coraline turned her attention to Kerry. “That’s all I have to say. Any questions?”

There was only one on Kerry’s mind: it had been there a while and had nothing to do with his condition. “How many people . . . died? No one will tell me.”

Coraline didn’t hesitate giving him that information, because she felt he had a right to know. “Ten: nine students and an instructor. Six of the students were fliers; the other three were in the ground assault teams.”

“Who was the instructor?”

“Shuthelah Kady. He taught Engineering and Magic, so you didn’t have a chance to get to know him.” Coraline turned away for a moment. “Nice guy.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

“He jumped in a rescued a group that was ambushed by nine Abominations: they killed two of the three students on the group. Shuthelah took out most of them before he died.” There wasn’t a trace of humor in Coraline’s chuckle.  “He went down fighting; that’s how he was.”

“Still—” Kerry stared at the floor. “That’s a lot.”

“We lost forty-four students the night of The Scouring. Isis, Wednesday, Ramona, Vicky—they did a great job making sure that didn’t happen again.” She nodded towards Kerry. “And your quick thinking keep four more people off the list.”

It took Kerry a moment to realize that “the list” Coraline mentioned were those killed—and that one of the additional four was him. “Um, yeah.”

 

Always nice to know that you may be congratulated for not dying–and realizing that through not dying, you likely kept three move people alive as well.  And of that death count from the Scouring, was was left off were the six to eight instructors and staff who died in the process–like the Librarian, Chief Medical Officer, and Headmaster.  The last one was torn apart by Jessica Kishna, and it wasn’t like he didn’t have it coming.  Add those people into the mix, and you’re over fifty dead that night.  And since Isis and Wednesday played a big part in making sure more people didn’t die that night, they knew what to do to make certain that didn’t happen again.

But there’s something else afoot here–

 

Coraline followed them out of the bay and towards her office, watching them stroll hand-in-hand through the waiting room and out the open doors. Once they were out of sight she turned towards her office, where the blinds, which were up when she’d finished discussing Kerry’s condition with Annie, were now drawn. This can only mean one thing . . .

She entered her office and closed the door. She didn’t address her guest until she was seated behind her desk. “I’m guessing you drew the blinds so certain students wouldn’t see you.”

 

Could this be that “She” that Coraline mentioned the scene before?  Yep.  And who is this person?  Let’s see.  Or should I say, “Seer”?

 

“I thought it best they didn’t see me.” Deanna Arrakis twisted the bracelet on her left wrist to the left and right. “After all, you’re the one with the questions—yes?”

Coraline shook her head. “So what exactly did you see yesterday?” She sat back as she pulled her coat around her. “I mean, you told me to let Annie spend the night hours before you told me I’d find them sharing the same bed.”

“I saw them sleeping together not long after Isis gave the all clear.” Deanna checked the door as if she expected someone to walk through at any moment. “Though I didn’t see quite what you saw . . .”

“Meaning?”

“You weren’t alone. That’s why I told you to come here early today.”

Coraline chuckled. “Yeah, I told them about what might have happened if the Headmistress had found them. But that isn’t why you told me to let her spend the night—” She set her right index finger against the corner of her mouth. “Unless you wanted them to be found like that.”

Deanna slowly tossed her head from side to side as she gazed up at the ceiling before explaining further. “I felt something else just before I contacted you. It wasn’t a true vision, but more an . . . premonition.”

Coraline leaned forward and rested her elbow against her desk. “About?”

“That something important was about to transpire between them.”

“And that happened last night?”

Deanna shook her head. “In a way.” She glanced towards the door once more. “I believe the rest is coming soon . . .”

 

That’s the problem with these seers:  you never know what’s going on with them, even after they tell you what’s going on.  As Coraline hints, could Deanna have manipulated things so the event Coraline discovered was made to happen instead of maybe happening?  Hummm.

I guess you’d have to be able to see the future to know that one.