Lessons of Life at Laputa

I won’t say yesterday was a strange and busy day, but it was.  I mean, up at 4:30, wrote six hundred words, had my car worked on, had my eyes examined, got new glasses, came home and alternated between watching television, napping, reading, and . . . yeah, you know this last one.

I started a new scene yesterday, but unlike other times when I just sort of spread that scene out over two or three days, I started writing and, no matter what, kept coming back to it.  When I’d get sleepy I’d take a nap.  When I’d get bored I’d read.  When I felt like I needed a distraction, I’d do something else for thirty minutes.

When I was finished with those, I’d come back to the writing.  Always.

It’s an important scene, because it’s a break at the Observatory–call sign Laputa, which if you’re not aware, is The Castle in the Sky, and not some random whore–for Kerry and Emma, and they’re both sore from riding in the cold for two hours straight, looking for things that may or may not be there.  But with the emergency on, one simply doesn’t fly into

 

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

Kerry carefully floated his broom towards the floor of the Observatory, following the hand signals of the student showing Emma and him where to land. He floated down towards a marked out circle just inside the open telescope dome, his feet lightly touching the surface—the first in over two hours.

Kerry had landed out on the viewing balcony twice before; this was the first time he’d actually flown inside the Observatory. He figured it was a safety precaution in case it was necessary to seal the dome. He turned and looked outside, trying to imagine seven or eight fliers trying to enter the dome at the same time, and hoped that if Emma and he had to make for safety, they were closer to the Flight School than the Observatory.

The girl who’d directed them in for their landing—a B Level from Cernunnos according to the stars on her jacket—approached as soon as Emma and he were on their feet. “I’ll take your brooms—” She grabbed them before they could respond. “—and get them stored.” She nodded in the direction of the chart tables. “Refreshments are back there; we’re got cots laid out for napping if you feel like it.” She started to turn way, then answered the question she knew was coming. “The professor’s back there, too; she’ll answer any questions you have.”

Emma spoke to the girl’s retreating form. “Thanks.” She took three slow steps, stretching her arms. “I don’t remember being this stiff after flight class.”

 

Such a controlled environment, with a near-military feel.  You can probably thank Isis for that:  it’s a good idea to keep the kids in line while they’re kinda fighting the good fight.  This goes back to what Vicky was asking–can you follow orders?  Because while being directed to a landing spot isn’t the same as being told to get your ass out of the air now, it shows you know how to stick to protocol.  And that may be the difference between living and dying . . .

Nothing has changed:  as Professor Bashagwani says, no news from Fortress is good news.  Emma wants to know something, however:

 

“Professor?” Emma leaned against the map table, the mug resting in both hands. “Can I ask a question?”

“Certainly.”

“We noticed that at certain parts of the routes the screens get darker. Why is that?”

“Safety feature for the enchantment.” Harpreet pushed a plate of sandwiches at the children, in case they were hungry. “The closer you get to the screen, the darker it becomes. When it turns black, you’re almost into it; at that point you need to stop or turn away.”

Kerry reached for one of the sandwiches. “Getting into it would be bad?”

“At full strength, like it is now, you’d die.” She slid the plate towards Emma, who shook her head. “When it’s at low power it would stun you or knock you out. But now . . .” She shook her head. “You’d end up like any Deconstructor trying to get in from the outside.”

Emma gulped; Kerry put away two quick bites. “Nice to know.”

 

Yeah, kids, those screens will kill ya if you get into them.  As the professor tells them, there’s no need for them to get close to the screens, so they didn’t need to know they’re flying next to a death trap.

Emma’s thinking about a nap:  after all, they only have forty-five minutes down time before they have to be back on patrol, and she’s checking out the two pilots already there napping.  Kerry, on the other hand . . . well, he’s got things going on in his head.  He’s thinking about something–or is it someone?

 

From that turn his gaze drifted to his left and the dome protecting The Pentagram. He allowed himself to imagine the scene there: all the students locked up in each of their towers; the Headmistress hiding somewhere in, or below, the structure; Professors Ellison and Arrakis somewhere in there as well, and then the triage center set up inside the Rotunda—

“The other fliers are up.” Emma strode up from behind. Kerry turned slightly to his left so she’d end up on his right. She noticed what he did and gave him a momentary glance, then looked off in the direction he was looking. “You thinking about The Pentagram?”

Kerry turned his head towards Emma for just a second, figuring out in a second what she was really asking: You thinking about Annie? “Yeah, I am.”

 

Why wouldn’t he be?  After all, she’s thinking about him, and of late she seems to occupy his thoughts.  And since Emma’s figured out Kerry’s thinking about her–well, she wants to know more.

 

“How long have you known Annie?”

Kerry had half expected this question for the last couple of minutes. He didn’t know why, but he’d suspected Emma wanted to know more about Annie and their relationship, and now was the time to find out. “Since the Saturday before we arrived at Salem.” He turned his face upwards into the red sky for a moment. “27 August, 2011. That’s when we met.”

“That’s pretty specific.” Emma giggled right after making her comment.

Kerry didn’t get whatever mood she was trying to set, however. “I met her in a bookstore near the hotel we were staying at in London. She was in this—” He stepped back from the railing and faced Emma before spreading his arms. “—big chair sort of hidden by a spiral staircase.” He chuckled now. “She didn’t get up from the chair when we talked. At the time I thought it was . . .”

“Strange?”

“Naw.” Kerry leaned against the chart stand and sipped his drink. “It was sort of cute.”

Emma twisted up he face as she shook her head. “Sounds a little rude to me.”

“Well . . .” Kerry shrugged and looked back towards The Pentagram. “You have to know Annie.”

 

And that’s exactly how he met her, because I went back and looked at that scene just to make sure my memory of the meeting was the same.  Just split-screened Scrivener and took a look.  And Kerry doesn’t care what Emma thinks:  he thought the way they met was cute, therefore it was.

Then Kerry drops this:

 

“Well . . .” Kerry set down his drink and turned back to staring at the distant Pentagram. “That’s kinda a strange thing—”

“What? Going steady?”

“No.” He hung his head for a couple of seconds. “There’s times when I get these feelings; it’s like these sensations of déjà vu, only—” He shrugged quickly then looked at Emma. “There’s times when I feel like I’ve known Annie a lot longer than a couple of months.” Kerry turned his gaze downward, contemplating his statement. “I know that’s impossible, because she’s always lived in Bulgaria, and I’ve either lived in California or Cardiff, and there’s no way I could have met her before coming to school, but . . .” Kerry shook his head slowly, touching his goggles as if he were lending him reassurance. “There are times when I’ve looked at her and I swear I’ve experiences that same moment with already. Like I’m doing it again.”

 

Annie has stated–without Kerry knowing this–that she’s known him through her dreams.  She  even mentioned on that night on 1 September, when she told him she loved him, that she’d loved him for a long time–“I know this is hard for you to believe, and it probably won’t make any sense, but I’ve loved you from before we met in London. From long before that.”  See, I looked up the quote, so I know what she said, and so does he.  There’s something going on, and considering he got hit with déjà vu the night of the Samhain Dance, that something is starting to catch up with him.

Most girls would probably have stopped questioning their wingmate about the particulars of a person they’re close to, but Emma is curious–real curious.  And she just has to pull the trigger . . .

 

Emma wasn’t sure what to should say or ask next—though there was one question that had been on her mind for some time, going all the way back to when they were in the hospital together after their racing accident. She debated asking it here, but given she might not get another chance for the rest of the day . . . “Kerry?”

“Yeah?” He didn’t look at her.

“Is Annie really your girlfriend?”

 

The problem with pulling the trigger on a loaded question is that the answer you get isn’t the one you expect.  In fact, it’s liable to kick your ass so hard you’re gonna wish you’d flown into those screens before asking–

 

He gave no indication that he’d heard the question; Kerry neither moved or uttered a sound. It was only some thirty seconds later, after the other fliers in the Observatory flew over their heads on their way back to patrol, that Kerry rolled his shoulders. He sighed before relaxing. “Moyata polovinka.”

Emma’s brow seemed to cover her eyes. “What’s that mean?”

“It’s Bulgarian; it’s what Annie said to me after the Samhain dance.” He slowly turned his head so he could see Emma clearly. “She’s more than my girlfriend, Emma—” He closed his eyes and opened them slowly. “She’s my soulmate.”

 

There you have it:  Kerry has finally crossed one of the lines.  That same night they both came into the school the following happened with Annie:

 

Stop worrying about that now; it will change. “Oh, Kerry—” She closed her eyes and laid her head against his shoulder once more. “I’m more than your girlfriend.” Tell him the truth, don’t be afraid. “I’m your soulmate.” She rested, now as content as she had when they’d left the hospital. Even with the misty chill around them, she felt warm and secure. “I’ll always be with you.”

 

Kerry said nothing at that, but he did kiss Annie, a first for them both.  Since then, for two months, Kerry hasn’t come right out and called Annie his soulmate, nor has he said The L Word; they’ve both sort of lurked in the background, unseen and unheard, waiting for the right moment to appear.

One of the two appeared.  And in showing, Kerry told Emma something he’s been unable to tell Annie.  Though he did tell Annie he wanted to talk to her this day . . .

Emma wanders off to take a nap, and Kerry–well, he’s ready to nap as well, but he has business to conduct before that occurs . . .

 

“Cool.” He turned his attention to The Pentagram once more as Emma walked away. He sipped the last of his hot chocolate, his eyes never leaving the shimmering blue bubble. Kerry finished the drink, but before gathering up the mug and returning inside, he raised two left fingers to his lips, kissed them, and held them out in the direction of The Pentagram.

“Stay safe . . . moyata polovinka.” He dropped his arm to his side and headed for the cot Emma was saving.

 

Just as Annie did with him as he was leaving the Dining Hall to go fly patrol.  He’s more in sync with her than he realizes.

If I could draw I'd do a picture of him holding a kiss out towards The Pentagram.

If I could draw I’d do a picture of him holding a kiss out towards The Pentagram.  So I have to settle for a lonely boy looking out from a high place to a lake.  Probably thinking about his soulmate–

The scene ran just short of two thousand words, making for a twenty-five hundred word day, and that’s something I haven’t done in a while.  But I needed to get this scene done and move on to Annie’s next scene.

All I can say is, Lisa shouldn’t have broke bad on her . . .

Signposts Amid the Shadows

I’m touching on writing a little here, but I’m getting into some other stuff as well–like mental illness.  That’s a heavy thing, so if you don’t want to read what I have to say, look at the picture and move along.

This looks like it's near Annie's house--which makes sense, since I'm going to talk about her.

This looks like it’s near Annie’s house–which makes sense, since I’m going to talk about her.

Onward, then.

 

Though it may seem like a strange thing to consider when writing a novel about tweens and teens who are training up to be magical people, one of the things I had to consider when putting Salem together was the issue of counselling and mental health issues.  That’s a very important thing to consider when you one realizes that pulling some kid in off the street and showing them they can alter reality to suit their whims may just put a weird-ass bend on their personality in time.  The Foundation isn’t going to be happy if, after your second year at school, you turn your parents into ferrets and keep then in cages the whole summer.

And that’s a minor thing.  Imagine what happens when you get really good?  Say . . . like my main characters.

There will come a time at Salem when the pressures of what’s happening in their lives becomes a little too much for Annie and Kerry, and they start to lose it a little.  I mean, Annie admitted first day of Sorcery class she knew how to kill someone with black magic, and Kerry was already seen suffering from depression.  Sure, becoming better witches is going to make their feel a lot better–until they snap.

Then all hell breaks loose.

In these stories there will come a time where Kerry nearly dies.  There will come a time where Annie loses her shit and almost kills someone in school.  There will come a time where both Annie and Kerry will be put through a most stressful day that pushes them physically, magically, and mentally right to the edge and beyond.  There will come a time where both of them are faced with a situation that may seem like it’s the final night for them both, and they not only talk about their impending demise–they promise each other that if one should die, the other will follow, because continuing to live without their soul mate simply isn’t an option.

That’s an issue that’s really simple for them as well.  Annie points out that they both know enough transformation magic and sorcery that if they wanted to die, it would be over in less time than it would take to work up the spell.  Stop your heart, freeze your blood, shut down all chemical reactions in your brain:  stuff they could do to others they could easily do to themselves.  It would be quick, it would be painless, and they’d know someone would be waiting for them on the other side once they were gone.  It’s not something either would do because of depression:  they’re not like that.  But to join the other in death?  Yeah, not a second thought is needed.

It’s the  part about being able to do this to others that keeps The Foundation on their toes.  At various times in the stories they both get counselling.  They both suffer depression; they both go through periods of intense anxiety; they both exhibit signs of PTSD at various times.  All before they ever get out of school, so imagine what their adult lives are gonna be like.

But they get great counselling.  The Foundation has some of the best counselors in the world, and when you have a couple of people like Annie and Kerry representing your future, you want them to get the best psychiatric case possible.  And they do.

They live in a world where they can get all the best medical care possible.  They live in a world where, after a particularly hard day of fighting the magical fight in the shadows, they can spend the next month chilling and talking to someone about the experience.  They go to a school that has enchantments in place to prevent people from jumping out of high towers, or crashing brooms into walls at a few hundred kilometers an hour, or setting themselves on fire, or any number of ways one may try to harm themselves.  They live in a world where certain people–whose names start with an A and a K–could, if they decided to just go completely batshit insane, could do up River Tam considerably and take out a couple of dozen people with their minds.

It’s not a perfect location for that, but the school does its best, because training kids up to be the future shadow runners of the world is sometimes gonna leave an invisible mark.

We, on the other hand, aren’t that lucky.  I’ve never hidden my own mental illness, never admitted that it isn’t there.  Between depression, being bi-polar, and having GID, I’ve been a mess most of my life.

Mental health treatment in the country of my birth is a joke.  Most of it isn’t covered by insurance.  Nearly all my therapy has been covered out of pocket since 2009 on, and believer me, it’s not cheap.  I don’t take meds because I (1) have no health insurance, and (2) didn’t like how I felt when I was on meds, which was either zombie-like or not much better than I was before getting on them.

These days I do what I can to get by, and I’m usually successful.  Usually.  I have my “Break down and cry” moments, and they’re usually bad, but I get over them and move on.  I was crying Sunday when I went out to pay a bill, because I do that–cry, not pay bills.  Saturday night . . . well, that was a disaster.

I have a hotline number on my phone, and my therapist’s number as well.  When I’m feeling bad I don’t go out on my balcony, because I live twelve stories up and I have enough knowledge of physics and laws of gravity and acceleration to know once you’re over the side it just about two seconds and done, finished, out of the blue and into the black.  Quick, easy, and pretty much painless.

When I’m feeling really bad I visualize.  I have two people that mean everything to me.  One is my daughter.  The world can suck enough and she doesn’t need anymore suckage in her life.  The other is a person I spoke of last week, the one person who means the world to me.  When I get really bad I imagine her alone in a room in the dark, crying because she’s heard that I’ve move on beyond The Veil and I’m not coming back.  I hold that image in my mind for a few moments, then shuffle all the bad shit away and move on.

I’d die for her, but not that way.  It isn’t fair to her.

My novel kids will not always have an easy time.  Before they turn eighteen they’re going to see a world of shit, and it will be difficult for them to walk away unscathed.  It’s stuff that they’ll take into adulthood, things that will remain with them for a long time.

But I’ll take care of them in the end and see they get help.

If only I could do that for everyone.

Where the Wild Feels Are

A funny thing happened on the way to the hormone treatment . . .

Let’s back that up just a little bit, because most of this happened long before I started hormones, long before I started writing.  Actually, it started when I was a kid.  I was what you’d say, “emotional.”  That’s what parents say when you cry a lot.  And I used to cry a lot.  Like all the time.  Stub my toe?  I’d cry.  Didn’t like what I was wearing?  I’d cry.  Weather changed?  I’d cry.  Though I loved the rain.  I loved to take walks in the rain, because it was so relaxing . . .

There are some who’d read that and say, “Wow!  Sounds just like a girl.”  Duh.  You’re catching on, aren’t you?  Yeah, that was one of those things, back when I was about seven or eight, when I realized that, in the immortal words of Micheal Jackson, I’m not like the other boys.  It used to drive my parents nuts.  My father hatted it, and my mother–well, she didn’t like it, either, and used to yell at me all the time to stop “acting like a girl.”  And, hey:  it worked!  Oh, wait . . .

The upside of all this marvelous treatment was a lot of depression and teaching myself to keep my emotions locked down.  Because one never knew when I might just bust loose with a laugh or a sob or a smile or a cry.  This was the sort of hell I went through in high school, and then later on in adult life.

I got to the point where I was “emotionally unavailable,” which is another way of saying I just shut everything down.  And because of that, I was always pairing up with people who were either the same way–or, as a person once pointed out, a lot like my mother in that they were critical of everything I did.  I was not good with relationship; I was not good with telling people how I felt.  To a certain extent I’m still like that in that I’m a private person–says the blogger spilling this all out at six-thirty AM.

About 2011 this all started changing.  Why?  Because I decided to start talking about my “secret” and I finally came out to a friend.  And they didn’t run away.  Another thing was happening then:  I was getting in touch with my emotions once again, which was a double-edge sword, because while it’s easy to talk of love and happiness, you can also fall into the pit next door which is sadness and pain.  But it’s all worth it, because, in the end, you’re feeling again.  You’re not some semi-dead hunk of flesh sitting in front of a computer waiting for the end to arrive sooner than later.  You’re alive; you’re writing again.

That’s really what opened up my writing:  being able to feel.  You can only pretend to write about people in relationships with other people for so long and not feel what that’s like before you understand that what’s coming out of you are words devoid of passion.  They are dead, just like the person writing them.

I’ve had people tell me that they love the romance developing between Annie and Kerry.  I’ve already said it’s a grand one, and it’s one that will build in time.  Last night I was thinking of a scene for Act Three, and while I realized that some people who’d read it would think, “Are you crazy to say this?” I don’t think it’s strange at all.  It’s sweet, it’s touching–and at the same time, it’s torturing a person who is deeply in love.  Because it’s what happens sometimes.  And why are they tortured?  Because they’re afraid they’re pulling someone all the way into their love in a way they might not want.

That's the problem with knowing people in supernatural stories:  you put someone in your heart, and before you know it, you're afraid they don't want to be there.

That’s the problem with love in supernatural stories: you put someone in your heart, and before you know it, you’re afraid they don’t want to be there.

I’ve come to realize over the last week or so that my emotional responses are changing again.  They’re not going away:  oh, no.  They’re dialing up; they’re getting more intense.  They’re also becoming what I might call a bit more personal and even maternal.  The one thing I have noticed, and it’s something I confirmed through research–my stress levels are not defined by my job or by money:  they’re defined by my relationships.  Or lack there of if you wanna put it that way.  But the thing that make me the most loopy these days is love.  I do feel it:  for my characters and for myself.  You can blame it on the demon lady hormones taking over my body.

My therapist says I’m tortured–probably just like a certain person in a monster of a novel I’m writing.  I’m not as bad as that, but I will admit to crying before falling asleep, and crying as I was getting up?  Why?  Because I love someone.  They mean the world to me.  They are the person I would die for if the zombies were coming and she needed saving.

But they are not with me, not at the moment.

Will that happen?

You have to wait and see.  You never know what will happen tomorrow.

But I believe you already!

Don’t worry:  I believe you.

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.”

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.

The Birthday Girl

I didn’t think it was going to happen, because yesterday was such a lazy day and nothing seemed to wanna move.  But at some point–probably after The Longest Day finished and my mini-tacos were consumed, but before I got into a long conversation with another woman over guys that have been hitting on me on Facebook of late.  But I got my writing done–a lot of writing done.  Like two thousand words on the nose writing done.

Right there:  2000 words.  And a First Draft label all over the place as well.

Right there: 2000 words. And a First Draft label all over the place as well.

As you may have guessed from the post title, the scene concerned one of the kid’s birthday.  Since Professor Semplen gave his birthday greeting as “Chestit rozhden den”, it’s probably a safe bet that it wasn’t Kerry’s birthday.  Not to mention the title of this post has “girl” in it, so that pretty much narrows down the character in question.

Yes, Annie turned twelve, and it was an important moment.  Her last year as a tweener, sure, but this occasion involved something she didn’t expect:  a present from the last person she expected to see one from.  Kerry tried not to act like a goof, and since they had a lot of time before Astronomy class, he walked her up to the north shore of Lake Lovecraft, the place where they’d rested after flying around the school grounds the second Saturday they were there.

And what gift did he give her?

 

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

There wasn’t a need to feign surprise: the last thing Annie expected was a present from Kerry. “How did—?” She took the package from his hands and held it close to her body. “When did you find time to buy this?”

“I had help.” Kerry had gone from looking at the ground to looking at Annie when he spoke. “I asked Professor Sladen and Nurse Coraline for advice, and then if they could pick it up for me.”

“That was nice of them.” She examined the package, which was slightly larger than a paperback book. “This is unexpected.”

“I felt it was needed.” He nodded in her direction. “Go ahead: open it.”

“I will.” She unwrapped the gift it slowly, careful not to tear the paper, which she then handed to Kerry and asked him to fold it into a small square. The package was a brown, unmarked box that felt far too light resting in her hand. She popped open one end, found brown packing paper, and pulled it out. There was something smaller inside: Annie tipped the box to one side—

A red jewelry box slid into her hand.

“Kerry . . .” There weren’t a lot of moment where Annie found she couldn’t express her feelings, but now was one of those moments. “It’s—”

Kerry cleared his throat. “I hope you like—”

Shush, you.” She locked eyes and Kerry instantly grew quiet. Annie stared at the red box in here hand for maybe five seconds, then opened it slowly.

A silver heart-shape locket lay in the middle of a red velvet pillow.

 

Awwww.  In some countries giving a gift like that is pretty much the same as getting married, dude.  Particularly after you had Sladen and Nurse Coraline engrave something on the back.  Something that Annie saw.  Something that touched her deeply:

 

“You—” Annie’s gaze met Kerry’s. “Do you mean this?”

A red haze returned to Kerry’s cheeks. “You mean about the love part?”

“Yes, silly.”

“Well, I mean . . .” He place the wrapping paper and brown box back in his backpack before answering. “As much as I’ve learned about loving you this last month . . .” He rolled his shoulders as he looked at scenery around the lake shore. “Yeah, I mean it. I mean—” He sighed slowly, the red in his cheeks growing brighter. “You needed to see that and keep it close to you all the time.”

Annie clutched the locket in here right hand, then opened the clasp before turning her back to Kerry while holding the ends of the chain above her shoulders. “Would you fasten this, please?”

Kerry fastened the clasp while Annie held her hair up. Once in place she smoothed her hair, then faced Kerry. She pressed the locket to her chest. “I love this. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He managed a slight smile, though his cheeks remained bright red. “I know it’s not a lot—”

Shush, you.” Her right index finger shot up like she was going to press it against Kerry’s lips. “Don’t ruin the moment, my love.” Once again Kerry grew silent, saying nothing more least he raise Annie’s ire.

 

Yeah, be quiet, Kerry.  You’re gonna get the evil eye if you keep that up–and given that Annie is your Dark Witch, she probably can do something evil if  she puts her mind to it.  Not that she’d do it to you.  Ever.  You’re lucky there.

Because Annie is so happy–after all, this is the first time she’s gotten a present from someone other than a close family member–things . . . develop.  Tender things.  Kissing things.  And just like in The Princess Bride, they must be read:

 

Annie felt the difference in their embrace. Since the first Midnight Madness and the kiss under the comforter, there had been pecks and brushes, tiny kissing on the cheek, but nothing like the first night when she admitted her love. She allowed Kerry to feel his affection for her, to grow used to her presence—perhaps to remember something they’d shared in a dream. Kerry had not taken an initiative to advance their romance beyond the hand holding and cuddling—

This wasn’t the same. Her soul mate’s kiss came back to her with the same passion she gave him. Her right hand moved from his chest to his shoulder, slid over it, held him from behind. Annie pressed her lips against his, their kiss fueled by the emotions flowing between them. Their lips parted, then kissed, parted once more, kissed, parted . . .

Annie noticed the light pressure along her waist, then around her lower back, then sliding up to the middle. She was relaxed in Kerry’s embrace, leaning back into his arm. He’s holding me; he’s pulling me closer. She tightened her hand against his shoulder, drawing him into her. He’s not pulling away; he’s not hesitating. He’s not afraid to kiss me like this . . .

She finally stopped the kiss but didn’t pull break the embrace. She met his gaze nose-to-nose. “You didn’t run.”

Kerry’s eyes were having difficulty focusing. “I what?”

“You didn’t run. You didn’t stop. You didn’t tell me you didn’t know how to react.” She cocked her head left to right, examining him in the gathering gloom. “You weren’t the way you were—”

He placed a finger upon her lips. “Shush you.” He kissed her on the nose. “Don’t ruin the moment, Sweetie.”

Annie hugged him tight. “You’re right. I don’t want to spoil this moment.” She twisted them them from side-to-side. “I’m only taking this off when I sleep and shower. The rest of the time I’ll wear it for everyone to see.”

 

Whole lotta shushing going on, you know?

This was an important scene for me, because things are happening here, stuff is opening up, and changing are occurring.  Chapter Fourteen starts out disgustingly fun–you’ll see–and then moves into something that’s going to change things for the kids in ways they didn’t expect.  That starts today, getting into the first scene which I do hope is not only geeky, but disgusting as well.  Because sometimes you gotta roll that way, and my Self Defense and Weapons Instructor doesn’t keep boggarts in her wardrobes . . .

Lots of "To Dos" on my To Do List.

Lots of “To Dos” on my To Do List.