The Loneliness of the Dark Minions: the Shaming

This morning had a definitely The Mist quality going on, with fog so thick I couldn’t see the river from my apartment.  Though it’s pretty much burned off right now, for a while I was looking for Dale, Andrea, and Carol to see if they were about, which would likely mean I was about to be eaten by some creature from another dimension, but all was good.  Life goes on.

Yesterday was a lot of sitting around fighting off what felt like an oncoming cold, and I report that all is good today.  I also washed all my panties, because I don’t want to do that when I’m home in Indiana, I just wanna take with me what I need this time.  But I wrote:  started in the afternoon, took a nap, had dinner, but all the while I kept the story up and slowly wrote.  I went slow because I changed things as I went along, looked things up, and generally changed paragraphs as I went along.

It’s not usual for me to write like this, particularly on the weekends, but I wanted to finish the scene.  I’d already spent yesterday morning writing five hundred and twenty-seven words, and I knew I’d need to write a lot more, so I did:  sixteen hundred and fifty-four by about ten PM last night.  That’s a two thousand word day, and that’s something I haven’t done in a while, only because I’m usually dead by six PM any more.

A twenty-seven hundred word penultimate scene, and one to go for the chapter, part, and act.  There’s also this:

Knockin' on Eighty Thousand's Door.

Knockin’ on Eighty Thousand’s Door.

If you do the math I’m one hundred and thirty-nine words from eighty thousand total.  Which I will do today, for sure.  And this is the short part; the part before ran almost forty thousand word, and if this part had went the same length, I’d have a one hundred thousand word act on my hands.  I do believe Act Two will be a long one, though Act Three could be pretty hefty as well.  No matter what:  the end of this act is about fifteen hundred words in the future, and if I have nothing to do today, I can finish it off.  If not, I can do so tomorrow.  But it’s right here, and I feel good about this milestone.

What interesting things are happening in this scene?  Well, I did set things up to put Annie and Kerry alone with the rest of the B Levels . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie looked a bit sheepish. “I thought my privacy spell would have kept her from hearing us.”

Kerry shrugged. “If she were mad, I think she would have said something before leaving.” He tried to appear unconcerned. “I guess we’re the sorceress on the scene.”

Annie grinned. “For the moment.” She turned to face the rest of the room—half the class was ignoring them; the other half were glaring at them. “I’m not sure I like the current mood in here.”

He examined the other students. “Yeah. The temperature here seems to have turned chilly all of a sudden.” He turned his back on the class as he whispered to Annie. “You wanna split up and wander about or . . ?”

Annie wasn’t certain what they should do. On the occasions in the past where Helena had left the room, she always said she’d return momentarily and left the class to their own devices. This was the first time Helena had indicated someone was in charge of the class while she was away. “I think we should keep doing what we were doing. I don’t see any reason to change.”

 

Keep to the status quo:  what’s working before should keep working until The Big Bad Witch gets back.  However, someone’s already ready to mess things up . . .

 

Franky Smith slapped his dish, nearly sending it spinning off his work counter. “Screw this, man.”

She knew she shouldn’t respond, but Annie also felt a responsibility to help where possible. She stopped her slow stroll and turned to the Canadian boy. “Do you need help, Franky?”

He didn’t look in Annie’s direction as he replied. “No.”

“Are you sure?” She started moving towards his seat. “You almost had—”

Franky spun around in his chair. “I don’t want your help, okay?”

Annie stopped a few meters away and took measures to keep her face passive. “I’m only offering some assistance, Franky.”

His voice dropped while his tone turned abrasive. “Did I ask for your assistance, huh? No.” He turned away from Annie and faced forward once more. “Find someone else to bother.”

She was about to walk away when Fidele Diaz turned to covenmate Gavino D’Addario on his right and mumbled loud enough to be heard by most others in the room. “Not very good at running the class, is she?”

Gavino chuckled. “Better not argue with one of Lovecraft’s pets—” He glanced over his shoulder. “She’ll turn you into a newt.”

“Naw.” Fidele shook his head. “That’s her boyfriend’s job.”

Gavino nodded back. “When he’s not running from monsters—”

Both boys chuckled before Fidele added to Gavino’s thought. “Another of his talents.”

 

The shade throwing is officially in session, and in case you need some reminding, Fidele is the kid who started the whole “Lovey Dovey Couple” stuff, so he doesn’t mind throwing out a few putdowns.  And throwing out some trash talk is easy to do when you spent the same time sitting on your butt in a room under your tower protected by a big blue bubble of magical energy.  Not one of these kids saw this creature–save for Emma, and there’s a reason she’s not speaking up right now, which you’ll discover in a later scene.

There is, however, someone else who wants to throw in their two cents–

 

She’d begun walking away when another voice joined the conversation—one she was coming to loath. “You guys left off his best quality—” Annie turned just enough to see Lisa effecting an exaggerated pout before whimpering like someone crying.

Annie was about to say something to Lisa when Franky rejoined the conversation. “Hey, Lisa: you wanna go with me into Salem this Sunday?” Several B Levels were going on an escorted trip to Salem on Sunday for lunch, shopping, and to get away from the school for a few hours.

Lisa faced him and tried her best to look coy. “Are you asking me out, Franky?”

“Yeah, I am.” He leaned in her direction. “We can go to Starbucks: I’ll buy you a Frappuccino.”

Lisa beamed as she batted her eyes at the boy, He gaze shifted to Annie for but a moment before she gave her reply. “I’d love to. Just make sure you don’t cry.” She looked directly at Annie. “I’m not into whinny, sensitive guys.”

 

Oh, look:  Lisa’s got a date.  Isn’t that nice . . . Good thing she doesn’t like sensitive guys, ’cause Franky is setting himself up as a total dick, so he’s probably a perfect match for this little mean girl witch that Lisa’s embracing.  Yes, people noticed that Kerry had a lot of cases of leaky eyes during his A Levels, and Lisa doesn’t mind driving home that fact.

Annie’s remained quiet–as has Kerry–because they’re both not sure if they can tell students to shut the hell up.  But Annie does try to stem the flow just a little–

 

Before Franky could answer Annie move up behind him. “You should get back to your spell.” He looked to her left and right. “All of you should.”

A silence of almost five seconds filled the room, and Annie began to wonder who would be the first to speak. She wasn’t disappointed . . .

“Go away, Annie.” Lisa leaned against her work desk. “We weren’t talking to you.”

“You’re not supposed to be talking to anyone.” She turned to Franky. “Please work on your spell.”

Lisa wasn’t finished. “Don’t you get it? No one cares what you want. You may think you’re some kind of hot shit, but you’re not.” She tiled her head to the left and crossed her eyes. “Maybe I should say it in Bulgarian so you’ll understand?”

Annie consider a retort that wouldn’t involve telling Lisa to shut up—which, she realized, would probably lead to another exchange of words—when Franky settled the matter for her. “Just go—” He gave Annie a disgusted look. “If I want your help I’ll ask.”

 

You have to give Annie credit:  she came close to bleeding out one student, and was within seconds of lighting up Lisa, and not she’s getting shit from another student who’s telling her to walk away.  She’s getting far better at holding back her homicidal tendencies–

 

She stared at Franked for a few seconds before deciding this confrontation wasn’t worth her time. Wednesday’s words from yesterday morning came back to her: It’s not personal: it’s just the way things are. This wasn’t a fight she needed, nor would making a scene solve the situation.

Instead Annie drew in a breath and met Franky’s gaze. “I see.” With that she walked away, feeling nearly every set of eyes on her as she approached Kerry.

He didn’t make an attempt to comfort her: he was aware that now wasn’t the time. He did want to know how she felt, however. “You good?”

She nodded. “I’m fine.” She nodded to the class behind her without taking her eyes off Kerry’s comforting face. “Nothing personal.”

“Well—” He touched her shoulder, the first personal touch either of them had made since class started. “It’s not like you have to worry about C Level sorcery, right?

 

One could argue that Kerry should have kept his mouth shut, but he threw out some trash of his own, probably because he’s in the mood to throw out a mild zinger of his own–one that doesn’t go unnoticed:

 

Franky’s head whipped around. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Kerry shrugged. “It means what it means.”

Franky raised his voice as Kerry began turning away. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means you’re an idiot, Franky.” Kerry slowly turned to face the belligerent boy, taking in the entire class in one sweep. He raised his voice only enough so there wasn’t any doubt of being heard. “It means you’re struggling with a spell that Annie figure out a year ago by reading a book. It means she’s a good teacher, ‘cause she taught me, and if you weren’t all the way up your butt you might a figured that out.” He raised his arm in an exaggerated shrug. “So like, you know, she—” He pointed at Annie on his left. “—doesn’t have to worry about C Level sorcery, ‘cause she already knows a spell that most of you won’t master until our D Levels. Do I need to draw a diagram for you, genius?” He cocked his head to the left in an imitation of what Lisa did to Annie and spoke in a strangely accented voice. “Or should I said it again in Canadian so you’ll understand, eh?”

Franky seemed almost ready to get out of his chair and start a fight, but Kerry turned away and started towards the front of the room. Annie was there with him, on his left between him and the class. She didn’t look over her shoulder; she didn’t want another confrontation. She want to go back to wandering the class and not caring if the students worked on the spell—

 

Kerry used the stereotypical “Hey, take off, hoser” accent when throwing that last put-down at Franky, and this is probably the first time he’s ever told someone to just shut the hell up.  It’s also the first time he’d defended Annie, though he did it in a way that didn’t make her look as if she needed his protection:  as he might say, “I was just stating facts.”  And there was nothing he said that wasn’t a lie.

So that’s the end of the cutdowns, right?  Oh, sure . . .

 

“What kind of loser gives a book as a birthday present?”

Annie kept walking, not looking back, and though Kerry did the same, she heard his slow exhale, sensed his tensing. She’d mentioned the present to a few of the instructors, and they’d both spoken to the Advanced Spells class when Nadine asked if Annie had received a present for her birthday. I don’t think she’d say anything to anyone, not intentionally, but Rivânia’s in Åsgårdsreia and Pang’s in Ceridwen with Franky. They must have spoken with a few of their levelmates, and the story filtered down the tower

“How lame is that crap? I can see it now—” Lisa pretended to hand something to an unseen person. “Oh, my Sweetie Honey, I bought you the most wonderful gift.”

Franky clutched his hands and pressed them against his cheek. “Oh, my lovey, my wonderful lovely dovey—”

Several of the students in the room laughed, and Lisa fed off the feeling. “I’m not good with presents—” She pretended to sniffle. “—but I have this—” The boo-hoos came next. “—this gift for you—” Lisa broke down into pretend sobs. “—I’m so different, so strange . . .”

“Oh, Ker-ree.” Franky spoke in an exaggerated version of Annie’s normal accent. “Oh, my lovey boy, you aure no not struang—”

“Oh, my Swww-swweettie.” Lisa rested her head against her desk, pretending to blubber. “You are—the only one—”

 

Moment of truth, here:  I hated writing this part.  I needed to show that Lisa is a little bitch and that her teasing, and that of a few others, could border on bullying.  I hated writing this because I do remember the times when I was teased for crying, and even being teased into crying, and any time you have to delve back into that circle of hell that was your tween and early teen years, you’re setting yourself up for some hurt.

No one in that room know the actual feelings that exist between Annie and Kerry, and damn sure none of them understand the symbolism of the gift he gave Annie.  All these festering masses of raging hormones see is some weird-ass boy who spent a good portion of his A Levels crying at the drop of a hat gifting a book to some spooky-ass girl who the majority of the class view as a stuck-up Ice Princess.  And the fact that more than a few levelmates are laughing at the interaction between Lisa and Franky shows they aren’t like Coraline and Deanna and Erywin and a lot of other instructors and staff.  They don’t view their relationship as romantic:  they view it as a joke.

They’ll never understand my kids.

Say . . . aren’t we missing someone?  You bet we are–

 

What the hell is going on?” Helena’s entrance was precipitated by the soft pop of her jaunting into the room near the door. “You think you can screw around the moment I’m out of the room and I won’t know?” She tisk tisked the class before turning to Annie and Kerry, who were standing off to one side seeming a bit tense. “Did anyone ask for help with the class assignment?”

Annie turned her head so she could see the Head Sorceress better. “No, Professor.”

Kerry didn’t look at Helena. “No, Professor.”

Helena pifted. “How the hell am I gonna make sorceresses out of this lot?” She pointed at Lisa, and then at the cowering Franky. “Get your asses to my office now and stay there. I’ll be along as soon as I’ve finished here.” She nodded towards the now opening door. “And you better hope I don’t turn you over to Jessica for punishment, ‘cause she’ll turn you both into a goddamn sofa for her office for the weekend.”

 

I have to really show this soon:  never mess with the Mistress of Transformation.

 

She waited until Lisa and Franky were out of the class before she addressed the remaining students. “Okay, since you’re got time to laugh your asses off, let’s see if any of you learned anything.” Helena began turning towards her minions. “You better impress me, ‘cause I’m suddenly in the mood to hand out a shitload of detention.”

While her message sank in she joined her minions on the far side of the room. “You both don’t need to stick around.” She turned to Annie. “Why don’t you take Kerry down to the Black Vault and show him around?”

Both of Annie’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “He’s not permitted to enter.”

“He is now.” She gave them a wink and a grin. “Go on. After I’m done with those two idiots in my office I’ll come down and we’ll talk about what happened here. Just know—” She gave them both a pat on their shoulders. “I didn’t give permission to do what was needed to take care of—well, what was going on when I popped in—”

Annie nodded slowly. “Professor?”

“Yes?”

“Did you do this to test us?”

Helena’s expression didn’t change for the three seconds she maintained eye contact with Annie. She finally turned to Kerry. “You okay?”

He stared at the Head Sorceress, his green eyes hard with an unknown emotion. “I’m all right.”

Helena knew better than to pursue this line, and felt it better to leave him in better hands. “Okay, you guys. I’ll see you in a bit.”

 

This now begs the question:  was that a test?  Helena was already aware that the majority of the class wasn’t happy with her choice of minions, and she may have suspected that if she were out of the room for a bit a few of the troublemakers would let the true colors shine.  Helena must have Far Sight, so she could probably go anywhere in the Witch House that isn’t heavily shielded and continue watching the classroom–proving that these little teen witches don’t think about how far one can go with magic–not only to see who was going to be a pain in the ass, but how her two minions would react.

You have to wonder if Annie and Kerry were running the A good sorceress keeps their wits about them when everything is going to hell around them mantra the whole time students made fun of them.  Kerry didn’t cry, but it’s pretty evident he locked himself down so he didn’t lose his cool–and seeing how he was bleeding out homunculi just a few days before, he might have wanted to give the class a practical demonstration of that particular spell.  And Annie–enough said.  At this point it’s a given she could light up Lisa and/or Franky and put them in the hospital for an overnight stay, and then head off to lunch like it was no big deal.

Helena is always training sorceresses, even when said kids are leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else.  She isn’t always going to tell you what she’s testing, it seems.  But is Kerry getting access to the Black Vault a reward for not killing any students?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Maybe we’ll find out more during shopping . . .

The Loneliness of the Dark Minions: the Setup

It is raining here in Camp Hill, this Forth of July, but that won’t keep the die hards from blowing off their fireworks later today, and maybe blowing off a finger or two in the process.  These videos serve to remind us that there’s not a lot of difference between the backyard collection you’ve got sitting in a cardboard box and a FAE kicked out the back of a C-130, and that you should always use caution when lighting off your explosives.

I keep a safe distance from my stuff, but I always tend to go big . . .

I keep a safe distance from my stuff, but then I tend to go big . . .

In my fictional universe there are no fireworks, at least not today.  It is, however, the day after Wednesday’s discussion with my kids, and if it’s Wednesday after B Level Wednesday, that means it’s Thursday morning B Level Sorcery, and guess who’s playing minion this morning . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

They were only ninety minutes into B Level Sorcery, and Annie was feeling as if the class were about to explode. She recognized the reason for the tension, and a possible source for the detonation. Her concern was whether or not the situation could be defused.

The reason had begun the week before, when Helena began teaching the basics of Cold Fire, its creation, its use, and its misuse. While Annie had found Cold Fire to be a simple spell, she’d watched most of the students affecting various stages of confusion. The confusion turned to eye rolling the moment she informed them that they needn’t worry, because in the next class they’d get help for their lab . . .

When Helena stopped them as they were leaving the Dining Hall on their way to the Witch House and said she wanted to speak with them, Annie knew they were about to be asked to do something beyond acting as lab minions for the day. She was right: as soon as everyone was in their seats Helena called Kerry and her to the front of the class so they could demonstrate how easy it was to create Cold Fire. Anne produced her floating ball of blue fire without any problems, as did Kerry, and while Professor Lovecraft used this as proof that they’d be able to help anyone having issues trying to craft the spell, Annie knew no one would ask for help, for she saw that refusal on the faces of their fellow students.

During their before-class discussion Helena told them to be as unobtrusive as possible and help only if they were asked, and that was exactly what Kerry and she did, wandering about the classroom and examining the progress of the others. The professor informed them that she didn’t expect anyone to get the spell right, since she normally didn’t get serious about the Cold Fire spell until after C Level Yule holiday, but Annie saw a few students who appeared to almost create a small fire in the shielded dishes they were told to used as the focus point for their spells. For these levelmates Annie wanted to offer her services, but did as Helena requested and remained silent.

 

When Annie is having a bad feeling, it’s probably not going to be a good day.  Kerry might say her spidey senses are tingling, but he’d listen to her every word on the subject because he trusts her judgment completely.  Which is probably why . . .

 

Kerry slipped up beside her and nodded towards their seats in the far front of the room. As they moved in front of them Annie threw up a small privacy spell so they wouldn’t be overheard by the rest of the class. “Yes?”

He looked at Annie with some concern. “How you feeling?”

She snorted. “Bored. I want something to do besides watch everyone doing . . .”

“Nothing?” He looked past her shoulder towards the other students. “I know what you mean. I don’t want to watch everyone failing.” Kerry’s left fingers glided surreptitiously along Annie’s left arm. “I’ve gotten too use to seeing someone succeed all the time.”

“Not all the time.” She peeked towards Helena’s desk, where the Head Sorceress sat stone still. “I wonder if she’s taking a nap.”

“She doesn’t seem all that interested in what’s happening in class today, that’s for certain—”

“More interested than you might believe.” Helena stood and stretched as everyone in the class stopped whatever they were doing and looked towards the front of the room. “Since you’re all looking this way, that means I have your attention. I have ‘sorceress business’ to do, so—” She glanced in Annie’s and Kerry’s direction. “—the minions are in charge.” She waved open the door. “Back in a bit.” As soon as she was in the hallway the classroom door slammed shut.

 

So The Mistress of All Things Dark just ups and blows town, ’cause she had to perhaps use the bathroom?  Whatever.  I does seem like she’s setting up the kids–maybe she expects to return and find the Salem B Levels have received a true practical demonstration of Cold Fire–

And then Acts Two and Three can just be Annie and Kerry rotting away in jail for the rest of their lives.  That would certainly reduce how much I need to write in the future.

And then Acts Two and Three can just be Annie and Kerry rotting away in jail for the rest of their lives. That would certainly reduce how much I need to write in the future.

Pretty Little Kill Machines

Here I am, sitting in the car dealership at eight-forty in the morning, getting new tires on my ride in preparation for the return to Red State Indiana next Saturday.  There are so many things running through my mind at the moment, and I’ve been up since five getting them sorted.  I’ve written, I’ve sent off birthday wishes, I’ve thought about what I’m going to say here–oh, and it’s an anniversary of sorts today, for sometime today, right around noon is my guess, I’ll take my twenty-forth hormone injection, and that will make one year down, baby.  I’ll make sure to get pictures, trust me.

Also, for comical relief, I post this text transaction of an eleven year old girl burning down her boyfriend for hanging out with another girl.  When I saw this yesterday the first thing that came to mind was, “This is why Annie doesn’t have a mobile phone.”  After all, I wouldn’t want her going crazy on Kerry after she went through the trouble of buying his Starbucks, ’cause as we know, Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino equals True Love, and one does not screw with the heart of a girl who goes to those lengths to show said love.

Then again, she doesn’t need a mobile to go all Dracarys on someone:  Annie knows how to toss real fireballs.  When she burns you down, it’s literal as hell . . .

Wednesday mentioned to our lovey dovey couple that people in their level may be afraid of them, it brings to mind a certain scene where these two went nuts on a few Walkers in the middle of a test, and Annie’s reaction to people recoiling in horror from them was short and definitive.  Wednesday knows all about that test:  she saw the video, and it was one of the reasons why she pulled them into Advanced Spells.

Believe it or not, Wednesday knows the feelings of which she speaks, as she’s been there–

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Wednesday slipped a cover onto her container. “Just like you, people felt intimidated by me—and there were a lot of people who were scared.”

“Of you?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

Wednesday grew serious for the first time either of them could remember. “Because I killed someone.”

The minions exchanged looks, but it was Annie who responded. “That was during The Scouring, right?”

Wednesday nodded. “Yeah.” She smirked. “I killed the Head Sorceress.”

Kerry seemed almost ready to gasp. “You did?”

“Yeah. I was heading back to my cover and he confronted me, my coven leader, and a friend of mine outside the tower. He killed both of them using Blood Hammer and was about to do me when whipped up a spell.” Wednesday looked away for only a moment, then looked directly at both children. “I created a vortex around him and flayed him to death with dirt and little rocks. It’s not the best way to go out, but . . .” Her jaw clenched. “He deserved that.

“The next school year, I was a D Level and was asked to do my minion duty then—though we didn’t call it ‘minion duty’, we were just lab assistants. I was helping A Level and things we okay until about the start of October, and then it was like a switch was flipped; no one wanted my help for anything. Isis told me later that she’d heard word got around about me killing the Head Sorceress, and people—especially the A Levels—were suddenly scared of me. Even the B and C Levels started tip-toeing around me. It was like I’d went from ‘Wednesday the Good Witch’ to “Wednesday the Killer Bitch’ overnight.” She shrugged. “I eventually took that year off from helping out in the lab because it bothered me that no one wanted my help, and I had to deal with the why of the situation.”

She moved closer to her students and spoke in lower tones, as if conveying wisdom that she wanted only them to hear. “I know Helena likes to cultivate a bad ass rep, but that’s the way she is: she’s never given a shit if anyone likes her, particularly the students, because she’s not here to be liked—she’s here to make good sorceresses.” Wednesday paused long enough to give her minions a warm, gentle smile. “Yeah, there are a few people who won’t ever like you for one stupid reason of another, and more than a few who’ll be scared of you because of your abilities and actions, but you can’t let it get to you—” She gave them both a comforting pat on their shoulders. “It’s not personal: it’s just the way things are.”

Wednesday levitated both closed containers to the open storage cabinet in the corner and closed the door. “One thing you gotta remember when you’re teaching—”

Kerry glanced at Annie before responding. “What’s that?”

“Do you want to be liked? Or do you want to be effective?” Wednesday chuckled. “Just a slight bit of paraphrasing there, but in the end, it’s true.” She held out her hands. “It’s lunch time and I’m buying. You coming?”

 

Annie looks up to Helena, and being the Good Dark Witch means she strives to keep a little fear wrapped around her presence.  Sure, Kerry killed a bad guy, but everyone save a few people think it was one of those accidents that just happened.  Most of Annie’s “Bad Witch” rep comes from going after Lisa in the middle of The Rotunda, and getting extremely chummy with The Mistress of All Things Dark.  If any of the students really knew what Annie has done in the last year, they’d likely stay the hell out of her way–

You wouldn't like her when she's angry.

You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

New Kids On the Job

We’re almost to the long weekend time here in America, and I’m a bit remiss in saying that yesterday was Canada Day, so to my friends North of The Wall I say, Sorry, So Sorry, I didn’t mean to miss you.  Also, today is I Forgot Day, so you have to forgive me.

In case you’re wondering today is also World UFO Day, and you should be watching some old 1950’s science fiction and, if you can find it, check out the late-60s television show The Invaders, which was scary as all hell.  And, of course, the British show UFO is a must:

The show that told me I should show up at work these days looking like this.  I should.  I really should.

The show that told me that in the future this is how women would look.  I should show up at work one day dressed like this. I really should.

Also some personal stuff that’s important to me is coming up as well, such as today is five months for me since I came out at work.  Almost half a year–yay!  So much is happening so quickly, and I have to say that I am loving some of this stuff, even if there is some heaviness in my heart.  But that’s for another post.  Onward.

Today–at least in my mythical Salem School world–it is Minion Day.  That is to say, Professor Wednesday Douglas has herself some minions for B Level Spells, and gee–can you guess who they are?

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Wednesday checked the B Level lab one last time before walking towards the ground floor library. The day was cloudy and cool outside, and inside—well, there were more than a few students who’d be less clear and a lot hotter. Today was the first time she’d taken the students through the basics of minor levitation, and even though they were doing little more than attempting to lift tiny plastic spindles, only a quarter of the students were able to get at least one good levitation, and out of that group only one person was able to repeat the action—

She didn’t think it was a coincidence that Emma Nielson was also the only student today to ask for assistance from her two minions. Speaking of which—

Wednesday popped her head through the doorway and caught the attention of her two little helpers, both whom were reading. “Hey, minions.” She waved them towards her the moment they looked up from their books. “Help me get the lab straightened up, okay?” They sent their books back to their respective locations on the shelves before following her out of the room.

 

It’s the end of class and lunch in on high, and it’s time for Teacher and Her Pets to get the lab back in order, which they do using magic.  It’s also during this time that Annie brings up a point:  no one asked them for help.  Well, one person did, and that’s not really discussed, except to say Kerry blows it off, as does Annie.  Wednesday, however, is thinking about that, and about Annie’s question, and comes up to the follow conclusion:

 

Wednesday didn’t want to drag up any hidden enmity that might lie hidden within either Annie or Kerry concerning his Åsgårdsreian wingmate. She wanted to keep everyone focused on Annie’s questions, and not those who could become the subject of discussion. “It’s really a complected answer; there’s no easy reason. Part of it being intimidated by what they’re doing; part is being intimidated by the people who I bring in to help.” She waved her container onto one lab station and turned to Annie. “Remember what it was like when I brought in minions last year.”

Annie appeared a bit puzzled. “We didn’t have minions in spells class last year.”

“Right—not in your class.” Wednesday leaned back against a lab table. “You had already moved on to Advanced Spells by that time: you were minions.”

“Minions to be.” Kerry stood next to Annie, joining the conversation. “We just didn’t know it at the time.”

“Exactly.”

Annie closed her eyes as her head shook in short, quick twitches. “So no one wanted our help because they were intimidated by the spell and by us?”

Wednesday’s shrug was almost imperceptibly. “I would say some of the kids in this class are intimidated by you both. I’m also sure there are a few who just don’t like you and don’t want to do anything with you. And . . .” She’d considered not bringing up this last point, but ignored her concern because she was fairly certain it wasn’t a tremendous revelation for either of them. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a few in your level who are probably scared of you.”

 

This last point is a good one, because, if you think back, it’s one they’ve already touched upon–

And maybe we’ll get to that tomorrow.  After all, I do have the day off.

Shoot Down the Firing Line

Right before midnight there was a hell of a storm here in The Burg, and one bit of lightning went off that must have been right above the apartment, because the flash and bang were almost simultaneous.  Great way to see the first half of the summer out, right?  Doesn’t make for good time trying to get to sleep, however.

So the last two days I’ve skirted with the thousand word limit.  The day before last I had nine hundred ninety-eight; last night it was nine hundred eighteen.  Close, but not quiet there.  However, those thousands add up after a while, and with three more scenes left in Chapter Nine, I have a good shot of ending Act One right at eighty thousand words, especially since I crossed seventy-five thousand, four hundred words last night.

This also means that, sticking with my two weeks per ten thousand schedule, I’ll finish Act One in the upcoming week–right before I have to leave The Burg and head back to Indiana for some personal business.  I could even start Act Two while on the road.

But what about the end of Act One?  Where is Kerry?

Ginger Hair Boy got snapped at by Chestnut Girl, and neither are pleased that it happened.  But that’s the breaks when you’re training hard, and all the training, and learning, are in your hands.  Best then to take a time out . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

“Yeah, you did.” Kerry chuckled. “Because it’s true.” He reached across his body to pat her hand. “Can we take a break?”

She tugged on his arm. “Let’s go sit in the viewing gallery.”

There were a dozen chairs in the viewing gallery, each big enough for a single person. Kerry chose one against the wall opposite the entrance. He held tight to Annie’s hand. “Sit with me.”

She eyed Kerry, then the chair. “There isn’t enough room for us both.”

“Sure there is—” He sat and patted his thighs. “Join me.”

Annie held her hands tight against her belly. “You want me to sit on your lap?”

“Sure.” He glanced up through the top of his glasses. “It’s not like you weigh a lot.”

She slid into his lap, chuckling as she wrapped an arm around his neck. “This all right?”

“You’re fine.”

“As long as you’re comfortable, my love.” Annie rested against his shoulder. “What’s bothering you?”

“I don’t know.” He slowly slipped his arm around Annie and held her close. “I just don’t get why it’s so hard—I know I’m seeing it correctly in my head.” He sighed. “How did you figure out the right visualization for blood coming out of the body?”

“Well . . .” She leaned in close and whispered. “I have some experience with blood coming out of the body.” She kissed the side of his head. “Like now.”

Kerry’s eyes rolled up for a second before turning just enough to see Annie’s face. “Oh, yeah: I forgot.” He snuggled his head against hers. “I did check this morning, Sweetie—”

“I know you did; you always do.” A soft sigh slipped out from between pressed lips. “You always make me feel good.”

“Except I got you upset.” Kerry began to smile as he felt his frustration slowly drain away. “I didn’t want to do that; I don’t like doing that.”

 

Once upon a time Kerry mentioned to Nurse Coraline during “The Talk” that he was aware of Annie’s cycle–and isn’t it a good thing he didn’t mention that to his mother?  I’d also mentioned that, knowing Kerry, he probably went and set it up on a calendar somewhere, so he’d know when Annie Dim Red Tides were upon high.  But noticed:  he didn’t blame her snapping at him on that; he says he knows he made her upset, and he’s chilling on anything else.

But there’s something else afoot here . . .

 

Annie shifted her body so she didn’t cause Kerry too much discomfort. “You didn’t, love: not really. I was—” She set back several centimeter so she could better see his face. “It was as if I could feel your frustration. And as you grew more frustrated—”

“—It affected you.” He chuckled. “I could feel it coming off you.”

Annie didn’t want to discuss what she felt from Kerry, or what he felt from her: she wanted to discuss the reason why they were here, and what she thought might be the source of Kerry’s frustration. “May I make an observation?”

He chuckled. “You can make as many as you like.”

She sat up, no longer leaning against her soul mate. “Whenever you’ve had this—problem—in the past, it’s not because you don’t know how to craft the spell: it’s because you’re over-thinking the spell.”

Kerry pushed himself back deeper into the chair, his expression changing as he eyed Annie. “Like the first time you spoke with me in Spell Class a year ago.”

“Yes—” She nodded slowly. “Just like that time.”

“Yes.” He leaned back and stared at the ceiling for several seconds as he remembered the time a couple of weeks after the start of Beginning Spells, when Annie took him aside and explained the difference between being a technical and a natural witch. How being a natural witch meant not seeing magic as a series of steps one needed to craft in order to perform a spell, but more of a feeling that magic should just happen a certain way . . .

Kerry slowly pressed the palm of his right hand into his forever. “Ohhhh . . .” He closed his eyes and exhaled. “I’ve been so stupid.”

 

You are stupid, Kerry–stuuuupiiiidddd!  Yep, with a little help he thinks he’s got it.  And what is “it”?  Pretty much what you think it is–

 

She slipped off his lap and stood. “Let us go then—” She helped Kerry to his feet. “My love.”

They reentered the test area and Kerry proceeded directly towards the table with the practice torsos. He examined the torso on the right as if he were looking for flaws and imperfections. “I think I got this.”

“Do you?” Annie stood slightly behind him and to his left. “Do you really believe you know this?”

He glanced over his shoulder. “Yes—” He turned and stared at the torso for about fifteen seconds before slowly drawing back his left arm, keeping his hand close to his side. He held it there for a few seconds, then pushed it forward, twisting his hand around palm-upward once his arm was fully extended.

The moment Kerry’s arm became fully extended, blood began running from the torso’s nose, then started to pour from its ears and eyes as the chest and arms turned red with blood oozing from the pores. The pulsing heart began slowing as the light grew lighter. Ten seconds after the Exsanguination spell hit the torso, the light faded away as the heart ceased beating.

He turned to Annie, a huge smile stretched from cheek-to-cheek. “I do.”

She returned his smile as she began bouncing on the balls of her feet. “What changed?”

“Over-thinking.” He turned back towards the torso. “Way too much.”

Annie stepped next to him and took his hand. “How so?”

“By doing what I did back at the start of spells class, Sweetie. Here I’ve been thinking about Exsanguination the same way oxygen moves from the cells through the walls and into the tissue . . . I was trying to work the spell the scientific way, and it was all wrong.” He gave her hand a squeeze before throwing his arm around Annie’s shoulders. “This time I just thought about blood pushing through everything and pouring out into and through the body—” He shot an excited glance Annie’s way. “You put enough blood into the body, and even if it doesn’t ooze out of every pore, it’s gonna come out somewhere eventually. Right?”

 

One might say there’s no science in magic, and for the most part they’re right.  And even as good as Kerry can be at times, he still slips back into old habits–which is what happened here.  He’s trying to come up with some strange ideas of how the blood permeates the arterial membranes, when what he needed to see is blood being drawn out of someone’s body.  He figured it out, and he wants to move on–

 

“Yes, it will.” Annie turned and gave him a hug. “I knew there was something like that holding you back.” She leaned back, her face beaming. “It’ll take about ten minutes for the torso to soak up the blood, so you can use the other one—”

He shook his head. “No.” He looked over Annie’s shouldn’t. “I want to try the homunculus.”

“You do?”

“Yes.”

Annie backed away slowly, her eyes fixed on Kerry while she teased him with her words. “You do the spell right one time—”

“And I know I can do it again.”

She straightened her back and shot a stern look his way. “Farm Boy, I had better see his homunculus dead.”

He did a quick half-bow. “As you wish.”

 

Sure thing, Princess Buttercup:  you get that blue cabinet open . . .

 

Annie skipped over and planted a quick kiss on his cheek before turning towards the cabinets. “Let me unlock the door—”

“Not the blue.” His eyes shifted to his right. “The red.”

A moment of uncertainty passed over Annie’s face. “You really want a Tracker?”

“Why not? It’ll give me an incentive to get the spell right.” He rolled his shoulders, getting loose. “I mean, the worse that can happen is it’ll touch me and the enchantment will knock me out, right?”

“Right as rain.” She unlocked two of the red cabinet doors and began walking back towards Kerry. “I’ll get hidden so it doesn’t track me, then open the door.” Annie glanced to her right and examined Kerry’s mood. He’s not the least bit nervous—just like when we were in Kansas City. “Are you ready?”

He sighed out his eagerness. “Yes.”

Annie vanished from sight; five seconds later one of the unlocked doors opened and the homunculus stepped out.

Kerry was well aware of how these things worked. An enchantment keep the homunculus from noticing anything until they were about two meters from their cabinet, at which point they locked onto anything breathing. They’d continue following people around until they were either put down, or they came into contact with a person—at which point an enchantment carried by the homunculus rendered them unconscious, often with a variety of special effects.

As had happened many times during A Level Self Defense class, the homunculus detected Kerry after taking a few stepped away from the cabinet. The teenage-sized humanoid, attired in a light-blue paper coverall, headed towards him in a slow walk. He wasn’t fooled by their slow, steady movement: thought he was only four meters away, if he didn’t move the homunculus would be upon him in about ten seconds.

Having a Tracker coming his way put him under pressure to act—and to make everything work right.

He took a single step backwards as he visualized the effect the spell would have. He drew on the dark energy needed to power the spell. His crafting nearly complete, all that remained was to exert his will upon his crafting, and . . .

Kerry kept his hand close to his side this time, pressing his palm in the direction of the homunculus. Blood began flowing from the ears and nose, but it didn’t gush as it had with the practice torso. Now three meters away, the homunculus staggered slightly, but the lose of blood was only enough to slow the creature in its forward advance.

He took another step backwards and quickly re-crafted. He wasn’t rattled: his mind was clear and worked through his VEW steps rapidly. He drew in a breath, held it as he prepared himself, and pointed at the homunculus as if he were ordering it to sit.

Blood squirted from the nose, ears, and eyes. Red spots began appearing across the coverall as blood flowed from the pores, and small streams of blood flowed down the legs and dripped over the ankles. The homunculus took three staggering steps and slipped to the right, crashing to the floor. It twitched twice then lay still, leaving Kerry to stand over the homunculus and stare down at it in much in the same way he’d once done to a student during A Level Sorcery class.

 

Standing over a student in Sorcery Class?  Maybe one who is writhing in pain on the floor?  Yeah, that’s the Dark Kerry we’ve seen before, and he’s finally back.  He’s not only got this, but he knows something else:

 

Annie appeared at his left, having dropped her light bending spell. She hooked her right arm around his left. “I would say that was a successful use of Exsanguination.”

Kerry humphed. “It wasn’t perfect.”

“No, it wasn’t. Took you about twenty, twenty-five seconds to drop the target.”

“Yeah.” As much as he wanted to celebrate his accomplishment, he knew what was necessary. “I want to do it again.”

“I thought you might.” She turned him until he was facing her, then kissed him on the lips. “You’re becoming like me.”

“I’ll never be as good as you.” He kissed her back. “But I do want to get it right; I don’t want a repeat of the Link Bridge.”

Annie nodded. “Neither do I.” She pulled him closer. “Like it or not you are like me.”

“And I know what you would do—”

“Do you?” She nodded and released his arm, then hung both arms around his shoulders. Where the other kisses were quick and playful, this time she kissed him slowly and with enormous passion. My dark witch has learned his lesson

She broke the kiss but kept her eyes close as she breathed in his exhilaration. “Were you thinking of something like that?”

Kerry kissed her on the nose before glancing towards the red cabinet. “That was great, but . . . you need to set up another Tracker for me.”

Annie lightly pushed away from Kerry and performed her own little bow. “As you wish.”

 

Nothing like using a metaphor for “I love you” while learning spells designed to kill people, right?  One could say they are entirely too happy about this success, and a few people would be right:  they are happy.  There could be a myriad of reasons why, but sealing off the Firing Line for these two to wreck havoc was probably done not so much to keep them from being distracted, but to keep other students from seeing that they might just be having a little too much fun.  There’s also the kissing parts, too–at least this time they’re not covered in blood.  (I would still love for someone to draw that picture of them embracing after the zombie fight.)

So here we are:

Closer to the end, for sure.

Closer to the end, for sure.

And I’m really shooting for finishing this act up next week.

But first:  minion duty.  Maybe.

Remembrances of Posts Past

It’s one of those dark and stormy mornings here in The Burg, and in about ninety minutes I’m gonna have to get up and walk out there and maybe get rained on.  It’s hard to say, because at the moment it doesn’t look like it’s raining, but that could change by the time I’m dress and made up and heading out the door.

That’s the way life is:  one moment you’re blogging, the next you’re stuck in a thunderstorm and walking a mile in the rain.

I wrote last night.  I wrote a lot.  About a thousand words for my recap of a show I’m reviewing, and another thousand for the novel, and that’s a lot of words for one night.  It does seems as if I get up, write, go to work, program, come home, write, and crash about eleven at night.  Every night.  Well, almost:  I do take some weekends off.  Not a lot, but they are there.

One of the things I’ve done in the last few weeks it take some time and go back and read a few of my old posts.  Most of them aren’t really that interesting:  there was a period in 2012 where I didn’t say much of anything, and then suddenly:  boom!  I’ve got a lot on my mind and I’m gibbering all over the place.  I do know there were weeks in early 2012 when I was depressed as hell, and I struggled to write.  I struggled a lot.  Hell, I was struggling with everything–but that let to me getting therapy, and that was the first step I took to becoming who I am today.  Which may or may not be such a good thing, but that’s another post.

Last night I was checking out a few of the old posts and ran across one that I remember fondly, but hadn’t read all the way through in years.  I remembered the last third of it quite will, but I’d completely forgotten the majority of the post, and in their I found the story, pretty much laid out from the beginning, of how Annie and Kerry started.  It brought back a lot of memories, for it was a different local, a different time, and I was a far different person.  There were things I wanted to say, and I’d yet to begin writing the way I do today:  about the only time I’d speak in prose was here in this blog.  There were no stories other than the ones I was creating in my head–

And I was sharing them with only one person.

I don’t want to say “Those were the days,” because in a lot of ways they weren’t good days.  I was in a lot of pain, and even though the pain returns once in a while, it wasn’t like that pain.  Then again, I didn’t write today like I did back then, either.  To be honest it was more fun, because I was creating from scratch, and ideas were flowing, and it was helping me through hard times.  The ideas are still there, but today . . . I don’t seem to have the magic that I once had.  Maybe that’s because of . . . reasons.

Sometimes it feels like this.  Then again, I probably wouldn't mind this . . .

Sometimes it feels like this. Then again, I probably wouldn’t mind this . . .

My therapist always tells me not to look back because you can’t change the past.  I don’t want to change the past.

But I would love to bring parts of it to the present so I can hold it in the future.

Humans, Season 1, Episode 1: The Souls of the New Machines

Cassidy Frazee:

Here’s my first episode recap of Humans. Enjoy.

Originally posted on Rachel Tsoumbakos:

AMC's Humans Season 1 promo pic

Before one can talk about a show dealing with concepts of human-like androids living, working, and interacting with humans, there are so laws that need covering. Three of them to be precise:

First Law of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law of Robotics: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law of Robotics: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Those are the Three Laws of Robotics, developed by science fiction writer Issac Asimov, and laid out for the first time in his 1942 short story Runaround. He developed them because, as he explained much later, he’d grown tired of the old science fiction…

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