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The Deadwood Express

You know, when something is advertised as “The Christmas Special”, one would believe that said special won’t air on Christmas Eve, but rather on, you know, Christmas.  So, regardless what I said yesterday about sitting down to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special last night, it didn’t happen.  Of course not.

Because last night wasn’t Christmas!

So that meant it was a long night.  Just like tonight will be a long night.  Actually it’ll be a long day.  Christmas always is for me.

I’m not big on the holiday.  I don’t have any religious skin in the game, so there’s nothing tying me down there.  And I’m not big on the idea of spending tons of money we don’t have on shit we don’t need, so the oohing and aahing of presenting is over in about 5 minutes.  I got a belt, by the way.

Personally, I’d rather feast like a mofo and engage in mad carnal delights–you know, the way Yule used to be before getting ripped off by everyone else.  Hey, man:  bring on the Wild Hunt!  ‘Cause who doesn’t want to see some eight-legged monstrosity birthed by some god’s son after they were horse-raped go roaring past your house in search of good times?  Go, Sleipnir!

So to paraphrase the immortal Rocky Balboa, “It’s Christmas for you, but to me, it’s Sunday”.  I’ll finish my chapter edit, which got way bent out of shape yesterday because of all the running around I did (hey, I had to get stuff for dinner; a girl’s job is never done), and maybe do a little writing on the Work in Progress.

I did some writing last night–sort of.  Since it was Christmas music know on just about every channel of streaming music I have, I got onto YouTube and started streaming a lot of the stuff I like to hear.  And I thought about an event that hasn’t happened yet, but will . . .

There is an event in the life of my role playing character, Kerry, that happens during his third year at his magical school.  Since he’s really into flying his broom (he’s a geek, what do you want?), he takes two years of advanced flying, and in the middle of the third year teams go off on what is known as Polar Express.  This is a nice way of saying you and another person get dumped in the middle of nowhere–said dumping is done magically at something like a minute after midnight on a Friday morning, so you have no way of knowing where you are until morning–and you have three days to fly home. That’s it.  Oh, did I mention this happens in the middle of January?  And that you’re going to get dumped somewhere in Canada?  Maybe really far away?  With just enough food to keep you happy for about 2 days, but you have 3 days to make it back?

Didn’t think so.

Being the crazy writing/player I am, I’ve spent months since dreaming up this event wondering two things: what’s the path Kerry flies, and how long does it take him and his partner?  Oh, sure, I had ideas, but with me, I needed to know.

And when I need to know something, it’s never simple.

First, I used the Time and Date website to find the “future” date this all takes place.  Then I pulled up two other websites:  Daft Logic’s Google Maps Distance Calculator, and The Sky View Cafe.  I use all of these a lot when I’m working on something, only because they are, to me, sort of invaluable when I want to figure out stuff on the ground and in the sky.

Of course the Distance Calculator showed me how far Kerry and his “wingperson” Emma traveled–or should I refer to them by their call signs, “Starbuck” and “Selene”?–but with the Sky View Cafe I can punch in locations and dates and times, and see what the sky looks like, day or night.  This shows me where the sun is in the sky, and how high it gets, and it gives me an idea of when sunrise and sunset are.  Hint: in the far north, sunrise is late, sunset is early, and the sun stays low in the sky.

So while Close to the Edge was playing over and over in the background, I’m looking at satellite images of map, setting up checkpoints while figuring out distances traveled, and getting longitudes and latitudes so I can get an idea about the sort of light available at a given time–like when Kerry and Emma make a mad dash across James Bay and enter Quebec just as a blizzard hits them as it’s getting dark.

It was a good way to spend the evening, plotting out this path, getting a map made (of which I have two versions), establishing a time line (yeah, they pull into the school a lot later than expected because they’ve been running behind due to flying in severe cold, and having visual flight rules pretty much shot to hell for the last day), and just imagining all the things that happen during those three incredible days.

Though the test is known as the Polar Express–for obvious reasons that don’t involve the Uncanny Valley–by the end of the first day Kerry starts calling it the Deadwood Express, because as they “enjoy” resting at their encampment some 70 miles beyond Fort Sevren after a day of flying in near-0 degree conditions, he feels the only way to express his emotions at 8 PM that night is to launch into an Al Swearengen-style rant involving a lot of words 13 year old boys shouldn’t be saying, but sometimes do.

Hey, at least it keeps his traveling companion amused.  And isn’t that what story telling is all about?

4 thoughts on “The Deadwood Express

  1. This sounds like the best way to spend christmas imo! I wish I had thought of something similar to spend my time on rather than being forced to be appreciate of gifts I neither wished for or could use (2 books I already owned and the 4th book of a series I never through). I wish Kerry and Emma all the luck in the world travelling that large distance and I am happy that I can sit inside in a warm place with extra socks on! Oh and would love to read this at some point!

    • Sometimes I get a little caught up in it, but I have this “thing” about getting it as right as I can. And for what I was doing Saturday night, I had to feel that way. Otherwise, it’s more than just made up; it feels fake.

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