Felina

Last year at this time the post was named Los Endos, which was, for a very long time, the closing number Genesis used in all their live shows.  This year the title is taken from the series finale of Breaking Bad, and gives you and indication of how I feel about 2013–

Which is to say, it should end up like a bunch of meth-making Nazis being gunned down with a high powered machine gun.

The last year hasn’t been that bad, but that’s sort of like saying getting shot in the knee isn’t as bad as being shot in the stomach.  It still hurt, there was still a lot of pain, but I was able to recover much quicker.  Not to mention I have a position–I won’t say job–that is affording me a bit of income, and I’m not constantly scrambling to pay bills.  Not the best of times, but damn sure not the worst of them, either.

Writing wise, what do I have?  First off, this post is number nine hundred and seventy.  In another month I’ll hit one thousand, and there will be celebrations and dancing and . . . eh, maybe I’ll have a beer and a good dinner to celebrate, and post pictures of the event.  I never thought I’d still be here after all this time, but I am.  I’ve stuck it out.  I’m still penning my thoughts and keep people entertained, I hope.

As for my grand plans for extending my vast writing empire?  Well . . . not quite as good as I’d hoped.  I wanted to publish four stories during the year; I managed one.  One novel.  But that one novel taught me something, which is that if you’re going to publish a novel, you gotta really get everything right before you do.  There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into that process, and going at it half-assed is likely one of the main reasons why self-publishing is still sort of looked upon as something of a bad literary joke.  But I did get my novel out, and I will get her fixed up in 2014.

As for the rest?  I did write.  It may seem that I didn’t write as much in 2013 as I did in 2012, but the tale of the tape is thus:

Suggestive Amusements:  72,000 words
The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring:  54,000 words
Fantasies in Harmonie:  24,000 words
The Foundation Chronicles:  Book One, A is For Advanced:  90,000 words (as of last night, and climbing)

Two very real novels, a short novel, and a novella.  All done while preparing a novel for publication, and working a normal job, and blogging five hundred plus words every day.  Just on the four stories, that’s 240,000 words–or almost a quarter of a million as I like to call it.  Throw in the two hundred thousand or more words I wrote for the blog this year, and we’re looking at something like 450,000 written words for 2013.

Yeah, not a bad take.  I shouldn’t get down on myself.

The plan now is to finished the current story, and I think that’s going to happen end of January, beginning of February.  After that . . .

Well, I have ideas.  I just need to figure out what to do.

Education of a Chemical Kind

Here we are, early morning, and it’s time to write.  I wrote last night–worked my way through writing–and I am sitting close to the ninety thousand mark I thought I’d make before the end of the year.

Last night was research night.  I had a few things the my current instructor, Erywin, needed to know in order to say them to someone in her class who was going to ask her–as eleven year olds often do–a stupid question.  What was I looking for?  Chemical processes.  What was the question?  Here, take a look:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Erywin turned her back on the front row. “Do you kiddies have any questions for me?” There was one she expected to occur sometime today, and she felt it we best to get it out of the way as quickly as possible—

Franky Smith, the Canadian student now in Ceridwen, won the prize for asking the Question of the Morning. “Can you cook meth?”

Thank you.” Erywin turned around and slowly clapped her hands. “Thank you Vince Gilligan for turning every middle and high school chemistry instructor into a possible narcotics manufacture and drug lord.” She eyed Franky, who was sitting far back in the fourth row. “Yes, I can cook meth. I can do more than cook it, however, because I am a chemist, which means I know how to anticipate variations in the process and make modifications where necessary.”

Franky and several other students were smiling, almost laughing about her response. Erywin supposed they were amused believing that she was telling them what they wanted to hear, rather than actually knowing anything about making drugs. She wasn’t one to walk away quietly whenever anyone questioned her competence . . .

“What would you prefer, Mr . . .” She held out her right hand and her tablet floated off her desk and over to her. “Smith. Do you believe I should use the Nagai Nagayoshi method and employ pseudoephedrine as a precursor and reduce with hydroiodic acid? Shaking and baking may be a preferred method where you live in the arse-end of Deer Bollocks, Canada, but I’m not a small-time operator looking for quick, cheep stimulation, so I need a better process.

“Since I’m not in the habit of frequenting your Wal Marts—or as I call them, ‘Tesco for the Chavkind’—to make off with as much over-the-counter medication to extract pseudoephedrine as I can carry, I’ll go with reductive amination using phenylacetone and methylamine: Akira Ogata developed it in 1919, and why try to improve on something that works so well?

“However, methylamine is difficult to procure: here it’s on the DEA watch list. With enough work, however, kiloliters can be had. P2P, though—oh, sorry: I mean phenylacetone—is extremely difficult to come by as it’s a Schedule II chemical in this country, so I’ll need to synthesize the element through the dehydrocarboxylation of phenylacetic acid and acetic acid.” She stared hard at Franky, who now looked as if he wanted to hide. “Would you like to hear how one shouldn’t use platinum dioxide reduction because PtO2 is a pyrophoric and will blow up if you’re ignorant enough to expose it to open air? Hum?”

The room was completely silent, and a few appeared a bit uncomfortable listening to Professor Sladen easily rattle off chemicals and the various processes. But she was far finished, and this time she addressed the entire class. “What I’m leaving out here is the magic, which could be used at just about any step. For example, I could have used magic when synthesizing P2P from PPA. Magic would change to properties of PtO2 so that won’t ignite and burn your bloody face off. I could use magic to transmute methanol—CH3OH—into methylamine—CH3NH2—so I don’t have to go through the trouble of creating a dehydrocarboxylation reaction with phenylacetic acid, since that’s also on the DEA watch list now.

“And then there are the special properties that come with the manufacturing of any controlled substance. I can make it one hundred percent pure. Yes, there are chemists who say that’s impossible: magic tells me otherwise. I can remove all addictive properties, both physical and psychological, from the end product—while on the other hand I could add any number of properties that could make a user go days without feeling hungry or needing sleep. Or, I could make a user completely susceptible to ordinary suggestions, like ‘buy more meth’, or eat only at a particular restaurant chain . . . or that they should wait forty-eight hours and then kill everyone close to them before killing themselves.”

Erywin floated the tablet back to her desk. “This is why The Foundation keeps a close eye on those who know the things I know. The Foundation knows that a chemist such as myself could do irreparable damage to a Normal population—not just dozens of people, but thousands of them, maybe tens of thousands of them.” She smirked while her eyes pinned several students in their seats. “I know The Foundation watches me.”

She turned her back on the class and motioned towards the white boards. “It’s my hope that The Foundation will watch you as well some day, so . . .” Words and symbols began to appear on the boards. “Lets begin by seeing what you can cook . . .”

 

Trust me:  they aren’t going to cook meth.  It’ll be something far more fun.

I’m not one of those people who believes I’m going to be monitored now by the shadow law enforcement people out there because I did my research into how to make methamphetamine–and all of the above is legitimate information.  (Just for your information:  Nagai Nagayoshi method, named after the person who discovered methamphetamines, was developed in 1893.)  I also needed to look up certain other bits of information pertaining to chemical processing, so I was still digging up information while I was writing along.  It was fun, it was distracting–

It was all in a night’s work.

I have so much to do in the next couple of days, but I will hit my ninety thousand mark.  That means I should make one hundred and twenty by the end of January, and I hope by that point I’ll be finished with this “First Episode” of the First Book.  Then it’s into February and . . . what?  What happens then?

For once I’m not sure.

But I do know writing will likely be involved.

 

Scientifically Magical

It’s a rainy day here in The Burg, much as it was last week at this time.  The year is winding down; there isn’t much left to this 2013.  That’s fine by me:  while it’s not been the worst of years, I need to see some better times in ’14.  We all need a little happiness, and I could use some right about now.

Chapter Eight is underway.  I’m almost nine hundred words into it, and it’s time for chemistry–ah, excuse me:  Formulistic Magic.  That’s what it is called, and don’t call it that P Word, or . . . well, you’ll see.  Because this is Erywin’s class, and she is not a woman to be messed with:

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

It was after performing at the Ostara Talent Celebration, while she was a D Level, that a student from Ceridwen told Erywin Sladen that she seemed most at easy when she was on a stage. Erywin didn’t argue: she loved being up in front of everyone performing. She loved singing. Most of all, she loved showing those students who’d spent so much time pissing on her, trying to bring her down, simply because they felt she was “wrong”, that she didn’t give a solid shit about their opinions, and she was the dog’s bollocks when it came to what she knew.

Those days were well behind her now. Most of the students who’d worked hard to make her life hell went off to do little jobs for The Foundation. Some had gotten married and had children, and some of those children came back to Salem. All of those children ended up in her class—

Most of them made even it through every level of her class with passing proficiencies.

Most.

Not many instructors think of themselves as the dog’s bullocks, which is to say she’s the best at what she does.  That’s how she is:  sometimes a little bit crude and maybe even rude.  And when she says students spent time pissing on her . . . well, you’ll have to wait for her back story.  Yes, I know it.  No, I won’t tell you.  Wait for the book in which it comes out.

What are the kids doing in this class?  Erywin has a bit of an explanation:

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

 “There are two great constants throughout the known universe: physics and chemistry.” Erywin walked slowly across the front of the room as she spoke in her clipped English accent, her long cardigan covering her plum silk blouse and ending just below the hemline of her thigh-length skirt. “Physics defines how the universe works: chemistry defines how it lives.” She turned slowly towards the front row. “Everything that was used to create this world, everything that makes it habitable—everything that defines you as a biological organism, was brought about by chemical reactions.

“Elements are brought together in reactions, and those reactions are the basis of reality. Chemistry is reality. When we use formulas to create existing substances, we are conforming to an existing reality. When we develop new formulas to create substances that have never been seen before, we are building a new reality.

“And when we apply magic to these formulas, we are reworking reality and bending in into whatever form we want.”

Erywin slowly headed down one of the aisles between the work tables. “Formulistic Magic is just that: the creation of formulas, improved by the introduction of magic. Of all the courses you’ll encounter during this level, this has the greatest level of ‘mad science’ that you’ll encounter. Yes, you’re taking Introduction to Astronomy, but any wild science you encounter is passive—this is active. This is applied.” She stopped and gazed upon the faces staring back at her. “Everything here is of your own doing.”

She walked behind the last of the student and began heading back to the front of the room. “You will create products that will give you vitality or tear you down. You will create products that can heal or harm. You will create products that will dissolve most anything that’s ever been made, or bind them together so they are almost impossible to separate.” Erywin stopped and slowly turned, taking in her class. “I’ll show you how it’s done.”

One of the biggest difficulties I had last night was trying to get her speech to sound normal.  It sits in your head, nice and neat, and you think it’s going to flow right out of your fingers and onto the page.  You believe there’ll not be any problems.

You’ll find that you’re wrong.

It seemed as if I had to fight the words out once again.  The funny thing is my fingers seem to want to do something else when I’m figuring out what I’m going to say.  I want one thing, they try typing something else.  I think that actually says more about my typing skills, which seem to grow suckier by the day the more I use them rather than the other way around.  There are times when it drives me mental, but I survive.  At least I’m not doing this on paper with a typewriter, ’cause I’d end up broke buying Whiteout.

There’s something else you need to know about Erywin–remember I said never use “the P Word” around her?  Yeah . . . one of the students didn’t get that memo:

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

One of the girls spoke. “What is all this equipment for?”

“Those are the tools of this trade.” Erywin moved closer to the center work table in first row. “Mortars and pestles, test tubes, burners, flasks, beakers, condensers, adapters . . . you’ll be shown how it works and how to use it all.” She smiled. “By the end of this course you’ll have developed a complete understanding of how to mix any formula, and how your equipment will assist you to create your product.”

The girl didn’t seem that convinced, but she said nothing. Another girl, however, had questions. “So when we’re making these potions—”

No.” Erywin slapped the work table surface: the sound was loud and sharp, making some students jump. “This is not a potions class. We don’t make potions here. We are not mixing bloody eye of newt or unicorn hairs, and you’ll not find powered dragon bone in anything we’ll create. While there are some old-school witches who still call what they do ‘potion making’, I’m not one of them.” A disgusted look crossed her face. “Potion making is bullshit fantasy—” She extended her arms, her hands held palm up. “Look around: do you see any fucking cauldrons? No.  What we are doing here is scientific magic.”

Did I mention Erywin sometimes swears in class?  Yeah, she does that.  Think less kindly Professor McGonagall and more acerbic Patsy Stone–in fact, I envisioned Erywin as looking a bit like Joanna Lumley in her late thirties, early forties.   She has a bit of an edge to her, but believe me, she’s a nice person.

I’d never lie about that.

Almost never.

Soufflé Girl Under the Stars

It’s taken me a bit to get going this morning, but going I am.  It’s a beautiful morning in The Burg, and I wish I’d brought my mobile with me so I could have snapped a quick picture before entering the Panera.  That’s for another time, then, because I know there will be many more lovely sunrises to come, and I’ll enjoy them all.

At the moment I’m finishing my soufflé, having my coffee, and listening to Genesis performing a show from 1977.  It’s a tomato and feta cheese soufflé, one of my favorites, which sort of makes me Soufflé Girl, though I have none of the murderous Dalek inclinations my namesake had.  But I’m a bit impossible, so it’s very likely that she’s my kin somewhere in time and space.  Everyone needs a kin, you know?  That way they are never alone.

There were so many things going on last night.  While I’m normally consumed by distractions, during Writing Time I was working on finishing Chapter Seven, I was chatting with someone new online last night, and the Breaking Bad marathon was playing on the TV a couple of meters away.  I wrote about seven hundred and fifty words, managed to have a great conversation, and caught the Season Two episodes Seven-Thirty-Seven and Down, completing my viewing of the four episodes that foreshadow the major event taking place at the very end of that season.  (The other two episodes were Over and ABQ.)

What was written?  Take a gander for yourself, and remember it’s all first draft, so you’re seeing it as I wrote it:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Back inside the dome Harpreet let them to cabinets in the back. She opened a door and revealed dozens of large parchments suspended on hangers. “These are the school’s star charts.” She selected one and removed the hanger from its support, then carried to a large work table. “The school’s first astronomer was Astria Blomqvist—

“Try to imagine the time. It was the end of the Seventieth Century. The heliocentric model had been in place for about one hundred and fifty years. Astria was a pagan, a witch, and a lover of the skies. When she came here and helped found the school and her coven, and she decided to make it her mission to transfer her love of the sky to the girls living here.

“She not only taught spells and cooking and botany, but she also brought students to the Astria Portal twice a week to talk about the stars, about the planets, about what we knew then. She worked hard to extend that knowledge—hence these . . .”

She waved her hand over the chart on the work table. “Astria worked on these for decades. She started on these in the 1690’s, and it took her twenty years to finish. She drew the sky when she was here, and during the summer she’d travel to other parts of the world—the equator, the southern hemisphere—to see and draw the sky there.

“And when the next school year started, she’d bring her charts to class and have the students use them, to see the starts as she saw them. And when she died . . .” She turned to the cabinet behind her. “She left them to the school, for future generations to use.”

Harpreet turned to Annie and Kerry. “I am of Cernunnos, just as you are. It is the coven founded by Astria Blomqvist, so we feel her whenever we enter the tower. This charts . . .” She lightly ran her fingers over the one on the table. “This is your legacy.”

 

So Tuesday is over, and it’s time for Wednesday–no, not the instructor, the actual day–and that means Formulistic Magic, and that means it’s Erywin’s time to shine.  Though “shine” probably isn’t the proper word for what she does–“Keep everyone on their toes with the impending possibility of something insane happening” is probably a far better description.  Her’s will be a fairly meaty chapter, and you’re going to see that dropping an F Bomb in front of the children isn’t that big of a deal for her.

Yeah, she’d my kind of woman.

Under the Milky Way

Yes, The Church will likely get upset with me if they know I just ripped off the title of one of their songs, but I’m willing to take that chance.  Besides, it’s a great song with some fantastic ebow playing:  one should give it a listen, eh?

I didn’t write a lot last night:  close to seven hundred words.  But it was enough.  My word count for the story, as it sits right now, is 86,666.  Ooooooh, my story is going to burn in Hell, I suppose.  Ah, well:  it’ll be entertaining to some.  But this makes it the second longest thing I’ve ever written, and I’m still going.

In fact, here is all the wordy blather in it’s unedited, first draft glory, so if you find some errors, don’t be too shocked.

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

The red lights flashed twice as the platform locked into place. Harpreet stepped away from the students and walked towards the opening in the dome. “We have arrived.” She stepped onto the tower’s outer ledge. “Come, please—” She motioned for the children to join her. “Look upon the night sky with me.”

Several of the students mumbled amongst themselves as they stepped outside onto the broad, circular ledge. Some looked up into the sky; others took a moment to look around at the campus to the south and to the world beyond the school walls to the north and east. It was easy to see the few homes north of the wall, Rockport to the east and southeast, and the small state park situated in the northeast corner of Cape Ann. Since arriving the only parts of the Normal world—as they were coming to call it—were spied either from the clock tower—which few had climbed—or from the top of the outer wall, which many students—Annie and Kerry among them—had walked.

From a mile away The Pentagram and the Great Hall didn’t look as large, yet still looked impressive. Up here he saw, for the first time, just how large the core of the school was, and how far apart everything was. From the ground, next to everything, everything seemed enormous, but up here, one was able to get a true sense of scale.

“Kerry.” Annie tapped him on the arm. “Look how clear the sky is tonight.”

Kerry finally looked up and took in the sky. When living in California it was impossible to see the sky, even on a clear night, without some light pollution; it Cardiff one never saw the stars unless the entire city was blacked out.

Here the sky was a deep black, as if they were looking straight into outer space without any light spoiling the view, and the stars were blazing bright, as he’d imagined they would appear if you were standing in the middle of nowhere, or in the middle of the ocean. But it shouldn’t bee this way. Salem was twenty kilometers away, and Boston another ten kilometers beyond there. The sky should have been washed out to the south and east, and the sky to the north should have suffered from the lights of communities situated along the north coast to New Hampshire. It wasn’t: it was as black and clear as the sky to the east and south.

He turned to Annie. “There’s no light pollution.”

She didn’t need to ask what he meant, as living in Europe she was aware of how difficult it was to see the stars at night depending upon where you lived. Even at home in the Bulgarian mountains the lights of Pamporovo lent a slight, bright fog to the otherwise dark skies. “I see that. It’s so . . .”

“Dark.”

“And bright.”

The Japanese boy, Koyanagi Jiro, noticed the same thing. “How is the sky so dark? There isn’t any light from the cities.”

Harpreet nodded towards the sky, a playful smile growing upon her face. “We filter out the ambient light surrounding us using a combination of magic and technology. What that leaves is a view of the sky as it was when the school was built and our first astronomer taught her first classes.” She headed back toward the dome opening. “Come inside: there is something I want to show you.”

 

Astronomy class has begun.  I’ll get over eight-seven thousand words tonight, and maybe even eighty-eight if I’m not too distracted by the Breaking Bad marathon.  I’ll reach ninety thousand easy before the end of the year.

Things are actually pretty good.

 

The Forgotten Light

Strange morning today, this Boxing Day that we don’t celebrate in the U.S..  There’s snow coming down, but it’s not going to stick.  It’s also very light, so it’ll be more of an annoyance than anything else.  I’ll pretty much be one of the only people in the IT department today, and it’ll be another light day at work.  All in all, it’s one of those days where I should be home working on something else besides work.

Can’t have everything, I suppose.

I didn’t write as much as I thought.  I got to talking to people on line yesterday, which helped keep me from slipping off into the darkness.  Even still, I managed over eight hundred words, which got my total up over eighty-five thousand, which means that sometime tonight I’ll reach the pinnacle of second biggest novel.  Which may or may not mean anything, but still gives me something to shoot for.

Still, it was a tough write.  Things I wanted to say weren’t there.  I was suppose to say something, but what I wanted to say seemed to be locked up inside my head and fighting to come out.  So it was writing in little spurts all the time, here and there, word by word until I had what I wanted.

And even then . . .

I finally got to bed about eleven, and as I was crawling under the sheets I started thinking about the scenes I’d just created, and no sooner was my head against the pillow that I thought, “I forgot the red lights.”

Allow me to explain:

The scene I was working on had to do with my kids getting to their night class at the observatory.  I’ve already posted part of that, but if you pay close attention I’ve never mentioned the lighting.  This is something important, because when you’re working at night like this, the lighting should be red, to help preserve your night vision.  Since it was dark outside when they arrived, there should have been a mention, probably in the first paragraph when they entered the observatory tower, I should have mentioned the red lights being on.  In fact, they should have seen that before they entered the tower:  there should have been a red light hanging outside, illuminated to indicate that the lights inside were red as well.

Tonight, then, I need to go back and rewrite something at the beginning before I continue on with the rest of the scene.  Not a big deal:  in fact, I’ll probably think about what I’m going to write throughout the day, and pen that sucker up before I get on to writing the good stuff.

I should have remembered it, because all the time I was thinking of this scene I had red light in mind.  Blame it on distractions.  Blame it on whatever I like.  At least I caught it before it got away from me.

This is how I go at times, forgetting little details and then remembering them at the craziest times.

Who knows what I’ll forget today.

 

The Light at the Bottom of the Observatory Well

Here we are, holiday time, the year almost over, and here I am thinking about what to eat as I prepare for the Doctor Who Christmas special, which I know will probably rip my hearts to shreds.  Yesterday there was talk among a few people about the South Yorkshire “Man of Steel” sculpture getting a £1 million pledge for it’s construction along the M1, and it was proposed that we should instead build a thirty meter sculpture of Brian Blessed dressed as Prince Vultan screaming out lines from Flash Gordon as only Brian could, then imagining people on the motorway freaking out as they hear things like, “Gordon’s alive?” and “Flying blind on a rocket cycle?”, as well as, “Ah, well . . . who wants to live forever?” which is exactly what you want to hear as you’re roaring down the expressway.

Far better expenditure of £1 million if you ask me.

The novel progressed last night.  It headed over the eight-five thousand word mark, which means it’s close to becoming my second longest novel.  Her Demonic Majesty ended up with a final count of eighty-five thousand three hundred fifty words, and as of right now I’m one thousand, one hundred and three words away from beating that count.  I could do it today, because as I’m on my own, what else am I gonna do?

Last night Annie and Kerry made Observatorytheir way to their next class, which happens to be Astronomy at the Observatory.  Where else would it be held?  One of the things I also did last night was label my map so I won’t get confused, and as you can see I have my Observatory marked.  What was it like there?  Here was what I wrote last night for that section of the novel, again without edits:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

It was completely dark by the time Annie and Kerry reached the Observatory. The sixty-five meter tower was the second tallest structure on the Salem campus behind the eighty meter clock tower, though the structure was far newer: this was the fourth school observatory, completed in 1985, and remodeled three times since.

They entered the building at ground level and were immediately surprised by what they found. Annie’s parents never told her about the new tower, and Kerry hadn’t read up on the building, so both expected to enter and find a long flight of stairs awaiting. Instead they found a large, round metal platform with a huge Cassegrain-style telescope located in the middle of the tower, a few instrument stations set up around the outer edge of the platform, and several cabinets around the area behind the telescope and a few work tables on each side. A few students were already here, though estimating the size of the crowd, Kerry knew not everyone was yet here.

As they walked cross a small gangway needed to reach the platform Kerry looked up. The tower was hollow, but he saw at maybe ten, maybe a dozen vertical rails rising up into the shadows above. He noticed the railing around the edge of the huge base and it clicked to him why the telescope was here, and how they were going to get into position for viewing today.

A woman with a dark brown complexion stepped away from a panel at the base of the telescope as Annie and Kerry stepped onto the platform. “Ah, children. So very good to see you.” Her accent was sounded somewhat Asian Indian to Kerry, who had come to know a few Indians while living in San Fransisco and Cardiff. “I am Professor Bashagwani, but you may call me Harpreet if you so wish.” She brushed back some of the long back hair that had gotten into her face. “Your names, please?”

“Annie Kirilova.”

“Kerry Malibey.”

Hapreet waved her right hand in the air and a holographic display appeared before her. She scrolled through a list of names until she found theirs. “Ah, yes: my two Cernunnos students.” She closed the fingers of her right hand and the display vanished. “I’m so glad to meet you. Come join your classmates while we wait for the rest of the students.” She turned her back on them and returned to her station.

The walked closer to the students, but Annie saw they were still all in their little groups from their own areas. We haven’t become a class yet; we’re still just people from different areas. She wondered how long it would take before they all saw each other as a group and not a collection of people from around the world.

 

There you are.  Class is about to start, and I someone is going to come up and talk to my kids.  Get ready, Annie:  you’re going to feel a tug on your heart.

Why would she?  Because before they arrived at the Astria PortalObservatory, they stopped at Astria Portal, situated in the old North Wall, and introduced Kerry to an “old family tradition”–said tradition being, as they say in Cardiff, snogging.  Sure, they’re only eleven, but if you don’t think some eleven year olds know a little about snogging these days, you’re not paying attention.

Tonight there will be star gazing and some hot beverage.

And probably a bit of crying.  But that’s another story.