Beaning Beetles

I can hear the cars outside driving through some wetness, and I’m told on various websites that The Burg is in “Winter Mix Mode” at the moment.  That means it could be snowing, or raining, or a little of both, because the temperature outside is hovering around freezing.  No need to worry tomorrow:  it’s gonna rain like hell all day.

Ten days into January.  When I ended last year my novel has just passed ninety thousand words.  A thousand additional words a night, and I should be at one hundred thousand tonight.  Well . . . that’s a read good possibility, ’cause last night I was in a zone.  Though it took me a bit to get going, I ended up writing almost fourteen hundred words, and pushed the final story tally up to ninety-nine thousand, six hundred words.  The crossing should be tonight, as I finish up the most current scene.

Jessica is holding forth in class.  She’s given the students beans and set them forth upon their work spaces.  And thus . . .


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

She opened her right hand and there was a bean identical to the ones the students had before them. “As this is a class about transformation, looks are deceiving. It appears to be a bean now . . .” Jessica held out her hand, palm up, for all the students to see. The bean shimmered for a few seconds before black legs emerged from the sides. The top of the bean turned black and hard, then the rest of it grew a head and antennae. What was a bean five seconds before was now a small black beetle.

“As I said, looks are deceiving, and now my bean is an insect—”

Linh Dam, the Vietnamese girl who was in Mórrígan Coven, was frowning. “You want us to change these into beetles?”

Jessica shook her head. “You misunderstand. I’ve already changed the beetles into beans—”

Another students, Balgaire Ibanez, the Argentinian boy from Åsgårdsreia Coven, almost jumped out of his chair. “These are bugs?”

“Don’t worry, Balgaire: they won’t bother you like this.” The right corner of Jessica’s mouth curled upwards into a smirk. “May I continue?” He nodded and calmed himself. “Last night I transformed a group of beetles into the beans you have before you. It is not your assignment to transform beans into beetles, but rather transform the beans back into the beetles. Trust me—” She smirked once again. “None of you have the slightest idea how you would transform an inanimate object into a living being, even one as simply as a beetle.” She looked about the room. “Are there any questions?”

Though his mind was full of questions, Kerry didn’t know what to ask. We aren’t transforming the bean into a beetle, but . . . He didn’t how the professor’s statement made any sense: if they weren’t transforming something, then what were they suppose to do? He kept running the statement over and over in his mind, thinking about what she said about transforming the beetles back . . .

Then the revelation hit him. “Oh.”

Jessica took a step towards Kerry. “Is something the matter, Mr. Malibey? Are you in pain?”

“No, uh—” He shook his head. “It was just something that came to mind, that’s all.”

Three more steps brought Jessica closer. “I see. Do you intend to share this with the class, or are you keeping this epiphany to yourself?”

Kerry didn’t like being put on the spot, but with Professor Kishna moving closer with each step, he knew he’d have to say something, or he’d have her leaning into his face much like she’d done with Franky. “It’s what you said, about changing the beans back into beetles.”

Jessica was only a couple of meters away now. “Yes?”

“You transformed everything, which means you used magic—”

“Go on.”

“So there’s some kind of effect in place around the bean. That means . . .” Kerry swallowed, his mouth dry. “This is a case where we do counter-magic. We have to remove the effect, not make a new one.”

She finally reached his cubical, and Jessica did lean against the short wall. Rather than lean over until she was nose-to-nose with Kerry, she maintained a friendly distance. “That’s an interesting hypothesis, Kerry.” She half-grinned at him. “Is counter-magic what you intend to use?”

He thought for a moment. “Yes, Professor.”

“Which means you’ll succeed, yes?”

He’d avoided making eye contact with Professor Kishna since she’d walked up to his cubical, but now he looked up and met her gaze. “I’ll try.”

Jessica shook her head. “No, no, no, Mr. Malibey. You’ll not try. You’ll either prove your hypothesis correct, or you’ll fail. There is no in between, I’m afraid.” She tapped her nails against the cubical railing. “Do you understand?”

Kerry nodded slowly. “Yes, Professor.”

She raised her voice so everyone in the room could hear her clearly. “You may be on the right track, Kerry. Don’t let a bit of intimidation frighten you away: stick to what you think is right.” Jessica stepped away from the cubical. “As for the rest of you—any questions?” She looked about the lab, and saw no one had questions, or was willing to speak. “Very well. You may begin.”


No cats with glasses in this room, that’s for sure.

For some reason I liked this scene.  Perhaps it was due to how easy it wrote.  Or maybe . . . I don’t know.  Maybe as soon as I get through this scene it’s on to The Witch House and the evil sorceress?

Yeah, there’s always that, too.