Behind the Black Curtain

There’s just a touch of snow on the ground, I’ve finished my soufflé and I’m working on my coffee.  It’s time to get down to brass tacks.

If you were looking in on me yesterday–and my blog stats say you were–you can see I made it through the day.  It was a long day, because I didn’t make it to bed until just after midnight.  So, up at four AM, off to bed at midnight–yeah, long day.  My evening was pretty much one thing after another:  The Spirit of St. Louis was playing on TV, I was chatting with a couple of people–one who was going off on an anti-vaccination fool and another discussing another article I have coming out, maybe today–and I was working on my novel.

A bit like this, only I like my coffee in a mug.

A bit like this, only I like my coffee in a mug.

Busy little multitasking beaver I was.  If there were only any money in that.

So what has been happening with that novel of late?  Writing.  A few nights ago I wrote twelve hundred words, then about six hundred, then last night I ended up somewhere between eight hundred and a thousand words.  I didn’t get an exact total, because in the middle of all this multitasking I managed to shut Scrivener down by accident and lost my session word total.  But based upon where I left off Thursday night, and where I left off last night, it was about a thousand words.

What has happened is my Dark Mistress of All, Helena, has for reasons unknown started using a little magical electricity on Kerry, which isn’t setting well with Annie, because it seems like Helena’s stepping up the power each time.  And sooner than you can say Lum chan:

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

Annie was almost out of her chair. “Stop it. Stop what you’re doing.”

Helena stepped to her right, her eyes locked on the young girl. “How do you know I’m doing this?”

“Stop playing stupid. You know you are.” Annie clenched her fists. “Stop it now.”

“Or?”

That was the real question—what would Annie do? She knew better than to throw a spell at an instructor—particularly one who’d been, or was, a Guardian. She also knew she wasn’t going to allow Kerry to be hurt . . . “Just stop it.”

“You’re going to have to convince me.” Helena shook her head. “Words won’t do it, I’m afraid.”

She’s being impossible. “What do you want me to do?” Annie turned to Kerry, then back to Professor Lovecraft. She spoke as forcefully as she could without yelling. “Can’t you be decent?”

Helena crossed her arms and leaned her face into her right fist as she appeared to consider Annie’s question. “Oh, Annie . . .” She dropped her hands to her sides. “You know what I am.” She snapped the right fingers—

Kerry’s whole body clenched: his shoulder drew in, his arms curled, his legs pulled together as he clenched himself. His eyes closed as his mouth opened in a silent scream. He remained frozen like this for a few seconds, then jerked to the left and right as if he were having a seizure. Five seconds after his current turmoil began he flopped over onto his desk, his head lying against his right arm as he moaned.

Annie couldn’t take any more. She jumped from her chair and marched towards the professor as the class watched in silence. “That’s enough, stop it, Stop It NOW.”

If Helena appeared bothered by the outburst it wasn’t evident. “Please return to your seat, Miss Kirilova.”

Miss Kirilova wasn’t about to meekly return to her desk. “I said—”

I heard you. Now, return to your seat.” Helena stepped around her and approached Kerry.

“What are you doing?” Annie spun on her. “Stay away—”

Helena pointed to the empty seat. “Get in your goddamn chair, Annie.” It was the first time the professor has spoken in anything but calm, even tones.

Felisa Ledesma, the Mexican girl in Blodeuwedd Coven, didn’t bother speaking softly. “What a crazy bitch.”

“You be quite too.” Helena was now standing over Kerry as Annie glumly retook her chair. “Or I’ll show you just how crazy I can become.”

Yeah, Salem is a fun place.  Come for the class, stay for the electrocution.

Helena teleports Kerry off to the hospital where he is cared for by Nurse Coraline, who also gives Helena a butt-full before she returns to class.  After class she returns with Annie, they see Kerry, find out he’s staying over night, and Helena comes up with an excuse to take Annie to the back of the ward to be alone.  After throwing up a magical black curtain–she is a sorceress, right?–they discuss why teacher was laying on the magical juice to Annie’s  boyfriend:

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

She turned to Annie, who was staring at her with a combination of animosity and curiosity. “You’ve been waiting to confront me since I shocked Kerry. Here’s your chance: let me have it.”

For the last couple of hours there were many things that Annie wanted to say to Professor Lovecraft, but after hearing her apology to Kerry, there was only one question that mattered. “You said you had your reasons for casting that spell on Kerry. What was it?”

Helena widened her stance slightly and crossed her arms while meeting the girl’s gaze. “You.”

For the first time since the incident with Kerry Annie registered an emotion other than anger. “Me? You’re crazy.”

You understand my mental state now?” Helena didn’t let Annie respond. “End of June, you were visited by a couple of people from The Foundation, yeah?”

Annie remembered the interview well: her mother and she had gone into Plovdiv to meet with two women from the regional office in Brno. They’d had a pleasant chat, talked about the upcoming school year, what she wanted to do . . . “I remember it well. My mother and I spent the day in Varna before going home.”

“They asked you a lot of questions about magic . . . About what you wanted to learn, but more important, what you already know.” Helena’s tone softened. “They asked you a lot about sorcery.”

That wasn’t a question. “How do you know that?”

“Because that interview produced a report.” She brought her hands together and tapped her thumbs. “One that I read.”

The anger was back, and Annie felt her face redden. “You’re spying on me?”

“Oh, please. Get over yourself, Annie.” Helena chuckled, which made Annie grow even redder in the face. “It’s a standard practice with Legacies these days—particularly those Legacies who have an interest in sorcery.” Her face darkened slightly. “We wouldn’t want another Scouring.”

Annie felt a chill run through her when she heard the word “Scouring”. Her parents had left before that event, right near the end of the school year in 2000. Her parents had told her a little about what happened, how there’d been an attack by Deconstructors who’d spent years infiltrating the school and convincing some students to follow them. Students had died along with instructors, and parts of the school were destroyed.

I can see why she’d worry about Legacies who know sorcery. “I understand now.”

“Good.” Helena hesitated as she eyes Annie closely. “The report was fairly standard: said you had a good grasp of the basics of spells casting; that your knowledge of sorcery was ‘advanced’, and that your ability to perform simply sorcery spells was ‘astounding’.”

“Really?” Annie’s mood swung back from dark to light. People from The Foundation thought I was astounding? “They said that?”

“They said other things as well. The line that stuck out the most was that ‘while the subject is technically competent and exceptional proficient, she comes across as emotionally immature’.” Helena’s demeanor turned stern. “And the last thing I want in my classroom is an emotionally immature sorceress.”

Emotionally immature. The words stung at Annie. There were many things her mother had called her from time to time, but “immature” wasn’t one of those things. “I’m not like that—”

“Maybe not. But I couldn’t take the risk.”

“Were you afraid I was going to attack you?”

“It’s happened before.” She motioned pass the dark shield into the ward beyond. “Had a B Level come at me the second week of school last year, about a quarter of the way into the class. She ended up in the ward out there, and it wasn’t for just a night.”

“Yeah, I wanted to get a rise out of you, so I stuck your boyfriend’s fingers in my magical light socket.  No hard feelings.”  Probably a good thing they don’t have corporal punishment, though wait until you find out what some of the detentions are.

There you have it.  Thursday in the story is almost over–one scene and I’m there.  Three more chapters and this first episode is history.  Then I can move on to the next project.  And tomorrow I may be taking a road trip.  I’ll see how the weather goes.

It’s nice when we can sit and just chat, isn’t it?