Even though I managed to get my lab work out of the way, get dinner, and end up back at the home by four, the exertion of the afternoon–and lack of sleep from the early morning–conspired to make me yawn and look at the screen dumbly. It was a real, “What am I suppose to do here?” moment, and it took a couple of hours of gathering strength to get to writing before ten PM and Fargo came on.
I hit the deadline with time to spare.
So where did we leave the kids off? Right here, ready to be thrown to the zombies:
(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Kerry felt his stomach drop as Annie and he stepped away from the rest of the students and onto the mat. Before heading off to look at the weapons, he turned to Professor Chai. “Professor?”
“Do Annie and I—” He looked at Annie, then back. “Are we really going to do this alone?”
The professor took one step towards them both. “Is there anyone else from your coven level that you can call upon for assistance?”
Annie and Kerry turned to each other and shook their heads. “No, Professor.”
“Then it’ll only be you two performing the test for your coven.” Professor Chai stepped closer to them. “Remember to play to your strengths. You both have them: don’t forget to use them.” She pointed to the far end of the room. “Go pick out your weapons.”
Thank, Teach! Way to give a challenge.
But let’s not forget what Ramona said there at the end–before “Arm yourselves.” She was giving sage advice, and Mr. Geek knew how to play to his strength with a little secret:
They walked back to the weapons table. All the Åsgårdsreia students had returned to the sidelines, so the area behind the red line was empty. He’d already decided upon the bokken, but didn’t pick it up right away, Instead he eased up next to Annie, who was looking over the poles. He leaned his head close to hers. “I know what these things are.”
Annie had caught his exclamation when the homunculi first exited the cabinets, and figured his comment had something to do with a story he’d read or seen. “You do?”
“Yeah. They come from a comic—”
Annie slowly half-turned her head. “These things are from a comic?”
“Okay—graphic novel.” He adjusted his glasses, pushing them up his nose. “It’s a bit more adult.”
She raise an eyebrow. I’m learning something new about him every day; I don’t ever recall him mentioning this. “How is it you managed to read these—adult novels?”
“I have an account on Amazon linked to one of my parent’s credit cards.” He looked over the weapons. “As long as I don’t get crazy with the charges every month, I can buy books and other . . . things.”
“And you’re parents know you’re buying these?”
“No. Which is probably a good thing.” He turned to Annie, grinning. “But it’s a good thing I have read this stuff, because I know how to take them out. Right?”
“Yes, we’re so fortunate . . .” Annie slowly rolled her eyes before selecting a jō. “How do we stop these homunculi then?”
He’s bought things and read stuff. Sounds like someone I know. And Annie–who seems to know just about everything concerning Kerry, didn’t know this. You can bet she’ll start checking into his reading habits more closely now.
He tells Annie about skull crushing (possible with wooden weapons), and decapitation (highly unlikely with wooden weapons), but still: “Pass your test by crushing the skulls of the undead, kids!” Well, a month in school and you gotta blow off that steam somehow . . .
As they’re preparing to meet their doom–I mean, start their test–Kerry lays out the last of their possible ways to stop their opponents:
They slowly walked towards the middle of the mat, giving Kerry time to finish his last thought. “The professor said we also take them out if we prevent them from taking action against us. That means there are things we can do that won’t involve crushing their skulls—”
Annie like this idea better. “Such as?”
“If we break off their lower jaws they can’t bite us.”
She curled up the right side of her mouth. “That’s not much better than crushing their skulls.”
“The other way would be to do so much damage to their torsos they can’t move.” He shook his head from side to side. “I don’t think we can do that with these. But I do have an idea . . .” As they took their place near the center of the mat Kerry quick explained his plan of attack.
Though Annie wasn’t thrilled with his idea, it at least appeared plausible. “Then we’ll try it first thing.”
“Yeah—so if it don’t work, we can fall back on our nonexistent Plan B.”
They were almost to the center of the mat when Kerry moved to Annie’s left. He smiled back at her puzzled look. “Leftie and rightie. This way we aren’t hitting each other when we swing.”
She nodded. “Good idea.” And I might have thought of it if I weren’t so nervous . . .
Once Annie and Kerry were in their place on the mat Professor Chai returned to the place where she’d stood during the Åsgårdsreia test. “Are you ready?”
Annie reached over, took Kerry’s right hand, and gave it a squeeze. “We’re ready, Professor.”
There were a couple of chuckles from the other students at the show of affection—and Lisa needed to make her comment known to everyone in the room. “Awww, that’s so cute.”
As soon as Annie released his hand Kerry slide it behind Annie’s back and shot a reverse V-sign in Lisa’s direction. He figured Lisa wouldn’t get it, but hearing a couple of guffaws come from within the crowd, a few people did. “We’re ready, Professor.”
“Very well, then—” She waved her hands. “The test begins now.”
Kerry flipping off people in class? Say it ain’t so.
Where as the test before was working on one-and-a-have to one odd, Professor Chai sends out five homunculi, giving Annie a Kerry a two-and-a-half to one disadvantage. Not cool, Professor. Unless . . .
And where we end is watching them steel themselves for their own undead assault:
“Yeah.” He nodded towards the yellow line. “They’re almost here . . .” They prepared themselves for whatever it was that had affect the Åsgårdsreia students.
The first homunculus crossed the yellow line and broke through the barrier—
A wave of putrid air rolled over the two Cernunnos coven mates.
Annie and Kerry recoiled from the stench. It was more that bad: it was the accumulation of a thousand fetid swamps broiling under summer humidity; ten thousand rotting vegetable patches cooking in the daylight; a million pig farms simmering in the noonday sun. Both children gagged and retched, fighting to control their churning stomachs in the wake of the horrific foulness.
Annie held her free hand close to her face. “That’s horrid. What’s causing that?”
“That’s—” Kerry gulped air trying to keep his breakfast down. “It’s rotting flesh.”
He half-turned to Annie. “They’re Walkers; they’re homuncuWalkers; they’re zombies—whatever, they’re dead. They’re ambulatory corpses that are still decomposing. Slowly, but . . .” He turned away as he nearly gagged. “They never talked about this in the comic.”
She didn’t want to discuss it, least it make her more nauseous. “Have to breath through our mouths, then.”
He nodded. “All ready there, Sweetie.”
All five homunculi were pasted the yellow line and advancing up on them. Annie pointed to the one in front and on their left. “That one?”
Kerry nodded. “Yeah.”
“You ready?” She raised her pole with both hands.
He slowly exhaled. “Yeah. Let’s do this.”
Not only do you send out creepy walkers, but you gotta make them that real? What’s next? Former class mates? Which they probably are, because it sounds like the instructor is a bit twisted.
This is where I wish I knew how to draw, because I can see how these scenes set up, and I’d love some pictures to throw into the story–pictures that didn’t consist of stick figures. That’s one day, though: maybe I can con my daughter into doing a few for me one day.
Thirty-three hundred words into the scene, and the good part is yet to come.
Can’t wait for tonight.