Twenty-four hours can bring about a nice change. As I said yesterday, sometimes you need to get out and change things up a bit, just to make things better.
That’s sort of what I did yesterday. I got home from woke, changes, threw on my jean skirt and a nice top, put on my sandals, checked my makeup, and headed out. I needed to pick up a few groceries, but since I intended writing first, I stopped at Panera to set up the computer and get something to eat.
And with the eating and a little social media out of the way, I put on a live recording of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, recorded at the Shrine Auditorium in late January of 1975, and got to town. I didn’t leave until just over two hours later, when I was thirteen hundred words into the scene, and and it was finished. I was proud, because this scene needed to get finished.
See, this scene is all about Annie. Unfortunately for her, Nurse Thebe blabbed to the other girls about Annie being an amazing zombie killer, and how she worked up an Air Hammer spell in a matter of seconds while hordes of the undead–okay, four–bore down upon her. When you get that sort of hype laid upon you, naturally others want to see you in action. Since Annie was told not to use the spell on anyone living–since she could like, you know, kill them–a subject was needed . . .
(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Sahkyo pointed at the hovering nurse. “What about Thebe? She’s not human.”
Annie was going to explain why using Thebe as a test subject was out of the question when she addressed the subject. “I may not be human, but I can be damaged. Nurse Coraline wouldn’t appreciate my being put out of action because of a spell.”
Annie nodded slowly in the nurse’s direction. “Thank you.”
“On the other hand . . .” Thebe looked over her shoulder. “I do have something Annie could use as a test subject.”
Nurse Thebe headed over to where the stretchers sat and returned with one. She set it upright, floating a few centimeters above the floor. “You can use this.”
Annie didn’t want to show off, not for these girls, not for the nurse, either. “I don’t want to damage it—”
“It’s made of carbon mesh suspended between carbon-carbon fiber poles.” Thebe shook her head. “One can support a ton. You’re not going to damage it.” She let her fingers glide over one of the poles. “And it’s floating, so there’s no resistance. It’ll simply fly backwards.”
Sure, don’t hurt the artificial person (or AP), but beat up on those stretchers all you want. Annie therefor bows to peer pressure and decides to give a quick demonstration.
She held her right hand at her side and relaxed. “Remember that to make this spell work, you gather air together at a point.” A small swirling ball began forming in the palm of her hand. “Once you have drawn it to your point, you pull it tighter, as if you’re squeezing it with both hands.” The ball began to shimmer as Annie used energy and willpower to compress the mass. “Then, when you are ready, you choose a target . . .”
Annie didn’t throw the air ball as much as she pushed her hand in the direction of the stretcher. She didn’t need to throw it; her willpower drove the Air Hammer forward faster than the eye could follow. Almost instantly the stretcher was struck with an audible thwack and thrown backward back into the far north wall of the Rotunda before bouncing off with a loud and and falling to the floor.
Neither girl nor Nurse Thebe said a word for almost five seconds. The first reaction came from Sahkyo. “Damn. That’s, um . . .” She tightly closed her eyes for several seconds. “The best I’ve ever done was little better than a breeze.”
“The energy required is minuscule.” Annie slowly turned towards the girls. “It’s all visualization and willpower—”
“And a lot of luck.”
And what’s a demonstration without someone coming in to mouth off? Which is when Lisa shows up and starts talking shit.
Annie looked over her shoulder, half-turning to her right. Lisa was approaching the group slowly, her hands behind her back with her eyes turned towards the floor, and an unusual smirk upon her face, as if she knew something that she was keeping from everyone else.
Lisa stopped about five meters from Annie. “After all, isn’t that how you did that during class? You got lucky?”
“I don’t believe in luck.” Annie crossed her arms. “It had nothing to do with our coven test that day.”
“Not even a little.”
Lisa shrugged. “Maybe not with you, but I’m guessin’ . . .” She half turned to her left, the smirk growing. “Kerry probably used a lot of luck to make that same spell work.”
Annie’s eyes narrowed. “Kerry is just as skilled; he doesn’t rely on luck, either.”
“So you say.”
Yes, she does say, Lisa, but that’s not going to keep you from not only mouthing off, but insulting others as well.
Thebe joined the conversation. “What you’re pointing out is wrong, Lisa.”
She turned on the nurse. “What would you know about it? You’re not even human.” The smirk returned. “You can only do magic because supertech allows it—right?”
Lisa’s last statement didn’t set well with Annie. She knew Thebe wouldn’t get angry—while APs could get mad in the right situations now wasn’t one of those—but that didn’t mean she couldn’t express her feelings. While she kept her tone normal, the words were spoken in a low, slow voice. “That’s not only a rude thing to say, it was stupid.” She decided to get in a dig of her own. “You sent two of your own covenmates to the hospital that day: you’re in no position to make light of the abilities of others.”
The smirk vanished as Lisa’s face froze into an unemotional mask. Only her eyes gave any indication there was something going on inside her mind. “That was an accident.”
“A preventable one if you’d bothered to think.” She slowly pulled her hair back and laid it behind her ears. “Don’t speak of others using luck when you couldn’t find any of your own.”
Annie is now the Queen of Zingers, which doesn’t set well with Lisa–
The stare Lisa affixed upon Annie turned deadly. She crossed her arms, flexing her fingers across her forearms. “So you think Kerry’s not gonna need any luck—” She nodded up towards the skylight. “Bein’ out there.”
Annie huffed. “He doesn’t need luck, Lisa. I’ve already said that.”
“Even if the bad guys come?”
“Kerry knows what to do if there’s trouble.” Annie returned Lisa’s deadly stare. “I’m not worried.”
“Not even a little?” Lisa tossed her head from side to side.
Annie breathed deeply through her nose. “No.”
“I mean a lot of things could happen.” She glanced up at the skylight once again. “These Deconstructors, they could fly through the screen and shoot him down—”
“Or they could take him out from the ground with a fireball or somethin’.”
Though she didn’t show it, Annie felt her irritation growing. “If there are any problems, Kerry will head for safety.” She’d discussed this matter with Coraline only an hour earlier, and knew what the fliers would do in the instance of major attack. “He knows what to do.”
“Maybe he does—” Lisa waited as Annie began to turn away. “That doesn’t mean Emma does.”
Oh, yeah: you had to go there. Just like Emma had to pull the trigger on “Is Annie your girlfriend?”, Lisa’s gotta jam that same button ’cause she knows a little something about what makes Annie’s mind start seeing bad things. And she just isn’t gonna let up . . .
Annie froze in mid-turn. She swiveled her head around towards Lisa. “You don’t know—”
“I saw them leavin’ together; I’m guessin’ ol’ Salomon put them together.” The smirked turned to a tight grin. “Which means they’re probably flyin’ around, chattin’ up a storm—”
“Kerry wouldn’t chat up a storm.” Annie’s eyes were now dark hazel pinpoints. “He knows better.”
“Yeah, but what about Emma? You know—” Lisa held her hands out parallel to each other. “Miss ‘Hey Kerry, Come Race With Me’?” She pushed her hands together and made a crashing sounds as they collided. “You know how well he was listenin’ then.”
It took an bit of effort for Annie to dispel what she was feeling before speaking. “Kerry isn’t out there listening to Emma; he knows what to do.” She turned away from Lisa. “Nothing is going to happen.”
“Maybe you think so—” Lisa turned to follow Annie as she slowly walked away from the conversation. “But, you know, if things don’t happen to Kerry—”
Annie spoke without looking at her tormentor. “Be quiet, Lisa.”
“—that doesn’t mean somethin’ won’t happen to Emma—”
Annie stopped and looked over her shoulder, her eyes on fire. “Enough.”
“—and Kerry’s just stupid enough to help her—”
“You shut up.” Annie spun around and pointed at Lisa, her face cold and hard, her eyes the only indication of her emotions.
Kerry likes to call Annie his Dark Witch for a reason, and Annie keeps telling him it’s not joke, that she does have darkness, that it’s not a game. When she spins around and points at you and tells you to shut up in a low, harsh voice, shit’s about to happen. What happens is Lisa is rendered mute. Wanna guess why?
Thebe did a quick scan of Lisa’s face and throat. “What the—?” She turned the angry girl in the direction of the triage center. “Go sit down; I’ll be with you in a moment.” She waited for Lisa to stalk off out of earshot before approaching Annie. “What did you do to her?”
Nagesa and Sahkyo were right behind the triage nurse. Shakyo seemed shocked. “You cursed her, didn’t you?”
Ignoring the girl’s question, Annie spoke to Thebe. “I used Paralytic.”
Thebe’s eyes narrowed. “That’s sorcery.”
Annie nodded. “Yes, it is.”
Nagesa said nothing, but Sahkyo found it almost impossible to contain herself. “You’re not suppose to use sorcery on another student—” She turned to Nagesa. “Not outside the ring, that is.”
If Thebe was troubled by this information, she didn’t let it show. Her calm profession demeanor reassessed itself, and she took control of the situation. “She didn’t mean it, though.” The nurse positioned herself so she could face all three girls at the same time, and she kept her voice soft so it wouldn’t travel. “You both wanted to see the sort of spells Annie knew. She showed you Air Hammer, and you wanted to see more. She showed few others, but . . .” She glanced over her shoulder at the now-sitting Lisa. “One got away and paralyzed Lisa’s vocal cords.”
“It won’t last long either—” Annie gave the tiniest of shrugs. “She’ll be able to speak in a few hours . . . but it’s not like she needs her voice to do this job.”
“No, she doesn’t.” Thebe grew closer to Annie. “And you won’t do that again, will you?”
Annie didn’t blink. “I have no reason to now.”
“Good.” Nurse Thebe stepped back a few paces. “I’ll tell Coraline what happened after I look at Lisa.” She walked away without another word.
Annie didn’t bother following Thebe as she departed; she focused instead on the two girls who continued to stare at her with some disbelief. She finally cracked a slight smile. “Hope you saw enough.”
Nagesa nodded. “When did you find time to learn Paralytic?”
“I taught it to myself two years ago.” Annie spoke nonchalantly about the spell. “My mother allowed me to use a construct so I could test the spell.”
“You taught yourself?” Sahkyo almost yelped out her question.
“Yes, I did.”
“Damn, girl—” She swung back and forth, her face lit up. “You’re like Lovecraft, you know that?”
Annie chuckled softly. “I’m sure she’d consider that a complement.” She lowered her gaze slightly. “If you’ll excuse me—” She quickly pointed at the benches along the south wall of the Rotund. “I’d like to rest.”
Yes, consider it a complement when the upper coven levels start comparing you to the school’s Dark Mistress of All. Though Helena might say something different . . . naw, who am I kidding? She’d smile like mad knowing Annie cursed some loud mouth who wouldn’t shut up. If the roles had been reversed, and Lisa was running off at the mouth about Erywin, Helena would have set her on fire.
Moral of the story: never piss off the Head Sorceress.
So finally, three out of five scenes complete, Chapter Twenty-One closer to finished, and the attack is coming. You know that because you can see the title on Chapter Twenty-Two. Right?
The next scene should be short, and the last scene will get some staff and instructors talking.
And thanks to everyone who left me messages yesterday. It’s nice to have supportive fans out there.