Tally Time, the Hard Salem Life

First, lets have some news, good and bad.  First the good news:  I’m doing fine in the transitioning area, and I was told by my doctor that I’ve got “boobage going on,” which is one of the reasons I love her.

But the bad new is I may have hypertension, and that’s not good.  Three times I’ve had my blood pressure taken, three times I hit 150 on the top end.  So I need to start looking into how to get that down, because I really don’t want to start on blood pressure medication, nor do I want a stroke.  No, I don’t.  Not at all.

This is my worried face.  It's not a good one.

This is my worried face.  Can you tell?

I snapped the above picture in a Panera about five miles from my doctor’s office in New Jersey.  Since I knew I’d get home late, I wanted to get in my writing–which is why I always bring my computer with me when I’m out like this.  You write where you can, and since I like going to Panera, if their wifi up working, I can hop online as well.  The wifi wasn’t working yesterday, which is why I was able to write over seven hundred words in about forty minutes.

Now comes the part of the post were we start talking about bad things at my school, and if you don’t want to hear about people dying, it’s best you move away from here and return to the Internet, where just about anything is found for the click of a Google.

 

Ready?

 

Let’s Go.

 

We’re at the point in the story where the security people know if any deaths occurred during the breach of the outer defense screens.  They go off of who didn’t make it back to one of the two safe areas, particularly with the comms down, and also if there were any eyewitnesses who saw someone dying.  It’s not a pleasant task, creating a tally of the dead, and Isis is particularly sensitive to this, because eleven years before, as a student, she lost friends at the school during a Deconstructor attack known as The Scouring.

We pick up in the story learning that death is something that is always around . . .

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

During her tenure as Director of Security for the Salem Institute, Isis Mossman found it necessary to report to the Headmistress on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of six students. Though much was done to prevent such a tragedy from occurring, deaths happened—and most were not accidents.

One of the non-accidents occurred during a Call Out Match, which occurred when differences between students could only be worked out in usually quick, one-on-one, combat. Two E Levels squared off n 2008 and one student fired off and intense barrage of magic that the other student—the girl who’d actually initiated the challenge—was unable to block or deflect, making their demise a sudden, blood-soaked mess—all of which was allowable because of the Foundation wavers the students signed before entering the combat area. Isis was required to investigate, though the root cause of the death was easy to determine, the solution would have made it necessary to either eliminate the use of additional spells—death spells were already forbidden in magical combat—or forbid this form of combat altogether.

The second non-accident happened three months after Isis became the security director in 2006. A transformation spell backfired on a C Level student during class, and despite the best efforts of Jessica Kishna and Nurse Coraline and her staff, they were unable to resuscitate the boy. Isis was unable to come up with a solution, other than the completely unacceptable notion of no longer teaching transformation spells . . .

 

When it comes right down to it, killing someone with magic is a pretty simple thing.  We’ve already seen Annie and Kerry being warned after their Self Defense and Weapons class not to use their Air Hammer spells against other students, because they could probably cut them in half like so many zombies were they to use them.  And Annie knows a death spell, so she’s already a dangerous little girl.

There’s also something else that one has to take into consideration in this little hot pot of magic:  under the right conditions students will snap and perhaps find it to difficult to go on . . .

 

The school took every precaution possible to prevent students from killing themselves. All high places from which one could jump were protected by safety enchantments; ingredients that could be used to manufacture poisons were monitored and secured. The detection grills were always on the lookout for students suddenly registering zero life signs, and the vitals of students who attempted suicide through bleeding out or asphyxiation were immediately noted, which always resulted in the instant notification of the hospital staff on duty.

The staff and instructors were also trained to notice changes in behavior that could lead to suicidal ideation and/or action. Everyone working at Salem had been a student, and they knew all too well the pressure-ladened environment that existed inside the walls of the Institute. They’d seen the same behavior in fellow students, and with the additional training they’d received, they could now recognize it in their own students. With enough recognition it was possible for someone to approach a student and tell them, “We should talk.”

Sometimes, however, there were students who were impossible to notice short of reading their minds . . .

 

The possibility of suicide at school couldn’t be any different than the chances of it happening in Normal schools.  It happens here, too, and if you’ve figured out from the excerpts that at least four students have killed themselves from 2006 to 2010, then you know being a witch doesn’t mean you’re immune to the pressures of life.  That’s why there are three counselors at the school, and others can be brought in on a moment’s notice.

Noticed I didn’t write how they died.  I did in the novel, and as you can guess, if you’re good with sorcery or transformation magic, you’re out as soon as you think about the deed.  It’s something Annie says in later years:  once you know a few death spells, if you want to die, you put your thought, energy, and willpower into it, and in two seconds you’re gone.

Like it’s said, the teachers there have a hard time trying to keep the lid on some people.  And as Isis notes below . . .

 

In each case Isis was able to determine that beyond better observation of the student body coupled with proactive counseling, there was little one could do to prevent a student who was sufficiently skilled in magic, superscience, or Gifts, from killing themselves if they were looking to end it all and move beyond The Veil.

Today was different, however. Today Isis was reporting of the deaths of students that she may have been able to prevent. She knew it was impossible to have a defense that was one hundred perfect foolproof, that someone was going figure out a work around given enough time—and that the situation on the school grounds could be worse.

It didn’t make her mood any better.

 

There I stopped, and tonight I get into Director Mossman’s report to the Headmistress, and we–well, actually you; I know what she’s going to say–discover how many students were lost, and how Isis might have to deal with breaking this bad news to a student just down the hall from her.

Now here is the strange thing:  all this time I’ve been looking at Chapter Twenty-Two, and I realized I left a scene out.  It’s right . . .

There, because being an Abomination and getting Intervention.

There, between being an Abomination and getting Intervention.

It’s a pivotal scene, and I can’t believe I left it out.  I know what it is, but . . . as Ricky would say, “You know how it goes.”  Sadly I do.  But I remembered it today.

And something else happened during the writing of the scene yesterday:

It has something to do with numbers, I know that.

It has something to do with numbers, I know that.

Act Two finally crossed a hundred thousand words.  So, between the two acts, I’ve two novels.  The question remains if I can finish up this act in another fifty thousand words.  I think I can–

Yeah, I really do.