The Last Days in the Big B

Right now I know there are a few of you going, “Damn, Cassie, you’re taking your time gettin’ this post out.”  That’s because you haven’t seen what I’ve done up to this point.  You didn’t see me at six-thirty writing in the current scene, doing my research as I went along, and three hours later writing a little over twenty-two hundred words and finishing the opening scene to Part Two, Chapter Four.

Yeah, you didn’t see that.

Nor did you see this:  how my desktop looks when I'm working on a scene.  With notes and music.

Nor did you see this: how my desktop looks when I’m working on a scene. With notes and music.

Sure, I also managed a touch over five hundred words last night, too, but also more important, I figured out just how many people I’ve got for next year–

At my school you do need a scorecard.

At my school you do need a scorecard.

In figuring out the attendance for this school year I took the number from the year before, figure out who didn’t make the cut and who graduated, and checked my above totals with the totals at the bottom.  Believe it or not, this consumed about an hour of my time, because I kept forgetting that people had graduated and my numbers weren’t matching.  Really driving me nuts.

But this covered a couple of days of stuff–and, you know, things–and not only that, but we get the see the kids being, well, kinda kids.  Not only that, but if you look at my notes above, you’ll see they’re no longer alone . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Tuesday morning found them sitting in the hotel restaurant, having breakfast and discussing their itinerary for the day. They were going over the route they would take to their first destination when Annie felt the presence of others standing close behind. They turned and were asked by two girls if they were really going to the Olympic Stadium—

That was how they met Penelope Rigman and Alexandria Chorney, who preferred to be known as Penny and Alex.

They were covenmates, C Levels students who they both knew by reputation due to their presence on the coven’s Racing B Team. Annie and Kerry had only encountered them in limited fashion when they’d helped out on occasions as Vicky’s minions during Beginning Flight class. The rest of the time they were in their own classes and resided on the second floor, where the B and C Levels were housed.

Penny lived outside Canterbury, England. While her parents were born in the UK, both sides of her family were from Barbados, and on the train ride out to the stadium she joked that her father’s family knew Rihanna’s family. She was slightly distressed because over the summer she’d experienced a growth spurt, and she’d went from one hundred fifty-seven to one hundred sixty-seven centimeters, and she was worried this was going to affect her performance on the track. Annie, who stood one hundred fifty-five centimeters—the same as Kerry—wondered if she would ever be that tall; given that both her parents were close to one hundred and eighty centimeters, it was highly possible.

Alex hailed from Dubno, Ukraine, and her family lineage covered most of the old Soviet Empire, with grandparents from Russia, Estonia, and Kazakhstan, and her father from Azerbaijan. She said the greatest mystery in her family was not how the members of her family came together, but how she was the only one with blond hair. She had an growing interest in sorcery, and in a moment when they were alone while touring the Olympic grounds, she asked Annie if she could find a moment now and then to give her some tutoring, as it had been common knowledge among the B Levels of the coven about her skills. This was the first time Annie was aware that anyone in the coven had taken notice of her skills with sorcery, and that it had been a subject of conversation with some of the upper covenmates. Until that point she figured all anyone in the coven knew was that Kerry and she were the Lovey-Dovey Couple and the Mile High Kissers.

"Ukranian girl with blond hairs?  Does she have pet scorpion?"

“Ukrainian girl with blond hairs? Does she have pet scorpion?”

Sorry, you have her confused with another blond Ukrainian.

Penny and Alex are going to be recurring characters through the next few novels, and seeing as how they’ll be sharing a floor with Annie and Kerry–the B and C Levels are on the same floor, as pointed out above–they’ll pop in here and there, mostly over there if you must know.  Also, notice:  more girls for Kerry to make friends.  I’m sure his mother will be pleased.

In my notes you’ll see the Imperial measurements for the kids as well, and you’ll notice that Annie and Kerry are, well, short.  Don’t worry, that’s gonna change over the course of this novel and the next, but they’re still twelve, though in just a month Annie becomes a teenager and all hell will likely break loose because hormones, I guess.  Will it become an issue?  Hard to say, but if they have any more shared dreams like their last one at the Mystery Hotel, Coraline might just have to sit their butts down and have another chat with them.

So what did this Gang of Four do?  Well . . .

 

They visited the Olympic Stadium and grounds; they took a cab to nearby Spandau and visited the citadel before having lunch. The took the train back towards the city and spent time at Schloss Charlottenburg, before heading over the the eastern section of the city and visiting the DDR Museum. They returned to the hotel after their visit to the two hundred and three meter high observation gallery at the Berliner Fernsehturm, mostly due to Annie telling their traveling companions Kerry and she were going to dinner that night, and they needed a nap and a chance to clean up before then.

It wasn’t until she was in the hotel car with Kerry that she told him they were returning to the Fernsehturm and the revolving restaurant the floor above the observation deck they’d visited that afternoon. It was there, for most of the evening, they dined and chatted alone for the first time since breakfast. Annie admitted that as much as she’d enjoyed hanging out with the two girls, it was quiet moments like this the cherished, and she couldn’t wait until the time they could be together all the time. Kerry agreed, and as the western section of the city came into view, they clicked their glasses of soda together in a toast to their future.

 

All these people sitting in what I presume is a somewhat nice place to eat, and here you have a couple of kids strolling past the queue and being escorted to a window table–’cause you can bet Annie used either Foundation or family connections to get a good reservation–and spending the evening eating and enjoying their company . . . really, it’s a romantic scene.

Yeah, I'd say really romantic.

Yeah, I’d say real romantic.

But now what about going home?  I got that covered, too:

 

Wednesday would prove to be a crazy day, for they would stay in Berlin until that evening, then leave the hotel near twenty-three hours for what Penny, Alex, and several other returning students, called the Midnight Mile High Madness. While they picnicked in the Grunewald forest they discussed the trip home: since they were leaving the city near midnight and returning to the school not long after two in the morning, nearly all the students dressed in their night clothes for the ride to the airport and the flight home. As Penny explained, since they were going to have everyone get on Salem time during the flight—or to use her phrase: “We adjust on the bus”—and everyone was going to be super tired by their time they reached their towers, what was the point of changing? “Best to get comfy in your PJs and make a party of the trip while we can.”

Annie and Kerry both saw the wisdom in that point of view, and saw no reason not to join in the festivities. After all, they’d looked forward to this event all summer, so they reasoned—why not make it memorable?

 

Adjust on the Bus:  truer words one can’t live by.  And as I point out . . .

 

The festivities began a little after twenty-two hours as the returning European, African, and Western Asian students gathered in the lobby with the luggage in tow. All were in their pajamas save for Shadha Kanaan—who was from Oman—who wore an abaya instead. Annie and Kerry mingled with students that had already made this trip with them. Mesha and Gavino, and Jacira were there representing Europe, as were Shauntia and Daudi, representing Africa. The trio of Western Asian girls–Shadha, Elisha, and Dariga—hung out together while making sure to chat with everyone else. Joining them were eight new C Level, and two D Levels who’d decided to fly back with everyone else because they didn’t want to spend the night and tomorrow morning in Berlin before jaunting back to the school.

The last student to come down before the instructor chaperons was Anna Laskar: as she lived in Magdeburg, Germany, the didn’t arrive at the hotel until late Tuesday afternoon, and appeared to remain in her room when she wasn’t with her Åsgårdsreia covenmates. Though she spoke with the other students, she left one with the impression that she guarded every word that left her mouth.

 

You can just imagine the stares from other people with twenty-one kids from various places around the world gathering in one spot, and being all chatty and stuff and looking like they’re enjoy all the late night activities–with no one else any the wiser that more than a few of these kids could probably blow up the lobby of the hotel with the wave of their hand.  And none of the other students know about what went on during that little side trip my kids took to Middle America back in April, which would probably have even the D Levels keeping their distance if they were aware.

But that doesn’t keep anyone from enjoying the trip out . . .

 

At twenty-two thirty Professors Semplen and Grünbach appeared—not wearing pajamas—and began marshaling the twenty-one students and their gear onto the bus that would take them to the airport. Unlike when they departed from Amsterdam, the mood aboard the bus was festive, with plenty of talking and laughing. Kerry had Annie program a short selection of songs to play on his tablet, and as they bus pulled away from the Crowne Plaza the instructors anticipated what was coming: they threw up a privacy screen between them and the students as the first notes of Aracde Fire’s Keep the Car Running filled the compartment. Everyone did their best singing, and even Kerry, who didn’t know the song, joined in on the chorus while hugging Annie tight.

Unlike the year before the bus drove onto the airport tarmac and pulled up close to a 767 parked near Tegel’s Terminal C. By this time everyone was eager to board and get underway, and it was difficult for everyone to keep their exuberance in check. Boarding went smoothly, and Annie and Kerry pretended to carry their luggage up the gangway stairs, using simple levitation spells to make it look as if they were lifting the bags from stair to stair.

 

And in case you were wondering what they were listening to as they pulled away from the hotel . . .

I don’t disappoint.

The important moment to take from this short scene is not the party atmosphere of the kids taking the bus to the airport, it’s that Kerry let Annie use his computer.  He didn’t let that sucker out of his sight in the first novel, but here he is, handing it over and letting Annie set up a music stream for everyone to jam out on as they head for their new ride.  May as well break out the engagement rings now, kids.

They get to the plane–a 767, like the one they took back to Europe after they finished their A Levels–and they sit up front like last time as well.  As they’re getting settled Annie makes an observation:

 

“I hope we’ll get this to ourselves, like the last time.” She sat and got comfortable as Kerry did the same to her right. “Did you notice the moon tonight?”

“Yeah—it’s almost full.”

“Just like when we came home.” She placed her hand in Kerry’s as the memory of gazing upon the nearly-full moon through the bay window of their room at the Sea Sprite Inn was one that wouldn’t leave either child. “I think it has an auspicious meaning.”

“I’m sure Deanna would say as much.” Kerry wondered what the school Seer would say about this coincidence, but decided now was not the time to get into that discussion.

 

Really, it’s just the luck of orbital mechanics, but the fact they returned from school on a near full moon, and now their going back on one–well, Deanna might think there’s a meaning behind that, or maybe she’d say, “Hey, moon goes ’round, kids.  That’s all it is.”  Maybe.  Maybe not.  We’ll see, I guess.

I got them around the city, I got them out so they could enjoy time together, and now they’re back on the plane.  Let’s just play the whole final section out . . .

 

They didn’t need to wait long. About ten minutes after they found their seats they heard the outside door close and lock. Less than a minute passed before the flight captain’s voice floated through the cabin. “This is your captain. The gangway has been pushed back and the main cabin door has been shut. We’ll get a push back here momentarily and should be rolling out shortly after that. Tegel Flight Control has given us priority takeoff clearance, so we should be airborne shortly. Please fasten your seat belts, sit back, and enjoy the flight.”

Kerry gave the cabin a quick examination, as if to ensure that they were the only ones here. “They aren’t wasting any time getting underway.”

“They have nothing to hide now.” Annie set her empty glass aside for the attendant to gather. “Everyone knows what awaits at the end of the flight.” She shrugged and smiled. “Why pretend?”

“True that.” The engines started up and the plane began moving slowly forward as the attendant gathered their glasses and locked the closet door where they’d stored their luggage. Kerry set his hand upon the armrest between Annie and his chairs and held her hand in his, the same as they’d done on their last flight today, and as they had when they’d departed Amsterdam on their first flight to Salem. He remembered how nervous he’d been about the flight, because flying upped his anxiety levels and made it difficult for him to relax. During takeoff from Schiphol Airport he’d reached out and held Annie’s hand more out of nervousness than affection, because of an unnatural fear of crashing. If only I’d known then what I know now. He smiled at his sweetie as he gave her hand a tender squeeze. No way would we have crashed on that flight, nor will it happen this time, either

The captain spoke to the main cabins again. “This is the captain. We are next in line for takeoff. Will all attendants please take their positions and prepare for departure. Thank you.”

Annie and Kerry sat in silence as the engines maintained the same low drone while the plane turned left, straightened, and slowed to a stop. A few seconds later the pitch of the engines dropped away to almost nothing—

Kerry knew this moment perfectly. “Here we go.” Annie held his hand tightly as the engines were throttled wide open and they began hurtling down the runway. The plane shook and vibrated as it picked up speed:  twenty seconds later the nose rose and the 767 lifted into the air.

Turning to his left as soon as the landing gear retracted and locked into place, Kerry looked out the windows to the bright lights of Berlin beyond. “Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin.” He waved with his free hand. “It was fun.”

Annie waved with her left hand, saying her goodbyes with far less formal German. “Tschau, Berlin.” She turned to Kerry. “And it was fun. The most fun I’ve had there.”

He leaned over and kissed Annie’s cheek. “I hope we can do it again.”

“We will: I promise.”

Kerry didn’t take his eyes off his soul mate. “This is it, Sweetie: we’re going home.”

Annie felt something beyond words radiate from deep within her heart, for after the discussion in their last dream she knew the true meaning of his statement. “Yes, my love—” She settled against Kerry’s shoulder. “We’re going home.”

 

That's it, Kids.  Next stop:  home.

That’s it, Kids. Next stop: home.

Next scene they should be at school–

Really . . . don’t you know me by now?