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Return to the Valley of Ashes

Yeah, so, the Planet of the Apes series is a good one to rip-off for titles, and that’s what I’m doing here.  Which means, if you’re paying attention, there will be other posts like this to follow.  Because series, oh yeah.  Hey, maybe I should do that with this novel . . . oh, wait–

Last night the computer was better, but I was being bothered by some wanker trying to catfish me into believing he was some guy from Kansas City.  Ha ha!  One, you’ve seen my maps:  I know my way around the world.  And, two:  Kansas City?  I wrote about a fight there.  Bye, Felicia!  You just wasted a bunch of my time.

Still, I wrote seven hundred thirty words on top of being able to look up stuff along the way.  So a much better time of things on the writing side, which makes for a happy lady writer.

And speaking of writing, let’s see what my kids are up to now.

 

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

They walked slowly down the Avenue of Commerce, one of the former walkway of the 1964 World’s Fair, now just another wide path leading to Universe Court and the Pool of Industry. Kerry took in everything, trying to imagine what this area looked like almost fifty years before. “I don’t think my mom was even alive when the fair was here.”

“My mom wasn’t, I know that: she’s just turned thirty-nine.” Emma stated down the lane towards three people in the distance. “Aren’t we gonna look a little out of place here?”

“In New York City?” He snorted. “Naw, they’ll just think we’re school kids staying away from the shopping centers.”

She chuckled. “Guess that’s why we’re out on Black Friday.”

“Probably.” During the pilot’s briefing Vicky had explained that sending her class out on the day after Thanksgiving—the infamous “Black Friday” shopping day throughout America—would likely make it easier for everyone to touch down at one or two locations and not worry about drawing too much notice. Kerry saw that was true here: while the park wasn’t completely empty, he would have expected there to be a lot more people here on a normal Friday close to noon. Everyone’s off buying stuff; they haven’t got time to notice a couple of kids dressed like they’re getting ready to take off from LaGuardia in a DC-3.

 

LaGuardia, by the way, is just down the road from where my kids are.  Back when I used to watch baseball, whenever Chicago would play the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, you could hear planes taking off every so often as they were right under the flight path.

But now you know the date:  it’s Black Friday, 2012, which means it’s 23 November, just a week and a half after Annie’s fight–I’m really gonna need to start putting these dates in the novel chapters.  And now you know something else about Emma:  the age of her mother.  We also know Kerry’s mother wasn’t alive in 1964–or so he believes.  Is he right?

You should have known I'd have a list somewhere.

You should have known I’d have a list somewhere.

Yes, this was created before the first novel, so I’d have a reference for ages.  Now that it’s 2012 I should update this, right?  And if you want something a little freaky, Kerry’s “I had the sex talk” argument with his family happened the day after his mother turned forty-one, so she likely wasn’t in the best of moods when they got into things.  Then again, when it comes to her strange son–who she thinks may or may not have a girlfriend–her mood is usually set at one level.

Now that we have that crap out of the way . . .

 

Emma stopped and turned to her left, gazing across the huge, still Pool of Industry. “Too bad that thing isn’t here—” She turned completely around and pointed at the the reason they were here. “We should have landed closer.”

“That was your call—pilot.” Kerry smiled and tapped her on the shoulder. “It ain’t that far to walk.”

“Naw, it isn’t.” She stuffed her hands into the jacket’s pockets. “What’s this thing called again?”

“The Unisphere.” They began walking at a leisurely pace down the Herbert Hover Promenade. “It sits where the Perisphere was located during the 1939 World’s Fair.” He gave Emma a slight grin. “You’ve seen it before—”

“I have?”

“Yeah.” Kerry mimed holding something large in both hands. “Step away from your busted ass vehicle and put your hands on your head.”

 

See?  I told you he’d say it.  Did Harry Potter ever quote Will Smith?  Ah, hell no!  None of those kids ever did stuff like that because it seems like witches and wizards–even the one’s from non-witching families–ever watched the telly or went to movies.  Or listened to music.  I’m sure Ron’s dad is all like, “What’s a tablet?  Those are from Egypt, right?”  Le sigh . . .

Anyway, Kerry’s a fan of, at least, the first Men in Black movie, and has probably even read the original comic by Lowell Cunningham on the down low, because those suckers are hard to find.  These days he can probably buy mint condition issues right outta The Foundation Pond and read them in his room whenever he likes, or whenever he’s not putting on another public display of affection with his Bulgarian Buttercup.

Did he impress Emma with his knowledge?  Er . . .

 

She rolled her eyes. “Oh, jeez—yeah. That was here?”

“Yeah. With a little help from special effects.”

“Of course.” Emma shook her head. “How do you know all this stuff?”

 

So, not impressed.  At least Annie would have smiled, Emma.  You got a way to go if you wanna be a Soul Mate stealing girl . . .

What’s Kerry’s comeback?

 

“I’m the navigator on this scavenger flight.” He tugged on his open jacket lapels. “It’s my job to know this stuff.” He stared into the tree line to his left, wondering if it was due to his knowing a lot of strange fact that he was now nearly three hundred and fifty kilometers from the school . . .

Today was the famous Black Friday Scavenger Flight, when the wing teams of Advance Flight One were given a list of landmarks to locate, required to plot a course to each of them, and then set out on the day after American Thanksgiving to return with photographic evidence that they’d reached each location. It didn’t matter that the flight data from each Class 1 PAV would end up downloaded and examined: Vicky enjoyed having the teams show their photos in the very next class.

The flight teams gathered for a breakfast at seven, set up in the Dining Hall away from the rest of the students. They were given sealed packages that contained a lists of the sites each team would visit, and the teams were then to return to the Flight School and spend an hour developing their flight plans. The plans were then submitted and the flight were expected to be airborne by nine.

Kerry had no idea what lists of landmarks the other teams received, but he was greatly surprised by the Emma and he received. With the exception of the first landmark—the former site of the Danvers Asylum, where now stood apartments and was only twenty-eight kilometers from the school—all of theirs were located far on the other side of Boston, and just more than half were located in states other than Massachusetts. There were nine landmarks on their visit: their current location—the Unisphere, located on the former site of the 1964 World’s Fair in the Queens, New York City—was the sixth, and Kerry expected this would be the one place for the gathering of excellent photographic evidence.

 

So now you know what all this flying around is for:  it’s the Black Friday Scavenger Flight.  That explains that huge map that popped up yesterday showing the route Emma and Kerry were on, and now, it would seem, they are about two-thirds of the way through their list.  And the first item on their list is exactly where Kerry said it is–

Because maps, yo.

Because maps, yo.

Danvers Asylum was actually known as the Danvers State Hospital, thought most people at the time knew of it as The Danvers State Insane Asylum.  It opened in 1878, and it wasn’t the place you wanted to get sent if you had “problems”, because when you think about horrible mental hospitals where patients are neglected and more or less tortured by sadistic orderlies and doctors, Danvers was the poster child for that shit.  The place was designed to house four hundred and fifty patients:  usually there were about two thousand there, and in 1939 the population was two thousand, three hundred and sixty.  That was also the year two hundred and seventy-eight patients died, because, well, yeah, evil place.  Oh, yeah:  it was also where, supposedly, the lobotomy was invented.

Totally evil.

Just look at the place.  Totally evil, I tell you.

The joint is believed to have served as the inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanatorium, which appeared in the story The Thing on the Doorstep was mentioned in the stories Pickman’s Model and The Shadow over Innsmouth.  And if we want to trip down the rabbit hole just a little deeper, Arkham Sanatorium served as the inspiration for Arkham Asylum, the place outside Gotham City where Batman dumps all the insane criminals who seem to come and go as they please while those arrested for lesser crimes are executed–no, really.  Tough place, Gotham.

What happened to it?  Cuts to the state budget eventually led to the closure of the hospital, and for a long time it remained abandoned, which meant it was the perfect place for people to go looking for ghosts–

Just the place to take a witch for a late-night renduvous.

Just the place to take a witch for a late-night rendezvous.

But it was demolished and turned into, as Kerry said, apartments–

"Look, honey:  we can get a two-bedroom right over the location where they used to stave people to death."

“Look, honey: we can get a two-bedroom right over the location where they used to stave people to death.”

And if you believe that living here wouldn’t be the best of ideas, look up some reviews for Halstead Danvers Apartments and read the reviews; it’s just about what you’d expect from living on a site that’s just one step removed from camping out in a cemetery.

And one last bit of trivia.  Before the town became known as Danvers, it went by another name:  Salem Village.  You’re welcome.

Come for the overpriced living, stay for the insanity.

Come for the overpriced living, stay for the insanity.

Actually, the town of Gloucester, which is just to the south of the school, was the original location of the town that eventually became Salem.  The settlement began in 1623, but was abandoned three years later because of the harsh environment.  Say, you don’t think any witches has something to do with that, do you?

I’m going to be on the road today, but I should be back this evening to answer your probing questions, and maybe get a little more writing in.  ‘Cause, with Emma alone in New York City with Kerry, something’s bound to happen–

Right?

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24 thoughts on “Return to the Valley of Ashes

  1. They’re in a row of apartments that was originally an asylum for the insane. I suppose there are empty apartments there, so why not ? Emma can just say, let’s experience staying overnight in one where there maybe ghosts. I’m sure Kerry will readily agree .

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