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Grasping Beyond the Gaspé

This has been one crazy morning.  So much has happened:  tax calculations, writing, coffee, writing, listening to music, writing, getting dressed and going to the post office, writing . .

If you haven’t figured it out, there’s been a lot of writing.  In fact, last night and this morning have proven to be the most productive session I’ve had in a long time.  How much?  Eleven hundred and twenty-three last night, and one thousand, nine hundred, and twenty-two this morning.  And believe it or not, I haven’t finished the scene:  it’s still going, though I’m much closer to the end than the beginning.  And I may finish that up tonight–it’s hard to say.  This is how it is when you hit a writing groove.  And keeping Eminem’s Go To Sleep on repeat helps keep the juice going as well.

A huge chunk of last night’s scene had to do with the camp breaking down and heading out into the cold gray overcast yonder.  And believe it or not, this scene has become one of the most heavily researched scenes I’ve done since sending my kids off to Kansas City.  I mean, I’ve looked at tents, sleeping bags, cots, backpacks, what to wear as arctic gear, mapping the route, checking the historical weather for the area at the time . . . and lastly, it came to me a couple of days a good that I had no idea what the wind chill, but that’s because I wasn’t sure how fast my kids were averaging on their flights.

Which is why my notes now look like this:

 

Camp Baxter to Fish River Lake to Allagash to north shore Beau Lake (US side): Team Zanzibar 139.5 km 27 F/-3 C, overcast, flight wind chill 3 F/-16 C, 07:00 start, 130 kph/65 minutes, 08:05 end

Rest 08:05 to 08:30

 

Yeah, that’s how I roll:  like a crazy bitch who has to know everything.  But as you’ll see nearly all of this came into play in the scene.  Let’s head back to what I’d like to wake up, get going, and then break camp–

 

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

Wake up came at five and the students found something waiting for them far different than their normal mornings in the towers. There weren’t any showers and the toilets were outside, in the cold, behind privacy curtains. They also had to dress in cold, cramped quarters, which led to a lot of issues and grumbling. Vicky expected this: a majority of the students had never camped out, and picking early winter for their first time out made the kids far more uncomfortable than normal.

Rivânia and Nadine began setting up the fires while it was still dark, and unlike when they were setting up camp, they accepted Kerry’s help in getting them going. In less than a minute they had eight fires warming the camp, for unlike normal camp fires these floats mere centimeters off the ground and didn’t require normal fuel to burn.

Vicky kept a close eye on the teams when it came to preparing breakfast. She’d pressed home the concept of division of labor when it came to camp set up, cooking, cleaning, and camp take down. She was pleased to see most of the groups did just as she’d taught, and she hoped that in their future expeditions would see this lesson continue.

She pushed them hard to eat, clean, and began tearing down and packing, for she wanted everyone ready to go brooms up at seven. There was a bottleneck getting the backpacks filled as Vicky and Erywin needed to help Rivânia and Nadine with their Compress spells. When she saw Kerry started to craft Compress on Emma and his gear she wondered if she should say something, but when she saw Nadine warn her off by shaking her head, she knew there wasn’t any need to worry.

They left Camp Baxter on-time and headed north with Team Zanzibar leading the flight. This was her plan for the day: various teams would get the opportunity to direct the whole flight to preselected locations. The only rules here was that each time had to figure out their course ahead of time and determine best speed to reach their objectives. It was also necessary for them to figure out how long it would take to reach objective, so when the lead team told Vicky they’d arrived, she could use her flight systems to determine if they were indeed where they were supposed to be, or if the lead flight had missed the mark.

 

You see Team Zanzibar’s flight schedule above, and you can follow it on the map I set out the other day.  I won’t bore you with everything, but here’s what they might see if they were on the ground–

Here’s the point close to Allagash, Maine, where they would turn north and head north to Beau Lake:

At least it's blue sky in this picture, and not cold, slate gray like they'll see.

At least it’s blue sky in this picture, and not cold, slate gray like they’ll see.

Then we hand off to the next team:

 

Beau Lake to Pohenegamook, Quebec, to north short Lac Pohenegamook to Aeroport de Rimouski: Team Picante 153.15 km * 32 F/0 C, wind 16 kph, light snow, flight wind chill 11 F/-11 C, 08:30 start, 125 kph/75 minutes, 09:45 end

Rest 09:45 to 10:10

 

They are the first team to lead the group into Canada, and therefore they’re crossing from one country to another–

And they're going right up that shore there.  Did you bring your passports, eh?

And they’re going right up that shore there. Did you bring your passports, eh?

Team Picante (and this word is Spanish for spicy, meant to reflect the foods one might find in the countries of the team members) runs into a little trouble, as well as something else–

 

They were only ten minutes along on their way to their next objective, the airport outside Rimouski, Quebec, when they ran into something Vicki expected to find before the morning was over: snow. The temperatures were actually three degrees warmer than what they’d flow through in Maine, but the snow and overcast skies lowered nearly everyone’s spirits. By the time they landed in a small plot of woods outside Rimouski, most of her students seemed miserably and grumpy.

 

Snow!  Wonderful Snow!  You knew it was going to happen eventually, and while the students have flow in snow before, they’ve only done it on marked paths inside the school walls.  And being out in a lot of it, in the air, and flying fast has freaked a few people out.  And now we’re going to throw another level of crazy on top of that:

 

She ordered a short rest and put Team Sulaco on the next leg. Mesha and Daudi were another pair of great fliers, and her instructions to them were to fly fast and stay focused. They didn’t disappoint: they went brooms up at ten-ten and crossed a sixty kilometer stretch of the St. Lawrence River in ten minutes. This was the first time the students had flown over any large body of water, and Vicky and Erywin were on a private channel mentioning the students who seemed uneasy flying over deep water through snow-filled air at three hundred kilometers and hour.

 

Sixty clicks is thirty-seven miles, and that’s a pretty good chunk of water to cross.  Up around that part of the river there aren’t any bridges, not only because of the width but the depth:  around that area it can be over a hundred meters deep, and that’s usually a lot deeper than set up piers for the bridges.

So first they streak north:

Get ready to say hello to The Great White North.

Get ready to say hello to The Great White North.

Then they hit the north shore, fly east for a while, and head back south:

Kinda like this only with more snow.

Kinda like this only with more snow.

Only this time they travel about one hundred kilometers over the river.

Which at this point sort of does look like the ocean.

Which at this point sort of does look like the ocean.

And after a rest we find out why she’s upset with some pissy little witches:

 

She picked Team Manga for the next leg, and this left her slightly concerned because Franky and Jiro, while good fliers, weren’t her best. However, they wouldn’t become better if they didn’t give them the opportunities to improve. This was that chance: if they performed this leg correctly they would leave Quebec behind and move on to their next Canadian province.

First they have to leave the Gaspé Peninsula behind.

The doubt that Franky and Jiro were not going to do as well as Vicky hoped came as they were departing as Jiro called out a different departure speed than he’d given during the preflight briefing. Vicky corrected him, and he returned a curt acknowledgment that she was correct. The temperature and weather conditions remained the same from the last two legs, and she heard Franky bitching to Jiro about how they should have taken a longer break due to the cold. Vicky rolled her eyes at Erywin, who was also listening in on the conversation, and she shook her head in disbelief.

The probably came as they approached the town of Murdochville, one of the only towns found in the interior of the Gaspé Peninsula. As they approached the sky resort on the east side of town the flight slowed enough for Vicky to get a position fix and to get visual proof that they did reach their checkpoint. She expected a nearly forty degree course change to the left towards their next objective, Fontenelle, but instead, Team Manga adjust their course nearly forty degrees to the right and southward and began to gather speed—

Three kilometers into their new course Emma and Kerry used the group channel to tell everyone that they were going the wrong way.

 

Just want you want to hear–those two telling you you’re doing it wrong.  “Hey, missed a turn!”  And Kerry’s probably made a few off-hand comments about how Annie psudo-kicked his girlfriend Lisa’s ass–though it’s hard to say if they’re really dating or, you know, just DTF like Lisa once said.

Things go from bad to ugly:

 

She was aware there wasn’t any love lost between the two teams. Vicky was aware of some animosity between Franky and Kerry, and Jiro and Emma had clashed on a couple of past occasions when she openly corrected Jiro’s flight calculations. Vicky was about to admonish Emma and Kerry privately for calling out the lead team when Franky chose that moment to remind them to shut up, that they knew what they were doing—

That’s when Vicky stepped in, and it became clearly obvious they didn’t know what they were doing. She brought the team to a halt in mid-air ask asked to see their course layout, and Franky—who was his team’s navigator—immediately because defensive and reiterated that they were on the correct heading. This back and forth went on for almost another thirty seconds before Vicky lost her temper and told Franky to show her their flight plan or she was going to jaunt him and Jiro back to the school and leave them locked in her office until she returned to the school with the rest of the flight.

The relented and she saw that instead of heading for Fontenelle they were heading due south to Bonaventure before turning southeast towards the next checkpoint. The total distance covered would have become slightly shorter, but she instantly saw the biggest difference in this different route, and the more she analyzed their flight plan, the more furious she became because it was apparently this wasn’t a simple navigation error, not when they’d mentioned Fontenelle and Gaspé during their flight briefing . . .

She ordered a new heading and told them to get moving. When Franky began complaining that he’d been unfairly singled out for a simple navigation error, Vicky shot a warning finger his way and told him to shut up or she was going to knock him on his ass the moment they landed. Though all the students knew Vicky wasn’t as inclined to physical violence as some instructors at Salem, they were also aware that she didn’t suffer fools, and few wanted to test her wrath.

 

Vicky does have a bit of a temper, but you really gotta push her buttons before it shows.  Franky somehow seems to know where those buttons are, and got her pissed.  So they leave Murdochville–

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

Take a rest outside Fontenelle, and then she hands the flight over to Team Azso, who flies them almost three hundred and forty kilometers to Prince Edward Island, which means traveling over one hundred and seventy-five kilometers of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is the same as sailing over the ocean.

Coming into PEI from over the Ocean, yo.

Coming in to PEI from over the Ocean, yo.

And we go back to where we were, with Vicky and Erywin off their brooms and stretch, and Erywin handing Vicky a mug of hot chocolate before they chat some more on how Franky is on the shit list bad, how B Levels are kinda moody anyway because they have figured out that even though they’re special people, they’re still in school, and talk about their families a little–mostly Vicky’s family, who the reader learns her parents found out about Vicky being a witch before she left her A Levels.

And then this happens:

 

Erywin broke into laughter. “Touché.” Her expression turned serious as she looked off away from the rest of the children. “Here now, what’s all this?”

“What?” Vicky followed Erywin’s gaze and saw Emma and Kerry standing about ten meters away from the rest of the group and appearing ready to mount their brooms. “What they hell are they doing?”

“Maybe we should find out.” Erywin began walking towards them with Vicky soon matching her stride. She called out as soon as they were a few meters away. “Oi, you lot.”

Kerry spun around and grinned. “Oi, you. What’s up?”

Vicky nodded towards the hovering brooms. “I was about to ask you two the same.”

 

Where are they going?  Hum . . . flying, perhaps?  Maybe I’ll get around to writing that tonight–

 

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