Polar On ‘Till Next Year

I certainly surprised myself.  Got back into the grind at work, though it wasn’t a lot, but I was accomplished on a few hours of sleep and the whirlwind of the travel to and from the Midwest.  As much as I wanted to stop for a beverage last night, there was no way in hell I could given how tired I felt.  I’ve had been sound asleep at seven PM.

So I got into writing after I at.  And as slow as things seem to go along the way, I never realized that I’d written twelve hundred and forty-five words to finish the scene.  I also didn’t believe this scene would take nearly two thousand words to complete.  Wrong on both accounts.

The idea behind this scene was to actually give people and idea how this oh-so-often discussed event begins.  We know we’re here, but what is really going on?  We’re about to find out, and you’ll see that it’s not too exciting if you’re watching from the sidelines.

 

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

Though there were five teams in Advanced Flight Two only three elected to do the Polar Express this year. As Annie had heard at the same time as Kerry, one of the teams had started to come apart, teamwork-wise, and they’d both told Vicky they believed it best if they didn’t try to brave the wilds of Canada.

The other team was far more straight forward: one member had suffered two concussions from accidents near the end of team racing for 2012, and though the team member was cleared for flying and racing, her partner and she decided that spending a couple of days freezing their butts off wasn’t in their best interest.

Annie, along with Kerry, was there to send off one team in particular—one with whom they’d grown close, and whose members had shared much with Kerry this school year—

The lights in the Dining Hall dropped to about one-quarter illumination so the teams would not have to deal with night blindness when they jaunted into the wilderness. The three teams entered the hall and walked towards friends who’d gathered to see them off. One team approached two people and spoke with them for a few seconds before turning and approaching Annie and Kerry. One of the members hooked her thumbs in the pockets of her winter parka, letting the mittens attached to the sleeves dangle at her sides. “Thanks for coming out, guys.”

“Did you think we were going to let our floor mates leaving without saying goodbye?” Annie shook her head. “Not a chance.”

Penny nodded. “Yeah, well . . .” She chuckled. “I see you dressed up for us.”

Kerry moved closer to Annie. “Sorry, I left my formal wear back in Cardiff.” He switched gaze from Penny to her flying partner, Alex. “You must be pretty excited about now.”

“Not so much because this is the worst part—” Alex bit the inside of her lower lip for a few seconds “Not knowing where we are going, only that wherever we end up it’ll be cold and dark.”

“Canada in wintertime.” Penny tapped Alex on the arm. “Just be glad we don’t have to fly back from Alaska or Russia.”

 

Yeah, they could call this shit the Siberian Express, and then you’d really end up screwed.  Imagine flying out of there in the dead of winter.

It made complete sense that Penny and Alex, who are members of Advanced Flight Two, were going to set off on a tour of Canada during the winter, armed only with camping gear, their brooms, and their wits.  And since their racing mate is on the same floor with them, it makes even more sense that Annie and Kerry would stay up–as did a lot of other students–to see them off.

Now comes the time for goodbyes and hugs–

 

Before Alex could retort Vicky’s voice boomed out over the hall’s magical speakers. “Attention, all teams: departures begin in five minutes. Finish up your goodbyes and see to your equipment.”
Annie reached out and gave Penny a hug. “Have an uneventful flight.”

“Thanks.” Penny closed her eyes and hugged her second floor fried tight. “We’ll do our best.”

Alex slipped in around Penny and hugged Annie. “See you in a couple of days; keep Jairo out of trouble.”

“No promises there—” Annie nodded towards Kerry as she spoke in Ukrainian. “U mene ye sviy lyublyu dyvytysya, vy znayete.”

Alex replied in Bulgarian. “Mozhete da napravite poveche ot tova prosto da gledate, da znaesh.”

Both girls nodded and giggled before Annie switched back to English. “All true.”

 

It’s apparent Annie and Alex have been working on each other’s languages, and they probably can now converse just a little.  And what do they say?  Something like this:

 

Annie:  U mene ye sviy lyublyu dyvytysya, vy znayete.  (I have my own love to watch, you know.)

Alex:  Mozhete da napravite poveche ot tova prosto da gledate, da znaesh.  (You can do more than just watch, you know.)

 

Alex, you cheeky little girl.  These witches move fast, or at least the girls do.  Hormones and maturity, you know, while these boy witches are just so slow . . .

Now that the girls have said goodbye to Annie, there’s on person left:

 

Penny glanced at Annie and waited for a slight nod before giving Kerry a hug. “Keep Annie warm while we’re away.”

“That’s never too hard to do.” He finished his hug and accepted another from Alex. “Try and have fun if you can.”

“When we’re no freezing.” She stepped back when she was finished. “We’ll be here next year to see you off.”

Kerry looked down, touched by the sentiment. “Thanks.”

“Come on—” Penny nodded towards the two boys standing close together. “We don’t have much time.”

“Okay.” Alex waved to her friends. “See you soon.”

“Don’t drink all the hot chocolate while we’re gone.” Penny gave a farewell wave as they hurried over to say goodbye to their boyfriends. Annie and Kerry turned away and moved off a distance to give the couples a little privacy. Annie didn’t want to watch their final words, hugs, and kisses: she was already imagining herself being in the same position a year from now, and it wasn’t making her happy.

Vicky called out a two minute warning and the teams proceeded directly to their equipment. Penny and Alex snapped up their parka hoods and moved their goggles into place before lifting their large backpacks into place. As Vicky called the first team to the circle set out on the section of the floor where Kerry and she shared their Samhain dances, Penny and Alex put on their mittens and picked up their brooms—

“Team Wormwood.” Vicky nodded at the girls before motioning towards the circle. “You’re up.”

Annie held onto Kerry’s arm as the girls moved into place for jaunting. They explained their team name during one Midnight Madness, with Penny telling them that she wanted something that would link Alex and her together, and they went with Wormwood, because of its connection to the drink absinthe, to the creation of natural healing mixtures—and because the Ukrainian word for wormwood was chernobyl. As Penny said, “We can heal, we can make strange things happen, and we can meltdown on you at any moment.”

 

First off, notice that Penny and Alex sought, and received, permission to get huggy with Kerry.  All the girls are in relationships, so they are aware of the code in place:  ask before touching.  They also know Annie’s a sorceress, and they want to head off to Canada without smoke rising from their bodies.

Also, all the stuff about wormwood is true.  You can use it to make healing mixtures, a variety is used to make absinthe, and the Ukrainian word for wormwood is chernobyl.  That last I’ve known about for some time, and the first two were something I discovered last night.

The girls are all geared up and ready to go.  All that remains is the departure.

 

They stood in the circle as Isis confirmed setting up the jaunt with her people in the security station. She finally nodded to girls and held up her hand with her fingers spread, indicating five seconds to go. Alex took Penny’s hand as they hosted their brooms into the air—

They vanished from the circle with the familiar sound of air popping as it rushed in to occupy where they’d stood a second before. It was only when Annie heard Kerry exhale did she realized he’d held his breath in the moments leading up to the girl’s departure. “Are you okay, my love?”

“Yeah, I’m—” He took a deep breath as he wrapped his arm around Annie. “I’m fine, Darling.”

The last team jaunted off, leaving the staff and students lingering in the protracted silence. Annie didn’t want them there any longer than necessary. “I’d say it’s time for bed—agreed?”

Kerry was about to say something when something caught his attention. Annie found the source right away: it was Emma, standing with a group of girls from her coven. She nodded slowly at him, but he didn’t respond except to nod and wave. “Agreed—” He wrapped his left arm around Annie and turned towards the Dining Hall exit. “Time for bed.”

They were nearly half way to their coven before Kerry spoke. “No flying at all tomorrow.” He planted a soft kiss on Annie’s cheek. “We could sleep in if we wanted.”

“And if we were sharing a room, I’d want just that.” She leaned against him as they walked. “I thought you were going to speak with Emma after that last jaunt.”

He rested his head against hers. “I could tell that’s what she wanted.”

“Then why didn’t you?”

Kerry stopped and moved so he was facing his soul mate. “I’ve got a year to talk about the Polar Express with Emma.” He pulled Annie closer and held her tight. “But we have our first Friday and Saturday at school without classes for the first time since like the start of our B Levels, and I want to spend that with you.”

Annie set her arms around her love’s shoulders and kissed him with the cold darkness surrounding them. “I love you entirely too much.”

“I don’t think that’s possible—” He kissed her for almost fifteen seconds before continuing on towards their coven tower. “Give it enough time, and we’ll discover there’ll be lots of room for more love.”

 

Right there Kerry makes his choice, and while he could have had a few minutes with Emma going on about, “Hey, wait until we do this!” and so on, he wanted to head off to bed with Annie instead.  As he says, I have all year to talk with her, but right now I’m with you, and there really couldn’t be anything more true given that he was probably thinking ahead to the next year when he’s probably going to do this same event with the Ginger From Boulder.

So there–

One scene down, several to go.

One scene down, five to go.

And the next three involve our favorite dark witch at Salem–

No, not the small one:  the bigger one.  You’ll see.