Happy Christmas Eve, or as the old people used to call it, Mōdraniht, which was a night where women were honored and perhaps even had a celebration or two to thank those around them for the consideration they had to push all those little love goblins out of their bellies and into the air. Of course The Church banned it, because it was some old pagan hoohaw that they simply could not abide by, so we hear stories now about how a sacrifice or two were made at night to appease the Matres and Matronae, who were protective female deities.
So if you’re looking to have kids, say something nice to the Matres and Matronae, and who knows what will happen next. Yeah?
Slowly this long scene is starting to take place, and trust me, it is a long scene. But given that I’m averaging about five hundred words a night, it’s taking it’s time getting out.
There were no reasons for writing only six hundred and forty words beyond being tired as all hell and fighting to stay awake after I got home from having dinner. It really was a whole lot of that, and even after I woke up it took a lot of effort to get out of the chair and want to sit and do something.
But I did get up and pen–can you say “pen” if you’re writing into a computer?–Helena’s first real brush, not with death, but with dying. And it’s a good one.
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
She rubbed her hands. “Right: death. You wanted to know, so here you are. I’ve died twice. The first time happened back in June ‘96. I was part of a six-member group on an operation down around Cartagena, looking into rumors that the Deconstructors were using the same rail line as the Mina el Cerrejón to move goods from the north flanks of the Sierra Nevada De Santa Marta to Puerto Bolivar and back. We figured the transports were taking place near the main plant outside Albania, but we weren’t going to find out unless we did a little snooping around.
“I wasn’t in charge of the group; I wasn’t even the second in command. I was just one of the grunts put there to back up the women running the show. She wasn’t that bad, but this was the second major field op she’s commanded, and she acted at times like she had no bloody idea what to do when we were out and about. Needless to say, I wasn’t getting warm feelings in the pit of my stomach when we started venturing out into the wilds of Columbia.
The area Helena is talking about is here:
Mina el Cerrejón are those gray areas in the lower left of the picture, around Albania, Hatonuevo, and Papayal. Those areas are huge open pit coal mines, operating in northeastern Columbia, right on the border with Valenzuela and far away from where most people live. And the straight road that goes north all the way to the ocean? That parallels a private rail line that is used to ship the coal to a huge port at Puerto Bolivar, which happens to be one of the largest ports in all of South America.
I actually researched this while writing. I knew I was going to have her “hit the shite” somewhere in Columbia, and while they started in Cartagena, the ended up getting tagged about half way between that city and the view above.
And she remembers most everything–
“Day three, and we’re roaming about south of Río Ancho, and all day I’ve got the feeling we’re gonna hit the shite hard. I’m telling the leader what I think, but she’s telling me to piss off, ‘cause she feels everything is status quo. After the third warning I decide to go at the problem sideways and start hitting up the second-in-command, but just as about to tell her what I think—bam! Her head explodes, there’s blood all over me. She’s down, fifteen seconds later another member goes down, and it’s on.
“You know how this sort of thing goes, ‘cause you been in a fight like this. Spells are flying everywhere, and it’s us or them. Deconstructors are everywhere, and I take out three in about a minute.
I’m setting up to take out a forth, and suddenly there’s the bright flash . . .” Helena’s demeanor turned wistful as she sat back. “Next thing you know I’ve got lights in my eyes and people looking over me. Found out later that we managed to zap all the bad guys, but one other person got smashed in the process—and some bastard got in behind me and hit me hard enough to get their spell through my shields even though it killed them in the process. He hit me hard with an Electrify, which is why I saw the flash.
“The two survivors scoops up me and the last person killed, and jaunted us off to the regional HQ in Valencia, Venezuela, and got us right into the hospital. They were able to revive the other woman right away, but me?” She shook her head. “I was dead for six minutes, not that I knew. For me I just went from flash to flash: as far as I was concerned no time at all passed.”
Helena swiveled her chair back and forth a couple of time. “That was the first time; really, not that big of a thing. Second time I died . . .” She pressed her face against her fist. “That was a lot different.”
Really? How different?
Just the way Helena’s mood changed up told Kerry that there was definitely a great deal more to this next story. “How so? What were you doing?”
“I was in charge of security for a large meeting of various Foundation supervisors.” She drew in a slow breath as she stared at the surface of her desk. “Things went—bad.”
Kerry kept his tone as soft as possible. “Did Deconstructors attack you?”
“You could say that—” She looked up. “The meeting was in the north tower of the World Trade Center.” Her snort was almost impossible to hear. “You need a date?”
He shook his head. “No.”
Of course Kerry doesn’t need a date, because he instinctively knows where this is going, and so do the readers, because it was just about a year ago–26 December, 2014, actually–that I wrote about how Helena was maimed during the attacks on the WTC. And now, it seems, we’re going to discover that something a lot worse happened to her as well, because she’s here to talk about how she died–
And in talking about death, we’re going to learn a whole lot more.