A Day At the Races: The Pain Principle

Well the storm is over, and the end total is fourteen inches/forty centimeters of snow dropped on The Burg over a twenty-four hour period.  Some areas around us got more snow, and for a while the Pennsylvania Turnpike was closed because the road was blocked by both snow and cars.  I even read that people hunkered down in the Allegheny Mountain tunnel for the night and part of the day, because there was nowhere to go.

So today is nice and sunny, and the roads are somewhat “clear”, which means I may actually be able to go and get my face zapped today.

Here's the view from my balcony looking north.

Here’s the view from my balcony looking north.


And looking south towards I-83 and the Susquehanna.

And looking south towards I-83 and the Susquehanna.

I didn’t go to the coffee shop today because I didn’t know if how clear the sidewalks would be, and I didn’t want to try walking over slippery sidewalks with my computer on my back.  But I managed a lot of words–a little over eleven hundred and fifty since last night–and things are heating up a bit on the course . . .


All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

For a few seconds Kerry was unable to consider why Emma had raced by so recklessly due to the pain shooting up his thigh. He clenched his jaw and headed off after Emma, because he saw the rest of the back popping out of Twin Peaks and heading toward the switchback. He’d wasn’t sure if Emma tore anything in knee when she crashed into him, but considering it was a nearly identical crash that screwed up his knee the first time, he was pretty sure something was torn again.

The forest and hills closed in over the course as he headed into the section leading to North Climb. He’d not flown for more than a few seconds when Vicky’s voice sounded out in his helmet. “This is Race Control. Warning on course at North Climb: penalty assessed against Number 10, Neilson, for rough racing. Throttle back to one hundred kph for ten seconds and pull to right side of course now.” Kerry pulled to the left to give Emma a wide berth as he sped by the quickly slowing flier. He didn’t glance in her direction during the pass, but it wasn’t necessary: his wingmate was likely pissed. During her ten second penalty she’d cover three hundred meters while everyone else would cover seven to eight hundred meters, dropping her to the back of the pack.

There was good and bad in that. The bad is that she’d have to fight her way through the pack to the front. The good was that she had two hundred and eight kilometers in which to do that, and with everyone bunched up as they were, Emma might find herself back at the front before the end of the first lap. Kerry pulled right through North Climb and continued climbing towards the top of North Ridge. It wasn’t a bad idea for her to find out how much she could get away with early on. He continued pushing upward. It just sucks that she tried that out on my knee . . .

Half way to North Pass two things happened: Nadine and Penny passed him much like he’d passed Manco and Soroushi earlier, and the snow began. As Professor Bashagwani promised it was light, but it was steady, and though it wasn’t enough to cause a problem it was annoying. He’d raced in snow before, but something inside Kerry clenched as he realized that with this weather prediction coming true, the likelihood of racing in a white-out conditions a half a kilometer higher up were good.

Then it was over North Pass and the face dive down three hundred meters of slope to Howe Drop. He fully understood the difficulty of the Katahdan course: once they were into the mountains the elevation chances were constant and extreme, and they were all handled at speeds more comparable with the Green Line. As he reached Howe Drop and zipped over the creek bed he also saw how there were few actual straights; everywhere one found slight bends here and there. Just like with the Red Line it meant the racer needed to keep their attention on the course one hundred percent of the time, and while that was something he’d learned to do racing that course, the longest race on the Red Line covered a total of ninety kilometers—not even one full lap here.

He sighed as he rolled up to Side Cut, turned right and continued up to the summit so he could fly over to East Terrace and Slide—and that was when Rivânia passed him, letting out a whoop as she dropped through the pass.


So Kerry is wondering if he is hurt, and he’s been passed by four people, one of whom had to fall back because she’s racing like an idiot again.  Given that the race is being shown in the Dining Hall on multiple holographic screens, you think there’s a chance that someone saw Emma’s action out on the track and had a bad reaction to that move?

You're gonna make Annie angry; you don't want to do that--

An angry witch at Salem?  Whomever could I mean?

I’ll get to it sometime later, but for now we’re out in the mountains, and we’re getting ready to move on . . .

My first attempt at boring the hell out of you.

So now we leave this behind–

Number 12 is pretty much where Riv Went Whoop and kept going, and now that Section 1 of the course is behind us–

Still with me? Good.

And we move on to Section 2.

And this is where Kerry starts doing stuff–and things . . .


He sailed down from the pass and negotiated the turn thought East Terrace with no difficulty, but as he made the turn towards East Slide Alex and Rezi Lahood from Åsgårdsreia cut inside and passed him with little difficulty. Kerry blinked twice as if he simply couldn’t believe what he’d just seen. “Yn fab i ast.” He didn’t scream out expletives—at least not during races—but this was too much. Am I going that slow? Only one thing to do

He made his way down the mountain to Ford and Wading, then willed his broom to four hundred kilometers an hour as he began the half-kilometer climb to Tip Over. Ahead, maybe two hundred meters away, he saw Alex and Rezi, which mean they were catchable—and if they were catchable, they were passable. He pushed the PAV to over four-fifty and flew into the first truly heavy snow.

Near the top he caught the girls as they were reaching Tip Over. In the thick whiteness they slowed ever so slightly—

Kerry didn’t. He passed them and soared away from the pass. He slammed down hard on the control column, trying to enter the next elevation gate, but his speed was too great and he missed it by a half-meter. The moment he flew through the next one correctly he heard Vicky’s voice. “This is Race Control. Five second penalty assessed against Number 11, Malibey: missed elevation gate.” He ignored the penalty: it was early in the race and he could handle five seconds.


Kerry has shown that he knows how to swear and he can pop off a phase in Welsh now and then.  “Yn fab i ast” is “Son of a bitch!” and he wasn’t happy when he said this.  This led him to push himself, and he ended up with a penalty in the process.  Like with Emma he did it early and he knows he can come back without any trouble  There’s only one problem . . .


What he was afraid he might not be able to handle was the pain in his knee.

As he flew downslope towards Pogy Kerry knew something had torn in his knee from his collision with Emma. Though his legs were held in place by an enchantment in the broom, there was always going to be some flexing due to gee forces brought about by turns and acceleration and deceleration, and those forces were going to work his knees. In his best shape a race on the Blue or Red Lines placed a toll on his body, but the moment one suffered an injury the race conditions did nothing but exacerbate that injury.

Five klicks and forty seconds ahead was the first of a series of hard lefts and rights placed right in the middle of a four hundred meter climb, and Kerry doubted he’d stand the pain the gee forces were going to place on his knee. He felt the twinge of pain as he leveled out in Pory at close to four hundred and fifty kilometers an hour, and this minor pull—maybe a gee and a half—was nothing compared to the two and three gee forces he’d encounter in a few minutes.

Kerry had three choices. The first one involved falling to the back of the pack and running an easy race. He’d score zero points, but he could say he finished. The second choice was to pull up and away from the course and tell Race Control that he was filing as a DNF—Did Not Finish. This way he could return to the Start/Finish line and request a jaunt back to the school and then to the hospital.

He wanted neither of those choices, which left only the third . . .


There you have it:  Kerry’s racing along and in pain, and he’s going to do . . . something.  What is this something?  Well . . .

Tomorrow.  There’s always more tomorrow.