And here’s the latest recap from The Snarking Dead for The Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 11, Knots Untied. Enjoy!
And as promised, the scene and chapter are finished, after going through what was probably the biggest day of writing I’ve had in the while. I did a little over eleven hundred in the morning, and a little over eleven hundred at night, which means I wrote two thousand, two hundred, and thirty-three words total on the novel, then took about a thousand words of notes for the TV recap I’m writing up tonight for The Walking Dead . . . and that’s over three thousand if you’re keep track, and I haven’t done three thousand words in a day since NaNoWriMo 2013, ladies and gentlemen.
The chapter is put it way, it’s over, it’s history. And in the process of doing all this, I’ve set up the scene for another long day for my kids. It was left off with Kerry’s dream friend, Carrot Girl, seeming like she wants to come out and play since she’s standing right there in the holographic display where he should be standing. As the kids say today, “What is this sorcery?”, though Helena would give you a good argument that there isn’t any sorcery involved, but that’s another story . . .
Anyhow, being this is transformation related, Erywin turns to the one person in the room who is the expert on transformation for an answer. And she has one–
All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
The instructor stared at the display as dumbfounded as the other two women in the room. “I have no idea why that happened.”
Erywin’s face became a mask of disbelief. “What do you mean? You don’t know?”
“I mean I don’t know.” Jessica held up her hands, motioning towards the display. “I’ve never seen that happen before.”
Coraline was feeling just as surprised as Erywin appeared. When it came to matters of transformation magic there were few in the world better than Jessica, so to say she didn’t understand something that appeared to be transformation related, it was worrisome. “Maybe there’s something particular to him as Mimic that’s doing this? Something buried down in his mind?”
“Mimicking doesn’t work that way.” Jessica turned to Coraline with an exasperated sigh. “When you mimic another person you go from one physical form to another there’s no need for a transitional form. I’ve worked with mimics before: this doesn’t ever happen.”
Deanna clicked her tongue. “Perhaps Kerry doesn’t realize he’s doing this. He is new to this gift, after all.”
“No.” Jessica shook her head. “It doesn’t work that way.”
I may have mentioned this before, maybe not, but the saying of, “Those who can do; those who can’t teach,” does not apply to the instructors at my school. The instructors at Salem are among the best in their field, and in Jessica’s instance there are maybe five other witches who perform at her same level. When she tells you, “It doesn’t work that way,” she’s not saying that because she’s blowing you off: she’s saying that because it’s true. She knows, and don’t try to tell her otherwise.
Erywin is also the best in her field as well, but she’s also smart, and while there’s an argument going on about what’s happening on-screen, she’s got an argument going on in her head . . .
While the other women argued Erywin continued examining the changing boy in the display. Deanna’s right, that does look like the girl he’s describing in his dreams. There was something tickling her memory, however, playing right at the edge of her thoughts. She closed her eyes, trying to concentrate. He transformed into this form while going from csimale to cisfemale—
Jessica’s voice returned: There’s no need for a transitional form.
Erywin took a deep breath. Then why would he do this?
Deanna’s works suddenly struck home: Perhaps Kerry doesn’t realize he’s doing this.
This wasn’t making sense to Erywin. Then if he doesn’t realize he’s doing this, what is the cause?
Once more words came flooding back from her short term memory. A Mimic interfaces their aura with that of another person.
There’s no need for a transitional form.
Perhaps Kerry doesn’t realize he’s doing this.
Her breath quickened. Maybe this happened because he had no control over the process. Maybe it was invol—
She slowly opened her eyes, locking on the holographic image before her.
Erywin pressed her fists against her forehead. “Son of a bitch.” She spun around and faced the surprised women. “That makes sense.”
Coraline found enough mirth in the situation to chuckle. “Is there something you’d like to share with the class?”
She ignored Coraline’s comment and turned to the one person in the room who could likely answer her question. “Deanna, what can Trevor access from the Paris archives?”
Deanna didn’t find it unusual that Erywin was asking this question: everyone in the room was aware that Trevor and her were more than friends, and that she knew a bit about his role as School Librarian and Archivist. Given that, it didn’t seem unlikely that they’d never discussed the huge underground archive The Foundation maintained near the main headquarters in Paris. “He’s mentioned that he can access all but about five percent of the archive.”
“And the other five percent?”
“Well . . . He’s mentioned that four percent of that he can access with a request from either Mathilde or Isis, and the last one percent—” She shook her head. “It requires more security access than we have here.”
Coraline’s curiosity was getting the better of her. “What the hell is in the Paris archives that you suddenly need so badly?”
Erywin slowly faced the doctor and spoke in a cool, measured tone. “I want to see Lucyna Gorczynski’s diaries.”
And that is a name I know you haven’t heard before, because it’s been sitting on my time line for a while and I’m not in a habit of showing you my time lines. But there is a mention for Lucyna Gorczynski there, and now she’s coming out to play. The interesting thing is the other three women in the room appear to know that name, and their reaction isn’t what you’d expect–
Silence fell over the group, appearing shocked at Erywin’s mention of that particular name. Jessica glanced at the monitor then back to Erywin. “You aren’t suggesting—”
“What do you think I’m suggesting?” Erywin pointed at the frozen display behind her. “If you don’t know what that is, then it’s time to start grasping for answers, and based on a few things I’ve heard here, looking there makes fucking sense.” She sighed long and loud. “I remember reading that she turned over the last of her diaries ten years ago, so the entire collection is there. It’s just a question of whether or not we can access them.”
Coraline glanced between Jessica and Erywin. “Why do you think there’s any relevance here?” She motioned to the display. “How is what’s happening there—”
Deanna blurted out a single word in a surprised voice. “Dreams.”
Erywin nodded. “Yeah. It’s been twenty-five years since I read anything on Gorczynski, but there was something there—”
“About dreams.” Deanna quickly nodded. “I remember something when I was doing my dream studies during my D Levels.” She looked from side to side. “There was something about her in a section on dreams as they related to non-visions—”
“Yeah, I remember there were dreams. And something about transitions—” She closed her eyes as she hung her head. “It’s all fuzzy; that’s why I didn’t think of this before.”
Coraline was just as fuzzy on the matter as everyone else, but she knew the name and saw where Erywin was going. “We’ll probably need to get Mathilde involved.”
Erywin grunted. “I don’t doubt that.”
“What are you going to tell The Foundation when you put in the request?”
“That I’m doing research for due diligence on an LGBTAIQ matter.” She turned her gaze upon Coraline. “I don’t have to tell them any more than that.”
“Not until it’s necessary.” Jessica moved closer to the two women. “So we go to Trevor and Mathilde—”
“No, we don’t.” Erywin pointed at her feet. “We bring them here. Here we’re secure and we can speak without being overheard. And if the four of us head to the library and grab Trevor before heading off to the Headmistress, people will see us and begin spreading rumors. No: we don’t allow that to happen.”
Deanna joined the group. “I agree: we’re in a much better place to speak here, and we can show them the video.” She nodded towards the computers. “Trevor can even contact Paris from here: it’s as secure as making the request from either of their offices.”
“We’re going to need Mathilde with us on this anyway.” Jessica glanced over her shoulder at the display. “If this turns out to be true, Paris is going to freak.”
“There’s something we’re forgetting—” Deanna glanced side to side. “If we’re looking for something in Gorczynski’s diaries relating to her dreams, it’ll be difficult to compare them to Kerry’s.”
By “Paris”, Jessica is referring to The Foundation headquarters there, in cased you didn’t pick up on what I was saying throughout that last passage. So whatever is happening could possibly make The Foundation freak out, and that’s something that doesn’t normally happen, ’cause when they freak out as a whole, it’s usually something that’s not good.
There is something else going on here, however, and Deanna’s brought it up for the others to figure out:
Coraline slowly lowered her gaze towards the floor. “Yeah, he’s been reluctant to go into any details—”
“Or unwilling—” She caught the shape look Coraline. “We have to consider the possibility that he’s deliberately obfuscating.”
Erywin set her hands upon her hips. “How do we fix that?”
Deanna leaned her head to one side. “There is a way.”
Jessica picked up on Deanna’s comment first. “Are you certain you want to do that? That we need to do that?”
Coraline avoided looking at the others as she pursed her lips and remembered a promise she’d made to a couple of sleeping children. “I told Annie we’d figure this out and we’d do it fast, ‘cause right now I’m suppressing Kerry’s REM functions, and I can’t do that forever, not without harming him.” She looked at Deanna for a few moments turning to the others. “We may not have a choice except to go with Deanna’s idea . . .”
There you have it: my brain trust has gathered and found something. Chapter Twenty-seven was all set-up.
Now comes the next step: research and a solution. Well, actually, you’ll miss all the research, and the solution actually comes in Chapter Twenty-nine.
Right now, we’re about to watch people get their hands dirty.
So here we are, out and about in The Burg once more, down to the coffee shop for my “writing fuel” as the woman who works her told me. It’s really a beautiful day right now–
And it has added greatly, ’cause in about two hours time I whipped out eleven hundred words to go with the nearly eleven hundred words I wrote yesterday. Things are getting pretty interesting, but I only say that because I have a vested interest in this story, and . . . well, I know what’s going on in this world. Though I should correct that last statement because I’ve made some miniscule changes to the time line, and even added a few events that are going to kinda set the tone for the Summer of ’13 in the next novel. Yes, I’m already thinking ahead. But then I have done that since the start of this project.
Last time we left off with a question for Erywin, and being a nice lady she gave an answer–
All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
“It means nothing.” Erywin brushed a few strands of hair from her face. “I do find it extremely unusual, however, that Kerry said he couldn’t focus on the image of a girl for the purpose of spell crafting. He’s done so many things already that are several levels above what he should be capable of doing that hearing this—” She shook her head. “It’s a bit mind boggling, actually.”
Coraline cocked her head to the side as she raised an eyebrow. “That’s for sure.”
“You said there was video?” While Deanna found Kerry’s predicament puzzling, she wanted to see what other evidence the two coven leaders brought for examination.
“Yes, there’s video.” Jessica turned toward the computer stations. “Sabrina, are you there?”
The voice of the school’s AI to emanate from everywhere. “I’m here, Jessica.”
“Load video AT 19032013 Malibey.” The holographic display came on a few meters from where the women stood showing Kerry dressed in a blueish-black one-piece leotard. “Thank you.”
“What’s with the outfit?” Erywin did poorly at transformation magic as a student, and that prevented her from progressing beyond C Level studies, thereby missing out on the D Level spells involving full-body transformations.
Jessica shot a quick glance at Erywin. “Standard enchanted garment designed to mold to the person’s body no mater what humanoid shape they select. For this class everyone wears them.”
A giggle escaped from Deanna’s lips. “They look like footie pajamas.”
“Having the feet covered keeps the students from standing around barefoot. It’s either that or getting them enchanted slippers that do the same as the garment.”
“I see.” Deanna nodded towards the display. “They don’t hide anything, do they?”
Coraline offered the answer. “Just like healers, transformers can’t afford to be too modest about their, or other’s, bodies.”
“That’s true.” Jessica interlaced her fingers and began tapping her index fingers slowly. “And since they’re trying to swap csi-forms from one end of the binary to the other, this can tell me quickly how well they did.” She turned to the other women. “This was Kerry’s first mimic attempt. He was mimicking Sudarat Chiangmai, who’s from Thailand—” Jessica turned back to the display. “He mimicked her and Kaisa Božic, a D Level from Croatia, without any difficulties.”
“What about the third girl?” Coraline was aware of class composition due to her position as the school’s doctor.
“Jordana wouldn’t agree to being mimicked. She said she found watching Kerry become twins of the other girls ‘disturbing’.” Jessica’s body language indicated she didn’t agree with this particular student’s opinion. “I’m going to have a talk with her tonight—”
“Before that happens—” Erywin pointed at the screen. “Could we see the video?”
Back when Annie and Kerry were starting their marionette gig they wore something similar, but this outfit is a lot more form fitting, and there’s no hood. Based upon Deanna’s and Coraline’s comments, it’s obvious that all the little bits south of the waistline are visible, and like Jessica says, if Kerry’s gonna mimic a girl, she wants to know that he mimicked everything. There ain’t no body modesty in Advanced Transformation, that’s for sure.
Now, about that video . . .
“Certainly.” Jessica stared at the display. “Sabrina, do you have Kerry’s transformation point marked?”
The young-sounding AI replied immediately. “I do.”
“Position the video to ten seconds before the transformation point, please.”
The scene shifted slightly as the video was set to the correct time stamp. “Done.”
The video began. Kerry concentrated while Jessica spoke a few words of encouragement off screen. He took a breath and started straight ahead with great intensity. Without any indication something was about to occur he changed from the red haired boy everyone in the room knew to a shorter girl with a darker complexion and long black hair. The new Kerry then turned to his right and spoke in a voice that was no longer his. “Did I get it right?”
Coraline blew out the last breath she was holding. “Goddamn, he’s fast.”
“Stop.” Jessica turned back to the women in the room. “You don’t know how fast. The other mimics I’ve worked take anywhere from five to ten seconds to complete their transformation.” She pointed at the display. “You can’t even follow him. One second he’s Kerry, the next—” She waved her hand and dropped it to her side. “Someone completely different.”
“What was that thing that happened?” Erywin took a step closer to the frozen display and motioned to her head. “It was like something flashed.”
“That was likely the skin crawl.”
She turned to Jessica. “Skin crawl?”
The transformation instructor nodded. “That’s what we call it when you’re switching from one form to another and things are shifting around. In some cases it looks exactly as if your skin is crawling.”
“I can see that, but—” Erywin turned back to the display. “This looked like something—”
“I’m certain it wasn’t anything important.”
“Would you mind if I look at something?”
Jessica shook he head. “Be my guest.”
Erywin’s a lot like the bulldogs that come from her fair island, and when she sets her mind to something she doesn’t give up easily. And she learned something new: skin crawl. Wouldn’t you like to see someone’s skin moving about as they transform into another person? You’d think they’d do it more like in a movie, where the CGI keeps everything nice and smooth and seamless. I’m sure you’ll get to see that at some point–though back in the first novel when Jessica did her Mystique thing in front of the A Levels her skin didn’t crawl. There’s a reason for that, and you’ll learn it one day.
But right now Erywin’s got her finger on the button and she’s playing with the video. Let’s see what she’s up to, shall we?
“Sabrina.” Erywin took a couple of steps back from the display. “Please reposition the video to three seconds before the transformation point.”
The scene shifted back to Kerry before the transformation. “Done.”
“Set video to run at half speed.”
The video ran forward at half the previous speed, and everyone watched as Kerry approached the point of mimicking and proceeded through the transformation. The moment it was finished Erywin called for Sabrina to stop the playback. She turned to Jessica. “Did you see it that time?”
She nodded slowly. “I saw something, yes.” She appeared thoughtful. “I don’t know why I didn’t see it before.”
“Because you’re used to seeing this stuff all the time. And with Kerry’s transforming so quickly, it’s hard to see what’s happening.” Erywin appeared to consider something for a few seconds.
“Sabrina, please reposition the video to one second before the transformation point.”
Again the display shifted back to Kerry pre-mimicking. “Done.”
“Set video to run at one-eighth speed.”
Erywin took a short breath before giving the order. “Run, please.”
The video crawled forward, the one second interval stretching out to eight seconds. Erywin kept her eyes affixed upon Kerry’s form, waiting for him to start the process of transforming from himself into another person. The process began as his features began shifting, changing—
That’s a pretty hurried stop, Erywin. Do you have something good for us to see?
Kerry’s image froze in place. Erywin slowly moved closer to the display. “Sabrina, center on Kerry’s torso, display from waist up only, expand to fill screen.” As the final instructors were carried out
Erywin stopped and pointed at the transformed boy in the display while turning back to the other three women. “What the hell is that?”
Coraline, Deanna, and Jessica stood silently as they regarded Kerry’s image, which was that of a girl with a pale complexion, green eyes, and long, curly red hair. Deanna was the one to state the obvious. “Based upon what we’ve heard, that’s the girl from Kerry’s dreams.”
Erywin nodded. “Yes, but what the hell is she doing there?” Her arm flopped to her side. “Jessica?”
I believe this is the point in the narrative where I say shit is about to get extremely real . . .
I’m about to head out for brunch, then back to the apartment for a nap. But I think, I really do, that I can finish this scene this afternoon. Because this chapter is nearly done, and it’s time to move on to the next and find out what this crazy transformation stuff has to do with Kerry’s issues.
Yes, this is getting out a little late today, but that’s due to starting on the scene at six AM, writing until nine, getting ready to go out and get my hormones, then stopping to get groceries, and finally getting back here to eat. It’s time consuming, let me tell ya.
At least I managed over a thousand words this morning, and after I’m through with this point I’m gonna sit down and take a nap, and then get back into the scene because I’d really love to finish this chapter tomorrow before I sit down and watch the zombies and do a recap for their shenanigans.
All that said, things start out a little slow here, ’cause it seems we’re missing someone–
All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
“Said she’d be along shortly. She said there was a bit of business she needed to handle and that we could start without her.” Coraline pointed to the lunches. “Do you want to eat first?”
Jessica removed her suit jacket and hung it over a chair. “I’d rather work first and discuss matters while eating, if you don’t mind.”
Coraline suspected this being the case considering the women present. Erywin was well-known for being able to work while eating, and Jessica’s powers of transformation allowed her to consume and digest any meal in a matter of minutes if she so desired. “Okay, then—” She turned towards the lift entrance to see if Deanna had arrived. “Where do you want to start?”
Erywin scratched her chin. “What happened with Kerry?”
“This is what he said—” Coraline explained the little she discovered about his dream before telling her guests what she’d done for both children.
Jessica nodded. “How much longer are they going to be out?”
“I don’t expect them to wake up before fourteen hours. I have an active motion sensor in their bay, and the moment one of them starts moving around or appearing aware, Bianca or Thebe will get the catheters out and order them lunch—”
“Which I expect they’ll need.” Deanna quickly walked into the room. “Sorry I’m late, but you know how coven business gets.” Erywin and Jessica, both coven leaders, nodded in agreement. “Did I miss anything?”
“I told them about what Kerry said last night—”
“Let me guess: he saw that girl in his dream and it scared him.”
“Pretty much. Do you—?”
Deanna shook her head. “I caught the conversation after came up on the lift; I was standing back there waiting to hear it all.” She stepped back and took in everyone. “We need to move on to this information Erywin has.”
“I agree.” Coraline stepped back as she motioned to the other two instructors. “You have the floor.”
Deanna likes to hang back and listen, and we know everyone is caught up on the sleeping beauties two floors down. But there’s information to be had here, and Jessica’s about to lay it on everyone. So, Mistress of Transformation: what gives?
The two women exchanged a glance before Jessica spoke. “Last Tuesday night my Advanced Transformation class performed their gender change spells, which, if you’re not aware, allows a student to change from their current gender—” Erywin loudly cleared her throat. “Sorry: allows them to change their physical cis forms from one of the binary to the other.” She eyed the woman on her left hard. “Better?”
Erywin smiled. “Better. Continue.”
“Erywin came to me a month ago telling me what she was look for, and asked if I’d give her access to the videos of the class. Naturally I complied, but gives this was Ostara week—” She looked at each of her companions. “You know how busy it gets before the weekend.”
“Why do you wait until right before Ostara to do this then?” Coraline raised an eyebrow. “Wouldn’t it be better to wait until after the weekend events are finished?”
Jessica chuckled as she crossed her arms. “Ostara is all about change—and I consider these spells among the ultimate in change.”
“That’s all well and good—” Erywin set her fists on her hips. “But let’s move on.” She turned to Jessica. “Tell them what you told me Friday.”
“A little back ground first.” Jessicas glanced down for a second as she appeared to think for a couple of seconds. “Because Kerry’s a Mimic it’s necessary to teach him all the components of transformation magic before turning him loose. Just because one can mimic it doesn’t mean one can put all the parts together property.”
Deanna raised her right index finger. “I’m a little unsure as to what a Mimic does.”
“A Mimic interfaces their aura with that of another person, and since an aura is a reflection of a person’s physical aspect, they are copying that information to their aura and using it to alter their physical form. That’s why they need to know the specifics of doing a full transformation before they can craft the magic.
“With Kerry it’s been necessary for me to teach him how to craft a full-body transformation before allowing him to mimic someone. He was performing small mimics before entering class, and I readied him for the full mimics over the last couple of class. Two weeks ago he did his first full mimic on the other boy in class, Fekitoa Naitaku. Fekitoa was a good one with whom to start: he’s from Fiji and he’s somewhat bigger than Kerry, so getting the transformation right would require considerable skill.”
Coraline asked the question everyone wanted to hear. “Did he do it?”
“Yes, and with flying colors. He actually did the transformation so fast that a couple of students gasped. However, I first had him perform a full-body cismale transformation, which he also performed marvelously.”
Erywin leaned towards the transformation instructor. “Tell them what you told me.”
Jessica drew a deep breath. “I wanted to do the same this last week and have Kerry attempt a full-body cisfemale transformation before mimicking the girls in the class. And . . .” She released a slight sigh. “He failed.”
I know what you’re thinking: Kerry failed? And you’re not the only ones–
Coraline and Deanna glanced between them before Deanna spoke. “What do you mean ‘he failed’?”
“I mean he was unable to perform the transformation.” Jessica held up her hand to forestall any questions. “By that I mean he couldn’t craft the spell. He wasn’t able to do it at all.”
Coraline’s eyes grew wide. “Not even partially?”
“Not even partially—which is strange because he has performed small csifemale changes before, mostly hands, feet, that sort of thing. When it came to doing a full-body change?” Jessica shook her head. “He told me he couldn’t visualize a girl’s form.”
“Wait.” Deanna held up both hands as if trying to stop something from getting by her. “He couldn’t visualize a girl’s form?”
“That’s what he said.”
“That seems impossible.”
“I agree.” Jessica looked about the room as if she were uncomfortable speaking about this event. “It’s never happened before with him in my class.”
Deanna appeared slightly surprised. “I don’t believe it’s happened to him in any classes. I’ve heard of him having some difficulty at the start of learning a new spell, but—”
“This wasn’t the same thing; he’s shown he can do the transformations on a smaller level.”
Coraline turned to Erywin. “What does that mean to you as far as conducting your due diligence is concerned?”
This is suddenly getting into some strange territory, for saying Kerry was unable to do something that, up to that point, everyone was certain he’d pull off without a problem–it’s troubling. And you’d think by this point in his life, particularly given his current sleeping situation, he’d have no trouble making it happen. But that’s not the case, and suddenly things are going sideway.
Where am I going with this?
Off for a nap, if I must be honest.
It’s time to get into the home stretch of Chapter Twenty-seven, and this is where it begins: back at the hospital and up somewhere I’ve never traveled before. Actually, this chapter has already gone places I’ve never been before–the astral realm–and there won’t be a scene anywhere within this chapter that doesn’t technically go outside of one of the buildings at the school. I say technically because when Deanna crossed from Åsgårdsreia Tower to the Great Hall she had to use the outdoor walkway to get there, but she wasn’t outside: she remained on the plain where it doesn’t rain in Spain.
Now, I’ve written things where the kids remain indoors for the chapter, but those scenes usually involve class. This doesn’t. This is something–well, you’d likely say medical. And it is. Which is why so much of this chapter takes place inside the hospital. And now we not only see a little of the hospital we’ve never before seen, but you’re gonna get some history as well:
There were five levels to the Salem hospital. Originally the ground floor area consisted of the ward, a small operating theater, and the doctor’s office, while the supply room and the morgue occupied the lower level. Once the first floor was added to the east and west side sections beyond what later became the Dining Hall, that became the new Isolation Ward. Upon the completion of the second floor the Isolation Ward and operating theater were moved there while the first floor became the new main ward. It wasn’t until 1786 when the third flow was constructed that the hospital took on its current layout, with the second floor becoming the intensive care ward and operating theater and the first floor left as the main ward and office, the ground floor was used exclusively as storage, and the morgue remaining on the lower level.
The third floor was used for many thing over the last two centuries: isolation from infectious diseases, a holding area for the insane, and even a quiet ward for those close to death. In the last fifty years the third floor remained empty, and it wasn’t until Coraline became the school’s full-time doctor that she began using the floor as a secure area to conduct examinations and hold meetings. She had computers and holgraphic displays installed, and having most of the space enchanted in the same way as the Dining Hall so she could configure furniture as required.
All of these were employed before Coraline’s guests showed. The computers were on and the main holographic monitor was active, with both tired into Sabrina, the school’s artificial intelligence. A long table with everyone’s lunch order sat out of the way, and a large circular table with four chairs was set up closer to the holographic display so the group could pull up information while eating.
The floor was ready: all that remained were the members of the brain trust to arrive.
Erywin and Jessica arrived on time, as Coraline expected. She glanced about the open space as Jessica and she crossed the eight meters from the lift to the holo display. “Where’s Deanna?”
Finally I get up to the third floor of the hospital, a place I’ve known about for some time.
In my original design of the Great Hall I worked up the hospital:
But while I knew the third floor was there, I couldn’t show it because the computer I used to render these plans was freaking out a little due to the processing requirements. But I know about this floor because–oh, that’s right, I can’t tell you. Spoilers.
I’ve also known about the history of this building because . . .
Here, in condensed form, is a few hundred years of Salem construction history. Most of the high points are shown, and I’m certain as time goes on, when I think of something that needs adding–and looking at this I already know it’s needed–then I’ll put it in.
This also means that the events happening in this part of the book are also in my time line, so they are known. And they are coming. And there’s going to be little that can stop them.
A little extra bit this morning: here’s a guest post I did over on the blog of Skye Hegyes. Enjoy.
Penultimate scene for Chapter Twenty-Seven is finished, and I’m almost ready to move on to the next. That won’t happen until tonight, and already I’m started the dread at what’s coming. But now is not the place to get worked up over things that haven’t yet occurred: concentrate on the now.
I did have an enjoyable time writing during the last evening. I got into a bit of a grove while grooving out on The Four Tops’ Baby I Need Your Loving, because it brought back a great memory of a flight to Hong Kong, where this same song brought back great memories. How’s that for getting meta on the meta? Doesn’t get much more than that.
As I closed out the scene and recorded my word count for the day, I picked up on this unusual situation:
Words: 02/21/2016: 401
Words: 02/22/2016: 861
Words: 02/23/2016: 651
Words: 02/24/2016: 691
Every night I ended the count on a “1”. Now I’ve done some strange things before and noticed some strange coincidences, but this was the first time I believe this has happened. Maybe something is playing with me? Naw, no spirits keeping an eye on me.
Speaking of those last six hundred and ninety-one words, here’s what they look like:
Within the confines of the hospital ward the astral plain appeared even brighter than the library. It was because this area was associated with life and healing, and even the deaths that had occurred here over the decades couldn’t dampen the brightness left behind by so many lives made better. Deanna looked to her right and saw Nurse Gretchen sitting in Coraline’s office. She didn’t have an aura because Gretchen, like all artificial people, wasn’t a living being, but the dark shape of her body sprinkled with the few bright points of astral light produced by the enchanted implants that allowed her to perform various kinds of magic.
Deanna wasn’t bothered that any of the alarms used to tell Coraline and her staff that someone was inside the ward would detect her. There were two separate systems to tell if someone were trying to open the Curtain on any of the hospital floors, but there weren’t any enchantments looking for people physically walking this realm, for they weren’t required. First they’d have to make their way inside the school walls— She made her way towards the first floor ward corridor. And then they’d have to make their way past our Guardian and Protector—
Though the privacy curtain to Bay #1 was visible as an astral mist, it wasn’t necessary for Deanna to make it insubstantial so she could see the glowing auras on the other side. They were together in Bed #2 and the low, steady glow of their auras told her they were asleep. But she needed a better, closer look, and there wasn’t any possibly she’d get that standing here in the ward corridor—
She passed through the curtain and stood between the beds as she gazed down upon the children. Standing this close Deanna could just make our their physical forms—Kerry on his back with Annie on his right side, tucked away in the crook of his arm—on the other side of the Curtain, but it was their astral aspect that intrigued her more. Like seen in the video recorded at Memory’s End, their auras were as one with no sign of a separation boundary, possessing identical colors and hues.
In the astral plain it’s just possible to make out a person’s physical aspect, and now you know that artificial people like Nurse Gretchen are just dark outlines with little bright spots where implanted enchantments allow them to do magic. That’s how the nurses are able to teleport and do that thing where they whip the clothes off one’s body. Pretty much all of them get that treatment, but the ones who work at the school–and unlike house elves, the school’s APs are actually paid for their service–tend to get a few more magical doodads implanted inside their bodies because it’s necessary.
As we’ve already seen the kids are asleep next to each other–
–and Deanna’s seeing the crazy aura mingling she’s seen before. There are also the colors, and they get her to wondering:
The pink she understood: it represented love and affection, and the brightness of that primary color showed their feelings for each other. It was the other colors that she found puzzling, because the lights of bright yellow indicated a fear of losing control, while violet pertained to magic, particularly visions. She moved around the bed, taking in the merged aura from other angles and confirmed there weren’t variations in the colors and brightness between Annie and Kerry.
They share everything, even the emotional charges that flow through their bodies out to their auras. She made her way to the end of the and examined the couple. Why the yellow and violet? Why do they both express the same compassion, ideas, and fears? She crossed her arms and sighed. When they are like this I see how Annie might feel the terror Kerry felt in his dream if they were like this, but in the coven their auras don’t reach that far. What allowed her to hear him? What am I missing?
After ten seconds of silent contemplation the epiphany Deanna hoped for struck her hard. There was something missing.
She moved around to Annie’s side of the bed and leaned over the astral forms looking for the part of their aspect that should be easily visible. After making certain that what she sought wasn’t stuck under their bodies she examined the spaces between them. Annie was turned slightly towards Kerry which made a direct examination of the front of her body difficult, but there wasn’t any possibility Deanna would bother the sleeping girl.
There was nothing under her chin, nothing at her neck, nothing—
“There.” She pinched her fingers around the found object, confirmed where it started and started following it away—
“What?” Deanna leaned even closer, almost setting her face against the children’s auras while tugging gently upon the object. “So that’s how it happens.” She straightened and smiled while slowly shaking her head. “Makes complete sense now.”
How what happens? And what makes sense? Sure, I’m not telling you right now what Deanna found, because that would be cheating. But she figured out something, and it’s going to play an important part in a later scene, and even in a later chapter.
But first, I gotta get the Brain Trust together and see what they figure out. While I may dread writing that part, it’s also gonna be fun. And when I consider I’ve had this scene inside me for about three years, it’s about time for it to come out and see the light of day–
Though I stated yesterday I wanted to finish this penultimate scene so I could move on to the next, things didn’t work out the way I expected. That doesn’t mean I didn’t move on with the scene, but the finish is likely going to happen tonight after I have dinner. I know I’m supposed to go out tonight, but I may forgo that venture because I have a lot of writing to perform tonight, and I need to get to that–which means going out and getting hammered isn’t the path to walk.
The part that was finished last night, well . . . it’s a little insight into the two people speaking at the moment. Oh, did I say “people”? I should say person and a well-on-neigh creature that claims to spend all her time acting as the Benefactor and Protector of Salem. Yes, as a couple of people figured out, Deanna’s speaking to the entity known as The Phoenix, the creature that does all the E and As for each new student not long after they enter the school grounds. I did say she would put in an appearance in this novel–oh, wait, that’s not what I said exactly . . .
But we’ll get to that in a moment. Meanwhile, Deanna’s on the clock and she’s dealing with a pesky spirit, and that’s not setting well with her–
Deanna wasn’t in the mood to spend the evening chatting with a whimsical spirit. “May I pass?”
“Humh.” The tone of the disembodied voice turned serious. “To continue your investigation?”
“You humans: you’re so inquisitive. And you, Deanna—” A sound like a low growl echoed through the library. “There are times when you become so singled minded in your endeavors—”
“Am I allowed to proceed?” It wasn’t often she found herself having to argue with the school’s protector. This is what I get for coming in here, but I had little choice— “Or are you going to cast me out?”
This time there was an ominous undertone to the laugh. “If I were going to cast you out, Seer, you’d find yourself back in the physical realm lying on your back in the garden nursing your wounds.”
A slight curl appeared in the corner of Deanna’s mouth. “Perhaps.”
The moment she spoke the word Deanna regretted her choice. She jumped back and instinctively reached for her sword as the space before her erupted in hot blue flame twice her height. She calmed herself as she recognized this form selection and knew it wasn’t a coincidence. As stated in the Quran they are made of smokeless, scorching fire— She threw up her shield as a pair of orange eyes opened in the middle of the flame and stared back at her.
For the first time since entering into this conversation with The Phoenix the voice speaking with her emanated from within the flame. “Suddenly feeling fear, are you?”
Deanna left her sword in its sheath but keep her shield in place. “If anyone knows how to frighten me, it’s you.” She stood her ground even though she wanted to rip open the Curtain and head back into the physical realm. This is why I can’t be around Cold Fire . . .
If you haven’t picked up on the clues, Ol’ Phee decided to appear to Deanna in the form of a djinn. What’s a djinn, or jinn if you’re not into the old spelling? It’s a genie, and you know what those are, right? No, I’m not putting up a picture of some blue dude and attempting to write in a way that Robin Williams would speak. Sorry. The transitional djinn aren’t something to mess with. In some ways they’re like angels, and in other ways they’re like demons. In both ways they can be bad news, and they shouldn’t ever be taken lightly. They are described, just as Deanna thought, as being of a smokeless and scorching fire, and many old images show them as being leaping flames of blue fire.
They also seem to scare the piss out of Deanna, and she knows The Phoenix knows they do. Deanna also, we learn, doesn’t like Cold Fire because they are too much like those djinn, and you have to wonder if she starts having strange thoughts about how Annie loves to play with that stuff. There’s nothing cold about this fire, however, as Deanna obviously feels the heat, and in more ways than one.
And now we learn just a little more about our favorite seer:
There was a long pause as the flame-shrouded eyes coolly regarded the school seer. “You are so unlike the scared girl who walked through Founder’s Gate in 1996, who spent so much of her E and A crying—”
“I was scared because I didn’t know what I was getting into.” Deanna finally lowered her shield and stood straight. “I was crying because I didn’t expect to have my E and A held in Majlis al-Jinn.”
“But that experience gave me everything I needed to see your life.” The mirth returned to the spirit’s laugh. “And seven years after that you managed to encounter a real djinn.”
“An experience I could have done without—” A smile slowly came to her face as she remembered the particulars of her meeting on the outskirts of Birjand, Iran. “—but it did change me.”
“For the better from what I’ve seen.”
While hearing about her personal improvement from the creature that set her about the road of her life, Deanna was here for other reasons. “There’s something I must do—” She looked passed the hovering blue flame. “May I proceed?”
The flame and heat vanished as the voice once more seemed to emanate from all around. “It would be rude of me to keep you any longer. Fi Amanullah.”
“Thank you, Phoenix.” Deanna didn’t offer a traditional reply, for if there was anything that likely didn’t need Allah’s protection, it was the immensely powerful spirit with whom she’d just conversed. She waited until she was through the library door and proceeding across the first floor landing before emitting an immense sigh of relief: other than her E and A she had encountered The Phoenix only once before, and that meeting turned out to be far more acrimonious—
There wasn’t time to worry about that past event, or the one she just left behind. She stood outside the luminescent outer wall of the hospital. Let’s hope there’s something of interest on the other side.
She thinned the walls and walked inside the ward.
We know that most people remember where their E and A was held–yes, I know, at the school, but once you’re alone with The Phoenix you are convinced you’re somewhere else, and that somewhere for Deanna was Majlis al-Jinn, The Meeting Place of the Djinn, which is a huge cave chamber located in Oman:
If Deanna was frightened of djinn, and she had her E and A in a place where they are reputed to meet, then you can understand why she was crying. But according to Phee she’s a much better person for it, and look: she ran into a real one during her Year of Real Life Experience, which means you also now know that djinn are real, and they are out there, and they may give you three wishes–or simply turn your life into a living hell. Probably a lot more of the later, and even the former could really mess you up.
It also appears that Deanna’s run into The Phoenix while tooling about the astral realm once before, and that meeting didn’t go as well as this one. Will we ever heard about that time? Um . . . perhaps?
Deanna’s gonna look over the kids, but there’s something I need to point out. I’ve stated more than a few times that The Phoenix would show up in the story, and she has during this short scene. But . . . Maybe I should let Ol’ Ben explain:
She’ll be back.
And looking a lot better than Arnold did in Terminator Genisys.
A little news about a side project in which I’m involved.
That’s right, new pop culture site, Pop Culture Tragic has picked up The Snarking Dead’s recaps of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
So what does that mean? Basically, you can still view all your fave TV recaps here at The Snarking Dead. But, for us working behind the scenes, it means we get more exposure thanks to the fanbase over at Pop Culture Tragic.
So who exactly is Pop Culture Tragic? Here’s all the deets:
About UsThe editors and contributors to this site are primarily fans. Of all sorts of stuff. We get excited and geek out about new and cool things, life hacks and adorable animals just like you. Our aim is…
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Well, now, things went strangely sideways, didn’t they?
Yesterday I meet with my doctor, who told me I was “disgustingly healthy” except for my weight, which could stand to drop a bit. But there was a bit of bad news: the company that makes my hormones, liquid estradiol, actually, decided they were going to stop making it, and now I’m sort of scrambling to find someone to fulfill my prescription, since it required “blending” which is a fancy way of saying, “I have no idea what they’re doing.” So far none of the chain pharmacies handle this stuff, and I’ve a few more places in Harrisburg to check before I start hitting the Internet and looking for an on-line supplier.
This is the sort of bullshit trans people put up with. There’s something I need, but no one supplies it, and when they do a six month supply will likely run me three hundred dollars or more. I will figure it out, though, because I’ve been reminded many times, bitches get shit done.
Speaking of getting stuff done, Deanna’s off on a walk, and we’re off
The walls of Åsgårdsreia Tower appeared as dim outlines of gainsboro embossed with shining silver and glowing gold amide the bright orange, crimson, blues, yellows, and pinks that composed the astral plain. Despite the nearly two dozen times she’d performed an Astral Walk, Deanna never tried of the colorful beauty. On the last day of February, 2010, she’d accompanied Harpreet to Hyderabad, India, to celebrate Holi with a few of the instructors friend, and Deanna’s best memory of that time was being showered in colored powder for hours while dancing at one of the local resorts.
The astral plain was like Holi magnified a thousand fold, only without the powder. It wasn’t needed: here there were other things to make the world interesting.
Deanna checked her astral armor and confirmed it in place. She smiled as her memories took her back to the last Samhain dance and she wished Kerry could see her now, for he’d instantly recognize the lightly glowing outfit that seemed to replace her abaya and gave her the appearance of one of her coven’s fabled shield maidens. She felt her astral sword in it’s scabbard and confirmed she could raise her astral shield a just under a second. Satisfied of her own protection, she willed the walls and ceiling of the tower to before insubstantial, and walked from her office and through the walls of the tower.
Everything in the astral plain possessed the same firmness as its counterpart in the physical realm: it was one of the reasons why she wasn’t falling through the floor and into the tower’s lower levels. But someone who could manipulate the astral essence could turn a solid astral wall into mist and pass through it as if it weren’t there. Deanna did that now: she made her way out of the tower, walked through the wall door leading to the north garden, then propelled herself upward through the walkway roof before touching down lightly upon the roof peak.
Deanna’s path was simple: out of the tower, up onto the walkway cover, then a jump through the enormous windows of the school library’s north wall of glass, then through the library, across the first floor overlooking the Rotunda, and into the hospital. She started up at the shimmering blue and pink windows set against the dark silver of the Great Hall’s astral aspect. A moment of hesitation hit her before she pushed it aside and soared into the air towards the building. She passed gently through the windowed wall and landed without difficulty.
The library was a mass of luminous slits, each volume possessing the magical energy of their creator and the residual energy of every reader. She wanted to examine the volumes on divination that Kerry read during his A Levels just to see if there were anything different about there aspect, but that was something that could wait for later, for the astral realm wasn’t a place for casual observers. There were things in the realm, and Deanna had found it necessary to defend herself on a few occasions when exploring.
She wasn’t worried about being set upon by one of the various denizens of the astral realm, however, for the area within the walls of Salem were among the safest in the world. And that was because this area was jealously guarded—
“What are you doing here, Seer?”
First, gainsboro is a shade of gray, and you’re welcome that you now know that. Then there’s the comment about Holi, which is a festival that usually runs somewhere from the end of February to the middle of March. It’s the Hindu spring festival, but it’s also known as the festival of colours or the festival of Sharing love, and many non-Hindus partake in the celebration simply because it’s a hell of a lot of fun. They’re running, there’s singing, there’s dancing, and, yeah, a lot of powder thrown around covering everything and everyone, covering people in a multitude of colors for the day.
Now imagine that it’s all glowing and looking misty like something out of a crazy fantasy, and you get the idea about what Deanna is seeing. Oh, and you now know she loved being covered in many colored powder and dancing. She does know how to cut loose now and then.
Where she’s at is right here:
Åsgårdsreia Tower is on the left, the Great Hall is on the right, and Deanna’s standing on top of the walkway looking up at windows that I just wasn’t good enough to install in my model when I first created it, but they are there. So you know, most of that curving north wall of the Great Hall Library is nothing but windows, sitting above rows and rows of books.
When it comes to this astral armor she crafted–do you remember her Samhain costume? The one that Kerry said made her look like Lady Sif from the Marvel comics and movies?
That’s pretty much Deanna, only her armor is kinda glowing and her sword is in a sheath, and her shield is one of those that you just create in a moment because it’s, you know, magical. Oh, and she’s wearing a kind of helmet, too. This is why Deanna was smiling, because she knows Kerry would recognize it right away.
Naturally this behooves the question: why does one need protection when they are walking about the Astral Plain? Deanna said she didn’t need to worry about being attacked by one of the denizens of this world, because the area around Salem is safe. Which is to say it’s clear. Which is to say something is keeping it clear.
Which is to say there remains something keeping watch over the area. And guess what? It’s awake . . .
Shit. Deanna didn’t have to look around to see if there was another person in here, for there were two things that told her the identity of the speaker. First, the voice seemed to come from all around, and second, they spoke perfect Arabic, and except for a few students she was the only native speaker who was also an adult. Besides, this speaker isn’t a person . . . She straightened her back and looked straight ahead as she replied in the same language. “I didn’t realize I’d wake you.”
“And why would you assume I was sleeping?” She could almost see the hidden smile in the chuckle that followed. “Even if I were to sleep, I’d know whenever a human enters my realm.” The mirth vanished as the tone turned cold. “What are you doing here, Deanna? This is well beyond the time of your rest.”
I wonder if Adric knows she keeps track of our sleep habits? She held up her chin. “I’m investigating.”
“Hum.” There was a low hum that Deanna would almost image was throat clearing. “And what are you investigating?”
Deanna decided she didn’t need to tell the school’s benefactor everything. “There’s something here I need to see.”
“Now what could that be? It’s not as if there’s anyone or anything of interest here tonight—” There was another chuckle. “Oh, wait: there is something here.”
“And that would be?”
“You’re looking for auras. Or perhaps just one?”
Deanna closed her eyes and sighed. “If you know something why don’t you tell me?”
“That’s now how I work, Deanna; you know that.”
“Maybe if you told us something about you once in a while, we wouldn’t have to guess at your motivations all the time.”
There was no denying the laugh this time. “Where’s the fun in that?”
Right there is what I needed because it was getting close to the time to relax, but I’ll get back to this tonight, because finishing this scene is something I need to do.
I mean, I left you and my seer hanging, and that wasn’t nice of me–
But like a certain naughty entity, I guess that’s the way I work.
More observations and fun with Episode 10 of “The Walking Dead”.
This episode of The Walking Dead is proudly brought to you by Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure 😉 Here’s what went down in Episode 10 (entitled “The Next World”), Season 6 of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
CF: Party On, Dudes!
Season 6, Episode 2, Entitled “The Next World”
- Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is putting a new hole in his belt. Oh, look, a time jump is eminent thanks to a pic of Carl (sans eye) and Judith. But, more importantly, Rick’s wedding band is off. Oh, that’s why; he’s now Team Richonne o.O And Michonne (Danai Gurira) is already harping on toothpaste and yelling at Carl (Chandler Riggs) to stop bouncing the ball (Carl thinks it is merely physical therapy and not at all annoying).
CF: I had the feeling that at that point at the start she wasn’t quite where she wanted to be with the relationship but it was damn…
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After all the stuff with walking around town yesterday, there really wasn’t much else to do for the rest of the day. I went out to get groceries and didn’t return until after two in the afternoon, I sat down to watch Doctor Zhivago not long after that and missed about thirty minutes at the start because I feel asleep, but that was mostly due to starting to cry about thirty seconds into the credit roll at the beginning of the movie. I actually cried throughout most of that film–I usually do–and even when I thought I was done crying, I found a few more tears to shed.
I wonder if Kerry’s seen Doctor Zhivago? I’m sure he has, because that’s the sort of movie he’d watch. That and Aliens. Maybe back-to-back. I’m guessing Annie’s never seen either of those films, and the first time they watch them together will be an interesting one. Maybe Annie will cry when Lara goes away forever. We’ll see.
But now we have a scene that’s not about the kids–not really. The focus is shifting, and we’re out of the Great Hall now . . .
This is going to be an unusual scene, because I’m taking the story to a place it’s never been before. The good thing is I spent a lot of the last couple of days thinking about how to put this scene together, and even coming up with a few little refinements here and there. That’s how I do it in my mind: now if I can only get it out on paper.
Here we go then, all four hundred words to start the new scene. Let’s see if you know where it’s going . . .
After leaving the hospital Deanna didn’t return to the Instructor’s Residence, but went instead to her office in Åsgårdsreia Tower. She wanted to think, to consider what they knew happened tonight, and while she could have done this just as easily in her room in the Residence, she felt just as comfortable sitting here with the door locked, the lights low, and a few pillow thrown on to the floor to comfort her while sitting.
There was a huge hole in Annie’s story, and while Coraline was right about not confronting her this evening, Deanna couldn’t let go of the feeling of wrongness the story left. She wasn’t only the school seer, but she was, as she like to say, the Interpreter of Dreams, and her interpretation of this dream situation was defined by Coraline earlier in the evening—though Deanna could never face Annie and express her feelings using those words.
There was something she knew of, however, that could tie into the reasons behind Annie’s panicked walking and running to Kerry. She’d never investigated that reason because doing so would involve a slight amount of danger—
She didn’t feel it was something she could put off any longer.
Deanna’s office was a good place to perform the magic required to allow her to begin gathering her own facts. There wasn’t any possibility of interruption, and she was closer to her eventual destination than if she were crafting this spell in her room in the Residence. She rose from her lotus position and kicked the pillows off to the side before facing the south wall of her office. Deanna didn’t require a flat surface: just the energy, vision, and willpower to properly craft her art.
A moment of concentration brought the image of the effect into her mind’s eye, and she pulled the energy together in a matter of seconds, for this was a spell she’d crafted a few times in the past. Raising her arms to her side, Deanna reached out with her willpower and pushed it into the fabric of the physical realm—
The air before Deanna fractured and was pushed to either side of her body, leaving a glowing, door-like opening two steps away. She spent another twenty seconds crafting another spell, then a few seconds more staring into the opening before her.
Deanna stepped through the Curtain and quickly sealed the astral doorway behind her.
Astral Doorway. That’s where we’re going next. You’re heard about it, and it’s been teased, but now I’m off to see what the Astral Plain looks like.
It’s time to take a walk–and see what we can see.