Quite, slow morning today. No coffee shops, just breakfast at the apartment in my leggings and cami because Seasons 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead are running today, and I’m all about snarking the shit out of the show even though I’ve seen all the episodes a dozen times. I also love that the pilot, Days Gone Bye, has one of the best cold openings ever, and I love those cold openings.
After that cold opening, though–
Before The Walking Snark took hold I was off to the writing races–literally. Did a little over three hundred words last night, and then another seven hundred this morning, so all is good in the world. Well, for me anyway–
As you’re about to see, Kerry’s not having an easy time of things. Not because people are trying to wreck him–oh, no. That’s been chilled out, remember? No, there are other reasons, and it’s likely nothing you’ve though of up to this point . . .
All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
The Ostara races were held on what the racers called The Blue Dozen: twelve laps of the Blue Line, twelve kilometers a lap, one hundred and forty-four kilometers a heat. Though one race was nearly half the length of the Kadahdin race, it wasn’t considered as difficult because the course was more level and not nearly as technical. Racers pointed out, however, that since The Blue Dozen was run three times by each race during the day, the distance covered by those thirty-six laps was one hundred and thirty-two kilometers more than Kadahdin, but this didn’t keep detractors from countering that since there were rests between the heats, it didn’t have the same difficulty as flying three hundred consecutive laps.
Kerry flew through the Start/Finish line and began his thirtieth lap of the day. He recalled one of those detractors, a C Level from his coven, stating the same thing, that as long as everyone got to rest between heats, The Blue Dozen couldn’t be that hard. This was one of the few times when Kerry wanted to take someone who didn’t race, strap them on to the back of his broom, and take them through one heat at race speed and see if they’d continue adhering to that particular belief.
Cernunnos ran the first heat of the day against second place Mórrígan. The round robin rules were like those used during Samhain: the first place team sat out the first stage while the other four covens squared off against each other in two separate heats. This would lead to the second stage, where the first place team, Åsgårdsreia, would race the coven with the worst finish in the first stage, the first and third finishers from the first stage would race each other, and the team that finished second in the first stage would sit out so they could race in the third stage against the coven with the best finish in the second stage.
This is how all that plays out:
This is the same format I set up for the Samhain races, and just like those holiday races, the Ostara races are intense–even more so, actually. Why is that? Because as already stated, the end of the season is near–only four weeks away–and the point spots are close. Everyone wants those points, but even more, everyone wants the bragging rights that come at the end of the season–and that means people are gonna run like hell.
Cernunnos and Mórrígan took the green light and by the time they were through Meadow Climb and into Pentagram Pass that it became obvious both teams were setting a fast pace. It was only once he was through Observatory Turn and heading on to Skyway that Kerry realized just how fast a pace the team were setting. No one had broken away from the pack, nor had it separated into two and three-flier groups—everyone was in a big bunch separated by about a half second, and heading into Helter Skelter at close to three hundred kilometers an hour. Kerry held his breath, negotiated the turn, and once through safely turned on the speed into Residence.
So did everyone else.
Both covens held the pack through all twelve laps. Race Control was constantly issuing warnings about spacing and watching one’s surroundings; the lead changed hands a couple of times a lap, and on Lap 8 there were five different leaders. At least three times a lap Kerry felt a “big one”—a racer term for a huge wreck—was imminent, but he must not have been the only one to have that particular feeling, as it seemed everyone checked themselves before creating a dangerous situation.
When the checkers finally fell Nadine was across the line first, Kerry was .014 seconds behind her, and Penny was .012 seconds behind him. The next two were equally as close: Emma finished in fourth .017 seconds behind Penny, and Alex was .013 seconds behind her. The last flier to point, Mórrígan’s Argus Pelham, finished in sixth .021 seconds behind Alex, but only .003 seconds ahead of
Manco, making that the closest finish of the race. The final four racers finished a third of a second behind sixth and all within a second of each other.
By the time Kerry stood upon the podium he felt as if he’d run all one hundred and forty-four kilometers on foot. Everyone who came off the course looked that way, even the people who finished out of the points. Back in their ready room all the Cernunnos fliers were happy but the stress of the race was etched upon everyone’s face. At least they’d have a chance to rest up before the second stage—
When the first stage numbers came in Kerry was shocked. Even though they’d managed two podium positions over Mórrígan, their competitor’s first and fourth place points set them as the second best finisher of the stage, allowing them to sit out stage one. Ceridwen came in last, setting them up to race Åsgårdsreia in the next stage, and Blodeuwedd finished first by virtue of a first and place finish against Ceridwen, setting them up to race third place Cernunnos.
And since the Blodeuwedd/Cernunnos heat was considered the “undercard” of the second stage, they raced first.
Just to keep you from doing the math, the interval between first and sixth places in the above race is .08 seconds. or eight-tenths of a second. Six people all zooming through the last kilometer or so right on top of each other, and crossing the line less than a second apart. That’s a lot of heavy duty racing, and if you run in a pack all the time, it keeps you wound up constantly because you don’t ever get a chance to relax, not even for a second or two. When I used to do online computer racing I did a few like that at Talladega and Daytona, and after an hour of zooming along with a bunch of other people all around for an hour or so, you get tired.
And after the second heat of the first stage, it’s time to get to it against after a little rest–
Blodeuwedd wasn’t known as a strong race team, but the moment the course went green they raced Cernunnos as hard as Mórrígan did in the first stage. Not only was Blodeuwedd racing Cernunnos hard, but the Cernunnos fliers were racing each other hard. Penny, Alex, and Kerry sat out in front of the pack from Lap 3 to the end, and they traded the lead repeatedly throughout the race. Their racing was so intense that the final outcome was resolved until the three racers were within a few hundred meters of the finish, when Penny drafted Kerry hard to get alongside him, and Alex drafted them to move around both fliers. Alex won, with Penny .01 seconds behind her and Kerry .012 seconds behind Penny. It was not only the closest finish of the year for the podium, but it was the first time since 1981 that Cernunnos took the top three positions. Manco rounded out the field by finishing sixth, achieving the last point for the coven.
At the finish of the second stage Cernunnos was the clear winner, which meant in the third stage they would race against the coven that sat out the second stage—Mórrígan. Though the third stage race would be his last of the day, Kerry was not looking forward to another twelve laps of hard racing.
Kerry’s been through two stages of hard racing, and now it’s time to get on to the third stage and good ‘ol Mórrígan once again. If I were a writer, I’d say that’s some kind of foreshadowing–