I have to mention this because it’s pertinent, but today is 12 April, which means it’s not only Cosmonauts Day and Yuri’s Night, but it’s Annie Final Solo Day! Yes, three years ago Annie did her final solo flight out over the Gulf of Maine–well, she would have had this been real life and not just a novel. It’s nice to imagine her out there flying about in the cold and the rain with her chase pilot following her, playing music to take her and his minds off of what they were doing. They would be E Levels today–I wonder what they’re up to?
It’s back to the Great Hall today, and I have finally realized something: this is the first time in two novels that the kids have been summoned to the Headmistress’ Office. We’ve heard them discussed there a few times, but they’ve never had a reason to visit this part of the hall before–well, at least not by invitation from the staff. Annie’s been to the first floor of the East Transept when she spoke on the landing with Deanna after the Day of the Dead and Kerry’s big pubic “I love you”, and Kerry was up here and down in the instructor’s offices hallway because Emma had something to, um, show him. Yeah, that’s it.
But today Kerry is there with Annie, and this is after he had his butt in the saddle for another six hundred kilometers of flight time. It was quite the trip–
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
Annie leaned close to Kerry and spoke in a whispery tone. “Where did you go?”
“Up where we thought we were going to go.” Kerry leaned back and glanced up at the ceiling. “Up to Louden, New Hampshire, first, to overfly the track, then up into the White Mountains to tag The Basin and the Old Man of the Mountain. Then over into Vermont and overflew the capital in Montpelier before heading through the Green Mountains to Fort Ticonderoga in New York—”
“Yeah, the northern part of the state. Then back through the Green Mountains, hit the White River Junction right on the Vermont/New Hampshire border. We then headed to the capitol building in Concord, and after that it was like four hundred kph all the way back because we only had two-and-a-half hours to fly the whole route.” He turned back to Annie. “It was rainy and foggy all the while we were in the mountains, and Emma was kinda pissy the whole time.”
“Why is that?” Without asking Annie wondered if Emma saw them buzz The Pentagram and resented their action.
He shook his head. “I don’t know. She was just grumpy.” He half turned his eyes towards the other end of the room for a moment. “I think she was upset with me.”
First off, the trip. It wasn’t enough that Kerry spent a few hours in the morning flying over land and sea, right after lunch he has to figure out where to go in the Misty Mountains and start snipe hunting at high speed. And sure, Emma and Kerry get a big order in bad weather. Maybe Vicky gave them this route because Kerry already knew the conditions?
As you can see it’s not difficult, but that path north up I-93, then the zip across to the west, that’s all mountain travel until they get almost all the way to New York state. From Hanover on the VT/NH line to the school is pretty much just open it up and fly, save for the quick stop to get a picture at the oldest statehouse still in use in Concord. Six hundred and ten kilometers, pure and simple.
Now–what is this about Emma being pissy?
In a moment Annie saw a connection to an upcoming event. “Could it be due to the racing season ending next Saturday?”
“That’s possible. I know she doesn’t like talking about next week.”
And it’s likely there something else there connected to Kerry . . . “Do you think she resents that you’ll likely end up with a Top-5 finish, and she’ll have to struggle to get into the Top-10?”
He slowly tapped his fingers against his thighs as he thought. “I don’t know. Like I said, we don’t talk about racing right now: it’s a sore point with her. I think a lot of it is she’s kicking her own butt over all the stuff she’s done this season, and even with the wins she’s gotten, she doesn’t have any consistency because she’s been too busy trying to win everything.” Kerry shrugged. “I don’t know: maybe she’s pissed at me because even with a couple of DNFs I’m way ahead of her, and she sees that I was right about what she did.”
There wasn’t a need to question if Kerry’s reasoning: she’d found his criticisms of Emma’s racing style to be correct. “I’m certain she’ll get over her shortcomings this season and work towards improving next season.”
“I’m sure.” He finally spent a few moments examining Annie’s attire. “Why are you in uniform?”
“Because I was told to change into it before reporting to the Headmistress’ Office.” She released a soft, tired sigh. “I figure that the headmistress wants to speak with us, and that she wanted us to appear somewhat more—” Annie searched for the word. “Student-like. And with you still in your flight gear, it leads me to believe my initial conclusion is correct.”
Before Kerry could offer a reply Vicky stuck her head out of the door. “Okay, you two, you can come in.”
Kerry has made a point of say that Emma is smart and has talent, but that when it comes to racing she’s all dumb and focused entirely on winning. And because of that she’s had her fair share of low-point finishes, or finishes completely out of the points, where Kerry has tried for top-5s the whole time, and if he gets a podium finish, or better yet, a win, then he’s happy. Getting greedy is a good way to crash and burn, and someone is just now learning that lesson.
Then again, maybe Annie’s right: Emma heard their flyby, saw them in the air together blasting the school with music, and got the “That should be me!” feeling, which carried over to her snipe hunt. If that’s the case, then The Polar Express is gonna be real interesting.
Or maybe Emma doesn’t like flying in the rain. Only I know the truth. And I’m not telling.
As far as what’s in the room–wait until tomorrow!