It’s funny, but we’ve already had a “home by the sea” scene, for which I’ll likely have to edit out lyrics as I’m sure I can’t afford to pay the copyright holders of the song for permission to reprint them in a novel, but this is really the part of the novel where the kids get to see Salem in the gloom and darkness for the first time. So that must mean I was editing, yeah?
Though it took a while to get there, for I stopped off for dinner and a drink before heading home to watch a little television and relax. I had the most delicious shepherd’s pie which I also consumed with a tasty adult beverage–
–after which I spoke with the hostess for a bit until it got busy and I hit the bricks back to the casa. Watched three episodes of Breaking Bad then got out the story and began the trip back in time to what was, I believe, the middle of NaNo 2013 when I wrote these scenes.
Oh, and music: yes, I had it going. One of my biggest songs in rotation was The Killing Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen, but if people know this song at all it’s because it was the opening title crawl song for the movie Donnie Darko. So here you are, a little something to get you in the writing mood.
The kids are finally at Salem, but they’re getting the nickel tour of the joint by Isis, who has been put in charge of kids for now. Nearly all of this part of the novel–three scenes–take place in front of the Great Hall, and in the same structure’s atrium and lower level.
You can even see the people I modeled to give a feeling of perspective for everything. The first scene is where things start opening up to the feeling that things aren’t Normal:
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
“While I’m certain all of you have questions about the school, they’ll have to wait until later. I will, however, give you a quick rundown on your new surroundings.” Isis indicated the space around them. “This is Founder’s Gate; that large tree just outside is Founder’s Tree, where the original pact to build the school was bound.”
She pointed to the inner walls of the archway. “The archway is set inside protective walls that form a five-sided star: we call this The Pentagram for obvious reason. You’ll notice doors on either side of us.” She pointed to both. “The walls are hollow and allow students to move between the towers—”
The girl from Portugal, Jacira, spoke up. “Towers?”
Isis nodded. “Towers. They sit at each point of the star.” She waited for more questions: when none came, she continued. “Inside the walls are the Pentagram Garden, and situated in the middle of the garden . . .” She turned and pointed to the building behind her. “The Great Hall. The administrative, educational, and social center of Salem. Offices, dining hall, hospital, library meeting areas: it’s all there.” She didn’t wait for questions. “Come. We have plenty ahead of us.”
Yeah, kids, you have towers here. Notice, though, that Isis doesn’t mention that they’ll live there. Kerry, however, notices something else:
When the students appeared to be halfway to the doors ahead, Kerry stopped and looked back towards Founder’s Gate. Annie stopped as well. “What are you looking at?”
He judged the distance as best he could. “You could probably fit a football pitch on this path.”
Annie nodded. She quickened her pace to catch up with the student pack. “That’s likely. It’s incredible, isn’t it?”
Kerry had other words to describe the scene. “This shouldn’t be here.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I’ve looked at Cape Ann on Google Maps, and there’s nothing like this here. It’s impossible to have something this big sitting out where everyone can see it and it seems like no one does.”
She shook her head. “The wall we drove though would keep people from seeing this.”
“But you couldn’t hide it from above: it would be visible on the satellite view of Google Maps. And people flying into Boston would see this without a problem.”
There were many things Annie could have said to Kerry to set his mind at ease but it wasn’t time to do that, not yet. She also wasn’t ready to let him know that there were so many things about the school that weren’t a mystery for her—
She told him the only thing that might placate him. “You’re over thinking things. I’m sure there’s a perfect explanation for why you haven’t seen this on your maps.” She turned her smiling hazel eyes towards him. “I’d just wait until someone can answer those questions.”
These were both sections that were rewritten slightly so that the flow of conversation was better: it wasn’t bad before, but I smoothed it out just a touch. And Kerry feels a little more concerned about the fact that he’s checked his maps and there’s nothing here, man, nothing. This was how Kerry was at first: the logical mind told him what wasn’t while his eyes–and sometimes Annie–showed him what was. That changed over time, but here, you see it full force.
And in the next section we run into three things for the first time–or, at least, we hear them spoken:
Though she wasn’t tired, Annie was eager to get to her new room. From what her mother told her, though, there was something that they needed to get out of the way, first— “When do we get to our rooms?”
The smile Isis had maintained for most of this tour slipped slightly. “After evaluation and assessment.”
Those were the words she’d waited to hear: evaluation and assessment. As with all else pertaining to the school her parents hadn’t said a great deal about that experience, and while they hadn’t made it seem like something unpleasant, their unwillingness to discuss theirs in detail hadn’t left Annie feeling comfortable about what awaited.
Another student wanted to know more. “What’s that?”
Isis was happy to explain. “Every student who comes into Salem as an A Level—a new student—meets with an adviser. They’re asked to speak about themselves, and during the conversation the adviser makes a determination about the coven the student will—”
“Coven?” Collin finally broke out of whatever slumber he’d entered ever since leaving the plane.
The director took the interruption in stride. “Yes. Coven.”
For the first time tonight the slight pause that came after Collin’s followup didn’t feel like it was there to allow the kids time to absorb another information dump. “Yes. Like for witches.” Isis sensed something come over the children. She’d given the speech many times before—twice already today—and each time the word “coven” was spoken, there was the inevitable question if the expression had something to do with witches.
She watched each child closely, looking for sign that one of them wasn’t surprised by what had just transpired, and she momentarily caught the eyes of a girl who asked about their rooms. I should have known she’s the Legacy— “You’ll learn more about this tomorrow. But for now—”
Isis placed her hands before her and held her tablet snugly against her body. “The advisers are waiting.” She turned on her heel to her left. “Come with me, please.”
Evaluation and assessment; coven; and, of course, the W Word, witches. It’s also the first time we see that Annie is recognized for what she, and it’s even money that Isis probably used another kind of vision to tell Annie was witch raised as well.
And last but not least, it’s time for the kids to meet their “advisers”, and there was a small matter of punctuation changed here at the end that, to me, made a world of difference:
The echo of the closed door faded away. Isis lowered her tablet to her side as she walked towards the stairs. “Well, best for last, hum?” Annie and Kerry stood together, silent in their apprehension. Isis turned and chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. “Okay, well, you know what to do.” She nodded towards the door on her left. “Anelie Kirilova: Room One.” She pointed to the door opposite. “Kerrigan Malibey: Room Two.”
Kerry turned to Annie. “Anelie?”
She managed a tiny smile. “Kerrigan.”
He started to turn away when Isis stopped him. “Sorry, you can’t go in there with the backpack.” She held out her hand. “I’ll hold on to it for you.”
Kerry wasn’t eager to leave his things behind. “I’ve got my tablet in there.”
“And I’m the Director of Security.” She winked. “If you can’t trust me, who can you trust?”
“True that.” He slipped it off and handed it over.
She held it by one of the shoulder straps. “Do you have a phone?”
“It’s in the bag.”
“Okay.” She gave it a hoist. “I’ll see you get this back. Don’t worry.” She nodded once again. “You can go.”
Kerry walked to his door, but turned around before going in; he found Annie standing outside hers looking back at him. He turned away and closed his eyes; Annie did the same simultaneously.
They opened their respective doors and entered their rooms.
I’m really debating if I should post any of the evaluations in the coming days, and the answer to my own question is “Not likely”. I mean, I want to keep some mystory, and if you’ve stuck through to the end of the B Level book, you know about Kerry’s.
But what is this change I alluded to earlier? It’s right here:
“Well, best for last, hum?” Annie and Kerry stood together, silent in their apprehension. She chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. “Okay, well, you know what to do.” She nodded towards the door on her left. “Anelie Kirilova: Room One.” She pointed to the door opposite. “Kerrigan Malibey: Room Two.”
Kerry turned to Annie. “Anelie?”
She raised her eyebrows and managed a tiny smile. “Kerrigan?”
I first had Isis change position–which isn’t that important, but was needed–and then I removed the question mark from the end of Annie’s uttering of Kerry’s name. Why? Because you know why, and this is another little clue that something’s going on between these two that maybe doesn’t have anything to do with school.
And in another quarter of a million words you may find out what that is . . .