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On Beyond the Curtain: Taking Over

A lot of writing has happened this weekend, and a lot more will happen before this day is out.  I’ve already written about six hundred words in two different stories, and later this afternoon–after a movie and dinner–I have one TV recap to write and another to start.  This is likely going to be the busiest writing day in a long time for me.

It’s what I do, right?  Sure it is.

Four days or writing have brought me to about twenty-three hundred words in the current scene, and since we’re near the end of the last one, today you get the last seven hundred and fifty words of that.  And since I’m fairly certain that most of you want to see what happens next, let’s get into the action…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

The flame contracted and shrank until it was approximately the size and shape of a human. Over the course of several seconds limbs and features began to appear as the flame took on a humanoid appearance. After another five seconds it became readily apparent the creature was shaping itself into something that was approximately the shape and size of the two Salem students. A few seconds more was all it needed to change its form—

Annie heard Kerry’s sharp intake of breath the moment The Phoenix—for there was no other creature this could be—finished transforming. For The Phoenix decided it wasn’t going to appear as just any person: it had decided to take on the appearance of Kerry’s soon-to-be female self dressed in a Salem school uniform with Cernunnos coven markings.

The Phoenix straightened her school uniform jacket and gave it a quick tug to set the shoulders before turning to Deanna. “There, much better. Now then, let’s see…” She slowly approached Kerry, who was standing rock still in seemed almost afraid to move. She closed until she was only half a meter from him, at which point she stared up at him for nearly five seconds, never breaking eye contact. She finally began slowly twisting and turning her head from side to side, doing it for another five seconds before speaking. “It’s like looking in a mirror, only… not.”

Kerry drew in a breath and exhaled loudly. “Yeah, thanks for that observation, John Travolta.” Though he appeared in control, the flaring in his aura indicated he was feeling agitated. “You know you can back away just a bit; I’d feel a lot better if you did.”

The Phoenix straightened herself but didn’t step back. “In case you hadn’t noticed, Kerry, the concept of personal space is one with which I’m not that well versed.”

 

For any of those people who have no idea what’s going on in the exchange between The Phoenix and Kerry, here’s your explanation.  What The Phoenix said is a direct quote from the movie Face/Off, the entirely gonzo John Woo movie from 1997 starring Nicolas Cage and John Travolta as a criminal and a FBI agent who exchange faces and, therefore, lives.  The flick is totally bonkers and so far off the rails you’re in a completely different country before you know it, but God dammit if it isn’t a fun movie.  The statement made by The Phoenix is the one John Travolta makes to Nicolas Cage upon their first meeting after switching lives, which is why Kerry responded the way he did.

And why did she do that?  Because if there’s one thing The Phoenix knows how to do, it’s push buttons.  And in the case of the soon-to-be Ginger Hair Girl, she is turning up the discomfort to eleven.  Something the significant other instantly notices–

 

Though aware The Phoenix loved playing psychological mind games, Annie didn’t see the rationale for it now. “Your current form is disturbing him. Why do you have to appear that way?”

“Because I can.” Though she didn’t raise her voice, The Phoenix’s tone let everyone know she wasn’t about to suffer fools gladly. “For someone who’s a particularly smart girl, you certainly ask some stupid questions from time-to-time, Annie. I expect better of you than that.”

Annie changed the line of questioning, as it wasn’t her intention to get into an argument with a creature likely thousands of years old. “Why are you here?”

“That’s an easy question to answer: I just stopped by to see how you’re doing.” She finally stepped away from Kerry and turned to face Deanna, who is not taking a position to Kerry’s right. “Were you hoping to get in and out before I noticed you were here? Is that it?”

“It’s impossible to enter the Astral Realm without you noticing.” The instructor chuckled. “Speaking of asking ridiculous questions—”

The Phoenix shrugged. “I’m allowed ask them. After all, you are in my home. And if I’m not allowed ask ridiculous questions here, where can I ask them?” The spirit turned to her right and appeared to examine Annie and Kerry closely. “And I wouldn’t be much of a host of I didn’t show them around.” She glanced back at Deanna. “I’ll take them from here, Seer.”

 

The other thing The Phoenix doesn’t do well is suffer fools, and she knows both these kids are smart.  Which is why she immediately jumps and Annie’s ass for asking a question for which she likely knows the answer.  I mean, Annie is one of two people we know of who are quite aware of what happened in her E and A, so she knows what kind of psychological mind games the spirit will play.  Therefore, asking why she’s doing something is sort of a futile and not-so-smart question.

And now our favorite guardian and protector wants to take Deanna’s charges off her hands.  Deanna may not be quite down with that, however–

 

Deanna’s jaw tightened as she swallowed. “I think it would be best if I stay with—”

The Phoenix half turned her head in the direction of the instructor and spoke in a low, ominous tone. “I wasn’t asking.”

There was nothing she could say and way of rebuttal: Deanna knew arguing with The Phoenix was futile. Instead, she moved closer to her students and spoke in a friendly, relaxed tone. “I’m going to return to Memory’s End; I’m sure I’ll be summoned when she’s finished.” She reached out and patted them both on their shoulders. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine: nothing’s going to happen to you. I’ll see you soon.” She took a step back, rose perhaps six meters straight up, then headed back along the same path they had come.

Once The Phoenix was certain they were alone she turned toward her new charges. “Okay, then—” She gave a quick nod and spun around on her heel until she was facing to the south. With a quick wave of her left hand she motioned for Annie and Kerry to follow. “Let’s go for a walk.”

 

The Phoenix is certainly not used to hearing the word “no”, and she certainly is going to take it from a human.  Deanna is smart enough to know that The Phoenix probably won’t hurt the kids, but she still worried just enough to leave a touch of doubt in everyone’s mind.  After all, the Phoenix has been known to bash kids around during their B and A, so why might she not be in the mood to slap Annie and Kerry around a little?

I guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if that happens.

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7 thoughts on “On Beyond the Curtain: Taking Over

      • I guess that’s true. But I’d like to believe The Phoenix thinks Annie and Kerry are special and therefore need to be protected. Oh, well, I guess I’m thinking too much.

        I’m still awake at 2:15 AM. Watching RWBY on Utube coz I’m gonna write a post about this American anime.

        • You know, that’s what a good story is supposed to do. It’s supposed to make you think. I’m not saying you’re wrong; I just can’t say if you’re right.

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