And by that I mean, we’re ready to talk on, um, tape!
While I’ve yet to write today, it will happen later this evening. That’s exactly what I did last night and I ended up writing just over two thousand words. Not bad, huh? And it’s an important scene because it’s not only the First Day of Winter, 2013, but Kerry learns about Annie’s morning tea and how she likes it handled. Also, you learn something interesting about Victor in that scene, too, but it’s probably not what you think.
But this scene–this is the same day that Kerry arrives in Pamporovo, but after Annie and he adjust, which is to say it’s dinner time. Or really, after-dinner.
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)
Kerry strolled down the Langelinie hand-in-hand with Annie, enjoying the cool night air next to the waters of the harbor. They’d spent about ten minutes at the Gefionspringvandet getting photos before walking a couple of hundred meters to the Langelinie Pavilion. There paused there long enough to get a quick snuggle and kiss before continuing onward.
When Annie’s parents said they were going out for dinner, Kerry expected they’d probably jaunt into Sofia, but instead they jaunted to Copenhagen, where they dined at a semi-casual restaurant on Esplanaden. Kerry was even more surprised when he was told her could order anything he liked, so he started with fried scallops and chose the duck confit as his entree.
It was an enjoyable evening, going on for about two and a half hours before Pavlina and Victor decided it was time to leave. But they didn’t go home: standing on the corner of Esplanaden and Bredgade, Pavlina took Victor’s hand and told Annie they were going for a walk and that she should take Kerry down to the Langelinie, telling her that they’d catch up with them at the statue. Victor said they should enjoy their walk before heading off across the street with Pavlina, his arm around his wife’s shoulders as they vanished into the evening crowd.
As they walked down the promenade Kerry was silent, taking in the cool night air. There wasn’t any snow on the ground and the temperature hovered around 5 C. If it weren’t for the light drizzle, he would have found it a perfect evening.
Annie wrapped her arm around his. “What are you thinking about, my love?”
“Dinner, what else?” He smiled as he looked straight ahead. “When I visited my grandparents two years for Yule I got leftover pizza; last year I got take away. This year it’s scallops and duck.” He looked at Annie as he chuckled. “Quite a departure.”
“It is.” She leaned against him, snuggling into his body. “Plus you ate in Copenhagen for the first time.”
“That I didn’t expect at all. Why come here?”
It’s been pointed out in other excerpts that Kerry is developing quite a taste for the sort of food Annie has enjoyed growing up, and this is just a continuation of that. It may not be a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, but jaunting off to Copenhagen, Denmark, to grab a bite isn’t something he does on a regular basis. As he pointed out, his last two “Welcome Home” Yule dinners were leftover pizza and takeaway curry. Now, dining out with the Family Kirilovi, he’s getting fried scallops and duck confit. Gotta admit, it’s a big step up.
We get to see Pavlina and Victor head off on their own little night walk, first holding hands and then Victor wrapping his arm around his wife as they stroll across a street. It wasn’t so much they wanted the kids to be alone as it was they wanted to be alone, and Annie probably knows this. So Kerry and she walk down to the Langelinie, which is a major park in the city. And they enter the Langelinie by passing the Gefionspringvandet, which is Danish for the Gefion Fountain, dedicated to the Norse goddess of plowing, foreknowledge, and virginity. The statue itself depicts a story from the Ynglinga saga, where King Gylfi promised her all the land she could plow in a day and a night. So she turned her four sons she’d had with a giant into oxen and chewed up so much land that it split away from Sweden and became Zealand. Because of course.
Now that the history lesson is out of the way, the question remains: why come here? Well–
Annie slowed her pace slightly as she took Kerry’s hand. “Mama and Papa own a house here, so they know the city rather well.”
This was news to Kerry. He’d never heard Annie mention that her parents owned property elsewhere. “I wasn’t aware.”
“I don’t talk about it, but tonight there’s no reason to keep it secret.” She tightened her grip on Kerry’s hand. “The bought the house here five years ago: at the time Papa used it as a place to stay when he was racing in this part of Europe. Three years ago they bought another house in Feldafing, Germany, about thirty kilometers from downtown Munich. Last year they bought a farm outside San Sebastián, Spain. I’ve yet to see that one, but I figure I’ll get to spend some time there in the coming summer.”
“Wow.” He found the news extremely interesting. “Why the buying jag all of a sudden?”
“Mama says they’re getting ready for retirement. Papa is probably going to stop racing full-time not long after I graduate and he may become a part-owner of his race team. If he does that, they’ll likely spend most of their time either here or in Germany.
“But Mama told me the properties in Germany and Spain were bought through The Foundation using fake identities. I think those places are meant for when my parents are in their eighties and nineties and people are wondering why they still look like they’re in their fifties.” She glanced over at Kerry. “They can’t stay in Pamporovo once that happens.”
Kerry understood the matter perfectly. Once he’d learned that witches age far more slowly than Normals, he came to the understanding that it wasn’t possible to remain in one place for more than twenty or thirty years, least neighbors begin wondering why you didn’t appear the age. He knew Annie’s parents were edging into their late 30s, but it wasn’t hard to confuse either of them for people ten years younger. He was also aware they’d go through this as well and the lack of visible aging was one of the reasons they were unable to pin down just how far in the future some of their visions occurred.
He sighed. “I guess we’ll have to do the same one day.”
“So once your parents move out of Pamporovo, what happens to the property?”
“I get it. I’ll always have the lake house, but I was told I’d get the main house as well.” She pointed to something ahead. “Look. We’re here.”
As we now know, witches don’t age like us Normal folk and when Pavlina and Victor are in their eighties people will probably think they are in the late forties, early fifties, and if they’re still in Pampovoro that sure as shit won’t do ’cause too many people will know them. But fall out of the public eye for a while, move to another part of the country, and before you know it The Foundation has set you up with a new identity and you have another sixty, seventy years to kick it. Annie suspects that’s why her parent have other properties in Europe under different names, ’cause when the time comes Pavlina and Victor are gonna take it on the run and disappear, but not, if you know what I mean.
And we hear here, for the first time, that Annie gets the property at some point in her life. Not just the Lake House, which is always hers, but the main house and her mother’s greenhouse/lab as well. Sure, she wants to live in France–and Kerry will bring this up later–but she’s also gonna keep her roots in the mountains of Bulgaria.
Until then, they have a watery guest to entertain soon…
So far I haven’t gotten around to writing today, but never fear, I’ll do that today. For most of the day I’ve been taking it easy and I plan on getting in my thousand or so words around the time my dinner is ready.
In the mean time, I may as well get the rest of Kerry’s trip to Bulgaria out to you.
It’s not only coming, but I’m going to give you a quick video as well. So hang on–
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)
—Where he was standing in a large, clear area in front of a somewhat unassuming house. There was snow everywhere and the wind was blowing. It also seemed far colder than school had been yesterday.
Pavlina released Kerry’s hand. “Let’s get inside before we freeze.” She headed for the house at a brisk pace, levitating Kerry’s bag behind her. Victor did the same with Annie’s luggage and motioned with his hand to open the door just as Pavlina stepped on to the porch. Everyone was inside less than five seconds later.
Kerry stood to one side as Annie’s family made their way to the center of the room. This gave him the chance to examine his surrounding. While he’d heard Annie’s descriptions of her home many times, his first impression of the room in which he stood—he figured it for the living room—was that it appeared quite simple for the home of a Formula 1 driver and his pharmaceutical research spouse. Then again, there was nothing visible that told him he was also standing inside the home of three witches—
In a couple of scenes we’ll get a better view of the area where the Kirilovi’s live, but needless to say, they don’t live anywhere in town: they’re right up in the mountains. Which means there’s snow and not a little isolation. Which means nothing when you can jaunt from Vienna to your home in the blink of an eye.
And now that we’re home and inside, let’s look around:
Pavlina turned towards Kerry and addressed him. “Alright, Kerry. Let me give you a quick tour of the mail floor. Right now we’re in the living room, but we only use this when we’re entertaining.” She pointed towards a door at his left. “That the front closet. We usually put visitor’s gear there, but you’re not one of those people. We also have our cleaning supplies there. To your right—” She pointed at the door immediately across from the closet. “That leads to the lower level and Victor’s and my private residence, as well as the tunnel to my lab and the lake house. While you may use to tunnel to travel to the lake house and back, I ask that you don’t enter our residence or my lab.”
He nodded. “Sure. I won’t go to either of those places unless invited.”
“Thank you. “Now—” Pavlina turned and pointed to an open door in the far right corner. “That’s Victor’s office. He won’t conduct much business while you’re here, but if the door is closed he’s busy and you shouldn’t bother him.”
“If the door’s open you can go in and look at my brooms; I have them in cases.” Victor offered a wide smile. “I would ask, however, that you not attempt to open the cases, nor go through my desk.”
“I wouldn’t think of it.” Kerry nodded. “Though I would like to see your equipment when we have time. Also, I brought my broom: I thought I’d get in a little flying over the holiday.
Victor’s smile grew brighter. “Excellent. I’m certain there’ll be time to fly. I’ll get you a stand for your broom if you like.”
“That would be great; I didn’t bring my stand from school.”
Pavlina decided to move the tour along. “If you’ll come here, Kerry.” She motioned to a closed door set in the far wall of the living room. “We’ll go there in a minute. The ground floor bathroom is to your left: it’s only a half-bath—” She stopped in the open space between two room. She motioned towards the large table in the middle of a brightly illuminated room. “This is the dining room. If we’re not eating out, we eat here. I’m sure Annie told you our dining rules?”
He shook his head once. “No electronic gear at the table, all phones off.”
“She’s training you up nicely. Here—” she motioned to her right. “—is the kitchen. There are plenty of snacks in the refrigerator and pantry, but I ask that you not spoil your appetite before we dine. That door there leads to the mudroom, which leads to the back porch and the back meadow. When we leave the house it’s usually through there, so you’ll find coats, boots, all outdoor gear there. Now, I know you brought your winter coat—” She pointed him and at the dark blue coat he wore. “—but as I’m sure you discovered, while it might work in a Salem winter, it won’t do up here in the mountains. So we pulled out some of Victor’s old things so you’ll have a proper coat, hat, mittens, and boots.”
Kerry hesitated before speaking. “Thanks, but I also brought my cold wear flying gear—”
“Which is white so it acts as camouflage when airborne.” Victor chuckled. “If you were outside by yourself and something happened to you, we couldn’t see you.”
After careful consideration Kerry agreed. “You’re right.”
Pavlina smiled back at him. “We’ll size you up tomorrow morning. Also, those stairs—” She pointed at a spiral staircase going up. “They lead to Annie’s floor—which is where she should go so she can adjust and we can go to dinner later.”
I thought this description might be a little too much, so I included a video. Which may or may not answer everything for you.
Annie’s on her way to her room to get adjusted. Which means that leaves Kerry alone with the parents. Since he needs to get settled…
“I’ve gotten the hint, Mama.” She pulled her bag towards the stairs. “I see you in a few hours.”
Pavlina stepped in front of her. “Is your adjustment mixture in your bag?”
“No, it’s in my purse.”
“Then go on up and get adjusted. I’ll bring your bag us after getting Kerry settled.”
“Okay, Mama.” She gave Pavlina a hug then turned and hugged Victor. “It’s good to be home.” She glanced towards Kerry before addressing everyone. “See you in a few hours.”
As Annie headed up the stairs Pavlina touched Kerry on the shoulder. “Let me show you your room.”
They returned to the closed door off the living room. Pavlina waved it open and moved aside to allow Kerry entry after her retrieved his luggage. She stood just inside the doorway as she spoke. “This is the guest room. This is where Victor and I first slept when be bought the house, then it was Annie’s room after she was born. We moved her up to the first floor when she was almost seven and it’s been the guest room ever since.
“This door—” She reached for the door immediately to her left “—is the walk-in closet. You can put your things here. That—” She pointed to another door just to the right of the closet “—is the bathroom. It’s a full bath, so you will have all the privacy you need.” Pavlina motioned to the large roll-top desk to her right. “We brought in a desk and chair so you have a place for you computer—you brought that, didn’t you?”
Kerry finally removed his backpack and set it next to his luggage. “Yes, right here.”
“You won’t have any trouble logging into the wifi as we’re the only router for kilometers. I’ll give you the password later.”
“You have an end table over there and a wardrobe as well. Feel free to use both.”
“I will.” He looked down, suddenly humbled. “I want to thank you again for letting me stay with you.”
“There’s no need, Kerry. It’s our pleasure.” Pavlina moved so she was standing directly in front of the boy. “Remember, by you being here, you’re ensuring that Annie has a wonderful holiday as well. And that means Victor and I will also have a wonderful holiday, so you see how it all comes back to this moment?”
Kerry smiled as he nodded. “I do.”
“Good. Do you have your adjustment?”
He pointed at his backpack. “In there.”
“Then I’ll let you get adjusted.”
Kerry stopped Pavlina before she left. “Do I need to dress up tonight?”
She shook her head. “No, it’s going to be casual. What you have on will do.” She stepped into the doorway. “Have a good rest.” She stepped into the living room and the door closed behind her.
Kerry picked up his backpack and removed his pajamas from where he’s stashed them before leaving the hospital. He changed, used the bathroom, then drank his adjustment mixture before quickly crawling under the covers.
He fell asleep thinking about how nice the pillow felt…
As you can read, this is quite the departure from when he’s come home for Yule before. At least we can be assured that he’s not going to get slapped across the face like his mother did to him last Christmas Eve. I dare say this visit is going to go a lot better.
Now that he’s “home”, I guess everyone should get something to eat–
There hasn’t been any writing today–at least not yet. I found myself struggling most of the morning with things that happened then–yes, I love getting text messages at seven in the morning to do things that don’t concern me–and things that happened last night. And about last night…
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I love to convince myself that I can’t do something. It’s not just moments of doubt: it’s getting into my head and pulling out all the reasons why I can’t do something. And I did that last night after practice. I didn’t have a good 27/5–in fact it was horrible–and though the rest of the night wasn’t that bad, I focused on that and just kept hammering back into my head. By the time I went to bed last night I was convinced I should quit because I’m never going to do the one thing that will make my dreams come true.
I was even harping on it a little this morning. For so long I’ve heard I’m not special, that I’m nothing but a disappointment, that there are so many times when that’s all I see.
There’s something we need to do for certification that I call a 1 In 13. It’s one lap of the track in thirteen seconds or less from a standing start. It’s just hit it the moment the whistle blows and go full-tilt boogie for one lap. It’s like Olympic short track ice skating when everyone gets nuts, only it was me and another girl out there and not a half-dozen other people looking to take your ass out.
When I did it maybe 7 or 8 months back, I think my best time was 12.6 seconds. Last night I did it three times and each time I was down around 11.5 seconds, with my fastest being 11.3 seconds. There was nothing stylish about it: I just powered down both straights and coasted through the turns as close to the inside line as possible. And the time I skated was the time needed to skate 27 laps in 5:05.
I need to channel that energy into my flying laps, ’cause it’s my guess if I’d gone three or four more laps I’d have likely hit a couple of sub-11 seconds laps. And that would get me to where I need to be.
I have to stop listening to the voices of the past ’cause they haven’t done shit for me. Ever.
Speaking of someone who’s past voices have pretty much told him he’s not special, either, is on this way to where he’ll spend Yule Holiday. It’s all new for him.
And he’s not listening to the voices of the past.
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)
The jaunt station at Vienna International Airport flashed into view as Kerry steadied himself against his luggage. He normally didn’t get dizzy or disoriented when jaunting, but he’d turned his head to the left to check on Annie just as they departed Salem and the sudden transition threw him. In a matter of seconds he had his orientation and followed Annie off the platform and into the waiting crowd.
There were no problems leaving Salem—other than Kerry needing to go and finish packing Annie’s luggage which was done with no issues, as Coraline had promised. He spent the night in Bay #1 with Annie, sleeping next to her in Bed #1, which was a first for them both. Then a quick release, breakfast, and waiting until it was time to leave for Vienna—
Which brought them here.
While Annie made her way towards her parents, Kerry headed towards Berniece Rutherford, who had contacted him earlier in the week to let him know she’d see him off. “See him off” wasn’t the correct terminology, however: as she explained, it was necessary for her, as his case worker, to make certain the people taking him in for the holidays were actually there. It didn’t matter that she knew who Annie’s parents were and that she’d spoken with them before: there was protocol to follow and she wouldn’t break the rules.
Kerry was actually happy to see her. If there was one constant away from school that he could count upon, it was Ms. Rutherford looking after him. As she’d told him many times over the last year, if he needed help, she’d be there for him.
Just like now.
She appeared happy to see him as he approached. “Hello, Kerry.”
He stopped about a meter and a half away. “How you doin’, Ms. Rutherford?”
“I’m well.” She held her tablet in her crossed hands in front of her tummy. “Looked forward to the holiday?”
“Actually yeah, I am.”
“Well, let’s get you processed so you can be on your way.” She turned and walked with Kerry the few meters to where Annie and her parents stood. Bernice addressed each. “Annie; Ms. Kirilova; Mr. Kirilov.”
Annie’s mother almost seemed ready to roll her eyes. “Berniece, please— Pavlina and Victor.”
“Sorry, old habits. Speaking of which—” She patted Kerry on the shoulders. “I need to establish proof that Kerry left with you. So if you will—” Ms. Rutherford held out her tablet. “I need both your signatures and thumbprints.”
Victor stepped forward. “Of course.” He signed and affixed his print. “Wouldn’t want The Foundation of accusing us of losing Kerry.”
“We certainly wouldn’t want that.” Pavlina did the same as her husband. “I hope that satisfied everyone.”
“It does, indeed.” She turned to Kerry and gave him her warmest smile. “I want you to have a good time. Please enjoy your holiday—and if you need me—”
“You’re just a call away.” He smiled back. “No problem. Have a good holiday, Ms. Rutherford.”
She turned towards Annie and her family. “And I’ll extend my wishes that you all have an incredible Yule. Annie; Pavlina, Victor.” She took a step back. “See you all in a couple of weeks.” She turned and departed the station.
There you have it: Kerry’s made it out of the school and into the Vienna Airport, and Annie’s family have taken responsibility for his well-being. And you know they will. After all, if something happened to him, a certain Chestnut Hair Girl would probably lose her shit in a major way.
Now, the next section has a large part spoken in Bulgarian, but I’m gonna provide translations. Because that’s how I roll.
Pavlina looked to her husband. “We need to leave as well: these kids need to adjust so they’ll be on our time when we go to dinner.”
“We’re going out to dinner?” Annie fell in line next to her mother as the Kirilovi Family turned towards the exit.
“Yes. We thought it’d be nice to save the home cooked meals for tomorrow.” Pavline looked at Kerry. “Come along. We wouldn’t want you to get lost.”
“I’m right behind you.” He fell in next to Annie as soon as they were outside the jaunt station and walking towards the open area were people could jaunt in and out of The Foundation-controlled areas. He watched Annie closely and noticed her limping slightly after about a minute of walking. Coraline had warned her that while she was healed, she might not be back to one hundred percent mobility for a couple of days.
He wasn’t the only one who noticed the limp: Pavlina glanced at her daughter a few times before speaking to her in Bulgarian. “Zashto kŭlvash, Annie? (Why are you limping, Annie?)”
Annie replied in a matter of fact-like tone. “V posledniya mesets se prisŭedinikh kŭm rund derbi liga. Schupikh desniya si krak i kitkata snoshti po vreme na trenirovkata. (I joined a roller derby league last month. I broke my right leg and wrist last night during practice.)”
Kerry didn’t know what exactly Annie said—it didn’t bother him that her mother and she were speaking in their native language as it’s probably how they talked when he wasn’t around—but he was certain that she’d said she broke her leg during derby practice the night before, since “rund derbi liga” sounded enough like “roller derby league” to indicate the subject.
While Annie didn’t act like it was a big deal, her father and mother thought otherwise. Victor gave her a strange look while Pavlina seemed perplexed. “Roler derbi liga? Kakvo e tova? (Roller derby league? What’s that?)”
He was walking next to Annie when she gave her reply, looking straight ahead with a smile on her face. “Tova sa momicheta na rolkovi kŭnki, koito obikalyat edna pista i se blŭskat edin drug. (It’s girls on roller skates who go around a track hitting and blocking each other.)” She turned towards her mother. “Tova e mnogo zabavno. Kharesva mi. (It’s a lot of fun. I like it.)”
Pavlina seemed surprised. “We’ll discuss this tomorrow.” She motioned towards one of two large portals set in the right wall. “Here we are.”
That Annie: already she’s acting like getting hurt was part of what she signed up for–and if you remember, she was told “when” not “if” she got hurt. Now, she might not be so flippant if she had to wait twelve weeks to get back on skates like my teammate did, so having access to magical healing powers can help you keep that attitude. It might be a different story had she shown up in a wheelchair being pushed by Kerry.
Now that Annie and her mother have that business out of the way, it’s time to move on:
There were two public jaunt area in the area under the airport to allow witches the ability to jaunt in and out of the facility without having to go through security and leave via the same routes as Normals. One area was set aside for incoming jaunts and another for outbound. They turned through an archway located under the sign “Departures/Foriroj” and entered a huge, well-lit circular area painted in horizontal lines of sky blue and lemon yellow, with “Departures/Foriroj” emblazoned upon the wall in black letters three meters high opposite the archway.
Pavlina and Victor stepped to a point near the wall about six meters from the wall. Victor held out his right hand. “Annie, let me take your luggage.” She passed it to him: he instantly switched it to his left hand and held out his right again. “Take my hand, Nini.”
She nodded as Pavlina spoke to Kerry. “You stand next to Annie and give me your luggage, then take both our hands.”
Kerry was familiar enough with what was about to happen that he didn’t ask questions. In a matter of seconds he passed off his luggage and took both Annie’s and her mother’s hand. “I’m ready.”
Victor looked down the line to his right. “Everyone else?”
Pavlina nodded. “Take us home, love.”
Kerry felt the scenery around him shift again—
And tomorrow you’ll see where Kerry ends up.
Today has been another good day of writing. I’ve finished off another scene in the current chapter, adding another twelve hundred and sixty-six words to the story.
As you can see, scene three has the kids going to Copenhagen, and if you know a little about the city you’ll understand the scene title. If not, a picture of me at my computer might have it make more sense.
Yep, there are little mermaids in this story–sort of. You’ll find out when the time comes.
That means that today we get to finish off the first scene here. And we will. Because, as you’ll see, there’s a problem:
“There’s only one thing.” Coraline thought for a moment before throwing up an additional privacy screen. “I don’t want her climbing the stairs to your floor in the tower. Now, I know she has to go up and down stairs at home, but it’s not as far as having to climb the ones in the coven—”
Annie cleared her throat. “What she’s trying to say is I haven’t finished packing and I can’t get up to my room to do the rest.”
Kerry looked down at his soul mate. “One of the nurses could jaunt you up there.” He turned to Coraline. “Couldn’t they?”
“They could—if they were here.” Coraline cocked her head slightly to the right for just a second. “You probably aren’t aware of this since neither of you have been up here the day everyone leaves for Yule, but as soon as Gretchen is off-duty, that’s it, it’s just me running this place. And as soon as the last student is out, I shut it all down until 4 January.” She lightly touched her mouth with her closed right fist, bouncing it off her lips a few times. “There is another way, however—”
Kerry felt that wasn’t this other way was, he wasn’t going to like it much. “Yeah?”
“You can do it.” Annie tried to sit up and eventually quit and raised the head of her bed slightly. “I can tell you what I need, which isn’t a lot. Then you go back to the tower, finish your packing, then go to my room and finish packing my things.”
So, Annie planed on finishing her packing tonight. And she needs it done. And she’s certain Kerry can do it for her. They even got it worked out–
Coraline smiled. “Then you can call Gretchen, she jaunts in and gathers you and the bags up in Annie’s room, and jaunts you back her. Or I can come and get you. Easy peasy either way.”
Kerry was silent for almost ten seconds before he pointed out the obvious. “Yeah, about that… There’s only one way I can get into Annie’s room and—” He looked down as he sighed. “I don’t want anyone to see me.”
Yeah, about that…
We know there is a way for Kerry to get into Annie’s room, because it’s been done before. However, Kerry’s not eager to do it again and certainly doesn’t want to be seen by people in the tower, which is to say Kerry doesn’t want to be seen by any nosy B Levels.
Coraline has it figured out, however, which means she probably spoke to Annie before helping out with this idea:
“Good point.” Coraline tapped her chin. “Did I mention you’ll do this after lights out?”
“No, you didn’t.”
“That’s when it’s going to happen. And you know how lights out is the night before going home at Yule—” A big smile appeared on Coraline’s face. “Everyone’s in their bed with visions of getting the hell out of here as soon as possible.”
“It makes sense, my love.” Annie reached out and took Kerry’s hand. “I know it won’t take you long to pack and I know what I need—” She closed her eyes for a second. “At least I think I can tell you everything.”
“It’s okay: I’m pretty sure I can fill in the blanks so I don’t miss anything.” He gave Annie’s had a squeeze as he turned to Coraline. “Okay, I’ll do it. Do you have something I can wear after I transition over?”
Coraline gave Kerry a strange look. “Don’t you have night clothes for the other—you?”
“You can put them on in your room then change out of them when you’re back here.” Coraline shrugged. “It’s not that hard, is it?”
Kerry realized he was making a big deal out of nothing. He’d already walked around his floor in the middle of the night as other half and there hadn’t been a problem—which was how this would go tonight.
He brought Annie’s hand to his lips and planted a kiss upon the back. “It’s not a problem, Sweetie.”
Annie gave Kerry her best medicated grin. “Thank you, my love.”
He smiled down at his injured soul mate. “Hey, who else is gonna change genders for you, huh?”
So the problem of getting Annie packed for the trip home for the holidays is over and Kerry is willing to do something that he last did about seven weeks before so it’s done. You know it’s true love when someone changes apparent genders for you so you don’t have to worry about not being packed.
Like it or not you’ve just read the last scene in the novel to take place in the school during the year 2013. The next time we’re back here it’ll be 2014.
And that means tomorrow we start traveling to Bulgaria…
We come to that time when the kids are getting out of the school for the Yule holiday–
And they are, for the first time, going to the same place.
Yes, it’s time for Yule in Pamporovo and there’s been quite a bit of writing. As a matter of fact I finished the second scene a few minutes ago and that’s put the chapter at about thirty-seven hundred words, which is quite a lot.
But before they head for Bulgaria, there’s something going on before that moment. And here it is:
From the time Sabrina made contact with him in the library, it took Kerry about a minute to find himself entering the hospital. He strolled through the waiting room and headed directly for Coraline’s office, where he found Nurse Gretchen sitting behind the desk. He knocked on the door frame. “You wanted to see me?”
Nurse Gretchen looked up and pointed towards him. “She does.”
He turned and found Coraline standing outside Bay #1, with the privacy curtain pulled about two-thirds closed. She beckoned him forward. “I have something for you.”
Given the fact he was summoned to the hospital, the bay outside of which Coraline was now standing, and the time, Kerry had a pretty good idea what was waiting. “What happened?”
“Well…” Coraline made a pushing motion with her hand and the curtain retracted about halfway to the wall. “I think you should hear it from your one and only.”
Kerry peeked around the curtain and had his suspicions confirmed. “What happened to you?”
It should come as no surprise that the “you” in question here is Annie, and since she’s in Bay #1, chances are she’s hurt.
Oh, boy, is she hurt…
Annie lay in Bed #1 dressed in a yellow nightgown, a blue cast covering most of her lower right leg and foot, a similar blue cast on her right wrist, and an IV running to a patch on the back of her left hand. She slowly turned her head toward the sound of Kerry’s voice and smiled. “I had an accident.”
Coraline leaned slightly towards Kerry. “She’s on pain meds so she’s not all the way coherent.”
He chuckled while giving the doctor a strange look. “I’m a bit familiar with that feeling.” He moved into the bay and took up position next to Annie’s bed. “What kind of accident?”
“I was—” Annie closed her eyes for a second as she tried to focus. “I was doing one eighty transition toe stops and had pretty much mastered them as a slow pace, so Holly suggested I try them at a little quicker pace. So I did—” She smiled as she remembered her practice. “I did three extremely well. The fourth, however—”
“Not so well.”
“No.” Annie lay back into her pillow. “My skate caught as I turned and…” She looked up at the ceiling. “My mind is a bit fuzzy: I’m having difficulty telling you—”
Kerry patted her shoulder. “It’s okay, I understand. I’ve been where you are enough to know.” He turned to Coraline. “What’d she break?”
“She torqued her leg resulting in a trimalleolar fracture about a quarter of the way up from the ankle. Also, when she went down she tried to break her fall by putting her hand out and that resulted in a scaphoid fracture of the wrist.” Coraline stepped into the bay and pulled the privacy curtain all the way closed. “She also dislocated her shoulder, but that was easy to fix. The rest will require at least eight hours for my magical nanoids to do their thing.”
Hearing that left Kerry but with one other question. “Are we gonna be able to jaunt out of her at nine tomorrow? Her parents are gonna be waiting for us and if we can’t—”
Coraline held up her hand. “Don’t worry, Red: she should be fully healed before oh-six hours and I’ll be in here at seven to give her a discharge and a clean bill of health. Only thing—” She looked down at Annie. “I don’t want you on skates for seventy-two hours after discharge.”
Annie smiled. “Since I’m not taking them home, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“And once you’re back next year, I want to check out your leg and wrist before I clear you for skating.” Coraline glanced over to Kerry. “I was told to treat these derby girls just like I treat the fliers.”
He shrugged. “That makes sense.”
I considered posting an image of a trimalleorlar fracture, but after looking at a few I decided against putting up pictures for you to see. If you’re really interested, Google “trimalleorlar fracture” and gaze upon the carnage, ye mighty. One of my teammates suffered a similar fracture back in February–she was doing something almost the same as Annie when she snapped her leg–and I believe I know someone else who had the same thing happen to her, which required screws to repair the damage.
And then the wrist break– We’re always told not to use our hands as a brace when we fall to avoid breaking our wrists and the only time I’ve seen a teammate break a wrist–yep, she put her hand out as she was going down. Sometimes you can’t help it ’cause habits are hard to break, while bones are easy. See what I did there? Sure you did.
So things are cool: Annie’ll be all healed up before returning home.
That doesn’t mean we’re done–
Yesterday was supposed to be easy. And it was. I put together two more playlists for YouTube, went to dinner, watched JFK last night, and–oh yeah. I wrote.
There you are, I’m already into Chapter Twenty-four and I started it off with just a little over twelve hundred words. Which means I’m one scene down with thirteen to go, with hope that I saw that number down by one today.
This last excerpt is from Chapter Twenty-two and it deals with the time after Annie’s first practice. I can tell you that once you’ve had your butt kicked by the first practice you can feel like you wanna walk away and keep walking, so it’s not unusual that my Bulgarian Princess isn’t at her best right now…
Annie walked out of the Dining Hall after practice, pulling her rolling gear bag behind her. Her hair was still somewhat matted from the helmet, though she’d teased it out a bit so it wouldn’t look like it was sticking to her head. Her leggings and tank top were soaked and starting to slowly dry in the warm air inside the Great Hall. She considered giving her left armpit a sniff but decided against the action: she was certain after a couple of hours of sweating she smelled quite ripe—
She stopped as Kerry stepped around the corner and leaned against the wall. A smiled brightened her dour demeanor. “My love.” She set her gear back next to her. “How long have you waited for me?”
“Maybe five minutes.” He shrugged appeared to think. “Which would be ten for you, I guess, given you were in a time expansion field.” He walked towards her and opened his arms—
Annie took a step back. “Please, don’t. I’m a sweaty mess. And I smell.”
“Like you never hugged me when I was the same way.” He gave her a hug and kiss before motioning towards the Rotunda. “Let’s sit for a bit.”
There he is, derby widow Kerry, ready and willing to hug his little cabbage roll even though she’s sweaty and probably smells, too. As he pointed out, she didn’t mind hugging him when he was the same way, so now that he has the chance why not return the favor? Keep the sweat in the family, I say.
They slowly made their way to the benches along the south wall of the Rotunda. Annie realized that the last time she sat here was during the Day of the Dead attacks, when she attempted to rest after showing the other girls a bit of sorcery. She sat, wincing as she did.
Kerry noticed his soul mate’s grimace. “Rough practice?”
She sat back and exhaled deeply. “We skated a lot of laps. Then we did twenty minutes of knee falls. Then twenty minutes of weaving between cones.” She rested her head against Kerry’s shoulder. “That was the first hour. I think we mostly did pace lines and stops the second.”
Kerry slipped his arm around Annie’s shoulder. “Sounds like a workout and a half.”
“It was intense. I heard a couple of girls say they might not come back on Thursday.” Annie closed her eyes. “I wish I could take a bath. Showers are nice, but the way I feel now, a nice long, hot bath would be wonderful.”
If Annie thought that was hard, wait until she starts doing crunches and planks.
“Well…” Kerry hugged Annie tight. “We could drop your gear off in the tower commons and then fly out to the Diamond. I could get us into the team clubhouse and you could use the baths in the girl’s locker room.”
“Let me think about that.” She smiled, her eyes still closed. “Angry said she’s going to speak to the headmistress tomorrow and see about getting a dozen baths installed in the lower levels so we can used them after practice and bouts.” Annie opened her eyes as she sighed. “I hope she says yes.”
“I don’t see why she wouldn’t.”
Annie gave a slight nod then sat up. “Can I ask a question?”
Kerry looked at her with a half-grin on his face. “Any time.”
“Why didn’t you ever talk about practice?”
For about five seconds Kerry looked straight ahead; when he finally spoke it was in a low, quiet tone. “When I first started racing practice I didn’t think it’d be a big deal. I mean, I’d flown fast, even did that on West End. I though it’d come easy.
“Then we had to practice getting our times down on the Green and Blue Lines and we needed to hit some of the turns faster and with more exactness—” He turned his head slowly towards Annie. “After hitting some of those turns as fast as you can over and over, taking all those gees, it felt like someone had hit you again and again with a cricket bat.
“I’d come back and just deal with the soreness because—” He lowered his gaze. “I figured you didn’t want to hear about how hard it was.”
Annie placed her hand on Kerry’s knee. “Were you afraid I was going to think you couldn’t take the strain?”
He nodded. “Something like that. You dad handled it: I guess I didn’t want you to think less of me.”
“My love—” She placed her hand under his chin lifted his head. “I had never compared you to my father, and I would never think less of you for that work.”
Kerry took her hand and smiled. “Also, I didn’t want to bore you. Nor did I want to sound like I was bragging.”
Though it rarely comes up, Kerry is aware that he’s sorta competing with another Kirilovi, though they left the school years before Kerry was even born. Doesn’t matter that Annie doesn’t care about what he father did when he was a student, even money Kerry sees reminders of her father’s accomplishments at least one a week, either on the Wall of Remembrance, or down at the Flight School, or even in The Diamond.
And like it or not, he feels he’s competing against him at times, even though he isn’t.
At least Annie doesn’t have to worry about being compared to anyone who’s come before her, as she’s on the ground floor for a new sport. One that she’s gonna have to tell her parents about–
But that can wait until she’s home for Yule. As for now–
Annie chuckled. “What have I ever done that would make you believe that?” She touched a finger to his lips. “Glupavata mi lyubov. You should know better.”
He chuckled as well. “I guess I should.”
“That’s said—” She drew in a breath. “Why do you want to know about my practice?”
“Because I want to know everything about you.” He slowly caressed her check. “There was never a time when I didn’t want know about you. And that includes your practice.”
Annie snuggled against him, forgetting all about being sore and sweaty. “I never thought I’d get involved in a sport at school. Neither racing or fighting interested me. And now—”
“And now you happen to be one of those bringing a sport here for the first time.” He rested his head against hers. “You’re going to do great.”
She looked up. “You think so?”
Because if there’s one thing I know about Annie Kirilova—” Kerry slowly lifted her way so he could looked directly at her. “—it’s that she doesn’t go into anything half-hearted. Anything you go into, you go into it with the intention of being the best. If you can’t be the best, you walk away.”
Annie stayed silent for almost ten seconds before kissing Kerry. “You know me too well, my love.”
He blushed. “I would hope I know my wife pretty well by now.”
She laughed. That’s the first time he’s called me his wife in a place where others could hear us. And he didn’t care… “I don’t know if I’ll be the best player. But I’ll certain do my best.”
“We’ll see.” Kerry stood and helped Annie get to her feet. “You wanna use one of the baths down at the clubhouse?”
“Maybe some other time. Right now—” She tilted her gear bag on to its wheels. “I want to get clean.”
“Got it.” They began walking towards the West Transept. “Can I ask another question?”
“You have a derby name yet?”
“Not yet.” Annie looked straight ahead so Kerry couldn’t see her lopsided grin. “But I’m working on that.”
There you have it: Annie’s on her way to being the best.
Of course, that doesn’t mean she won’t experience a few problems along the way…
The title can mean a lot–but you have to watch to figure out just what it means!
It’s been a good day today. Money in the bank, dues are paid, I’ve got pills to keep me mostly sane for another month, and I don’t ache like I did yesterday.
It was so good that I didn’t realize something important happened a couple of days ago.
First off, Chapter Twenty-two is finished: I just put the last word down on that about fifteen minutes ago.
While I was doing a word count check I realized that I’d passed another milestone by a couple of thousand words, and when I looked back I realized that back on 19 June, I passed a quarter of a million words for this novel. In fact, it happened close to the end of the excerpt I posted yesterday.
Realistically speaking, I’m probably over the hump now, because I figured this novel will likely top out at some point between 450,000 and 500,000 words. Yeah, that’s right. I figure that because I know of all the shit waiting for my kids on down the road and it’s sizable. That means it may just take a half a million words to get that tale told.
And speaking of tales…
As the title tonight suggest, it’s no longer Recruitment Night, but rather, it’s the Monday practice night for our new junior derby girls. And as I’ve done for the last few nights, you get all of the scene tonight.
Let’s do just that:
Annie rolled out on to the floor and slowly circled the track, working her legs while getting a feel for her new skates. After the fitting on Saturday morning—where she was one of the first ones to show, as promised—she decided to go with the Bonts, since they felt the most comfortable on her feet. A few of the girls went with Riedell and six decided to stick with the Mota, but the majority of the girls who came for skates went with the Australian manufacturer.
As promised, all skates were waiting for those who showed for this first Monday night practice. Not only that, but the gear they used the previous Thursday was waiting, as well as a rolling bag they could use to store and transport their gear from coven to practice and back.
There was so much to learn about her equipment. When she was handed her skates, Holly mentioned they were fitted with 93a wheels and that they’d tighten the trucks if necessary, which made Annie’s eyebrows shoot upwards before she asked what they all meant. There was plenty of time. Right now she just wanted to move around the track and get the feel of her wheels under her feet.
The rest would come later.
Though, just like Annie, I started out on Riedell skates, I now use Bont skates. I’ve never tried on Mota skates, but I know a couple of people who have and love them, and if I’d tried them off first I might have been the same way. But no, I went Down Under to get my skates, mate.
And here they are while I’m changing out wheels:
The green wheels on the left are outdoor wheels known Atom Poison. They’re quite soft–and 84a if you must know–which makes them grip the pavement nicely. The wheels on the right are the ones I use at the rink, Radar Halo 93a wheels, which is a much harder wheel. Annie’s wheels are Radar Prestos of the same rating as mine, so they’ll look a little different.
(When I talk about hard and soft wheels, I’m talking about the Shore Hardness scale as measured on a durometer. The A scale is used for flexible mold rubbers, which is what skate wheels are made of, and that’s why there’s an “a” after the wheel number. The higher the number, the harder the wheel, so a Radar Halo 101a is about as hard as you can get before going up to the “D” scale. And if you’re wondering, my skate wheels–and Annie’s–are as hard as the wheels found on a shopping cart.)
But you can only go so far on hardware: it’s how you use that hardware that counts. And for that, Annie and the others have coaches–
Eventually everyone was on the track doing warm-up laps. They were only out for about two minutes before Angry, Holly, and Princess skated out and weaved their way through the girls to the center of the track. Angry watched the girls for about ten seconds before blowing a whistle attached to the fingers of her right hand. “Okay, bring it to the center and make a circle around us.”
It took about twenty seconds for everyone to stop and get into a circle around the three women. Angry gave an approving look to the girls before speaking. “You all look good out there. Some better than others, but that doesn’t matter: you’re not gonna be pros overnight.
“Tonight the real work starts. Tonight we’re going to begin learning first how to skate, then second, learning how to play derby. Some of you will move faster than others, but that will happen: everyone progressing at different rates. What matters is that all of us are at the same point when the school year ends.
“Now, I want you all to do something for me.” Angry pointed outward from herself. “Each of you, take a look to your left and then to your right. When you’re done, I want all eyes back on me.” Once every skater did as asked Angry continued. “I want you to remember the people next to you, ‘cause it’s quite likely that one of those people may not be here at the end of the school year.
“That’s not meant to scare you: it’s meant as a statement of fact. Right now we have thirty-seven skaters and I would be beyond ecstatic if all thirty-seven of you are certified and bout ready when we leave here next May. But I know derby and I know real life has a way of interfering with your progress, so it’s likely some of you will leave due to those pressures. If so, there’s no shame: all three of us have, at one time or another, needed to step away from our leagues due to our real lives.
“It’s also likely that after a few weeks or months, a few of you may decide that derby isn’t for you. I won’t lie: It’s not going to be easy to get to where you are certified and bout ready. Derby isn’t easy: as a former teammate of mine liked to say, if derby was easy, then everyone would play. And since everyone isn’t playing…” She shrugged. “It must not be that easy.
“When this project was presented to the Sports Division of the Educational Council, I was asked two question: did I want to put together the teams needed to bring this sport to the North American schools, and did I want Salem? In case you’re wondering, I said yes to both. That means I’m responsible if this program fails, particularly here, at this school. And I don’t want it to fail, not for me, and most definitely not for you.
“So I, and these women standing with me, will tell you this: if you give us everything we ask of you, we will teach you everything we know and help you develop as a skater. Nothing we’re going to ask of you wasn’t already asked of us—though, in all honesty, you’re doing this at a younger age, which is why our program is tailored to the three-stage JRDA program assessments. Still, it’s gonna require work—and if you work for us, we’ll work for you.”
We know Recruitment Night started out with 43 girls and now their down to 37, which means they lost fourteen percent of their starting pool. And that whole left and right thing? Totally possible. From my Recruitment Night there were ten of us that started: I, like Ishmael, remain to tell the story of that event. As it was relayed to me once, it’s not out of the question to see about ten percent of the people recruited at one event to stay until they certify and play. We’ve been fortunate with our last few Recruitment Nights in that we’ve retained a lot of the women who came out…
But live does get in the way of derby. We’re not paid to play: we do it because we want to. So it’s not out of the question to have players drop out for any number of reasons. Some come back: most don’t. As Angry says, there’s no shame to walk away if it’s required.
And her comment about a teammate saying if derby was easy, everyone would play? That comment was made to me on more than one occasion by my teammate, Redrum Doll, who I want to be when I grow up. And if we ever get a chance to play together, the other team is gonna catch hell…
Now that all the touchy-feely stuff is out of the way, let’s get into some rules:
Angry waited for all the nodding and small talk to diminish before getting serious. “Now, as I said I have a couple of degrees in law, which means I’m all about the rules. And one of the rules I have—” She raised her voice enough that she could be heard without difficulty. “When I say practice begins a nineteen hours, I mean I expect you to be geared up and on the track at that time. I don’t mean that four or five of you are still on the sidelines, taking your time putting on your pads while you and your teammates bullshit around about your hard day crafting spells. That shit ends right now. You wanna practice? You practice like it means something to you.
“One of the things I’m big on is cardio, and one great way of building up cardio endurance is to skate laps—fast. Every practice we’re gonna start with cardio lap, ‘cause if nothing else we’re gonna outlast whatever team we play all the way to the end. Also, one of your Level One Assessments is to be able to skate eight laps in two minutes, which works out to skating one lap of the WFTDA track every fifteen seconds.
“From this point on, for every skater who is late getting on to the track for practice, we will skate five laps for every minute those skaters held us up from getting to our work. That means—” She looked at a few skaters who wouldn’t meet her gaze. “—since three of you were a minute late and two were two minutes later, we should be skating at least thirty-five laps—on top of whatever other cardio laps I had planed for our time together.
Angry probably wouldn’t be this mean with a normal group of 14 year old girls, ’cause their parents would be up in her face if she were, but these are not Normal girls: they’re witches and they’re expect to be pushed to be the best at the best school in The Foundation. And given that a few of them besides Annie have likely killed people–you know, the stray Deconstructor that found their way on to the school grounds during a certain Day of the Dead–you don’t expect things to go easy with them.
And that “be on the track or skate extra laps” is not just something I’ve made up. Our league expects us to be geared up and on the floor when practice starts. Some league will make you skate extra cardio laps for people getting on the floor late, but since we’re adults we usually end up doing 10 laps for every minute late. Now, I’ve never had to skate extra laps because of people being late, but one time my league did have to skate 50 laps instead of 40 because I made a groaning sound after our guest coach said we’d skate 40 laps and she tacked on 10 extra for that shit. I apologized to both her and my coach when I was done and believe me, I’ve never done that again. You just take your laps.
In case you’re curious, the most cardio laps I’ve skated at one time was 80, which means I skated 14,440 ft/4,400 m in that session. That works out to 2.73 mi/4.4 km if you’re keeping track. The greatest number of laps I’ve skated at near-cardio speeds was 120 done in three separate sessions as a pack. I didn’t keep up with the pack on the last two sessions, but I did skate all 120 laps. That’s 4.1 mi/6.62 km if you’re keeping track–
But Angry is feeling a bit generous tonight…
“I’m gonna go easy on you today—but only today. Pack it up on the pivot line.” Holly and Princess skated on to the track and pointed at a bright blue line at the entrance to one turn which Angry shouted out instructions. “I want a loose pack, everyone about an arm’s length from everyone else. Princess is gonna set the pace: do not pass her. Holly and I will bring up the back and help anyone struggling. If you fall, try to fall small like we showed you Thursday night then get up and come back after the pack passes.” Holly and Angry skated to the back as Princess prepared to lead the pack. “Okay? Twenty laps, easy pace. Go.” She brought the whistle to her lips and blew hard.
Annie took off, moving partway to the outside of the track where there was more room. She clenched her teeth to set her mouth guard, then concentrated on the girls around her, making certain she didn’t run over anyone—or get run over in the process.
She was two thirds of the way around the track when she heard Angry call her name. “Annie. You’re at front of the pack. Call the laps.”
“Yes, Coach.” She waited until they crossed the same blue line from which they started. “One.”
Angry called out instantly. “Nineteen to go, freshies. Let’s do this.”
Annie smiled, certain no one saw her.
It was going to be an interesting two hours—
So starts Annie’s Derby Days. And there’s one more scene to present before I’m finished with her current torture, but in this world of mine it’s time to focus on what happens next in the novel.
And I’ve already decided:
It’s time for my kids to spend Yule in Pamporvo…
Yeah, I’m coming to this late. And yeah, I haven’t written anything–
It’s been a long last 24 hours. Part of that is due to getting my ass kicked hard last night at practice, because I was working on timing and hitting drills with the vets–yay, insurance!–and I did a lot of that work against a couple of our faster players. That meant I had to push hard just to try and keep up and while I did my best, it wasn’t always that good. Still, I kept at it and my thighs and butt are still screaming at me today.
Also, I did a 27/5 where I fell on the second lap. I did finish with a time of 5:52, however, ’cause I got up and kept going. Even though I knew I’d have a shit time, the thing to do it finish it out. These days if I get on the line, I’ll get the time.
I should point out that it was almost a year ago last night that I had one of my first real practices–which I happened to photograph. There’s the before:
And the after:
If I remember correctly I may have managed 20 laps during cardio. Back in those days I was pretty shit because I was so out of shape, but I was getting better–though I doubt I did anything like a 40/10 at that point. That might not have happened until sometimes in July.
What’s up next is what happened to Annie at her Recruitment Night. A lot of what happens to her is a lot of what I’ve seen at various Recruitment Nights over the last year, though I’m sure a 14 year old girl might not get it as hard as I got.
Let’s see how she did.
An hour after getting fully geared, Annie didn’t need to wonder what she and the other girls had gotten into.
Angry and Holly and Princess—as they were told, during practice it was derby names only—showed them simple moves and encouraged them to perform them as well. They did knee drops—left, right, and both—where they’d drop to the ground and get back up after a few seconds without using their hands. A couple of girls, Annie among them, figured out quickly how to touch the ground with one knee and slid back up to a skating position quickly, earning some praise from the coaches in the process. They also learned to do something called “falling small”, which seemed to consist of getting down on both knees as quickly as possible, pulling your arms in as you sat back on your heels, and leaning over so as to make a small ball on the floor.
Falling Small is important because if you fall and then “starfish” on the floor–which is to say, your legs and arms are out wide from your body–and someone trips over a body part, you’ll get called for a low block on the player. It doesn’t matter that they tripped over you, it’s your fault you’re spread out on the floor. Ergo, learn to fall small.
And knee drops–all the kinds–are part of our Minimum Required Skills needed for certification. You’re expect to get down and back up in 3 seconds without the use of hands.
Now my favorite part:
Then they learned about stops. First a plow, which Annie figured out quickly as it was much like plowing on skis. Then a t-stop, which involved putting one foot at right angles behind the other and using it like a break: that one she didn’t figure out right away. Then there was a transition stop, which they were shown but, as explained, they didn’t figure many would get it as few of them had ever been on skates, so they weren’t expected to try—
Unless they wanted.
About a dozen girls tried, each in groups of three with the coaches hovering over them since most had never been on skates, including Annie. She watched Holly go through the motions of the transition three times before trying it herself and her first attempt found her falling on her side. Holly helped her back on her wheels and to the coach’s—and Annie’s—surprise, Annie wanted to try again. This time she spun around one hundred and eighty degrees, but it was a sloppy mess and Annie thought about halfway through the transition she was going down again.
Though I’m getting better, I suck at plows. Part of it is mental: I just can’t seem to sit back and push out my heels enough to get a fast stop. Since I now “trust my skates” enough to do a good crossover during a 27/5, I need to trust them to plow.
As for t-stops and 180 transition stops–yeah, got it. Though I tend to let my leg swing out on a 180 and I need to stop that, too. There’s always work for you, no matter how good you get.
Now on to something I love–
Then, because there were so many skaters, the girls were broken into two groups, and put into what Angry called a pace line. What they did was simple: they skated around the track, keeping a certain amount of space between each person in line. Annie was in the second group and watched the first group skate slowly around the track for a couple of laps before they were stopped by Angry, who said now that they could do that much, it was time to learn how to weave through the line—
The way it was presented it seemed simple: the person in the front skated to the front, weaving between the skaters until they took the lead, after which the newest person at the back of the line did the same, until everyone went through. The moment Princess started out at the back as a way of showing the skaters—Annie reminded herself they were called Freshies—three girls asked to drop out of the pack, fearing they couldn’t keep up or make it through the pack. Angry allowed it and, after starting, everyone in the line managed one trip through the line with Holly’s and Princess’ help.
Annie’s pack got their turn next.
They started with twenty-one girls, but two immediately asked if they could sit out. Angry didn’t hold it against them and told Holly and Princess to begin. The assistant coach skated to the front, weaving pass Annie so close that she wondered if there really was enough room between them. Four more skaters took their turns—
Then it was Annie’s time to go.
When she heard her name called she took a deep breath and hesitated for a moment: it was the first time she felt doubt in doing something since her Levitation lab that first night in Advanced Spells just over two years ago. A moment later she skated out of line before moving to her right, cutting in front of Farah Charobim, who was directly in front of her. She then slipped to her left and passed in front of the next skater, and the next, and the next after that. While she wasn’t fast or particularly agile, Annie found a rhythm that allowed her to get through with little problem, though like the other skaters she found having to skate up to the pack when they were outside of them in a turn to be difficult.
When then last freshie made it to the front and they were asked to plow, Annie felt as if she’d accomplished something great.
This is the first time we’ve seen Annie show any kind of hesitation when it comes to school things since one night over two years before, probably because she’s out of her element. We know she does have doubt, but she’s gotten really good at hiding it away from other. And yet, she made it through.
I love weaving and I’m pretty good at it. When you get better you get to hit people, which we were doing a little last night. From 8/8 of 2017, here’s a bit of line weaving with some hitting.
So Annie made it through all that stuff–which means she’s doing what? Right now, she’s getting ready to leave…
After they finished Angry released everyone and reminded the girls that if they wanted to start practice next Monday, they should be in the Dining Hall at 09:30 so they could try on, and be fitted for, they own skates. She was half way to one of the benches when Princess skated up next to her. “Annie.”
Annie quickly plowed and slowly turned to face the woman. “Yes—” She reached up so she could remove her mouth piece—
“No, don’t do that.” Princess waved her hand and Annie stopped. “Start learning how to talk with it in.”
“You did well tonight.” The coach ran her gaze from the floor up. “I hope you’re coming back on Saturday.”
Annie knew the answer without needing time to think. “I should be here first thing.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Princess smiled. “I have a good feeling about you. I hope you stay with us.” She turned and skated off.
Annie continued towards the bench, found an open spot, and sat. She removed her helmet first then she skates, as she remembered that they weren’t allowed to stand on their skates if they weren’t wearing a helmet. She wanted to start making good habits now.
When she was finished Annie took her gear and returned it to the same small table where it had been placed originally. As she turned to leave Kerry approached. He gave her a big smile and a quick kiss before speaking. “Did you have fun?”
A smile broke out on Annie’s face. “I did. Were you watching me?”
He turned to walk with her. “Only a little. They said I’m not needed right away, but they thought I may make a good penalty timer.” He chuckled. “Whatever they do.” He glanced at Annie. “But I did see you in the pack.”
“How did I look?”
“Good. A little shaky but not as bad as some of the girls.” He leaned in close and spoke in a softer voice. “You coming back?”
Annie took his hand and kissed it. “What do you think?”
Kerry smiled. “I think you’ve found something you’re gonna like.”
This is really the first time we’ve heard Annie ask Kerry about how she looked and if he saw her for anything. She didn’t care how she looked when she was fighting, she doesn’t seem to care about how she looks when she’s crafting–but tonight, she wanted to know if Kerry saw her.
It’s almost like she wanted him to appreciate she was doing something different…
Today hasn’t been the greatest. I’ve been going back and forth about… stuff… with the soon-to-be-ex and it’s driving me nuts. I had to visit a blood doctor because my white cell count is up over 10,000 and no one knows why. I had two jobs respond to my resumes and they told me I wasn’t “right” for them, which probably means they think I want too much money given my age.
Yeah, not a good day.
So what did I do? I wrote.
This is the four time in four days I’ve written over a thousand words and I do hope I keep it up. What this means for now is that I’m two scene, or about 2,400 words, ahead of what I’m posting today. It’s nice having a surplus, you know? It doesn’t stress me out.
Here you go: all of the second scene in one bit, with explanations in between. After all, I don’t want to confuse you all.
Annie was with forty-two other girls sitting in a circle in the middle of what they were told was the track upon which they’d play. Like Annie, the other girls were wearing their elbow and knee pads along with their wrist guards. Some were wearing their mouth guards, trying to get used to wearing an appliance over their teeth without gagging, though a few weren’t succeeding…
Just before the last of the girls were in their gear and moving towards the center of the track, the two women who’d help them get checked in and ready went behind a privacy screen. Though Annie had heard a reference to someone named “Angry”, she’d yet to see this person. She knew it wasn’t one of the two women they’d already met: as she learned when she was given her release form, the tall blond was named Princess and she discovered from Elisha that the woman checking them in was named Holly. Annie believed these weren’t their correct names: Kerry discovered, through his research, that everyone on a team has a “derby name”, so she figured the names given were those.
The screen dropped and Holly and Princess headed towards the group, fully geared, including helmets and skates. They stopped just outside the circle and motioned for the girls to move apart enough to allow a third woman to skate into the center. As she reached the middle she widened her stance and spin through a hundred and eighty degree turn, going up on her toes and coming to a stop so Annie could just see her right profile.
Annie examined her closely. She was not too tall—maybe a meter six-five—but her upper arms and thighs were quite muscular, as were her calves. She had long, ginger hair pulled back in a pony tail and short nails painted black. Like Holly, this woman also had a great many colored tattoos which showed up well against her pale complexion. The ones on her arms extended about midway down her forearms and she had a large tattoo on her left calf, something easily seen as the woman was wearing short leggings.
The woman put her hands on her hips and looked around. “I’m surprised to see so many here tonight; I expected maybe half this number.” She slowly turned in place as she spoke. “My name is Angry Orange, though people outside of derby know me as Lucy van der Sloot. If the name and the accent didn’t give it away, I’m from The Netherlands: Buchten, in case you’re wondering. I’m also a former student of Salem, having graduated in 2007. I’m a member of Ceridwen Covern, but that doesn’t make me an expert on transformation magic: just ask Professor Kishna the next time you see her and she can give you details.
“For my Real Life Experience I maintained an apartment in Amsterdam while traveling the world, ‘cause I always wanted to live there. And once my RLE was over and it was time to go to school, in 2008 I began attending the University of Amsterdam. I graduated three years later with a bachelors in Law and just this last spring I finished my masters program in International Criminal Law. So now you know: I’m a stickler for rules and regs.
Now you know: some witches go into college and becoming big-time lawyers. It’s not a surprise Lucy–I’m sorry, I mean Angry Orange–went into law, because if she works for The Foundation, she can set up in some corporate front and now how to handle all those pesky Normals. She could even get a job with, say, Interpol, which gives her a leg up in knowing what they’re up to.
Unlike a certain witch universe, it helps to not only keep an eye on the Normals, but to be right down in them from time-to-time.
But Ms. Lucy ain’t here to teach law. No, she’s got something else on her mind:
“But it was the summer of 2009 where I found my life really changing. I was hanging out in the city, enjoying the museums and coffee shops and everything else Amsterdam has to offer, when I fell in with these women who were doing something—different. They were putting together Amsterdam’s first derby league, the Amsterdam Derby Dames. Now, I’d not done any sports here: I’m not a fighter and I couldn’t race on a broom to save my life. But once I understood how to play roller derby, and once I got to where I was good enough to play, I fell in love with the sport. I’ve been a part of ADD since the beginning and technically, I still am, though I’m on sort of a leave of absence right now…
“Late in 2011 I discovered that Edinburgh had not only put a league together and was playing some of the Normal derby leagues around them, but that Dragon Home, KSBE, and Le Fortier’s were also putting together leagues. ECMI not only put their league together without help from the outside, but they applied for, and was accepted into, the Junior Roller Derby Association—which is to say, they’re pretty much to play with any other junior league in the Normal world.
“So me and a few other witches who play derby got together and decided that with things in the derby arena going well on our side of the ocean, why not bring the same thing here? So while the three of us are here—” She motioned to the other women on skates next to her. “—there are others at Dawson Creek, Tech Pec, and Sky and Summit, all working to set up leagues that can play against each other—and, in time, play against Normal leagues in their regions.”
At the time of this excerpt–November, 2013–that particular league to which Angry Orange did indeed go by the name Amsterdam Derby Dames, but recently–2017, actually–they changed their name to Amsterdam Roller Derby, and that’s how they’re known today.
There’s also a lot of names thrown around: Dragon Home, KSBE, Dawson Creek… These are all schools and training centers in my little Foundation Universe, none of which save maybe Edinburgh you’re heard of before now. So a quick run down:
ECMI, Edinburgh Center for Magical Instruction, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Dragon Home, Home of the Winter Dragon (Hem för Winter Draken), Fatsjön, Sweden
KSBE, Kellenberg School for Gifted Development (Kellenberg Schule für Begabte Entwicklung), Reiselfingen, Germany (Note: this school has a heavy emphasis on sorcery and it was one of the places Annie was planing to go before learning Kerry was going to attend Salem.)
Le Fortier’s, aka The Girls Club, Le Fortier’s School for Girls, Dijon, France (Note: this is where Mathilde was teaching before she was ask to take over as headmistress of Salem.)
Dawson Creek, aka Alaska Gate, Dawson Creek Science Center, Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada (Note: it’s nicknamed Alaska Gate because this is the location of the southern terminus of the Alaska Highway.)
Tech Pec, Center For Special Studies (Centro de Estudios Especiales), Tehuantepec, Mexico
Sky and Summit aka S and S, Sky and Summit Observatory, Granby, Colorado, United States
There you have it: a nice cross section of schools The Foundation maintains. And that’s just a few of them: there are a whole lot more, with three we know of from the first novel in Chile, South Africa, and Australia. Just wait until we see some of the others.
So a couple of these joints have derby leagues and Angry and company are bringing the sport to North America, where it started.
And like the Cylons, they have a plan:
Angry began skating slowly in a circle, taking time to look at each girl seated on the floor. “We have a plan and while it’s ambitious, it’s also doable as hell. Starting next week, we begin practice in ernest. Monday and Thursday nights and Sunday afternoon, two hours each day, except every other Thursday we practice for three. Each practice is going to be held in a time compression field, so no matter how much time we spend on practice here, one hour will pass outside this hall.
“In order to play, each of you must pass a set of minimum required skating skills as laid out by JRDA for their leagues and we intend to follow a ‘boot camp’-style format to get there. I will be your head coach. Holly Goblightly—” Angry motioned to the brunette to her right. “—is my assistant coach. And Princess Powerpuff—” She motioned to the tall blond on her left, who curtsied when named. “—will act as our Fresh Meat coach next school year. Since you are all fresh meat at the moment, Princess will spent extra time this year with those who we feel require assistance to pass their MRSs, particularly at the Skill Level 3 assessment. This is to say if you need help getting bout ready, she’s gonna be kicking your little butts as hard as she can.
“By the end of February and the beginning of March, we expect to see the first of you pass your MRS: by the end of April we expect everyone who started practice, and is still with us, to certified. And by the end of next September, when all of you have returned to school for your next level, I expect to have the first roster set up for our first bout at the end of October, for the Samhain celebration.
MRS are your Minimum Required Skills needed to get certified, and with the JRDA you have a three level system you go through, building upon what you need to know before moving onto more advanced stuff. Level 1 is all about basics, Level 2 is more advanced stuff and developing track awareness, and Level 3 is where you get into hitting and stuff. Level 3 is also where you do your 27/5, which is the crap I’ve been working on for months. But Annie and the others are young and should have plenty of energy.
And now you have they overall plan: certify and get everyone bout ready by the end of the school year, and have them ready for their first bout over Samhain weekend, 2014. Which means you’ll likely see Annie play if she can. What am I saying…?
In case you didn’t notice, the three coaches all have the same color hair as The Powerpuff Girls. That’s not a coincidence. I intended that from the start.
“In case you are wondering this is the reason we have A Levels here for recruitment.” Angry spun around and began skating backwards at about a half as normal walking pace. “No one will play this year: it’s all about getting your certified and bout ready. Next year, when everyone’s moved up a level, you’ll be eligible to play. At that time we’ll take in A Levels as our newest Fresh Meat, but we’ve reassured the headmistress that only under the agreement of all three coaches will those freshies be allowed to play before becoming B Levels. If we have enough people next year, it’s possible we could develop a second team—but that’s a decision for next year—
“This year it’s all about teaching you what we know and how to use that knowledge. And in order to do that, we first have to get you on skates. Everyone on your feet.” Angry stopped skating as all the girls in the circle stood. “You need to go over to the gear area laid out for you, get your helmet and your skates, and finish gearing up. Tonight all of you will use Riedell R3s; for those of you who intend to continue beyond tonight, we’ll meet this Saturday morning to size you up and pick out your skates.” She smiled. “Trust me when I say we’ll have your skates ready for you come next Monday’s practice.” Angry turned to the women standing in the middle of the circle. “That’s all I have to say.”
Both nodded and smiled before Princess skated to one side of the circle, spun around, and came to a stop. “Okay, Freshies.” Her voice boomed out through the hall. “Let’s get you geared up all the way so we can see what you can do.”
Now you know why A Levels are there: they won’t play because no one is playing this year. And next year A Levels can join the madness and be Fresh Meat and maybe even play if they get permission. But for now, everyone starts the same, everyone learns the same.
Which means it about time they learn something…
The writing continues and the derby chapter has seen a couple of changes. First up, I finished the second scene, which means in two days time I’ve written a total of 3,301 words, which is pretty much a record for me of late. It’s probably due to getting some of my writing energy back, though I imagine part of the deal is just finding that I’ve writing about something I know and care a whole lot about. Write what you know? I’m sort of doing that.
Also, today I did something I’ve not done in a while: I added two scenes to Chapter Twenty-two. So what, you say? The two scenes take place on different days and I did that because, (1) I wanted to continue what I’m working on with this chapter, and (2) I didn’t want to start another chapter just for these couple of scenes. Since they are logical extensions of what’s happening in this chapter, it only makes sense I keep it all contained here.
Annie’s got the release forms out of the way, so what’s next? How about gear? Yeah, sounds like a good idea. But first–
Annie turned quickly to Kerry. “See you after?”
He smiled. “You know it.”
The blond immediately directed Annie towards a number of tables filled with equipment. “Name?”
“Okay, you’re right over here.” They moved a couple of meters to their left and stopped before what looked like some kind of protective gear, a helmet, and a pair of skates laying on their sides. “Okay, I’m gonna give you the quick gear up tutorial: I’ll tell you what’s what, but we want you to put it on. I’ll help you if you run into issue. Sound good?”
Annie nodded. “It does.”
Say your goodbyes to Kerry, kid, ’cause you’re about to enter a whole new world. And here it comes:
“All right, then. These—” The blond held up something that looked like fingerless gloves. “These are wrist guards. They’re designed to keep you from breaking your wrists if you take a fall. You thumb goes through here—” She pushed her thumb through a hole in the soft leather. “—and you wrap the straps around so they fasten on the top. Remember, this plate—” She turned the guard so Annie saw a long plate embedded into the leather. “—always goes on the bottom part of your wrist.
“These—” She held up something that looked like a sleeve with a hard shell on one side. “These are your elbow pads. You slip them over your arms until they are fixed over your elbows. Remember, the shell is on the outside and this rounded part—” She touched the hard shell. “—goes closer to your upper arm.
“Last we have knee pads.” She picked one up. “You’re gonna spend a lot of time falling, so these are important. There are straps in the back that help hold it against your legs, then this strap—” She tugged on a large, thick one. “—goes at the top, around your leg to fasten on the top. The bottom strap goes through this buckle and then you pull it tight and Velcro it together. Keep the buckle on the inside of your leg. Any questions?”
Annie had one. “Are you sure these will fit me?”
The tall blond laughed. “We got your body measurements from your CMO about four hours ago, so yes, it’ll all fit. Besides, there are sizing enchantment in place so some scaling will likely take place.”
“I thought that might be the case.” She picked up the helmet. Unlike the ones Kerry wore while racing, this one looked more like the ones they’d wear for casual flying. “Same with this?”
“Absolutely. You won’t have to put that one until after Angry gives her speech, but keep in mind, any time you’re here with us and you’re wearing skates, you need your helmet on. It’s an insurance violation if you don’t.”
First off, this is all the same stuff I have. For a bit of reference, last November, 2017, I did a black and white challenge on Facebook, where you took one B&W photo a day for seven days and posted it to your wall. One of the photos was of my then derby gear, and here it is:
All the stuff here is the same as Annie’s, though I have a couple of differences. First off, in the foreground, is the protective gear. Left to right are the wrist guards, the elbow pads, and the knee pads. Annie’s wearing the same stuff, set for her body size–thanks to the hospital and Doctor Gallagher–and if there are adjustment needed, a little magic will take care of that.
In the back are my skates–The Riedell Darts that I used to wear–and my helmet. The biggest different here is Annie is wearing a normal derby helmet, while these days I wear a hockey helmet, which I feel–as do other skaters–gives better protection. If you want to see the differences, here’s my old purple helmet, which I gave to the league:
And my current helmet:
And when I’m all geared up I looked like this, taken one year after my recruitment night, wearing my Bont skates:
In the gear picture above I showed knee gaskets, which I wore for a while because I needed the extra knee support. They’ve gotten stronger and I rarely put them on now. Also, in my “One Year After” picture, you can see pink tape on my right wrist guard. That’s because the Velcro doesn’t stick well any longer, so I tape it up before practice. Hockey and Duct Tape are a derby girl’s best friend. Trust me.
There’s also something visible in my hockey helmet picture, and we’re coming to that right now–
Annie set the helmet down. “Do we really worry about that?”
“Normally no, but if you’re outside the school playing Normal leagues, you could screw their insurance up if you aren’t following regs.” The blond picked up a small plastic case and removed a thin, flat piece of white plastic. “Open your mouth.” Annie did as told and the blond inserted the flat piece into her mouth. “Bite down and hold for about ten seconds.”
Annie did as told. For the first few seconds nothing happened, then she felt the plastic fold upward against her upper teeth. After ten seconds she opened her mouth and removed the molded plastic from her mouth. “What—?”
“That’s your mouth guard. You won’t be doing any hitting tonight, but you will if you decide to stay with this, you’ll need that.” The blond took the mouth guard and put it back inside its container, which she set next to the helmet. “Go over by those benches and put on your pads. After Angry talks we’ll get your geared up the rest of the way.” She pointed towards a group of long, flat seats not far from Kerry and a few others stood. “Go on.”
Annie took her wrist guards, elbow and knee pads, and walked over to closest clear spot, which happened to be next to Anna. The German girl—who had everything but her wrist guards on—looked to her friend as she sat. “What do you think?”
“Well—” Annie shrugged. “I don’t know yet.”
Anna sighed. “What exactly are we getting into?”
Annie chuckled as she set one of the knee pads into place. “I believe we’re going to find out soon.”
That pink think in my tank top strap is my mouth guard: specifically, a Sisu mouth guard that I molded much the same way as Annie’s, though I needed hot water and my hands and not magic to achieve the same results. If you don’t wear a mouth guard, you can do cool things like get in a pace line with the vets or hit, or block, or any stuff like that ’cause it’s an insurance violation otherwise. Got to protect those teeth. I actually have a couple of mouth guards, but my Sisu is the only one I can wear that doesn’t make me gag.
So Annie’s got her stuff and she’s almost ready to derby–