Climbing Up Under Sideling Hill

As indicated yesterday I was out on “special assignment.”  This is a little different than just road tripping, and it usually means I went somewhere to do some investigating.  My destination this time was a location I’ve visited before:  the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike, just east of Breezewood, PA, and a place I blogged about almost two years ago in my post On The Road to Nowhere. That time I went alone, but this time I was with a friend.

I’ve wanted to return here for a while, but my determination returned when I discovered my newest friend, Holly–a women who works in the same division as me and who is new to the Harrisburg area–wanted to see this place she’d never heard of until I’d spoken.  So . . . road trip?  Of course.  We left The Burg about seven AM and zoomed westward to Breezewood, where breakfast was the first order of the day–

Gril's gotta have her coffee before walking The Road.

Girl’s gotta have her coffee before walking The Road.

Holly giving me that,

Holly giving me that, “We’re gonna get murdered” look.

That last was a running joke we had all during our expedition, that somewhere along the line a serial killer was gonna jump us and leave our bodies on the turnpike.  And, truly, we were the only ones there at first:  when we finally arrived at our first stop, we were the only ones around for miles.

Looking east along the road.

Looking east along the road a famous filming location.

It was quiet save for the sound of bugs and birds, and if you don’t believe me–well, this time I did something I hadn’t the last time:  I shot video.  I put on my Hodgepodge Groupie tee shirt and brought my big tripod–I figured a way to bungie it to my backpack so it wouldn’t slide around–and it was time to get on camera and let you see what we were seeing:

As you can hear, it was quiet.  And you can also tell, I hope, that we were having a bit of morbid fun.  I should also point out that I incorrectly said that Laurel Hill Tunnel is being used by Bobby Rahil Racing:  it’s actually used by Chip Ganassi Racing.  My mistake.

After this it was back in the car and up to the west portal of Sideling Hill tunnel.  If you wondered what it used to look like, here it was during construction:

Nice, clean, and pristine.

Nice, clean, and pristine.

And how it looked when it was in use in the 1950s:

You can almost smell the petrochemiclas being burned.

You can almost smell the petrochemicals being burned.

Today, however, it’s a far different deal, given that it’s been left to the environment and elements for almost forty years.

Sideling Hill Tunnel 07252015005

Abandon All Hope–

Sideling Hill Tunnel 07252015006

Ye Who Approach.

And looking west along a famous filming location.

Looking back to the west from whence we walked.

Here I shot another video, and it’s a bit more creepy, because of things like dripping water, echo, and no one else being around for miles.  No, really:  we were the only ones in the area, and would be for at least another half-hour.

As you can see, and hear, we were staying upbeat, and we were actually joking about a lot.  It was also a lot cooler in the shade where we were standing:  by this time, about ten AM, it was already 90 F/32 C outside.

And all that kidding around about going inside the tunnel–yep, we did go inside.  And not just like fifty feet or so:  we went inside–deep under the mountain.

Here's all that running water leaking from the ceiling.

Here’s all that running water leaking from the ceiling.

Here's what lay ahead of us as we went deeper--

Here’s what lay ahead of us as we went deeper–

And the light we were leaving behind.

And the light we were leaving behind.

Holly totally in charge of keeping the way lit and reading all the grafiti.

Holly totally in charge of keeping the way lit and reading all the graffiti.

Eventually we reached a point far enough inside that it was totally creepy dark and dry–and still completely alone.  And this is where I shot the last video.  And if you don’t like dark spaces, or you get claustrophobic imagining being inside a mountain with tons of rock surrounding you, do not watch this next video.  It wasn’t bad for us, but then, we were there in the first place, so how could it be bad?

As indicated at the end of the video, people finally started showing:  it was two couples on bikes riding in from the west.  As they biked past the comments on how they wondered why we were moving so slow.  Well, because we’re on foot?  Yeah, something like that.

Before we left the deep interior of Sideling Hill–if you didn’t watch the video, we walked about fifteen hundred feet, or about four hundred fifty meters inside–we caught a couple of selfies:

Holly working on her Japanese ghost cosplay.

Holly working on her Japanese ghost cosplay.

Me practicing my remake of the Mama music video.

Me practicing my remake of the Mama music video.

And we did a group shot once we were back in the sunlight–

Tunnel Exploring Babes, Yo!

Tunnel Exploring Babes, Yo!

And Holly does her happy dance as we return to the car:

“Yay, we weren’t murdered!”

I should point out that we tried to make our way over to Ray’s Hill Tunnel, but the only area with close access also seemed to be protected but paranoid hillbillies who may or may not have been up to nefarious things, and the feeling was we should just get the hell out and come back to the other tunnel when it was cooler and we could stand a mile and a half walk.

As it was we still had a nice walk:  1.9 miles, or 3.06 kilometers.

As it was we still had a nice walk: 1.9 miles, or 3.06 kilometers.

On the way back to The Burg we stopped at Sideling Hill service plaza and changed into more comfortable clothes–aka skirts and jumpers–and sped back home to grab lunch before we began hangry–hungry and angry.  There we dined on pretty fine Italian food, and grabbed another picture together because why not?

Also, there were a few adult beverages going down--

Also, there were a few adult beverages going down–

--because that's what you do when you walk out of the Mines of Moria.

–because that’s what you do after you walk out of the Mines of Moria.

There we are:  another successful adventure, and one shared with another person who said she enjoyed herself immensely.

Now . . . what can I do next?

The Samhain Dance: The Final Reveals

Well, here I am with the late night edition!  Seriously, though, it’s been a long day, but way back fourteen hours ago, I promised this part of the scene, and here it comes.

There was a lot of crazy writing last night to get the last twelve hundred and fifty, and there was a lot of good music, too.  But the important thing was figuring out how to get my characters on stage, so to speak.  Like the one who’s about to show . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie watched Sutou Takara from Advanced Flight One join their group. Right behind her was Chunghee Pang—one of Takara’s covenmate and another of their Advanced Spells classmates—and a girl Annie knew as Amitee Jaramillo, Pang’s girlfriend from Chile and the only other D Level in his coven. Rivânia Suassuna, also from their Advanced Spells class, followed close behind Pang and Amitee.

She had no idea what each of them was wearing. Takara’s costume was like a military uniform—black pants and a red jacket—supplemented with a sword and two small metal boxes hanging from a belt around her hips

Rivânia’s outfit also seemed to be some kind of military-style uniform: a green, black, and gold suit under a matching sleeveless long coat, allowing her to wear forearm gauntlets. The biggest difference between her costume and Deanna’s was the gold helmet with large, forward facing horns, making it impossible not to notice Rivânia

By comparison Pang and Amitee didn’t appear that much different than she’d seen him in class, or either of them wandering around the school on the weekends: they wore jeans, tee shirts, and heavy boots. What set them apart was that their clothes was splattered with dried blood, and both carried knives and machetes secured in scabbards attached to their belts.

Kerry positioned Annie in front of him, keeping his arms wrapped around her waist. “If there’s anyone who can—” He nodded in Takara’s direction. “—it’s probably you.”

She nodded back. “Who am I?” She adjusted the heavy scarf around her neck. “Do either of you know?”

Annie looked up and back at Kerry, who shook his head. “Neither of us know.”

Hai.” Takara pumped her fist in a rare show of excitement. “You were the only ones outside East Asia who would recognize this outfit.”

Kerry rested his head against Annie’s shoulder. “Since I know Amitee and Pang are Maggie Greene and Gleen Rhee and Maggie Greene—”

Pang threw up his hands. “Obvious, huh?”

“A little. And Riv there—” Kerry chuckled. “She’s Lady Loki—”

Rivânia chuckled. “Or just Loki. Makes it easier to say when telling people to bow to me.”

“But you—” He smiled softly. “You gotta tell me.”

“Mikasa Ackerman.” Takara grabbed the straps holding the boxes to her belt and gave them a good yank. “You know Attack on Titan?”

“I’ve heard of it, but that’s all.”

“She’s one of the main characters.”

Kerry said nothing, instead snuggling his head up against Annie’s. “I think our secret is about to be unveiled.”

Annie turned slightly to the right. “You said she might know.”

“Well—” Takara stood with her feet slightly apart and her hands positioned before her stomach. “I do.”

Almost everyone in the group perked up when they heard this. Nadine was the one who spoke for them all. “Who are they?”

 

So we have another Marvel deity–probably looking for people to get to bow to her–a couple of zombie killers, and a character from an manga/anime.  It’s likely that, even as geeky as Kerry is, at that time in 2012 he would not have known Attack on Titan, and therefore would not have known the story of the last Asian girl in the world, even if she really was only half-Asian.

But given she's an manga/anime character, she still looks like every other girl in the world.

But given she’s an manga/anime character, she still looks like every other girl in the world.

Now, the argument could be made that Rivânia is cross playing her character like Penny is doing, but given that Loki does return as a woman at one point in the comics, she’s probably not–

And given the continuing state of Tom Hiddleston's hair, he'll be able to play her in the next movie.

And given the continuing state of Tom Hiddleston’s hair, he’ll be able to play her in the next movie.

But it’s now time for Takara to spill what she knows.  And she doesn’t disappoint–

 

“She—” Takara pointed at Annie. “—is Kaioh Michiru and, um, he’s—” She pointed at Kerry. “—Tenou Haruka.”

Annie dramatically brushed back here aqua hair and smoothed down her light blue a-line dress and did a slow, single twirl on the low heeled aqua pumps with matching ribbons that wound twice around her ankles. She laughed as she flipped her arms outward. “Finally. It was growing tiring not being able to say anything.”

Kerry tugged the lapels of the cream-colored jacket that matched the light slacks he wore with the dark blue button-down tee shirt. “You can blame me for that. I asked her not to say anything.”

Though Takara was able to identify Annie’s and Kerry’s identity, the others remained puzzled. Erywin asked the question that remained unanswered. “Who?”

“Oh, yeah—” Takara turned a bit to her left and right. “Annie’s Sailor Neptune and Kerry’s Sailor Uranus.”

Nadine finally figured the connection. “Oh. From Sailor Moon?”

“Yes.”

 

There you have it.  They came as characters from another manga/anime, which explains Annie’s aqua hair.  This also makes them Plant Guardians and members of the Outer Senshi, which given their magical powers is something they can probably do now–just like any other magical manga/anime character.

Though Kerry isn't that much taller than  Annie, and he's certainly not a better dresser than Haruka,

Though Kerry isn’t that much taller than Annie, and he’s certainly not a better dresser than Haruka.

An interesting point is brought up, however . . .

 

“Yeah, but—” Nadine looked at Kerry with a puzzled look. “Isn’t Sailor Uranus a girl?”

“I’m cross playing.” Kerry crossed his arms. “Besides, I prefer to think of Haruka as gender fluid.”

Pang chuckled. “You got that right. How come you guys didn’t come wearing fukus?”

Annie took her soul mate’s arm and pulled him close as his face grew red. “It will be a while more before I can convince my love to wear a costume like that.”

He stared down at the floor, still slightly embarrassed. “Probably a long while more.”

Helena appeared out of the shadows and joined Erywin. “Hello, everyone.”

Kerry looked up and waved. “Hey, Xena.”

Erwyin gave her companion an appraising stare. “You should let Kerry find a new costume for you next year; you’re wearing out the warrior princess, my dear.”

Helena pifted. “I’m a bloody Kiwi: what else am I gonna come as?” She turned and pointed a warning finger at Jairo, who appeared about to speak. “Say hobbit at your own risk, dear.”

 

So we have two cross players this year:  Penny as a male character and Kerry as a female character.  And as far as that fuku goes (that’s a Japanese girl’s school uniform, by the way, which is a lot like the uniform Annie wears at Salem), it likely will be a long time before Kerry ever works up the nerve to wear one to a dance.

It’s at this point that people start filtering away, most of them off to watch the Åsgårdsreia and Mórrígan girls beat the shit out of each other because why not?  This leaves just four people and one purple dragon standing in the group, and that quickly whittled down even more . . .

 

Within seconds all that remained were Annie, Kerry, Nadine, and Deanna. Annie appeared as if she were about to say something when Nadine moved next to her. “Um, can I ask a favor?”

She was surprised to hear Nadine be so formal with her. “Certainly.”

“Would you mind if I danced with your boyfriend?” She nodded in Kerry’s direction. “You know, a, um, ‘Welcome to the A Team, good race’ sort of congratulatory dance?”

Annie cocked her head to one side as she looked in Nadine’s direction, then turned slowly towards Kerry. Her grin was wide and warm. “I think that’s a great idea.” She squeezed Kerry’s hand. “Go enjoy yourself, my love.”

Nadine showed her dragon off her shoulder. “Go fly around the rafters; I’ll call when I need you.” She grabbed Kerry by the arm before he could speak. “Come on, Starbuck: let’s rock.”

Annie moved next to Deanna and watched Nadine drag Kerry to the dance floor, but she had something else on her mind . . . “Can we speak?”

Deanna glanced at the aqua-haired girl. “I saw you look in my direction before telling Nadine she could dance with Kerry.”

“That’s because I hoped you would noticed.” Annie glanced across the Dining Hall. “I see our sofa’s unoccupied—” She turned to the coven leader. “Shall we?”

Deanna motioned towards the other side of the hall. “Lead on—”

 

Annie wants to speak with Deanna?  Hummm . . . usually that means she’s got something soul mate related on her mind, and if you remember last year, her conversation with Deanna was about discovering that someone was worthy of love, and that if a certain boy asks you to do, say yes!

There you have it.  No writing tonight as I’ve been uploading video, which mean–get ready for a travel post tomorrow.

The Samhain Dance: Of Costumes and Congratulations

This installment was one of those I didn’t think was going to come off last night.  Why?  Because I didn’t start writing until about nine-thirty, due to the fact I was involved in a video chat with someone I know, and we were discussing dieting options.  It went on longer than I imagined, but hey, those thing happen.  I’m going to be jammed up a bit this coming weekend, and thing will turn hectic on the writing front.

But I’ll still be here.  Somehow.

Oh, and I finally shaved my head last night.  Now my wig stays right to my head with no moving around.  It’s something I’ve meant to do for a while, and now it’s done.  And, no:  there won’t be pictures.  Well, maybe a video . . .

Now the other people are starting to show up in the story, and that means you’ll start seeing costumes, of which I have a list because that’s how I roll.  Shall we begin, then?

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

They looked up in time as Nadine approached wearing a black and yellow-gold jumpsuit. Her red hair was layered around her shoulders, and something that looked like a small purple dragon sat upon her shoulder. “I was wondering when you’d show—” She stopped and gave both Annie and Kerry a careful examination. “Interesting outfits.”

“Thanks.” Kerry gave the “I could say the same thing—Kitty.” He looked up at the creature sitting on Nadine’s shoulder. “How you doing, Lockheed?”

Nadine chuckled at the dragon spoke using a combination of tweets, whistles, and chortles. “He says hi.”

Annie found herself impressed by Nadine’s outfit—and the dragon on her shoulder, which she figured was a homunculus. “Who are you supposed to be?”

Nadine looked to Kerry. “You want to tell her?”

He should his head. “I think I already did.”

Nadine turned her eyes upwards. “Yeah, you did.” She smiled at Annie. “I’m Kitty Pryde, and this—” She held up a gloved hand for the purple dragon to rub its face against. “—is Lockheed. He’s my best bud—aren’t you, dude?” The dragon spoke in the same gibberish language as before, seeming pleased and content.

Kerry filled in the blanks for Annie, figuring that she had no idea what they were saying. “Kitty’s a mutant—one of the X Men—just like the character Nadine played last year. You know how Wednesday’s call sign is Shadowcat ‘cause she can do phasing magic?”

“Yes.”

“Well—” He motioned towards Nadine. “Meet the real Shadowcat.”

 

Nadine seems to have a thing for playing comic book mutants, which probably means she reads comic books.  As Kerry stated, Kitty can phase through any material–walk through walls, if you will, just like Wednesday has shown she can do.  As for the creature on her shoulder . . . yeah, Lockheed, an alien who becomes Kitty’s best friend and companion, and who actually begins drinking heavily in one comic when it looks as if Kitty has died–which if you know the Marvel universe is almost always a load of bullshit.

A mutant girl and her dragon are never parted.

A mutant girl and her alien dragon are never parted.

His existence at the party will get mentioned, though it seems Annie is on the right track . . .

Now someone else shows up–

 

“Yeah, only I can’t do the same stuff Wednesday does, at least not yet.” Nadine shrugged. “I should start getting that this year.”

Annie looked forward to the day she would learn Phasing. Her mother once told her that she’d learned enough to be able to push small object through walls, but she’d always been too worried about something going wrong if she’d tried moving through a wall herself. “I hope Wednesday starts showing how that works; I’m eager to try.”

“Oh, I figured you would.” Nadine looked them both over once again. “Who are you supposed to be?”

“I was wondering that myself.” Jessica walked over dressed in a light, flowing white gown modified to allow her the use of her eight arms, four on each side of her torso. “I have to say I like the hair. Who did them?”

Annie pushed her aqua hair back from her shoulders. “Kerry did his, I did mine.” She reached over and mussed his now-bright blond locks. “This was one of the first things he taught me.”

“I see.” Jessica took a step closer to the couple. “Did you do something to your noses?”

“Thinned them out just a touch.” Kerry took in his Advanced Transformation instructor’s costume. “Are you Tou Mu?”

Jessica straighted a touch. “I’m impressed. Most people have guessed Kali.”

“Kali had four arms, not eight. And you’ve a star in one hand and the sun in another. Plus—” His hand moved up and down, as if he were tracing something upon Jessica. “Outfit’s all wrong for Kali, but not for a Chinese deity.”

Nadine looked down while shaking her head. “How do you know this stuff?”

“Learned it from a role playing game first, and then read more after that.” He shrugged. “Isn’t that what you did?”

“Kinda.” Nadine chewed her lower lip for a few seconds. “Comics with me, then started reading stuff on the Internet.”

Annie tugged at Kerry’s jacket sleeve. “Here they come.”

 

Jessica with eight arms–neat trick, but when you’re the Mistress of Transformation, anything is possible.  And Kerry is right:  you can learn about these things from role playing games, ’cause that’s where I first heard of Tou Mu, and then I went and looked her up.  By the way, Jessica didn’t change her complexion this year, so she’s straight-up dark Chinese deity.

She also doesn't look as if she came off a woodcarving.

She also doesn’t look as if she came off a woodcarving.

But now, there’s someone else.  Who is this “they” Annie speaks of coming?

 

“I see.” He raised his right hand in greeting. “Greetings, floor mates.”

Penny waved back. “Hail to you—” She stuffed her hands in the pockets of her black leather jacket. “Strange costumed creatures.” She turned to Jairo on her left. “You figure them out yet?”

“Are you kidding?” His shrug was almost hidden in the folds of his World War II military coat. “Bad enough they got that secret lab in the lower levels to work on their stuff.”

Annie giggled. “Can’t be much of a secret if you know where it’s at.” She smiled as she nodded in Alex’s direction. “You must be Rose, yes?” She already knew Penny was dressed as the Ninth Doctor from the show Doctor Who, and that Jairo had come as Jack Harkness from both Doctor Who and Torchwood. She’d gotten enough clues from Kerry to figure out Alex was dressed as one of the Doctor’s Companions.

Alex tugged on her Union Jack tee shirt. “Of course; just don’t ask me to speak in English accent.”

“You don’t want to hear it.” Penny shook her head. “It’s horrible.”

“I only have to pretend to be English girl—” She ran her fingers through her bangs. “At least I have proper hair.”

Kerry leaned towards Annie. “And it’s not even peroxided.”

Alex stuck out her tongue. “Which means I’m better than English girl.”

Oi.” Penny rolled her eyes before the three students moved closer to Jessica, Nadine, and their covermates. She faced Nadine. “By the way, I didn’t get the chance before, but congratulations on your win.”

“Thanks.” Nadine’s win came during Stage Two when Mórrígan raced against Cernunnos. “And congratulations on your two seconds.” She shook Penny’s hand before shaking Alex’s. “And a third, fourth, and fifth for you.” She shifted glances between all three of the Cernunnos fliers. “All of you; that was some racing out there today.”

 

So now their covenmates appear, and they look like they’re right out of An Empty Child:

And if you don't think Kerry won't say the trademark expression from this episode, you don't know me.

And if you don’t think Kerry won’t say the trademark expression from this episode, you don’t know me.

Also, for the first time we see someone crossplaying, as they say in the biz, ’cause Penny is being Penny, and she certainly wasn’t changed into a skinny white dude like Chris in the Middle in the above image.  Nope, she’s just being her awesome self playing a character neither her gender or ethnicity because she can.

So there we have nine hundred words of the scene continued, and that was enough to push the story over ninety-five thousand words.  And it allowed me to mark off people on my costume list:

Can't tell the characters without a--you know the rest.

Can’t tell the characters without a–you know the rest.

That’s the list of everyone who’ll be seen and/or mentioned, and they all have costumes.  I had to stretch my brain just a little to find something for everyone, and I have to say I did a good job.

Notice, though, that you still haven’t seen what Annie and Kerry are wearing.  Oh, sure, there are hints, but nothing for sure.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll show you.  Maybe.

New Kids On the Job

We’re almost to the long weekend time here in America, and I’m a bit remiss in saying that yesterday was Canada Day, so to my friends North of The Wall I say, Sorry, So Sorry, I didn’t mean to miss you.  Also, today is I Forgot Day, so you have to forgive me.

In case you’re wondering today is also World UFO Day, and you should be watching some old 1950’s science fiction and, if you can find it, check out the late-60s television show The Invaders, which was scary as all hell.  And, of course, the British show UFO is a must:

The show that told me I should show up at work these days looking like this.  I should.  I really should.

The show that told me that in the future this is how women would look.  I should show up at work one day dressed like this. I really should.

Also some personal stuff that’s important to me is coming up as well, such as today is five months for me since I came out at work.  Almost half a year–yay!  So much is happening so quickly, and I have to say that I am loving some of this stuff, even if there is some heaviness in my heart.  But that’s for another post.  Onward.

Today–at least in my mythical Salem School world–it is Minion Day.  That is to say, Professor Wednesday Douglas has herself some minions for B Level Spells, and gee–can you guess who they are?

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Wednesday checked the B Level lab one last time before walking towards the ground floor library. The day was cloudy and cool outside, and inside—well, there were more than a few students who’d be less clear and a lot hotter. Today was the first time she’d taken the students through the basics of minor levitation, and even though they were doing little more than attempting to lift tiny plastic spindles, only a quarter of the students were able to get at least one good levitation, and out of that group only one person was able to repeat the action—

She didn’t think it was a coincidence that Emma Nielson was also the only student today to ask for assistance from her two minions. Speaking of which—

Wednesday popped her head through the doorway and caught the attention of her two little helpers, both whom were reading. “Hey, minions.” She waved them towards her the moment they looked up from their books. “Help me get the lab straightened up, okay?” They sent their books back to their respective locations on the shelves before following her out of the room.

 

It’s the end of class and lunch in on high, and it’s time for Teacher and Her Pets to get the lab back in order, which they do using magic.  It’s also during this time that Annie brings up a point:  no one asked them for help.  Well, one person did, and that’s not really discussed, except to say Kerry blows it off, as does Annie.  Wednesday, however, is thinking about that, and about Annie’s question, and comes up to the follow conclusion:

 

Wednesday didn’t want to drag up any hidden enmity that might lie hidden within either Annie or Kerry concerning his Åsgårdsreian wingmate. She wanted to keep everyone focused on Annie’s questions, and not those who could become the subject of discussion. “It’s really a complected answer; there’s no easy reason. Part of it being intimidated by what they’re doing; part is being intimidated by the people who I bring in to help.” She waved her container onto one lab station and turned to Annie. “Remember what it was like when I brought in minions last year.”

Annie appeared a bit puzzled. “We didn’t have minions in spells class last year.”

“Right—not in your class.” Wednesday leaned back against a lab table. “You had already moved on to Advanced Spells by that time: you were minions.”

“Minions to be.” Kerry stood next to Annie, joining the conversation. “We just didn’t know it at the time.”

“Exactly.”

Annie closed her eyes as her head shook in short, quick twitches. “So no one wanted our help because they were intimidated by the spell and by us?”

Wednesday’s shrug was almost imperceptibly. “I would say some of the kids in this class are intimidated by you both. I’m also sure there are a few who just don’t like you and don’t want to do anything with you. And . . .” She’d considered not bringing up this last point, but ignored her concern because she was fairly certain it wasn’t a tremendous revelation for either of them. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a few in your level who are probably scared of you.”

 

This last point is a good one, because, if you think back, it’s one they’ve already touched upon–

And maybe we’ll get to that tomorrow.  After all, I do have the day off.

Humans: Intro to the Parallel Present of Synths.

Here’s my first guess post over on Author Rachel Tsoumbakos’ blog.  I’ll be over there for the next sixteen weeks doing reviews of two televisions shows.  Don’t worry:  I’m not going anywhere from here.  You don’t get rid of me that easy.

Here’s my intro to the AMC shows Humans.

Over the Moondust

The penultimate chapter has officially begun, because the first scene of that chapter is over and done.  One down, seven to go–

Assuming I don't add another scene to this, as I've already done.

Assuming I don’t add another scene to this, as I’ve already done.

Which does bring up an interesting point.  As I get more into the plot, I begin thinking about scenes that don’t exist on the page, but are starting to form in my head.  When they get a little more solid I’ll set the scene up, and I may actually find myself adding something to Act One if I believe it’s in need of a new scene.

Also, the novel just passed sixty-five thousand words, and if these remaining chapters are like the previous ones, I’ll add another ten thousand words before getting to the “End of Act One” notice.  This would  put Act One at around seventy-five thousand words, and benchmark the novel at just under a quarter of a million words.  I love how I say that–“Just under a quarter of a million words.”  It’s like, oh, only that much?  You’re slacking, girl.

Last night I finished the scene with just under six hundred and fifty words.  It was my intention to start the next scene, but . . . I started writing after my latest electrolysis session–

No real damage, just looking a bit like someone punched me in the mouth.

No real damage, just looking a bit like someone punched me in the mouth.

I also had to do my HRT shot, number twenty-three out of twenty-four that represent my first year of being on hormone replacement, and it was the first “gusher” I’ve experienced, where a bit more than a little blood came out.  Nothing major, but it is one of the reasons you always keep a cotton pad at the ready, just in case you need to stop the flow.

It was after all those thing that I finally managed to sit down and finished the scene–with a little help from someone else . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Shush, you.” She closed the book and pressed it against her chest. “My darling, this is perfect.”

A wide smile slowly emerged upon Kerry’s face. “Really?”

“Yes.” Annie felt her emotions coming back under control, but her love for her ginger soul mate grew greater by the second. “You knew what this book represents, and what that means to me. I can’t . . .” She sighed long, then threw her arms around Kerry and presented him with a long, tender kiss. “Thank you, my love. Once again, you touched my heart.”

He hugged her tight. “I figured you should have the book of your dreams. It brought us together, didn’t it?”

 

I will be honest:  the above line came out of yesterday’s blog post.  I wrote that, got the post out, and then sort of kicked back, sort of thinking, “Yeah, good post, Cassie.”  A reader commented on that line–the last of the post–and I thought, “Yeah, it’s a lot like something Kerry would say,” so . . . he said it.  Like I’ve said before, just because the novel is plotted out, it doesn’t mean it’s written.

And I do love that Kerry is a heart toucher.  It’s not the cost of the gift, it’s the feeling behind said gift.  And he knows those feelings . . .

 

“It did.” She kissed him again, longer and with more love. “It’s one of the things that made me fall in love with you.” She rested against him as she examined the cover. “Where did you get this?”

“It wasn’t all me—” Kerry slipped his arm around Annie. “I had help.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. I emailed Mr. Parkman around the end of June and ask if he could help me track down a first edition hardback.” He lightly tapped the cover. “A week and a half later he told me found a copy, and that he bring it to school and I could pay him here.”

 

Now, let’s play a little Devil’s Advocate here.  Kerry contacted Trevor Parkman, School Librarian and Archivist, and ask for help tracking down a first edition book just over sixty years old that’s in good condition.  He does, and tell Kerry to pay him when he gets to school.  Now, we also know that Deanna spent time with Trevor during the summer holiday, so it stands to reason that she probably knew about the gift as well–which means while Annie and Kerry were going through their latest vision in Memory’s End on the first full day back at school, she could have been sitting there thinking, “Oh, Annie, just wait until you see what Kerry is giving you!”

Then again, the woman is good at keeping secrets, and probably knows what Kerry is getting Annie for the next several years.  Possibly.  Maybe.  Perhaps?  I’m not telling.

Someone, however, is really surprised by her sweetheart’s actions–

 

“End of June?” She felt her emotions swelling once again. “You planed this then?”

“I was actually thinking about it . . .” He slowly dropped his gaze towards the ground. “Since we got back from, you know—” He lowered his voice to a near-whisper. “—Kansas City.”

She closed her eyes and slowly exhaled. Five months: he’s planed this for five months. She was keenly aware that Kerry didn’t think he was special—other than being a witch—but Annie always thought different, and as she held the book close, as she leaned against her soul mate, feeling his arm around her . . . Annie knew he was the most special person in the world—

And she’d make certain to remind him of that every day.

She slipped her leg arm around him and kissed him a third time. “I love you.”

He press his face against her cheek, then kissed her back. “Chestit rozhden den, Annie. Obicham te.”

Her fingers glided over his cheek. “How long have you practiced saying that?”

“About a week.” He chuckled. “I had to trust the computer translation; I couldn’t ask you how to say it.”

“You could have asked Professor Semplen.”

“You were always around when I saw him.” They chucked together, then Kerry rested his head against hers. “Since we have the afternoon free . . .”

Annie could sense his question: there wasn’t any need for him to ask. “Come.” She switched the book to her left hand and took his hand in her right. She led them to a tree close to where their brooms rested, one that was perfect: the bark wasn’t too rough, the ground looked soft, and there was plenty of shade.

Kerry released Annie’s hand and sat back against the trunk. Once he was comfortable he motioned for her to sit next to him, holding out his left arm. She snuggled into the crook of his shoulder and lay her head against him. He reached over and softly stroked her cheek. “You gonna hold the book?”

“I’ll do better than that.” Annie levitated the book and positioned it about half an arms length from his face. “I can turn the pages, too.”

“I never doubted.” He adjusted his glasses then held Annie tight against him as he began reading much the same way he’d done in their dream a little more than six years before. “’To be the skipper of the only boat on the Moon was a distinction that Pat Harris enjoyed. As the passengers filed aboard Selene, jockeying for window seats, he wondered what sort of trip it would be this time . . .’”

 

Those last two lines are not written by me, but by Sir Arthur himself, way back in 1960–

I even highlighted the section for you,.

I even highlighted the section for you,.

It’s strange that a story I enjoyed greatly when I was about same age as Kerry when he not only began enjoying it, but passed that enjoyment along to a girl whom he believed was only a figment of that dream, would become an important part of my own novel.  It really is the cornerstone of their relations, that dream reading under a tree in California, because even though Annie was falling in love with Kerry then, their moment together in that dream cemented that love.  Which means it’s probably not a coincidence that Annie told Kerry that when they’re apart he should always look to the Moon and know that she’s seeing the seeing it as well.

Also makes one wonder if Annie things it’s some strange twist of nature that the name of their moon boat is also the call sign of a certain ginger hair girl from another coven . . .

Not So Ready in the Ready Room

First off, Happy Loving Day, which is the day the Supreme Court of America ruled to disband all anti-miscegenation laws in 1967.  And if you’re old–like me–you’ll probably remember that a lot of the same things said about marriage equality today–like allowing it to happen goes against the religious beliefs of some–were said about mixed race marriages then.  Same cart, different driver, but in the end the destination will be the same.

I’m dragging a little today because I was up at two and fought to get back to sleep between then and about four-thirty.  I haven’t had a night like that in months, and it’s hitting me kinda hard, but I’ll get through it:  I always do.

And now . . . Kerry’s at the Flight School waiting for class to start.  This is right after Annie’s Flight class, so Friday is for flying.  This is also the first time were we see Kerry alone since he left Cardiff, and the first time we see someone else since those days . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry sat in his old seat in the Pilot’s Ready Room and casually dropped his goggles and gloves in the seat to his left. He wasn’t the first—three other students arrived before him—but he was the only one sitting in the front row, something Annie and he did all through A Level Basic Flight.

He adjusted his glasses, something he did less and less these days. Since learning a simply adhesive spell in Wednesday’s class last year, it was rare that his glasses ever slipped these days. He thought it might be due to the quick landing he’d made outside the Hanger followed by the dash up the stairs to the main floor. It wasn’t that Kerry was late: he was actually ten minutes early.

But after the morning he’d had watching Isis and Annie flying about the Aerodrome—and Isis put Annie through a few easy maneuvers that proved she was actually using her gift and not levitating—he was ready to see what his flight class had in store.

After speaking with Nadine in Advanced Spells the other night Kerry had an inkling of what to expect over the school year. She told Annie and him about working on brooms, about learning to fly by instruments only; developing flight plans; being taught how to make minor repairs to a PAV—and, most of all, the three camping flights she took designed to prepare her for—

“Hey, Kerry.” Emma stood to his left, eyeing the seat where his goggles and gloves rested.

 

Guess who?!

 

“Hey, Emma.” He poked his thumb to the empty chair on his right. “Let’s get comfortable.”

“Sure.” A hint of dejection peeked through her demeanor as she settled into the chair. “Saving that for Annie?”

He shook his head. “No.”

“Oh?”

“She’s not taking the class.”

“What?” Emma twisted around in her chair. “Why not?”

“She felt she could learn most of this stuff either from me or from her parents.” He extended his legs and stretched. “Vicky told her she can come if and when she likes, though.”

Emma still appeared puzzled. “So what’s she doing instead?”

Kerry brushed some hair back from his forehead. “She’s probably over at the Black Vault right now.”

“Oh, right—sorcery.” Emma sat back and crossed her legs. “Gotta be the dark witch.” She caught herself, hoping she didn’t say something that would upset Kerry. “Right?”

He nodded slowly, a smile appearing upon his face. “Yep. We both do, as a matter of fact. It’s something we promised each other.” He didn’t bother to mention where that promise had taken place. “I like your new patch.”

 

By now not only do we know that Annie and no one else is always to the left of Kerry, but he knows it as well.  And that move of his–saving the seat to his left–was to prevent a certain wingmate from sitting there.  And she knows it, too:  you can sense it in her body language.  She was really hoping to plop down in that left-hand seat . . .

And she caught herself before she said something mean about Annie.  She doesn’t know she’s cursed, but she also doesn’t want to make Kerry upset.  After all, if you have to depend on your wingmate when you’re up in the air, and you’ve been talking shit about his girlfriend, will you really trust him?

Anyway, back to patches.

 

Emma glanced down by reflex, just making out her new flight patch: that of a witch on a broom flying across the shadow of a crescent moon with the constellation of Leo over her back. Her call sign was emblazoned across the top of the patch, white letters against the blue background used to represent Mórrígan Coven. “Oh, yeah. I had to ask what it meant, ‘cause I wasn’t sure about all the stuff.”

Kerry didn’t wait for his wingmate to explain. “Selene is the goddess of the moon, which you knew. She’s usually associated with the crescent moon and was often seen in paintings and drawings with constellations—of which you have both.” He examined the outline of the stars. “That’s Leo, which I think is seen in April, which is—” He grinned. “—your birthday month.” He chuckled in a low town. “Hence Selene.”

Emma’s mouth dropped open. “How do you know all that crap?” She started laughing. “I mean, I like looking at stars—”

“And you didn’t notice any special ones when we took astronomy last year?”

She thought about his statement for a moment, then tapped her forehead. “Oh, yeah: Harpreet pointed out Leo right around my birthday last year. Don’t know why I didn’t remember that.”

“Well, you were thinking about your birthday.”

“And speaking of that—” Emma crossed her arms and tried her best at a hurt pout. “You never did say where you went that night. You vanished right after Sorcery class and when you came back—”

“I told you what happened.” Kerry sat back with and crossed his arms, only he smiled and appeared relaxed. “I had to go to New York for testing, and I fell down and cracked my head when I was about to leave.” He’d told that particular story to Emma twice last year, and had hoped she wouldn’t ask again. “It’s that simple.”

 

It’s already come up a couple of times about Annie and Kerry’s Excellent Adventure, and how teachers and students believe the cover story is probably a load of crap.  Emma obviously doesn’t believe it, and the fact that they cut out on her birthday–19 April is Emma’s birthday, exactly two weeks before Kerry’s–means she remembers it even more.

So now we’ve seen her patch, which is pretty classical for a goddess.  For Kerry . . . um, it’s a bit more creative:

 

“Uh, huh.” Figuring she wasn’t going to get a better answer than the one she’d heard a few times already, she went back to the subject of flight patches. She pointed at Kerry’s jacket. “What’s yours suppose to mean?”

Kerry had spent several minutes examining the patch when he saw it for the first time, and spent a couple of minutes explaining the meaning to Annie. Of all the new B Level flight patches he’d seen, his was likely the most complex. “Well, this here—” He pointed to the pilot on the broom in the lower left corner of the circle. “—is supposed to be me. And these other points—” He pointed to the dark hurricane, then the bright cloud of gas behind that, and the strange looking planet behind the cloud, and the planet Earth at the far end of the string. “This is the Maelstrom, then the Ionian Nebula, then original Earth in front of our Earth.” He pointed to his call sign in the circular margin. “And here I am against Cernunnos green.” He grinned broadly. “Simple, huh?”

Emma shook her head slowly. “Again, how do you know that? And what does it all mean?”

“Well, it helps if you’re a geek.” He chuckled. “And it helps if your instructor is a big of a geek, too—”

 

It also helps if the author has access to the Battlestar Galactica wiki and was able to look up a few things based upon the “life” of the character upon which Kerry’s call sign is based.  Actually, I knew those things, but I had to check the name of one location in particular . . . yes, I’m a geek.

And so is someone else–

 

“I heard that, Kerry.” Victoria Salomon, the school’s flight and jaunt instructor, made her way up the center aisle towards the podium in the front center of the Ready Room. “And, yes: being a bit of a geek helps when you have to come up with a bunch of call signs that mean something to the pop culture sensibilities of my A Levels.” She turned to the two fliers, addressing the red head with the longest hair.  “How you doing today, Emma?”

“I’m doing fine, Profe—”

“Vicky, Emma.” Vicky’s grin was friendly and infectious. “You’ve earned the right to address me by my given name. It’s the way we do things in the advanced classes.” She flicked her eyes in Kerry’s direction. “Ain’t that right, Starbuck?”

He nodded and grinned back. “That’s right, Nightwitch.”

Vicky did a quick head count of the people in the Ready Room, then clapped her hands. “All right, pilots.” She sidestepped behind the podium. “I see it’s thirteen, and that means we got things to discuss . . .”

 

Kerry’s so used to talking to the instructors using their first names, and Emma–who has already said she find it hard to do–is still stumbling.  And we do see, again, that the gingers are paired up.  Is that because no one wants to be their friends?

Right now I’m about seven hundred words away from breaking sixty thousand total–

So if I write tonight I can make it.  If I write.  Which I probably will.

So if I write tonight I can make it. If I write. Which I probably will.

Sixty thousand plus for two acts?  Not bad at all.