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.

I Sting the Body Electric

I surely hope Ray Bradbury forgives me for the horribly punish titles, but I’m rolling that way this morning.

Last night was another of the “I Pay a Nice Lady to Torture Me” evenings, which is to mean a electrolysis session.  The good news is the work is becoming a little simpler since there are fewer hairs.  The bad new is with there being fewer hairs, it makes it harder to get at the ones that remain, even after going almost two full days without shaving.  Oh, and it hurts:  I believe I’ve mentioned that.

Still, while we didn’t cover as much area as last time, a lot was accomplished, and I bore through the pain, even though I stopped a few times to apply a topical, because I was gripping my grounding bar hard enough to cause my hand to go numb.

Just keep reminding myself, "To be beautiful is painful."

Just keep reminding myself, “To be beautiful is painful.”

Oh, and you may notice, after you finish cringing at the close-up of my damaged face, my new doo.  To get a better look at it, I snapped this picture in the universal bathroom about six hours earlier:

It doesn't show as much of my big forehead as the last one.

It doesn’t show as much of my big forehead as the last one.

Though I still look like I’m grimacing in pain or something.  Probably because of the program I’ve been working on.  As it was Wednesday yesterday, I have on a somewhat pink top and pink lip stain, because on Wednesdays we wear pink, ladies.  Right?

Believe it or not, when I got home I actually wrote.  Total count was four hundred and thirty-eight words, but it was a start to the next scene, and . . . I designed Kerry’s new flight patch.  As Vicky pointed out the year before, once out of Basic Flight your flight patch is changed so people can tell you’re not a noob anymore, and all the kids still flying have had their patch changed to reflect something more in line with their call sign.  Annie is Athena, so her’s is sort of easy, as is Emma’s, who is Selene.  Kerry on the other hand . . . all I’ll say is, it’s a good thing Vicky’s a bit of a geek, ’cause she’ll have done him right.  I mean, I have give some thought to what she’d design . . .

Something else worth mentioning:  I labeled the Blue Line with names for the segments of the course.  Because race courses are like that, and you want to have cool names for those places.  Like one section of the course that gets it’s own scene:  Helter Skelter.  And being that I have it figured out on a three dimensional map, I know how that section of the course looks:

From above--

From above–

And from the Pentagram Wall.

And from the Pentagram Wall.

Now all I have to do is lay out the Red Line–and more importantly remember how to create these bendable lines in Blender–label the sucker, and I’m done with that.  And I will have to lay out the Red Line because . . . reasons.

It’s that time to say goodbye again.

Let’s hope it a day that sees the swelling go down . . .

On Wings of Flight

Yesterday was a personal day:  a lot of time on the road, and very little writing.  Oh, it got done, but like three hundred words worth, mostly because I wanted to get the next scene started, but I didn’t want to get too much because I was falling asleep in my chair.

It's all gonna happen in that big building at the top-middle.  You'll see more tomorrow.

It’s all gonna happen in that big building at the top-middle. You’ll see more tomorrow.

Now, on to the travel.  As it was my eleven month anniversary of being in hormone replacement, I decided to take a little day trip, and headed down to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport outside of Washington D.C..  And while I didn’t write, I took pictures:  lots of pictures–

Like walking up to the entrance.

Like walking up to the entrance.

I’ve visited the Air and Space Museum in downtown D.C., and I’ve been to the Air Force Museum outside Dayton, OH.  As you might have guessed I love aircraft.  I almost went into the Air Force at one time, and would have loved to have gone up on the shuttle, danger be damned.  Here I got to hob-nob with one of a kind aircraft, many of them among the last of their kind, and a few of them the only ones of their kind–

Like this--

Like this–

And this.

And this.

The 367-80 was the test plane that led to the Boeing 707.  It’s also famous for one of the most famous incidences in flight history, when test pilot Tex Johnson performed two barrel rolls the Dash 80 (as it was called) in front of a bunch of Boeing executives on 6 August, 1955.  You wanna see?

The the evidence from inside the plane.

And the evidence from inside the plane.

But I saw more as well:

Like this beauty.

Like this beauty.

That is one of the last aircraft used for training by the Tuskegee Airmen, and if you don’t know their history, you need to read more.  This biplane was off in a far corner of the museum because, as I discovered later, it’s being moved to another museum in downtown D.C..

And I found this:

Yeah, if you don't know this aircraft, you do need to read more.

Yeah, if you don’t know this aircraft, you do need to read more.

But since I’m talking here, the Enola Gay was the B-29 that bombed Hiroshima, Japan, on 6 August, 1945.  It only dropped one, but I think you know by now the one we’re talking about.  As the Air Force Museum has Bock’s Car, the aircraft used to bomb Nagasaki, I’ve seen both bombers.  And I can move on to other things–

Like this:

This Concord wasn't used in Doctor Who, but it's still impressive.

This Concord wasn’t used in Doctor Who, but it’s still impressive.

And this:

Didn't Indiana Jones crash a couple of these?

Didn’t Indiana Jones crash a couple of these?

And a Super Connie:

Back when planed looked elegant.

Back when planed looked elegant.

The last surviving plane to make the first flight around world in 1924.

Air and Space Museum 06072015036

Doesn’t look a day over eighty.

And I found the first human-powered aircraft to cross the English Channel:

Air and Space Museum 06072015098

Heading towards France because the pilot wanted a good meal when he touched down. Just kidding.

 

The first jet bomber, flown during WW II:

The Germans were way ahead of us in a lot of ways--

The Germans were way ahead of us in a lot of ways–

And a rocket plane, the ME 163, that was one of the desperation weapons used as WW II came to a close.

And sometimes the Germans were just a little nutty.

And sometimes the Germans were just a little nutty.

I also found a Blackbird, but it wasn’t singing in the dead of the night–

It's just sort of sitting there--

It’s just sort of sitting there–

Waiting for its close-up in a Transformers movie.

Waiting for its close-up in a Transformers movie.

But I got a picture before it changed.

But I got a picture before it changed.

And another.

And another.

I also discovered how the space program used to run on 124 kilobyte (yes, not a typo) computers:

Seriously, your phone is bigger.

Seriously, your phone is bigger.

I also found a space lab:

And some tunnels.

And some tunnels.

Really as big as a bus as was once said.

Really as big as a bus as was once said.

I discovered where the museum kept their nucwewur willis:

Bad Star Trek imitation, I know.

Bad Star Trek imitation, I know.

And the Mother Ship:

I watched this last night.

I watched this last night.

With R2-D2 along for the ride.

Didn't see him though.

Didn’t see him though.

Most of all, I saw the space shuttle Discovery, which I’ve wanted to see a long time.

How it looks when you walk into the hanger.

How it looks when you walk into the hanger.

Some close ups:

Air and Space Museum 06072015067

Air and Space Museum 06072015068

Air and Space Museum 06072015093

 

Air and Space Museum 06072015088

Air and Space Museum 06072015081

Air and Space Museum 06072015097

 

Hello, Canada Arm!

Hello, Canada Arm!

And I managed to get a couple of pictures with the orbiter:

Looking pregnant here because I was leaning back for some reason.

Looking pregnant here because I was leaning back for some reason.

And I got ready for my close up.

And I got ready for my close up.

All in all, a good, tiring day, and I was totally beat when I arrived home.  But . . . I’ll probably go back again.  Maybe next year when I get close to two years on HRT and I’m done seeing my doctor.

Tomorrow, more writing–

Because after all this fun, it's time to go back to work and write about, um . . . flying!

Because after all this fun, it’s time to go back to work and write about, um . . . flying!

 

Schedules to Keep, and Classes to Take Before They Sleep

Here we are, back again with most wordage, because last night I did write, and write a lot–well, eleven hundred words, so that’s a lot for me.  Tonight, probably not as much, because The Third Man is on at 8 PM and I don’t miss that movie, but Saturday I’ll write again.  And again.  And again.

A nice little benchmark was reached last night as well:  the novel went over fifty thousand words.

Fifty and change, but who's really keeping track.

Fifty and change, but who’s really keeping track.

Now, since I do keep track of these things, the novel passed forty thousand words on 14 May, which is–let me do the math–fourteen days before 28 May.  That means I wrote ten thousand or so words in two weeks, or five thousand a week, which is a number I’m pretty steady with.  And if you can keep that up for a year, then you finish with a quarter of a million word novel.  Which is what this should become in time.  Yes, I’m nuts.

Where did we leave off?  With Jessica asking about scary things about people who do transformation magic.  And what do my kids say?  Well . . .

 

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

Kerry was unable to say that he’d noticed this simply because he was only around magic while at school, and didn’t get to see it full time, but Annie was able to comment. “I’ve not only noticed, but I’ve heard stories from my grandparents about Bulgarian shapeshifters.”

“Do you know when they were born?”

“All of them were born in the early 1920s, I believe.”

Jessica brushed her hair back over her shoulders. “Did they go to school here?”

“Yes, they did, save for my mother’s father: he attended a school outside Varna.” Annie half turned towards Kerry as she spoke, getting back on point. “They used to tell me about witches pretending to be vǎrkolak, who would go around frightening and even killing people—”

The word Annie used was something Kerry had never heard before. “What’s that?”

“What’s what?”

“That word: vǎra—”

“Vǎrkolak. It’s a kind of werewolf which is also like a vampire in that it’s supposed to be undead.” She chuckled. “A great number of the stories from our area about the undead and werewolves are actually about witches who were experts with transformation magic.” Annie faced Kerry. “If you hadn’t figured it out, nearly every folk story about strange creatures came about because of transformation magic.”

 

That little bit of research took me about fifteen minutes of looking around, because I wanted to make sure I got the name right.  And as far as Annie’s family tree is concerned–yes, I know exactly when her grandparents on both sides of the family were born.  But yes:  Bulgaria has undead werewolves.  Let that sink in for a bit.

Now that Kerry knows this bit of information–see what having a Bulgarian girlfriend does for you?–he can return to Jessica’s original question–

 

He nodded slowly while his smile grew. “Yeah, I kind of figured that.” He also figured this was the point Jessica was making. “Is that what you meant? About people being scared of people who can do that stuff?”

Jessica nodded. “That’s part of it.” She rested her elbows on her thighs as she leaned forward. “People are always scared by those things that don’t appear normal—and that’s not found just in the Normal community. Even people who are used to seeing unusual things every day are put off by people like me.” She rubbed her fingertips together. “Do you remember the first day of Transformation class last year when I changed into Mystique?”

It was a moment that Kerry remembered well. “Yes. That was pretty great.”

“Thank you: it took me a while to figure out how to do her.” Jessica lowered her voice slightly, even though there wasn’t anyone else in the room who could hear them. “Did you notice the faces of some of the students in the room.”

“Not really: I was—”

“I did.” Once again Annie had the answer Jessica sought. “A lot of the students were shocked.”

Kerry half-shrugged. “That’s to be expected; it’s one thing to see that in a movie, and another to see it in real life.”

“My point exactly, Kerry. I dare say it was the first strange magic everyone in that class saw after arriving at school, and it unnerved a few.” Jessica chuckled darkly. “Didn’t bother you, though.”

“Naw. I mean—” He switched his gaze from Jessica to Annie and back to the instructor. “I’m used to reading about that stuff, so I thought it was sort of cool.”

 

As a kid from a Normal background who is also a big geek, Kerry has a lot of pop culture knowledge, and he’s already joked about people with “mutant powers” at the school.  As Jessica is about to point out, much of that may be the reason for his competency in transformation magic–and his feelings about the “coolness” of this crafting leads her to the main point of this discussion–

 

One of the reasons why he’s likely drawn to transformation magic in the first place. Jessica nodded slowly. “There is a downside to this magic for the person who does the crafting, however. I know you read a great deal: have you ever read All My Sins Remembered?”

He slipped back into his thoughts for a moment. “No. Who’s it by?”

“Joe Haldeman.”

“The guy who wrote The Forever War?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Nope, never read it.”

Jessica found this news a bit surprising, but she didn’t bring Annie and him here to discuss his reading habits. “It’s about someone who works for a galactic organization as a spy, and they spend the majority of their time living as other people then they go out on missions.” A scowl appeared for only a moment. “Having to live as other people and do—things—takes a psychological toll on the main character . . .” She didn’t want to give away the ending in case Kerry decided to read the novel, so she went ahead with the real reason for this talk. “I know the Guardians are interested in you both—”

Annie sighed. “Who doesn’t know this?”

 

At this point Annie’s probably wondering how secret their secret mission was.  Actually . . . pretty secret.

 

“My guess is nearly all the students, and I’m certain a few of them managed to put the clues together. It was impossible not to notice you both meeting privately with Helena and Erywin, and then the four of you vanishing for a weekend . . .” Jessica’s face took on the icy composure she usually maintained during class. “It doesn’t matter: the expressions on your faces are enough to know that you know. And now that you’re both Gifted—” She clicked her tongue twice. “Those gifts are going to come in handy.

“Here’s what I really wanted to bring up: Kerry, the Guardians not only want sorceresses, but anyone with excellent transformation crafting is desired as well. And with you being a Mimic, you’ll likely find them interested in making you an Infiltrator—” Jessica saw the changed come over both children. “—and given the way your expressions changed, it’s obvious you understand what I mean.

“If that’s what they want for you—and for Annie, too, if she proves as good with transformation magic as you—then you’ll find yourself like the character in Sins: always going out on mission having to live someone else’s life. And this is one of the things that scares people who can’t do transformation crafting: how is it possible to change so much and still be yourself?

“And the answer to that is: sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you do lose track of yourself, and it puts a psychological strain on your mind.” Jessica’s expression turned towards one of sadness. “I won’t lie: some excellent transformists have gone insane because they became lost in the people and things they portrayed, and it’s a fear we all run into now and then.”

Her sigh was long and felt as if it were felt with sorrow. “You’re both good kids, and I don’t ever want to see bad things happen to you, so I will give you this little bit of advice: never lose sight of who you are—hold on to your identity.” Jessica finally cracked a smile. “I don’t like to use cartoon philosophy to describe such an important matter, but it works in this instance.”

She reached out and took Annie and Kerry’s hands. “Hold onto your identity and remember who you are, because there’s no one else like you two, and I’d hate like hell to lose either of you.” She gave them both a soft, slight shake. “I’ll show you how to do that the best I can. I promise: I won’t let you get lost.”

 

Yes, children, take the advice of Elastigirl and make sure you keep your identity–though I don’t believe you’ll need to wear masks or anything like that.  This is more in line with Helena’s beliefs that a good sorceress keeps their wits about them, because the chances are they’ve found themselves in the middle of some deep shit, and they need to stay alive.  In Jessica’s case, she’s saying you need to remember who you are when you’re out there pretending to be someone else, because it’s easy to lose your mind.

And now we see another word come up:  Infiltrator.  Since it’s related to the Guardians, we can sorta guess that it has to do with sneaking into places while looking like someone who belongs there.  Or, you know, something even more devious. But being able to look like anyone you want–and being great sorceresses–makes these kids even more valuable to the Guardians.  It’s now a question of whether or not that’s a good thing.  Hummm . . . we’ll see.

One last thing:  yesterday during some discussions in comments the question came up about classes.  Specifically, what classes are the kids taking, and how many are there?  And wouldn’t you know, I have a list:

But then, you knew I had one, right?

But then, you knew I had one, right?

The list on the left is what the kids took during their A Levels, and the list on the right is their current B Level schedules, with all of Annie’s and Kerry’s classes set up in bold.  I’ll speak about this a little more tomorrow, so I’m sort of teasing you with things to come.

Just like I did with the title of this post.

Tugging the Post-Apocalyptic Heartstrings

Fridays and Sundays are quickly becoming the “Take the Night Off Writing” days, because that’s what happened yesterday:  damn near no writing at all.  Oh, sure, I tried, I really did, but I made it like two hundred words past where I was the last time, and just skated on by with the work.  Some of this is due to watching movies on those nights, because I need to get my mind on other things once in a while, and I need that.

"What other things?  There's writing, and your characters, and sex, and . . . oh, those things."

“What other things? There’s writing, and your characters, and sex, and . . . oh, those things.”

Though normally I’m thinking about sex for my characters, so don’t judge me.

Yesterday, since I’m all by myself and there’s nothing to do, I went to the movies to see Mad Max:  Fury Road.  This was the first movies I’ve seen in the theaters since seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, which gives you an idea of how often I get out to movies–it’s like one time a year if you’re keeping track.  Now, full disclosure:  I am a big Mad Max fan.  I had the first two movies on bootleg video tapes, which meant the first one was without the dubbed voices (when Mad Max was first shown here in the US all the dialog, even Mel Gibson’s, was dubbed to get rid of the Australian accents).  I’ve even seen the one and only “Lost Version” of Mad Max 2, aka The Road Warrior, presented on NBC, which included a lot of added scenes as well as the infamously changed opening and closing narration, redone by someone with a bad US Southern accent.

I’ve also looked up a few spots where filming has occurred, in the instance that I ever get Down Under I can head for Broken Hill and check out some locations.

Since everything in Austratalia is trying to kill you, I fully expect to find this waiting for me at Mundi Mundi.

Since everything in Australia is trying to kill you, I fully expect to find this waiting for me at Mundi Mundi.  G’day, mate!

So I went to the movie expecting to be entertained.  I also expected to be blown away, ’cause I’m a sucker for fast cars and explosions.

I didn’t expect to almost start crying when the movie ended.

I’ve said, time and again, that your characters are the most important part of the story:  if they are no more than cardboard cutouts, then it’ll show throughout your story.  Now, I had read over the last few weeks how surprised people were at the strong characterization of people in the movies, particularly Charlize Theron’s character, Imperator Furiosa.  (And that’s FuriOsa, not FurioSAR.  Hermione wants you to get it right.)  The people making these statements were correct, but there seemed to be so much more to them . . . there was depth.  There was a lot lying below the surface of most of the characters, and during the course of two hours it all bubbled out.

Tom Hardy’s Max went through a number of changes during the movie, even though he’s given so little to say.  He doesn’t need words; it’s done with looks, with body language, and late, with the tone of his voice.  (And before people start pointing out that Tom’s dialog was cut down to give the focus of the movie over to the women, in Mad Max 2 Mel Gibson has sixteen lines, and two of them are, “I only came for the gasoline.”  Yeah, people living in the Outback after the end of the world usually don’t have much to say.)  The one thing you do get about Tom’s Max is that he is truly mad, and he’s yet to come to grips with his madness.  Like many of us with mental illness we learn to cope, and this Max copes by just staying the hell out in the middle of nowhere and staying away from people, ’cause he might do someone harm otherwise.

At the end of the movie I was almost crying because I’d been sucked into the spectacle.  I found characters that I liked and wanted to know more about, and found their struggle to reach the end worthy and believable.  But then I’ve found this with a lot of action movies made outside the US:  you get sucked into the story, either because the characters are compelling (Hard Boiled and La Femme Nikita instantly come to mind) or you get drawn into action that is both real and over the top (The Raid and The Raid:  Redemption cover this one nicely).  Action movies here, on the other hand, seem to be designed to sell toys, and if you want anything serious, well, you’ve not come to the right place.

Which is why every time I see the latest Baytacular, where gigantic toy robots that you’re going to buy off Amazon later get into a battle that ends up killing millions of people for whom you give zero shits, Act 5, Scene 5, of Macbeth comes to mind:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

 

If there is one thing I never want to do, it’s create a story that signifies nothing.  And our characters are everything.

Without them, we have nothing upon which to care.