And here it is!
And the question I asked in the video:
Hey, just like I said: I have something for you! You may have thought I wasn’t going to come through, but when I say I’m doing some, I try to get it to you.
Let me tell you what’s happening here. First, I just finished writing this vision and it’s almost 1900 words long. You know how long it’s been since I’ve written 1900 words in a day? A long time. And I feel the stress in my shoulders. I hope that goes away some day.
But what is this excerpt? It’s a vision Annie and Kerry will share at some point in the future. That means it’s coming in one of the future novels. Which one? I’m not telling. It should be one of the following three, but you know me: I could be lying. Because I’m like that.
So what are you going to see? Something I’ve worked out and had in my head for some time. This is really the first time I’ve ever put it down in words and to say it’s a bit of a spoiler is a bit of a spoiler itself. But you know what? It’s a nice scene.
And why not see what may lay in store for these kids.
I hope you enjoy this. I know I have.
Yeah, I know it’s been a while, but here I am in the, um, well, sorta the flesh, I guess.
It’s been a long, boring day and I think I’m going to write tonight, but I spent most of the day watching movies. The first was the Netflix original How It End, and the answer to that is “Not fucking well.” Really, a dumb, simple, slow-ass movie where little happens and the actors–Forest Whitaker among them–appear to phone it in with little or no enthusiasm. It’s getting rocked like the Casbah and if your were of a mind to watch this, don’t. Trust me on this.
After that turd I watched American Psycho, which I hadn’t seen in about ten years, and I’m sorry, but I laugh at a lot of the lines in this flick. Really, if you wanna be shocked read the book, which is a horror story mixed in with commentaries on commercialism–along with a crazed cameo by Tom Cruise–and it’s not for the faint of heart.
But enough of murders and executions. Let’s get our butts to Bulgaria.
Kerry has a hot kettle and he’s heading up to the stair to the first floor, which is Annie’s sanctuary. And what happens? Let’s find out.
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)
Due to his work in the school’s superlab, Kerry had become somewhat proficient at negotiating spiral staircases, but this was the first time he’d had to walk up one while levitating an object. He peeked up over the side as he grew closer to the first floor and saw Annie seated at a table, her back to the stairs. He took in her posture: she was sitting upright, one hand in her lap while she sipped from the cup in the other. She looked almost regal. And it suits her…
She set down her cup and half-looked over her shoulder. “You can come up: I won’t bite.”
“I had to make sure.” He made his way to the first floor landing and looked around: it was a somewhat plain space with two large windows and two closed doors, one to his immediate right and another in the corner on his left. He approached the table at which Annie sat—the only furniture in the space. “So… this is you sitting room, I take it?” He took the only other seat, the one opposite Annie.
Back in the day when I was excerpting the first novel, a few people felt Annie came across a little cold and a bit entitled, with the word “princess” getting bantered around once in a while. Yes, Annie comes from money, but she also comes from manners, and as she points out, she’s doing something that proper ladies have done for a considerable amount of time–
She ran her finger around her cup as she seemed to examine Kerry. Much like her mother she wore silk pajamas, only hers were a dark burgundy. “Every girl should have a sitting room so she can entertain visitors.” Annie raised her right eyebrow, mimicking her mother from a little over thirty minutes earlier. “I mean, you wouldn’t expect me to entertain you in my bedroom at this time of day, would you?”
Kerry set the kettle down and removed the time spell. He sat back as a puff of steam came out of the neck. “No, I wouldn’t. That would be rude.”
“Exactly.” Annie placed a tea ball in a cup and poured in the hot water. “I know you like a breakfast blend for morning tea, so I had one made for you.” She finished pouring and levitated the saucer and cup toward him. “Take any of the snacks here: Mama made plenty.”
Now, one could argue that Annie should haul her ass downstairs and had tea with Mama at the dinning room table, because having a sitting room where you entertain visitors totally smacks of privilege. And it does, no lie there. But this is how Annie was raised, to be a proper lady. And she is. She isn’t putting on airs for people: this is something important to her.
But who else would like to imagine how many people have actually sat across from Annie who weren’t of her immediate family? The answer to that–and you know I have it–is not a lot: maybe a couple of classmates before she headed off to the Big Witch School.
And, as she points out, this isn’t something she’ll do for much longer:
While he hadn’t seen the snacks up close when he first woke, he recognized them as a combination of mekitsa and banitsa. He picked up a mekitsa and set it in a small place, after which he spooned a small amount of jelly next to it. “Your mother and you do this every morning?”
“Ever since I was seven.” Annie added hot water to her cup and chose a banitsa to nibble. “Sometimes it was the only time we had to see each other during the day and we wanted to make the most of that time. We started out with tea and eventually it ended up becoming a ritual that could go on for hours if we allow that.” She sipped her tea and slowly set the cup down. “It won’t be long before I won’t have this time with Mama, so it’s important I make the most of the time we have together.”
Kerry sat back in his chair, slowly chewing a mekitasa as he glanced out the window to his right and behind Annie. While it was still dark outside, the sky was clear and gave the impression the sun was rising soon. “What time does the sun rise around here?”
“I’m surprised you don’t know.” Annie looked up from her food and laughed.”
“Yeah—” He rolled his eyes. “I should have checked.”
“It’s all right. The sun’s fully up about fifteen before eight, but the mountains to the east tend to keep our meadow in twilight until about nine. Funny this is, while this is the shortest day of the year, after this sunrise comes a little later every day until the middle of the first week of January, then they start coming earlier while sunset comes later.”
“Interesting.” He crossed his legs. “So, what’s the plan for today?”
“Oh…” Annie held her tea cup before her face and looked up over it. “I think you already know.”
Annie knows all these things she does with her family will soon come to an end and she wants to get the most out of those events–though when your mother can pretty much jaunt to just about anywhere in the world, who’s to say Annie won’t still have morning tea with Mama? I’d say the odds are pretty good.
As for what the kids are going to do once it gets light outside–I think you can guess what’s coming next…
Man, this weekend has been a busy one. If you followed my Saturday video you’ll know I recorded it early in the morning because I was going out to brunch with one of my teammates, Summer, and by the time the day was over we’d have crepes, we’d walked through the Masonic Gardens, had cooling drinks, and watched a couple of episodes of Sailor Moon Crystal. For sure a busy day.
Then yesterday… well, yesterday I was once more up at six and heading down to Lancaster to be there by eight because I was attending a derby clinic given by world champion jammer Satan’s Little Helper.
Yes, you read that right: I was hangin’ with Satan from 8:30 to 12:30. She’s a jammer with Angel City Derby Girls, the L.A. derby league, though after having won a gold at the World Cup in February, she’s sort of taking some time off and going around coaching. While I didn’t skate, I observed from the sidelines and learned a hell of a lot while a couple of my teammates got their hands dirty. Oh, and got a selfie with Satan herself.
By the time I was home from that, taking time out for lunch, and picking up a few groceries for the week, it was about four in the afternoon and I wasn’t in the mood to do anything but veg. Which was why I didn’t get a post out yesterday.
But today! Hah! It’s all a different game now. And we finish up the excerpt I began on Friday–which is finishing up Annie’s and Kerry’s time in Copenhagen. And reviles their final destination–
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)
The area ahead of them was well lit, far better than it was on the path they’d just walked. Kerry saw the reason: just off-shore sat the statue of The Little Mermaid, perched upon a rock under the spotlights. There were quite a few people around the statue taking photos and a few of them were standing just under the bolder upon which the sculpture sat.
Kerry’s smile was wide and bright. “It’s Ariel. I knew the statue was in Copenhagen, but I wasn’t sure where.”
“Now you know.” Annie stopped them almost in front of the stairs leading down from the path to the stones below. “I’ve been here many times. This is the first time I’ve come with someone other than my parents.”
Yes, they are at the location of the statue of The Little Mermaid, which is one of the most well known statues in the world, and one of the most defiled as well, as it’s possible to go right out to the rock she’s sitting up and… do things to her. Like paint her, put jerseys on her, and saw off her head. Yep, all those things have happened: the head was actually sawed off twice and the original head–the one removed the first time–was never recovered.
In case you ever wondered–or not–this statue has been officially copies and can be found all over the world. So in case you can’t make it to the original sitting on her rock on the side of the sea, you can find her at all these locations:
Copenhagen: The Langelinie, Carlsberg Breweries, and Tivoli Gardens. (Yes, there are three versions of the statue around the city.)
Moldavia, Romania: Piata Libertatii (Liberty Square).
Madrid: Parque Europa
California: Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale and Denmarket Square in Solvang.
Connecticut: atop Victor Borge’s grave in Greenwich.
Utah: The International Peace Gardens, Salt Lake City.
Iowa: Mermaid Square, Kimballton.
Michigan: on the banks of the Flat River in Greenville. (Note: this is not an exact replica and some don’t consider it official.)
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands: in the town of Charlotte Amalie.
Brasilia: the Department of the Navy headquarters.
China: The Window of the Word theme park, Shenzhen.
Japan: corner of the Scandia Restaurant, Yokohama
Seoul: Yeouido Hangang Park.
That’s a lot of places to see this girl.
While I never saw The Little Mermaid when I worked in the Shenzhen SEZ, I did see this one: the statue of Nuwa, one of the main Chinese goddess. She created mankind and fixed a rift in Heaven, so she’s a big deal. She’s also one of the largest mermaid statues in the world, if not the largest: about forty foot tall and twenty-two feet wide.
This statue wasn’t far from the hotel where I’d stay in Shekou and I could see it out of my window.
Now that you’ve gotten all the Little Mermaid information you never asked for, what does Kerry think of this statue?
“I’m honored.” He glanced at Annie. “Are we gonna go down and get pictures?”
“Let’s wait for some of the people to clear out.” She noticed how excited Kerry seemed. “You’re enjoying this.”
“Oh, yeah. I like mermaids.”
“You like mermaids?” She eyed him suspiciously. “I didn’t know that.”
“Oh, there’s a lot about me you don’t know.” He smirked. “Not really, but liking mermaids was one of those things that didn’t pop up until—”
Kerry not only loves the statue of Ariel, but he loves mermaids. Wow, it’s almost like he got that from someone…
Of course, something comes to mind and Annie brings it up:
“That’s understandable.” Annie slowly raised one eyebrow. “You know, with transformation magic—”
“I already know.” Kerry turned to Annie, chuckling. “Realized that a couple of years ago.”
Annie watched Kerry out of the corner of her eyes. “And now that you can—”
He interrupted, speaking out of the corner of his mouth. “Ixnay ethay irlgay uffstay.”
Even though she didn’t know pig latin, Annie understood enough. “Still a touchy subject, I see.”
“I went in your room and finished your packing. That’s enough for now.” Kerry turned to face her. “I’m a ways away from becoming the Ginger Girl of the Sea.”
“Fair enough.” Annie pulled him close for a kiss. “By the way, your other night clothes are in your bag, aren’t they?”
He nodded. “Didn’t have time to head back to my room to drop them off.” He shrugged. “No big deal.”
Annie looked over his shoulder. “Crowd is thinning out, my love. Would you like to get a picture with Ariel?”
He turned to look at the statue. “You know, I can’t be this.”
Kerry turned back to Annie. “I’ve been with your family for about eight hours and already I’m jaunting to different parts of Europe for dinner like it’s no big deal.”
“It isn’t.” She pulled him close. “You once told me I had a far different life than yours, that I went to places you only dreamed of visiting. Understand this, my love: one day we will visit all those places you dreamed of visiting and we’ll do it together. That will be our life.” She kissed him deeply before turning him towards the stairs. “Let’s hurry get a picture: we don’t want Ariel to get cold waiting for us, do we?”
What Kerry says in Pig Latin is “Nix the girl stuff.” What he really means is “Don’t remember me I can become Ariel’s twin sister,” because, yeah, bruh, you can totally do that. Maybe not this year, but give it time and you know you’ll have it down.
Now that the evening in Copenhagen is over, it’s time to move on to the next day–and is Kerry in for a bit of an awakening…
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…
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–
Calista was exhausted. Not so much from the work she just completed for the UK Royal Navy about three hundred kilometers east of Diego Garcia—the Navy had issues with a “package” that required retrieval—but more from the fifteen hour flight from their to Johnson Atoll, which pretty much tested the range of AFI’s specially outfitted 777-300ER.
Though she’d slept through most of the flight, remaining in a half-tank for the entirety of the flight wore her out through sheer boredom. She knew if she were still human she could have gotten up and walked about the cabin—but there wasn’t any need to think that, for she hadn’t been human for a little more than nine months.
But a few good thing came out of the trip. One, this was Calista’s first dive with her in charge of a team of four other mermaids and they managed to recover the Senior Service’s package in half the time they estimated it would take. Two, because they left Diego Garcia at 18:30 Local Time, they not only got back a day crossing the International Date Line, but still landed at Johnson Atoll at 17:50, an hour before they left the Indian Ocean on the same day.
Most importantly, Calista was home. After being taken off the plane she was place in a speed boat and taken to the drop off point about a hundred meters from Down Below Town. She gave the pilot a good natured wave and dived right in, heading quickly towards the mermaid enclave with a few flicks of her powerful tail.
She expected Harmony to spot her right away and she wasn’t disappointed. Her former mentor, now close friend, swam towards her, stopped when she was but a few meters away. “How was Diego?”
“Pain in the butt.” Calista slowed her pace as Harmony moved along side. “You could tell they didn’t want us there, but they knew they had no choice. And it made them pissy because they couldn’t micromanage us by being directly on site while we worked.”
“Screw ‘em.” Harmony chuckled. “You get their toy for them?”
Calista nodded. “Oh, yeah.”
“Was it important?”
“Important enough that we had to sign NDAs before leaving the airport.”
“Point taken.” Harmony’s tone softened. “A few of us are heading over to Hikina Island after dinner. Just gonna hang out and relax and chat.” She turned towards her friend. “I know you must be beat, but I thought you guys might want to join us.”
Though she was tired, Calista also thought spending some time with friends was a good way to start out a week of down-time so she could adjust to local time and rest. “I’ll see how Princess is doing, but I’m guessing she wants to get out for a little as well.”
“Watch out.” Harmony’s voice took on a warning tone. “She nearly snapped my head off the day before when I checked up on her.”
“Thanks for the heads-up. What time is everyone meeting?”
Calista gave Harmony a quick wave. “See you then.” A quick flip of her tail and she was off toward her bungalow.
She swam in and slid the door closed behind her. “And how’s my two baby?”
Izzy looked up from the bed upon which she lay and gave Calista a kiss before answering her question. “I’m fine, but this little shit—” She pointed to her swollen belly. “She won’t settle down. Swish, swish, swish with the tail all day and night. I’m ready for this pregnancy to be over.”
Calista folded her tail under her and settled next to Izzy’s bed. “I’m sorry The Newt is being a pest.” She slowly ran her hand over Izzy’s belly, feeling the movement of the baby inside. “She’s a swimmer, that’s for sure.”
“Well, I wish she’d swim the hell out of my belly ‘cause I’m tried of her crap.” She sighed as she looked at her best friend and lover. “If I’d know the gestation period of a mermaid was ten and a half months, I’d have never had sex with you.”
“Liar.” Calista touched Izzy’s lips. “You never seemed to complain once we were able to have sex again after that first time.” She moved her hand down past Izzy’s belly and felt the smooth muscles of her tail beneath her almost lime green scales. And now that you’re one of us, that sex was so much better.
Though she’d never admitted any wrongdoing, Harmony was correct in her assumption that day so many months ago: Calista knew Izzy’s cycle down to the day. And she’d read many of the Internet tales that spoke of what happened when mermaids and human women not only had intercourse, but of the consequences of getting pregnant…
Within a week of arriving at Johnson Island Calista was certain that not only would Aquatic Future Inc. have refused her request to transfer Isabelle to the Special Assets, but she was just as certain Izzy would have said no to the idea, even if it had meant the two of them being together. Back then Calista still thought of herself as straight—but then, she didn’t know everything there was to know about mermaid reproductive, despite all the lurid tales she’d read online. And once she knew—
It was as she’d told Harmony that day: as a human woman she could never become intimate with Izzy no matter how much she cared for and, yes, loved her, but once she wasn’t human it didn’t matter. And she also suspected that once Izzy was confirmed pregnant, AFI wouldn’t want to terminate the existence of another mermaid, this one created the old fashion way—
So since it was impossible for a human to bring a mermaid baby to term, the only solution that remained was to made sure a mermaid could.
Calista was also correct in her summation that once Izzy knew what was going to happen to her, she’d accepted it, if for no other reason than they’d still remain together. While the transition didn’t go as smoothly as hoped for, once Izzy reached the point where she found it necessary to sleep underwater—with Calista beside her—the process went, well, swimmingly.
It was a devious and somewhat underhanded way to keep them together, but Calista knew from watching Izzy’s body language these last nine months that she held no ill will towards her. If anything, Calista felt her friend’s growing love and suspected that once their daughter was old enough to have others watch her, Izzy was going to enjoy being mentored by her friend—with Harmony supervising, of course.
Calista planted a light kiss on Izzy’s lips and watched her eyes light up. She lay her head upon Izzy’s shoulder and felt her companion run her fingers through her floating ginger hair. In that moment she understood what this moment really meant. Because for anyone in love, it wasn’t just enough to come home to one’s lover and companion—
They wanted to come home to their best friend.
And for the first time in her life, Calista was home.
“I can’t believe you did this.” Harmony was doing the mermaid version of pacing, slowly drifting from one side of her underwater bungalow to the other, all the while focusing her fuming upon her live-in mentee. “You got Izzy pregnant.” She stopped and faced Calista, who stared back with a somewhat blank expression on her face. “Why?”
Calista’s expression didn’t change. “It just happened.”
“Bullshit. Bull-shit.” Harmony closed to within about a quarter of a meter from the passive mermaid. “I’ve seen you at work: things just don’t happen with you.” She backed away and spent about twenty seconds with her back to Calista. “Tell me—” She turned back towards her mentee. “You spend a lot of time at Izzy’s? Say, after going out?”
“After a night of dancing and cosmos?”
“Mimosas, actually.” For the first time Calista smiled. “You got the dancing part right, thought.”
“Spend the night there?”
“Yes, I did.”
“So you had a chance to use her bathroom—”
“What are you getting at?” Calista didn’t seem perturbed as much as she seemed tired of the questions.
“Well, from what I remember from my human days, when you stay over at someone’s place, you have a chance to brush your teeth and freshen up so it doesn’t seem like you’re taking a Walk of Shame from someone’s place.” Harmony eyes Calista carefully. “You probably knew Izzy didn’t use birth control.”
After five seconds of inaction Calista nodded. “I asked her about it once; she said she didn’t need it. I thought it was because she wasn’t seeing anyone at the time, but…” She shrugged. “I was wrong.”
Harmony hovered in place while slowly running her right index finger back and forth over her lower lip. “You knew Izzy’s cycle, didn’t you?” Calista sat without saying a word, but Harmony saw something in her eyes. “Of course you did. You guys spent a lot of time together back in Florida, and then there was all the time here.” She looked down and sighed. “Of course.”
Calista’s tone betrayed her sudden unease. “Of course what?”
“Of course you knew when she had her period—which means you knew when she was ovulating.” A short, sharp laugh came from Harmony as she moved slowly towards her roommate. “Son of a bitch. All the while you were putting shit off, delaying when you wanted to say your final goodbyes to Izzy—you were waiting for her to ovulate.”
Harmony continued on before Calista had the chance to respond. “And I’m gonna guess, knowing how much of a mermaid geek you were before becoming one, you probably read everything you could on us. And that would include—” A smile flashed into existence. “All the urban legends about mermaids getting human women pregnant.”
Nearly ten seconds of silence passed before Calista gave one, slow nod. “I’d read about it a couple of years back. Something about an employee who got pregnant from sleeping with one of the mermaids she did lab work for. There was never any real conformation as to what happened other than the woman vanished, but—” She shrugged. “It didn’t take an expert to figure out what might have happened.”
“What might have happened?” Harmony snorted. “She damn near died because you got her pregnant.”
“But she didn’t.”
“No, she didn’t.” Harmony moved in a slow circle. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Why stop now?”
“Why the hell didn’t you sleep with Izzy before all—” Harmony motioned to the undersea habitat. “This.”
Calista laughed. “Because I wasn’t a lesbian.”
Harmony’s eyes grew wide with surprise. “And that’s different now?”
“Of course it is.” Calista came off her seat, bringing her eyes about a half meter from her mentor’s. “As you like to constantly remind me, I’m not a human heterosexual woman any longer: I’m an intersex mermaid that just happens to look like the top half of a human woman.” She grunted as she shook her head. “Having intercourse with Izzy then didn’t make me a lesbian: it meant that it was possible for me to perform the act with a human. Besides—” She moved back but kept her eyes locked with Harmony. “It’s no secret you were planing on being my first.”
Harmony’s face finally broke into a smile as she chuckled. “Well, someone has to show you how to make love, mermaid style.”
Calista finally closed the distance and threw her arms around Harmony’s shoulders. “You still can. After all, can’t I have my cake and eat it, too?”
Harmony slowly rolled her eyes towards the ceiling of her bungalow. “The way you think things out—” She gazed into Calista’s eyes as she placed her arms over her shoulders. “You are gonna make one hell of a salvage coordinator.”
And a good day–and other days! Enjoy!
It’s an interesting day, filled with lots of doubt, crying, and indecision about my future. It’s also the day I picked up my first driver’s licence outside the State of Indiana and I’m shocked–Shocked, I tell ya!–that they actually put an “F” on it for “Sex”. Even with all the bad stuff happening to me today–and last night, let’s not forget last night–I had one bright spot that made the day shine.
And speaking of shinning… Today is an important day in my story history. For today is the eighteenth birthday of The Heartbreaking of Bolder, Colorado, Emma Neilson, making her the next to last member of her graduation class to reach the Age of Emancipation within The Foundation. And if you’re paying attention, that means there’s just one other birthday from that class to celebrate, and that’s Kerry’s, which happens in two weeks. That means Emma is probably out getting loaded somewhere–I’m sure she’s got ID that will let her get served–and Annie is counting the days to when Kerry and she can put their names on that wedding licence application.
And speaking of Emma–well, not yet, but just wait!
Annie turned to Helena. “And why does it appear my code name is ‘White Queen’?”
Helena glanced off into space for a few seconds. “That may have something to do with me.”
“How is that possible?”
“Because my code name is Black Queen.” The sorceress scratched at her right cheek as she continued. “My mother called me that when I was a girl and it stuck with me when I came to school. Once I started going out on Guardian field ops it became my official code name and has stuck with me ever since.
“When I was out in San Francisco right after the first of the year—”
“What were you out there for?” This was the first Kerry had heard of Helena making trips to the North American headquarters of The Guardians.
“Had to do with the operation Annie was on while you were doing the Polar Express.”
Keep in mind I’m writing of future events, and this one happens after Annie’s Girl’s Weekend Out with The Guardians and Emma’s and Kerry’s Polar Express. In fact, this is happening two weeks after those events transpired, so it’s totally legit to speak of them in the past tense.
And what happened out there in the City By the Bay?
“Anyhow, when I was out in San Fran a few weeks back, getting intel on our—” She motioned between her and Annie. “—operation, some of the wags in the meeting called you White Queen because of our association.”
Annie gave this news a few seconds of consideration. “Maybe they feel I’m a bit of your opposite.”
“Or maybe they came up with that because a lot of Guardians are smart arses. Anyway, when your code names arrive don’t be surprised if that’s yours.”
The office was quiet for a few seconds before Kerry spoke in a soft voice. “What about mine?”
“Someone at that same meeting mentioned that.”
Helena chuckled. “About a third of the way through the meeting several pictures of your, um, other self, were displayed and a couple of them were of your and Annie together. A couple of people in the room called you the Red Queen and one even said that given your history of pop culture you’d probably appreciate Annie’s and your code name.”
Annie looked to her right once more. “What do they mean by that?”
Kerry didn’t have to think long on the matter once again. “It’s all comic book stuff, even your name, Helena. The Black Queen and the White Queen were members of The Hellfire Club in the X-Men comics. The Black Queen was a student of The Shadow King and was the leader of The Pale Riders during the Age of Apocalypse. The White Queen—” He chuckled. “She’s just a bitch. And she has a habit of not wearing a lot.” A smile slowly formed on his face. “The Black Queen and White Queen also have something in common.”
“Their first name: it’s Emma.” Kerry waited for Annie and Helena to exchange looks before telling them the rest. “Specifically, The Black Queen is Emma Steed—named after Emma Peal from The Avengers—and the White Queen is Emma Frost.”
While Annie simply stared at Kerry in silence, Helena seemed to speak for both women. “I’d make sure a certain ginger from Colorado doesn’t discover we’re sharing her name—” She arced her right eyebrow. “At least in a way.”
Annie humphed. “I know I won’t tell her.”
Kerry nodded. “I won’t, either.”
“Now that we know our code names—” Helena pointed at Kerry. “What about yours?”
“Oh, yeah. The original Red Queen of the Hellfire Club was Margali Szardos, who was a powerful sorceress, really big into demons, and the adoptive mother of Nightcrawler. In the Days of Future Past story, Psylocke was the Red Queen.” Kerry shrugged. “Given some of the stuff I know, I can see that name fitting.” He glanced at both women. “Even though I not completely thrilled to have that moniker laid upon me.”
“If I’m going to have the name Emma following me around, you can have a girl’s code name.” Annie smiled as she finished her sentence then turned to Helena. “One last thing: what’s a media team?”
The Guardians know Kerry far too well by now and seem to be thinking along the same lines. While I’m certain Helena’s mother called her daughter “The Black Queen” because of her eyes and attitude, she does also link up with her two protegees, the White Queen and the Red Queen, so there’s a lot of Guardian symmetry going on here. Also, every geeky word Kerry said is all true because you know it is.
I’m also pretty certain he’ll need kid Annie about having a code name for a character named Emma, because… well, don’t mess with little witches who may react badly to Gingers From America. Yeah, don’t go there, kid.
Besides, you don’t want Annie digging into your comic collection and finding an outfit for you to wear based upon one of your code name’s characters. You don’t. And you know it…