Fall and the Dreamland Express

It is the First of September, the day that people who are supposed to track these sorts of things say is pretty much the day fall begins.  Never mind that here in The Burg today and the next two days are gonna see temps get up above ninety Fahrenheit, it’s fall, which means I need to get into my jeans, slip on my Ugg boots, and go sip a pumpkin spiced latte and get a selfie while standing in leaves next to pumpkins.

I've got the boots ready, as you can see.

I’ve got the boots ready, as you can see.

Today is also post number one thousand, six hundred, and in one hundred and fifty days I will reach post one thousand, seven hundred and fifty; that will occur on Friday, January 29, 2016, or one day short of two years after post one thousand, titled Millennium, was written. Continue reading

Acts of Forgiveness

Chapter Fourteen is finally out of the way.  It didn’t seem like a long chapter, but it was tough to write.  There were so many things I had to figure out–and, yes, the tone of the chapter actually changed several times.  In fact, the penultimate scene where Annie quizzed Kerry on his dream, Coraline was supposed to show up, but I decided to keep the focus on them both, and not bring her into the mix.

Still, plenty happened–

And plenty still to come.

And plenty still to come.

–and this finishes up the conversation in Emma’s hospital bay.

 

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

“Professor Salden sat me down for the next race.” Emma’s voice grew soft and reserved as she addressed Kerry. “She told me if I race again like I did yesterday, she’d send me back to the B Team—” She looked down as she swallowed hard. “And if I don’t shape up after that, I’m off both teams for good.”

“That’s not gonna happen—” Kerry shook his head. “You know better now, so there’s nothing to worry about.”

“I know.” Heavy frown lines creased her brow. “I’m gonna miss all the races this weekend

“But you won’t miss the Red Line race the weekend after.” He was referring to the race held the second weekend of December, which was the second use of the Red Line course, the most difficult on the school grounds. The first time the course was run was the weekend before the Samhain Races. “And you’ll be around for the next one in January.”

 

We’ve yet to see a big race on the Red Line, and there will be a mention of it in the next chapter.  But we now see that Erywin has laid down the law:  Emma’s not racing, which is a hit in personal points, and if she screws up again she’s off the A Team, and maybe out of Coven Racing all together.  Since you can’t give her detention, it’s serious enough.  That and the hospital stay, and learning that she almost lost an arm.

But she has questions . . .

 

“Yeah” She sat quietly with her handing resting on her thighs, both sets of fingers tapping against the heavy covers. When she raised her head she looked to Annie instead of Kerry. “Do you still want to fly with me? Be my wingmate?”

Annie raised one eyebrow. “I do not tell Kerry whom he can and can’t have as a wingmate.” A slight grin played upon her face. “That’s his decision.”

He didn’t give an answer, but asked his own question instead. “Did Vicky tell you how we did on the scavenger flight?”

Emma looked his way. “She told me we not only had the most targets and the farthest to fly, but that we found everything without needing a lot of looking around.”

“Right. That’s because we worked great as a team.” His face framed a bright grin. “I had the best pilot with me—”

“And I had the best navigator.”

“And if we’re gonna do the Polar Express next year, we need both working together—otherwise I’m not going.” Kerry slowly pushed himself up, using his cane to support him. “A third of the school year is up, and we probably wouldn’t get new wingmates until Advanced Flight Two anyway. I can put this behind me if it means having the best advanced flight team in the air.” He nodded towards the girl in the bed. “It’s up to you: whaddya say?”

 

I know:  Kerry’s being nice again.  But so is Annie.  In fact, Annie sort of sets the mood at this point–

 

Annie chose to offer an observation in that instance. “My father has not always worked with people with whom he’s had the best relationships, but when they are on the track, racing for their team, he’s always put his differences aside.” She pointed out the obvious. “You’re going to only have another year and a half of classes left: if your team is the best, why break it up now?”

For a moment Emma appeared conflicted, as if she didn’t know which course she should follow, which decision she should make. She finally found her voice. “I know—” She locked eyes with Kerry. “Nothing’s going to happen between us.”

“No.” He shook his head. “It won’t.”

“But you still want to be friends.”

“I know I can—I think you can, too.”

Emma looked down, making a faint sound as she exhaled. “Then . . .” She held out her right hand. “Wingmates?”

Kerry reached out with his right hand and clasped hers. “Team Myfanwy stays flying. And we’re gonna show them all when we do the overnight in a couple of weeks.”

 

No breakups, but Emma’s been schooled a bit.  She’s been warned by her coven leader and race coach; she’s been warned by people on her team, and she been warned by Annie to knock off her shit.  She’s apologized, though, and maybe even grown up a little in the process.

She does have one last question, and it’s one that others who’ve viewed these proceedings have asked as well:

 

“Kerry.”

He turned back towards the bed, the curtain barely open. “Yeah?”

“Why—?” Emma once more looked as if she didn’t know if she should ask what was on her mind. “Why are you always so ready forgive me?”

Kerry looked away and stared at spot on the floor for a few seconds before replying in hushed tones. “Because I know what it’s like to want something you can’t ever have . . .” He sighed slowly as he met her gaze. “It hurts.”

“Yeah.” She wiggled her toes under the covers. “Does it go away?”

“It does.” He gripped Annie’s hand. “Something better always comes along.”

 

Something better always comes along.  We know what Kerry lost in his move from California to Wales, and what came along that was better, and like it or not, those two events helped define him now.  He’s been hurt a lot, and that’s one of the reasons why he doesn’t want to hurt anyone else.  And because he’s twelve and isn’t that good picking up on different social situations, he doesn’t realize that he’s been hurting Emma more by not shutting her down right away.

He tells her what he understands best:  I know you want me, but you can’t have me.  I’ve been there, and it hurts, and that sucks.  And I don’t want to do that to you . . . but it gets better, because something else good will come along.

It did for him.

He’s gotta figure it will for her as well.

Hot and Cold Awakenings

I’m back on schedule, more or less.  Got home tired, almost feel asleep in my chair, and did my last Human recap, then I started on the story.  And it didn’t start out the way I expected . . .

Originally this scene, titled Tied at One, was supposed to take place in the afternoon, after lunch and before racing started.  24 November, 2012, is the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend in the US, otherwise why would the scene before happen on Black Friday?  But, you know, books aren’t written in stone, at least not any more, so you can change things around as they suit you.  And the way I started seeing this scene play out, I felt it was more of a breakfast scene than something after lunch.  More of a “Kerry is awake but crabby” scene, which is something started in the first couple of paragraphs.

With that in mind I started, and right away I knew where I was going . . .

 

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

“So what it is we’re having for breakfast?” Walking towards the Great Hall Kerry tried to keep his mind off the fact that right now, at seven in the morning, it was as warm as it was going to get. It was eight Celsius at the moment, and by race time it was going to be about a degree cooler and a whole lot windier. It didn’t help that he’d been sore throughout most of the Friday Midnight Madness, due to having flown over eight hundred kilometers during the Black Friday Scavenger Flight, and that he hadn’t slept well.

Now he was trying to remember the name of the dish she’d planed for them this morning, and failing miserably . . .

“It’s mekitsa.” Annie looped her arm through Kerry’s and hugged it tight to her body. “It’s deep fried dough made with eggs, flour, and yogurt. We’ll have ours with feta cheese, since we both like that.”

“Uh, huh. And this drink—?”

“Ayran. It’s cold yogurt mixed with salt.” She scrunched her shouldered as she thought of the culinary treats. “The last time I had a breakfast like this was the morning I left for Berlin.”

“Why haven’t you had it since?”

“It’s a bit different than princesses or banitsa, and I was concerned you might not enjoy this.”

Kerry pressed against Annie as they walked, smiling for the first time. “How long have I known you?”

She looked upward as if she were deep in thought. “All my life.”

“Mine, too. Have I ever not wanted to try something you’ve recommended?”

This time Annie did consider the question. “Hum . . . no. Everything I’ve ever recommended you’ve not only tried, but liked.”

He nodded. “Which reminds me, I’d love some teshko—”

“Teleshko vareno.” She began laughing at Kerry’s mispronunciation of the Bulgarian beef soup. “I know: it’s going to be chilly today, and a few bowls of that will be perfect. Maybe a large one at dinner—” She snuggled closer and kissed his check. “—another during the Midnight Madness. I can ask Una if they can start a pot this afternoon.”

“Just the think to take off the creeping winter chill.” He waved open the heavy West Entrance door. “After you, Darling.”

“Thank you, my love.” She giggled as she walked through the open passage. Ever since their garden discussion after the Samhain Dance, Kerry had taken to calling her “Sweetie” less and “Darling” more. She loved both sobriquets, but darling touched her more. He’s saying it to be cute, but— She waited for Kerry to join her inside the West Transept as the heavy door swung shut behind him. I can also hear his affection buried inside the word. It means so much to hear him express his love this way

“What are you thinking?” He swooped up behind her and cradled her in his arms.

She leaned back into him, thankful they were standing near one of the walls. “That you’re becoming as Bulgarian as me. You’re learning the language, your love our food—”

“Love certain girls from there.” He hugged her tight and kissed her.

Annie chuckled. “You most certainly do.” She slipped out of his grasp. “Come, my love—” She pulled him towards the Rotunda. “Breakfast awaits.”

 

Yes, the way to a boy’s heart–if you haven’t already gotten it–is to feed him Bulgarian cuisine.  It’s a good thing Annie’s Bulgarian, huh?  And what are these dishes?

First mekitsa.  It’s like Annie said:  it’s deep fried dough made with eggs, flour, and yogurt.  You put a rising agent in the dough, and as it rises you pluck off balls of it, flatten, and throw it in a fryer.  Then you serve it with jam or feta cheese, and you can even use a little powdered sugar on them as well.

Just like this.  Yummy.

Just like this. Yummy.

Ayran is also like Annie said:  a cold yogurt drink made by mixing it with water.  Some say it’s really nothing more than diluted yogurt, but it’s supposed to be cooling and refreshing.   It’s hugely popular in Turkey, but you can find it in Bulgaria as well.

You can see Annie chugging this down while sitting on the deck of her lake house.

You can see Annie chugging this down while sitting on the deck of her lake house.

This last dish mentioned, teleshko vareno.  It’s a beef soup that’s done up either in a pressure cooker or cooked slow for a long time, because the meat used is usually a shank, and you have to cook the hell out of it to get it nice and tender.  By cooking it for hours in a large pot you get all the right spices into the meat and the good smells throughout the house, and it’ll be nice and flavorful, just like with ox tail soup, which I’ve had and love.

Just the sort of thing you'd want on a chilly, windy day.

Just the sort of thing you’d want on a chilly, windy day.

One could say that the reason Annie’s getting Kerry accustomed to all this Bulgarian cuisine is because it’s what she knows, and what she’ll probably cook.  And if she’s going to cook this for him, it means Annie’s thinking long range–

Like, oh, a hundred years down the road.

But there’s gotta be more to this scene than Bulgarian delicacies, yeah?  Well, of course there is–

And it’s about to change tonight.

Preparing the Campout

Life is a tricky thing, because it gets in the way of everything.  By that I mean that you have plans to do things, and life has a way of telling you those plans aren’t gonna come through, ’cause lookie here, girl, I got something else for you–

That was last night.  My Mondays for the last few week have been go over my notes for my television recaps, write the recap, then try and get a few hundred words written on the novel.  It’s been that way for seven weeks, and there was no reason it couldn’t be that way last night–

Except I was responsible for setting up a Facebook gift exchange, because I knew most everyone in the exchange, and I wasn’t participating for a few reasons, so I agreed to get everyone–parents and kids–worked out so people knew who was giving to whom.  I knew it was going to require some work, but . . . I was at it for four and a half hours.  When it was all said and done I had some serious neck pain going on, and there was no way I was sitting at the computer any longer than necessary, and I would have given just about anything for someone to come and rub my neck, because pain.

Much of what went down last night was all mind games:  figuring things out in my head and applying them to what’s either in the novel already, or, as in one case, what needs to be added.

And that brings me to Salem Overnight.

It's right there--can't you see it?

It’s right there–can’t you see it?

A while back–probably about sixty days ago, since I’ve been working on this novel for one hundred and thirty days, including today–I came up with the idea of an overnight trip for the Advanced Flight One kids, because this was a chance for them to learn about setting up tents in the dark–which they probably would–in the wilderness–where they would be–and then show off their navigation and flight skills the next day as they sauntered about the countryside before heading back to Salem.

The reason for this trip is beginner’s practice for the big event that happens in January for the Advanced Flight Two students:  The Polar Express, three days and nights of fun and excitement in sub-zero temps with little food and no GPS to help you find your way back to the school.  It’s a concept I came up with in December, 2011, and has stuck with me every since, so now it’s getting mentioned more and more, because there are students in AF2 who are getting ready for this, and the kids in AF1 are well aware their chance to do this occurs in another year.

I thought about the scenes that I need to add, and there’s really only three, for sure, maybe four more that need adding to Chapter Fifteen.  One of those scenes is a peek onto the Flight School’s Operations Center, aka the Flight Deck, and it involves Annie, Penny, and Alex sitting around and talking waiting for the overnight flight’s return.  Gives the girls a chance to bond a little more without any yucky boys around.

But first I gotta get through two more chapters.  I do wanna get this out of the way, however, and it’s scheduled to get figured out this week.

Assuming it doesn’t give me a pain in the neck.

Return to the Valley of Ashes

Yeah, so, the Planet of the Apes series is a good one to rip-off for titles, and that’s what I’m doing here.  Which means, if you’re paying attention, there will be other posts like this to follow.  Because series, oh yeah.  Hey, maybe I should do that with this novel . . . oh, wait–

Last night the computer was better, but I was being bothered by some wanker trying to catfish me into believing he was some guy from Kansas City.  Ha ha!  One, you’ve seen my maps:  I know my way around the world.  And, two:  Kansas City?  I wrote about a fight there.  Bye, Felicia!  You just wasted a bunch of my time.

Still, I wrote seven hundred thirty words on top of being able to look up stuff along the way.  So a much better time of things on the writing side, which makes for a happy lady writer.

And speaking of writing, let’s see what my kids are up to now.

 

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

They walked slowly down the Avenue of Commerce, one of the former walkway of the 1964 World’s Fair, now just another wide path leading to Universe Court and the Pool of Industry. Kerry took in everything, trying to imagine what this area looked like almost fifty years before. “I don’t think my mom was even alive when the fair was here.”

“My mom wasn’t, I know that: she’s just turned thirty-nine.” Emma stated down the lane towards three people in the distance. “Aren’t we gonna look a little out of place here?”

“In New York City?” He snorted. “Naw, they’ll just think we’re school kids staying away from the shopping centers.”

She chuckled. “Guess that’s why we’re out on Black Friday.”

“Probably.” During the pilot’s briefing Vicky had explained that sending her class out on the day after Thanksgiving—the infamous “Black Friday” shopping day throughout America—would likely make it easier for everyone to touch down at one or two locations and not worry about drawing too much notice. Kerry saw that was true here: while the park wasn’t completely empty, he would have expected there to be a lot more people here on a normal Friday close to noon. Everyone’s off buying stuff; they haven’t got time to notice a couple of kids dressed like they’re getting ready to take off from LaGuardia in a DC-3.

 

LaGuardia, by the way, is just down the road from where my kids are.  Back when I used to watch baseball, whenever Chicago would play the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, you could hear planes taking off every so often as they were right under the flight path.

But now you know the date:  it’s Black Friday, 2012, which means it’s 23 November, just a week and a half after Annie’s fight–I’m really gonna need to start putting these dates in the novel chapters.  And now you know something else about Emma:  the age of her mother.  We also know Kerry’s mother wasn’t alive in 1964–or so he believes.  Is he right?

You should have known I'd have a list somewhere.

You should have known I’d have a list somewhere.

Yes, this was created before the first novel, so I’d have a reference for ages.  Now that it’s 2012 I should update this, right?  And if you want something a little freaky, Kerry’s “I had the sex talk” argument with his family happened the day after his mother turned forty-one, so she likely wasn’t in the best of moods when they got into things.  Then again, when it comes to her strange son–who she thinks may or may not have a girlfriend–her mood is usually set at one level.

Now that we have that crap out of the way . . .

 

Emma stopped and turned to her left, gazing across the huge, still Pool of Industry. “Too bad that thing isn’t here—” She turned completely around and pointed at the the reason they were here. “We should have landed closer.”

“That was your call—pilot.” Kerry smiled and tapped her on the shoulder. “It ain’t that far to walk.”

“Naw, it isn’t.” She stuffed her hands into the jacket’s pockets. “What’s this thing called again?”

“The Unisphere.” They began walking at a leisurely pace down the Herbert Hover Promenade. “It sits where the Perisphere was located during the 1939 World’s Fair.” He gave Emma a slight grin. “You’ve seen it before—”

“I have?”

“Yeah.” Kerry mimed holding something large in both hands. “Step away from your busted ass vehicle and put your hands on your head.”

 

See?  I told you he’d say it.  Did Harry Potter ever quote Will Smith?  Ah, hell no!  None of those kids ever did stuff like that because it seems like witches and wizards–even the one’s from non-witching families–ever watched the telly or went to movies.  Or listened to music.  I’m sure Ron’s dad is all like, “What’s a tablet?  Those are from Egypt, right?”  Le sigh . . .

Anyway, Kerry’s a fan of, at least, the first Men in Black movie, and has probably even read the original comic by Lowell Cunningham on the down low, because those suckers are hard to find.  These days he can probably buy mint condition issues right outta The Foundation Pond and read them in his room whenever he likes, or whenever he’s not putting on another public display of affection with his Bulgarian Buttercup.

Did he impress Emma with his knowledge?  Er . . .

 

She rolled her eyes. “Oh, jeez—yeah. That was here?”

“Yeah. With a little help from special effects.”

“Of course.” Emma shook her head. “How do you know all this stuff?”

 

So, not impressed.  At least Annie would have smiled, Emma.  You got a way to go if you wanna be a Soul Mate stealing girl . . .

What’s Kerry’s comeback?

 

“I’m the navigator on this scavenger flight.” He tugged on his open jacket lapels. “It’s my job to know this stuff.” He stared into the tree line to his left, wondering if it was due to his knowing a lot of strange fact that he was now nearly three hundred and fifty kilometers from the school . . .

Today was the famous Black Friday Scavenger Flight, when the wing teams of Advance Flight One were given a list of landmarks to locate, required to plot a course to each of them, and then set out on the day after American Thanksgiving to return with photographic evidence that they’d reached each location. It didn’t matter that the flight data from each Class 1 PAV would end up downloaded and examined: Vicky enjoyed having the teams show their photos in the very next class.

The flight teams gathered for a breakfast at seven, set up in the Dining Hall away from the rest of the students. They were given sealed packages that contained a lists of the sites each team would visit, and the teams were then to return to the Flight School and spend an hour developing their flight plans. The plans were then submitted and the flight were expected to be airborne by nine.

Kerry had no idea what lists of landmarks the other teams received, but he was greatly surprised by the Emma and he received. With the exception of the first landmark—the former site of the Danvers Asylum, where now stood apartments and was only twenty-eight kilometers from the school—all of theirs were located far on the other side of Boston, and just more than half were located in states other than Massachusetts. There were nine landmarks on their visit: their current location—the Unisphere, located on the former site of the 1964 World’s Fair in the Queens, New York City—was the sixth, and Kerry expected this would be the one place for the gathering of excellent photographic evidence.

 

So now you know what all this flying around is for:  it’s the Black Friday Scavenger Flight.  That explains that huge map that popped up yesterday showing the route Emma and Kerry were on, and now, it would seem, they are about two-thirds of the way through their list.  And the first item on their list is exactly where Kerry said it is–

Because maps, yo.

Because maps, yo.

Danvers Asylum was actually known as the Danvers State Hospital, thought most people at the time knew of it as The Danvers State Insane Asylum.  It opened in 1878, and it wasn’t the place you wanted to get sent if you had “problems”, because when you think about horrible mental hospitals where patients are neglected and more or less tortured by sadistic orderlies and doctors, Danvers was the poster child for that shit.  The place was designed to house four hundred and fifty patients:  usually there were about two thousand there, and in 1939 the population was two thousand, three hundred and sixty.  That was also the year two hundred and seventy-eight patients died, because, well, yeah, evil place.  Oh, yeah:  it was also where, supposedly, the lobotomy was invented.

Totally evil.

Just look at the place.  Totally evil, I tell you.

The joint is believed to have served as the inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanatorium, which appeared in the story The Thing on the Doorstep was mentioned in the stories Pickman’s Model and The Shadow over Innsmouth.  And if we want to trip down the rabbit hole just a little deeper, Arkham Sanatorium served as the inspiration for Arkham Asylum, the place outside Gotham City where Batman dumps all the insane criminals who seem to come and go as they please while those arrested for lesser crimes are executed–no, really.  Tough place, Gotham.

What happened to it?  Cuts to the state budget eventually led to the closure of the hospital, and for a long time it remained abandoned, which meant it was the perfect place for people to go looking for ghosts–

Just the place to take a witch for a late-night renduvous.

Just the place to take a witch for a late-night rendezvous.

But it was demolished and turned into, as Kerry said, apartments–

"Look, honey:  we can get a two-bedroom right over the location where they used to stave people to death."

“Look, honey: we can get a two-bedroom right over the location where they used to stave people to death.”

And if you believe that living here wouldn’t be the best of ideas, look up some reviews for Halstead Danvers Apartments and read the reviews; it’s just about what you’d expect from living on a site that’s just one step removed from camping out in a cemetery.

And one last bit of trivia.  Before the town became known as Danvers, it went by another name:  Salem Village.  You’re welcome.

Come for the overpriced living, stay for the insanity.

Come for the overpriced living, stay for the insanity.

Actually, the town of Gloucester, which is just to the south of the school, was the original location of the town that eventually became Salem.  The settlement began in 1623, but was abandoned three years later because of the harsh environment.  Say, you don’t think any witches has something to do with that, do you?

I’m going to be on the road today, but I should be back this evening to answer your probing questions, and maybe get a little more writing in.  ‘Cause, with Emma alone in New York City with Kerry, something’s bound to happen–

Right?

The Valley of Ashes

Sometimes writing is all about frustration, about the inability to take the pretty picture in your head and bring them out so they’ll play nice, because either the words or the elements are conspiring against you to make things go straight to hell.

That was me for a certain segment of the evening.  I’m writing along haltingly, which is something I always do when I’m starting a new chapter and/or scene, and in the middle of doing some research to cover one thing Kerry thinks, my computer starts spazzing out on me.  Lockups, slowdowns, just not wanting to run:  that kept up for just about an hour, and then took about another twenty minutes to set itself right.  I only managed five hundred and forty words, and about three hundred and fifty of that came in a twenty minute sprint leading up to eleven PM.

But I did start–

As you can see right here.

As you can see right here.

–and got the party started, so to speak.

And it starts with Kerry emerging from out of the trees.

 

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

Kerry stepped away from the small grove of trees and on to Avenue of Commerce. He didn’t bother to look to see if anyone was watching him: they’d scouted the park from the air, and a combination of the weather and holidays ensured there were a minimum of people walking about.

He unzipped about a third of his flight jacket and felt the cool air brush against his neck and undergarment. After flying for a little over two hours straight he enjoyed the cool breeze playing gently over his face, rather than forcing his way through a wind chill of minus five Celsius for the better part of three hundred and seventy-five kilometer. He stretched his arms before slightly arching his back to loosen up the muscles there.

He rolled his shoulders, getting the backpack reset on his back over his heavy leather jacket. He wore his for no other reason that to have a place to store his accessories once the chance to take a break presented itself. At the moment his tablet, along with his helmet, gloves, and goggles, were stored there, while his broom was safely in Hammerspace, and he didn’t plan on getting them out again for another twenty or thirty minutes.

He turned back to the small grove, noticing his partner in this expedition continuing to putter around with something. “Hey, are you coming?”

“Just a minute.” A few seconds later, Emma came bounding out on to the near empty lane. “Sorry, I was having some trouble getting my broom squared away.”

“You still having problems with the spell?” Vicky asked Kerry to help Emma with her Hammerspace spell, because there were moments when she’d secure her broom there only to have it clatter out on the ground a minute or two later. He’s spent the last two classes working with her to get it right, and while it seems like she’d finally perfected the crafting, it seemed as if she was still having issues.

She shook her head as she stopped next to Kerry’s right side. “Naw, it was nothing. It just feels funny at time—”

“Like there’s something barely poking you in the lower back?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s how it’s suppose to feel. That’s to let you know you got it in there right.” He took a deep breath and exhaled slow and loud. “Ummmm, love that smell.”

She twisted her face into a frown as a jet flew nearly overhead. “It smells like outside the school walls.”

“You mean like the ocean.”

“Yeah. Except it’s a lot smellier.”

“Well, yeah.” He chuckled. “You know you’re standing in the Valley of Ashes, don’t you?”

Emma raised her eyebrows. “No. What do you mean?”

“This—” Kerry speak his hand and turned half way to his right to face his wingmate. “This used to be the Corona Ash Dump, where they used to bring all the ash from the city’s furnaces. It was called ‘a valley of ashes’ in The Great Gatsby.” He dropped his arms. “Then they cleaned it up for the ‘39 World’s Fair.”

She looked about. “I thought the fair was here in 1964?”

“It was, but the 1939 fair was here first.” He nodded off to his left. “Come on; let’s go.”

 

In case anyone continues to wonder, the title of the chapter From Queens to Dreams refers, in part, to the fact that Emma and Kerry are standing in Queens, New York City, New York, and in particular, the Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which was the site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fair.  But what does Kerry mean by the Valley of Ashes?  At one time this area was, as he said, the Cornoa Ash Dump, which is where New York City dumps all the ashes from their furnaces, ’cause back then you didn’t give a shit where you dumped you trash.

The place was a tremendous eyesore, so much so that again, as Kerry points out, F. Scott Fitzgerald set part of a chapter there in his novel The Great Gatsby, and even used the expression, “The valley of ashes.”

So, when it came time to put in a world’s fair–a big one, the second biggest ever, even until today–the ash dump was picked and cleaned up.  So the place went from this:

B For Bewitching Corona Ash Dump

Gotta love that old time nastiness.

To this:

This is how it must have looked like in that Twilight Zone episode.

This is how it must have looked like in that Twilight Zone episode.

And, eventually, to this:

Welcome to the, um, future?

Welcome to the, um, future?

The dump sat in pretty much the area surrounded by the Van Wyck Expressway to the east (the top of the picture above), the Grand Central Parkway to the west, the Whitestone Expressway to the north, and the Long Island Expressway to the south.  Along with the fair location, you have the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center and Citi Field, all sitting upon what used to be an enormous ash pit.

But . . . what are Emma and Kerry doing here?  They’re doing a class project, believe it or not.  And they’re not even close to being finished–

I know, 'cause I have a map.

I know, ’cause I have a map.

Tomorrow, assuming my computer doesn’t freak out on me again, you’ll discover more.

A Trial of Judgment: The Throwdown

We have our combatants in place, and the trial is underway.  Annie is up there in the air, floating around–well, not exactly floating–and she’s not gonna make it easy for someone to hit her.  Which is what we’re gonna see today, more or less.

There was, to be honest, a hell of a lot of writing against last night.  My weekly recap of Humans ended up running about fifteen hundred words, and that’s a lot.  Then I sat down for last night’s segment of this novel, and between it and chatting up some people who were asking me questions, I still managed nine hundred words, and brought the novel to just under five hundred words of the one hundred and ten thousand word mark.

I should point out that all of this occurred while my computer was having a bit of a nervous breakdown, and there were moments where I couldn’t do anything for about five minutes at a time but wait for things to unfreeze.

But that’s all in the past.  Let’s get to the buttkicking, shall we?

 

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

She threw up her defense spells while she shifted quickly a few meters to the right, then zoomed five metered to her left before dropping nearly to the floor. She didn’t want to give Rikkard too many chances to get her in his sights, and her Flight gift allowed her to move much faster in every dimension than any witch could hope for using levitation. I wonder if he’ll figure out what I’m doing?

There wasn’t a need to worry about that now: her opponent had recovered from his fire ordeal and was crafting up another attack. Pouring a bit more magical energy into defense screens, Annie gently ascended back over the mat.

While she wasn’t interested in being a target, she wanted to see if Rikkard was going to craft drain spells in an attempt to weaken her screens, or even attempt to set up a drain field around her. According to Wednesday a drain field was difficult for a D Level, but not impossible. She gave him a chance to cast so she could feel the spell as it struck the screens: a drain spell, as she’d expected. He’s playing things safe and conservative

Two purple balls of electrical energy stuck her screens while she was busy shutting down his drain spell and reinforcing her defenses. Annie was momentarily blinded by the flash, and enough of the charge made it through that she felt a numbing tingle rush through her legs. She speed forward and then to her right, missing two more Ball Lightning attack the boy quick crafted. She needed a moment to shake off the effects of the charge and regroup. Stop playing with this boy. She hovered some seven meters away from Rikkard. He isn’t going to let you win: you have to make that happen

Annie charged Rikkard.

 

So Annie now knows her opponent can magically sucker punch her when possible, and he likes ball lightning.  That’s good:  Annie likes other things:

 

Three meters from him she rolled to her right, shot off a few meters, and then unleashed a vicious Air Hammer. She didn’t expect it to make it through his defense screens, but that wasn’t her intention. As soon as she threw her attack, she jumped three meters up and five to her left before throwing another Air Hammer, then dropped close to the mat and threw a huge Air Hammer low and hard. Annie was trying to keep him off-balance and unfocused so he wouldn’t have time to make an effective attack against her.

On the contrary, she intended to put an end to this contest as fast as possible.

She moved into position, some six meters away from Rikkard and nearly five meters above the mat, and began fast crafting her next attack. She’d not used sorcery yet, because she didn’t want to spend a lot of time with smaller amounts of dark energy: Annie had something better in mind. I’ve weakened his defenses . . . She spun around once, acting as if she were about to throw another Air Hammer, then steadied herself so she was facing him. Now’s the time to remove them completely.

She gathered together all the dark energy her witch powers allowed her to draw at one time, formed the image of her attack in her mind, pulled her arms around and sighted Rikkard over her hands, opened her palms, and put every gram of willpower into her magic.

Annie fired her killshot.

 

A killshot isn’t always something designed to kill a person, though in this case it could.  Because Annie wants to dust this fool, she save all her sorcery for this moment, and when someone tells you there’s no light in darkness, well, they don’t always know what they’re saying . . .

 

The inside of the Manor was bathed in blue-white glare as the Lightening spell emerged from Annie’s hands like a crackling laser. It hit Rikkard’s defenses and bowed it enough that the screen snapped back and struck him. His magic fought against Annie’s, undulating and popping as the energies spilled several meters away from the point of impact, making students recoil with nervousness and fear.

Annie heard someone screaming out something in another language, but they weren’t word of fear but rather those of excitement. She figured it was Kerry cheering her on, but she wasn’t about to look. She concentrated on holding her spell for five seconds, knowing it would wear her down a bit, but if she ended this trial in the next few seconds it wouldn’t matter.

She finished her lightning attack, then pushed herself forward until she was directly over her opponent. Annie checked long enough to see if Rikkard was still on his feet—he was. That was all she needed. She threw another Air Hammer down on to Rikkard, a massive blast that it bored straight through his screens and slammed him hard to the mat.

Annie watched the boy for a sign of movement, and a few seconds after he hit the mat he began to stir. As he found his way to one knee, Annie slowly floated until she was a half meter off the mat, then close on him, stopping a couple of meters away. She hovered there with a ball of electrical energy in one hand and a sphere of cold fire in the other. She waited until he was up on one knee before moving into his field of vision—

He stopped moving and locked eyes with her. Annie said nothing for a few seconds, then spoke in a low, serious tone. “Step out.”

Rikkard nodded as he stood. Not taking his eyes off Annie, he turned his hands palm down and walked backward until he was outside the combat circle. Annie nodded back and killed her spells.

The trial was over; Annie emerged victorious.

 

And this is how it killshot appeared:

More or less.  A lot less, actually.

More or less. A lot less, actually.

As for the last scene of her hovering a few meters away with glowing balls of death in her hands–yeah, I’d love to see that scene drawn out.  Anyone seeing her do that–and seeing that grim, dangerous look on her face–would likely hesitate to ever mess with Little Miss Sorceress again.  The chances are that Rikkard was probably dazed pretty hard from her laser-like electrical attack, because if it was enough to drain his shields, he was probably getting zapped as well as he tried to keep from being lit up.

You’ll probably see tomorrow, when judgement is rendered.

Probably.