Ostara Conversations: Performance Art

Hola, and welcome to The Cold Burg, where the wind chill is keeping everything down below zero.

Not like that keeps me inside.

Not like that keeps me inside.

That’s outside the coffee shop I’m sitting inside right now, though that picture was taken right before eight AM.  The Pennsylvania capitol building is behind me, so you know I’m in Harrisburg–or I’m really good with picture editing.

Busy day yesterday with writing and video blogging, and this morning I have just over a thousand words out of the way to finish my latest scene, and I’ll do a couple more videos this afternoon once I’m back inside the warm confines of my apartment.  But for now it’s time to bring my kids back into the fold and show a little of what Annie did for her part in the Ostara Celebration.  It’s nice, you can bet.

 

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

There were two canvases before him: Kerry turned his attention to the one of the left first, partially out of habit, partially because it was the more colorful of the two. The painting depicted a girl in light blue pajamas floating in a field of gray mist surrounded by a variety of blues, reds, pinks, aquas, and yellows, hovering over three large crimson and violet spheres run through with tendrils of turquoise. The girl was herself surrounded by a small field of faint white, giving her the appearance of a corporeal ghost.

He didn’t need to think about the symbolism of this work. “That’s you dreamwalking, isn’t it?”

Annie grinned. “Did you noticed the title?”

He looked at the card on the stand, which was written in both the English and Cyrillic alphabets. “I don’t even want to try saying that. I’ll end up butchering the words.”

“It’s Na Povŭrkhnostta v Tsarstvoto na Sŭnishtata, which translates as Afloat in the Realm of Dreams.” She gave him a knowing look. “That’s me dreamwalking you.”
He continued examining the painting. “It’s beautiful.”

“I can’t wait to teach you—” She chuckled. “Though I need to become better before that can happen.”

“Just give it time.” He turned to the canvas on the right. “There’s no need to know what this one’s about—” The second painting showed him siting on his broom, outfitted in winter flying gear, kissing Annie, who hovered in mid-air just to his left. All around them was dark, though it was possible to make out the huge structure covering the entire space behind them. Unlike the last painting there was almost no color in this one: it was all blacks and grays, punctuated by the brightness of their faces, close together and locked in an deep, tender kiss.

If he had any doubt about the source of the painting, the title cast aside those doubts.  “Night Flight to Fenway. I like that.”

“I like what’s going on.” Nadine stepped up to join them, replying to Kerry’s comment before Annie could speak. “You two.” A broad grin formed while she shook her head. “There’s no place you’ll do a PDA, is there?”

Annie grinned back at Nadine. “No. Why would you think otherwise?”

“I don’t. I think it’s sweet as hell, actually.” Nadine glanced between the two. “I’ll bet you’d kiss in your dreams if you could.”

The couple exchanged glances before Annie laughed while Kerry blushed. “Yes, we would.”

 

We now know Nadine approves of those public displays of affection, and she actually calls it a PDA, which given that today in my world it’s Valentine’s Day, though I never get to partake any PDAs of my own.  Then again, Nadine’s a couple of years older, so the whole “Let’s lock lips” thing isn’t something to giggle over.  Like a few others at Salem, romance is serious business with her.

Quickly we discover that Nadine isn’t there just to admire the artwork . . .

 

Nadine knew better than to dig any deeper into Annie’s cryptic comment. “Next year you’re gonna have to paint something that doesn’t have you two in flying gear.” She turned to Kerry. “Ready for the big night?”

“About as ready as I’m going to be.” The right side of his face turned up in a smirk. “I just hope the rhythm drummer can keep up with the lead tonight. He got it right during our dress last week, but—” He shrugged. “He’s blown the bridge a couple of times.”

Nadine turned to Annie. “That’s what he gets for using two drummers.”

Kerry pretended to be indigent. “That’s how the song was played live. Two drummers, no waiting–except for when Phil had to come down and sing.”

“The dude’s gotten it right for a few weeks now.” Nadine crossed her arms. “I don’t think you have any worries there.”

He nodded. “I only have to worry about the vocals now.”

“That was your choice.”

“You’ll do fine with the singing.” Having sat in on their dress rehearsal she didn’t need to question either person on the specifics of their performances. “It won’t be any more difficult than when you played and sang last year.”

Nadine nodded. “Just a longer song.”

“It was either Burning Rope or Cinema Show—” He chuckled. “I went with Burning Rope ‘cause I figured I had less of a chance of screwing up a seven minute song than a ten minute song.”

Annie nearly rolled her eyes. “You won’t screw up.”

“Annie’s right; you got this.” Nadine lowered her voice just a bit. “Though if you’d played the ten minute song Professor Ellison would have let me add another song to my set.”

“I think it would have been tough finding something to go with Cornflake Girl and Run.” Kerry looked around to see if anyone close by was listening to them. “And if you had played a third, people would think Ellison was giving us preferential treatment.”

“Which he sorta is seeing how you’re using the Quadra for your performance.”

“I didn’t expect that.” He pursed his lip for a moment. “Not that anyone other than us three know how important that instrument is in my song.”

Nadine shrugged. “Screw everyone else. I’m glad you’ll use it tonight.” She glance to Annie before turned back to Kerry. “I’m going to check my setup.”

“I’ll be along in about five minutes.”

She nodded to them both. “See you back stage.”

 

So there you have it:  by Nadine showing up and talking a little musical shop, you learn what they’re playing during the Ostara Performance.  Even though their songs are wildly different, they’re using two instruments are similar, so it kinda makes sense they’d work together up to a point.

Nadine’s playing Cornflake Girl by Tori Amos as her first song.  Tori normally uses a Bösendorfer baby grand piano, which was the piano of choice of Franz Liszt, and of Queen, Peter Gabriel, and Roy Bittan, and this is why the Yamaha P-255 is being employed, because Nadine wants a hard-core sound without requiring a baby grand on stage.  Which she could totally do if she wanted–

Her second song is Run by Collective Soul.  This song has more of a subdued feeling, and while the piano isn’t as prominent in this song, she’s employing the Mellotron M4000D for the string parts.  It’s an interesting choice for her, and some people have referred to this as a indie song one to which one can slow dance.  And who knows:  maybe a few kids will jump into the aisles and do just that during her performance.

No one is dancing to Kerry’s tune, however.  As he indicated, he’s playing Burning Rope by Genesis, which is a seven minute song that was the longest tune on the album …And Then There Were Three…  When this song was played live during the 1977-78 Mirrors Tour four different keyboard instruments were employed, and that’s what Kerry is doing with his performance.  And being a pedantic little prog rock geek, he’s also asked for, and gotten, two drummers to play in his accompanying band.  The reason for this is simple:  back in the “old days” while Phil Collins would do all the drumming on the albums, they used another drummer for concert tours–in the case of the Mirrors Tour and all later tours, it was Chester Thompson.  However, Phil not only sang in concert but also drummed on a number of songs, and whenever there was a long instrumental section he’s run back to the drum kit behind his section of the stage and join in the drumming.

This is why Kerry has two drummers:  because that’s the way it was played.  His lead drummer, however, isn’t coming down off her kit to sing:  Kerry’s doing the vocals as well.

(I should point out that the “house band” being used by Nadine and Kerry–and the other students who require musical accompaniment–are all former students with extensive musical backgrounds.  This will get a mention in the next scene.  Are any of them famous?  I’ll never tell . . .)

The video below is Burning Rope as recorded 13 October, 1978, at Chicago’s late, great Uptown Theater, and this is pretty much how it’ll sound when Kerry plays.  This is taken off a broadcast from my favorite radio station back home, WXRT, which means this is mixed right off the band’s soundboard.  The image in the video also shows Tony’s set up for the tour.  The keyboards he’s “facing” are a Hammond T-102 organ with the ARP Quadra digital synthesizer sitting on top.  The Quadra that Kerry is playing–and which is constantly mentioned in the scene–is the same one heard in this recording; it’s making that “Wha-wa-wa-WAAAAAA-wa” sound in the song intro.  Kerry isn’t using an organ, but is employing the Akai MPK61 Midi Keyboard Controller to replicate an organ sound.

In the image the keyboards on the right of Tony are a Moog Polymoog 203a sitting atop a Yamaha CP-70 electric grand piano, which was the standard for portable concert pianos back then.  The Yamaha P-255 is used in place of the CP-70, and the Mellotron M4000D is used in place of the Polymoog 203a to produce the string sounds as well as an additional synth sound at the start of  the mid-song bridge.

Have I put too much thought into this?  No more than Kerry would.  Hummm . . . it’s almost like we’re the same person.

There you have it.  All you ever wanted to know about songs you’re never going to hear.  But what about the paintings?  Let’s get back to that . . .

 

Kerry turned back to Annie’s paintings. “Sorry about that.”

“Not your fault.” Annie took his hand. “It’s your time to shine as well.”

“My time comes later.” He pointed at the paintings. “This is your time, and we shouldn’t talk shop now.”

She loved that he was so apologetic. “You love my paintings?”

“They’re wonderful. Though I’m surprised you got the Fenway one out so quickly—”

“I started sketching it that night. Only took me two weeks to paint.”

“You’d could never tell. I love the difference between light—” He indicated the painting on the left. “—and dark.”

“Just wait until you see the dream realms with your own eyes.”

“Can’t wait.” He moved closer to the painting of them kissing. “I’ll never forget this moment.”

“Nor will I.” She held him close. “First time to show us kissing.”

“Like no one’s seen that.” He squeezed Annie’s hand. “Though we do need a painting that doesn’t have us in flight gear.”

“Well . . .” She leaned in so she could whisper in his ear. “There was another dream scene I could have painted.” Annie giggled softly. “Then I’d have only needed to explain why we were under a comforter.”

 

Could you imagine Annie painting the scene of them in the hotel in their dreams?  “Oh, this is a little something that happened to Kerry and I over the summer before we returned to school.  The comforter?  It’s there because we were naked under that–”  Eyes bugging, blood squirting from noses–it would make for a hell of an Ostara presentation, that’s for sure.

The question arises, too:  which painting does Kerry get?  He got the Bulgarian back yard scene from last year, so will Annie give him the kissing picture this year since she already has one of them together?  Or is going to give him the dreamscape painting?  Do you think I’ll answer that question in the next scene, which is the last of Chapter Twenty-six?

Hummm . . . Yeah, I probably will at that.  After all, Kerry wants to know as well, so someone’s gotta tell him.

Ostara Conversations: Prelude to Annie Art

Hasn’t this been an interesting morning?

I actually woke up about five hours ago as I write this at 10:02 AM in the EST zone.  I was tired when I hit the bed, but a minor panic attack hit me about 4:45, and though I tried getting back to sleep I knew it wasn’t happening, so I got up, made coffee and a little something to eat, and started working on the new scene.  I didn’t get all that far, however, because about 6:15 I began getting tired again, so I set down in my easy chair, pulled my hand-made Orphan Black blanket over me, and took about an hour nap.

Everyone should have a hand-made blanket from England with Cosima's copyright number on it.

Everyone should have a hand-made blanket from England with Cosima’s tag number on it.

I slowly made it back to writing, telling myself that I’d stop at ten so I could start on my blog post.  Which I did, and which I’m doing now.  Oh, and I’m also making chili in my slow cooker, because it’s cold outside and I like something hot to keep me warm.

Kerry’s had his nap and time has moved ahead to later in the evening.  This means we’re getting close to performance time for Nadine and Kerry and everyone else who decided they were going to play a song, or dance, or do a reading.  But that’s not for later, and as I indicated, we’re not actually going to see Kerry play, but we will hear about his performance.  On the other hand we do get to see another part of Ostara, because if you remember last year, there’s a painter in this group as well, and their work gets displayed long before the other half of this romance gets up in front of the whole school–

 

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

Kerry felt refreshed in the aftermath of his seventy minute nap in the darkened hospital bay. The exhaustion he’d felt hours before was gone; even the nervous stress over tonight’s performance was gone, and he looked forward to his performance in a few hours. Months of practice, a few weeks of rehearsals, and about eight minutes after he’d take the stage, the moment would finish.

Until then he’d enjoy the evening.

Since October he’d made the trek to Orchestra Hall many times, though it was rare he’d walked the path that started between the Spells Center and Life and Earth Sciences Building and ended up just north of the parking lot in front of the hall: most of the time he hopped on his broom and sped over to the hall on Friday morning or Sunday afternoon so he could rehearse with Nadine. Like the year before they had a reserved room and equipment. Kerry was a bit surprised that Professor Ellison honored his request for one instrument in particular, but as Matthias later said, given the song Kerry had chosen, he was sure he’d put the keyboard to good use.

Annie had seen their last rehearsal the previous Sunday, so she knew the songs Nadine and he were going to perform. She knew one of the songs Nadine had played, but she told Kerry she’d never heard his. He didn’t find that at all surprising as their musical interest, while growing closer, were still wildly diverse. She did say, however, that they both played beautifully, though Annie had to give Kerry the edge when it came to performances—something that Nadine didn’t find surprising or take personally.

Kerry held the door for Annie as they entered the lobby of Orchestra Hall. It was eighteen-thirty and a smattering of students and adults were already examining the art work. The Ostara Presentation was much like a Normal school talent event: parents and relatives of students were allowed to attend, but only if the student was a C Level or greater, or if they were a Legacy. Annie’s parents weren’t here for the same reason they didn’t come last year: Ostara usually fell right around the time the Formula 1 season started, and the first races of the year were held on the other side of the world. The year before the performed on the same day as the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, and this year her parents were in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, preparing for the start of the Malaysian Grand Prix. Earlier Annie stated that her parents might be able to show up next year, as there were already rumors that the start of the 2014 Season would start the week before Ostara, and if that happened it was possible they could attend.

As for Kerry’s parents, he’d wait and see.

 

It wasn’t mentioned much during the first Ostara performance, but this is the one time when parents are allowed to visit to the school and watch the evening’s festivities.  They can start arriving as early as eleven so they can have lunch and then watch the races, but the majority start appearing around seventeen for pre-performance snacks and drinks, and stay for the after-performance dinner.

All this means if Kerry’s folks–or any of the Normal parents of the kids in his level–want to come watch the show in 2014, they are more than welcome to come.  After all, The Foundation will see to it they get to the school in comfort–like, you know, via a jaunt station–and can even do a little poking around if they don’t want to see the races.  With an escort, naturally:  wouldn’t want them getting into something . . . strange.  Right?

Annie’s parents could have come to see the festivities, but Papa’s off doing his job and that makes it difficult, even when you can teleport all around the world.  After all, being a Formula 1 driver puts one in a certain public eye, and when it’s race morning one can’t just jaunt off for a few hours so they can hang out with their little witch.

Since I’ve time lined out all the Ostara festivals for a six year stretch I know when they’re held.  That means I know so the dates.  Like the one I’m right about now.  It’s held on the 23rd of March:

I looked it up and wrote it down so I wouldn't lose track.

I looked it up and wrote it down so I wouldn’t lose track.

Then I checked the Formula 1 schedule for 2013, because they’re a matter of public record and easy to find:

Which makes it easy to find the first two races of the season.

Which makes it even easier to find the first two races of that season.

Now, it says there than the Malaysian Grand Prix was held on 24 March, 2013, and that’s the next day, yeah?  Kerry pointed out the obvious:  the first few races are held on the other side of the world, and that brings the International Date Line into play.  And that means it’s possible that early evening on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, is also early morning in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

And it turns out it totally is.

Turns out it totally is.

Malaysia is twelve hours ahead of the Salem School, and Mama and Papa are probably just waking up and getting ready for Viktor’s performance.  That means another year where Annie and Kerry are all on their own, just like the rest of the A and B Levels with Normal parents and relatives.  Will Annie’s parent show up next year?  Will Kerry’s?  Wait and see, people.  Just wait and see.

Right now it’s back to the school, where my kids have arrived, though probably not in black tails and gowns–

 

Performing on the stage was only part of the evening’s event, for those students whose artistic endeavors followed sketching, drawing, and painting were presented in the hall’s lobby. Annie presented two paintings during their A Levels, and she was presenting two paintings again tonight. Whereas last year the art was a complete surprise, Kerry knew she was painting this year—though it was only in the last two weeks that he discovered she was presenting two works once more. And like last year, she kept her works secret, much as he’d done with his musical piece.

“Seems like there’s a lot more adults this year.” Kerry stuffed his hat and gloves into the pockets of his coat as Annie flipped her coat’s hood back and removed her fingerless gloves. Though the temperature had hovered around five Celsius for much of the afternoon gusting wind made it feel far chillier, and with the sun setting the wind chill was dropping the temperatures below freezing.

“There are.” Annie unzipped her coat and handed her coat to Wilhelmina Ananas, one of the AP groundskeepers who helped check attendee’s garments for the evening. “Isis told me the other day there were expecting the relatives of at least eighty students. Last year only sixty-three students had relatives in attendance.” She smiled as she turned to Kerry. “You’re thinking of next year, aren’t you?”

“Getting down to a couple of months before we head home.” He finished smoothing the sleeves of his shirt. “Parents are never far from mind anymore.”

“Get them out of your mind now.” She took his hand and pulled herself closer. “You don’t need any distractions when you’re up on stage tonight: you’ll have enough to keep you occupied.” Annie leaned against Kerry’s arm. “Given that you’re likely giving the most difficult performance tonight—”

“Okay, Nadine.” Kerry laughed to show he was only teasing; he’d mentioned several times that his practice partner told him the very same things nearly every time they were together in their rehearsal room.

Annie led him slowly through the assembled works. “It won’t matter in another ninety minutes.” She kissed his hand. “You’ll perform great tonight.”

“And if I don’t, at least I took my shot.” He kissed her hand right back. “And then think about what to do next year.”

“Leave that for next week.” Annie stopped and spun around so she was facing Kerry. “My paintings are right there behind me.” She nodded towards the two display stands about four meters away.

“Are you ready?”

“To see what you created?” Kerry smiled and nodded. “Always.”

“Then close your eyes.” She led him by the by the hand and brought him before her work. “You can open them.”

 

Ha ha!  I didn’t show you what Annie made.  At least not yet.  That will be for tomorrow, and at that time there’ll be a little more conversation about what Kerry’s playing.  I mean, I gotta tease you with something.

I wouldn’t be a good writer if I didn’t leave you with a cliffhanger now and then.

Springtime For Kerry: The Pushers

We come to the end of the scene, and it was a bit of a chore getting it all together, let me tell you.  Because . . . I don’t know why.  Sometimes things flow pure and easy, and some times you gotta pull them out of your head with a pair of pliers.

But I did something that will set me up, kinda, for the next scene.  May I show you?  Of course you’ll say yes.  So . . . here:

What the happy hell is this?

What the happy hell is this?

Glad you asked.  Kerry is playing in the Ostara Presentation, and he’d doing keyboards once again.  So is Nadine, and because of this they pooled their talents and decided that they’ll perform different songs, but since they’re playing pretty much the same instruments, they’ll go on back-to-back and use the same set up.

You know me:  I gotta see what that looks like, so I did.  I found the actual dimensions of equipment available in March of 2013, and I modeled it up.  And what are these things?  Well, if we assume that the stick figure in the middle is Nadine/Kerry, and they are facing the keyboard on the right, then it’s easy to describe . . .

The unit to their right is a 37 key Mellotron M4000D with an add-on MIDI processor (not shown here, but it’d be set up to the right of the instrument).  This is used to produce all the string and vocal sounds either would need.  In front of them is an 88 key Yamaha P-255 digital piano, which is pretty much the standard for that sort of instrument.  On their left the bottom keyboard is a 61 key Akai MPK61 Midi Controller (with the MIDI processor rack set up just to the left of the instrument) which both kids will use to replicate an organ, and the top keyboard is a classic 61 key ARP Quadra digital synthesizer which Kerry is playing during his performance.  And if you’ve followed this story all the way from the last novel, you’ll know that one, Kerry’s already played that instrument, and two, he’s over the moon about playing it during his performance because there’s a massive amount of geeky musical pride in being able to perform a song that used to be played on that very keyboard, and was done so live many times over.

But that’s for the next scene, and believe it or not, you’re not even going to see this.  It’ll get mentioned, but . . . nope.  No seeing.  Not like last night.  However, there is the scene to finish up below, and it picks up from Coraline’s “But?” which isn’t to be confused with–you know.  Let’s not go there; let’s go here . . .

 

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

“The last week he’s been a little slow in his casting.”

“Slow in terms of the others, or slow in terms of how you both normally cast?”

“How we normally cast.”

Coraline grinned. “Which means he’s still faster than the majority of the school.”

Annie chuckled. “Yes, it’s true.”

“Did he give a reason for slowing his crafting?”

“As he said, stress over Ostara.  I think he’s still recovering from what happened on Katahdin.”

“Probably.”  Coraline rested her chin on her right hand.  “Has he had any other dreams?”

“He said he’d tell us if he did, and he hasn’t.”  Annie wanted a few of her own answers before offering any more. “What’s wrong with him?”

Coraline didn’t see a reason to keep the girl in the dark. “He’s overly tired. The scans here show a build-up of beta-amyloid in his body, and that’s an indication that he’s either not sleeping well, or he’s suffering from insomnia.” She shrugged. “He’s back there napping now—”

“Are you certain?”

 

There you have it:  Kerry’s tired.  Overly tired, to use Doc Coraline’s expression.  Beta-amyloid is a real protein that accumulates in the brain if, as Coraline points out, suffer from insomnia or just don’t sleep, and can lead to problems down the line if it doesn’t get flushed out with a good night’s sleep.

But this napping thing:  how does Coraline know Kerry’s back there in Bay #1 asleep?  Well, it’s a kinda magic . . .

 

“Yes, I’m certain.” Coraline’s grin transformed into a sly smile. “Since he was pretty much out of it I crafted a quick spell around him that was going to make him drowsy. It would only stay in place for maybe two or three minutes, but that’s all he’d need.”

Mama used to do something like when she’d set me down for a nap. Annie remembered, starting when she was two, all the times her mother would have her take a nap in the afternoon, and when she resisted closing her eyes and going to sleep, her mother would smile and run her finger down the bridge of her nose and over her cheeks and chin, and in a few minutes Annie would fall into a deep slumber. She was doing the same thing to get me to fall asleep—at least at first. Once I discovered Kerry there in my dreams, I didn’t need a reason to nap in the afternoon. “How long will he sleep?”

“A hour, maybe ninety minutes.” Coreline got up and headed for the door. “Come on.” Once again Annie followed the doctor, only this time out of the office and back to the bay. She saw Coraline slowly crack the curtain open and looked inside the dark space. “Come—” She waved Annie forward. “Look.”

Annie peeked inside. Kerry had managed to pull the comforter over him before falling sleep. He appeared peaceful and unconcerned, so different than the way he’d acted less than fifteen minutes earlier. “I’m glad he’s resting.”

“I am, too.” Coraline waved Annie back and resealed the bay. “The way he appeared when we first entered the ready room, I’m surprised he made it as far in the heats as he did.” She shook her head. “Then again, that’s what Salem does.”

Annie repeated the quote that was considered the unofficial motto of the school. “’Push you as far as we can, then push you beyond that’.”

“That’s what we do. We push each level as far as we can to see what they’re capable of doing, then we push them more.” Coraline crossed her arms. “And then you two—” She leaned against the bay partition and looked down while shaking her head. “Advanced classes, racing, gift training, minion work, and Ostara presentations.” She chuckled as she stood. “Sometimes we’re so busy pushing you as hard as we can that we forget.”

Annie closely scrutinized the school doctor. “Forget what?”

Coraline patted Annie on the shoulder. “That you’re only twelve and thirteen.” She slowly moved around her on her way to her office. “That you’re only kids.”

 

“That you’re only kids.”  No truer words spoken, because there are time when people seem to forget that these two, who put themselves though so much shit in such a short time, are actually just young kids.  And while the other B Levels are pushed, Annie and Kerry are pushed, though Annie will have the last thought on this matter at the end of the last scene of this chapter.

Right now we are three scenes down–

And if my counting's right, two to go.

And if my counting’s right, two to go.

So let’s get over to the Ostara Presentation and see what my kids are going to do–

Or in Annie’s case, done.

Springtime For Kerry: Off to the Ward

Yesterday . . . and unlike a certain song it wasn’t so far away.  It was actually pretty sucky, if you must know.  It started bright and early when I discovered that my ATM card was deactivated, because I was sent a new one back in December that went to my home in Indiana–where my family still lives and where I maintain my actual residence for taxing purposes–because my bank–which I will leave unnamed but has the initials JPMC–was supposed to update my address but didn’t, and my family at home never told me I got the card, and neither did my bank, so it’s not be activated.  Getting a new card doesn’t make sense, because I was given a new card after I changed my name, but they still gave me one anyway because it looks like they issued it under my old name, and . . .

Well, that’s not really the bad part.  The bad part is they could fix my address and issue me a new one, but it would be thirty days before I get a new card because I don’t know why, my bank probably figured it would cut into the billions they make each year if they issue one and then FedEx it to me overnight, BUT!  If I drive 130 miles/210 kilometers to the nearest branch they’ll issue me one right then and there.

Yeah, not happy.

"Trust me, when they start breaking up the banks I'll be right there with a flamethrower!"

“Trust me, when they start breaking up the banks I’ll be right there with a flamethrower!”

This is to say I spent most of the day pissed off and out of my mind.  When I arrived home I did another video and  went to get food–putting it on a card that I can pay right a way–and then arrived home and tried to get into writing, but . . . nada.  Shit wasn’t going well.  Just hard to get the creative juices flowing when all I wanted to do was rest and veg out.

However, I did managed to add about four hundred words to the current narrative, and look up some information needed for the next scene, believe it or not.  It’s not much, but it’s a start towards what’s going on with Kerry.  And . . .

 

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

Coraline helped Kerry out of the recliner and into the wheelchair, and made certain he was comfortable. As soon as Annie had a good grip on the back of the wheelchair Coraline jaunted them to the first floor lounge area at the south end of the ward before heading all the way down the ward to Bay #1. She considered having Annie levitate Kerry into bed, but she wanted to see if he could climb into Bed #2 on his own, which he did with out problems.

Once Kerry was stretched out Coraline activated the overhead scanners and ran her hand-hovering orange glow down the center line of his body, all the way to mid-thigh before heading back to his head. She scrutinized the readouts set over Kerry’s head, looking down and smiling every few seconds. “Nothing out of the ordinary here.” She pushed the main monitor back against the wall. “I believe you could do with a bit of a nap, though. After all—” She winked at him. “—you have a big performance tonight, don’t you?”

He smiled up at Coraline, then reached to his left where Annie stood and took her hand. “I probably could use a nap.”

She, too, smiled down at Kerry, but at the top of her vision she saw the minute twitch of Coraline’s head towards the ward corridor. “A nap will do you well, my love.” Annie gave his hand a squeeze.

“In the meantime I can use the bathroom—” She leaned closer and spoke in a low voice. “It’s needed.”

“Well, then, I don’t want to hold you up.” He stretched out, gave her hand a quick squeeze before folding his hands over his stomach. “It’ll just be a quick nap.”

“I’m sure it will, Red.” Coraline motioned the privacy curtain half closed, then stepped out into the corridor and waited for Annie to join her before closing the curtain all the way. She headed for her office with Annie following right behind: the moment they were inside Coraline shut the door and set the blinds at half-closed. Coraline settled down in her chair. “How’s Kerry been acting of late?”

“Not much different than he usually acts.” Annie took a seat across from Coraline’s desk. “Nothing I’d say that is out of the ordinary.”

“How’s his magic crafting?”

“The same.”

Annie glanced down for a moment, something Coraline picked up in an instance. “But?”

 

That’s it.  He’s in the bed and resting, and it looks like Coraline and Annie are going to have a little chat, one that I should finish tonight.  And that means I should have time to start on the next scene, but then . . . there’s something else I might want to do as well relating to the next scene, and that involves using what little creative skills I have in another area to help me visualize something.  If that happens, then there’s a likelihood I won’t get that scene started, but then . . .

You know where I’m going with this.

I think.

Springtime For Kerry: Expressive Exams

Excerpt time is right around the corner, but first the other news, which you may or may not care about, but I’m gonna give it to you anyway.  Last summer and fall I did weekly recaps of a couple of television shows for my friend Rachel Tsoumbakos.  At that time we were posting the recaps on her site, but we’ve decided to branch out and do the smart thing, which is set up another blog site to hold our recaps!  That means I am now one half of The Snarking Dead, and with the new seasons coming up here in a real hurry we’re gonna be busy little girls recapping our favorite shows.

Last night I started catching up on last year’s first-half-of-Season 6 of The Walking Dead by doing a video recap of Episode 2, and I’ll likely post that later today, and if I’m in a really crazy mood I’ll do my best to get those video recaps out before the second-half-of-Season 6 airs this Sunday.  Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.  But I had fun filming last night, so we’ll see.

Filming wasn’t the only thing I did:  there be writing as well.  And it’s the writing that starts answering the question, “What’s wrong with Kerry?”  And guess what?  I’m about to tell you–

 

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

Awareness returned slowly to his eyes. Kerry blinked three times then glanced around without moving his head, as if he were taking in the room for the first time. His eyes locked on Annie and a smile slowly formed before he turned to the other person in the room. “Hi, Coraline.”

“How you feeling, Red?” Coraline removed her scanner from her jacket but held it in her hand.

“Tired.” He chucked and turned to Annie. “I was zoning out there; I didn’t hear you guys come in.”

“Yeah, it looked that way.” Coraline crafted a small light on the tip of her right finger, then gently opened each other Kerry’s eyes to examine them. “Did you hear Holoč leave?”

He started to shake his head, then stopped. “No.”

Coraline killed the finger light. “What happened out there? Why did you bail out of the race?”

Kerry raised the back of the recliner and began sitting upright. “I was starting to lose focus. My head was getting foggy; I couldn’t keep my mind on the race.” He rubbed his eyes with his fingertips. “I came up on Penny in Helter Skelter and I thought I was gonna crash. That’s why I popped off the course.” He looked to Annie. “I didn’t want to crash, or crash anyone else, and if I’d stayed out there, that would have happened.”

Coraline nodded. “That was good: that was smart. If you weren’t at your best it was good you got off the course before you hurt yourself and others.” She looked up across the recliner where Annie stood at Kerry’s left. “Ain’t that right?”

She nodded. “It was.” She knelt down next to her soul mate and set her hand over his. “You did the right thing, my love.” Annie kept her concern for Kerry from showing, for while she realized he’d done the right thing, what bothered her was his current situation. It’s as if he has no energy, no feelings. He didn’t act this way even after Katahdin, when he was in pain. Why is he like this?

 

There you go:  Kerry was losing it out on the course, and before he wrecked–or worse, wrecked someone else–he got the hell off the track and out of the race.  Annie knows there’s something wrong, however.  There’s something that’s not right, because Kerry’s tough, even to the point of racing on when he shouldn’t–though one could argue that if he tore up his knee on the school’s Blue or Red Lines he’d probably leave the race right away.

Coraline has a question for the lad, and this shows why she gets paid the big bucks:

 

Coraline finally activated her scanner and formed the orange glow in the palm of her right hand. She scanned Kerry from head to waist then started back, her eyes locked on to the display. She was half way up his body when she spoke. “How is your sleep?  Getting enough?”

Kerry half-shrugged. “It’s been okay, but the last couple of weeks—” He gave his best smile to Coraline. “You know, the stuff I’m doing for Ostara, I’m worried about doing well tonight.” He gave a weak chuckle. “Should have kept my mind on the race, yeah?”

“Oh, yeah.” Coraline nodded, keeping a smile on her face and her tone neutral. “I’m gonna take you to the hospital—”

“Why you wanna do that?”

She got to her feet and looked down on Kerry. “Because I want to give you a more extensive scan; there’s things I can detect with the equipment there that I can’t—” She held up the hand scanner. “—get with this.”

“Uh.” Kerry dropped the foot rests. “I’m okay—”

Sit, Kerry.” Coraline pointed at him and shook her head. “I don’t want you out of that chair until I’m ready for you to get out of that chair.” She turned to current assistant. “Annie, would you get a wheelchair from the storage area?”

He watched Annie, following her as she walked to the ready room storage area to his right. “That’s okay: I can walk—”

Kerry.” Coraline stepped in front of the chair to prevent him from standing and set her hands on her hips. “You are not the doctor here: I am. And if I say you’re going to the hospital in a wheelchair, then, young man, you are.” She waved at Annie, who had the wheelchair half-way out of the storage area. “Hurry up with that.”

“Yes, Doctor.” Her eyes grew stern as Annie wheeled the chair over. “Kerry, you need to listen to Coraline. Don’t argue with her.” She parked the wheelchair directly in front of the recliner as soon as Coraline stepped aside. “Anything she’s ordering, she’s doing so for your own good.” The smile appeared on her face, though it was slow coming to her eyes. “Please, my love?”

For a moment it didn’t look as if he would respond, then a grin spread wide across his face as Kerry nodded slowly. “Yes, Sweetie. I know you’re right.”

 

When Coraline starts using her Doctor Voice on you, it’s serious shit, folks.  She has caught Kerry in bed with Annie–sleeping, mind you, but still–and cuts him a lot more slack than she does other students–what do you want to bet there aren’t many other kids at Salem that get to address her by her given name?  And while Annie was speaking nicely to Kerry, she was also giving him “The Look”, the one that says, “You better shut up and do as your told or we’ll have words.”

"There's no way I'm gonna win this battle, is there?"

“There’s no way I’m gonna win this battle, is there?”

No, kid.  Just get in the chair.

So it’s off to the hospital and more scans, and I’ll likely wrap this sucker up tonight, after which there are only two more scenes before we get to the chapter I know a few people are waiting for–

And I’m really dreading writing . . .

Springtime For Kerry: Helter Skelter Comin’ Down

That scene I showed you yesterday?  Finished it.  Yep, sure did.  It took me awhile to get to seventeen hundred and sixty words, because I was spending the moment between music, napping, eating, and snarking on The Walking Dead, so I was a busy girl even though I wasn’t.  Such is my live on the weekend when I have no one with whom to visit and I’m playing one half the team of Two Broke Girls.

Given that I covered a lot of the race mechanics in the last post, it behooves me to not worry about getting you up to speed.  I will, however, give you a nice graphic of the section of the course that is covered in the following excerpt:

Where all the action takes place, so to speak.

Where all the action takes place, so to speak.

It doesn’t seem like a lot of space to cover, but then I don’t need a lot of space.  What happens in the next few hundred words doesn’t need a lot of space . . .

 

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

The third stage race was exactly like the first one with Mórrígan: everyone bunched up with lots of hard competition. The lead changed constantly between the top four, and everyone else remained within a second and a half of fifth and sixth place. Kerry stayed up towards the front, but as the laps wound down he found it more difficult to keep up the pace. It wasn’t simply a case of being tired: there were a few moments during Laps 4 and 5 when he knew he was flying on auto pilot, and the only thing that got him through the the various areas unscathed was memory brought on by dozens of laps runs over the last five months.

He didn’t like not being in complete control. While it had happened once in a while before—Penny and Alex both admitted there were times when their minds wandered for a few seconds at times during a particularly difficult race—it made him feel like he was a danger just by being on the course. He didn’t want to think about that now, because if he did his mind would wander and he’d start flying through the track sections without thinking about what he was doing—

Kerry snapped aware as he sailed into The Trench at close two hundred and fifty kilometers and hour, with Alex on his left and Nattat Adriano from Mórrígan on his right. He popped up a half-meter so they could all squeeze through the space through the trees. He got his mind back on the race as he sped into Quarry Turn with his shadows to either side, Penn and Nadine directly in front of him, and Emma drafting off his processor while Manco and Mórrígan’s Malaya Lacsina drafted off her.

He made his way through the trees and back up into the air, picking up speed as the pack headed into Observatory Bend, building up gees as he flew through the two hundred degree turn. Kerry shook as he fought against the forces pushing him into the saddle. He spotted Alex just to his left, but he didn’t see Nattat; he figured she’s slipped slightly behind him as she ran the outside of the turn. He quickly glanced into his rear view and saw Emma drafting off Alex now, while Manco and Malaya were drafting off him.

He lined up on Penny as the pack neared the exit of the turn and made their way onto Skyway. Kerry felt the draft pull him closer to his teammate, and he sensed rather than saw her twitch slightly to her left as she took the quickest path on to Skyway. Kerry wanted to continue drafting, but he caught sight of Alex out of the corner of his left eye and halted his move because he didn’t want to wreck her. Instead he stayed in the middle of Skyway and forced a bit more speed out of his broom . . .

Helter Skelter grew closer. Kerry, certain he was clear of Alex, slipped in behind Penny with the intention of bring right behind her the whole way through the turn, and get a good pass on her in Residence. All he needed to do was draft now, hang tough, draft later.

He began blinking hard. He tried to recall his plan, but he couldn’t find that train of thought; it wasn’t there any more. He didn’t need it: it was just stay close and follow Penny—

Follow her through—

Kerry gasped as he closed fast on Penny, now only four meters in front of him. He sat upright and let out a shriek before jerking as hard upward on the control column of his Espinoza as possible, shooting seventy meters above the Blue Line and away from the line, where he stopped after a few seconds of sailing. He breathed deep to clear his head, waiting for the call he knew was coming—

Professor Semplen’s voice was clear in his ears. “Kerry, this is Race Control. What’s wrong? Over.”

“Race Control, I’m okay.” Kerry’s sigh was impossible to mask. “I’m coming back to The Diamond. Over.”

“What’s wrong?” Vicky broke in on the conversation. “Do you require medical assistance? Over.”

“I, um—” He shook his head, flipped up his visor, and began slowly flying back to The Diamond. “I don’t know what I need. I’m declaring a DNF.” This sigh was full of disappointment. “I’m done racing for the day.”

 

To bring you up to speed on racer lingo, DNF means Did Not Finish, which means the racer in question never crossed the finish line at the conclusion of the race.  Kerry also gets no points for the race, which means his coven gets no points for his participation, either.  The only time we’ve seen Kerry DNF before this is when Anna and he wrecked after Lisa “accidentally” slid into them.  When he an Emma wrecked before, he was crossing the finish line and therefore received points–I mean, he won that race–and he raced with a busted knee at Katahdin just so he wouldn’t get a DNF.

This time, however, Kerry did something we’ve not seen since he started school:  he pulled himself off the course and said “No mas” before slowly making his way back to base.

He just quit.

I tried finding an image of a tired boy on a broom, but I couldn't, so here's a bad moon rising.

I tried finding an image of a tired boy on a broom, but I couldn’t, so here’s a bad moon rising.

I would imagine right about the time Kerry pulled off the track and stated he was done for the day a certain Bulgarian girl probably flew out of her seat and headed right for the coven ready room–and with Annie, flew takes on a literal meaning.  She’ll show us the aftermath of his decision in the next scene.

I dare say we’ll see a lot of stuff from her point of view in a lot of the scenes to come.

Springtime For Kerry: Working the Crazy Stage

Quite, slow morning today.  No coffee shops, just breakfast at the apartment in my leggings and cami because Seasons 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead are running today, and I’m all about snarking the shit out of the show even though I’ve seen all the episodes a dozen times.  I also love that the pilot, Days Gone Bye, has one of the best cold openings ever, and I love those cold openings.

After that cold opening, though–

You're fair game for all the snark, Rick.

You’re fair game for all the snark, Rick.

Before The Walking Snark took hold I was off to the writing races–literally.  Did a little over three hundred words last night, and then another seven hundred this morning, so all is good in the world.  Well, for me anyway–

I gotta wonder about Kerry, though.

I gotta wonder about Kerry, though.

As you’re about to see, Kerry’s not having an easy time of things.  Not because people are trying to wreck him–oh, no.  That’s been chilled out, remember?  No, there are other reasons, and it’s likely nothing you’ve though of up to this point . . .

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

The Ostara races were held on what the racers called The Blue Dozen: twelve laps of the Blue Line, twelve kilometers a lap, one hundred and forty-four kilometers a heat. Though one race was nearly half the length of the Kadahdin race, it wasn’t considered as difficult because the course was more level and not nearly as technical. Racers pointed out, however, that since The Blue Dozen was run three times by each race during the day, the distance covered by those thirty-six laps was one hundred and thirty-two kilometers more than Kadahdin, but this didn’t keep detractors from countering that since there were rests between the heats, it didn’t have the same difficulty as flying three hundred consecutive laps.

Kerry flew through the Start/Finish line and began his thirtieth lap of the day. He recalled one of those detractors, a C Level from his coven, stating the same thing, that as long as everyone got to rest between heats, The Blue Dozen couldn’t be that hard. This was one of the few times when Kerry wanted to take someone who didn’t race, strap them on to the back of his broom, and take them through one heat at race speed and see if they’d continue adhering to that particular belief.

Cernunnos ran the first heat of the day against second place Mórrígan. The round robin rules were like those used during Samhain: the first place team sat out the first stage while the other four covens squared off against each other in two separate heats. This would lead to the second stage, where the first place team, Åsgårdsreia, would race the coven with the worst finish in the first stage, the first and third finishers from the first stage would race each other, and the team that finished second in the first stage would sit out so they could race in the third stage against the coven with the best finish in the second stage.

 

This is how all that plays out:

Got my score card, don't you know?

Got my score card, don’t you know?

This is the same format I set up for the Samhain races, and just like those holiday races, the Ostara races are intense–even more so, actually.  Why is that?  Because as already stated, the end of the season is near–only four weeks away–and the point spots are close.  Everyone wants those points, but even more, everyone wants the bragging rights that come at the end of the season–and that means people are gonna run like hell.

 

Cernunnos and Mórrígan took the green light and by the time they were through Meadow Climb and into Pentagram Pass that it became obvious both teams were setting a fast pace. It was only once he was through Observatory Turn and heading on to Skyway that Kerry realized just how fast a pace the team were setting. No one had broken away from the pack, nor had it separated into two and three-flier groups—everyone was in a big bunch separated by about a half second, and heading into Helter Skelter at close to three hundred kilometers an hour. Kerry held his breath, negotiated the turn, and once through safely turned on the speed into Residence.

So did everyone else.

Both covens held the pack through all twelve laps. Race Control was constantly issuing warnings about spacing and watching one’s surroundings; the lead changed hands a couple of times a lap, and on Lap 8 there were five different leaders. At least three times a lap Kerry felt a “big one”—a racer term for a huge wreck—was imminent, but he must not have been the only one to have that particular feeling, as it seemed everyone checked themselves before creating a dangerous situation.

When the checkers finally fell Nadine was across the line first, Kerry was .014 seconds behind her, and Penny was .012 seconds behind him. The next two were equally as close: Emma finished in fourth .017 seconds behind Penny, and Alex was .013 seconds behind her. The last flier to point, Mórrígan’s Argus Pelham, finished in sixth .021 seconds behind Alex, but only .003 seconds ahead of

Manco, making that the closest finish of the race. The final four racers finished a third of a second behind sixth and all within a second of each other.

By the time Kerry stood upon the podium he felt as if he’d run all one hundred and forty-four kilometers on foot. Everyone who came off the course looked that way, even the people who finished out of the points. Back in their ready room all the Cernunnos fliers were happy but the stress of the race was etched upon everyone’s face. At least they’d have a chance to rest up before the second stage—

When the first stage numbers came in Kerry was shocked. Even though they’d managed two podium positions over Mórrígan, their competitor’s first and fourth place points set them as the second best finisher of the stage, allowing them to sit out stage one. Ceridwen came in last, setting them up to race Åsgårdsreia in the next stage, and Blodeuwedd finished first by virtue of a first and place finish against Ceridwen, setting them up to race third place Cernunnos.

And since the Blodeuwedd/Cernunnos heat was considered the “undercard” of the second stage, they raced first.

 

Just to keep you from doing the math, the interval between first and sixth places in the above race is .08 seconds. or eight-tenths of a second.  Six people all zooming through the last kilometer or so right on top of each other, and crossing the line less than a second apart.  That’s a lot of heavy duty racing, and if you run in a pack all the time, it keeps you wound up constantly because you don’t ever get a chance to relax, not even for a second or two.  When I used to do online computer racing I did a few like that at Talladega and Daytona, and after an hour of zooming along with a bunch of other people all around for an hour or so, you get tired.

And after the second heat of the first stage, it’s time to get to it against after a little rest–

 

Blodeuwedd wasn’t known as a strong race team, but the moment the course went green they raced Cernunnos as hard as Mórrígan did in the first stage. Not only was Blodeuwedd racing Cernunnos hard, but the Cernunnos fliers were racing each other hard. Penny, Alex, and Kerry sat out in front of the pack from Lap 3 to the end, and they traded the lead repeatedly throughout the race. Their racing was so intense that the final outcome was resolved until the three racers were within a few hundred meters of the finish, when Penny drafted Kerry hard to get alongside him, and Alex drafted them to move around both fliers. Alex won, with Penny .01 seconds behind her and Kerry .012 seconds behind Penny. It was not only the closest finish of the year for the podium, but it was the first time since 1981 that Cernunnos took the top three positions. Manco rounded out the field by finishing sixth, achieving the last point for the coven.

At the finish of the second stage Cernunnos was the clear winner, which meant in the third stage they would race against the coven that sat out the second stage—Mórrígan. Though the third stage race would be his last of the day, Kerry was not looking forward to another twelve laps of hard racing.

 

Kerry’s been through two stages of hard racing, and now it’s time to get on to the third stage and good ‘ol Mórrígan once again.  If I were a writer, I’d say that’s some kind of foreshadowing–