Tugging the Post-Apocalyptic Heartstrings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Without them, we have nothing upon which to care.

Portals To and Fro

Happy Towel Day, and you best keep it handy because you never know when the Earth is about to be demolished to make way for a hyperspace exchange, right?  Mine’s actually out in the car, because after I’ve finished my writing day at Panera–my current location–I’ll take the computer home and head out to see Mad Max:  Fury Road, because I like to see my action movies done right–Hollywood could learn a few things from these flicks,but no, we’d rather show you stupid toy robot movies–and with a big shot of estrogen.  Also, I have nothing else to do today, so I may as well see a movie that I’ve waited to see for a while.

I’ll throw this out here, because why not, but I was hit on this morning, right around six twenty-five AM.  I’ just sitting here, getting ready to listen to music, when a guy comes up, tells me he’s seen me in here a few times, and wants me to know I look nice today.  I thank him and then sort of wonder how I should feel about that, because it did seem a touch on the skeevy side, but what do I know?  I did have one person on-line tell me it’s an indication of my brightness–

Like a supernova:  a burnt-out star that's exploding.  Um, yay?

Like a supernova: a burnt-out star that’s exploding. Um, yay?

But so much for today–what abut yesterday?

Much of the writing from yesterday you’ve already seen:  it was part of the excerpt from The Lovey Dovey Couple’s Adventures in Advanced Chemistry.  About six hundred and fifty words was written in the morning before the post, and yesterday I manage another six hundred sixty for the next scene.  I might have written more, but BBCA was showing a Battlestar Galactica Miniseries and Season One marathon, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that, so I had, just had, to divide my attention between the two.  Since both my kids carry the call signs of characters from that television series, you know I’m gonna get down with watching, particularly since that season was so damn good.  Oh, and if you can tell me the in-joke found in one of the episodes that ties back to the anime Bubblegum Crises, I’ll let you guest post here.  Don’t take too long, though . . . start the clock!

Oh, and I finally tried on the sundress I bought a couple of weeks ago, ’cause it was getting warm in the apartment and I wanted to see how it felt–

As you can see, I'm ready for Wednesday.

As you can see, I’m ready for Wednesday.

But writing, right?  It’s coming.

We’re back to the kissing stuff now, because this story is really about kissing and things like that.  What about the magic?  Replace “magic” with “televisions”, and you’ll realize most of the time no one talks about the TVs because, well, they’re part of the background.  So far we’ve seen one class, and they weren’t doing anything but playing at getting antiquated.  It’s really not until about midway through the next chapter that you see any actual instruction, and not until the chapter after that you see what’s really going on inside a classroom.

It’s all about the kissing–and so where does that take us today?

 

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

The sun wouldn’t set for another half hour, making the sky semi-bright and the shadows long. Annie was used to seeing this part of the school at this time of day—or much later—because Kerry and she were on the path leading to the Observatory, where their Astrophysics One was set to begin in forty-five minutes.

As they did so many times last year, they walked along the north path that led from the Memory’s End to the Firing Line and the Observatory. The midway point of the walk passed through the last remaining portion of the old North Wall and the ancient observatory, Astria Portal. It was here that the school witches first began seeing the sky in a different way; where Astria Blomqvist, one of the Founders and the first leader of Cernunnos Coven, created her maps of the constellations; and it was here she spent the last few decades of her life prior to her disappearance and death, making her the only one of the Founders not interned in some fashion on the school grounds. All that remained for remembrance was her coven, her sky maps, and the centuries-old tower that bore her name.

For Annie, this structure meant so much more.

 

Since I actually know the history of Astria Blomqvist–what?  You didn’t think I did?  Ah, hahahaha!–one day it’ll show up in one of the novels.  Which one?  Hard to say, but I know it’ll get discussed.  It reminds me that I need to have the kids visit all the other locations where the Founders are either buried or remembered, ’cause nothing says “Thanks for the School” like keeping a few three hundred year old bodies buried on the property.

This was an important place for Annie, because in the first novel she mentioned that her parents used to come to this place to snog.  Like parents like daughter, huh?  Now, this place is a ruin, and when it comes to three hundred year old ruins, no one bothers putting in lighting.  Which means you gotta bring your own . . .

 

They were half way up the staircase to the mezzanine when Annie tugged Kerry to a stop. “Here’s your chance.”

“Yes.” He chucked as he slowly raised his left hand. “You sure you don’t want to get on my right side?”

Annie shook her head. “That’s for the other girls.” She motioned him onward. “Go ahead: you can do this.”

 

It only took about four hundred and seventy-five thousand words, but this is the first time Annie admits that she knows she’s the only girl who ever stands to Kerry’s left, and that his right side is  reserved for everyone else.  Coraline was the first to bring it up to Kerry, and now Annie is telling him she knows.

Actually the first person to point this out was Emma, when she and Kerry were talking while taking a rest at the Observatory–call sign Laputa–during the Day of the Dead.  She must have been paying a lot of attention to him for some reason . . .

What is Kerry trying to do?  This:

 

“I can—” After about five seconds of concentration a tiny blue ball appeared hovering over his upturned palm. It expanded until it was it was twenty centimeters across, filling most of the empty tower with a soft glow. He turned to Annie and finished his comment. “—do this.”

“You most certainly can.” She looked towards the ceiling. “Now, put it in place.”

Kerry levitated the ball of cold fire about three meters over his head as they climbed the rest of the way to the former mezzanine commons, then pushed it out over the open below. “There, how’s that?”

Annie patted him on the arm before wrapping herself around it and leaning into his shoulder. “I never doubted the levitation—” She stared at the ball floating in mid-air. “But I only stared showing you the cold fire spell back in May, and we’ve only had a couple of chances to practice it a few times Friday and yesterday.”

He kissed her lightly on the lips. “I have a good teacher.” He stared at the floating ball as well. “When we practiced yesterday it just seemed to gel, you know?”

“I do.” She’d experienced moments like that as well, when a spell’s crafting simply came to her and she knew it would work. More than a few of those moments came during Advanced Spells last year . . .

She moved around until she was facing Kerry. “Here we are again.”

“Yes, it is.” He slipped his arms around Annie’s waist. “You know, I missed this place.”

 

Annie taught herself Cold Fire from a book, and we saw her using it to light up the second floor during the B and C Level Get Together the night the A Levels arrived, and now we see Kerry not only using it the same way, but admitting that he learned the spell from Annie.  According to my spell list Cold Fire is something that the kids here don’t start learning until they’re C Levels, but Annie was already teaching it to Kerry before they were out of their A Levels.  No question this is why they’re in the advanced classes . . .

I’m slowly inching towards fifty thousand words, and if I had to guess, that milestone is likely to happen not in the next scene, but the one after–

Always a good time to ask for something after class.

Always a good time to ask for something after class.

But I really want to get to the last scene in this chapter because . . . well, you’ll see.

Probably later in the week at the rate I’m going.

Their New Chemical Romance

My computer, aka The Beast, has been a pain in the butt this morning, deciding to run hot and cold, fast and slow, and at one point I had to reboot the sucker because of program load issues.  It’s almost like it’s telling me to take it easy today . . .

Pretty much me then and now.

Pretty much me then and now.

You are not the boss of me, evil old computer.  I’ll write on you as much as I like.  Just let me, you know, do that.  Thanks.  Onward.

Chapter Seven has become a thing–well, it’s started, is what I mean.  With the first scene out of the way, I’m about three thousand words from rolling over to fifty thousand, and that will likely happen during the quick chapter on the advanced transformation class.  This first scene took a little bit of work–slow, writing work–because when I have to start describing things and feelings and all that, it seems to drag.  Just like when I write action:  it may seem fast and furious, but not when you have to sit and figure it all out.  Nope, nope, nope.  Who said writing was a lot of fun?

I did mention that Erywin was the first to set up a special program for advanced students at the school, and that the advanced lab is used by no one else but advanced students.  Just like The Black Vault her pretty girl keeps safe, Erywin feels you only get to the top when it’s earned, and while everyone else has super great facilities–compared to what you’d find in a Normal chemistry class, the Salem equipment is the top o’ the pop–they don’t get their own special lab.

Of course, guess who gets to join this afternoon delight?

 

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

Annie entered the room, followed closely by Kerry. Both were still in their school uniforms; as with the other advanced classes street clothes were the norm, but Erywin was also aware that they had Astrophysics One right after dinner, and she supposed they figured it would be too much trouble to change back into their uniforms for Harpreet’s evening class.

“Welcome.” Erywin headed over to greet her newest students. “I figured you’d show about now.”

Annie clutched her hands. “We’re nothing if not punctual.”

Kerry took up position beside his girlfriend. “We hate being the last ones to show. Right, Sweetie?”

She leaned into him. “As always, my love.” She straightened and smiled. “How are you today . . . Erywin.”

“Oh, I’m fine.” She felt Annie’s hesitation due to not knowing if the familiarity they had not only in Wednesday’s class, but on their mission during the last school year, was the same here. “And you don’t have to worry: just like the other advanced classes, we’re on a first-name basis here.” Erywin examined the student’s jackets. “How do you like the new accouterments?” She touched the left lapel of Annie’s jacket. “Bit of an improvement, eh?”

Kerry spoke while Annie beamed. “It’s a bit of an improvement over last year, that’s for sure.” In place of the single green star that indicated they were A Levels were now two green stars, one placed over the other. “I noticed the C Levels on our floor have three in a triangle.”

“Yes, and in your D Levels they’ll form a diamond.” Erywin pointed across the room where she’d had two lab stations placed together. “That’s your set-up over there. Go ahead and take a seat.”

 

And just so you know, the E Levels’ stars form a pentagram, and the F Levels’ form a Seal of Solomon, both of which are powerful symbols.  I actually laid out pictures of this one–you back there, stop laughing!–so I should dig them out . . .

Oh, look.

Oh, look.

There you go:  green star markers for my kids.

During their set up time at their lab station–which is the only one set up for two people, go figure–they get a visitor and learn something . . .

 

“No, they aren’t.” They turned to find a slim, older student in a dark green dress standing behind them. She bushed her brown hair back from her face. “I suppose Erywin wants you to work together—probably due to your reputation.” She nodded towards them. “I’m Nesreen Shalhoub.”

Annie nodded back. “Annie Kirilova.”

“Kerry Malibey.” He began grinning. “Though you probably knew that if you know us by reputation.”

“Sorry about that.” She appeared almost embarrassed to speak. “I’m from Blodeuwedd; last year we used to hear about you all the time from Fidele and Collin—

“Collin talked about us?” Kerry was a little surprised to hear this. Annie and he figured Fidele Diaz, their levelmate from the Philippines, was the one who began calling them the “Lovely Dovey Couple”, but this was the first time either of them heard mention of Collin McCarty, the boy from Eire, discussing them as well.

“A great deal.” The girl nodded twice. “It seemed to be one of their main subjects of conversation in the commons.”

“Maybe that’s the real reason Collin didn’t return.” Annie smirked sideways at Kerry before questioning Nesreen. “How long have you been in this class?”

 

There’s that Lovey Dovey Couple crap that follows them around like a personal demon.  And keep that meme out there, Annie, that Collin didn’t return because he didn’t want to face your wrath, ’cause like Helena said, nothing like having a bad ass rep while you’re in school to keep the losers from bothering you.  Gee, I wonder what they were saying?  Obviously, if a then E Level heard their BS, that means a whole lot of the rest of the coven did as well.

Speaking of meeting new people–

 

“It was one of the reasons The Foundation wanted to get involved in magic, to find out how it could be used for scientific and technical applications.” Erywin turned and brought her companion forward. “Oh, and this is Honza Zelenka, one of your covenmates from the floor above you.”

“I’m an E Level.” He shook Kerry’s hand, then Annie’s. ”I heard Nesreen speaking; she’s not the only one who’s heard of you.” He looked at Annie. “Mluvíte Česky?”

She tilted her head slightly to the right and shrugged. “Ne moc dobře. Jak je váš Bulgarian?”

Honza twisted his right hand back and forth. “Tova ne e losho. Ne razbiram mnogo ot shans da go govori, vse pak.”

Annie half-turned her head to the left. “Tova e dobre za nyakoĭ, koĭto ne go govori chesto.” She turned to the smiling Kerry, who was used to hearing his sweetheart speak in her normal language. “I’ll tell you later.”

“Preferably after class.” Erywin say that all her students were present. “All right—” She waved the door shut. “Find your seats and we’ll get started.”

 

Now wait for the first Welsh student to show up, and Kerry will have his hands full–particularly since he’s not a native speaker.  Also, what is Kerry hearing Annie say besides, “I love you”?  We know that Annie switches over to Bulgarian when she swears, so he can probably tell through the tone of her voice when she’s muttering sweet Bulgarian nothings in his ear, and she’s ready to rip off someone’s head.

After introductions and a promise that Erywin’s gonna visit everyone, she gets with the kids to tell them how things work in this class:

 

“All right, you two.” Erywin set her elbows against the stations and leaned forward. “We do things a little differently here, but then you already knew that. The biggest in this class is that we involve ourselves in month-long projects, so what we start today you aren’t expect to complete until the last Monday in September—which means you have four classes to turn in your completed project.”

She had their attention, so having them understand the new world they’d entered was going to be easy. “We’re all about creating here. The idea is to teach you to create, to develop the formulas for your mixtures from scratch, based upon what you’ve already learned—”

“That’s a lot different from what we did last year.” While Kerry didn’t appear worried, his voice carried a hint of concern.

Annie felt the same way, but she also knew another truth. “But we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t felt we couldn’t do this, dear.” She lightly touched his hand. “Yes?”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

Erywin turned to Kerry: while Annie carried her own doubt now and then, he was the one who sometimes found himself falling into traps his mind laid. “Do you remember the very first mixture you created last year?”

“Yes.” He gazed at the surface of the counter as he thought about that class. “The petrification removal mixture.”

“That’s correct. Out of thirty-two student only three managed to produce it correctly. And only two decided to make it using the more complex alternate formula.” Erywin chuckled. “Listen to your significant other: you’re here not only because I believe you can do the work, but because you’ve proven me correct.

“What I want you to remember is you aren’t only here to learn, you’re here to think. You didn’t come to Salem to take tests and memorize data; you’re here to develop your mind into a first-class instrument. That’s what we do in this class—we get you to thinking.” She lightly tapped them both on the forehead, eliciting smiles. “It’s the thinkers who are gonna run this world, not the test takers. And I know which ones you’re becoming.”

 

In this world there are doers and thinkers, and the thinkers are gonna win every time, ’cause they’re outside the box lookin’ in, and that gives them all the advantages.  It seems like this is some pretty heavy shit for a couple of twelve year old kids to get into, but there’s something you, the reader, will discover in–um, I think two novels from now–that explains this.  Magic is tied into imagination, but the ability to use it also ties back to intelligence, and while some of these witches might seem dumb, it’s because they’re still kids.  Give them a few years to mature and get their wits about them–

It’s already been shown that can be the different between life and a hard death.

Randomly Building a World Class Class

I often talk about how writing isn’t always just writing.  Often there’s a great deal of research for just simply things, as I’ve discussed before.  Sometimes you gotta figure out where people are walking around a city.  Sometime you need to investigate hotels and other points of interest.  Sometimes you need to figure out flights from city to city.

Sometimes you just gotta build a class.

I’m starting Chapter Six now, and this and Chapter Seven go over events in the first week of school.  Here’s the scenes for Chapter Six:

Five scenes, no waiting.

Five scenes, no waiting.

Now, if you know my school, you’ll see that three take place in classes, two of which are the new advanced classes.  Astria Porta is another of those “kissing scenes,” and we have to read it, and After Class Request–well, you can probably figured that out if you know classes starts on Monday, and that’s a few days later.  As stated, two of these scenes take place in the advanced classes–the first scene should make that obvious as hell–but while walking home over the last few days, the question kept coming up:  who’s in these classes?

Well . . . I had to do something about that.  Let’s look at Advanced Formulistic Magic . . .

Right off the bat I knew I’d have one student in the class who was an F Level, and I decided I wanted them to come from a North African country.  I picked Libya, because why the hell not.  With her–yes, the girls still well outnumber the boys–graduating at the end of year, that meant she’d head off on a year of her Real Life Experience, then she’d leave for college.  She wants to go to a school with a great engineering program, so I found a link for the top engineering colleges in the world, figure out she’d go to a school in Europe, looked up the schools there, found one, found the undergrad and graduate programs offered, and figured out what this young lady was going to do for the next few years of her life.

That was the easy part.

Besides this mystery girl and Annie and Kerry, I needed . . . hum . . . five more students to show up for class.  The question became one of where do their come from–

So I got out my dice.

Not really.  As I’ve pointed out I have a dice rolling program.  Why do I have one of those?  It’s a hold over from my gaming days, where dice are used to generate random outcomes for your characters.  Like, did I knock down a door?  Did I drive the car at high speed correctly?  Did I shoot the bad guy in the head?  You know, fun stuff.

The splash screen looks like this:

Bunch of electronic dice, no waiting.

Bunch of electronic dice, no waiting.

You may ask yourself, “What’s the D4 crap?  And D8?”  More gaming stuff, so let me tell you.  D stands for dice, and the number that follows indicates the sides to that dice.  So a D4 has four sides, a D8 is eight-sided, a D6 you know and love from your crap shooting days, a D20 is the dice of choice of D&D geeks, and a D100 is usually two ten sided dice of different colors–one for your ten count, the other for your ones count–used to generate a percentage.  I say “usually”, because I have seen a one hundred sided die, which pretty much looked like a golf ball with numbers painted in each of the divots.  Thing was hell to read, let me tell you.

So the break down went like this:  as there are six continents from which students can arrive, I used a D6 to figure out where their country was located, with the intention of ignoring Antarctica because non of the students at Salem are magical penguins.  Right off the bat I rolled Australia, but since it’s part of the world known as Oceania, I looked for countries in that area, using different kinds of dice to narrow down the search until I found a place the student called home.

Do that enough and you have the homes of five students.  I figured on two of these kids being D Levels and three being E Levels, then I used a D10 to figure out their coven–a roll of 1 or 2 was Åsgårdsreia, 3 or 4 was Blodeuwedd, and so on–before using another D10 to figure out their gender.  Since it’s about four girls to one boy, a roll of 1 to 8 on a D10 meant a girl, a 9 or 10 was a boy.  Once I’d narrowed down gender and country, I brought up Scrivener’s Name Generator, began plugging in nationalities, and before you know it I had my people.

Welcome the 2012/2013 Class of Advanced Formulistic Magic.

Bunch of students who'll one day be making your world a better place.

Bunch of students who’ll one day be making your world a better place.

Nesreen’s college of choice will be Delft University in Delft, The Netherlands, situated between Den Haag and Rotterdam, and you can see she’s going to get a Bachelors of Science in Molecular Science & Technology, and a Masters in NanoScience, both of which are actual courses at Delft.  The Euro kids have finally edged out the African kids, but you never know who Erywin might bring into the class next year.

When I rolled up the Czech Republic, I knew the family name of the kid would be Zelenka, meaning one day he’ll probably end up in the Pegasus Dwarf Galaxy looking for Atlantis, which is an in-joke of mine–but wait!  Remember Professor Semplen, the Coven Leader of Cernunnos and also a citizen of the Czech Republic, tried out his Bulgarian on Annie when they first met, and here we have another person from there–and a covenmate as well–and what do you think he’s gonna try?  That conversation is at the bottom of my notes, with Honza first speaking to Annie in Czech, and then her replying in the same before he and she switched over to a snippet of Bulgarian, and you will see this in the scene.

I’ll need to do this for Kerry’s Advanced Transformation class as well, and maybe I’ll do the same for his Advanced Flight One–that will be easy, as I already know who all the B Levels are–and for Annie and Kerry’s Advanced Self Defense Class.  I may even do that today, since it’s not like I have a hell of a lot to do other than write.

Now you see some of the fun things I do just to make my world fell like a real world . . .

Sitting With the Visions of Your Life

Twelve hundred words is a grove thing, yeah?  I thought so.  That’s what I did last night, while The Poseidon Adventure played in the background, and eventually segued into Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, which should have sunk like the ship did the in original novel.  (In the first movie I like watching the guy do the fall into the lights, because you can see the stuntman’s setting himself up for the fall before he does, so he hits spread-eagle on his back.  Also the jump that Pamela Sue Martin’s character does:  she has on shoes, then she doesn’t when she jumps, then they’re back.  It’s like magic!)  I even stayed up until 11:30 last night finishing this, because I’m always so slow to get things started.

But here we are, the kids in the garden on the first Saturday night back, it’s late, and they’re tired.  They’re also back on their bench, and they’re talking . . .

The bench is just inside that covered walkway.  I should make a little one and put it there.

The bench is just inside that covered walkway. I should make a little one and put it there.

 

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

They walked towards the seat just inside the covered walkway that they considered “theirs”. So much had happened between them on this bench—their goodbyes before leaving school at the end of the year and right before Yule were two of the saddest—

But there were a few others that had brought them great happiness.

Kerry waited for Annie to sit down before joining her. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, cuddling her against the warmness of dark brown hoodie he’d worn since the evening temps had dropped into the Celsius upper-teens. “Comfortable, Sweetie?”

Annie nodded. “Always with you, my love.” She pulled her arms tight around her torso, keeping her body heat trapped inside her light sweater. “I love this. So dark and quiet.”

“I know. It’s usually never this dark this close to the Great Hall.”

“Well . . .” Annie sighed. “It’s a beautiful night and a full moon—and most of the students are inside right now.”

“Yeah.” He looked towards the Great Hall as if he expected someone to exit the building. “It was like this last year, too.”

“Yes, it was.” She tilted her head slightly and looked up. “You know what today is, don’t you?”

Kerry had known since waking. “Today is the day we arrived at school last year.”

“Yes. And do you know what time it is?”

“I checked the HUD when we landed: it was around twenty-two.”

Annie was glad Kerry couldn’t see the smile on her face. “A year ago about this time we were sitting out here.”

 

Anniversaries are all around, and they remember them.  Good thing, too, because in a few years Kerry will be like, “Oh, shit:  is  that today?” and then Annie goes all Dark Witch on his ass, and . . . yeah, better remember those times, kid, and stay out of trouble.

 

Kerry pressed his head against Annie’s. “I remember it well—like it happened just the other day.” He kissed her cheek. “Another happy anniversary. The first time you told me you loved me—well—” He grinned before speaking in a soft voice. “At least the first time I knew you’d said those words.”

“But it was . . .” As she’d done the year before, Annie turned around so she was facing Kerry. “It was the first time I told you in person I loved you. All the other times happened in our dreams while we were separated by thousands of kilometer.” She took his hands and pressed them against her body. “It was a first time for something else, though: the first time I called you my soul mate.” She slowly lifted their hands to her lips and lightly touched them to their their fingers. “I’d never said that before, ever.”

“It was also the first time I kissed you for real—” He bowed his head. “I’ll never forget that.”

“Neither will I.” She bowed her head, resting her head against his. “You’re thinking of something again, I can tell. You’ve been like this ever since we left the Gift Center. You were particularly quiet when we were walking to the North Wall.”

She can always tell when I’ve got something on my mind. “Yeah. I’ve been thinking—”

“Yes?”

 

Yes?  What could be on your mind, Kerry?  It’s not as if anything strange has happened to you since . . . oh, wait:  never mind.

 

Kerry gently turned Annie around until she was cuddling securely between his left arm and shoulder. “The vision we had yesterday—” His breath caught for a second. “We were gonna have sex, weren’t we? I mean—”

“I know what you mean.” She exhaled slowly . “That kind of sex. Yes?”

“Yes. That kind.”

The vision had been on Annie’s mind since yesterday as well, but she knew how Kerry would get with their visions, and waited until he was ready to discuss what they’d seen. He won’t talk before he’s ready; I’ve learned that . . . “I’ve thought about it, too: that one and the first one.” She ran her right fingers down his arm. “Do you remember how you said that the only way the first one would change is if something happened to either of us?”

He chuckled. “After reading all those books I figured it’s the only thing that makes sense.”

“It does, but there are ways . . .” She turned slightly so she was she could rest the side of her head against his chest. “You felt, like me, that in that vision it was our first time.”

“I still do.”

“But what if that was the part of the vision that could change?” Annie settled against her soul mate. “The vision could come true and still end up changed.”

He nodded slowly. “Do you think that’s what the second vision meant? That our first vision would change?”

“I don’t know.” Annie couldn’t help but snort. “At this point you know more about visions than me.”

 

It’s bad enough that as kids get older that urge to want to, you know, experiment starts to take over and ends up becoming troublesome and confusing as hell.  So now, with the hormones beginning to come on, you discover you’re having visions of things that will happen in your future, and damned if they don’t involve when you’re gonna get intimate.  It’s a nasty thing to have happen to you, on top of, you know, learning magic and stuff, having things come to you and say, “No worry.  In about eight years you’ll be able to do it!”  Thanks, Future Sight.  You’re a lot of help.

Kerry has something else on his mind, however . . .

 

“Yeah, only because you made me learn.” Kerry pulled Annie snug against him. “It’s possible that’s what we saw: the first vision will happen, but things that we felt might not be the same.” He barley touched her cheek. “I have to tell you something.”

Annie picked up something in the tone of Kerry’s voice, but it wasn’t concern or fear she heard . . . “Tell me, please. You know you can tell me anything.”

“I know.” He remained silent for almost ten seconds before getting to the matter on his mind. “I want you to be my first time . . . I need you to be my first time.”

Annie looked at his face in order to gauge his feelings. “Need me?”

“Yeah.” He touched her cheek with a gentle caress. “I want my first time to be with someone I care for, someone I respect—someone I love. I don’t want to just do it and be done: I want to share it with only one person. Only with you, Annie—” He kissed her forehead before whispering in her ear. “Moyata polovinka.”

 

I’ve pretty well established that Kerry is a smart kid, but emotional clumsy as hell.  He’s also not the smoothest of characters; even with Annie there are things he says that don’t seem to come out right.  But when he gets serious, it doesn’t matter how it comes out–he does mean it, and it comes from the heart.  Deep down he’s as much of a romantic as Annie–and she is, never feel she isn’t–and by telling her, “I want you to be my first,” he’s not just saying something to sell himself to a twelve year old girl.  He’s known Annie all his life, and when he tells her something like this, he means it.  He has to, because Annie’s also known him all her life, and she’ll smell bullshit on him in an instant.

What does she feel in return?

 

There had been many moments where Annie felt her control slipping away, and all of them had been where Kerry was concerned. At the moment she felt that control slipping away, much as she’d felt after being kissed here last year, or in the seconds after she began dancing with Kerry after the Samhain Dance. Only he knows how to touch me in that way

She kissed him on his cheek before speaking in a low, soft tone. “Vie shte bŭdete v moyata pŭrva lyubov, i az shte bŭda tvoya.” She kissed him upon the lips. “You will be my first, Kerry. There will be no one else, ever.” She chuckled as she touched his lips with her finger. “And if our vision yesterday means we’ll not be virgins when we marry, then . . .” She kissed him again. “We’ll still share that moment together.”

Kerry held her close, warming her against the encroaching chill of the night, pulling her love nearer to his. “Another anniversary together.” He touched the charm bracelet on her left wrist. “And I didn’t get you anything.”

“This?” She shook her wrist, making the charms jingle. “That was for one anniversary.” She touched the heart-shaped locket pressed against her chest. “This was for another. But you did give me something tonight—” She touched his heart. “This. I know my future with you is not just a vision—it’s real. I need never fear you won’t be with me.”

Kerry rested his head against Annie’s. “You know I’ll be with you.” He touched her locket. “I want to be there in a hundred years when you remember getting that locket.”

Annie pressed her hand over his. “It’s almost ninety-nine years now—” She rested against Kerry and sighed. “You wait is growing shorter, my love.”

 

What Annie says in Bulgarian is, “I will be your first love, and you will be mine,” and she isn’t talking about exchanging friendship rings.  She’s also pledging herself to him–and the reference of still being together for Annie’s one hundred and twelfth birthday is about as long distance planning as one can get–

Is that a tugboat I hear pulling up next to this ship?

Anyway, the chapter is done, the kids are ready to start their first classes–the next chapter starts them in some of their advanced classes–and it’s only taken about forty-five thousand words to reach this point.

Let the magical games begin.

Through Home to Love and All Points Between

Last night I endured another face zapping, and the results this time were far better than the week before.  It still hurt, but it was manageable and I didn’t start crying like a baby due to two or three other things going on at the same time.  It was a far, far better experience last night–if having electricity shot into your face can ever be considered “better”.

Of course this means I was in a touch of pain by the time I arrived home, and this meant my mind wasn’t on my writing.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t write, but a little over five hundred words was all I managed.  I did that with a flaming face, so I guess I can cut myself some slack.

As far as the scene:  I’ve established that Annie can fly–and as I explained, that means without a broom, so she can kind of zip through the sky like a Bulgarian supergirl–and Kerry is a Mimic, which Jessica will explain to him in a later scene.  We’ve already seen that Kerry’s really good at copying certain things from other people, so you get the idea.

The day is almost over, and I indicate a date for these happenings, finally rooting everything in place.

 

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

Annie and Kerry made their way through the Pentagram Garden, taking their time as they walked up from Founder’s Gate. It was dark and clear, and the lights of the Great Hall and the Pentagram were extinguished to allow the stars in the pitch black to shine down, if only for a little while: the full moon was rising, and would be drowning out the stars in another thirty minutes.

This first Saturday back, 1 September, had been a long day for the couple. Early breakfast, then Gift testing. After that was lunch and a trip down to the Flight School so Annie could check out an Espinoza 3500 to use for the school year and Kerry could get his new locker assignment for Advanced Flying. He decided he’d wait until tomorrow to check out the Class 2 brooms: Vicky told him there wasn’t any hurry, that she’d have three available for running on the Green Line.

They spent the rest of the afternoon flying to various points around the grounds: up to the Witch House and the Observatory, back to Perquat’s Grove for a sit and a chat, then down to the spot where Kerry had hid during the Day of the Dead the year before, the small clearing where she’d asked Kerry if he wanted to be a good sorceress and a Guardian—if he’d be her Dark Witch—and where he’d said yes. After a summer’s wait, after months apart, after she presented him with a long, loving kiss, she asked him the same questions, and after her kissed her as long and loving as she had, his answers remained the same.

 

Annie’s doing a little of her own re-programming here.  After the near-disaster that emanated from this local in the woods–his Day of the Dead hidey-hole–she’s working to turn something negative into a positive.  Is she washing out the decision that nearly killed him to make it something positive for them both?  Magic 8 Ball says, “Could be.”

"That's it, Annie.  Have him think good thoughts about girls with cute accents, and bad thoughts about ginger brats."

“That’s it, Annie. Have him think good thoughts about girls with cute accents, and bad thoughts about ginger hair brats that nearly get him killed.”

From their it’s a lot of quiet, movie-montage walking . . .

 

Then it was dinner and hike out to Sunset Tower to enjoy the coming of night before taking a walk north along the Outer Wall. They didn’t speak much, just held hands and examined the scenery on both sides of the wall. Once they reached the North Wall, they remounted their brooms and flew back to the Pentagram, touching down just outside Founders Gate.

Throughout most of their A Level they spent little time wandering the gardens outside the Great Hall. Annie remembered the last time they’d strolled through here: after the Samhain dance, the first time she’s call him moyata polovinka, and his first experience with real déjà vu. She wasn’t interested in a replay of that even—Annie had more on here mind . . .

She gently tugged on Kerry’s arm. “See what’s ahead?”

There was plenty ahead that Kerry saw, but Annie’s question was more than rhetorical. “The Pentagram Wall; our tower; the walkway . . .” He turned and eyed her hard. “Oh, yeah: our bench.”

She playfully tapped his chest. “Silly. You knew I meant that.”

“You’re not exactly subtle, Sweetie.” He led her towards the covered walkway. “Wanna sit?”

She chuckled. “I thought you’d never ask.”

They walked towards the seat just inside the covered walkway that they considered “theirs”. So much had happened between them on this bench—their goodbyes before leaving school at the end of the year and right before Yule were two of the saddest—

But there were a few others that had brought them great happiness.

 

We sort of know what happiness came forth on that bench, but what’s going to happen now?  I do know that something important will happen here in a few minutes–well, “few” is a relative term when they’re waiting for the writer to get off her butt and write that moment.

I should get to that about the time I’m returning from the store tonight . . .

The New Paradigm

A bit more back in the grove last night, but only a bit–does nine hundred and eighty-nine words count as a groove?  Not too bad.  The scene severed it purpose and set up things for my kids, as evidenced by the title of this post.

One more scene exists for Chapter Five, and while thinking it through last night I realized:  it’s so far taken three chapters and about twenty-five thousand words to cover the six days since the kids left home and returned to school–and at the moment it’s only the Saturday before class begins.  Maybe forty-four thousand words will flow under the writing bridge before the first day of class begins–

Which reminds me:  the next couple of days will see me setting up the class rosters for two of the advanced classes since it would be nice to see with whom Annie and Kerry are attending those classes.  We may never see them, but I like to know they are there.  We’ll see a couple of those popping up in the next couple of chapters.

hold

Astria Porta?  The last time the kids visited that spot there was kissing.  Is this another kissing part?  Do we have to read it?

Kids, we read all the kissing parts.  And speaking of kissing . . .

Magical Kidlettes are resting on the easy chairs, and they were starting to discuss their ordeals.  Which sorta leads to this:

 

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

She noticed how slow and deliberate his movements were. “How are you feeling, my love?”

“Kinda sore all over.” He laced his fingers into hers. “I’ve never done that much in a few hours.”

Annie could empathize. While she was good with levitation, she’d felt the exertion. I suppose he was doing a number of changes quickly, and some of it wasn’t easy. “What’s important is you did. We both did.” She leaned over the arm of her chair and kissed his hand. “You do know that a year ago tonight were walked through Founder’s Gate?”

“Oh, yeah.” He leaned towards Annie. “It was the second thing I thought of this morning.”

“Really?” Annie grinned. “What was the first?”

“Ummm . . .” He moved closer and closer to Annie’s chair. “A girl with a cute accent.”

“You think my accent is cute?”

“One of many things . . .” He covered the last few centimeters between them and lightly brushed his lips against hers—

 

See?  Kissing.  If Honest Trailers ever did one for this story they’d rename the story, “Magic . . . and kissing.”  Probably followed by, “When the f@#k do these kids do any magic?  They’re always kissing.  Get a room, huh?”  They’re workin’ on it, Trailer Guy.

And Annie has a cute accent?  I know someone who doesn’t think it’s all that cute.  But as long as Kerry does, that’s all that matters.  It’s such a cute accent, he’s gonna cover it up–with his mouth.  There’s that kissing again . . .

 

“Ah, hem.”

They both turned towards the front of the room and faced the origination of the throat clearing. Standing between Professors Kishna and Salomon was a short, dark woman with long dark hair that reached to the middle of her back. Annie and Kerry had met Professor Tristyn Julin, the head of the Gift Department and the Applying Powers instructor, when they’d entered the building for testing, as this area was the South African instructor’s realm.

Professor Julin sat as Jessica and Vicky took positions to her left and right. “Well, I finally get to see the Lovey Dovey Couple in action inside my own department building.” She chuckled. “I feel honored.”

Both students returned their chairs upright. Kerry tried to look appropriately embarrassed: this wasn’t something that Kishna or Salomon hadn’t seen before, but he didn’t know the new professor outside of seeing her at special school functions and the Midnight Madness. “Sorry, Professor.”

 

You know it’s bad when an instructor you’ve never met before calls you by one of your school-wide nicknames–and does so in her own building in a semi-humorous way.  With your other instructors standing there as well.  Next to her.  Watching you.

But look at Annie:  does she seem bovvered?

 

Annie didn’t mind being seen: their reputation were well known throughout the school, and if the new professor hadn’t wanted them together that way, then something should have been said. Instead, she wanted to get to the results of their testing. “I take it you’ve examined the data?”

Julin chuckled and exchanged looks between her fellow instructors. “You were right: she does get right to business.” The Gifts instructor nodded slowly. “Yes, you two: we have completed examining the results of your data.” She glanced at something on her tablet, leaned forward. “I’m going to turn this over to Victoria and Jessica, as this really falls under their purvey as far as instruction goes—

Both children grew more attentive upon hearing this last statement. Kerry turned to Annie. “Does this mean—”

Vicky spoke up, taking over the conversation. “Yes, it does, Kerry.” She looked straight at Annie. “We’ve confirmed that you personally weren’t levitating and that you have the Flight gift. I’ll set up an appointment with Isis so she can start training you.”

“Of course, Vicky.” Annie remembered that Isis was the only person at school who could fly, and that she would be responsible for all the hands-on training elements. “When will that begin?”

 

Annie not only gives zero shits if she’s caught with her lips locked around her soul mates, but she called a professor by her first name in front of other professors.  Now . . . that could be due to school not officially starting–in the next scene it’s started that it’s Saturday after their arrival–or it could be due to getting real chummy with other instructors over the last year.  Either way, Annie gets the lowdown from Vicky:

 

“No right away: I’ll leave that up to Isis to set up a schedule. Most of it will occur on Friday mornings, but it won’t be every Friday, and sometimes you’ll work on other dates.” Vicky turned to Kerry. “For the first class, however, I want you there.”

“Me?” He was somewhat surprised to be asked.

“Yes, you. I want you to act as Annie’s chase when the time comes.” She eyed him carefully. “You know what that is?”

He grinned. “You want me to follow and watch her when she’s flying.”

Vicky nodded. “Yep. Since you’re in Advanced Flight, and already qualified to fly solo outside the school walls, it’s a no-brainer that we want you to act as Annie’s chase.”

It made a great deal of sense to Kerry. He’d not only be able to help if the need arose, but he knew Annie, and he might see things in how she performed that might indicate how she was feeling. “Okay, no problem.” He reached out for Annie’s hand, which appeared for him to touch. “We’ll do this.”

“Great. I’ll leave it to Isis to tell you how she wants things done.” Vicky leaned forward and looked across Tristyn to the Transformation instructor and coven leader. “Jess?”

 

Kerry gets to play chase plane for Annie, which is fun, fun, fun.  Actually, it means he gets to spend time outside the walls with Annie, even if they are in the air for all of that.  This is actually going to lead to one of the scenes I’ve seen in my head that I so want to write, but probably not for another fifty or sixty thousand words.  Don’t worry:  they get to do a lot of flying this year, mostly with Kerry just following and being quite.  Maybe he’s training for marriage?   Hi ho!

If Jessica is getting called, then that means there must be some news for Kerry, right?

 

She nodded. “Kerry, we have the same conformation for you: it would appear you have the Mimic gift, which means if you weren’t all ready in Advanced Transformations, I’d moving you in from the regular class.” Jessica sat back and crossed her legs. “Now, as you’ll need to learn how the spells work along with being able to apply the Mimic gift to the appropriate ones, I’ll work with you one-on-one for a bit each class.” A bright grin appeared on her face. “Given your propensity to learn magic quickly, I imagine you’ll have a mastery of basic Mimicry before Yule.”

Professor Julin folded her hands across her stomach and pressed her thumbs together. “Though you’re not officially part of the Gifts program—because your Gifts are only a small part of what you can do—we’ll be here to help out when possible, such as coordinating with Doctor Gallagher when it’s necessary to perform medical exams.” Annie and Kerry both smiled: it was unusual to hear another member of the staff call Coraline “Doctor Gallagher”, a title she never used herself unless it was absolutely necessary. “We probably won’t see you down here too often—”

Jessica chuckled. “Unless either of you spawn another Gift.”

Tristyn nodded. “It’s rare, but it sometimes happens.”

Annie slowly shook her head. “I think—” She lanced back to Kerry, who was still holding her hand. “—one gift apiece is enough for us both.”

 

None of the “Nurse Coraline” stuff here:  apparently the head of Mutant Studies–one of the nicknames for the Gifts Department–ain’t down with the school doctor not referring to herself as the school doctor.  Now, Coraline does call herself the school doctor, or Chief Medical Officer, when necessary, but she got used to the nurse handle before she had to take over medical duties at school suddenly, and just never got out of the habit.

There we have it:  witches, sorceresses, and now they are down with their mutant powers.  We’ll see how those play out in future scenes, but it’s gonna be fun.  More or less.