Well, this is interesting, isn’t it? Yesterday was the first day of NaNo, and I really came very close to actually getting a Day One total of sixteen sixty-six. Not that I was trying for that, but I came within about seven hundred and fifty words.
Unlike the last four years, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year. Given that this coming Saturday I’m heading back to Indiana for a few days, and that, of late, I’ve been crazy nutty busy and left with so little energy at the end of the day that I consider eight hundred words a good finish to the evening, I thought that NaNo would be a complete fail for me. Know your limitation, folks, and stick to what you know is possible.
However . . . last night I also did this:
With this scene I passed one hundred and seventy-five thousand words. Took me three weeks to get the last twenty-five thousand, but I did it. That said, let’s look at numbers: I started The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: A For Advanced for NaNo 2013, so by reaching my goal last night on the start of NaNo 2015, I’ve written six hundred thousand words for this series in twenty-four months. That’s a steady twenty-five thousand words a month for two years, but more importantly, that’s the equivalent of twelve NaNo Win–and two of those wins did happy during NaNos 2013 an 2014.
Really, I can take a break. I think I’m hard at work on my novels.
So I left Coraline and Deanna standing outside the magically closed-off lounge area at the back of the first floor ward getting ready to go in. You may as well see how that turned out, as I’ve already showed you the first eight hundred and forty words–
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
Annie and Kerry were still in their pajamas, sitting at the round table in the back enjoying a Bulgarian breakfast of mekitsa and ayran. Deanna was a big amazed at how quickly Kerry had assimilated into part of Annie’s culture by partaking in the food she enjoyed. One could say she’s getting to him through his stomach, but she always approaches Kerry through his heart . . . “How are you this morning?”
Annie nodded with her mouth full, so Kerry spoke first. “Fine, professor.”
“Oh, please—” Deanna sat as Coraline re-sealed the black privacy spell. “It’s morning and school won’t begin until tomorrow. It’s Deanna.”
Coraline took a seat next to the seer. “And I hope you know my name, too.”
Swallowing as soon as she could, Annie took over for her slightly chagrined boyfriend. “We do, Coraline. And good morning to you. Good morning, Deanna.”
“Good morning, Annie.”
Kerry took a quick sip of his yogurt drink. “Good morning, Deanna; good morning, Coraline.”
“Morning, Annie; Kerry.” Coraline set the tablet before her. “Okay, I’ve read Gretchen’s report and Deanna’s had a chance to go over what I know as well.”
“Yes, and I have a few things I want to say before we get into specifics.” Deanna turned to Annie. “I do not want you dreamwalking again, not until you have a better understanding of what’s involved, and you learn how to defend yourself against . . .” She searched for the proper phrase. “Issues similar to the one you encountered last night.
“I know what it means to you to be able to see Kerry in his dreams whenever you can—” She reached out to the visibly crestfallen girl. “I don’t want you getting hurt, Annie. I know over-achieving is the norm for you, but dream magic is astral magic, and that’s an area unlike what you’re most comfortable doing.”
“I know.” Annie refused to look at Deanna—at anyone in the room—and her tone told everyone exactly what she felt.
At this point telling Annie not to try doing magic years before she should is like asking her not to breathe, and she’s not a happy girl. For those dreams are the way she stays in touch with Kerry, and now that it looks like she’d gonna have to make their shared dreams work through dreamwalking, she’s a bit heartbroken to be told not to do this. Deanna, however, is not cold hearted . . .
Deanna gave Annie’s hand a squeeze. “I’ll do this for you: if you refrain from dreamwalking, I’ll do a special study for you next school year. Normally I won’t teach anyone dreamwalking until their
D Levels, but you already understand how it’s done, since you’re so advanced in all other fields, you’re safe to for these studies.”
She pulled her hand away as she sat back. “But I mean it when I say no dreamwalked—even over the summer.” She nodded towards Kerry. “You ran into something you couldn’t handle in his head—imagine if you were to encounter something more dangerous.”
Kerry found Deanna’s statement surprising. “What’s in a dream that can hurt you?”
Deanna turned to him. “A lot of things.”
“Stuff, too?” He smiled at his own in-joke—
—That Deanna didn’t get. “That, too.” She sighed. “I should probably teach you as well, since I’m certain that someone—” She glanced at Annie. “—will show you how to walk as soon as she more confident about what she’d doing.” Since he everything Deanna said was true, Kerry simply nodded his agreement.
Poor Geeky Kerry: trying to get off jokes that only he gets. But it has to leave people wondering: what sort of stuff and things are there in dreams that can hurt you? Don’t worry: one day I’ll tell you.
“With that out of the way—” Deanna slid Coraline’s tablet in front of her and set up a file to enter notes. “Tell me what you can of this dream. Or, based upon what Annie said, series of dreams.”
“Okay.” He took another sip of his drink before clearing his throat. He’d told Annie parts of this story as it had happened, but this was the first time he’d needed to recount everything to strangers.
“I’ve had five dreams so far—”
Annie cut him off. “You’ve only had four.”
“There’s one I didn’t tell you about.”
“Annie.” Deanna placed her hand closed to Annie’s. “We’ll get to it in time. Please let Kerry explain this his own way.” Annie nodded and turned her attention back to Kerry.
He waited a few more seconds before continuing. “The first dream was the night I got my travel package—that was the fourteenth of August, ‘cause that’s when I woke up—” He mentioned the next two dreams—the second one on the flight over from Berlin two and a half weeks later, and at the end of November, when he spent the night in the hospital after being wrecked by Emma—and then mentioned the following dream . . . “The fourth one came the week before I left on the overnight flight—”
“What?” Annie couldn’t keep her surprise hidden. “Are you sure?”
Yes, Annie, he’s sure, and you’ll find this out tomorrow. It’s going to take a while to get all of Annie’s and Kerry’s Dream Adventures out of the way, and we’ll start with finding out just what happened in that dream that Kerry never told Annie about–
Though you’ve already see it.
Today is that magical day when I hop in the car and head back to The Burg. A day filled with sitting behind the wheel for eleven hours, with a stop here and there to recharge. Not sure what time I’ll pull back into the apartment, but I’ll kinda sleep in my own bed tonight–probably also need to take something to help me sleep, because I expect traffic to be a little messy going back.
Because of a lot of things going on at what seemed like one time I only had about five hundred words written last night. Only. After doing over seven hundred in the morning, that’s close to another NaNo goal. But NaNo is over as of today, and there’s no need to rush to get this done today. In fact, it’s likely to be a light writing day, if there’s any at all.
In the meantime, what did happen yesterday?
Well, let me show you. Because I didn’t write that much, and it’s leading into something that is going to affect my kids, so why not just show you?
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Coraline knew she wouldn’t have long to wait for her visitors to arrive. The email she’d send last night said eight-fifteen, and they were running close to that time—and the person who’s volunteered to go pick them up in the Dining Hall was notorious for her punctuality.
She heard the lift arrive, and readied herself for what was coming next. The lift area was really the only permanent private area of the third floor: the rest was a single open area that could be configured however was necessary. Most of the time Coraline used this area for private examinations that she didn’t want others to know about, though they’d used this for emergency sleeping space and twice for a repair space for APs.
Deanna followed Annie and Kerry towards the circle of chairs about eight meters from the lift. Even from this distance it wasn’t hard to see that Kerry was a little anxious about Annie being present—particularly after Coraline had assured him last week that they’d met alone. But it was that meeting last week—and the discussions she had with Deanna in the wake of her conversations with both kids—that convinced her it best they all sit down together and have this chat.
“Hi there.” Coraline motioned towards the chairs. “Take a seat.” She watched carefully to see—yes. Kerry sat to Annie’s right. Never fails. “Okay, so . . . Kerry knows why we’re here, and Annie, the email you received last night explained the matter at hand.”
“I know why Annie’s here.” Kerry still looked a little nervous, but he’d settled down since entering the room.
Annie nodded. “We discussed it this morning before breakfast.”
“So you know this relates back to your visions.” Deanna took the chair across from Annie.
Kerry tried not to look bothered that everyone was going to discuss this matter together. “Yes, we get that.”
“It’s actually more than that—” Coraline sat and leaned forward. “Those visions—and Annie’s rune dream—have put you both in a delicate position of . . . I guess you could say it’s accelerated your sexual knowledge, particularly of each other, a bit more than what normally happens around here. Most of the time kids learn about sex the old fashion way, through stumbling and experimentation, though sometimes they come to me and ask questions before they’re too far along the path—and it’s always my intention to help them before any real damage is done.
“You don’t have that disadvantage any more: you’ve seen just about everything one could do on their wedding night, and I’ll take your word on it—” She pointed at Kerry. “—that you didn’t get to the main event in these visions.”
Annie and Kerry slowly stared at each other, then turned back to Coraline and Deanna, with Annie answering. “No. We didn’t see that.”
“Which is good.” Coraline turned to Deanna, then back to the kids. “We’re going to try and answer questions, and help you out when you find yourself in a situation that might find your willpower starting to falter.”
That Coraline: she gets right down to business. And it is an interesting position for her to find herself in, because these kids are in a unique position of having not only seen these . . . things, but also having felt the . . . stuff. And once unseen and felt, you’re not simply gonna say, “Okay, forget all that and just go on with your lives.” Naw, a little difficult to do anymore.
At least I’ll have plenty of time today to think this scene over.
It’s a bit awkward for me as well.
The long weekend is winding down, and today I’ll have several things ongoing before packing up and returning to The Burg tomorrow. It’s the penultimate day of NaNoWriMo, and there are either a lot of people doing a happy dance for making their fifty thousand, or a whole bunch of folks are thinking about hurtling their laptops against the nearest wall.
Either way, you have to give people credit for doing NaNo, because it isn’t easy. But the really hard part comes after, once you’ve finished the work and it’s time to edit and publish said piece. There’s where the real work comes in.
But enough of that–what about last night’s writing. Well, I didn’t hit my NaNo goal, but then I don’t have to. And I managed just over a thousand words last night as well as getting in just a little over seven hundred this morning. I finished the scene–it’s like the last, just short of fifteen hundred words–and shows Annie and Kerry working out the new equipment they’re going to use, albeit under controlled conditions . . .
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Kerry hovered one hundred fifty meters above the Tesla Science Hall trying to get a lock on their target. He’d been given the information from the ground: C Level girl, dark hair, slightly tan complexion, wearing a bright orange pullover, jeans, and a long, open sweater. And silver bangles on each wrist. He was trying to get the tablet to key in on the bangles, as they would be easy to identify—
The tablet’s enchantment picked up quantities of silver, and Kerry zoomed in of the person wearing the jewelry. He pulled out the display to form a hologram of the girl’s head and rotated it to get a good view of the face so her could run her against the school data base. He thought off a message to the person on the other end as soon as he got a hit. She’s Kamala Juraspurna, from the Blodeuwedd Coven. I’m surprised she’s heading to the science center.
Send me the downlink, my love. Annie’s reply came back so clear Kerry would have bet she was sitting next to him. I’ll check her schedule. He did just that and a few seconds later Annie had the answer. She has classes in the hall, but not until after lunch.
Think she’s meeting someone? He was about to lose the person as they entered the building and let Annie know.
I’ll find out. There was a subtle mental chuckle. Let me go inside and find out; I shouldn’t be there long.
I’ll be here. Kerry sat back on the saddle and enjoyed the view of The Pentagram. Not like I’m going anywhere else.
So they’re watching people in the school–but why all the italic speechifying? Well, there’s a reason for that–
Once down in the lower level office Erywin began going over things they’d work with while out in the field. First were tablets that carried major enchantments that would allow them to scan people much like the equipment in the hospital, which then could use a special holographic display to look at parts of them you couldn’t see. They could also tie into the local computer systems where one was “observing” and gather additional information on a subject—though the only reason they were now accessing the Salem servers was due to a link supplied by Isis, who as Chief of Security for the school was aware the training was ongoing. They also had a limited ability to see through walls, but most importantly, it could scan for auras and determine if a person was Normal or Aware.
There were also the enchanted phones. They could mask your aura so you looked Normal, or even hide it if you bent light around you, which was something Helena and Erywin were testing on them now. The most important part of the enchantment was the ability to speak to the other person using just your thoughts: you could send off your messages and receive them back the same way. Annie and he had to work on that, because when they first started trying that out they were picking up every thought the other had, and there was a moment or two when they were both blushing over things they heard. After about twenty minutes they were able to use them without embarrassment.
Enchanted tablets and phones–why didn’t Harry Potter have this stuff? Maybe an enchanted sniper rifle would have put an end to Voldie’s shit real fast, you know? Remember, this was one of the reasons The Foundation wanted to get their hands on that magic stuff, so they could do things like this with technology–just like what they’ve done with Kerry’s broom.
What I remember what to know is, what were Annie and Kerry thinking that made them each blush? Those kids . . .
But they’re using their magic, too, in particular one spell they’ve both mastered . . .
Two meters off the ground Kerry angled in towards the grove and concentrated on pushing the light bending field around him forward and to the sides. They’d discovered months ago that two or more people who were invisible through light bending could merge their fields and see each other. There was a risk extending the field because someone could walk through it and see the person inside, but here in this grove they’d be alone, and they would only keep their fields extended long enough for Annie to climb aboard his broom.
A couple of seconds after entering the grove Kerry found Annie standing to the side of one of the trees. Like him, she was wearing a heavy sweater and jeans, though her jeans tucked inside her boots while Kerry wore warm socks and tennis shoes. She adjusted her messenger bag as she positioned herself on the saddle behind Kerry then wrapped her arms around his waist. Let’s fly, darling.
You got it, Sweetie. Helena had told them to restrict themselves to thought speech while out, so they’d get used to working with the devices before heading out into public. Kerry lifted straight up into the air, carefully picking his way through the space between the trees. You find her?
Yes. She was meeting someone—a boy.
I did a quick scan on him from outside the room. He’s in our coven, a D Level. She rested her head against Kerry’s shoulders. I love flying like this with you.
Kerry laughed. Is that part of the report, or just an errant thought?
Annie chuckled. I am allowed a non-operational thought now and then. She looked over his shoulder. To the Witch House?
Of course. He turned to the northeast and slowly gained altitude. Gotta see if Helena and Erywin think we did okay, and find out what they want next.
The scary thing here is that now Annie and Kerry are good enough that they can stay hidden from others pretty well–it’s a given that Annie was in one of the school buildings and no one noticed her–so now they can sort of go wherever they like and unless you know what to look for, no one will see them. I’m sure, however, that Isis has a number of things up her technowitch sleeve that might keep them from wandering into the Headmistress’ office and listening in on her private conversations–you know she has, because invisibility here is a thing, and Annie got busted trying to slip into the hospital with the same trick.
I wonder what sort of stuff Annie’s been showing Kerry on the sly though? Time will tell.
Let me just throw this up here first:
As you can see from the URL I took this screen shot before I downloaded the certificate. But there’s also this:
See? Winner. I finally crossed the line last night, and my records last night showed I was just one hundred and fifty-two over, which when I take into consideration where the two twenty-six came from, you do the math and I was right on the money with my count.
Doesn’t matter: last night I hit 50,152 words, so I’m in the books (ha, ha!) for a fourth NaNo win. I’ll add to that through the next three days, and maybe finish up around fifty-three thousand or so, which would make this my smallest NaNo win, but I’ll take it considering during the two NaNo whereupon this novel was written, over one hundred and fifteen thousand words were added to the manuscript.
Not bad, Sweetie, not bad.
This NaNo took a lot out of me, mentally and emotionally. I know I’ve said a few times I don’t know if I can do another, and then I turn around and do one. This time, however, I’ve spent most of NaNo feeling like I wanted to burn this story and just leave it, because my feelings for the characters have been waxing and waning like crazy. It hasn’t helped that I’ve had to write some personally emotional scenes between Annie and Kerry while dealing with my own emotional insanity, and a lot of that has really brought out the crazy.
But I didn’t really have to deal with that last night–well, not much–because the focus was on the kids and their decision in the Witch House earlier in the day. Let’s just say Nice Ol’ Professor Lovecraft was having her doubts about the affirmatives she heard . . .
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
The moment Annie awoke she realized something was different. It wasn’t unusual for Kerry and her to be awoken and sent to their rooms: it fact, it had become a bit of a ritual for them to crawl under the comforter around twenty-three thirty and sleep for an hour.
The different now was the Dining Hall. Usually there were a couple of instructors and staff going through the space waking up the other students who’d fallen asleep. This time there wasn’t an instructor in sight—nor were there any other students.
If Annie were to venture a guess, she’d say Kerry and she were the only ones in the darkened hall.
She turned around, still half asleep, at the sound of her name. Helena was sitting in the chair to the left of the sofa Kerry and she had come to call their own. “Hello, Professor Lovecraft.”
“Good morning, Annie.” Her smile was slight and soft. “And it is morning: a little after two-ten.”
“What?” She looked around the darkened hall once more. “Why didn’t you wake us up?” Professors Salden was on “clean up” for the end of the current Madness, something they did a few times a month.
“Because I thought Kerry and you needed to talk—” She raised her eyes towards the ceiling. “And now’s as good as time as any.” She stood and smoothed out her long night gown. “When you’re finished head off to your tower and get some sleep; we meet in the Witch House at nine sharp.” With a light pop she jaunted off to her residence and sleep.
Given that Helena mentioned that Kerry and she “needed to talk,” Annie’s mind immediately began going over some of the things said at the meeting today—yesterday, actually—and focused upon one thing in particular. She gently shook the still sleeping Kerry. “My love, wake up. Wake up . . .”
As was usual his eyes opened slowly. He sat up and yawned while he looked at Annie with sleepy eyes. “Time to go?”
Yeah, keep manipulating the situation, Helena. It makes you wonder what sort of control she does have at the school–and the answer is probably not as much as you think, but if she wants something, she can get it. And during the Day of the Dead attack, Helena was actually Ramona Chai’s second in command for the Rapid Response teams that were on the ground killed Deconstructors and Abominations. There’s a reason for that . . .
Kerry is pretty sure he knows why Helena wants them to talk:
“Why we’re doing this?” He shrugged. “Why am I doing this.”
Annie knew that was the issue that Helena wanted them to discuss. She remembered how Kerry agreed to the operation after she did; she remembered the look on his face when he said yes, and the look on Helena’s face as well—and how she appeared to believe his answer wasn’t sincere—
She had wanted to ask him the same question.
“Why do you think that?” Annie didn’t want to directly ask him if he really wanted to go, or if he’d wanted to exercise his Right of Refusal. She knew Kerry was more likely to open up and explain himself honestly if she approached the matter through a different set of questions.
“Because I saw how everyone looked at me when I said yes.” He chuckled darkly. “Even you. I could tell you were wondering.”
“Since you bring it up—” She turned Kerry so she could rest upon his torso with her arm across his chest. “Do you mean it?”
He wrapped his left arm around Annie’s shoulders and held her close. “When the guy from The Foundation came to convince my parents that I should go to Salem, I was standing on the stairs listening to him talk with my parents, and I heard them tell the guy I wasn’t that great a student, that I was just average.” He gave a long, slow shrug. “It was all stuff I’d heard before, but that day it really hit me the wrong way—I remember walking into the living room feeling all upset and depressed because that’s how they’ve always made me feel—nothing special, just average.
“This thing we’re going to do . . .” Kerry rested his head against Annie’s and spoke in a low, soft, comforting tone. “I’ve never been asked to do anything like this. I know it’s a big deal, and I really want it to happen because—” He rubbed his cheek against her. “Before coming here I was thinking that there wasn’t anything special about me, that I was nothing more than an average kid who’d never turn out to be anything exceptional.”
Kerry turned his head enough so he could look at Annie, who had turned her head so she could watch him. “I really want to do this. Not because you’re doing it—though if you’d said no, I would have to, because I don’t want to go alone. I’m doing this because I’m not Normal, I’m not average . . .” He breathed in deep and let it out in a long sigh. “I am special, Annie. I know I am.”
Kerry’s always been the one who openly has wondered if he were any good. He’s been quiet about it of late, because his confidence has grown, and he’s received support from Annie and given it in turn. This is the first time he’s actually articulated his feelings that he’s better than his parents believe, though . . . sorry, can’t say anything. Must. Remain. Quiet.
Annie confession that her mother would probably believe she’s doing this to impress her father, because it is long assumed that Annie has some Daddy Issues lurking in the background. I mean, little rich witch with a father who drives in Formula One and used to be a hot-shot flier and racer at Salem–what’s she got to prove? Nope, she’s not going there: she considers being asked by the Guardians to do this operation a great honor. And there’s something else . . .
She chuckled. “Even if we can’t hold hands.” Her tone turned far more serious. “There’s something Helena didn’t mention today about this operation—”
“We aren’t going to simply observe this Tanith and then speak with her: we’re tasked with bringing in a new witch. So everything she hears about magic, everything she hears about The Foundation, even everything we may tell her about Salem—we’re the one who are going to create her initial impressions about this world.” She slipped her hand out of Kerry’s and then held it within her grasp. “We end up doing this wrong, and we lose her.”
Kerry grasped the enormity of the situation right away. “She’ll end up like her father.”
“Or worse.” He squeezed her hand right back. “That won’t happen.”
“No—” She shook her head. “We won’t let it happen.”
“Then we know what’s expected of us, and what we’re going to do.”
“I believe so.” Annie rested against Kerry. “Still want to do this?”
He didn’t hesitate with his answer. “Yes. And you?”
Annie closed her eyes and sighed as she imagining being away from the school on this operation for a couple of days with Kerry at her side. “I wouldn’t say no for anything, my love.”
It’s a little bit more important that the operation seems on the surface. Do this right, and though she might be a little late to the party, you add another check mark to The Foundation’s tally. Do it wrong, and you’ve got another Sideliner–or worse, a budding Deconstructor–on your hands. It’s a lot more than just doing a few magic trick for some new kid: they have to convince someone that one, if they feel strange there’s a reason it’s not bad, and two, oh, by they way, you may be a witch and if so, welcome to the club.
Simple field operation? Guess again.
Oh, and there’s a scene coming up . . . if any of you have followed the comment section, you’ll see there’s been some discussion about the upcoming meeting between Kerry and Nurse Coraline about, well, those magical birds and bees. Now, originally I wasn’t going to write about it, however . . . given the revelation that Annie had the exact same vision as Kerry had that touched off this mess only a couple of days before–you can check my time lines, but it has only been a few days–Coraline is probably thinking that it might be a good idea to have a little family planing talk . . .
I wonder if she’ll start off, “When a witch really loves another witch . . .”?
Before we get too far into this thing, this is my NaNo this morning:
According to my measured count, I have one thousand, three hundred, and thirteen words to go until I hit the magical NaNo Fifty. I’m told I’ll finish tomorrow, but it looks more like I’ll get that out of the way sometime today. And this means if I get in some writing tomorrow and Saturday, I’ll finish up with around fifty-three to fifty-five hundred words total.
Another NaNo in the books. And who said I couldn’t do this? Well, me, for one.
When I left off yesterday I was about cut loose with the secrets about this Guardian field operation. What is being observed? And why are a couple of tweens involved?
Your wish is my command . . .
The sorceress waved her hand once more and the floating display showed a man who could have been aged anywhere from twenty to forty. “Kaden Granstrom. Born February, 1976; attended Salem from fall of ‘87 until early summer 1993. He wasn’t the greatest witch in the world—even though we say we take the best, not everyone is like you two—but he was good with super science, and he had a Gift: he could do logistical planing in his head in a matter of seconds. You could give him an inventory list of goods that needed moving or delivering, and in about ten seconds he’d know the best way to get everything from A to Zed and all points in-between.
“The Foundation moved him into Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque in 1995. While the Sandia Corporation is legitimately owned and run by Lockheed Martin, it’s a major front for The Foundation and a lot of super science projects are conducted in some of the more secure areas of the complex. Kaden was a natural to work there, giving special consideration to our products and ensuring they made it to the right places on time.
“In April 1997 Kaden married Phaedre Balli—” The image of a young black woman replaced his. “She also worked in the lab, but she was a Normal and had no idea about what Kaden was and who he really worked for. She never knew his real work—because of his position he could claim extreme security prevented him from talking about it—nor did she discover that he was a witch.
“Then this little bundle of joy came along . . .” The display popped up showing Phaedre holding a baby while Kaden stood to her side. “Tanith, their daughter. Now that the happy couple had a possible witch-to-be The Foundation started watching them a little closer, only because that’s what The Foundation does when children are born to any of the Aware.”
Sneaking and peeping on a married couple and their probably not so baby girl these days? Wait, that’s not all–
Before Kerry could express surprise at this news, Annie touched his hand to get his attention. “They’ve done that with everyone in my family, even me. Just after my sixth birthday my mother told me I was a witch and showed me how magic worked, and it was only three months later that I had my first visit from Foundation people.”
Kerry looked down for just a second. “You’re okay with that?”
She shrugged. “It’s not about being okay; it them knowing that you’re developing properly. And I was only visited every couple of years.” Annie patted his hand. “Don’t worry; you’ll see how it works when we have children.”
Annie moved the conversation forward, not giving the somewhat-surprised Kerry a chance to respond. “You were saying, Helena?”
Zing, Annie! Just what you want to hear your twelve year old girlfriend to say: “Just wait under after I drop a baby out of my girly parts, you’ll see how this works.” And now Kerry’s gonna have to deal with the “Was she kidding or serious?” mind messing that comes with a statement like that. He can handle it, I’m sure. Probably.
As they say, there’s more:
The sorceress couldn’t help but smile at the way Annie told Kerry what he needed to know, and then set him up. “The Foundation kept an eye on Tanith, but didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary about her. By the time she was six there wasn’t any indication that she might slowly becoming Aware, which didn’t mean anything: late Awareness happens in children. However, not long after her seventh birthday everything turned upside down.”
Annie lightly tapped her leg. “What happened?”
“Phaedre was returning to Albuquerque from Socorro when her car left I-25 at high speed and rolled over several times. The local medical examiner determined she was killed instantly, and our own people confirmed that. The Foundation also performed an investigation on the accident to make certain there wasn’t any foul play, and confirmed that the right front tire blew out, causing her to loose control of the vehicle.” Helena shook her head. “Nothing out of the ordinary, just a simple yet fatal, accident.”
She waved the display off and sighed. “Kaden didn’t accept those findings, however. By the time of his wife’s death people around him noticed he was becoming a bit disillusioned by the whole Foundation setup, and Phaedre’s death only made him want to get away from them even more—”
“Why?” Kerry couldn’t understand the reaction if all The Foundation did was check up on his daughter once in a while. “Why’d he want to get away?”
“Some people are what we call Sideliners.” Helena came around to the front once and and leaned against the desk. “They aren’t going to go over to the Deconstructor side, but at the same time they want nothing to do with The Foundation. They decide they want to lead the Normal life, and forsake everything.
“That’s what Kaden did. He left his position at Sandia and took a position with a trucking firm in Kansas City—the perfect sort of job for someone with his talent. Tanith began attending school, and is currently enrolled at the Lincoln College Preparatory Middle School. Kaden keeps to himself and hasn’t entered back into the dating pool: Tanith has a few friends and seems normally adjusted—save for one thing.” She pointed at both kids. “And this is where you come in.
So not everything is rosy with this fractured family, and not every witch straight outta Salem is happy with their lot in The Foundation life, so they don’t quite go Rouge, they just sit on the sidelines and watch things from as far away as possible–if they watch at all. And from the looks of things, Kaden isn’t watching–but The Foundation is . . .
“Like it or not, even if you leave The Foundation, you’re never actually rid of The Foundation—not unless you leave your old life behind and go underground—”
Erywin crossed her legs trying to get comfortable. “Because today’s Sideliner could become tomorrow’s Deconstructor.”
“Exactly. The Foundation would like to prevent something like that from happening. Also, they wanted to make certain that Tanith wasn’t a late bloomer, that when she hit puberty her Awareness didn’t hit as well. It didn’t then, but . . .” Helena raised her right eyebrow. “There’s indications is it now.”
Annie gripped the arms of her chair and learned forward. “She’s becoming Aware? Now?”
“That’s what The Foundation believes. The thought they picked something up on her a few months back—they manage to get an aura scan on her every three, four months—and while they haven’t picked up anything that would indicate she’s done any actual magic, they think she’s at the cusp and ready to pass over.”
So young Tanith is turning out to maybe be a late bloomer. Is this a problem? Does The Foundation look bovvered by this? Turns out, yeah, they are.
Being the only one in the room who had been exposed to magic for only a few months, Kerry was a bit confused why there was concern. “Why is this a problem? How old is she?”
“She just turned twelve a week and a half ago.”
“Well, I didn’t start doing magic until I was eleven. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal—”
“Annie . . .” Helena’s soft voice cut Kerry off faster than a quick yell. “I know you know something about this—” The right eyebrow rose once more. “You want to get him up to speed?”
Annie’s gazed shifted to Erywin quickly before she slowly turned towards her soul mate. She’s read the same report as Deanna—Helena probably has as well by now . . . “You knowingly did magic here for the first time, love—” I hope he doesn’t get upset. “But The Foundation was tracking you from about the time you turned six. They knew you were Aware, and that you may have actually performed magic without realizing.”
Kerry stared back at Annie for several seconds. “Really?”
“Yes. San Francisco is the North American headquarters of the Guardians, and they look for this sort of activity constantly. You . . .” She lay her head to the side and gave him a sweet grin. “You set something off, they came looking, and they found you.” She touched his hand once more. “That’s why you’re here.”
“You probably did do magic during that time without realizing you were.” Helena stuffed her hands in the pockets of her jacket and crossed her feet at the ankles. “Spontaneous magic happens when you become Aware at an early age, but your mind is too underdeveloped and mature to understand what’s happened. You might see a change in your hair or a light tanning of your skin; things could move around in your room during the night; you might even imagine that you hear voices once in a while.” She held up her hand. “You don’t think anything of this; to a child of six or seven, even one as intelligent as you, things have happened but you’re not cognizant of what occurred.
“Now, imagine you are you current age, right now, and you still have no knowledge of our world—and this shit starts happening to you. What is your reaction?”
His reply was a short, soft scoff. “I’d probably freak and think that maybe I was schizophrenic or something.”
No kidding you’d probably freak, given that Kerry has been known to lose it emotionally over some slight things from time to time. So if a girl who’s lived a Normal live for now twelve years suddenly finds herself tossing fireballs, what sort of crazy does that produce? And what is the ultimate Guardian plan to deal with this?
“The concern with Tanith is that she’s going to go beyond the tipping point and have a full-blown incident where she’s overcome with full Awareness and the spontaneous spells just come. If it happens at home that’s not a problem: Daddy would more than likely step in and take control of the situation. If it were to happen in public, however . . .” She looked down and shook her head. “She liked to take the bus to the Crown Center Mall after school and on Saturdays, and if she tipped over there, the results could be disastrous. She could hurt others—she could even hurt or kill herself.
“The idea of this mission is to have you observe her on Friday, first at school and then at the mall. Watch her actions, determine if she’s really close to being Award, and even watch and see if she’s Crafting. Then on Saturday the plan is to approach her, get her alone, tell her who you are and maybe show her what you can do.”
Annie’s eyes shone with excitement, though she still had questions. “Shouldn’t the father be involved?”
“Normally it would be his responsibility to bring in Foundation people and take care of this with their help. That hasn’t happened, though, because he doesn’t want them involved—and we wonder if he even knows what’s happening with his daughter. The concern from The Foundation is that he’d ignore their advice and disbelieve their reports that Tanith was becoming Aware, and that she’d do so anyway.
“With that in mind The Foundation—through the Guardians—sees Tanith responding more positively to a twelve year old witch—” She pointed at Annie, then to Kerry. “—and her eleven year old witch boyfriend, who explain what’s happening to her by showing what’s happened to them.” Helena slid her hands back into her jacket. “I agree with their belief. I think once you’ve had the chance to speak with her, maybe even show her what you can do, show her that it’s what she’ll be able to do, Tanith will respond.”
So there you go: our two little witches are suppose to find their target, observe the creature in her normal habitat at the wall, and then approach her and say, “Hey, look here: I can do magic, and so can you . . .” It seems like a simple plan–unless, before they can get to her, Tanith starts freaking out in the food court at the mall and blows up the Taco Bell, or loses it completely while trying on leggings at Forever 21 and gives one of the sales girls purple skin and a unicorn horn–which would make her a hit at the next My Little Pony con, but otherwise leave her screaming like crazy.
Which is why Helena said this mission could be moved up, ’cause there’s a witch in need, and she may need help pronto.
Now we know the whys and wherefores. All that remains is to get these two trained up and on-site.
Easy Peasy, right?
NaNo Word Count, 11/26: 2,057
NaNo Total Word Count: 48,687
The last couple of nights have been slow going. It’s been a little difficult to get motivated this week, but according to the NaNoWriMo site I’m three thousand, three hundred and seventy words from fifty thousand, which means by tomorrow or Friday I’ll pass that mark and be ready to verify my word count. This will, by the way, be the lowest word count I’ve ever managed in four years of doing NaNo, but in a way it’s helped considerable due to that fifty thousand getting wracked up fast, instead of being doled out in small number throughout all of December.
My progress last night wasn’t helped by Internet issues. I was trying to look up a few things to refresh my notes, and the bandwidth wasn’t there. Which is why I was up at six AM getting things nailed down for my current scene.
As you can see by my notes, we know where this Guardian operation is taking place. Does that mean–?
Kerry said nothing right away, and Helena hadn’t expected him to speak first. She looked at Annie, who stared right back with no sign that she was giving the matter much thought. Annie nodded slowly. “I want to do this.”
“Are you certain?” Helena kept her voice as neutral as possible since she wasn’t supposed to sway the child’s feelings either way on the matter.
“I am.” She crossed her hands across her lap.
“I see that.” Helena turned to Kerry, knowing good and well he was going to say—
“I’ll do it.”
She arched a brow at him. “You’re certain about this?”
He turned and looked at Annie for about five seconds, then went back to Helena. “I’m sure.”
Helena turned around and nodded at Erywin, who stood and handed two tablets to the students. “I want you to read these before you do anything—” Helena leaned towards the two children. “I mean read them. Don’t just skim the document and then tell me you’re ready to sign. Take your time reading them, then let me know when you’re done.”
Now that they’re both in, where is “in” taking them?
A city scape appeared in the display. “The field operation will take place in Kansas City, Missouri, and we’ll stay in that part of the city. We’ll set up a base of operation in the Sheraton Kansas City in the Crown Center.” She pointed out the locations on the view. “We’re expect to check in to the hotel on 26 April, though there is a chance the operation could be moved up. Still waiting on that bit of information.”
Annie examined the display. “Why would they move up the operation?”
“There’s always a buffer built into these operations to deal with anything that could be construed as unexpected.” Helena didn’t look concerned. “It’s one of the reasons they wanted to get you involved now, so we could test you out and familiarize you with the equipment we’ll use.” She wanted to put Annie—as well as Kerry, who hadn’t said a word yet—at east. I wouldn’t imagine the operation getting moved up more than two week if they do move it. That would have us leaving here for Kansas City on 12 April.” She shook her head a couple of times. “Plenty of time to get you checked out and tested.”
Welcome to KC: I guess this makes them the Sunshine Band? Over Helena’s dead body–which would probably be someone else’s, come to think of it.
There is a question that Kerry has, and it’s answered so there aren’t any questions about the witches in the room . . .
Kerry finally spoke up. “Is everyone in this room going to KC?”
“Yes: all four of us. In fact, that’s going to be our cover.” She pointed to her second. “Erywin and I will be traveling as a same-sex couple from England—a big stretch for us, I know—who are here on a combination business and pleasure holiday. We have our documentation for the company we represent, and we have an itinerary made out of places visited and places to see that will pass the tightest scrutiny.
“You’ll have a cover as well.” She pointed at Kerry. “You’ll be Erywin’s naturally born son. You’ll have a history you’ll need to remember, such as the name of your father, when he and your mother separated, when we met . . .”
“You’ll also have to remember—” Erywin chuckled. “—to call me ‘Mummy’.”
Kerry laughed right back. “That’s gonna be fun.”
“Yes.” Helena jumped back into the conversation. “But necessary. You’ll need to work on the accent as well. And—” She pointed at the top of Kerry’s head. “The hair, too. It’s one of the reasons you were picked: you skill in transformational magic.”
Erywin nodded. “And you have started to show some skill in minor self transformation—at least according to Jessica.” She stood and walked towards Kerry. “We’ll have to work on getting your hair closer to my color—”
Kerry focused on Erywin for about two seconds before the color of his hair changed from his normal ginger to something very much like the professor’s dirty blond color. He smiled as the instructor stopped when she saw the change. “How that—Mummy?”
Erywin glanced at Helena. “I’d say that’s pretty close.”
Not much has been said about what they’re picking up, though Mr. Gabriel did mention that Kerry was getting a real hang of transformation magic–and that little demonstration shows that. Now, what he did was an A Level spell, but the quickness and completeness surprised Erywin–stopped her in her tracks, you might say–which shows Kerry’s pretty much mastered that spell.
Annie has her own question, and this leads to a quick wake up of something potentially troubling for Kerry and her . . .
Annie had her own concern, however. “If Kerry is pretending to be Professor Sla—”
“No titles, please.” Helena held up her hand. “When we are meeting like this, it’s first name basis at all times. In pubic it’s one thing, here it’s another.”
Annie fell right into step, since she was already used to this. “Then if Kerry is pretending to be Erywin’s son, what am I?”
“You’ll be my adopted daughter—from Bulgaria, of all places.” She smiled back at the suddenly unsmiling girl. “It was believed that would be the easiest way to pass you off—that I’ve never been married and that I adopted a girl from Bulgaria—which would explain the accent and language, and why you don’t look like me.”
“That would mean—” Annie turned slowly towards Kerry. “He’s suppose to be my brother.”
It hit Kerry in that moment what she meant. “Wait . . . that means that we can’t like—”
Annie nodded slowly. “Be close in pubic—which means . . .”
Erywin finished the statement. “No public hand holding or snogging.”
Kerry shot Helena a worried look. “How long are we gonna be in Kansas City doing . . . this?”
“We leave here on the 26th, and should be there for most of Friday and Saturday. If necessary we’ll return here on Sunday.”
He turned to Annie and sighed. “The whole weekend.”
She nodded. “We’ll miss the Madness.”
Helena appeared gravely concerned. “The things one must do for their Foundation.” She chuckled and pointed at the display. “Let’s see why we’re going there in the first place—”
Suddenly the idea of being Undercover Witches doesn’t seem like a lot of fun, not if it means you can’t hold hands with your pretend brother. And missing the Madness? Heavens forbid! The world has suddenly turned into a mass of suck. They just come out of a traumatic situation regarding their relationship, and they’ve being told they gotta be siblings. I guess we can now joke, “Do you kiss your brother with that mouth, Annie?”
I promise this scene will finish up tonight. You’ll get some history, you’ll get the reasons why these two have been picked–you may even get part of the next scene. Really, I’m so close to the end I’m almost feeling like ripping off three thousand words and getting the story to where it’s all tucked in and ready for bed.
It’s possible, you know.
NaNo Word Count, 11/25: 1,170
NaNo Total Word Count: 46,630
By now it’s pretty obvious that the stuff that started out Act Three thirty thousand words ago (yep, it’s that many, and a little more) is now coming home to roost. And since Helena came over to give the kids the “good” news, chances are she got all her wishes granted. It’s just like she’s Dorothy and she traveled to the Emerald City to get her wishes granted by The Wizards, only somewhere along the way she ditched those other three losers and probably realized that Glenda the Good Witch was the bitch who actually needed to get put down, so she smoked her, too.
After all, I’d bet any amount of money Helena has taken down a fair share of witches in her time, so notching Glenda wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But I digress . . .
In fact, this situation with the Guardians is going to take up some of the bulk of Act Three–namely Parts Eleven and Twelve, and all the chapters therein.
The good thing is, once this creeping and peeping stuff is out of the way, there’s only two more parts, and those deal with the end of school and Annie and Kerry heading home and breaking up for the summer and not seeing each other and . . . hey, do I know how to end a novel on an upbeat note?
Trust me, it won’t be that bad.
But let’s get back to the spook stuff at hand. I didn’t quite make my NaNo word count for the day yesterday–mostly because I spent about six hours on the road and I was pretty beat last night–but I managed to push it over a thousand words, and now I’m only forty-five hundred words from fifty, and that means that while I’m likely going to make my word count for this NaNo, it’s not going to be anything to write home about. However, my word count starting from last year’s NaNo is about 340,000 words, so what’s another fifty, right?
What’s the story here, Cassie? Well, Helena’s being a secretive witch, and she’s got herself and three other people locked up in her office in the lower levels of the Witch House, and she’s doing her spiel . . .
It was only after the room was sealed that Helena spoke to the other three members who’d gathered. “Before we get into the matters of why were are here and whether or not certain people will agree to do something . . .” She looked hard at Annie and Kerry as she walked past their chairs on her way to the chair behind the desk. “I have to make this clear: what is said in this room today stays in this room. If in five minutes time we decide not to move forward, neither of you—” She pointed across the desk at both children. “—are to ever admit this meeting happened, or that we ever gathered on this date and time.” She sat, glanced at Erywin sitting to her left, then turned back to the real reason she was here. “I hope I’m clear on this matter.”
Annie leaned on the left arm of her chair. “I understand completely, Professor.”
Kerry nodded slowly. “Same here.”
You were never here, this never happened . . . always a great way to start out a meeting. What else is happening, Sunshine?
“Good. Now, according to protocol I’m permitted to give you some light specifics on why I’ve ordered you here, and the meaning behind my statement last night.” She sat back and forced herself to relax. “Difference factions of The Foundation pour over our student reports combing them for talent. In case you hadn’t thought about what happens outside these walls, talent is prized by The Foundation, and while there are a number of other schools in the system, this is the one they look to the most, because only those whom we believe will become the best students in are allowed through Founder’s Gate.
“The one organization that examines us the closest is the Guardians. The reasons are simple: not only do we produce the best witches, but we also produce the best sorceresses—and being a great sorceress is a must if you want to become a Guardian. Knowing sorcery—in particular, knowing Morte spells—is the main requirement for being a Guardian, because we’re the ones walking in the shadows dealing with nefarious shit that we hope never becomes known to the Normals. And I say ‘we’ because I’m still a Guardian with a field operative rating—and I’ve handled my fair share of nefarious shit over the last two decades.
“The Guardians not only cherry pick our students records, but if they find someone they like, they contact the people in charge and ask for additional information on them, always in the form of a detailed report. If they like what they see there, then they take the step of requesting access to the student for a few days—usually no more than that—and they take them out into the field to see how they operate in either a test environment, or on an actually field operation.”
Helena set her elbows on the arms of her chair and leaned forward. “That’s why you’re here. The Guardians saw the reports on you and wanted additional information. They were given that information a few weeks ago, and now they want to see what you can do.” Once again she glanced at Erywin before looking back at Annie and Kerry. “They don’t want to test you; they want to send you on a field operation.”
You get too good in this world and you end up getting to play Secret Witch. Aren’t they lucky?
She lays out all the stuff that she pretty much already laid out for Gabriel and Mathilde, and though she never mentions this to the kids. She also lets them know that one of the reasons Erywin is her second is because she knows people–she’s a counselor and the school’s LGBT adviser–and it’s her job to figure out if the kids are, as Helena puts it, “mature enough to handle something like this.” Which was a concern she brought up once, but not to Annie and Kerry.
Finally we get to the last bit, the thing that determines where we go with this . . .
Helena stood and came around to the other side of the desk. She leaned against the edge directly in front of Annie and Kerry. “Now we get to the important part: your participation. And here’s where it gets tricky, kids, because no matter what I’ve said up to this about what I’ve done to ensure that this mission won’t screw you right into the ground, nothing happens if one or you both invoke your Right of Refusal.”
As she expected Annie said nothing, while Kerry asked the question. “What’s that?”
“It’s simple. You are both minors, and remain so until you’re eighteen, the Age of Majority. Now, under extraordinary circumstances The Foundation can conscript sixteen and seventeen year olds for operations, but that in no way affects you. You’re twelve and eleven, and about the only way they could get you out into the field would be to kidnap you and make you do it against your will.” She didn’t tell them she suspected that could happen if the wrong people got desperate . . .
“That means you have Right of Refusal, and that means if you say ‘no’, then you’re finished, your not involved, there’s the door, see you around, and remember not to tell anyone you were ever here. If, on the other hand, you say ‘yes’, then you sign non-disclosure forms, we pull out the data, and we start putting the operation together.” She looked from Annie to Kerry before focusing on a point between them. “So what’s it going to be? Are you in, or are you out?”
And that’s where I ended it, because I know what they’re going to say, and you’re likely know what they’re going to say as well, otherwise I’d find myself writing something else. And as I mentioned, I was tired, so I didn’t need to write the next part–
At least not last night.
It’s a new day, though. Looks like I have a few thousand words to work out today.
NaNo Word Count, 11/17: 1,232
NaNo Total Word Count: 45,460
As I pointed out yesterday–I think it was yesterday, yeah–I thought there was an excellent chance I’d write up the last two scene and finish not only this chapter but the part. And guess what? I did. Yay me!
But the question remains: what happened? When we left my kids yesterday Kerry was crying on Annie’s shoulder while they were standing on the north short of Lake Lovecraft, and . . . then what?
Glad you asked, because I’m here to tell you.
It was completely dark now and Annie sat, still on the north short of Lake Lovecraft, while Kerry slept peacefully with his head in his lap. After his realization of who she really was and what she’d always meant to him, he grew drowsy and fell into a stupor, slumping to the ground as he set himself into his—and Annie’s—current position.
She never considered getting up and flying to the hospital to summon Nurse Coraline: she felt that Kerry wasn’t in trouble, nor was he in danger. Annie felt the best thing to do was to let her moyata polovinka sleep and see what he would do next—
She knew she wouldn’t need to wait long for that: Kerry began stirring, first with movement in his arms, then his arms, and finally a slight moan as his eyes twitched open. He rolled on his back and looked straight upwards into Annie’s smiling face. “Hey, Sweetie.”
“Hello, my love.” She brushed his hair with her hand. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah, I just . . .” His eyes moved left and right. “What happened?”
“You fell asleep—it was like all the energy left your body.”
Yes, Annie could have went to the hospital, but since Kerry didn’t have blood squirting from his nose and eyes–and Annie knows what that looks like–she figured it was something else, something not as bad. And she was right . . .
He stared up into the sky. “It’s dark. How long was I out?”
“Maybe an half-hour.” She shrugged. “Forty-five minutes at the most.”
“Okay.” He sat up slowly, then turned himself around so they were sitting facing each other. “I remember the dreams.”
The smile on Annie’s face grew wider. “Which ones?”
Kerry chuckled. “All of them. It was like watching a series marathon.” He shook his head as he smiled. “I’m all caught up—at least to that last one.”
“Did you—?” Of all their shared dreams, all she remembered of that one was they’d met. Beyond that it was a blur. “Did you see what happened?”
“I’m not sure. I’m still trying to figure that one out.” He leaned forward as his smile grew brighter. “But I was there reliving everything else. Not only the regular ones were we talked and play, but . . .” He took Annie’s hand and held it tightly, as if he was afraid she were about to float away. “The first time we met; the first time I read to you; our first time riding bikes—”
“Did you remember what else we did?” Annie slid closer, hoping he’d remember what else they did that night—
“Yeah: that was the first time we told each other our names.” Kerry got to his feet and helped Annie up. “I saw the first time you told me you knew I was a real person, and that you were real too; I saw when you told me you were a witch—”
“That was my tenth birthday.”
“I remembered thinking how cool it was having a dream girlfriend who was a witch.” He pulled Annie close. “I should have freaked out—”
And from here it’s pretty obvious that if Kerry had remembered all of this before Annie and he had met in London, he probably would have known she was going to be there, would have hammered down her door the night he arrived–or at the least would have done more than introduce himself as “Hi, I’m Kerry Malibey” in the book store. Other than the fact that neither one of them knew Kerry was a witch, they seemed to know everything about each other–and why not? They’d been together for years . . .
They related once more about how they both remembered, in detail, the dream where they said to the other that they loved me, and Kerry finally understood how Annie must have suffered to have been with him and know that he didn’t remember him. Kerry’s an emotional kid, so when he cuts loose with those feelings, he tends to go big. We know he’ll cry at the drop of a hat, but when he’d happy–look out, Salem, ’cause you’re gonna know about it . . .
She kissed him long and deep, and was pleasantly surprised to feel Kerry return the kiss in kind. As he did once he learned to open his heart to me. “We’re together as one again.”
“Yes, we are.” He kissed her as she’d kiss him; when he finished he broke into an ecstatic laugh. “The Ginger Hair Boy is back with his Chestnut Girl.”
Kerry released Annie and began walking towards the edge of Lake Lovecraft. He stopped a few meters from the water’s edge, raised his face to the cloudy night, and shouted into sky. “Did you hear that? I’m back with my Chestnut Girl. Do you hear me, Salem? I’m back with soul mate—with the witch I love.”
Annie joined him and stood at his side as Kerry threw open his arm and yelled out his love, his voice echoing across the pitch black water. “I am hers again, and I will never leave her. Understand? I will never again forget my soul mate—I will never be with anyone but Annie Kirilova.” He turned to his left, found her next to him, a smile plastered across her face and her eyes shinning bright with love, and faced her as he shouted one last statement to the heavens. “I will never, ever love anyone else.”
He threw his arms around her and pressed himself against her. Kerry lay his head upon Annie’s shoulder and whispered into his ear. “Moyata polovinka.”
Annie whispered back to him. “Moyata polovinka.” She chuckled as she rested against Kerry. “I never once said that to you in any of our dream.”
“I know.” He closed his eyes and drank in the moment. “I’m glad you taught me what it means here . . .”
And that settles that. Sorry, Emma, but the odds were never in your favor.
Did I say that settles that? I mean that settles the dream stuff, but there was one last scene that takes place in the Great Hall, and . . . well, let’s look:
As they were getting ready to leave Lake Lovecraft she mentioned she’d flown only once at night—though she didn’t elaborate on that disastrous flight—and Kerry mentioned that the last time he’d flown in the dark a monster intent on killing his had chased him all over the grounds.
They both laughed as they sailed out over the lake, gained altitude, and sped off towards the dimly lit Pentagram.
Kerry touched down just outside the East Entrance and Annie was off the saddle the second her toes touched the ground. Kerry snatched the broom out of the air and carried it at his side in his right hand as his left found Annie’s right. They entered the Great Hall and, with huge smiles of joy on their faces, strode towards the Dining Hall.
Yeah, remember those disasters that happened the last time you flew at night, and just laugh them off ’cause love, right?
They get to the hall and the head of the kitchen says she’ll whip something up for them. Kerry wants fish and chips with pomegranate juice, and Annie orders lamb güveç (a kind of Bulgarian ratatouille) and a lemon drink. They find their table, they sit, they talk for a few minutes, and then this:
“There you are.”
The both turned around and found Professor Lovecraft standing between them. Annie felt a chill run through her, because the look on the sorceress’ face was one she’d seen many times before, and it was a look she didn’t like to see. She’s here on business— “Hello, Professor.”
Kerry nodded. “Hello, Professor.”
“Hello.” She motioned for them both to follow her. “Come over here; we need to talk.”
They followed Professor Lovecraft to a point along the east wall of the hall about a twenty meters from the doors leading to the Atrium. She turned so she could keep and eye on the area around their table—and the other hall entrances—before speaking. “No one can hear us here, but I’m going to keep this short. After lunch tomorrow I want you both to come out to the Witch House. Be there no later than thirteen-thirty.” She turned to Annie. “We’ll meet in the office I keep off the Vault.”
“Okay, Professor.” Annie was liking this less; the professor didn’t use that office much—she’d only seen it in passing, and had never been in there—which meant something serious was happening. “What’s going on? Why do you want to see us?’
“Yeah.” Kerry looked even more pale than usual. “Did we do something wrong?”
“No, Kerry. Actually . . .” A lopsided smirk flashed across her face for a few moments. “You’ve done something right.”
“I don’t get it.”
Helena leaned in towards them and lowered her voice. “Something important has come up, and your Foundation needs you.”
Annie was now as puzzled as Kerry. “What do you mean?”
Helena took a deep breath and mustered her most serious demeanor. “You’re being summoned by Guardians: they have a mission for you both . . .”
Cue the dramatic music, for things are about to get serious. Mr. Gabriel got his way–he must be related to Annie, it seems.
That means Part Eleven–it’s one more, as you can see–starts getting into this stuff. Not only will I peek behind the Foundation curtain a little, but a bit more drama between Annie and Kerry will arise.
Really, did you think I was finished with that?
NaNo Word Count, 11/23: 1,868
NaNo Total Word Count: 44,228
First off, I am coming to you from the Real Home, the ancestral estate in Northwest Indiana. I made it in one piece and actually pulled into the garage exactly twelve hours after pulling out of the garage in The Burg to start my trip home. And I only nearly fell asleep at the wheel once, about ninety minutes out from my destination. That woke me up enough that I was able to get home in one piece.
The other news concerns the current scene. The last time I made the six hundred and thirty-five mile journey between where I work and where I live, I was so tired that I couldn’t write a word. Yesterday, however . . . I started out the scene during my second rest stop and managed three hundred and twenty-two words. Last night, though it took me about three hours, I managed just over twenty-four hundred words, finished off the scene, and brought this part of the story to a conclusion. Then I headed off to bed and slept straight through for close to eight hours of sleep.
What happened? What did Annie and Kerry talk about? I did considering posting recipes for wild duck, but I know I’d get killed if I did that. That said, let’s get into the scene.
As he spoke the last word of his tale Kerry winced and touched the side of his forehead. Both actions bothered Annie, for she assumed the worse: his déjà vu was back, and would likely affect him more than it had ever before. His description of his dream showed that some part of him remembered her and the first time he read to her under his tree in their shared dream—but there was something else mentioned, something that almost made Annie gasp.
She was worried that if Kerry was that close to the memories of his dreams, the déjà vu would not only try and prevent him from speaking, but could cause him actual harm. She eyed his broom; she thought it might be necessary to fly it to the hospital so she could summon a nurse—
Kerry shook his head and mumbled just under his breath. “Moyata polovinka.”
Annie had kept her distance while Kerry related his story, but the moment he spoke she was alongside him. “Are you all right?” She touched his head. “What’s wrong?”
“Just my head—” He shook it slowly. “I don’t know; must be the weather playing with my sinuses.”
Annie saw his eyes, saw they weren’t glazed, saw he was in control of himself. This hadn’t happened before, and when she considered what he’d said—he’d literally summoned his mate as a form of willpower—she believed Kerry was doing something he’d never tried before:
He’s fighting the déjà vu. The rune dream triggered something and he’s fighting . . . She almost gasped again. Is he trying to remember?
She ran her fingers through his hair. “With the weather changing so fast, it’s possible.” She ran her fingers down his cheek and then to his arm. Given all that he’d said, given what was happening at the moment—and given what may lay ahead, Annie knew there was only one question she could ask:
“Kerry, who’s the Chestnut Girl?”
Yeah, Kerry: enough of the teasing. Who’s this Chestnut Girl? We want to know before a John Gault-style campaign starts at the school.
“When I was younger—I mean like three or four—I used to have these dreams of a girl who’d come and visit.” Kerry remained conversational and didn’t appear to suffer any sudden twitches or pains. “I don’t mean like she’d visit me at home: she’d show up in stuff that I was dreaming about and we’d do stuff—play mostly, but I can remember talking as well.
“We never went by names, though there was something she used to call me—” Annie whispered under her breath as Kerry spoke the words aloud. “The Ginger Hair Boy. Since I didn’t know her name, after a while I started calling her The Chestnut Girl, because that’s how her hair looked to me.”
“A chestnut color?” Annie brushed her hazel hair back off her shoulders, wondering if Kerry would notice.
“Yes. I mean, I was probably five when I started calling her that, what did I know?” He shrugged, then turned his head as if something had poked him.
Now we know: she was a girl in his dreams. Not only there, but Annie wants to know about something else:
“What was this tree of yours?” Annie found it a little difficult not to ask these questions before being led.
“There was this tree—couple of trees, really, but this one in particular—where I used to go and sit and read, because I was tired of sitting in the house alone.” A puzzled look appeared on his face as he explained. “My parents used to leave me alone the summer after I turned six so they could both work. My grandparents didn’t live that far away, so if I needed something I’d called them and they’d show up.”
“Why didn’t they just watch you?”
“Don’t know; never figured that one out. Anyway, after a while I got tired of being in the house by myself, so since I knew the code to open the garage door I’d walk to this tree with a book and sit there and read.
“There was one time when I feel asleep—at least I think I was asleep, though it didn’t feel that way—”
Annie felt him rambling, trying to move into this memory. “I know exactly what you mean; the dream is so lucid it feels real.”
“Yeah. That’s how this was. I was sitting there and she shows up and wants me to read to her. I mean, it was kind of weird, but at the same time—”
Something in his tone caught Annie’s attention. “Yes? What was it?”
He looked at the ground for a second. “It was kinda romantic. I was sitting there, she was cuddled against my left shoulder, and she held the book and turned the pages while I read. It was . . .” A bright blush spread across his face. “Sweet.”
Annie nodded in agreement, but inside she was barely containing her excitement. In the hospital I was on his right shoulder—but he remember how it happened in the dream. He’s remembering. “I does sound sweet.” She stepped up and took his hand. “And romantic.”
And, yes: if you’re wondering, I deliberately busted up Kerry’s left side so when that same scene played out in the aftermath of the Day of the Dead, things would set up differently. That way, when Kerry began to talk about this moment in his life, he’d get the scene right as he remembered, and this is the clue to Annie that he is remembering. Plotting: strange things happen. And you’ve seen nothing yet, really, because there are more questions, and Kerry has more answers . . .
“It’s okay, love. There’s still plenty of time . . .” She lightly rubbed his right arm. “Did you ever see her after those readings?”
“That’s funny; she started showing up again after I moved to Cardiff.” He kept from looking at Annie, and it wasn’t long before she caught the telltale sniff of his tears. “I hated moving; I hated Cardiff. Mostly I hated leaving things behind, things that meant a lot to me. I was a mess that first week in Wales; I didn’t want to do anything. I stayed in my room all the time and didn’t care if I got over jet lag—not that my parents cared. All they’d say is I’d ‘get over it’.
“The first time I got used to sleeping on the normal time she showed up—my Chestnut Girl—”
“I know.” He finally raised his head, showing Annie his tear-stained cheeks. “I got to where I thought of her as, you know . . .” He looked away for a second. “Being with me.”
Annie chuckled, knowing how close to the truth he was. “The girl of your dreams.”
“I know, it’s silly.” His face began drawing long. “You probably think I’m horrible, going on about this dream girl.”
“No, I’m not.” She held Kerry’s hand. “What happened that time in Cardiff with her?”
He perked up a little as he told the story. “She shows up, and it’s pretty obvious I’m upset—even in a dream she knows this. She asked what was bothering me, and I told her about the move and having to leave things behind, especially my bike, and how I’m hatting being in Cardiff. And she looks at me and says—”
Still holding his hand, Annie gazed into the tree line as she spoke the words that Kerry was going to say. “Would you like to do something? Would you like to go somewhere with me?”
Kerry smile and broke into a slight laugh. “Yeah, that’s what she said.” He squeezed Annie’s hand. “I remember you said something like that in London.”
And that last line of Annie’s brings me to this–
The bottom part was first drafted during last year’s NaNoWriMo, and then edited in April of 2014, and during the edit I made sure I left a note reminding me to use that quote again. That’s how I roll, people: keep thinking ahead, ’cause you know the scene you’re on now will get written, and this is a good connection. Also, I did my edit based around what I would write, so wibbly wobbly timey whimmy for real.
And what happened after he met up with her feeling all sad and depressed?
Rather than correct him Annie urged him on. “What happened after she asked you?”
“I said yes, and like—” He chuckled again. “Magic, there were a couple of mountain bikes next to use, and the landscape around us was—it reminded me of the Napa area in California, all hills and long stretches of fields. She asked me if I wanted to go bike riding, and we went off and road for what seemed like days.”
Annie held her breathing in check as she remembered the moment, remembered the things that happened, the words that were spoken—and what was said at the end before the dream ended. A moment that changed my life . . . “Now I know what that girl said at the end when she mentioned a bike ride.”
The smile on Kerry’s face was by far one of the brightest he’d ever sported. “It was perfect. Never got tired, never got sweaty, never too hot—just riding and talking and enjoying each other’s company. My mother told me in the morning I looked the happiest I’d been in almost a year.”
It made Kerry happy, and it did something to Annie as well. (And you can ask what, but la la la, I have my fingers in my ears, I can’t hear your pleas . . .)
There is a question that goes back to the very end of Kerry’s dream, and Annie isn’t about to let it go.
Annie decided the moment was now: she had to follow up the rune girl’s statement and see if he remembered everything. “What did the girl in your rune dream mean when she said, ‘Look how that turned out’.”
For the first time in a stretch Kerry closed his eyes and winced, and as he did his hand clamped around Annie’s. She didn’t yelp from the quick pain: instead she sought to pull him back to his recollections. “It’s okay if you tell me, Kerry. I don’t mind, really. I mean . . .” She swallowed and hoped Kerry didn’t see the lie appear upon her face. “You’re talking about a dream girl, right?”
He kept his eyes closed as he spoke through clenched teeth. “Right—” He placed the back of his left hand upon his forehead and grunted as he did before—
Annie thought he was going to lose his connection to the memories, to his dreams—to their dreams. She pulled him close so she could whisper. “Please tell me, Kerry. I know it hurts, but you were told it would hurt. You were told it would—” Then she remembered what Deanna told her on the sofa during the Samhain dance: If you try to force these issues, they’ll never turn out satisfactorily, and you don’t want that. And she couldn’t have that . . .
“Kerry.” She continued whispering, but changed her tone from one of desperation to compassion. “Tell the story if you can. If not I’ll understand. I’ll always understand—” She kissed his tortured forehead. “I’ll always love you no matter what.”
For the first time there’s something Annie wants, and . . . she lets it go. She decides if it’s gonna hurt Kerry to the point where something extremely bad could happen, she doesn’t want it. She decides that not knowing is better than harming her soul mate.
And for that, something wonderful happens . . .
The pain continued for several more seconds before Kerry slowly dropped to his knees, then sat back—but he didn’t appear to be in pain any longer. “My ninth birthday—” He turned himself so he was facing Lake Lovecraft in the slowly vanishing light. “It was almost a full year that I’d been in Cardiff—and it seemed like once a week, sometimes twice a week, she’d be there in my dreams.”
Annie sat down on his left. “Your Chestnut Girl.”
“Yep. And that night I knew she’d show up. I just knew it.” Kerry stared off into the distance as he spoke. “She did. As soon as I fell into my dream, she was there, looking . . .” He slowly shook his head. “Beautiful as always.”
“What happened?” Annie slid closer, but resisted taking his hand.
“She asked me what I wanted to do—I’d told her some times before when my birthday was—and I told her I wanted to go bike riding. And we did, just like that first time I was able to sleep in Cardiff. And when we were ready to take a break—” Kerry motioned to the area around them. “We went up on this small hill, maybe like twelve or fifteen meters above one road, and sat there about two-thirds of the way up.”
He drew up his knees and hugged them as if he needed something to comfort. “We’d been talking through most of the dream, and it wasn’t like some of the things we’d talked about before: we’d started getting more personal as time went on—”
Annie hugged her knees, too. “Almost like a real person.”
“She—” He didn’t look anywhere but straight ahead. “Was. She was real. A real person with real emotions. I felt them, ‘cause she was always nice to me.” He buried his chin into his knees. “I wasn’t to her.”
Leave it to Kerry to beat himself up over what he thought was a dream–and then finally admit, he may have know that his Chestnut Girl was real. And Annie helps him remember the one thing he’s kept hidden for so long . . .
It was in that moment Annie knew what to do, because she remembered this moment, and remembered where it led. She lay her hand lightly upon his left arm. “What’s on your mind, Kerry? You’ve been quiet since we climbed up here.”
“Just—things.” He looked down over his knees at his feet.
In that second Annie felt the way she had that night of the Day of the Dead, when she and Kerry were reliving their first dream at his tree. They were still on the north shore of Lake Lovecraft, but at the same time she could see the hillside around them, the countryside around them, the road below, their bikes propped against a low tree . . . We’re here. He’s remembering. He knows this.
She rubbed his arm. “What sort of things?” She pulled away at that moment as she didn’t want to scare him by being too personal.
“Just, you know—” He turned his head and smiled at her.
Annie smiled back as coyly as she could. “No, I don’t know. Tell me.”
“Well . . .”
“It’s okay if you tell me.” She slapped at him playfully. “Please tell me.”
“Okay.” He half-turned his head away so he wouldn’t have to look at him. “I’ve been thinking about the time we spend together, and . . .” He rested his head against his arm.
She chuckled. “Come on; it’s not fair you having secrets.”
He went back to not looking in her direction. “I think you’re a nice person.”
“Oh?” She slide perhaps two centimeters closer. “I’m really that nice?”
“Well, you’re better than that.” He sighed. “I like you.”
Annie raised her right eyebrow. “You do?”
“You like me a little?”
“Not really; I mean—” Kerry stumbled over his words. “I like you more than a little.”
“How much?” Annie didn’t bother hiding her smile. “What’s more than a little?”
Kerry raised his head off his arm and returned to looking straight ahead. “What I mean—” His voice was ragged with emotion. “I like you a lot more than I probably should.”
As she did that night, Annie reached across his body and touched Kerry’s left hand. “What do you mean?”
A pause, two seconds, five passed—then Kerry turn his body so he was able to look at Annie without turning just his head. His face was the most expressive she’d ever seen. “Annie, I love you. I’ve loved you for a long time—”
In that moment the dream spell dropped, and both were back on the shore, both sitting in the growing twilight, but Kerry was still turned towards the smiling Annie, finishing his statement. “—and I don’t know that I could ever be without you.”
A dawning awareness overtook him concerning what had just happened, but Annie wasn’t about to let the moment end that way—for she had her own part to play. “That’s okay, Kerry—” Her smile was as warm as it had been when she finally admitted her love to Kerry in the same dream. “I’ve loved you for a long time now, too.”
What has Annie wanted from Kerry all this time? She wanted him to remember that, for almost three years now, that Kerry knew she was real, that they’d known each other most of their lives, and that he’d loved her for a couple of years before they met up at school. It may not seem like much to you, but to Annie–oh, it meant the world.
And even brought this moment of comfort:
He reached out and grabbed her hand. “Annie?”
He tried to speak, but gasped once, twice, then almost fell into her. “It’s you.”
“Yes, it is.”
“It’s really you.” Tears began streaming down his face.
Annie pulled him closer to him. “Kerry, what’s wrong?”
“How could I not know?” He wrapped his arms around her. “How? Why didn’t I know it was you?” He hugged her, sobbing. “Why didn’t I know you were my Chestnut Girl?”
She held him in her arms, patted his back, rubbed his head, anything she could think of to console him. “It doesn’t matter, Kerry.” Annie buried her face into the shoulder of her sobbing soul mate. “It doesn’t matter, because you know. You know now.” She hugged him tight and never wanted to let go. “You know now.”
There you are: all the dreams told and the secrets more or less exposed. Yes, there is something else following, and it should wrap this up nicely. In fact, I may be able to write the next scene and the last one today. I might actually finish them tonight.
Which is good, because the sooner I do, the quicker I can go back to torturing my kids some more.
NaNo Word Count, 11/22: 2,741
NaNo Total Word Count: 42,360
First off, where in the world am I posting from?
I’m in eastern Ohio on my way home for the holidays. And as such, I’m making my normal stops along the way.
Anyway, about four hours of driving down, and another, oh, six or so to go before I pull into my ancestral home in Northwest Indiana. Somewhere along the line I’m going to try and write–probably at my next stop–but I’ll consider it a victory if I can get a thousand words in today, because the last time I made this trip I couldn’t write at all once I arrived home. However, unlike last time I actually managed some sleep this time, so I’m not feeling as if I’m going to crash and burn before the next curve in the road.
The story left off yesterday with Annie admitting that she’d had a vision like Kerry’s–only it happened during their first moment at Memory’s End. They only speak of the matter for a few seconds before Kerry asks the really important questions.
Annie looked to the sky as she swallowed a couple of times. “Back on Orientation Day. In Memory’s End.”
“Really?” He’d collected himself and his breathing. “When we had our visions?”
“Yes.” She sighed slowly. “Deanna put us both in a trance to see if we’d have visions. When I had mine—” She swallowed. “I saw you coming out of the bathroom towards the bed, towards me. You had your hand on the railing and you were looking down—”
“At the fire.” Kerry didn’t get close to Annie least they find themselves drawn into—something—as they were moments before. “And then you sat down next to me and . . .” She smiled softly as she looked towards the ground. “Well, if you saw what I saw, then you know what happened.”
“Yes.” He nodded as he kept his eyes on Annie. “Hey, wait—um . . .” He ran his hand over his chin. “I wasn’t, um—naked, was I?”
Annie looked up with a wide grin on her face. “Oh, yes.”
Kerry’s entire body clenched for a second. “Really?”
“Well, didn’t you see me naked?”
“Um . . . Yeah.”
“Then it’s only fair.” Annie finally moved closer to her soul mate. “You have nothing to worry about if the vision is any indication.”
He found he was able to chuckled. “Neither do you. Magic probably has something to do with that.”
“Transformation magic, probably. But . . .” She touched his arm gently. “I don’t think we were very old.”
Not old plus transformation magic equals pretty hot bods. One can assume that ’cause Annie’s grinning, and not much brings a smile to her face, right? They both figure out that their shared vision came on the wedding night before–as Kerry says–“things got serious”. And the thing is Annie doesn’t need to have all the answers, because someone’s been doing their reading . . .
Annie laughed. “You could put it in those terms.” Her seriousness returned. “You saw everything from your point of view?”
“Yes, I did.” He nodded slowly. “And you saw it from yours?”
“Yes. You know what that means?”
After months of pouring through the divination books he’d been giving at the beginning of the school year, Kerry had a very good idea. “If one person has a vision, the best they can hope for is a fifty-fifty chance it’ll come true—”
“Except under unusual circumstances.” Like an accomplished seer having one on a plane the day before it happens.
“More than one person can see a vision, but it’s usually from a third-person point of view—”
Annie nodded. “Which can greatly increase the chances the vision will occur—particularly if they all see it within a few days of each other.”
“But we didn’t see the same thing within a few days of each other.”
“No: it’s been six months.” Annie set her hands on here hips and took several deep breaths. “And we experienced the same thing from our own points of view—”
“As if we were there at the same time.” Kerry knew exactly what this meant. “I think Professor Arrakis would say the odds of us not actually having that vision come true are, like, in the billions.” He looked down and away for just a moment—
Wait, Kerry: why are you looking down and away? Is something on your mind? Something, yes: and on Annie’s mind as well . . .
Annie caught something she hadn’t thought Kerry would do—did he grin? She didn’t ask if he had; she thought it better to confirm his belief. “It still might not happen: there are things that could occur between us—”
“I don’t want to go there.” Kerry’s tone turned dark and serious. “It’s not a good idea.”
It hit Annie what Kerry was saying: one of the things that could happen is one of us could die. “You’re right. We shouldn’t talk about that. But . . .” She held Kerry’s hand in hers. “You’re remarkably calm about all of this—it doesn’t bother you?”
He shrugged. “Not really.”
“Nurse Coraline and Deanna said you were agitated when you came in last night.”
“I guess I was—” He pulled his arms in close to his side and seemed to shudder. “But it’s not what you think.”
“What is it, then?”
“I’m not sure myself.” He shook his head. “I just know something bothered me. As for the vision—everything I read said not to try and force or prevent a vision—” He gave Annie the grin that she thought she’d spotted before. “Yes?”
“Then I won’t.” He let a short laugh escape. “See? I did learn something reading all those books.”
“I can see that you did.” Annie found she wasn’t confused by the way Kerry was acting: she’d known he’d learn something reading the books she gave him. But there was something nagging her— Did I have him read those because I knew we’d talk about this vision one day? Did I know he’d have the same? Or is there another reason?
Annie did have a reason for wanting Kerry to read all those books, but now she’s wondering if her reasons were her own. A very timey-whimy situation here now, because did she want Kerry to read those books–or was there a suggestion? I’ll probably have an answer for you by the fourth novel.
The thing is, Kerry seems cool with it. He knows you don’t try to stop or force a vision, and as he indicated, one sure-fire way not to have it come true is for someone to die, and that’s a bit of an extreme way to stop it from happening.
And this leads to Kerry’s rune dream, which I also have written out. It was the last thing I did before getting ready for the road, and just as I did with Annie’s, here is Kerry’s dream, in its entirety.
I’m sitting at the base of my tree. I know that sounds stupid, but it’s true. It’s a tree back in California, and I used to go there all the time. It was a nice place to hang out, because you couldn’t be seen there.
It’s a nice day but cool, like the ones I remember. I miss this sort of stuff a lot.
A voice makes me turn to my left. A girl’s there. She got on jeans and sneakers and a Torchwood tee shirt just like I have. Her hair is red, her eyes green, and there’s lots of freckles. I’ve never seen her before, but she grins when I look her way. “Who are you?”
“You know who I am.” She looked around as if she never heard my question. “You haven’t been here in a long time.”
It’s kinda weird that she knows about this place, but I just ignore that back. “Yeah. Not since leaving for Cardiff.” And stand up and shake myself off, and a book falls to the ground.
She picks it up and reads the cover. “A Fall of Moondust. I should have guessed.”
I take the book from her and hide it against my stomach. “Just leave that—“
“That’s what you read to her the first time, right?”
I don’t want to hear anything like that. I try to ignore the comment, but it’s ringing in my head. “What do you know about that?”
“I know you read it to her when you were about six; I know that you read to her twice more.” She folds her arms across of stomach. “I know you really liked reading to her.”
“You don’t know anything.”
“I know that.” She stands alongside of me. “I know a lot about you.”
“How do you know?”
“You know how.” She reaches for my left hand. “Come on; let’s go for a walk.”
I don’t think about saying no or pulling away from her: I just take her hand and we walk along van Winkle Drive. Nothing is moving; there aren’t any real sounds. And there’s no heat from the sun, though it’s not uncomfortable. “Where are we going?”
“Just around.” She started swinging my arm. “I wanna talk.”
“Her.” She looks at me out from the corner of her eye. “Your Chestnut Girl.”
I don’t want to hear this: I really don’t want to talk about her. “Can we not?”
“Why? Why don’t you want to talk about her?” This girl stops swinging our hands and lets me go, so we’re just walking side by side. “You knew her for a long time.”
“Knew.” I say it again, louder so she gets the point. “KNEW. She’s gone. She . . .” I start to choke on the word and say something else. “She went away.”
“No, she didn’t.” The girl grabs my arm and stops me, makes me face her. “She left you. That’s what you wanted to say.”
I’m getting upset. Not angry—I never get that way. Just lost and empty . . . “Yes, she left me. She went away, just like my grandparents did.”
“Did they really go away?”
“I never hear from them. They got a computer—I’ve written to them.” I turn away, because I’m remembering something else. “And forget about my parents; they don’t even want me.”
The girl shook her head. “You just think that—“
“My mother told me she didn’t want me.” I start crying, ‘cause I can’t ever help myself. “She told me she wanted a girl. She told me I wasn’t . . .” My breath starts hitching; I hate this conversation, because it makes me feel so horrible. “Why did she say that? What did I ever do to make her feel that way.” I turn away from this strange ginger girl and just let it come out, the thing I hate to say. “Why doesn’t anyone love me? I just want someone to say they do, just once, and mean it.” I keep shaking my head. “That’s all. Why can’t that happen?”
The girl takes my hand, and I feel the area around us change. We’re standing just inside the wall entrance from last night—Founder’s Gate. She leads me through the garden towards the bench where I sat with Annie. She sits me down and sits on my left, just like Annie did.
“Someone does love you, Kerry.” She pats the bench. “Someone who sat right here last night.”
I’ve stopped crying, but I still felt pretty sad. “I know.”
“She’s just like you in some ways; she wants love and affection, but from the right person.” She pokes me in the arm. “From you.”
I remember what happened when we were waiting to go off to our tower together. “She told me she loves me.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Just like I did last night, I twist around on the bench. “She told me she has for a long time.”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“How could she? I never met her until a week ago.”
“And that didn’t stop you from going all over London and Amsterdam with her, did it?” The girl twisted towards me so we were speaking face-to-face. “How could she know you? Look around. Today you spoke with a sorceress and witches; you saw people flying on brooms; you had a vision . . .” She chuckled. “Annie’s a witch, and that means things aren’t what you’re used to seeing. You gotta stop thinking about things as they were and . . .” She shrugged. “Keep an open mind.”
“That’s what Annie told me today.”
“And see what you did?” Her outfit changed into a black dress with a witch’s hat. It was kind of unusual, because it look like a Halloween costume.
I almost laughed at her. “You look like you fit in.”
“Yeah, but you’re the witch.” She slid up next to me, closer than she’d ever been. “I know why you’re afraid.”
“What? Who says I’m afraid?”
“I do—‘cause I know you.”
“You don’t know me.”
She pointed at her head. “See the witch’s hat? I know more than you know.” Her voice got soft, like she was trying to set my mind to ease. “You’re afraid. You think you’re gonna open up to Annie, say things to her that will make her want to love you more—and then she’s gonna leave you. She’s gonna up and vanish like your Chestnut Girl.”
I didn’t want to say anything, but I had to. “What if she does?”
“You won’t know if you don’t try.” She looked up at something like she was thinking. “Why did you kiss Annie last night?”
I shrugged. “Because it felt like I should.”
“I’m betting because you remembered something, and it just came naturally.” She leaned over and placed her hand over my heart. “You know how to love; it’s still here. But before you can give Annie your heart, you gotta knock down that wall you’ve built around it.” She leaned back away from me and gave me a look that felt like it was full of pity. “It’s not gonna be easy, it’s gonna take time, and there will be moments when it’s gonna hurt horribly.” She sighed like she wanted to say more, but couldn’t. “And don’t think about your Chestnut Girl—at least not until it’s needed.”
I had no idea what she was talking about. “What’s that mean?”
“You’ll know when the time comes.” She stood in front of me and smoothed out her dress. “Ask Annie to fly with you. You’ll be surprised what happens.”
Now I laughed. “You think I can fly?”
“You’re a witch, aren’t you?” She giggled. “Witches fly brooms.”
“What if she says no?”
“What if she says yes?” She stepped closer and laid her hand over my heart again. “This . . . has nothing to lose if you ask. Go for it, Kerry.” She stepped back and smiled. “Remember: someone once asked you to go bike riding, and look how that turned out?”
Given when this happened there is some serious foreshadowing going on here, for we know Kerry asked Annie to fly with him, and a few months later he and Annie shared, in a strange way, their dream of him reading to her. Not only that, but one of the things he mentioned to Annie then pops up here as well.
But bike riding? What does that mean? It means that the next scene has Annie asking early on one of the most important questions she’s ever asked:
“Kerry, who’s the Chestnut Girl?”
NaNo Word Count, 11/21: 2,221
NaNo Total Word Count: 39,619
Finally, after all the hand wringing and such yesterday, I locked myself down and got some writing done. I will admit I wrote part of this over my break yesterday, but even so I managed eleven hundred words at home, late at night, just enough to get my NaNo count up and over the line. I have ten days to go, I’m 12,600 words from the finish, and I need 1,261 words a day to hit the fifty thousand.
The odds do seem to be in my favor, but I’m gonna have to push it if I want that winner code this year.
And considering I’m going to lose a couple of days traveling–well, maybe I won’t lose them completely. We’ll see.
This is what some people have waited for, and even wondered about: what was Annie’s rune dream. Well, I’ll tell ya: I’ve know it for probably a couple of years now, so I’ve finally reached the point where you can see it, too. Here it is, in its entirety: Annie’s Dream.
I open my eyes and there is soft light all around. It’s morning, but it feels different. It is different, because I today I awake someone different—
There you are, in my line of sight. Sleeping still, your hair tousled, your mouth slightly open, your freckles seeming to glow against your light skin. You look peaceful in the morning light, safe and secure under the comforter.
I slide next to you and press myself into your body. I’m not wearing anything, but then neither are you, and I feel warm and loved like this. I lay my right arm over you and pull myself closer, then lightly kiss your lips and cheek while you sleep. There isn’t a reaction at first, but half a minute you slowly open your eyes as a tiny grin plays upon her face.
I give your lips another soft kiss. “Good morning, my love.”
“Good morning, Sweetie.” You wrap your left arm over me, pull me tight against you, and kiss me in the way I’ve grown to love, and when we stop our faces remain against our pillows, centimeters from each other. “I could get spoiled being woken up that way.”
“You can, can you?” I kiss you again. “We’ll have to see if you can find a way to spoil me, then.”
“Oh . . .” Your grin is bright and amazing this morning. “I can think of a few things—“
Before I can discover how you want to spoil me there is a buzzing. I know what it is, as do you. You roll onto you back with a tired look and slip your right hand out from under the covers. You hold out your hand and summon your phone. You read what’s on the screen floating above your face and chuckle.
I think of propping up my head, but rather like the softness of the pillow. “Who’s texting this early?”
“My mom.” You half turn your head towards me. “She says your mother wants to know when we’re coming to the house for breakfast.”
“She’s a little early texting us: we’re not supposed to be there until eight thirty.”
The phone twists so I can see the display. “It’s eight thirty-five.”
I push against my pillow and laugh. “Oops.”
“Yeah.” You flip the phone back so you can see the display. “Text mode . . . Mom, Annie and I slept in; getting up and getting ready; see you in about an hour; go ahead and eat without us. Bye.” You tap the air and the phone slides away to rest on the end table.
I try to keep from laughing when I see the look on your face. “I guess we shouldn’t start anything we can’t finish.”
“We could finish—“ I wrap my hand over your shoulder and kiss you. “But we’d be even later.”
“And we wouldn’t want to do that to our waiting parents.”
“It’s not as if we won’t have time later.”
“Oh, yeah.” You roll away to the edge of the bed, the comforter falling away. I can see your bare back, smooth and soft, complemented by your shoulders. A robe sails over from where it was resting on a chair and you slip it on before standing.
I wait until you are leaning against the railing and looking down into the living area before I climb out of bed. I don’t bother with a robe, and join you at the railing as I slept. I smile when you look at. “You look as if you’ve never seen me naked.”
“Well, I haven’t for the first time today.” You chuckle and scan the room below. “I’ll use the shower downstairs.”
I reach for you hand. “Bring up something for me to wear?”
“Sure. What you want?”
I decide right away. “My green sleeveless tunic, jeans, and my brown gladiators.” I give your left hand a squeeze. “It’s going to be a busy day; I want to be comfortable.”
You nod slowly, probably going over something in your head. “Clean bra and panties?”
“Naturally.” I lean my head against your shoulder. “You remembered.”
“I’ve had some practice with that the last couple of years.” You give my hand a light squeeze. “You want some coffee?”
“Yes. That would be lovely.”
“Consider it done.” There’s a silence that stretches on for about fifteen seconds. I’m almost about to ask what is wrong when you speak. “Did you feel anything . . . different?”
“Yes.” I release you hand and turn to face you. “It was like my head cleared.”
“Same here.” You face me. “I guess that means they were right.”
“So it would seem.” My right hand becomes entwined in your left as I draw closer. “Now the question becomes, where do we go with this—“ I press against you and kiss you long and slow. “Mr. Malibey?”
“The answer to that is simple: anywhere and everywhere we want to go—“ You return the kiss, and when you step back, there is a gleam in your eye. “Mrs. Malibey.”
And there it is: signed, sealed delivered.
Naturally Kerry has something to say . . .
Annie stood, watched, and waited for Kerry’s reaction. He’d not said a word the whole time she’d related her dream, and when she reached the end, he started back as if he were seeing a person he’d never met before now. After about twenty seconds of silent she grew worried. “Kerry?”
He cleared his throat and spoke weakly “Yeah?”
“Are you all right?”
“Yeah, I’m . . .” He looked out over the lake to this right, then turned back to Annie. “Mrs. Malibey?”
She nodded. “Um, hum.”
“As in ‘Mr. and Mrs. Malibey’?”
“Kerry, we were married.” Annie wasn’t exacerbated by any apparent reluctance he manifested, but she felt she had to tell him everything. “I know the time and place of the dream. The place is my lake out, the one on my parent’s property.”
“You’ve told me about that—” Kerry didn’t appear upset or overwhelmed, but now curious. “But I don’t know much about the place.”
“It’s something I had built just after I turned nine.” Annie relaxed, as Kerry didn’t seemed like he was going to fly in to a panic or bolt. “It all came about due to a dream I had—”
“Or vision?” Kerry was beginning to suspect that this rune dream wasn’t the only dream of Annie’s that showed her something from the future.
“I think it was a vision—it came after something that . . .” She looked down, shaking her head. “It’s not important. I saw it in a dream a few days later, and I was compelled to make my family have it built.
Now you know that Annie’s lake house was built on a vision: it was something she saw and therefore, something she needed. She also knows something else about that loft.
“There’s a small upstairs area on the north side—I told my parents it was meant to be a guest loft. There’s a bed, a small sitting area, and a walk-in closet which is also the entrance to a full bath. The south end of the loft is open so you can see everything in the living area below.
“It’s suppose to be for guest, but I’ve not had any guest, and no one has ever slept there because it’s meant for more than that.” She sighed as she took a step closer to Kerry, moving to where she was almost touching him. “That’s why I know when my dream happens, because the first person to sleep in the loft is me—on my wedding night . . .” She gazed into Kerry’s eyes. “With my husband.”
The lake house was built to be Annie’s honeymoon house, and she knows it, so if she’s sleeping in the bed in the loft with . . . “her husband” . . . and it’s morning, then her rune dreams if of the morning after and the honeymoon is over, and judging from smiled on their faces, it was a pretty good one.
Which means there had to be some kind of lead-in, and Kerry’s making connections so he mentioned the vision he had the night before. He decides to say a few things about what he saw, and Annie is making the connection as well and coming out with her own truths . . .
Deanna’s words flew back into Annie’s memory: You must tell your dream first. That should get Kerry to open up about his vision. There were things she had to know now . . . “They told me you had a vision, but not what it was. Tell it, please. Tell me what you saw.”
He took a deep breath and described his vision. “I was in a room, but there was a railing and a lot of darkness on my right. There was only a little light in the bedroom area, but there was a light below in the darkness—”
“The fire in the fireplace—” Annie’s voice took on a dream-like quality. “Dying.”
“I think so, too. And there was this smell, like—”
“Cherry wood.” She smiled and moved closer to Kerry. “It’s my favorite. You were walking towards the bed—”
He nodded. “Yes, I was. And you were on it—”
“Kneeling; sitting back on my heels. And you came and sat on my—”
“Left side, because I’m left handed—”
“And I could use my right.” She reached for him, touching his arm. “And I touched you—”
“And I touched you—” Kerry lay his hand on a spot just above Annie’s heart.
“And I touched you . . .” Annie’s eyes grew wide and she quickly pulled her hands away, stepping back at the same time. “We shouldn’t be talking like this.”
Kerry leapt back as well and was now trying to control his breathing. “I know . . .” He bent slightly and caught his breath. “Did they tell you what I saw? ‘Cause I never mentioned that last—”
“They didn’t have to.” The redness that had crept into Annie’s face faded. “I had the same vision.”
“What?” Kerry’s mouth dropped open upon hearing this news. “When?”
Annie looked to the sky as she swallowed a couple of times. “Back on Orientation Day. In Memory’s End.”
And now you know what Annie saw during her tea trance: the same thing Kerry saw six months later. Only, since that last line was the last thing I wrote last night, it won’t be until tonight you find out just how significant having a vision like that becomes. Also, it’s evident that these two shouldn’t be alone when they talk about this vision, ’cause . . . just saying.
Also, there was mention in Annie’s dream of people being “right” and having cleared heads. I know a few people will ask, “Wait, does that mean something, Cassie?” and all I’ll say is, yes, I do tell you what that means, only not in this novel, but the next one, if it gets written. So you only gotta wait like, oh, another year or so and maybe two hundred thousand words to find out what it means. That means I can’t tell you now, la, la, la, fingers in my ears, I can’t hear you . . .
As I’ve told a few others, I’ve not just plotted out this novel, but five others. Yeah–five. This is a long game, and there are events in this book that don’t get played all the way out until the second and third books, which have events that become major deals in later novels. I have also mentioned something, in passing, in this book that doesn’t become a major deal until–here it comes–the fifth novel. Yeah, I’m like that: torturing you. Just wait until I start killing off beloved characters, because George R. R. Martin shouldn’t get all the hate . . .
In the mean time, I need to finish the current scene and get to Kerry’s dream–
And then I can get to the aftermath of what happens to these kids.
It’s fun, I tell you: fun.
NaNo Word Count, 11/20: 1,934
NaNo Total Word Count: 37,398