Observing the Strings

Crazy things this morning as today may be the day I get my new state ID badge, and I’m running all over the place trying to get my paper work in order–which, by the way, is a lot more than I had to put into place to change my name and my Social Security card.  But I think I have everything in place, so I should be good.

Now, about the writing . . . last night I really stumbled through this section because, as you likely noticed yesterday, Annie was having trouble speaking correctly.  Damn these homunculi mouths, they just don’t work like the real things right out of the box.  I mean, I’ve got to talk this stuff out either aloud or in my head, and it’s tough.  What I did today is give you a translation of what’s being said, just in case you don’t know what’s being said.  Because when I was writing it down this morning I needed to think about what was being said, and I wrote this stuff last night.

So how’s that puppeteering going, Annie?


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

Taking careful, tiny steps, Annie moved away from the recliner where her homunculus was seated and towards the middle of the large training room that made up much of the ground floor of Gwydion Manor. Her steps felt strange and halting, and she imagined it was because she wasn’t the one walking, but rather she was making something else walk. She couldn’t remember how it had been when her mother taught her to walk as a toddler, but Annie imagined it was a bit like this, with Helena standing alongside as her proxy mother.

Management of the puppet came slowly, but after a couple of minutes of making her way across the main floor she felt more in control. While Annie believed it would be a while before she could master picking up anything with her hands, she wasn’t shuffling as much as she had when starting to walk. “Iumm . . .” Annie cleared her throat, and put the difficulty to speak out of her mind.  “Isst gittin essier.”  (I’m . . . It’s getting easier)

Helena turned a smile towards her student. “Walking?”

Annie nodded twice. “Yuss.” She chuckled deep in her throat. “Uh cun aulmos suy—”  (Yes.  I can almost say–)

“Auuni?”  (Annie?)

Annie whipped her head around to the right and almost stumbled were it not for Helena catching her. Halfway across the room she saw the source of the voice being helped by Ramona. “Keerry?”  (Kerry?)

He was half turned towards her and began smiling seconds after hearing her voice. “Yoos sonne leek mue.”  (You look like me.)

“I duuo.” She giggled at how different her soul mate sounded working through another body. “Uurr soo strenge luken.”  (I do.  You’re so strange looking.)

He laughed as well. “Yoos louk luk uh Burbie Dull.”  (You look like a Barbie Doll.)

“Wuu?”  (What?)

Helena leaned in and spoke in a gentle tone. “You want to walk over and say hi?”

She looked at Helena out of the corner of her eye. “Cun uh?”  (Can I?)

“Sure.” Helena escorted her towards the form approaching them. She addressed her fellow instructor, who was approaching them. “How’s he doing?”

“About as well as your charge.” Ramona stopped at the same time as Helena, when both their students were about three meters apart. “You think we should let them try to walk to each other?”

“I don’t see why not.” She released Annie at the same time Ramona released Kerry. “Take it easy, you two, and remember that falling won’t hurt that much.”


Yeah, don’t worry:  falling isn’t that bad.  It’s not like you’re hurting yourself.

Now, with them close up, we finally get a good idea of what they look like–or rather, what their puppets look like:


The two puppeteers took their time moving towards each other, their arms held out slightly before them. Annie saw that Kerry’s skin was exactly like hers: smooth and wrinkle-free, without marks or blemishes. When they were close enough to touch they spread their fingers wide and allowed them to intertwine as they pulled themselves close.

Face-to-face now, Annie gazed into Kerry’s eyes. “Tey aurnt geen.”  (They aren’t green.)

Kerry tiled his head slightly to the right. “Urrs arunt heesil.”  (Yours aren’t hazel.)

She pulled her right hand free and ran her fingers over Kerry’s cheek. “Ess nutten luk urr rill fas.” Annie glanced at Ramona. “Ess luk tuusin plestuc.”  (It’s nothing like your real face.  It’s like touching plastic.)

“It would; I didn’t process these homunculi as much as I have others.” Ramona glanced between the two students. “Would you like to see?” They both nodded, and the martial arts instructor waved her hands and turned the air before the puppeteers solid and reflective.

Both of them were naked, but it wasn’t a concerned because, at the same time, Annie saw why Kerry said she looked like a Barbie Doll. Her body, like Kerry’s, was smooth and fairly featureless. She was completely hairless: nothing on her head, no eyebrows, nothing visible on her legs, and no growth in her public area. Her face wasn’t even a close approximation of her own: there were eyes, a nose, a mouth, but free of lines and wrinkles that would allow her expression. He jaw and chin were little more than a soft oval, and without facial definition her cheeks were almost impossible to see.

She possessed breasts, but only in the sense that there were small, rounded mounds of flesh affixed to her torso. Her groin was the same: featherless and flat, without a single hint of genitalia. Annie had already noticed the same things about Kerry: his torso was devoid of any of the muscle tone he’d developed over the last year and a half, and he also lacked genitalia. “Wue du louk luk dools.”  (We do look like dolls.)

“Uh, huh.” Kerry started to lean forward, looking almost as if he were going to tumble to the ground before he caught himself. “Wuh ur we luk dis?”  (Why are we like this?)


Yeah, why are they like that?  Because you don’t want to leave Kerry alone with Annie in a doll-like state for too long, as his mind goes off in strange directions . . .

"Just one time say 'Math is Hard'."  "You really want me to bleed you out, don't you?"

“Just one time say ‘Math is Hard’.” “You really want me to bleed you out, don’t you?”


But this isn’t the end of the road for out puppet kids–oh, no.  I’m still writing the scene, and the chapter is now nearly as large as the last one.  Which means it’ll get larger.  Which means I’m getting closer to two hundred thousand words.  What that means I haven’t a clue.

Slowly but surely wins something, right?

Slowly but surely wins something, right?

Pulling the Strings

With things getting back into a normal routine and the transphobic jerks tossed into a nearby star–if only–it was time to write.  And while it was only about only eight hundred words, that’s good enough for me to get back into things.  Because sometimes you need to walk slow back into things.

Also, I’m making up stuff as I go along more or less.  See, some of this process is coming to me as I write, because I have an outline, but I don’t have it all well-developed.  I don’t get everything figured out in my head ahead of time, regardless of what some people think, and I gotta work this out with words as I go along.  And that was what I did last night:  workin’ it out and writin’ it down.

And what I came up is a couple of kids ready to rock–


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

“At least we’ll have a good connection.” Helena approached the rigs. “How are you feeling?”

Kerry leaned forward into his harness. “I’m good.” He rested his head against the cushion and pushed his face through. “I’ve been looking forward to this since last night.”

“I can see.” Helena turned to Annie, who was rolling her shoulders before completing getting into her rig. “And you? Not too nervous, are you?”

“Not at all; I can’t wait to start.” Annie was aware what they were about to do was something that wasn’t normally taught at school, but rather was something explored during Salem’s Continuing Education Program. For the Guardians to have us train like this only a year after we came to their notice is incredible—I wonder if this means there’s more to come? “This isn’t something anyone else at school is doing—”

“This isn’t something anyone at school is doing—” Ramona punched something on her tablet. “Period. Marionette training usually takes place at a Guardian facility.”

“Which one?”

Helena chuckled. “One of them.” She touched Annie’s rig. “Come on, Sunshine: your better half is waiting on you.”


Annie is wondering what is going on, and it could be something, it might be nothing.  The Guardians work in strange ways, though the interesting thing here is Ramona not questioning a thing.  One has to figure that Helena gave her an overview of what’s happening and then told her not to say a word, which is likely:  after all, just about all the instructors in the heavy magic classes–as well as martial arts and probably some of the science stuff–have to come in contact with both the Protectors and Guardians at some point.  Or, as in Helena’s and Isis’ positions, a lot of points.


Kerry’s blush was bright against the dull cream color of the face padding. “Sorry, I’m just—”

“Excited. I know.” Annie finished getting into rig and pressed her face into the padding before giving the overhead straps a tug. “I’m ready.”

“Starting elevation.” Ramona moved her fingers over something on her tablet surface and a second later the marionette rigs began to rise off the floor as they slowly pitched forward.

As soon as the kid’s feet were off the ground Helena unfastened the rigs from their ceiling straps. “How they looking?”

“I’m getting good feedback on their auras.” Ramona looked up from the tablet. “I’ve got a connection: we’re ready to move to the next step.”

“Sounds good.” Helena stepped between the two floating children. “Okay, guys, just relax and let your arms hang down.”

Kerry almost nodded. “Do we need to close our eyes or anything?”

“No—that will happened as soon as we enact the enchantment.” Helena ran her fingers over the contours of Annie’s rig. “When your eyes close, you’ll feel like you’re floating under water and there’s a line nearby stretching away from you. Grab that line and imagine pulling yourself towards the surface.” She nodded at Ramona. “Let’s kick it.”


Yo, Ramona, let’s kick this bitch!  Once more, something you’ll never hear anyone at other magical schools say.  Before you know it, Helena and Ramona will be kicked back with a couple of Sam Adams reflecting on all the magical fun they had with the kids.  Probably with a Pandora stream in the background.

So what is puppeteering like?  Well . . .


Annie’s eyes closed and after what felt like perhaps ten seconds she sensed the line she was supposed to take only a meter from where her consciousness resided. She reached out with what felt like a hand, took the line, and began to pull herself towards a lightened area above. The light grew brighter, and in a matter of seconds she felt herself breaking the surface of some unknown pool—

—She opened her eyes and let out a gasp as she drew in a breath. Everything felt different: she was on her back in a reclining position, the light was different, the room felt larger—and Helena was sanding next to her, looking down.

The sorceress held out her hand and placed it close to the semi-confused girl. “Okay, just relax.” Helena’s voice was soft and filed with calm. “Don’t try to talk, just nodded when I ask if things are good or if you understand, and don’t do anything if they’re not good or your unsure.” She smiled. “We’ll get to talking once you start getting the feel of your puppet, but first we gotta get you used to the body. You got all that?”

Annie nodded and followed Helena’s instructions as she learned how to control the homunculus. She worked on opening and closing her eyes and slowly turning her head before starting to flex her legs and arms. The first real look she had of her puppet was when she raised her right hand. Immediately she saw the forearm was completely hairless and there wasn’t a single line anywhere: not at the wrist, not on the fingers or the palm of the hand. And the honunculus didn’t have fingernails: when she turned her hand over to look at the back, her thumb and fingers were smooth flesh all the way to the tips.

In time Helena put her hand behind Annie’s head as she felt whatever she was lying upon move her upright. “Okay, Annie: it’s time. We’re going to walk, and I don’t want you to try anything fancy: just one foot in front of the other, nice and slow.” She gave her a smile. “You can try talking; you’ve wanted to for the last ten minutes.”

Annie took a breath and formed the words in her mind before releasing them from the homunculus mouth. “Uoka.” She chuckled softly. “Iii fells su strigue.”

Helena nodded. “Like your mouth is numb?”

“Yuus.” Annie gave slow nod. “Mue toong wunt mooov ruit.”

“That will get better.” Helen had the almost completely upright Puppet Annie by the left arm. “You got your weight on your legs okay?”

Annie looked down for a second. “Yuus.”

“Okay then—” Helena took a short step back. “Follow me.”


There you have it:  at least Annie is a puppeteer:

No, not this kind of puppeteers.

No, not this kind of puppeteer.

She’s in the homunculus and she’s moving, she’s up, she’s even sort of talking.  That means I can take it forward from here–

Tonight.  For sure I’ll get to it tonight, because even though I know what’s going to happen, I want you to see it as well.

I think it’s gonna be fun.

The Country of the Blind

Seriously, I was going to have something here for you to read–well, technically, I do have something for you to read and you’re reading it now.  But no, I was gonna work on the novel, and even got eighty words into it, before I was massively side tracked–

Last night I was finally attacked on line for being trans.

It was really kinda of strange and stupid how it came up, because the troll–and I have no other word for her–rose up from out of nowhere and just started lobbing non sequiturs at me in a thread on Facebook that had nothing to do with anything even remotely LGBTA.  She was just like, “You’re not a woman.  You don’t know what sex you are,” and then threw in a Caitlyn Jenner jab because of course you have to do that if you wanna keep your Transphobic Card current these days.

I commented back to this person, but in a rather snarky and comical way–at one point she said I didn’t know what my type was, because of dating or some shit, and I told her it was Times New Roman.  She’s never try to engage me directly, because that would require digging into her bag of tricks and actually coming up with something intelligent to say, and we all know that isn’t gonna happen.

And then, come to discover, someone else in the same group, in another completely unrelated thread, decided to make an ultra snarky comment about me being the only person in the group who tucks “her” penis.  First off, how would she know?  Does she work for the NSA and she’s Secret Squirreling my ass when I dress in the morning?  And second:  for the record I don’t bother tucking ’cause there ain’t enough there to make tucking worth my while.  The strangest damn things people come up with, I’m tellin’ ya.

A lot of people came to my defense, which was heartening, and I did ask them on a few occasions to keep it classy and not get pulled into their whirlpool of ignorant suck.  Remember:  Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.  It’s good advice that’s true in any situation where you’re dealing with slack-jawed mouth breathers.

I’ve expected that sort of thing to happen for a while, but given I’ve been really public on social media of late, I expected the bigots and haters to get their spine up and say something.  And it will happen again, of that I’m certain.  But so what?  As I told this person last night, she sounded a lot like my grandparent telling me “the truth” about minorities, and when they died their took their ignorance with them, and she could expect the same treatment.  Not to mention I have friends from various ethnic and religious backgrounds who probably hear far worse shit like that on a daily basis.  If that’s the case I’m in good company.

I won’t ever let these people get the best of me because they are wrong:  that’s all there is to that deal.  Flap those jaws, fool, but don’t expect me to get bent out of shape and start yelling back at you.  It won’t ever happen.  If there is one thing I’m pleased with it’s who I am as a person–and you, loser, had nothing to do with me getting to this point.  By attacking me you’re going straight to the ad hominem, and that means you lose any moral high ground instantly.  As I told this person last night after she accused me of attacking her when I said she was a bigot, “You pushed that button and opened the door:  I only kicked it wide open.”  Ah, yup.

Tonight I’ll get back to my kids and their instructors, one whom as an A Level, dragged a girl by her hair from the Dining Hall to the Rotunda to “have a talk” because the dragged girl made the mistake of calling the instructor a racial slur.  I was truly love to do that, but hey, we can’t have everything, right?  But I’ll be back to Salem this evening–I promise.

In the meantime I'm sorry I haven't the time for your shit:  I'm too busy being me.

In the meantime I’m sorry I haven’t the time for your shit: I’m too busy being me.

Rigging the Strings

Here we go, getting into the next scene, and this is where I start mixing magic with technology.  And see, this is one of the reasons that The Foundation totally wanted to get down on that magic thing, because everything’s better with magic–like, you know, making clones.  Which The Foundation doesn’t do a lot of, by the way, because someone who’s been a witch all their life doesn’t want to spend their next life as a meat puppet.  Right?  You know it.

Now it’s S.A.T.U.R.D.A.Y. Morning, and here we have these kids flying off around the school when they are in a hurry to get somewhere . . .


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

Upon landing outside Gwydion Manor after Saturday breakfast Annie and Kerry found Professor Chai was waiting in the main entrance, ready to start the day. After calibrating the rigs the afternoon before, Annie knew what would soon follow: they’d head into the back to change out of their normal clothes and into a uniform, then head down to the lower levels and get into the marionette rigs.

It was going to come after step two that things would change considerably.

The uniforms were a bit like Kerry’s racing outfit, but with a few changes. For one, it was light blue instead of black. Gloves and socks weren’t separate items; rather, they were part of the suit. The suit didn’t zip up, but magically sealed up the back once an enchantment was activated. And instead of a helmet, a hood went over the head. While it wasn’t skintight, Kerry remarked suit it wasn’t nearly as loose as his racing uniform, and that it reminded me a bit of what he’d seen of motion capture suits.


The suits described above are really a lot more like a zenti suit–you can look that one up on your own, because most of the images are pervy–but think of it this way:  if there’s a skin-tight suit worn by a superhero in a comic, it’s a lot like what the kids have on.  Kerry is right in a way:  the suit is capturing something from them, which is mentioned below, and that information gets transmitted to the puppet.

And then you can pretend you're a dragon, but only on your own time.

And then you can pretend you’re a dragon, but only on your own time.

Now that we have them suited up, time for the rigs.


The marionette rigs were kept in a room in the north end of the lower level, just off the staircase. They were little more than a harness that pulled up around their torso, leaving arms and legs protruding from the sides while the user rested their head against a padded cushion that encircled their face. Once secure in the rig it levitated the user about a half-meter above the floor and tilted slightly forward to help spread the weight to a large part of the torso, the hips, and the thighs.

Heading down the stairs behind Ramona and Helena, Annie focused on what they did yesterday to get the rigs sized properly around their bodies, and to key the rig’s enchantment to their auras. When Kerry asked why the magic didn’t key on their brain waves, Professor Chai remarked that their auras were not only attuned to their brains, but to everything in their body, which is what was needed if they hoped to puppet a homunculus.

Like they’d done the day before as soon as they entered the room Kerry moved to the rig on his left as Annie took the one to her right. As they were getting the rigs—which were hanging from straps attached to the ceiling—into place around their bodies, Ramona pulled up data each of the rigs on a tablet. Helena, who hadn’t been present during yesterday’s calibration, stood to one side and watched the activity.


The rigs are pretty simple, though they levitate and do other cool things:

Though around Salem you don't need one to pretend your Peter Pan.

Though around Salem you don’t need one to pretend your Peter Pan.

As we see, however, the suits and the rigs together help pull information from your aura and that’s what gets transmitted to the homunculus.  Which means your aura is a pretty important part of your body, when you think about it.  But my kids don’t seem to worry about this because they’re getting ready to go big time on this marionette thing–


Annie slipped her legs into the rig and pulled it up around her hips. “Everything look good, Professor?”

“Ramona.” She glanced up as she examined data on the screen. “When we’re alone like this, you can call me by my given name.”

“Okay, Ramona.” Annie activated the suit’s enchantment. The moment it was firm against her body she slipped the hood over her head and tucked in her hair as she was shown the day before. “Question still stands.”

“The rigs look good, both your signals are strong.” Ramona nodded to Helena. “Both signals are over the red line.”

“At least we’ll have a good connection.” Helena approached the rigs. “How are you feeling?”


Because there was so much happening yesterday I didn’t get any further than Helena asking her question, because that’s going to lead to the kids getting ready to do their think, and that requires my full attention, not just Sunday night stuff.  So keep your fingers crossed, ’cause I know I can get to part of that tonight.

We’re almost ready to start pulling those strings . . .

Activities of a Guardianship Kind

Of late when I say I’m going to finish something I’m usually talkin’ out of my butt, because between distractions and being tired, I never get down the sort of wordage I used to sport.  But since I know I’m going to have a busy afternoon and evening today, I’d better get the rest of this three-way discussion between The Three Sorceresses and clue everyone in on what’s going down at Salem.

And, you know, I didn’t disappoint–

One third down, two thirds to go.

One third down, two thirds to go.

Not only did I finish, but the second scene came out to nearly the same word length as the first.  Now, I think the next scene is going to run a little longer, and the one after that may be longer, and the penultimate one . . . that could run long, could run short.  I really don’t know at this point.  I’d say, right now, that this chapter will go over ten thousand words, maybe fifteen thousand, and could be the one that pushes the story over two hundred words–which means the story’s almost over, right?  Yeah, right.

All that stuff out of the way, what exactly are we talking about here?  Well . . . this:


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

This was something that Annie had obviously studied. “It’s the term use where someone who is Aware uses magic and technology to project themselves into a homunculus or clone and control it as if it were their body.”

“You know what a remote piloted vehicles is, right?” Helena knew that sometimes it was necessary to drop back into Normal terminology to help Kerry understand some Aware processes.

He nodded. “Sure. Like a drone.”

“Yes, except a puppeteer doesn’t use a monitor and joystick to control their drones: they move their mind into another form and use it like it was their own body.”

“Wow.” Something Annie said suddenly resonated. “Did you say—” He turned to her. “Clone?”


So now the secret is out:

"You said the C Word!"

“You said the C Word!”

Yes, it would appear that there are clones about in The Foundation world.  I mean, we know there are Artificial People, which are nothing more than self-aware androids, so why not clones?  That Foundation:  they so sci fi.  But so is Kerry, and he has questions:


She nodded. “Yes.”

He turned back to Helena. “I didn’t know we could make clones.”

“We can’t here, but The Foundation can.” Helena shrugged as she sat back in her high back chair. “It’s really nothing more than a variation of the magic used to create homunculi, only it uses a person’s genetic material as the template for development instead of magna mater.”

“How long has that been possible?”

“Since the mid Eighteenth Century.” Annie folder her hands into her lap. “That’s when the first experiments happened in Europe—mostly England and Germany.”

“I’m not surprised. So we like . . . go into a homunculus and walk around in them?”

Helena nodded. “More or less. You control the homunculus like it was your body. You see, hear, and feel everything, only if anything happens to your puppet, you’re not injured: your real body and mind are somewhere else, safe and secure in the marionette rig.”

“How far away can you, um, run this puppet?”

“Technically, if you’re good enough, from anywhere in the world. Realistic;y?” Helena cocked her head to one side. “Usually from about five hundred to a thousand klicks, and no further than a couple of thousand.”

Hearing this had Kerry coming up with dozens of questions, but there was only one that seemed important. “Can we do magic while we’re puppetting around?”


If you think about Annie’s comment–“Since the mid Eighteenth Century”–you may have caught a glimmer of where that conversation could have traveled.  Annie seems to know a bit about this stuff, and she probably kept it from Kerry just to keep him from getting all geeked out.  And now, you know, he may just start thinking stuff like, “I wonder what an Annie clone would be like?”  Watch some episodes of Orphan Black, kids, and see just how messed up that could turn out.

But what of his last question?  After all, if you look at humuncli and clones as nothing more than the RPVs of The Foundation World, why train anyone to learn all this bad ass magic so they can head out into the field?  Nice of you to ask, ’cause there are answers . . .


Annie jumped in with the answer before Helena could. “You can use the homunculus as something of a foci for Far Casting, but it’s impossible to do magic with the puppet.”

“What about when using a clone?”

“No.” Helena stretched, raising both hands above her head for a moment. “Even though a clone is made of your own genetic material, no one really knows how to make it channel energy to Craft the

Art, so really—” She shrugged after lowering her arms. “Even if you get your conciseness permanently downloaded into a clone, only about two percent of those bodies allow you to do magic, so you’re pretty much stuck as a Normal.

“And before you ask, that’s one of the reasons why we—” There wasn’t any need for Annie or Kerry to ask for the identity of the we in Helena’s statement. “—don’t run around in clone bodies while out on field ops. And while we could do magic in a clone body through a Far Casting spell, you’d also find a good part of your memories—actually, nearly all of them—in the clone’s brain—”

“And that’s not good if your connection to the clone is broken.” Annie slid around in her chair so she was facing Kerry. “Then there’s a version of you facing down Deconstructors who cannot craft magic, but knows everything you know.”

He nodded, a grave look on his face. “I can see how that would be bad.” Having faced Deconstructors as a witch, he didn’t want to think what they might do to get information from a non-Aware version of himself.

“You can’t even begin to imagine.” Helena set her tablet to one side as she turned back to the original subject. “Anyway, the Guardians have decided they want to see if you can adapt to a marionette rig—and if so, if you can then puppet a homunculus. Ramona has a couple of rigs in storage in the lower levels of Gwydion Manor and she’ll cook up a couple of puppets tonight.”


Sure, you can send in a clone to do a witch’s job, but unless you’re one hell of a Far Caster your clone will never be as good as you–in fact, it’s gonna be pretty shit compared to what the original can do in the same situation.  There are things you can use a clone for–say, you need some warm bodies to act as cannon fodder–but using them to conduct field ops like the The Gang of Four did in Kansas City the year before isn’t one of those things.

And don’t tell Emma about the clones, or she’ll doing he damnedest to get some blood from Kerry . . .

I’ve already stated that Helena is going to be in the next scene and the one after that, so we get to see a lot of the Mistress of All Things Dark dealing with school stuff.  And given that the name of the next scene is The Puppeteers, we’re going to see up close and personal how well Annie and Kerry work their puppets–

Um, no.  This is a different kind of puppetter--  *sigh*

Um, no. This is a different kind of puppeteer– *sigh*

Pulling the Threads Together

I am not going to lie:  I’m dragging this morning.  I was out late last night–something I almost never do–and while there was food and talk, alcohol was involved, which means I was up early and it’s catching up to me this morning.  Like I’ve been caught falling asleep at my computer, and when I get home after making the post I’m probably going to take a nap.

Needless to say, this affects my writing, because it’s hard to write about witchy things when your eyes are closing against your will.  And while I wrote just over seven hundred words–so far–it’s been a struggle.  Maybe there’s a way to fix this . . .

"Other writers say their characters write their novels--okay, time to put my guys to work."

“Other writers say their characters write their novels–okay, time to put my guys to work.”

Ah, if only it were that easy.

Anyway, there’s always writing to do in the afternoon, and it was nice to break up the routine and do something besides sit around the apartment all day.  And after this week, it was a good cap.  I just need to get through this day.

And wouldn’t you know it:  so do my kids.  Now, they’re not tired, but there are things they need to do this day after the start of the Polar Express.  But first, we start with someone else . . .


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

It was rare that Helena Lovecraft came out to The Witch House early on Friday morning with the intention of conducting school business. If there were issues that required working out, she usually handled those throughout the week, and if it became necessary to deal with a in-school situation on the weekend—which almost meant Friday in her case—she dealt with that situation in her first floor office in the Great Hall’s East Transept.

Most of Helena’s interactions with her sorcery students was usually conducted from Monday to Thursday: there usually wasn’t any need for special sessions or counseling where her students were concerned because it often wasn’t required. Those who had learning difficulties often came to tell her they believed The Sorceress’ Life wasn’t theirs and they could leave at any time—and those who presented disciplinary problems were immediately sat down and told to change their attitude and get their shit together, or they were history.

There were, too, those students who found themselves slightly traumatized by events that occurred in class, and when that happened Helena turned them over to Coraline, Deanna, or Erywin, because seeing to the mental well-being of the students were also among their duties. There weren’t many times when she could actually sit someone down and explain to the student that what they considered disturbing she considered a normal part of here life, and even fewer were the times when she made them understand.

There was another type of business she conducted at the school, however, and while it wasn’t the sort of business related directly to the students or the staff, it happened—albeit with little fanfare. And it was the one business that always conducted at The Witch House no matter the day or time—

She heard footsteps in the hallway outside her office and expected to have visitors at any second, and the moment her guests appeared in the doorway she waved a greeting. “Come on in.” Helena waved the door close as soon as Annie and Kerry were inside.  “Did I take you away from breakfast?”

Annie shook her head.  “We were in the Dining Hall at eight, so we were finishing up when we were given your message.

“Didn’t take you long to get here—”

“We flew.” Annie didn’t wait to be offered a chair and sat. “How are you?”

“I’m fine.” Helena turned to her other guest. “How you doin’, Kerry?”

“I’m doin’ okay.” He sat next to Annie, on her right as always. “What’s up?”


It’s probably a good thing Helena doesn’t counsel students:  I mean, could you see her dealing with students who were, oh, say given electrical shocks by their instructor during class?  Oh, wait:  we did see that.  She’s probably pretty good with those students in The Sorceress’ Life, which we know Annie and Kerry have chosen–it didn’t choose them.  Or maybe it did–that’s a question to ponder at a later date.

So, as Vicky would say, What’s the Story, Morning Glory?


“Oh, the same old same old.” She pulled out a document on her tablet that she’d already read three times since last night. “It seems our friends in San Francisco have decided they want to start the new year off right.”

Oh, isn’t that nice?  The kids have friends out on the West Coast!  Maybe it’s Kerry’s grandparents?  Um . . . you already know who it is–


The children exchanged looks; there wasn’t any need to elaborate upon who had sent a message to Helena. Annie recovered first. “Are the Guardians sending us out on a field operation?”

“I thought they weren’t going to do that this year.” Kerry didn’t appear worried, though both kids seemed a touch concerned. “Right?”

“Right. And to answer your questions—” Helena pointed at Annie then Kerry. “No for you and yes for you. The Guardians aren’t sending out into the field, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things they can request that will further you, um, specialized education here.” She lightly drummed her desk top with her fingers. “I need you both to report to The Manor at thirteen-thirty today; given the Polar Express started last night, I know neither of you have anything going on today.”

When it became obvious Helena wasn’t going to elaborate, Annie spoke up. “What’s at The Manor?”

“Ramona for one; she’s gonna help us out on this one.  She’s going to fit you for marionette rigs.”

While Annie didn’t appear too unaware, Kerry seemed perplexed. “What are those?”

The right corner of Helena’s mouth curled upward. “The Guardians, in their infinite wisdom, have decided they want to see if you can puppeteer.”

Annie actually appeared incredulous for a moment. “They want us to puppeteer?”

Kerry glanced from his girlfriend to the head sorceress. “What’s this puppeteer stuff?”


Yes, Helena:  what is this puppeteer stuff?  Well, The Mistress of All Things Dark isn’t able to just yet say what it is, ’cause she’s tired as hell right now and needs to head home and catch up on her beauty sleep.  I assure you, however, you’ll gonna find out what this stuff is all about.

Because I’m sure my kids are eager to find out as well.

Polar On ‘Till Next Year

I certainly surprised myself.  Got back into the grind at work, though it wasn’t a lot, but I was accomplished on a few hours of sleep and the whirlwind of the travel to and from the Midwest.  As much as I wanted to stop for a beverage last night, there was no way in hell I could given how tired I felt.  I’ve had been sound asleep at seven PM.

So I got into writing after I at.  And as slow as things seem to go along the way, I never realized that I’d written twelve hundred and forty-five words to finish the scene.  I also didn’t believe this scene would take nearly two thousand words to complete.  Wrong on both accounts.

The idea behind this scene was to actually give people and idea how this oh-so-often discussed event begins.  We know we’re here, but what is really going on?  We’re about to find out, and you’ll see that it’s not too exciting if you’re watching from the sidelines.


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

Though there were five teams in Advanced Flight Two only three elected to do the Polar Express this year. As Annie had heard at the same time as Kerry, one of the teams had started to come apart, teamwork-wise, and they’d both told Vicky they believed it best if they didn’t try to brave the wilds of Canada.

The other team was far more straight forward: one member had suffered two concussions from accidents near the end of team racing for 2012, and though the team member was cleared for flying and racing, her partner and she decided that spending a couple of days freezing their butts off wasn’t in their best interest.

Annie, along with Kerry, was there to send off one team in particular—one with whom they’d grown close, and whose members had shared much with Kerry this school year—

The lights in the Dining Hall dropped to about one-quarter illumination so the teams would not have to deal with night blindness when they jaunted into the wilderness. The three teams entered the hall and walked towards friends who’d gathered to see them off. One team approached two people and spoke with them for a few seconds before turning and approaching Annie and Kerry. One of the members hooked her thumbs in the pockets of her winter parka, letting the mittens attached to the sleeves dangle at her sides. “Thanks for coming out, guys.”

“Did you think we were going to let our floor mates leaving without saying goodbye?” Annie shook her head. “Not a chance.”

Penny nodded. “Yeah, well . . .” She chuckled. “I see you dressed up for us.”

Kerry moved closer to Annie. “Sorry, I left my formal wear back in Cardiff.” He switched gaze from Penny to her flying partner, Alex. “You must be pretty excited about now.”

“Not so much because this is the worst part—” Alex bit the inside of her lower lip for a few seconds “Not knowing where we are going, only that wherever we end up it’ll be cold and dark.”

“Canada in wintertime.” Penny tapped Alex on the arm. “Just be glad we don’t have to fly back from Alaska or Russia.”


Yeah, they could call this shit the Siberian Express, and then you’d really end up screwed.  Imagine flying out of there in the dead of winter.

It made complete sense that Penny and Alex, who are members of Advanced Flight Two, were going to set off on a tour of Canada during the winter, armed only with camping gear, their brooms, and their wits.  And since their racing mate is on the same floor with them, it makes even more sense that Annie and Kerry would stay up–as did a lot of other students–to see them off.

Now comes the time for goodbyes and hugs–


Before Alex could retort Vicky’s voice boomed out over the hall’s magical speakers. “Attention, all teams: departures begin in five minutes. Finish up your goodbyes and see to your equipment.”
Annie reached out and gave Penny a hug. “Have an uneventful flight.”

“Thanks.” Penny closed her eyes and hugged her second floor fried tight. “We’ll do our best.”

Alex slipped in around Penny and hugged Annie. “See you in a couple of days; keep Jairo out of trouble.”

“No promises there—” Annie nodded towards Kerry as she spoke in Ukrainian. “U mene ye sviy lyublyu dyvytysya, vy znayete.”

Alex replied in Bulgarian. “Mozhete da napravite poveche ot tova prosto da gledate, da znaesh.”

Both girls nodded and giggled before Annie switched back to English. “All true.”


It’s apparent Annie and Alex have been working on each other’s languages, and they probably can now converse just a little.  And what do they say?  Something like this:


Annie:  U mene ye sviy lyublyu dyvytysya, vy znayete.  (I have my own love to watch, you know.)

Alex:  Mozhete da napravite poveche ot tova prosto da gledate, da znaesh.  (You can do more than just watch, you know.)


Alex, you cheeky little girl.  These witches move fast, or at least the girls do.  Hormones and maturity, you know, while these boy witches are just so slow . . .

Now that the girls have said goodbye to Annie, there’s on person left:


Penny glanced at Annie and waited for a slight nod before giving Kerry a hug. “Keep Annie warm while we’re away.”

“That’s never too hard to do.” He finished his hug and accepted another from Alex. “Try and have fun if you can.”

“When we’re no freezing.” She stepped back when she was finished. “We’ll be here next year to see you off.”

Kerry looked down, touched by the sentiment. “Thanks.”

“Come on—” Penny nodded towards the two boys standing close together. “We don’t have much time.”

“Okay.” Alex waved to her friends. “See you soon.”

“Don’t drink all the hot chocolate while we’re gone.” Penny gave a farewell wave as they hurried over to say goodbye to their boyfriends. Annie and Kerry turned away and moved off a distance to give the couples a little privacy. Annie didn’t want to watch their final words, hugs, and kisses: she was already imagining herself being in the same position a year from now, and it wasn’t making her happy.

Vicky called out a two minute warning and the teams proceeded directly to their equipment. Penny and Alex snapped up their parka hoods and moved their goggles into place before lifting their large backpacks into place. As Vicky called the first team to the circle set out on the section of the floor where Kerry and she shared their Samhain dances, Penny and Alex put on their mittens and picked up their brooms—

“Team Wormwood.” Vicky nodded at the girls before motioning towards the circle. “You’re up.”

Annie held onto Kerry’s arm as the girls moved into place for jaunting. They explained their team name during one Midnight Madness, with Penny telling them that she wanted something that would link Alex and her together, and they went with Wormwood, because of its connection to the drink absinthe, to the creation of natural healing mixtures—and because the Ukrainian word for wormwood was chernobyl. As Penny said, “We can heal, we can make strange things happen, and we can meltdown on you at any moment.”


First off, notice that Penny and Alex sought, and received, permission to get huggy with Kerry.  All the girls are in relationships, so they are aware of the code in place:  ask before touching.  They also know Annie’s a sorceress, and they want to head off to Canada without smoke rising from their bodies.

Also, all the stuff about wormwood is true.  You can use it to make healing mixtures, a variety is used to make absinthe, and the Ukrainian word for wormwood is chernobyl.  That last I’ve known about for some time, and the first two were something I discovered last night.

The girls are all geared up and ready to go.  All that remains is the departure.


They stood in the circle as Isis confirmed setting up the jaunt with her people in the security station. She finally nodded to girls and held up her hand with her fingers spread, indicating five seconds to go. Alex took Penny’s hand as they hosted their brooms into the air—

They vanished from the circle with the familiar sound of air popping as it rushed in to occupy where they’d stood a second before. It was only when Annie heard Kerry exhale did she realized he’d held his breath in the moments leading up to the girl’s departure. “Are you okay, my love?”

“Yeah, I’m—” He took a deep breath as he wrapped his arm around Annie. “I’m fine, Darling.”

The last team jaunted off, leaving the staff and students lingering in the protracted silence. Annie didn’t want them there any longer than necessary. “I’d say it’s time for bed—agreed?”

Kerry was about to say something when something caught his attention. Annie found the source right away: it was Emma, standing with a group of girls from her coven. She nodded slowly at him, but he didn’t respond except to nod and wave. “Agreed—” He wrapped his left arm around Annie and turned towards the Dining Hall exit. “Time for bed.”

They were nearly half way to their coven before Kerry spoke. “No flying at all tomorrow.” He planted a soft kiss on Annie’s cheek. “We could sleep in if we wanted.”

“And if we were sharing a room, I’d want just that.” She leaned against him as they walked. “I thought you were going to speak with Emma after that last jaunt.”

He rested his head against hers. “I could tell that’s what she wanted.”

“Then why didn’t you?”

Kerry stopped and moved so he was facing his soul mate. “I’ve got a year to talk about the Polar Express with Emma.” He pulled Annie closer and held her tight. “But we have our first Friday and Saturday at school without classes for the first time since like the start of our B Levels, and I want to spend that with you.”

Annie set her arms around her love’s shoulders and kissed him with the cold darkness surrounding them. “I love you entirely too much.”

“I don’t think that’s possible—” He kissed her for almost fifteen seconds before continuing on towards their coven tower. “Give it enough time, and we’ll discover there’ll be lots of room for more love.”


Right there Kerry makes his choice, and while he could have had a few minutes with Emma going on about, “Hey, wait until we do this!” and so on, he wanted to head off to bed with Annie instead.  As he says, I have all year to talk with her, but right now I’m with you, and there really couldn’t be anything more true given that he was probably thinking ahead to the next year when he’s probably going to do this same event with the Ginger From Boulder.

So there–

One scene down, several to go.

One scene down, five to go.

And the next three involve our favorite dark witch at Salem–

No, not the small one:  the bigger one.  You’ll see.