Memories Among the Recollections of the Present

Today is a day in which I should have stayed in bed.  I am tried, I’m still feeling depressed, and it’s gonna rain a lot today.  But it can’t rain all the time, right?  That last is probably truer than we can imagine, but around here we need rain like crazy, so it’s probably good it’s coming.  Besides, it’s not like I was going anyway.

There are several things to talk about today.  The first is what I did last night, which I got into because, dammit, I couldn’t bring myself to write.  I actually have noted that I wrote three whole words yesterday.  Three whole words.  Just like what I just wrote.  I wanted to write but nothing was coming out, so I said to hell with it and let it all go and went to work on something else.

And what is that, you ask?  Oh, just a Class 2 PAV, that’s all.  You wanna see?  Stupid question:  of course you do.

There, in all it's grayish glory!

There, in all its grayish glory!

It’s pretty much as a promised:  a modified version of the Class 1 with a slightly different and larger processor, handlebars, and canards.  The handlebars can be adjusted forward and back to give the pilot a better feel while they’re racing, as well as allowing them to “lean into the bars” when they are going though turns.  They also give the pilot something to hang on to when they are accelerating and braking like mad, something they have to watch on the Class 1 because, well, you’re hanging on to the frame, and that’s not always the best option.

Now I should have the Class 1 and 2 side-by-side, and maybe put stick figure Kerry on one and Annie on the other.  That means I gotta break out the Blender tutorial and bone up on how to do bends.

The other part of this equation is the writing, which happened this morning and ran seven hundred and seventy-six words.  And it was tough writing, because I feel like I’m falling asleep as I sit here in Panera, and that’s never a good feeling.  But get it done I did, and in doing so, this scene became the longest in the novel.  See?

I haz proof!

I haz proof!

Friend’s List was the longest, back when Kerry’s parents were raking him over the coals over, you know, being friends with too many girls.  Now Seeking the Connection is the longest, and growing longer.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see it hit fifty-five hundred words before I’ve finished with the sucker.  Annie and Deanna:  get those two together and it’s nothing but a chat fest.

But wait!  Wasn’t Deanna going to introduce us to someone named Sabrina?  Sure she was.  And her she goes . . .

 

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

Deanna raised her voice slightly. “Sabrina, please come.”

The space overhead—which happened to be the direction in which both Annie and Deanna were looking—shifted as a holographic projection of a young multi-ethnic girl near Annie’s age appeared She brushed her long brown hair away from face, exposing wide, near-violet eyes set against her caramel complexion. “I’m here, Deanna. What would you like?”

Annie propped herself up on one elbow. “Sabrina?”

“She’s the school AP.” Deanna turned toward Annie and half-propped herself up as well. “You know how the APs are really just conscious artificial intelligences inhabiting cybernetic bodies?”

“Yes.”

“Sabrina’s the same way, except for her, the body she inhabits is the school computer systems. She helps out with security and organization tasks—in a way she’s the school secretary. You’d have seen her if you’d ever visited the Headmistress’ office.” Deanna lay back as did Annie. “Isis modeled her after someone with whom we attended school—”

“You knew her?”

“Yes, I did.” Deanna pointed up at the hologram. “Go ahead and talk to her.”

 

As has been mentioned before, APs are Artificial People, which is another way of saying they’re sentient androids.  All the service staff at the school–the people tending the grounds, the people in the Dining Hall, and yes, the nurses and Isis’ security staff–are APs.  The four main staff members–Headmistress, Librarian, Doctor, and Chief of Security–are humans, as are the instructors and, of course, students.  They are treated just like humans:  they have jobs, are paid a good wage, and have enchanted devices built into their bodies that allow them to do a bit of magic.

Whatcha gonna talk about, Annie?

 

Annie wasn’t shy or frightened around APs—her mother employed one to help out with things around the house, and Annie spent most of her tween years growing up around her—but this was the first time she’d ever encountered one that one could consider a true AI. “How are you, Sabrina?”

“I’m fine, Annie.” The holographic girl smiled back. “How are you?”

“I’m doing well. You live in a computer?”

“Several, actually. My core is spread over several systems, which means I never have to worry about being unable to do my duties should one system drop.” Sabrina clasped her hands together in front of her waist. “I also have a cyborg body when I’m required to have a physical presence, but I like being able to get around this way. There are few place I can’t visit in this form.”

The question Annie wanted to ask could no longer remain contained. “Why is your name Sabrina? I mean, if you are modeled after someone Isis knows, wouldn’t you rather her name?”

The AP hologram shook her head. “The person Isis knew died during The Scouring, and I’m meant to honor her and not take her place—something I couldn’t and wouldn’t do.” She placed her hand behind her back and smiled as she swayed back and forth. “Sabrina fits me better, though. And, I am a teenage witch, am I not?”

Deanna cut into the conversation when it became apparent Annie didn’t know how to respond. “Yes, you are—just like the person you’re speaking with right now.”

Sabrina nodded. “This is true. What can I do for you, Deanna?”

 

Yes, she’s named after a famous teenage witch, of which–as Deanna points out–the school has plenty.  The person being referred to was one of Isis’ best friends when she was a student, the other friend being Wednesday.  Of the three, however, the girl whom Sabrina mentioned died in The Scouring, and it’s a moment Isis had a difficult time putting behind her.

You also see, for the first time, mention made that Annie has grown up around APs.  Having an artificial person come in an help around the house ain’t the same as owning a house elf, but then elves don’t exist in this world–at least not those drowned rat looking things that pass for elves in another magical series.  Given that one could do the pointy ears and up-turned eyes with just a bit of transformation magic, as well as being able to do magic, makes the elves in my world a lot more like the ones who come out of the game Shadowrun.  They probably carry big ass guns, too–

Now, what does Deanna want?  Well . . .

 

“I need to see some video.”

Sabrina stared off into the distance as if she were looking at something. “Ready.”

“Orientation Day, 2011. Get my first meeting of the day.”

Annie didn’t need reminding as to who Deanna met. “That was us.”

“Yes, it was.”

“You recorded that?”

“I record everything—”

“Found it.” The AP turned her attention back to the seer. “What would you like?”

“Cue it up to a few seconds after my—” Deanna glanced to her right. “—guests arrived.”

Once again Sabrina appeared to look at something for a few seconds before responding. “Ready.”

“Put it on screen, please.” Sabrina vanished from the display, replaced with an image of the main room on the ground floor, the point of view seeming to come from behind Deanna and looking towards the door that Annie and Kerry had walked through on their first full day at Salem.

Annie stared at the display with unabashed amazement. Her memories of this moment were naturally clouded by the events of the past year, but she couldn’t help but realize the changes between those memories and what was now on-screen. “Look how different Kerry seems. He’s so . . .” She didn’t want to sound cruel, but knew there wasn’t many ways to soften the expression. “Shy.”

“He’s not the only one. Look at you, with that piercing stare and the way you’re standing there in the room, almost demanding attention.” Deanna tapped Annie’s hand. “I overheard more than a few students in my coven say you were ‘stuck up’. Looking at that image—”

“Yes?” Annie wasn’t sure she wanted to hear what Deanna was going to say, but knew she’d hear it anyway.

“The first word that came to my mind was ‘haughty’. Like you were a girl accustomed to getting what she wanted.” Deanna chuckled. “Your words, not mine.”

“I remember. Why are we seeing this?”

“Because there’s something I want you to see.” She Deanna stretched and got comfortable. “Sabrina, run the video, please.”

 

Here we are, going back to near the beginning of the last novel–well, about fifty thousand words in, which is pretty much the beginning in that damn monstrosity.  But what could Deanna want to show Annie?  Well, there’s really only one thing, isn’t there?

Now, to get to writing that–probably after a nap.

A Different Kind of Summoning

Today is going to be something different for me.  A bit of travel is in store today as I drive off for a face-to-face with my therapist for the first time in almost two years.  Therapist, you say?  Damn straight, I reply.  Therapy has been great for me, and if you can afford to sit and speak with someone who trained to help you, then go for it.

Yesterday, on the other day . . . strange day, really.  I’m going to blame it all on The Imp, for it was Peter Dinklage’s birthday yesterday, and I’m certain it may have played some part in my urges to go drinking and whoring yesterday–okay, maybe not so much whoring, but hey–a girl can dream, can’t she?  And there are few actors who can say “Your vicious bastard!” and “I should have let him kill you all!” with such gravitas that you know just about anything he says on-screen is award worthy.

“I once won an Emmy talking about whores and giving a speech on masturbation. What have you done lately?”

Well, wrote last night.  Not about masturbation, though just give me time . . .

No, I was writing about my kids, and I was writing about something that was sort of hard.  It’s 1 October in my story–I know this because all my scene cards have dates and times on them–and finally, after one month hiding behind the walls of the Salem Institute, Kerry hears from his parents.  Of course they email him, because that’s the way people do things in 2011, and since he has a computer and a Gmail account, it’s the easiest way to keep in touch.

However, it’s not really the sort of thing he wanted to hear . . .

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

This morning he wasn’t like that. Today Kerry was silent, withdrawn, introverted—and this concerned Annie. I haven’t seen him like this since we’ve arrived. She touched her fingertips to his left wrist. “Honey?”

Kerry looked up from his breakfast. “Yeah?”

“What are you thinking about?”

He looked down to adjust his glasses and sniffed loudly. “I got an email from my parents this morning.”

“Really?” Annie had wanted to say something else, but she knew it would have come off sounding sarcastic. “They finally decided to ask you how you were?”

Kerry drummed his fingers on the table. “Not exactly.”

“What did they say, then?” She slowly caressed the back of his hand. “Tell me, please?”

He spent a few moments in silence before deciding to tell Annie the contents of his parents email. “They first asked how the school was, then they wanted to know how I was doing in my classes, and what my grades were.”

She remained stoic, not giving away anything. “And?”

“Then they wanted to know what my room was like, and if I had a roommate.”

There was only one thing Annie wanted to know, and she wasn’t hearing it. “Did they bother asking how you were feeling?”

“Kinda at the end. They asked if I was having any trouble fitting in.” He shrugged. “Whatever that means.” He leaned a little towards Annie, who continued to stroke the back of his hand. “The only good thing that came from the email is that they are going to my grandparents house for Christmas, and wanted to know if I was going to be able to join them. I told them I’d find out.”

 

Hate to say it, but I drew on some personal feelings here, because this was exactly the sort of stuff I used to get from my parents.  Not that I ever went away to a school for special kids, but they always wanted to know more about my schooling and grades than whether I was doing well personally.  So writing this down last night sort of hurt, but you know that’s what we do:  writers sometimes reach inside and pull out some evil, hurting things that we want everyone to see.  Pretty much like I’m doing now!

Ah, but it gets better:

 

“Yeah, I’ll ask him about getting there for Yule.” Kerry chuckled. “That’s the first time I’ve said that.”

Annie lightly brushed his cheek. “You’re becoming acclimated to our ways.” A great many students continued to call their mid-school year break “Christmas” even though it was called by all the upper levels students and instructors as the “Yule Holiday”. She was impressed, however, that Kerry always refereed to the holidays and special events by their traditional names—like yesterday, he didn’t say the Halloween Dance, he said the Samhain Dance.

His chuckle lightened the dark mood that had possessed him throughout the morning. “Yes, well: I’m a good witch.”

“Yes, you are.” She poked the remains of her breakfast with her fork. “I just wish you could tell them what you really do here. Maybe they’d take an interest in you.”

Kerry said nothing for nearly ten seconds, staring off into space all the while. He slowly turned back towards Annie, his eyes hooded and shadowed. “They wouldn’t care. That’s how they are when it comes to me. They aren’t like your parents—” He looked down at his empty breakfast plate. “They’ll never write a letter wishing me a happy birthday and hoping it’s one of my best days ever.” He sniffed again as he shook his head.

 

Kerry’s parents are sort of . . . well, as he’s said, they’ve always thought him a little strange, and they find it difficult to understand his ways.  As someone told me, “His parents don’t seem to believe in him.”  No, they don’t.  And if you knew what I know about his history after this story–and I do know that–you’d see that they not only don’t believe, they pretty much don’t care.

This isn’t a case of “We’re putting our hopes and aspirations into our progeny,” it’s more like, “How did we end up with this little love goblin?”

Fortunately for him, he has someone who does care . . .

 

Annie knew he was referring to the letter her mother had written and had delivered on her birthday. She’d read it to Kerry the next night in the Mezzanine Commons while resting nestled in his arms and with his locket resting against her chest. She’d been hesitant to read it to Kerry, because she’d known he hadn’t heard from his parents, and she didn’t want him upset. But he’d insisted and he held her tight while she read, translating the letter into English.

She could almost sense his feelings this moment, and they weren’t good. Annie moved her chair closer so she could hook her right arm through his left. “Kerry?”

He turned his misty eyes towards her. “Yes?”

“My birthday wasn’t one of my best days ever—” Annie touched her heart locket with her left fingers. “It was my best day ever—made that way by you.” She leaned in and kissed his cheek. “And I wrote to my mother that I’ll tell her about it when I’m home for Yule.”

This brought a wide smile to Kerry’s face. “You going to tell her about me?”

She already knows about you, love. But she couldn’t tell him that—not until he could remember their times together in dreams. “I’ll tell her everything. Including what a magnificent witch you are.”

Kerry took Annie’s right hand and held it tight. “Only because of you, Sweetie.”

“No.” She shook her head. “You have the talent—”

“You showed me how to use it.” He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it. “One month ago today we walked through Founder’s Gate, and I wouldn’t be half the witch I am now if you hadn’t given me that lecture in Spells Class.” Kerry gently touched Annie’s hand to his cheek. “I give credit where credit’s due.”

Annie couldn’t argue with his sentiment. “Thank you, dear.”

“Thank you for believing in me.”

“I believe in you—” She kissed his hand. “—because I love you.”

 

Loving little bunch, aren’t they?  I really do love writing moments like that, because they do have a developing, mature romance.  Yes, there is quite a lot of hand holding and snuggling and kissing, and while some may say it doesn’t feel “real”, I say stuff that, I like how my kids love–though Kerry is still a little hesitant about whipping out that L Word and laying it on Annie.

But they are about to lose that loving feeling, because they are about to get a bomb dropped in their laps.

 

“Annie? Kerry?” Netra Bonds, one of the Dining Hall hostesses, stood on the other side of the table. Her slightly lopsided grin was enough to tell the engrossed couple that she may have been standing there for sometime.

Annie recovered quickly, releasing Kerry’s hand and sliding her chair back to its original position before answering. “Yes?”

“I have a message for you.” She cleared her throat, though being an AP it was nothing more than a programmed reflex. “Professor Douglas would like to see you both this morning. She’s in her office in the Spell Center, and would like you to come between eight-thirty and nine.”

Annie and Kerry exchanged quick glances before Kerry cleared his throat. “Did she say why she wanted to see us?”

“She didn’t.”

Annie nodded twice. “Thank you, Netra.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll inform the professor the message has been delivered.” She turned and walked off.

 

A couple of things, one of which I’ve only brought up once before.  An AP is an Artificial Person, which is to say an android.  All the staff assistants–groundskeepers, nurses, kitchen staff, housekeeping, security personnel–at the school are APs, but that’s not to say they’re just emotionless creations straight out of some Japanese anime.  No, they’re self-aware and capable of independent thought and emotions, and are considered living beings by The Foundation.  Which is to say they’re being paid to help run Salem, and that’s a far better deal than any naked elf got at that other special school.

And if you aren’t following on your score card from home, Professor Douglas is Wednesday, and it looks like that dun dun dunnnn moment I spoke of yesterday is coming, doesn’t it?

There you are:  twelve hundred words down for last night’s scene, and only one more scene to go before I close out Chapter Fourteen.  See?

Twelve hundred words, just like I said.  And not one of them about masturbation.

Twelve hundred words, just like I said. And not a one about masturbation.

I don’t imagine I’ll finish the last scene tonight, but who knows?

Stranger things have happened.