Once More Unto the Curtain: Land of Mist and Honey

We have Kerry’s Big Secret out of the way and we’re into the last part of this part about his big life change.  But as I said, there’s another secret about to get uncorked, and it’s going to change a lot of things.  Seriously.  I’m not kidding.

Here is what’s ahead:

Looks like a normal chapter to me, Cassie.

Looks like a normal chapter to me, Cassie.

But this is going to set up and wrap up everything.  Well, for what’s been happening through most of the novel.  There are still three parts to the novel remaining, and I’m wondering if anyone has guessed how it’s going to end?  Beside finding “The End” written at the bottom of a page.  Don’t get wise with me, Sunshine:  I’m way ahead of you.

When we left the library it had exploded in light, which, under most circumstances, isn’t a good thing.  But this is the world of magic, and The Phoenix is working her grove, which is probably uber magic these other witches have never seen.  That means it’s not as bad as you’d imagine . . .

 

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

The walls of the library were covered in glowing embers of energy that bathed the room in bright pastels and striking neons, while hazy, creamy light seeped through the ceiling above. Though Annie had never seen something like this before, she knew what was happening almost instantly: she was seeing the room as it appeared from within the Astral Realm.

She wasn’t the only one who understood what was happening, either. Erywin was on her feet, a sharp breath preceding her words. “My god; she’s pulled back the Curtain.  We’re inside the astral realm.”

Jessica slowly made her way to her feet. “She can do that?”

Deanna was the only one now sitting, as Coraline and Matilde were also standing. “Apparently she can.” She pointed toward the sofa where Annie and Kerry were sitting moments before. “Maybe you’d like to ask her directly.”

Behind the sofa hovered a amorphous mass of hazy light that slowly shifted from a tendrillar blob into something that appeared almost humanoid in form. In the middle of what appeared as the head a pair of golden eyes broke through the haze. A dry chuckled filled the room, seeming to come from everywhere. “Sorry I didn’t prepare a better form, but when I first appeared it wasn’t my intention to entertain a lot of guests.” The eyes turned on Deanna. “Doesn’t seem that long ago we were facing each other, does it, Seer?”

Before she could formulate a reply Kerry’s voice rang out excited and high pitched while indicated the five women. “What’s those things behind you guys?”

Annie turned and saw all the women on their feet, as Deanna had finally decided to stand with her fellow instructors and administrators. Each woman’s physical form appeared outline by a hazy but colorful field of energy that was their aura, showing their current state of mind and emotions. She was fascinated by the brightness of each aura and remembered something her mother told her: that the auras of the Aware are far brighter than those of Normals, because witches are constantly channeling mystical energy into their forms.

There was something else, though: the things that of which Kerry was inquiring. Emerging from behind each woman was a tendril of silver cord, as thick as two fingers pressed together, extending about a meter and a half above their heads. The cord shimmied slowly from side to side like a silver snake moving through the a misty gray grass.

 

First off, don’t get any ideas that what everyone in the room is seeing is the true form of The Phoenix.  That old spirit pretty much does whatever she feels like doing, and she’s probably screwing with a few people by starting out looking like some kind of astral Abomination.  Yeah, she was a floating ball of something with identical.  Cute.

As for that end there . . . that’s what’s coming next, and trust me:  it’s right after that you’re going to see the really big secret here.

As Genesis once sang, tonight, tonight, tonight . . .

Examinations of the Astral Type

Penultimate scene for Chapter Twenty-Seven is finished, and I’m almost ready to move on to the next.  That won’t happen until tonight, and already I’m started the dread at what’s coming.  But now is not the place to get worked up over things that haven’t yet occurred:  concentrate on the now.

I did have an enjoyable time writing during the last evening.  I got into a bit of a grove while grooving out on The Four Tops’ Baby I Need Your Loving, because it brought back a great memory of a flight to Hong Kong, where this same song brought back great memories.  How’s that for getting meta on the meta?  Doesn’t get much more than that.

As I closed out the scene and recorded my word count for the day, I picked up on this unusual situation:

 

Words: 02/21/2016: 401
Words: 02/22/2016: 861
Words: 02/23/2016: 651
Words: 02/24/2016: 691

 

Every night I ended the count on a “1”.  Now I’ve done some strange things before and noticed some strange coincidences, but this was the first time I believe this has happened.  Maybe something is playing with me?  Naw, no spirits keeping an eye on me.

Speaking of those last six hundred and ninety-one words, here’s what they look like:

 

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

Within the confines of the hospital ward the astral plain appeared even brighter than the library. It was because this area was associated with life and healing, and even the deaths that had occurred here over the decades couldn’t dampen the brightness left behind by so many lives made better. Deanna looked to her right and saw Nurse Gretchen sitting in Coraline’s office. She didn’t have an aura because Gretchen, like all artificial people, wasn’t a living being, but the dark shape of her body sprinkled with the few bright points of astral light produced by the enchanted implants that allowed her to perform various kinds of magic.

Deanna wasn’t bothered that any of the alarms used to tell Coraline and her staff that someone was inside the ward would detect her. There were two separate systems to tell if someone were trying to open the Curtain on any of the hospital floors, but there weren’t any enchantments looking for people physically walking this realm, for they weren’t required. First they’d have to make their way inside the school walls— She made her way towards the first floor ward corridor. And then they’d have to make their way past our Guardian and Protector

Though the privacy curtain to Bay #1 was visible as an astral mist, it wasn’t necessary for Deanna to make it insubstantial so she could see the glowing auras on the other side. They were together in Bed #2 and the low, steady glow of their auras told her they were asleep. But she needed a better, closer look, and there wasn’t any possibly she’d get that standing here in the ward corridor—

She passed through the curtain and stood between the beds as she gazed down upon the children. Standing this close Deanna could just make our their physical forms—Kerry on his back with Annie on his right side, tucked away in the crook of his arm—on the other side of the Curtain, but it was their astral aspect that intrigued her more. Like seen in the video recorded at Memory’s End, their auras were as one with no sign of a separation boundary, possessing identical colors and hues.

 

In the astral plain it’s just possible to make out a person’s physical aspect, and now you know that artificial people like Nurse Gretchen are just dark outlines with little bright spots where implanted enchantments allow them to do magic.  That’s how the nurses are able to teleport and do that thing where they whip the clothes off one’s body.  Pretty much all of them get that treatment, but the ones who work at the school–and unlike house elves, the school’s APs are actually paid for their service–tend to get a few more magical doodads implanted inside their bodies because it’s necessary.

As we’ve already seen the kids are asleep next to each other–

Pretty soon they'll just put a plaque with Kerry's  name on this sucker--

Maybe the school hospital should have a special bay with just one bed reserved for these two–

–and Deanna’s seeing the crazy aura mingling she’s seen before.  There are also the colors, and they get her to wondering:

 

The pink she understood: it represented love and affection, and the brightness of that primary color showed their feelings for each other. It was the other colors that she found puzzling, because the lights of bright yellow indicated a fear of losing control, while violet pertained to magic, particularly visions. She moved around the bed, taking in the merged aura from other angles and confirmed there weren’t variations in the colors and brightness between Annie and Kerry.

They share everything, even the emotional charges that flow through their bodies out to their auras. She made her way to the end of the and examined the couple. Why the yellow and violet? Why do they both express the same compassion, ideas, and fears? She crossed her arms and sighed. When they are like this I see how Annie might feel the terror Kerry felt in his dream if they were like this, but in the coven their auras don’t reach that far. What allowed her to hear him? What am I missing?

After ten seconds of silent contemplation the epiphany Deanna hoped for struck her hard. There was something missing.

She moved around to Annie’s side of the bed and leaned over the astral forms looking for the part of their aspect that should be easily visible. After making certain that what she sought wasn’t stuck under their bodies she examined the spaces between them. Annie was turned slightly towards Kerry which made a direct examination of the front of her body difficult, but there wasn’t any possibility Deanna would bother the sleeping girl.

There was nothing under her chin, nothing at her neck, nothing—

“There.” She pinched her fingers around the found object, confirmed where it started and started following it away—

“What?” Deanna leaned even closer, almost setting her face against the children’s auras while tugging gently upon the object. “So that’s how it happens.” She straightened and smiled while slowly shaking her head. “Makes complete sense now.”

 

How what happens?  And what makes sense?  Sure, I’m not telling you right now what Deanna found, because that would be cheating.  But she figured out something, and it’s going to play an important part in a later scene, and even in a later chapter.

But first, I gotta get the Brain Trust together and see what they figure out.  While I may dread writing that part, it’s also gonna be fun.  And when I consider I’ve had this scene inside me for about three years, it’s about time for it to come out and see the light of day–

The Essential Essence

When I say, “Oh, this should only go for another few hundred words” and “This will finish up just over five thousand words”–I’m a liar.  Really.  Because while I finally finished the scene that I’ve worked on for, oh, seven days, things went on far longer than I expected–

Like a thousand or so words futher.

Like a thousand or so words further than expected.

Yeah, just over sixty-two hundred words, making this the largest scene in the story.  Like I said, Annie and Deanna get together and they start talking–oi!  These ladies can gab.  And they were about to watch some video together, which brings me to thinking:  I would totally love to write a scene where Deanna and Annie are sitting on some pillows, comfy in the jammies, watching Mean Girls and quoting the movie in Arabic and Bulgarian.  “Wal ha a ma.”  “Prestani da se opitvash da donese sluchi:  toĭ ne shte stane.”  A laugh riot, I’m telling you.

We were going to watch something, yes?  Okay, then:  let’s go to the video:

 

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

It picked up with Deanna—who was off screen—mid-way through her initial greeting. “I’m loath to call myself ‘mistress’ of the discipline as some have; the title infers more than makes me comfortable. Come, let’s sit together.”

Annie watched herself step through the mass of pillows that lay on the floor that day. “Thank you. You’re quite kind.”

The off-screen Deanna’s voice remained calm. “Not at all, Annie.”

The shock that on-screen Annie felt was not only apparent, but watching-Annie felt it hit her once more as her past self spoke. “How did you—?” She listened to Deanna’s explanation where she stated the obvious. “You know how I know your name—and how I know Kerry’s, too.” As she’s never seen him react the first time, Annie couldn’t prevent a smile appearing as Kerry’s head snapped around at the mention of his name. “How?”

There was a hint of amazement in Deanna’s voice. “I love how off-balance he was then.”

Annie nodded. “He was.” She heard Deanna say she’d seen them coming, and the ever-so-logical ginger boy on the screen checked his surroundings. “Do you have monitors in here?”

“It’s a good thing I’m used to questions like that—” Deanna spoke over her voice telling Kerry she’d had a vision.

Annie did chuckle at Kerry’s response after she told him that the seer had a vision. “You mean like precognition?” The chuckled turned into a smile as she hear on-screen Deanna confirm Annie’s answer and ask them to sit. “I told him to have an open mind before we showed up. She listened to him attempting to rationalize Deanna’s claim of knowing how they were arriving. “I’m happy he learned fast.”

“Much better than some of your fellow levelmates.” Deanna regarded her memories of that day. “I had a few students that Friday night who needed some hand holding regarding what they saw that day.”

“There was a point, though . . .“ She heard Kerry say he didn’t believe in precognition.

“You were worried he would be the same way?” Deanna signed. “I wasn’t paying attention to him, for in time he would come around.” She looked over to Annie. “I was watching you.”

“Why?” Annie found the seer’s statement surprising. “You knew I was a Legacy—”

“Yes, I read your report, remember?” Deanna’s chuckle verged on laughter. “I was watching how nervous you were. You did a great job keeping it bottled up inside while keeping it hidden.”

Annie was glad Deanna couldn’t see her face, because she knew the woman next to her would had no problem mistaking her look of surprise. “You’re very perceptive.”

“Well, I wasn’t exactly playing fair.”

Now Annie’s curiosity was peaking. “What do you mean?”

 

I wrote all of the above last night while consulting the first novel, so that the words heard–all of the sentences in italics–and actions seen were accurate.  And just like Annie you’re probably saying, “Okay, what’s the big deal?”  Well, I left off one sentence, which starts this next section, followed by what I started writing this morning–

 

“You’ll see—” Deanna turned back to the display on the ceiling. “Sabrina, restart this video to the point I originally indicated, and replay with the aura recording applied.”

The screen went black. “Ready, Deanna.”

“Play the video.”

The scene played out as before, but the biggest change to Annie was how they appeared on-screen, with the bright glow of normally invisible energy surrounding each of their bodies. “You filmed our auras?”

“Apparently.”

Annie silently damned herself for asking a stupid question. “Do you do this for everyone?”

“Sabrina, hold the video.” Deanna waited three seconds after the command before answering. “No. Just you that day.”

“Why?”

“Something I felt in the vision that told me you were coming. There was a sensation that this meeting was important—more implied than stated—and that seeing your auras was necessary.”

Annie didn’t know what to feel at hearing this revelation. Seeing someone’s aura was considered the same as looking into their mind and emotions, as a skilled reader could know volumes about a witch with just a momentary glance. It was then that something Deanna said only a minute before registered— “You said you were weren’t playing fair. Did you use Aura Sight on us?”

Deanna’s answer came immediately. “Yes. I was watching you the whole time that way.”

“Because you felt it was necessary.’

“I felt it was important.” She commanded Sabrina to start the playback, then pointed at the floating screen. “Watch.”

 

You know, when seers get feelings about their visions, it’s a scary thing.  Nearly all visions are literal things:  you see one, and you try to make sense of what you saw.  When you see something and begin getting hunches about something you should do, that’s when you begin wondering what the hell is going on.

And as Annie points out, you see someone’s aura, you seen into them.  Not only can you tell they’re a witch–which is why they were using enchantments to hide those little tells in their auras that might give them away to Deconstructors–but you can tell what they’re thinking and feeling.  It’s one of the things a witch will do to see if someone is lying, because unless the person they’ve speaking to is really damn good at manipulating their aura, the person asking questions can look at the other person’s aura and instantly tell if they’re bullshitting their ass off.  Which instructors can see auras?  All of them.  They only have to use Aura Sight to view them.

Now, point of etiquette.  It’s generally considered bad manners for witches to constantly use Aura Sight to look at another person’s aura while they’re talking to them.  It’s like hooking someone up to a lie detector while you’re having a polite conversation, and witches who constantly do so hoping to call another person out on something are considered assholes of the first order and usually end up getting shunned by the rest of the witch community.  Plus, one witch can use magic to look at the aura of another witch to see if they are using magic–because crafting spells do things to your aura–and if they suspect they’re being watched, well, they’ll just hide their aura and make you go fish.  Because aura hiding is totally something you can do as well–

Oh, and yes:  Guardians know all these little aura tricks.  Which is why trying to find out if Helena is BSing you is an exercise in futility.

Here’s where we get to learn a little about auras:

 

This time Annie paid attention to the glow around Kerry’s and her bodies. Their auras were brilliant and filed with speckles of violet light—both the marks of Aware witches. Kerry’s alternated between an orange-yellow to brownish-orange, while Annie’s flowed from bright pink to orange-yellow to orange-red. “Why does mine have that bright yellow border?”

“That was my tip-off that you had a touch of fear: bright yellow indicates a fear of something—losing control, losing respect—”

Annie looked away from the display for a moment. “Losing someone you love.”

“Exactly.”

“What does the rest mean?”

“The orange-yellow indicates intelligence and confidence, while the bright pink shows affection and love.” Deanna paused to allow Annie to consider what she’d said. “You were looking for answers to what happened over the summer, weren’t you?”

“In a way. I hoped you might . . . see something.” She pointed at Kerry. “What about his?”

“The orange-yellow you know, but in Kerry’s case he was being far more scientific in his assessment of what he was seeing, which is why that color is more vivid for him. As for the brownish-orange . . .” Deanna swallowed loud enough for Annie to hear. “Given the way he was acting, those are his repressed emotions shinning through.”

“Literally.” Annie was astonished by how easily Deanna was able to read their moods and feelings by watching their auras, giving her more reason to learn Aura Sight as soon as possible. “Why have you never shown this to anyone? It doesn’t seem all that startling.”

 

I did a bit of research trying to find an aura interpretation that I liked, and what I eventually found works for me.  I’ll probably even start writing those down as a hand guide to use.  The colors do represent what the kids were feeling at the time:  Kerry was trying to come up for reasons about what he was hearing and seeing–remember, this was the day after their E & A, and his was about as fresh in his mind as it comes–and Annie was looking for something, just as Deanna surmised.

But this isn’t the reason she wanted Annie to see this video–this is:

 

“It’s not.” She pointed at the screen, where Kerry was about to sit next to Annie. “Watch.”

Annie did as instructed. She saw Kerry set down his backpack, move to on-screen Annie’s right, and sit— “I am. What—”

“Sabrina, hold image.” Deanna propped herself up and turned towards Annie. “That’s why I’ve never shown this to anyone.”

The moment on-screen Kerry sat next to on-screen Annie their auras merged and became as one, a combined glow of orange-yellow surrounded by an aural border of emerald green and royal blue. “I don’t understand—”

“The aura of a person is the reading of them essence: your mystical fingerprint, so to speak. It remains yours and is always kept separate from those around you. Even if you’re holding someone in your arms, or laying with them, there is a discernible border that separates yours from theirs.” Deanna rolled over and lay back. “Your auras merged. When I saw it happen that day it took every gram of willpower I possessed not to gasp. It was the most incredible thing I ever witnessed.”

Annie started at the screen. “This doesn’t happen—ever?”

She nodded. “This never happens, even to people who are deeply in love. It’s like your essence merged and became one—” Deanna drummed her fingers against her pillows. “What you’re seeing is impossible. And that’s why I’ve never shown this to anyone . . .” She said nothing more, preferring to leave all further actions implied.

 

Your auras merged.  And when you do something that surprises the School Seer, then you are truly remarkable because you’ve shown someone whose ability is to see things that haven’t happened something they’ve never seen.  Which means that if Deanna was having visions of Annie and Kerry before ever meeting them–and there are indications she was–this was something she never once saw.

I’m not presenting the rest of the scene because . . . well, because thing are said, and I’m not giving anything else away.  At least not until this book is published.  Needless to say Annie learned a big secret about her relationship with her soul mate, and it’s pushed open the door of understanding a little bit.  Not a lot, but enough that people can peek in and begin wondering.

I’ve done enough for today.  I believe my work here is done . . .

Flyby Sight

Hey, no zombie writing today–I actually did that over the last couple of weeks, because there’s nothing to write about this week.  Well, I wouldn’t say nothing . . .  There’s always something.

For example, since I was only one thousand words away from hitting one hundred thirty thousand words last night, and because it was two weeks since I’d reached one hundred twenty thousand, I was like, “What the hell, chick, you gotta do this.”  I got to work and, well . . .

Yeah, I got this shit.

Yeah, I got this shit.

Given that the last scene took four days to write–over a five day period, I should add–I figured I needed to kick my ass into gear and get some stuff done.  Yes, fighting through depression isn’t a nice thing, but hell, kids, I gotta write–right?  Not really, but I did it anyway, because this scene is All About Annie and a place she likes to visit so she can talk to someone she likes.

Let’s go there, shall we?  We shall:

 

 

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

Annie touched down lightly about four meters from the entrance of the Divination Building at Memory’s End. She’d taken off from the Pentagram Garden within minutes after Kerry left after lunch for his pre-race lecture, and was certain no one saw her land under her own power because nearly everyone else was either on their way to The Diamond, already there, or hanging out elsewhere because they weren’t interested in the races.

Not that she was concerned about anyone seeing her using her Flight Gift. The retelling of her Judgment Trial against Lisa’s champion was all over the school by breakfast then next morning, and that evening Vicky and Isis spoke with her while Kerry was off in Advanced Transformation. They let her know that they weren’t unhappy with her “Unveiling” and that it was only a matter of time before the rest of the school became aware she could fly, and they saw nothing wrong with her flying around, as long as she remained inside the outer walls.

 

Now, I should point out something:  Memory’s End is really two buildings.  It’s not always easy to spot on the maps, but when you see it close up, it’s obvious.

Now with 100% more trees!

And now with 100% more trees!

When looking at the picture, the Divination Building is on the right, and the Numerology Building is on the left.  Why are there two buildings for studies that really aren’t that big?  Well, that’s one of the things you’ll discover in this scene.

And if you’re wondering about all these paths, here you go:  the one from the left leads to Gwydion Manor, the one going off the top leads to Astria Portal, the Firing Line, and Observatory Tower.  The one on the right leads to The Witch House, and the one going off to the bottom ends at the main path running between The Witch House and History and Social Studies Building, which is just north of The Pentagram and Åsgårdsreia Tower.  And that little tower-like object on the small path in the bottom-left section, that’s a stairwell leading to the tunnel system below the school.  All roads lead here, it seems.

For a point of reference, when Annie and Kerry visited here the first time, they walked up the path appearing on the bottom of the image frame.  There, now you know more.

And as you can see Annie is able to fly around the school because, what the hell, people saw he doing it, so it’s not like she can hide that any longer.  Let your flying, um, fly.

What waits for Annie here?  This:

 

She stood listening for sounds: walking, coughing, activities of any kind. Nothing. The building was completely silent, even more so with the sounds from outside cut off. Now she was even more uncertain about Deanna being present, but the last thing she wanted to do was call out her name. I’ll sound like a frightened girl in a horror movie, and that’s the last impression I want to make.

She was right in the middle of preparing to walk to Deanna’s office when the seer called out to her. “I’m down here, Annie.”

Annie yanked on the hem of her sweater and headed down to Deanna’s office. She expected to find Deanna sitting cross-legged on one of the various pillows, but found her instead standing before an old-fashioned desk that folded down from a wall cupboard. “Hello, Deanna.” She stood in the doorway and examined the seer, whose outfit of a sweater, jeans, and sneakers matched Annie’s in everything except top color. “I wasn’t certain you were here.”

Deanna finished writing something on a tablet before answering. “I like to come out here after lunch on the weekends because it’s quiet and I can get a lot more done in this office than I can in the coven tower.” She tapped the screen as if to punctuate her statement. “There. All done.”

 

Spooky Muslim Seers be spooky, right?  Of course Annie’s a polite girl and all, but after a while she’s gotta ask the question . . .

 

Annie finally entered the office once she understood Deanna wasn’t going to make the request. “Did you know I was coming?”

Deanna turned towards Annie. “The funny thing about being a seer is that most people never believe you if, once you’re asked a question, you reply in a negative fashion.” She set her right elbow upon the fold-out desk and gently leaned upon the surface. “Everyone believes you see everything, so when you say ‘no’ in way of a response, they immediately assume you’re lying.” She brushed hair back out of her face. “It’s a hell of a thing to have in your life.”

“I can imagine.” She looked directly at Deanna. “Did you know I was coming?”

“Yes, I did.” The seer shrugged. “It doesn’t matter how I knew, the actual reason I came out here to work was to wait for you because I saw you coming out here to speak with me. So I thought I’d better be here when you arrived.” She cocked her right eyebrow upward. “You believe me?”

Before answering Annie considered her current dilemma of accepting that Deanna was speaking the truth, or if she was telling her what she wanted her to hear. It would help a lot if I could read Deanna’s aura—I should work on that next. “I believe you.”

 

Deanna has pulled this a few times on Annie:  knew she was going to show up and called her down the moment she entered the building, or made a remark based upon something that was already on Annie’s mind.  And when Deanna tries to skate on that shit, Annie calls her out once more, and gets an honest answer–or does she?  Why does Annie want to see Deanna’s aura?  Because witches who can see another person’s aura can tell if they’re lying by watching the colors and shades of said aura.  Except really good witches know how to keep their aura from changing, and Deanna’s a really good witch when it comes to not letting people see your inner feelings through your aura, so even if Annie could see it, it’s likely she’d never know if Deanna was bullshitting her or not.

This is one of the reasons when new students arrive instructors can tell if they’re being lied to or not–among other things.  You’ll be surprised what instructors can determine based upon the color and shade of a student’s aura . . .

After a little more back and forth–and once I got in my thousand words–I wrote up just a bit of strangeness:

 

Annie decided to move on to another subject. “I’ve never seen you use that desk before.”

“No, when you’ve been here in the past we’ve sat on the floor; I’m normally not working when you come to visit.”

If you want to call speaking about a problem a “visit”. “Did you have that put in?”

“Me? No.” She set the bag on the floor and folded the desk up into the cupboard and shut the doors. “This desk was put in when the building was constructed in 1804.” Deanna chuckled. “You can thank Crazy Wanda for both of those things.”

Annie gave a surprised laugh. “Crazy Wanda?”

 

"I don't know; does she have mangoes?"

“Who is Crazy Wanda?  Does she have mangoes?”

No, sorry Pupok, she doesn’t have mangoes.  But you’re about to get a history lesson on the school, that much is true.

Maybe tomorrow everyone will get to hear the tale of Crazy Wanda.

Given I’m not doing anything else this morning, it’s highly likely.

Team Salem on the Job

First off, happy Winter Solstice to you all.  This is the shortest day of the year, and as I told some friends, it’s all uphill from here until June.  So while I would suggest going out and dancing naked around a tree, if you are of a mind, go out and do something to enjoy the day.  Me . . . I’ll probably stay home and write.

And speaking of writing, I finished up a scene I started last night.  I wanted to get that done before writing this post, and when I was done I checked my word count to see what I’d done this early, chilly morning, and discovered . . .

I don't read anything into this, but I do find it funny I've done this three or four other times.

I never read anything into this, but I do find it funny I’ve done this three or four other times.

So there:  finishing scenes and doing research–did I mention the research?

Yeah, that was last night, and one of the reasons I was a little choppy in my writing last night, because–well, you’ll see in a moment.

The actually moves over to the Crown Center mall now, but in order to get there, Annie has to do something she’s never done before . . .

 

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

Annie was glad to be out of the cold, but in doing so she’d stepped into a world that was far different from what she’d experienced before.

For one, she’d ridden a bus for the first time . . .

Their instructions had been to wait for school to get out, then follow Tanith to the Crown Center mall. Her normal routine was take the public buses to the Center, spend a few hours eating and working on homework if necessary, then taking the bus home. Since Tanith would ride the bus, they would have to ride the bus just so they could keep an eye on her.

Annie had never ridden in a bus in her life. She’d taken the subway in a few cities in here lifetime—she’d loved riding those in Paris and Hong Kong—but busses were something completely foreign to her. She had a pass and had been given instruction about how it was used. Still, it was a new Normal thing, and when it came to trying something new that everyone around was comfortable using . . .

There were no problems, however: Kerry went first, which allowed her to watch him closely. He entered and used his pass as if he’d done this forever, and Annie did exactly as Kerry. They took seats tow rows behind Tanith—Kerry let her sit by the window, which she enjoyed—and they were off to the Center.

They were fortunate that the bus route they were on, the 123, went directly from the school to the Crown Center. They didn’t say much during the trip, just kept their eyes on Tanith and tried to appear as if they fit in with the other riders.

 

Annie’s never ridden a bus.  She’s been on subways, and has probably taken cabs and hired cars–read that as limos–now and then, but this is her first time doing the public transportation thing.  It’s not a big deal for Kerry–he’s probably ridden a bus or two–but whole new thing for our Girl From Pamporovo.

And the bus thing is what held me up last night.  See, everyone thinks I’ve got all my research down pat, but not always.  I’d intended for them to take the bus from Tanith’s school to the mall because that’s what she does, but what bus?  So I had to run out to the website that handles the Kansas City bus schedules, and hunt down the one they’d take from the school and that Tanith would take home.  And what I discovered is Route #123:

Get on this bus, kids.

Get on this bus, kids.

But in finding this route, I discovered that it doesn’t run on the weekends, which sort of threw a curve at my story, because something coming up real soon involves Tanith taking the bus to the mall on the weekends, and if the one that runs by her house doesn’t do the Saturday thing, well, then, I had to find a route–or routes–that did.

I know what some of you are saying:  “Just make it up, Cassie!”  And I could, save I’m dealing with the real world here, and sure as the sun comes up tomorrow–unless it goes supernova tonight, which it can’t, so I’m certain it’ll be up tomorrow–someone would read my made up stuff and go, “That’s not right; in Kansas City–”  Yeah, yeah, I know:  that route doesn’t exist.  I’ll probably get a few like that anyway, but who cares?  I’m in the ball park, and that counts more to me.

So they’re at the mall and things are getting set up . . .

 

Tanith made their operation easy by headed for the Z-teca Restaurant, which offered quick Mexican food, mostly burritos, but tacos and salads were also available. The nicest feature for the place was the majority of the seating was outside the store in the mall concourse. Neither of them wanted too eat much as they were going to dinner after Tanish was back home, so Kerry ordered a couple of tacos for himself, and a salad for Annie, while Annie found a seat where they could watch the concourse and their target.

The phone Annie carried was enchanted so that she could eavesdrop on a person from any distance as long as they were in light of sight. Helena had told them they didn’t expect Tanith to have much to say, but she might receive a call. Annie could also pick up any text message the girl received or sent, as the enchantment could protect on to Annie’s phone whatever Tanith saw on hers.

Kerry’s tablet would allow him to work on Tanith’s aura; he needed nearly twenty seconds with the individual in the tablet camera foci to get an interactive view of their aura. They couldn’t do it while they were invisible, and there were only a few times at school where they could have had a clear view of here as it was. This would be their first chance to get her in the clear, while they were visible, today.

 

Equipment is at the ready, the kids are all set to go.  What happens next?

 

He returned to their table about a minute after Tanith sat at her table and began picking at her quesadilla. “Here ya go, Sis.” He set the salad in front of Annie, giving a wink only she could see.

“Blagodarya vi, moya lyubov.” She figured no one in the mall would know she was saying “Thank you, my love” since she didn’t expect anyone else to understand Bulgarian. She slipped in an earbud as Kerry took his seat across from her so they could mentally speak in private. Did she check her phone when she was ordering?

He almost shook his head out of habit. No. She ordered her food and headed out here. I was right behind her the whole time. He nodded towards the girl sitting a few tables away. She’s checking it now.

Great. Annie held up her phone as if she were trying to get a signal and turned towards Tanith. She was half-turned towards her when Annie launched the enchantment and received a shiver in her right arm as way of letting her know it had taken. Done. Now we can catch her conversations.

Let’s just hope she says something interesting. He reached into his backpack—which he’d brought with him from Salem—and removed the tablet that had been on standby since they’d boarded the bus. No time like now to give her an aura check.

I agree.

 

So the spying begins.  All pretty simple at this point, but do they find anything?

 

Kerry lifted the tablet and pointed it at Annie. “Here, let me get your good side.” He positioned himself so that Tanith was behind Annie and he had a clear line of sight on her. He activated the enchantment and then pretended to so something else on the display. “Just a minute; the app is being difficult.”

“Okay.” Annie knew there wasn’t anything wrong with the app, and that Kerry was simply stalling so he could give the enchantment time to work.

A few seconds later he set the tablet on the table and removed the kickstand from his backpack. I should have done this . . . He attached it to the back of the tablet and kept it turned towards Tanith. He waved Annie over. “Here you go; take a look.”

Annie scooted around the table so she was on Kerry’s left. She scanned the display. “Looks good.” She offered another opinion to him silently. You’re going to scan her constantly?

I don’t see why not; this way we can get the best reading yet. He pointed at the display. Is that reading right, you think?

I think it’s reading perfectly. Tanith’s area, seen in real time, was a yellow wavering back and forth before Normal dullness and Awareness bright. She’s on the cusp; she’s becoming Aware.

 

There you have it:  All in All, Just Another Witch in the Mall–sorry, I had to do that.  Now that they’re watching her, time to get the other player in on the show . . .

 

Yeah, that’s what it looks like. Kerry tapped his right earbud twice to bring in the other two witches on watch. Yo, Mom.

Erwin’s thought came across loud and clear. Is that a proper way to address your loving mother, young man?

Sorry, I thought you were my real mom for a second. He flashed a smile at Annie then continued. We have a positive aura here.

You’re certain?

Annie chimed in. I’m looking at the display, too . . . Moma Phoebe. She grinned knowing how much Erywin hated her code name. Tanith is definitely on the cusp.

 

You gotta love the banter between everyone, and wonder if Erywin’s gonna get called “Phoebe” now and then back at the school.  Probably not, ’cause that would blow whatever cover they have going back at Salem and make other students wonder why they’re referring to the Magical Formula instructor by the name of a spacey blond from the show Friends.

Now they know this is happening, and everyone wants to talk . . .

 

Helena joined the conversation. How are you observing her?

I’ve got the tablet on a kickstand. Kerry touched the tablet and turned it slightly as another girl about Tanith’s age sat at her table. I’m doing a constant scan.

Annie removed her phone from her jacket. I’m monitoring her conversations, too. We should start getting something because someone just sat with her.

Who?

Girl about her age. She just sat and . . . Annie caught Kerry’s sharp intake of breath and turned to him. What is it?

He nodded at the display. Look.

Annie did and swallowed hard when she saw what he’d seen. Mom?

Helena’s tone of concern carried through her thoughts. What?

We have something here we weren’t expecting . . .

 

What?  Not expecting what?  Lizard people?  A transdimensional portal?  A thirty percent off sale at Forever 21?

You guys can make your own guesses . . . and I’m certain you will.

In Dreams They May

This thing last night . . . it’s called editing, and after sweating through a scene that was sort of driving me crazy, I finally cracked the code I was looking for and headed forward.

This was Annie’s scene, a rewrite of her visit to Professor Arrakis, to tell her about her dreams of her Ginger Haired Boy, and how she was feeling after two weeks of being with him in real life.  They weren’t the same, and it was not only driving her a little crazy, but she was starting to wonder if she should even bother with him, since he seemed to not be the same boy she remembered from sleepy time trysts.

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie didn’t want to go over that moment again: she needed to tell the professor about what was in her heart and mind now. “There were things we said to each other in my dreams—that I said; that he said. Heartfelt words . . .” She turned and stared off to the side for a moment, remembering those words spoken in her dreams. “I know he meant all that he said, but now everything is so different that those moments in my dreams . . .

“What, if after all that happened before—what if he doesn’t want me? What if after all these years of needing him next to me, he doesn’t care, he doesn’t love me? What if he wants someone else?” She brushed her hair back from her face with more effort this time.  “Or worse, what if I keep at him to be with me—what if I’m just pushing him to say he loves me, but he doesn’t, but he still stays with me because he feels obligated to make me happy?

“What if he hates me for that? What if he stays and comes to hate me because he knows I’m a selfish girl who never cared what he wanted?” She lay back against her pillow and stared at the ceiling, her mind swirling with all the possible problems she’d imagined happening.  “Deanna, what will I do?”

Deanna immediately moved to Annie’s side and to be closer to her.  Though he wasn’t visibly distraught, her aura told the seer otherwise. She hold everything inside and doesn’t show others her true emotions—but I can see what most others can’t. I know how she feels.

She reached down and stroked Annie’s hair. “You’re so tortured by your feelings. I understand them, Annie—I do.”

Annie looked up at the professor and relaxed as the seer ran her fingers over her hair. “Thank you . . . Deanna.” She’d decided there was no longer any point in being formal while she was being comforted this way. “I’m sorry for how I acted.”

“There’s no reason to be sorry. I know how upsetting these things become.” Deanna slipped back to her pillows. “You’re both emotional—but you each have your own way of presenting.”

Annie found enough humor and truth in the statement to chuckle. “You’re right. I’m the opposite of Kerry.”

Now that she was aware of Annie’s fears, it was Deanna’s task to try and put them to rest. “You came to me because I know your rune dream and knew something of your relationship with Kerry. But I also believe you came because my position as a coven leader—along with my abilities—give me a far different perspective on matters.”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“May I make a few observations on your ginger haired boy?”

Annie rolled over and faced the professor. “Yes, Deanna.  You may.”

 

That Annie:  stroke here hair and she gets so personable.  Someone should tell Kerry.

It was the visibly distraught part that I had to work past.  First pass through there were tears and a bit of tissue passing.  But, see:  when you’re not the sort of person who lets her feelings show–like Annie–how does one know you’re really hurting?

Why, you hang out with witches who can see the future and read your aura.  Simple, neh?

I was able to get into Part Two of their discussion, which was broken apart by Kerry flying about the school like the Red Baron and thinking about all the sucker kids he knew back in Cardiff.  The second part deals with a report Deanna, as a coven leader, read on Kerry.  It didn’t paint a pretty picture; in fact, the kid in the report came off as a bit depressed and emotionally disconnected.  Deanna was starting to see something different, however:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“Now, with regards to your concerns . . . I watched you both after Trevor and I left. I saw how you sat with Kerry, how he held you, how you both talked the rest of the night. He didn’t seem like a boy who didn’t want to be with you, or who was upset with you. He seemed like a boy who was content and pleased to sit with a close friend and enjoy her company. He looked like a boy who was sitting with—if I may be forward—his girlfriend.

“What I see is a boy who enjoys your affection. He’s been so detached from his emotions for so long that I don’t feel he’s afraid that things are going too fast—I feel he’s afraid he won’t know how to respond to your feelings properly.” Deanna tilted her head slightly to the right. “He’s an eleven year old boy dealing with an entirely new world, and it’s possible he’s worried, or even a little scared, that he’s going to do or say the wrong thing and upset you. From what I’ve seen of Kerry, he doesn’t want to upset you, Annie. That’s the last thing on his mind.”

All that she heard from Deanna surprised Annie, because she already knew Kerry, and her experience told her the lonely, sad boy The Foundation reported upon was nothing at all like her soul mate. “It so strange hearing Kerry described that way—”

“This is all different for you, too, Annie. The Kerry you saw in your dreams and visions was likely a far more stylized version of the boy you see here and now. Now that you’ve—”

No, Deanna.”

 

When Annie says “no”, she means it.  Good thing the instructors are pretty laid back.  Except for Erywin:  she might slap you if you get her in the right mood.  Helena would, too.  And Jessica . . . we won’t go there.

This is the last chapter in Act One, and my character rewrites are almost complete.  A nice little six, seven week detour, but really, it was necessary.  When Chapter Twelve is over and done, then I can move on.

"Edit in Progress" right near the end.  That means I'm almost done, right?

“Edit in Progress” right near the end. That means I’m almost done, right?

Tonight there won’t be any editing, however.  Tonight, I hop in the car and head south to D.C. to meet up with a fellow writer.  Cassie’s on the Town.

You better watch out!