The Last Days in the Big B

Right now I know there are a few of you going, “Damn, Cassie, you’re taking your time gettin’ this post out.”  That’s because you haven’t seen what I’ve done up to this point.  You didn’t see me at six-thirty writing in the current scene, doing my research as I went along, and three hours later writing a little over twenty-two hundred words and finishing the opening scene to Part Two, Chapter Four.

Yeah, you didn’t see that.

Nor did you see this:  how my desktop looks when I'm working on a scene.  With notes and music.

Nor did you see this: how my desktop looks when I’m working on a scene. With notes and music.

Sure, I also managed a touch over five hundred words last night, too, but also more important, I figured out just how many people I’ve got for next year–

At my school you do need a scorecard.

At my school you do need a scorecard.

In figuring out the attendance for this school year I took the number from the year before, figure out who didn’t make the cut and who graduated, and checked my above totals with the totals at the bottom.  Believe it or not, this consumed about an hour of my time, because I kept forgetting that people had graduated and my numbers weren’t matching.  Really driving me nuts.

But this covered a couple of days of stuff–and, you know, things–and not only that, but we get the see the kids being, well, kinda kids.  Not only that, but if you look at my notes above, you’ll see they’re no longer alone . . .

 

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

Tuesday morning found them sitting in the hotel restaurant, having breakfast and discussing their itinerary for the day. They were going over the route they would take to their first destination when Annie felt the presence of others standing close behind. They turned and were asked by two girls if they were really going to the Olympic Stadium—

That was how they met Penelope Rigman and Alexandria Chorney, who preferred to be known as Penny and Alex.

They were covenmates, C Levels students who they both knew by reputation due to their presence on the coven’s Racing B Team. Annie and Kerry had only encountered them in limited fashion when they’d helped out on occasions as Vicky’s minions during Beginning Flight class. The rest of the time they were in their own classes and resided on the second floor, where the B and C Levels were housed.

Penny lived outside Canterbury, England. While her parents were born in the UK, both sides of her family were from Barbados, and on the train ride out to the stadium she joked that her father’s family knew Rihanna’s family. She was slightly distressed because over the summer she’d experienced a growth spurt, and she’d went from one hundred fifty-seven to one hundred sixty-seven centimeters, and she was worried this was going to affect her performance on the track. Annie, who stood one hundred fifty-five centimeters—the same as Kerry—wondered if she would ever be that tall; given that both her parents were close to one hundred and eighty centimeters, it was highly possible.

Alex hailed from Dubno, Ukraine, and her family lineage covered most of the old Soviet Empire, with grandparents from Russia, Estonia, and Kazakhstan, and her father from Azerbaijan. She said the greatest mystery in her family was not how the members of her family came together, but how she was the only one with blond hair. She had an growing interest in sorcery, and in a moment when they were alone while touring the Olympic grounds, she asked Annie if she could find a moment now and then to give her some tutoring, as it had been common knowledge among the B Levels of the coven about her skills. This was the first time Annie was aware that anyone in the coven had taken notice of her skills with sorcery, and that it had been a subject of conversation with some of the upper covenmates. Until that point she figured all anyone in the coven knew was that Kerry and she were the Lovey-Dovey Couple and the Mile High Kissers.

"Ukranian girl with blond hairs?  Does she have pet scorpion?"

“Ukrainian girl with blond hairs? Does she have pet scorpion?”

Sorry, you have her confused with another blond Ukrainian.

Penny and Alex are going to be recurring characters through the next few novels, and seeing as how they’ll be sharing a floor with Annie and Kerry–the B and C Levels are on the same floor, as pointed out above–they’ll pop in here and there, mostly over there if you must know.  Also, notice:  more girls for Kerry to make friends.  I’m sure his mother will be pleased.

In my notes you’ll see the Imperial measurements for the kids as well, and you’ll notice that Annie and Kerry are, well, short.  Don’t worry, that’s gonna change over the course of this novel and the next, but they’re still twelve, though in just a month Annie becomes a teenager and all hell will likely break loose because hormones, I guess.  Will it become an issue?  Hard to say, but if they have any more shared dreams like their last one at the Mystery Hotel, Coraline might just have to sit their butts down and have another chat with them.

So what did this Gang of Four do?  Well . . .

 

They visited the Olympic Stadium and grounds; they took a cab to nearby Spandau and visited the citadel before having lunch. The took the train back towards the city and spent time at Schloss Charlottenburg, before heading over the the eastern section of the city and visiting the DDR Museum. They returned to the hotel after their visit to the two hundred and three meter high observation gallery at the Berliner Fernsehturm, mostly due to Annie telling their traveling companions Kerry and she were going to dinner that night, and they needed a nap and a chance to clean up before then.

It wasn’t until she was in the hotel car with Kerry that she told him they were returning to the Fernsehturm and the revolving restaurant the floor above the observation deck they’d visited that afternoon. It was there, for most of the evening, they dined and chatted alone for the first time since breakfast. Annie admitted that as much as she’d enjoyed hanging out with the two girls, it was quiet moments like this the cherished, and she couldn’t wait until the time they could be together all the time. Kerry agreed, and as the western section of the city came into view, they clicked their glasses of soda together in a toast to their future.

 

All these people sitting in what I presume is a somewhat nice place to eat, and here you have a couple of kids strolling past the queue and being escorted to a window table–’cause you can bet Annie used either Foundation or family connections to get a good reservation–and spending the evening eating and enjoying their company . . . really, it’s a romantic scene.

Yeah, I'd say really romantic.

Yeah, I’d say real romantic.

But now what about going home?  I got that covered, too:

 

Wednesday would prove to be a crazy day, for they would stay in Berlin until that evening, then leave the hotel near twenty-three hours for what Penny, Alex, and several other returning students, called the Midnight Mile High Madness. While they picnicked in the Grunewald forest they discussed the trip home: since they were leaving the city near midnight and returning to the school not long after two in the morning, nearly all the students dressed in their night clothes for the ride to the airport and the flight home. As Penny explained, since they were going to have everyone get on Salem time during the flight—or to use her phrase: “We adjust on the bus”—and everyone was going to be super tired by their time they reached their towers, what was the point of changing? “Best to get comfy in your PJs and make a party of the trip while we can.”

Annie and Kerry both saw the wisdom in that point of view, and saw no reason not to join in the festivities. After all, they’d looked forward to this event all summer, so they reasoned—why not make it memorable?

 

Adjust on the Bus:  truer words one can’t live by.  And as I point out . . .

 

The festivities began a little after twenty-two hours as the returning European, African, and Western Asian students gathered in the lobby with the luggage in tow. All were in their pajamas save for Shadha Kanaan—who was from Oman—who wore an abaya instead. Annie and Kerry mingled with students that had already made this trip with them. Mesha and Gavino, and Jacira were there representing Europe, as were Shauntia and Daudi, representing Africa. The trio of Western Asian girls–Shadha, Elisha, and Dariga—hung out together while making sure to chat with everyone else. Joining them were eight new C Level, and two D Levels who’d decided to fly back with everyone else because they didn’t want to spend the night and tomorrow morning in Berlin before jaunting back to the school.

The last student to come down before the instructor chaperons was Anna Laskar: as she lived in Magdeburg, Germany, the didn’t arrive at the hotel until late Tuesday afternoon, and appeared to remain in her room when she wasn’t with her Åsgårdsreia covenmates. Though she spoke with the other students, she left one with the impression that she guarded every word that left her mouth.

 

You can just imagine the stares from other people with twenty-one kids from various places around the world gathering in one spot, and being all chatty and stuff and looking like they’re enjoy all the late night activities–with no one else any the wiser that more than a few of these kids could probably blow up the lobby of the hotel with the wave of their hand.  And none of the other students know about what went on during that little side trip my kids took to Middle America back in April, which would probably have even the D Levels keeping their distance if they were aware.

But that doesn’t keep anyone from enjoying the trip out . . .

 

At twenty-two thirty Professors Semplen and Grünbach appeared—not wearing pajamas—and began marshaling the twenty-one students and their gear onto the bus that would take them to the airport. Unlike when they departed from Amsterdam, the mood aboard the bus was festive, with plenty of talking and laughing. Kerry had Annie program a short selection of songs to play on his tablet, and as they bus pulled away from the Crowne Plaza the instructors anticipated what was coming: they threw up a privacy screen between them and the students as the first notes of Aracde Fire’s Keep the Car Running filled the compartment. Everyone did their best singing, and even Kerry, who didn’t know the song, joined in on the chorus while hugging Annie tight.

Unlike the year before the bus drove onto the airport tarmac and pulled up close to a 767 parked near Tegel’s Terminal C. By this time everyone was eager to board and get underway, and it was difficult for everyone to keep their exuberance in check. Boarding went smoothly, and Annie and Kerry pretended to carry their luggage up the gangway stairs, using simple levitation spells to make it look as if they were lifting the bags from stair to stair.

 

And in case you were wondering what they were listening to as they pulled away from the hotel . . .

I don’t disappoint.

The important moment to take from this short scene is not the party atmosphere of the kids taking the bus to the airport, it’s that Kerry let Annie use his computer.  He didn’t let that sucker out of his sight in the first novel, but here he is, handing it over and letting Annie set up a music stream for everyone to jam out on as they head for their new ride.  May as well break out the engagement rings now, kids.

They get to the plane–a 767, like the one they took back to Europe after they finished their A Levels–and they sit up front like last time as well.  As they’re getting settled Annie makes an observation:

 

“I hope we’ll get this to ourselves, like the last time.” She sat and got comfortable as Kerry did the same to her right. “Did you notice the moon tonight?”

“Yeah—it’s almost full.”

“Just like when we came home.” She placed her hand in Kerry’s as the memory of gazing upon the nearly-full moon through the bay window of their room at the Sea Sprite Inn was one that wouldn’t leave either child. “I think it has an auspicious meaning.”

“I’m sure Deanna would say as much.” Kerry wondered what the school Seer would say about this coincidence, but decided now was not the time to get into that discussion.

 

Really, it’s just the luck of orbital mechanics, but the fact they returned from school on a near full moon, and now their going back on one–well, Deanna might think there’s a meaning behind that, or maybe she’d say, “Hey, moon goes ’round, kids.  That’s all it is.”  Maybe.  Maybe not.  We’ll see, I guess.

I got them around the city, I got them out so they could enjoy time together, and now they’re back on the plane.  Let’s just play the whole final section out . . .

 

They didn’t need to wait long. About ten minutes after they found their seats they heard the outside door close and lock. Less than a minute passed before the flight captain’s voice floated through the cabin. “This is your captain. The gangway has been pushed back and the main cabin door has been shut. We’ll get a push back here momentarily and should be rolling out shortly after that. Tegel Flight Control has given us priority takeoff clearance, so we should be airborne shortly. Please fasten your seat belts, sit back, and enjoy the flight.”

Kerry gave the cabin a quick examination, as if to ensure that they were the only ones here. “They aren’t wasting any time getting underway.”

“They have nothing to hide now.” Annie set her empty glass aside for the attendant to gather. “Everyone knows what awaits at the end of the flight.” She shrugged and smiled. “Why pretend?”

“True that.” The engines started up and the plane began moving slowly forward as the attendant gathered their glasses and locked the closet door where they’d stored their luggage. Kerry set his hand upon the armrest between Annie and his chairs and held her hand in his, the same as they’d done on their last flight today, and as they had when they’d departed Amsterdam on their first flight to Salem. He remembered how nervous he’d been about the flight, because flying upped his anxiety levels and made it difficult for him to relax. During takeoff from Schiphol Airport he’d reached out and held Annie’s hand more out of nervousness than affection, because of an unnatural fear of crashing. If only I’d known then what I know now. He smiled at his sweetie as he gave her hand a tender squeeze. No way would we have crashed on that flight, nor will it happen this time, either

The captain spoke to the main cabins again. “This is the captain. We are next in line for takeoff. Will all attendants please take their positions and prepare for departure. Thank you.”

Annie and Kerry sat in silence as the engines maintained the same low drone while the plane turned left, straightened, and slowed to a stop. A few seconds later the pitch of the engines dropped away to almost nothing—

Kerry knew this moment perfectly. “Here we go.” Annie held his hand tightly as the engines were throttled wide open and they began hurtling down the runway. The plane shook and vibrated as it picked up speed:  twenty seconds later the nose rose and the 767 lifted into the air.

Turning to his left as soon as the landing gear retracted and locked into place, Kerry looked out the windows to the bright lights of Berlin beyond. “Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin.” He waved with his free hand. “It was fun.”

Annie waved with her left hand, saying her goodbyes with far less formal German. “Tschau, Berlin.” She turned to Kerry. “And it was fun. The most fun I’ve had there.”

He leaned over and kissed Annie’s cheek. “I hope we can do it again.”

“We will: I promise.”

Kerry didn’t take his eyes off his soul mate. “This is it, Sweetie: we’re going home.”

Annie felt something beyond words radiate from deep within her heart, for after the discussion in their last dream she knew the true meaning of his statement. “Yes, my love—” She settled against Kerry’s shoulder. “We’re going home.”

 

That's it, Kids.  Next stop:  home.

That’s it, Kids. Next stop: home.

Next scene they should be at school–

Really . . . don’t you know me by now?

The Past Through a Present Gate: Questions of the Past Answered

Blessed Beltane to everyone, near and far.  Somewhere, in another world, some kids are getting ready to torch a couple of huge bonfires, but they won’t be my kids, because in this time frame they’re D Levels and too told to qualify to light the fires.  By this time they’ve probably set some people on fire–just kidding.  I know exactly what they’re doing in Beltane 2015, and while they’ll be at the lighting, and doing some of the events after, they won’t torch them.

They’ll save that for the Deconstructors.

In the meantime I have naked statues at the Capitol Building facepalming for some reason . . .  I see this every morning to and from work, by the way.

Meanwhile I have naked statues at the Capitol Building face palming for some reason . . . I see this every morning to and from work, by the way.

Chapter Three is finished, and along with that Part One.  Annie and Kerry got through the summer with help, Kerry made it out of Cardiff pretty much unscathed, and kids finally met up again in Berlin.  And I wrote like crazy last night, hitting just short of two thousand words–if you count what I wrote yesterday morning, I did hit that number.  I wasn’t in any speed groove or something like that; I just wanted to finish their story and not leave any dangling threads.

Though I’m sure I’ve opened up a lot of questions for people.

Here’s the happy couple strolling through the Tiergarten on their way to the Berlin Victory Column . . .

 

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

Annie held up her charms to the light for a moment, watching the light dance over the silver. “When did you get this?”

“About a month ago.” He thought back to the moment when he’d decided to buy the gift. “I started looking for someone for you the day after our lunch in London, and found this after a couple of days. The next Monday, when my parents were at work, I went to the shop to check it out, told them what I had in mind, and they worked it up by Wednesday.” He chuckled. “When I got the travel package and confirmed that we were coming to Berlin on the day we first met, I knew I had to give it to you today.”

She kissed his hand. “Were you going to give it to me today anyway?”

“Yeah, but . . .” Kerry’s blush spread quickly. “It was going to be an anniversary present of one kind or another. Either for our first meeting, or . . .” He bowed his head and spoke in a revered tone. “The first time you told me you loved me.”

Annie pressed his hand against his cheek. “Out on our bench?”

“Out on our bench.”

“Any event would have been good.” She lowered their arms to their normal position between them. “But you’ve made this day even more special.”

 

Now, I did leave out a part here, and that’s Kerry running an earworm through his head and thinking about some song Annie listened to after they woke up from their afternoon name.  What was it?  Ha!  I’m not telling.  Oh, and I figured out on the walk into work what costumes Annie and Kerry will wear during the Samhain dance.  Not telling you that, either.

And now we get into a burning question, one that Kerry has through about–

 

“Thank you, honey.” They strolled along in silence for another thirty seconds before Kerry felt the need to speak. “Can I ask a question?”

“Of course. You can ask me anything.”

“Okay. Well, when we were in London you remembered who I was—right?”

She nodded slightly. “Yes, I’ve told you that.”

“Then how come you didn’t recognize me at first when we met?”

 

Good question, Kerry.  Annie gets to school and starts telling Deanna about how she remembers him, how she was going to come after his and not even go to Salem so she could, and . . . she doesn’t even recognize him.  And why?  She has an answer.

 

Annie turned and looked off into the midst of the Tiergarten, saying nothing for nearly a minute. “I thought about this when you got your memory of us back.” She turned her head so she was looking down the path they walked upon. “I didn’t want to talk about it at the time because of everything else going on, and since you didn’t bring it up before we went home for the summer, I decided I would either.

“But after our lunch last month I thought about that some more. I can remember you standing there in the light while I was hiding in shadow—I did that on purpose, by the way.”

“You did?”

“Yes. I knew you were with us, and I knew that eventually you’d show, so I wanted to surprise you. And when you showed up . . .” She sighed and glanced at Kerry. “I didn’t know you. I should have known you, but I didn’t recognize you at all. It wasn’t until you said your name that I finally figured out who you were.

“When I started giving it thought, when I started remembering that moment, I realized the problem: the way you looked hadn’t matched my memory of you. The way I remembered you when I saw you in that book store was how you were on the night of my tenth birthday—the night I told you in our dream that I was a witch.”

“I remember. I had just turned nine at the start of summer.”

“I know.” Annie leaned against Kerry as they walked. “I think whatever you did to lock out our dreams and your memory of them forced me to focus on one of the great events of those moments.”

Kerry shook slightly as Annie brought up their dream from last June, when she’d mentioned she was going away to school, and he’d freaked out because he’d imagined she was leaving him forever. His anxiety mixed with the magic neither of them knew at the time he could perform locked them out of their dreamspace and placed blocks around their memories: he forget her completely while Annie found she couldn’t remember the events of that evening.

And now it appeared his action affected her more than either had first imagined.

He lightly pressed his head against Annie’s. “I’m sorry, Sweetie. I didn’t know—”

“It wasn’t your fault.” She stood, chuckling. “It’s really The Foundation’s fault: they should have told you about being a witch months before. Anyway, know that’s what happened. I was expecting to see a sweet nine year old boy, and instead a—” Annie reached across and ran her left finger over his cheek. “Slight sullen and tired eleven year old boy stood in his place.” She planted a quick kiss on the same check. “At least I got the right boy in the end.”

At the time I was putting the whole, “I remember him from a dream, but he doesn’t remember me!” line together, I had to figure out a lot of things, and one of those was “Why didn’t Annie recognize him right away and leap into his arms and cause a scene in the book store?”  Now you know:  Kerry’s actions removed the image of him from her mind, and she remembered, for her, the “last perfect moment” they had together, when she told him her biggest secret.

And there will be no “But wait!  That’s not what really happened” pronouncements later.  This is what happened.

Now it’s Annie’s turn, and she asks a simple question:  why did you inscribe the locket with this message?  Given that, in that first month at school, Kerry wasn’t sure how to love the girl who loved him, the inscription came from out of nowhere and floored Annie–mostly because she wasn’t expecting anything from him for her birthday.  He has an answer as well–

 

“Yeah, well—” Kerry remembered those days as well, and the image he had of himself not knowing how to deal with Annie’s affection reminded him of their early days together. “I had no memory of a girl who tells me after a week that she loved me and that she had for a long time—”

“Which is why the inscription touched me so greatly.”

“I thought about that as well.” He readjusted his hand around hers and slowly his pace slightly. “I spoke to Coraline and Erywin at a Midnight Madness a couple of weeks before your birthday and told them I wanted to get you something, and asked if they could help. So the following Tuesday night, after we got back from Astronomy class, I go to shut off my computer and there’s an email from Erywin. She tells me they found a locket, showed me a picture of it, and asked if I wanted them to pick it up. They also wanted to know if I wanted it inscribed, and if so, what?

“I didn’t even have to think about it: I wrote back that I wanted our names together, and under that, ‘With Love’. I mean, it was like I knew it had to say that.” He sighed. “It was something you needed to keep close to your heart.”

 

You can probably figure out the inscription from the clues given.  And now that Annie knows this, it leads to a follow-up:

 

“I remember you saying that.” She stopped them there on the path. “Did you get a headache after you sent off the email?”

“Yeah: a small one.” He got the implications of Annie’s question. “It was déjà vu, wasn’t it?”

“I think so.” They’d discussed déjà vu and how it worked, that it was actually repressed memories trying to force their way to the surface, and that in Normals it usually manifested as the belief one was reliving an event—while in the Aware it often manifested as physical discomfort or pain, and depending on the intensity of the memory, the pain could become unbearable, sometime even debilitating. “It sounds as if your memories were bleeding out slowly, even then.”

“They were. Like you, I thought about it, and I realized that, after that first night, they were returning slowly. When I kissed you on the bench—”

“You said it felt like you should.”

“Because something was telling me that I’d kissed you before, and it was all right to kiss you again.” He leaned in and kissed her lightly. “I think your reminding me that you’d loved me a long time help start breaking down that wall—” His grin was slight and a bit sad. “It was up to me to do the rest.”

“And you did.” Annie kissed him back, brightening his mood.

“Took me forever, though.”

“Not forever, my love. Besides . . .” Annie hugged him softly as she whispered to her soul mate. “You feel in love me all over again. Not a lot of girls get something that special.”

Kerry pushed away the oncoming sadness. “Three times if you count when I got my memories back.”

“Three times, then.” She held on to him while gazing into his eyes. “Now I feel incredibly special.”

“You should, because I did it all for you.” Kerry held her right hand in a firm grip, holding on as if he never wanted to let go. “And always will.”

“I know.” Annie caressed his cheek. “Nyama nishto nyama da napravi za men, moya lyubov.”

 

“There is nothing you wouldn’t do for me, my love.”  That’s what Annie tells him in her own language, because it’s easier to express herself that way, and she knows Kerry loves to hear her speak Bulgarian.  And “Lyubov” is the other word for “love”, but more along the lines of, “You’re my love,” and “my love,’ as Annie says.

And now we have Kerry’s impressions of what was happening, and his recollections of why he did what–not just with the locket, but some other things–and they eventually get to this moment in the park–

 

“What you said. We should get going—” He playfully flicked the tip of her nose. “My Dark Witch.”

She stepped back from him as her tone changed to that of mock anger. “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife. But after what you just said, I’m not even sure I want to be that any more.” She huffed as she placed her hands upon her hips.

Kerry moved around behind Annie and sipped his hands around her waist. “I’m sorry, dearest witchy wife. Can you forgive me?”

“Well . . .” She looked over her shoulder and felt her face break into a grin. “I suppose I can—this time.” She spun around in his arms. “It’s another part of our past now.”

“A good part, or a bad one?”

This time Annie bestowed a sweet, passionate kiss upon the boy of her dreams, the boy whom she loved more than anything. “Good or bad, it’s still the past. And after we spent so much time last school year trying to bring back the past—” She closed her eyes as she sighed. “Can we just concentrate on what happens now, and what will come in the future?”

Kerry didn’t want to dwell on the past, either. Last year had been a roller coaster for them both, and he didn’t want to deal with that again, not this time. We’ll have enough to keep us occupied this year—I want to enjoy it, and what ever comes after. “That sounds like a plan. Let’s do this.”

She nodded. “Let’s.”

“Okay, then.” He held her right hand as he took a step to his right. “We should get going; we got a monument to visit.”

Annie skipped twice. “Then we should be off. Come along—” She tugged at his arm. “My Dark Witch.”

“As you wish—” Kerry began skipping along the path alongside the most important person in his life. “My Dark Witch.”

 

There they go, my twelve year old Dark Witches skipping off through the park, looking like twelve year old kids in love.  And there above you see something that will appear in all the novels:  Annie quoting “I’m not a witch–” from The Princess Bride.  That’s going to happen at least once in each book, just as I’ll always have an Annie birthday present, and we’ll see the Samhain costumes.  And you also see something else that will be a big part of this novel:  no looking to the past, it’ll all be about the here, the now, and the what will be.  And that’s because I’ve answered all the questions to answer about that Summer of ’12, and now we gotta look forward to the 2012/2013 Salem School Year, and what comes after when Kerry tells the folks he’s a witch.

For now, though:

Part One looks like a wrap, right?  Right.

Part One looks like a wrap, right? Right.

It’s time to start on Part Two and get my kids out of Europe and across the Atlantic.

And we’re gonna do that with a different version of the Midnight Madness . . .

The Past Through a Present Gate: The Long Walks

I was busy last night, believe me.  Busy trying to write; busy trying to stay focused; busy playing with new toys.  In the end I accomplished all three, but it was a struggle.

First, the toys:  since the new version of Google Maps has come out, I’ve been playing with devising routes to use within the story.  Last night part of  that evening was taken up checking on a route that is described in the third paragraph in the excerpt.  It’s not am exact took yet–there are some interesting choices that it picks when you’re walking, and they haven’t worked out how to layer the map yet so you can plan a route using planes, trains, and automobiles–but it’s still a lot of fun with play with and a time-consuming black hole that keeps you from writing.

Then again, the whole of this chapter sort of starts out like this . . .

First we leave the hotel and head through the park through the gate.

First we leave the hotel and head through the park through the gate.

Then, later in this excerpt, Annie will ask about something way off in the distance, and wants to know if they’re going there.

I've got that added to this trip as well--

I’ve got that added to this trip as well–

Then from there, if they decide they don’t want to hail a cab–

They can make the trip home from there.

They can make the trip home from there.

They’ll be plenty tired, but it’s not like anyone is going to wake them up in the morning.  After all, they are on their own for the most part–as are the other students attending this party.  And their first day back, they want to bask in that loving glow of being together.

With that said . . .

 

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

The sun had set an hour before and the sky was well approaching nautical twilight when Annie and Kerry strolled through Pariser Platz towards the eastern side of the Brandenburg Gate. The lights were coming on, illuminating the gate so that it could be seen clearly from the western end of the Tiergarten, at couple of kilometers away. The weather had been cool all day, around fifteen Celsius all day long, but the sky had remained mostly clear without a threat of rain, which made for an enjoyable day.

The day had went as expect. They’d spent the morning in the hotel cafe enjoying snacks and soft drinks while they worked out how they wanted to spend the next few days. They greeted Professor Semplen and Professor Grünbach, who were chaperoning the returning B Levels—as well as a few C and D Level students—back to school. They had lunch and talked and laughed before going up to the room to clean up before heading out.

They took the underground into the city. They visited Checkpoint Charlie, then walked a couple of blocks west to one of the surviving sections of the Berlin Wall. They walked north to Potsdamer Platz and spent about ten minutes there looking around before walking a few blocks over to the Berlin Philharmonic Hall. They hailed a cab and took it north to the Reichstag Building and hung out in the Platz der Republik for a while before heading over to the Spreebogenpark and a quiet, slow walk along the banks of the Spree River.

 

Just this part alone kept me, um, “busy” for about an hour.  It’s amazing how caught up you can get in something like this–

Just like I am right now--see?

Just like I am right now–see?

There’s the walk, laid out for all to see.  For a little trivia, Friedrichstraße 46 is the actual location of Checkpoint Charlie, one of the controlled passages between then West and East Berlin.  And the stop at Niederkirchnerstraße 1 is where one of the remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall exists today.  That spot is also the former location of the Gestapo and SS headquarters, upon which now sits a museum.

And after this walk ended . . .

 

Then it was another cab back to the hotel for a nap and early dinner before heading out into the coming evening for a walk through the Tiergarten to take the long way around so they could walk through the Brandenburg Gate.

Though there was a crowd mulling around the historic landmark, Kerry didn’t feel like he was stuck in the middle of huge throng of people. He felt calm and relaxed, if only a little tired from all the walking. Even with all the walking he felt he’d gotten enough rest to keep from burning out and growing stiff, though he wondered if he’d been throwing out a little transformation magic here and there to off-set the fatigue he should be feeling at this moment.

Annie doesn’t seem that tired either. Kerry gave her hand a squeeze, making her glance at him and smile. Then again, she does a lot more walking back and forth between her houses than I do at my place. None of this really concerned him at the moment: he had other things on his mind.

As they cleared the gate and walked out onto the western plaza, Annie pointed westward down Straße des 17. Juni towards the Berlin Victory Column in the distance. “Are we heading down there?”

“I’d like to, but first—” He pointed towards a large lamp post off to their left. “Let’s go over there for a moment.”

Annie nodded and walked alongside her soul mate. She was aware of his moods, and he knew there was something on Kerry’s mind. When they’d been out walking this afternoon he’d kept conversation to a minimum, as he usually did when they were out sightseeing—much like he’d done when they’d toured London last year. Annie didn’t have to remember that Kerry had been a completely different person then, but it wasn’t hard to tell he was acting different this evening.

 

Kerry with something on his mind?  Perish the thought!  He does have something on his mind, and we’re gonna find out what right now–

 

They rested under the light post, which was on and growing brighter in the gathering night. He leaned back against the post before wrapping his arms around Annie. He pressed his lips softly against hers and drew out a long kiss from his soul mate. He’d already kissed Annie a dozen times since meeting her upon his arrival in Berlin, but right now this was the best kiss he’d received today. Perhaps the best of the night—no, the best of the night was yet to come . . .

He rested his forehead against Annie’s. “You know how great you make me feel, just being here with me?”

“Maybe a good as I feel with you?” She hung her hands over his shoulders and signed. “If only every day could be like this—”

“We’d get tired walking around all day.” They both chuckled as he straightened. “Tomorrow is gonna be fun—”

“And there won’t be as much walking.”

“No, there won’t.” He took a moment to shrugged off his backpack. “But before we do anything else—”

He unzipped one compartment of his backpack and reached inside: a moment later he extracted a small but long black jewelry box. “Happy Anniversary, Sweetie.”

 

Kerry has changed a lot in the last year, just as Annie thought.  He isn’t the same kid that walked through Founder’s Gate at school, and it’s rather telling that he’s walking through another gate a completely different person.

Right now they're standing by that big light pole on the left.  If you squint hard, you can imagine two twelve year old kids standing there.

Right now they’re standing by that big light pole on the right. If you squint hard, you can imagine two twelve year old kids standing there.

Annie is, needless to say, touched right to her soul.  And what is the gift?  Let’s see:

 

Annie was almost at a lost for words. “You remembered.”

“The day we first met face-to-face at Bount Books?” He shook his head. “Not a chance.” He turned the box around for her. “Go ahead: open it.”

She opened the jewelry box and removed the gift, holding it up so they could both see. “A charm bracelet—”

“Yeah.” Kerry snapped the box closed and returned it to his backpack while Annie examined the bracelet. “Let me have that—” He took it from her and stretched it out. “Give me your left hand.”

Annie held out her hand and let Kerry fasten the bracelet around her wrist. Only then did she give it a close examination . . .

The strand holding each of the charms was silver, and of high quality from what Annie saw. The charm holders were small, hollowed-out silver spheres that fit over the strand, of which there were about a dozen. At the moment only two charms were present: a small circle with an “A” pressed against a light green background, and two entwined hearts with “A” and “K” pressed into them, side-by-side. “It’s beautiful.”

“Thank you.” Kerry stared at his feet while the blush crept into his cheeks. “I hoped you would like it.”

“I love it.” Annie wrapped her arms around his shoulders and neck and kissed him. “I’ve never owned a charm bracelet before, and now I have one to match my locket. Thank you, my love.”

“You’re welcome.”

She held up her wrist for Kerry to see. “I know the meaning of the hearts, but what of the A?”

“Well, it was my understanding that your charms are supposed to mean something.” Kerry pointed at the single letter. “I thought it might be nice to have something showing every level of school we’ve finished. So . . . A.”

“I see.” Annie hung on Kerry, smiling. “You said ‘we’.”

“I did, didn’t I?”

“You did.”

“That’s because we’re in this together.” He pulled out his mobile.” Let me get pictures of you in front of the gate.”

 

This whole last section I wrote this morning, starting about five-ten and finishing up about ten minutes later.  It actually started out as a gold locket, but then it wouldn’t match Annie’s silver locket if that was the case, right?  And I want them to match because it’s important.  After all, Kerry would pick up on a little detail like that.

A little over eleven hundred words for this scene, and the novel just cruised over twenty-two thousand words.  A pretty good output for almost three weeks of writing.  And I realize, once I’ve finished this scene, it’s not just Chapter Three that’s complete, it’s Part One of Act One.  I hope that by tomorrow evening I can start on Part Two and get my kids back to school–starting with a great idea for their flight home.  I should get to that soon–

Not much more to go for this chapter--but I've said that before.

Because here’s not much more to go here–but haven’t I’ve said that before?

Reacquaintance at the Crowne

And just like that, I’ve done in another scene and passed twenty thousand words in the novel, and that last took just two and a half weeks.  I even took note of word number twenty thousand, because why not?  I like doing that stuff.

I wasn’t only writing, however:  I was playing around with the new Google Maps, which I didn’t think I was going to like at all, but now that I’m figuring out things I can do with it, it’s a whole lot of fun.  It’ll show up in tomorrow’s post more, because I did some checking on landmarks for that scene, and the result are pretty impressive.

But for now, it’s back to Berlin . . .

First off, there’s the matter of Kerry’s room in the hotel, which is at the Crowne Plaza Berlin City Center–and we do mean right in the city center, more or less.  You’ll see what I mean when I lay out the maps tomorrow, but they are close to a lot of stuff . . .

Hotel on the left, and on the right, far in the background, the impressive building is actually a Bus/Underground hub.  The Foundation thinks of everything.

Hotel down the street on the left, and on the right, far in the background, the squat, impressive-looking building is actually a Bus/Underground hub. The Foundation thinks of everything when it comes to location.  So do I.

So after the Lunch in London, after the French Dream Connection, after the Dinner Embarrassment, after the Early Morning Pick Up, Kerry’s finally back where he wants to be–with Annie.  Alone.  For what will be, for now, another four months . . .

 

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

Kerry opened his arms as Annie skipped towards him, wrapping them around her as soon as they touched. They gazed into each other’s eyes for a few seconds before kissing long and passionately. Though he’d been with Annie only a few weeks earlier, and they’d shared a couple of dreams, he felt as if he’d not seen her in the longest time.

When the kiss finally broke he burned his face in here chestnut hair. “Hi, Sweetie.”

“Hello, my love.” Annie kissed him on the cheek. “I’m so happy to see you.”

“As much as I am you.” He kissed her cheek back. “I’m surprised you could get in here.”

“Oh—” She flashed a broad grin. “The hotel was more than accommodating.” She stepped back and pulled him along. “Come see.” She led him through the now open double doors to the room beyond.

The bedroom was nearly the same dimensions as the living suite behind them. There was a table and chairs next to the window on their right, a king-sized bed against the wall in front of them, a couple of chest of drawers across from the foot of the bed and against the wall on their left, next to the entrance to the master bathroom. Atop the chest of drawers across from the foot of the bed was a small television: it was currently turned it to a music channel that Annie muted the moment she heard Kerry entering the other room.

He looked around and gasped in a small, quiet voice. “Wow. This is better than the room we had in—that other place.” He remembered what Helena said about The Foundation using listening spells at some hotels, and didn’t want anyone who could be listening in knowing he’d spoken about something of which he wasn’t supposed to speak.

“Yes, it is.” Annie hung on to his left arm. “It’s a deluxe suite: one of the Crowne’s best.”

 

As I pointed out yesterday, since they’re returning students there’s no need for The Foundation to go through all the subterfuge they went through for the “You Know Nothing” A Levels who didn’t know the real story.  No more screwing around:  you know the people who pay for your education can pay for a lot more, and they’re doing just that.

Of course, Kerry needs a little more information . . .

 

“Leave it to The Foundation to spring for some good rooms.” He turned to Annie. “Is your room like this?”

“Oh, yes.” She nodded slowly. “You could say it’s identical.”

Kerry was about to ask for her room number when he saw the quizzical look on Annie’s face, and as he watched her brows slowly arched upward did her finally understand. “Oh. This is your room, too.”

Annie’s eyes rolled up in her head as she laughed. “Vie ste tolkova nevezhi.” She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. “Of course it’s my room. Tova e neshto dobro az te obicham.”

Kerry was aware that “obicham” was the Bulgarian word for love, and since he’d heard Annie say “Obicham te” many times before, he was aware she was telling him that whatever she’d said the first time, it didn’t matter, because she loved him. He went up on his toe and kissed her forehead. “I az te obicham.”

 

And here we are again, with out kids sharing digs.  I’ll get to the Who and What part in a second, but first, there’s Annie spouting off some more Bulgarian.  I use one of the online translators to get my sentences, and eventually I’ll find someone who knows Bulgarian to give me exact translations.  But a quick overview of the above–

“Nevezhi” is clueless, which we all know Kerry to be.  “Obicham”–as Kerry also pointed out–is one of the words for love.  “Obicham te” is “I love you,” and what Kerry says in return is “I love you, too.”  An interesting thing is that “He obicham” mean “I dislike/hate you,” which kinda makes it the Good/Ungood of the Bulgarian world.  I keep track of all this through my scene notes:

Which also keep track of what words hit a milestone.  I'm strange that way.

Which also keep track of hotels and what words hit a milestone. I’m strange that way.

But the question remains:  who put this together.  Annie has it figured out . . .

 

She hugged him tightly before letting him go. “Your accent is coming along.”

“I’ve been working on getting it right.” He examined the bedroom before turning back to Annie. “Who put us together like this?”

“I believe . . .” Annie went over and sat on the end of the bed. “Ms. Rutherford book this room.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because there was a message waiting at the front desk when I checked in with Mama.”

Hearing Annie speak those last few words peeked Kerry’s interest. “She didn’t read it, did she?”

“No. Papa and she brought me to the airport, and Papa went on to work while Mama came with me to the hotel.” She grinned up at the still standing Kerry. “Did you come in a Mercedes?”

“Yeah.” It was his first time riding in one, so he made sure to examine it closely. “It was an E-Class.”

“They’re nice: Papa’s driven them on a few occasions.” Annie returned to the previous conversation. “Mama went back to the airport as soon as I was checked in; I read the message as soon as I got to the room. It said you’d check in about an hour after I arrived, and that I should leave—” Annie glanced down at the floor for a moment, and when she looked back at Kerry, a sly grin was faintly visible upon her face. “—a suitably ambiguous message telling you where I was.” She shrugged. “So I did.”

 

Now we know Papa drives Mercedes at times, and what sort of cars they took from the airport to the hotel in Berlin.  Again, The Foundation is being nice to their returning students, and it shows.  Though they probably didn’t have anything to do with booking to twelve year old kids in the same room, but what the hell?

So with that information out of the way, my kids can get down to what they’ve been waiting to do for a long time . . .

 

“And it was good.” Kerry sat to Annie’s right, as he always did. Now that the excitement of their reuniting was over, he could relax and enjoy being close to his soul mate once more. It’s not like when we were in London. He reached up and brushed her hair back from her right ear, bringing her small gold hoop earrings into the light. He ran his finger over her ear ridge, eliciting a giggle as she tilted her head towards him. “Does that tickle?”

“Yes, it does.” She pressing her head against her shoulder, trapping his fingers between. “We have almost all day today, all day tomorrow, and most of the day Wednesday.” She slid towards Kerry until their thighs and hips were touching. She took his hand and massaged it between hers. “You should unpack, and then we can work on what we’re going to do the next few days.” Annie nuzzled their combined hands. “You have your computer in your backpack?”

“In the next room.” Kerry’s heart softened being close to Annie once more. He’d felt this way for the first five minutes they were together in Russel Square, and that feeling of closeness, of togetherness, of love . . . of excitement: it was back. He was with Annie once again. “I wouldn’t ever leave it at home.”

“I didn’t think you would. And I know you can put it to good use here.” Annie turned slowly so she was facing him. “Just like you did in London.”

He didn’t attempt to pull his hand free from Annie’s grip. “You know your way around Berlin?”

“Not like I know other cities.” She leaned closer to her love. “Wait until next year when we’re in Paris . . .” Annie pulled her right leg under her, making herself a little taller. “I know that city so well . . .”

She pressed herself against Kerry, pushing him backwards. She fell next to him but kept herself propped up on her elbows. She gently lay a kiss upon his lips, holding it for five, ten, fifteen seconds before she stopped. “Seven week since the last time we kissed like that.”

“Yes, it has been that long.” Kerry wrapped his left arm around Annie and let his fingers glide over her back. “But it’s over.”

“Though you know what?”

“What?”

Annie slowly settled next to Kerry, snuggling against him while laying here left arm across his chest. “The days passed a great deal slower than I expected.”

 

Annie’s gettin’ her moves on!  Well, she is the more aggressive of the pair, though Kerry is starting to come along.  Knowing Mr. I Analyze Everything, it’s pretty much even money that he knows if he tries a similar move like Annie just pulled, things might happen, and he has enough embarrassment in his life without that happening.

Just give him time, though.  They’ll be more then enough opportunities to blush for his girlfriend.

Willkommen in Berlin und Schmerz

I’m in Berlin–well, not me, exactly, but Kerry is there.  But getting there wasn’t easy, and as the title of this post indicates, there were issues along the way.

Last night was my second electrolysis session, and I did things a lot differently than last time.  I put a topical on my face; I brought my ibuprofen with me to take afterwards, and I let my whiskers grow out an extra day, which had me at work yesterday with a bad case of cactus face.  So I was ready, more or less.

What I wasn’t ready for was the pain.

We debated why it hurt so much more this time, but the pain was far worse at times than the last session.  I came to the conclusion that it was due to the last session being in the down hormone cycle leading up to my shot, and this one last night came a few days after my shot, when I’ve got all those nice hormones coursing through my body, and my skin is nice and sensitive.  More hairs came out, and there was less swelling, but jeez:  I was squirming a lot.

Trust me:  it hurt a lot more than it looks.

Trust me: it hurt a lot more than it looks.

I needed ice on my face after this one, and then . . . I felt like a cold was coming on.  So I heated up to medication and had a nice hot cup of Away With You Cold while I kept icing my face.  After about an hour or so it was much better, but you know where they is going:

Not a lot of writing was done last night.  Nope, not at all.

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t writing, but three hundred and twenty words is not my best effort.  Given how I felt it was a wonder I got that much done, but one must do what they can to get that girlish skin, right?  And I did my best, that’s for sure, while going back for more next week.

For now, however, Kerry is right where he should be . . .

On the way to the hotel . . . welcome to Berlin, kid.

On the way to the hotel . . . welcome to Berlin, kid.

And what is it like there?  Glad you asked.

 

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

Kerry entered the hotel room and hurried his luggage through the door before it latched shut. In about a half hour he’d traveled eleven hundred kilometers, with most of the time spent getting from one jaunt station to the other. And as Ms. Rutherford had said, getting checked in at Tegal Airport took about two minutes—he had to give his name and press his left palm against a screen to prove he’d arrived on schedule in Berlin—and then another twenty minutes to drive to the City Center Crowne Plaza Berlin on Nuernberger Strasse.

And also as Ms. Rutherford had promised, when he asked for Annie Kirilova’s room number, the manager informed him that a message concerning Miss Kirilova’s room would be found in his own room. Ms. Rutherford arched her brows, smiled, and told him to enjoy his stay in Berlin before turning on her heel and returning to the car waiting outside.

Kerry examined in his room. In a way it reminded him of the suite in Kansas city except there wasn’t a bed here. There was a large closet on the right as he walked in; before him was a entertainment center with a television atop, and across from that was a large soft. Closer to the window overlooking the park beyond was a table and chairs. There were a set of closed double doors in the left wall on the other side of the entertainment center—

There was also an envelope next to the television.

Kerry set his backpack down and reached for the envelope, opening it as quickly as his fingers would allow. The message left for him was simple:

I’m closer than you think.

Annie

“’I’m closer than you think’—” Kerry sighed. “What does that mean?”

The double doors opened slowly. “It means—” Annie leaned against the door on her right and turned towards her astonished soul mate. “—I’m closer than you think.”

 

Nice surprise, don’t you think?

Building the B

When I’m starting to build a novel, a lot of things are going on, primarily there’s a bit of adding to the world to start getting things down the way they should be for my characters.  That was what last night was all about:  adding to the world, and by doing so I was setting up scenes for my kids.

Most of the work I did last night involved getting into Chapters Three and Four, with deal with reunions and returns.  In A For Advanced I didn’t deal a lot with Annie and Kerry being in Amsterdam:  the real meeting was in London, and I sort of knew my way around the city there, with the real work coming laying in planning out their Saturday Day Trip.  But I’m back in a new city, with new things to see and do, and my kids have a few days to kill in Germany before flying back to school, so . . .

I have my work cut out for me once more.

Five chapters kinda down, how many more to go is anyone's guess.

Five chapters kinda down, how many more to go is anyone’s guess.

Chapter Three is all about getting the kids back together and comfortable being in the presence of each other once again.  The third scene in that chapter, Happy Anniversary, is the one I mentioned yesterday, where Annie and Kerry are out standing by the Brandenburg Gate as night falls on the city, and this happens on their first day/night in the city, which happens to be the anniversary of their first physical meeting.  In time I’ll build up that scene–with help from Google Maps, which will allow to be “stand” there and get ideas of what my kids are seeing–but that’s not going to come until I’m actually ready to start writing it down.

I have done my home work, however, and that took up a considerable amount of time, mostly because I was looking for a good hotel where my kids could stay, and after I found something I liked I wanted to see where it was located within the city.  Having access to public transportation–particularly the underground–is important, and having a good hotel doesn’t mean anything if my kids are stranded in the middle of an urban nowhere with nothing to do for a few days except sit and watch TV and . . . well, I’m sure my kids would figure something out.

As you can see I’ve found my hotel and room . . .

Never have to worry about booking, however:  The Foundation has that covered.

Never have to worry about booking, however: The Foundation has that covered.

And the location in the city is a good one for them–

It looks a lot better from the ground.

It looks a lot better from the ground.

That big blue “U” sign near center-bottom is the Wittenbergplatz station, and from there my kids can take that line to Potsdamer Platz and walk up the street to the Gate.  This also also, I discovered, will take them to the old Olympic Stadium and to the Berlin Zoo–

Because the line near their hotel is U2, and it will take them to Zoo Station–which was the song Kerry listened to when flying with Vicky a week after they arrived at Salem.

Funny how that worked out.

Das Finden der Berliner U-Bahn

Excused the poorly translated title today, but this is where I’m going.  And I need it today, believe me, after getting a bit of sticker shock yesterday from having my car worked on, and then getting into a rather epic editing session where I put away three chapters of Kolor Ijo, tuning up seventy-five hundred words and finishing off Part Two in the process.

But yesterday, my mind was mostly with my kids.

I’m back trying to work out the details of the next novel in my head and on the computer, and it’s usually coming at times when I should be doing other things, but dammit, those kids won’t leave me alone now.  They get that way, because they want to see the light of day again, damned witchy brats.

So I’m running the outline around in my head, and remembering things that came up when I laid out stuff the first time in Aeon Timeline.  Keep in mind that the first time I did a layout of this next novel, I had a bit of an overview:  there wasn’t nearly the same level of detail, so I’m in the process of laying that out.  And one of those areas that I’m laying out is where Annie and Kerry meet up while waiting to fly back to Boston and return to Salem.  It’s going to be a city in Europe, naturally, but where?

Well . . .

Achtung, baby

Achtung, baby.

Right there, in lovely Berlin.  It’s where all the B Levels–who are still pretending to not be witches and act like they’re regular students–and some of the C, D, E, and F Levels hang out before departing for America.  You may say, “Why not just jaunt them over?” and that’s true:  I could do that.  And I will do that when the kids are no longer pretending not to be witches.  But right now the long con is still on, so let’s pretend they’re going to a school for gifted children, one which isn’t in Upstate New York and has a SR-71 hidden under the basketball court.  No, the school they’re going to doesn’t need a Blackbird:  the kids are dangerous enough on their own.

One of the scenes I’m considering takes place near the Brandenburg Gate, which is one of the more well known sights in the city.  Annie and Kerry will visit it the night of 27 August, which, if you’re score at home, is the anniversary of their meeting in public for the first time.  This is also the day they both arrive in Berlin, so much fun and merriment will occur–or at the least they’ll get out for a quite dinner together.

This means I’m looking at public transportation in the city, preferably using their subway/train system.  If you zoom in on the city, you’ll start picking out stations.  And if you click on those stations . . .

You get a station name!

You get a station name!

But notice something else:  you see colored lines on the map.  Those colored lines are the actual underground routes, and this is a feature that Google Maps does for you in nearly every city.  So if I need a quick and dirty map of the city’s rail system, I find a station way out in the middle of nowhere–

Sorry, Hönow, but it had to be you.

Sorry, Hönow, but it had to be you.

–and once this lights up the routes, you have a quick and dirty map.

Which means I now have an interactive way of seeing what's close to what stations I need for my story.

Which means I now have an interactive way of seeing what’s close to what stations I need for my story.

Also, if you get a pop-up for a station, and you click on “More”, you’ll find the schedule for that station–

Which is most helpful only if you know what you're reading.

Which is most helpful only if you know what you’re reading.

Though you can always go off and look at the website and get that information there.

Wow, how first decade 21st Century this is.

Wow, how first decade 21st Century this is.

But this is a start for something that may end up as a paragraph or two in the scene with them outside the gate.  This is all stuff that ran through my head yesterday, and now you see some of the process I use just to get the background I need for setting up a scene.  It may seem just a little crazy–

But, hey:  that’s how my mind works.

You might even say it takes my breath away . . .