Memories Among the Recollections of the Present

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

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

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

There, in all it's grayish glory!

There, in all its grayish glory!

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

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

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

I haz proof!

I haz proof!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

“You knew her?”

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


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

Whatcha gonna talk about, Annie?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Now, what does Deanna want?  Well . . .


“I need to see some video.”

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

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

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

“Yes, it was.”

“You recorded that?”

“I record everything—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I remember. Why are we seeing this?”

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


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

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

Writing When it Isn’t

This is one of those posts where I really get more into what goes into the story than the actual story itself.  Because, as you’re gonna see, there isn’t a hell of a lot to the story.

See, I fully to sit down and really get into the story, but the truth is, I had too many distractions.  One, I was busy catching up with people I hadn’t seen in a while.  Two, I was really sort of burned out from all the writing I did over the weekend, and pushing away this huge cloud of depression that’s hung over me (and is still there, which is why I’m writing at three-thirty in the morning right now), and three, I needed to do research for something, the something being in the excerpt below.

It’s all about Crazy Wanda, who caused me problems.  You can see it below, right after the first two paragraphs which were posted in yesterday’s excerpt–


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

“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?”

Deanna chuckled. “Wanda de Meeuwsen from Dieden, Netherlands, which is still a small down on the southern banks of the Maas River. The story is she showed up before Founder’s Gate one morning in June, 1791, a twenty-one year old woman with a sack full of books and the clothes on her back, and told the then headmistress that she was there to take over as the new Divination instructor.

“Now, things like this didn’t happen too often—in fact this had never happened before. There weren’t many people who knew of the school’s existence, even in Europe, and instructors were personally invited to join the school. And one couldn’t jaunt to the front gate, because the exact location of The Pentagram wasn’t known except to most of the instructors and a few of the advanced students. Which meant someone had to tell her about where the school was located and she hiked there from Gloucester, or she saw it in a vision, which is what she told everyone once they had the chance to sit down and talk.

“The interesting thing—or scary, depending on your point of view—is that the school seer left her position the week before to return to her home in Pennsylvania. The headmistress and coven leaders were still debating who they wanted to invite into the fold to teach, and had yet to reach a decision. There was absolutely no way anyone outside the school, much less someone in Europe, would have that information that soon.” Deanna shrugged. “The leaders assumed that Wanda’s story about having a vision was true, and invited her to teach.


And that’s where I left it off, only two hundred and seventy-eight words into the scene.  But it’s that third paragraph that caused me the most problems, because I needed some history for Wanda de Meeuwsen.  I mean, I knew she was twenty-one in 1791, which means she was born in The Netherlands in 1770, and I had a vague idea of where she was born, but that’s it.  So I had to look.

First off, I needed to find where she was born because it’s important–trust me on this one.  So I started looking.  I wanted her to come from a village on the shores of the Maas River, which is also known as the Meuse River in France and Belgium.  So I had to go looking for a suitable place, and ended up here:

Black arrow marks the spot.

Black arrow marks the spot.

So I had that.  Which leads to problem number two, and that is Founder’s Gate.  Now I know that in 1791 Founder’s Gate exists, because the school began in 1683, and the Pentagram Walls were one of the first things to go up.  Now, I had some old notes located in another source for when everything was built, but what bothered me was that I didn’t have this information on my main time line, which is like saying I didn’t have it right at my fingertips.  And that led to this:

Can't tell a coven leader without a score card.

Can’t tell a coven leader without a score card.

I decided to update my main timeline with all the good information, which not only included when most of the buildings were constructed, but the lives and times of the Five Founders.  Right off the bat you see that Astria Blomqvist, the leader of Cernunnos Cover where my kids hang out, was a few months short of her ninety-ninth birthday when the School at Salem was founded, and that Lucille van der Kroft was nearly fifty years younger.  Also, Vivian Lovecraft lived the shortest–6694 weeks, or 46858 days–and that’s probably because sorceresses got the short end of the stick back then, as well as the pointy one.  Oh, didn’t I mention she was a sorceress?  Probably just a coincidence that Helena and she aren’t related . . .

So now I know when all these things happen, when most of the stuff was built at Salem, and when certain people lived and died.  Should be done, right?


See, I had to go into my Blender Map and look up something, and while I was there I started wondering–remember when I said I was going to model Kerry’s broom?  Well, you might not, but I do, and I started playing around with forms.  Really, if I don’t want to get too fancy it’s all a matter of just sticking certain polygons together and joining them, but I have to get measurements correct, and make sure everything is proportioned right, and that takes time, too.  Then I had to remember how to do certain things, and as I did the realization came back that there are certain things in Blender that aren’t easy to do, so you have to do that stuff the old fashion way, which is slowly.  I also discovered that I didn’t know how to make the flattened nose of Kerry’s Espinoza, while at the same time I wasn’t interested in doing a hell of a lot of research on the matter . . .

The end result was I modeled his Class 1 Espinoza 4500, and built a couple of stick figures to stand next to it for size reference.  You wanna see?  Of course you do–

Can you tell which one is supposed to be Annie?  I bet you can--

Can you tell which one is supposed to be Annie? I’ll bet you can–

Now, the broom is hovering a little low, and the seat should be a touch thicker, but that’s it:  a meter and a half long with the frame about ten centimeters in diameter, which is about the same size as the candle I have sitting next to my computer.  Not much to look at, is it?  But now that I have this, I can probably model the Class 2 as well.  Just need a bigger processor in the back, handlebars, and the canards in the front.  Piece of cake.

And that’s what happens when you decide to throw in a witch for a scene.  Before you know it, all sorts of other stuff happens.

It’s a conspiracy, I tell ya!

Flying With the Pack

Never let it be said that I didn’t know how to deal with a lack of sleep.  That’s easy:  you take a nap when you get home from a long, boring day at work.  The downside of that action:  I didn’t head off to bed until after midnight, and there wasn’t a lot of writing for various reasons, number one of which was still feeling tired as hell.  Yes, the next time so asshole decides to burn a meal at two-thirty in the morning, I think I’ll head down to his place and help him finish cooking, Carol Peletier-style.

Needless to say, I’m kinda running on empty this morning with a whole lot of nothing ahead of me today.  I’m considering taking off for a long drive just to get the hell out of the apartment so I’m not sitting around napping between bouts of struggling to remain awake.  Hey, I could be in the mountains in a couple of hours if I get on the road by nine . . .

Assuming I can finish this post writing like this.

Assuming I can finish this post writing like this.

Now, time wouldn’t matter if I had a Class 1 PAV, because I could zip off to Colorado in about five hours if I were of a mind.  But I don’t have one, otherwise this witch would be flyin’ the hell out of here.  All I have is a car, unfortunately, so I have to make do with that.  Kerry, on the other hand, not only has a PAV, but he has access to a number of them.  Today’s scene, however, has him going back to basics, so to speak, as he gets to race on the good ‘ol reliable brooms like the one he keeps in his room or in Hammerspace.  And in today’s scene he’s racing–


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

The Black Saturday races were know as the Fifteen on the Green: fifteen laps on the Green Line using Class 1 PAVs. The Class 1s were what everyone learned to fly during their A Levels, and while they were the broom of choice of the B Teams, once a student reached the A Team those were usually cast aside in favor of the Class 2s and 3s. While American Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated at the school, Black Weekend—as the period was often called these days—was a time to celebrate magical traditions, and racing on the modern equivalent of the original witch’s broom was as traditional as it got.

The Green Line was used because it was the first of the three courses constructed, and the one upon which every racer started. There was almost nothing technical about the course: it was wide, flat, and fast, with almost nothing in the way of elevation change. An average lap on a Class 1 of about three and a half minutes was possible on the eleven and a half kilometer course, and a good racer could cut that time to three minutes on a Class 2.

And there in lay the problem: by the time a racer made the A Team they were skilled with the speed and maneuverability of the Class 2, so racing all out on a Class 1 became second nature, something one could do with relative ease. The combination of the simplicity of the track and broom, combined with the skill of the pilots, meant the Fifteen on the Green races looked remarkably like the last race from Talladega that Kerry watched three years before.

He would discover just how hard this particular race actually was.


As you can guess, it’s not going to be a lot fun out on the course for Kerry, and while there’s a lot more to this scene, I’m not giving it to you.  This is just a teaser; a taste of what’s to coming.  You’ll see it all before the weekend is out, but not right now.

It’s time for me to fly.

I hear the mountains calling.

Bringing the Madness Once More

Well, that didn’t take long . . .

When it comes to saying, “I’m not gonna work on something and finished it today,” I’m probably lying by butt off.  I said I wasn’t going to do the Red Line in full right away, but . . . well, I had time on my hands and a program in front of me, so I figured, what the hell?

I at least have the route laid out in its glory, though there are a few areas I need to smooth out because when you’re working in three dimensions you can do that.  That will be this week.

So here it is, from a couple of different views.  First, from the south:

What you might see if you were camped out over Gloucester.

What you might see if you were camped out over Gloucester.

And then from the northwest:

Only because I don't see the school like this often.

Only because I don’t see the school like this often.

And one view from due east that shows the grid and how high some of the turns are.

Like, really high.

Like, really high.

Each gird box is one hundred meters on each side, or three hundred and twenty-eight feet.  So besides K1 (in the middle) going up a thousand meters, you have Plateau, (on the right north of the Observatory) at just over three hundred meters, Corkscrew (the climb and circles half-way between the Pentagram in the center and the far left) at four hundred, and The Point all the way to the left going up five hundred meters before diving towards the ground.

I view my tracks a lot like those used in Formula 1.  The Green Line is a lot like Monza in Italy:  fast with just enough curves and chicanes to keep you from crashing and burning too hard.  The Blue Line is like Spa Francorchamps:  big and fast, but a bit more technically challenging.  The Red Line is like the Nürburgring Nordschleife, demanding as hell with all the curves, though I’m not sure what this makes Mount Katahdin–though the races do call the later The White Hell . . .

By the way, the top part of Corkscrew is how high Kerry went the first time he checked out on an Espinoza with Vicky.  As for the Mile High flight, Annie and Kerry when just over three times higher than K1.  They was way up there.

And there was writing!  Like right here:


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

Annie danced past the foot of her bed on the way to her dresser and Little Talks began playing on the music stream she’d selected from her room’s computer terminal. She’d already hung up her uniform; all that remained was to put up her shoes, pull out her blue slippers, close up the dresser, and wait, knowing she wouldn’t need to wait long.

She checked her appearance in the full-length mirror. Makeup off, hair combed right, touch of gloss, and nails a lovely light blue thanks to the time spell she’d practiced over the summer that allowed her to do her feet and hands property in about forty five minutes instead of three hours it would take if she allowed the several layers of coatings and polish to dry naturally. Annie examined her fingertips carefully once last time before skipping over to the computer terminal to check the time.

Twenty-one forty-five. Just as she shut off the music there was a knock on the door. A huge grin appeared as she grabbed her robe off the bed. Punctual as always.


If it’s Friday night, it must be time for the Midnight Madness.  And this is the first of the year, so one must look their best, right?  Once again we have Dancing Annie, listening to music on the computer terminal set up in her room–and, yes, they were there last year, but we never really discussed them.  She doesn’t have a laptop, however:  more like a device that lets her get into the school network cloud, so she is connected to messages and the whatnot.

And here she is checking out her nails again.  It was established last year she likes doing her nails, so she’s got them ready once more.  Probably for someone special . . .


Annie flung open the door: Kerry stood in the corridor, wearing his gray pajamas, black slippers, and dark gray robe. The moment he saw his soul mate on the other side of the door he pretended to adjust a bow tie before cocking his head slight to one side and greeting her using a soft, fake, English accent. “Hello, Sweetie.”

Annie slipped on her robe and commanded her lights off as she stepped into the corridor, closing the door behind her. “Hello, my love.” She slid her arms around Kerry and gave him a tender kiss. “Miss me?”

“Any time I’m away I miss you.” He sidestepped and held out his arm for her to take. “Shall we go?”

“We shall.” She took his arm and walked with him towards the staircase. “I didn’t think this week would feel so long.”


It’s not been mentioned before–well, just a little maybe–but Kerry and Annie pretty much greet each other from time-to-time like The Doctor and River Song, and given that they’re both messing around with time spells . . .  Kerry was actually pantomiming the Eleventh Doctor adjusting his bow tie, something he did when he first saw Annie in her flight gear their first day in Beginning Flight.

Speaking of flight–


“I think it was a lot of what we did today.” He held her hand as they took the stairs to the first floor. “Not to mention with all the advanced classes we’ve got longer days than everyone else.” They strolled through the A Levels’ area, nodding at two girls who were just leaving their rooms. “That’s gonna make all the weeks long.”

“And we have class Sunday morning.” She chuckled as they almost bounced down the stairs leading to the main floor commons. “And if you go out for racing—”

Kerry humphed. “If I get accepted, you mean.”

“If you go out, you’ll get accepted.” She guided him around as they reached the ground floor and turned to their left on their way across the commons to the tower exit leading into the Pentagram Gardens. “You need not fear.” She slid her arm around the crook of his elbow once again. “How were the Class 2’s? I know I asked you to wait until later to talk about it—”

“And this is later.” Kerry hadn’t wanted to talk about his time in Advanced Flight during dinner; he’d wanted to get back to shower and change before heading off to the first Midnight Madness of the new school year. He’d also wanted to hear about Annie’s time up at the Witch House, and find out if she’d picked up anything new. “It was nice. Those things are fast and so responsive.” He held the coven tower door open for Annie. “The handlebars take a bit getting used to, though.”


Handlebars?  Let’s look:


Annie waved open the wall door leading to the garden beyond. “You need that because of the acceleration and responsiveness.” She’d seen her father on a Class 2, so she knew a bit about them. They had the same main frame as the Class 1s, but the similarities ended there. The saddle had a small back to keep the pilot from slipping backwards and off because, depending on the model, the acceleration was as much as three times greater than the best of the Class 1s. And instead of the pilot maneuvering the PAV by applying pressure directly to the frame, there were a set of handlebars with heavy, padded grips that allowed the pilot more control. “Wait until you fly the Class 3s.”

“Ha.” Kerry slowed to a comfortably stroll under the covered walkway to the Great Hall. “I only get to try those if I make it to the A Team; Class B is as high as the B Team goes.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much—” Annie leaned into his arm. “If you make the B Team, I feel you’ll make the A Team soon after.”

He kissed her on the forehead. “Were you hanging with Deanna this afternoon?”

“I’d never tell.” She took a moment to kiss his hand. “Did you speak with Jario or the girls?”


I started thinking I should do some models of the Class 1, 2, and 3 PAVs, because I do know what they look like, and it would probably help to show people what I see in my head.  It’s just a matter of doing the modeling, which I do know how to do by now–I think.

There you have it:  more building of worlds, and more madness until midnight.

Good times, I’m telling you.

All Ready in the Ready

Let’s talk about another achievement that was reached last night.  As the novel continues forward, slowly at times, it seems, the word count continues to climb, and by the time I’d reached my almost eight hundred words for the evening, the final total for the novel reached sixty thousand words.  I made a note of this on my author’s page on Facebook before I closed Scrivener for the evening–

I got a pretty picture, too, just so I'd remember.

I got a pretty picture, too, just so I’d remember.

The count of days from forty to fifty was fourteen days:  this time it was fifteen.  Slacking, right?  I won’t complain:  five thousand words a week, give or take, when you’re in pain and/or spending most of your time away from home for one day, is a pretty good total to keep u, and I’m keeping that up.  At this rate I should hit seventy thousand right around the Forth of July, and hit one hundred thousand by the end of that month.  By then I should be inside Act Two, unless something bad were to happen . . .

After the bit of awkwardness that was Emma reconnecting with her wingmate, Vicky starts in on the “Why We’re Here,” opening statements.  Except . . . I had to go back and write something else I needed to add because, at the time I started this scene, I’d meant to put this part in, but I’d forgot.  This is the nice thing about computers and their programs:  you just go back and write.  And I did–


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

“Oh, right—sorcery.” Emma sat back and crossed her legs. “Gotta be the dark witch.” She caught herself, hoping she didn’t say something that would upset Kerry. “Right?”

He nodded slowly, a smile appearing upon his face. “Yep. We both do, as a matter of fact. It’s something we promised each other.” He didn’t bother to mention where that promise had taken place.

(starting here)

She wasn’t about to give up asking about Annie so easily. “Why were you guys in your flight gear at lunch?”

He had nothing to hide. “We were out flying.”

“Around the school?”

“No, we were doing some stuff over in the Aerodrome.”

“Oh.” She was instantly attentive. “Were you guys checking out the Class 2 PAVs?”

“Naw, we were looking at something else.” Kerry didn’t want to talk about Annie’s flying—they still weren’t supposed to talk about their gifts—so he deftly changed the subject. “I like your new patch.”


“I like your new patch,” was the last thing from the original writing after the “starting here” point.  Those few lines may not seem like much, but it’s designed to show that Emma is keeping an eye on Kerry, and she noticed that he and his “dark witch”–a term he publicly used many times during his A Levels–were in their flying gear.  That’s some stalkerific shit there, Single White Witch Girl.  Maybe Kerry should watch out?  Or maybe Emma should cool her jets before that Dark Witch she commented on follows her into the bathroom for a . . . chat.  Not that Annie would ever do something like that . . .

But what about Vicky?  Well, let’s see what she has to say:


Seeing that the last of the students were out of the locker room and in their seats, Vicky addressed her newest collection of advanced flier. “Good afternoon, students. Welcome to Advanced Flight One. Congratulations—” She looked from one student to the next, keeping a sure grin in place. “You’ve accepted another year of flying misery.

“I know that, by now, some of you have spoken with a few of the C Levels in Advanced Flight Two, or you’ve heard from people who’ve been through both classes—” She quickly glanced in Kerry’s direction, fully aware he shared a class with Nadine Woodley, one of her best minions. “—which means you’ve a pretty good idea of what’s coming your way.

“Primary among your studies will be learning how to function as a team. Most of the time you’ll fly on your own, but in those instances where you find yourself in a small formation, or even with your wingmate, you need to develop a separation of duties so one pilot isn’t overwhelmed having to plan out everything. Some of you—” She shifted her gaze to where Emma and Kerry sat. “—have already figured this part out, so the rest of you have a bit of catching up ahead of you.


Though it’s really unclear what part Emma played in the separation of duties for Team Myfanwy the last time they were together.  Listening to her wingmate so she doesn’t die?  Well, she’s only batting .500 on that one.  She did handle piloting while Kerry kept an eye on the Low and High Roads, so there’s that.  And since Kerry does seem to enjoy planing out trips . . .


“We’ll focus on flight planing, on navigating, and on instrument flight rules. By the time we’re finish with this class you should be able to fly in just about any weather—not just in a winter climate or in rain, but in storms and atmospheric conditions that obscure the ground and make visual flight navigation impossible.”

Vicky took a short sip from the water glass to her right, then continued with her opening statement. “We’re going out on a few night flights as well—” She held up her hands the second a few of the students began grumbling. “On Thursday nights, so none of you miss out on the Midnight Madness—I wouldn’t want you to miss out on anything important . . .” A few of the students chuckled at Vicky’s slight joke. “Night flying is something we’ll do at least once a month, and a few times we’ll go out on a Thursday night for a few hours, return, and have class the next afternoon. And we’ll practice both visual and instrument flying at night, which means a few trips up into the White and Green Mountains where there’s little light to guide you back to school, and it’s easy to get disoriented.


Branching out into the White and Green Mountains–found in northern New Hampshire and western Vermont, respectively–means they’re gonna do a lot of flying.  Sure, there’s a chance they’ll get jaunted out to somewhere and then have to fly back, but that’s probably gonna be the exception.

There’s one other thing, too–


“And, as I’m certain a lot of you have discovered—” Vicky paused to let the anticipation build. “We’ll take three overnight flights this year. Two of them will happen during the winter months—one in December before Yule Holiday, and the other either late January or early February—and the last in late March or mid-April: I’m still pinning those dates down.

“These flights will involve flying out as a group after dinner, setting up camp after dark, and then spending the following day taking what we’re learning to travel to . . .” She crossed her arms and scratched lightly at her chin. “—various points with teams taking turns leading the group.” Now that she had their attention, she gave them the last part of this particular equation. “This is all practice for those of you who move on to Advanced Flight Two, and decide to participate in The Polar Express.”

A murmur filled the Ready Room, and Vicky didn’t need to expand upon her comment: everyone here knew about The Polar Express, a three night and three day survival flight flown by wingmates using a minimum of supplies, a minimum of instrumentation, and a lot of flying through the Canadian wilderness during one weekend in January. Only C Levels in Advanced Flight Two were allowed to participate, though members who’d already completed the flight were allowed to fly with members whose wingmate didn’t wish to make the flight.


Overnight camping.  And flying.  In the winter.  And the first mention of The Polar Express, which is going to take up a chapter of its own come the next novel–which I guess means it’s no surprise Emma and Kerry go out on this trip.  And “flying through the Canadian wilderness during one weekend in January” is all you need to know about the difficulty, because who doesn’t want to fly through Canada in the middle of winter?

But before you ask:  yes, even on these overnights, wingmates share a tent.  That means, let’s see . . . boy/boy team, girl/girl, girl/girl, boy . . . girl.  Hey, Emma and Kerry are the only mixed gender team!  I don’t see any issues arising from that . . .

And lastly:


She went into her wrap up. “Lastly, we will learn about maintenance and modification of your brooms, and I do mean your broom. Because you have made your way into Advanced Flight One, and there are things we will do here that will necessitate each flying having their own broom, The Foundation will allow you to purchase a broom that is suitable to your needs. This means Class 1 Wilhelminas, Mering, and Espinozas, because none of you need the high end racing brooms that The Foundation also manufactures, at least not until you get into high end racing.

“If you’re wondering how you’ll pay for these, don’t worry: a deferment payment plan will be set up for anyone looking to buy a PAV. We’re not talking a student loan like a Normal school would offer, but a simple payment plan that lets you pay for just the cost of the broom—there’s no interest—and that’s stretched out for as long as thirty years if you like.” Vicky grinned. “Don’t worry: I’m certain many of you will still be working with us in 2040, so there’s no need to wonder if you’ll have the money.”


So, very soon, everyone in AF1 will have their own broom, bought for them by The Foundation on a long-term payback plan.  But it won’t be long before these kiddies have their own brooms–which means it’s a cinch that Nadine and a few other minions have their own brooms as well.  Oh, and you do find out how much a particular broom runs, which means, based upon that number, you can estimate how much Annie spent on Kerry’s broom.

Advanced Flight is over–and as Vicky said, we know what’s important–

The Midnight Madness is next.

Into Thin Air: the Fliers Gather

As we’ve seen, sorta, it’s 1 May at the school, which means it’s Beltane, which means it’s time to celebrate summer coming.  It also means the coming of a normal event that’s been going on for, as of this school year, eighty years.

Time for the Mile High Flight.

Kerry gets into a little detail on that in the scene, but pretty much it’s get on your broom and fly a mile into the air.  And before you say, “Well, that doesn’t seem that difficult,” keep in mind you’re riding upon a piece of carbon-carbon fiber that’s little more than a bike frame without the wheels, and the only thing keeping you in the air is your willpower to want to fly.  So when you get up to a mile in the air, you look down and there’s nothing but a mile of emptiness below your dangling feet, just waiting to suck you down to that ground oh, so far away . . .

No, there’s almost no pressure there at all.

It’s another of those school traditions, and one of those designed to push the students to the edge and beyond.  And we’ve seen just how much they do that here–to the point where they throw you into combat with bad guys and monsters.  So getting a bunch of kids on brooms and taking them a mile into the sky isn’t that big of a deal.

I needed to do a little research on this first, however, before writing, because I knew Vicky would do metric conversions–and have a few witting comments about that–and I wanted to know who was flying and what the weather was like.  I mean, you know, it’s necessary to have these things down . . .

Writing here

But I have my list as you can see.  I’m hardly ever unprepared.

So what is running through young Kerry’s might right this morning.  Fortunately, we can look in.


All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry stood in Selena’s Meadow, about twenty meters from the Flight School. To his left the bonfires he’d help ignite were burning; to his right the forest was frosted with haze; directly before him the meadow was damp from the light rain that had started about one and didn’t stop until about an hour ago. Even now, there was a light mist in the air that limited visibility to about three or four hundred meters.

He zipped his flight jacket up half way at he looked up into the slate-gray overcast sky and wondered why the weather couldn’t be better for flying today.

One of the events of Beltane was the Mile High Flight, where A Levels who decided they wanted to try their skill and nerve assembled outside the Flight School, mounted their brooms, and flew upwards into the sky until they were five thousand, two hundred and eighty feet above base-line ground level, and then performed five minutes of maneuvers at altitude: this was the Mile High Flight. And anyone who completed the flight successfully was enshrined in the Mile High Club, and would join a very small group of A Levels that had been performing this flight off and on since 1932.


Stuff that was already stated.  One thing that does get mentioned a few times is that this is a volunteer flight:  no one can make you do it.  Which is why there are only seven fliers.  Why so few?  Because–


There were only seven of the thirty-two A Levels who’d started the year participating in the Mile High Flight—though the pool was much smaller than that. Two students had washed out before Yule and six hadn’t yet moved off the Covington Trainers. Another nine had been unable to complete the test where the class had three successive classes to clear a five hundred meter ceiling, and made themselves ineligible to even ask to join the fight.

That left fifteen students who were eligible to volunteer and eight did. Vicky mentioned during the pilot’s briefing after dinner last night that that having half the eligible members of an A Level group decided to sign up for the flight was slightly more than the one-third who usually applied. She also mentioned that it was a good sign and that maybe, after three years, Vicky could take one or more students to the top.


After a year there are a couple of students who couldn’t fly at all, and a few who never advanced to the bigger brooms–which means most people are probably flying Witchy Poos or better.  And there’s some who couldn’t handle going up five hundred meters–just a bit higher than Kerry did that first day following Vicky when he checked out on the broom he’s flying.  And he is flying that again . . .


He looked down at the broom at his side. It wasn’t the one Annie bought for his birthday: this was one from the cabinets. Vicky told him it was the original Espinoza he checked out on after the first week of school and the one he’d been flying since that day—which included his wreck with Emma and the Day of the Dead attack. He ran his hand over the nose and thought about everything that had happened to him on this broom, and what was going to come next. I hope the weather isn’t that bad; I hope you’re gonna help me get to the top

“Hey, Kerry.”


How would you feel about flying “The Death Broom” a mile into the air?  He killed someone with this broom and fought off a monster–and almost died a few times on it.  But, hey:  time to fly, right?  One could say after all that, he’s sure to get this into the air with little problem.  Or you might say, “It’s bad juju, you should stay home.”

Kerry’s going.  Along with someone else . . .


He smiled. How’d I know she’d be the first out of the locker room? He turned, keeping the smile on. “Hey, Emma.”

The girl did the same thing he did when he first came out: looked around before peering into the sky. “Pretty miserably day.”

“Yeah, well—” Kerry shrugged. “Could be a lot worse. Could be blowing real hard.”

“Yeah, that’s true.” Emma looked as if she wanted to talk, but didn’t know what to say.


How’d he know?  Because he probably figured she’s get out on the flight line and


Kerry had felt the dynamic between them change since returning from Yule holiday. As Annie had pointed out when they were planing for the Kansas City operation, Emma seemed a lot more distant from him than she had before. He wasn’t sure if “distant” was the proper word: “cautious” seemed more true. She still teamed up with him during class—when Annie wasn’t his assigned wingmate, naturally—and she was pleasant when they chatted. But she was always careful speaking when she was around Annie, as if she were worried she might say something wrong.

He figured it all stemmed from the day they were leaving, and what she did—or more, what she tried to do. Kerry found himself changing around her as well: he, too, was cautious, in that he didn’t want to give her any impression that there was a possibility she could be a part of his life . . .


Nothing has been seen of Emma since that day, and for good reasons:  she’s touched the main character’s lives, but she’s not a major part of it at this point.  Not to say she ever will be, though . . . needless to say she’ll be around for a while, though probably not trying to make small talk with Kerry like this–


Emma leaned upon her broom. “You nervous?”

“Yeah, a little.” He’d tried not to think about being nervous, and had deliberately not eaten much when they had the traditional morning breakfast in the ready room. “Going a mile up in the air, that’s kind of daunting.”

“Well, in a way, I’m used to being a mile in the air—” Emma chuckled. “Living in Bolder.”

“Yeah, well . . .” He stuffed his hands in his pockets. “I’m more a near sea level boy myself—”

“Which means you’ll do fine.” Annie strolled out into the meadow, the Espinoza she’d been flying with all year in her left hand, and stood on Kerry’s left as was the norm. “After all, we were just up over nine hundred and fifty the other day—from there it’s just a little more to go to reach sixteen hundred.” She turned to Emma. “I’m more of a fourteen hundred meter girl myself, ‘cause just like you, I live in the mountains.” She gave the Mórrígan student a coy smile. “I can handle the altitude.”


And not being said is, And little soul mate stealing bitches, too.  Annie knows and she doesn’t forget, and she’s got her radar out to know when Emma is trying to set something up.  Not that Emma’s doing it here:  it really is small talk.

Because flying a mile into the sky is serious business, and you want to keep that light . . .

The Private Moments

Well, I managed.  I turned off all distractions, put on some music, and got to writing.  And when I was finished, I had another scene done and my NaNo goals were met.

Happiness all around, yes indeed.

Last night’s scene was a reunion.  Kerry is up and about, dressed and refreshed, and half expecting Annie to be waiting outside his door.  But she isn’t, because while she may like to sneak into the hospital and watch him sleep, she’s not totally stalkerlicious.  This time, however, the setting is turned around, and Kerry sees this on the Mezzanine Commons–


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

Annie was sleeping on the sofa, fully dressed in a sweater, jeans, and her soft boots.

Kerry entered the mezzanine, walking with care even though he knew he’d not make any sounds on the carpeted stone floor. He approached without making a sound and knelt before the sofa. He looked up Annie’s sleeping face, watched the flexing of her slightly open mouth and her slow, deep breathing. He’d never saw Annie when she was sound asleep, and her face didn’t show her normal fixed, controlled demeanor, but rather he saw Annie as no one else had ever seen her: relaxed, peaceful, unconcerned, and dreamy.

Kerry realized where he’d seen her like this before . . . She’s like this when we’re alone, when she can let her guard down and not worry if anyone is going to catch her smiling or laughing too much, or if they might see her pout or get angry. He reached towards her, so wanting to touch here, so much wanting to let his fingers glide over her cheek—

He lay a fingertip against her right cheek, barely making contact with her warm skin. When she didn’t move he drew it towards him and towards the corner of her mouth. He reached the edge of her lip and glided along the edge, outlining her lower lip until he reached the opposite corner of her mouth. Kerry thought of running his along her upper lip, but thought it was possible that someone would eventually come along and catch him in the middle of this act. Don’t want that— He pulled he hand away from her face. Wouldn’t be long before I’d start hearing stupid things like “Team Kerry” whispered in the Dining Hall . . .

He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, then sat back and waited for her reaction.

At first noting happen, then Annie began to stir slowly, like an invisible hand were shaking her awake while she mumbled in a low, soft voice. “Molya ne spiraĭte, lyubov moya. Tseluni me otnovo . . .” She sighed once before slowly opening her eyes. She discovered Kerry’s face only a half a meter from hers, and she reached out with right arm and hooked her hand around his neck. “Kerry . . .” Her face brightened as her face broke into a wide smile. “You’re here.”

“I am.” He touched the tip of her nose. “Moyata polovinka.” He let himself be pulled into her lips, and he slid his left hand behind her back as he kissed her warmly. They kissed for almost a minute, though neither bothered judging the passage of time. This kiss had been building for many days, and it would end when their passion was subdued.

Kerry finally broke the kiss, though he only pulled back enough so he could keep Annie’s face fully framed in his vision. “I love you, Sweetie.”

“Oh, Kerry . . .” Annie wrapped her arms around him and hugged him hard. “I’ve been waiting over two weeks for that kiss and for you to say that.” She kissed him again. “I love you, my darling.”


I have to admit, I loved writing that scene.  It’s really the first time you see Kerry sort of being romantic in a non-verbal way.  I can also tell you that Annie was dreaming of Kerry–I know because I put them mumbly words in her mouth.

We find out that Annie got up about four and came down and slept on the sofa.  Right after that she starts talking about her holiday:


“I was missing you terribly as well.” He kissed her hair. “How was your holiday?”

“It was—good.” She glanced up and smiled. “We traveled around a lot.”


“Just Europe, though we visited a lot of places. About the only time we were home was from Christmas Eve to the Second Day of Christmas, and New Year’s Day.” She rested her head against his shoulder. “I wished you were with me, particularly when we went to Copenhagen and Stockholm.”

“I wish I could have seen that with you.” He hugged her tight. “Did you see the Little Mermaid?”

“Yes, and she was freezing.” Annie laughed, tickling Kerry until he joined in. “One day I’ll take you to see her.”

“I want to do that.”

“We will.” Annie sat up. “Before you tell me about your holiday, I have something to show you.” She jumped up and held out her right hand. “Come on.”


Yeah, the little mermaid was probably cold, given, you know, she doesn’t really wear anything on, and she’s sitting on a rock out of the water.  At least we can be assured that Kerry wouldn’t try cutting her head or arm off.

Annie drags him to their lab, and there’s something waiting for him:


“You can open your eyes.” Kerry opened them and saw a large black cloth covering the work table. It was the only thing that hadn’t been there when they left the lab on the Thursday night before leaving on holiday.

He turned to Annie, who was now looking rather pleased. “Well?”

She nodded towards the table. “You need to look under the cloth.”

Kerry did as instructed, lifting up the cloth and examining what was beneath. “There’s . . .” He ran his hand over the table surface. “Wood.”

“Are you sure?” Annie replaced the cloth and smoothed it out until it was once more flat.

He lifted a corner and looked again. “Yeah. Just the table.”

“Well . . .” Annie smoothed out the cloth, making certain every wrinkle was gone. “Maybe you’re not looking the right way—” She snapped the cloth up from the table as if she were shaking out dust, then yanked it away.

A PAV sat on the table where the cloth has lain seconds before.


I guess you can say Annie was doing a magic trick–and in a way it was, because it leaves Kerry shocked and surprised:


Kerry stared for several seconds, trying to fathom what Annie had done, and what he was now seeing. He understood the magic: several times he’d seen Professor Salomon reach behind her back and pull her broom out what seemed like nothing. She called it a Displacement Spell—that she was really grabbing her broom from a predefined location back in the Flight School—but Nadine told him that all the racers said they kept their brooms in “Hammerspace,” which Kerry understood because he’d seen enough anime to know one could pull enormous objects from out of nowhere as long as one reached behind their back . . .

He now-trained eye recognized the PAV right away: it was an Espinoza 4500 like the one he’d been flying since the beginning of school—only it wasn’t like that one. The carbon filament was the dark, shiny black of a device that had never seen a second of exposure to the elements. There wasn’t a visible scuff anywhere—save for some markings in white near where he would sit—and when Kerry placed his hand over the frame and activated the saddle, there wasn’t a sign of wear on the leather: no one had ever sat upon this device.

“It’s a good broom, Kerry.” Annie was next to him, her voice soft and comforting. “It’ll never let you down.”

He turned towards her, his eyes misting. “Annie—”

“I’d rather someone who I know will enjoy flying have it instead of someone who’d never know how to appreciate this gift.” She took Kerry’s hands and kissed them. “Happy birthday, Kerry.”

“Annie.” He looked to the broom sitting on the table, then back to Annie. “That must have cost a—”

She lay her fingers upon his lips. “Shush, you.” She shook her head, her glance radiating her love. “You should know by now I don’t care for the cost of a present—it’s the thought and feelings behind it that impress me.” Her fingers glided over her locket. “You knew what would touch me—I know what touches you.”


Here, for the first time, we hear about Hammerspace–yes, not the real name, but you know kids–and Annie repeats the same thing to Kerry that he said, years before, to the boy to whom he gave his bicycle, something Kerry mentioned during their very first Midnight Madness together.  Goes to show you Annie was listening; she’s always listening.  And now you know what she needed help from Mama for–though in another couple of scenes you’ll find out there was a little more to it than just having her order this off the Internet.

Since the emotions are really flowing, Kerry starts expressing them, because he can’t not . . .


Kerry fought to keep his emotions under control. “It’s a little early, but . . .” He wrapped his arms around Annie and hugged her tight. “Thank you so much.” He kissed her as tears dripped from his eyes. “Obicham te, moyata polovinka.”

Annie looked down and giggled. “You’re working on your Bulgarian.”

“It gave me something to do when I got lonely for you.”

“I think what you wanted to say was, ‘Obicham te, moya srodna dusha’.” She cleared her throat. “You know what moyato prolovinka really means, don’t you?”

Kerry wiped his eyes. “I looked it up.”


He looked down and avoided Annie’s gaze for the first time. “It means ‘my mate’.”

Annie touched his chin, raising his head. “This doesn’t bother you?”

He chuckled. “Should it?” He kissed her check. “Obicham te, moyata polovinka.”

“Obicham te, moya spŭtnik, you mean.” She patted his check. “I’ll have to start giving you lessons.” She turned towards the broom on the table. “Look on the frame under the saddle.”

What Kerry tries to say first is “I love you, my soul mate,” but Annie sets him straight–and then, in a roundabout way, lets him know that she wasn’t quite truthful about the exactly translation of “Moyata polovinka” as she explained it back in the garden after the Samhain Dance.  “My soul mate” and “my mate” are just a little different in meaning, if you catch my drift.  And when Kerry tries to say, “I love you, my mate,” she corrects him again and lets him know it’s time to give him lessons.  Now won’t that be fun?

It should also be noted that Kerry doesn’t seem to mind the “my mate” reference.  Annie’s also known, probably for a while, that Kerry would have looked up the translation on his own.  The fact that he’s not upset means he either (1) doesn’t care, (2) realizes there’d a future for them, or (3) he’s still completely clueless.

And one last thing Annie did for him–remember she asked him to look under the saddle?


Kerry folded the saddle back into the frame and picked up the broom to give the area a closer look. The white stuff was lettering, and it spelled out:

Kerrigan Rodney Malibey  “Starbuck”

“That area is enchanted.” Annie’s face was next to his, looking at the same spot on the frame. “The only ones who can see your full name are you and I—though that can be changed if you want. That way, no one can use your full name against you.”

“What does everyone else see?”

“They’ll see ‘Kerry Malibey’ and your call sign. Nothing else.”

He picked up the PAV and held it in both hands, feeling the weight and imagining how it was going to feel sitting upon the saddle. He set it gently upon the table, then slowly wrap his arms around Annie and held her close. He couldn’t hold back any longer, and the tears flowed freely for almost a minutes. All the while Annie held him close and smiled, for she knew, for once, his tears weren’t from sadness—she’d brought him tears of joy, perhaps the first he’d experienced in a while.

When he released her she dabbed at her eyes with her sleeve cuffs. “Better?”



“Oh, yes.” He managed a weak laugh. “We’ll have to see Professor Salomon later and find out where I can store this.”


I have to admit, Annie is a sweet girl.  It’s not everyone who’d have their boyfriend’s name and call sign painted on his broom like he was a pilot at Top Gun school.  Just wait until next Monday–you find out at the beginning of the scene that there isn’t any real classes the first week back–when the kids in Basic Flight see Kerry roll in with his birthday present . . .

Yep, it'll be just like this.

Yep, it’ll be just like this.

The next scene has Kerry talking about something he learned over his holiday with his folks, and it’s going to be . . . interesting.  That’s all I’ll say.

It’ll also be interesting writing the scene.  Because, when I look at my word counts, I see Act Two is just short of one hundred and fifty thousand–

Just a little push and I'm there.

Just a little push and I’m there.

Which means the manuscript, as a whole, is just shy of twice that much–

What will a year get you?  This.

What will a year get you? This.

So tonight I pass into some rare territory where only writers who kill characters off for the hell of it venture.  Which means, if Act Three is anything like the first two, the whole mess should top out at around four hundred and fifty thousand words.

When I said this is my Infinite Jest–I wasn’t jesting.


NaNo Word Count, 11/2:  2,200

NaNo Total Word Count:  6,787

Misty Mountain Race

The night was filled with dreamless sleep, disturbed only by high wind making things around the building make sounds.  As in, “Why does the building sound like it’s coming down?” sort of sounds.  It was actually a bit insane, if you must know, because there’s nothing like being awakened every two hours and wondering if you’ll need to evacuate your apartment.

Before all the night wind insanity I was back to editing.  It’s safe to say that I believe I’ll have my friend’s novel edited and out of the way before I return to Indiana early next Friday morning.  Yes, Travel Day coming again, and time to blog from the road as I travel across three states to return home and take care of some business.  Then I return to The Burg, rest up, and get ready to start on Act Two of The Foundation Chronicles.

Did I mention I did something for the novel last night?  No?  I guess that’s why I’m here now.

In the world I’ve created my people have PAVs–Personal Aerial Vehicles.  There are different kinds, ranging from Class 1 to Class 8, with the Class 1’s having the appearance of the classic witch’s broom.  My kids have already checked out on Covington Trainer Type 1’s, Kerry and Emma have checked out on Espinoza 4500’s, and Annie owns an Espinoza 3500.  Since this is all taking place alongside our “real” world, that means there are certain pop culture references that the kids at Salem find laughable–like the idea that people on brooms would play a sport where they fly around trying to toss a ball through a ring.  Ha, ha, that’s funny; what kind of idiots would do that?

No, for the PAV Pilots at Salem, there is a need for speed, so let us take you racing . . .

There is a large, enclosed oval track on the grounds known as The Diamond, which allows for racing in three dimensions along a short route, and is also used to get the A Levels used to flying in circles at speed with other people around them.  There are three cross country tracks on the grounds as well, known as the Green Line, Blue Line, and Red Line, and each one is progressively harder than the other–there are sections of the Red Line that extend nearly a kilometer above the school.

But every year, usually on the first weekend of March, there is the big race, one has been around for more than three hundred years.  This, my friends, is the Mount Katahdin Cross Country Race, and it’s not for the faint of heart.

Mount Katahdin is the highest point in the state of Maine and the northern terminus of the Appalachia Trail.  Located in Baxter State Park, it’s surrounded by wilderness and lakes, and lots of people go there in the summer to hike, camp, and enjoy nature.  Come shine or clouds, snow or rain, twenty-four pilots from Salem head for the mountain and take their Class 1’s for three laps around the track.  Just three?  Yeah.  But those are big laps.

"When you get to the big peak, take a left.  No, the other big peak.  You can't miss it."

“When you get to the big peak, take a left. No, the other big peak. You can’t miss it.”

The Start/Finish Line is the little gap near the top of the route, and the actual summit of Mount Katahdin is at the very bottom of the map.  The racers never actually go over the peak:  it’s more like they’re racing over most of the area that makes up the mountain.  Given the terrain for the location, there’s no shortage of mountains for my kids to fly over, as you can see.

It’s racing in three dimensions once more, only this time you stand the good fortune of slamming into a mountain if you’re not paying attention.  Here’s a nice section of the course, near the center of the picture above:

Racers would enjoy the view a lot more if they weren't thinking about threading that gap between the peaks ahead of them.

Racers would enjoy the view a lot more if they weren’t thinking about threading that gap between the peaks ahead of them at three hundred kilometers an hour.

Here they climb about three hundred meters up the side of one peak, then circle around it and sail over Wassataquoik Lake just over three hundred meters below, then pass between the gap and slide about two hundred and fifty meters to a gully, then turn and climb another three hundred meters, circle a peak, then drop down the other side for another three hundred meters–

All while doing this at high speed.

The course, as I have it laid out, is exactly one hundred kilometers long.  Not 100.03; not 99.98.  One hundred Right. On. The. Nose.  That’s sixty-two miles for the non-metric of you out there, which means three laps of this course is one hundred eighty-six miles, and if you’re going to do well here, you need to have your lap times under thirty minutes a lap, though a competitive racer is gonna bring that closer to twenty-five, or even twenty.  That means there are sections of the course where people are flying at close to two hundred miles an hour, and probably sailing up and down slopes at close to a hundred–that’s three hundred twenty-five and one hundred sixty kilometers an hour for the metric minded.  In other words, you’re going fast, climbing and diving and turning a lot, speeding along my magical version of The Green Hell.

The Mount Katahdin Race is going to pop up as a thing in these stories, and while I’ve had a vision of the course in my mind for some time, now I can see it.  Now I can give the locations names and write about people doing the race and trying to do well while not crashing and burning.

Though the later will happen.  Oh, boy, will it happen . . .

Zoo Station

A funny thing happened yesterday, when there was nothing else to do but watch it snow a lot:  I decided to start writing a scene, and I actually finished it in the same day.  Which was probably a good thing, since it would have normally taken me a couple of days to write while trying to find the time after work.

The scene before was Annie’s time to cry, while this one was Kerry’s time to fly.  Professor Salomon had, the night before, invited Annie and him down to the Flight School for a little Saturday morning fun.  This was all because of  what they’d done the Monday before while trying in the Storm From Hell, and she was interested in seeing if they could handle something a bit more complex than their Covington Trainers.  Now, we already know Annie was busy, but Kerry–hey, it’s Saturday, and there’s probably a good reason why Kerry is taking to flying so well:  it reminds him of something he used to do before leaving chilly San Fran behind.  But of course.

Rather than tell you all about this moment, here’s a big chunk of their time together, first draft warts and all (gotta remember that if you find a mistake).  Enjoy.


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

As they started their seventh circuit of the meadow, Vicky decided to change things up again. “Hey, Starbuck.”

Kerry was back in second. “Yeah, Nightwitch.”

“I feel like doing something different. You still with me?”

“You said to hang with until you told me otherwise—so I go where you go.”

Vicky smiled. “Roger, Starbuck. We’re gonna break left here in a second, so stay tight. And . . . break.” She turned sharply to her left and crossed the meadow towards the western edge. She checked her rear views and saw Kerry right where he should be, maintaining speed and altitude.

She snapped left when they reached the west side of the meadow and she made for the Flight School. As she pulled even with the building Vicky didn’t slow; she pulled a long, slow left, just skirting the south tree line. “Yo, Starbuck.”

“Yo, Nightwitch.”

“I’m gonna put on some tunes, but not so loud you can’t hear me. I’m coming around; watch it.”

Kerry saw the professor slow, then snap her broom around in a near one-eighty before waving him on. He pulled the nose of his broom around and followed her onto an path he’d never noticed before. A few meters inside the trees and it was evident that the path was really an old, unimproved road. They were moving along at the same pace they’d maintained on the meadow course, but the different here was no pylons, and trees were only a few meters away on both sides.

There was a rhythmic tapping in his ears as a song began to play. By the second bar he recognized the song: Zoo Station from U2’s Achtung Baby. He smiled while keeping his eyes on Professor Salomon, for he would have never guessed her to be a fan of this kind of music, but he noticed her head bobbing in tune to the music, he realized he’d guessed completely wrong.

Then she picked up the nose of her broom, put on a little speed, and left the road behind. Kerry followed.

Once clear of the treetops Vicky pulled around in a long, sweeping left turn, picking up speed as she did. She kept her eye on the view behind, and saw Kerry glued to her six. She circled south and picked up altitude as she approached The Diamond, knowing what she’d need to clear the forty meters tall structure. She overflew the racetrack, then continued turning left until she was once more facing north. She saw the meadow ahead and the Pentagram in the distance, and turned on the power.

Kerry didn’t allow his eyes to wander from the professor’s back, but it was impossible not to notice the huge structure below him—The Diamond, the enclosed racetrack he’d heard of but yet to see—and as they swung around to the north he made out the walls and towers that enclosed the southeast section of the school. He was looking slightly down on both, which meant he was more than thirty meters up, probably closer to forty, maybe even more than that. He saw landmarks in the distance—the large open area that must be Selena’s Meadow, another large structure to the northwest that he figured might be the Aerodrome, and well off to the north, the Pentagram and the Great Hall. From here, flying north at what he figured to be a fair speed, Kerry was finally getting an idea of the scale of this place, and sensing the immenseness of a place that housed fewer than two hundred people.

He was feeling one of his surreal moments coming on, because here he was dressed like an old-time aviator, flying a piece of advanced technology powered by super science and magic, zipping through the air within the confines of a place that people a few hundred meters beyond the wall didn’t know existed—and doing this all while listening to a twenty year-old album. It brought out a smile as he relaxed comfortably into the saddle of his PAV. Back home the kids with whom he used to attend school were probably sleeping, or hanging out on the street, or wandering the shopping areas.

Here he was playing his own version Sky Captain, and loving every moment.

The professor weaved to her left, and Kerry kept with her, following her to the west of the Pentagram. They came in above the roof of Ceridwen Tower, and since he knew each tower was closer to fifty meters tall, he knew where they were. They turned in over the wall before reaching Cernunnos Tower and flew over the library, then turned sharply to the right in front of Mórrígan Tower and gained even more altitude before buzzing Blodeuwedd Tower and Founder’s Gate, hanging another sharp right, and overflying Åsgårdsreia Tower as they headed north.


In the end they stop and hover more than a quarter mile over the school, because Vicky is the kind of instructor who likes to push people, and taking an eleven year old to a really high point in the sky on the equivalent of a magical racing bike, and then just sitting and chatting a bit–yeah, that’s some button pushing.

And in case you don’t think it’s that’s high, here’s a little perspective:  the observation deck of Willis Tower (or, as I still call it, “Sears Tower”, because that’s how I remember it) is 412.5 meters, or 1,353 feet, above street level.  And it is now fitted with this cool little extensions that jut out from the building, leaving you with the feeling of hanging in mid-air nearly a quarter of a mile up.

Vicky and Kerry were up to 426 meters, or 1,397 feet.  They were hovering forty-four feet higher than the observation deck of Willis Tower, sitting on saddles attached to pieces of carbon fiber technology, floating on nothing more than magic and willpower.  So their view of the school was something like this view of Chicago:

"It's a great view, but I wish these two witches would stop photobombing me."

“It’s a great view, but I wish these two witches would stop photobombing me.”

The fun part is over.

Now to get back to the real world.