Springtime For Kerry: Working the Crazy Stage

Quite, slow morning today.  No coffee shops, just breakfast at the apartment in my leggings and cami because Seasons 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead are running today, and I’m all about snarking the shit out of the show even though I’ve seen all the episodes a dozen times.  I also love that the pilot, Days Gone Bye, has one of the best cold openings ever, and I love those cold openings.

After that cold opening, though–

You're fair game for all the snark, Rick.

You’re fair game for all the snark, Rick.

Before The Walking Snark took hold I was off to the writing races–literally.  Did a little over three hundred words last night, and then another seven hundred this morning, so all is good in the world.  Well, for me anyway–

I gotta wonder about Kerry, though.

I gotta wonder about Kerry, though.

As you’re about to see, Kerry’s not having an easy time of things.  Not because people are trying to wreck him–oh, no.  That’s been chilled out, remember?  No, there are other reasons, and it’s likely nothing you’ve though of up to this point . . .

 

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

The Ostara races were held on what the racers called The Blue Dozen: twelve laps of the Blue Line, twelve kilometers a lap, one hundred and forty-four kilometers a heat. Though one race was nearly half the length of the Kadahdin race, it wasn’t considered as difficult because the course was more level and not nearly as technical. Racers pointed out, however, that since The Blue Dozen was run three times by each race during the day, the distance covered by those thirty-six laps was one hundred and thirty-two kilometers more than Kadahdin, but this didn’t keep detractors from countering that since there were rests between the heats, it didn’t have the same difficulty as flying three hundred consecutive laps.

Kerry flew through the Start/Finish line and began his thirtieth lap of the day. He recalled one of those detractors, a C Level from his coven, stating the same thing, that as long as everyone got to rest between heats, The Blue Dozen couldn’t be that hard. This was one of the few times when Kerry wanted to take someone who didn’t race, strap them on to the back of his broom, and take them through one heat at race speed and see if they’d continue adhering to that particular belief.

Cernunnos ran the first heat of the day against second place Mórrígan. The round robin rules were like those used during Samhain: the first place team sat out the first stage while the other four covens squared off against each other in two separate heats. This would lead to the second stage, where the first place team, Åsgårdsreia, would race the coven with the worst finish in the first stage, the first and third finishers from the first stage would race each other, and the team that finished second in the first stage would sit out so they could race in the third stage against the coven with the best finish in the second stage.

 

This is how all that plays out:

Got my score card, don't you know?

Got my score card, don’t you know?

This is the same format I set up for the Samhain races, and just like those holiday races, the Ostara races are intense–even more so, actually.  Why is that?  Because as already stated, the end of the season is near–only four weeks away–and the point spots are close.  Everyone wants those points, but even more, everyone wants the bragging rights that come at the end of the season–and that means people are gonna run like hell.

 

Cernunnos and Mórrígan took the green light and by the time they were through Meadow Climb and into Pentagram Pass that it became obvious both teams were setting a fast pace. It was only once he was through Observatory Turn and heading on to Skyway that Kerry realized just how fast a pace the team were setting. No one had broken away from the pack, nor had it separated into two and three-flier groups—everyone was in a big bunch separated by about a half second, and heading into Helter Skelter at close to three hundred kilometers an hour. Kerry held his breath, negotiated the turn, and once through safely turned on the speed into Residence.

So did everyone else.

Both covens held the pack through all twelve laps. Race Control was constantly issuing warnings about spacing and watching one’s surroundings; the lead changed hands a couple of times a lap, and on Lap 8 there were five different leaders. At least three times a lap Kerry felt a “big one”—a racer term for a huge wreck—was imminent, but he must not have been the only one to have that particular feeling, as it seemed everyone checked themselves before creating a dangerous situation.

When the checkers finally fell Nadine was across the line first, Kerry was .014 seconds behind her, and Penny was .012 seconds behind him. The next two were equally as close: Emma finished in fourth .017 seconds behind Penny, and Alex was .013 seconds behind her. The last flier to point, Mórrígan’s Argus Pelham, finished in sixth .021 seconds behind Alex, but only .003 seconds ahead of

Manco, making that the closest finish of the race. The final four racers finished a third of a second behind sixth and all within a second of each other.

By the time Kerry stood upon the podium he felt as if he’d run all one hundred and forty-four kilometers on foot. Everyone who came off the course looked that way, even the people who finished out of the points. Back in their ready room all the Cernunnos fliers were happy but the stress of the race was etched upon everyone’s face. At least they’d have a chance to rest up before the second stage—

When the first stage numbers came in Kerry was shocked. Even though they’d managed two podium positions over Mórrígan, their competitor’s first and fourth place points set them as the second best finisher of the stage, allowing them to sit out stage one. Ceridwen came in last, setting them up to race Åsgårdsreia in the next stage, and Blodeuwedd finished first by virtue of a first and place finish against Ceridwen, setting them up to race third place Cernunnos.

And since the Blodeuwedd/Cernunnos heat was considered the “undercard” of the second stage, they raced first.

 

Just to keep you from doing the math, the interval between first and sixth places in the above race is .08 seconds. or eight-tenths of a second.  Six people all zooming through the last kilometer or so right on top of each other, and crossing the line less than a second apart.  That’s a lot of heavy duty racing, and if you run in a pack all the time, it keeps you wound up constantly because you don’t ever get a chance to relax, not even for a second or two.  When I used to do online computer racing I did a few like that at Talladega and Daytona, and after an hour of zooming along with a bunch of other people all around for an hour or so, you get tired.

And after the second heat of the first stage, it’s time to get to it against after a little rest–

 

Blodeuwedd wasn’t known as a strong race team, but the moment the course went green they raced Cernunnos as hard as Mórrígan did in the first stage. Not only was Blodeuwedd racing Cernunnos hard, but the Cernunnos fliers were racing each other hard. Penny, Alex, and Kerry sat out in front of the pack from Lap 3 to the end, and they traded the lead repeatedly throughout the race. Their racing was so intense that the final outcome was resolved until the three racers were within a few hundred meters of the finish, when Penny drafted Kerry hard to get alongside him, and Alex drafted them to move around both fliers. Alex won, with Penny .01 seconds behind her and Kerry .012 seconds behind Penny. It was not only the closest finish of the year for the podium, but it was the first time since 1981 that Cernunnos took the top three positions. Manco rounded out the field by finishing sixth, achieving the last point for the coven.

At the finish of the second stage Cernunnos was the clear winner, which meant in the third stage they would race against the coven that sat out the second stage—Mórrígan. Though the third stage race would be his last of the day, Kerry was not looking forward to another twelve laps of hard racing.

 

Kerry’s been through two stages of hard racing, and now it’s time to get on to the third stage and good ‘ol Mórrígan once again.  If I were a writer, I’d say that’s some kind of foreshadowing–

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.

Ready on the Green: Run Your Race

I wasn’t too busy with the novel last night, mostly because I was working on my Humans recap, and by the time I finished that sucker, I’d ended up writing about, oh, fifteen hundred new words.  I should take that back:  after the recap I added another three hundred words to the scene, and then, this morning, I put an additional four hundred in.

Also, I was up at four AM:  first because I couldn’t sleep, second because of Pluto.  The New Horizon flyby was this morning, and as I write this it’s already happened, though we won’t know until about seven-thirty PM my time if it actually made it, or if it slammed into something fifty kilometers per second and went kaboom.  This is something I’ve been waiting for over the last decade, and I can’t wait to get the info.

As for the novel . . .

I added something this morning that I felt was missing from yesterday’s writing.  Since Kerry spotted Annie in the stands, it’s only reasonable that she saw him looking her way.  And she would respond, because if there is anyone who’d want Kerry to do well, it’s his Sweetie . . .

 

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

Kerry knew they’d both watch the races in comfort: the seats were not like what one normally found at sporting events, but were large and comfortable, and had small tables to the side upon which one could place they snacks and drinks. The first time Kerry sat in one, he felt he was about to see a movie or play instead of a race over one of the school’s courses.

(start new)  Annie saw he was looking in her direction and gave him a smile along with a small wave. He waved back, and for a moment the jitters he’d felt since stepped onto the lift subsided. He’d felt this way when he’d run his first B Team race, and he was feeling it a bit more now because this would be his first real race on a Class 2. Seeing Annie, however, put his mind and nerves at ease: no matter what happened to him on the course, he’d see her after he finished and they’d dance the night away. If he wasn’t in the hospital . . .  (end new)

Penny slid in close to Kerry’s left as they passed through the tunnel exit. “You remember the crossover rules?”

 

It’s not a lot, but it’s one of those touches that would put Kerry at ease and make him feel better.  And he will need that–

 

Erywin and Vicky met them at the Start-Finish line. They were riding Class 1 and were there to assist the fliers with getting into their proper starting positions. All fliers had run qualifying laps Friday morning and were familiar with their pole positions—though those had changed for a few racers due to the elimination of Hasan due to injury. Since he’d not qualified as an A Team member, nor had any A Team points to help with placement, there was only one position remaining for Kerry: tenth, or last, place.

He set up in the back and looked forward as he lowered his visor. His plan was to survive the race and make it to the next stage; his goal was to at least point this first time out. Kerry knew the positions of his teammates: Alex was seventh, Penny sixth, Darius third, and Manco second. I need to pass Alex and Penny to get a point, and after that . . .

There wasn’t any point in thinking about “after that”. Penny was correct: run your race and everything will be fine. He had his plan and his goals—all that remained was for the race to start.

 

It’s not a good thing that Kerry starts in the back, but he’s raced before, real and on a computer, and he knows what to do.  And he does . . .

 

Five red globes appeared above the start-finish line and flashed three times before changing to a steady yellow. This was the moment Kerry waited for: the start of the race. The yellow globes began flashing, and he knew there was only one more sequence to show—

They flashing yellow turned steady green. Kerry pushed on the handle grips and willed his speeder forward—and nearly ran over the eight place Ceridwen racer in front of him. He jerked the PAV to the right and poured on the speed. Three seconds later he slipped in behind Penny and followed her up through Rockport Lane. He triggered his racing HUD—which only showed speed and enchantment strength—and saw that a quarter of the way through the long, sweeping turn, he was already going two hundred forty-six kilometers per hour. Two hundred meters past start-finish and I’m going a hundred and fifty? This thing moves.

 

In case you’re wondering, that’s an acceleration of 11.56 meters per second squared, which is also about one and a fifth gravitates.  With a velocity of 68 meters per second at the time Kerry checks his HUD, how long did that take?

What do you mean, you don't get physics?

What do you mean, you don’t do physics?

So just under six seconds and he’s two football fields from the start finish, and still picking up speed.  If only the other twelve year old kids back in Cardiff could see him.

And if we want to put this in a proper context, the Formula 1 car Annie’s father drives has an average acceleration of 1.11 m/s2, which means if Kerry and Annie’s Papa were racing together, right now, Kerry would be beating him.  There’s probably a reason why Annie’s Mama might not want Papa to know her daughter is in love with a racer, because Papa knows how Mama felt about him racing, and . . .

Yeah, just another reason dads don’t like their daughter’s boyfriends.

How goes the rest of the start?  Like this:

 

Penny worked her way around another Ceridwen member and Kerry slid a half-meter to his left and pulled a half a PAV length ahead of the same flier. He hung there with the girl as she kept glancing to her left as they approached Graves. As he slowed and turned slightly to his right, Alex slipped in on the girl’s right and hugged the inside of the turn. The Ceridwen flier, finding herself stuck between two Cernunnos members, tapped her air brakes and dropped back a few meters.

Kerry sped ahead through the short chute leading to the gentle left-right-up-down chicane that was Gate Pass—the same place that his impromptu race with Emma began just over a year ago. He hung on as he pushed the speeder through the turn much faster than he’d ever done with his Espinoza, feeling it slide a bit as if he were on ice. But there wasn’t any ice in the air: the only think keeping him on the course was magic and willpower, and at the moment he had plenty of both. He dropped down into Keeper Path, again picking up speed as he headed towards the Sunrise Bends. He glanced to his right as Alex glanced to her left: her eyes smiled, and his smiled back.

He negotiated the entry turn and pulled to his right, following Sunrise towards the school’s outer wall and the hard left turn. You’re running your race— He felt the gees pile up as he pushed the speeder, and himself, through the long, wide, one-seventy turn towards The Narrows. Keep doing what you’re doing, and it’ll turn out great . . .

 

In the time this scene played out, Kerry covered this distance:

Follow the squiggly yellow line again.

Follow the squiggly yellow line again.

Even if that’s maybe thirty seconds, you’re still looking at about a two and a half-minute first lap, and about three to three and a half minutes for the next Blue Line lap.  Say six minutes to go Green to Blue to Green–that’s an eighteen minute race, probably averaging close to 175 mph the whole way–

And they gotta do it two more times after this.

Yeah, it’ll make for an interesting afternoon.

Soufflé Girl Under the Stars

It’s taken me a bit to get going this morning, but going I am.  It’s a beautiful morning in The Burg, and I wish I’d brought my mobile with me so I could have snapped a quick picture before entering the Panera.  That’s for another time, then, because I know there will be many more lovely sunrises to come, and I’ll enjoy them all.

At the moment I’m finishing my soufflé, having my coffee, and listening to Genesis performing a show from 1977.  It’s a tomato and feta cheese soufflé, one of my favorites, which sort of makes me Soufflé Girl, though I have none of the murderous Dalek inclinations my namesake had.  But I’m a bit impossible, so it’s very likely that she’s my kin somewhere in time and space.  Everyone needs a kin, you know?  That way they are never alone.

There were so many things going on last night.  While I’m normally consumed by distractions, during Writing Time I was working on finishing Chapter Seven, I was chatting with someone new online last night, and the Breaking Bad marathon was playing on the TV a couple of meters away.  I wrote about seven hundred and fifty words, managed to have a great conversation, and caught the Season Two episodes Seven-Thirty-Seven and Down, completing my viewing of the four episodes that foreshadow the major event taking place at the very end of that season.  (The other two episodes were Over and ABQ.)

What was written?  Take a gander for yourself, and remember it’s all first draft, so you’re seeing it as I wrote it:

 

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

Back inside the dome Harpreet let them to cabinets in the back. She opened a door and revealed dozens of large parchments suspended on hangers. “These are the school’s star charts.” She selected one and removed the hanger from its support, then carried to a large work table. “The school’s first astronomer was Astria Blomqvist—

“Try to imagine the time. It was the end of the Seventieth Century. The heliocentric model had been in place for about one hundred and fifty years. Astria was a pagan, a witch, and a lover of the skies. When she came here and helped found the school and her coven, and she decided to make it her mission to transfer her love of the sky to the girls living here.

“She not only taught spells and cooking and botany, but she also brought students to the Astria Portal twice a week to talk about the stars, about the planets, about what we knew then. She worked hard to extend that knowledge—hence these . . .”

She waved her hand over the chart on the work table. “Astria worked on these for decades. She started on these in the 1690’s, and it took her twenty years to finish. She drew the sky when she was here, and during the summer she’d travel to other parts of the world—the equator, the southern hemisphere—to see and draw the sky there.

“And when the next school year started, she’d bring her charts to class and have the students use them, to see the starts as she saw them. And when she died . . .” She turned to the cabinet behind her. “She left them to the school, for future generations to use.”

Harpreet turned to Annie and Kerry. “I am of Cernunnos, just as you are. It is the coven founded by Astria Blomqvist, so we feel her whenever we enter the tower. This charts . . .” She lightly ran her fingers over the one on the table. “This is your legacy.”

 

So Tuesday is over, and it’s time for Wednesday–no, not the instructor, the actual day–and that means Formulistic Magic, and that means it’s Erywin’s time to shine.  Though “shine” probably isn’t the proper word for what she does–“Keep everyone on their toes with the impending possibility of something insane happening” is probably a far better description.  Her’s will be a fairly meaty chapter, and you’re going to see that dropping an F Bomb in front of the children isn’t that big of a deal for her.

Yeah, she’d my kind of woman.

The Naming of Call Signs

I have to be forgiven because I only managed seven hundred and fifty words due to getting shoes.  Yes, that’s right:  I had two new pair of shoes come in and–do I need to say the rest?  I had to try them on, then tell one of my friends about it, and by the time I actually got around to doing some writing it was getting late, and that meant I couldn’t write as much as I could have written.

Bad stereotype, I know.

But I managed to finish the scene in the Ready Room–not long after I got this in:

 

Vicky ran her fingers around the patch on the breast of her jacket. “All of you have your coven emblem on your patch. You’ll see I don’t: that’s because I’m out of school. Even though mine reflects my call sign—which is Nightwitch, by the way—you’ll see I have a red border. This indicates I was a member of Bloeddewedd Coven. The rest of you have purple, red, blue, green, and yellow, for Åsgårdsreia, Bloeddewedd, Mórrígan, Cernunnos, and Ceridwen.

“You, on the other hand, have your coven guardians. Each of the creatures on your patches represented the spirit guides of each of the school founders. Some of your who know a little about Celtic mythology know that Cernunnos should have the stag that Åsgårdsreia has, and that no one should have a serpent, but tell that to the spirits: they had other ideas.

“We have group names for each of your covers, which you’ll also find out are the names of their racing teams. You students in Åsgårdsreia Coven, as you are associated with The Wild Hunt, you are the Hunters. Bloeddewedd fliers, you’re the Night Owls. Ceridwen fliers are the Warthogs, and don’t take that as demeaning, ‘cause one of the best aircraft ever built had that nicknamed. Since Mórrígan was associated with the raven, you students there are the Blackbirds. And since Cernunnos has the snake, you two—” She pointed at Annie and Kerry. “—are known as the . . .” She cocked a questioning eye at them, to see if they’d figure it out.

Kerry only had to give it a moment’s thought before he gave the answer with some excitement in his voice. “Viper pilots.”

Vicky smiled. “Somehow I knew you’d get it.” She checked her tablet. “Since we have only the both of you, assigning your call signs won’t be that difficult . . .” She pointed at Kerry. “You are Starbuck.” She turned her finger towards Annie. “And you are Athena.”

 

A bit geeky, I know, but it opens up a little more information about the coverns.  Unlike American Horror Story, my coverns are full of sweet kids, none of whom are having sex–okay, none that we know about.  But that’s another tale for another time.

Tonight I go through the dynamics of how to fly something that looks like a broom.  Also, a very simple count of Chapter Six shows I’ve written ninety-one hundred words, and I’m guessing I’ll have another five thousand down before this chapter is over.  Then there are six to go, and technically I’ll be finished with Episode One of Book One, and I can then start on Episode Two of Book One–are you confused yet?

Don’t worry; sometimes I get like this.