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–

Springtime For Kerry: Racing Resolutions

Well, well, it’s just a little after ten and here I am getting my post going after writing just over six hundred words.  Or I should say, adding six hundred words, because I know I’ll get to writing more this afternoon–like getting the next scene going, which I don’t think will be a long scene, maybe a thousand words or so.  Yeah, you’ve heard that one before, I’m sure.  But this time I mean it!  Unless, of course, I don’t.

It’s an interesting morning, as I drove down to The Burg’s Old Uptown area, where there’s another branch of the coffee shop where I’ve been hanging out on Sundays.  The one I walk to is closed on Saturdays, and since I’m going to be busy tomorrow morning, I decided to head out here, get in my writing, then make a quick stop at the office to print out something before retiring to the apartment for the afternoon.  At the moment I’ve got my caffeine on and I’m typing away like a little madwoman, so all is good in the world.

I'm also wearing my new peach top.  Or orange.  Either way, it looks good on me.

I’m also wearing my new peach top. Or orange. Either way, it looks good on me.

Yesterday I showed everyone what happened in the week after Kerry’s Big Wreck, but I didn’t show it all:  I reached a point where I thought stopping was good.  One reason for that was I wanted to finished the thought I started, and, if possible, I wanted to finish the scene, which I did.  I ended the preceding post with a certain Colorado Ginger maintaining a low profile, maybe out of shame, maybe out of not wanting to get her butt kicked, maybe out of not wanting fireball tossed at her–though that last is probably a stretch, ’cause Annie now knows better than to attack someone in a way that may get her tossed out of school.  Particularly when we have seen that Annie can throw a fireball big enough to light up a big damn bonfire, so setting a girl slightly taller than her in the middle of a massive conflagration that could reduce her to cinders in a matter of minutes wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

What was Emma up that Tuesday night?  Let’s look, shall we?

 

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

Friday morning all members of the coven race teams were called to the Flight School and assembled in the ready room. Though Kerry wasn’t yet cleared to fly he was told to attend, as was Annie, who sat in the back of the room next to Professor Semplen. Once everyone was in place, Emma got up in front of everyone and began apologizing . . .

She apologized for her actions during the Katahdin race; she apologized for her actions over the course of the season. She apologized for those she’d hurt, and faced Kerry while saying that not only was she sorry that she’d put him in the hospital twice during the season, but that he was right: she had slid into him because she saw him as a threat and she didn’t want him to be the first B Level to stand on a podium for the first time in forty-two years.

She told everyone she’d spoken with both Erywin and Vicky, and that neither of them had placed pressure on her to make the apologies, or to take her follow actions: she sat herself down for the next race, agreed to a thirty second penalty that would get applied to the race the following week, and that while her standings up to and including Katahdin would stand, and the points she generated for the Mórrígan team wouldn’t be affected, she would take a fifty point reduction in her totals in the Individual standings, which would push her back to eighth place and only six points ahead of ninth.

After Vicky had Emma sit with her team she let everyone else know that Emma had also requested that she be placed on probation for the remainder of this season and the entirety of the next, to which she and the rest of the team captains agreed. The probation terms indicated that if she deliberately endangered anyone on a course during this time she’d find herself removed from the team for good. Erywin spoke to the teams as soon as Vicky was finished and stated that while Emma’s actions were the best possible for her and for the coven, and she applauded her to being proactive in doing what she could to repair her current reputation.

 

There you go:  she want to Vicky and Erywin and let them know she was being a shit of a racer, and that she wanted to do something to redeem herself.  What she did isn’t unusual:  in Normal racing circles it’s not out of the question for the new kid who’s been something of an asshole on the track to get up in front of the other teams and tell them they know they’ve been a butthead, and they want to take steps to fix things before something bad happens to them–

Like, you know, stuffing someone in a wall at eighty miles an hour--which is what's happening here.

Like, you know, getting stuffed in a wall at eighty miles an hour–which is what’s happening here.

Now one could say, “Well, Emma didn’t really do this on her own; Vicky and Erywin are covering for her–”  Now, Vicky might cover for someone–she kinda did it for Annie, though she still gave her detention for doing things she wasn’t supposed to do–but have you been following Erywin?  That witch covers for no one.  If she hadn’t pulled Emma aside right away to sit her ass down, it’s because she was waiting to see if the Bad Girl From Bolder was gonna step up on her own.  Which she did.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all over, does it?  Nope, not quite–

 

During Emma’s mea culpa Kerry felt as many eyes upon him as upon his wingmate. Everyone in the room were not only aware of his relation with Emma, but their history as well, and the longer things played out, the more he felt he’d need to say something—

While Erywin made her way to the back of the room Kerry stood and faced Emma along with everyone in the room. He said that he’d told her earlier in the week that she needed to fix things with him and everyone she raced against, and he glad to see her doing that. He said that he forgave her and hoped she’d become the racer he knew she was, because he’d hate to not be able to race against her in the future. He ended by saying he felt the matter was closed and there was nothing further to say.

That same afternoon he reiterated the same feelings. Advanced Flight 1 spent the afternoon going over the process for modifying PAVs to achieve greater performance, which meant spending the entire class in the Flight School hangar. About an hour into class Emma tried to bring up the morning in the ready room: Kerry’s response was to smile and tell her everything that could be said was said, and there wasn’t any need to go over the same things again.

The Ostara races were the first since Katahdin where Kerry would be on the course at the same time as Emma—in fact, the first heat of the series was Cernunnos and Mórrígan. He was aware that everyone from both teams were watching them, particularly since someone had started a rumor that he was going to wreck Emma in the first race . . .

 

Once again Kerry takes the high road and tells everyone the matter is closed, let’s move on.  I know there’s a feeling that Kerry should just tell Emma off and snub the hell out of her, but he’s not like that.  He’s had to apologize for so many things in his life time that he knows what it’s like to want to be forgiven, so he’s forgiving type, at least publicly.  Privately he’s already told Emma that if tries any shit with him he’ll wreck her, and they both know he can do this because he’s the better flier.

The thing is if these two just happened to “get together” on the course during the first heat of the day and Emma just happened to end up busted and battered and probably in a coma when it’s all over, you can almost bet that Race Control would shrug and mumble, “It’s one of those racin’ deals,” and maybe lay a five second penalty on Kerry, and that would be that.  Unless he did something stupid like spear her with his broom, but he’d never do that so no need to go there.

Given there’s a rumor going around, however–probably started by a real bad racing girl–Nadine’s gonna check even though she knows he rumor is total BS . . .

 

Nadine nodded and smiled. “I know there won’t be trouble. It’s just—”

“You gotta make sure, I know.”

“Yeah.” She tapped Kerry on the shoulder. “We better get downstairs. Gonna be a big day today.”

“You know it.” He bounded down the stairs alongside his friend. “The penultimate hurrah.”

Annie waited at the bottom of the stair. Nadine greeted her before heading off to join her own team, leaving the couple to hook up with the Cernunnos racers. Annie leaned against Kerry’s shoulder the moment he took her hand. “Is everything good?”

“Yeah.” He walked slow, seemingly not in any hurry to get to the infield. “Even though Nadine knows everything’s cool, she’d gotta be team captain, too.”

“She wanted to make certain there wasn’t any outstanding issues.”

“You got it.”

Annie slowly swung their arms as they walked. “Are you all right?”

Kerry shot her a quick look. “What do you mean?”

“You look tired.”

“Nadine said the same thing.” He kissed her hand. “Just nerves, Sweetie. That and not getting to bed until almost three.”

“You mean not getting to sleep until then.” She leaned closer as she lowered her voice. “I believe we were in bed well before that.”

“On the sofa, at least.” He chuckled. “I’m good, don’t worry.”

“I don’t worry.” She looked straight ahead with satisfied expression etched across her face. “I know you’ll do your best out there.”

“Of course I will.” He stopped them and gave Annie a long, soulful kiss. “Doing my best is what I do best.”

Annie brushed her fingers lightly over his cheek. “And I, of all people, know that the best.”

 

“I believe we were in bed well before that.”  Annie, you scamp!  Keeping your soul mate up late the night before a big race, you should know better.  Wonder if her mama did the same thing with her papa as well?  Could be.  Maybe it’s time to say, “Like Mother, Like Daughter,” which might get a fireball tossed my way, because even though Annie is a fictional creature, it’s still something she’d do.  She takes no shit from anyone.

Here we are then:

The scenes just keep falling.

The scenes just keep falling.

Helter Skelter is up next, and funny thing:  if there was ever a good place for a wreck, it’s there.  Makes one wonder . . .

Springtime For Kerry: Bracing Concerns

Though it doesn’t happen often, I do find myself unable to finish a train of thought before heading off to dreamland–or in my case just crashing out into deep slumbers because I’m so tired.  And I been tired this week; it seems like I’ve played catch-up on my rest every day, including last night.  Which is why I’m usually in my pajamas when I’m putting the touches on my masterpiece.

I usually don't look this attentive when writing.  Or good looking, either.

I usually don’t look this attentive when writing. Or good looking, either.

And one of the things that keep me from moving ahead quickly with the scene last night was having to rewrite paragraphs.  One of them doesn’t appear here, but the last two in the excerpt I probably spent fifteen minutes on getting write, because after rereading what was originally written I about pulled out whatever non-existence hair I have.  I get that was a lot these days:  I put something down on paper–computer paper in this instance–and my eye immediately picks up that it kinda sucks.  In the instance of the first paragraph in question it was because I had all the thoughts there, but they were way the hell out of order.  This is why you edit:  so your stuff doesn’t suck.  At least not deliberately.

Because I didn’t get everything written as planed last night, that means you only get a small part of what I scribbled out.  But I think you’ll enjoy this part.  At least that’s my hope.  We’ll see.

 

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

Nadine waited until the hallway was clear. “How you feeling?”

“I feel okay.” Kerry leaned against the wall. “Pretty good, actually.”

“I was just wondering ‘cause when I saw you at lunch you looked like you were draggin’ a bit.”

Kerry shrugged. “I didn’t sleep much last night. Got a case of the nerves and had trouble going down.” He smiled. “If you noticed Annie’s dragging a bit, too.”

A slight smile flashed on Nadine’s face. “You both up late?”

“Just a little.” He stood and looked around the empty corridor. “What you really want?”

“Wanted to make sure everything’s gonna be okay out there today.”

“You mean when we race you guys?”

Nadine nodded. “Uh, huh.”

“Yeah. It’s all cool.” He turned a lopsided grin to the Mórrígan team captain. “I was given several personal assurances yesterday.”

“So was I. I just, you know—”

“Gotta make sure I know that you know everything’s good.”

“Something like that.”

Kerry chuckled. “There won’t be any trouble from either of us. Nothing to worry about.” He inwardly grinned, because they’d discussed this same matter after Advanced Spells the prior Wednesday. This is her job, though; she has to make sure the peace is kept. I can’t blame her for being a bit apprehensive . . .

There wasn’t a lot of activity in the aftermath of the Katahdin. Kerry spent the night in the hospital with Annie by his side, and when he was released the next day before lunch, Coraline discovered that while the magic and technology did their job repairing the damaged ligaments of his left knee, the scans indicated the repair wasn’t perfect. She decided that additional treatments were possible on an out-patient basis, and released him with the stipulation that he returned every morning for twenty minutes of treatment, and that he wear a brace until Tuesday morning, when she’d complete the treatments. She gave him a cane to use for additional support, but because she didn’t want him going up and down the coven stairs she had him sleep in the hospital Sunday and Monday nights—something that Annie did with him as well—allowing him to use the lift from the ground floor to get to the first floor ward.

During this time Emma maintained an extremely low profile, leaving Mórrígan tower only to eat and attend class. Her dormmates, Jacira Maciel and Leela Kaluwitharana, told others in their level that she usually sat on her bed and said little, though they said that Wednesday afternoon she let them know she’d be away from the tower for a while that night—

 

Now you know:  those little magical nanos aren’t getting Kerry’s knee all fixed up the way they should fix them right away.  This was something Coraline feared might happen, and now you see Kerry hobbling around the school wearing a brace while getting “out-patient” treatment.  This is also the first time he’s seen being made to sleep in the hospital while getting something done because Coraline doesn’t want him walking up and down stairs.  The hospital has a lift at the south end of the ward:  it goes down to the ground floor and the lower levels, and up to the second and third floor, and the later of those two are going to put in an appearance soon.

And of course Annie is spending the night with him as well because Coraline is an enabler and knows there’s no way in hell she can get Annie to head off to the coven to sleep down in the B Level section without her soul mate doing the same on the other side of the tower.  Good thing Annie’s considered part of the triage staff and her overnights with Kerry can be seen as, um, “therapeutic”.  Yeah, that’s right.  She’s helping him heal.

But this last paragraph about Emma?  Well, now you know she has mates with whom she shares a room.  And she’s been sticking to it because she knows she’s been a bad girl, and there are probably a couple of C Levels girls from The Tower of the Horned God looking to kick her ass.  So what did Emma do Wednesday night?

I know.  And I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Springtime For Kerry: Ostara Overview

It’s that time again, kiddies:  the One Chapter Ends Another Begins time.  You know how this works, because I’ve done it so many times before.  However, this time it wasn’t all story writing–I had to plan things out again.

Lookie here:

Did you Lookie Here?  Good for you.

Did you Lookie Here? Good for you.

If you did look at the above image you’ll see a new file on the left, in what we who use Scrivener call “The Binder”, that says “Ostara Round Robin Race.”  Yep, it’s that time again as well:  another big race.  Well, I did tell you there was gonna be a lot of flying in this part.  Though this chapter isn’t so much about racing as it is about something else–though for the life of me I can’t seem to recall the word.  Some writer I am, huh?

Here we are, Saturday, 23 March, 2013–that’s the time in the book–and we focus on Kerry.  Again.  This kid’s getting a lot of screen time of late . . .

 

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

Kerry walked out of the Cernunnos Ready Room and headed for the stairs to the lower levers of The Diamond where he knew Annie waited. As with all races, no one but A Team members were allowed in the team ready room areas, though friends of the racers and “fans” were allowed to wait two levels down where they could meet the team members and walk with them to either the track infield if they were ready to begin a heat, or to the paddocks where they waited their turn to race.

In Kerry’s case he was heading for the infield with the rest of the team. Today was Ostara, the spring celebration with events put on by Annie’s and his coven, the largest of which was the Ostara Pageant, where members of the school were given the opportunity to show off their talents. Just like the year before Kerry was performing—though not with Nadine, who was performing a piece of her own, though they’d worked worked together on their performances together so they could encourage and critique each other.

But now wasn’t the time to think about music: it was time to race, and he was heading towards something with which he had some experience. Today’s event was a round robin competition, much like the one he participated in on Samhain. It was the last big racing event before the final race of the season, and it was conducted in the same way as the Samhain round robin. At this point in the season the coven standings were almost the same as they were five months before: Mórrígan was in the lead and Åsgårdsreia was second. The difference now was that Cernunnos was only four points behind Åsgårdsreia, and a good showing today could tighten up the margin between the two covens.

The biggest changes were in the personal standings. Though Nadine remained in the lead, in the two weeks since Katahdin Penny had won the race following the huge cross country event and finished third the following week. Because Rivânia had a horrendous race the week following Katahdin—she managed a sixth by a three second margin—Penny was currently in second place in the Individual standing, though her lead over Rivânia was only two points. Neither girl thought they had a chance at catching Nadine—who was twenty-four points ahead of Penny—both had spoken privately about racing each other hard but cleanly for the rest of the season, and that neither would do anything underhanded to prevent the other from taking the number two position on the final Individual podium.

Kerry position had improved as well. During the same races that Penny finished first and third, he finished third in the first and second the following race. He was now in fifth place, three points ahead of Alex, and only seven points behind fourth place Rezi Lahood from Åsgårdsreia. Rezi was sixteen points behind Rivânia, which meant that just as Penny and Rivânia believed they didn’t have a chance to catch first place, the two girls and Kerry didn’t believe they had a legitimate shot at third.  And just as his Advanced Spells classmates did, Alex and he spoke with the Lebanese girl and gave assurances that while they’d race hard they’d race clean, and that they wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize each other while on the course.

The discussions among the top fire racers meant Kerry had no worries about anything nefarious happening during today’s races, or the races remaining over the next month. He didn’t even—

“Kerry.” Nadine flagged him down as she headed towards the same staircase from the opposite direction.

He waved back but waited until they were within a couple of meters of each other other before speaking. “What’s up?”

“You got a few minutes?” She pulled him aside so not to block the other team members making their way downstairs.

“Sure.” He gave is classmate and friend a smile. “What’s up?”

 

Pointed out is the fact that it’s three weeks after the big cross country race–Katahdin was help 5 March, and this is 23 March–and Penny and Kerry have done well for themselves.  And there’s been a lot of discussions between the racers at the top to keep things clean between them–something that does happen in the real world.  Well, more or less, because there are times when a couple of racers may decide to say “Fuck it” and start wrecking each other because reasons–

Why does the team captain from one team want to speak with a member of another team?  Maybe there’s something important?  Maybe became there’s a warning.  Maybe because Nadine’s also a ginger and she wants to compare hair with Kerry?  I do think I took all the gingers who couldn’t get into Hogwarts and put them in my school, don’t you think?  Oh, and have you noticed they’re all American?  Yeah, strange how that works.

So tune in tomorrow, kids.  It’ll be fun, it’ll be informitive.

And you’re gonna learn something about the big Katahdin race as well . . .

Dark Witch Affirmations

You can probably guess what I’m about to say:  Chapter Twenty-five is over!  Yep.  Almost six hundred words remained, and I finished them up during the evening rush through the second Thor movie and before I sat down to watch The People v O. J. Simpson, which was a lot better.  Oh, and yeah:  I made it through my anniversary without any issues, and even got a small box of Munchkins as a present from one of my friends.  I wore the outfit I said I was gonna wear, only I did wear stockings with it so I wouldn’t freeze my legs off.

Anniversary 02022016005

Which actually did a great job of hiding my stark, white legs.

That’s all over and done with, so on with the story . . .

After all the stuff that went down in Bay #1 I found it hard to bring an end to the scene.  I knew what was going to be said–I’ve known it for some time–but getting it written wasn’t flowing properly.  Maybe on the edit it’ll clean up better, but right now it feels . . . messy.  This is why we have editing.

For better or worse, then, we have it:  the end of the scene and the end of the chapter:

 

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

There wasn’t any need to ask Kerry if there was something on his mind: Annie knew instantly that he was troubled. “The race bothers you, doesn’t it, my love?”

He nodded. “Yeah. It’s—” Kerry lay his head against Annie’s. “Today before we started I told everyone that I just wanted to finish the race in one piece and that I’d be happy if I just pointed. I did all those things, but . . .” He sighed without looking meeting Annie’s gaze. “That should have been my podium.”

Annie glided her fingers over his cheek. “Kerry—”

“I raced hard; I raced clean. I know it’s my fault that I used magic to hold my knee still, and that I wouldn’t have finished without that, but I never thought—”

“That the finish was going to be as close as it was.” While Kerry slept Annie learned from Professor Semplen that today’s Top 10 finish was the closest in nearly twenty-five years, and having the top six racers finish within two minutes of each other hadn’t occurred since the 1960s.

“I thought we might spread out enough that my penalties wouldn’t matter.” He chuckled darkly. “ I had no idea I was only sixteen seconds behind Penny at the finish. I didn’t even see her.”
Annie slid upward just enough that her right cheek lay against Kerry’s left. “That last lap she was only twenty seconds ahead of you for much of the course. Once she figured she couldn’t catch Nadine she raced to avoid additional penalties.”

“I figured. That’s how Penny races.”

“And I know how you race.” She placed her hand on his forehead. “From here—” She moved it over his heart. “—with guidance from here. You know all the aspects of racing, but you strengthen that knowledge with your emotions—while at the same time you calm your emotions with your mind.” Annie’s finger traced a line across Kerry’s chin. “I know someone who’d probably love to watch you race.”

“Yeah?” Kerry had a good idea of whom Annie meant. “When are you going to invite your parents to a race?”

“Once they’ve gotten to know you better.” She raced an eyebrow. “Maybe next year?”

He heard the question mark at the end of her sentence. “Are you asking me?”

“Perhaps rhetorically.” Though they’d not discussed the matter, Annie certainly hoped Kerry could begin spending time with her parents so they could start the process of leaning more the person she considered the most important in her life. “But that’s a discussion for another time, my love. There’s another matter between us—”

Kerry lay back so he could see Annie’s face. “The race?”

“The race.” She sat up so they were now facing each other. “You raced hard, and you raced one of the best of this season. You encountered problems, you did what you could to get around them, and when you did wrong you admitted to his mistakes. No one could ask more of you. There will be plenty more races, plenty of podiums—” A warm smile broke out upon her face. “Even a few wins, my love: of that I’m certain. And you’ll be on Katahdin again next year, of that I’m certain.

“But of all the podiums you’ll ever stand upon, there is one that is more important to me than all others.” Annie took Kerry’s left hand and kissed it before she set his palm upon her heart. “You’ll always stand atop this podium. There will never be another there. Never.”

 

Being that she’s a Legacy, Annie can invite her parents to different functions, but so far she hasn’t, and there can be any number of reasons for that–like, she doesn’t want her parents to see her the way she is away from their influence–or maybe now she’s concerned they’ll be sitting in the audience for Ostara and hear a boy dedicate a song to her.  As with everything Annie, she has reasons, but in time we’ll see her folks wandering the halls of the school.

And in case you’re wondering, starting next school year Kerry can invite his parents to certain school events.  The question remains:  will he?

There you have it–

The end of the chapter, that is.

The end of the chapter, that is.

And as you can see the start of the next.  Just a couple of quick observations.  The first one is that Kerry’s flying chapter is about a thousand words longer than Annie’s flying chapter, though there was a lot more music and kissing in Annie’s flying chapter, which I’m almost certain Kerry would have liked for his.  And the second observation is that I may need another scene for Chapter Twenty-six, only because I know it needs one, and it would become the next penultimate scene for the chapter.  In fact I just added it, so boo to you, I know what I’m doing.

At least I keep telling myself that.

Dark Witch Warnings

Based upon how the last post ended, and given the title of this post, we’re about to get into some crazy here with Annie–but, before that happens, there’s and important matter than needs addressing first.

It was a year ago today that I finally decided to start living as me, and today was when I finally came out at work and didn’t have to hide from anyone.  So today marks one year of what we like to call Real Life Experience–which, by the way, is the same thing I call the student’s from Salem’s year on the road after graduating from school.  Funny how that works.

In case you’re wondering, since yesterday marked a year of Mondays since coming out, and took a photo at work to show how I looked yesterday, and put it alongside a photo I took on 2 February, 2015:

And here you go.

And here you go.

A lot of people said I look more relaxed in the “after” picture on the right, and I have to agree.  And while I’ve put on a little more weight–I know this to be true, I don’t have to see it in the photo–it’s also apparent my boobs are bigger.  Yeah, boobs!

Anyway, enough about me.  Let’s get to the Rumble in the, um, Bay.

Annie wants to talk.  Emma probably doesn’t, but since Annie locked her ass inside the hospital bay it’s a good bet she’s gonna hear what Annie has to say.  And that starts now . . .

 

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

“I come from a racing family: my father and mother learned to fly here, my father raced here, and in the Normal world racing is his profession. I am not a racer, but I know how things can get between competitors on the course during a race. I know people can lose track of conditions and what they are doing and find themselves in trouble.”

Annie took a second to draw in a breath before speaking in a slow, low tone not unlike the one Kerry used earlier. “After Lisa wrecked Kerry last year Vicky and I spoke, and she told me that if Kerry went out for racing I had a choice: I could be the ‘Crazy Girlfriend’ who went after everyone who wrecked him, or I could accept what happened and let it go. I chose to be the second person, because it wouldn’t help Kerry if everyone he raced against had to worry about me. I didn’t want that, and I accept that what happens to him during a racing is one of the possible outcomes of the sport.

However . . .” She moved a few centimeters closer, coldly staring upward into Emma’s eyes. In the last few months the American girl started growing and she easily stood six centimeters taller than the still diminutive Bulgarian girl. This not only didn’t bother Annie, but any advantage it may have given Emma was completely forgotten. “In the last year and a half Kerry’s found himself in three accidents with you, and each time he had to be hospitalized—all brought about by an idiotic move on your part. I’ll admit that I was upset with you both the first time, because Kerry could have avoided the by not racing you. The second time, though, that was your fault, and you even admitted that it what happened was your fault.

“Now this. I watched the race; I saw what happened. So did the rest of the school. And while I said nothing, there were more than a few people who felt you hit Kerry on purpose. Why would you? The only think that comes to mind is you felt Kerry represented a threat to you finishing the race ahead of him, and you . . .” She slowly cocked her head to the left. “What? Needed to eliminate him? Is that it?

 

We finally hear that not only did everyone in the school see her move on the course, but a few people also thought she was gunning for Kerry.  And that’s a bad thing for Emma, because now she’s gonna get labeled as “The Bad Girl of Salem Racing”, which is what she was warned about.  There are some people in professional racing who love being the drama llama of the course, but that doesn’t last long, because it’s only a matter of time before other racers are spinning your ass out or stuffing you into a wall, and a few concussions later you start getting your act together.

Kerry’s already had a couple of bad concussions and they’re not fun.  Maybe he needs to give one to Emma to even up in that area.  Though it looks as if Annie’s gonna beat him to that–

 

“I don’t care what happened out there on the course, nor do I care to hear your reason. I do know that it stops now. If you both should wreck because you’re racing hard and one of you makes a mistake, that’s understandable, but if Kerry should wreck once more because of an idiotic move on your behalf—” Annie floated off the floor so that she was eye-to-eye with the now visibly frightened girl and leaned in until their noses were almost touching. “—I will find a way to call you out. I will get you out to the Manor and on to the mat, and I don’t care how many champions you have stepping up to defend your honor: I will take them out, and I will continue doing so, until I get to you.”

Her eyes narrowed to mere slits. “And then I will hurt you. I will hit you hard: I’ll hit your hips, your chest, your legs—and your knees. I will cripple you so that it takes you a few days to get back on your feet, and once you’re healed the memory of what happened to you will remain so intense that you’re going to remember the experience for years.” She paused long enough to inhale and exhale slowly. “Do you understand?”

Her hands shook as Emma tried to bring herself to speak. “Ye—yeah.”

Annie’s tone turned icy. “Yeah?”

For a quick second Emma acted as if she were struck across the face. “Yes, Annie—” She was on the verge of hyperventilating as she forced out the last two words. “I understand.”

Annie floated back about a meter from the terrified girl before landing. She removed her privacy spell and swept open the bay curtain with a twitch of her fingers. “Leave.” As soon as Emma was out of the bay and off the ward Annie resealed the curtain and took a moment to return her composure to normal. She turned towards her bed-bound soul mate and discovered him chuckling.  “What do you find so amusing?”

 

And then I will hurt you.”  Up until this point Annie has not threatened another student with bodily harm.  Yeah, she’s lost it on two occasions and just started doing things–liking starting to bleed them out while strangling them or firing up a different death spell–but she’s never come out and said, “I’m gonna hurt you.”  She’s crossed that Rubicon and put someone on notice, and at the same time she’s let them know she doesn’t give a shit how may people get thrown at her in the process, she’ll get her girl and make her regret her life choices.  Or maybe something else?

Yeah, something else.

In the meantime Kerry is doing what?  He’s chuckling.  What do you find so amusing, dude?

 

Kerry motioned to her. “Please come here.” As soon as she’d joined him and was comfortably sitting on the edge of the bed he wrapped his arms around her torso and held her close across his chest.  “My Dark Witch: I finally got to see her angry.”

It was Annie’s turn to chuckle. “That wasn’t angry: that was notably perturbed. You’ve yet to see me angry.”

He nodded. “Uh, huh.  And if you had been angry?”

She rested her head against his shoulder as she gazed deeply into his eyes. “There would have been blood.”

“Well—” He quickly smiled. “Good thing you weren’t angry.”

“This time—” Annie stretched up and gave him a relaxing kiss. “I’m proud of you.”

“Because to told her off?”

“Yes. And because you weren’t afraid to tell her that she needed to change—or else.”

“It was necessary.” He looked away and signed.

 

Here we learn two things.  One, Kerry found Annie’s threats amusing because he got to see her angry.  And two:  Annie wasn’t angry, she was perturbed.  So when she’s coldly telling another student she’s gonna cripple them, she’s not mad, she’s just . . . perturbed.  Angry means there will be blood–

"And none of it will be mine."

“And none of it will be mine.”

That means when she’s really pissed at Emma, the blood death spell will likely put in an appearance.  And Kerry’s like, “Good thing you weren’t mad.”  Which is pretty much what Erywin has probably said to Helena from time-to-time when the latter has felt the urge to light up some stupid git who wronged her.  You’re finally getting to see what a couple of sorceresses are like together.  “Sweetie, I know you’re upset, but it’s not a good idea to strangle a person with a shadow ribbon–at least not in public.”  “Yes, you’re right, my love.”  It’s means you’ve always gotta check yourself before you wreck the shit out of others.  And since we know Annie can flat out kill someone in about fifteen seconds–if not faster now–it means from this point on she’s gonna really keep those emotions under lock and key.

The really scary thing here is that of the two, Kerry is the emotional one.  Good thing he’s got Annie to show him how to hold that all in.  Oh, wait . . .

This scene is just about over.  Just a little more to do tonight and I can put these kids to bed.

But I’ve finally pushed them over a line.  And there’s no going back.

Dark Witch Truths

Yesterday was the whole, “Kerry’s in the hospital again and everyone’s coming by to see how he’s doing and up pops Emma,” scene, and it ended up with a lot of–let’s just say a variety of emotions are sort of swirling about right now.  The least of which are coming from Emma, who probably thinks she should have rethought this moment in her life:

"Is now--or like any time in the next six months--a bad time?"

“Is now–or like any time in the next six months–a bad time?”

Last night I wrote sixteen hundred words for this part of the scene, and that’s something I’ve not done in a hell of a long time.  And get what?  You get to see it all.  Because this is a moment a lot of people have waited for . . .

 

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

A bit of redness crept into Emma’s cheeks as she looked towards the floor. “Thanks.”

“You ran a hard race—” Kerry’s tone turned towards the sarcastic. “—and you had only two speed penalties for rough racing. At least you were able to come in third.” He folded his hand over his lap as he tone turned cold. “Oh wait: you didn’t come in third. I did.”

Emma swallowed hard but didn’t look up. “Kerry—”

He cut her off before finding out what she wanted to say. “I had time penalties: I admit it. I even told Vicky I knew I was using magic during the race, and that she had to do what she needed to do.” He snorted. “I knew it was gonna screw me at the end, but I didn’t try to dance around then. I blew a gate and I used magic illegally. I own that, okay?” When it became evident his wingmate wasn’t going to say anything, Kerry continued onward. “What the hell is wrong with you, Emma?”

She appeared almost frightened when she looked up. “I didn’t mean it—”

Don’t tell me that.”

Annie watched Kerry closely, noticing how he handled himself. He didn’t shout at Emma; there wasn’t any need, for his anger was evident in the low grow of his words. Annie had seen him like this once before: when he questioned Lisa while she was under the control of his Draught of Submission. He’s fully aware of what he’s doing: he’s completely in control. She kept her face frozen, but inside Annie’s smile was bright and wide. He’s acting as a sorceress would; he’s being my Dark Witch.

 

Before we get into the whole “He’s my Dark Witch” thing, allow me to explain their penalty system:

Certain things done on the course require a set time penalty that are added to the racer’s finally finish time once they cross the start/finish line for the last time.  Blowing an elevation gate is a five second penalty; using magic on yourself while on the course–save for certain things like flipping up your visor or retracting your genitals–is a ten second penalty, and crafting a spell at someone an firing it off can get you anything from a minute to getting pulled off the track.

However, there are certain things that involve a speed penalty, which is simply a matter of Race Control telling you to throttle back your broom for a set amount of time and cruse at that speed until they tell you to go again.  Rough racing is one of those things that can get you a speed penalty, and that’s totally a judgement call on the part of Race Control, because bumps and grinds do happen on the course, and it’s up to Vicky to decide if someone needs a little less speed.

Kerry blew a gate and used magic on the course:  that’s fifteen seconds of time added to his final finishing time.  Emma was called for rough racing, and as you see she was called on it a second time during the race.  Some might say she was gaming the system a little bit, because if you get called on it a third time one can find themselves getting a time penalty thrown at them as well.

This is why the Unofficial Time for the Katahdan finish looks like this:

Which, you know, I just happened to have.

With all the pretty penalties.

And once the time penalties are added in, the Official Times for the race look like this:

Once again proving Time is a Tyrant.

Once again proving Time is a Tyrant.

Kerry had fifteen seconds of penalties, and when you add that to finishing seventy-eight seconds behind Nadine, it gives him a final interval time of ninety-three second, which puts him behind Emma by three seconds and ahead of Alex by five.  If Alex had been a little faster, or Kerry a little slower, or racked up another five seconds of penalties, he’d might dropped to fifth.  And just so you know, if he’d tied Alex he’d have still gotten forth, because he’s ahead of Alex in the standings due to wins, podium finishes, and top-5s.  Consistency has it’s place.

So now you know how this works out–and you’re about to know one more thing.  And this is the answer to a question that a lot of people apparently ask . . .

 

Kerry cleared his throat and shifted as much as he could with his knee immobilized. “Do you know why I fly with you?”

Emma finally looked up, and Annie and Kerry noticed her eyes growing misty with tears. “No.”

“I fly with you because you are the best. You know what to do when we’re out, you know what what could happen to us. When we’re flying together, I know how to anticipate your actions, and you can do the same with me. I fly with you because I’m one of the best, and I only want to fly with someone who I know is just as good. I’ve had people ask me, ‘Why do you fly with that crazy bitch?’ And that’s what I tell them: my wingmate is one of the best fliers, and I trust her to do the right things. And I do—but only when we’re flying.

“But when we’re racing?” Kerry gave a disgusted snort. “No I don’t. When you race, it’s like Crazy Emma comes out—the evil twin who doesn’t give a shit about anything but winning.” Kerry hadn’t sworn much in front of Emma, and she recoiled when he did it this time. “You don’t care about anything when you’re on the track—” He became more animated, using his arms to gesture while his tone remained constant. “All you want to do is win, and you’ll do anything to get to the finish line first. And if that means racing a little hard, that’s what you do. Only in your case—” His tone turned sarcastic once again. “You haven’t figured out the different between racing hard and racing dangerous. You think racing hard means putting someone off the course so they miss a gate, or into a safety enchantment so they slow up—or wreck—”

Emma began shaking her head as she pleased with her eyes. “I don’t—”

You do. It’s one thing to bump someone now and then when you’re racing, and it’s another to just run into them and get them out of your way. You didn’t bump into me today: you ran me over.” He sighed. “Do you know anything about racing in the Normal world? Have you ever watched Formula 1 or NASCAR?”

She shook her head. “No.”

“Then you don’t know what happens when a new person comes up and they decide they gotta win at all costs.” A smirk began to form on Kerry’s face. “They lose all their friends on the track. They have people gang up on them. They turn into the ‘bad guy’.” He pierced Emma with cold stare. “Is that what you wanna be? The Bad Girl of Salem Racing? I don’t think you want that, and even if you did you couldn’t pull it off, ‘cause you’d suck at it.” He once again set his hands in his lap as he settled back. “Nadine wants to see you before you guys go to the Midnight Madness, doesn’t she?”

 

Like it or not, Kerry sees there are two Emmas.  The first Emma is a great flier and has it together when she’s in the air, and she works well with her navigator.  This is something we’ve seen back on PEI during the first overnight flight, when these two worked out a route home in about the same amount of time it takes me to figure out what I’m going to wear in the morning.  They click; they are on the same wavelength.

And then there’s a second Emma who’s some crazy bitch with a “Win It All!” attitude who will push anyone out of her way–including her wingmate, whose life she’s gonna have to place her hands one of these days when they’re in the wilds of Canada.  Second Emma doesn’t think, and that’s what Kerry doesn’t like about her.  Racing isn’t just about winning, ’cause who wants to win all the time if they are burning bridges as they go along?

This is what Kerry knows, just as he knows her team captain wants to speak with her . . .

 

She nodded slowly as a certain awareness crept into her eyes. “Yes. How did—?”

“—I know? Because Riv and she were by earlier to see how I was doing. A lot of people came by to see how I was doing.” Kerry sat forward and finally raised his voice as he spoke. “I’ve got more friends on other teams than you have on your team. And you’re losing the few you have.” He sighed as he slightly collapsed inward. “If you don’t change you’re gonna get out on the track next season you’re gonna find yourself out there racing alone. No one’s gonna help you, no one’s gonna cut you slack. You’re gonna be out there all alone.” Though he spoke softer, Kerry’s tone didn’t waver. “Is that what you want?”

A few tears began streaming down Emma’s cheeks. “No.”

“I don’t know what Nadine’s gonna say to you, but I can bet she’s gonna ream you out. She’s gonna tell you to get it together, or you can get off the team—”

Emma wiped her face. “Are you sure?”

Kerry looked like he was about to jump out of bed. “Annie and I have class with her and Riv, and Nadine and I are working on our Ostara presentations together. Yeah, I’m sure. And you know what she’s gonna say as well, ‘cause you’re not stupid.” The cold stare and matching tone returned. “You need to fix this, and now. Otherwise you’ll probably never stand on a podium again.”

 

Again, Second Emma isn’t smart.  She doesn’t realize that Kerry’s not only friends with one captain from another race time, but two: Rivânia is the Åsgårdsreia team captain as well.  No, Emma isn’t smart, and Kerry’s about to give her the final cut.

 

The tears were flowing now and Emma found it difficult speaking through the sobs. “You right; I know you are.” She stared at the floor once more. “I’ll fix it, I promise.”

“You better . . .” Kerry took a deep breath as he leaned forward. “I’m gonna say one last thing, and after this we won’t talk about it ever again; I won’t bring it up, and if you try I’ll blow you off. Look at me—” Emma slowly raised her head. “Anna came with Nadine and Riv, and she said that from where she was positioned she thought you slid into me on purpose. I didn’t want to believe that, but you know me: give me time and I’ll over-analyze everything.

“Even if you came into Pond fast, you could have slowed enough that you could have diamonded that turn. I know you could because I could. In fact I would have done the same but Anna was there and I wasn’t in the right spot to pull it off. You didn’t have that problem, though.

“So from now on, until you fix the way you fly and prove you aren’t gonna be a danger to anyone, any time I see you coming my way I’m gonna assume you’re gonna do something stupid that’ll probably wreck me.” Emma’s tears began flowing more freely. “And I’m going to do what is necessary to keep that from happening—and if that means having to stick you in a safety enchantment, I will.” His tone turned dark. “And you know I can, ‘cause when it comes to both flying and racing, we both know as good as you are, I’m better.”

Kerry ignored his wingmate’s distress as he pushed home his last point. “I’ll keep flying with you. I’ll do snipe hunts, I’ll do overnight flights, I’ll even do the Polar Express. But I don’t have to do them as your friend. People work together all the time who may not really like each other that much, and that’s the way it might be with us.” He drew in a slow, deep breath. “It’s called being a professional. I would rather fly with you as a friend I can trust, but if I can’t, I can be a professional and do this to get through class.” He shrugged. “It depends on what you want to do, Emma. It’s all on you.”

It took several seconds for Emma to control her crying. She forced herself to stop and composed herself. “Okay, I . . .” She gulped several times as she sniffed back the remnants of her tears. “I’ll fix this, I will. I promise.”

Kerry lay back. “We’ll see.”

Emma nodded. “Yeah, I . . .” She glanced off to her left. “I, uh, better go find Nadine—”

 

There you go:  Kerry’s letting her know that he knows she didn’t just “slide into him.”  He’s called her on his bullshit, and has told her that if she keeps it up, he’s gonna start giving her a few racing lessons, and you can believe he knows how to hurt her on the track without it coming back to bite him too hard.  He won’t like it, but you know, sometimes you gotta be the Dark Witch and show those other witches who the hell they’re messing with.

This is also one of those rare times where Kerry comes right out and says, “I’m better and you know it.”  He doesn’t like to brag or show off, and for him to tell his wingmate that he’s better and she knows it–that’s his polite way of letting her know if she tries to play him in the future, he’s gonna, you know, fuck her up.  But he says it politely.  Yeah.

Well, that’s all over.  Kerry’s had his say and Emma can be on her way–

 

Wait.”

Emma’s head snapped around as the privacy curtain extended across the bay and slammed shut with a lout snap. Annie was out of her chair and half-way around the bed when she crafted a privacy field and set it against the inside of the curtain. “Kerry may not care if anyone else in the hospital hears what he has to say—” She cleared the bed and walked towards Emma, who slowly backed into the space between the curtain and Bed #1 and stopped backing up when she hit the wall. Annie moved right up to her and only stopped when they were toe-to-toe. “—but what I have to say remains between us three.

 

You know, when Annie starts off a conversation by locking your ass in the hospital bay with her, things are probably not going to get much better from that point on . . .

You're gonna make Annie angry; you don't want to do that--

“Emma . . . let’s talk.”