Springtime For Kerry: The Pushers

We come to the end of the scene, and it was a bit of a chore getting it all together, let me tell you.  Because . . . I don’t know why.  Sometimes things flow pure and easy, and some times you gotta pull them out of your head with a pair of pliers.

But I did something that will set me up, kinda, for the next scene.  May I show you?  Of course you’ll say yes.  So . . . here:

What the happy hell is this?

What the happy hell is this?

Glad you asked.  Kerry is playing in the Ostara Presentation, and he’d doing keyboards once again.  So is Nadine, and because of this they pooled their talents and decided that they’ll perform different songs, but since they’re playing pretty much the same instruments, they’ll go on back-to-back and use the same set up.

You know me:  I gotta see what that looks like, so I did.  I found the actual dimensions of equipment available in March of 2013, and I modeled it up.  And what are these things?  Well, if we assume that the stick figure in the middle is Nadine/Kerry, and they are facing the keyboard on the right, then it’s easy to describe . . .

The unit to their right is a 37 key Mellotron M4000D with an add-on MIDI processor (not shown here, but it’d be set up to the right of the instrument).  This is used to produce all the string and vocal sounds either would need.  In front of them is an 88 key Yamaha P-255 digital piano, which is pretty much the standard for that sort of instrument.  On their left the bottom keyboard is a 61 key Akai MPK61 Midi Controller (with the MIDI processor rack set up just to the left of the instrument) which both kids will use to replicate an organ, and the top keyboard is a classic 61 key ARP Quadra digital synthesizer which Kerry is playing during his performance.  And if you’ve followed this story all the way from the last novel, you’ll know that one, Kerry’s already played that instrument, and two, he’s over the moon about playing it during his performance because there’s a massive amount of geeky musical pride in being able to perform a song that used to be played on that very keyboard, and was done so live many times over.

But that’s for the next scene, and believe it or not, you’re not even going to see this.  It’ll get mentioned, but . . . nope.  No seeing.  Not like last night.  However, there is the scene to finish up below, and it picks up from Coraline’s “But?” which isn’t to be confused with–you know.  Let’s not go there; let’s go here . . .

 

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

“The last week he’s been a little slow in his casting.”

“Slow in terms of the others, or slow in terms of how you both normally cast?”

“How we normally cast.”

Coraline grinned. “Which means he’s still faster than the majority of the school.”

Annie chuckled. “Yes, it’s true.”

“Did he give a reason for slowing his crafting?”

“As he said, stress over Ostara.  I think he’s still recovering from what happened on Katahdin.”

“Probably.”  Coraline rested her chin on her right hand.  “Has he had any other dreams?”

“He said he’d tell us if he did, and he hasn’t.”  Annie wanted a few of her own answers before offering any more. “What’s wrong with him?”

Coraline didn’t see a reason to keep the girl in the dark. “He’s overly tired. The scans here show a build-up of beta-amyloid in his body, and that’s an indication that he’s either not sleeping well, or he’s suffering from insomnia.” She shrugged. “He’s back there napping now—”

“Are you certain?”

 

There you have it:  Kerry’s tired.  Overly tired, to use Doc Coraline’s expression.  Beta-amyloid is a real protein that accumulates in the brain if, as Coraline points out, suffer from insomnia or just don’t sleep, and can lead to problems down the line if it doesn’t get flushed out with a good night’s sleep.

But this napping thing:  how does Coraline know Kerry’s back there in Bay #1 asleep?  Well, it’s a kinda magic . . .

 

“Yes, I’m certain.” Coraline’s grin transformed into a sly smile. “Since he was pretty much out of it I crafted a quick spell around him that was going to make him drowsy. It would only stay in place for maybe two or three minutes, but that’s all he’d need.”

Mama used to do something like when she’d set me down for a nap. Annie remembered, starting when she was two, all the times her mother would have her take a nap in the afternoon, and when she resisted closing her eyes and going to sleep, her mother would smile and run her finger down the bridge of her nose and over her cheeks and chin, and in a few minutes Annie would fall into a deep slumber. She was doing the same thing to get me to fall asleep—at least at first. Once I discovered Kerry there in my dreams, I didn’t need a reason to nap in the afternoon. “How long will he sleep?”

“A hour, maybe ninety minutes.” Coreline got up and headed for the door. “Come on.” Once again Annie followed the doctor, only this time out of the office and back to the bay. She saw Coraline slowly crack the curtain open and looked inside the dark space. “Come—” She waved Annie forward. “Look.”

Annie peeked inside. Kerry had managed to pull the comforter over him before falling sleep. He appeared peaceful and unconcerned, so different than the way he’d acted less than fifteen minutes earlier. “I’m glad he’s resting.”

“I am, too.” Coraline waved Annie back and resealed the bay. “The way he appeared when we first entered the ready room, I’m surprised he made it as far in the heats as he did.” She shook her head. “Then again, that’s what Salem does.”

Annie repeated the quote that was considered the unofficial motto of the school. “’Push you as far as we can, then push you beyond that’.”

“That’s what we do. We push each level as far as we can to see what they’re capable of doing, then we push them more.” Coraline crossed her arms. “And then you two—” She leaned against the bay partition and looked down while shaking her head. “Advanced classes, racing, gift training, minion work, and Ostara presentations.” She chuckled as she stood. “Sometimes we’re so busy pushing you as hard as we can that we forget.”

Annie closely scrutinized the school doctor. “Forget what?”

Coraline patted Annie on the shoulder. “That you’re only twelve and thirteen.” She slowly moved around her on her way to her office. “That you’re only kids.”

 

“That you’re only kids.”  No truer words spoken, because there are time when people seem to forget that these two, who put themselves though so much shit in such a short time, are actually just young kids.  And while the other B Levels are pushed, Annie and Kerry are pushed, though Annie will have the last thought on this matter at the end of the last scene of this chapter.

Right now we are three scenes down–

And if my counting's right, two to go.

And if my counting’s right, two to go.

So let’s get over to the Ostara Presentation and see what my kids are going to do–

Or in Annie’s case, done.

Springtime For Kerry: Off to the Ward

Yesterday . . . and unlike a certain song it wasn’t so far away.  It was actually pretty sucky, if you must know.  It started bright and early when I discovered that my ATM card was deactivated, because I was sent a new one back in December that went to my home in Indiana–where my family still lives and where I maintain my actual residence for taxing purposes–because my bank–which I will leave unnamed but has the initials JPMC–was supposed to update my address but didn’t, and my family at home never told me I got the card, and neither did my bank, so it’s not be activated.  Getting a new card doesn’t make sense, because I was given a new card after I changed my name, but they still gave me one anyway because it looks like they issued it under my old name, and . . .

Well, that’s not really the bad part.  The bad part is they could fix my address and issue me a new one, but it would be thirty days before I get a new card because I don’t know why, my bank probably figured it would cut into the billions they make each year if they issue one and then FedEx it to me overnight, BUT!  If I drive 130 miles/210 kilometers to the nearest branch they’ll issue me one right then and there.

Yeah, not happy.

"Trust me, when they start breaking up the banks I'll be right there with a flamethrower!"

“Trust me, when they start breaking up the banks I’ll be right there with a flamethrower!”

This is to say I spent most of the day pissed off and out of my mind.  When I arrived home I did another video and  went to get food–putting it on a card that I can pay right a way–and then arrived home and tried to get into writing, but . . . nada.  Shit wasn’t going well.  Just hard to get the creative juices flowing when all I wanted to do was rest and veg out.

However, I did managed to add about four hundred words to the current narrative, and look up some information needed for the next scene, believe it or not.  It’s not much, but it’s a start towards what’s going on with Kerry.  And . . .

 

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

Coraline helped Kerry out of the recliner and into the wheelchair, and made certain he was comfortable. As soon as Annie had a good grip on the back of the wheelchair Coraline jaunted them to the first floor lounge area at the south end of the ward before heading all the way down the ward to Bay #1. She considered having Annie levitate Kerry into bed, but she wanted to see if he could climb into Bed #2 on his own, which he did with out problems.

Once Kerry was stretched out Coraline activated the overhead scanners and ran her hand-hovering orange glow down the center line of his body, all the way to mid-thigh before heading back to his head. She scrutinized the readouts set over Kerry’s head, looking down and smiling every few seconds. “Nothing out of the ordinary here.” She pushed the main monitor back against the wall. “I believe you could do with a bit of a nap, though. After all—” She winked at him. “—you have a big performance tonight, don’t you?”

He smiled up at Coraline, then reached to his left where Annie stood and took her hand. “I probably could use a nap.”

She, too, smiled down at Kerry, but at the top of her vision she saw the minute twitch of Coraline’s head towards the ward corridor. “A nap will do you well, my love.” Annie gave his hand a squeeze.

“In the meantime I can use the bathroom—” She leaned closer and spoke in a low voice. “It’s needed.”

“Well, then, I don’t want to hold you up.” He stretched out, gave her hand a quick squeeze before folding his hands over his stomach. “It’ll just be a quick nap.”

“I’m sure it will, Red.” Coraline motioned the privacy curtain half closed, then stepped out into the corridor and waited for Annie to join her before closing the curtain all the way. She headed for her office with Annie following right behind: the moment they were inside Coraline shut the door and set the blinds at half-closed. Coraline settled down in her chair. “How’s Kerry been acting of late?”

“Not much different than he usually acts.” Annie took a seat across from Coraline’s desk. “Nothing I’d say that is out of the ordinary.”

“How’s his magic crafting?”

“The same.”

Annie glanced down for a moment, something Coraline picked up in an instance. “But?”

 

That’s it.  He’s in the bed and resting, and it looks like Coraline and Annie are going to have a little chat, one that I should finish tonight.  And that means I should have time to start on the next scene, but then . . . there’s something else I might want to do as well relating to the next scene, and that involves using what little creative skills I have in another area to help me visualize something.  If that happens, then there’s a likelihood I won’t get that scene started, but then . . .

You know where I’m going with this.

I think.

Springtime For Kerry: Expressive Exams

Excerpt time is right around the corner, but first the other news, which you may or may not care about, but I’m gonna give it to you anyway.  Last summer and fall I did weekly recaps of a couple of television shows for my friend Rachel Tsoumbakos.  At that time we were posting the recaps on her site, but we’ve decided to branch out and do the smart thing, which is set up another blog site to hold our recaps!  That means I am now one half of The Snarking Dead, and with the new seasons coming up here in a real hurry we’re gonna be busy little girls recapping our favorite shows.

Last night I started catching up on last year’s first-half-of-Season 6 of The Walking Dead by doing a video recap of Episode 2, and I’ll likely post that later today, and if I’m in a really crazy mood I’ll do my best to get those video recaps out before the second-half-of-Season 6 airs this Sunday.  Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.  But I had fun filming last night, so we’ll see.

Filming wasn’t the only thing I did:  there be writing as well.  And it’s the writing that starts answering the question, “What’s wrong with Kerry?”  And guess what?  I’m about to tell you–

 

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

Awareness returned slowly to his eyes. Kerry blinked three times then glanced around without moving his head, as if he were taking in the room for the first time. His eyes locked on Annie and a smile slowly formed before he turned to the other person in the room. “Hi, Coraline.”

“How you feeling, Red?” Coraline removed her scanner from her jacket but held it in her hand.

“Tired.” He chucked and turned to Annie. “I was zoning out there; I didn’t hear you guys come in.”

“Yeah, it looked that way.” Coraline crafted a small light on the tip of her right finger, then gently opened each other Kerry’s eyes to examine them. “Did you hear Holoč leave?”

He started to shake his head, then stopped. “No.”

Coraline killed the finger light. “What happened out there? Why did you bail out of the race?”

Kerry raised the back of the recliner and began sitting upright. “I was starting to lose focus. My head was getting foggy; I couldn’t keep my mind on the race.” He rubbed his eyes with his fingertips. “I came up on Penny in Helter Skelter and I thought I was gonna crash. That’s why I popped off the course.” He looked to Annie. “I didn’t want to crash, or crash anyone else, and if I’d stayed out there, that would have happened.”

Coraline nodded. “That was good: that was smart. If you weren’t at your best it was good you got off the course before you hurt yourself and others.” She looked up across the recliner where Annie stood at Kerry’s left. “Ain’t that right?”

She nodded. “It was.” She knelt down next to her soul mate and set her hand over his. “You did the right thing, my love.” Annie kept her concern for Kerry from showing, for while she realized he’d done the right thing, what bothered her was his current situation. It’s as if he has no energy, no feelings. He didn’t act this way even after Katahdin, when he was in pain. Why is he like this?

 

There you go:  Kerry was losing it out on the course, and before he wrecked–or worse, wrecked someone else–he got the hell off the track and out of the race.  Annie knows there’s something wrong, however.  There’s something that’s not right, because Kerry’s tough, even to the point of racing on when he shouldn’t–though one could argue that if he tore up his knee on the school’s Blue or Red Lines he’d probably leave the race right away.

Coraline has a question for the lad, and this shows why she gets paid the big bucks:

 

Coraline finally activated her scanner and formed the orange glow in the palm of her right hand. She scanned Kerry from head to waist then started back, her eyes locked on to the display. She was half way up his body when she spoke. “How is your sleep?  Getting enough?”

Kerry half-shrugged. “It’s been okay, but the last couple of weeks—” He gave his best smile to Coraline. “You know, the stuff I’m doing for Ostara, I’m worried about doing well tonight.” He gave a weak chuckle. “Should have kept my mind on the race, yeah?”

“Oh, yeah.” Coraline nodded, keeping a smile on her face and her tone neutral. “I’m gonna take you to the hospital—”

“Why you wanna do that?”

She got to her feet and looked down on Kerry. “Because I want to give you a more extensive scan; there’s things I can detect with the equipment there that I can’t—” She held up the hand scanner. “—get with this.”

“Uh.” Kerry dropped the foot rests. “I’m okay—”

Sit, Kerry.” Coraline pointed at him and shook her head. “I don’t want you out of that chair until I’m ready for you to get out of that chair.” She turned to current assistant. “Annie, would you get a wheelchair from the storage area?”

He watched Annie, following her as she walked to the ready room storage area to his right. “That’s okay: I can walk—”

Kerry.” Coraline stepped in front of the chair to prevent him from standing and set her hands on her hips. “You are not the doctor here: I am. And if I say you’re going to the hospital in a wheelchair, then, young man, you are.” She waved at Annie, who had the wheelchair half-way out of the storage area. “Hurry up with that.”

“Yes, Doctor.” Her eyes grew stern as Annie wheeled the chair over. “Kerry, you need to listen to Coraline. Don’t argue with her.” She parked the wheelchair directly in front of the recliner as soon as Coraline stepped aside. “Anything she’s ordering, she’s doing so for your own good.” The smile appeared on her face, though it was slow coming to her eyes. “Please, my love?”

For a moment it didn’t look as if he would respond, then a grin spread wide across his face as Kerry nodded slowly. “Yes, Sweetie. I know you’re right.”

 

When Coraline starts using her Doctor Voice on you, it’s serious shit, folks.  She has caught Kerry in bed with Annie–sleeping, mind you, but still–and cuts him a lot more slack than she does other students–what do you want to bet there aren’t many other kids at Salem that get to address her by her given name?  And while Annie was speaking nicely to Kerry, she was also giving him “The Look”, the one that says, “You better shut up and do as your told or we’ll have words.”

"There's no way I'm gonna win this battle, is there?"

“There’s no way I’m gonna win this battle, is there?”

No, kid.  Just get in the chair.

So it’s off to the hospital and more scans, and I’ll likely wrap this sucker up tonight, after which there are only two more scenes before we get to the chapter I know a few people are waiting for–

And I’m really dreading writing . . .

Springtime For Kerry: Ready Room Inception

Since today’s post has the word “inception” in the title, I have to include this:

I mean, it is the law.

The question that arose yesterday was, “What’s wrong with Kerry?”  He’s not a quitter, we know that.  He’s also a tough racer–we saw that in the last chapter.  If he hung in for two hundred and seventy-five kilometers with a busted knee, then he should be able to handle four hundred kilometers of Blue Line with some rest in between.  All this means there’s something different about this race, and as one of my faithful reader pointed out, was Kerry afraid he’d run into Penny?  Maybe.  But Kerry’s been in that position before, drafting up on someone fast, and he’d handled it before.  Why is now different?

Well, I didn’t really answer that last night.  As with any time i get a scene started, I’m usually slow on the start.  And last night my editing side kept kicking me in the side, telling me, “No, what you just wrote is crap.”  Which meant I was doing a lot of writing and rewriting throughout the night.  And that means only about three hundred and eighty-five words were penned.  This seemed to be a habit with me when I’m starting out:  take your time getting started and then kick it into gear the next day.  That means I’ll likely do six hundred or so tonight.  Maybe.  It’s always possible.

If you must know, the first two paragraphs of this excerpt took about thirty minutes to write due to writing and re-writing.  Particularly the second one:  for some reason I simply could’t get the words to fit, if you know what I mean.  It’s a strange sensation when you look at what you wrote, change it, and tell yourself, “No, that’s not right.  Try something else.”  That’s when I’m glad I write on a computer, because I’d go through a hell of a lot of paper otherwise.

Let’s see what’s happening back at The Diamond.  It’s not gonna be much of a surprise that it starts out with a Chestnut Girl . . .

 

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

Annie headed for the Cernunnos ready room within seconds after hearing Kerry had declared a DNF and was returning to The Diamond. She wasn’t allowed up right away, but was told instead that she needed to wait for someone to arrive from the hospital before she could gain access. Ninety seconds later Coraline appeared. She smiled and nodded up the stairs: Annie followed her up without a word.

There were only two people in the ready room when they arrived: Kerry, who was one of the large recliners in the back of the room used for rest between heats, and Professor Semplen, who was hovering close to seated racer. Kerry’s hard helmet and gloves were off and his feet were elevated. He sat slouched in the chair, a blank expression affixed upon his face while he stared into space through slightly closed eyes.

Coraline held the door for Annie and let it swing shut behind her. “How’s our boy?”

Holoč rested a hand upon the top of Kerry’s recliner. “He’s not injured, which is good. He told me on the way up here that he had trouble focusing.”

“I see.” The school’s doctor reached the recliner side and gave Kerry a quick glance. “Okay, Holoč, thanks. I’ll take it from here, and I’ll notify you if we have to head back to The Pentagram.” There wasn’t any point in elaborating: Holoč was aware that when she said “The Pentagram” she was referring to the hospital.

While Professor Semplen and Coraline didn’t appear troubled, Annie was genuinely concerned. She’d seen Kerry through a variety of moods, but even in the midst of his worse emotional plight, he appeared animated and aware of his surroundings, but right this moment he was neither. Annie couldn’t remember a single situation where Kerry didn’t respond to her presence, and even when they finally met after their gifts testing he looked over as she walked through the door and offered a greeting.

He’s simply laying there. Holoč said goodbye to them both and left the room. There’s nothing going on inside his mind; it’s as if he’s shut down

The moment the door to the ready room latched closed Coraline squatted beside the recliner. “Hey, Kerry.” When he didn’t respond after a few seconds she lightly touched his arm. “Hey, Red—”

 

No way in hell Annie wouldn’t be down there trying to find out what’s wrong with Kerry.  One has to wonder if Coraline sent out a message saying, “Don’t let Annie up until I get there,” because that does sound like something she’d do.  The supporting evidence here is the fact she came out personally.  Kerry busts himself up on Katahdin and Nurse Bianca heads out with her “assistance” to pick up the lad; at the school Kerry pulls himself out of a race and the Salem’s Chief Medical Officer–which is Coraline’s real title–shows up to take matters in hand.  Probably because she knew there was a concerned girl waiting to see him as well.

I started thinking about if the roles were reverse:  would Kerry be right there wanting information on his Sweetie?  You know he would.  Now all I had to do is find a case where Annie is rushed to the hospital–

"Beat up in a match?  Not a chance.  Hurt by Deconstructors?  Perhaps.  Passing out because I was pregnant?  Urrr--"

“Beat up in a match? Not a chance. Hurt fighting Deconstructors? Perhaps. Passing out because I was pregnant? Ummm–“

Let’s hold off on that last one; all those little witches in your belly aren’t needed right now, Annie.

More tonight for sure.  And maybe that will be enough to snap Kerry back into reality.

Springtime For Kerry: Helter Skelter Comin’ Down

That scene I showed you yesterday?  Finished it.  Yep, sure did.  It took me awhile to get to seventeen hundred and sixty words, because I was spending the moment between music, napping, eating, and snarking on The Walking Dead, so I was a busy girl even though I wasn’t.  Such is my live on the weekend when I have no one with whom to visit and I’m playing one half the team of Two Broke Girls.

Given that I covered a lot of the race mechanics in the last post, it behooves me to not worry about getting you up to speed.  I will, however, give you a nice graphic of the section of the course that is covered in the following excerpt:

Where all the action takes place, so to speak.

Where all the action takes place, so to speak.

It doesn’t seem like a lot of space to cover, but then I don’t need a lot of space.  What happens in the next few hundred words doesn’t need a lot of space . . .

 

 

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

The third stage race was exactly like the first one with Mórrígan: everyone bunched up with lots of hard competition. The lead changed constantly between the top four, and everyone else remained within a second and a half of fifth and sixth place. Kerry stayed up towards the front, but as the laps wound down he found it more difficult to keep up the pace. It wasn’t simply a case of being tired: there were a few moments during Laps 4 and 5 when he knew he was flying on auto pilot, and the only thing that got him through the the various areas unscathed was memory brought on by dozens of laps runs over the last five months.

He didn’t like not being in complete control. While it had happened once in a while before—Penny and Alex both admitted there were times when their minds wandered for a few seconds at times during a particularly difficult race—it made him feel like he was a danger just by being on the course. He didn’t want to think about that now, because if he did his mind would wander and he’d start flying through the track sections without thinking about what he was doing—

Kerry snapped aware as he sailed into The Trench at close two hundred and fifty kilometers and hour, with Alex on his left and Nattat Adriano from Mórrígan on his right. He popped up a half-meter so they could all squeeze through the space through the trees. He got his mind back on the race as he sped into Quarry Turn with his shadows to either side, Penn and Nadine directly in front of him, and Emma drafting off his processor while Manco and Mórrígan’s Malaya Lacsina drafted off her.

He made his way through the trees and back up into the air, picking up speed as the pack headed into Observatory Bend, building up gees as he flew through the two hundred degree turn. Kerry shook as he fought against the forces pushing him into the saddle. He spotted Alex just to his left, but he didn’t see Nattat; he figured she’s slipped slightly behind him as she ran the outside of the turn. He quickly glanced into his rear view and saw Emma drafting off Alex now, while Manco and Malaya were drafting off him.

He lined up on Penny as the pack neared the exit of the turn and made their way onto Skyway. Kerry felt the draft pull him closer to his teammate, and he sensed rather than saw her twitch slightly to her left as she took the quickest path on to Skyway. Kerry wanted to continue drafting, but he caught sight of Alex out of the corner of his left eye and halted his move because he didn’t want to wreck her. Instead he stayed in the middle of Skyway and forced a bit more speed out of his broom . . .

Helter Skelter grew closer. Kerry, certain he was clear of Alex, slipped in behind Penny with the intention of bring right behind her the whole way through the turn, and get a good pass on her in Residence. All he needed to do was draft now, hang tough, draft later.

He began blinking hard. He tried to recall his plan, but he couldn’t find that train of thought; it wasn’t there any more. He didn’t need it: it was just stay close and follow Penny—

Follow her through—

Kerry gasped as he closed fast on Penny, now only four meters in front of him. He sat upright and let out a shriek before jerking as hard upward on the control column of his Espinoza as possible, shooting seventy meters above the Blue Line and away from the line, where he stopped after a few seconds of sailing. He breathed deep to clear his head, waiting for the call he knew was coming—

Professor Semplen’s voice was clear in his ears. “Kerry, this is Race Control. What’s wrong? Over.”

“Race Control, I’m okay.” Kerry’s sigh was impossible to mask. “I’m coming back to The Diamond. Over.”

“What’s wrong?” Vicky broke in on the conversation. “Do you require medical assistance? Over.”

“I, um—” He shook his head, flipped up his visor, and began slowly flying back to The Diamond. “I don’t know what I need. I’m declaring a DNF.” This sigh was full of disappointment. “I’m done racing for the day.”

 

To bring you up to speed on racer lingo, DNF means Did Not Finish, which means the racer in question never crossed the finish line at the conclusion of the race.  Kerry also gets no points for the race, which means his coven gets no points for his participation, either.  The only time we’ve seen Kerry DNF before this is when Anna and he wrecked after Lisa “accidentally” slid into them.  When he an Emma wrecked before, he was crossing the finish line and therefore received points–I mean, he won that race–and he raced with a busted knee at Katahdin just so he wouldn’t get a DNF.

This time, however, Kerry did something we’ve not seen since he started school:  he pulled himself off the course and said “No mas” before slowly making his way back to base.

He just quit.

I tried finding an image of a tired boy on a broom, but I couldn't, so here's a bad moon rising.

I tried finding an image of a tired boy on a broom, but I couldn’t, so here’s a bad moon rising.

I would imagine right about the time Kerry pulled off the track and stated he was done for the day a certain Bulgarian girl probably flew out of her seat and headed right for the coven ready room–and with Annie, flew takes on a literal meaning.  She’ll show us the aftermath of his decision in the next scene.

I dare say we’ll see a lot of stuff from her point of view in a lot of the scenes to come.

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 . . .