Gather the Fliers: Opening Obervations

First off, a good Imbolc to all.  It’s Saint Brigid’s Day and that means it’s time for a bonfire and lots of celebrating.  You do know that all those little witches that have been writing about her getting ready for their celebration tonight, and it’s easy to remember that it was on this night in the first novel that Annie’s and Kerry’s life took a major change, for this was the day the Guardians came calling to ask about two special kids.

And just like this holiday, it’s been a party ever since.  Well, maybe it’s a party if you like to hold them in the middle of the punk rock festival.  Let’s not dwell on this matter–

After weeks of showing excerpts from the previous chapter, I finally get you all caught up and show you things that have been written in chapter I’m currently working in, Chapter Nine.  Although, I’m not really showing you what I’m working on, as am slightly ahead of the curve…

Just a bit, mind you.

Just a bit, mind you.

At the moment I’m seven thousand, eight hundred and eighty-four words ahead of the start of this chapter, so once you see this excerpt I’ll still be seven thousand words ahead of you before I write more tonight.  I imagine by the time I start showing excerpts in the second scene I could be ready to finish out the chapter.  Either way, it’s good to be slightly ahead of what I’m showing versus what I’m writing.  No pressure, as I said before.

As the chapter states this is Freaky Friday, and while it’s a bit of a different day there will not be anybody switching going on.  At least I don’t think so.  It is something we can do if we had homunculi, but then I gonna come into play today.  It’s more freaky because of things getting started–plus, since everything in this chapter takes place on Friday, it seemed like a good title.

But what is it all about.  In some ways it’s about new beginnings, in some ways it’s about reflections of the past.  But before we can get to any of that, it’s necessary to set up the opening scene:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Kerry exited the locker room and entered the nearly empty Ready Room. Three students were already here, all members the previous year’s Advanced Flight One. He was surprised to see that everyone who admitted last year’s advanced flight class had moved up to this year’s class, for he was certain there were at least a couple of people whose proficiencies weren’t good enough to move them forward.

He took his seat in the front of the room near the podium. He felt a small pang of sorrow when he realized that come the end of this school year, he would no longer sit here. For two full school years this was his seat for all flight briefings, and the only thing that changed was that Annie was no longer on his left and Emma would once again be on his right.

Come the end of May, 2014, he would no longer sit here except in those instances where it was necessary to bring all the race teams together for a meeting. Within that growing feeling of sorrow was the deeper understanding that when this class was over, half of his education at Salem was over as well.

As Nadine had told him once before, as soon as the first three years are over, it’s all a downhill slide to the end from there.

Since he wore his flight gear, it went without saying that it was likely they were going to fly today. The last time Kerry had been on the room was when Annie had come to see him week and a half before they left for Paris—and once more it was a week and half later and he was ready to take to the sky. Last weekend he had specifically told Annie that he wasn’t going to fly, because he wanted to spend time with her either on the school grounds or on trips into town. He had a sneaking suspicion that not only was he going to spend time flying around the New England countryside, but since he had a free afternoon, there was a possibility he may not even make it back for lunch…

 

It’s time for ruminating and Kerry has a lot of it going on.  Two years of flying are behind him, and once this year is over he’ll have no further need to come to the Flight School.  And as is indicated, once this class is over–indeed, once the school level is over–half of his education at Salem is done.  He’s thinking this way because, let’s face it, even with all the trials and tribulations he’s seen, the last two years at Salem have been good to him.  He found a girlfriend; he discovered he was a witch; he discovered he could do magic; he discovered that his girlfriend had been his girlfriend for a long time; he discovered his girlfriend would eventually have a girlfriend and that girlfriend would be him; and he became invested in the supersecret spy society known as the Guardians, who have the job of protecting The Foundation.

Oh, and he also learned how to fly and race.

So a lot of bitter sweetness going on in this moment, because Kerry likes the routine, he likes coming to this room, he likes sitting down and imagining that he’s some kind of World War II pilot getting ready to set off into the wild blue yonder.

And then his wingmate shows up…

 

Emma crossed in front of him and nearly threw herself into her customary seat to his right. Having had three classes with her this week, he had an opportunity to see how well she was handling her return to school since her summer growth spurt, and from what Kerry could see she wasn’t dealing well with the changes in her life. As she had expected she was nearly a head taller than all the other girls in their level, and there were now only a few boys who matched her, or surpassed her, in height. While nearly everyone seemed fairly nonchalant about what happened—everyone knew that similar things were going to happen to them either this year or next—Emma’s awkward self-awareness made her almost painful to watch.

Kerry watched how she did everything possible now not to make herself look tall. She wrapped her arms around her torso, slid down in her seat until her head was just slightly lower than Kerry’s, then stretched out her legs so her knees weren’t hyper-extended. From Kerry’s point of view, however, her actions did little except draw attention to the fact that she was trying not to draw attention to herself.

He leaned over so he was close enough to whisper without being overheard. “Can I make an astute observation?”

Emma glanced at him without turning her head. “You could just say you want to ask me something, Sherlock.”

Kerry didn’t let her snarkiness bothered him. “You look ridiculous. You do realize that the majority of your height is actually in your legs, so when somebody walks by here—” He waved at her extended legs. “You’re not hiding the fact you grew some over the summer.”

She let out a long, slow breath before sliding upward in her chair so that she was sitting normally. She slowly crossed her legs as she turned and looked at her wingmate. “Better?”

He crossed his legs as well. “A lot better, yeah.” Kerry began running his fingers up and down the teeth of his flight jacket. “You have a run at any of the courses yet?”

“Nadine and I took a run on the Green Line Wednesday morning while you guys were in sorcery. We did five laps before I did a couple more on the Blue Line.”

“How did feel?”

“Not too bad. The only thing is the bubble screen in the front has to be a bit larger to protect me, so I end up getting a bit more wind resistance.” Emma was referring to the enchantment which sat at the front of the PAV and preventive the pilots from taking the full brunt of an air blast that could exceed five hundred kilometers an hour. “Nadine said she’d show me a few tricks I could use so that I could streamline my body more so I wouldn’t have to fight all that resistance.”

Knowing that her new size and how it would affect her racing had been a prime concern of a mess when she returned to school, Kerry was happy to hear that it seem like the situation was mostly resolved. “See? It wasn’t really a problem. Now before you know it, you’ll be dusting us out on the courses.”

“Yeah, right. You’re just saying that—”

“Hey man, is that a kaiju?”

 

Kerry is probably the only person Emma knows who can point out to her that she looks stupid trying to hide her height and not get his head bit off.  Of course, Kerry would probably tell her to get bent if she did bite his head off, as they’d sort of established that he is no longer taking her shit.  But, you know, a weekend trip through frozen Canada can quickly because the Canuck Death Flight if the flight team is constantly bitching at each other, so it’s best to make nice now.  At least Kerry figured how to pivot the conversation to something they both know, as height is something Kerry will deal with while racing one of these days.

And just when you think things are going well between the wingmates someone comes along and shits on this party.

Wonder who?

Atlantic Crossing: What’s For Breakfast?

Yesterday I was more in a mood to lay about and watch TV, though after a fashion I wasn’t even into that, as whatever was on I’d seen a dozen times already.  But after resting up and having a late snack, I watched the rain off and on–we did get it–and then started on the next scene.  It wasn’t a lot, mostly because there was research involved, and that always takes up time when I’m putting down words that need to make sense.

It’s almost two hours later and according to my calculations–and measuring things out on a map–they have just passed over Newfoundland and are leaving North America behind and have nothing but water ahead of them for quite a ways.  Since there isn’t much to see–

I checked:  not much out there.

I checked: not much out there.

–that means it’s time to get the kids settled in for the long flight:

 

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

The hostesses were going through the aircraft drawing the window shades, and the light were were at about half of normal illumination. Breakfast trays had been retrieved ten minuets earlier, and Annie suspected it wouldn’t be long before their adjustment mixtures were handed out and they’d likely spend the next four to five hours sleeping as their bodies adjusted to the time zones of their homes.

After the immediate sadness they both felt after taking off from Boston their moods lifted considerably, particularly once breakfast was served. She asked for two printsessi, slices of tomatoes, and a large glass of carrot juice, which she’s continued drinking off and on over her B Levels. Not to her surprise Kerry ordered the nearly identical breakfast, drinking mango juice with his meal.

She’s remarked once about a month after returning from Yule holiday that Kerry’s appetite was more like that of a Bulgarian than a Welsh person, there were several things she’d yet to allow him to discover—but she planed on changing that next school level. She wanted him to try lyutenitsa, a traditional relish of tomatoes and spices, the way she ate it at home: spread on bread and sprinkled with sirene cheese, which he would likely recognize as feta cheese.

There was also musaka, made with potatoes and minced pork, and, in her opinion, one of her mother’s favorite dishes. Annie liked to follow that up with a bowl of tarator, the yogurt soup filled with cucumbers, garlic, dill, and walnuts, but this was also a dish she ate nearly every hot day at home—she could even make it herself, and often did when she was in the mood.

It was Annie’s plan to introduce musaka and tarator to Kerry during his first time visiting her in Bulgaria. While that might not happen this year, she hoped that once they could begin using The Foundation jaunt stations, it might not be long before a visit were possible—

 

And here we go again, with a side tour of Bulgarian Cuisine!  Lyutenitsa is made with peppers, carrots, eggplant, onion, garlic, black pepper, vegetable oil, sugar, and salt, and tomatoes, and that means it’s thick and spicy, and it is apparently a spread that a lot of kids love as a side.  Kerry likes spicy food, though it’s hard to say if he’ll enjoy a chutney like this.  Musaka, or as it is better known, moussaka, and throughout most of the former Ottoman Empire eggplant is used instead of potatoes for layering.  And tarator is made of yogurt, cucumber, garlic, walnut, dill, vegetable oil, and water, and sometimes Bulgarians like to throw in a little vinegar and walnuts, just as Annie indicates she’s had this dish.

It would appear that Annie believes in the old tradition that a way to a boy’s heart is through his stomach, though in Annie’s really cut out the stomach part and just hooked her lifeline into Kerry’s heart and was done with that.  Probably more likely that if she can get him interested in these dishes she’ll never have a problem finding something they can enjoy together.

They aren’t getting any of that now.

It’s about time for lights out.

Leaving it All Behind Once Again: Departing is Such Sweet Sorrow

It’s been a long, busy morning.  And a lot of writing, believe me–over three hundred and fifty last night, and almost thirteen hundred this today.  I’ve been up since 5:30, made a few calls, did my laundry, and lunch is a-cooking.

Busy little bee, am I.

The writing yesterday and today has put an end to the first scene.  The next scene will likely be a short one, then the scene after that has everyone getting off the plane in Berlin and saying whatever goodbyes they have to say before going their separate ways.  Lots of thing still to come.

Lots of changes coming, mostly of a time kind.

Mostly of a time kind, it seems.

First, however, there’s a goodbye that needs to be said right here and now.  And the person saying the goodbye is . . ?

 

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

Annie turned towards their visitor and gave her a slight yet warm smile. “Hello, Anna.”

“Hello, Annie.” The German girl from Åsgårdsreia turned her head to her left. “Hello, Kerry.”

Kerry relaxed as he faced Anna, keeping Annie’s hand in his left. “How you doing?”

“I’m . . .” She shrugged with an embarrassed look on her face. “I’m as good as could be expected right now. I didn’t get a chance to meet with you at school, but I wanted to say goodbye and wish you both a great summer holiday.”

Annie was truly touched. Though they’d had little contact with their levelmate the year before, she’d begun noticing a change in her behavior not long after her judgment battle with Lisa’s champion, and saw how much more open and friendly she’d become after being promoted to her coven’s racing A Team. “Thank you, Anna. We hope you have a great holiday next year, too.”

“Thank you.” Once more the look of embarrassment came over her. “I also want to thank you both for showing what Lisa was really like. It—” She cast her gaze towards the floor.

“It’s hard to admit she had me fooled so badly last year.”

Kerry was the one to speak after a quick exchange of looks. “I know all about doing things that make you feel dumb; I’ve done that more than a few times.”

Anna seemed to consider how she should answer that comment, finally making a decision five seconds later. “She actually had me thinking that she cared for me.” She looked right at Kerry as she spoke. “You proved that otherwise during Sorcery class last year.”

Now it was Kerry’s turn to look embarrassed as he recalled that particular Sorcery class lab and his successful use of the Draught of Submission on Lisa—which resulted in her subsequent outing as a possible lesbian. He’d felt a great deal of guilt for a week afterwords, but was reminded several times that it remained Lisa’s choice not to say anything and that she could have stopped the incident at anytime. “I’m sorry if I caused problems for you—”

“It didn’t.” Anna looked across the terminal for a moment. “We were sharing a room at the time, and that night she was pissed; she wouldn’t let what happened in class go. I asked why she didn’t just say my name that . . .” She glanced upwards. “I found out later it wasn’t me that she thought of in those moments.

“Then this year she starts hanging with Franky more, which I didn’t mind, but then when we made the B Team, she was pissed at me that I tried out without telling her. It was as if she didn’t want me on the same course with her, that I was going to somehow—”

“Show her up?” Kerry chuckled. “Might be because you’re a better racer.”

“Danke. Then after Annie beat up her champion she went nuts.” Anna glanced at Annie. “She wanted me to challenge you.”

“What?” Annie’s eyes went wide in disbelief. “Why?”

“She told me some BS about being able to hurt you in the ring—” Anna shook her head. “I told her if she were so eager to go after you, she should call you out and do it herself. It wasn’t long after that I asked for a new room and we were separated.” Her sigh was quite loud. “She really hates you both.”

 

Anna, who has remained mostly in the background for most of two novels, is stating to come out into the open.  We find out that Anna was used by Lisa, and that she even wanted Anna to challenge Annie to a match, which would have involved Anna getting her butt kicked hard.  And we hear that Lisa hats the Lovey Dovey Couple?  Color me surprised.

And with this in mind, we hear something surprising, as well as some personal information about Anna:

 

“I’m not surprised.” Annie stepped forward and placed a hand on the German girl’s arm. “I’m sorry you went through that, Anna. I’m also glad you’re doing better, too.”

Anna’s smile contained a touch of sadness. “I am.” She looked at Kerry. “Now to get through what’s next.”

“We will.” He patted her shoulder. “We don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens, so best not to give it a lot of thought.”

“Well, that’s why I can’t wait to get on the plane and sleep most of the way home.” Anna turned and saw activity at the gate. “Shouldn’t be too long now.”

After Anna’s confession Annie felt there was only thing she could say at this moment. “If you ever want to hang with us, consider this an invitation. You can—” She smiled. “—whomever you want to bring.”

“Really?” Anna’s face brightened. “I’d like that.”

Kerry began chuckling. “Though it might get a little confusing with the Annie/Anna stuff.”

Anna laughed at the comment. “Well, you can always call me Sabb.”

“Sabb?”

“That’s my nickname. It’s short for Sabine; that’s my middle name.”

Kerry immediately perked up. “Like Sabine Schmitz?”

Anna’s face broke into a surprised smile. “You know her?”

“Yeah, the Ring Queen. Everyone knows her.”

“I didn’t think many people outside Germany knew her.”

Kerry nodded. “If you follow racing, you do.”

“Yes, you do. My father and I rode with her around the Nordschleife three years ago, right before she stopped driving.”

“Wow.” Kerry was about to ask about the right when he noticed the playful look he was getting from the person on the right. “Maybe next year we can talk about that.”

“I understand.” Anna glanced between Annie and Kerry, grinning cheerfully. “I hope to see you when we arrive in Berlin, but if I don’t, I’ll see you next year. And if you ever happen to be in Berlin, or any German city, let me know: I’d love to meet up.”

“We’ll do that, Anna.” Annie folded her hand against her stomach. “Have a good flight.”

“You, too.” After giving a wave to Kerry Anna turned and headed for her luggage.

 

Anna Sabine Laskar:  we have her whole name, and she’s the first student who’s full name we know other than Annie’s and Kerry’s.  And the back and forth between Anna and Kerry is legitimate:  Sabine Schmitz is a real person, as anyone who follows racing and/or the BBC program Top Gear knows.  One of her nicknames is “The Ring Queen,” and during her time driving a BMW M5 “Ring Taxi” around the gigantic Nordschleife road course–essentially she was hired by people to drive them around the course as fast as possible–she believes she drove twenty thousand laps, which is a lot of driving.  She’s won the 24 Hours Nürburgring twice in a BMW M3, and once on Top Gear drove a van around the 20.8 kilometer course and almost brought a ten minute lap doing so.

Yeah, you can bet Kerry’s found someone new to talk racing with next year.

The nice thing about Annie’s invitation is that she kept open the gender of whatever “friend” Anna might want to bring.  She doesn’t care with whom she shows up, and honestly, at this point, Annie’s going to have to deal with the idea that one of these days in the future she’s gonna show up at one of these get together with a girlfriend of her own.

All of this sparks some curiosity, but before they get too far–

 

It wasn’t until the girl was out of hearing range that Annie spoke. “That was unexpected.”

“I’ll say.” Kerry eyed the woman standing behind the ticket counter at the gate. “At least we know Lisa’s actively looking to get back at us.”

“It’s not as if we didn’t believe that—”

The woman Kerry was watching picked up a mic and spoke. “You attention, please. We are ready to board passengers for the Air International special charter to Berlin, German. Will all passengers holding a pass for this flight come to Gate E7B. We will begin boarding in a few minutes. Thank you.”

Kerry grabbed on to his luggage handle “That’s our cue.”

“Indeed.” Annie began walking toward the gate with her luggage in one hand and Kerry’s in the other. As there were fewer than two dozen students and instructors taking the flight back to Europe boarding proceeded quickly. After the woman at the gate—who Annie recognized as one of the air hostesses from their flight at the start of the school year—quickly scanned their boarding passes Kerry and she proceeded down the gangway to the aircraft entrance.

Trevor Parkman, dressed comfortably in jeans, polo shirt, and sneakers waited for them just inside the airframe with a tablet in hand. “Ah, we meet again.”

Kerry nodded as he let Annie pass through the doorway first. “Seems like we saw each other just yesterday.”

“So it does.” Trevor asked their names and took their palm prints. “By now you’re experts with these flights—” He held the tablet close to his chest. “Have a good flight home.”

“Thank you, Mr. Parkman.” Kerry nodded towards the front of the aircraft. “First class?”

Annie raise a questioning brow. “Do we travel any other way?” They made their way into the spacious front cabin of the aircraft, allowed the hostess to stow their luggage, and gave their drink orders before selecting two seats in the middle of the cabin.

Kerry snapped his belt into place and left rest loosely in his lap. “I don’t imagine we’ll be here long.”

Annie accepted her tomato juice and took a good sip before speaking. “Be like when we were in Berlin.”

He checked the time on his phone. “It’s six forty-one: Helena say last night we were supposed to be wheels up at six forty-five—”

A woman’s voice came over the speakers. “Attention, this is your pilot. The doors are closed and we are about to push back from the gate. We have been given priority takeoff clearance on Runway 22 R and should be airborne in a matter of minutes. Flight crew, secure for takeoff.”

 

Now it’s time to go, and here’s the route the plane is going to take as my kids get ready to leave:

I have pictures of everything!

I have pictures of everything!

According to weather history, the wind is coming out of the southwest this day, so the planes taking off can leave the terminals and leave on the right runways, while the inbound planes land on the runway on the left.  This is the way you run an airport, although Boston may run their own differently.  I prefer my way, because it’s my world, yeah?

All that’s left now is for my kids and sit back and enjoy what’s coming next:

 

Annie set her right hand on the armrest between Kerry and her. “You were right; they have nothing to hide now—”

“So why wait?” He set his left hand over Annie’s. “A little over eight hours and we’re back in Europe—” He half-looked at Annie. “Back home.”

“No, my love.” She turned her hand palm-up and entwined her fingers around Kerry’s as the plane made its way to the end of the takeoff runway. “We’re going back to our families; it’s our home we’re leaving behind.”

They sat in silence as they made the final turned to get into position for takeoff, and as had happened three times before the engine sound subsided for only a moment before they were set to full thrust and the A330 was propelled forward. Maybe twenty seconds later the nose came up,and the vibrations caused by the runway vanished as the landing gear thumped into place. The plane made a climbing turn to the left and only leveled out when the sun was no longer visible in either window.

Kerry pointed towards the windows on the left side of the airframe. “Look: you can just make out Cape Ann.” He gave a small wave. “Goodbye, Salem. See you in a few months.”

Annie gave Kerry’s hand a squeeze as she imagined the now-empty school greeting the new day upon the barely visible island. “Farewell for now.” She turned to Kerry with a smile upon her face. “We’ll be home soon.”

 

There we go:  the plane is in the air and heading back to Berlin.  And can we see what the kids see?

Of course they can, 'cause I figured it out.

Of course they can, ’cause I figured it out.

It would be some ways off in the distance, but Cape Ann could be see on a clear day–and this is a clear day.  And the next scene is going to take place somewhere on this picture:

Likely a lot more on the left side of the line than the center or right.

Likely a lot more on the left side of the line than the center or right.

I may even state that tonight.

A Certain Day in May: Prelude From the Aftermath

Yeah . . . early in the morning and here I am hoping to get through another day without falling asleep at work.  Yesterday was horrible:  by two in the afternoon I was fighting to remain with my eyes open, and when I finally made it home, I fell asleep for about thirty minutes or so because I needed a nap bad.

I feel today may be just as bad, as I was up about four-thirty or so, but the weather is going to be cooler today, so I’ll dress for that and keep the carbs at a minimum at lunch so I don’t go into some kind of drowsy overload by one.

All this is probably why I didn’t feel as if I was writing much last night, and then, to my surprise, I discover I’ve about seven hundred and fifty words completed.  I really was hoping to get the scene finished, but you know how that goes.  It means that you have to wait one more day to discover Kerry’s present, but–there’s also a surprise that comes with that post.

So, Happy Birthday for Doctor Gallagher and Kerry, and Coraline knows she better get a nod of approval from the little witch in the back of the room before planting a kiss on Kerry’s cheek.  I wonder if Annie could call out Coraline if she felt the later was getting a little too affectionate with her soul mate?  That would be an interesting fight, given that we’ve sort of seen Coraline fight.

But what about this flight that’s coming up?  Here you are on that:

 

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

After the passing around of cake that the kitchen gladly made, there was a quick review of the flight before they headed down to the Hangar and prepped for the afternoon flight, the Four Point Timed Excursion. Brooms up at fourteen, four points to make with only five minutes to determine course to each location while in air with no landing, GPS not allowed, and the class was to return to Salem by sixteen-thirty.

That meant a flight of close to twelve hundred kilometers needed to be flown in two and a half hours, and there wasn’t going to be much in the way of room for error should it arise. Vicky and her minions—or, as she’d begun referring to them of late, her flying monkeys—were the only one who knew the actually layout of the course, but Vicky would be the one to call out corrections to the class if they were needed.

As Vicky said during the briefing, at this point in the class, any of the four teams selected for each leg that couldn’t hit their target by now would be in a precarious position for advancement to Advanced Flight Two in their C Levels.

Because it was his special day, Vicky left the choice to him as to whether or not Emma and he would have first of last leg. He picked first and learned their destination: Franconia Notch, New Hampshire. Kerry already knew the area from the last snipe hunt he’d been one, but the catch now was to get everyone there in thirty minutes. Almost two hundred kilometers in that limited time meant they’d need to maintain about four hundred kilometers an hour the whole way.

Fortunately Kerry knew how to handle that. As soon as they were airborne he instructed Emma to aim for a point a few kilometers north of Plymouth, New Hampshire, at which point they’d turn and follow I-93 fifty kilometers north to the Notch. If his calculations were correct—and as he told the flight he didn’t expect them to be wrong—they’d not need to slow at all until they were near their destination.

He was correct. They reached their turn less than a hundred meters off the line Kerry originally piloted, and there was a bit of excitement as the flight turned into the mountain valley and continued northward without braking. Seven and a half minutes later they were hovering over their destination and Team Myfanwy rotated to the back of the pack to let someone else take the ball.

The rest of the trip went smoothly. Their other three stops were The Alexandra Bridge in Ottawa, Ontario, the bobsled run at Lake Placid, New York, and the capital building at Albany, New York. After a mad dash across Massachusetts they were touching down in Selena’s Meadow eight minutes before they were due.

 

In case you were wondering–and you were–this is the area covered:

With minor variations, this is how it looks.

With minor variations, this is how it looks.

Franconia Notch is famous as the location of the formation known as the Old Man of the Mountain, which used to look like this:

Looking pretty good for a few million years old.

Looking pretty good for a few million years old.

The picture above was taken on 26 April, 2003, and it one of the last good pictures of the formation, because a few days later the formation collapsed and became no more.  As of 2007 it looked like this:

Quite a change, I know.

Quite a change, I know.

And for a little extra history, the collapse happened on 3 May, 2003, which means as the date in the story is 3 May, 2013, a decade has past since that time, so Emma and Kerry are gonna lead their flight right past this point on the anniversary.  Coincidence?  Knowing Vicky, probably not.

But they managed to get through the flight with little or no drama, and suddenly we’re back in Salem–

 

It was only once he was back in his uniform and out of the locker that he found out he wasn’t dining in the hall that evening—

They were half way down Essex and were just passing the location where the Bewitched After Dark walking tours met when Annie spoke. “You were wonderful today. And just the right amount of embarrassed when everyone sang Happy Birthday to Coraline and you.”

“I wasn’t acting—” Kerry couldn’t remember the last time anyone actually sang him a birthday song. “Coraline handles it better than me.”

“Let’s hope no one sings it again tonight.” Annie glanced towards Kerry with a smile on her face. “Though her boyfriend will be there, so who knows if he’ll ask for to have it sung.”

“I don’t want it sung for me again.” He nodded towards the store up on their right. “Otherwise I’m gonna take you in to Flying Monkey and get you something to commentate your ascension to that status today.”

“Shush, you.” She slapped him playfully on the arm. They’d passed the store several times in the past but never entered: during one of their window shopping excursions Kerry pointed out he was going to get her a “Good Girls Go to Heaven, Bad Girls Go to Salem” tee shirt, complete with a witch ridding a broom across a pentagram, to which she replied while she’d never hurt him, minor curses might not be out of the question—

“I’m not interesting in getting a tee shirt I’ll never wear.” She steered him towards one of the alleys leading to the Salem Green, located just behind their restaurant. “Over this way.”

 

I should point out that the locations refereed to above do exist, as does the shirt described.  Don’t be surprised if the later shows up again . . .

Now, does this mean Kerry gets his present tomorrow?  Yes, yes it does.

Oh, and I’m reminded by a Facebook post I made five years ago, on this day in history Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed in a fight with natives of the Philippines. And what I mean by “killed in a fight” is that he was beaten to death with bastons by people who knew Eskrima, aka Arnis, aka Kali–though at the end of this “battle” I believe he also had a spear shoved through his face, which had to suck.

This happens to be the martial arts form seen in a lot of movie–Matt Damon uses this in his Jason Bourne movies, it was used by Vin Diesel and Jason Statham in Furious 7, and both Melissa McCarthy and Saoirse Ronan were trained to use this in their respective movies Spy and Hanna.  It’s also the art form that Annie and Kerry are learning and seem to be taking to it rather well, and the advantage they’ll have over all those other people I’ve listed above is (1) they can use magic with this discipline, and (2) unlike movie characters, they’ll actually be able to beat people to death with bastons likely made of magical energy.

Why am I mentioning this?  Oh, no reason . . .

The Last Laps: Running Red

I expected to do more last night, but you know how it is:  real life in the way and all.  However, this time it was different–

I had a visit from the Real Annie.

I should put a trademark up there ’cause it is sort of like that when she shows up, which she hasn’t in a long time due to–well, life on her end.  She managed to catch up on a few things with me, and I let her read some of the sections of B For Bewitching that she hasn’t seen.  I also gave her a complete copy of the first draft of A For Advanced, pretty much the only one in existence, and it ran, with everything–copyright notice, table of contents, and cast of characters sheet–1,181 pages.  That’s a big book.

However, the penultimate scene was started, and it heads into an area I’ve never covered before, and that’s the school Red Line race course.  Not most of it, just a small part, but it’s probably the easiest part to set up:  the last couple of areas at the south end of the school grounds.

Just follow the kind of highlighted yellow line.

Just follow the kind of highlighted yellow line.

The big spike to the right that seems to end lower down like some king of bow tie is the section known at the start of the scene as Down and Around.  That’s because you drop about three hundred meters almost straight down at the ground, then turn, twist, rise, twist more while dropping, rise again, and then finally come out of the turn more of less flying level.  The last section mentioned, Up and Over, is the part of the course that headed directly over The Diamond, where it goes–get ready–up and over the building.  Pretty simple, yeah?

The Red Line is like this all over:  it’s high, it’s low, and it twists all over the place.  It’s like being on a gigantic roller coaster, only you’re a kilometers up in the air at times before rushing straight at the ground at three hundred kilometers an hour.  Try finding that ride at your local amusement park this summer.

The difficulty of the course isn’t what’s on Kerry’s mind, however–

 

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

Kerry came out of Down and Around with what felt like half of all the teams combined dogging him. It was like they were told in the ready room meetings: the racing was going to be intense, and it’d stay that way for a full fifteen laps. Coming to the end of Lap 13, and his last circuit of the Red Line, he’d found that assertion to be completely factual.

Things shook out pretty much as people expected. Rivânia, Nadine, and Penny took off in a hurry, got ahead, and stayed there while the other dozen fliers remained about ten meters back. Starting with the first circuit of the Red Line the enormous pack broke in two: positions ten through fifteen formed the back pack, and Kerry found himself in the front pack of positions four through nine that, besides him, consisted of Alex, Rezi and Getasew from Åsgårdsreia, and Nattat from Mórrígan.

And one other: Lisa.

Somehow she’d found herself in the Top 10 heading into the Red Line and remained with the front pack through their return to the Blue Line. The larger packs closed up again once they returned to the Green Line for two laps, but upon reaching the Blue Line both packs began spreading out and becoming one, with position changes happening constantly throughout the race.
Kerry did as Annie said when they last spoke: he ran his own race. He didn’t worry about the others: he knew they were going to run their own races as well—

Still, Kerry couldn’t shake the feeling he was being stalked.

A couple of times throughout the race he’d catch sight of Lisa maybe seven, eight meters back, holding position and not making a move towards him. He wasn’t sure if it was because of the other fliers around him, or if she was waiting for a moment to strike, but Kerry was certain that despite the warnings given in the Ready Room, she was going to try and prevent him from finishing in the Top 5.

He was positive she wasn’t going to try and hold him up, either.

He rolled up and to his left, then dip towards the ground and into Up and Over, the last major turn on the Red Line before they rejoined the Blue Line. Though he’d overflown The Diamond many times—including the first time he checked out on an Espinoza—it was always a huge thrill to approach the enormous building from near ground level before shooting up to the roof, speeding along the length of the structure while zooming back to the Start/Finish line. There wasn’t any difference this time, either, only it would be the last time this season he’d do it officially.

He shot through the last two elevations gates as he made his quick decent to ground level, then leveled out, flew through Start/Finish, and arced to his left as he entered the Blue Line for one last lap.

 

Four hundred ninety-five words, and I don’t imagine it’s going to take much more than this to finish the scene.  The resolution is almost here–

As is the end of this chapter.

The Solo Presentation

After a week of writing Chapter Thirty is almost a memory.  I finished it up yesterday with eight hundred and thirty-eight word finish and put scene and chapter to bed.  It was a good time, really, though it took me a while to get through this because I was really having issues trying to get it down into word.

But get it I did.

But get it I did.

So how did this finish up?  With something unexpected, that’s for sure:

 

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

Isis waved her right hand back and forth as if she were trying to keep something from coming forward. “You can worry about that later. We have pictures now—although—” She looked about the room, smiling. “I think there’s something else we’re supposed to do first.”

“I believe you’re right.” Vicky walked behind the kids and made her way towards the other side of the table behind Isis. She tapped Kerry on the shoulder as she walked past. “You wanna give me a hand?”

“Sure.” He followed Vicky without asking question.

Annie, however, knew something was up without needing to ask questions. “What’s going on?”

Kerry glanced towards Annie as Vicky reached for something under the table. “Oh, nothing. Just, you know—” She pulled out a gift wrapped box and set it in Kerry’s outstretched arms. He turned towards his soul mate as he finished his comment. “A present.”

“What?” Annie gave Kerry as a disapproving look as he approached. “I take it you’re responsible for this?”

“I am.” He slowly handed her to box. “Happy Flight Graduation, my Darling.”

It wasn’t the present that made her do a double-take, but the fact that Kerry was so open calling her “Darling” in front of Headmistress Laventure. Vicky and Isis have heard this before, but it has to be a first time for the Headmistress . . .

She examined box. It was about a half-meter by half-meter, and not very thick. The wrapping paper was featureless but felt like it wasn’t cheaply manufactured. Annie set the box upon the table and began removing the wrapping paper carefully. Once the box was exposed she slid the top off and—

 

That Kerry and his gifts.  He knows he’s not supposed to lavish gifts on Annie, but have we noticed her refusing anything?  Not yet.  Do you think she’ll refuse this?  Well . . .

 

Oh.” A woman’s leather jacket, black and cut in a modern European style, lay folded inside. She slowly removed it and held it before her, turning it so she could examine the detail in varying light. “This is—” She spun around towards Kerry and was unable to keep the surprise out of her voice. “This is a Pierotucci.” Annie turned about half-way towards Isis. “This is like yours.”

“Yes, it is.” Isis nodded towards the jacket. “It has all the same enchantments as mine, so it’ll modify itself as you grow, as well as being able to automatically switched back and forth from Normal to Flight mode.”

Annie shook her head in disbelief. “I couldn’t ever imagine getting one of these now.”

Kerry chuckled. “You’d mentioned more than a few times how much you liked hers—” He waited until Annie was facing him once again. “—that I though you needed one of your own.”

 

Something tells me she’s gonna keep this one, too.

Pierotucci is a brand of Italian leather goods, and it was part of my research the other night trying to discover what Kerry would get Annie.  Not only is it genuine, but it’s been enchanted, so that indicates some connection somewhere to The Foundation.  It could be it was ordered from the story and then sent through a cutout for “modifications”, which would make sense.  Either way, Annie is now styling, and yes:  it is an expensive jacket.  Kerry still hasn’t spent as much on Annie as she did on him when she bought his broom, but he’s about €1,400 closer now.

The girl is also feeling the way one might expect–

 

She found herself torn between saying nothing and making a comment, and the later impulse won out. “But—do you know how much this cost?”

“I should: I paid for it.” He moved closer until he was cupping her hands. “It’s not the cost, it’s the thought. And I thought this would not only keep you protected, but it’ll look great when you’re flying.”

“I had a little something to do with buying it—” Isis turned on a friendly yet sly smile. “But this was all Kerry’s idea.”

Vicky nodded. “One he mentioned back in January.”

Annie shook her head in near-amazement. “You did?”

“Yeah.” Kerry nodded. “But I’d thought of it over Yule.”

“I, um—” She found herself speechless, unable to find the words necessary to express her emotions.

Vicky decided now would be a good time to move forward with their original plan. “We should take pictures now, and that will give Annie time to return to her coven and change for dinner.” She began motioning everyone into position. “Annie, Kerry, just stand in front of the table: Trevor should be here any moment to get everything recorded.”

Isis leaned in towards the couple. “We’ll want to do one of your in your uniform with your wings, and then we’ll get a couple of you in your new flight jacket. Okay?”

“Okay.” Annie nodded and then drifted into her own thoughts. The earlier morning breakfast, the preflight preparation, the solo, the mad dashes over the ocean to each of the three buoys, the exciting return with Kerry blasting music designed to not only bring up her spirits but to let the whole school know they’d returned—the day was anything but dull.

And now there was the awarding of her wings, and another gift from her special love. He’s given me so much, none of expected. Always thinking of me . . . Annie felt a sudden lightheadedness begin creeping into her mind, and suddenly grew afraid that she was going to swoon—

Kerry was there are her side with an arm around her waist. He positioned his body so it didn’t appear to the others that he might be keeping her from falling. “Don’t worry, Sweetie. Nothing’s going to happen.”

She stared into his eyes and smiled. “You have me, don’t you?”

He leaned close and whispered. “A good chase is always there to help his pilot.” He kissed her on the check. “Always.”

 

Get this girl excited and she’s all about the swoon.  That’s really her emotions starting to get the better of her, but only those good emotions, like love, happiness, affection:  when those hit she’s ready for the fainting couch.  Good thing Kerry’s there to catch her, just as a good chase should.

So Annie is fully cleared for take-off, and you’ll see that happening a few chapters from now.  First, however, there’s a little matter of putting some of Kerry’s flying to rest . . .

Inside the Big Room

I made it through the evening and came out the other end feeling like someone had beat me about the shoulders and set my lap on fire.  This comes from sitting still with a laptop on you, um, lap, and typing away like the The Madwoman of Chaillot.  Seriously, half my mind was listening to what was being said on TV while the other half was trying to get it all down in note form.  It was a bit insane, and it was a good thing I didn’t need a bathroom break.

"I haven't put a single word in my story in ten minutes--my god, the walls are closing in!  Help!"

“You people on TV, stop talking so fast!  Get in a RV for a while or something!”

But that insanity is over, and I managed to pay my quarterly state taxes last night, so all is pretty good.  There are still things that require doing, but that comes up tonight and I’ll worry about it then, ‘kay?

Oh, and there’s this novel I’m working on–

It was another five hundred word night, only because I was really stumbling about trying to find the right words while, at the same time, I was checking things on a time line, because that’s how I do things.  The time line stuff was only to get one line in this next excerpt right, but you know, if I hadn’t had that time line laid out already, I probably would have screwed something up.

I’m failing to mention that I needed to do research last night as well, which also cut into my writing time, because reasons.  And you know I love research.

Why are Annie and Kerry here?  Because–

 

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

Annie entered first with Kerry right behind. She didn’t know this room, but it reminded her of the ready room in the Flight School: it appeared that sixty or seventy people could occupy this area for a meeting or conference. Isis and Headmistress Laventure stood at the far end of the room; she looked back and saw Vicky follow Kerry, meaning whatever was going to happen here involved her as well. My two instructors and the headmistress: it’s likely we’re going to get a significant punishment.

Isis moved away from the headmistress and motioned Annie forward. “Come right here—” She pointed to a spot directly in front of her. “That’s good. You can stand next to her, Kerry.”

“Thanks.” He stood to Annie’s right a few meters back.

The Chief of Security quietly examined the girl before her. “Three solo flight, close to five hundred and fifty kilometers covered, and this last one had you out over the cold, unforgiving ocean with only one other person to keep you company.” She glanced at Kerry and winked. “I believe, as do Vicky and Mathilde, that you not only performed as expected, but you exceeded those expectation.

“There are many things we do around here to recognize students, but it’s rare that we honor someone who’s accomplished a great feat: mastering a gift and proving you’re capable of using it under varying and difficult conditions.

“You’re not the first I’ve trained since I became the school’s Chief of Security in 2006: there was one other girl who stood where you’re standing in 2008. She was a D Level then—the gift was slow to manifest within her—so she graduated before you began. But the fact she had the Flight Gift was the only thing you both had in common: she needed four flights to finish her qualifications, and during her last flight, which was identical to yours, she, um—” Isis looked down for a moment. “She needed some encouragement to finish.”

“We know you both weren’t comfortable with the conditions and the location today.” Vicky stepped up next to Isis so she could face both kids. “That’s one of the reasons why we try and keep the comms open all the time, so in case we think you’re in need of help, we can put it into place. But you kept on the flight, and as I’ve told Isis before, and I told Mathilde over lunch, you didn’t ask for help—you kept going.”

Isis nodded. “As the headmistress would say, you were being tenacious. And you wear.”

Mathilde moved closer to the group, clearing her throat. “Yes, well, enough about me. This is about Annie, is it not?”

“It is, indeed.” Isis reached behind her and removed a small box.

Annie instantly focused on the item in Isis’ hands. “What’s that?”

“This?” She removed the top and turned the box so Annie could view the contents. “These are you wings.”

 

And before you ask, “Does Kerry have his wings?” the answer is–

I’ll tell you tomorrow.  Because I’m mean.