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.

The Final Solo: Naming the Unmarked Roads

Well . . .

After leaving at nine-thirty to get my nails done, I returned about thirty minutes ago.  And looking at the big clock on the wall that means I have about ninety minutes to get ready for tonight’s dinner, which could see me flipping right the hell out at some point if people start talking shit.

But I look great, and don't any anything bad about my earrings.

But I look great, and don’t any anything bad about my earrings.

This means what I said I would do earlier–finish this scene before making this post–ain’t gonna happen.  I lied.  Annie will likely get mad at me at some point, but I can handle her.  I think.  Now that she’s learning Kali, aka Arnis, aka Eskrima, and she is learning how to use alongside magic, she’s gonna make Jason Bourne look like a child stumbling around in the dark.  Since Kerry is learning this as well, one has to say that you gotta pity the poor fool who decides to pick a fight with either of them, and just laugh like a loon at any one who think they can take them both on at the same time.

But where are we?  Oh, yeah:  the solo flight.

It’s the end of the solo flight as we know it, and it seems like the kids feel fine.  As you’ll see they reached not only Marker 2 but Marker 3 before setting sail for home.  Here’s how that looks:

Three buoys and a final leg home.  Pretty simple, huh?

Three buoys and a final leg home. Pretty simple, huh?

Marker 2 is about one hundred and ten kilometers, or about seventy miles, out to sea, with Marker 3 being one hundred and thirteen kilometers from the school, but about fifty-five kilometers from Cape Cod.  That’s going to come up later in the book, trust me, because it’s something important.  Would I lie?  Don’t answer.

Up until now the focus has been on Annie and Kerry, but now, with the flight nearly finished, we head for the school and see what Vicky and Isis are up to.  One might say “trouble,” but you’re looking at the wrong people for that . . .

 

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

Vicky got into the habit of keeping half an eye on Flight Deck’s central holo display since Annie and Kerry departed the Marker 3 buoy almost fifteen minutes ago. After a short stay there Vicky gave them the approval to return to school at best possible speed. She’d imagined Annie wanting to return at as high a speed as she could stand, but they weren’t traveling much faster than they had at any point during the ocean legs of the flight, maintaining a steady three hundred and twenty-five kilometers an hour.

Isis returned to the Flight Deck after stepping out to use the bathroom. “How are they?”

“They’re fifteen klicks out—” Vicky checked the clock. “They should be here in three or four minutes at this rate.”

“Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo.” Annie’s voice showed just a touch of excitement. “Slowing to three hundred and preparing for final approach. Over.”

“Roger, Athena. We have you on final approach. We’ll meet you downstairs so we can take you to the hospital for a checkup. Over.”

Annie’s reply wasn’t immediately forthcoming, but given they were a few minutes out from the school Vicky wasn’t concerned. It was only after Isis’ sharp intake of breath that she snapped to attention. “What?”

“What the hell are they doing?” Isis pointed to the holo display.

Vicky immediately saw what was causing Isis’ concern. “What the hell?” She checked the numbers being fed back from Annie’s Band. “Why did they drop from two hundred meters to eight?”
Isis grunted. “Maybe you should ask?”

“Yeah, maybe.” Before she could query her fliers sound began filtering though the Flight Deck’s comm system. Vicky listened for a few seconds with a puzzled look upon her face. She was hearing music, but there was something else there as well— “Is that cheering?”

“Sounds like it.” Isis started at the display. “Gotta be Kerry.”

“Gotta be.” Vicky expanded the display as the music began to swell. “They’ve changed course. They’re heading for Good Harbor Beach and Brier Neck.”

“Looks like they’re gonna skirt northeast Gloucester.”

“Yeah.” Vicky called out to her students. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. What are you doing? Over.” When a response wasn’t immediately forthcoming she called again, this time with more of an edge in her voice. “Athena, Starbuck, what the hell do you think you’re doing? Respond. Over.”

Kerry was half-chuckling as he returned the call. “Flight Deck, you’re breaking up. Last transmission tango bogus. See you on the flight line in a few. Over and out.”

“Wait—” Vicky tapped near hear right ear. “Salem Solo, Salem Solo, respond. Athena—” The music grew louder as a guitars and drum joined the synthesizer intro along with a loud blast of cheering. “Shit. Shit. I know what they’re doing.”

“Yeah, so do I.” Isis couldn’t stop smiling as she saw Annie and Kerry pop up to about forty meters just before they reached the southern coast of Cape Ann. “Here they come.”

The music blasted through the Flight Deck while Vicky alternated glances between the central holo display and the exit. “I should have expected this. Let’s get up to the roof—”

 

If you remember Annie’s last solo flight there were some shenanigans performed at the end.  Well, as this solo flight is a lot bigger than the last, said shenanigans gotta be properly proportioned as well.  And that’s where this scene is headed.

I’ll finish this up tomorrow over Sunday coffee.  You can believe that, ’cause Annie will come after me with magical batons if I don’t.

 

The Final Solo: Three Little Words

Believe it or not I finished the scene last night.  It required a nearly nine hundred word burst of writing power, but I pulled it off–and in doing so, I finished the first scene of this chapter to go over two thousand words.

There it is, all in black and white.

There it is, all in black and white.

Anyway . . . it may feel like a lot isn’t happening in these almost nine hundred words, but that’s because it’s all instructions followed by feelings.  This scene is not so much about flying as it is about knowing who you are and recognizing you have fears, and once you know they are there, you try to deal with that shit.  Remember this, ’cause while I won’t test you on this, it is gonna show up in the next novel big time.

But first we gotta get through the instructions.  And here they are:

 

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

“You feeling rested? Over.”

“I think we about as rested as we’re going to be, Flight Deck. What do you think, Starbuck?” She leaned in and kissed Kerry on the tip of his nose. “Do you feel rested?”

Kerry wiggled his eyebrows as a smile brightened his face. “I feel rested and well, Flight Deck. Over.”

They had no problem hearing Vicky’s chortle over the comms. “They’re you’re ready for the next objective. Over.”

Annie slowly floated back from Kerry. “We’re ready to go. Over.”

“Then here’s the info: your next objective as another orange marker buoy, this one hovering at an attitude of one hundred meters above sea level. Just like Marker 1, Marker 2 has an active tracking system you’ll detect once you’re three klicks out from the marker.

“The marker is off on a heading of one forty-nine—that’s one-four-nine—degrees, at a distance of sixty-two point five kilometers. Your time-on-target will be fifteen—that’s one-five—minutes after departure from Marker 1. Also, you are to maintain an altitude of two hundred meters above sea level for the duration of this leg. Any questions? Over.”

“No, Flight Deck.” Annie reflexively shook her head even though Kerry was the only one to see the action. “Everything is understood. Over.”

There was a slight pause before Vicky returned. “How much time do you need to compute speed? Over.”

“It’s figured, Flight Deck.” She looked at Kerry as she checked her goggles and parka hood. “Sixty-two point five times two is one hundred twenty-five, and twice that is two hundred fifty. Any speed above two hundred and fifty kilometers an hour will get me there in fifteen minutes or less. Over.”

Vicky cleared her throat. “Sound good on our end, Athena. Let us know when you’re ready to depart so we can monitor and start the clock. Over.”

“Roger. Over and out.” Annie slipped the balaclava over her face. “You ready for another high speed run?”

 

Sure this is a load question, because what’s Kerry gonna say?  “No, I’d rather take my time getting to Marker 2”?  Not gonna happen, ’cause a certain soul mate would kick his butt.  Annie’s not all about that, however, and this is where the feelings come in:

 

Kerry covered his face as well. “What speed are you setting?”

“We did three hundred on the last leg—” She appeared to think for a moment. “That’s seventy-five kilometers in fifteen minutes, so we should get to the next buoy in about twelve minutes.”

“Sounds about right to me.” Kerry started punching up things on his tablet.

Annie floated closer and motioned to Kerry to shut off his comm, and spoke as soon as she was certain they weren’t being overheard. “Feel nervous?”

“About going that fast two hundred meters up?” Kerry shook his head. “I got this, my sweat little banitsa. I’ll just stay focused on you, and—” He tapped his tablet with a flourish. “I’ve got a tune lined up that will take us all the way to the next marker.”

She arched her eyebrows. “Really?”

“It’s almost twelve minutes long. That will get us there.” He relaxed in the saddle and chuckled. “Really, if something happens to my broom while I’m zipping along at three hundred kph, drowning is gonna be the least of my problems.” He looked down at the ocean below them. “This is your flight: you do what you have to do, and I follow.”

She floated over his broom and pressed her forehead to his. “I love you so much.”

“And I love you, wife of mine.”

Annie remained in place with her eyes locked on to his. “That’s the first time you’ve called me your wife.”

“Well, you call me husband-to-be, so—” Though his smile wasn’t visible through the balaclava. “And the only one who heard me say that is you.”

 

Since the whole “You’re linked together for life” thing came to light, Kerry’s been pretty quiet about the matter.  Yes, he’s been known to say that he expected to marry Annie, and that he thought there was a good possibility she’d end up his wife.  But beyond the time Annie stopped during their walk from the Instructor’s Residence to the hospital and laid the “I’m a witch and your wife” speech upon his young mind, he’s not said a lot.  This is really the first time he’s come right out and called Annie “wife”.  Not “wife-to-be” or “maybe-wife”–nope, he goes all in with this deal.  Though he’s probably not going to lay that down in front of the student body during meals or class or the Midnight Madness, but in private moments, it’s the truth he knows.  It’s all in those three little words.

And Annie?  You have to ask?

Enough of the feels:  let’s get this party on the, um, road.

 

“That’s so true.” Annie pulled back about three meters, her mood lifted tremendously by Kerry’s pronouncement. She tapped her comm on. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. Preparing to depart in fifteen seconds. Over.”

Vicky was waiting for Annie to speak. “Roger, Athena. We’ll start the timer the moment we see you move. Over.”

“Good, Flight Deck. See you soon. Over and out.” She activated her HUD and turned until she was facing her new course heading as Kerry pulled along side. “I’m ready.”

“As am I.” He pointed towards the open sea before them. “After you.”

“Thank you.” Annie waited a few seconds then launched herself out over the sea, dropping her altitude was two hundred meters while picking up speed. Unlike the last leg Kerry stayed four meters to her right and slightly behind, and about twenty seconds after leaving Marker 1 behind he started playing the song. The sound of guitar strings being slowly strummed surrounded them. “I don’t know if I’ve heard this before.”

“You haven’t: this is Cinema Show.” Kerry leaned out over his broom as he adjusted to the slipstream. “It starts slow, but picks up a lot about half way through.”

Annie didn’t care. Despite the cold and the rain, she felt warm and comfortable inside, all due to three words spoken by Kerry. She glanced over his way and gave a slight wave. He say it’s his job to follow me— She turned back to her HUD, keeping her attention on her course and altitude while listening to the music. I’ll hold him to that for the rest of his life.

 

You have one job, Kerry!  One job!  And you better do it right, ’cause thirteen year old witches are not to be trifled with.  So when does the Astral Etchings for the “rings of forever” begin?  Um . . . I know when, but I’m not saying.  Not yet.

Oh, and what is Kerry playing?  As he said, Cinema Show, the live version as performed by Genesis during their And Then There Were Three… Tour, which was the last time this song was played in its entirety.  Like he says, it’s a nearly twelve minutes long song, at around the eight minute mark the tempo goes from about 3/4 time to 8/8 time because Tony Banks sometimes played like a maniac, and for some reason whenever he played the keyboard solo of this song he sped it up like he needed to finish because he had to go to the bathroom, or something.

Two more scenes and then Annie’s home.  Well, really, in the last two scenes it is Annie being home–

You’ll see.

The Final Solo: Over Sea and Seen

Six days into April and I am one tired little girl–well, I’m not so little, but I’m tired.  Why?  Writing.  Only I can hear you now:  “But you’re not working on your novel, Cassie!”  And that’s true:  if I were counting what I’ve written for my recaps, I’d be in Camp NaNo land right now, ’cause for two shows it’s been close to thirty-five hundred words in two days, and that’s some humping.  Also, I find I write better in the morning with my story and that by nighttime I’m usually a bit befuddled, which isn’t helping get things out.

None of that is helping out my word production where it should count.

"No, no:  I'm getting to this story.  Only, right now, the inside of my eyelids look so nice . . ."

“Really, just one more show out of the way I’m gonna tackle this . . . beast . . . zzzzzzzz.”

And not only that, but if you’ve been keeping track, I’ve another important milestone coming up.  Besides coming close to three hundred thousand words.  But we’ll talk about that next week.

What I did get out is this:  my kids are where they are supposed to be, and they are literally in the middle of nowhere.  And unlike me, it’s time for a rest.

 

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

Annie relaxed and twisted around to find Kerry only a few meters away. “Yes, we are, Flight Deck. My chase is getting photographic proof we’ve arrived right now. Over.”

“Good to hear, Athena. Why don’t you guys take a five minute break before we send you off to the next objection? Over.”

Annie was ready to go now, but given that the only thing she knew was another objective existed, she thought it best to take Vicky’s advice and spend a few minutes taking a rest. “Roger, Flight Deck. We’ll see you five minutes. Over and out.” She leaned slightly forward and rolled so she was facing Kerry. “How did I look in the picture?”

“Busy and a little cold.” Kerry inched his broom closer. “How are you feeling?”

She exposed her face so he could see her grin. “Are you asking, or are they?”

He exposed his face and returned the grim. “I’m asking. Though they did ask about half-way through this leg about you.”

“And what did you tell them?”

“I told them you looked good.” He slid his broom sideways next to her and took her hand. “Which you always do.”

“Thank you, my love.” Annie saw something in Kerry’s eyes that she hadn’t seen before leaving Isles of Shoals, and she wasn’t sure she what hide behind this look. “I felt a little tired when we arrive, but that’s gone now. How are you feeling?”

 

Any time you ask Kerry how he feels, it’s a loaded question.  You know what you’re going to get:  “I’m okay.”  Because that’s his go-to response to just about everything.  Now, while he does cop to letting Annie know back home wanted to know how she was holding up on her three hundred kilometer dash, he also knows that now is not the time to give pat answers:

 

He looked past Annie and stared at the buoy for a few seconds. His usually response was to say all was fine, but given their situation and location, Kerry was aware that wouldn’t be in best interest of either of them. “The run out here didn’t bother me. It’s just—” He glanced downward for a second. “There’s something about being this close to the water I don’t like.”

Annie kept her tone and mood light. “You’ve flown over this area before, yes?”

He laughed. “Yeah, I’ve been over this area before.” He gazed upward while pointing. “Only I was about seventeen hundred meters higher.”

“And going almost three hundred kilometers an hour faster than we were coming here. So why would flying out here bother you when you’ve all ready done something far more extreme?”

He shrugged.  “That was different.”

“How so?”

Kerry looked about, going over the answer in his mind as if to make certain it made sense. “It just feels like if something went wrong, we’d be in the water so fast—”

“My love?” Annie floated in front of him, her eyes staring into his.

He took a deep breath. “Yes, my Darling?”

“You race, don’t you?”

He nodded slowly. “Yes.”

“At speeds around or over as fast as we flew here?”

He bowed his his, chuckling. “Yes.”

Annie touched his cheek. “What’s the difference between going three hundred kilometers an hour eight meters above the ground and between trees, and going the same speed three hundred meters over the ocean?”

 

Yeah, what is the different, Kerry?  I would have liked to have gotten to his reasons, but at the time I put the last of those six-words-short-of-five-hundred down in Scrivener, it was eleven-thirty PM–or, as my kids would say, twenty-three thirty–and I was right at the point of nodding out at the computer.  Because I’m crazy and I’m really pushing myself to get things done.

Tonight should be better, with “should” being the operative word.  Next week, though–oh, boy.  I’ll be in Chicken With Head Cut Off Mode.  But I’ll get through.

"I've written a little bit here, so . . . just a quick nap and I'm ready to go again.  I think.  Zzzzzzz."

“As soon as I get this last–bit–out.  About the . . . zombies . . . zzzzzzz”

The Final Solo: Seeing At Cedar

Here I am down to the coffee shop in windy Harrisburg, where last week I was in sandals, jeans, and a sweater, and today–

I'm not.

I’m not.

It’s cold as hell outside, and the wind blowing hard enough that the wind chill isn’t good to a body.  This is what’s known as “spring” in this part of the country, and we’re supposed to be chilly the whole week, though probably not as bad as we are today.

This is probably some kind of weird revenge for the misery I’m putting my kids through right now.  Strangely enough, Annie’s current solo flight is taking place right about the same time as today, only three years back in time.  Which makes me think:  I know exactly where they were last month, and . . . nah, I’m not gonna tell you.  At least I’ll be able to tell you what the weather was like when I get around to writing their E Level adventures.

But right now they’re on their B Level adventures, and those adventures have taken them out away from the mainland for the first time and put them out over the ocean.  Well, it’s put Annie out over the ocean for the first time:  Kerry’s been here before, though now quite as close as they are now–

 

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

Contrary to what Vicky stated Annie’s journey to her next objective took ten minutes because she kept her speed to one hundred and thirty kilometers an hour. It was one thing to cross Salem Sound at night when she knew there was a sizable land mass on the other side that would let her know when she was no longer over water, while aiming for a small group of islands a dozen kilometers off-shore was something entirely different.

She maintained her course properly for the duration of the leg, however, and wasn’t all surprised when a cluster of small islands appeared out of the rain and mist while she was still a few kilometers distant. Her Band labeled each island in the group so Annie was able to locate Cedar Island without difficultly.

From four hundred meters up there wasn’t much to see of the Isles of Shoals, which to Annie’s untrained eye appeared as four large rocks surrounded by a number of far smaller ones, and she was hesitant to call the bigger rocks islands as the three largest didn’t appear to be much larger than four hundred meters in any direction, and the objective below Annie’s feet, Cedar Island, was no bigger than a couple of football pitches set side-by-side.

She was surprised to find habitations here. The island to her left—her Band indicated it was named Star Island—was covered with buildings, while the large island to the north, Appledore, possessed a number of buildings as well. The other large island to the north of her, Smuttynose, had two two structures standing, and Cedar, directly below, had four. Annie didn’t see anyone out and about on another of the islands, which she took to mean it was either too early for activity on a Saturday morning, or the structures were currently unoccupied. Either way it meant little to her, as it wasn’t her intention to make contact with anyone on the ground during this test.

 

First of all, what is this Isles of Shoals place?  It’s pretty much like Annie said:  a bunch of rocks in the ocean.

Though don't call them rocks to their faces; they're a little sensitive about that.

Though don’t call them rocks to their faces; they’re a little sensitive about that.

The Isles of Shoals is about ten kilometers off shore from New Hampshire, and has been at one time or another a major fishing port, an artist’s colony, the rumored location of pirate’s treasure, and the scene of a semi-famous murder.

These days there’s a no-frills hotel on Star Island, a research station on Appledore Island, and one of two lighthouses in New Hampshire on White Island.  Everything’s pretty barren save for some grass on Star Island, so again, like Annie said, rocks in the ocean.

Her view is a little better than the one above:

Because why not get up close and personal with those rocks, huh?

Because why not get up close and personal with those rocks, huh?

Cedar Island is actually privately owned, though I can’t find out much more than that.  Star Island has been owned and operated since 1915 by the Star Island Corporation.  One thing of note about Star Island is that it contains, as of right now, the largest off-grid solar farm in New England, which makes the island nearly self-sufficient in terms of energy.  It also has it’s own septic treatment plant capable of handling salt water, and a reverse osmosis water purification system for converting sea water to drinking water.  In short, if you got enough food you probably could stay there year long.

Oh, and if you want to know how I know that Annie flew out to the islands at one hundred an thirty kilometers an hour–

Calculators, don't you know?

Calculators, don’t you know?

Remember, folks:  even when you make things up you should check that it’s also right.

And now they’re there, and Kerry is the first to notice something:

 

Kerry pulled to a stop next to her and yanked down his balaclava. “Welcome to Maine.”

Annie checked the map in her HUD. “We did cross the state border, didn’t we?”

“Yep. Three states in no time.”

“Since we’re here—” Annie twisted around so her back was now to the northwest wind. “—I better call in.” She exposed her face before speaking. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. We are in position over Cedar Island and my chase is documenting our position. Over.”

“We see you, Salem Final Solo.” Vicky’s tone softened a little from the professional demeanor it normally carried. “How are you feeling, Athena? Over.”

Annie wrapped her hands around her torso. “A little cold. It feels as if the wind has picked up speed. Over.”

“More that likely it has since there’s nothing to slow it down. Over.”

“True.” She twisted slightly so she could watch the waves crashing into Star Island. “At least at this altitude we’re not getting hit with ocean spray. Over.”

Kerry snickered. “No, we have the rain to keep us nice and damp.”

“Wouldn’t want you to feel too good, now would we, Starbuck?” Vicky nearly laughed. “We’re gonna give you a few minutes to rest up, kids. See you in a few. Over and out.”

 

Vicky ain’t about to let these kids get away with a snide remark here and there, is she?  But Kerry is right:  why worry about the ocean spray when you’ve got a chilly rain to keep you nice and wet, even when you are wearing waterproof parkas?  This flight isn’t just about making sure Annie can cross her “t’s” and dot her “i’s”:  there’s a few psychological factors going on as well.  Something that Annie kinda picks up on–

 

While Annie softly giggled at the exchange Kerry lifted about ten meters higher than Annie and backed away a bit so he could set her up in his phone. “Look this way and smile.”

She did as asked then waited for Kerry to return so she could see the results. “I look so alone.”

“Well, it is just you and a few rocks and a lot of water.” He looked up from the image. “We may be the only people out here.”

“I’ve already considered that.” Her face turned up in a grin. “Can you levitate the phone out a few meters and keep it still?”

“I think so. Why?”

“Because in all these solo flights we’ve only taken a couple of pictures together, and this—” She waved her arms around. “This is an important milestone. We should have a record.”

“Not to mention no one will likely believe it when we say we were here.” He set the timer and moved the phone so it was floating about three meters up and away. It didn’t take much effort to keep it still in the gusting wind, and a few seconds later the phone was back in his hand with the photographic evidence. “There you go.”

Annie smiled while examining the photo. “Nice that you could get the island in as well.”

“If all anyone saw was sky, they’d just think we shot up a few hundred meters over the school and took this.” He slipped the phone back into his parka and zipped it closed.

“I imagine that’s true.” She tugged slightly on the hood, pulling closer to her face. “Where do you think we’re going next?”

“Well . . .” Kerry sighed before spinning around to face the open water to the east. “Out that way.”

 

If I were a better person–and I’m not, but that’s beside the point–I’d say the odds that Kerry’s correct are . . . well, pretty good.

It’s just a question of where out that way they may be headed . . .

The Final Solo: Quiet Moments On the Flight Line

My computer was being a pain in the ass this morning, but somehow I manged to get it to act nice long enough to finish this scene and get the post prepped.  I hate when my  computer isn’t being nice to me, and perhaps it’s time to think about moving up to something new–even though I hate most of the systems I’ve seen.  I know:  First World Problems.

Speaking of those, I did not expect to write as much as I did last night.  I thought, “Eh, I’ll get five, six hundred words in and go to bed,” and before I realized what was going on it was after eleven PM and I’d passed a thousand words, and there was no way in hell I could go to bed without finishing the scene.  So I did, topping out at twelve hundred and twelve words.  Must be some kind of synergy there, right?

Doesn't matter.  I'm done with the scene.

Doesn’t matter. I’m done with the scene.

So what happened with Annie in the Hanger?  Well . . .

 

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

She leaned against the wall waiting for him to arrive and allowed her thoughts to wander back to the overview Vicky and Isis gave when they finished with breakfast. The solo would start as soon as both fliers were in place and ready to go. From the school Annie was to set out under visual flight rules for the Annisquam River and the parking lot at Wingaersheek Beach, then proceed to the intersection of Martin and Main Streets in Essex. After that she’d turn north and zip up to the train station at Ispwich, then continued heading north up the coast until they reached the nuclear power station at Seabrook, New Hampshire.

What concerned Annie was what came after she reached Seabrook, for neither Vicky or Isis would say anything about what happened after that point: the only think either would say was that “further instructions would be forthcoming” and left it at that.

That wasn’t true, thought: there were two items concerning the solo that Kerry and she were giving in the short briefing. The first is that she’d have thirty minutes to cover the almost forty-five kilometers to Seabrook—and the second was that this solo flight would cover a total of four hundred kilometers. Given that she had thirty minutes to cover just under one-eighth of the course, and that they were ordered to wear their arctic parkas and winter gear, Annie suspected there was an excellent likelihood this solo would involve some high speed flying at some point.

Something Kerry said as they headed into the locker rooms began making sense. He told her that one of the reasons for a steak and eggs was not that it was just traditional, but it was high protein meal that would digest slower and provide energy for a longer time while producing little or no waste—though his exact statement was that they wouldn’t need to stop and poop at any point. He also suspected that since the sides were mostly carbohydrates and starches, it would give them a quick energy release to get them going and probably wear off within the hour.

That information fit with the profile Annie was developing: they’d both receive a quick burst of energy from the starches that would take them thought the easy part of the course, after which the protein left them with a reserve of long-term energy through the difficult part of the flight. However, this didn’t answer the question of where she was flying where Kerry and she were going to need this energy—

 

What she thinks about breakfast is true, because I did my research.  Protein does digest slower, so you have more energy for longer.  And there’s little residual waste, so that means hardly any pooping.  True story:  when William Anders prepared for the Apollo 8 mission to the moon, he started on a high protein diet about three weeks before lift-off, and he even stated that one of his goals was to not poop at all during the mission.  Why would you do that?  Because when you flew in space in 1968, you stuck a Ziploc bag on your butt, did your business, and then stored it away.  And Anders didn’t want to do that, so–high protein, low poop.  As it was it didn’t matter, ’cause Frank Borman caught the flu on the way to the moon and pretty much used up all the bags through bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.  Yeah, that was a fun trip–

In case you were wondering–and it doesn’t matter if you are, ’cause I’m running this blog–here’s Annie’s route Seabrook under visual flight rules:

Pretty straight forward, wouldn't you say?

Pretty straight forward, wouldn’t you say?

Twenty-seven and a quarter miles/forty-three point eight-six kilometers in thirty minutes.  Because they have to stop at three spots along the way and get pictures, she’s gonna fly along as a little better than one hundred kilometers an hour, which is sixty-two miles an hour.  Annie knows that part is easy ’cause she’s already do that in the previous solo flights.  And look!  Here comes her chase:

 

Kerry came bounding down the stairs, his gloves hanging from the sleeves of his parka and broom in his left hand. “Sorry I took so long.” He hurried up and gave Annie a kiss. “Vicky was being a total pain about checking out my broom.”

Annie found that surprising as, in the past, flight instructor did little more than give Kerry’s broom a quick inspection before handing it over. “What did she do?”

“She had me go into hover while she did a processor check.” He glance to the stairs to make certain no one was standing there listening. “We didn’t even do those when we went off on overnight flights.”

“What about when you flew back from Nova Scotia during your first camp out?” The high altitude, near six hundred kilometers an hour leg Emma and he flew last December during Advanced Flight One’s first overnight camp out and test flight was a subject of discussion among the students in A Level Basic Flight, and Annie had overheard some of the hushed conversation in the tower covens from time-to-time when Kerry and she entered the area.

“We checked out the brooms before leaving camp, but not at any point after that.”

She nodded. “I’m certain we’re going to do some high speed flying today.”

He gave her hand a squeeze. “You ready for that?”

She chuckled. “Like I have a choice.”

Before Kerry answered there was a voice in their heads. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Comm check. Over.”

Protocol demanded Annie respond first. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo, Athena Actual. Over.”

Kerry glanced up at the ceiling. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo, Starbuck Actual. Over.”

Vicky’s voice was smooth and professional. “Roger, Final Solo. Proceed to flight land and prepare for take off. Over.”

“Roger, Flight Deck. Over and out.” Annie smiled at Kerry. “This is it.”

“It certainly is.” He waved the large hangar door aside and he waited for Annie to take the first steps before following.

 

You gotta love the attitude everyone takes when they start one of these flights, and both kids know how to get their game faces on when it time for business.  It’s another of the reasons Kerry is allowed to be Annie’s chase without needing someone older, like Nadine, to back him up:  he’s not there to goof off or screw around, he’s there to do his job, and he does it.

Now all that remains is to get this party started . . .

 

The sky was lighter but remained a solid gray. The temperature had finally risen over three Celsius, but the wind was blowing at a steady twenty kilometer’s an hour. And didn’t worry about the wind as in a few minutes they were going to leave the school and fly along at five times that speed, which was going to drop the temperatures to below freezing. She slipped on her gloves and waited for the final go while Kerry set his broom to hover and set his tablet in place. “How are you feeling?”

“Nervous.” He locked the computer in place and jiggled it to make certain the enchantment was crafted properly. “I want everything to go well.”

“It will.” She reached for his glove and slipped it on to his left hand. “We do what we’re supposed to do, nothing more. Just like the other two times.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “No problem.”

Vicky interrupted their conversation. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Prepare for take off. Over.”

Annie didn’t take her eyes from Kerry. “Roger, Flight Deck. Preparing for take off. Over.” She wrapped her arms around Kerry’s neck and kissed him hard. “I love you, my darling.”

Before she could pull away Kerry pulled her close and kissed her back. “I love you, my little sarmi.” He flipped her hood into place. “You’re gonna do great.”

She shot him a broad grin. “Yes, I will.”

Almost the second Kerry was on his broom Vicky gave the order. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Take off and proceed to Objectives One through Four; upon reaching each objective call in and document. You have thirty minutes from lift off to reach Objective Four, Seabrook. Any questions? Over.”

Annie slid her balaclava up over her face. “No questions, Flight Deck. We’re ready to go. Over.”

“In that case, Salem Final Solo—” Vicky paused for just a moment. “You are cleared for take off. Over.”

“Roger, Flight Deck. Taking off now.” Annie went into hover then slowly rose twenty meters into the air, checking that Kerry was with her. “We are airborne, Flight Deck. Over.”

Vicky choked slightly as she spoke. “We have you airborne, Salem Final Solo. The clock is running; best get going. Over.”

“Roger. We’ll call you at Essex. Over and out.” She shot another hundred meters straight up, clearing the trees. She was already facing west and had her first objective, the mouth of the Annisquam River, in sight. She glanced over to Kerry. “You ready?”

He waved forward. “Lead on, Athena.”

“Will do, Starbuck.” Annie leaned forward and pushed through the air.

Her last qualifying solo flight was under way.

 

The party is underway, and Annie’s in the air.

What’s coming next?  You’ll be the second to find out.

The New Tradition

Chapter Thirty is a go, and more of a go than I’d imagined.  That’s due, in part, to a lot of re-figuring of this section that I’ll actually discuss more once I get to the end of this excerpt.  For now, let’s get into the morning, which isn’t going to be as long as the last we just visited–

 

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

The overcast to the east was slightly lighter than the rest of the sky as Annie reached the Flight School only moments after the alarm on Kerry’s phone sounded, indicating the time as five-thirty. At a time when most students were sleeping in or just starting their Friday morning, Annie and her always-present chase pilot were getting ready for her biggest solo flight—

But first they needed to get through the pre-flight ritual.

Annie found it unusual to find an after-dinner email from Vicky indicating the time she needed to report to the Flight School, but more importantly how she wanted her breakfast prepared. She asked Kerry about this when they met a few minutes later before heading out for a relaxing evening in their tunnel hideout, but all he’d tell her was that he’d received an email as well, and that Vicky asked him not to say anything about what was going to happen in the morning. Try as she could short of quickly brewing a Draught of Submission, there wasn’t a thing Annie could do to make Kerry give up this secret.

Upon entering the Hanger Annie headed to the spiral staircase and proceeded to the second floor, as the email had instructed. She headed down the long corridor to the Flight Deck, but instead of entering that room she stopped before the last door on the right and knocked.

Vicky answered the knock, half-opening the door. “Ah, right on time.”

“Yes.” Annie put on her best smile. “Can we come in now?”

“Certainly.” Vicky stood aside allowing unobstructed access. “Nikh’nas.”

 

That last part is “Enter” in Hebrew, because Vicky being Jewish and all, and this is the first time we’ve actually heard her say anything in that language.  She’s proficient enough that she could hold a conversation with a native speaker, but that likely doesn’t happen much.

Also:  doesn’t Annie have feminine wiles she can use on Kerry to get him to tell her things?  After all, they did spend the evening in their “tunnel hideout”, as Annie calls it, and that means they were alone and Annie–well, she could have asked or cajoled or whatever, right?  She must be losing it.

So what is this ritual Annie must perform that is so important Kerry is willing to take the secret to his grave?

 

The moment she was inside Annie quickly scanned the room. There wasn’t much to see: a few chairs along the side walls, two projection screens on the far wall, a long table with two chairs facing them in front of the screens, a podium in the right-hand corner.

What drew her attention, however, was a second table in the middle of the room situated five meters from the other table, with two chairs set facing the far wall. Before each chair were two plates of food, a tall glass containing a beverage, silverware, and a napkin. While each of the smaller plates and the glasses were different, both of the larger plates contained the same thing: a steak and two eggs prepared sunny-side up, though the steak in the left-hand plate was much smaller than the one on the right.

Isis, wearing jeans and a sweater, stood on the other side of the middle table. The moment Vicky closed the door the security director motioned the couple forward. “Good morning.”

Annie stood behind the chair on the left, holding the back lightly in both hands. “Good morning.” She examined the plates of food. “I take it this is why we’re here so early?”

“It is indeed.” Isis spread here arms wide. “The traditional final solo breakfast of steak and eggs.” She chuckled. “Though you two are only the second to partake in this particular tradition.”

Kerry stood behind his chair examining the plate before him. “Oh?”

“Yes. I’ve only done this for one other student. It’s been a tradition elsewhere for fliers elsewhere, and I thought, what the hell? May as well do the same here.” She nodded towards the kids. “We know how you guys normally sit, so everything is laid out as expected.”

 

Steak and Eggs is the title of this scene, and I’d decided a long time ago–even before I began plotting this novel–that Annie was going to get this breakfast before heading out on her final solo flight.  There’s reasons for this, and they’re going to get brought up in the next scene, but for now–yeah, she’s getting steak for breakfast.

Now, about the changes:  I’ve said before that while I do a lot of plotting nothing is actually written in stone.  I mapped out all three of Annie’s solo flights, but after getting the first two out of the way, once I began re-examining the final one, I saw that it left me wanting.  So I set about changing it, and in doing so I had to change the time lines and a few other things–one of which was using a specialized web tool so I could figure out compass headings.

You can't see any of that stuff yet, but just wait.

You can’t see any of that stuff yet, but just wait.

Most of all, though, I changed the date.  Originally Annie’s solo flight was Saturday morning, 13 April, 2013, but as I wrote this scene, and as I remembered why this scene was developed in the first place, I realized that I was missing something incredibly important.  So the date was moved up to Friday, 12 April, and the reason for this is going to become painfully clear–

Though right now it’s probably clear only to me.

A Day At the Races: Snow Cruise

The word is out that I don’t have work again today, but that won’t keep me inside, for I’ll likely head into the office for a few hours.  Got to, my pretties, for no play, no pay, as they say.  But I’ll be able to write tomorrow–I mean, there was a lot yesterday . . .

Though I didn’t expect to keep at it as much as I did, by the time I called it quits last night I’d put twelve hundred and fifty-two words into the story bank, and that’s quite a bit.  It was slow because trying to take these images in your head and make them into strings of words that make is a hard job, and right around eight PM–or, as my kids would say, twenty hours–I twisted my face into a thoughtful grimace and said, “Hey, I forgot to eat dinner.”  So I made some egg rolls and got right back into things.

The reason it took so long is due to having to stop and recharge.  It’s always a pain in the ass writing description of things that are happening while making it sound interesting.  And this is one of those times when when writing it is a real drag.  I can see what’s happening in my head, but since you can be there, you only get my words.  They’re not that bad, but it would be far more interesting if we could just plug our minds into some Matrix and download our imaginations for you to see.  Though if I could do that I’m sure some of you would flip ahead to see what’s going to happen in a few more chapters–

Meanwhile . . . Ready, Steady, Go–yeah?  Kerry was about to kick off wildly into the great open space, and he had a goal of catching Rivânia so he could regain position.  It’s about time he did just that–

 

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

Go was a kilometer and a half of flying over the valley between two peaks separated by Wassataquoik Lake. While only a small portion of the course few directly over the lake, but nearly the entire way was over empty air. Only, as Kerry noticed while covering a few hundred meters after a three gee burst of acceleration, the air wasn’t empty; the snow was back, and far heavier than it had been back in Section 2. While he saw Rivânia four hundred meters ahead and closing, she was becoming fuzzy and indistinct in the deteriorating weather. This is only seven hundred and fifty meters— Kerry locked his focus on the Rivânia’s processor. The snow is gonna suck climbing Hamlin.

He was only one hundred and fifty meters from Rivânia, and maybe four hundred meters from Needle, and his speed was holding steady at four hundred and eighty. There wasn’t time to think: Kerry was going into Needle in three, two, one . . .

It was called Needle because the course narrowed between low, forested peaks, and Kerry reached the spot at the same time as Rivânia. She’d begun slowing only a few seconds before entry, where as Kerry didn’t slam on the air brakes until he alongside the Uruguayan girl. It was a risky move, and even if he pulled it off, he was gonna hurt by the time he reached Gully. He cleared Rivânia by about three meters before throwing his PAV into a murderous right hand diving turn down the mountain towards Clench—so named because of the racers who said they “clenched up” as they fought to keep from flying off the course or crashing into the ground. There was little in the way of a margin of error at this point, and the majority of five second penalties for missing an elevation gate happened in this stretch.

The snow didn’t let up as Kerry headed down the mountain, and he nearly touched two gates before getting his speed down into a manageable range where he could safely negotiate the left hander down to Gully. He was starting to see why Nadine and Rivânia said that while they loved Katahdan, they were happy they only had to fly it once a year. He was almost out of Section 3, about a third of the way through the first lap, and he found the course far more taxing mentally than even the Red Line. He flared out Gully then relaxed for a moment before preparing for Sixty Up, which was exactly as named: a sixty degree turn to the left and up, leading out of the South Branch Trout Brook and back into the mountains.

 

Let’s take a look at where all of this pretty much happens:

Doesn't look that bad when it's nice and clear like this.

Doesn’t look that bad when it’s nice and clear like this.

This is Section 3 of the course, pretty much from Slip on the right to Clutch on the left.  Go is that long line stretching across the middle of the picture, but because Google Earth is a bit of a butthead when showing distance, the line hugs the earth.  In reality the course goes straight across that wide area, from one to the other, and yes:  it’s three hundred meters, or a thousand feet, to the lake below.  This is not really that much–the K1 turn on the Red Line goes up six-tenths of a mile into the air over the school–but it does become a bit of a vertigo-inducing moment as you’re racing through the woods before–BAM!–you’re out in the open with nothing but lots of air under your feet.

And then when you’re through zipping over the void you’re hanging on to keep from crashing as you fly right back into the woods and into another difficult downward spiral before heading back up the hill, so to speak.  Which means we’re heading into Section 4 of the track–

Into this.

Let’s trip into this insanity.

Here we go:

 

Kerry made his way through Section 4 without difficulty. Bump and Drop Off were tricky, but the snow was lighter and once past Drop Off the course stayed fairly level, with the ups and downs being more spread out over the twelve-and-a-half kilometers leading up to the Fade Away turn and the entry to Section 5. It was almost possible to relax as he made the easy turn at High Sweep and head off at at fast clip towards Approach. He could almost feel the chill as he headed into the valley and the entry into Annis. The snow started once more and grew thick fast as the wind swirled between the thousand meter high ridge to his left and the twelve hundred meter North Brother to his right. He lowered his head as he leaned forward—

There was movement behind him; a flier came out of the snow approaching slowly. For a moment he figured it was Rivânia until he noticed the blue piping on the shoulders and helmet. Kerry knee throbbed as his suspicions changed moved away from Rivânia. He checked the IFF enchantment used to tell a person who was in front and behind them—

He was right: it was Emma.

 

 

 

Kerry put her as much out of his mind as possible so he could prepare for the turn at Fade Away and the six kilometer long, eight hundred meter high climb to the Hamlin High Dive. Section 5 was considered the worst part of Katahdin: technically challenging and as intimidating as hell. During yesterday’s walk through Kerry took his time flying this section in decent weather: now it was likely he would spent most of this section racing in a white-out. And if that was the case, the last thing he wanted was someone trying to do anything they could to pass and perhaps even run into him—again.

It was three kilometers to Harvey, and he didn’t want to deal with Emma before getting there, or even after he made it through. He expected her to do something before Harvey, however, because he suspected she wasn’t going to force an action in bad weather conditions that could cause her to wreck. Not to mention that Race Control was probably watching her closely now, and if she pulled another stupid move in a section of the course where everyone was expected to watch out for each other, there was a good probability Vicky would either hit her with a time penalty that could reach upwards of a minute or more, or order her off the course.

If he gave her the chance to pass in the next three klicks, she’d take that chance. And if he didn’t give her an opening, she might take it anyway—

Kerry knee throbbed again as he hurried through Fade Away, making his gee meter spike in the process, before heading up Cliffside Valley at four hundred kilometers an hour. Emma was right behind him, maybe ten meters, but she was closing. Kerry didn’t want to go all out: the area here was narrow, and the snow was now heavier than back in Annis. He kept his attention on the deteriorating course ahead, but every few seconds he shot a glance at his rear view. Emma continued closing, and he figured if she was going to make a move, it would happen in the next few seconds up ahead—

 

Hey, it’s Emma!  Hi, Emma!  Here to wreck Kerry again?

Okay, well . . . so I couldn't find a witch on a broom who looked as if she was gonna wreck someone.  Sue me.

Okay, so . . . I couldn’t find a witch on a broom who looked as if she was gonna wreck someone, so here’s a confused one. Sue me.

Now, the above paragraph was the last thing I wrote last night.  There was more I wanted to write, but it was getting late and I was tired, but little did I know I’d be awoken at five-twenty due to someone out on the street below screaming–one of the pleasures of living in the city, let me tell you.  There was something else I wanted to write, however, to put a coda on this post, and the moment my computer decided to play nice with me I fired up Scrivener and started in on that sucker.

How said sucker looked just before I started adding words.

How said sucker looked just before I started adding words.

I should also point out that the above view is how it looks when I’m doing the writing for this scene:  I got my score card, and I know my players.  Just gotta talk about it, right?

Anyway, here’s what happens . . .

 

They headed into Basin Squeeze and two things happened almost simultaneously. First, the snow began swirling around much like it had coming through Annis, only worse. Kerry figured the wind was being funneled down from Harvey Ridge and being spun around in the little basin as the foot of the embankment. And second, Emma decided now was the time to make her move. He could only think of one reason why she was doing this now, and Annie’s words came back to him in that instance: Stop making it sound like she’s somehow your equal—she isn’t.

Time to make those words ring true.

With wingmate only a meter behind Kerry pushed his broom hard to left, cutting her off. He executed a barrel roll while never losing speed, bringing his helmet to within centimeters of hers so he’d get her full attention. Then he landed upright about a half a PAV length ahead on her right, flipped up his visor with a simply levitation spell he knew wouldn’t get him in trouble, and turned a withering glance back before flipping the finger in her direction. “Stay the hell away from me, Emma.”

Within a matter of a few seconds Kerry flipped his visor down, turned his attention straight ahead, and with great pain, slammed on his air brakes, threw the broom into a vicious right hand turn, and began the difficult climb up Harvey Ridge without losing any time or position.

 

So:  cut to the left, barrel roll over your wingmate all the while matching her speed, then flip her off right before slamming into one of the most difficult turns on the course.  All the while it’s snowing like hell.  And being broadcast back at Salem.  I’m certain there’s one witch who just pumped her fists in the air and mumbled something in Bulgarian about showing that bitch who’s the better racer–

Believe it or not I’m getting close to the end of this scene.  Maybe that will happen today.

After I go into work for a little bit and do . . . word stuff.  I think.

A Day At the Races: The Pain Principle

Well the storm is over, and the end total is fourteen inches/forty centimeters of snow dropped on The Burg over a twenty-four hour period.  Some areas around us got more snow, and for a while the Pennsylvania Turnpike was closed because the road was blocked by both snow and cars.  I even read that people hunkered down in the Allegheny Mountain tunnel for the night and part of the day, because there was nowhere to go.

So today is nice and sunny, and the roads are somewhat “clear”, which means I may actually be able to go and get my face zapped today.

Here's the view from my balcony looking north.

Here’s the view from my balcony looking north.

 

And looking south towards I-83 and the Susquehanna.

And looking south towards I-83 and the Susquehanna.

I didn’t go to the coffee shop today because I didn’t know if how clear the sidewalks would be, and I didn’t want to try walking over slippery sidewalks with my computer on my back.  But I managed a lot of words–a little over eleven hundred and fifty since last night–and things are heating up a bit on the course . . .

 

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

For a few seconds Kerry was unable to consider why Emma had raced by so recklessly due to the pain shooting up his thigh. He clenched his jaw and headed off after Emma, because he saw the rest of the back popping out of Twin Peaks and heading toward the switchback. He’d wasn’t sure if Emma tore anything in knee when she crashed into him, but considering it was a nearly identical crash that screwed up his knee the first time, he was pretty sure something was torn again.

The forest and hills closed in over the course as he headed into the section leading to North Climb. He’d not flown for more than a few seconds when Vicky’s voice sounded out in his helmet. “This is Race Control. Warning on course at North Climb: penalty assessed against Number 10, Neilson, for rough racing. Throttle back to one hundred kph for ten seconds and pull to right side of course now.” Kerry pulled to the left to give Emma a wide berth as he sped by the quickly slowing flier. He didn’t glance in her direction during the pass, but it wasn’t necessary: his wingmate was likely pissed. During her ten second penalty she’d cover three hundred meters while everyone else would cover seven to eight hundred meters, dropping her to the back of the pack.

There was good and bad in that. The bad is that she’d have to fight her way through the pack to the front. The good was that she had two hundred and eight kilometers in which to do that, and with everyone bunched up as they were, Emma might find herself back at the front before the end of the first lap. Kerry pulled right through North Climb and continued climbing towards the top of North Ridge. It wasn’t a bad idea for her to find out how much she could get away with early on. He continued pushing upward. It just sucks that she tried that out on my knee . . .

Half way to North Pass two things happened: Nadine and Penny passed him much like he’d passed Manco and Soroushi earlier, and the snow began. As Professor Bashagwani promised it was light, but it was steady, and though it wasn’t enough to cause a problem it was annoying. He’d raced in snow before, but something inside Kerry clenched as he realized that with this weather prediction coming true, the likelihood of racing in a white-out conditions a half a kilometer higher up were good.

Then it was over North Pass and the face dive down three hundred meters of slope to Howe Drop. He fully understood the difficulty of the Katahdan course: once they were into the mountains the elevation chances were constant and extreme, and they were all handled at speeds more comparable with the Green Line. As he reached Howe Drop and zipped over the creek bed he also saw how there were few actual straights; everywhere one found slight bends here and there. Just like with the Red Line it meant the racer needed to keep their attention on the course one hundred percent of the time, and while that was something he’d learned to do racing that course, the longest race on the Red Line covered a total of ninety kilometers—not even one full lap here.

He sighed as he rolled up to Side Cut, turned right and continued up to the summit so he could fly over to East Terrace and Slide—and that was when Rivânia passed him, letting out a whoop as she dropped through the pass.

 

So Kerry is wondering if he is hurt, and he’s been passed by four people, one of whom had to fall back because she’s racing like an idiot again.  Given that the race is being shown in the Dining Hall on multiple holographic screens, you think there’s a chance that someone saw Emma’s action out on the track and had a bad reaction to that move?

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

An angry witch at Salem?  Whomever could I mean?

I’ll get to it sometime later, but for now we’re out in the mountains, and we’re getting ready to move on . . .

My first attempt at boring the hell out of you.

So now we leave this behind–

Number 12 is pretty much where Riv Went Whoop and kept going, and now that Section 1 of the course is behind us–

Still with me? Good.

And we move on to Section 2.

And this is where Kerry starts doing stuff–and things . . .

 

He sailed down from the pass and negotiated the turn thought East Terrace with no difficulty, but as he made the turn towards East Slide Alex and Rezi Lahood from Åsgårdsreia cut inside and passed him with little difficulty. Kerry blinked twice as if he simply couldn’t believe what he’d just seen. “Yn fab i ast.” He didn’t scream out expletives—at least not during races—but this was too much. Am I going that slow? Only one thing to do

He made his way down the mountain to Ford and Wading, then willed his broom to four hundred kilometers an hour as he began the half-kilometer climb to Tip Over. Ahead, maybe two hundred meters away, he saw Alex and Rezi, which mean they were catchable—and if they were catchable, they were passable. He pushed the PAV to over four-fifty and flew into the first truly heavy snow.

Near the top he caught the girls as they were reaching Tip Over. In the thick whiteness they slowed ever so slightly—

Kerry didn’t. He passed them and soared away from the pass. He slammed down hard on the control column, trying to enter the next elevation gate, but his speed was too great and he missed it by a half-meter. The moment he flew through the next one correctly he heard Vicky’s voice. “This is Race Control. Five second penalty assessed against Number 11, Malibey: missed elevation gate.” He ignored the penalty: it was early in the race and he could handle five seconds.

 

Kerry has shown that he knows how to swear and he can pop off a phase in Welsh now and then.  “Yn fab i ast” is “Son of a bitch!” and he wasn’t happy when he said this.  This led him to push himself, and he ended up with a penalty in the process.  Like with Emma he did it early and he knows he can come back without any trouble  There’s only one problem . . .

 

What he was afraid he might not be able to handle was the pain in his knee.

As he flew downslope towards Pogy Kerry knew something had torn in his knee from his collision with Emma. Though his legs were held in place by an enchantment in the broom, there was always going to be some flexing due to gee forces brought about by turns and acceleration and deceleration, and those forces were going to work his knees. In his best shape a race on the Blue or Red Lines placed a toll on his body, but the moment one suffered an injury the race conditions did nothing but exacerbate that injury.

Five klicks and forty seconds ahead was the first of a series of hard lefts and rights placed right in the middle of a four hundred meter climb, and Kerry doubted he’d stand the pain the gee forces were going to place on his knee. He felt the twinge of pain as he leveled out in Pory at close to four hundred and fifty kilometers an hour, and this minor pull—maybe a gee and a half—was nothing compared to the two and three gee forces he’d encounter in a few minutes.

Kerry had three choices. The first one involved falling to the back of the pack and running an easy race. He’d score zero points, but he could say he finished. The second choice was to pull up and away from the course and tell Race Control that he was filing as a DNF—Did Not Finish. This way he could return to the Start/Finish line and request a jaunt back to the school and then to the hospital.

He wanted neither of those choices, which left only the third . . .

 

There you have it:  Kerry’s racing along and in pain, and he’s going to do . . . something.  What is this something?  Well . . .

Tomorrow.  There’s always more tomorrow.

The Night Air: Buzzing the Grounds

For me, starting anything new–a story, a chapter, a scene–is always difficult.  Not to mention that Wednesday night is usually when I stop off for dinner and a few adult beverages, and last night being no exception, it was really difficult getting my butt going on the next scene.

Really, for something like getting this new stuff going, I really need to sit in a room with everything off save the music and just jam away.  Sort of like I’m doing now, with the buds in listening to Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like a Hole blast into my ears.  Why am I listing to this?  Because it’s a song that’s gonna play during one of the various excursions Annie and Kerry go out on when they’re flying about wherever they fly.  And that deals with a scene that won’t come up for a while, but me, I gotta get into it now, because most of the stuff I know about this novel are already set in stone.

Yeah, I can figure out future scenes in my head, but I can’t get the current ones going.

"All I gotta do is put one word after another.  It's really easy--at least that's what everyone tells me."

“All I gotta do is put one word after another. It’s really easy–at least that’s what everyone tells me.”

Let’s put this behind me and move forward . . .

What comes is short–two hundred and ninety-five words–and kinda sweet, because we’ve not seen much internalizing with the following instructor.  Vicky doesn’t get the same kind of exposure that some of the other instructors get, mostly because she’s the Flight and Jaunt instructor, and the Jaunting doesn’t come until the kid’s D Levels–assuming they need the the class, if you know what I mean.  You really think Annie and Kerry won’t figure out teleportation before they start that class?

Which means this witch is chillin’ back on the Deck, and considering things in her mind–

 

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

Vicky kept her eyes on the hologram tank in the middle of the room, much as she had nearly the whole night. It was much the same way the month before when Annie was out on her first solo flight, though they flight was in broad daylight and she and her chance were twenty-five kilometers from the school at their furthest.

She’d taken a chance sending them out on a night solo her second flight. Normal protocol would see Annie doing an early morning forty kilometer run to Lawrence before turning south to Middleton and back to Manchester before returning to the school. Total distance would have been right around ninety kilometers, but it would have been in daylight, and if there had been issues getting home would have meant flying towards the rising sun until they reached the ocean, and then followed the shoreline back to Cape Ann.

This solo flight saw them over a mostly urban environment, at night, venturing out to fifty kilometers from the safety of the Flight School. Vicky was aware they’d flown further on their own on brooms: once at the end of their A Levels, and once at the start of this school year. Both times they’d flown more than a hundred kilometers away, but those were straight-forward flights out and back, with little navigating in between. She also had it on good authority that Kerry did all the planing for their trips, figuring out their flight plans prior to departures.

He’s good at that. Vicky watched the dots in the tank heading towards their last checkpoint in Gloucester. Annie’s never shown an interest in that part of flying until now. Like everything else in her life, she develops her talent on her own schedule.

 

The only big revelation we have here is that the second solo flight would have been a morning jaunt to the west and back, about ninety kilometers total, with Annie never getting more than forty klicks out.

Do I have that mapped out?  You have to ask?

Do I have that mapped out? You have to ask?

It was a simply flight, and that’s probably why Vicky decided to blow it off, because it was too simply.  Little Miss Death Spells loves a challenge, and sending her to Boston at night is a good one, don’t you agree?  If Vicky hadn’t, Annie would have likely complained a little about how easy that mission was.  And let’s not give Annie anything easy to do, shall we?

This isn’t going to be a long scene, and it’s likely the scene after won’t be a long one, either.  Like I said, I know what to write.

Getting started on it is always a pain in the butt.  If only that were easier . . .

The Night Air: Time For Us to Fly

It is true:  another scene bites the dust.  The kids are finished at Fenway (hey, good title for a story), and are finally on their way back home.

I never lie about these things.

I never lie about these things.

Well, they’re not exactly on their way home at first.  I mean, whenever Kerry says something that start tingling those Annie Senses, you know she’s going to give it some thought before moving on.  And that’s exactly what happens here.  Annie’s gotta think about things between kissing–

 

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

The seconds of silence became a minute, and that minute stretched into several. Kerry remained silent, content to kiss and hold his sweetie close. Annie did the same with her darling, though her imagination was racing. It was impossible for her not to wonder if Kerry’s last comments were due to the lyrics of the song, or if it was due to some yet unseen—

He went through this last year: he was able to put together that we’d known each other in our dreams, but only as those memories trickled out. There was much about this series of dreams they didn’t know, and this mystery girl was the most puzzling matter of all. Could it be he remembers more about these dreams that he lets on, but like last year they’re only fragments that he’s unable to form completely? She met his gazed and returned his smile. Does he fear something is going to happen? Or, perhaps— Annie kissed him lightly on the lips. Does he know something is going to happen?

There wasn’t any time left for her to consider answers because someone choose that moment to rudely interrupt their moment alone . . . “Salem Night Solo, this is Flight Deck. Come in please. Over.”

 

Damn you, Vicky, the kids are doing what they can to warm up, and here you’re trying to get them to do stuff like, you know, this mission.  But if there’s one thing these kids do more of besides kissing, it’s staying on mission–

 

Annie chuckled softly before replying. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Night Solo. We’re here. Over.”

Vicky chuckled. “Good to know, Night Solo, though it’s not like we expected you to go anywhere. Are you ready to continue? Over.”

Kerry said nothing, but his nod was the only answer he needed. Annie chuckled back. “We’re both eager to get back and get warm. Over.”

“You’re gonna get your chance right now. Here are your instructions: from where you are now rise to two hundred meters and proceed to the next four targets on your list. Get evidence you were there, and make your best possible time on your return.” Vicky paused so Annie could assimilate the information. “When you reach Marblehead call in and let us know if you’re coming straight across the sound, or if you’re going to follow the shoreline. Got that? Over.”

Annie repeated the instructions to show she was listening. “Right now I feel like I want to come straight across the sound to Manchester because it’s only going to be about ten minutes flying, and that puts us ten minutes closer to warm drinks and blankets. Over.”

“Well, when you reach those points, get your pictures and let us know you’re on your way across. We’ll pick you up and bring you in once you’re on our side of the water. Over.”

“That sounds good.” Annie nodded as she floated slowly away from Kerry. “When do you want us to start? Over.”

“At your discretion, but as you said, you’re eager to get back, and the sooner you start, the sooner you get here.” Vicky allowed a few seconds of silence to pass before finishing. “Radio in when you’re starting. We’ll be here waiting. Over and out.”

 

So here’s what we have:  the kids need to go on to their next stations, and there are three coming up.  Those are here:

Time to get from Downtown to Wonderland.

Time to get from Downtown to Wonderland.

Marblehead is well beyond the Wonderland station, so it doesn’t show here, but once they reach the station, it’s land under and to the left, and ocean to the right.  And all the while the lights will begin getting dimmer as they leave Boston behind.  And, really, the kids are ready to come in and get out of the cold . . .

 

Kerry flipped up his hood. “Time for us to fly.”

“Yes, it is.” She flipped up her hood and pulled her balaclava back over her face before adjusting her goggles into place. “Much as I like being out here together, I want to get out of this cold.”

“Can’t blame you there.” Kerry adjusted his goggles after getting his balaclava in place. “Ready here.”

“I am, too.” She floated about two meters in front of Kerry’s broom. “What is it you say? ‘Come with me, Pam’?”

Kerry adjusted an imaginary bow tie and spoke with a slight English accent. “’Come along, Pond’.” He laughed. “I gotta teach you everything.”

“We have time before school is over.” She waved for him to follow as she rose into the night sky. “Do you have something we can play as we leave this place?”

“Got something in mind.” He punched up something on his tablet as soon as they were at their designated altitude. “Whenever you’re ready, Sweetie.”

Annie tapped the side of her helmet. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Night Solo. We’re about to leave. Over.”

Vicky was back in an instant. “Roger, Night Solo. We got you in the tank. See you at Marblehead. Over.”

“We’ll call in then. Over and out.” She moved alongside Kerry. “And what do we have for traveling music, my love?”

Kerry pressed the screen and a flurry of guitars filled the air. “Don’t Look Back, by Boston—who were from Boston.” He leaned forward over the broom. “Seems appropriate, I think.”

“It does.” Annie pointed out off in the direction of Boston North Station. “Let’s move forward, shall we?”

Kerry nodded. “We shall.”

 

Kerry’s spoiling Annie with this traveling music thing, don’t you think?  Kerry decides to get meta picking Don’t Look Back by Boston, and it would have only gotten more meta if the song had been on Boston’s first album, which was titled Boston.  As it was this song comes from the second album, Don’t Look Back, so it’s meta in its own way.

One more scene and the kids are back on the reservation; two and they’re gonna be getting those warm drinks and warm blankets–

And as was pointed out, they’ll likely have some warming of their own as well.