Down For the Night In the Allagash

So . . . camping.  I haz it here.  Well, I’ve had it for a few days now, ’cause it seems as if this is all that’s I’ve been writing about for the last few days.  And it is somewhat crazy the amount of stuff I’ve had to look up for what turned out to be a three thousand word scene.  So much to know, I’m telling you.

The scene is finished, by the way.  Almost eleven hundred words were required, but it got there.  This was pretty much all Kerry–pretty much, I say, because at the very end another person enters the stage.  And since everyone knows her, there’s no need for introduction.  Just keep the hissing to a minimum.

 

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

Two small light points hovered at the middle sides of the tent. Emma was sitting up on her cot, her sleeping bag pushed down about mid-torso so she could wear her half-zipped fleece jacket over her thermal undergarments. Her winter flight boots occupied the space between the head of her cot and the front of the tent, and her helmet, balaclava, gloves, and mittens were stuffed inside. Her heavy flying jacket rested on top of the boots; it would remain there until she was ready for bed, at which point she’d lay it over her feet. She looked up as Kerry entered the tent. “Is it still clear outside?”

“Yeah, the sky’s totally clear.” He fastened the outside cover in place and zipped the entrance closed. “At least we don’t have to worry about snow.” He sat on top of his sleeping bag, removed his gloves and mittens, and began undoing his boots. “Just the cold.”

Emma nodded. “Cold I can handle; snow, too.”

“Yeah, you get plenty of that in Bolder.” He set his boots and external gear and accessories aside just as Emma did with hers, then removed his winter flight jacket. Unlike their regular leather flying jackets, their winter flight jackets were like Normal extreme weather parkas outfitted with draw-cords, fastening cuffs, and a hood with a removable fur cuff, and designed to keep them as warm as possible while flying in sub-zero Celsius temperatures. “Man, I’m gonna sleep well tonight.”

“Oh, yeah.” She stretched her arms over her head. “This flying at night is crazy.”

“Yeah, well, we have a couple of winter flights coming up when we get back from Yule.” Kerry began unfasten his flight pants, which besides their undergarments and helmet were the only thing from their normal flight outfits still in use.

“You sure you don’t want me to turn around?” Over the last couple of weeks they’d agreed if they were going to share a tent they couldn’t spend their time worrying about being seen in their undergarments.

“Only if I’m getting down to skin—” He rolled up his pants and stuffed them inside his unzipped sleeping bag. “And I’m not.” He pulled off his fleece mid-layer jacket, rolled it up, and set it inside his sleeping bag as well. “Thanks for putting the hot water bottles in here.”

“That was the deal: while one is prepping outside, the other preps inside.” She glanced up at the ceiling. “Thanks for the lights.”

 

All the stuff I have down about their heavy boots and jackets, the gloves and mittens combos, the fleece jackets over their long undergarments, that’s all legit stuff need for walking around in near-arctic conditions.  I know ’cause I’ve been looking this up like crazy, and even found a few websites that had information.  The sleeping bags are correct for the climate as well, and the deal with putting your clothing and hot water battle inside them–those are tricks that let you sleep comfortably while being outside during the winter.

So when everything starts looking like this, you know?

So when everything starts looking like this, you know?

Since they are layered up, in the morning they can leave the heavy jackets off to the side and walk around with just their fleece and undies on and be comfortable.  Once they are flying they’ll need the heavy outer gear because it’s going to be colder than hell while zipping around at a few hundred kilometers and hour.  When they’re in the arctic they probably will stay bundled up all the time, except for those moments when it’s like a balmy -10 Celsius.

So Kerry’s not embarrassed about undressing in front of girls–I wonder where he got that habit from?  We won’t go there yet, but he does have a few things to say to Emma:

 

“No problem.” Kerry bent his legs, raising his knees to his chest, and spun around until he was looking down the length of his sleeping bag. He slipped his body inside and zipped it most of the way up, pushing it down until it rested mid-torso like Emma’s. “You do need to learn that spell.”

“I know.” Emma looked down, her face growing red. “I just . . . I have a hard time with some of this stuff.”

“Like the fire spell.” Vicky was pushing a minimum set of spells they needed for camping on their own, and being able to create a fire using magic was one of them. At the moment Kerry was the only one in Advance Flight One who could perform the spell, though Elisha and Kalindi were close to crafting it successfully. “You gotta get that one down.”

“Yeah, but you can do it.” Emma leaned towards Kerry. “Why do I need to do it, too?”

“Because what if I got hurt? What if I end up with a concussion or was unconscious?” He looked away for a second. “What if I died?”

Emma’s eyes widened as the embarrassed blush vanished. “Don’t say that.”

A grin spread across Kerry’s face. “I don’t expect to die—at least not this year.” He waved at Emma to alleviate her fears. “I’m just kidding.”

“Well, don’t kid like that.”

“What I’m saying is you need to know that stuff so you don’t rely on me.”

Emma sighed. “I’m just not as good as you.”

“Don’t compare yourself to me—” He nodded towards the door. “Compare yourself to the others. They’re learning, too, and most of them aren’t any better than you.” He laughed. “You have one thing they don’t.”

“What’s that?”

“Me.” He nodded quickly. “When we get back from Yule I’ll help you get them going.”

Emma once again averted her gaze away, embarrassed by the offer. “Thanks.”

 

Like it or not Kerry just laid the “You’re not on my magical level” rap on Emma, but at least she’s smart enough to know it’s totally true.  And thanks to a certain Dark Witch he does know a thing or two about teaching spells to others now.  There was probably a time when he’d never have said anything like what he told Emma in private, and he certainly wouldn’t say it in public, but he is acknowledging that he’s got the mad magical skillz down, which is one of the reasons why Annie and he are sorta in all the advanced classes.

 

“It’s not a problem. I mean—” Kerry hadn’t wanted to bring this up, but it was best to get it out of the way early. “If we do the Express next year, we’ll have to trust each other with our lives. I’ll have to trust mine with yours, and I wanna know I can.” He couldn’t add that he’d already been through this kind of experience . . .

Emma got the message. Her demeanor changed as she looked directly at Kerry. “Okay, I get it. And I agree: I don’t want you out there doubting I can cover your butt.”

He nodded. “You got it.”

“Then we’ll work on that—” She extended her right arm and balled her hand into a fist. “Next year?”

Kerry bumped his right fist against hers. “Next year.” He pulled his tablet out from under his cot and checked the time before shutting it down. “We better get to bed: there’s gonna be a lot of flying tomorrow.”

“Right.” Emma spread out her sleeping bag before setting her jacket across her feet. While Kerry did the same with his jacket she removed her fleece jacket and stuffed it inside her bag. She lay down and zipped herself in, leaving nothing but her face exposed. “I’m ready.”

“Same here.” He waved his hand and extinguished the lights, then settled back and zipped himself up. He rested his head against the built-in pillow, feeling his clothes—heated by the hot water bottles—radiating their heat against his body. “See you in the morning.”

“You know it.”

Kerry rolled slightly to his left, keeping his face away from the exterior of the tent. He heard Emma chuckle as he made himself comfortable. “What is it?”

She let out with a long sigh. “This is the first time I’ve been on your left.”

Kerry chuckled. “So it is.” He closed his eyes and drifted off, thinking it best not to explain the sleeping arrangements he shared with Annie . . .

 

Yeah, best keep that last thought to yourself, Ginger Hair Boy, ’cause most of these kids would freak a bit if they knew about that.  Then again, some of them have to expect something:  after all the B Levels must have noticed that those two didn’t stay with them in a hotel in Boston before flying back to Europe at the end of their A Levels, and those same kids had to of noticed them entering or leaving a single room in Berlin.  Maybe it’s one of those deals where if they don’t talk about it, it hasn’t really happened?  Yeah, that works.

The good nights are spoken.  Tomorrow it’s time to get up, have breakfast, break camp, and head back into the cold blue yonder.

But not before enjoying a tasty mug of the school's famous hot chocolate.

But not before enjoying a tasty mug of the school’s famous hot chocolate.

And the third scene is going to be as different as the first two.  In the first it was mostly Annie with Kerry there, while the second was Kerry’s observations with a bit of Emma thrown in.  Next up are going to be those third party observations, and you’ll finally get to see a little of what’s happening up in the sky, and where this flight has not only been, but where it’s going.

It’s gonna be fun, I promise.

Time to Make the Camp Site

There are real pros and cons to taking a long nap when you get home from work.  The pro is you feel a lot better once it’s over and you’re up.  The downside is that you’re not all that tired when it does become time to turn in and go to sleep.  This is the dilemma I found myself in yesterday after a nap that seemed to stretch on for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  I felt recharged enough to writ about twelve hundred words for my recap, and then another eight hundred for this novel, but when you find it time to go to nodding land, you don’t really want to go.

"If only I hadn't written those last three hundred words!"

“If only I hadn’t written those last three hundred words!”

I did get to sleep, but I expect a bit of a hangover for most of the morning.  At least I’ll be able to head out and do some shopping tonight with a semi-clear head.

This section seemed to come pretty good for me, save for a couple of things which I’ll explain in a bit.  What we have now is the overnight flight has turned the music off, climbed down from their brooms, and they set about the task of making camp:

 

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

As soon as everyone was on the ground the teams went to work. First order was to get up four fires, and that was handled by Nadine and Rivânia. Kerry asked if he could help—he was still the only B Level who could do the Fireball spell—but was told by Vicky to get busy setting up his team’s tent and let the minion handle stoking the fires.

Emma and Kerry, as well as the other teams, went to work unpacking. All their gear—tents, cots, sleeping bags, cooking gear, and clothing—was loaded inside their large, thirty-six liter backpacks using a Compress spell that most students wouldn’t learn until their C Levels, but that the Advanced Flight students were expected to master by the end of their B Levels. Compress was kind of miniaturization spell, one that could make objects smaller with the downside of allowing it to retain ninety percent of its mass.

They removed their mittens and folded back the hoods of their thick white winter jackets. This was the first time they wore the cold weather gear they’d need to be able to live and fly in arctic conditions in the field, and moving about was a slow and sometimes difficult task. Both members of Team Myfanwy considered removing the heavy jackets, but they knew they couldn’t as that was an option they wouldn’t have once they were in conditions far colder than than their current situation.

 

The Compress spell is pretty self explanatory, and it does have a bit of a disadvantage for the kids in that if they’ve got to pack fifteen kilos of gear to lug around on their backs, they’re still gonna feel most of that fifteen kilos.  But shit happens, right?  And the spell to get this stuff up to normal size is below.

The other thing has not been mentioned up to this point, and it’s that the kids are all wearing cold weather gear.  One of the things I’ve done a long time ago is kinda show what that gear looks like, because . . . well, it’ll come to you in time.  Basically they’re wearing a thick sweater garment in place of their normal flight jacket and then, over that, they’re wearing a modern polar jacket with a hood.  They’re wearing the same flight pants, but their boots have been beefed up, and they’re also wearing mittens over their gloves.  It makes things a little clumsy to work in, but they gotta know how to do this.

So the process for getting up the site?  This:

 

They used the Expand spell they’d learned during the last month—though Kerry had already used it well before the end of his A Levels—to return their gear to its original size. Besides each carrying extra changes of clothing, Emma carried the main tent, the tent poles, her cot, and her sleeping bag, while Kerry carried the vestibule, his cot and sleeping bag, the team rations, their cooking gear, and a few miscellaneous items. He floated light points over head so they could see properly, then they got to work. In the last few weeks they’d practiced putting up their tent in the dark, so they knew the routine.

They removed the tent, vestibule, and poles, and began setting up their sleeping area, pushing poles through tent eyes, then driving and securing them into the ground. Once the tent was in place Kerry worked on attaching the vestibule while Emma assembled the cots just outside the tent and moving them inside once her work was completed. Kerry attached the vestibule and fastened it to the ground while Emma set their cooking gear and rations aside before setting up the portable camp toilet behind a nearby tree. The last act was for Emma to roll out each sleeping back on their cots while Kerry set up a levitated ground cloth upon which to lay their brooms and backpacks.

After just twenty-five minutes their tent was ready for occupation.

With the fires going, everyone brought out their small folding chairs and set them up so each team could set about cooking their evening meal. No one had eaten since lunch, and while most fliers had brought snacks, the cold weather gear their wore on the flight up prevented them prevented them from eating while airborne. Kerry and Emma used their cooking equipment to heat up their meals, which were items packaged by the kitchen for this overnight expedition. While the meals weren’t nearly as tasty as the fair they would have enjoyed had they remained at Salem, they were designed to be high in calories and filling.

It was nearing twenty-one thirty by the time meals were over and cooking gear was cleaned and stowed. Before people began heading to their tents for the evening, Kerry brought out something he’d been given before leaving: a container full of banitsa that Annie had asked the kitchen to prepare that day. There was one for every person in the flight, and was surprised when everyone not only took one, but ate them as well. He’d expect there’d be at least one or two leftovers, but at this point in the evening, with everyone tired and cold, anything resembling a desert was welcome.

 

There you go:  a real team effort between Emma and Kerry, and one that they can sort of do for real when it’s needed.  And the “missing person” of Advanced flight sent along a bit of her homeland with banitsa for all!  Nice of Annie to do that, but there is probably one banitsa in there meant for a special person . . .

Now, here’s where I did something different.  As I was writing I decided that I didn’t like the first three paragraph–no, let me rephrase that.  I didn’t like where they were as written, so what I did, ’cause you can in a computer, is move to to this point in the story and rewrite them a bit.  Rather than have your go back a couple of days to the originals, I brought them here for you to see.

This was how they looked in their original form:

 

Kerry waved his hand in the direction of one of the camp fires and crafted a spell to pull oxygen away from the flames and smother them, which was far better than dumping water and using up fluids that could be needed later. It didn’t matter that there was a lake only a dozen meters away: Kerry not only knew it was easier to use magic to put out a fire, but he didn’t feel like filling up a container and bring it back to do the job he was now performing with the wave of his hand.

He looked up through the slight gap in the trees seeing if the stars were out. At the moment there was nothing but overcast, something they were told to expect after twenty-one. It was like this when they left the school: cloudy, dark, and growing colder.

He tidied up a few things and stored what little trash there was in a lock bag that he’d stuff in his backpack before heading off to bed. Kerry adjusted the collar of his flying jacket as the cold once more encroached upon the campsite as his mind drifted back to their flight north—

 

And how they now look re-positioned and rewritten:

 

Vicky called lights out at twenty-two and ordered everyone to their tents, letting them know they’d need to be up about five-thirty so they could begin preparing for the day. Kerry waved his hand in the direction of one of the camp fires and crafted a spell to pull oxygen away from the flames and smother them, which was far better than dumping water and using up fluids that could be needed later. It didn’t matter that there was a lake only a dozen meters away: He knew it was not only easier to use magic to put out a fire, but he didn’t feel like filling up a container and bring it back to do the job he was now performing with the wave of his hand.

He looked up through the slight gap in the trees seeing if the stars were out. At the moment there was nothing but overcast, something they were told to expect after twenty-one. It was like this when they left the school: cloudy, dark, and growing colder. He tidied up a few things and stored what little trash there was in a lock bag that he’d stuff in his backpack before heading off to bed. Kerry adjusted the collar of his jacket as the cold once more encroached upon the campsite and allowed his thoughts to first drifted back to their flight north, and then on to Annie. He wondered what she was doing and if she was alone. They’d promised not to get upset over being separated for one night, and would make the most of his return tomorrow. He whispered a good night and love to his soul mate before entered his tent’s vestibule. He zipped the outer door closed, tapped his hand three times against the tent door to announce his presence, unzipped the door and entered.

 

Much nicer, I think, and it makes far more sense now.  It’s also a good lead-in to the last part of the scene, and I’m guessing most of you can figure out what’s coming next–

You're not going to find it here, however.

You’re not going to find it here, however.

It was a good night to write, and mostly pain free.  Mostly.  I’ll try not to be in pain when I write tonight.

I promise you this.