This morning had a definitely The Mist quality going on, with fog so thick I couldn’t see the river from my apartment. Though it’s pretty much burned off right now, for a while I was looking for Dale, Andrea, and Carol to see if they were about, which would likely mean I was about to be eaten by some creature from another dimension, but all was good. Life goes on.
Yesterday was a lot of sitting around fighting off what felt like an oncoming cold, and I report that all is good today. I also washed all my panties, because I don’t want to do that when I’m home in Indiana, I just wanna take with me what I need this time. But I wrote: started in the afternoon, took a nap, had dinner, but all the while I kept the story up and slowly wrote. I went slow because I changed things as I went along, looked things up, and generally changed paragraphs as I went along.
It’s not usual for me to write like this, particularly on the weekends, but I wanted to finish the scene. I’d already spent yesterday morning writing five hundred and twenty-seven words, and I knew I’d need to write a lot more, so I did: sixteen hundred and fifty-four by about ten PM last night. That’s a two thousand word day, and that’s something I haven’t done in a while, only because I’m usually dead by six PM any more.
A twenty-seven hundred word penultimate scene, and one to go for the chapter, part, and act. There’s also this:
Knockin’ on Eighty Thousand’s Door.
If you do the math I’m one hundred and thirty-nine words from eighty thousand total. Which I will do today, for sure. And this is the short part; the part before ran almost forty thousand word, and if this part had went the same length, I’d have a one hundred thousand word act on my hands. I do believe Act Two will be a long one, though Act Three could be pretty hefty as well. No matter what: the end of this act is about fifteen hundred words in the future, and if I have nothing to do today, I can finish it off. If not, I can do so tomorrow. But it’s right here, and I feel good about this milestone.
What interesting things are happening in this scene? Well, I did set things up to put Annie and Kerry alone with the rest of the B Levels . . .
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
Annie looked a bit sheepish. “I thought my privacy spell would have kept her from hearing us.”
Kerry shrugged. “If she were mad, I think she would have said something before leaving.” He tried to appear unconcerned. “I guess we’re the sorceress on the scene.”
Annie grinned. “For the moment.” She turned to face the rest of the room—half the class was ignoring them; the other half were glaring at them. “I’m not sure I like the current mood in here.”
He examined the other students. “Yeah. The temperature here seems to have turned chilly all of a sudden.” He turned his back on the class as he whispered to Annie. “You wanna split up and wander about or . . ?”
Annie wasn’t certain what they should do. On the occasions in the past where Helena had left the room, she always said she’d return momentarily and left the class to their own devices. This was the first time Helena had indicated someone was in charge of the class while she was away. “I think we should keep doing what we were doing. I don’t see any reason to change.”
Keep to the status quo: what’s working before should keep working until The Big Bad Witch gets back. However, someone’s already ready to mess things up . . .
Franky Smith slapped his dish, nearly sending it spinning off his work counter. “Screw this, man.”
She knew she shouldn’t respond, but Annie also felt a responsibility to help where possible. She stopped her slow stroll and turned to the Canadian boy. “Do you need help, Franky?”
He didn’t look in Annie’s direction as he replied. “No.”
“Are you sure?” She started moving towards his seat. “You almost had—”
Franky spun around in his chair. “I don’t want your help, okay?”
Annie stopped a few meters away and took measures to keep her face passive. “I’m only offering some assistance, Franky.”
His voice dropped while his tone turned abrasive. “Did I ask for your assistance, huh? No.” He turned away from Annie and faced forward once more. “Find someone else to bother.”
She was about to walk away when Fidele Diaz turned to covenmate Gavino D’Addario on his right and mumbled loud enough to be heard by most others in the room. “Not very good at running the class, is she?”
Gavino chuckled. “Better not argue with one of Lovecraft’s pets—” He glanced over his shoulder. “She’ll turn you into a newt.”
“Naw.” Fidele shook his head. “That’s her boyfriend’s job.”
Gavino nodded back. “When he’s not running from monsters—”
Both boys chuckled before Fidele added to Gavino’s thought. “Another of his talents.”
The shade throwing is officially in session, and in case you need some reminding, Fidele is the kid who started the whole “Lovey Dovey Couple” stuff, so he doesn’t mind throwing out a few putdowns. And throwing out some trash talk is easy to do when you spent the same time sitting on your butt in a room under your tower protected by a big blue bubble of magical energy. Not one of these kids saw this creature–save for Emma, and there’s a reason she’s not speaking up right now, which you’ll discover in a later scene.
There is, however, someone else who wants to throw in their two cents–
She’d begun walking away when another voice joined the conversation—one she was coming to loath. “You guys left off his best quality—” Annie turned just enough to see Lisa effecting an exaggerated pout before whimpering like someone crying.
Annie was about to say something to Lisa when Franky rejoined the conversation. “Hey, Lisa: you wanna go with me into Salem this Sunday?” Several B Levels were going on an escorted trip to Salem on Sunday for lunch, shopping, and to get away from the school for a few hours.
Lisa faced him and tried her best to look coy. “Are you asking me out, Franky?”
“Yeah, I am.” He leaned in her direction. “We can go to Starbucks: I’ll buy you a Frappuccino.”
Lisa beamed as she batted her eyes at the boy, He gaze shifted to Annie for but a moment before she gave her reply. “I’d love to. Just make sure you don’t cry.” She looked directly at Annie. “I’m not into whinny, sensitive guys.”
Oh, look: Lisa’s got a date. Isn’t that nice . . . Good thing she doesn’t like sensitive guys, ’cause Franky is setting himself up as a total dick, so he’s probably a perfect match for this little mean girl witch that Lisa’s embracing. Yes, people noticed that Kerry had a lot of cases of leaky eyes during his A Levels, and Lisa doesn’t mind driving home that fact.
Annie’s remained quiet–as has Kerry–because they’re both not sure if they can tell students to shut the hell up. But Annie does try to stem the flow just a little–
Before Franky could answer Annie move up behind him. “You should get back to your spell.” He looked to her left and right. “All of you should.”
A silence of almost five seconds filled the room, and Annie began to wonder who would be the first to speak. She wasn’t disappointed . . .
“Go away, Annie.” Lisa leaned against her work desk. “We weren’t talking to you.”
“You’re not supposed to be talking to anyone.” She turned to Franky. “Please work on your spell.”
Lisa wasn’t finished. “Don’t you get it? No one cares what you want. You may think you’re some kind of hot shit, but you’re not.” She tiled her head to the left and crossed her eyes. “Maybe I should say it in Bulgarian so you’ll understand?”
Annie consider a retort that wouldn’t involve telling Lisa to shut up—which, she realized, would probably lead to another exchange of words—when Franky settled the matter for her. “Just go—” He gave Annie a disgusted look. “If I want your help I’ll ask.”
You have to give Annie credit: she came close to bleeding out one student, and was within seconds of lighting up Lisa, and not she’s getting shit from another student who’s telling her to walk away. She’s getting far better at holding back her homicidal tendencies–
She stared at Franked for a few seconds before deciding this confrontation wasn’t worth her time. Wednesday’s words from yesterday morning came back to her: It’s not personal: it’s just the way things are. This wasn’t a fight she needed, nor would making a scene solve the situation.
Instead Annie drew in a breath and met Franky’s gaze. “I see.” With that she walked away, feeling nearly every set of eyes on her as she approached Kerry.
He didn’t make an attempt to comfort her: he was aware that now wasn’t the time. He did want to know how she felt, however. “You good?”
She nodded. “I’m fine.” She nodded to the class behind her without taking her eyes off Kerry’s comforting face. “Nothing personal.”
“Well—” He touched her shoulder, the first personal touch either of them had made since class started. “It’s not like you have to worry about C Level sorcery, right?”
One could argue that Kerry should have kept his mouth shut, but he threw out some trash of his own, probably because he’s in the mood to throw out a mild zinger of his own–one that doesn’t go unnoticed:
Franky’s head whipped around. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Kerry shrugged. “It means what it means.”
Franky raised his voice as Kerry began turning away. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you’re an idiot, Franky.” Kerry slowly turned to face the belligerent boy, taking in the entire class in one sweep. He raised his voice only enough so there wasn’t any doubt of being heard. “It means you’re struggling with a spell that Annie figure out a year ago by reading a book. It means she’s a good teacher, ‘cause she taught me, and if you weren’t all the way up your butt you might a figured that out.” He raised his arm in an exaggerated shrug. “So like, you know, she—” He pointed at Annie on his left. “—doesn’t have to worry about C Level sorcery, ‘cause she already knows a spell that most of you won’t master until our D Levels. Do I need to draw a diagram for you, genius?” He cocked his head to the left in an imitation of what Lisa did to Annie and spoke in a strangely accented voice. “Or should I said it again in Canadian so you’ll understand, eh?”
Franky seemed almost ready to get out of his chair and start a fight, but Kerry turned away and started towards the front of the room. Annie was there with him, on his left between him and the class. She didn’t look over her shoulder; she didn’t want another confrontation. She want to go back to wandering the class and not caring if the students worked on the spell—
Kerry used the stereotypical “Hey, take off, hoser” accent when throwing that last put-down at Franky, and this is probably the first time he’s ever told someone to just shut the hell up. It’s also the first time he’d defended Annie, though he did it in a way that didn’t make her look as if she needed his protection: as he might say, “I was just stating facts.” And there was nothing he said that wasn’t a lie.
So that’s the end of the cutdowns, right? Oh, sure . . .
“What kind of loser gives a book as a birthday present?”
Annie kept walking, not looking back, and though Kerry did the same, she heard his slow exhale, sensed his tensing. She’d mentioned the present to a few of the instructors, and they’d both spoken to the Advanced Spells class when Nadine asked if Annie had received a present for her birthday. I don’t think she’d say anything to anyone, not intentionally, but Rivânia’s in Åsgårdsreia and Pang’s in Ceridwen with Franky. They must have spoken with a few of their levelmates, and the story filtered down the tower—
“How lame is that crap? I can see it now—” Lisa pretended to hand something to an unseen person. “Oh, my Sweetie Honey, I bought you the most wonderful gift.”
Franky clutched his hands and pressed them against his cheek. “Oh, my lovey, my wonderful lovely dovey—”
Several of the students in the room laughed, and Lisa fed off the feeling. “I’m not good with presents—” She pretended to sniffle. “—but I have this—” The boo-hoos came next. “—this gift for you—” Lisa broke down into pretend sobs. “—I’m so different, so strange . . .”
“Oh, Ker-ree.” Franky spoke in an exaggerated version of Annie’s normal accent. “Oh, my lovey boy, you aure no not struang—”
“Oh, my Swww-swweettie.” Lisa rested her head against her desk, pretending to blubber. “You are—the only one—”
Moment of truth, here: I hated writing this part. I needed to show that Lisa is a little bitch and that her teasing, and that of a few others, could border on bullying. I hated writing this because I do remember the times when I was teased for crying, and even being teased into crying, and any time you have to delve back into that circle of hell that was your tween and early teen years, you’re setting yourself up for some hurt.
No one in that room know the actual feelings that exist between Annie and Kerry, and damn sure none of them understand the symbolism of the gift he gave Annie. All these festering masses of raging hormones see is some weird-ass boy who spent a good portion of his A Levels crying at the drop of a hat gifting a book to some spooky-ass girl who the majority of the class view as a stuck-up Ice Princess. And the fact that more than a few levelmates are laughing at the interaction between Lisa and Franky shows they aren’t like Coraline and Deanna and Erywin and a lot of other instructors and staff. They don’t view their relationship as romantic: they view it as a joke.
They’ll never understand my kids.
Say . . . aren’t we missing someone? You bet we are–
“What the hell is going on?” Helena’s entrance was precipitated by the soft pop of her jaunting into the room near the door. “You think you can screw around the moment I’m out of the room and I won’t know?” She tisk tisked the class before turning to Annie and Kerry, who were standing off to one side seeming a bit tense. “Did anyone ask for help with the class assignment?”
Annie turned her head so she could see the Head Sorceress better. “No, Professor.”
Kerry didn’t look at Helena. “No, Professor.”
Helena pifted. “How the hell am I gonna make sorceresses out of this lot?” She pointed at Lisa, and then at the cowering Franky. “Get your asses to my office now and stay there. I’ll be along as soon as I’ve finished here.” She nodded towards the now opening door. “And you better hope I don’t turn you over to Jessica for punishment, ‘cause she’ll turn you both into a goddamn sofa for her office for the weekend.”
I have to really show this soon: never mess with the Mistress of Transformation.
She waited until Lisa and Franky were out of the class before she addressed the remaining students. “Okay, since you’re got time to laugh your asses off, let’s see if any of you learned anything.” Helena began turning towards her minions. “You better impress me, ‘cause I’m suddenly in the mood to hand out a shitload of detention.”
While her message sank in she joined her minions on the far side of the room. “You both don’t need to stick around.” She turned to Annie. “Why don’t you take Kerry down to the Black Vault and show him around?”
Both of Annie’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “He’s not permitted to enter.”
“He is now.” She gave them a wink and a grin. “Go on. After I’m done with those two idiots in my office I’ll come down and we’ll talk about what happened here. Just know—” She gave them both a pat on their shoulders. “I didn’t give permission to do what was needed to take care of—well, what was going on when I popped in—”
Annie nodded slowly. “Professor?”
“Did you do this to test us?”
Helena’s expression didn’t change for the three seconds she maintained eye contact with Annie. She finally turned to Kerry. “You okay?”
He stared at the Head Sorceress, his green eyes hard with an unknown emotion. “I’m all right.”
Helena knew better than to pursue this line, and felt it better to leave him in better hands. “Okay, you guys. I’ll see you in a bit.”
This now begs the question: was that a test? Helena was already aware that the majority of the class wasn’t happy with her choice of minions, and she may have suspected that if she were out of the room for a bit a few of the troublemakers would let the true colors shine. Helena must have Far Sight, so she could probably go anywhere in the Witch House that isn’t heavily shielded and continue watching the classroom–proving that these little teen witches don’t think about how far one can go with magic–not only to see who was going to be a pain in the ass, but how her two minions would react.
You have to wonder if Annie and Kerry were running the A good sorceress keeps their wits about them when everything is going to hell around them mantra the whole time students made fun of them. Kerry didn’t cry, but it’s pretty evident he locked himself down so he didn’t lose his cool–and seeing how he was bleeding out homunculi just a few days before, he might have wanted to give the class a practical demonstration of that particular spell. And Annie–enough said. At this point it’s a given she could light up Lisa and/or Franky and put them in the hospital for an overnight stay, and then head off to lunch like it was no big deal.
Helena is always training sorceresses, even when said kids are leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else. She isn’t always going to tell you what she’s testing, it seems. But is Kerry getting access to the Black Vault a reward for not killing any students? Maybe. Maybe not.
Maybe we’ll find out more during shopping . . .