Setting the Baseline: I See ICU

Well, it’s been a quiet morning here at the house, but now it’s time to get to the blog post.  In getting to the blog post means getting to the next excerpt, which means getting to the end of the last chapter.  And it’s about time on that, too, because I’m continuing to move ahead to the next chapter even though I didn’t write much last night.  Lazy time at the beginning of the year, I know.

So now we’re headed off to the hospital and it probably doesn’t take a genius to figure out why they’re going there–

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

“Because Coraline wants to–see if I’m eating right?”

Yeah, Kerry.  It’s all about your diet.

So let’s see what’s going down in the hospital–or as Kerry calls it, “My second home away from home.”

 

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

 

Nurse Bianca Gaillard heard the main doors for the entrance to Salem’s hospital open just as she was about to step out of the first floor ward. Since she was aware of both appointments this early Saturday morning, and the first appointment had arrived thirty minutes earlier, it only reason that the second appointment of the morning it arrived.

She stopped in the passage between the ward in the doctor’s office and looked into the waiting room. She was correct: the other appointments for this morning it arrived. She glided into the waiting room and put on her best friendly nurse’s smile. “Punctual as always, I see.”

Kerry returned the smile while his arm remained wrapped around Annie’s waist. “We always do our best, Nurse Bianca.”

Annie didn’t attempt to move where she was leaning into Kerry shoulder. “How are you doing, Nurse Bianca?”

“I’m doing quite well. It’s good to see you both again. Did you have a nice holiday?”

Kerry glanced down at the floor though the smile remained on his face. “It was—eventful.”

Annie nodded. “Mine was somewhat eventful as well.” She finally slipped out of Kerry’s grasp and took hold of his hand. “Is Doctor Gallagher around?”

“She’s in ICU but she left instructions for you to come right up as soon as you arrived.” Nurse Bianca took a half step backwards and pointed toward the south end of the ward.

“You know how to operate the lift, don’t you, Annie?”

“I believe so.” She turned on Kerry’s arm. “Come along, my love.”

 

So here we have Kerry standing around with his arm wrapped around Annie like he’s an octopus and she’s some tasty morsel.  This is happened a couple of times already in this novel, and it’s a growing indication that there moving beyond the hand holding.  I mean, if you going to do public displays of affection, don’t hide it.  Not that these two ever did.  But when you got your arm locked around the waist of your girlfriend, it truly says, “This one is mine.”

Now that were passed the Gatekeeper, what does the Keymaster have to say?

 

Kerry chuckled as they walked past Nurse Bianca. “Nurse Annie’s got this.” They quickly left behind the smiling AP nurse and were soon at the far end of the regular ward and entering the Commons area. It was here that the bathrooms as well as a large table and chairs for eating were located, but beyond these was the simple levitation lift that went from the lower level morgue to the large private area occupying the third floor.

Annie saw the open area shimmer as the lift enchantment detected their approach. The air seems to solidify for second as they stepped on what appeared to be a simple gray floor. She turned to her left as a control panel materialized. “Second floor, please: activate.” The moment later they began rising slowly.

Kerry had only been on the lift a couple of times but this was the first time he’d taken it without either a nurse or Coraline with him. He glanced over at Annie. “I take it this thing is keyed to your voice?”

“I was given access last year.”

“So why did Bianca make show of asking if you knew how to operate it?”

Annie gave Kerry’s hand a squeeze as she leaned her head against his shoulder. “We have to keep up appearances in case other students had walked in, my love. Coraline would like for people to not know I have this sort of access to the hospital, least they find something else to complain about.” The list stopped in the second floor Commons area. She gave Kerry’s hand a gentle tug. “Let’s go find the good doctor.”

“The good Doctor is down here.” Coraline leaned out of a bay at the far end of the ICU. “Come on down, I’m just finishing up here.”

They made their way to the far end of the ICU: Kerry decided to make their presence known before they stepped into sight. “I hope were not—”

The ICU bay was much like the bays on the first floor ward: there were two beds with a space between them, with equipment fastened to the wall above each bed. The big difference here lay in the equipment, which was designed to monitor patient more closely as well as deal with life-threatening injuries.

There was another difference as well: Coraline wasn’t alone. She stood near a bank of equipment on the right side of the bay as she ran her sensor spell over a prosthetic leg. And on the right bed sat the owner of the prosthetic leg: Head Sorceress Helena Lovecraft, dressed in a hospital gown in seeming completely unconcerned that she was being seen with only her right prosthetic leg attached.

She looked up into the concerned faces of two of her favorite students. “We shouldn’t be much longer; maybe another five minutes, max.”

Though by now both Annie and Kerry were aware that Helena possessed prosthetic legs, this was the first time they had seen her without one or both attached. There was something, however, that Annie remembered right away… “I thought you had your legs regrown over the summer?”

 

We heard that Helena was going in to get her legs back.  We also heard that there were some issues about it over the summer.  And now it appears that she didn’t get them back–or did she?  Either way, as stated in the above excerpt, this is the first time the kids have ever seen Helena with one of her prosthetics removed.  Though neither one of them seemed that shocked, since they know that she lost her legs some years before.  I’m sure they both realize this is something that could also happen to them: after all, a Guardian’s life isn’t going to always be a pleasant one.

Must be why they get paid the big bucks…

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Forever In the Bay

Chapter Twenty-nine and Part Eight are complete, done, finito, baby.  Just as Chapter Twenty-seven started out with short, eight hundred and fifty-one word intro, Chapter Twenty-nine ended with an even shorter, seven hundred and thirty-five word exit.  Chapter Twenty-nine is one of the shortest in a long time, as it came in at just under nine thousand words.  Like I always say, a scene takes as many words as it takes to finish.

The dream is over so there remains only one thing to do:  talk about it.  And that happens here in the middle of the night, and in its entirety.

 

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

The scene before Annie’s now open eyes was one she knew well: the darkness of Bay #1. The lights were as they’d set them when they crawled into bed, the soft glow of the overhead monitors—but most of all, the warmth of the person beside her

Kerry moved slight, and the sound he made was enough to tell her he was awake. She rolled over and gazed into the face resting up the same pillow as hers. “How are you feeling?”

He took a slow breath as he adjusted his head. “I feel okay.” He glanced upward and smiled. “Better than I have in the last few months.”

She ran her right hand over his left. “I’m glad.”

“Yeah.” He turned his gaze back to her. “She’s a part of me now.”

“She always was, my love.” Annie kissed his cheek. “And she’s not only a part of you, but she’s a part of me as well.” She wrapped her fingers around his. “Lifeline to lifeline, remember?”

“How could I not?” He closed his eyes for a few seconds. “How are you feeling?”

“Good.” She gave her head a tiny shake. “I don’t have to worry any more.”

“About?”

“You. I know everything you know. I know what’s coming, and I know what to expect.”

“Which is—” He searched for the word. “Comforting.” Kerry glanced up at the clock. “Zero twelve.”

Annie rolled over to see for herself. “Just after midnight.” She rolled back so to face Kerry. “Almost a full day since you woke me from this dream.”

“No need to wake you again.” He chuckled. “Though Coraline is gonna wake us up in about three hours—”

“Which means we should go back to sleep.” She caressed his check. “Are you going to have trouble?”

“No.” He took her hand and kissed her fingers. “No, I’m good.”

Annie watched him for a few seconds. She felt the smile coming despite her effort to keep a straight face. “You’re not closing your eyes.”

“I just realized—” He touched his chest. “The countdown has started.”

“Not just for you—” She took his hand and placed it against her chest. “It’s started for me as well, my love. And no matter where you are when this transition occurs, I’ll be there with you right to the end of however long it takes before you can transition back.” She kissed him again, only this time it was on the lips and she held the kiss for nearly five comforting seconds. “I’ll always be here.”

He closed his eyes and sighed. “I’m too lucky to have you in my life.”

“As you tell me, I’m the lucky one.” This time she kissed his nose. “We need to get back to sleep.”

“You’re right.” He waited for her to spin around so she could cuddle back into him before laying his arm over her torso. “Maybe Coraline will let us sleep in today.”

“Perhaps.” Annie wanted to stop their conversation now, for she was certain if she didn’t Kerry would end up talking for another thirty or forty minutes. “Leka nosht, moya skŭpotsenna lyubov.”

Kerry nuzzled his face against her hair. “Leka nosht, moya malŭk sarmi.”

Annie lay still trying to give the impression she was dozing off to sleep. Within a few minutes she heard Kerry’s breathing slow and felt his arm grow limp, and she knew he was drifting off to sleep, or was almost there. It didn’t matter: either way he’d not wake again until Coraline came in to find out if he’d had the dream.

He was asleep until then.

She closed her eyes and relaxed under he weight of his arm. Annie cleared her mind and put the events of this day behind her, just as she’d done nearly a year and a half earlier in this same bed.

She reflected how that long day in November had changed not only Kerry’s life but hers as well—and life was repeating itself once more, as they learned tonight how much their lives were changing forever . . .

Annie gently took Kerry’s hand and lightly kissed his fingers before she settled in for a few hours of rest. A moment before sleep took her one last thought entered her mind: How many more months are going to pass before we’re back in this bed finding our lives changed forever again?

She would wait to discover that answer.

 

How many more moments until there’s another day that will change you’re lives? Oh–

Probably just a few months until you wake up next to this, Annie.

Probably just a few months until you wake up next to this, Annie.

So we see a pattern developing from the first book.  First, a quoting of a line from The Princess Bride (“I’m not a witch, I’m your wife.”), then Annie’s birthday, and now a single day that really changes their lives considerable.  And since I’ve got this damn long game of a story plotted out at least until they’re out of school, every Level sees an event that goes down in the course of a day–or at least twenty-four hours–and said event is going to lay some major changes on their lives.  Which means all of these things that have happened in this and the last book will happen in the next novel, so get to figuring what kind of present Annie’s getting and what sort of “crazy day” these kids are gonna have next year.

And because I was asked . . . since a request has been made for “hints” to the next story, I’m going to give them at some point, but in my own way.  Just like I cut a “movie trailer” for the first novel, I’ll do the same for this novel and cut another for the third.  I’m already going over things in my head for what will be in the third trailer, as I don’t want to give away the story, so what you’ll end up reading is going to get presented without proper context behind what you “see”, so it’ll either end up confusing the hell out of people, or scare the hell out of them.

Either way, it’ll be fun.

Now, what remains?  Three Parts, Six Chapters.  That’s it.  Each of the remaining Parts has two Chapters, and there’s a good bet this Third Act is gonna top out at somewhere around one hundred thousand words.  “Just”.  You gotta love that part.  Anyway, what do I have planed?

Well, one chapter is behind, but another is ahead, that's for sure.

Well, one chapter is behind, but another is ahead, that’s for sure.

Part Nine is all about flying, and Chapter Thirty is all about Annie.  I may be wrong, but I believe she has a solo flight coming up–

And it’s gonna be a good one.

Prelude to Dreamland: Up to the Next Level

This is going to be a busy week.  Tonight I have notes to take for a show recap I’m going to write tomorrow, and maybe after  I write that recap I’ll run out after that and pick up a few groceries to get me through the next few days, then come back and write some more in the novel, then sit down Thursday and create a couple of documents this week as “wish lists” for what I hope to see come out of the next couple of months of show’s I’m gong to recap.

That’s going to be me from the middle of April until the middle of June.  On top of all the other stuff I deal with, like work and my other writings.

This will be me in about another two hours, albeit with a lot less cleavage.

Wednesday:  that brief lull in time and space between the zombies and the clones.

Speaking of this other writing I do, the next step in the next scene has gone down to the tune of a little over seven hundred and fifty words.  It’s likely I would have done more, but crazy me, I decided to get involved in a pissing contest last night and that dragged me into some drama that derailed my train of thought.  Yeah, I know:  bad me.  I shouldn’t allow that to happen.  But it did, and I do.  Live and learn.

Anyway, what’s up with the kids?  Well, the next floor, it seems . . .

 

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

They followed Coraline to the lift and rode it in silence up to the next floor. As they walked through the waiting area Kerry saw how different the bays here were compared to the ones just below on the first floor. The beds seemed a bit smaller but more plush. The lighting was more subdued but the floor didn’t appear enveloped in shadow, as if the light came from indirect locations and not from point sources. The bays were nearly twice the size of the ones on the first floor, and each one possessed a lot more equipment: some were easily identifiable as monitors, there were a few things he couldn’t place.

Annie glanced to her left and right and didn’t bother trying to make guesses. “What this area?”

“Intensive Care Unit.” Coraline indicated open bay on either side of the ward corridor. “Six bays, twelve beds, and—” She half-turned and pointed down the corridor to a glassed-in room at the end of the ward. “The operating theater, just in case I gotta open someone up and fix things that way.”

Kerry almost whistled. “You do that?”

“When necessary. I haven’t had the need in a while, but there have been a few instances where I’ve had to get inside someone and poke around.” She took a slow, deep breath as she tapped her hips. “There is where you come when you’ve got most of both feet on the other side of The Curtain and are about to push through The Veil.” She lowered her voice, more out of habit than fear they were going to be overheard. “It’s where I bring our occasional suicide attempt so we can give them an opportunity to chill and get help before heading back out with the rest of the student body.”

“Does that happen often?” Kerry felt a sudden unease over the possibility that someone he knew may have been here for a day or more because the pressures of class.

Coraline nodded towards the bay on the children’s right. “Bay Five, please. You guys can sit on Bed Two.” She sat on the bed on the left—#1, numbered the same as below—while Annie and Kerry sat on the edge of the bed across from here. “Let me fill you in on what we discussed, Kerry. First of all, we’re certain you’re going to have the same dream tonight.”

He stared at the floor while nodding. “I think so, too.”

 

It was stated prior to this that the ICU existed in the space between the main ward on the first floor and the third floor private holding area.  This is where you come when you’re in really bad shape:  like dying-time-is-here shape.  And Coraline can even operate on you if the need arises, ’cause sometimes you gotta get in there and see what you’re using magic to fix.

She also brings up another point:  every so often there’s a suicide attempt because you’re not just dealing with witches, you’re dealing with teen witches, and that means you get to deal with all the dramatic bullshit that goes with being a teen.  It’s not unusual that some kids get way bent out of shape due to the pressure, and when they feel like they can’t take it any more, they may head off looking for a way out.  The thing with this school, however, is that one doesn’t have to be a cutter, or OD on pills, to kill yourself at Salem:  there are lots of ways to end one’s life, and most of them–if you know what you’re doing–take but a few seconds.  Think about it:  any one doubt that what Annie can do to others she could also do to herself?  And we won’t even get into what one can do with transformation magic . . .

Now that I have that happy info out of the way, it’s time for Coraline to get down to brass tacks:

 

“Since you know what’s coming, and what to expect, no one thinks you’ll have a problem. Now, since no one has ever recorded what happens to someone when this secondary aura integrates with the primary one, so I’m gonna have all the monitors running on you tonight. Not only that, but Isis is setting up six Spyeyes in Bay One right now, so I’ll get recordings of both your physical and astral forms.” Coraline nodded towards Annie. “And, yes: I know you’ll be sleeping next to him. Trust me, no one will care.

“Tomorrow, the Headmistress, Erywin, and me are meeting with officials in Paris. We’re going to tell them what we know, what is happening with you, and what is going to happen—”

Annie took Kerry’s hand. “Have you figured out how to keep The Foundation from intruding too much into Kerry’s life?”

Coraline’s face lit up. “Erywin figured it out. She’s going to report that as Kerry is csimale, whenever he transitions over to his female form he is essentially considered a transmale, and therefore he is afforded any and all LGBTAIQ protections. That means if certain people in The Foundation start getting too inquisitive, Erywin will step in and tell them to back off.”

Kerry knew that as much as these actions would help him maintain his privacy, but he was smart enough to know there would be some kind of trade off. “Am I gonna have to do something in return?”

“Yes, but it’s not going to be a lot.” Coraline crossed her legs at the ankles. “We’ll propose biannual physicals that we’ll conduct here, at the school, so there isn’t any unnecessary prying: I’m suggesting that I conduct them in October and April, and that all data collected from those examinations be stored here as well.

“There’s also—” She spent a moment clearing her throat. “Not only are you the first person who we’re having the opportunity to examine before this aural merging, but you’re the first one The Foundation has had the chance to monitor in the period of time prior to the involuntary transition.” Coraline reached inside her jacket and removed a round metal container about eight centimeters across. She popped it over and removed a thin parchment maybe five centimeters in diameter. “That’s where this comes into play.”

 

So, Erywin has a plan to keep the nosy people at bay, and Coraline’s going to set up a program to ensure The Foundation gets medical data from Kerry, but that she controls how it’s handled.

But what’s this last thing she literally pulls out of her pocket?  Well . . . you know the routine by now, don’t you?

Prelude to Dreamland: Back in the Back of the Ward

There isn’t any snow outside, though on Friday I heard people at work promising that snow was a-coming.  I was right, they was wrong, and now I gotta figure out what I’m gonna wear to work today, though I got a good idea about what it’ll be.  Still, though:  do not doubt me when I say the snow isn’t coming.  Don’t ever doubt it.

I was back in the maps for a little while yesterday afternoon, mostly because I was figuring out some of these side trips for my kids when the time comes for them to finally get a summer together and to take a trip.  Some of them are rather interesting, and one of these days, maybe two, three years from now I’ll write about that.  Yeah, I know:  that’s a long ways off in the future, and I may not be around even.  Well, I don’t have a time machine, so it’s impossible to go back and write these so everyone’s getting them now.

The question did come up about would they be traveling alone or with a chaperon.  And the answer is–not the first option.  Remember, they aren’t part of Normal society, they just live there.  Also, The Foundation has different rules about their people that we do, and part of the schooling at Salem is for kids to go off for a year on The Foundation’s dime and spend it traveling the world doing whatever they like–while they are seventeen and eighteen years of age.  For someone like Kerry this means spending most of that Real Life Experience–as it’s called–technically as a minor, but The Foundation doesn’t worry about that ’cause reasons.

The last thing to remember is that, as pointed out in other areas, The Foundation hides in plain sight, and you’d be surprised how many places have little tie-ins here and there to those world-watching witches.  Hotels, stores, restaurants–I mean, you’re already seen the Sea Sprite Inn, the bed and breakfast where they have a kinda-hidden floor reserved just for witches.  That’s just a small example:  think bigger and remember The Foundation got its start in Europe.

The biggest issue that could play out in my kids taking a trip on their own as teenagers can be expressed in one word:  hormones.  As in they have them.  But then, they’re away at school for nine months out of a year, and they have a private lab in the lower levels of their coven tower, and Annie found them a hidey-hole off in the tunnels under the grounds, and what could happen in a hotel room in Europe that can’t happen behind the walls of Salem?

Anyway, I wouldn’t worry about that stuff now.  It’s going to happen at some point in their future, and they’ll be wiser and probably a hell of a lot deadlier than they are now.  I’d be less worried about them, um, “exploring”, then I would about what they might do to some foolish American tourist who cuts their queue while they’re waiting to get a lemon ice–

"Don't worry:  we'll be good.  Witches honor."

“Don’t worry: we’ll be good. Witches honor.”

Sure, kids:  I believe ya.

But that’s then, this is now, and the kids are back in the hospital waiting.  What are they waiting for?  The doctor, whom else?  But while they wait, things are sorta happening . . .

 

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

Nurse Gretchen was waiting in the doorway of Coraline’s office when Annie and Kerry returned to the hospital. Her instructors to them were simple: they were to change into their pajamas and see to their evening bathroom routine. If they wished a snack Gretchen would place an order with the kitchen and have it sent up, otherwise once they were finished preparing to settle in for the evening they could wait in Bay #1 for Coraline.

Kerry knew what sounded best for him, and he knew Annie would things so as well.

The mlechna banitsa and ayran were in place on table in the waiting area near the lift when they came out of the bathrooms at nearly the same time. As they sat Annie mentioned once again that she suspected the kitchen used an enchantment to determine when the people placing nighttime snack orders were finished with their bathroom routines and were ready to eat, because it appeared that every time they had a snack sent to the hospital, it was waiting for then once they were finished getting ready for bed.

The sweet banitsa were perfect as always, and Kerry found the yogurt drink particularly soothing this evening. Annie and he said little as they savored their pastries, but by now there was little Kerry felt there was little left to say. They’d heard everything at the Instructor’s Residence and they’d said what they needed to say about their present and future at their bench. All that remained was for Coraline to check on them before sending them off to their sleep bay—

And then to wait for the dream to come.

Kerry was finishing his third and last banitsa when Coraline walked through the black privacy screen and stood for a moment in silence while she regarded her charges for the evening. “I hope you guys aren’t so wired up on sweets that you won’t be able to sleep tonight.”

Annie put down her glass of ayran and looked up, smiling. “We didn’t order any powdered sugar on the banitsa.” She reached to her right and patted Kerry’s hand. “I wanted him to get some sleep tonight.”

He finished the last of his yogurt drink. “After I go to the bathroom again.”

“You can do that later. Come on—” She motioned for them to stand and follow her as she made her way past the table and towards the lift. “There’s something I need to do before you guys go to bed.”

 

Coraline has something planned, and you’ll see what that something is tomorrow when I get to it tonight.  And I won’t get distracted, I promise.

Besides, I gotta get Kerry to bed soon–

Someone’s waiting for him.

Gather Here the Brain Trust: Setting the Scene With the Unbelievable

Yes, this is getting out a little late today, but that’s due to starting on the scene at six AM, writing until nine, getting ready to go out and get my hormones, then stopping to get groceries, and finally getting back here to eat.  It’s time consuming, let me tell ya.

"Do I want to get makeup or make up a blog post?  Oh, I made a funny!"

“Do I want to get makeup or make up a blog post? Oh, I made a funny!”

At least I managed over a thousand words this morning, and after I’m through with this point I’m gonna sit down and take a nap, and then get back into the scene because I’d really love to finish this chapter tomorrow before I sit down and watch the zombies and do a recap for their shenanigans.

All that said, things start out a little slow here, ’cause it seems we’re missing someone–

 

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

“Said she’d be along shortly. She said there was a bit of business she needed to handle and that we could start without her.” Coraline pointed to the lunches. “Do you want to eat first?”
Jessica removed her suit jacket and hung it over a chair. “I’d rather work first and discuss matters while eating, if you don’t mind.”

Coraline suspected this being the case considering the women present. Erywin was well-known for being able to work while eating, and Jessica’s powers of transformation allowed her to consume and digest any meal in a matter of minutes if she so desired. “Okay, then—” She turned towards the lift entrance to see if Deanna had arrived. “Where do you want to start?”

Erywin scratched her chin. “What happened with Kerry?”

“This is what he said—” Coraline explained the little she discovered about his dream before telling her guests what she’d done for both children.

Jessica nodded. “How much longer are they going to be out?”

“I don’t expect them to wake up before fourteen hours. I have an active motion sensor in their bay, and the moment one of them starts moving around or appearing aware, Bianca or Thebe will get the catheters out and order them lunch—”

“Which I expect they’ll need.” Deanna quickly walked into the room. “Sorry I’m late, but you know how coven business gets.” Erywin and Jessica, both coven leaders, nodded in agreement. “Did I miss anything?”

“I told them about what Kerry said last night—”

“Let me guess: he saw that girl in his dream and it scared him.”

“Pretty much. Do you—?”

Deanna shook her head. “I caught the conversation after came up on the lift; I was standing back there waiting to hear it all.” She stepped back and took in everyone. “We need to move on to this information Erywin has.”

“I agree.” Coraline stepped back as she motioned to the other two instructors. “You have the floor.”

 

Deanna likes to hang back and listen, and we know everyone is caught up on the sleeping beauties two floors down.  But there’s information to be had here, and Jessica’s about to lay it on everyone.  So, Mistress of Transformation:  what gives?

 

The two women exchanged a glance before Jessica spoke. “Last Tuesday night my Advanced Transformation class performed their gender change spells, which, if you’re not aware, allows a student to change from their current gender—” Erywin loudly cleared her throat. “Sorry: allows them to change their physical cis forms from one of the binary to the other.” She eyed the woman on her left hard. “Better?”

Erywin smiled. “Better. Continue.”

“Erywin came to me a month ago telling me what she was look for, and asked if I’d give her access to the videos of the class. Naturally I complied, but gives this was Ostara week—” She looked at each of her companions. “You know how busy it gets before the weekend.”

“Why do you wait until right before Ostara to do this then?” Coraline raised an eyebrow. “Wouldn’t it be better to wait until after the weekend events are finished?”

Jessica chuckled as she crossed her arms. “Ostara is all about change—and I consider these spells among the ultimate in change.”

“That’s all well and good—” Erywin set her fists on her hips. “But let’s move on.” She turned to Jessica. “Tell them what you told me Friday.”

“A little back ground first.” Jessicas glanced down for a second as she appeared to think for a couple of seconds. “Because Kerry’s a Mimic it’s necessary to teach him all the components of transformation magic before turning him loose. Just because one can mimic it doesn’t mean one can put all the parts together property.”

Deanna raised her right index finger. “I’m a little unsure as to what a Mimic does.”

“A Mimic interfaces their aura with that of another person, and since an aura is a reflection of a person’s physical aspect, they are copying that information to their aura and using it to alter their physical form. That’s why they need to know the specifics of doing a full transformation before they can craft the magic.

“With Kerry it’s been necessary for me to teach him how to craft a full-body transformation before allowing him to mimic someone. He was performing small mimics before entering class, and I readied him for the full mimics over the last couple of class. Two weeks ago he did his first full mimic on the other boy in class, Fekitoa Naitaku. Fekitoa was a good one with whom to start: he’s from Fiji and he’s somewhat bigger than Kerry, so getting the transformation right would require considerable skill.”

Coraline asked the question everyone wanted to hear. “Did he do it?”

“Yes, and with flying colors. He actually did the transformation so fast that a couple of students gasped. However, I first had him perform a full-body cismale transformation, which he also performed marvelously.”

Erywin leaned towards the transformation instructor. “Tell them what you told me.”

Jessica drew a deep breath. “I wanted to do the same this last week and have Kerry attempt a full-body cisfemale transformation before mimicking the girls in the class. And . . .” She released a slight sigh. “He failed.”

 

I know what you’re thinking:  Kerry failed?  And you’re not the only ones–

 

Coraline and Deanna glanced between them before Deanna spoke. “What do you mean ‘he failed’?”

“I mean he was unable to perform the transformation.” Jessica held up her hand to forestall any questions. “By that I mean he couldn’t craft the spell. He wasn’t able to do it at all.”

Coraline’s eyes grew wide. “Not even partially?”

“Not even partially—which is strange because he has performed small csifemale changes before, mostly hands, feet, that sort of thing. When it came to doing a full-body change?” Jessica shook her head. “He told me he couldn’t visualize a girl’s form.”

“Wait.” Deanna held up both hands as if trying to stop something from getting by her. “He couldn’t visualize a girl’s form?”

“That’s what he said.”

“That seems impossible.”

“I agree.” Jessica looked about the room as if she were uncomfortable speaking about this event. “It’s never happened before with him in my class.”

Deanna appeared slightly surprised. “I don’t believe it’s happened to him in any classes. I’ve heard of him having some difficulty at the start of learning a new spell, but—”

“This wasn’t the same thing; he’s shown he can do the transformations on a smaller level.”

Coraline turned to Erywin. “What does that mean to you as far as conducting your due diligence is concerned?”

 

This is suddenly getting into some strange territory, for saying Kerry was unable to do something that, up to that point, everyone was certain he’d pull off without a problem–it’s troubling.  And you’d think by this point in his life, particularly given his current sleeping situation, he’d have no trouble making it happen.  But that’s not the case, and suddenly things are going sideway.

Where am I going with this?

Off for a nap, if I must be honest.

Gather Here the Brain Trust: A Bit of History

It’s time to get into the home stretch of Chapter Twenty-seven, and this is where it begins:  back at the hospital and up somewhere I’ve never traveled before.  Actually, this chapter has already gone places I’ve never been before–the astral realm–and there won’t be a scene anywhere within this chapter that doesn’t technically go outside of one of the buildings at the school.  I say technically because when Deanna crossed from Åsgårdsreia Tower to the Great Hall she had to use the outdoor walkway to get there, but she wasn’t outside:  she remained on the plain where it doesn’t rain in Spain.

Now, I’ve written things where the kids remain indoors for the chapter, but those scenes usually involve class.  This doesn’t.  This is something–well, you’d likely say medical.  And it is.  Which is why so much of this chapter takes place inside the hospital.  And now we not only see a little of the hospital we’ve never before seen, but you’re gonna get some history as well:

 

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

There were five levels to the Salem hospital. Originally the ground floor area consisted of the ward, a small operating theater, and the doctor’s office, while the supply room and the morgue occupied the lower level. Once the first floor was added to the east and west side sections beyond what later became the Dining Hall, that became the new Isolation Ward. Upon the completion of the second floor the Isolation Ward and operating theater were moved there while the first floor became the new main ward. It wasn’t until 1786 when the third flow was constructed that the hospital took on its current layout, with the second floor becoming the intensive care ward and operating theater and the first floor left as the main ward and office, the ground floor was used exclusively as storage, and the morgue remaining on the lower level.

The third floor was used for many thing over the last two centuries: isolation from infectious diseases, a holding area for the insane, and even a quiet ward for those close to death. In the last fifty years the third floor remained empty, and it wasn’t until Coraline became the school’s full-time doctor that she began using the floor as a secure area to conduct examinations and hold meetings. She had computers and holgraphic displays installed, and having most of the space enchanted in the same way as the Dining Hall so she could configure furniture as required.

All of these were employed before Coraline’s guests showed. The computers were on and the main holographic monitor was active, with both tired into Sabrina, the school’s artificial intelligence. A long table with everyone’s lunch order sat out of the way, and a large circular table with four chairs was set up closer to the holographic display so the group could pull up information while eating.

The floor was ready: all that remained were the members of the brain trust to arrive.

Erywin and Jessica arrived on time, as Coraline expected. She glanced about the open space as Jessica and she crossed the eight meters from the lift to the holo display. “Where’s Deanna?”

 

Finally I get up to the third floor of the hospital, a place I’ve known about for some time.

Though you wouldn't know it from this layout.

Though you wouldn’t know it from this layout.

In my original design of the Great Hall I worked up the hospital:

Like here, where you see the location of Annie's and Kerry's second home.

Like here, where in the center of this picture you see Annie’s and Kerry’s second home away from home.

But while I knew the third floor was there, I couldn’t show it because the computer I used to render these plans was freaking out a little due to the processing requirements.  But I know about this floor because–oh, that’s right, I can’t tell you.  Spoilers.

I’ve also known about the history of this building because . . .

I have a time line?

I have a time line?

Here, in condensed form, is a few hundred years of Salem construction history.  Most of the high points are shown, and I’m certain as time goes on, when I think of something that needs adding–and looking at this I already know it’s needed–then I’ll put it in.

This also means that the events happening in this part of the book are also in my time line, so they are known.  And they are coming.  And there’s going to be little that can stop them.

Hospital Visitation: Bedside Manners

It’s a cloudy morning here in the Burg, but it’s warming up and should get warm enough to wear a jacket before needing to return to the winter coat temps tomorrow.  And I had an interesting walk into work, because rather than head up 2nd Street to my coffee shop, I went a block over to the west and headed up Front Street, which runs along the banks of the Susquehanna River.  It’s a far different experience than heading up what is known in the city as Restaurant Row, which is really about two blocks long.  Chicago we ain’t.

But like Chicago we do have a lot of bridges–

Some that are even unsafe to drive on and have partially collapsed into the river.

Some that are even unsafe to drive on and have partially collapsed into the river.

And we have old buildings–

And quiet drives on one-way streets.

And quiet drives on one-way streets.

We have nice panoramas:

From bridges to buildings to a place where nothing gets done.

From bridges to buildings to a place where nothing gets done.

And, of course, the writer needs to put herself into a few pictures.

The writer outside her normal environment--

The writer outside her normal environment–

 

And within her environment with a new nail color.

And within her environment with coffee and a new nail color.

Now that all that personal stuff about walking and taking pictures is out of the way, it’s on to writing . . .

The scene is finished.  A few hundred words went down last night, and another eight hundred and seventy fell today, which means there’s just over eleven hundred more that you haven’t seen.  Coraline’s in Total Doctor Mode, and she’s handing out medical orders like she runs the place–which, come to think of it, she does.  The last time she had to get all doctoring and stuff with Kerry, this time he’s just laying there listening, and not trying to convince Coraline he’s okay.  He knows he’s not okay, as do the two female types with him in the bay.

So what’s the plan for the rest of the evening?

 

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

Coraline pushed herself back slightly from Kerry’s bed: it was time to bring this meeting to an end. “Until further notice you’re spending your evenings in this bed. You are on a conditional release, which means during the day, when you’re up, you’re free to leave the ward to go classes, the Dining Hall, and the Midnight Madness. When it’s End of Day and Lights Out, you come back here. You, too, Annie; I’ve already spoken to Holoč. I’ll see to it your uniforms and whatever else you require to get through the day is brought over today.

“But first we need to get you through tonight, and I’m going to take a bit of a drastic measure simply because it’s needed.” She leaned forward. “I’m going to give you something that will knock you out for about twelve hours straight, because you’re suffering from exhaustion and you need the sleep. I know you are likely concerned that the dream you had tonight is going to come back, so . . .” Coraline removed a small ampule from the pocket of her robe. “This will suppress the acetylcholine in your brain, thereby shutting down your REM functions. You won’t dream while you’re asleep.” She clutched her right wrist in her left hand. “You know I can’t keep you from dreaming for long, though: it’s not good for you.”

He looked towards his lap again. “I know.”

Coraline stood and pushed her chair back against the wall. “I’ll be right back.” She motioned for Annie to move from her side of the bed before heading to the storage area where she picked up things she required for her patient and setting them in a carry-all. She returned and found Annie standing on Kerry’s right, holding his hand and looking down at his now-flat bed.

She set the carry-all on the night stand and prepared an IV. “I’ll set the acetylcholine inhibitor in this IV, then I’ve give you the sleep patch.” Coraline set the ampule into a sleeve in the tubbing and set the IV transmission patch against the back of Kerry’s left hand. She removed the patch from her carry-all. “You’re going to start feeling drowsy right away; don’t fight the feeling, just let it come. You’re going to have a relaxing, fulfilling sleep, Kerry: I promise.”

“I believe you.” He gave her a somewhat sad smile. “And thank you.”

“It’s my pleasure.” Coraline prepared the patch. “You ready?” She pressed it against his carotid artery and applied a light pressure as she crafted the spell to start the medication flowing.
He looked up at Annie, trying to hold his smile. “I guess I’ll—” Within seconds Kerry’s eyes fluttered. “Um—” His face grew slack as his eyes close. “I love . . .” His voice trailed away as his body went limp. In seconds he was breathing through his slightly parted mouth while a deep sleep overtook him.

 

Acetylcholine is a real thing:  it’s what helps you dream, and while that’s going on your body is producing almost as much as it does while you’re awake.  Shut that down and you shut down your dream functions, and the good doctor is doing just that.  I’ve known she was going to do this for a while, but I didn’t get this information until a few days ago because it wasn’t needed.  Now you know.

Now, this thing with Kerry going right out . . . naw, it’s not something Coraline expected–

 

Coraline let out a long sigh. “Damn.”

“What?” Annie looked up, the semi-pained look still present in her eyes.

“It usually takes about a minute for the medication I gave him to put you to sleep. He was out in seconds—” Coraline checked the status monitors over the bed. “He’s okay, but he must have been tired as hell.” She tisked loudly. “I should have caught this on Saturday.”

Annie continued holding Kerry’s hand. “What did you mean when you said not dreaming for long wasn’t good?”

Coraline waved the carry-all off the night stand and levitated it to the end of the bed. “Going without dreaming for too long has the same effect as going without sleep: in time the beta-amyloid builds up because the body isn’t filtering it out properly—which REM sleep helps do—and before you know it your exhausted, you’re having probably with your memory and concentration—” She gazed down into the carry-all. “You can even start hallucinating. So if he continues to keep himself from sleeping because he fears a dream—”

Annie looked down on her sleeping soul mate. “Would you get him help?”

“I’d have to, but I’d likely have to send him to a facility for that.” Coraline saw Annie’s shoulders slump as the girl grasped her comment. I’ve never seen her suffer so much. Even last year, when she was so desperate to have Kerry remember their time before school, she was never like this. “Annie?”

She didn’t look up. “Yes?”

“It’s okay if you cry.”

Annie straightened before turning to face Coraline. Though her face remained pained, her voice was serious and steady. “My tears are only for him and no one else.”

For Annie to be noticeably shaken a lot of shit has to have went down.  Sure, it’s early in the morning and she was blasted out of a sound sleep by her soul mate screaming, but she’s not reacting well to Kerry’s situation.  And she’s shook up in a way that Coraline’s never seen–but she’d not shook up enough to not let Coraline know there is no way in hell she’s gonna shed a tear in front of her.  The implication is noted:  I may cry for Kerry, but you are not he.  She showed him a tear when they were together in London over the summer, but she’d burn the school down before anyone  else sees one.

So, Kerry’s been more or less kicked out of the tower for the time being–and Annie as well–and he’s down for a twelve hour rest.  What’s next?

 

Coraline nodded once. “Got it.” She sorted through things in the carry-all as Annie wandered over. “I need to get a catheter in him.”

“You brought two.” Annie looked up. “And another IV.”

“Yes, I did—” Coraline rested against the foot board of Kerry’s bed. “For you.”

“Why?”

“Because you need sleep as well, girl. You’re a moment away from losing it now, and I know if I leave you on your own tonight, you’ll stay up and watch over him and worry—which means come morning you won’t be worth a damn.” She shook her head. “He needs a good twelve hours of sleep, and I don’t see any reason why you should have the same.”

Annie turned to Bed #1 then back to Coraline. “Do you—?”

“Oh, please.” She chuckled for the first time since arriving at the hospital this evening. “I’ve been told I’m a facilitator to your affections, so I don’t see a reason to stop now.” She pointed towards the bed. “Climb in and get comfortable. I’ll get your IV and do the catheters after you’re out.”

There was a momentary pause, then Annie gave Coraline a warm hug. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” She held the girl by the shoulders. “Best get settled before I change my mind.”

Annie slid into bed next to Kerry, getting comfortable in the crook of his right arm, and nodded when she was ready. Coraline applied the sleep patch and watch the tired girl drift off to sleep before getting her IV affixed. Before she pulled back the covers to get their catheters in place Coraline slumped as she considered what had already happened this evening as well as why they needed to do today. I hope to hell we can figure this out soon, ‘cause it may not go well for Kerry if we don’t. She patted both sleeping children on their heads. We can’t fail these two; we simply can’t.

 

The couple that soul mates together get to do the long nap time together, and Coraline could give a shit if anyone says anything to her.  She’s also aware that they are in this together:  if Kerry is suffering, then Annie’s suffering, ad they’re helping not just one kid, but both.  Or at least that’s how Coraline see this.  Other’s may have a different view of the situation–

In face, in the next scene, someone will have an extraordinarily different view of the Lovely Dovey couple . . .