Hospital Visitations: Questions Asked

Today I’m feeling better, more chipper I think you could say.  Last night I felt beat down and worn out, and that’s never a good way to face your story.  I felt as if I was slightly back on form because I managed to get out a bit over eight hundred words, but it was hard going all the way.

This feeling comes and goes.  It’s hard when you’ve been on a project for a long time and everything in your mind is telling you that you need a rest.  It doesn’t help that everything at work is repetition these days, and unless you’re one familiar with the same repetitive stuff day in and out, you have no idea how draining this becomes.

Enough of that bullshit, right?  This is about writing in the face of fear–hey, that would make a good title for a blog post.  I should try that some time.

There are times when I shouldn't re-read my own work.

And then keep crying over what you’ve written because it manages to get to you.

Because there is a lot of fear in my writing at the moment.  I’ve been here before, and it’s an uneasy feeling.  You get over after a few hundred words–or a thousand or so–which means I’m getting to where I can sit and not feel uncomfortable about what I’m about to put down on, um, paper.  Maybe by the end of the week I won’t feel so crazy, but right now–yegads, I feel like a slimy bitch the moment I set fingers to keys.

But enough of how I feel?  How’s Kerry?  Well, he’s where you’d expect him to be, and that means people are talking about him at one in the morning . . .

 

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

“It is.” She got up slowly from her chair. “It’s why I called you in, because I felt, along with my fellow counselors—” Coraline motioned to Deanna and Erywin who were sitting along the wall to her left. “—that Kerry’s situation may have turned serious, and that warranted closer observation.”

“Is he in any danger?” Holoč set his hands inside the pockets of his robe.

“No, he’s not.” Coraline mustered a slight grin while slowly shaking her head. “But I feel it best to have him spend the night here given what happened to him earlier tonight.”

Holoč stood and stared at the floor for about three seconds before looking up at Coraline. “I’m certain you’ll do your best for him.” He rubbed his chin. “And I’ll let you get to that. Good night, Doctor.” He turned to Deanna and Erywin. “Good evening, ladies.”

Coraline didn’t close the door to her office until Holoč was through the waiting area and out of the hospital. Erywin sat back and sighed. “I expected Holoč to ask more questions.”

“He’s good about that. He knows I won’t BS him about the condition of his fliers, and I’ve never mislead him about any of his coven kids.” She leaned back and rested against the door frame. “I told him we were looking at Kerry the same day Annie and he came to Deanna and me. I didn’t tell him all we knew, only that we were helping Kerry with a personal issue, and that it wasn’t serious enough that the boy was a threat to others or himself.”

“And how is Kerry now?” Deanna stood and gave her abaya a slight shake to straighten it around her ankles.

“He’s not too bad. When I got here I checked on them and he was awake and responsive. But when Gretchen brought him in—” Coraline twisted a bit to her right so she could see the curtained-off bay where Annie and Kerry were currently residing. “She told me that when she arrived at the coven tower Kerry appeared almost catatonic: he was unresponsive and appeared to have difficulty recognizing people.”

 

Holoč is literally the odd man out at Salem, for he is the only male coven leader, and there are times when he’s viewed a little differently than the four women who manage and oversee the other four covens.  There are times when he tends to come off more like an overprotective father than the head witch for one of the covens, but then some of the women come off as overprotective mothers as well, so it evens out.

Erywin’s question indicates that there’s at least one of the two remaining coven leaders–they would be Jessica and Maddie–who are a bit more taciturn when it comes to getting news that one of their kids screamed themselves catatonic because of a dream.  It also indicates they probably don’t have a lot of issues over by der in Cernunnos Coven, probably because of all the yucky boy stuff happening there.  Which isn’t fair to say, as there are boys at the other covens:  I’m certain Erywin is only getting in another dig about there being too many boys on the coven’s race team . . .

If you read between the lines it’s likely true that Coraline is also the one who has to deliver all the bad news to coven leaders and instructors about the mental stability of their charges.  She is the school’s Chief Medical Officer, and that sort of falls under her area of control.  And it’s true that just like any other school, Salem has their issues with stressed out kids, depression, and even the occasional suicide attempt.  Only here, when someone decides to end it all, they just set use magic to light themselves on fire, or simply stop their heart.  Which is one of the reasons why every one is watched so closely.

No one is worried about Kerry hurting himself.  But someone wants to get to the crux of the matter tonight–

 

Erywin asked the question to which she was certain she already knew the answer. “Did he say he’d had one of those dreams?”

“Yes.” Coraline turned back to the guest in her office. “Annie told Gretchen that he’d confirmed he’d had a dream: when he arrived he told her the same when she asked him to confirm his story.”

“Well, shit.” Erywin ran her fingers through her hair. Normally she’d begin pacing, but with three people in the office that was impossible. “How’s Annie?”

“Doing as you’d expect. She’s stoic and putting on a brave face, but her aura tells me otherwise.” Coraline stared up at the ceiling for a moment. “She’s stressed out. I’m probably going to have to give her something to help her sleep, otherwise she’ll sit by his bedside all night long, and she won’t be any good come morning.”

“When you arrived did she reiterate her story about how she was awoken by Kerry’s screams?”

“She told that to Gretchen when she arrived at the coven, and Gretchen relayed it to me when I arrived here.”

“What’s our next move?” Deanna sat on the edge of Coraline’s desk. “It would seem these dreams have taken a turn for the worse, and we’re no closer to an answer on what they mean or how Kerry should handle them.”

Coraline released a long, exhausted breath. “We don’t even know the questions.”

Erywin turned to face the other women. “If I may suggest something—”

“By all means.”

“Perhaps we could gather at lunch time to go over what we have and see what makes sense. Also—” Erywin gathered her thoughts. “Jessica gave me some new data to examine. I received it late last week, but Ostara made it impossible to find enough free time to look it over.”

Deanna pushed herself up a little further on the desk. “Is that information related to your due diligence report?”

“It is, but at this point anything I share with you won’t affect anything that goes into that report.” She grunted. “Assuming I need to write one now.”

Coraline liked the idea of getting everyone in a room and brainstorming things out. Deanna and she had spent a couple of weeks coming up with different hypothesis that never panned out, and while Erywin wasn’t nearly the expert on dreams and visions as Deanna, she had ways of examining information that were far different than Deanna or she would. “We’ll worry about the due diligence later. I agree: we should get together, look at this new data, and see if it relates to what we’re following now.”

“Do you mind if I bring Jessica?” Erywin rolled her shoulders forward and stretched. “She told me yesterday there was something she wanted to discuss, but she figured we’d do it later—”

“Today?” Coraline chuckled. “Then she picked a great time. Where do you want to meet?”

 

What does Erywin have that Jessica handed over?  Could it be . . . video?  Yeah, I think that’s it.  Which means we’re probably going to get to see Kerry doing his Mimic thing.  But before that happens we need to get through this night.

And see something else we’ve never seen before . . .

The Tower Turmoil

In the grand scheme of things one could say not a lot was accomplished.  About six hundred and forty words were fully written, but for some reason I didn’t have the feel down while typing away.  You know how it is, where you get the sensation that you’re just writing, but the words are jumping off the page at you and it’s falling flat.  I don’t feel they are, but I get in this way at times, and it’s hard to shake them off.

I did help someone during a discussion on Scrivener.  They wanted to know what the package did, and I showed them several examples of my own work and directed them towards a few of my posts where I go into detail about the various things I’ve done with the package.  That kept me kinda half-busy when I should have been writing.

But I kept at it, writing along, keeping the story moving, and then I realized something that I had to check.  And, yep, it was true.  I passed a quarter of a million words in the story.

As in 250,000 words.

As in 250,000 words.

For the third time I’ve hit the quarter of a million mark:  this novel, the monster that came before this, and my probably-never-to-be-published novel Transporting, and when you figure in that I still have maybe fifty thousand words to go in this novel, and the last was four hundred and twenty-five thousand words, that’s a million words between three works.  Not bad for stuff finished over the last four years.

Now to get published, but that’s another story . . .

I finished the scene in the coven tower where Annie hears Kerry screaming in his sleep.  As expected it’s not long:  about eight hundred and fifty words.  It didn’t need to be that long, because it’s there to set the mood, the kickoff so to speak.   And since that’s what I wanted, I got it.  I got it well . . .

 

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

She needed a moment to take in his appearance, for she’d never seen him looking this disheveled. His arms hung limp at his side and his shoulders were slightly hunched over. His mouth hung open matching his slack, unmoving face. What shocked Annie the most were his eyes: there weren’t so much unfocused as they were uncomprehending. He doesn’t even realized I’m here. “Kerry?” She took him by the arm and eased him into the corridor. “What’s wrong?”

He blinked a couple of times, looking towards Jario first—who’d stepped up next to Annie—then Penny and Alex, who still lingered in the background. He moved his hands close to his face as if he was going to adjust his glasses, then slowly lowered them to his sides when he realized he wasn’t wearing them. “It’s, um—” Kerry turned to Annie, a look of incomprehension still affixed to his face. “’I don’t—”

“Darling—” Annie took his hands and stood so they were almost touching noses, allowing her to speak in a whisper. “Did you have a dream?”

There was a long sigh as Kerry finally began focusing on his soul mate. He barely nodded. “Yeah.”

Annie chest tightened as she closed her eyes. Though she wanted to ignore any possible that Kerry’s screams were related to the ginger girl who stalked his dreams, even before she was out of her room she was certain that girl was the source of his fear. I want to help, I want to save him from whomever she is, but there’s nothing I can do . . .

She held his hands tight. “We need to go to the hospital. We need to go now.”

He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. “Okay.”

“Come with me. You can wait outside my room while I send—”

“I’ve done that, Annie.” Alex hurried to a stop next to Penny. “The nurse should be here any second.”

Annie nodded. “Thank you, Alex. Jario—” She tilted her head towards the open door behind her dazed soul mate. “Would you get Kerry’s robe and slippers? I can’t go in his room.”

“Sure, Annie.” He squeezed past the couple and vanished into the black privacy screen that prevent any of the girls from seeing into and entering any of the boy’s rooms.

She threw her arms around Kerry and held him. She didn’t want to let him go: she would do anything to protect him, just as she knew he would do for her. Deanna told me last year Kerry would die defending me—and I would do the same for him. “Nurse Gretchen is coming. I’ll be with you the whole time. Everything is going to be fine.”

He buried his face in her hair and spoke in a mumbling whisper. “I don’t know if it’ll ever be fine again.”

“Oh, my love.” She held him tighter, counting the seconds until Nurse Gretchen arrived and fearful that this was his one vision that would prove to true—

 

Now we know Kerry is off to the hospital, and believe it or not I started up the next scene so that I’d have a benchmark upon which to start writing tonight.  And since the kids were off to the hospital, that’s where the story picks up.  It doesn’t pick up with the kids, however–

 

“What do you intend doing?” Holoč Semplen pulled his robe tighter around his neck. “For tonight, I mean.” He glanced at each of the three women in the office before finally settling on Coraline.

She eased back into her chair and crossed her legs. Like everyone else in the room, she wore pajamas, slippers, and a robe, having come straight from the Instructor’s Residence as soon as she’d heard what happened. “Tonight he’ll sleep here.  I’ll keep Annie as well—”

He nodded. “I expected that.”

“I’ll check on his condition tomorrow—” She sighed as she remembered it was an hour after midnight, making it the next day. “—when he wakes up, and I’ll keep him if I feel it’s warranted. I’ll keep you informed on his condition, naturally.”

Holoč pressed lower lip against his thumb and index finger. “Are you going to impose restrictions on his activities?”

Coraline folded her hands across her stomach. “Given what I’ve seen of his med scans, it’s necessary. I don’t have a choice.”

“That’s fine.” He his hands against his hands lightly against his thighs. “I’ve never questioned your judgment regarding a patient, and I won’t start now.  You get him well, I’ll deal with any fallout.” He stood and tugged on his robe. “One question, though: does this have anything to do with this situation for which you’re counseling?”

 

While Holoč’s indicating he’s aware of counseling for Kerry, it’s likely he doesn’t know why.  About the only time the coven leaders who aren’t counselors are told why a student is being counseled is when they’ve become a danger to themselves or others, and then it becomes necessary to monitor them.  Kerry hasn’t been considered a danger to himself, though with talk of “restrictions”, that could change.  You’ll just have to see what comes next.

And if you’re lucky that’ll happened tonight . . .

Springtime For Kerry: Expressive Exams

Excerpt time is right around the corner, but first the other news, which you may or may not care about, but I’m gonna give it to you anyway.  Last summer and fall I did weekly recaps of a couple of television shows for my friend Rachel Tsoumbakos.  At that time we were posting the recaps on her site, but we’ve decided to branch out and do the smart thing, which is set up another blog site to hold our recaps!  That means I am now one half of The Snarking Dead, and with the new seasons coming up here in a real hurry we’re gonna be busy little girls recapping our favorite shows.

Last night I started catching up on last year’s first-half-of-Season 6 of The Walking Dead by doing a video recap of Episode 2, and I’ll likely post that later today, and if I’m in a really crazy mood I’ll do my best to get those video recaps out before the second-half-of-Season 6 airs this Sunday.  Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.  But I had fun filming last night, so we’ll see.

Filming wasn’t the only thing I did:  there be writing as well.  And it’s the writing that starts answering the question, “What’s wrong with Kerry?”  And guess what?  I’m about to tell you–

 

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

Awareness returned slowly to his eyes. Kerry blinked three times then glanced around without moving his head, as if he were taking in the room for the first time. His eyes locked on Annie and a smile slowly formed before he turned to the other person in the room. “Hi, Coraline.”

“How you feeling, Red?” Coraline removed her scanner from her jacket but held it in her hand.

“Tired.” He chucked and turned to Annie. “I was zoning out there; I didn’t hear you guys come in.”

“Yeah, it looked that way.” Coraline crafted a small light on the tip of her right finger, then gently opened each other Kerry’s eyes to examine them. “Did you hear Holoč leave?”

He started to shake his head, then stopped. “No.”

Coraline killed the finger light. “What happened out there? Why did you bail out of the race?”

Kerry raised the back of the recliner and began sitting upright. “I was starting to lose focus. My head was getting foggy; I couldn’t keep my mind on the race.” He rubbed his eyes with his fingertips. “I came up on Penny in Helter Skelter and I thought I was gonna crash. That’s why I popped off the course.” He looked to Annie. “I didn’t want to crash, or crash anyone else, and if I’d stayed out there, that would have happened.”

Coraline nodded. “That was good: that was smart. If you weren’t at your best it was good you got off the course before you hurt yourself and others.” She looked up across the recliner where Annie stood at Kerry’s left. “Ain’t that right?”

She nodded. “It was.” She knelt down next to her soul mate and set her hand over his. “You did the right thing, my love.” Annie kept her concern for Kerry from showing, for while she realized he’d done the right thing, what bothered her was his current situation. It’s as if he has no energy, no feelings. He didn’t act this way even after Katahdin, when he was in pain. Why is he like this?

 

There you go:  Kerry was losing it out on the course, and before he wrecked–or worse, wrecked someone else–he got the hell off the track and out of the race.  Annie knows there’s something wrong, however.  There’s something that’s not right, because Kerry’s tough, even to the point of racing on when he shouldn’t–though one could argue that if he tore up his knee on the school’s Blue or Red Lines he’d probably leave the race right away.

Coraline has a question for the lad, and this shows why she gets paid the big bucks:

 

Coraline finally activated her scanner and formed the orange glow in the palm of her right hand. She scanned Kerry from head to waist then started back, her eyes locked on to the display. She was half way up his body when she spoke. “How is your sleep?  Getting enough?”

Kerry half-shrugged. “It’s been okay, but the last couple of weeks—” He gave his best smile to Coraline. “You know, the stuff I’m doing for Ostara, I’m worried about doing well tonight.” He gave a weak chuckle. “Should have kept my mind on the race, yeah?”

“Oh, yeah.” Coraline nodded, keeping a smile on her face and her tone neutral. “I’m gonna take you to the hospital—”

“Why you wanna do that?”

She got to her feet and looked down on Kerry. “Because I want to give you a more extensive scan; there’s things I can detect with the equipment there that I can’t—” She held up the hand scanner. “—get with this.”

“Uh.” Kerry dropped the foot rests. “I’m okay—”

Sit, Kerry.” Coraline pointed at him and shook her head. “I don’t want you out of that chair until I’m ready for you to get out of that chair.” She turned to current assistant. “Annie, would you get a wheelchair from the storage area?”

He watched Annie, following her as she walked to the ready room storage area to his right. “That’s okay: I can walk—”

Kerry.” Coraline stepped in front of the chair to prevent him from standing and set her hands on her hips. “You are not the doctor here: I am. And if I say you’re going to the hospital in a wheelchair, then, young man, you are.” She waved at Annie, who had the wheelchair half-way out of the storage area. “Hurry up with that.”

“Yes, Doctor.” Her eyes grew stern as Annie wheeled the chair over. “Kerry, you need to listen to Coraline. Don’t argue with her.” She parked the wheelchair directly in front of the recliner as soon as Coraline stepped aside. “Anything she’s ordering, she’s doing so for your own good.” The smile appeared on her face, though it was slow coming to her eyes. “Please, my love?”

For a moment it didn’t look as if he would respond, then a grin spread wide across his face as Kerry nodded slowly. “Yes, Sweetie. I know you’re right.”

 

When Coraline starts using her Doctor Voice on you, it’s serious shit, folks.  She has caught Kerry in bed with Annie–sleeping, mind you, but still–and cuts him a lot more slack than she does other students–what do you want to bet there aren’t many other kids at Salem that get to address her by her given name?  And while Annie was speaking nicely to Kerry, she was also giving him “The Look”, the one that says, “You better shut up and do as your told or we’ll have words.”

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

“There’s no way I’m gonna win this battle, is there?”

No, kid.  Just get in the chair.

So it’s off to the hospital and more scans, and I’ll likely wrap this sucker up tonight, after which there are only two more scenes before we get to the chapter I know a few people are waiting for–

And I’m really dreading writing . . .

Springtime For Kerry: Bracing Concerns

Though it doesn’t happen often, I do find myself unable to finish a train of thought before heading off to dreamland–or in my case just crashing out into deep slumbers because I’m so tired.  And I been tired this week; it seems like I’ve played catch-up on my rest every day, including last night.  Which is why I’m usually in my pajamas when I’m putting the touches on my masterpiece.

I usually don't look this attentive when writing.  Or good looking, either.

I usually don’t look this attentive when writing. Or good looking, either.

And one of the things that keep me from moving ahead quickly with the scene last night was having to rewrite paragraphs.  One of them doesn’t appear here, but the last two in the excerpt I probably spent fifteen minutes on getting write, because after rereading what was originally written I about pulled out whatever non-existence hair I have.  I get that was a lot these days:  I put something down on paper–computer paper in this instance–and my eye immediately picks up that it kinda sucks.  In the instance of the first paragraph in question it was because I had all the thoughts there, but they were way the hell out of order.  This is why you edit:  so your stuff doesn’t suck.  At least not deliberately.

Because I didn’t get everything written as planed last night, that means you only get a small part of what I scribbled out.  But I think you’ll enjoy this part.  At least that’s my hope.  We’ll see.

 

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

Nadine waited until the hallway was clear. “How you feeling?”

“I feel okay.” Kerry leaned against the wall. “Pretty good, actually.”

“I was just wondering ‘cause when I saw you at lunch you looked like you were draggin’ a bit.”

Kerry shrugged. “I didn’t sleep much last night. Got a case of the nerves and had trouble going down.” He smiled. “If you noticed Annie’s dragging a bit, too.”

A slight smile flashed on Nadine’s face. “You both up late?”

“Just a little.” He stood and looked around the empty corridor. “What you really want?”

“Wanted to make sure everything’s gonna be okay out there today.”

“You mean when we race you guys?”

Nadine nodded. “Uh, huh.”

“Yeah. It’s all cool.” He turned a lopsided grin to the Mórrígan team captain. “I was given several personal assurances yesterday.”

“So was I. I just, you know—”

“Gotta make sure I know that you know everything’s good.”

“Something like that.”

Kerry chuckled. “There won’t be any trouble from either of us. Nothing to worry about.” He inwardly grinned, because they’d discussed this same matter after Advanced Spells the prior Wednesday. This is her job, though; she has to make sure the peace is kept. I can’t blame her for being a bit apprehensive . . .

There wasn’t a lot of activity in the aftermath of the Katahdin. Kerry spent the night in the hospital with Annie by his side, and when he was released the next day before lunch, Coraline discovered that while the magic and technology did their job repairing the damaged ligaments of his left knee, the scans indicated the repair wasn’t perfect. She decided that additional treatments were possible on an out-patient basis, and released him with the stipulation that he returned every morning for twenty minutes of treatment, and that he wear a brace until Tuesday morning, when she’d complete the treatments. She gave him a cane to use for additional support, but because she didn’t want him going up and down the coven stairs she had him sleep in the hospital Sunday and Monday nights—something that Annie did with him as well—allowing him to use the lift from the ground floor to get to the first floor ward.

During this time Emma maintained an extremely low profile, leaving Mórrígan tower only to eat and attend class. Her dormmates, Jacira Maciel and Leela Kaluwitharana, told others in their level that she usually sat on her bed and said little, though they said that Wednesday afternoon she let them know she’d be away from the tower for a while that night—

 

Now you know:  those little magical nanos aren’t getting Kerry’s knee all fixed up the way they should fix them right away.  This was something Coraline feared might happen, and now you see Kerry hobbling around the school wearing a brace while getting “out-patient” treatment.  This is also the first time he’s seen being made to sleep in the hospital while getting something done because Coraline doesn’t want him walking up and down stairs.  The hospital has a lift at the south end of the ward:  it goes down to the ground floor and the lower levels, and up to the second and third floor, and the later of those two are going to put in an appearance soon.

And of course Annie is spending the night with him as well because Coraline is an enabler and knows there’s no way in hell she can get Annie to head off to the coven to sleep down in the B Level section without her soul mate doing the same on the other side of the tower.  Good thing Annie’s considered part of the triage staff and her overnights with Kerry can be seen as, um, “therapeutic”.  Yeah, that’s right.  She’s helping him heal.

But this last paragraph about Emma?  Well, now you know she has mates with whom she shares a room.  And she’s been sticking to it because she knows she’s been a bad girl, and there are probably a couple of C Levels girls from The Tower of the Horned God looking to kick her ass.  So what did Emma do Wednesday night?

I know.  And I’ll tell you tomorrow.

The Night Air: Final Warmings

Another slow morning, though this one is shapping up a little better today.  Must have a lot to do with the great day I had yesterday where I visited with a friend and had my nails done:

Mani/Pedis are the best, yo!

Mani/Pedis are the best, yo!

This means I didn’t get to writing last night, and that meant having to write this morning.  Which I did.  And which I finished.  Yep, scene and chapter are complete, so I can give Chapter Twenty-Four a nice little wave goodbye and put it behind me.

You were a good chapter, even if you were a lot of work.

You were a good chapter, even if you were a lot of work.

I will be honest:  I had a real hard time with the fifteen thousand and almost five hundred words of this chapter.  I started on this chapter 20 December, 2015, and here I am 10 January, 2016, and that’s twenty-two days to write fifteen thousand, four hundred words, which works out to seven hundred words a day.  Not my best work, but it was the holidays, and I know I’ve fought depression most of the way through this time, so I consider it something of a success that I managed to finish.

That means I have to start on the next chapter, but we’ll get to this in a bit–

The flying is over, the examinations are finished, and all that remains is bed time.  As Coraline mentioned it’s past lights out, and now that Annie and Kerry have their PJs, they can join the rest of the school there:

 

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

It didn’t take long to get changed and head back to Bay #1. Coraline reappeared about a minute after they sat on the bed where Kerry usually slept. She smiled when she saw them. “I thought you’d be in bed already.”

“It’s still feel early.” Annie held Kerry’s hand as she smiled at the school’s doctor. “Must be the excitement from the flight.”

“I can imagine.” Coraline leaned against the wall just inside the bay. “Sounds like you had a successful flight.”

“She did.” Kerry gave her a slow hug. “You should have seen her.”

“Maybe next time.” Coarline gave them both a warm smile as she stepped away from the wall and moved nearer them. “You can sleep in if you like: I can ask Vicky to have breakfast for you during your debriefing tomorrow. You’re not on a medical hold, so when you’re ready to leave, you can go; I don’t need to give you a release.”

Annie didn’t find the comment unusual, and it reinforced her belief that they weren’t being kept overnight for observation. “Thank you, Doctor. Though you won’t mind if we stop in and say goodbye when we leave, will you?”

“Not at all. Well . . .” She slowly stepped back a step. “It’s time to let you guys get some rest. I’ll see you in the morning.” She waved at the privacy curtain and half-sealed the bay. “Have a good night.” She waved her hand across her body and closed the curtain, sealing the bay completely.

One thing you can never accuse Kerry of, and that’s not talking up Annie’s accomplishments.  He continues to say she’s a better witch than he, and that he learns from her.  It’s the way he is, and no matter how much you talk his up accomplishments, he’ll tell you Annie’s better.  He probably feels that if she ever got into racing she’d be a lot better, too, though she’d give him a hell of an argument against that idea.

Now, then–where is this warming?  Oh, right here, I think.

Almost ten seconds of silence passed before Kerry spoke in hushed tones. “You ready for bed?”

“I thought you’d never ask.” They slid off the bed and Annie pulled back the covers. She let Kerry climb in first, following so she could snuggle against his right side. She pulled the covers over then, ordered the lights dimmed, and began making herself comfortable. “There. Much better.”

Kerry glanced over her head. “You didn’t even make it look like you slept in the other bed.”

“That’s because Coraline doesn’t expect me to sleep in the other bed, my love.” She kissed him, giggling when she finished. “Haven’t you had the feeling we’re being given special treatment for completing a difficult task?”

He gave the question a few seconds of consideration. “You’re the one who completed the difficult task: I just followed and watched.”

“Which is just as difficult, because I’m certain you wanted to do something to help.” She slipped her right arm over her soul mate. “I think I can say that your primary inclination is to help me, and to hold your tongue and say nothing shows you are not only committed to seeing I completed my solo flight successfully, but that your task is as difficult as mine.” Annie kissed Kerry upon the cheek. “And I am so glad you are my chase, my love, because I know you will do your duty correctly.”

Kerry chuckled. “Plus you also love having me along.”

She nodded. “That as well.”

He rolled towards Annie and lay his left arm over her. “So, are you still cold?”

“Humm . . .” She stared up the ceiling for a moment. “I’m not that warm yet.” She snuggled against Kerry. “I’ll need more before I can fall asleep.”

“Well, then—” Kerry kissed the tip of her nose before moving to a kiss on her lips. “I guess I’ll need to get to work on that task now, Sweetie.”

She nodded. “I only hope you’re as good at this task as you were at the other tonight.”

He lightly pressed his forehead against hers. “I’ll do my best, ‘cause I never want to fail at any task for you.”

Sounds like Annie got a real chill being out in the cold, which means Kerry’s got his work cut out–

Though I can't imagine them making little heart hands while "warming".

Though I can’t imagine them making little heart hands while “warming”.

I’m sure, though, that Kerry won’t let Annie fall asleep still feeling chilly.  After all, she wants to get warm, and what Annie wants . . .

One flight out of the way, and with that we move onto Chapter Twenty-Five and another flight, believe it or not.  This next one is Kerry’s flight, and in his nearly two years at school, this will be his biggest flight.  It’ll also require a lot of work on my part, because it’s also a new location for me that’s going to require a lot of visualization–

I'm finally bringing this out of the shadows and onto the stage.

I’m finally bringing this out of the shadows and onto the stage.

The Night Air: Out of the Cold

It wasn’t so much a long night as it’s been a long morning.  Though not too bad:  I slept until five-twenty and began writing about six, and churned out about five hundred words over the course of an hour on this extremely foggy morning here in The Burg.  I’m about to get on the road in another two hours because I have things to do some ninety minutes to the south in Maryland, so I thought it might be best to get a little noveling in before I do all the stuff I have to do in order to make myself presentable to the outside world.

It’s a slow and probably quaint little slice of life at the Home by the Sea, and after all that flying about in the cold the kids are happy to be back in the bosom of comfort.  It was discussed by Vicky and Isis in the previous scene, and here we see it coming to fruition:

 

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

The evening wound down into the expected as soon Annie and Kerry were back at the school and on the ground. Within a minute of landing Vicky and Isis them off to the hospital, where Nurse Gretchen greeted them in the waiting room and escorted then to Bay #1, where they were order to remove their heavy coats and flying gear, strip down to their thermal underwear, and to each lay on a bed so Gretchen could run her preliminary health scans.

Coraline showed up about a minute into the scan and told Gretchen she’d finish the scans and asked her to get them slippers and robes. A minute later the scans were finished and Gretchen was back. After Kerry and she were in their robes and slippers, Coraline said she didn’t see anything on the scans that indicated any problems, and told them to head down to the lounge area of the ward and wait for the snacks coming from the kitchen. They were also given a blanket and told the huddle under it while they waited if they felt cold, and by the time they reached the small lounge they agreed they needed more warming.

They didn’t need to wait long. The kitchen sent up hot chocolate, which wasn’t a surprise, and tikvenik, which was. Annie knew these well: they were a traditional Christmas Eve desert, a type of banitsa made with pumpkin and walnuts, but this was Kerry’s first time enjoying them, and while he admitted he didn’t enjoy pumpkin that much, he loved nuts, and thought serving them with powered sugar and a touch of whipped cream made them taste fantastic.

 

This is the first time we’ve had both Annie and Kerry down to their thermal underwear, something that doesn’t bother Kerry that much as he’s already seen another girl in her thermals *cough*emma*cough*.  At his point neither of them are uncomfortable being with each other like this in front of others, probably a consequence of their having spent time together at locations outside the school.  Anyway, they’re comfortable at least.

Now, another Bulgarian treat makes an appearance.  Tikvenik is a banitsa made by wrapping a pumpkin and walnut mix in Philo dough and setting it to bake.  The banitsa the kids have had up to this point are usually sweeter, making this a new experience for Kerry.

Did you ever imagine you'd learn so much about Bulgarian food?

Did you ever imagine you’d learn so much about Bulgarian food?

And there’s a reason for this, too:  Coraline’s using something tasty to build up their metabolism–

 

They both understood the reason for this snack selection: a good concentration of carbohydrate and protein combined with a touch of sweetness. Tikvenik filed and gave her energy on many cold evenings in Bulgaria, and they were doing the same thing here. Annie sat close to Kerry, eating her pumpkin sweets and drinking her hot chocolate, and keeping her mind not on the activities of the last few hours, but of the person to her right.

It took them about twenty minutes to finish their snacks, and as soon as they finished Coraline marched them back to Bay #1 for a second med check. This check took about two minutes, and when it was over Coraline turned away from the machine with a self-satisfied smile and not only addressed them, but Vicky and Isis as well. “There was a negligible reduction in their body temperatures during the first scan, but they’ve recovered from that nicely. I don’t seen anything here that would constitute a medical issue—however . . .” She glanced over her shoulder at the two women standing behind her. “I’ve been asked by Vicky to hold you overnight for observation. Just in case.”

Kerry sat up straight. “Are we spending the night here, then?”

“Yes. I’ve already sent Gretchen to get your night clothes and supplies for the morning.”

“Maybe we should keep a pair of pajamas here all the time—” Annie did her best to keep from smiling. “That way Nurse Gretchen isn’t running off to the tower to retrieve our things.”

Vicky nodded. “Probably would make things easier.”

Isis cleared her throat, something which Coraline didn’t let slide. “Something to say, Director?”

Isis shook her head. “Had something stuck in my throat, Doctor. Nothing you need to examine.”

Coraline nodded and turned her attention back to her patients. “As soon as Gretchen is here you can change and get to sleep. It’s past lights out and we should all be off to bed.”

Vicky positioned herself at the end of Annie’s bed as Coraline stepped back. “Since we don’t have lessons tomorrow, we’ll debrief at nine. Come out to the Flight School after breakfast.”

“We’ll be there.” Annie leaned over her crossed legs and bid everyone a good night.

A few seconds after everyone departed Nurse Gretchen appeared with their night clothes. Annie wasn’t under any illusions about why they were here: there wasn’t anything wrong with them, and the way all three women looked when Coraline mentioned they were being held for “observation” told her they were all intent on allowing Kerry and her the night together, and felt they were being rewarded for a job well done.

 

Nice move there, Annie, suggesting Coraline keep some of their pajamas there because, well, why not?  Annie’s already figured out what Isis was accusing Vicky of doing:  being an enabler and treating the kids to some time quality night time together.  And it seems that’s happening, because even Coraline knows there’s nothing wrong with the kids.  She could send them back to their tower, but she’s not, and Isis has decided to keep her mouth shut about the matter, because as she said, until the headmistress says something, she’s chill about it, too.

I’ll be gone most of the day, but I may finish this tonight after arriving back home.  Only because there is something big about to happen in the novel, and that’s gonna really eat up some time to make it come to life . . .

Sitting By the Bed In the Bay

Two hundred thousand words were reached last night–not a brag, just a straight up fact.  Look, right here–

I always have the proof, or as much proof as possible.

I always have the proof, or as much proof as possible.

With Act Two nearly finished I finally hit the big two hundred, and at the rate things are going, I think this book has a good shot at about two hundred and seventy-five thousand.  Now I ran my numbers and here’s what I discovered:  I hit 175,000 on 1 November, and from then until last night, 10 December, is forty days.  Doing a little division brings me to six hundred and twenty-five thousand words a day, which considering there’s probably a good seven days in that mix where I didn’t write anything, I’d say I did well.

With all this calculating, I say it’ll take another four to five months to finish B For Bewitching, which will put this novel at just over a year to complete.  I managed a lot more during the writing of A For Advanced, but a lot of that had to do with cranking out about a hundred and fifteen thousand words during two NaNoWriMos, and that helped considerably.  Take that out of the mix, and in the same amount of time I’d have likely ended up around three hundred and fifty thousand by the time I reached the “I’m done!” stage.

I said something up there but we’ll get to that at the end.  Right now a few people want to know what happened to Kerry, though a few people have already guessed that he didn’t finish the race sitting on his broom.  Ah, yup:  you’d be right there . . .

 

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

The instant the light struck Kerry’s eyes he knew his location. This wasn’t the first time he’d crashed and tumbled on a broom, so the feeling of numbness all over and the soft, indirect lighting reminded him he was back in the hospital—with the likelihood he was resting in Bed #2, Bay #1 quite high.

What he did find surprising was that he had more company that he expected.

On his left sat Annie, right where he expected her. To his right Penny and Alex sat on the #1 Bed, out of their racing gear and back into street clothes. Nadine sat at the foot of the bed, with Emma sitting to her right. All of them were looking at him as if they expected him to levitate from the bed.

Annie gave the fingers of his left hand a light squeeze. It was only then he realized there was a cast on his wrist. “Welcome back, my love.”

“Hey.” He wanted to return the squeeze, but his fingers didn’t want to respond to his thoughts. He let his gaze wander around the bad. “What’s up?”

“You are now.” Penny slid off the bed and stood next to his, with Alex joining her. “We were worried about you.”

“Huh?” He laughed once before wincing from the pain in his head. “Not the first time I’ve crashed.”

“It’s the first time in a while that the school did a full-course yellow.” Nadine leaned forward against the foot of the bed. “They froze the course and brought everyone straight in.”

“Wow.” Kerry knew Race Control—which was pretty Vicky and Isis—could do just that, and given that it was the last lap, and his crash happened on the last turn, it made sense to order a full-course yellow and set the final positions then and there. “Yeah, I can see that.”

“Also—” Emma stopped the moment she felt the other eyes in the room upon her.

After a few seconds of silence Kerry decided he wanted to know why people were so quiet. “You can tell me, Emma. I’d tell you.”

 

Let’s see, you’re in the hospital and feeling numb all over, your soul mate is at your left, two of your own team members are at your right, and two friends from an opposing race team are at the foot of your bed.  It’s not a good way to start out.  And one of them starts to say something that puts everyone on edge.  And since Kerry wants to know, Emma is compelled to tell him.

 

She nodded. “We—” Emma motioned to Nadine. “—were in our ready room doing final prep, and we heard over the monitors that the warning enchantments went off in your suit, and in Anna’s as well. Vicky later told us that you both were turning blue when they got you here.”

“You both stopped breathing.” Annie slid closer to his head while still holding on to his hand. “Coraline said you started on your own once you were here, but they had to intubate Anna for about a minute to get her started.”

“I—” He closed his eyes and concentrated on his body, using some of the non-magical techniques Jessica taught him in Advanced Transformation. Though it wasn’t easy to pick out, he sensed the tightness in his neck and throat and imagined the damaged necessary to close off his airway. “I never thought something like that could happen.”

“You both were moving through The Sweep right around two-forty or so.” Alex sighed. “The safety enchantments absorbed most of your momentum when you crashed, but still—”

“Yeah, I know.” Kerry smiled weakly as he turned to Annie. “They’re there to keep us from dying, not from getting hurt.” He closed his eyes again because he knew it was necessary to ask the question. “What happened? I saw Anna lose it and crash into me—”

“Anna didn’t lose it.” Nadine choked up as she tried finishing her sentence. “Lisa fucking wrecked her and you.”

 

Leave it to Nadine to say what everyone is thinking, and not mince words because she has been known to drop the f-bombs now and then.  And most people are probably pissed because Kerry–as well as Anna–wasn’t breathing when he came into the hospital.  The two-forty mentioned there is two hundred and forty kilometers and hour, and that’s right around one hundred and forty-five miles and hour, which is a hell of a speed to wipe out at when you’re in a NASCAR stock car–that’s the straightaway speed at a lot of the mile and a half ovals–and even worse on a broom.  Like Kerry said, the safety enchantments keep you from dying, and he didn’t die.  Hurt?  Now that’s another story.

And here we get most of the rest of the story . . .

 

Though he hadn’t known for certain, the moment where he saw a PAV head off towards the finish told him someone must have caused Anna to loose control—and before he went unconscious a single name flashed through his mind. He glanced at Alex. “Wasn’t she fighting with you?”

“She was—until we hit The Trench.” Alex slowly shook her head. “She came up and over me, just getting inside the elevation gate. She nearly smacked my helmet and put me down in the safety enchantment; by the time I got straightened out she was through Quarry Turn and gone. I didn’t see her again until I was coming up towards Observatory, and by that time she was nearly all the way through the turn.”

Penny snorted. “She was racin’ like someone lit a fire in her arse. She damn near lost it in Helter Skelter and was pretty much out of control from Van der Kroff to South Side Dive.”

“She was trying to catch you, Kerry.” Emma said what everyone in the bay knew. “She did it so she could wreck you.”

“I agree with Emma—” Annie released her breath slowly. “The only reason she raced like she did was so she could catch you and then wreck you in a way that it looked like an accident.” Her fingers glided over the back of his hand. “Which was the way she portrayed it—as an accident.”

 

When Annie is calmly agreeing with Emma, it’s pretty much the end of the world.  But she’s doing it because it’s true:  Lisa went nuts at the end and raced the last lap like one of those proverbial Åsgårdsreia demons just so she could set up Kerry for a slam.  But what happened to Lisa?  Well . . . I know, but I’ll tell you tomorrow.

And so you know, I did end up moving Part Seven to the front of Act Three, because the end of the next scene sets up a perfect cliffhanger for that Act.  And because I’m in a good mood now–maybe not so much later because I’m fasting due to afternoon labs–you get the see the parts and chapters for the rest of the novel.

See, I do give you things from time-to-time.

See, I do give you things from time-to-time.