The Agony of the Finish

Last night was something of a first for me, because I did a couple of things I haven’t done in a while.  First, I started and finished a scene in one sitting.  Second, in doing the first, I wrote almost two thousand words.  Well, it was more like eighteen hundred and fifty, but you get where I’m coming from:  I haven’t done that in a while.  I did it by kickin’ it old school:  lots of music, most of it of the older variety, like 60s and 70s, and just kept pushing myself to get it done.

And done I did get it.

The vibe in this scene is far different it that it’s not all Kerry out there in the snow and cold all by himself.  Racing at this joint is a lonely affair, and it’s been proven because you don’t race with others on this course, you race the course, and that means you race alone.

Here you go:  all of the scene in it’s depressing glory:

 

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

If it weren’t for the fact he was on the last lap negotiating the last major turn on the last section of the Katahdan course, Kerry would have DNFed and headed for the paddock. He wasn’t prepared for the stress the race placed upon him, and over the last twenty minutes he’d fought with the cold, he’d fought with the messy and at times impossible-to-see course, with the constant stop and goes and left and rights—but most of all he’d fought to ignore the throbbing in his left knee. Though he couldn’t prove it, he was certain the initial collision on Lap 1 tore the outer ligaments, and over the course of Lap 2 and 3 he’d torn the other two sets.

It didn’t matter: at the moment his knee was engulfed in flame that has found its way up his thigh and into his hip. He was tired of the pain. He’d raced hurt in other school races, but never for nearly two hundred and seventy-five kilometers, and Kerry was continuing on fueled by endorphins, adrenaline, and sheer willpower, and the same mantra that saw him through a few bad moments during the last school year: A good sorceress keeps their wits about them when everything is going to hell around them.

He flew through McCarty Pass and eased his way towards the Lowland turn. After doing the Perimeter Road flyover all that remained was the straight into Wrap Around and the short chute into Final before zipping across the Start/Finish line. He had no idea where he was in the standings: the last person he’d passed had happened all the way over in Section 2 during this lap, maybe twenty minutes earlier. He knew he hasn’t seen Penny or Nadine since they’d passed him on Lap 1, so he figured there were still ahead of him.

Which, if he were correct, meant there were still a lot of people behind him.

He bounced into Lowland and sailed through the flyover before turning on another quick burst of speed towards the end. There was little left ahead, and behind him—

For the first time in a while he checked his rear view and spotted two racers, then a third, shoot over the flyover and hit the straight behind him. He wasn’t about to try performing calculations in his head, which left him guessing—and his guess was they wouldn’t catch him before Final turn. I’m going to do this; I’ve got this . . .

Every second in Wrap Around left his knee feeling as if someone was jabbing a hot needle into an open nerve. He shook it off and concentrated on getting through Final. On last glance in the rear view and he watched one of his pursuers come out of the last turn. He didn’t bother with IFF: they weren’t going to catch him. He pushed through Final as hard as he could take it, staying to the far outside of the turn so he could keep his speed up, then pushed forward as hard as he could stand. The final gate flashed green as he reached the Start/Finish line and put three lap and three hundred kilometers behind him.

The race was over: he’d completed the Katahdan course, though not in one piece as he’d hoped.

 

Here’s the last segment, Section 8–

We're just about home--literally.

Which is a good term for being nuts, now that I think about it.

Kerry’s done his three laps, and he’s ready to come in.  It wasn’t something he was ready for mentally, and it’s showing.  There’s also something else bothering him as well–

 

Kerry pulled up and away from the course, slowing in a long, high loop to ease the pain on his knee. He was about to call in when Professor Semplen called him. “Congratulations on finishing your first Katahdin race, Kerry. Over.”

“Thanks, Professor.” He gulped as he flipped up his visor. “I need medical attention: my left knee is damaged and it’s killing me. Over.”

“Rodger. We’re contacting the hospital now.” There was a slight pause before Professor Semplen returned to the comm. “Do you think you can stand on it? Over.”

Kerry shook his head even though there wasn’t anyone else around. “Not a chance. Over.”

“We copy. Return to the paddock and remain hovering on your broom, or if you feel you need to lay down have someone help you off and stay on the ground. Someone will be there shortly. Over.”

“Got it.” He angled towards the small open grove just to the north of the Start/Finish line. “I’ll be waiting—over and out.”

He floated out of the sky and was over the confines of the paddock only ten seconds after his conversation with Professor Semplen. With the excitement of the race behind him the adrenaline stopped flowing and the endorphin high was rapidly fading. Even before he reached the ground Kerry’s vision had begun graying out from pain. He leaned over his broom’s control column before sliding to his right—

“I got ya, Kerry.” Penny held him tight, easing him to the ground while Nadine removed his helmet. “You’re okay now, just relax.”

He moaned as his left leg bent the wrong way. “Where’s Coraline?” He clutched Penny’s arm, digging his gloved fingers into her arm. “Where is she?”

“The professor called; a nurse is on their way.” She gave him a reassuring smile. “Hang in there, mate. You’ll be okay.”

“What happened?” Alex came running towards them, sliding to a stop next to Nadine, who was kneeling at Kerry’s left. “What’s wrong?”

Nadine had the answer. “Remember Emma getting a slow down at the start of the race for rough racing? Erywin told me she collided with him in the Pond Switchback.”

“She hit my leg.” He spoke through ragged breaths. “Screwed up my knee.”

“Again?” Alex shook her head. “Son of a bitch—”

 

So Nadine and Penny are there, which means they were up near the front as Kerry suspected.  And Alex is there as well, so she’s somewhere in that mix.  Now what could make this party complete?  How about . . .

 

“Kerry? How are you?”

All three girls attending turned to Emma, standing about three meters past Kerry’s feet. Nadine tilted her head slightly to the left. “You might want—”

Alex was on her feet, taking a few menacing steps towards the Mórrígan racer. “Did you do this? Vy nimyy suka.”

Emma’s demeanor alternated between upset and pissed. “I only wanted to see how he was feeling—”

“He’s hurt.” Penny shot her a withering glare. “How did you think he was gonna feel?”

“I didn’t know, Penny.” Emma’s tone was beginning to match those of the other girls. “That’s why I came over.”

“Well, now you know.” Penny looked down at the injured boy, who was sweating profusely in the cool Maine air. “Now you need to get out of here.”

Emma wasn’t taking the hint. “Who do you think—?”

Penny was standing and not bothering to hide her anger. “Piss off, Neilson.” She dismissed the girl with a wave. “Move your arse out of here before we move it for you.”

Nadine put herself between the Cernunnos girls and her teammate. “Come on, let’s go.”

Even with this Emma still hadn’t caught on that she wasn’t wanted. “I just wanted to—”

Let’s go.” Nadine stiff-armed the arguing girl and led her out of the area before a fight broke out.

“Let us through.” At that moment Nurse Bianca Gallard appeared wearing her white hospital jacket and carrying a stretcher. She left the stretcher floating just beyond Kerry’s head as she knelt next to his head. “How are you feeling, Kerry?”

 

Really, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, huh?  The Mistress of the Misstep causes a calamity and then comes over so see how things are.  Maybe she figured Nadine being there would keep the Vipers chilled out, but no:  Emma came within moments of getting an ass beating, and it required her team captain stepping in to pull her out of harm’s way for her to get the messages.

At least help has arrived.

 

He answered in a soft, weak tone. “I’m hurtin’ bad.”

Bianca gave him a tiny smile. “How’s your pain on one to ten?”

“About a seven.” Kerry closed his eyes and swallowed. “Maybe eight.”

“Okay. Here’s what we’re gonna do—” She looked across his body. “I’m going to immobilize your leg so we can get you to the hospital with it moving about as little as possible. My assistant is gonna give you something for the pain: just enough to dull it, nothing more.” The smile returned. “Got that?”

“I got it.”

“Okay.” Bianca stood and turned to someone standing behind her. “Give him a Number Two patch; we just want to manage the pain right now.”

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.”

 

An assistant?  We haven’t seen any assistants working in the hospital before–Oh, Wait!  Yes we have, back during the Day of the Dead attacks.  Yeah, they exist, so I wonder who got tagged for this duty?

 

Though Kerry hadn’t seen the person the nurse spoke with, he recognized the voice and accent instantly. A large grin appeared upon his face as Annie—also wearing a white hospital jacket over her sweater—knelt next to him. “Assistant, huh?”

“I am a member of the Triage Team, am I not?” She removed his right glove. “Coraline thought it would be a good idea if I came with Nurse Bianca.”

 

As if you hadn’t expected this one–Nurse Annie to the rescue!

“I’m sure you ran to the hospital and offered your help, too.”

Annie nodded as she reached inside her jacket and removed a medpatch. “You know me all too well, my love.”

He watched her unwrap the patch and cracked it to activate the enchantment that would get the medication into his system. “You gonna make me feel better now?”

“Yes.” She gently slid the patch against the back of his hand and pressed it in place.

“With a kiss?”

She leaned close to his face and whispered. “That’s for later tonight.”

Bianca was standing over the couple. “I’ve got the knee set. You want to get him up so we have an easier time getting the stretcher under him?”

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.” Annie stood and took a step back from Kerry before raising her hands so they were level with her waist. Kerry slowly rose from the ground as Annie levitated to where he as high as her knees. “Ready here.”

Bianca slapped the stretcher over him, phasing it through his body before getting it set under him. She pointed towards Kerry’s feet. “You take that end.” Annie moved into position as Bianca raised

Kerry until he was level with her waist. “Okay, Kerry; we’re taking you directly to the ward. Hold on though—” She cradled his broom in his right arm. “Wouldn’t want to leave this behind.” He looked across to her assistant. “You got a good grip, Annie?”

Annie held tight to the stretcher handles. “I’m ready.”

Kerry stared straight up into the gray, snowy sky as he heard Bianca give a three-second countdown before there was the now-familiar sensation of something light pushing against his skin and quickly vanishing. He started up into the lights of the first floor ward as he was moved down the corridor, finally ending up in familiar surroundings: Bed #2 in Bay #1.

Bianca whipped the stretcher over him and slid it into the bay across the corridor, then turned to Annie. “Start getting his accessories off and set them on Bey #1 with his broom. I’ll get the IVs and what we need to clean him and set his knee. I’ll be back in a moment.”

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.” Annie set his broom on the other bed along with the glove she’s held since they’d arrived. She moved to the other side of the bed to get his other glove. “Just relax; we’re gonna get you all better.”

Kerry had little difficulty relaxing now that the pain meds were in his system. “You’re going to clean me up?”

She began sliding off his comm helmet. “Doesn’t the staff always clean you up?”

He started grinning. “Does this mean you’re gonna undress me?”

Her right eyebrow rose. “What do you think?” It returned to its normal place of rest as Annie chuckled. “I did say we were going to make you feel better . . .”

 

Don’t worry, it’s all medical stuff gonna happen, so if Annie just happens to be there when Kerry’s in his birthday suit, it’s because she’s helping out the hospital staff.  That Annie, she certainly knows how to work the angles.

There you have it:  the end of Kerry’s race on the big track.  And the penultimate scene to this chapter:

It really is because I show you that it is.

It really is because I show you that it is.

One more scene, and then I put the penultimate chapter to this first part of Act Three to bed and move on to something . . .

Well, you’ll see.

A Day At the Races: Basin Deep, Mountain High

Finally, finally, finally . . . I finished the scene.  With all my note taking and map watching and picture imagining, I finally got the sucker finished–and even managed to dip into the Phil Spector catalog to come up with a witty title for today’s post.  I stand back; I kiss myself.  Maw!

Believe me when I say this was on long and hard chapter to write.  Of everything I’ve put together in two books, this is probably the longest I’ve gone without the main characters speaking to others.  Yes, Kerry does have a short conversation with Vicky, and he yells a couple of times, but that’s all of about a hundred or so words out of the five thousand three hundred total.  It’s all description, and that’s a pain in the butt, at least from where I stand it is, because I have to dream up everything.  It’s always so much easier when Annie’s crashed out with Kerry on a sofa somewhere, whispering sweet Bulgarian nothings in his ear, which reminds me:  does she really do that?  Do they run off to that little hiddy hole they have and sit next to each other, and Annie places her lips close to his ear and whispers, “Ti si moeto malko vkusna tikva,” which is, “You are my tasty little pumpkin,” and then gives him a kiss and–

Hey, that’s a scene for another time, right?  For now let’s get to the end of the scene at hand:

 

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

While Kerry wasn’t a technical flier, there were certain track turns that he loved because of their complexity. Harvey was one of those turns: a difficult “S” turn that climbed three hundred meters to the 4K points of the course in just thirteen hundred meters. He went over the turn five times during the walk-through: twice during the two laps he was allowed to run, and three more times where he flew back from 4K to Cliffside Valley just to get a feel for turns and develop a rhythm.

He used that rhythm now.

With the snow closing in and streaming down the rough cut in the side of Hamlin Peak, Kerry wrapped around the course at the base of the actual ridge, then turned left and flew upward over the exposed rock face. He pushed his PAV up two hundred meters into a near white-out, then yanked the broom to the right flew across the escarpment to the eleven hundred and sixty meter level, then speed off up and to the left at nearly a hundred and seventy kilometers an hours, sliding through 4K as he continued turning to the left thought the light woods above the twelve hundred meter line and into the white out that currently engulfed Hamlin Peak.

 

Kerry loves those turns because, as you’ll find out later, he’s had experience on them–not at this school, but elsewhere.  So what does it look like up close?

I could get closer, but I'd have to fly there.

I could get closer, but I’d have to fly there.

The point at the far left is about where he flipped off Emma while zooming along, then he starts the turn, he turns again, and then it’s up in the air you go.  For just a little bit you’re actually hanging out over nothing, and it has to be kind of freaky to be at the top with all that snow swirling about, and catch a peek at the ground about seven hundred feet below you.  Then you’re across, you turn again, and then it’s up the mountain to 4K, which is just about where this ends on the right.

If you look closely you’ll notice that it would have been easier to go straight at the bottom, following the creek bed, and continue straight on to the top of the mountain, but where’s the fun in that?  I’m here to give my kids a challenge!  Which they are getting . . .

 

The last of trees were replaced by low shrubs, but within a few hundred meters they faded away into the bare rock that made up the mountain summit. Kerry slowed to about two hundred kph, hoping he wouldn’t get run over, and watched as the gates began flashing. He remembered from the day before he’d pass through six before reaching the edge of the peak and the High Dive. The first flashing gate went by, then the second, and Kerry girded himself for what was coming next—

He flew through the sixth flashing gate and watched the ground vanish from below his feet. He angled the broom downward about sixty degrees, then hurled down the flank of Hamlin Peak at close to two hundred and fifty kilometers an hour.

The course from the High Dive to the basin floor was about a kilometer long and dropped about five hundred meters with an interesting twist on the decent: for the first two hundred and fifty meters it stayed at the initial sixty degree angle, then shifted to about an eighty-five degree angle for another hundred before cutting hard to the left and taking an easier decent to the Basin Ridge turn. Given the speeds down this section of the course, it was easy to make a mistake—and any kind of bad weather made the decent that much more perilous.

 

The bit about the side of the mountain sticking out I didn’t get until I started looking at Hamlin Peak in three dimensions, and that’s when I saw the formation as described.  Sort of like . . .

Did you really think I wouldn't show you?

Did you really think I wouldn’t show you?

No matter how you look at it, roaring twelve hundred feet/three hundred and fifty meters down a mountain in white-out conditions isn’t a lot of fun.  Kerry’s already thinking this isn’t fun, but he’s feeling that with racing at the school:  it’s almost a job, and you gotta work at it.  And he’s doing that full-out now–

 

Kerry’s concentration didn’t waver, however, and ten seconds after flying over the High Dive the white out dissipated into heavy snow and the ground leveled out among the bare trees of Baxter State Park. He was around Basin Ridge and one his way to Campground, anticipating the slight rise as the course lifted above the trees for the first time as it followed one of the park’s roads towards Hamlin Peak’s southern flank, making it impossible for the placement of elevation gates at ground level. Kerry found this part of the course a bit more difficult to follow, for it didn’t trace the path of the road below exacting, and if one started following the course below instead of the one they were on, they’d soon miss a gate.

He didn’t make any mistakes, however. With the snow picking up Kerry stayed focused on the gates while the ridge line between Hamlin Peak and Mount Katahdin grew closer. He reached Saddle Climb and rushed up the mountainside, rising another three hundred meters in just under five seconds and clearing Katahdin Wave by only a meter as he was once more engulfed in a white out.

With no one near him, ahead or behind, he relaxed as he eased into the right hand turn leading to Hamlin Thirty-six. From this point on it was downhill all the way back to Section 8 and the Start/Finish line. There was only once more major climb ahead, but after what he’d just negotiated in Section 5, he wasn’t worried. He was going to get cold, he was going to get tired, and he was going to do his best to ignore the pain shooting through his left knee and upward into his thigh.

It was necessary, because he was going to finish this race.

 

There you have it:  all five thousand and some words for the posting.

Just like I said I would.

Just like I said I would.

Long and over, and the end is near.  Actually, since the next scene is The Finish, I’d say the end of something is close by.

But what I’m finishing only I know.

A Day At the Races: Snow Cruise

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Into this.

Let’s trip into this insanity.

Here we go:

 

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

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

He was right: it was Emma.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

How said sucker looked just before I started adding words.

How said sucker looked just before I started adding words.

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

Anyway, here’s what happens . . .

 

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

Time to make those words ring true.

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

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

 

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

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

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

A Day At the Races:  Fines and Misnomers

Here I am, up after sleeping in until six AM, which for me is sleeping in.  Given that there have been huge trucks and power ‘dozers on the street outside my apartment building for most of the evening, it’s a wonder I’ve gotten any sleep at all.  The snow removal has gone on all night, and while I’m not supposed to go into work today, I’m probably going to head in for a bit after I finish this post, because if I don’t clock in I don’t get paid.

I was out last night, however, getting my face zapped and lasered–oh, and getting my brows done at the same time.  It actually wasn’t that bad of a time, though the laser hurt like hell for some reason and I needed to ice down my face while I got my brows plucked.  Might have something to do with my hormone levels, which were confirmed by a paper I’ve received from the lab that did the work last month.  According to them, my hormone level–taken, I might say, in the period right between one shot and another–show that I’m either ovulating or in the first trimester of pregnancy.  Okay . . . so now I know why I’m so moody.  I see my doctor in a few weeks and I’m already wondering what she’s gonna say.  Maybe, “When are you due?”

I know someone who isn’t ovulating, and that’s Kerry.  No he’s flying around a bunch of mountains with a busted knee and a lot of pain and a decision to make.  It’s not a good decision, and it is definitely one that has consequences . . .

 

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

With only a few seconds remaining before he entered Squeeze Through, Kerry quickly cast a transformation spell to immobilize his left knee. He wasn’t killed the pain by keeping the nerves from working, he was only trying to keep it from moving around a lot. It really didn’t matter, as the action was considered a bit illegal. And since the race uniforms were designed to pick up magic being used on or around then, he figured it wouldn’t be long before—

“This is Race Control. What are you doing, Kerry? Over.”

“Stand by one.” He clenched his jaw as he pulled hard left into Squeeze Through and up to the hard right at Climbing Water. He knew he was on the private channel, so he could say anything he liked. “Go ahead, Control. Over.”

“The question stands, Kerry.” Vicky’s tone wasn’t at all pleasant. “What are you doing? Over.”

“I immobilized my knee.” He started the short three hundred meter left-hand climb to Tiny Tip. “It got screwed up when Emma ran into me. Over.”

“Understood. Over.”

He’d never put Vicky in the position of having to access a penalty for an illegal action, Kerry made it easy for her. “Do what you gotta do, Vicky. I know I wasn’t supposed to use magic. Over and out.”

Kerry reached Tiny Top, angled downward, and began the three hundred and fifty meter drop to one of the toughest turns: Hard Right. It wasn’t that it was a ninety degree turn that required a racer to come to a near stop to negotiate the turn, but that they dropped into the turn from a near forty degree angle. He steeled himself for the deceleration, then let the back end of his broom drop in behind him before heading off towards Slip with a two-and-a-half gee burst of speed.

He was in the middle of the easy climb when the news he expected came. “This is Race Control. Ten second penalty assessed against Number 11, Malibey: illegal use of magic.” Kerry blew it off: There’s a lot more ahead; worry about that. Worry about Ready, Steady, Go

 

There you have it:  Emma busts up Kerry, and he get a penalty for the matter.  And in the process he lets Vicky off the hook by telling her, “I know I did wrong, so do your job.”  The last thing he wants is having someone going, “See?  Everyone plays favorites to him and his little . . . witch!”  All the nope here because he doesn’t want to put someone in that position.  And he didn’t.  So there.

We’re right in this area now, and we’re picking up at Spot #2, bad knee and all:

This . . . looks easy.

This is where he’s at, and it doesn’t look so easy now.

 

Slip flew by, dropping off to Kerry’s right as he made his way through the kilometers and a half turn leading up to Go. He was running three-fifty through here, and though he’d removed the gee meter from his HUD, it felt like he was pulling right around a normal gee through the turn. As he flew into Ready he caught sight of Rivânia five, maybe six hundred meters ahead. He made the quick and probably foolish decision to kick up his speed just a bit, because he knew she’d slow a little heading into Steady before turning it up to maximum speed in Go. He needed to make up time on her, and this was one of the chances he’d have before getting into Section 4 of the course.

The forest closed in just a bit as Kerry entered the pass that was the lead-in to Steady and prepared to punish himself. He was gonna need a huge burst of acceleration to catch Rivânia before she entered Needle, and the only way to accomplish that feat was to push forward and push fast. He readied himself for the pain that was about to come into his world—

Half-closing his eyes, he pulled his broom into a hard right turn, willed on the acceleration, and slid out on to three hundred meters of empty space.

 

We sail out into open air with Kerry as he tries to catch up with his Advanced Spells friend from Uruguay, and hope he doesn’t bust up his knee, or wrack up any more penalties–

Or maybe worse.

A Day At the Races: The Pain Principle

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

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

Here's the view from my balcony looking north.

Here’s the view from my balcony looking north.

 

And looking south towards I-83 and the Susquehanna.

And looking south towards I-83 and the Susquehanna.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

An angry witch at Salem?  Whomever could I mean?

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

My first attempt at boring the hell out of you.

So now we leave this behind–

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

Still with me? Good.

And we move on to Section 2.

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Tomorrow.  There’s always more tomorrow.

A Day At the Races: Pretty Racers All In a Bunch

The snow is bearing down on us as I write this, and in about twelve hours we’re gonna get hit with Snowmageddon 3:  This Time It’s Personal.  Bring it:  I’m ready.  I went out after work to get my staples, and I’ll make it through no matter what.  Plus I’m crazy and I’ll walk down to something if it’s open–if being the operative word.

Needless to say today will be Panic in The Burg, and I’m certain at least one person at work will yap on about this shit for more than a few hours.  It’s even possible we’ll be sent home early because The Burg shuts down once there’s a couple of inches on the ground–or, as we say back over by Chicago der, “It’s Friday.”

Anyway . . . after getting home I started writing, and for the first time in a while I actually felt like writing.  Even though I had to do a bit of calculating in the next section of about eight hundred words–at one point I had four tabs open, each with an online calculator ready to go–I was still a happy girl as I tapped away at the keys.

"Maybe I'm having a good time because I know there's mayhem right around the corner?"

“Maybe I’m having a good time because I know there’s mayhem right around the corner?”

Yeah, that could be entirely possible.

There’s racing, and know I know who the hell is doing want.  And here they are–

Have at it, kids!

 

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

The course straighten and vanished into the gray, misty forest. Kerry pushed forward hard as the acceleration tried to force him backwards and off the broom’s saddle. Jaramillo stayed on Kerry’s left while Iglesias stayed about half a broom length to the left and back from her, and all three quickly reached a hundred and eighty kilometers an hour as they closed on Manco and Soroushi. Kerry pushed his speed, hitting two hundred then two-ten, but the girls from Blodeuwedd and Ceridwen stayed with him, as did the gaggle of racers coming up through his draft.

He needed to clear the people in the front in the next twenty seconds, otherwise the people behind him were going to jam on him and the girls to his left, while he jammed into the two fliers in front—the sort of situation that might see someone getting pushed into the safety enchantments and maybe crashing, or blowing an elevation gate and taking a five second penalty. Maybe all of those.

Kerry jerked a few centimeters to his left, just enough to make Jaramillo think he was going to tap her, then cut to his right as he lay his body over the control column and pushed on nearly five gees of acceleration. Two seconds and two hundred meters was all he needed to boost his top end to just over five hundred thirty kilometers an hour. He sailed past Soroushi—who had finally pushed her speed to what seemed like a bit over two hundred—and moved back to the center of the track.

Unfortunately, all the others behind him had the same idea. Fortunately, a few of them did pile up behind Manco and Soroushi, which meant they’d have to catch up at some point later on the course.

 

That “two seconds and two hundred meters” was the first of those things I needed to calculate, and it necessitated having to open three calculators.  First to find out how much speed I’d pick up if I pushed on five gees of acceleration–which, in case you’re wondering, is 49 meters per second squared.  Once I knew how fast I’d go, I looked up another calculator to make sure my meters per second to kilometers an hour I was calculating on my computer was correct.  (It was.)  Then I brought up a third calculator to see how much distance I would cover.  Two hundred meters, by the way, is six hundred and fifty-six feet, and in case you’re wondering how far that is–

It's this far, folks.

It’s this far, folks.

Kerry flew from the far side of the West Wing of the White House to the other side of the East Wing in two seconds.  That’s some pretty good flyin’ there, kid.

But now he’s go something else to do–

 

Kerry didn’t care. He was entering the South Branch turn at four hundred thirty kilometers kph, and though he thought he should kill some speed so he didn’t bounce off the safety enhancements, he decided to gamble, because he knew if he didn’t, people behind him would. He pulled his broom to the left and entered the turn.

The gee force wasn’t bad—he figure he was pulling two and a half gees at the most—but it went on for a bit longer than the seven or eight seconds needed to get through Observatory Bend. He held the turn as he made the slight climb towards Twelve Cut, then cut his speed considerably as he reached the right turn and head off and up.

 

What I didn’t point out is that the fourth calculator I used here told me that Kerry held that speed through the turn for about twelve to thirteen seconds.  And my calculations may have been off just a little, but that’s why this is a first draft, so I can go back and fix things later.  Sometimes I’m a bit too eager to make sure my kids do it right.  Or at least I get it right.

Anyway, this leaves Kerry almost in the lead.  Only one thing up ahead . . .

 

The climb to Barrell Around was a good hundred meters, and the only one between him and that crest was Anna, who was only about eighty meters ahead. Her flying surprised him, because Nadine told Annie and him after last Wednesday’s Advanced Spells class that most pole sitters fade on the South Branch climb, and it was extremely rare for them to stay in the lead all the way to Pond Switchback. Kerry figured she might hold on to the lead through Barrell Around, but he was going to take her through the flat of Twin Peaks before they did the quick ninety meter drop to Pond Switchback and made the difficult left-hand turn and nearly two hundred and seventy meter climb to North Climb.

Anna flew into Barrell Around and vanished into the right hand turn. Kerry went after her, picking up speed through the blind corner leading into Twin Peaks, the narrow passage between two five hundred fifty meter hills. He hit the acceleration and caught up to the lead girl just as she was dropping out of the passage down the cut dropping almost a hundred meters to the hairpin switchback overlooking the Lower South Branch Pond—which they could almost see through the barren trees.

Kerry noticed Anna’s helmet twitch: she was checking her mirrors and knew he was behind her. She pointed down and to her left, indicating that she was letting a faster, more experienced flier pass. He pulled to the center of the turn as Anna slid a bit to her right—

He was a quarter of the way through the turn when Emma slid hard into Kerry, nearly knocking him off his broom, then straightened herself and pulled away from the Switchback and up the side of North Ridge towards North Pass, almost a kilometer away and three hundred and fifty meters higher.

 

Emma!  How you doing, you little race-bumping ginger bitch?  So here’s Kerry racing Anna, who is being nice and safe and using hand gestures–which are legit and used in a few different series–and who comes along and runs into Kerry–again?  Can you say it?  Say it again!  LOUDER!

I wonder what might happen now?  Well, I know what’s going to happen.  But you’ll have to come back tomorrow to read about it, because I won’t write it until tonight.

Assuming I’m not buried in snow on the walk home.

A Day At the Races: Only the Climb Ahead

You can blame Skye Hegyes for this post.  Kinda.  It’s always the kinda with stuff like this.  I’m a kinda kind of girl.

But back into the post . . . after yesterday’s post she left this comment, which I point out now that I know was fully tongue-in-cheek:

 

Wait… So you didn’t know everyone’s names, their covens, or even where they’d place behind our beloved ones?!? I’m surprised at you, you slacker, you. 😛

 

Like I say it know it was said in jest, but at the same time there’s a kernel of truth there as well.  The last few months have been tiring and stressful, and I’ve been here before and usually get through it, but this time it’s been a bitch of a bitch that doesn’t get the hint that I don’t need this shit in my life right now.

"Stressed stressed, you got my best . . . screw rhyming the rest of this crap."

“Stressed stressed, you got my best . . . screw rhyming the rest of this crap.”

So when I started putting this current chapter together I did slack in some areas–like knowing who the hell everyone was.  It was a lot of work, and given what I put into laying out the track I didn’t much feel like getting down a name on everyone there.

However . . .

I also felt bad because I usually have this stuff worked out.  I mean, that’s what I do:  I get all the details worked out.  I didn’t this time, and I didn’t like it.  In fact I started thinking about it at work, and thinking turns to obsessing, and obsessing to the Dark Side turns, and . . . sorry, wrong world.

You know where this is going, don’t you?  Damn right you do, because if you’ve read this far into this blog–and that would be a long time, as today is blog post one thousand, seven hundred and fifty–you know exactly what’s coming–

Ladies and Gentlemen, the current Salem Coven Racing A Teams:

 

Salem Coven Racing A Teams (Current rosters, March 2013):

Åsgårdsreia

Rivânia Suassuna — E — Uruguay — Captain
Getasew Berhanu — C — Ethiopia
Rezi Lahood — C — Lebanon
Lisa Glissandi — B — United States
Anna Laskar — B — Germany

Blodeuwedd

Tsuchiya Ryoko — E — Japan — Captain
Sofie van Lanen — D — The Netherlands
Soroushi Amouzegar — D — Iran
Maritza Iglesias — C — Argentina
Felisa Ledesma — B — Mexico

Ceridwen

Lee Fang Qing — E — Singapore — Captain
Fana Okeke — E — Senegal
Amitee Jaramillo — D — Chile
Sudarat Chiangmai — C — Thailand
Burney Shaw — C — Ireland

Cernunnos

Manco Mamani — D — Peru — Captain
Darius Roy — D — Canada
Penelope Rigman — C — England
Alexandria Chorney — C — Ukraine
Kerry Malibey — B — Wales

Mórrígan

Malaya Lacsina — F — Philippines
Nadine Woodley — D — United States — Captain
Argus Pelham — D — Tasmania
Nattat Adriano — C — Angola
Emmalynne Neilson — B — United States

 

A few things to point out.  First, Mórrígan is the only team where the team captain is not the oldest person, and they have two members from the United States; they also have the greatest spread of talent, from the F to B Levels.  Blodeuwedd is the only all-girls team:  everyone else has at least one boy.  Cernunnos has the only male team captain, and has three fliers from the same continent, while Blodeuwedd and Åsgårdsreia have all five racers from five different continents.  Also, in researching Getasew Berhanu’s name, I discovered that Ethiopians don’t really have last names, and in his case his last name is actually his father’s given name.  So there.

And given this, here is the lineup for the current race with the best last and the not-best first:

 

Mount Katahdin Cross Country Race 2013

16 — Nadine Woodley (Mórrígan)
15 — Rivânia Suassuna (Åsgårdsreia)
14 — Penny Rigman (Cernunnos)
13 — Rezi Lahood (Åsgårdsreia)
12 — Alex Chorney (Cernunnos)
11 — Kerry Malibey (Cernunnos)
10 — Emma Neilson (Mórrígan)
9 — Fana Okeke (Ceridwen)
8 — Getasew Berhanu (Åsgårdsreia)
7 — Tsuchiya Ryoko (Blodeuwedd)
6 — Nattat Adriano (Mórrígan)
5 — Maritza Iglesias (Blodeuwedd)
4 — Amitee Jaramillo (Ceridwen)
3 — Manco Mamani (Cernunnos)
2 — Soroushi Amouzegar (Blodeuwedd)
1 — Anna Laskar (Åsgårdsreia)

 

Now we know, and so do I.

All that took up about ninety minutes and two hundred words, which means I didn’t have a lot of time for real writing.  Why is this?  I fell asleep when I got home, and I was fighting the Return of the Cold last night, so for a while I had dope head from the medication.  I feel better now, but today we start the watch for Snowmageddon 3:  This Time It’s Personal, and people in The Burg are starting to lose their shit bad.  We’re expecting about a foot of snow by the end of Saturday, and this means I’ll have to go out tonight and pick up staples to help me get through the weekend and into next week.

But I did add to the story–three hundred words exactly.  And now we know is who and what they are doing:

 

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

The field ahead began slowing, indicating they were coming into Crossing. Anna quickly whipped to the right; Soroushi tried to do the same and Manco pushed hard to her left trying to get around the Iranian girl, or at the least race her side-by-side up the South Branch section of the course. Iglesias pulled along side Jaramillo as Okeke went wide and almost flew outside the elevation gate. She pulled back hard to her right and sailed back into the middle of the course, causing Iglesias and Jaramillo to nearly crash into her. This was the opening Kerry needed. He dove low and took the turn as hard as he could while keeping good speed. Jaramillo was close enough on his left that he thought she might bump him, but it didn’t happen.

What did happen was his finding four fliers threading the line directly behind him. Tsuchiya Ryoko from Blodeuwedd had managed to reach his six once more, but she was being pressured by Emma, Alex, and Penny behind Ryoko. He didn’t see Rivânia or Nadine, but there wasn’t time to look—

It was time to begin climbing up South Branch.

Technically the only section of the course ahead of Kerry that one could legitimately call South Branch was the long, slow left following the quick right, but all the fliers refereed to this stretch by that name because it more or less followed the stream of the same name on the right and the road to left. It started a hundred meter climb to the turn fast turn. By the time Kerry was ready to leave Section 1 of the course he’d find himself six hundred meters higher than he was now—

But it started here. It was time to make the climb.

 

There you have it:  I’ve got names, I’ve got places.  What I don’t have are faces, but give me time:

I’ve been known to find those as well.

A Day At The Races: Trout Angling

A couple of things about yesterday’s post.  First, as I was reminded by follower and fellow writing James Pailly of the Tomorrow Network News, O.S. should be “Off Screen” and not “On Screen.”  He’s absolutely correct, and in my “screenplay” there should have been only a few O.S. moment.  As he told me, “At least you were consistent,” so I’ll give the play that.  I’ll watch that in the future.

Second, while the screenplay was cleaned up, the interesting question remains:  if there was a movie made of this magnificent pairing of witches in the wilds of Cape Ann, what sort of rating would it get?  That’s an easy one:  it’d get an “R” rating, and that would come about for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, the Walking Tests/Kill the Zombies scene would likely get nailed for being too bloody, and Deconstructor Death by Head Exploding, Arm Removal, and Exsanguination would probably be a no-no, not to mention the death are coming from an eleven year old boy and twelve year old girl.  Sleeping together, even innocently, would be frowned up, and Annie’s vision–the one where she got out of bed naked and never dressed–would likely need changing.

The biggest reason, though, is the dumbest:  the word “fuck” is said more than twice.  I was told long ago that a PG-13 is given two “fucks” said or seen, and when it hits three, that’s an automatic R.  The Martian used the two-times rule:  Matt’s character said the word twice, and each time after that it wasn’t heard or spelled out, even when it was seen by others.  The Aviator says the word once, thereby keeping its PG-13 rating.

However, in my story, Erywin drops the word at least once, as does Helena–the “We’re that team, remember?” line in the screenplay had the removal of one word, if you get my meaning–and Wednesday says it to Isis during the Day of the Dead attack.

And then there’s Lisa . . .

 

(From The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Lisa jerked out of Erywin’s arms and launched herself at Kerry. She was on him in a second, pummeling him with her fists. “You stupid dick. Rotten bastard.” She punched him in the shoulders and chest while Kerry held his arms up, warding off her blows. “Smug prick, I’m going to get you. I’m going to—let me go.” Helena grabbed Lisa from behind and pulled the struggling girl away from Kerry. “I’ll get you, bitch. I’m gonna make you sorry.” She tried jerking out of Helena’s grasp with little successes. “I’m gonna to mess you up. I’m gonna to hurt You.” Lisa spit at Kerry. “I’m gonna bash in your head with a Fucking POT.”

Helena handed the struggling girl to Erywin. “Get her into the office and give her something.” As Lisa was pulled away, Helena motioned to Kerry. “You can sit down.”

“Thank you.” He headed back to his seat, back towards the proudly smiling Annie, trying his best to ignore the screaming and cursing Lisa—

Something hard stuck him in the back of the head, liquid splashing all over him. He turned and saw Lisa once again out of Erywin’s arms, standing next to the work bench where the various mixtures sat. “Fuckin’ prick.” She picked up another vial and hurdled it towards him to crash against the wall. “I’ll fix you and your fuckin’ slut.” She threw another and struck him in the forehead before he could duck. “Motherfucker.”

 

"Remember when Kerry dominated Lisa in Sorcery class and she lost her shit and was going to hit him with a fucking pot?" "Those were good times, weren't they?"

“Remember when Kerry dominated Lisa in Sorcery class and she lost her shit and was going to hit him with a fucking pot?” “Those were good times, weren’t they?”

Okay, then.  Just that little outburst alone puts me over the limit, and I’d have to keep two of those four F-Bombs in, so . . . fuck it.  R It Is!

But no fucking pots today–it’s race day!  Again!  And let me tell you, almost six hundred words to start the scene isn’t easy when you’re checking your maps and then, right in the middle of writing, you start wondering, “So, what covens to all these fliers come from?”  So I had to sit down and figure that out, and at some point–probably tonight–I’ll start getting crazy and wondering who the hell they are and give them names.

But that’s tonight at the least.  Not now.  Now you get racing!

 

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

Slamming his broom hard to the left, Kerry lay down over the control column, pushed forward, and willed as much acceleration as his body could stand. He shot past tenth and ninth places before cutting to the center of the course to pass eighth on the right so closely that he felt the change in air pressure as he cut through the other flier’s burgeoning slipstream.

Seven fliers in front of him, and Lisa was still in the lead heading towards a slight bend to the right that was the set up the short straight going into the Trout chicane. She was getting pressured by both Soroushi, who was right on her tail, and Manco, who was trying hard to get around both girls. Manco was being pressured hard by a flier from Blodeuwedd and the two lone racers from Ceridwen, but the back of the pack was moving forward fast, and it wouldn’t be long before there was a jam-up—

The gates turned from a solid color to flashing, indicating the approach of a turn. Trout was a S chicane and a flyover much like the Green Line’s Reservoir. It turned back to the right, first down and then up over both the local road and Trout Creek, then dropped back into the woods and turned hard to the left for a fast, straight run to the next turn. The front five fliers entered the turn smoothly and gave each other enough space so they didn’t crash into each other.

Kerry cruised past the seventh place Mórrígan as he entered the turn a little harder than necessary, but there wasn’t going to be a problem pulling hard gees through the turn. He completed the turn on the outside and popped up over the road before sliding downward towards the creek. Just like with the first part of the chicane he stuck to the outside and started turning on speed at the apex of the turn. He carried enough momentum through the second part of Trout to zoom past one of the Ceridwen fliers to take over sixth.

Trout was the lowest portion of the course: two hundred and thirty-five meters above sea level. From here it was all uphill, so to speak. It was a nice flat run to the next turn, Crossing, which was deceptively difficult because it was a one hundred five degree turn to the right before starting a fast, one hundred meter climb to a wide, fast one-eight turn that started with a quick flyover.

He checked the course ahead. The top three were still Anna, Soroushi, and Manco being followed by their Blodeuwedd and Ceridwen shadows, but Kerry felt the pressure coming from behind. Emma was only two positions back, and he saw Alex, Penney, Rivânia, and Nadine close behind her. He figured once they were through Crossing those in the back were going to turn up the pressure and make they way to the front before heading into quick wraparound that was Twelve Cut, Barrell Around, and Twin Peaks.

All the top fliers wanted to get around the slower fliers before they began the climb into the mountains and the racing grew serious.

 

There you are.  Heading into the second of a buttload of turns–well, actually third if you were paying attention, and now Kerry’s moving up with racers hot on his six while he’s hot on the sixes of the racers at the bottom of the pack who started at the front barbecue it’s an inverted start–did you get all that?

If you didn’t get it, you soon will, ’cause you’re getting more tomorrow . . .

Right On Down the Line

I’ll tell you, coming down to my local coffee shop on Sundays and writing for three hours straight has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.  I’ve finished the current scene after writing seventeen hundred and sixty-eight words, I’ve pushed the chapter over five thousand words, and the novel is now a few hundred words short of two hundred and twenty-nine thousand words.  I’m also sitting by a great window seat and dressed about as comfortably as ever.

Totally slipping into Basic White Girl land here.

Totally slipping into Basic White Girl land here.

Yes, that’s what I’m wearing today.  I’ve swapped out the Uggs for my leather Clark’s boots, but the leggings and Old Navy sweater dress are a reality, and I’m totally not sorry for being out like this.  It’s quite comfy, and it’s warm enough to be out like this, so it’s really great to get out and enjoy myself.  So I can work.  Yeah, why not?

A whole lot has happened out on this start/finish line, and I’m gonna give it to you all, because that’s the way I am.  And it more or less proves that I’ve been working, yeah?  Sure does.  So what did Kerry see after seeing Emma off?  Well . . .

 

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

He joined the group and hovered his helmet and gloves to his left. “Hey, guys: what’s up?”

Manco nodded in Kerry’s direction. “I just wanted to say a few things.” He looked down for a second before speaking. “First off, I need to have this said. Beginning of the season, when you came up—” He nodded towards Kerry again. “—Darius and I were pretty shitty to all you guys—”

“Pretty shitty?” Penny crossed her arms while a slight smile played upon her face. “I’d say it was more than pretty, considering you acted the same way towards Alex and me the season before.”
Manco considered Penny’s comment. “You’re right, we were—I was. The way we treated you last season sucked and was totally uncalled for.” He paused to see if someone else would comment, and proceeded when no one spoke up. “You all proved me wrong; you showed everyone—not just me, but all the other teams—who the best racers were in Cernunnos, and you did it where everyone could see: out on the track. I know it’s probably not going to mean a lot, but I want to apologize.” He looked at Penny and Alex. “You should have never been held back last season. It was wrong, and the team got screwed because it happened.”

Neither girl spoke for a few seconds, then Alex put their thoughts to words. “Thank you for telling us this, Manco, but you know, you’re team captain, and this is something you should have said in the ready room in front of Darius and Professor Semplen. It’s good that you’re saying this, but you should say it to everyone.”

Penny nodded. “This should be said in front of the whole team. You’re team captain, man; you gotta stop letting Darius get away with all this lame shite because you’re worried he’s gonna piss and moan.”

Manco chuckled as he looked down. “Yeah, well, you don’t have to share a room with him.”

Kerry figured it was time to speak up. “Yeah, but you’re just enabling him to act like a butt muffin to the rest of us. Anymore, all he does is race pissed off and he doesn’t do the team any good.” He looked around. “You notice he isn’t here.”

 

And the phrase of the day is “Butt muffin.”  Manco is trying to write a wrong here, and he’s actually apologizing to the girls more than to Kerry.  Which is fine with him, because he knows Penny and Alex should get apologies from the captain of the team.  Penny is right on the mark as well:  Manco should say this in front of everyone, not just the only girls on the team when he’s away from a disruptive teammate who we now discover is also his dormmate.  He’s getting the message, though, as well as a bit of support–

 

“I almost didn’t make this, either.” Manco looked away, not wanting to face anyone. “I’m lucky to be here.”

“Yeah, but you can race—” Penny lay a hand on his arm. “You can race; you’ve gotten a couple of podiums this season, and damn near won a few times.”

“You can turn this around.” Alex took a step closer to the boy. “You need to tell Darius to come with the rest of us, or tell the professor that we need to bring up another flier from the B Team.”

Kerry nodded. “Yeah, man; that’s your job.” He chuckled. “That’s why they pay you the big bucks.”

Manco finally laughed which got everyone else to laughing. “Yeah, right. I don’t know what to do with all the cash they’re sending my way.”

They had no sooner stopped laughing when they heard a voice in their comm helmets. “Attention, this is Race Control. The race will begin in ten minutes. All fliers make final preparations. We will light the starting grid in five minutes. Please stand by.”

The four students looked at each other while allowing the silence to fill the moment. Manco finally spoke, as he was team captain and felt it was his duty. “I know you guys are gonna do great. I’m gonna do my best to point: like the professor said, this is the first time in a long time the coven’s had four racers on this course, and all of us pointing would be a hell of a jump in the team standings”

Kerry playfully slapped Manco’s shoulder. “You can do a top-ten with ease, man.” He looked toward Penny and Alex, who were both nodding in agreement. “This is gonna be a good day.”

“You know it.” Penny stuck her right arm out and made a first. “Cernunnos.”

The rest of the team pressed their fists against Penny’s and echoed her sentiments. “Cernunnos.” Manco had the final word before they began their final preparations. “Let’s have a good race.”

 

The one thing we have not seen from Kerry’s team is a lot of unity, and this is really the first time we’ve seen them come together seem to be not just individual racers, but a real team.  I guess this is what comes of first acting like a butt muffin and thinking the girls and the new kid on the team are gonna suck, then continuing to act that way because they’ve proven you wrong as hell.  Tweener/Teen Drama:  even witches can’t get past this shit.

It looks like that’s changing with fist bumps all around and a general feeling of good will upon the course.  Now that Race Control–which is really Vicky as the over-all coordinator–has spoken, it’s time to get the show rolling:

 

Kerry grabbed his gloves from his helmet and slipped them on before pulling his hard racing helmet on over his soft comm helmet. He flipped up his face plate before touching the right side of his head. “Race Central, this is Starbuck. Comm check. Over.”

Professor Semplen voice came back soft and clear. “Starbuck, this is Race Central. We have you five-by-five. Over.”

“Rodger, Race Central. Read you five-by. Over and out.” Kerry pulled his Espinoza from Hammerspace and waited for his grid position to light up. He was slightly amused by the notion that for a race so long and arduous they still did this even on Class 1 PAVs. The reasoning, he was told, was one of tradition: since the race was run on the old, classic wooden brooms, there wasn’t any reason to make any changes. However, Erywin had told him a few weeks earlier that one of the reasons they’d decided against using Class 2 or 3 PAVs was the fear that someone would kill themselves.

“This is Race Central.” Everyone at the Start/Finish turned attentive as their final order began. “The race will begin in five minutes. We are lighting the grid in one minute. Remember that this is an inverted start, with those lowest in position starting up front and the best positions beginning at the rear. Each individual position will have you name and indicate your position. Once you position is illuminated, place your broom in position and await further instructions. The grid will appear in thirty seconds. Please stand by.”

Kerry stood about where he thought he would start, and a few seconds later, when the grid appeared, he discovered he was off by only a few meters. He set his broom on the red “X” hovering a half meter above the ground beside his name and his starting position for this race. Being sixth in the over-all individual standings meant starting eleventh on the Katahdin course, which actually put him slightly behind the middle of the pack. Being first in the individual standings Nadine was all the way in the back, five positions back and on Kerry’s right, while Rivânia two rows direction behind him on the left side of the course, and Penny in the row ahead of them and directly in front of Nadine.

Alex, fifth in the individual standings, was in the same row as Kerry and to his right and slightly behind him. He watched her shoot a death stare at Emma, who was directly ahead of Alex in the next row and starting in tenth due to being seventh in individual standings. He knew the reason for the animosity: on two occasions Emma had beaten Alex to the finish line through what the later felt was overly aggressive racing, and three weeks earlier Alex lost a race to Emma when, on the last lap, Emma slid into Alex as they negotiated the Green Line’s Diamond Chicane. The bobble was enough to cause Alex to lose momentum and come in second behind Emma’s forth win, and though she’d appealed the aggressive move to Race Control, they ruled that Emma’s move didn’t appear intentional, and refused to penalize the Mórrígan racer.

This didn’t sit well with Alex, and after the podium presentation she exchanged words with Emma, who responded by flipping off the Ukrainian racer. While no spells were thrown, Alex nearly connected with a punch to Emma’s face before Nadine, Penny, and Kerry got between the two girls and stopped the impending fight.

Since that time both teams kept an eye on the two fliers, and before the pre-race briefing, Penny and Kerry pulled Alex aside and reminded her to not worry about Emma. Kerry wasn’t worried about trouble on the course: this was a first-time race for all three of them, and all the new people were fully aware the race difficult enough without bringing personal issues to the track.

 

We learn a few things here.  One, everyone still uses the Class 1 brooms for racing because back in the old days the witches ran this course on the real brooms, those damn uncomfortable wooden things they stuck between their legs.  There probably is some truth to the fact that people might have a better chance of getting killed if they did the faster, more responsive brooms, but let’s face it:  if they aren’t dying at the school on those suckers, they probably won’t on the Katahdin course, either.  It’s all about tradition, kids, don’t let anyone fool you.

And we also learn of the Emma/Alex Issues!  First she takes out her wingmate because she’s a little pissed, and now she’s done pissed off his team mate, and done so enough that Alex went in swinging on her ass.  The Bolder Ginger needs to watch herself, ’cause the last thing she wants is a crazy Ukrainian gunning for her–

Okay, maybe not this crazy a Ukrainian.

Okay, maybe not this crazy a Ukrainian.

–but you can imagine if three people jumped in to break the sucker up, it was serious.  Also, you have to wonder about the look on Emma’s face as a fist went sailing past her nose while the air was filled with Ukrainian curses.  It  was probably a bit humorous for everyone watching.  Makes you wonder, too, how Emma would react to a piss-off sorceress throwing death spells at her . . .

All that remains to getting ready:

 

“This is Race Control. All fliers mount your brooms and remain in hover. The race will begin in two minutes. Please stand by.” Kerry slipped his leg over his broom and used transformation magic to slip his genitals into his body before getting comfortable in the saddle. He looked back at Alex and gave her a thumbs up, which she returned. He faced forward and mentally prepared himself for the difficult hour and fifteen minutes ahead—

“This is Race Control. One minute to race start. Light are on the course.” A row of steadily glowing red lights appeared several meters ahead of Anna, who was starting on the pole due to making the race the week before. “Spyeyes in place and active. Activating elevation gates.” Down the length of the course ahead the hovering gates the races needed to pass appeared. “All flier, attend to final preparations.”

Kerry slapped down his face plate and leaned over his broom, waiting for the signal to begin. For just a second he imagined Annie sitting at their table in the Dining Hall, watching the race playing upon holographic screens. They’d done the same thing last year; this year she and Jairo, maybe Alex’s boyfriend Kahoku as well, were watching him prepare to take on the mountain—

“This is Race Control. Fifteen seconds to start. Set the light.” The red lights started flashing. “Ten seconds.” The row of lights went to black, then a single red light appeared on the left as a beeping tone sounded in everyone’s comm. As the beeping continued the lights began activating from left to right, turning to yellow as it continued to the right. “Five seconds, and . . .” The last light on the right illuminated, all turned to a flashing yellow for a few seconds before every overhead light turned a bright, steady green. “GO.”

 

With that we are totally off and running, and you know what’s coming–

Maybe the race?

Maybe the race?

Yeah, I’d say that’s a good bet.

The Calm Before the Start

Well, now, all was a good night sleep and so far a good morning.  Didn’t head out to Panera, which is something I haven’t been doing for a while now, mostly because I’m trying to catch up on my sleep, and getting up at five-thirty in the morning in order to sit and write is something I’m avoiding at the moment.

I am, however, not without coffee and my computer.

I am, however, not without coffee and computer.

As the picture shows I started the next scene this morning–actually, about seven-thirty, which is when this picture was taken.  Since then I’ve written almost seven hundred words, made a slight adjustment on my time line, and I’ve rocked out to the song that will be Kerry’s dedication to Annie when they attend their D Level Samhain dance.  Yes, I’m always thinking ahead, folks, because that’s the way I am.  I also know what song Annie will dedicate to Kerry during that same dance, because you can’t have one without the other now, can we?

At the moment we’re out of the school and up in the wilds far to the north, standing deep within the forests just south of the Allagash.  Since Annie isn’t here, I guess that means Kerry is the one doing the talking–or, in this case, the kinda deep thinking one might expect from a twelve year old–

 

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

Kerry slowly walked about the area near the Start/Finish line of the Katahdin course, taking in the silence of Baxter State Park while remembering a lyric from Ashes to Ashes about the shrieking of nothing killing. All was calm and peaceful. It was cold with a hint of moisture in the air and the sky was a slate of gray overcast. It was exactly as described in the pre-race briefing.

The course cut an eighteen meters gap though the center Maine forest. It was wider here to accommodate the race start, but there were sections further up in the mountains to the south where course narrowed down to eight meters in a few places. That was one of the reasons for letting everyone do a course fly-through the day before, so they could familiarize themselves with the layout, and where they needed to make themselves aware of more dangerous sections of the track.

He wasn’t worried about the course layout for a few years of racing simulated courses on his computer taught him to visualize the straights, the turns, the elevation changes, even the intricacies of the chicanes. He’d become so caught up in getting the course right that during last night’s Madness Annie kidded that she’d finally encountered a foe to vie for Kerry’s attention. He apologized for thinking more of the race than his mila skŭpa, but she forgave him as she understood that today’s race was going to be one of the biggest events of his life . . .

Kerry smiled as he thought back to the moment early this morning, as they returned to the tower, when Annie pulled him to their bench under the covered walkway to Cernunnos Coven and told him not to worry, that if he could face Abominations and Deconstructors without fear, he wouldn’t find himself intimidated by the Katahdin course—

 

Annie pulling this boy to a bench to . . . talk.  Just talk.  Right?

I'm certain that's all it was.

I’m certain that’s all it was.

It’s not hard to believe that, in the Midnight Madness the night before, Annie was at her most understanding with a soul mate whose mind was was on something other than the girl in his arms.  As she told him before they headed off to bed he’s faced foes that intended to see him dead, so what’s the worse a track could do to him?  It’s not like it’s gonna throw death spells at him or bite off his head, both of which have already happened to him, so just relax, Racing Dude.  It’s gonna be all right.

Now that he’s all relaxed and has his head in the right place, let me do my best to screw that up . . .

 

“How do they do this?”

He smiled the second he heard the voice as he’d expected this moment since the morning briefing. Really the first time we’ve been alone since arriving at the Flight School— “Well if The Foundation can hide an entire school from people living a dozen meters from the walls—” He turned and faced Emma. “—keeping this a secret wouldn’t be a problem.”

“I guess you’re right.” She glanced up and down the course. “This doesn’t look like something they’d hide, though.”

“They probably don’t.” He turned in the direction of the first straightaway. “This could be passed off as a firebreak, and a few Glamor spells would probably make it look a lot more rugged than it appears to us.” Kerry was certain Emma wouldn’t understand what he meant by Glamor, as that was something Annie and he were now learning in Advanced Spells, giving them an better understanding of some of the magic employed to keep their school hidden from the Normal world.

She nodded slowly. “Probably.” Emma changed the subject. “How do you think you’ll do?”

“My goal is to finish and point.” Kerry chuckled. “Beyond that I don’t care. I know I’m not going to win, so there’s no point in working up by expectations.”

“Yeah, but don’t you want a good finish?”

She’s thinking about a great finish, rather than just finishing. Kerry wanted to tell Emma to get her mind off a podium finish, but he knew he wingmate too well for her to take his advice. “If I had to pick a finish, I’d like a top five. If not—” He shrugged. “I’ll take the points.”

 

Hi, Emma!  Gotta come over and talk, don’t you, Emma?  She most certainly does, because she’s Emma, and any time she can have a moment alone with the guy who’s been in a sleeping bag next to her’s while they camped out during the winter, she will.  Not that it’ll do any good, ’cause if only she knew about his dream with Annie where they woke up au naturel together, she’d not be a happy girl.  Not to mention crazy ginger Carrot Girl running around in his head–

He had the right attitude, though–just finish the damn race and pick up points–which is the message he leaves with her, as others are intervening in their quiet time–

 

Emma gave her wingmate a slight smile. “Sounds like a good plan.” She glanced over her shoulder. “I gotta go; Nadine’s waving me over.”

“I can see that.” He waved at his Advanced Spells classmate and friend. “Time for her to do the Team Captain thing.”

“More than likely.” Emma’s smile turned on full. “See you at the start.”

“And at the finish. Have a good race.”

“You, too.” She headed off towards her team mates, while Kerry decided now as good a time as any to do the same. Plus, it appeared that his team had the same idea—

 

One has to wonder what Nadine thinks of all this.  Kerry likely hasn’t said anything to her about some of the things Emma’s, um, done and said, though Nadine has been on their overnight campouts with Advanced Flight 1, and may have heard a few things floating about the Mórrígan Coven tower.  She also knows Annie, however, so Nadine is probably rolling her eyes every time she sees Emma cozy up to Kerry for a moment alone.  One has to wonder if a day will come when she’ll pull Emma aside and tell her to give the hell up.

But that day won’t be today.  Because there are other things afoot:

Maybe not on this path through the forest, but one much like it.

Maybe not on this path through the forest, but one much like it.

In the Mountains of Breifing

Yesterday was a crazy day full of work and emotions.  I managed to get through both okay, but still–there were a lot of things I could have done without that happened anyway–but you know, that’s life, and there ain’t shit one can do about that.

Now, there was writing last night.  I can even prove that last statement–

There are words in the word count. I must have started.

There are words in the word count. I must have started.

But there was writing, there were pictures, there were updates to the time line . . . I was all over the place.  Lots of research and map building–and the map building is what I’m getting to first.

Yesterday I was also playing around in Google Earth with my “little” race course, because using Google Earth you can get three-dimensional views of areas, and one of the things I learned is that you can actually lay out directions and see them overlaid on those dimensional views.  Which is what I did yesterday.

The middle of Maine in all its 3D glory.

The middle of Maine in all its 3D glory.

That view there is pretty much all of the course as I laid it out yesterday, and as if you can see by the indicated in the middle bottom, it’s about a third of the length of the course.  But you have the Start/Finish on the left, and the last turn combo on the right, and a bunch of hills in the upper middle and right.  It looks like a lot, and seems a bit difficult.  Well, it is a lot, but difficult?  Nope.  We’re getting to that before we get to the writing.

Picking up where I left off above, we start getting into some of the hard stuff–kinda.  This is the lead up to the climb into the big peaks, and the one thing that’s nice is that it’s sort of level.

This . . . looks easy.

This . . . looks easy.

All the racers have to do is climb about one hundred and twenty meters and make a nice, easy, breezy left hand into the combo called Ready, Steady, Go.  Why that?  Well, Ready lets you get your speed up, Steady lets you build up your nerve as you swing into a hard right hander, and Go is just that–you have a straight, wide open, kilometers and a half/one mile, clear as hell path ahead of you.  Oh, and a 300 meter/1000 foot drop off as you blow out of Steady.  The lake and land below Go is a full thousand feet lower than the course, and as you come out of Steady there’s nothing but air below you.

Needle is a 70 meters lower than Steady, so you descend a little as you head into it, then you turn right and head into Clench and rocket right down 200 meters into Gully, which is just that:  another creek gully.  Then you hit Sixty Up, make a sixty degree turn to the left, and start climbing . . .

Into this.

Into this.

This isn’t a big section, but it’s hairy, full of fast turns and narrow areas that get fast.  Bump is 230 meters over the turn that gets you there, then you go up another 200 meters and go right over a gap and drop 500 meters.  Flare is called that because you “flare out” your broom–make it level like you’re coming in for a landing–or else you’ll slam into the ground.  High Sweep is a fast turn over some of the most level, regular ground in this are, then you carry a lot of speed up a 120 meter climb to Approach before roaring through the narrow Annis, which is named after a stream.  Then another 200 meter drop, at high speed, before reaching the fast turn Fade Away.  At this point you’re on the final approach to–

The mountains, kids.  Welcome to the mountains.

The mountains, kids. Welcome to the mountains.

Now we get into the highest, most technical, and in some places the fastest part of the course.  Going fast through Cliffside Valley and Basin Squeeze before hitting Harvey, which is named after Harvey Ridge.  Here, at the first right hand turn, you’re at 902 meters, and by the time you’ve gone left and right again, you’re at 1110 meters:  a 200 hundred meter/700 foot climb in a short distance.  Not for the faint of heart.

Now it’s all the way to the top.  4K is named such because the fliers cross 4000 feet, or 1220 meters, for the first time.  And that takes you up to the Hamlin High Dive, the highest part of the course at 1435 meters/4710 feet.  At this point you go right over the edge and hug the mountain until you’re at Basin Ridge, a half a kilometer lower, then around to Campground and Saddle Climb, which follow a trail but do so above the trees–the only point on the race where this is done–and then a jink to the right and up the ridge again to Katahdin Wave, where you can see Mount Katahdin to your left if you’re lucky.  Katahdin Wave is at 1294 meters/4245 feet, and this is the last time on the course the racers are this high.  Then you skirt the flanks of the mountain on Hamlin Thirty-six (3600 feet, hence the name) then over to Klondike (the name of the pond) before reaching Confluence at 779 meters/2555 feet.  You’ve not dropped another half a kick and are ready to climb again.

And how does that section of the course look?  Like this:

As you come in from the back, and up over Harvey.

As you come in from the back, and up over Harvey.

And then:

As you go over, down, and back up once more.

As you go over, down, and back up once more.

I should point out that when I say it’s a five hundred meter, or half a kilometer, drop, I’m talking about dropping almost seventeen hundred feet, or the length of five and a half American football fields, or probably three large stadiums laid end-to-end.  And you’re sailing down and up over this at probably 250 to 300 kilometers and hour, or 155 to 185 miles per hour.  On a flying mountain bike.

And speaking of those kids on their flying mountain bikes, they are finally getting ready for the race.  And we’re seeing it through Kerry’s eyes, because he’s there, he’s early, and he’s . . . well, there.

 

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

Kerry was one of the first racers to enter the Flight School Ready Room. He took his normal seat in the front and set his helmet and gloves in the seat to his left so one no sat there. He didn’t bother looking about the room to see who entered after him: walking in from the locker room he spotted the ones he knew and cared about, acknowledged their presence, and continued towards his seat. Though this was his first time sitting in on this particular pre-race briefing, he wasn’t trying to be too cool for the room: he simply reminded himself that he’d been a member of the Cernunnos Coven A Team for almost the entire season, he’d won three races, and finally managed to gain a podium position for a Red Line race two weeks before—

He wasn’t a rookie. And since he was about to enter the biggest race of his first season, now wasn’t the time to act like one.

A few minutes after he sat Penny and Alex entered and took their seats to his right. They were both aware of his feelings that no one other than Annie sit to his left; Penny even joked on one occasion that it was his Siege Perilous, and anyone other than Annie who sat there would die. About a minute after the girls took their seat Manco entered the room and joined them, sitting on the far side of Alex. Kerry looked down the line and smiled at everyone; Manco looked back and returned the smile, giving him a slight nod before sitting back.

As soon as all fliers were in the room and settled Vicky entered and headed for the central podium. With her was something Kerry had never seen in a pre-race briefing: all the coven leaders—who technically were the leaders of their respective coven race team—as well as Isis and Professor Bashagwani, followed Vicky to the front and took seats on either side of the podium. It was only after seeing all these women and one man situate themselves before the gathered students did Kerry finally feel the enormity of what was coming . . .

Vicky cleared her throat and spent a moment looking over the room before starting. “Good morning, everyone. This is the pre-race briefing for the Mount Katahdin Cross Country race. There’s no need to check to make sure you’re all in the right spot—” She glanced over at Isis. “All of you have checked in with our Director of Security at least a couple of times tonight.

“This race holds a special place in the school’s history. For well over a hundred years—from the first event in 1707 until 1829—this was held on Ostara weekend, and it was seen as a wild, exuberant celebration of the coming spring. Back then the course was different and much larger, but after two hundred years, in 1927, it finally turned into the course we still use today. This is the only race we hold during the regular racing season where all covens are represented on the course at the same time. It’s also the only race where the top ten point, and the only race where certain criteria must be met in order for a team flier to compete.

 

And what is that criteria?  You’ll find out tomorrow after I write it up.  A couple of interesting notes:  first, Manco is there, so four of the five Cernunnos A Team is present.  Two, Penny is calling the spot to Kerry’s left the Siege Perilous, and I wonder if he could just curse the seat so people who aren’t Annie die if they sit there?  That would be interesting, though it’d probably get him kicked out of school and into Cloudland.  And three, we know Kerry now has three wins and he managed to get on the podium of a Red Line race two weeks before, so even though he’s twelve, he’s moving up in his abilities fast.

So, tonight:  drop off some packages, have some dinner, and finish laying out my course before writing some more.

Man, I have so many things ahead of me.  Just like Kerry . . .

Prepping the Course

One of the things that comes from building the world that you can have a little fun creating people, places, and things.  Some of the things I’ve put together for this world go back to 2014 or 2013, and there are some things that go way back beyond that–like to middle or late 2011.  One of those things was the original layout of the school; another was the course of the Polar Express that Kerry would take if and when he decides to try that event in his C Levels.

And then there’s the Mount Katahdin Cross Country race.

I started working on this race back in August, 2011, and there was a reason why I picked this location for the big race–and to show why, I have to go back to about March of that same year to show you something.  Ready?  Here it is:

Yeah, it doesn't look like much now, but just wait.

Yeah, it doesn’t look like much now, but just wait.

That was the original location of the school.  At this time my friend, the original Annie, and I started putting this together as a role play, we needed a place where our little witches could do magic without being bothered but nosy normal people.  I’m not sure how this location actually came to be, but in the retelling of the story, the first Salem school was closer to the town that now bears that name, and at some point around in the late 1600s–1683 to be exact–the witches moved north into Maine and established a new, more remote location just to the west of what is now the Appalachia Trail.

(In the image above the trail actually follows that stream near the lower right point of the black outline, so I’ve sort of drawn over it, which is a mistake on my behalf.  Normally the wall would end before the stream, and the Trail would follow just outside the wall.)

Now, the huge peak to the right is Mount Katahdin, or simply Katahdin, since that’s just about what everyone calls the summit.  And because of the witch’s proximity to this site, every year around the Vernal Equinox they’d have a huge race on their brooms, flying around the area to show the other witches who was the best out there.  Because even if you can do magic, you wanna still have bragging rights about who’s the best on a broom.  People are people, even if they are magical.

When I finally moved the school southward closer to the local from which it takes it name, I kept the course in mind simply because having a bad-ass race far up to the north, where people would continue holding a race that had been run for centuries–it felt like a good idea.  And that’s how we’re at the point in the story we are today.

However . . . stickler that I am, while I have a course, I don’t have a lot of nice names for the various location on the course like one would have for like, you know, a Normal race course.  If you pulled Annie’s dad aside and asked him, “What’s that first left-hand turn after you return to the old section of track?” and right away he’d say, “Blanchimont.”  Because that’s what all the drivers call that section of the course.

The same thing would be true here.  Over the years the fliers would give various sections of the course names, normally turns and memorable straights.  So when Kerry heads in for his pre-race briefing before being turned loose on the track, he’s not gonna hear, “Okay, by turns 1 and 2, you need to watch the drop in the middle,” he’s going to hear something completely different.

That’s what I was doing last night.  I began going over the course and started labeling it.  And guess what?  You get to see what I’ve done so far.  Keep in mind that I haven’t marked the whole course, so what you’re going to see today is like a fifth of the track.  You’ll see what I mean at the end.

Let’s see then what I have in my Scrivener project.  Here’s the first section I put together, and this is how it looks when I’m writing.

My first attempt at boring the hell out of you.

My first attempt at boring the hell out of you.

Notice if you will that I not only have sections names, but I’ve given the elevations.  Because this is a course that is as cross country as it gets, and there’s a lot of going up and down over hills and dales.  So lets get started.

The Start/Finish is 260 meters/850 feet above sea level, and is in deep, dark Maine forest.  The first turn, really a “S” chicane, is called Trout because that’s the name of the stream the course crosses–just as Crossing is named after a nearby Normal location, and South Branch is named after the creek just to the left of the course.  Twelve Cut is named so because it’s the first part of the track to cross twelve hundred feet, and it was named so back in the day before there were metrics, so that name has stuck.  Barrell Around is named after nearby Barrell Ridge, and Twin Peaks because you go between those two peaks.

Here points 9, 10, 11, and 12 are a fast yet technically difficult area because of the elevation changes.  North Climb starts out at 543 meters/1780 feet, heads up to North Pass at 712 meters/2335 feet, or 170 meters higher, and then the fliers shoot right down the other side to Howe Drop–named after the creek there–which bottoms out at 404 meters/1325 feet.  Then you follow the bed at high speed to Cut Side, a climbing right hand turn situation 832 meters/2730 feet above sea level.  So in that area you have a fast, easy climb, then you drop at high speed 300 hundred meters and then climb back up another 400–all of this while probably zipping along somewhere between 250 to 300 kilometers and hour, or 155 to 185 miles per hours.  On a flying mountain bike.

Now comes the next part:

Still with me?  Good.

Still with me? Good.

Point 1 is Point 12 from the last map, so you have a point of reference.  You go up and over the ridge and then skirt along the mountain on East Terrace, located 648 meters/2125 feet up.  This leads to another hard left, East Slide (670 meters/2200 feet) which then drops hard and fast to Ford, 200 meters/950 feet lower.  Wading follows another creek bed and starts at 488 meters/1600 feet, and continues to Tip Over, at 985 meters/3230 feet and then on to Pogy (488 meters/1600 feet) and Notch Bottom (370 meters/1215 feet).  Though you go up for 500 meters and then back down for just over 600 meters, this is a flat-out section, where hitting 450 kph/280 mph isn’t out of the question and is usually the norm.

Now you have a nice little chicane section in 9, 10, 11, and 12.  First is Squeeze Through at 451 meters/1480 feet, and then a left turn and up 90 meters to Climbing Water at 544 meters/1785 feet, which leads to a right and then a left, climbing all the while, to Tiny Tip, 850 meters/2790 feet up, making for a 400 hundred meter, or quarter of a mile, climb from points 9 to 11.  Then we dive down into Hard Right, which is exactly what that is, at 610 meters/2000 feet.  If you go straight at Hard Right first you hit the safety enchantments, and then you hit trees and rocks, and while you probably wouldn’t hit the later, the inertia you lose when you hit the barrier isn’t going to leave a flier feeling one hundred percent.  Like they say, the enchantments are there to keep you from getting killed, not injured.

And there you have what I have so far.  And how much of the course is that?

Just this much.

Just this much.

Everything inside the black is covered:  like I said, about a fifth of the track.  That means I need to get the rest of the track in place, and then write about what’s happening in the briefing as well, and that all happens tonight.

Man, do I have a lot of work ahead of me.