Prelude to Dreamland: Back in the Back of the Ward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sure, kids:  I believe ya.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

And then to wait for the dream to come.

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

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

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

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

 

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

Besides, I gotta get Kerry to bed soon–

Someone’s waiting for him.

Springtime For Kerry: Expressive Exams

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

“Why you wanna do that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

No, kid.  Just get in the chair.

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

And I’m really dreading writing . . .

The Rain, the Trip, and Everything

Well, I’m home.

Not much else that can be said there, save that it was an interesting trip, mostly due to the fact that it rained nearly the entire way.  There was maybe an hour during the eleven I was between locations where the sky wasn’t in various stages of open, but that was a rare event.  And at one point I had to walk in the rain to have my card read by the service attendant because the pump wouldn’t give me a good swipe.  Stupid plastic.

This makes for some crazy driving and a lot of crazy drivers, and I was pretty hyped up by the time I hauled all my stuff out of my car an up to my apartment.  I was beat and sore and tired, but not tired enough that I was about to fall asleep.  Yeah, I get like that some times, where all the attention of keeping your wits about you as you fly through the rainy night at eighty miles per hour jack your senses to the point where relaxation isn’t something that’s going to come easy.

If there is any consolation to this return, it’s that it didn’t snow like it did the year before.  Though that time it did rain the whole way as well, including a downpour that started just east of Pittsburgh and kept right on pouring until I made it across the Susquehanna.

This was me about seven hours into yesterday's journey.  I looked worse the year before--

This was me about seven hours into yesterday’s journey. I looked worse the year before–

Needless to say I couldn’t fall asleep well, and tossed and turned until about two in the morning, when I finally crashed and burned.  Oh, and should I mention I have labs today?  Yeah.  Now I’m fasting until I can get blood drawn at two in the afternoon.  Because my doctor is the sort of person who likes to keep checking on things with me, and it’s time for said checking.  So I’ll likely have a headache most of the morning because the last time I ate was about six in the afternoon, about an hour after I snapped the picture above.  I think the universe is hating on me for some reason . . .

The upshot to all this is that I am home.  I am Out of Indiana, Bucked It through Ohio, and survived the Mountains of Madness in Pennsylvania.  Now it’s off to work to play a bit of morning catch up, get in my time sheets, come home, clean up, go get blood drawn, and finally eat about two-thirty or so.  Only then can I get home and finally get down to–

What?  I’m not really sure.

Finished a trip and think about the next novel.  I did a bit of the later yesterday, and I think it’s ready to go on that front.  I’m curious to see if my countdown time changes to days tomorrow, but for now it still says I have a month to go before I start writing.  I don’t think it would lie to me, and as much as I try to think about it, that month is gonna pass pretty fast.

I guess it’s time to worry about something else now, huh?

Good News Day

Monday–yesterday–was another of my long, “I’m on the road and can’t really get anything done” days.  I had to visit my HRT doctor, and it’s a nearly two-and-a-half hour drive to her office–I’m in The Burg and she’s off in the Swamps of Jersey–so there’s a bit of driving.  A lot of driving, actually, and it’s pretty much heavy traffic the whole way there and back, not including the rain I was in last night.  Needless to say, by the time I returned to my hovel at seven-thirty PM, it was hard to get worked up for anything in the way of writing.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good day yesterday . . .

See, my visit was to go over my labs, which I’d taken a couple of weeks before.  Lab work is important, because you don’t want to worry that what you’re doing to your body is killing you.  And it can . . . Bit of full disclosure here:  back in April and May of 2014, this year, I was on a DIY hormone regiment for about six weeks.  I did it because I wanted to get on them, and as I always do, I dug into my research and figured out just how much I could handle without hurting myself.

Wrong thing to do.  I stopped taking the hormones right before I started my lab work, and didn’t get back on them until I started my injections.  One of the thing my lab work discovered was my iron and some of my liver functions were way the hell off.  The liver function was due to taking oral hormones (after you’re fifty they break down in your system differently and are metabolized by your liver as well), and the iron came from mistakenly taking a women’s vitamin, which are full of iron that I don’t need.

The moral of that story is don’t do meds on your own.  The other moral of the story is that in April I was pretty much an emotional basket case because of lady hormones taking over my body, and let me tell you, it wasn’t fun.  It also makes me understand far better the sort of hell women go through from time-to-time, and makes me want to slap guys with large, smelly tunas every time I hear them say, “Wow, you’re moody today.”  Hey, try this stuff for three months, dude, and tell me how you feel.

But the news yesterday was good.  Hormone levels are where they should be; liver function is good save for a slightly elevated bilirubin, which may or may not be genetic and/or affected by my lack of a gall bladder, my weight is continuing to drop, and even my blood pressure was down a bit–and while still high, it wasn’t up in the hypertension range.  It was all great news.

That's why I look so happy here--glowing even, as some people say.  I'll take that.

That’s why I look so happy here–glowing even, as some people told me yesterday. I’ll take that.

It’s back to the writing tonight.  Today I’ll ponder over some of the comments I’ve received concerning Annie’s and Kerry’s relationship.  It seems as if there are a few people who thing something bad is going to happen to them.  Since I already know everything that’s going to happen to them, I’m sort of sitting here smiling and thinking, “How are they gonna feel when I get to this scene?”

But really:  nothing bad happens.

Well . . . nothing too bad.

Beneath the Big Blue Bubble

Out of the preparations and into the waiting . . . that’s how things go in my world.  Out in my fictional world, kids are flying around watching the walls, others are on the ground, waiting for a moment they hope doesn’t come when they are required to rush out into battle and vanquish the foes who have come once again to ravage their school.

Then there are those back at the Great Hall, sitting and waiting for something they hope never comes, or readying their forces to fix those who are in need of fixing.

Last night it felt like I was off in a dozen different directions, helping someone here, helping someone there, all the while sort of wallowing in my own concerns about what I need to do with my story and my life.  Writing is a bit like triage in that you look at what you’ve got before you that needs writing, and take that which will do the most good.  When I heard people say, “I have all these ideas coming at me constantly, how do I deal with them?” it’s been discussed before, Bunkie, that you need to learn to concentrate on the work at hand and write down your initial ideas somewhere else, but the simplest thing to say now it, triage:  you do triage on your head.  Write down the idea you want and move on.  Or get meds so you can stop getting distracted by the voices in your head.  But that’s another story.

Last night I started Chapter Twenty-One.  As I may have pointed out it was a bit slow going because I was also helping out others online–including a friend who was looking up an arrest record, and I helped them find what they sought.  Hey, just like The Foundation, I know how to make my way around The Pond ’cause my Google-fu is not pig dung.  I have my stations set up, I have my portals in place–no, a woman named Chell didn’t help set those up, but you will hear that name mentioned at some point–and now people are resting . . .

About those people.  I needed names.  Most I already had, because I’m crazy mad when it comes to getting things set up, but there were two people I needed to add.  And once added, I needed to look up where they lived and decide what coven they called home.  Once more I jump to the Scrivener Name Generator, and since I know just about where I want my two characters to live, I generate names somewhat based on those locals and throw it all into the notes.  About fifteen minutes later I’m ready to rock.

You can't tell the people who are there to help you without a scorecard, you know.

You can’t tell the people who are there to help you without a scorecard, you know.

I think this is one of the first times I’ve put “Nurse” Coraline down as the School Doctor.  Which she is, really, but she got so used to people calling her nurse when she was interning as a healer while a student she just hung onto the handle.  Not  to mention that her return to school came not long after she’d graduated . . .

The Waiting is the Hardest Parts, and it’s also time for talking.

I’ll see about getting to that tonight.