Inside the Big Room

I made it through the evening and came out the other end feeling like someone had beat me about the shoulders and set my lap on fire.  This comes from sitting still with a laptop on you, um, lap, and typing away like the The Madwoman of Chaillot.  Seriously, half my mind was listening to what was being said on TV while the other half was trying to get it all down in note form.  It was a bit insane, and it was a good thing I didn’t need a bathroom break.

"I haven't put a single word in my story in ten minutes--my god, the walls are closing in!  Help!"

“You people on TV, stop talking so fast!  Get in a RV for a while or something!”

But that insanity is over, and I managed to pay my quarterly state taxes last night, so all is pretty good.  There are still things that require doing, but that comes up tonight and I’ll worry about it then, ‘kay?

Oh, and there’s this novel I’m working on–

It was another five hundred word night, only because I was really stumbling about trying to find the right words while, at the same time, I was checking things on a time line, because that’s how I do things.  The time line stuff was only to get one line in this next excerpt right, but you know, if I hadn’t had that time line laid out already, I probably would have screwed something up.

I’m failing to mention that I needed to do research last night as well, which also cut into my writing time, because reasons.  And you know I love research.

Why are Annie and Kerry here?  Because–

 

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

Annie entered first with Kerry right behind. She didn’t know this room, but it reminded her of the ready room in the Flight School: it appeared that sixty or seventy people could occupy this area for a meeting or conference. Isis and Headmistress Laventure stood at the far end of the room; she looked back and saw Vicky follow Kerry, meaning whatever was going to happen here involved her as well. My two instructors and the headmistress: it’s likely we’re going to get a significant punishment.

Isis moved away from the headmistress and motioned Annie forward. “Come right here—” She pointed to a spot directly in front of her. “That’s good. You can stand next to her, Kerry.”

“Thanks.” He stood to Annie’s right a few meters back.

The Chief of Security quietly examined the girl before her. “Three solo flight, close to five hundred and fifty kilometers covered, and this last one had you out over the cold, unforgiving ocean with only one other person to keep you company.” She glanced at Kerry and winked. “I believe, as do Vicky and Mathilde, that you not only performed as expected, but you exceeded those expectation.

“There are many things we do around here to recognize students, but it’s rare that we honor someone who’s accomplished a great feat: mastering a gift and proving you’re capable of using it under varying and difficult conditions.

“You’re not the first I’ve trained since I became the school’s Chief of Security in 2006: there was one other girl who stood where you’re standing in 2008. She was a D Level then—the gift was slow to manifest within her—so she graduated before you began. But the fact she had the Flight Gift was the only thing you both had in common: she needed four flights to finish her qualifications, and during her last flight, which was identical to yours, she, um—” Isis looked down for a moment. “She needed some encouragement to finish.”

“We know you both weren’t comfortable with the conditions and the location today.” Vicky stepped up next to Isis so she could face both kids. “That’s one of the reasons why we try and keep the comms open all the time, so in case we think you’re in need of help, we can put it into place. But you kept on the flight, and as I’ve told Isis before, and I told Mathilde over lunch, you didn’t ask for help—you kept going.”

Isis nodded. “As the headmistress would say, you were being tenacious. And you wear.”

Mathilde moved closer to the group, clearing her throat. “Yes, well, enough about me. This is about Annie, is it not?”

“It is, indeed.” Isis reached behind her and removed a small box.

Annie instantly focused on the item in Isis’ hands. “What’s that?”

“This?” She removed the top and turned the box so Annie could view the contents. “These are you wings.”

 

And before you ask, “Does Kerry have his wings?” the answer is–

I’ll tell you tomorrow.  Because I’m mean.

The Inevitable Answers: On the Tip Of Your Tongue

All together a little over seventeen hundred words were written, and I’m now just about eighty-five hundred words short of two hundred seventy-five thousand words.  Inching ever so closer to three hundred, which is right about where I expect this sucker to end.

But that’s the future, this is the present, and at the moment we’re back in the library and talking about mirrors.  As they relate to dreams.  And what do you know . . .

 

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

Erywin handled the question. “It’s an event in your dream—in this particular dream—designed to show you, once and for all, what’s actually happening.”

This did nothing to clear up his original question. “And what is happening?”

“From what we understand, you’ve been involved in adjuration—”

“What?”

“It means to make an earnest, solemn appeal.”

Deanna joined the conversation. “Based upon what you’re already told us, isn’t that exactly what this dream girl has done? Since the very first dream?”

Kerry only needed a few seconds to remember the events in his dreams and understand what Erywin and Deanna were saying. “Yeah, that’s what she’s doing. But, what’s a mirror got to do with this dream?”

 

Now you know a new word:  adjuration, which is “To make an earnest, solemn appeal.”  Near the end of the next chapter you’ll learn why this is given this name, but for now not much is being said.

This mirror thing, though?  Yeah, they’re down on this:

 

“You told Coraline this morning that the girl reached the top of the stairs, paused, then turned right.” Deanna leaned slightly forward. “Yes?”

He sniffed once and wiped his nose. “Yes.”

Deanna gave herself just a moment pause before asking the next question. “Did she do that again when the dream happened this time?”

Kerry stared down at a point near the instructor’s feet. “Yeah.”

It’s a good thing Kerry’s looking in our direction so he can’t see that stare— Deanna expected Annie to give him a strange look, and she half expected her to speak after this next question. “How?”

His brow tightened. “What do you mean?”

“My love—” Annie lay a hand on Kerry’s left arm. “You weren’t on the landing. How did you see her?”

A puzzled look came over Kerry’s face. “I guess I . . .” He shrugged before turning to Annie. “It’s a dream; things like that happen.”

“Kerry—” Deanna’s tone was soft and reassuring. “Everything you’re told us about these dreams seem to have a literal action: at no time have you mentioning things happening where you weren’t present.” She took a quick breath, wondering how he’d answer the next question. “What’s on the landing wall facing the stairs?”

For a few seconds it appeared he might not answer before chuckling. “Oh, yeah: there’s a mirror.” He turned to Annie. “Mom put it there because it’s supposed to be good for the feng shui—”

Annie looked at him gravely. “Kerry.”

He turned back to the instructors; when he spoke a hint of nervousness crept into his voice. “It’s supposed to keep all the bad energy coming through the front door from getting upstairs and . . .” He stopped once he realized no one in the room was interested in hearing about a physiognomy practice his mother picked up while they were living in California.

“There is a way you could have seen the girl turning to the right, Kerry.” Deanna wrapped her hands around her knee. “If you were unaware of your point of view, and you didn’t realize you were looking in a mirror, then it would seem as if the person were turning in the opposite direction.” She held up her hand when it appeared Annie was about to speak. “You suspect this, don’t you?”

 

First, Annie gives Kerry the stink eye because she saw what happened with the girl, and knows he wasn’t there watching her.  Second, it took me about five minutes to figure out the word “physiognomy”, because research, you know?  And third–there’s a mirror on the landing?

There sure is.  How do I know.  Because I told you a mirror was on there.  Let’s look at a passage from the discussion Kerry had with his mother about his wet dream, with the line in question in bold:

 

Louise sat silently for several seconds before she hissed out her reply. “You’re excused.”

Kerry bolted from his chair and trotted towards the stairs, running up to the first floor. He paused for a second at the top of the landing, checking his red face in the large mirror his mother mounted there to “help the feng shui of the home” before turning left and nearly running into his bedroom, and shutting and locking the door behind him.

 

There you are:  proof in the novel from only about two hundred and fifty thousand words back!  Though it’s in a slightly edited form because editing, right?  But this is why I plot, because just like in the first novel, I do something that’s going to come back about a quarter of a million words later and become relevant.  The mirror has been there all the time; the trick was remembering the sucker.  Kerry didn’t:  now he does.  And so it seems, something else is coming to mind . . .

 

After nearly five seconds, when it became apparent Kerry wasn’t about to answer Deanna’s question, Erywin stepped in and asked the question everyone expected. “You know who she is, don’t you?”

He looked to his friend with some pain in his eyes. “You seem to know what’s going on, Erywin: why don’t you just tell me.”

She brushed away some hair and sighed. “Believe it or not, I can’t—we can’t. Sometimes there are rules that need obeying, and our research indicates that this is something that is all on you.” Erywin shook her head. “I’m not even certain what would happen if we did tell you what we know.

“Kerry, we’re not trying to put you on the spot. But it seems what’s happening now occurs in phases, and in order to move out of this phase and into the end phase—” She held her hands up as she pressed herself back into your chair. “You have to say it: you have to say her name.”

He looked away from everyone, lowering his head so that all he could see was a spot on the floor. It was only after ten seconds of shoulder-slumping silence that he felt a hand on his an a voice whispering to him. “Moyata polovinka.”

He turned to Annie and gave her a sad smile. “My edin i samo lyubov.”

Annie leaned in close. “You know this girl?” He nodded slowly. “Then just say her name.” She turned her hand around and slipped her palm against his. “It’ll be all right, I promise.”

Kerry held Annie’s hand tightly. He sighed a couple of times and sniffed back the last of his runny nose before exhaling slowly. “She’s—” He gulped hard once as he half-closed his eyes.  “She’s, um . . .” This time he closed his eyes tight as he sucked breath through clenched teeth. “She’s . . . Damnit.” Tears began flowing from his eyes once again. “I can’t say it.” Kerry started panting as he looked down the line of women seated across from him. “It’s like it’s right there on the tip of my tongue and I want to say the name but something won’t let me.” His breath came in ragged sobs as he hunched over and stared down at his knees. “I don’t know why this is happening.”

A comforting hand gently patted his shoulder from behind as a soothing voice spoke to his concerns. “I think I can answer that question—”

 

Wait:  who is answering what question?

"Who is tap-tapping on my shoulder?"

“Who is tap-tapping on my shoulder?”

Whomever it is, they see that Kerry’s having a lot of trouble spitting out this name.  Here we also see there are rules in magic–no, must resist using A League of Their Own meme here–and those rules don’t allow any of the women, who appear to be in the known, to tell Kerry what’s happening in his head.

But before that happens, will the mystery guest sign in please?

Gather Here the Brain Trust: The Remembered Studies

And as promised, the scene and chapter are finished, after going through what was probably the biggest day of writing I’ve had in the while.  I did a little over eleven hundred in the morning, and a little over eleven hundred at night, which means I wrote two thousand, two hundred, and thirty-three words total on the novel, then took about a thousand words of notes for the TV recap I’m writing up tonight for The Walking Dead . . . and that’s over three thousand if you’re keep track, and I haven’t done three thousand words in a day since NaNoWriMo 2013, ladies and gentlemen.

The chapter is put it way, it’s over, it’s history.  And in the process of doing all this, I’ve set up the scene for another long day for my kids.  It was left off with Kerry’s dream friend, Carrot Girl, seeming like she wants to come out and play since she’s standing right there in the holographic display where he should be standing.  As the kids say today, “What is this sorcery?”, though Helena would give you a good argument that there isn’t any sorcery involved, but that’s another story . . .

Anyhow, being this is transformation related, Erywin turns to the one person in the room who is the expert on transformation for an answer.  And she has one–

 

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

The instructor stared at the display as dumbfounded as the other two women in the room. “I have no idea why that happened.”

Erywin’s face became a mask of disbelief. “What do you mean?  You don’t know?”

“I mean I don’t know.” Jessica held up her hands, motioning towards the display. “I’ve never seen that happen before.”

Coraline was feeling just as surprised as Erywin appeared. When it came to matters of transformation magic there were few in the world better than Jessica, so to say she didn’t understand something that appeared to be transformation related, it was worrisome. “Maybe there’s something particular to him as Mimic that’s doing this? Something buried down in his mind?”

“Mimicking doesn’t work that way.” Jessica turned to Coraline with an exasperated sigh. “When you mimic another person you go from one physical form to another there’s no need for a transitional form. I’ve worked with mimics before: this doesn’t ever happen.”

Deanna clicked her tongue. “Perhaps Kerry doesn’t realize he’s doing this. He is new to this gift, after all.”

“No.” Jessica shook her head. “It doesn’t work that way.”

 

I may have mentioned this before, maybe not, but the saying of, “Those who can do; those who can’t teach,” does not apply to the instructors at my school.  The instructors at Salem are among the best in their field, and in Jessica’s instance there are maybe five other witches who perform at her same level.  When she tells you, “It doesn’t work that way,” she’s not saying that because she’s blowing you off:  she’s saying that because it’s true.  She knows, and don’t try to tell her otherwise.

Erywin is also the best in her field as well, but she’s also smart, and while there’s an argument going on about what’s happening on-screen, she’s got an argument going on in her head . . .

 

While the other women argued Erywin continued examining the changing boy in the display. Deanna’s right, that does look like the girl he’s describing in his dreams. There was something tickling her memory, however, playing right at the edge of her thoughts. She closed her eyes, trying to concentrate. He transformed into this form while going from csimale to cisfemale

Jessica’s voice returned:  There’s no need for a transitional form.

Erywin took a deep breath. Then why would he do this?

Deanna’s works suddenly struck home: Perhaps Kerry doesn’t realize he’s doing this.

This wasn’t making sense to Erywin.  Then if he doesn’t realize he’s doing this, what is the cause?

Once more words came flooding back from her  short term memory. A Mimic interfaces their aura with that of another person.

There’s no need for a transitional form.

Perhaps Kerry doesn’t realize he’s doing this.

Her breath quickened. Maybe this happened because he had no control over the process. Maybe it was invol

She slowly opened her eyes, locking on the holographic image before her.

Involuntary transition.

Erywin pressed her fists against her forehead. “Son of a bitch.” She spun around and faced the surprised women. “That makes sense.”

Coraline found enough mirth in the situation to chuckle. “Is there something you’d like to share with the class?”

She ignored Coraline’s comment and turned to the one person in the room who could likely answer her question. “Deanna, what can Trevor access from the Paris archives?”

Deanna didn’t find it unusual that Erywin was asking this question: everyone in the room was aware that Trevor and her were more than friends, and that she knew a bit about his role as School Librarian and Archivist. Given that, it didn’t seem unlikely that they’d never discussed the huge underground archive The Foundation maintained near the main headquarters in Paris. “He’s mentioned that he can access all but about five percent of the archive.”

“And the other five percent?”

“Well . . . He’s mentioned that four percent of that he can access with a request from either Mathilde or Isis, and the last one percent—” She shook her head. “It requires more security access than we have here.”

Coraline’s curiosity was getting the better of her. “What the hell is in the Paris archives that you suddenly need so badly?”

Erywin slowly faced the doctor and spoke in a cool, measured tone. “I want to see Lucyna Gorczynski’s diaries.”

 

And that is a name I know you haven’t heard before, because it’s been sitting on my time line for a while and I’m not in a habit of showing you my time lines.  But there is a mention for Lucyna Gorczynski there, and now she’s coming out to play.  The interesting thing is the other three women in the room appear to know that name, and their reaction isn’t what you’d expect–

 

Silence fell over the group, appearing shocked at Erywin’s mention of that particular name. Jessica glanced at the monitor then back to Erywin. “You aren’t suggesting—”

“What do you think I’m suggesting?” Erywin pointed at the frozen display behind her. “If you don’t know what that is, then it’s time to start grasping for answers, and based on a few things I’ve heard here, looking there makes fucking sense.” She sighed long and loud. “I remember reading that she turned over the last of her diaries ten years ago, so the entire collection is there. It’s just a question of whether or not we can access them.”

Coraline glanced between Jessica and Erywin. “Why do you think there’s any relevance here?” She motioned to the display. “How is what’s happening there—”

Deanna blurted out a single word in a surprised voice. “Dreams.”

Erywin nodded. “Yeah. It’s been twenty-five years since I read anything on Gorczynski, but there was something there—”

“About dreams.” Deanna quickly nodded. “I remember something when I was doing my dream studies during my D Levels.” She looked from side to side. “There was something about her in a section on dreams as they related to non-visions—”

“Yeah, I remember there were dreams. And something about transitions—” She closed her eyes as she hung her head. “It’s all fuzzy; that’s why I didn’t think of this before.”

Coraline was just as fuzzy on the matter as everyone else, but she knew the name and saw where Erywin was going. “We’ll probably need to get Mathilde involved.”

Erywin grunted. “I don’t doubt that.”

“What are you going to tell The Foundation when you put in the request?”

“That I’m doing research for due diligence on an LGBTAIQ matter.” She turned her gaze upon Coraline. “I don’t have to tell them any more than that.”

“Not until it’s necessary.” Jessica moved closer to the two women. “So we go to Trevor and Mathilde—”

“No, we don’t.” Erywin pointed at her feet. “We bring them here. Here we’re secure and we can speak without being overheard. And if the four of us head to the library and grab Trevor before heading off to the Headmistress, people will see us and begin spreading rumors. No: we don’t allow that to happen.”

Deanna joined the group. “I agree: we’re in a much better place to speak here, and we can show them the video.” She nodded towards the computers. “Trevor can even contact Paris from here: it’s as secure as making the request from either of their offices.”

“We’re going to need Mathilde with us on this anyway.” Jessica glanced over her shoulder at the display. “If this turns out to be true, Paris is going to freak.”

“There’s something we’re forgetting—” Deanna glanced side to side. “If we’re looking for something in Gorczynski’s diaries relating to her dreams, it’ll be difficult to compare them to Kerry’s.”

 

By “Paris”, Jessica is referring to The Foundation headquarters there, in cased you didn’t pick up on what I was saying throughout that last passage.  So whatever is happening could possibly make The Foundation freak out, and that’s something that doesn’t normally happen, ’cause when they freak out as a whole, it’s usually something that’s not good.

There is something else going on here, however, and Deanna’s brought it up for the others to figure out:

 

Coraline slowly lowered her gaze towards the floor. “Yeah, he’s been reluctant to go into any details—”

“Or unwilling—” She caught the shape look Coraline. “We have to consider the possibility that he’s deliberately obfuscating.”

Erywin set her hands upon her hips. “How do we fix that?”

Deanna leaned her head to one side. “There is a way.”

Jessica picked up on Deanna’s comment first. “Are you certain you want to do that? That we need to do that?”

Coraline avoided looking at the others as she pursed her lips and remembered a promise she’d made to a couple of sleeping children. “I told Annie we’d figure this out and we’d do it fast, ‘cause right now I’m suppressing Kerry’s REM functions, and I can’t do that forever, not without harming him.” She looked at Deanna for a few moments turning to the others. “We may not have a choice except to go with Deanna’s idea . . .”

 

There you have it:  my brain trust has gathered and found something.  Chapter Twenty-seven was all set-up.

And a pretty nice set-up at that.

And a pretty nice set-up at that.

Now comes the next step:  research and a solution.  Well, actually, you’ll miss all the research, and the solution actually comes in Chapter Twenty-nine.

Right now, we’re about to watch people get their hands dirty.

Gather Here the Brain Trust: A Bit of History

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Though you wouldn't know it from this layout.

Though you wouldn’t know it from this layout.

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

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

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

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

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

I have a time line?

I have a time line?

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

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

Preparing the Due

Before we get into talk of things and stuff and all that goes with that, let’s discuss the personal things.  First off, the cold actually seems to be going.  I pretty much slept throughout the whole night, waking up perhaps once but not for long.  This morning my nose is clearing, and while I still have a bit of a cough, it’s a dry one, and I half expect it to vanish soon.  That’s one good thing, then.

Finished up Childhood’s End last night, which is the primary reason I haven’t written a whole lot over the last three days.  I want to say that while I didn’t hate it, it wasn’t the story I remembered, either, and some of the changes kinda ran against me in a strange and almost bad way.  As some might say, “It’s not the dramatization we deserved, it’s the dramatization we got,” and the fact we got it after sixty years is going to have to going to have to do.

There were a couple of moments, though, that left me crying hard, though probably not for reasons that had anything to do with the movie.  I always hate when that happens.

All the personal stuff is out of the way, so on to the important things . . .

The time has come for more meetings.  I think this is the first chapter, probably in both books, where every scene to this point has involved a meeting, and nearly all of the focus has been on the adults.  Now the three counselors are together, and it’s time for them to talk about what the reader already knows–

 

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

Erywin was quite aware of the reason for this meeting, because any time she received an email from Mathilde telling her another instructor or counselor wanted to meet, there was only one reason for the meeting. Given that the people she was meeting was Coraline and Deanna—the school’s other counselors—she was certain of the reason.

She didn’t bother with a tap on the door and a command to enter: she opened the door and strode in like she belonged there—which, since she was invited, she did. “Hello, ladies.” She activated the enchantment that would turn the door frame red—and indication that the room was in use and that the people inside were not to be disturbed—before waving the door shut. Erywin headed towards the first open chair and sat. “Hope I haven’t kept you.”

“Not at all.” Deanna set her water glass upon the table between Coraline and her and faced Erywin who sat across from them. “We arrived about ten minutes ago just to make certain no one else tried appropriating our space.”

“Good.” Erywin popped her tablet out of hammerspace and set it to floating to her left. “Given that the headmistress asked that I show for this meeting, am I to assume we have a LGBTAIQ issue that requires due diligence?”

Coraline nodded. “That’s correct.”

Erywin tapped her tablet screen. “I’m recording; let’s begin. What’s the situation?”

Coraline ran down the particulars of the case, telling Erywin much the same things as Deanna and she had told the headmistress almost twelve hours earlier. They related what they’d discerned from the actions in the dreams, what they saw in the aura, and the suppositions they took from their viewing.

Through it all Erywin sat and listened. She was like this when she was hearing about a student suffering from depressed, who appeared to be uncomfortable around others, who suddenly became moody and withdrawn . . . because she was being asked to see if there was something about the student that they had yet to admit to others, perhaps even to themselves, and with which they might need a comforting hand to hold and a sympathetic shoulder upon which to lean.

She finally sighed and sat back in her chair. “It sounds interesting. Is the student in question a boy or a girl?”

 

This is a lot different Erywin than we’ve seen before:  she’s serious and attentive, almost business-like in how she approaches the matter.  She knows her stuff, and she also knows how someone at these ages might feel if they suddenly begin having feelings that have either been there and they’d denied, or they find them blossoming, much as what happened with Erywin at the end of her A Levels.  While there’s a zero-tolerance policy against bullying at the school, that doesn’t mean coming out is any easier for a student.

Now that she has the basics, she start getting into the detail–and this is where it gets interesting . . .

 

Deanna took a moment to sip her drink. “Boy.”

“Then based upon what you’ve told me, is it safe to say that you believe the student may have Gender Identity Disorder?”

“That’s our belief at the moment.” This time Deanna held the glass and rested it against the chair arm. “But we don’t know—”

“We’re not fully trained in these matters—” Coraline ran fingers through her hair and smoothed out her jeans, trying to rid herself of nervous energy. “Not like you. That’s why you’re here.”

“I hope I can help.” Erywin tilted her tablet so she could see the display. “All right, then: who’s the student?”

Coraline and Deanna exchanged glances and said nothing for almost five seconds. Finally Coraline cleared her throat. “Well, um—”

Erywin didn’t understand their hesitancy at naming the student. “Is there a problem?”

Deanna shook her head. “No.”

“Okay, then, who’s the student?”

Coraline looked towards the door. “You know him.”

“Oh, fabulous.” Erywin scratched at the side of her face. “That narrows it down to about forty students.” She raked her nails over the leather chair arm. “Does this student have a name?”

Coraline nodded. “Yes.”

“May I have it?”

Coraline glanced to her left at the seer and shrugged; Deanna returned a soft grin and turned toward Erywin, ready with the answer. “Kerry Malibey.”

Now it was Erywin’s turn to stare and say nothing. She sat with her legs crossed for almost ten seconds before continuing the conversation. “Kerry Malibey?”

Deanna held her hands against her stomach. “Yes.”

“Well . . .” Both of Erywin’s eyebrows slowly rose until they were half way to her hairline. “I hate to sound unprofessional, but—” Her face twisted into an unbelieving frown. “Are you fucking serious?”

 

Yeah, that is a big unprofessional, Erywin, but given the amount of time she’s spent around Kerry, it’s quite likely she would find the name surprising.  She’s also counseled Annie and Kerry together for “couple’s matters”, but then, so have Coraline and Deanna–just ask Kerry’s mom.  Though the later case had to do with their shared vision and Erywin actually spoke with them when Annie began suffering guilt over her notion that she was railroading Kerry towards the altar.

So tonight, if I don’t have too many adult beverages or something, will write the rest of this scene.  It shouldn’t be contentious . . .

Though I'm preparing to find a few of my readings looking at me like this . . .

Though I’m prepared to find a few of my readers looking at me this way . . .

Speculations of the Dreaming Kind: Sleeping Suppositions  

Because today is something of a big day for me, I promised I would get the last scene out of the way and finish up what’s going on in Chapter Twenty.  And guess what?

Totally did that.

Totally did that.

Oh, and also:  I came within four hundred and seventy-five words of one hundred and eighty thousand words.  Woot!  Another month and I’ll crack two hundred thousand . . . didn’t I say this novel would finish up around two hundred and twenty-five thousand words?  Yeah . . . about that–

Forget about that for now:  at the moment Coraline’s sitting with Deanna in her school apartment, and the question “What does it mean?” has been asked.  Where does that take us?  Here:

 

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

Deanna wished she had tea at this moment, as the simple act of holding the steaming cup brought her comfort. “If we were talking about another boy in another relationship, I’d venture that the girl is a subconscious desire to warn the boy that his relationship is wanting or doomed.” She rubbed her fingertips together. “But we are talking about Annie and Kerry—”

“Yeah.” Coraline glanced at her slippers and chuckled. “There’s no way those two are in danger of breaking up.”

“I agree.”

 

Seers and doctors alike agree:  these two lurv each other.  No breaking up stuff for them!  Onward:

 

“So we’re back to the question of ‘What does it mean?’ again.”

Deanna knew that wasn’t exactly true. “There are two other possibilities. One is that someone is dreamwalking him; the other is that he’s having a vision.” She switched arms and now rested her chin against her left hand. “Both have their merits and problems.”

“A vision can’t kick you out of a dream.” Coraline leaned forward, her hands on her thighs. “That’s something a dreamwalker would do.”

“There is a lot of truth there—and it would be difficult to dreamwalk a real vision. But a dream vision?” Deanna shook her head. “There are schools of thought on the matter that a skilled dreamwalker could enter a dream vision—”

“Do you believe that?”

“I do. I’ve never tried it, but then, one would never know if they were inside a dream vision or a normal dream unless they knew what they were seeing.” Deanna slowly ran her right index nail up and down the middle of her upper lip. “What did you think of the school uniform the girl was wearing?”

“A Cernunnos B Level?” Coraline remembered the look they’d exchanged when Kerry mentioned that detail. “That can’t be coincidental, either.”

Deanna shook her head. “Annie didn’t think so, either.”

“She did her damnedest not to react when she heard that one.” Coraline chuckled darkly. “It’s a good thing there isn’t a student like that here now—”

“Yet.”

 

The detail of the school uniform that Carrot Girl–a favorite name from one of the readers that I have adopted, because we’re all about our veggies here–was not mentioned in the scene where Kerry discussed his dreams; one of the ideas with this scene is that far more was discussed after I ended the prior scene.  Now we know:  she was a Cernunnos B Level.  Which is why the following comes up:

 

Coraline saw the meaning behind the word. “You think it’s a vision?”

“It could very well be. Perhaps next year, or the year after—”

“Or the year after that.”

“—We’ll see a girl like the one Kerry’s described walk through Founder’s Gate and get placed by The Phoenix in Cernunnos—”

“Where she’ll run into something when she’s a B Level that will require Kerry saving her life?”

 

Coraline’s only asking that because Kerry’s already proven that he’ll jump in and do stupid things to save the lives of ginger hair girls.  Well, not stupid:  I’m sure nearly everyone at school who knows of him saving Emma from the Abomination thinks his actions were brave.  Unless their name is Annie.  Then they likely think he was stupid.  Though they’ll never say that in public.  Well, maybe once.  Or twice.  We’ll see.

This gets Deanna to pointing out that the idea of Kerry saving someone he’s never seen before isn’t all that strange for this joint . . .

 

Deanna shrugged. “Stranger things have happened here, haven’t they?” She sat the tip of her nose against the top of her left index finger and looked away from the woman across from her. “Did you ever imagine when school started in 2011 that one of the first things you’d do is tell a boy from Cardiff that a Bulgarian girl was in love with him?”

“No, I didn’t.” Coraline replayed that particular memory that moment, remembering how concerned Annie appeared when she asked Coraline to examine the boy who helped her to the hospital; how Kerry stared when Coraline began using the scanner; the way he seemed talking about wandering Amsterdam with Kerry before coming to school; and the look upon his face when she told him that Annie was madly in love with him. “I do remember, however, that when I was telling you guys what happened the next day you didn’t seem all that surprised.”

“Well, you did tell us at the end of Orientation Day and I’d already met them, so . . .” She left the question hanging. “Maybe I already suspected something about their relationship?”

“Sure.” Coraline flashed a slight smile as she got to her feet. “Anyway, what’s next?”

“Just as we advised—” Deanna rose and escorted Coraline to the door. “Kerry keeps track of his dreams, and when this girl appears again—which I’m certain she’ll do—he’s to write down what happened, then come and see us.” She hesitated before waving the door open. “Perhaps more information will make it easier for us to determine what’s happening.”

“You really don’t know what’s happening—” Coraline turned to face the seer. “Do you?”

Deanna shook her head slowly. “Not a clue.”

Coraline pursed her lips. “It must suck not knowing.”

“Actually, no, it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s nice not knowing.”

“Really?”

“Sure.” Deanna waved her hand and the door opened slowly and quietly. “I do like to be surprised from time-to-time, you know.”

 

Deanna likes surprises.  That’s one bit of good news.  And this thing with Kerry is . . . surprising her.  Um, yay?  Is she really surprised, or is she just telling Deanna that?  Hum . . . well, I know, but I’m not saying.

Chapter Twenty-One is next, and it looks like it’s full of Express Farewells, puppets, and death.  You know what?  That sounds like a hell of a lot of fun.

I better get to writing that tonight.

Willkommen in Wien: Das Treffen

Here we are once more, with my quick and dirty just under seven hundred word, excerpt.  Not a lot is happening, but on the other hand, everything is happening, and it’s going to happen quickly.  Because, it seems, someone is getting set up here–

 

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

Bernice turned her back for a few seconds and smiled. She couldn’t prove anything, but the current situation so felt like Annie had tried to do something that didn’t sit well with her mother, and Pavlina decided that since her daughter was bringing her boyfriend with her to Vienna, she may as well bring Annie’s father along to meet the lad. If what I’ve read about Annie is true, I know where she gets her drive and stubbornness.

An announcement sounded through the room. “Vian atenton, mi petas. Teleportation de la Salem Instituto de Granda Lernado kaj Edukado ekkomprenas. Studentoj alvenante en dek kvin sekundoj.” People in the room turned towards the glassed in area anticipation of the arrival of children returning for the holidays.

 

In case your Esperanto is rusty, what was announced was this:  “Your attention, please. Teleportation from the Salem Institute of Greater Learning and Education is commencing. Students arriving in fifteen seconds.”  I really like there are a number of Esperanto translators around, and while this isn’t perfect, it’s good enough for my needs.  And my needs are simple.

But if there are students coming in from Salem, you know what that means . . .

 

A massive set of pops echoed through the platform room as just over a dozen kids jaunted in from America. Bernice looked for one child in particular, and she spotted him immediately. Kerry was up front near the edge, his bag on his right and Annie on his left. They stepped off the platform and proceeded through the opening glass doors into the waiting area. Bernice watched how they remained side-by-side from one room to the next—and that they held hands the whole time—

She wasn’t the only one to notice.

Annie broke from Kerry the moment she saw her parents. He wandered over to Bernice. “Hi, Ms. Rutherford.”

“Hello, Kerry.” This close to him it wasn’t difficult to see how different he seemed from this time last year. Then he was a tired, mopey boy who missed a young girl from Bulgaria terribly. Now he seemed better adjusted, less sad, a great deal more upbeat. “How are you?”

“I’m fine.” He smiled and patted the handle of his bag. “It was a good night and we had a good morning—”

Kerry.”

 

The last time Kerry heard his name called out like that he had to meet someone.  And, well:  it’s no different this time–

 

He and Bernice turned in the direction of Annie’s voice. Bernice suspected what was coming next, but as for the boy to her left—

He faced Annie, but his eyes were on the two adults with her—particular the man on her left. “Yes?”

“I’d like to introduce my parents.” She motioned to her right. “You remember my mother?”

“Yes, I do.” He held out his hand. “Hello again, Mrs. Kirilova.”

“How are you, Kerry?” She shook his hand. “It’s a pleasure to see you again.”

“Good to see you, too.”

Annie motioned the man next to her forward. “And this . . . is my father.”

Once more he held out his hand. “How do you do? Victor Kirilov.”

Kerry took his hand. “Kerry Malibey.” They shook. “How do you do, sir?”

“I’m well, thank you.” Victor stared at Kerry; the boy stared back. Neither spoke while Victor seemed to regard the lad carefully. “So . . . The Ginger Hair Boy.” The right side of his mouth curled upward. “We meet at last.”

Kerry voice caught in his throat, the only sign he may have felt a bit unnerved. “Yes, sir, it appears we are.”

 

So, here we are:  both kids in Vienna, Kerry’s case worker there, and he’s facing both of Annie’s parents, but mostly it’s her dad who’s taking up his time right now.  How’s that feel, Kerry?

"I've fought monsters--this is just Annie's dad . . . I'd rather the monsters."

“I’ve fought monsters–this is just Annie’s dad . . . I’d rather the monsters.”

Hang in there, kid.  I’m sure I can give you more time tomorrow.

But for now, I gotta run, ’cause . . . stuff.  And things . . .

Talking Around the Shadows

Maybe it was something in the water; maybe it was something the air.  Maybe I could feel it coming in the night.  Maybe I’m stuck in a Phil Collins song that got heavy rotation after Miami Vice.  Whatever it was, it was like being back in NaNo Land, because I was on last night.  Extremely on.  Like I wrote two thousand, four hundred, and seventy-nine words in two different location over the course of about three hours on.

It may be a rambling mess, but it’s my mess, and I did it all on my own.

It also could have been because of something else that happened, but I’m keeping that a surprise until the end . . .

 

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

Annie and Kerry exchanged a quick glance. The knew the name well: Tanith Granstrom had been the object of a field operation everyone in the room had conducted for the Guardians in April of this year. It had been Annie’s and Kerry’s job to keep and eye on Tanith and, when the time was right, explain that she was no Normal person but was instead a witch on cusp of becoming Aware.

It was while Annie and Kerry were showing Tanith that they really were witches that they and Erywin, who was monitoring them from a distance, received an abort call from Helena, and soon found themselves engaged in a short but nasty fight with three Deconstructors who did their best to kill them, and were killed instead. Annie and Kerry was taken away to the CDC in Atlanta for treatment, and ended back at Salem a few hours later, while Tanith and her father Kaden were taken into Guardian protection.

During the Guardian debriefing that came a few days after the operation, it was explained to the children that Tanith would likely be “made to forget” what happened to her and her father during the operation, and while it wasn’t known at the time if she would ever come to Salem to receive schooling, but if she did, they’d never be allowed to discuss what happened to them that day in Kansas City—

There was no more wondering now: she would soon become a member of the student body.

 

Believe it or not, those four paragraphs took me about half an hour to write.  And the first one took about fifteen minutes and five tries to get it right.  Seriously, sometimes just finding the right words to start a transition is the hardest thing in the world.  And I know a little something about transitions, right?

Now let’s get the lowdown on the arrival.

 

Annie folded her hands and began rubbing the tips of her index fingers together. “When will she arrive?”

Helena tapped the display on her tablet. “Everything is on schedule right now. The Oceanic, East and Central Asian kids will arrive between eleven and twelve-thirty; the kids from the Americas will get here between fourteen-thirty and sixteen hours; and, as you know from experience, the Euro, African, and Western Asia kids will arrive between nineteen-thirty and twenty-one hours.” She pushed the tablet aside. “She’s arriving with the kids from North and South America, which should tell you something about where she was relocated.”

Kerry leaned forward a little. “She’s not coming under her old name, is she?”

“No. Her new name—which I’m sure you’d discover on your own eventually—is Kristiane Schoyer. From what I was told she didn’t change her appearance, but as part of her new identity the Guardians changed her birth certificate so she’ll fit in with the other eleven year old A Levels.”

Kerry glanced at Annie and Erywin before turning back to Helena. “Okay.”

Annie didn’t find that surprising: if the Guardians wanted her to blend in with other new students, rather than come up with a convoluted story about how she became Aware late—which is what drew in the attention of both The Foundation and the Deconstructors in the first place—they’d fix her legal age. Which means they likely did something to ensure she didn’t remember her real age— She addressed Helena. “What would you like us to know? Besides her coming here.”

 

For one, we now know when various A Levels show up at school, and what Tanith’s new name is–I mean, Kristiane’s.  That one little line is gonna come back at the end with great importance.  Just wait . . .

Helena was asked, and Helena answers:

 

Helena stood and came around to the front of the desk. She didn’t like sitting behind one when she spoke: it made her feel like she was hiding. She sat back against the top and kept her focus on the children before her. “I’ve already briefed Erywin on this, because she’ll have immediate contact with—Kristiane—once classes start—sooner if she is placed in her coven.” She folded her hands before her. “You’re not to attempt contact with her once she’s arrived. That shouldn’t be too hard with her being an A Level: she’s in the Fishbowl, and you’re both in the Pond for real now. The only time you should have contact with her is when it happens in the course of a normal day—like passing her in the Dining Hall, or on the grounds, or any number of venues here. If she approaches you for anything, the chances are she’s looking for information, or she’s asking a question, or she needs help with a lab. That’s stuff is normal, and in those instances you treat her like you would any other student.”

Helena glanced off to one side for a moment. “She doesn’t remember you or Erywin: the Guardians made certain of that. Otherwise they couldn’t risk letting her come here.”

Kerry quickly figured out the implications of the sorceress’ last statement. “Does she remember anything from her old life?”

“No. Her father and mother, yes, but everything else—living in Albuquerque; Kansas City; the event with the Deconstructors and being taken away to Atlanta—none of that remains. She’s been given not only a new identity, but a whole set of memories to go with that identity. The Guardian people who work on these things are good at their jobs, and they would make certain nothing remains of her old memories.”

Though she didn’t let the feeling show, Annie felt somewhat sad about this turn of events. She’d read about some of the things that these memory specialist could do, but she’d never realized, until now, how details these operations could become. “So even if we tried to tell her that we saved her life—”

“She’d think you were talking shite at her.” Helena gave Annie a piercing stare. “Not that you’d do anything that foolish—right?

“No—” She shook her head. “That would be a stupid thing to do.” Annie kept her breathing slow and controlled. “I’d expose myself if I did that.”

A slight smile played along Helena’s lips. “I like that thinking.”

 

Of course she likes your thinking, Annie:  that’s why you her favorite.  Annie is thinking like a Guardian:  don’t do stupid things that would give you away.  Walking up to Kristiane and saying, “Hey, remember me?  I saved your ass back in Kansas City,” would get you instantly branded as a crazy loser and someone who is way too dangerous to place back out in the field once again.  And that’s not Annie–or Kerry, as we’ll see.  And leave it to him to notice something . . .

 

Kerry agreed with Annie—he would never do anything as foolish as go up to Tani—no, Kristiane now—and try to get her to remember him, but there was something Helena said that caught his interest. “What do you mean by she could ask for help with a lab?”

Helena cleared her throat as she turned towards Erywin. “You want this one?”

The coven leader moved around in her chair so she could face her younger friends. “I have it on good authority that since you both have a bit of ‘free time’ during the day, you may get pulled in by a few instructors for minion duty.” She chuckled. “I know Wednesday is interested in having you help out in her regular B Level class, and I might ask you pop in for my A or B Level class—”

“Except on those days I might want you for A Level Sorcery.” Helena glanced from Annie to Kerry. “Once we start getting further into the year I wouldn’t mind having either of you help out. Annie, while you are the—” The right corner of Helena’s mouth curled upward. “—Dark Witch of this group, Kerry’s not far behind. And with you teaching him a little extra on the side—”

“He’ll become much better.” She looked to him, nodding. “I agree. And I’d be happy to help out.”

Kerry grinned. “So would I.”

“And just between us in the room—” Erywin automatically glanced towards the door as if she expected someone to enter. “Wednesday and Jessica are both asking about getting you out of normal classes so you could come and help out in a few of their classes.”

“That’s really . . .” Kerry found it hard to arrange his thought so he could explain what he was feeling. “I didn’t realize we were that much in demand.”

“This goes back to when you were invited into the advanced classes.” Erywin took a second to stretch her arm. “Even then the instructors were thinking about using you for minion work.”

Helena wiggled the finger of her right hand in time to an unheard beat. “Which means the instructors who’d like your assistance are doing so because they know you’re able to do the work. And Jessica’s one of those instructors—” She shook her head. “She never asks for minions. That should tell you all you need to know.”

 

You gotta wonder when these kids are gonna find time to snog.  Well, don’t wonder too long, because they’ll find time.  Still, it looks as if they’re being given a lot to do.  Regular classes, advanced classes, and now they’ve being asked to become lab minions from time to time.  And they have to teach each other what they’re learning in their advanced studies:  Kerry for Advanced Transformation, Annie for what she’s picking up on sorcery in the Black Vault.  Is there such a thing as burn-out at thirteen?  Maybe the school is conducting an experiment.  Or . . . maybe it’s a certain Guardian?  We’ll see, won’t we?

 

Helena stood and stepped away from her desk. “That’s all I have to say. I’ll let the proper authorities know we’ve had this discussion, and there shouldn’t be any need to bring this up again.” She cocked her head slightly to the right as the tone of her voice turned a touch darker. “At least I hope it doesn’t become necessary to bring this up again.”

Both children shook their heads, with Annie speaking for them both. “That won’t happen, Helena.”

“No, I don’t believe it will.”

Erywin stood at the same time as the children. “Just so you know—”

Kerry spoke first. “Yes?”

“The A Levels tend to stay inside either the Great Hall or the Pentagram Gardens after their E and As. It’s never been confirmed, but we believe The Phoenix does something to the student so they’re not wandering about the grounds for most of the day.” Erywin took a step towards them. “Holoč would have told you, but since we’re together now—”

He smiled softly. “Yeah.”

“You’ll see more than a few of them lounging in the Dining Hall when you’re eating; we’ll have a few sofas and chairs laid out for them.”

Helena chuckled. “We wouldn’t want them to go without resting all day.”

Erywin stood next to her partner. “While you’re inside the Pentagram grounds, don’t use any magic; we have to keep up the charade, remember?”

“We remember.” That made Annie wonder. “So that happened to us as well?”

“Yeah, it did.” Helena crossed her arms. “It’s a little unusual that you didn’t go off to eat with the other students, though.”

Annie didn’t see why that was strange. “I wasn’t feeling well, so we went to the hospital.”

“Yeah, but you did it on your own. Whenever Isis sends someone to the hospital, it’s usually for something along the lines of severe shock, or disorientation brought on by a concussion—”

Erywin joined in listing issues. “Maybe bleeding from the ears.”

Helena nodded. “Or a broken arm.”

“Or leg.”

“Or a fractured skull—”

“I see.” Annie frowned. “What you’re saying is not many go to the hospital because of an upset stomach and spinning head.”

The two instructors looked knowingly at each other before Helena replied. “Something like that, yeah.” She nodded towards the door, making it unlock. “Okay, you two: go out and do some wandering. We’ll see you later.”

 

So what you are saying, Helena, is that Annie and Kerry shouldn’t have ventured to the hospital, not with the maladies they had?  Interesting.  Is this some doing of The Phoenix?  Don’t know.  We may never know.  She’s a strange bird, you know.  It also sounds–from the injuries rattled off–that she likes to do a bit of the ol’ ultra-violence now and then.  It sounds like all she did to these two was scare the shit out of them.

It’s time to go and have fun, but you know Kerry the Killjoy:  he’s gotta wanna analyse everything.  This is no exception . . .

 

Once outside the office Annie began walking towards the stairs, but Kerry stopped her before she could go upstairs. “Would it be okay if we took the tunnels?” He glanced over his shoulder. “Maybe head up to Perquat’s Grove?”

Based upon Kerry’s body language, Annie suspected there was something he wanted—and it didn’t necessarily lay at the location where they spoke to Erywin, and Kerry learned of Annie’s long desire to marry him. “I would love that.” She joined him, taking his arm. “It should be beautiful today.”

They found the main tunnel leading north to the Polar Portal, the classrooms under the Observatory, and the cross-tunnel leading from the Firing Line and the portal leading up to Perquat’s Grove. The only time they’d taken this route was during the winter when there was too much snow on the main path to the Observatory; during this time of year, when the weather was beautiful and warm, the only people taking this route were those looking for privacy—usually with the intention of finding some intimacy, but sometimes all they needed was an opportunity to talk . . .

They’d walked about a hundred meters before Annie decided to give him a chance to open up and speak. She understood his moods, and when he had something on his mind, he often needed to know it was okay to speak. “What are you thinking about, my love?”

That was all the opening he needed. “What we did in Helena’s office—”

“Yes?”

“Do the Guardians really think we’d, you know—” He looked around in case there was someone close by. “Screw up and talk to her?”

 

Annie is the rock in this relationship:  she is almost never rattled, and when she is, it’s only because of her Ginger Hair Boy.  Deconstructors hell-bent on killing her?  Screw that shit, she’s throwing down.  Kerry, on the other hand, is the sometimes quivering emotional center of the relationship, and he not only lets those feelings get to him, but he also overthinks a lot of things that don’t require overthinking.  And he’s doing that right now:  he’s smart enough to understand they needed to know this stuff, but still . . . it feels as if the Guardians were keeping them after class for a talking.

Not so, Bro.  Listen to your better half . . .

 

She said nothing for about fifteen seconds, letting Kerry’s curiosity build. “I’ve read a little on the history of the Guardians—”

Kerry chuckled. “I’m not surprised.”

“My parents had a book on it, but there were a couple in the Black Vault that went into far more details.” She slowed her pace until they were almost shuffling along the large, empty tunnel. “They’ve always collected intelligence, but it wasn’t until the Deconstructors started becoming a problem in, I think, the late 1950s, that they started becoming an offensive force. From what I read, they were almost like a specialized military force during that time.”

“Like the SAS?”

“Exactly like that—only they also continued to gather intelligence. It was a dangerous life, given that they also spent a great deal of time going into the areas that the Soviet Union and the Chinese controlled. Anyone who stayed alive for more than five years was usually moved to an office.

“Deconstructors were almost impossible to find back then. The Foundation used to say that they lived in the shadows, and that only the bravest women would venture in to find them. That’s how the Guardians earned the nickname, ‘The Shadow Walkers’: they’re still known as that today.”

She pulled Kerry to a slow stop. It was safe here; if there were any students close by, they were likely on the surface, unaware there was anyone below. “Helena told me before we went home that, as far as she knew, we were the youngest team the Guardians sent out on a field operation. She was a C Level, a few months past her fourteenth birthday, when she went out on hers, and she only knew of someone going out who was a few month younger than her when they went out. She said that as leery as she’d been about us going out, the Guardians wouldn’t have sent us out if they didn’t believe we could complete a mission.

“There was a reason Helena called us in today: she was under orders. She told us, without actually telling us, that the orders had come from high up the line of command. She told us—her new name, something we could have found out on our own, like she said—but she told us instead.”

She held Kerry’s left hand tightly within hers. “She wasn’t giving us a warning, my love: she was giving us a briefing. She told us about her arrival today, and as she said, she’d report back to the proper people that we’d received the briefing, and that we understood to proper actions to take should we encounter here.”

A slight grin formed. “We were given that briefing because we earned the right. Because we walked into the shadows—” Annie pulled Kerry close and hugged him tight. “—and we were good enough to return to the light.”

 

“We were good enough to return to the light.”  They were, and they did.  Both played their parts, and played them well, and if Kerry hadn’t been–ah, hem–overthinking his part, there’s wouldn’t have been a need for Annie of the Broken Arm to go all murder time on the second Deconstrutor.

But she gets it.  They were given a briefing not because they’re a couple of kids and then need a bit of schooling–it was because they earned the right to a follow-up.  Not a warning, but a head-up that they’re gonna see this girl, and here’s what you wanna know.

I guess you could say they’re part of the club now.

So here is the book . . .

Coming along nicely, I see.

Coming along nicely, I see.

And I rolled through thirty-one thousand last night, which means I’m less than nine thousand words from–yes, let’s say it–this being a true novel.  And that’s going to happen sometime in Chapter Five.  Maybe about the time the kids are Remembering Memory . . .

Now, for the surprise I promised.  It’s not writing related, and it’s probably not something one would look at and go, “Meh, so?”  But I have a friend who knows a little of my past, knows I’m trans, and doesn’t care about any of that because I have cool friends.  She’s been going on for a few days about how she’s going to tie the knot, so to speak, and she’s looking at venues and the like for a ceremony next fall.  She’s telling people it’ll be a small, intimate affair, and she’s not looking to have many people show up, and I let her know I will be there, don’t worry.  And that’s when she dropped the bomb on me in private chat–

She wants me to be her Maid of Honor.

I have been in weddings before.  I was even a Best Man once.  If you told me back in 1976 that in 2016 I’d be someone’s Maid of Honor, I’d have probably thought, “What do they know that I don’t?”  Now I’ve got to start planing, and looking at dresses and shoes, and I’ll likely need a new wig by that time.  And if it’s held in one spot I suggested, then we’ll have a spa there to get our mani/pedis before the ceremony, and our make overs, and all that stuff before we get into the dresses–

Yeah.  I’m just a little excited . . .

The Quey to the Square

As a beginning writing weekend, it’s been pretty successful.  I finished the scene I started in yesterday’s blog post, and wrote, and finished, the one that followed.  I ended up writing a little over sixteen hundred words, and the novel is about five thousand words into the first chapter.  One more scene and Chapter One is done and I move onto Chapter Two.

So I pick up where I left off, where Erywin asks . . .

 

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

The chuckle returned. “A good witch never reveals her sources.” She cleared her throat as she took a step back. “Speaking of your better half, how is Annie?”

A moment passed as Kerry’s thoughts turned to his soul mate. “She’s good.”

“I take it that item you have to post is for her?”

“Yeah.”

“How often are you exchanging letters?” Erywin was aware from discussions before the end of the last school year that Annie didn’t have immediate access to a computer or phone.

“I’m writing two, three letters a week.”

“Writing, or—?”

“Writing.” He made a motion with his left hand, as if he were holding a pen and jotting something down. “Just like she asked.”

“That must be quite the task for someone who was used to doing everything on a computer.”

“At first it was, now . . .” He shrugged. “Not so bad.”

“Good to hear.” There was one question that Erywin had wanted to ask the moment she met Kerry, but could do so in front of his month. “Have you seen each other in your dreamspace since the holiday started?”

He nodded. “A little over a week after we got home we had dream time together. Annie said something about how she was trying to dreamwalk me—she’d read about it and wanted to try making it happen—”

“That sounds like something one of you would try.”

“She wasn’t certain if it was a dream walk, or if we were dreaming together like we did in Kansas City.” Kerry smiled. “It was—nice. Being with her is always nice.”

She didn’t need to ask how nice: Erywin saw the experience written all over Kerry’s mooning face. “Is that the only time it’s happened?”

 

Yeah, being in a dream with Annie is . . . nice.  And Erywin asks if this is the only time if they meet in dreams, and Kerry confirms this.  Is he doing something that’s keeping them apart, since they used to do this automatically all the time, and now–nada.  Maybe their favorite Seer can help there.

But Kerry goes on a little further in his discussion of summer with Erywin, and that’s when he comes to this:

 

“I suppose.” There were times when Kerry didn’t know if he would make it, however. He wasn’t about to tell Erywin of the moments when he grew sad and depressed over Annie’s non-presence. “It’s just—”

“Yes?”

“She was always there at the school. I saw her first thing in the morning, and she was the last thing I saw at night.” He let his gaze drop towards the ground once again. “The morning after I arrived home I came out of my room and half-expected here to be standing outside my door waiting to go to breakfast. It took a couple of more days before I realized I wasn’t going to see her again for three months.” He sighed. “The first Monday I cried for about ten minutes because I was eating lunch alone, and there was no one to talk to.” When he looked up and turned his face towards Erywin, his eyes were misting over with tears. “I miss her more than anything, Erywin. Even all the stuff I told you I miss? It’s nothing compared to her.”

“I’ve been there, Kerry.” She gave his shoulder another squeeze. “I was there for most of my school summers when I was dating Helena, and there were a few moments after we left school where I wondered when I would see her again.” She slipped her arm around her young friend and gave him a hug.

Kerry turned and hugged her back. “Does it ever get better?”

“No.” Erywin released him. “But you get better at dealing with the sadness. And who knows? By this time next year you both might be dreamwalkers.” The mobile in her purse beeped. “I think that’s my pretty girl.” She checked the display. “Yes. She’s finished up and ready for us.”

 

Make no mistakes:  Kerry missing Annie terribly.  Before Salem he took being alone in stride, and figured that he’d see Annie at some point in his dreams.  Now he doesn’t even have the dreams, and he’s feeling the loneliness.  He wants Annie by him, but he can’t have that.  Ergo, this summer really sucks.

And then it comes time to leave–Helena sends a message saying she’d finished–and Kerry asks if they’re going to eat at nearby Mermaid Quey, which is pronounced “key”, which is how you say today’s titles, “The Key to the Square.”  I’m sure some of your knew that, but now there is full disclosure.

Anyway, they jaunt off–

 

The moment they completed their teleportation Kerry suspected they weren’t in Cardiff. The weather felt the same, and the park where they appeared could have been any number of parks in and around his home city. Still, something felt off . . .

He looked down and immediately realized the difference. “It’s rained here.”

Erywin released his hand. “You are clever, you know that?”

“So I’ve been told.” He slowly dropped the light bending spell, allowing them to reappear as they stepped out of a small collection of trees. Erywin got her bearings. “This way.” She turned to her left and began walking; Kerry was alongside in seconds.

They emerged from the park and stepped out into a busy intersection. A prominent sign on the opposite side of the intersection told him their location. “We’re in London.” He pointed at the sign. “We’re close to an Underground station.” He turned around and saw the name of the park they’d just left. “Russell Square?”

They began crossing the street. “You know this place?”

“This is where Annie and I came for lunch when we had our free day before going to Amsterdam last year.” He smiled as he looked around. “We didn’t get down to this section, though, but—” He pointed to her right down Bernard Street as they crossed. “I believe the station is down that way.”

“Which is a coincidence—” Erywin turned right the moment she set foot upon the sidewalk. “That’s where we’re headed.”

They didn’t speak as they walked eastward down the street. As they approached the end of the block Kerry spotted another familiar figure: Salem’s Mistress of All Things Dark, Helena Lovecraft, the school’s Head Sorceress. Kerry was a little taken back, because of what Helena wore: a light blue tee shirt, jeans, and sneakers. If it wasn’t for the addition of her ever-present long leather jacket, Kerry might not have recognized the instructor.

He waved as they grew closer. “Hi, Helena.”

“Hello, Kerry; welcome back, Darling.” She took a moment to give her partner a kiss before stepping over to Kerry’s right side as they continued walking slowly. “Erywin been keeping you company?”

“Yeah, we been having a nice chat.” He looked down and across the street. “There’s the tube station.”

Erywin turned her head so she could see Helena. “Kerry informed me that he’s been to Russell Square before.”

Helena turned to Kerry. “Is that so?”

“Yeah. When Annie and I were doing our walking tour of London last year, we stopped here for lunch.”

“Oh? Where?”

“At a Pret a Manger.” Kerry stopped and took in the street, remembering that moment almost a year earlier when Annie and he were allowed to leave the hotel where they were staying, and she showed him around the city. “It was right across from the tube station, so if it’s there—” He turned to his left towards Helena. “—then the restaurant is right behind—”

Helena took a single step to her left, giving Kerry an unobstructed view of the Pret a Manger behind her—

Annie sat alone inside the restaurant at a table next to the window. As her eyes met Kerry’s, a smile etched across her face as she raised her right hand and waved.

Kerry froze, unable to react. He finally turned back towards the two women who were now standing side-by-side. Helena took Erywin’s hand. “As clueless as ever.”

Kerry finally found his voice. “You guys—”

“I told you mother I was taking you to lunch—” Erywin leaned into Helena. “I didn’t say you were dining with us.”

Kerry threw his arms around both women and hugged them. “Thank you.”

They hugged them back. “I got your number from Ms. Rutherford—” Helena stepped back as soon as they finished the hug. “I’ll message you when we’re ready to met up again. Until then, you’re both on your own.”

“Okay.”

Helena nodded towards the restaurant—and the waiting girl—behind him. “You better get going; she’s been waiting almost five minutes.”

Kerry didn’t offer his goodbyes: he nodded, then turned and hurried into the Pret a Manger. The moment he was inside, Annie was out of her chair and standing with open arms next to the table. He rushed into her embrace and lost himself in her long, gentle, loving kiss.

 

As the scene was just over seven hundred words, I presented it all, because, well, it’s a nice scene.  And I’ve had the image of Annie sitting alone, waiting for Kerry, for some time now.

Though I doubt she's begun working on her wine drinking yet.

Though I doubt she’s begun working on her wine drinking just yet.

When I wrote the line about Annie sitting and waiving at Kerry, I began getting weepy, because it’s a lovely image.  I’ve missed something like that in my life for a long time, and, well, I wanted my kids to have this time together.  They deserve their happiness.

As we all do.

Serendipity of the Silent Grove

Here I am, coming late, but finally coming.  Why is this?  Because I’ve spent the last two hours writing, and let me tell you, it’s been coming slowly.  Only half awake for most of the show, so mind isn’t working, fingers aren’t working, not much is doing what it should do.  It was like that last night when I was struggling to get five hundred words out.  It’s the post-NaNo collapse.  It has to be, right?

Part of the problem is finding the tone of the scene.  There are things that need to be said here, personal things, and when you’re cognitive functions are cooperating you find it all that more difficult to put them down in the computer.  So I have a feeling the first draft of this will be a bit rough.  Then again, whenever I start something like this off, I find myself hesitant to write–I think my mind rebels at the idea of laying raw feelings out on the page for all to see.

What is happening, you ask?  Well, let’s get into the not-so-action, shall we?

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

The children had walked in silence from the Witch House, and that silence intensified as the light wind which surrounded them from The Pentagram was absorbed by the mass of trees that made up Perquat’s Grove. Annie gazed up into the cloudy sky and sensed that it was manipulating her mood. She wanted to place blame on the sky for making her experience these feelings moving through here at the moment, for if she thought about the real reason she felt such trepidation—

It would only grow worse.

The reason they were walking in silence through the grove was because of her current feelings. It had started the night of their test run through Salem. Annie had pushed the concerns that drove these feelings aside for a couple of days, but by the time the Friday Madness came around she was back to these concerns that wouldn’t leave her. She didn’t let them interfere with her to the point that she couldn’t make it through a day without appearing addled, but by the following Wednesday night she was finding it difficult, if not impossible, to push away the concern.

This was why she asked to stop at Memory’s End on the way back from Sorcery class. It was why she asked to meet with Professor Arrakis.

It was why she told Kerry he needed to come with her when she spoke with the professor on Sunday. Because there were things she needed him to hear . . .

 

Uh, oh.  It looks like Annie is having a bad time of . . . something.  And she needs Kerry to hear things?  Not good, I’d say.

And Kerry knows something’s up . . .

 

Walking through the grove Kerry thought about Annie—what he’d noticed from her since last Saturday night, what he’d felt from her all this week, how he’d noticed her magic suffer just a touch. There was nothing he could say that was completely wrong with her, but he knew Annie’s moods by moods well now, and there was a problem of sorts.

He didn’t know what it was, however. It involved him, though, because after meeting with Professor Arrakis at Memory’s End the other day—a meeting that he only assumed because he was asked to wait outside—she said they were going to meet with her on the upcoming Sunday—

Today.

They reached a small clearing where the pines were planted four meters back from the path. On either side of the path were two benches large enough for four people facing each other. The quiet here was every more prevalent than when they’d entered the grove. Kerry looked about the clearing. “I like it here.”

Annie turned and faced Kerry, then looked around as Kerry did. “It is beautiful. So quiet.”

“This is the first time we’ve been here.” He looked up at the partially obscured sky. “Except when flying here.”

“But never landing.” Annie stood before one of the benches and stared at the back rest. “I wonder why we’re meeting Deanna here?”

Kerry shrugged. “Don’t know.”

“Usually we’d meet in Memory’s End—”

“And that’s true—” Professor Sladen stepped into the clearing from the same direction they’d come only a few minutes before. “—if you were meeting with Deanna. Today, however, you’re meeting with me.” She smiled as she adjusted the collar of her denim jacket. “She didn’t think you’d mind.”

 

So instead of the Sensitive Seer, Annie’s gotta spill her guts to the Lovable Lesbian.  But Erywin has a reason for this–

 

Annie was perplexed, however. “Why did she want you to meet with us?”

“Of the three of us who are full-time counselors, I’m the only one who’s been in a long term relationship. Coraline has a boyfriend and Deanna—well, we know someone’s sweet on her . . .” She winked at Annie. “But I’ve been with Helena for thirty years, and while not all of them the best, we’ve managed to make it work and we’re still together.” Erywin rubbed her hands to warm them. “First time to the grove?”

Kerry nodded. “Yes.”

“Perquat’s Grove: lovely place. Helena and I used to come up here all the time because not a lot of students visit. The ones who walk don’t like coming past the Witch House, and the ones who jaunt usually visit their own hidden locations.” Erywin waved a hand around. “All these trees come from different parts of the world: Alaska, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia. Henri Perquat spent thirty years developing this place for his own reasons—but that’s the way he was when he was groundskeeper.” She indicated the bench behind the children. “Why don’t you sit there and I’ll take the one across from you, and we’ll start, hum?”

 

Helena and she used to come up to this place all the time to–well, you can figure it out.  She’s relaxed in this place, even if they’re outside and it’s only 66 degrees–I checked–the pines around them block the wind.  So it’s not that bad a place to meet up.

And thus begins the session:

 

Annie was finding it difficult to start, so she tried a different tactic. “How much of our history—” she nodded towards Kerry. “—do you know?”

“Everything. I spent an hour with Deanna getting filled in on what you’ve discussed in the past, and the conversation she had with you both two weeks back concerning your dreams.” Erywin settled back into her bench. “So we can discuss everything.”

“Then you’re aware as to how long Kerry and I have actually known each other.”

“Absolutely.”

“We began seeing each other when we were maybe three, four years old. We only saw each other off and on for a few years—”

Kerry spoke for the first time since everyone sat. “Because of the time zones.”

“I can see that being a problem.” Erywin nodded towards Annie. “Go on, dear.”

“We’ve shard so much in our dreams, had so many experiences . . .” She turned to Kerry. “It was much better once you moved to Cardiff.”

“Well—” He appeared embarrassed. “Maybe for the dreams.”

“Yes, but do you remember what else happened that first dream we had together after you moved?”

 

Yes, Kerry:  we know it sucked to move, but you got to be closer to that dream girl of yours even though you thought she was a dream girl.  Annie’s getting to something, however:

 

“What happened?” While Erywin had a good overview of the children’s dreams, she lacked some details, and if they were willing to open up on this matter, then it was something she could use to help them—as well as something she could pass along to Deanna.

Kerry answered the question, never taking his eyes off Annie. “At the end we found out each other’s real names.”

“You mean you didn’t know them until after Kerry moved to Cardiff?”

Annie shook her head. “No. We’d not seem much of each other for about two years because of our sleep schedules—”

“But up until then we knew each other by our nicknames.” A wide grin spread across Kerry’s face. “My Chestnut Girl.”

“And my Ginger Hair Boy.” Annie took his hand in hers. “I remember that dream so well.”

Erywin’s tone grew soft. “Was that the one where you rode bicycles?”

“Yes. It was after it was all over that we . . .” Annie gave an almost imperceptible sigh. “Asked.”

“Who asked first?”

Kerry glanced at Erywin. “I did.”

Annie chuckled. “He finally got up his nerve.”

 

It’s nice to see them relax and not be so uptight in front of one of the people who is totally judging them on this Guardian operation.  So just spill those guts, kids–and they do in a rather unusual way . . .

 

“I did.” A dreamy look came into Kerry’s eyes as he spoke to Annie. “I really enjoyed today.”

“Today?” Annie giggled and slid closer to Kerry. “Are you sure about that?”

“It feels like a today. I know it’s really night.” A puzzled look came over his face. “This is such a strange dream.”

“Why is that?”

“Because it doesn’t feel like one, but I know it is.” He reached up as if he were going to touch Annie’s cheek. “Are you real?”

Annie’s eyes glimmered. “Are you?”

“I’ve always wondered . . .” Kerry slowly gulped. “Do you have a name? A real name?”

There was a slight pause, before . . . “Anelie Victoreva Kirilova. That’s my real name.”

Kerry’s eyes widened. “Victoreva is your middle name?”

“I’m Bulgarian, so my middle name is a patronymic.” She ran her fingertips over the back of his hand. “And do you have a real name?”

He nodded. “Kerrigan Rodney Malibey. Though everyone calls me Kerry.”

“Everyone called me Annie.”

“Pleased to meet you, Annie.”

“Pleased to meet you, Kerry.” She continued to stare into his eyes—

There was a loud double clap: both children turned towards Erywin. She allowed them a moment to collect themselves before she spoke. “That was incredible.”

Annie gave her a quizzical look. “What was?”

“You have no idea what just happened, do you?”

Annie’s expression showed her confusion. “We were telling you about our dream.”

“You were doing more than that—” Erywinn leaned forward. “Tell me: where were you when you were telling me about your dream?”

 

Keep in mind that both times they relived a moment in their dreams no one else was present, so this is the first time they’d been witnessed–unless Deanna saw more than she’s indicated that first time in Memory’s End, in which case she’s holding back information.  Maybe she saw herself holding back information, so she has to . . .

According to the kids this was the first time they discovered each other’s names.  Noticed they didn’t find out anything else–like, “Are you real?”–but that’s coming.  I know what it does, totally.  This also goes back to something that happened when they were about to begin their Evaluations and Assessments, and Isis spoke their names, and this happened:

 

The echo of the closed door faded away. Isis lowered her tablet to her side. “Well, best for last, hum?” Annie and Kerry stood together, silent in their apprehension. She chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. “Okay, well, you know what to do.” She nodded towards the door on her left. “Anelie Kirilova: Room One.” She pointed to the door opposite. “Kerrigan Malibey: Room Two.”

Kerry turned to Annie. “Anelie?”

She raised her eyebrows and managed a tiny smile. “Kerrigan?”

“Yeah.”

 

Kerry didn’t know who Annie was, even though he knew her full name a little over three years before.  We know that Annie knew who he was, so she was playing along, smiling weakly at this snub.  Of course someone dug a knife into her side during her E&A over this . . .

But where were those kids while they were talking about this dream?  I’ll probably write that tonight, since there isn’t anything on television and I’ll have time to add to this.  And speaking of adding to the manuscript . . .

Yes, another forty thousand plus into the word bank!

Yes, another forty thousand plus into the word bank!

By passing forty thousand words I have officially turned Act Three into a novel.  Given the length of the other two acts, I’ve pretty much written four longer novels and one short one worth of material in putting this story together.

I hope it’s all worth it; I’d hate to think I’ve spent the last year spending all this time on a bunch of stuff that won’t see the light of day.