The Agony of the Finish

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

And done I did get it.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Here’s the last segment, Section 8–

We're just about home--literally.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

“Kerry? How are you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

At least help has arrived.

 

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

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

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

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

“I got it.”

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

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.”

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“With a kiss?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

It really is because I show you that it is.

It really is because I show you that it is.

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

Well, you’ll see.

A Day At the Races: Basin Deep, Mountain High

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

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

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

 

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

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

He used that rhythm now.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Did you really think I wouldn't show you?

Did you really think I wouldn’t show you?

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Just like I said I would.

Just like I said I would.

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

But what I’m finishing only I know.

A Day At the Races: Snow Cruise

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Into this.

Let’s trip into this insanity.

Here we go:

 

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

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

He was right: it was Emma.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

How said sucker looked just before I started adding words.

How said sucker looked just before I started adding words.

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

Anyway, here’s what happens . . .

 

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

Time to make those words ring true.

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

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

 

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

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

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

A Day At the Races:  Fines and Misnomers

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Understood. Over.”

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

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

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

 

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

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

This . . . looks easy.

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Or maybe worse.

A Day At the Races: The Pain Principle

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

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

Here's the view from my balcony looking north.

Here’s the view from my balcony looking north.

 

And looking south towards I-83 and the Susquehanna.

And looking south towards I-83 and the Susquehanna.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

An angry witch at Salem?  Whomever could I mean?

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

My first attempt at boring the hell out of you.

So now we leave this behind–

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

Still with me? Good.

And we move on to Section 2.

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Tomorrow.  There’s always more tomorrow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, that could be entirely possible.

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

Have at it, kids!

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

It's this far, folks.

It’s this far, folks.

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

But now he’s go something else to do–

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

A Day At the Races: Only the Climb Ahead

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

However . . .

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

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

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

 

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

Åsgårdsreia

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

Blodeuwedd

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

Ceridwen

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

Cernunnos

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

Mórrígan

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

 

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

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

 

Mount Katahdin Cross Country Race 2013

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

 

Now we know, and so do I.

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

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

 

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

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

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

It was time to begin climbing up South Branch.

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

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

 

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

I’ve been known to find those as well.