Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday, which was the main reasons why I returned home last Friday. I’d told her I’d be her to help her celebrate, and true to my word, I did. I also watched a mammoth get its ass set on fire, which had its moments, believe me.
With all this happening yesterday, there wasn’t a lot of writing–which means I did manage about six hundred words at some point after 9 PM local time. It wasn’t much, just Wednesday ratting out the kids with the video footage of what was happening down in Spell Cell #3 earlier that afternoon. Though “ratting” is probably a little too harsh–Wednesday’s really not that sort of person. After all, she did tell someone about that time she killed the school’s sorceress . . .
(This excerpt and next from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
A video began playing on Mathilde’s display. “What am I seeing?”
“This took place earlier today—Spell Cell #3. Had a couple of students request a fire cell because they said they were going to try a fire spell.” Wednesday glanced over to the headmistress. “Emphasis on ‘try’.”
“Why do you say that?”
On the video two students entered the spell cell. “Keep an eye on them: you’ll see.”
Mathilde closely watched the students—a girl and a boy—bring in two totes before unloading books and electronic gear. “Who are they?”
“Annie Kirilova and Kerry Malibey.”
The headmistress recognized the name right away. “Our Cernunnos A Levels? The ones the instructors are talking about?”
Wednesday nodded. “One and the same.” She punched the fast forward. “They’re putting wood in the fire pit, save for . . .” She returned the playback to normal, and pointed to one piece of wood set against the wall. “That one.”
“I see.” Mathilde leaned her right elbow on the armrest of her rather comfortable chair and stroked her cheek with her index finger. “And the reason for that?”
Yes, watch the magic, because that’s what’s happening. That and what I ended the scene with . . .
Mathilde spun her chair to face Wednesday. “What project are they working on?”
“Holoč’s first part of the school year project. They decided they wanted to make charcoal?”
“And did they?”
“Yep.” Wednesday sped up the display, which showed the two children standing close together. “Not much to see here—”
“What are they doing?”
I was hoping I didn’t have to answer this one. “They’re hugging, maybe kissing.”
Kids, you’re so busted! Not only are you on video snuggling, but the Headmistress is seeing this. Wends, so not cool. Then again, Miss Mathilde has probably seen them vanish under the comforters during the Midnight Madness, so is she really surprised? Probably not.
Never fear, though, because there’s a method to Wednesday’s madness, and it’s coming out in another scene that’s coming up. I’ll get there by the end of the week. I think. I feel I’ll finish this scene today, or at least I’ll put a big push on to get it done today. After all, I don’t have that much to do . . .
But yesterday was also time for reflection, all because of a song. See, yesterday I was playing a bit of Elton John on the computer, and Rocket Man was one that hit the repeat more than once. That got me to thinking, because there was a novel I wrote–which is still unpublished, of course, story of my life–where that song came into play. What novel am I talking about? The first novel I ever started: Transporting. The one that took me twenty years to finish.
The scene in question was one I wrote probably way back in 1990, maybe 1991. Maybe. It’s all so fuzzy, really. I suppose I could pull up the original documents . . . which tell me nothing, because when I moved the original documents to my off-line drive in 2005, the creation dates were changed. So I’m stilling with 1991 or so, because why not?
Rereading the scene in question I realized how much I’d missed these characters. The moment I started reading I remembered everything about it, even though I haven’t looked at this particular scene in maybe three years. But there it was, all coming back as I reabsorbed the words.
The scene is simple. One of my time traveling people, Audrey, is back in time and on another planet trying to help the civilization there. She’s in her private air/space ship Liberator, flying along with one of the residents of the planet, Callia, and the ship’s AI/Avatar, Maggie. Since Liberator can fly through air or space, Audrey decides to take them up into orbit and let Callia see what her home looks like from a few hundred kilometers up.
That’s what this scene is about: taking someone up and showing them secrets that no one else know, because Callia’s planet has only known air travel for a few decades, and space flight is something a bit off in their future. Audrey is giving her a special experience, one that she alludes to she doesn’t feel is all that special to her anymore.
Because I’m in a good mood today, I’ll share it with you. Keep in mind that Audrey, who is not from the 32nd Century, which is where she lives throughout the story, but was actually from the period of 1950’s to the 1980’s–when she was found and, ahem, taken–swears a great deal. I make no apologies for the frequent f-bombs; if it’s any consolation, Audrey doesn’t, either.
Here you are. Enjoy. It’s allowed, you know.
(Excerpt from Transporting, copyright 1992, 2012, by Cassidy Frazee)
After a couple of minutes Liberator appeared to level out. The ground was still above the ship, but Callia could see it was far, far away. She understood the concepts of orbital mechanics, and so realized they must now be in orbit, falling around her planet. A slight tinge of excitement ripped through her body as she understood that she, of all people on her planet, had become the first people to ever see their home this way. She pulled herself up into a kneeling position, gazing outside, watching the surface of her planet rush by. She wasn’t aware the engines were off, the music had stopped, and Audrey was standing behind her, silent, letting her enjoy the moment.
When she thought the moment was right, Audrey said in a quiet voice, “Pretty fuckin’ awesome, huh?”
“It is incredible, yes,” Callia half-whispered back.
“You want me to get pictures?”
Callia turned, her face a mask of excitement. “You can do . . .” She realized how ignorant her question seemed. “Damn. That’s foolish of me.”
“What? Forgot where you’re at and what I can do?” Audrey laughed. “Hey, it’s okay. You’re entitled to it.”
Callia bit her lower lip and turned back to the view outside. “You’re far too kind to me, Audrey,” she said with a great deal of reverence.
Audrey shrugged. “Naw, not really. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be here.”
“Anyway . . .” Callia nodded, then turned back to her alien friend. “Thank you, regardless. This is something I’ll remember forever.”
Audrey really didn’t know what to say. To her, this sort of thing had become commonplace. Sure the first couple of times . . . it was a total gas. Now it was like driving to work: Been there, done that, seen it. Callia’s innocence and glee caused something to well up inside Audrey. She didn’t think she was going to get maudlin, but . . . it had been a long time since she’d done anything that had made someone this happy.
At least, she felt, not since the holidays.
“Yeah, a real Kodak moment.” She realized there was something else she could offer Callia. “Would you like to try free fall?”
Callia turned away from the window for just a moment. “How’s that again?”
“You know: weightlessness?” Audrey started making hand gestures of something floating in the air before her. “Like floating on air?”
“I understand some of the theories behind space flight,” said Callia. “I just thought—”
“You didn’t want to ask me about it?”
“I figured you’d likely have to turn off your systems and make the whole cabin . . . weightless.”
Audrey shook her head. “Ah, no way. On some other loser’s ship, maybe. But not mine.” She raised one eyebrow. “Wanna give it a shot?”
Callia’s face lit up with anticipation. “Yes, of course.” Her smile was blinding. “I’d love to try it.”
Audrey moved back from the front window, positioning herself to the side of her main seating area. “I think from here to the window would be a good zone,” she said. “Maggie, you wanna give us some help?”
Maggie appeared, rising out of the floor like Venus from the sea, only Maggie was wearing a simple long dress and sandals rather than being naked. “I know what you want,” she told Audrey. “How else can I be of assistance?”
“You think you can step in and help Callia keep her orientation?” asked Audrey.
Callia looked puzzled. “Won’t Maggie be affected by lack of gravity as well?”
Maggie stepped closer to Callia. “I’m the ship,” she said, smiling broadly. “Remember? I can’t float about. It’s impossible.”
“How awful,” said Callia.
“Yes, but there are many other advantages,” said Maggie. She put her hands on Callia’s shoulders as if to steady her. “Such as what I’m offering you now.”
“What?” Before Callia could react Maggie started lifting her slowly off the ground. A few seconds passed before Callia understood that Maggie had altered the conditions in this section of the ship so weightlessness was possible.
Maggie positioned Callia so she was perpendicular to the floor, then slowly moved her closer to the window. Hand rails appeared in the wall, allowing Callia something with which to situate herself on her own. “Comfortable?” asked Maggie.
Callia nodded. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Some people don’t adjust well at first: Space Adaptation Syndrome, it’s called.” Maggie decided that detailing the symptoms—swelling of the mucus membranes, dizziness, nausea—was not in order. As Callia seemed to be adapting quite will, Maggie thought it best not to put any ideas in the girl’s head. “But you’re coming along very nicely.” Maggie released Callia and gave her a tiny push towards the forward window.
The lights dimmed in the main cabin. Callia didn’t know if it was Audrey or Maggie who’d dimmed them, but it didn’t matter. The view just outside the window became even more brilliant as the planet below them passed into darkness—or was it them who were passing?—and the lights of the cities began to glow through the thin cloud cover. Callia held on to the railings for a moment, then let go and allowed herself to float free, her eyes locked upon the tableau below.
Music was playing throughout the ship once more, but as before Callia didn’t understand what was being said. Audrey was singing again, and Callia could pick out some of the chorus: something about it being a long, long time, and the touchdown bringing her around to find that she’s not the man she was back home—that was all very strange.
Callia was glad Audrey wasn’t a male, because only another woman would understand what Callia was feeling this very moment, understand that she wanted to see what one future was like, to be able to experience it, and then, when everything was prefect, to be left alone with her thoughts and emotions.
She performed a slow roll, stopping with little difficulty. She sighed softly and wiped away the globs of tears that had formed around her eyes. She mumbled a thanks to Audrey, knowing she’d never hear her words. Whatever the girl could do for her people, whatever the future might bring . . . it all paled compared to what Callia was living this very moment.
For these were the memories one was fortunate enough to take with them to their grave.