The Commotion in the Coven

Yesterday, President’s Day 2015, was a lot of wasted opportunities, mostly due to weather and a lot of stuff being closed.  I was supposed to see my doctor yesterday but half way to her office I was called and told to reschedule.  This did get me off the roads by three in the afternoon, but it left me tired and sort of worn out for that same amount of time as well.

Now I did managed to get out my last video recap for The Walking Dead that I work on with my Friend From Down Under, and I started writing this scene, but . . . there was also napping and procrastinating.  I really couldn’t get my mind a going, and it was far better vegging out watching Better Call Saul than trying to stroke the creative juices into something resembling a story.

"This is so much better a time than sitting on my butt writing."

“This is so much better a time than sitting on my butt writing.”

But write I eventually did, and as with all my chapter and scene starts it became slow going.  In fact, if my brain hadn’t started shutting down about nine PM–or twenty-one hours if you attend my school and/or use universal time–I may have actually finished it.  It’s not going to be a long scene:  it may become the shortest scene I’ve ever written because there’s isn’t a lot that needed to happen here.  If I may, then, here’s what starts another long day in the lives of my two kids.

 

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

Annie awoke to Kerry’s screaming.

She heard the first one with her eyes closed; with the second scream her eyes snapped open and stared at her darkened ceiling. A second after his third scream she threw back the cover and dashed for her dorm door.

She darted out into the light-blue lit hallway between the B Level girl’s rooms and the girl’s bathroom wearing only her cream color heavy cotton pajama. There wasn’t any time to put on her slippers and robe: something was wrong with Kerry, and she had to know what was wrong. Annie had never ran through the coven, not even during the day, and never barefoot, but she didn’t feel the cool stone floor under her feet. She reached the far end of the tower and almost bounced off the wall as she took the left-hand turn and ran past the girl’s bathroom exit. Annie did the same thing as she nearly hit the outer wall of the corridor a few meters from the boy’s bathroom exit.

Annie fought the urge to launch into a straight flight from the corner to Kerry’s door as there was nothing to gain and damage to gain if she misjudged an angle and hit a wall at high speed. And now wasn’t the time to get injured because Kerry’s screams were ringing in her ears and she had to get to him, to stop him, to comfort him—

Kerry.” She slid to a stop before his door. “Kerry.” She pounded both fists against his door. “Kerry, wake up. Wake up, please.” She considered blasting the door open with an air hammer, but she knew that would likely hurt him and her more than it would help.  “My love, wake up—”

“Annie?” Penny stood at the end of the corridor next to the bathroom entrances. Behind her stood Alex and Jairo, both appearing perplexed. “What’s wrong?”

Annie ignored Penny and looked to the only other boy on the floor. “Jairo, could you go in and get Kerry? Could you—?”

The door to Kerry’s room opened and he half-stepped into the hall. “Annie?”

She needed a moment to take in his appearance, for she’d never seen him looking this disheveled. His arms hung limp at his side and his shoulders were slightly hunched over. His mouth hung open matching his slack, unmoving face. What shocked Annie the most were his eyes: there weren’t so much unfocused as they were uncomprehending. He doesn’t even realized I’m here. “Kerry?” She took him by the arm and eased him into the corridor. “What’s wrong?”

 

Freak out in Cernunnos Coven tower is always the best time to start the day, which we’ll learn happened a little after midnight on 26 March, putting this the Tuesday after Ostara.

I know because time lines, yo.

I know because time lines, yo.

When I say this all takes place in the course of one day, I mean it.  This first event happens at 00:20 on the 26th, and the very last event will happen right before midnight on the same day.  This hasn’t happened since The Big Time, aka The Day of the Dead attacks, went down, and it’s actually a lot of things to fit into one day–although you’ll discover that most of what happens really takes place in a few moments during that day.

This is the first time I’ve allowed anyone to peek into this part of the story, and as I’ve said, I’ve kinda dreaded writing this, but write it I will.  Because as I stated four years ago on this blog, there are going to be times when you’re afraid to write something because you don’t know how it’s going to be received, or how it’s going to affect your story, or even how it’s going to make you feel, but screw it, the writer–that would be me–has to jump right in and get that story down, even if it’s scaring and/or embarrassing the shit out of them the whole time.

It’s going to be an interesting next few weeks, let me tell you.

The Night Air: The Briefing

First off before getting to the good stuff–I have a new coffee grinder.  It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time, and now I have one that you hand crank, and after about fifteen minutes of cranking while waiting to eat, I have enough ground coffee to give me something to look forward to on New Years Day.  This is going to work well with my Chemex coffeemaker, which I picked up the other night after wanting for a long time as well.  After I use it I’ll let you know how it comes out, as the coffee made in a Chemex is supposed to be among the best you can drink.

Maybe Annie will need some of that after what’s awaiting her in just few thousand or so words . . .

Seven hundred words right on the nose, and it’s all talk-talk, but as with all briefings it’s all about letting her know where she’s going and what she’s doing.  Vicky’s running this show with Isis at her side, and since they have a map out for Annie to see–one that you’ve already seen–it’s time to tell her what she’s doing.

 

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

“Tonight is all about navigation using visual and interment flight rules, and being able to do so in less than optimal conditions. Flying at night is a good time for this, because as much as you think you know the landscape from all the times you’ve been out during the day, when it’s dark everything looks different.

“This is better than flying in bad weather, though. Given our location next to the Atlantic Ocean, it’s easy to find the line where the land ends and the sea begins, and that prevents you from possibly flying out over water, getting tired, and crashing into the ocean. In bad weather—fog, mist, rain with a low cloud ceiling—it’s possible to get disoriented and become lost. While the sky will be overcast tonight, you’ll have a clear view of the ground. If you get completely disoriented, you’ll know where you can land and where you can’t.” A faint smile grew across Vicky’s face. “Just make sure you land inside the lights, or close to them. Stay away from the dark.”

Vicky turned to the map between Isis and her. “You’re going to do a lot of flying tonight. You’re going to cover over one hundred kilometers—perhaps close to one hundred twenty-five depending on the route you take. You’ll fly out of her directly to Grant Circle in Gloucester. From their you’ll head west—” She began pointing out locations on the holographic display. “—to Gregory Island—which you know by now isn’t really an island—then to Wenham Town Hall and, beyond that, the intersection of Valley Road and Wenham Road. At each of these points you will stop long enough to take a picture of your location, just as you did during your first solo flight.

 

That part about flying at night and the lights making it easy not to get disoriented–that’s happened a lot to pilots, particularly the ones in small, private aircraft.  Throw in fog or mist and an inability not to know how to read your instruments, and before you know it you’re a statistic.  At least in Annie’s case she can stop, look around, and figure out if there’s ground or water below before something bad happens.

The first part of her trip happens right outside the school walls, sort of.  The two circles–or roundabouts, as we call them here in the States–are close to each other.  The first one, Grant Circle, is on the left, and that’s the one she’ll fly over on the way out.  The other, Blackburn Circle, is on the right, and that’s what she’ll pass over on her way back to the school.  It’s also the one they passed on their first night at school, as the train from Gloucester to Rockport travels right past–though it’s hard to see through all the trees.

Circles, roads, trains--now we get some flying up in this as well.

Circles, roads, trains–now we get some flying up in this as well.

And after these places?

 

“From the intersection you’ll head to the Halstead Danvers apartment complex—” She saw Kerry’s smile even though he was doing his best to keep it hidden. “—though there are some in this room who like to call that location Arkham Asylum. After you reach Danvers you’ll proceed southward toward Boston. Your next landmark is here—” She indicated a point far to the southwest of Salem.

“The Northern Expressway/Salem Street Interchange in Medford. From here you’re going to run into a lot of points of interest, but it’s all city over flight after this point. You’ll overfly the Porter Square Shopping Center before heading to University Strip.” Vicky lightly tapped the display. “Harvard Law School, Cambridge Public Library, and the Barker Engineering Library at MIT.” She turned to Annie. “Any questions?”

Annie beamed. “None, Vicky.”

 

This is probably Kerry’s favorite spot near the school, as evident by the smile on his face.  Halstead Danvers sits on the site of what was Danvers State Mental Hospital, aka Danvers Asylum, and as I’ve pointed out before, that complex was the inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft’s Arkham Asylum, and later into modern times, Arkham Asylum from the Batman Universe.  Here’s what it looked like back in the day:

If you squint you can almost hear the screaming.

If you squint you can almost hear the screaming.

And now it’s almost all gone saved for some of the central building.  Now you can live on the grounds and raise your kids and never mind the fact that people died in screaming agony right where you’re cooking up some quick chicken fettuccine.

One could say you'd have to be crazy to live here . . .

One could say you’d have to be crazy to live here . . .

The other half of that is for when Annie head down into the Boston–or do you say “Baas-TAN”?–and meanders over by the colleges there.  Before researching this flight over a year ago I had no idea that Harvard, Cambridge, and MIT were pretty much right next to each other.  Now I know, and by extension, you do as well.  But, no kidding:  here is University Strip:

You can almost smell the money on this picture.

You can almost smell the money on this picture.

Of course MIT is kept away from the blue bloods at Harvard and Cambridge, only because science probably makes the law and business grad light headed.

Now, let’s move on:

 

“All right, then. After MIT you’ll head to Fenway Park: at this point you’ll be the farthest from the school, and your farthest south. There you’ll rest up for a bit before reaching the rest of your objective on your way back to the school. Once you leave the park you’ll head for Boston North Station and Tobin Memorial Bridge before heading on to the Wonderland MBTA Station. The reason we’re having you fly by Tobin Bridge is so you stay clear of Logan International. Tonight the wind is out of the northwest, and that means flights will depart on runway 33 Left, so by keeping you over by US 1 you’ll avoid the jets.

“From Wonderland you’ll fly northward to Marblehead and the Naugus Head and Cloutman Point. After that you will head for the Manchester MBTA Station, and you have the option of either following the shoreline to Manchester, or you can head directly across Salem Sound. The distance isn’t that great—it’s less than ten kilometers—but again, it’s up to you. This is really the only option portion of the flight.

“After that it’s a short hop back: Manchester to Blackburn Circle in Gloucester and then turn to the north and head for the Flight School.” Vicky raised her hands. “And that’s it: you’re home and the flight is over. We’ll have warming blankets and hot drinks for you at the hospital, and after you’re feeling better you can head back to your tower for the night; we’ll do the debriefing tomorrow morning.” Vicky rocked back on her heels. “That’s all I have for now. Isis?”

 

Fenway is pretty much right across the river from MIT.  The other points Vicky mentions are well to the northeast of the park, with the Wonderland station being north of Logan International.  And, yes:  the runway in question is 33 Left, because you can use Google Maps to go right down on the airport and look at the runway markings, which they are required to have by law.

No runway markings here, just the route out of the city.

No runway markings here, just the route out of the city.

And then from Wonderland it just a forty kilometer/twenty-five mile run up the coast and over the sound back to the school.  Like Vicky said, just over a hundred kilometers, or sixty-two miles, though it’s likely going to be longer, right?

Since it looks as if Isis has something to say, assuming I don’t get wasted at dinner tonight, you’ll find out what it is on the penultimate day of the year.  Just think:  last year at this time my kids were kicking ass and . . . well, getting beat up, too.

Funny how that works out.

Towards the Future Unseen

Guess where I am?

Tell me you've never seen this place before.

Tell me you’ve never seen this place before.

Maybe you need another clue?

How's it looking now?

How’s it looking now?

It’s the Mahoning Valley Service Plaza on the eastern most portion of the Ohio Turnpike as you’re heading west–and that means one thing:  I’m driving back to Indiana.  Biggest different this time is that I arrived here about four-fifteen in the morning, which is why there’s no one here.

Which is probably why I look the way I do in this picture.

Which is probably why I look the way I do in this picture.

It’s also a safe bet that if it’s four in the morning, or there about, and it usually takes me four hours to drive from The Burg to this point in my journey westward, then I’ve not gotten much sleep.  And you’d be right:  I went to bed about nine-thirty PM, couldn’t fall asleep, said the hell with it, and took off.  So here I am, running with the shadows of the night, but no one is holding my hand, so I don’t feel all right.  But I will make it home, trust me.  I will.

It’s strange to be out on the road like this, but then I love traveling at night.  All ready I’ve been through light rain, fog, and even a little snow, before everything turned dry and cold here this side of the mountains.  I expect it to stay around freezing all the way back to Gay Hating State Indiana (with the new state motto, “Religious Bigotry R Us”), and if my calculations are correct, I should arrive back home between ten and eleven AM local time.  That will allow me to take a nap and maybe even crawl off to bed early tonight, but I’ll make no promises.

The one thing I’m pretty sure I won’t do is write.  I didn’t last night, and I’m usually burned out after the six hundred mile drive to want to do much of anything but rest, though I have been know to carry on conversations with people who want to talk writing, as I did last year on this same trip last year.  Though that happened on the way back to The Burg, so we’ll see if that happens again this year.

By the way I am wearing my Mary Janes with the three inch heels as I drive home, because that’s the way I roll, baby.

See?  Totally wearing heels.

See? Totally wearing heels.

There’s one other bit of news I should lay on people.  Because I have nothing better to do as a writer than, um, write, I’ve decided to set a date for when I will begin working on my next new novel–which, if you haven’t figured out by now, is the continuation of my last novel about the Witchy School at Salem, otherwise known as The Foundation Chronicles:  A For Advanced.  This next book is B For Bewitching, and if you check my blog page you’d see this:

Countdown, baby!

Countdown, baby!

Yes, I’m starting on 3 May because of reasons, that’s why.  But I will start, and I will see about having the first novel edited and the separate acts published, and all will be cool and beautiful.  Or so I hope.  At least I’m sure this new novel won’t be anywhere near as big as the first novel.

Almost sure . . .

Conversing With the Midnight Witch

Sure, it took me three days to write a fourteen hundred word scene, but it’s done, isn’t it?  Well, you didn’t know that until now.  Yeah, it’s done, finished, completely.  I’m one short scene closer to putting Chapter Fifteen to bed, and I should be able to knock that out today.  Right?

No problem.

Look at all the First Drafts just hanging around doing nothing.

Look at all the First Drafts just hanging around doing nothing.

I’ve struggled with energy levels again, and yesterday was no exception.  It was necessary to get into the coffee in the afternoon, and that did wake me up enough to keep me going until close to eleven PM.  Which is what I needed, ’cause it seemed like every time I turned around I was getting distracted by something shiny.

But I was also back in the groove, and once I get those first few hundred awkward words out of the way, I tend to get something going.  And what was going on was Annie and Kerry walking back to their tower with Professor Wednesday following behind under the pretense she was walking back to the Instructor’s Residents, which is on the other side of the Pentagram walls just beyond Cernunnos Coven.

Of course, there was more to Wednesday’s tagging along that just heading off to bed . . .

 

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

As suspected, they were almost to the covered section of the path leading to Cernunnos Coven when Wednesday spoke. “Tell me: what did you think of tonight’s class?”

Annie stopped and faced the instructor. “It wasn’t what I expected.”

“No.” Kerry shook his head as he pulled his hand away from Annie’s. “I didn’t know what to expect, really.”

“What did you think of us, Prof—um, Wednesday?” Annie was extremely curious to find out what sort of ideas the professors got about them and their growing abilities.

Wednesday placed her hands on her hips and began to slowly shift her weight from leg to leg. “About what I expected. You both came in nervous; you were both a little intimidated by the size of the class and the openness; when it was time to get up and do your spells individually in front of everyone, you were both a little rattled—but, you recovered, pulled off the spell, and even managed to have fun when we went to free lab.” She grinned lopsidedly. “I saw you both with big smiles on your faces while you levitated those two plushes between you.”

Kerry grinned remembering what they did. “Yeah, that was fun.”

Annie nodded and grinned at Kerry. “Yes, it was.”

“There you go—” Wednesday patted both kids on their shoulders. “You lived up to my expectations, and it looked like you were having fun. A lot better than the lab in Basic Spells, huh?”

 

Given that Wends was a little nervous about the new witches on the block, it only made sense she wanted to get and give impressions.  But there was more to the conversation–there always is . . .

 

“I figured you would.” Wednesday sighed while looking around as if she expected someone to pop out of the garden at any moment. “How does it feel to be out of the fishbowl?”

The look on Kerry’s face made it appear he hadn’t escaped from anything. “We’re still A Levels, right?”

“Yes, you are.”

“What do you mean, then?”

Wednesday stopped looking around and remained focus on Annie and Kerry while she spoke. “Well, lets point out the obvious: you’re still A Levels; you’ll continued to have an assigned table for dining and meetings; you won’t have upper levels bothering you during the day.

“But that said—you’re different. Like it or not Vicky started you in that direction, and what you did in Ramona’s class last Friday solidified that opinion among your level mates—”

Annie nodded once. “I know we upset a few of the students—”

Wednesday cut off Annie with a sharp laugh. “Upset? Do either of you have any idea what you did last week?”

 

So how upset were those students, Wednesday?  I’m sure you’re gonna tell us–aren’t you?  Of course you are.

 

Kerry shrugged. “I guess—” He turned to Annie.

Annie turned to him, then back to Wednesday. “We thought we may have scared a few students.”

“Not just a few, Annie: about a third of your level.” Wednesday shook her head. “Your zombie kill spree was how I got involved in this, because Ramona wanted to know if I was teaching you guys Air Hammer on the side. And I saw the video of what you did—it was pretty freakin’ incredible: you cut through those homunculi in under a minute. But do you know what the most lasting image of that little feat was?”

“Us standing together?” Having not seen any video of Annie and he taking on the homunculi, Kerry was unsure where Wednesday was going.

“You left out the part where you were hugging and smiling while covered in gore. You should see it; I could get you a screen capture.”

Both kids chuckled, and Annie bounced on her toes. “I’d love to see that.”

“I can do that. I’ll get you a hard copy and send the digital to Kerry.” Wednesday’s chuckle was as vibrant as her smile. “Ramona said four students came to her after class expressing concerns about you two. By Saturday lunch time she’d spoken to six more.” She shook her head. “You didn’t just maybe frighten them: you scared the hell out of them.

“Yesterday I knew someone was going to ask about you, and just as we were starting lab someone did. I told them I’d moved you over to my Advanced Spells class, and that you wouldn’t be back.” She stifled a quick yawn. “A few were puzzled, a few seemed pissed, a few didn’t care—but about a third of the class seemed relived.” She nodded off in the direction of Founder’s Gate and the south Pentagram wall. “And Vicky took you off of Covingtons and put you both on Espinozas after a week . . .” She shook her head. “Nah, you guys aren’t really seen as A Levels by your own class. And you have upper level kids who know about you now—that’s rare.” She reached over, touched their shoulders, and gave them a gentle squeeze. “You guys are the pretty much the first breakouts in thirty years. Welcome to the rest of the pond.”

 

Kill a few zombie homunculus, get yourself covered in what passes for blood and brains, and before you know it you’re scaring the shit out of your fellow classmates.  The upside is you find yourself swimming about in the pond with the rest of the cool fishes, which could be a little intimidating . . .

 

Annie reached over and didn’t just take Kerry’s hand: she wrapped herself around his left arm and hugged her head against his shoulder. “I think I’ll like the pond, Wednesday.”

Kerry nodded as he leaned his head against Annie’s. “Me, too. Um . . . You only want us calling you by your first name—”

“In class and where there’s no one else around.” She patted Kerry on the shoulder. “The rest of the time you gotta do the ‘Professor Douglas’ stuff or Mathilde will get upset.”

“We wouldn’t want that.” Annie sighed quietly with Kerry pressed against her.

“No, you wouldn’t.” Wednesday stretched out her arms. “It’s getting on towards midnight. You better get to bed; you have Jessica first thing in the morning, and you don’t want to nod off during her lab.”

Kerry could only image what Professor Kishna would do if someone fell asleep in her class. “Sounds like a good idea.”

“It is.” She finger waved to them. “See you later.” She teleported away, leaving them alone in the garden.

 

It only makes sense that Annie doesn’t mind being pushed out of the fishbowl:  she’s a pond sort of girl.  Actually she’s a lake house sort of girl, but only a few people at Salem actually know that.  No point in letting the other kids know you had your own little home-away-from-home when you were nine, right?

And with Wednesday gone home to sleep–you gotta love being able to teleport just about anywhere you want to inside the school grounds–that gives the kids a moment of serendipity:

 

Annie could have stood right where she was all night were it not for Transformation Class in the morning. This was the first time in a long time that she felt completely alone with Kerry, without fear of anyone watching or interrupting. If only it could be like this all the time . . . She wondered if he were deep in thought, or if he were enjoying the moment as was she. “You thinking about something?”

“Not really.” He stretched against her, sighing. “It just hit me that we’re . . .”

“Yes?”

“Well—special.” He turned and snuggled tight, hugging her body with his other arm. “I’ve never been special before.”

“You have always been special, Kerry.” She looked into his blazing green eyes. “You’re a special person as a witch, you’re a special student . . . and you are exceptionally special to me.” She kissed his cheek. “Always.”

Kerry stepped back enough that Annie slid off his shoulder. He smiled broadly, still holding her right hand. “I like that.”

“Just like?” She swung their arms back and forth.

“Well . . .” Kerry looked down, his eyes shielded. “Okay, maybe more than that.”

Annie stopped swinging their arms and paused, lost for a second in the moment. “Yes, you do.” She tugged him towards the tower. “Let’s go home.”

The mantra for the young and alone when it’s time to call it a day:  “Let’s go home.”  I actually like that I’ve had Annie say this, now for a second time, because it gives the kids a feeling of residency rather than making them seem like borders at a private school.  Like it or not, Salem is their home; the place they work, eat, sleep–and live.  The tower is their home base, their place to crash and meet and, with their little lab in the sub-levels, make magic to their heart’s desire.

It’s just about everything a couple of eleven and twelve year old witches could ever want.

I hope they don’t mind when the bad comes knocking.