Decisions Done Dark

It’s been a strange night and morning, let me tell you.  This morning my computer has been slow to come up and do anything, to the point where I’ve already rebooted once to get it going again.  That tends to happen any time the anti-virus program decides to update, which is pretty much every other day, it seems.  But here I am, typing away at six-oh-eight in the morning–and I’ve been messing with this computer just short of an hour, so that should give you an idea of when I got up.

And getting up . . . the vivid dreams are back, people.  The last couple of nights I have had some amazingly interactive dreams, so vivid that at one point I felt someone pushing at my back so hard that it woke me up.  Seriously.  I could feel a person there.  The thing is, in my dream I was laying down, so that would mean someone was pretty against my back in bad.  If only . . .

But before that there was writing, and it was good.  One scene, short–if you want to call eleven hundred words short, so be it–and it’s setting up all the stuff that’s happened and confirming whether or not my little kids are ready for the spying witch thing . . .

 

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

“Which brings up the next point . . .” Helena had been dreading this part of the conversation, because she knew Erywin wasn’t a fan of what they were doing. “Are they ready for this operation?”

Erywin rubbed her hands together for a few seconds. She had to give an answer—and an honest one that Helena wouldn’t see though. “From a professional standpoint, they’re ready. We already know they have the skills, and they’ve shown that in their test runs here and in the city. They’ve been able to conduct themselves as excellent witch out in Normal public, and have taken great care to blend in with the rest of the population. Given Kerry’s background, and with Annie being in the semi-public eye for a part of her life, I didn’t expect this to be a problem. They both know there are lots of eyes watching them.

“As for their emotional maturity—they can handle this. They haven’t complained when we’ve given them little to do other than follow people around, and that’s going to be a huge plus for them once we’re in Kansas City. They understand this isn’t going to be a glamorous operation: it’s more sneaking and peaking, and they’re expected to blend into the surroundings like any other pair of tweens.” She rolled her shoulders and sighed. “All my personal opinions aside, they can do this.”

 

Erywin was the key in this, really:  she knows people well, and if she said Annie and Kerry weren’t ready for this thing, Helena would have pulled the plug.  But she also knew she had to be honest with Helena, who after thirty years would know if her partner was giving her a line.  Who else can you trust if not someone whose life you’ve shared for that long?

And we find out why Helena hasn’t tried harder to stop this . . .

 

Helena nodded slowly. “And just so we’re still on the same page, I still share many of your personal opinions.”

“Yes, but you’re not doing anything to put a stop to this.”

“And you know the reason why.” Helena pushed back into her chair and stretched. “We let them go now, with us handling them in the field, and there’s less of a chance for everything to go tits up and for them to come back in worse shape than they left. Otherwise . . .”

Erywin wasn’t about to leave the comment hanging. “Would they really turn this into a training operation just to get them in the field?”

“They could. It would be completely legal, and were that to happen they couldn’t use their Right of Refusal to turn it down. All they’d need to do is bring them to a facility, do a workup on them, and then turn them loose in a city—who the hell knows what might happen?” Helena pulled her mobile from her jacket and laid it upon her desk. “And they could also do this during the summer, when there’s limited visibility on our side. No: this is the best course of action. We can keep them in our sights and come home if shit gets too deep.”

 

See?  I have little Catch-22s everywhere.  Just label it a different way and there you are:  you’ve got a couple of twelve year olds spending the summer perhaps running for their lives.  See, it’s not a “Field Operation”, it’s a “Monitored Test”.  Just like it’s not torture, it’s “enhanced interrogation”–and a monitored test could end up being just about the same thing.

But did you think things we’re going to happen with a bit of a twist?  Guess again!

 

“And it’s all on us now.” Erywin stood up and started slowly pacing the room. “I worry about myself.”

“You’ll do fine.” Helena meant it, too. She didn’t see this as a dangerous operation, and was aware that her partner could take care of herself in any situation. “If you could fly Air Patrol during the Day of the Dead, you can handle this. I wouldn’t have asked you along if I didn’t think you were capable.”

“I know. Still, I have by doubts—”

Helena’s mobile buzzed. She snatched it off the desk and checked the message. “Son of a bitch.”

Erywin didn’t like the tone of her lovely girl’s voice. “What?”

Helena typed in something quickly and sent off a message before tossing the phone down. “They moved the operation up a week—” She sat back, smoothing out her hair. “We leave this Thursday.”

“You did say we could expect this.”

“I know. But for the reply to come back so fast . . .” She shook her head. “They must have known they were going to move it up a few days ago. Which is why they asked for a decision by tonight.” She chuckled. “Bastards.”

Erywin leaned on the back of one of the chairs. “You could still kill this operation.”

“I could, but I’m going to let it go.” Helena shrugged. “Like you say, we knew it could happen, and I was half expecting this. No, we go on. Like it or not, this isn’t a huge deal breaker.”

 

So it’s the Tuesday night follow the Sunday meeting in the Grove, and now it looks like our Fearsome Foursome is going to leave sometime Thursday afternoon or evening.  And the next scene is a late night one with the kids, and it’ll serve to clear a few things up, as well as push Act Three over the fifty thousand word mark, and maybe even three hundred and sixty thousand words.

Half way out of this chapter and one step closer to the next part.

Half way out of this chapter and one step closer to the next part.

If there aren’t a lot of distractions at Panera tonight, I could finish the scene, and that would mean I’ve been ready to start on the next part, Kansas City, by Friday or Saturday.  I already know there are things in the first chapter of that part I want to add, so I’ll likely start layout out those scenes as soon as I can.

Oh, and you’ll see some surprising things in Chapter Thirty-Five.

Trust me.

Dining in the Park with Sam

On to the final scene of this chapter, and this thing has went through about a dozen revisions in my head yesterday.  I do that, particularly when I’ve not much to do at work, and I’m still working out the bugs of putting a scene together.  I even went so far as to change the title of the scene from Dry Run to Salem Secrets, because by the time this is all over–the scene, that is–it’ll all be about the secrets.

For the first time during school the kids are on the loose.  There’s a test going on and . . . how about I let Annie tell you about it?

 

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

Annie turned left as she walked out onto Essex Street and tugged her scarf tight around her neck. The weather had take a chilly turn in the last couple of days, and after the unseasonal weather of a couple of week before it had turned blustery once more. Given that she’d known she was going to spend several hours walking the streets of the real Salem, Massachusetts, she’d dressed for the weather and wore her winter parka, wrap-around ear muff, and gloves to the rest of her ensemble. She’s also brought her large purse, the one large enough to hold the small tablet she’d been given for today’s dry run.

The exercise was simple: Helena and Erywin were wandering different parts of the tourist section of the city, where they were placing light tag spells on different people. Then they’d contact either Kerry or her, tell them who to look for and where they were located, and it was up to them to locate the person, hit them with a stronger tag spell that they’d been taught over the last week, and follow them around the town until they’d settled down somewhere or left the vicinity.

They’d been wandering the streets of Salem since ten-thirty, arriving here before they could have lunch at the school. Helena told them that not sticking to a normal eating schedule was an occupational hazard of a field operation, and warned them it might be a few hours before they had the opportunity to eat—and even then it likely wouldn’t be a sit-down meal. Annie took this to mean they would likely be eating on the run—

She was surprised to discover Erywin waiting for her after she’d followed her last target to their destination. She handed Annie a bank card and told her to get lunch for Kerry and herself, and then told her where she could find her field operation partner. Annie was headed for Kerry now, lunch sack in hand, and a bounce in here step that hadn’t been there thirty minutes before.

 

So out and about doing the secret spying following you around thing, and it’s cold, it’s windy, and they’re hungry.  Really, not a good time to be out.  Like that bothers Helena.

And right about then she contacts her partner in crime . . .

 

She turned her focus down Essex Street and sent out her thoughts. Are you at the park?

His answer came right back. Yep. I’ve been here about fifteen minutes.

I’m not that far away. She picked up her pace as she passed Derby Square. You should see me in another minute. As she approached Washington Street she saw Kerry standing across the street. There you are

I see you. He waved as if to make certain she really did see him. I’ve got our bench all picked out.

Annie hurried across the street to Lappin Park and fell into Kerry’s arms. She accepted the warm kiss he offered, and she wasn’t hesitant to return it in kind. She finally broke the embrace and looked around. “Not a lot of people here.” She popped the ear buds out and stuffed them in her purse, as they could now speak normally.

Kerry stripped off his gloves and stuffed them in his coat pocket. He’d dressed for the occasion as well, though instead of ear muffs he wore a navy blue ski cap pulled down over his ginger hair. “Given the weather I’m surprised there’s anyone around town for us to follow.” He nodded at a bench on the Essex Street side of the park as he began removing his backpack. “Our table awaits, m’lady.”

She sat next to Kerry, happy that with him sitting to her right he was helping block the wind coming from the southwest. “Where did your last target go?”

He pointed to his left, up north Washington Street. “Restaurant called Melita Fiore. She was meeting someone for a late lunch, I think. What about yours?”

“They went into the Front Street Coffeehouse, about a block and a half south of here. Fortunately it was close to the sandwich shop—” She reached into the sack and pulled out a wrapped cylinder “Turkey Rollup, as you requested.”

“Thank you.” He slowly unwrapped it and slowly took a bite. “What did you get?”

“Chicken Salad Rollup.” She unrolled hers and took a smaller bite, almost nibbling at her lunch. “Erywin gave me a bank card for lunch. She said they won’t need us until close to fifteen hours.”

Kerry checked his phone. “It’s almost fourteen now—” He leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and his backpack between his legs. “Nice of them to give us a break.”

 

So how do I know these things like locations and weather?  I went to a site and got the historical information for that day, then I went into Google Maps and found these places that they speak off, and to figure out what to eat, I located the online menu of one of the eateries in Salem and found something the kids might enjoy for lunch.

I keep everything important in my notes.  Even stuff I don't want you to see.

I keep everything important in my notes. Particularly the stuff I don’t want you to see.

This way I be writin’, and the other be lookin’.  It also cuts down on getting back to the old nasty Internet and getting distracted.

I also did a few other things, namely went into street view and looked at the location around where Annie and Kerry are seated because I just wanted to see what they are seeing, and also get a good idea about where they are sitting.  It might sound like a level of detail that isn’t necessary, and you’re right:  it isn’t.  But it’s cool to be able to do this . . .

Not just writing about Salem, but seeing it as well.

Not just writing about Salem, but seeing it as well.

Don’t worry, I saved the pictures for you as well.  First we have the view of Lappin Park, just as you see it above . . .

Bench they're sitting at is the one without the guy in the white.

Bench they’re sitting at is the one without the guy in the white.

And here’s the view across the street of the Essex Street Mall, from whence Annie emerged with lunch, and what they can see if they turn their heads.

They're really sort of looking up the street to the left, but that's boring.

They’re really sort of looking up the street going to the left, but that’s boring.

And while they’re at it, Annie realizes they’ve company–sort of . . .

 

She chuckled and lightly tapped his arm. “Silly.” Annie ate in silence for a few minutes as she watched the cars moving along the streets and the few people out on this raw day. Every so often her attention was drawn to the statue maybe five meters away on their right: a large bronze of a woman ridding a broom passing before a crescent moon. She had to admit it was a beautiful statue . . .

Kerry was watching Annie out of the corner of his eyes. “You’re eying Samantha.”

Annie turned her attention to him. “The statue has a name?”

“Not the statue itself, but the character does. I looked it up while waiting for you—” He twisted around to face the statue while he gave Annie an explanation. “It’s Samantha Stephens; she was a character from a TV show in the 1960’s. She was also a witch—”

“That must be why she’s riding a broom.”

“Yeah.” He turned back to Annie laughing the whole time. “The show was about this witch who marries—well, we’d say he was a Normal guy. However, the dude she married didn’t want her to do any Crafting, so she didn’t.”

Annie’s brow furrowed into deep lines of confusion. “That’s stupid. Why would he do that?  Or she, for that matter?”

“I don’t know—it’s was the 1960’s, so it’s a little before my time.” He chuckled again. “That was the whole premise of the show. She was married to a non-witch, she didn’t do magic, her family were all witches—” Kerry gave an exaggerated shrug. “Hilarity, right?”

“I don’t believe I’d have found it funny at all.” Annie looked over Kerry’s shoulder at the statue again. “Why is it here?”

“I looked that up, too. They filmed some episodes here, ‘cause, you know, Salem—”

“Home of the Witches in America—”

“And the people who put it up thought it would be good publicity. It was put up like seven years ago.” He shrugged. “I want to get your picture in front of it before we leave.”

“A witch with a witch.” She laced her arms over his shoulders. “If you insist.”

“I do.”

“And I want a picture, too.”

“You’ll get it. Maybe we can get Erywin to snap a picture of us together.”

Annie nodded. “We can ask.”

 

That Annie:  she has no feel for the American classics!  And Kerry wanting to do a little sightseeing, because why not?  They’re out, they’re alone–or are they?–and they can see a few of the sights while they’re not working.  However, talking about witches and Normals gets Kerry to doing something that’s known to get him in trouble.

 

He rested his head against hers for a few moments. “Does that happen a lot?”

“What?” She pulled back because she recognized the tone in his voice: something was on his mind.

“Witches marring Normals—” Kerry scratched the back of his neck. “How often does it happen?”

Annie didn’t know exact numbers, but she was aware of a few facts. “Not very often. It’s not like there aren’t Normals who know about us—like your family will once you’re allowed to come out to them. Once they know the truth about you, they’ll likely become Allies—”

Kerry slowly rolled his eyes. “We can only hope.”

Annie ignored his answer. “Normals and the Aware do marry and even have children: look at this couple we’re going to observe. It’s just that . . .” She shrugged. “It is difficult unless they marry an Ally. Otherwise they usually end up like this Kaden we’re going to see: they don’t do any magic, they just stay hidden all the time.” Annie shook her head. “I wouldn’t want to live that way.”

 

There’s where I ended, a few words short of fourteen hundred total, getting ready to talk about . . . what?  Witches and Normals living together?  Marriage?  Kids?

You’ll be surprised.

The Night Discussion

Let me just throw this up here first:

Fluttershy yay!

Fluttershy yay!

As you can see from the URL I took this screen shot before I downloaded the certificate.  But there’s also this:

Yay again!  Louder!

Yay again! Louder!

See?  Winner.  I finally crossed the line last night, and my records last night showed I was just one hundred and fifty-two over, which when I take into consideration where the two twenty-six came from, you do the math and I was right on the money with my count.

Doesn’t matter:  last night I hit 50,152 words, so I’m in the books (ha, ha!) for a fourth NaNo win.  I’ll add to that through the next three days, and maybe finish up around fifty-three thousand or so, which would make this my smallest NaNo win, but I’ll take it considering during the two NaNo whereupon this novel was written, over one hundred and fifteen thousand words were added to the manuscript.

Not bad, Sweetie, not bad.

This NaNo took a lot out of me, mentally and emotionally.  I know I’ve said a few times I don’t know if I can do another, and then I turn around and do one.  This time, however, I’ve spent most of NaNo feeling like I wanted to burn this story and just leave it, because my feelings for the characters have been waxing and waning like crazy.  It hasn’t helped that I’ve had to write some personally emotional scenes between Annie and Kerry while dealing with my own emotional insanity, and a lot of that has really brought out the crazy.

But I didn’t really have to deal with that last night–well, not much–because the focus was on the kids and their decision in the Witch House earlier in the day.  Let’s just say Nice Ol’ Professor Lovecraft was having her doubts about the affirmatives she heard . . .

 

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

The moment Annie awoke she realized something was different. It wasn’t unusual for Kerry and her to be awoken and sent to their rooms: it fact, it had become a bit of a ritual for them to crawl under the comforter around twenty-three thirty and sleep for an hour.

The different now was the Dining Hall. Usually there were a couple of instructors and staff going through the space waking up the other students who’d fallen asleep. This time there wasn’t an instructor in sight—nor were there any other students.

If Annie were to venture a guess, she’d say Kerry and she were the only ones in the darkened hall.

“Annie.”

She turned around, still half asleep, at the sound of her name. Helena was sitting in the chair to the left of the sofa Kerry and she had come to call their own. “Hello, Professor Lovecraft.”

“Good morning, Annie.” Her smile was slight and soft. “And it is morning: a little after two-ten.”

“What?” She looked around the darkened hall once more. “Why didn’t you wake us up?” Professors Salden was on “clean up” for the end of the current Madness, something they did a few times a month.

“Because I thought Kerry and you needed to talk—” She raised her eyes towards the ceiling. “And now’s as good as time as any.” She stood and smoothed out her long night gown. “When you’re finished head off to your tower and get some sleep; we meet in the Witch House at nine sharp.” With a light pop she jaunted off to her residence and sleep.

Given that Helena mentioned that Kerry and she “needed to talk,” Annie’s mind immediately began going over some of the things said at the meeting today—yesterday, actually—and focused upon one thing in particular. She gently shook the still sleeping Kerry. “My love, wake up. Wake up . . .”

As was usual his eyes opened slowly. He sat up and yawned while he looked at Annie with sleepy eyes. “Time to go?”

 

Yeah, keep manipulating the situation, Helena.  It makes you wonder what sort of control she does have at the school–and the answer is probably not as much as you think, but if she wants something, she can get it.  And during the Day of the Dead attack, Helena was actually Ramona Chai’s second in command for the Rapid Response teams that were on the ground killed Deconstructors and Abominations.  There’s a reason for that . . .

Kerry is pretty sure he knows why Helena wants them to talk:

 

“Why we’re doing this?” He shrugged. “Why am I doing this.”

Annie knew that was the issue that Helena wanted them to discuss. She remembered how Kerry agreed to the operation after she did; she remembered the look on his face when he said yes, and the look on Helena’s face as well—and how she appeared to believe his answer wasn’t sincere—

She had wanted to ask him the same question.

“Why do you think that?” Annie didn’t want to directly ask him if he really wanted to go, or if he’d wanted to exercise his Right of Refusal. She knew Kerry was more likely to open up and explain himself honestly if she approached the matter through a different set of questions.

“Because I saw how everyone looked at me when I said yes.” He chuckled darkly. “Even you. I could tell you were wondering.”

“Since you bring it up—” She turned Kerry so she could rest upon his torso with her arm across his chest. “Do you mean it?”

He wrapped his left arm around Annie’s shoulders and held her close. “When the guy from The Foundation came to convince my parents that I should go to Salem, I was standing on the stairs listening to him talk with my parents, and I heard them tell the guy I wasn’t that great a student, that I was just average.” He gave a long, slow shrug. “It was all stuff I’d heard before, but that day it really hit me the wrong way—I remember walking into the living room feeling all upset and depressed because that’s how they’ve always made me feel—nothing special, just average.

“This thing we’re going to do . . .” Kerry rested his head against Annie’s and spoke in a low, soft, comforting tone. “I’ve never been asked to do anything like this. I know it’s a big deal, and I really want it to happen because—” He rubbed his cheek against her. “Before coming here I was thinking that there wasn’t anything special about me, that I was nothing more than an average kid who’d never turn out to be anything exceptional.”

Kerry turned his head enough so he could look at Annie, who had turned her head so she could watch him. “I really want to do this. Not because you’re doing it—though if you’d said no, I would have to, because I don’t want to go alone. I’m doing this because I’m not Normal, I’m not average . . .” He breathed in deep and let it out in a long sigh. “I am special, Annie. I know I am.”

 

Kerry’s always been the one who openly has wondered if he were any good.  He’s been quiet about it of late, because his confidence has grown, and he’s received support from Annie and given it in turn.  This is the first time he’s actually articulated his feelings that he’s better than his parents believe, though . . . sorry, can’t say anything.  Must.  Remain.  Quiet.

Annie confession that her mother would probably believe she’s doing this to impress her father, because it is long assumed that Annie has some Daddy Issues lurking in the background.  I mean, little rich witch with a father who drives in Formula One and used to be a hot-shot flier and racer at Salem–what’s she got to prove?  Nope, she’s not going there:  she considers being asked by the Guardians to do this operation a great honor.  And there’s something else . . .

 

She chuckled. “Even if we can’t hold hands.” Her tone turned far more serious. “There’s something Helena didn’t mention today about this operation—”

“What’s that?”

“We aren’t going to simply observe this Tanith and then speak with her: we’re tasked with bringing in a new witch. So everything she hears about magic, everything she hears about The Foundation, even everything we may tell her about Salem—we’re the one who are going to create her initial impressions about this world.” She slipped her hand out of Kerry’s and then held it within her grasp. “We end up doing this wrong, and we lose her.”

Kerry grasped the enormity of the situation right away. “She’ll end up like her father.”

“Or worse.”

“Or worse.” He squeezed her hand right back. “That won’t happen.”

“No—” She shook her head. “We won’t let it happen.”

“Then we know what’s expected of us, and what we’re going to do.”

“I believe so.” Annie rested against Kerry. “Still want to do this?”

He didn’t hesitate with his answer. “Yes. And you?”

Annie closed her eyes and sighed as she imagining being away from the school on this operation for a couple of days with Kerry at her side. “I wouldn’t say no for anything, my love.”

 

It’s a little bit more important that the operation seems on the surface.  Do this right, and though she might be a little late to the party, you add another check mark to The Foundation’s tally.  Do it wrong, and you’ve got another Sideliner–or worse, a budding Deconstructor–on your hands.  It’s a lot more than just doing a few magic trick for some new kid:  they have to convince someone that one, if they feel strange there’s a reason it’s not bad, and two, oh, by they way, you may be a witch and if so, welcome to the club.

Simple field operation?  Guess again.

Oh, and there’s a scene coming up . . . if any of you have followed the comment section, you’ll see there’s been some discussion about the upcoming meeting between Kerry and Nurse Coraline about, well, those magical birds and bees.  Now, originally I wasn’t going to write about it, however . . . given the revelation that Annie had the exact same vision as Kerry had that touched off this mess only a couple of days before–you can check my time lines, but it has only been a few days–Coraline is probably thinking that it might be a good idea to have a little family planing talk . . .

I wonder if she’ll start off, “When a witch really loves another witch . . .”?

But it's titled "April Fools" so I'm probably BSing you.  Probably.

But it’s titled “April Fools” so I’m probably BSing you. Probably.