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–
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.
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.