Polar On ‘Till Next Year

I certainly surprised myself.  Got back into the grind at work, though it wasn’t a lot, but I was accomplished on a few hours of sleep and the whirlwind of the travel to and from the Midwest.  As much as I wanted to stop for a beverage last night, there was no way in hell I could given how tired I felt.  I’ve had been sound asleep at seven PM.

So I got into writing after I at.  And as slow as things seem to go along the way, I never realized that I’d written twelve hundred and forty-five words to finish the scene.  I also didn’t believe this scene would take nearly two thousand words to complete.  Wrong on both accounts.

The idea behind this scene was to actually give people and idea how this oh-so-often discussed event begins.  We know we’re here, but what is really going on?  We’re about to find out, and you’ll see that it’s not too exciting if you’re watching from the sidelines.

 

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

Though there were five teams in Advanced Flight Two only three elected to do the Polar Express this year. As Annie had heard at the same time as Kerry, one of the teams had started to come apart, teamwork-wise, and they’d both told Vicky they believed it best if they didn’t try to brave the wilds of Canada.

The other team was far more straight forward: one member had suffered two concussions from accidents near the end of team racing for 2012, and though the team member was cleared for flying and racing, her partner and she decided that spending a couple of days freezing their butts off wasn’t in their best interest.

Annie, along with Kerry, was there to send off one team in particular—one with whom they’d grown close, and whose members had shared much with Kerry this school year—

The lights in the Dining Hall dropped to about one-quarter illumination so the teams would not have to deal with night blindness when they jaunted into the wilderness. The three teams entered the hall and walked towards friends who’d gathered to see them off. One team approached two people and spoke with them for a few seconds before turning and approaching Annie and Kerry. One of the members hooked her thumbs in the pockets of her winter parka, letting the mittens attached to the sleeves dangle at her sides. “Thanks for coming out, guys.”

“Did you think we were going to let our floor mates leaving without saying goodbye?” Annie shook her head. “Not a chance.”

Penny nodded. “Yeah, well . . .” She chuckled. “I see you dressed up for us.”

Kerry moved closer to Annie. “Sorry, I left my formal wear back in Cardiff.” He switched gaze from Penny to her flying partner, Alex. “You must be pretty excited about now.”

“Not so much because this is the worst part—” Alex bit the inside of her lower lip for a few seconds “Not knowing where we are going, only that wherever we end up it’ll be cold and dark.”

“Canada in wintertime.” Penny tapped Alex on the arm. “Just be glad we don’t have to fly back from Alaska or Russia.”

 

Yeah, they could call this shit the Siberian Express, and then you’d really end up screwed.  Imagine flying out of there in the dead of winter.

It made complete sense that Penny and Alex, who are members of Advanced Flight Two, were going to set off on a tour of Canada during the winter, armed only with camping gear, their brooms, and their wits.  And since their racing mate is on the same floor with them, it makes even more sense that Annie and Kerry would stay up–as did a lot of other students–to see them off.

Now comes the time for goodbyes and hugs–

 

Before Alex could retort Vicky’s voice boomed out over the hall’s magical speakers. “Attention, all teams: departures begin in five minutes. Finish up your goodbyes and see to your equipment.”
Annie reached out and gave Penny a hug. “Have an uneventful flight.”

“Thanks.” Penny closed her eyes and hugged her second floor fried tight. “We’ll do our best.”

Alex slipped in around Penny and hugged Annie. “See you in a couple of days; keep Jairo out of trouble.”

“No promises there—” Annie nodded towards Kerry as she spoke in Ukrainian. “U mene ye sviy lyublyu dyvytysya, vy znayete.”

Alex replied in Bulgarian. “Mozhete da napravite poveche ot tova prosto da gledate, da znaesh.”

Both girls nodded and giggled before Annie switched back to English. “All true.”

 

It’s apparent Annie and Alex have been working on each other’s languages, and they probably can now converse just a little.  And what do they say?  Something like this:

 

Annie:  U mene ye sviy lyublyu dyvytysya, vy znayete.  (I have my own love to watch, you know.)

Alex:  Mozhete da napravite poveche ot tova prosto da gledate, da znaesh.  (You can do more than just watch, you know.)

 

Alex, you cheeky little girl.  These witches move fast, or at least the girls do.  Hormones and maturity, you know, while these boy witches are just so slow . . .

Now that the girls have said goodbye to Annie, there’s on person left:

 

Penny glanced at Annie and waited for a slight nod before giving Kerry a hug. “Keep Annie warm while we’re away.”

“That’s never too hard to do.” He finished his hug and accepted another from Alex. “Try and have fun if you can.”

“When we’re no freezing.” She stepped back when she was finished. “We’ll be here next year to see you off.”

Kerry looked down, touched by the sentiment. “Thanks.”

“Come on—” Penny nodded towards the two boys standing close together. “We don’t have much time.”

“Okay.” Alex waved to her friends. “See you soon.”

“Don’t drink all the hot chocolate while we’re gone.” Penny gave a farewell wave as they hurried over to say goodbye to their boyfriends. Annie and Kerry turned away and moved off a distance to give the couples a little privacy. Annie didn’t want to watch their final words, hugs, and kisses: she was already imagining herself being in the same position a year from now, and it wasn’t making her happy.

Vicky called out a two minute warning and the teams proceeded directly to their equipment. Penny and Alex snapped up their parka hoods and moved their goggles into place before lifting their large backpacks into place. As Vicky called the first team to the circle set out on the section of the floor where Kerry and she shared their Samhain dances, Penny and Alex put on their mittens and picked up their brooms—

“Team Wormwood.” Vicky nodded at the girls before motioning towards the circle. “You’re up.”

Annie held onto Kerry’s arm as the girls moved into place for jaunting. They explained their team name during one Midnight Madness, with Penny telling them that she wanted something that would link Alex and her together, and they went with Wormwood, because of its connection to the drink absinthe, to the creation of natural healing mixtures—and because the Ukrainian word for wormwood was chernobyl. As Penny said, “We can heal, we can make strange things happen, and we can meltdown on you at any moment.”

 

First off, notice that Penny and Alex sought, and received, permission to get huggy with Kerry.  All the girls are in relationships, so they are aware of the code in place:  ask before touching.  They also know Annie’s a sorceress, and they want to head off to Canada without smoke rising from their bodies.

Also, all the stuff about wormwood is true.  You can use it to make healing mixtures, a variety is used to make absinthe, and the Ukrainian word for wormwood is chernobyl.  That last I’ve known about for some time, and the first two were something I discovered last night.

The girls are all geared up and ready to go.  All that remains is the departure.

 

They stood in the circle as Isis confirmed setting up the jaunt with her people in the security station. She finally nodded to girls and held up her hand with her fingers spread, indicating five seconds to go. Alex took Penny’s hand as they hosted their brooms into the air—

They vanished from the circle with the familiar sound of air popping as it rushed in to occupy where they’d stood a second before. It was only when Annie heard Kerry exhale did she realized he’d held his breath in the moments leading up to the girl’s departure. “Are you okay, my love?”

“Yeah, I’m—” He took a deep breath as he wrapped his arm around Annie. “I’m fine, Darling.”

The last team jaunted off, leaving the staff and students lingering in the protracted silence. Annie didn’t want them there any longer than necessary. “I’d say it’s time for bed—agreed?”

Kerry was about to say something when something caught his attention. Annie found the source right away: it was Emma, standing with a group of girls from her coven. She nodded slowly at him, but he didn’t respond except to nod and wave. “Agreed—” He wrapped his left arm around Annie and turned towards the Dining Hall exit. “Time for bed.”

They were nearly half way to their coven before Kerry spoke. “No flying at all tomorrow.” He planted a soft kiss on Annie’s cheek. “We could sleep in if we wanted.”

“And if we were sharing a room, I’d want just that.” She leaned against him as they walked. “I thought you were going to speak with Emma after that last jaunt.”

He rested his head against hers. “I could tell that’s what she wanted.”

“Then why didn’t you?”

Kerry stopped and moved so he was facing his soul mate. “I’ve got a year to talk about the Polar Express with Emma.” He pulled Annie closer and held her tight. “But we have our first Friday and Saturday at school without classes for the first time since like the start of our B Levels, and I want to spend that with you.”

Annie set her arms around her love’s shoulders and kissed him with the cold darkness surrounding them. “I love you entirely too much.”

“I don’t think that’s possible—” He kissed her for almost fifteen seconds before continuing on towards their coven tower. “Give it enough time, and we’ll discover there’ll be lots of room for more love.”

 

Right there Kerry makes his choice, and while he could have had a few minutes with Emma going on about, “Hey, wait until we do this!” and so on, he wanted to head off to bed with Annie instead.  As he says, I have all year to talk with her, but right now I’m with you, and there really couldn’t be anything more true given that he was probably thinking ahead to the next year when he’s probably going to do this same event with the Ginger From Boulder.

So there–

One scene down, several to go.

One scene down, five to go.

And the next three involve our favorite dark witch at Salem–

No, not the small one:  the bigger one.  You’ll see.

Stepping Into Thirteen

The Great Indiana Change Trip is nearly over, and this will be one of the last things I do in this state before packing my stuff and heading back to The Burg in a few hours.  With all the anxiety I felt before driving the the thousand kilometers to get here, everything went smoothly.

I’ve already discussed the court hearing and getting a new Social Security card, and yesterday involved getting a new driver’s licence.  Other than the fact there was some sort of data connection issue between Valparaiso and Indianapolis, the licence change went without problems, and after an hour I managed to get the registration on both cars changed, and my name and gender marker adjusted.  So now the state of Indiana recognizes I’m a woman, which means Yay!  And I changed all my banking information and received a new debit card with real name upon the surface.  Even more Yay!

All that remains now is to contact everyone who knew me by the old name and get them to change everything over to the new.  That’s probably going to happen over the rest of the year, but that’s the breaks, right?  So it is written, so it is done, and this shit is over and done.

Now to get back to life as I know it . . .

Hey, speaking of this novel I’m working on, I wrote some last night.  School is up and running for that long ago year of 2013:  that means stuff and things are happening.  Like–

All these things here.

All these things here.

Several things happened here last night.  First, I changed the name of the chapter.  Second, I changed a wrong time.  Third, I had to reason up something that happens here that won’t become apparent until the next novel, bwah hahahaha! because I know and you don’t.  And forth, I added a scene because it made sense to add a scene.

But what about the writing, Cassie?  What happens in this Express Farewells?  Let’s see together, shall we?

 

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

It took a few seconds for Annie to realized that she was being awoken, and the person waking her was doing so with light kisses. She kept her eyes closed and enjoyed the sensation, and only began to smile once the kisses moved from her lips to her check and then to her neck. “Ummmmm.”

There was nibbling on her ear before she heard the voice. “You like that?”

Her eyes still closed Annie rolled on to her side and wrapped her right arm around Kerry. “Yes, I do.” She wanted to add A time will come when you’ll be awoken the same way but she left that out of the conversation: this wasn’t the time to speak of the future.  “I love that.”

“I’ve only done that a couple of times.” Though they’d spent the evening together more than a couple of times, on most occasions when it came time to wake up they were up and about with little fanfare—or one of them woke up and let the other sleep in for a few more minutes. “I’ll keep this in mind for the future.”

“As will I, my love.” Annie sat up and looked about the empty ground floor commons of Cernunnos Cover. “No one’s around?”

 

So now we’re seeing that Annie loves being woken up with kisses, and she’s reminded that a time will come at some point in the future when she’ll wake Kerry up the same way.  Not that she hasn’t done this already, but that time she’s thinking about involves her having a new last name, if you know what I mean.  Little romantic witches in love:  gotta love it.

And no one’s around?

 

“The two A Levels were still here when I crashed—that was about an hour ago.” He shook his head.

“Must have went up to the first when we were napping.”

“Quite likely.” Annie threw back the comforter and stretched. “I take it you’re ready?”

He smiled back as he stood. “Only when you are.”

“Since you’re holding my robe—” She found her fur-lined snow boots and slipped them on. “I take that as a sign you’re ready for me to get ready.”

Kerry’s cheeks flushed bright red. “Yeah, well . . .” He looked down at the ground. “I guess I am.”
“No need to be embarrassed.” Annie took her robe and slipped it on seconds after standing. “I understand how excited you are.”

Kerry led Annie away from where they’d napped on the sofa in front of the commons fireplace towards the center of the coven floor. “You wanna take the tunnel over, or walk outside?”

“Temperature still around zero?”

A few hours before the temperatures were hovering just over one degree Celsius, and Kerry couldn’t see them dropping much more. “Probably.”

“Outside will be fine, my love.” She wrapped herself around his left arm as they proceeded towards the door leading to the inner Pentagram Wall. “We won’t be in the cold for long, I’m wearing my flannels, and I can use you to stay warm.”

He waved the door open and tightened his robe before stepping into the wall inner corridor. “I will do my best.”

“You always do.” Annie waved the door to the Pentagram Garden open.

 

So they were napping, and now they’re off into the night towards–well, if they’re heading into the Pentagram Garden, there’s only one destination . . .

 

They walked quickly from the tower to the Great Hall, not meeting a person along the way. Annie didn’t expect to meet anyone, at least not heading to the coven. Right now, at twenty minutes before midnight on the first Thursday school night of 2013, everyone was either in their towers sleeping or in the Great Hall, and she expected they would be among the last to arrive for the event about to occur. They weren’t about to miss anything, however: Kerry and she knew the event schedule as the schedule had been known since Monday.

They entered the Great Hall and headed for the Dining Hall. The scene inside was far different from the other times when it was used for eating or for the Midnight Madness. This time there were several tables covered with backpacks, brooms, and miscellaneous equipment, all kept separate from the seventy or eighty students who’d appeared to watch the proceedings. Annie spotted Vicky speaking with Holoč, Erywin, and Headmistress Laventure, while Isis and Wednesday appeared to be making some last minute checks to equipment with the help of a few of the higher level students, the majority who appeared to be from the racing teams.

Standing near the northwest entrance to the Dining Hall, Annie wasn’t certain what to expect to see in the next twenty minutes—she was, however, pleased that this year Kerry wasn’t one of the students departing on the Polar Express.

 

Now, finally, we get to see something about the already somewhat famous Polar Express.  Just so you know:  Kerry isn’t leaving, not this year.  More is going to get said about it, but for now be content in knowing that the 2013 Polar Express is about to begin.

However . . . I likely won’t post that new information tomorrow because I’m leaving out of Indiana about ten in the morning, and I don’t expect to arrive in Harrisburg until almost twelve hours later.  But as I know the real reason Annie and Kerry are there, I don’t have to give it much thought–I just gotta write it down.

Don’t worry:  I’ll get to it real soon.

Seasons of the Witches

With only a few chapters left in my novel and fifteen or sixteen scenes remaining, I have reached the point where I start asking myself, “What’s next?”  Now, I know I’ve said in the past that the first thing I want to do is edit Kolor Ijo (my NaNoWriMo 2012 novel, back when I writing stories half the size of Act One of this novel), and someone I know said I need to start on the horror novel I promised to write about three women in Alaska tentatively titled Midnight Lights.  Yes, I always have titles for my stories before I start, though the titles can change as I go along.

But if I were to poll most of the followers of this blog, if the question of what I should do next came up, most would say, “Write the next novel!  We have to see what happens to these kids!”  I mean, I do know what’s gonna happen to them for like, oh, the rest of their lives and beyond (yeah, I even went there), so really, with all the notes and maps and research I already have, sitting down and writing the next novel isn’t that big of a deal.  Just plot of some of the detail and rock and roll, baby.

Part of that reason, I believe, it not because I’m getting older and I’m going to die before my characters, but that people want to know what’s going to happen.  I get asked about “things” and “stuff”, yeah, and there’s always questions about Annie and Kerry’s relationship and what’s going to happen between them.  I’d love to tell, believe me, but I’ve got River Song reminding me not to say anything.  (River Song is a time traveling character from the BBC show Doctor Who, and she’s famous for a particular expression . . .)

She doesn't always say this while she's holding a pistol, but it helps get the point across.

She doesn’t always say this while she’s holding a pistol, but it helps get the point across.

But this morning I was thinking about the novels ahead–and, yeah, there’s probably a good chance if I don’t die any time soon, I’ll get to writing them–and while I was laying in bed for the twenty minutes or so it took me to decided to get up and get out, I worked out not only this post, but the titles of the three acts of the third novel, C is For Continuation.  What?  You don’t do that?  You should try.

I’ve stated in another post that the C Levels will likely be the hardest for Annie and Kerry.  Lots of loneliness, lots of personal issues, lots of feelings unworthiness.  It won’t be a good summer holiday for either Annie or Kerry, and when they start their 2013/2014 school year, their C Levels, they’ll find themselves push harder than they’ve ever been pushed before.

Act One will be titled “Seasons of Change”, and that’s exactly what happens:  there’s a lot of change for them both.  Most of the change comes for Kerry, and his suffering bleeds over to Annie, who is being pressed by a certain Seer and a certain Sorceress to be the best little bad ass dreamwalking Dark Witch she can be.  They are forced to confront a necessary truth about their relationship which starts coming about in the B Level novel–and I can imagine at least one person here rolling her eyes and mumbling, “Noooooooo!  I was right!”  Believe nothing I say; when it comes to these novels I’m a worse unreliable narrator than Tyler Durden.  OTP they are–you can ship that without fear.

Act Three will be titled “Seasons of Renewal” and this brings about the feeling that things aren’t just going to change, they have and they do.  They decided to put all the crap that’s followed them for months away, they’ve struck out in new directions, and by the time they leave school for home and Summer Holiday 2014, very exacting promises are made so there will be no repeat of what happened during the previous summer.  In fact, these declarations lead right in to events that are touched off in the fourth novel, D is For Determination.

You’ll noticed I skipped over Act Two.  Well, here it comes, and to get the title I’ve semi-ripped off the title of probably the best Star Trek:  Voyager episodes ever.  Act Two is titled “Seasons of Hell,” and that’s exactly what it is:  Hell Up In SIGEL.  It starts with the most miserable Yule both kids ever have, and that’s the high point.  Kerry gets those feelings of abandonment and Annie’s about to lose it on here folks.  They get back to the school and Kerry takes off on the Polar Express, an event I’ve been thinking about even before I wrote a post about it in December, 2011.  Things don’t go well on that, Kerry almost dies again–no, his name isn’t Kenny or Rory–and Annie’s about to flip out again.  Give it a few weeks, though, and Annie does flip her shit on a student, and that situation is bad enough that Helena has to threaten to put her, and her equally stressed out boyfriend, down, and as a result they both need face time with the Headmistress–

And just when things look like they couldn’t get any worse, along come the Guardians.

Only it’s not Mr. Gabriel running the show now:  he gets replaced, and if you’re following my Genesis connection to some of the characters in this novel, you’ll know the name of the person who replaces him.  This is where they first go off to San Francisco, then off to Paterson Gap, and I ain’t gonna lie:  the Paterson Gap test is gonna be hell.  It’s gonna make the Battle in the Link Bridge look like a stroll in the park.

No, more like a ten kilometer hike through the Georgia mountains consisting of the worse shit I can throw at a couple of young teenagers.

It’s a ten kilometer hike through the Georgia mountains consisting of the most heinous shit I can throw at a couple of young teenagers.

One of the lead-up scenes has Annie and Kerry getting into the outfits they’re wearing for the Gap Test, and Kerry–ever the pop culture geek–asks, “What is this, the Hunger Games?”  No, Kerry, it’s not–it’s worse.  It’s a lot worse.  Let’s just put it this way:  when the test is over, Helena goes to pick them up at the CDC, and we all know what The Foundation keeps there . . .

There, you now have a look at what’s coming.  Not everything, just the big overview.  There is so much I didn’t touch on, because . . .

Spoilers.

I’m the only one who gets to live with those.

The Snows of Saint James

Getting on late Friday night as I write this, because I’m judging a grade school science fair early Saturday morning, the third in as many years.  If there’s one thing I like to do, it go out and encourage young people to do something different, and if that means getting into science, then so be it.  At the same time, my daughter will participate in our regional Science Olympiad, so I hope I’m doing something good.

Tonight was not a writing night.  Still coughing like made, and after putting a few hundred records into a data base today, I felt pretty brain dead.  After I return from my science fair I’ll get my writing in, then maybe write a little more tomorrow night.  I know I can get three thousand words in this weekend, not a problem, and that should get me set up around forty-seven thousand words before I call it a Sunday night and head for bed.

I’m already thinking about what’s coming next, which is a bit of a fantasy thing:  not fantasy as in “I have a muse looking over my shoulder as I write,” more like, “Oh, I didn’t know you were into wearing PVC school girl uniforms.”  Something strange is happening, and I’m just the person to bring it, because if there is one thing I know, it’s strange.

Like the dream I had last night–oh, did you see what I did there?  I know you did.

I was talking to someone tonight about it, because it was a dream that really comes out of an idea I had for my character Kerry, he of the young child learning magic at a school in the middle of Maine.  He and his bestest flying buddy, Emma, are on a three-day survival flight that they undertake during their third year of Flight School, and since Emma and he are so damn good at what they do, the instructor gave them the hardest flight of all:  fourteen hundred miles from a point near Churchill, Manitoba, back to the school.  All of this happening in the middle of January, so you know it’s a party.

One of the main events that happens, however, is that as they are coming into Ontario–after making a mad dash across James Bay–they run head-on into a brutal blizzard.  Instead of flying for a few hours after sundown while navigating by the star, they are forced down in the forest south of the Eastman River, where they have to set up camp and get inside before they freeze.

In my idea for at story they spend the night in zipped-together sleeping bags, huddled for warmth, because their heater is very low on fuel.  During the night, close as their are, Kerry is asked if he’s scared.  He admits he is, because at thirteen, he’d never had to deal with conditions like this.  Emma says she’s worried, too, and wonders if they’ll make it back.  Kerry tells her not to worry; they’re going to get back to the school come tomorrow, if for no other reason, as Kerry says, “Annie’s waiting for me, and she’ll be upset if I don’t come home.”

My dream was inside the tent, late at night, with the wind hollowing outside, and the cold all around the two kids.  Emma asks Kerry if he’s worried, only I’m the only saying yeah, but don’t worry, we’re getting home tomorrow, and I’m going to see Annie.  Only when Emma looks up at me, it’s not her, it’s Annie, and she tells me she’s not worried–

Which is the point when I realize it’s not really Annie, but someone else I know.  Someone who tells me, “If anything were to happen, I’m right where I want to be–here with you.  But we’ll get home, because I need you back where you belong.”

Fade to black as the wind dies out in the darkness . . .

I haven’t had a dream like that in a while.  For a long time I was having some extremely vivid dreams, but my time at The Undisclosed Location put a serious kibosh on that for some reason.  I’ve been home a few months now, and it seems like the dreams are returning, they are starting to grow strong once more, and they’re telling me something.  Maybe something good, something bad, or something I haven’t heard in a while.  (I’m trying not to hear that in Phil Collin’s voice–I believe I succeeded.)

My story of the Polar Express was one that has kept me intrigued for some time, because it not only helped my character grow, but it gave me a chance to grow as well, and not just as a writer.  I learned something while imagining all those things happening, all the way back in December of 2011.  I’ve kept it close to my heart the whole time since, even when I was sinking into one of my darkest times last summer.

It’s still with me.  Maybe I’ll even see it tonight, when the wind picks up and the snow begins to fall.

And once more I hear Annie call my name, and she tells me the thing she tells me every day.