Pretty Little Kill Machines

Here I am, sitting in the car dealership at eight-forty in the morning, getting new tires on my ride in preparation for the return to Red State Indiana next Saturday.  There are so many things running through my mind at the moment, and I’ve been up since five getting them sorted.  I’ve written, I’ve sent off birthday wishes, I’ve thought about what I’m going to say here–oh, and it’s an anniversary of sorts today, for sometime today, right around noon is my guess, I’ll take my twenty-forth hormone injection, and that will make one year down, baby.  I’ll make sure to get pictures, trust me.

Also, for comical relief, I post this text transaction of an eleven year old girl burning down her boyfriend for hanging out with another girl.  When I saw this yesterday the first thing that came to mind was, “This is why Annie doesn’t have a mobile phone.”  After all, I wouldn’t want her going crazy on Kerry after she went through the trouble of buying his Starbucks, ’cause as we know, Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino equals True Love, and one does not screw with the heart of a girl who goes to those lengths to show said love.

Then again, she doesn’t need a mobile to go all Dracarys on someone:  Annie knows how to toss real fireballs.  When she burns you down, it’s literal as hell . . .

Wednesday mentioned to our lovey dovey couple that people in their level may be afraid of them, it brings to mind a certain scene where these two went nuts on a few Walkers in the middle of a test, and Annie’s reaction to people recoiling in horror from them was short and definitive.  Wednesday knows all about that test:  she saw the video, and it was one of the reasons why she pulled them into Advanced Spells.

Believe it or not, Wednesday knows the feelings of which she speaks, as she’s been there–

 

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

Wednesday slipped a cover onto her container. “Just like you, people felt intimidated by me—and there were a lot of people who were scared.”

“Of you?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

Wednesday grew serious for the first time either of them could remember. “Because I killed someone.”

The minions exchanged looks, but it was Annie who responded. “That was during The Scouring, right?”

Wednesday nodded. “Yeah.” She smirked. “I killed the Head Sorceress.”

Kerry seemed almost ready to gasp. “You did?”

“Yeah. I was heading back to my cover and he confronted me, my coven leader, and a friend of mine outside the tower. He killed both of them using Blood Hammer and was about to do me when whipped up a spell.” Wednesday looked away for only a moment, then looked directly at both children. “I created a vortex around him and flayed him to death with dirt and little rocks. It’s not the best way to go out, but . . .” Her jaw clenched. “He deserved that.

“The next school year, I was a D Level and was asked to do my minion duty then—though we didn’t call it ‘minion duty’, we were just lab assistants. I was helping A Level and things we okay until about the start of October, and then it was like a switch was flipped; no one wanted my help for anything. Isis told me later that she’d heard word got around about me killing the Head Sorceress, and people—especially the A Levels—were suddenly scared of me. Even the B and C Levels started tip-toeing around me. It was like I’d went from ‘Wednesday the Good Witch’ to “Wednesday the Killer Bitch’ overnight.” She shrugged. “I eventually took that year off from helping out in the lab because it bothered me that no one wanted my help, and I had to deal with the why of the situation.”

She moved closer to her students and spoke in lower tones, as if conveying wisdom that she wanted only them to hear. “I know Helena likes to cultivate a bad ass rep, but that’s the way she is: she’s never given a shit if anyone likes her, particularly the students, because she’s not here to be liked—she’s here to make good sorceresses.” Wednesday paused long enough to give her minions a warm, gentle smile. “Yeah, there are a few people who won’t ever like you for one stupid reason of another, and more than a few who’ll be scared of you because of your abilities and actions, but you can’t let it get to you—” She gave them both a comforting pat on their shoulders. “It’s not personal: it’s just the way things are.”

Wednesday levitated both closed containers to the open storage cabinet in the corner and closed the door. “One thing you gotta remember when you’re teaching—”

Kerry glanced at Annie before responding. “What’s that?”

“Do you want to be liked? Or do you want to be effective?” Wednesday chuckled. “Just a slight bit of paraphrasing there, but in the end, it’s true.” She held out her hands. “It’s lunch time and I’m buying. You coming?”

 

Annie looks up to Helena, and being the Good Dark Witch means she strives to keep a little fear wrapped around her presence.  Sure, Kerry killed a bad guy, but everyone save a few people think it was one of those accidents that just happened.  Most of Annie’s “Bad Witch” rep comes from going after Lisa in the middle of The Rotunda, and getting extremely chummy with The Mistress of All Things Dark.  If any of the students really knew what Annie has done in the last year, they’d likely stay the hell out of her way–

You wouldn't like her when she's angry.

You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

New Kids On the Job

We’re almost to the long weekend time here in America, and I’m a bit remiss in saying that yesterday was Canada Day, so to my friends North of The Wall I say, Sorry, So Sorry, I didn’t mean to miss you.  Also, today is I Forgot Day, so you have to forgive me.

In case you’re wondering today is also World UFO Day, and you should be watching some old 1950’s science fiction and, if you can find it, check out the late-60s television show The Invaders, which was scary as all hell.  And, of course, the British show UFO is a must:

The show that told me I should show up at work these days looking like this.  I should.  I really should.

The show that told me that in the future this is how women would look.  I should show up at work one day dressed like this. I really should.

Also some personal stuff that’s important to me is coming up as well, such as today is five months for me since I came out at work.  Almost half a year–yay!  So much is happening so quickly, and I have to say that I am loving some of this stuff, even if there is some heaviness in my heart.  But that’s for another post.  Onward.

Today–at least in my mythical Salem School world–it is Minion Day.  That is to say, Professor Wednesday Douglas has herself some minions for B Level Spells, and gee–can you guess who they are?

 

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

Wednesday checked the B Level lab one last time before walking towards the ground floor library. The day was cloudy and cool outside, and inside—well, there were more than a few students who’d be less clear and a lot hotter. Today was the first time she’d taken the students through the basics of minor levitation, and even though they were doing little more than attempting to lift tiny plastic spindles, only a quarter of the students were able to get at least one good levitation, and out of that group only one person was able to repeat the action—

She didn’t think it was a coincidence that Emma Nielson was also the only student today to ask for assistance from her two minions. Speaking of which—

Wednesday popped her head through the doorway and caught the attention of her two little helpers, both whom were reading. “Hey, minions.” She waved them towards her the moment they looked up from their books. “Help me get the lab straightened up, okay?” They sent their books back to their respective locations on the shelves before following her out of the room.

 

It’s the end of class and lunch in on high, and it’s time for Teacher and Her Pets to get the lab back in order, which they do using magic.  It’s also during this time that Annie brings up a point:  no one asked them for help.  Well, one person did, and that’s not really discussed, except to say Kerry blows it off, as does Annie.  Wednesday, however, is thinking about that, and about Annie’s question, and comes up to the follow conclusion:

 

Wednesday didn’t want to drag up any hidden enmity that might lie hidden within either Annie or Kerry concerning his Åsgårdsreian wingmate. She wanted to keep everyone focused on Annie’s questions, and not those who could become the subject of discussion. “It’s really a complected answer; there’s no easy reason. Part of it being intimidated by what they’re doing; part is being intimidated by the people who I bring in to help.” She waved her container onto one lab station and turned to Annie. “Remember what it was like when I brought in minions last year.”

Annie appeared a bit puzzled. “We didn’t have minions in spells class last year.”

“Right—not in your class.” Wednesday leaned back against a lab table. “You had already moved on to Advanced Spells by that time: you were minions.”

“Minions to be.” Kerry stood next to Annie, joining the conversation. “We just didn’t know it at the time.”

“Exactly.”

Annie closed her eyes as her head shook in short, quick twitches. “So no one wanted our help because they were intimidated by the spell and by us?”

Wednesday’s shrug was almost imperceptibly. “I would say some of the kids in this class are intimidated by you both. I’m also sure there are a few who just don’t like you and don’t want to do anything with you. And . . .” She’d considered not bringing up this last point, but ignored her concern because she was fairly certain it wasn’t a tremendous revelation for either of them. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a few in your level who are probably scared of you.”

 

This last point is a good one, because, if you think back, it’s one they’ve already touched upon–

And maybe we’ll get to that tomorrow.  After all, I do have the day off.

Remembrances of Posts Past

It’s one of those dark and stormy mornings here in The Burg, and in about ninety minutes I’m gonna have to get up and walk out there and maybe get rained on.  It’s hard to say, because at the moment it doesn’t look like it’s raining, but that could change by the time I’m dress and made up and heading out the door.

That’s the way life is:  one moment you’re blogging, the next you’re stuck in a thunderstorm and walking a mile in the rain.

I wrote last night.  I wrote a lot.  About a thousand words for my recap of a show I’m reviewing, and another thousand for the novel, and that’s a lot of words for one night.  It does seems as if I get up, write, go to work, program, come home, write, and crash about eleven at night.  Every night.  Well, almost:  I do take some weekends off.  Not a lot, but they are there.

One of the things I’ve done in the last few weeks it take some time and go back and read a few of my old posts.  Most of them aren’t really that interesting:  there was a period in 2012 where I didn’t say much of anything, and then suddenly:  boom!  I’ve got a lot on my mind and I’m gibbering all over the place.  I do know there were weeks in early 2012 when I was depressed as hell, and I struggled to write.  I struggled a lot.  Hell, I was struggling with everything–but that let to me getting therapy, and that was the first step I took to becoming who I am today.  Which may or may not be such a good thing, but that’s another post.

Last night I was checking out a few of the old posts and ran across one that I remember fondly, but hadn’t read all the way through in years.  I remembered the last third of it quite will, but I’d completely forgotten the majority of the post, and in their I found the story, pretty much laid out from the beginning, of how Annie and Kerry started.  It brought back a lot of memories, for it was a different local, a different time, and I was a far different person.  There were things I wanted to say, and I’d yet to begin writing the way I do today:  about the only time I’d speak in prose was here in this blog.  There were no stories other than the ones I was creating in my head–

And I was sharing them with only one person.

I don’t want to say “Those were the days,” because in a lot of ways they weren’t good days.  I was in a lot of pain, and even though the pain returns once in a while, it wasn’t like that pain.  Then again, I didn’t write today like I did back then, either.  To be honest it was more fun, because I was creating from scratch, and ideas were flowing, and it was helping me through hard times.  The ideas are still there, but today . . . I don’t seem to have the magic that I once had.  Maybe that’s because of . . . reasons.

Sometimes it feels like this.  Then again, I probably wouldn't mind this . . .

Sometimes it feels like this. Then again, I probably wouldn’t mind this . . .

My therapist always tells me not to look back because you can’t change the past.  I don’t want to change the past.

But I would love to bring parts of it to the present so I can hold it in the future.

Regretting the Firing Line

It wasn’t all the busy yesterday, and I was in one of those afternoon funks where I didn’t feel like doing a lot.  It does seem like afternoons are not good for me; most of my writing is done in the morning and evening these days, and the rest of the day is spent for running around and relaxing–or taking deep naps, if you want to look at it that way.

Though, once more, between what I wrote in the morning an what I wrote in the evening, I still managed to add about a thousand and fifty words to the story.  If you consider that I also managed close to a thousand words on my first review–yeah, I know:  shut up.  Just shuttity up, up, up.

Go about your jobs, Cassie.

Back to the Firing Line, where things are not going well . . .

 

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

There were times early on during his A Levels when Kerry felt worried that he wasn’t getting spells right, or fearful that he was going to screw up something and had a spell go sideways on him. There were even times he considered the possibility that he simply wouldn’t get the spell, and never figure it out.

Today, just over a year after he began understanding how to craft spells, and do magic, he encountered an emotion that he’d yet to experience:

Frustration.

 

We saw Kerry, early on in the last book, get frustrated with magic–not a lot of times, but it was there.  We saw Annie get flustered once when she couldn’t get a spell.  Both times the other was there to help out, and they got through their moments.

When you’ve been around someone long enough, however, sometimes you forget they have those moments.  Kerry is sort of like, “I don’t remember the last time this happened to me.”  Unfortunately, Annie’s feeling the same way, and she’s also getting a bit flustered by his inability to bleed out his practice torso.  Maybe Annie should try another approach:  “My love, why don’t you just bleed that torso out.  Do it for me?”

But that’s not what happens:

 

His last attempt produced the same results, causing him to flip his hands into the air. “Ah, screw this.”

Annie wasn’t about to accept his comment as the last word. “It’s all right. Let’s try again—”

He shook his head. “I’ll get the same result.”

“You will if you think that way.” She crossed her arms as she shifted her weight from foot to foot. “Please, try again.”

He stared blankly at the torso. “I’m just gonna do the same thing—”

“I know you know you can do this.”

He half turned and scowled. “I’ve been trying—”

You aren’t trying hard enough.”

Kerry almost recoiled as Annie snapped. She didn’t shout or yell: she didn’t even raise her voice. But her tone let him know that she wasn’t pleased, and that he needed to work harder. Instead he lowered his head and stared at the floor, wondering what he was doing wrong, why he couldn’t get the spell to bend to his will—

Annie was there, along side, with a light touch on his arm and a soft and comforting look upon her face. “I’m sorry, my darling. I shouldn’t have spoke that way.”

He leaned his head towards her and shrugged. “It’s okay, Sweetie.”

“It’s not. I didn’t mean that.”

“Yeah, you did.” Kerry chuckled. “Because it’s true.” He reached across his body to pat her hand. “Can we take a break?”

She tugged on his arm. “Let’s go sit in the viewing gallery.”

 

You’re always hardest on the one you love, right?  We’ve not seen that with these two, but of the two it seemed likely that Annie might be the one to get a little . . . stern with Kerry.

Perhaps they can talk about it when they walk back to the Pentagram for dinner . . .

"It's okay.  You were right:  I should have been able to bleed out that dummy and kill it--"

“It’s okay. You were right: I should have been able to bleed out that dummy and kill it–“

Ah, young love:  doing spells and killing homunculus together.

It doesn’t get any better.

Preparing the Firing Line

It all feels a bit strange this morning, as I progress with the development of the novel, and in particular the latest scene.  According to my record I’ve written almost sixteen hundred words since yesterday morning, and yet, it feels like I’ve written almost nothing.  Perhaps this is due to having a lot on my mind of late, and feeling a lot of distractions all around as I work upon this final chapter of Act One.

Also, last night, I was screwing around with a map route an trying to fill out the spell list, so that only added to the feeling that all is not as well in Salem as it should.  What is more likely is that I’m just freaking myself out over nothing, and given that I’ll probably start on the next scene this afternoon, as well as start on my first television review of the AMC show Humans tonight, this later hypothesis doesn’t require a great deal of testing to ring true.

But you don’t want to hear that, do you?  You want to see, not be told.  Seeing it is, then.

Homunculi and training torsos are in place, and Professor Chai has jaunted out of the house.  What does this mean?  You know it won’t take long to get to that point . . .

 

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

Now that they were alone, Kerry decided it was time to ask questions. “What’s up today, Sweetie?” He came over and joined her. “What’s up with—” He ran a hand lightly over the red cabinet. “—these?”

Annie took a deep breath before answering. “I spoke with Helena Tuesday night while you were in class. She wanted to know how our development was coming along.”

He didn’t need to ask about development in what. “You mean in sorcery?”

“And in transformation magic. We told her and the others last school year that I would teach you and you would teach me.” She gave him the slightest of smiles. “Helena wanted an update on where we were.”

“And what did you tell her?”

“The truth, my love. I said including the spells we learned in class last year, you knew Shadow Ribbons and Cold Fire, that you knew how to charge a Fireball and Air Hammer with dark energy, and that you could do the same with normal spells. Along with Physical Shields you were developing Minor Spell Shields and that you’d start on the major version of that . . .” She paused only long enough to catch her breath. “I also said that as far as Morte spells were concerned you were well versed with the minor version of Electrify, but that you hadn’t quite mastered the spell, and that you were starting to develop Exsanguination.”

 

As pointed out yesterday, it’s scary enough to know these two can toss around fireballs powerful enough to light up a large bonfire, but then you add in the Shadow Ribbons and C0ld Fire and dark versions of shields and Air Hammers, and it becomes a bit more frightening knowing how formidable they are–which, of course, a majority of the school doesn’t know, but can only guess.

But what about these death spells?  Well . . .

 

Kerry dropped his gaze towards the floor. He’d kept his birthday promise from last year, when he’d told Annie that he’d walk with her and become a Guardian—as she had put it, she wanted him to be “her Dark Witch—but learning Exsanguination hadn’t progressed beyond the visualization stage. He pointed to the cabinets. “I guess it’s time to do more than start developing.”

“Yes, it is. Helena said she wants you to reach my understanding and use of the spell as soon as possible: Her reasoning is that, should the need arise, we’ll complement each other with equal knowledge of both Morte spells, and that will make us more formidable should we—” She slowly arched her brow. “—run into another situation where we need those spells.

“While I teach you that, she wants you to help me improve my mastery of Electrify, since you have a better understanding of the spell.”

 

There you have it:  Helena worries they may encounter another . . . situation . . . and so the best thing to do is be more bad ass.  Just wait until Helena has kids of her own:  those will be some scary youngsters.  Just like Mom was when she went to witch school.

But is that all?  Of course not!

 

“It’s not.” Her gaze locked on to that of her soul mate. “I’m going to show you how to do Shadow Net, which is another Shadow Discipline, and can be used to restrain or capture someone. There’s also Blend With Darkness, which is also a Shadow Discipline and works something like Light Bending.”

“Why do we need that if we can already bend light?”

“It’s far harder to detect, especially at night. At low levels you are invisible and you can move seamlessly from shadow to shadow, but at higher levels you become completely insubstantial.” Annie’s eyes twinkled as she grinned. “Helena said it’s just like being an astral form within the Physical Realm: people can walk right through you and never know you were there.”

Kerry couldn’t help but smile as well. “Like being a ghost.”

“Exactly. Now, that’s what I am supposed to show you—” She tapped him on the chest. “You, my love, are to show me what you’ve learned as far as Minor Personal Transformations are concerned. We know you’re working on changing your features, because Jessica is speaking with Helena so she’s aware of everything you’re doing that class.”

“Guess I can’t hide anything from you guys.” He pulled Annie close and wrapped her up in an embrace. “How do you want to do this, my little pumpkin?”

 

No, death spells aren’t enough:  time to rock those transformations and Shadow Disciplines.  Blend With Darkness was what Isis used during The Scouring, but she could, and still does, only use it at a minor level:  as Annie mentions, once you’re using it at higher levels, you are a shadow.  And how does one combat a magic wielding shadow?

Just ask The Doctor:  he hates fighting shadows.

Become one with the Vashta Nerada.  And eat all the chicken you like.

There’s also transformation spells that Kerry is learning that, according to what Annie has learned from Helena, will allow him to change his features.  Meaning what?  Remember Jessica showing up at last year’s Samhain dance looking like a Na’vi?  Or Emma looking like a katana-swinging, zombie-killing woman of color?  Those are pretty good examples of “changing your features,” and if they figure these out quickly, they could be very popular with other students looking for costume ideas in a couple of weeks.  If not, there’s always next year . . .

The novel sort of looks like this now–

Moment by moment, scene by scene.

Moment by moment, scene by scene.

And what’s this?  A subscene!  My first of the story.  Given that it’s called Dark Witch Frustration, it could mean that Annie or Kerry, or both, are running into a bit of difficulty with this particular lesson–

Enter the Firing Line

This has been a crazy week, and yesterday was probably as cray-cray as any day I’ve seen–but I mean that in the best of ways.  It started out with a crying jag at seven-thirty, and ended with a swollen face that needed considerable icing–

I believe, "Stingin' like a mofo" is the technical term for how I felt.

I believe, “Stingin’ like a mofo” is the technical term for how I felt at the time.

But I got my brows shaped as well, and because of holidays and travel in the upcoming weeks, I don’t go back for more electrolysis until near the end of July, so I can give my face a rest from the last nine session of having a small probe pushed into your face followed by having a hair pulled out–something I actually watched for about three minutes last night.

On the way to and from my session I thought about the scene I’m working on now.  It goes to a place that was only mentioned in passing in the first book, but now we’re finally getting a look at the Firing Line.

Right there in the upper left-hand corner.  There's no reason why it's placed away from everything else--why do you ask?

Right there in the upper left-hand corner. There’s no reason why it’s placed away from everything else–why do you ask?

As mentioned in the scene Annie and Kerry where their to show Wednesday they could toss fireballs with the best of the D & D wizards, and if you don’t think a majority of students didn’t feel a bit of a chill watching those two light up those Beltane bonfires, you’re not thinking this out.  Mom and Dad Malibey should watch those personal questions in the future . . .

It plays out in the scene that Annie has requested Kerry’s presence here on a Thursday afternoon, which, you’ll eventually discover, is free time for them.  If you have free time, might as well fill it up, right?

 

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

The interior was as sparse and unadorned as the exterior. The entryway was a large viewing gallery situated behind physical glass enhanced with enchantments. Beyond that was nothing but open space sixty-five meters long and sixteen wide, insulated against every destructive magic known. They passed through the viewing gallery and headed into the main structure. They weren’t alone: Professor Chai was there standing next to the covered work table and two large, color coded cabinets. Annie wasn’t surprised: she expected to find the self defense and weapons instructor waiting for them. “Hello, Professor.”

“Hello, Annie.” Professor Chai tilted her head slightly to the right. “Hello, Kerry.”

“Hello, Professor.” His attention shifted to the cabinets next to the small instructor. “What are those for?”

 

Glad you asked, Kerry–

 

“Training.” She looked at Annie as she spoke. “Here you go, just as Helena requested: training torsos and homunculi.”

Annie gave the professor a quick nod. “May I see the torsos?”

“Certainly.” Professor Chai pulled back the covers revealing the two training torsos, which weren’t actual torsos as they were human-looking bodies minus limbs. They looked a great deal like the one she’s practiced on at home—though that one never had the slight discoloration in the center of the chest see saw now. “Beating Heart option?”

“Yes, just like on some of the homunculi you practiced on last year.” The Beating Heart option allowed students to see how close they were to “killing” their homunculus: a strong pulsing red meant they were in full health, but as their health deteriorated the pulse would grow weaker. “These, like the ones in the cabinets, are modified so the color becomes lighter as they lose blood. That will give you an idea of how well you’re doing with your spells.”

“Good.” Annie moved towards the nearest cabinet, which was dark blue. “Why the different colors?”

“Different homunculi. The ones in the blue cabinet are Roamers; they’ll wander about aimlessly and won’t take action against you. The ones in the red are Trackers, and you know all about those—”

Kerry moved closer to the red cabinets. “These are the Walkers, aren’t they?”

“Yes: the zombies Annie and you dispatched so readily last year.”

 

Boy, do Annie and Kerry remember those zombies:  the test that set them apart from the rest of their levelmates, put them on a different path than everyone else, and left more than a few students retching in the aftermath of the bloody mess they left behind.

But what’s happening here?

You’ll have to wait and see what else I have to say . . .

That Which is Known and Unknown

A funny thing happened on the way to finishing up my writing last night–I was reading.  That’s not really that funny, but it points out that research can sometime mean going back and finding new . . . things.

I was reading over some scenes from the last novel, a scene that I knew pretty well, or at least thought I did.  It’s a good scene, explained more than I remembered–and then I saw it.  A single line, maybe eight or night words–but the moment I read it I thought, “Well, damn:  I’m going to need to change that.”

Why, you may ask?  Because it was something stated that will affect a scene I haven’t written yet, and the moment I saw what I had written, it hit me that I’d have to, at the very least, modify the line to allow something that would be said in, oh, maybe another thirty thousand or so words.  So I need to do a little rectoning–not much, just change the line a bit–but since that novel isn’t out, no harm, no foul.

Though I also found two other students who I hadn’t accounted for, and I had to do a little retconing on one of them so they’d fit in with my attendance these days.  Look, I’m only a half a million words away from where I started two years ago, give me a break.

Speaking of breaks, Kerry’s up, and it looks like something’s happening–

 

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

“Hello, Annie; Kerry.”

Professor Semplen approached the table, appearing relaxed and friendly. Annie hadn’t seen much of him since their time in Berlin, though he did stop by and wish her an happy birthday as he had the year before. She through they could were missing each other—save during his class—because Kerry’s and her schedule was so different from the rest of the B Levels. “Hello, Professor.”

Kerry set his hand in his lap. “Hello, Professor.”

“I hope I’m not interrupting—” Professor Semplen approached the table and stood opposite his covenmates for a few seconds. “May I join you for a moment?”

The children exchanged glances before Kerry nodded. “Please, have a seat.”

The professor chose the chair across from Kerry. “I won’t stay long: I just wanted to catch you before you headed to the Flight School. I saw your name on the tryout sheet for today.”

 

Kerry and racing sign-up sheets.  Annie had a few thoughts on that, and all along she’s said he’s going to do it, so why act like he’s not?  Because he’s Kerry, that’s why.  But here he’s got this coven leader–and I should mentioned, one of the coven racing managers and the head of their coven team–coming to him, so it much be something important, right?

 

Kerry didn’t appear nervous or self-conscious about the question, though. “Yeah, I signed up for the seventeen-fifteen slot so I can get down to The Diamond after class.” He set his elbows against the table top and leaned forward. “Should I come down earlier?”

“Actually . . .” Professor Semplen shook his head. “You don’t need to come down at all.”

Kerry went from appearing concerned to looking worried. “Is—is there something wrong? What’s going on?”

Sitting where she was between them, Annie easily read Kerry’s and Professor Semplen’s expressions and body language. She saw the answer before Kerry because she was a bystander. “Kerry . . . I think the professor is saying you don’t need to try out for the team.”

Kerry stared at his girlfriend for about three seconds before the her statement made sense. He slowly turned to his coven leader. “Is that true, Professor?”

Professor Semplen adjusted his glasses. “Only four people signed up for try-outs, and I’d already decided that you were going to get one of the B Team slots.” He shrugged. “Based upon everything we’ve seen from last year, and everything you’ve done, I’ve no doubt you’ll do well.”

“But I’ve never competed before—”

“No? What about the test races you were in on the Green Line and The Diamond? What about your accident last October?” The professor looked away for a moment. “What about the flying you did during the Day of the Dead?”

As Kerry was about to respond to the professor’s questions, Annie spoke to him instead. “This has been on your mind for a while, and the closer you get to the moment of proving yourself, the more you feel you’re not going to do well.” Her grin turned into a near smirk. “Once you wrapped your mind around magic you never had a problem. And you won’t have a problem with racing. Do you know what my father says?”

The fact that Annie was bringing up her father told Kerry all he needed to know about what she was going to say. “What?”

“Don’t worry about racing: just race.” She reached over and lightly touched his arm. “Professor Semplen is right: he doesn’t need to see you try out, my love. The moment the track lights turn green, you’ll know what to do.”

 

Annie never brings up her father unless it’s important, and here she’s quoting him to put his mind at ease.  But she’s known all along that he’d make the team–and given there are so few people in their coven to try out for those three slots, and Kerry is one of the best up and coming fliers, that it was ridiculous to believe he wouldn’t.  So after that all that remains is to tell him to show up Sunday to get fitted for his racing gear and get checked out on a Class 2–which he already has–and be ready to race in two weeks–

If he were on the A Team he's probably start next Saturday.  I know because . . . I know.

If he were on the A Team he’s probably start next Saturday. I know because . . . I know.

All that remains now is for Annie and Kerry to have a small, quiet moment together . . .

 

Once Professor Semplen was out of hearing range, Annie moved her chair closer to Kerry so that she didn’t have lean in order to touch his arm. “Well . . .”

Kerry looked down, full well knowing what was coming. “Yes?”

“Do I get to say I told you so?”

He lifted her hand from his arm. “Sweetie—” He kissed her hand tenderly. “You’ve been telling me that since I said I may go out.”

Annie chuckled. “You know I’m always right, my love.”

He laughed along with her. “I know, Sweetie. You’d think I’d get that by now.”

 

. . . and bring about the end of the chapter.

End of the chapter?  Yep.  Sure is.

End of the chapter? Yep. Sure is.

Now on to nine, and we’re going see some crazy here, because you can probably guess what Dark Witch Instruction is about–or maybe not.  You’ll just have to tune in and hope I write after my face burning tonight.