A Certain Day in May: The Moment of Giving

Kerry’s Birthday Adventure is nearly over, and that’s because I managed my way through another night of nearly eight hundred word writing to bring this second scene to an end.  I didn’t think that was going to happen, but it did.

I even have proof, which is all that matters.

I even have proof, which is all that matters.

 

Now, there isn’t much to say at this point about the writing:  it was just writing, you know?  You wanna know the payoff, which is something I’ve promised for a while.  Well, here it comes, just like the blog title says.

 

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

 

They entered Salem Green, one of the numerous walkways found around downtown Salem, and they quickly found themselves in a small lot behind the restaurant where they would dine this evening. The moment she was certain they were alone Annie pulled Kerry to a stop before drawing him off to the side next to some trees. After a short kiss she reached inside her purse and pulled out a small, gift wrapped box. “Happy birthday, my love.”

“I wondered when you were going to spring this on me.” After removing his backpack and setting it down he turned the box over slowly in his hands. “Quite a difference from last year.”

“Yes, but just as important.” Annie leaned against Kerry resting her chin on the hand she’s clamped over his left shoulder. “Last year when I gave you the Espinoza, it was to allow you to become a better flier and, in time, an excellent racer. I wanted you to feel the sky and become comfortable being there. This, however—” She nodded towards the box. “It’s going to help you next year.”

“Really? Well—” He began to carefully unwrap the package. “Let’s see then.” In about thirty seconds he had the paper off and handed it to Annie to fold and place in his backpack. The uncovered box was slightly smaller than his mobile and completely unadorned. Upon sliding off the top he discovered a small silver clam shell case inside. He popped it open—

Inside was a compass.

Kerry lifted the small device from the case, snapped the case closed, and began examining his present closely. The compass itself sat at one end of a Plexiglas baseplate that curved around half the ring dial, and extended a few centimeters to where he noticed the rulers, an orienting arrow, and a small magnifying lens. He moved it about, watching the arrow slowly align on magnetic north no matter which way he turned.

“I’ve spoken with Penny and Alex about what they did on The Polar Express.” Annie moved around so she was facing Kerry. “I know how you navigate: maps and a compass and visual flight rules, nothing more. And as the navigator of your team you need know that the course you’re setting is correct.” She nodded towards his hands. “I was told by Alex that’s one of the best you can get: it’s what she used during their flight. It will adjust for magnetic variances, it glows in the dark so you can navigate at night, and best of all, that one is global: you can use it in both the northern and southern hemispheres.” She chuckled. “I don’t know if we’ll ever need that function, but I figured it was good to have because you never know where we might travel.”

 

I’m certain there are a few people reading this going, “Are you kidding?  That’s Kerry’s present?”  No, really:  that’s what she bought him.  I’ll even show it too you, because I do know what it looks like.

The gift that any witch with a couple of million Euros in a trust fund can afford.

The gift that any witch with a couple of million Euros in a trust fund can afford.

While that is the current 2016 version, the 2013 version is nearly identical–I know, I’ve looked.  But there’s a little more that goes with this gift . . .

 

“That’s really nice.” He was rather impressed with his new toy, and he not only flashed upon an image of him using it to plot a course on a map, but he also considered the notion that one day in the future he may be somewhere in the southern hemisphere using this navigation aid. “Thank you.” He pulled Annie close and kissed her with great tenderness. “This is a beautiful present, Darling.  I’m going to start working with this over the summer.”

“I as much figured.” She tapped the hand that held the case. “There’s more.”

He pushed away slightly in surprise. “There is?”

“Yes.” Annie chuckled slightly upon the utterance of his question. “Open the case and look inside the lid.”

Kerry did as instructed and saw what he missed when he opened the case the first time: the inscription inside the lid—

 

Tova shte vi otvede obratno kŭm men. Lyubovta, Annie.

 

He read it three times, hoping his nascent Bulgarian would be sufficient, but the only words he recognized were the last two. “I know the last part says ‘Love, Annie’, but I don’t recognize the rest.”

She moved next to her soul mate and pointed at the inscription. “It says, ‘This will bring you back to me’.” Annie turned and kissed Kerry with as much tenderness as he’d done with her moments before. “And it will. No matter where you are, when you want to reach me, you will.”

Kerry closed his eyes and heard her words in his mind once more, then a second and third time. Only then did he slowly open his eyes, though he couldn’t see for they were filled with tears. “Oh, Darling—”

Annie touched his cheek. “What is it, my love?”

“The gift.” He sniffed back the tears. “It’s just a compass, but the feeling you placed within—” He hugged the love of his life tightly. “What did I ever do to deserve you?”

She placed his face between her hands and, while gazing into his eyes, spoke to him in tones of hushed reverence. “You were born.”

 

I ran that last line of the except–“You were born”–over and over for the last week, and most of the time when I played out the last part of this scene I’d begin crying.  It’s touching because Kerry understands what Annie’s saying to him with such a simply gift:  no matter where you are, you’ll always find your way to me.  And since the inscription’s in Bulgarian, no one else–save someone who speaks Bulgarian–will know what Annie had inscribed.

It’s for them and them alone.

Now, something I want to touch upon, so bear with me . . .

The idea of a compass really came to me about a year and a half ago, though I have to admit I didn’t start doing my research on this until about a week back.  It seems like a cheap-ass gift–what did Annie spend?  About €50?  Yeah, about that.  Considerably less than what she spent on Kerry’s broom.

I’ve said several times in the past that they give gifts based upon feeling, not cost.  The most Kerry’s spent on Annie so far was a few hundred Pounds on the earrings, and mention will be made in the next scene about them.

As for this gift . . . I have a little something to show.

A few nights back–Monday the 25th around 10:30 to be accurate–I was chatting with my friend Tanya, who is the person who created the original Annie upon whom my Annie is closely modeled.  We were chatting about the story–which we tend to do–and I brought up the matter of Kerry’s gift.  And here’s what was said:

 

Cassidy Frazee
That will get mentioned, but he’s getting his present from Annie.

Tanya
Oh!!
Does she end up giving him the same thing or is it something else?

Cassidy Frazee
She gave him his broom for his twelfth birthday. This year, because he’s doing the Polar Express the next school year, she’s giving him an engraved compass.
They give gifts that mean something. :)

Tanya
Not just because??
lol
Maybe Kerry could use some chap stick
all that wind can’t be good on the lips

Cassidy Frazee
She’ll have written on the back, “This will bring you back to me. Love, Annie.”

Tanya
awe
that’s adorable

Cassidy Frazee
It’s what Annie would do.

 

Of course I hadn’t decided on the exact type of compass the other night, and once I picked the Plexiglas one engraving something on the back would have been out of the question, which is why it’s now inside the case lid.  But that’s beside the point:  what’s important is Tanya’s last statement:  “Awe.  That’s adorable.”  Only the Real Annie(tm) would understand the meaning behind the gift, and get that it’s not a matter of being cheap, it’s a matter of being on point.  This will allow him to navigate across hundreds of kilometers of wilderness in the middle of winter with the intention of returning to the school.  Which they consider home, because we know, home is where the love lay.

Home is where Annie waits.

So, the gift is Real Annie(tm) approved, and that’s all I need to hear.

And you can bet a certain kid is gonna spend a lot of time zipping around England and Wales over the summer making sure he can find his way home when it matters the most.

A Certain Day in May: Prelude From the Aftermath

Yeah . . . early in the morning and here I am hoping to get through another day without falling asleep at work.  Yesterday was horrible:  by two in the afternoon I was fighting to remain with my eyes open, and when I finally made it home, I fell asleep for about thirty minutes or so because I needed a nap bad.

I feel today may be just as bad, as I was up about four-thirty or so, but the weather is going to be cooler today, so I’ll dress for that and keep the carbs at a minimum at lunch so I don’t go into some kind of drowsy overload by one.

All this is probably why I didn’t feel as if I was writing much last night, and then, to my surprise, I discover I’ve about seven hundred and fifty words completed.  I really was hoping to get the scene finished, but you know how that goes.  It means that you have to wait one more day to discover Kerry’s present, but–there’s also a surprise that comes with that post.

So, Happy Birthday for Doctor Gallagher and Kerry, and Coraline knows she better get a nod of approval from the little witch in the back of the room before planting a kiss on Kerry’s cheek.  I wonder if Annie could call out Coraline if she felt the later was getting a little too affectionate with her soul mate?  That would be an interesting fight, given that we’ve sort of seen Coraline fight.

But what about this flight that’s coming up?  Here you are on that:

 

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

After the passing around of cake that the kitchen gladly made, there was a quick review of the flight before they headed down to the Hangar and prepped for the afternoon flight, the Four Point Timed Excursion. Brooms up at fourteen, four points to make with only five minutes to determine course to each location while in air with no landing, GPS not allowed, and the class was to return to Salem by sixteen-thirty.

That mean a flight of close to twelve hundred kilometers needed to be flown in two and a half hours, and there wasn’t going to be much in the way of room for error should it arise. Vicky and her minions—or, as she’d begun referring to them of late, her flying monkeys—were the only one who knew the actually layout of the course, but Vicky would be the one to call out corrections to the class if they were needed.

As Vicky said during the briefing, at this point in the class, any of the four teams selected for each leg that couldn’t hit their target by now would be in a precarious position for advancement to Advanced Flight Two in their C Levels.

Because it was his special day, Vicky left the choice to him as to whether or not Emma and he would have first of last leg. He picked first and learned their destination: Franconia Notch, New Hampshire. Kerry already knew the area from the last snipe hunt he’d been one, but the catch now was to get everyone there in thirty minutes. Almost two hundred kilometers in that limited time meant they’d need to maintain about four hundred kilometers an hour the whole way.

Fortunately Kerry knew how to handle that. As soon as they were airborne he instructed Emma to aim for a point a few kilometers north of Plymouth, New Hampshire, at which point they’d turn and follow I-93 fifty kilometers north to the Notch. If his calculations were correct—and as he told the flight he didn’t expect them to be wrong—they’d not need to slow at all until they were near their destination.

He was correct. They reached their turn less than a hundred meters off the line Kerry originally piloted, and there was a bit of excitement as the flight turned into the mountain valley and continued northward without braking. Seven and a half minutes later they were hovering over their destination and Team Myfanwy rotated to the back of the pack to let someone else take the ball.

The rest of the trip went smoothly. Their other three stops were The Alexandra Bridge in Ottawa, Ontario, the bobsled run at Lake Placid, New York, and the capital building at Albany, New York. After a mad dash across Massachusetts they were touching down in Selena’s Meadow eight minutes before they were due.

 

In case you were wondering–and you were–this is the area covered:

With minor variations, this is how it looks.

With minor variations, this is how it looks.

Franconia Notch is famous as the location of the formation known as the Old Man of the Mountain, which used to look like this:

Looking pretty good for a few million years old.

Looking pretty good for a few million years old.

The picture above was taken on 26 April, 2003, and it one of the last good pictures of the formation, because a few days later the formation collapsed and became no more.  As of 2007 it looked like this:

Quite a change, I know.

Quite a change, I know.

And for a little extra history, the collapse happened on 3 May, 2003, which means as the date in the story is 3 May, 2013, a decade has past since that time, so Emma and Kerry are gonna lead their flight right past this point on the anniversary.  Coincidence?  Knowing Vicky, probably not.

But they managed to get through the flight with little or no drama, and suddenly we’re back in Salem–

 

It was only once he was back in his uniform and out of the locker that he found out he wasn’t dining in the hall that evening—

They were half way down Essex and were just passing the location where the Bewitched After Dark walking tours met when Annie spoke. “You were wonderful today. And just the right amount of embarrassed when everyone sang Happy Birthday to Coraline and you.”

“I wasn’t acting—” Kerry couldn’t remember the last time anyone actually sang him a birthday song. “Coraline handles it better than me.”

“Let’s hope no one sings it again tonight.” Annie glanced towards Kerry with a smile on her face. “Though her boyfriend will be there, so who knows if he’ll ask for to have it sung.”

“I don’t want it sung for me again.” He nodded towards the store up on their right. “Otherwise I’m gonna take you in to Flying Monkey and get you something to commentate your ascension to that status today.”

“Shush, you.” She slapped him playfully on the arm. They’d passed the store several times in the past but never entered: during one of their window shopping excursions Kerry pointed out he was going to get her a “Good Girls Go to Heaven, Bad Girls Go to Salem” tee shirt, complete with a witch ridding a broom across a pentagram, to which she replied while she’d never hurt him, minor curses might not be out of the question—

“I’m not interesting in getting a tee shirt I’ll never wear.” She steered him towards one of the alleys leading to the Salem Green, located just behind their restaurant. “Over this way.”

 

I should point out that the locations refereed to above do exist, as does the shirt described.  Don’t be surprised if the later shows up again . . .

Now, does this mean Kerry gets his present tomorrow?  Yes, yes it does.

Oh, and I’m reminded by a Facebook post I made five years ago, on this day in history Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed in a fight with natives of the Philippines. And what I mean by “killed in a fight” is that he was beaten to death with bastons by people who knew Eskrima, aka Arnis, aka Kali–though at the end of this “battle” I believe he also had a spear shoved through his face, which had to suck.

This happens to be the martial arts form seen in a lot of movie–Matt Damon uses this in his Jason Bourne movies, it was used by Vin Diesel and Jason Statham in Furious 7, and both Melissa McCarthy and Saoirse Ronan were trained to use this in their respective movies Spy and Hanna.  It’s also the art form that Annie and Kerry are learning and seem to be taking to it rather well, and the advantage they’ll have over all those other people I’ve listed above is (1) they can use magic with this discipline, and (2) unlike movie characters, they’ll actually be able to beat people to death with bastons likely made of magical energy.

Why am I mentioning this?  Oh, no reason . . .

A Certain Day in May: A Quick Remembrance

Only a few hundred words entered the Word Bank last night ’cause it was TV recap time, and twenty-one hundred words and pictures went out in that post, which meant I didn’t get much into this one.  I did, however, edge over the thousand words beyond three hundred K area, so I have that going for me.

But I got him out to his birthday dinner–sort of–and right below, there in the first paragraph, you discover the name of the restaurant that has become a favorite of theirs:

 

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

Kerry followed Annie out of the Museum Place and turned right on Church Street. The restaurant where they were dining, Turner’s Seafood, was down Church on their left, but before leaving Salem Annie mentioned that she wanted to walk around the block and stroll down the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall before joining the others at what had become their favorite restaurant in Salem after visiting it during their school year end layover at the Sea Sprite Inn.

The sun was still up with perhaps an hour to go before setting. The temperatures were still cool, hovering between eleven and twelve Celsius, but the sky was clear and was expected to stay that way all the way through midnight tomorrow. Kerry hoped this meant warm weather would reach them before they left their school, and the rest of America, behind for the summer.

After all the cold Friday afternoon flying Kerry was ready for some warmth . . .

But the afternoon didn’t start off that way. Things were already different when everyone gathered in the Ready Room and the minions took their places at the back of the room. As promised Annie joined Nadine, Rivânia, and Nattat Adriano in the back of the room, but up front Kerry was completely surprised, and not a bit mortified, when “Doctor Gallagher” came out with Vicky and a big deal was made about the face that not only was it the birthday of the school’s Chief Medical Officer, but it was also the birthday of one of their class members—

At that point a cake was wheeled out and Kerry stood next to Coraline while everyone sang “Happy Birthday.” Coraline congratulated Kerry on becoming a teenager, and, just like last year, she gave him a kiss on the cheek—though she first looked to the back of the room and received a nod of approval from Annie before proceeding.

 

Yeah, Coraline knows better now than to give a kiss to someone who ain’t her soul mate.  That Annie is a possessive one.  And in case you’re wondering, Nattat Adriano is a Mórrígan C Level from Lucira, Angola, and the person whom finished ninth overall in the Individual standings for the 2012/2013 race season.  She was the covenmate who ascended the lower podium right behind Emma in the last scene of the last chapter.

So where are they walking?  Well, I had to put this together last night, too, so there’s more time taken right there.

These maps don't make themselves, you know.

These maps don’t make themselves, you know.

As Kerry is thinking about what’s happening Annie and he are probably at the corner in the upper right hand of the picture, which is as place they’ve been before:  they were here way back in Act One after they’d been dismissed as minions by their own levelmates, and Kerry gave Annie the “We Are Different” talk about why he didn’t care if the other kids their age accepted them or not.  This time they’re not talking about something that’s upsetting:  this is a day to celebrate, and there’s nothing gonna bring these two down.

And, yes, you’ll see the gift Annie is gonna give Kerry.

I know:  I’m the worst for cliffhangers.

The Last Laps: Warnings Amid the Possibilities

After a pretty good night of writing the second scene is finished.

But of course it is.

But of course it is.

It’s an interesting one, because it once more shows the kids stepping up and taking charge of situations that are normally handled by adults.  When the school is attacked kids join up with the adults in charge and help defend the place:  it’s not all instructors calling for Foundation aid from outside the walls.  When you got a beef you can meet with another student and, in a controlled environment, whack the shit out of each other.

And when it comes to telling racers your age how you expect them to act on the race course for the final big race, it’s the kids who seem to make the moves.  And sometimes they give the other kids a real ear-full . . .

 

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

The Cernunnos team captain nodded in older girl’s direction. “Thank you, Rivânia.” He faced the rest of the room. “We three began discussing today’s race last night before the Madness. After Blodeuwedd and Ceridwen race we do the last heat of the year. For those who raced last year I don’t need to tell you about the race, but for you new people, our race is one of the toughest of in-school events: The Fifteen and Finished. Green Line to Blue to Red and back to Blue then Green, performed three times each.

“A lot can go wrong out there today without people screwing around, and given how close so many races are today, the urge to settle old grudges is gonna be high. And none of the people in the back of the room—” He did a quick point towards Vicky and the coven leaders. “—or us up here want to see anything other than good racing happen as soon as the courses go green.” He looked past Rivânia to the girl on her left. “Nadine.”

A wicked grin began forming upon the Mórrígan team captain’s face. “Since I’m already considered the mean girl of this bunch, I don’t mind laying a little truth on you. And it’s this: anyone caught screwing around out there trying to hold people up or flat-out wreck them is gonna get their asses parked. Anyone pulls any shit out there today gets ordered off the course. No throttle back penalties, no time added on at the end: you get fucking parked.

 

I wonder if Nadine wears pink on Wednesdays to Wednesday’s?

We’ve seen Nadine throw around the language before, so this is not surprising that a D Level is gonna get coarse with fellow students.  We’ve know kids her age swear:  we know kids Annie’s and Kerry’s age swear, because we’ve heard them.  In my kid’s cases, they usually pop one off in their own or different language, but English has suited them both well at times.  And just wait until next year:  both are gonna find reason to drop an f-bomb or two.

With Nadine, however, you get the feeling that if you weren’t taking her advice, she’d just haul you out of the room and beat your ass just to make a point.  Maybe even right now–

 

“And if anyone sitting here right now suddenly thinks, ‘Oh, well, fuck it, I’ll just take someone out and be done with that shit’—” Nadine shook her head. “We’ve already discussed this with Race Control. The race goes red, we get your replacement from the B Team, and if the person you crashed can’t continue we pulled their replacement and continue with the race. You may screw up someone’s Individual standing, but you are not screwing up the Coven Team standings.

“If you should do something that stupid, you are out of racing at Salem for the rest of the calendar year.  And if you are allowed back into racing after the first of the year, you’ll start back on the B Team for at least the rest of the next season—assuming you’ll keep your shit together long enough to keep from melting the hell down there.”

Nadine pointed at her eyes before pointing to the rest of the assembled crowd. “We’re gonna have eyes on everyone today. You gotta a grudge you wanna settle with someone, then call them out to the Manor tomorrow and toss spells around until one of you goes down. But no one is burning down this race today.” She shook her head. “Uh, huh. That shit ain’t happening.”

Rivânia cleared her throat. “Thank you, Nadine; thank you, Manco.” She regarded the people seated before her. “In case you’re wondering we were thinking along the same lines as Professors Salomon, Arrakis, Semplen, and Sladen, and we went to them with this idea before them came to us. And they agreed that it was better if we tell you this, because hearing it from us means your captains care, and we the standings to reflect the best in Salem racing—and not the fact that people began losing their minds and started acting like a bunch of pendejos.” She turned her gaze to the back of the room. “That’s all we want to say, Vicky.”

 

The point made here is that the instructors were going to give this little speech, but they thought that having the other students hear these words from kids their age would help get the message down faster.

 

“Then you can rejoin your teams.” As the captains took their seats Vicky made her way to the rostrum. “I want to reiterate that we all want clean racing out there today, and there are a few people in this room which whom we’re going to give special scrutiny.” Her eyes narrowed. “I don’t need to mention names, but if you do hear me saying your name at some point during today’s race, it’s because I’m ordering you off the goddamn course.” She shook her head slowly with a grave look upon her face. “Let’s not make that happen, shall we?”

Another fifteen minutes was spent going over the specifics of the race—particularly the issues that might and likely would come from tackling the Red Line on Class One PAVs, the only time during the race season Class Three were not used there—before Vicky released everyone so they could head to their individual ready rooms to change and prepare for today’s even.

 

Next novel, for sure, we’ll see a run on the Red Line, and everyone will get a chance to see the Class 3 “jet ski” PAVs that are normally used.  Here, they end the season the same way it’s started, on the basic Class 1 “brooms,” and this is the only time these are used on the Red Line.

Now there’s time for a little team comradery–

 

Kerry was surrounded by Penny and Alex the moment all three were standing. Penny bounced slightly on the balls of her feet before addressing Kerry. “Nervous?”

He nodded. “Just a little.”

Alex patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. You’ve done well on the Red Line before—and it’s not like you’ve not had a Class 1 up a klick in the air before.”

Before Kerry could reply Manco leaned in on the group. “Let’s get down our ready room and get changed so we can go over race strategy.” For a moment he looked a bit sheepish before recovering quickly. “You guys are the Top 5, and making sure you finish there will keep the coven in second.”

Penny nodded. “We’ll meet you there.” After Manco walked away, followed by Darius, Penny sighed aloud. “I can’t believe the coven has a shot at second.”

Alex nodded. “I can’t, either.”

“Yeah.” Kerry nodded towards the stairs. “Let’s get to The Diamond.” All three teammates headed for the Hangar and the outside, where they’d mount their brooms and take a quick hop to the racing stadium.

 

–Before I get into some history stuff, which you may or may not have known was coming.  Because I like doing this stuff, and you find out that someone close to Kerry is a bit tied in to racing history at Salem:

 

There wasn’t any reason to go over their coven’s racing history: Kerry knew it well. The last time their coven had seen a Team podium finish was 1993, which was, coincidentally, when Annie’s father raced for the coven. Annie told him that the coven finished third three times when her father was a member of the team, but try as they might they never had a team come together enough to make a good run at second.

Kerry knew that the last time Cernunnos finished second in Team standings was 1986, and they’d not seen a first place finish since 1972. The last time someone finished third in the Individual standings happened in 1997, and it was Holoč Semplen who did that as well as finishing second two years before, in 1995. Annie’s father was the last person to finish first for Cernunnos in the Individual standings, something he did in 1992.

Penny was in position to become the first Cernunnos girl to stand on the podium in third place since 1989—though it was possible if Penny had a horrible race Alex could take that spot—and she, Alex, and he had an excellent shot at putting three Cernunnos racers in the Top 5 since 1984. Kerry possessed enough of a lead over Rezi Lahood from Åsgårdsreia that he’d have to crash and not finish in order to lose fifth to her—and the same could be said about moving ahead of Alex and Penny: both girls would have to DNF for him to have a shot at third. Rivânia and Nadine were the only ones with a realistic chance at first, though a horrible performance, or a DNF, from either could rocket the other to the top of the standings. And if both—

Kerry cleared his head as he stepped outside into Selena’s Meadow. Don’t think about what could happen— He pulled his broom from Hammerspace and prepared to mount. Do as Annie said: race your own race.

It’ll all shake out in the end.

 

There’s been mention here and there that Annie’s father did some racing when he was at Salem, and here’s the proof:  Victor Kiralov was the last person from Cernunnos to finish first as an individual.  I also show that Holoč was the last people from this coven to finish on the podium as well, so we know he’s got the chops to watch over his racers.

If it seems like the boys have hogged the Horned God’s glory, remember it was stated back about two hundred thousand words ago, that the race team here tended to favor the boys, where as the others favored the girls.  That seems to be changing, and we’ve seen what happens when you let the ladies do their thing.

And in case you’re wondering how I knew when certain students were in school?

You didn't need to ask.

You didn’t need to ask.

Right there in the middle you see Palvlina Ganchev and Victor Kirilov (misspelled on the time line, I’ll fix that tonight) and the times when they were students.  You even get to see here when the headmistress went to school, back in the mid-80s and early-90s.  One of the reasons Jessica recommended Mathilde for the headmistress’ job is because she remembered her as a fellow student, even if she was below her a couple of levels.  Hummm . . . she must have done something to make an impression.

Next up:  part of the final race.  Wonder what’s going to happen?  I mean that:  I have no idea yet.

Really.

The Last Laps: Underground Tenderness

It’s a lovely Sunday morning, and it seems as if the weather is finally turning into something good.  Yesterday and today I’ve even broken out the maxi skirts, and odds are good since it’s going to be  80 F/27 C tomorrow, I’ll likely be in my long skirt and sandals at work.

And two weeks ago I was standing in this same spot in a winter coat.

Just think:  two weeks ago I was standing in this same spot wearing a winter coat.

There’s something else of which I must brag:  I am now a Wikipedia citation.  How did this happen?  Not by my doing, I assure you.  It’s all due to those television recaps I’ve been writing.  One of them concerned predictions I had for the show Orphan Black, and I mentioned in those prediction that I had not only discovered the titles, but I knew where they were from.  So imagine my surprise when my Partner in Snarking Dead Crime, Rachel, told me she’d discovered that my post was now the citation on Wikipedia for the Orphan Black Season 4 episode titles and attribution–

I'm bad: I'm Wiki Wide.

Yep, I’m bad: I’m Wiki Wide.

I have since discovered that the same post is used as a citation on the Orphan Black Wiki for Season 4.  So there.

But what about your novel, Cassie?  Never fear:  three hundred and forty words last night, nine hundred and fifty-four this morning, and you’re getting them all.  Let’s not wait:

 

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

Kerry stood before the bathroom mirror and stared into his reflection for a few moments before stepping over to the dryer. A few waves of his hands over the enchanted device to remove all moisture, then he was out the door and into the West Hall of the Great Hall. Annie was leaning against the opposite wall, waiting. “You didn’t take long.”

“I didn’t have to go as bad as I thought.” He stood looking up and down the hallway as if he were unsure where to go.

Annie watched his confusion for a few seconds before taking his hand. “My love?”

He turned to her. “Yes?”

“Would you like to visit the hospital?”

His brow scrunched up. “Why?”

“Because Coraline may be able to give you something for your nerves.” She leaned in and kissed him lightly on the lips. “I haven’t seen you like this since the first time.”

“First time what?”

Annie rolled her eyes. “Your first race on the A Team.” She wrapped her arm around his and led him towards the Atrium. “You need some relaxation.”

Kerry released a long, sad sigh. “I guess.” He looked ahead to the Great Hall’s open entry area and exhaled loudly one more. “It’s this weather. May’s almost here and it’s still so wet and gray.”

During the time since her solo flight Annie noticed a slow change that had begun nearly a week before. April has turned out chilly, rainy, and overcast, more so than the year before, and most of the students appeared ready for sunshine and warmer days. She wondered if Kerry perhaps suffered from one of those disorders where, if they don’t get enough bright light, they become depressed. “It’ll be hot soon enough, my love. And then you can feel better.” She nodded towards the staircase. “Why don’t we head down into the lower levels? It’s better than being in the cold and gloom.”

 

This is the first indication where someone wonders if perhaps Kerry might have–issues.  Given his home life and some of the crap he’s grown up with, it wouldn’t be unusual for him to suffer from depression–and all the gray and gloom that the school has seen of late would go a ways towards triggering that.  And while Coraline could fix him up with something that would calm him right down, there’s no way in hell Kerry would take something before heading on to the track.

Annie has something else in mind:

 

“At least it’s well lit down there.” He chuckled and gave her a peck on the cheek. “Lead on, Darling.”

They headed down the stairs into the lower levels of the Great Hall and found their way to the access tunnels leading to The Chunnel. Along the way they passed a few students coming from the south Pentagram covers—Blodeuwedd and Ceridwen—who were on their way to the dining hall, the library, or one of the various Saturday morning activities held by students throughout the day.

They were in the Pentagram Wall tunnel and nearing the cut-off passage to the Chunnel when Kerry finally spoke. “I’m worried about the race.”

Annie pressed lightly against his arm. “Why?”

“For one, it’s the last of the season. For another, I have to be down there at noon for a special preflight briefing.” He glanced at Annie out of the corner of his eyes. “Emphases on special.”

“Oh, that—” She nodded to the tunnel opening about a dozen meters ahead. “Let’s wait until were there and I’ll tell you.”

The Chunnel was fairly deserted: Annie spotted a couple of students walking towards them, maybe thirty meters distant, but the rest of the wide, well-lit tunnel was deserted. She tugged Kerry to her left, towards the south. “We can find some privacy down this way.”

Kerry’s mind was already focused on something particular. “If we want to be back in time for lunch we won’t be able to get to our hidey-hole.”

“I know that.” She winked. “Doesn’t mean there aren’t other areas besides out private universe.”

 

The kids have made their way into the tunnels more than a few times this novel, and now we see them heading downward once more.

That little Y in the upper left hand corner is where my kids are--you'll see them if you look hard enough.

Remember these?  You should.

The big rectangle at the bottom is the Great Hall, and the long tunnel in the middle of the picture is The Chunnel, which means that one tunnel that juts out at an angle from the Great Hall to The Chunnel is the cut-off Annie took.  The three squares near the middle represent the science centers, and the big rectangle in the middle is the Aerodrome.  The tiny rectangle in the upper right is the Flight School, in case you were wondering.

The interesting thing here is Kerry instantly thinking they’re off to their underground hiding place, aka their “secret universe”.  Hummm . . . what are you thinking about, young man?  Don’t answer that.

But Annie does have one answer for him–

 

He nodded. “What did you want to tell me?”

“About your meeting at noon.” She gripped his hand tight and slowly swung their arms back and forth as they slowed their pace. “You have several people in a tight race for the top podium positions, and three covens in a tight race for the team podium positions. I imagine that this meeting is meant to let everyone know there’ll be a lot of eyes on the course today.” Annie smiled as she turned to look at Kerry. “Papa’s been in a few meeting like this: it’s fairly common.”

Kerry didn’t seem comforted by this revelation, however. “I figured it was, it’s just—”

“Shush.” She stopped them before the entrance to a dimly lit passage. “Down here.”

Kerry followed docilely—given that Annie had a tight grip on his hand there was little else he could do—and they stopped perhaps ten meters off the off the Chunnel. He looked around. “How many of these old storage tunnels are there?”

“I told you before, dozens.” Annie slid Kerry against the wall. “I’m not here to talk about tunnels, though. Are you worried about someone in particular today?”

There were a few moments of silence before he signed. “Yeah.”

“Who?”

 

With whom is Kerry concerned?

 

“Lisa.” The strain in his face melted away as he relaxed. “She’s been pissed at me ever since I did that squeeze job on her a few weeks back—”

“You did that because she was racing like a crazy person.” Annie remembered the moment from the first race in April, where Lisa tried to force her way between Kerry and the safety barrier enchantment in Observatory Bend and his action not only stopped her, but Race Control gave her a ten second throttle back because of dangerous racing. “I think she’s gonna try an get even today—and I don’t mean with a squeeze job of her own.”

Annie didn’t require clarification. “You feel she’ll try to wreck you.”

“I think it’s likely.”

“So let her try.” Annie’s smile brightened her face. “If you’re already aware that she may try this, that means you’re ready.”

“I know. It’s just I really don’t need this BS today.”

“No one does.” She leaned against the same wall as Kerry, watching him closely. “This isn’t something you’ve worried about before, my love. What’s actually bothering you?”

 

Because you know there’s something else on Kerry’s mind–and pretty sure you know what it is . . .

 

He tossed his head to the side. “Another month and we’re out of here.”

Separation anxiety: I should have known. “Summer holiday is several weeks away: don’t let it bother what you need to do today, Darling.”

Kerry appeared almost ashamed to admit to this apprehension. “Everything coming up—revealing I’m witch; the possible transition; being away from you—I’m having trouble not thinking about this stuff.”

Annie knew it was time to reveal her own apprehensions. “I feel it, too, my love. Even though the only concern that affects me directly is being away from you, I worry about what may happen with those other things.” She placed her finger against the middle of his chest and traced over the enchanted monitor she knew was there. “To say I don’t have my own concerns over these things would be a lie.”

He caressed her cheek while looking down. “I’m sorry that you—”

She playfully slapped his arm, but her tone told him that she wasn’t entirely pleased with his comment. “You have no control over any of those things: never apologize for something that is not your fault.” Annie gave him a stare full of warning. “Don’t make me remind you again.”

Kerry finally found the ability to giggle. “Okay, I won’t.” He kissed her lightly. “Sometimes I forget the one person with whom I shouldn’t trifle is my Dark Witch.”

Annie laughed. “I’m glad you’ve learned your lesson.” She kissed him back with a touch more affection. “And now I want you to remember something else.”

“What’s that?”

“That you’ve never let a race rattle you this season, and now is not the time to break that string. Run your own race as you have before, and ignore what the others are doing.” Annie wrapped her arms around Kerry and pressed herself against him. “No matter the outcome today, you are always my champion.”

 

The last race of the season, concern about what may happen on the course, and major anxiety about this coming summer.  Needless to say Kerry’s a bit of a mess, and as Annie says he needs to get his head in the game and run his race.  Put all the other bullshit behind you, kid, ’cause you’ve done it before, so you best do it again.

And you’re about to learn one of Kerry’s concerns aren’t his alone–

The Remains of Today

Last night I had great hopes for a productive day today, but there’s a big difference between what you plan to do in the yesterday with a head full of wine, and what you actually once you wake up at seven after a pretty good night’s sleep.

After three glasses I'm totally not judging anyone.

After three glasses I’m totally not judging anyone.

But here it is, ten in the morning, and I have a ton of things to do in the next few hours.  I’ve managed to get the wrinkles out of my clothes using the “hot shower” method, which means you hang your clothing in the bathroom, turn on the hot water in your shower, and let it run for about fifteen minutes, and wrinkles vanish.  There’s something you can do when you’re showering in the morning if you don’t want to waste the water.  After this post I have to get ready, go pay a bill, pick up food for the next few days, and then take a nap before getting into the next chapter.

I made a few changes to the layout last night.  For one I had to adjust some times in the very last chapter, and get those updates into my master time line.  And I added an opening scene to the final chapter of the novel–which, by the way, is close to crossing two hundred and ninety-four thousand words, and Act Three just crossed ninety-one thousand words.  I’ve surprised myself with how far I’ve gotten in a year, and hope I finish up the book before the end of May, because really, I could use the summer off.

Here’s what’s left:

You're gonna see this count down a lot in the next few weeks.

You’re gonna see this count down a lot in the next few weeks.

It’s official:  five chapters remain.  And in these remaining chapters will lay another revelation and a huge cliffhanger–I mean, like a big one.  Get ready for the pain.

But I’ve been up to something else as well besides driving myself crazy with TV recaps this last week–which, by the way, the insanity is over, and I can afford a few breathers that allow me to rock out on the last of Bewitching.  I’ve thought about the next novel–which will have the title C For Continuing in case you were wondering–quite a lot, getting the layout down in my head before committing it to Scrivener.  I need to spend time getting the time line in order and filling it out more.  In particular there’s a scene I’m adding to the timeline that’s going to be, well . . . how do I say this?  Big.

Why am I looking at this map?  No reason.  Why do you ask?

Why am I looking at this map? No reason. Why do you ask?

Last of all I’ve digging on some music that I will use as the background for one of my movie trailers–yes, I’m going to do up a treatment for both Bewitching and Continuing just as I did for Advanced.  I’m pretty sure I know what background music I’ll use in parts of the Bewitching “trailer”, and I know for sure what I’d use for Continuing.  The Bewitching stuff you’ll already know, but for Continuing you’ll actually catch views of things that will happen in the novel before I write them–and some of it will be surprising, and some will be shocking.  I’m certain there’s one where you’ll read it and think, “What the hell is going on?”

Because that’s how I like to roll.

Inside the Big Room

I made it through the evening and came out the other end feeling like someone had beat me about the shoulders and set my lap on fire.  This comes from sitting still with a laptop on you, um, lap, and typing away like the The Madwoman of Chaillot.  Seriously, half my mind was listening to what was being said on TV while the other half was trying to get it all down in note form.  It was a bit insane, and it was a good thing I didn’t need a bathroom break.

"I haven't put a single word in my story in ten minutes--my god, the walls are closing in!  Help!"

“You people on TV, stop talking so fast!  Get in a RV for a while or something!”

But that insanity is over, and I managed to pay my quarterly state taxes last night, so all is pretty good.  There are still things that require doing, but that comes up tonight and I’ll worry about it then, ‘kay?

Oh, and there’s this novel I’m working on–

It was another five hundred word night, only because I was really stumbling about trying to find the right words while, at the same time, I was checking things on a time line, because that’s how I do things.  The time line stuff was only to get one line in this next excerpt right, but you know, if I hadn’t had that time line laid out already, I probably would have screwed something up.

I’m failing to mention that I needed to do research last night as well, which also cut into my writing time, because reasons.  And you know I love research.

Why are Annie and Kerry here?  Because–

 

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

Annie entered first with Kerry right behind. She didn’t know this room, but it reminded her of the ready room in the Flight School: it appeared that sixty or seventy people could occupy this area for a meeting or conference. Isis and Headmistress Laventure stood at the far end of the room; she looked back and saw Vicky follow Kerry, meaning whatever was going to happen here involved her as well. My two instructors and the headmistress: it’s likely we’re going to get a significant punishment.

Isis moved away from the headmistress and motioned Annie forward. “Come right here—” She pointed to a spot directly in front of her. “That’s good. You can stand next to her, Kerry.”

“Thanks.” He stood to Annie’s right a few meters back.

The Chief of Security quietly examined the girl before her. “Three solo flight, close to five hundred and fifty kilometers covered, and this last one had you out over the cold, unforgiving ocean with only one other person to keep you company.” She glanced at Kerry and winked. “I believe, as do Vicky and Mathilde, that you not only performed as expected, but you exceeded those expectation.

“There are many things we do around here to recognize students, but it’s rare that we honor someone who’s accomplished a great feat: mastering a gift and proving you’re capable of using it under varying and difficult conditions.

“You’re not the first I’ve trained since I became the school’s Chief of Security in 2006: there was one other girl who stood where you’re standing in 2008. She was a D Level then—the gift was slow to manifest within her—so she graduated before you began. But the fact she had the Flight Gift was the only thing you both had in common: she needed four flights to finish her qualifications, and during her last flight, which was identical to yours, she, um—” Isis looked down for a moment. “She needed some encouragement to finish.”

“We know you both weren’t comfortable with the conditions and the location today.” Vicky stepped up next to Isis so she could face both kids. “That’s one of the reasons why we try and keep the comms open all the time, so in case we think you’re in need of help, we can put it into place. But you kept on the flight, and as I’ve told Isis before, and I told Mathilde over lunch, you didn’t ask for help—you kept going.”

Isis nodded. “As the headmistress would say, you were being tenacious. And you wear.”

Mathilde moved closer to the group, clearing her throat. “Yes, well, enough about me. This is about Annie, is it not?”

“It is, indeed.” Isis reached behind her and removed a small box.

Annie instantly focused on the item in Isis’ hands. “What’s that?”

“This?” She removed the top and turned the box so Annie could view the contents. “These are you wings.”

 

And before you ask, “Does Kerry have his wings?” the answer is–

I’ll tell you tomorrow.  Because I’m mean.