How Super Was My Lab: Let’s All Look

And here you thought you were gonna get an author’s interview…

I spoke with the author last night and she decided that since she can’t actually start her Facebook giveaway until Friday, she wanted me to run the interview that morning.  Being the understanding person I am I said okay, so you’ll see that interview in a couple of days on 3 March.

In the meantime I arrived at work in my latest dress–

Gotta greet the new month in new hotness.

Gotta greet the new month in new hotness.

And I’m ready to take you into the superlab–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie had seen pictures of the super lab of being inside was another matter. She hadn’t realized it, but given the height of the ceiling she figured they were actually in the sub level and that the entire of the lab cut through into the lower level above. It wasn’t necessary to guess why the additional space was needed: pipes and HAVC conduits covered most of the ceiling.

She recognized at least a half-dozen chemical reactors, two condensers, two cookers, and in the far corner of the room three distillation columns. Her now trained eye saw that the system was set up for batch processing, there she spotted a couple of control panels which told her that it was possible the lab could be switched over for continuous processing if necessary. There were safety stations every ten meters and next to every station was an emergency vent button that could be used to clear the room of noxious and toxic fumes in seconds.

There were two powered exoskeletons stationed between the supply entrance and the personnel airlock which she guessed were used for moving around chemical containers inside the lab. To her right, about eight meters away, was a safety cage where the two hundred liter barrels of chemicals were stored, and off to her left was an open door that she assumed led to a locker room and a rest area.

 

There’s a lot of big words there and even bigger amounts of equipment:

Sort of like this without the witches.

Sort of like this without the witches.

But trust me, it’s put together in a way that’s gonna allow these kids to make a whole lot of mixtures that are designed to do good things for a body.  You might say they’re magical…

 

 

Annie was standing in an area which was unknown even to her parents. As they had once mentioned, they both took three years of Formulistic Magic before electing to move on to other studies in their D Levels. Her father specialized in classes revolving around magic as applied to mechanical technology in the Tesla Center, and her mother’s pharmaceutical research was performed at another location, as the school didn’t have a proper superlab when they were here nearly twenty years ago. One day when they came to visit she would make certain her parents saw this laboratory, for while it wasn’t in her nature to boast, she felt a certain pride in being the first Kirilovi to enter this room.

Erywin positioned herself in front of a large chemical reactor and clapped her hands. “Here we are: the Tesla Center chemical superlab. We will hold class here once a month and everyone in this class will be required to perform at least three assignments during this school year. As we have done over in the Chemistry Center you will work in pairs— though, as in the case with our F Levels, they will work together as the trio for now. When you are working on assignments in here they will be done at times when we would normally be holding lectures in the Chemistry Center—” Erywin turned slightly to her right and something caught her eye. “Kerry, what are you doing?”

Annie’s soul mate and climbed atop a rolling safety ladder and appeared to be looking over the contents of an open chemical reactor. He turned slowly back toward the rest of the class with a huge grin on his face as he shouted out his reply. “Yo, Gatorade me, bitch.”

 

Annie is fairly proud that by entering the lab she’s actually doing something that her parents didn’t do when they were students–though I’m gonna say the odds are good neither of her parents killed a couple of Deconstructors when they were students, so she’s got that on them, too.

But, you know, leave it to Kerry to just have to let his inner Heisenberg out and come up with a completely different idea of why they’re there.  And where does he get the idea to yell out the need for an electrolyte replenishing refreshment?  From here:

Yes, Kerry just has to go all Jessie Pinkman the first chance he gets.  Fortunately for him Erywin knows the source material and has a sense of humor:

 

Though Erywin rolled her eyes Annie noticed that she covered her mouth for a few seconds, probably to hide the smile on her face from the rest of the class. “Kerry.” She motioned at the boy. “Come down from there, please.” He stepped down from the safety letter an approach both Erywin and Annie, who were now standing close together. She lay a hand on Kerry’s shoulder. “If possible, can we have less of you pretending that this is something more than a chemical superlab? After all, if Isis suspects someone was here trying to cook meth, she’s going to become exceptionally upset.”

He shook his head slowly. “I won’t do that again.” He cast a quick glance to his left and gave Annie a wink.

As soon as the couple stepped back Erywin continued addressing the class. “As I was saying before being interrupted, this year you are required to perform three assignments. The objective of these assignments is to create a successful mixture in bulk. Most of what you’ll create will be of pharmaceutical grade purity, so it is not only important that you may be required to create three hundred liters of a particular mixture, but it will be necessary to ensure that the entire batch is equal to or greater than a specified purity.” She held up her right finger to emphasize the point. “If a small portion of the test sample falls several percentage points below purity, that means your entire mixture has fallen below a specific purity level and you will be required to either take a hit to your proficiencies for that assignment, or start over.

“The whole idea behind working in the superlab is to gain an understanding of what is required in these exceptionally large batch processes. Many of you will not go on to a future that involves Formulistic Magic, but it is necessary for you to gain an understanding of the protocols and procedures required for this sort of work were you to advance into the various chemical engineering fields.” She smiled as she looked around the room. “And for those of you will be moving up a level next year, you get to do it all again.”

Erywin let everyone down to the north end of the lab; it was not only the entrance to a personal break area, but along the wall were several work cubicles. “Each of you have an assigned workspace where you can keep track of your progress as well as use a computer terminal to look up information related to your assigned. You will use these cubicles as a team and they will remain yours throughout this level year.” She clapped her hands. “Find your cubical; the sooner you do, the sooner we can get to making magic.”

 

This is not an easy class and these are not going to be easy assignments.  Here a simply screw up could see a few hundred liters of mixture getting poured down the drain while your proficiencies take a massive hit–yeah, the superlab is no joke.  Not only does your magic gotta be on fleek, but being just a few steps off in your protocols will jack you hard.  But I’m certain Annie and Kerry will do okay–

But we are not finished with the lab.  Oh, not quiet yet–

Future Epiphanies Are Us

Saturday afternoon, right?  You know what that means?  It means a long video today with a lot of talk about magic and a few characters we know and love.  Enjoy.

The Calm Before the Spells

No phone banking last night:  I needed some downtime as I was tired as hell and was in need of recharging.  So it was a little pizza, a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad, a quick doze-off in the recliner, and by the time seven-thirty–or nineteen-thirty for my kids and most of the rest of the world–rolled around I was feeling much better.

Tonight is going to be interesting as I have a shoe shipment hitting the apartment tonight and I’ll be picking up a designer dress at Lane Bryant on Saturday.  I’m also going to try a new styling group–Dia&Co–just to see how they are and if they have some interesting ideas about how to dress me.  Total fashion chick, I am.

Now, what about writing?  What about Annie and Deanna?  What about lunch and Annie speaking Bulgarian?  Well…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“After a few months at school I sometimes forget as well—blagodarya.” She waited as the server poured a glass for them before walking away. “Just so you know the food here is halal so everything should be permissible.” Annie tapped her fingers against her glass. “I know you’ve said that you don’t practice your faith as strongly as you once did, but didn’t know if you had any dietary restrictions so…” She tossed her head to one side as she raised her eyebrows with a slight grin. “I thought it best to be safe.”

“Well, thank you.” Deanna took a sip of water, realizing in that moment she was rather thirsty. “That’s one of the things I like about you: you’re considerate.” She fidgeted with her rolled-up napkin. “Actually I still eat halal out of habit more than anything else, but I do enjoy doing that. I’ll also eat kosher if necessary and if I don’t have any choices I’ll eat what’s available.” She did the same head tilt as Annie. “It’s permitted.”

“I understand.”

“Have you eaten here?”

Annie nodded. “Yes. My parents come here at least twice a year; I was here with them in June.” She leaned over the table. “You must try the kebabs. They’re delicious.”

The server took that moment to ask for their drink order. Annie ordered tea and Deanna decided on Turkish coffee. As soon as he was gone Deanna continued with Annie’s thought. “As it is I’m partial to kebabs, so I think I’ll give it a try.” She pushed aside the menu and folded her hands across her lap. “So, how goes your summer holiday?”

 

When developing Deanna I had to consider various aspects of her Muslim faith and how much of each still applied to her.  I mean, she’s a witch and her family seems good with that, and while she doesn’t wear a hajib any longer she does tend to keep her style of dress rather modest.  (I didn’t point it out but should put a line in there about how she’s in jeans, a tee, and sneakers, which is something you don’t see her wearing much at school.)  I figured I’d keep her dietary requirements in place as it seemed like something she’d stick with no matter what and Annie figured the same, which is why she picked a Turkish restaurant that serves halal food.  And yes:  I did my research and the one I picked out does have halal food, so neener neener.

And now we get to the most loaded question of all:

"You want to know about my summer holiday?  Can't we just enjoy the food?"

“You want to know about my summer holiday? Can’t we just enjoy the food?”

No, Annie:  we have to know all your feels.  And so…

 

This was the first question Annie expected to be asked so she was ready with a reply. “It’s been good for me. I’d relaxed; I’ve met with friends; I’ve gotten out with Mama.” She flashed her smile across the table. “It’s better than last summer, I’m sure.”

Deanna was about to say something then thought better of it. She looked towards the street as she whispered out of the corner of her mouth. “Foundation?”

Annie knew what Deanna wanted to know. There were several restaurants around the world that were much like the Sea Sprite Inn: they were owned by people associated with

The Foundation, which meant their establishments had sections covered by enchantments that allowed The Aware to speak freely without fear of being overheard by Normals. She shook her head. “No.”

“Good.” As Deanna turned away from the window she ran her right hand upwards through her long dark hair, finishing the move with a relaxed wave. As she reached for her water she settled back. “There.”

“What did you do?”

“Put up a light privacy barrier.” She took a quick sip. “It won’t muffle our words, but anyone sitting nearby would think we’re having a quiet conversation: everything will sound soft and difficult to discern.” Deanna glanced at the empty tables next to them. “We don’t have to worry about that right now.”

 

Since there are a lot more Normal run businesses out there than there are those with connections to The Foundation, it’s not always a guaranty that witchy types can just chat up the latest news about magic and Deconstructors and pain in the ass students at the local witch school.  And that’s when you have to know how to throw up a privacy screen that isn’t pitch black like the ones in the hospital, ’cause that would sort of give away the game, you know?

Why can’t Annie do this?  What makes you think she can’t?

 

Annie examined the air to her left trying to make out the effects of the spell. “I don’t see anything.”

“You won’t—and that’s the idea. Wouldn’t do for Normals to see a change in the air.” Deanna grinned. “You don’t have to worry: the server won’t notice a thing when he walks through the effect.”

“Nice. I wonder why we haven’t learned this yet.”

“Wednesday started teaching you privacy screens last year, yes?”

“Right right the end of the last level.”

“She’ll probably start showing you how to refine this art this level. Heads up—” The server returned with their drinks and took their lunch order. The moment he was out of the area Deann returned to her prior question. “Have you worked on any spells?”

 

So now we discover that Annie does know how to throw up a privacy curtain but it’s probably one of those black ones, and if Annie knows this then so does Kerry, which means he’s probably got one over his door and walls so he can blast music and jam out.

And speaking of loaded questions:  “Have you worked on any spells?”  Hahahahaha!  Oh, you’re funny, Deanna.  Really, what do you think she’s going to say?

Upping the Lunchtime Experience.

First off, I must apologize because I did something wrong yesterday.  See…  I made a mistake.  I was discussing the money Annie was given for lunch and shopping and made this statement:

 

“And in case you’re wondering €500 is equal to $563.   That’s a pretty good afternoon.”

 

And that is a good afternoon as I can imagine a whole lot of thirteen year old girls who would have lost it if their mom’s handed them that much money.

But see, when I did that conversion I forgot:  I was using yesterday’s conversion rates for a transaction that happened on 7 August, 2013.  And now you know why I keep track of dates because I can look up just about anything for that time and get thing right once more.

Just a few minutes ago I looked up the exchange rate for Euro to US Dollars for 7 August, 2013 and got the true rate.  And now I can say that the €500 Annie had for her little trip was, at the time, equal to:

$666.75.

And just so you know my figures are correct, there’s a screen shot with the pertinent line pointed out:

I wouldn't lie to you. Much.

I wouldn’t lie to you. Much.

The only thing that could have made this better would have been if Annie checked her mother’s computer and said, “Mama, the exchange rate will give me a few more U.S. Dollars tomorrow, could we go shopping then?”  Not that it matters as they aren’t in the U.S., but I does make you wonder if before Annie heads back to school Mom and Dad made sure she gets the best exchange rates before they give her a fist full of dollars to take with her.

Now, on with the novel…

Writing last night:  level good.  Only I realize I need a new chair for writing.  My position is all wrong and I’m making a lot of mistakes because I don’t hold my hands right.  So a new chair this week or next:  it’s needed bad.

But it was a good run.  Nowhere near what I have in the other chapters–

But I'm just getting warmed up.

But I’m just getting warmed up.

And just like that it’s time for lunch again.  So…  shall we?

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

An older gentleman stood behind a well-warn wooden counter and began eyeing Annie the moment she entered the vestibule and continued right up to the moment she stood before him. He glanced towards the door to see if anyone else was following before turning his attention back to her. “May I help you, young miss?”

“I have a reservation for two at eleven.” Annie showed no hesitation or nervousness. “It’s under the name ‘Annie Kirilova’.”

The gentleman checked his POS system. “Yes, I see. And you are?”

Annie’s nostrils flared just a little. “Annie Kirilova.” She rested her hand against one of the zippers of her Alma BB purse. “Would you like to see my identification?”

The man noticed the determination in this girl’s eyes and decided not to challenge her. “That won’t be necessary. As it is—” He scanned his terminal once more. “Your guest is here.” He waved over a younger man, obviously a server. “Please take this young lady to this table.”

The server checked the POS screen then turned to Annie. “Follow me, please.”

“Certainly.” She cast a glance at the man behind the counter, thanking him, before following her server up the flight of stairs to the dining area. She knew this restaurant well from having dined here with her parents on several occasions, and was aware that at this time on a weekday the lunch crowd was manageable. Even so, she’d reserved a table two weeks after after receiving an invitation to dine for she didn’t want there to be any mishap.

They approached a table overlooking the overlooking the street below and Annie saw that her guess was indeed waiting for her—

 

It’s always been implied that Annie is a bit of a princess because she comes from a family with money and she acknowledges that, yeah, her parents are rich, she’s kinda rich, and it’s something she lives with.  And when she was dining with Alex she made the comment that she doesn’t like to talk about certain things ’cause it makes her come off like a little rich girl.

But here, with the “And you are?” comment, you see just the slightest indication that you will take her seriously or she might just go ballistic on you.  That little flair of her nostrils was her “No, you didn’t” moment, like she couldn’t believe that the guy behind the counter should have instantly realized that the thirteen year old girl standing before him was the one who made the reservation–even though she said she did.  She was probably bitch facing him to death at that point and if she’d been in a particularly shitty mood she would have just whipped out her ID and went, “See?  I am who I am.”  Don’t mess with Annie:  you will rue the day.  Rue, I say!

Now it’s time to meet the person for whom Annie has made a lunchtime reservation for them to meet.  And will the mystery guest sign in please!

 

Deanna Arrakis considered standing but figured it would be better to do so after the server departed: she didn’t want to keep the young man waited for them any longer than necessary. Also, it allowed her to watch Annie stride through the dining room full of confidence. She looks as if she’s back at school: then again, it’s times like this where she learned to develop that demeanor

The server stopped and turned so he was facing Deanna as she indicated the chair across from her. “Tuk ste, mlada gospozhitse. Vashiyat sŭrvŭr shte bŭde s vas skoro.”

Annie gave him a smile as she gave him a tiny nod. “Blagodarya.” She motioned towards the table. “Neka imame garafa s voda, molya?”

The server gave a quick, curt nod. “Razbira se.”

“Blagodarya ti mnogo.” Finally here, Annie faced her guest as her smile brightened. “Deanna.”

The instructor finally left her chair and went to her young friend. “Annie.” They hugged each other for several seconds before retaking their seats. “It’s so interesting hearing you speak Bulgarian. I sometimes forget it’s your native language.”

 

Annie’s moving up in the world:  now she has instructors and coven leaders coming to her country to have lunch with her.  Sure, Kerry had a coven leader show up on his doorstep, but did they have lunch?  Not yet.

One of things I deliberately did there in the above section is change the POV to Deanna so you could “hear” Annie speaking and let you know that in all the parts leading up to Deanna’s observation the Bulgarian Girl is really speaking Bulgarian.  It’s only that I have to write in English so you can read.  Natually I know what they are saying–

And with this guide you do as well.

And with this guide you do as well.

–and one of the things I’ve been doing the last couple of nights is practicing Annie saying “Blagodarya” in a voice I’m sure is like hers.  I’ll have to do that for you soon on video.

The real question here is:  why does Deanna want to meet?  For a friendly chat?  You know, I’m certain that’s the reason–

Oh so certain.

Luncheon to Luncheon

When I wrote yesterday that I didn’t do a lot of writing on Sunday that was true in one sense:  I didn’t get a lot in the word bank that night ’cause of reasons.  But as I’ve mentioned before not all writing is “writing”, if you know what I mean.  Sometimes you gotta sit and look at things and figure out where you want your scene to take place, and if there’s something else you want your character doing after that.

And that was how I spent about ninety minute:  looking up stuff for the excerpt below.  The majority of what I researched went into the first paragraph, but you know how that is with the whole research thing:  sometimes only a little is needed out of a lot of looking up.

What is said in that paragraph?  And what does it have to do with Annie?  All this:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie stared down ul. Yuri Venelin as her mother paid the cab driver that had brought them from the Sofia airport to the city. The residential street was crowed with parked cars while the sidewalks were empty—all save for the corner behind her, where ul. Yuri Venelin intersected ul. Lyuben Karavelov. The trees lining the street were full of leaves that blocked her view of the Vasil Levski stadium a couple of hundred meters away.

She closed her eyes and looked towards the sky and felt warm light on her face. The sky was clear and temperatures were approaching 30 Celsius. No jacket or leggings needed today: a v-neck tee, black skater skirt, and sandals were all she needed and wanted. Summer wasn’t ready to vanish from Sofia—

But for Annie, only three weeks remained before she vanished from Bulgaria for almost the remainder of 2013. Only three weeks remained before she was reunited with Kerry for the rest of the year and they returned home…

“What are you dreaming about?”

Annie turned to her mother who was looking at her with a half-grin on her face and a curious look in her eye. “Just thinking about how nice it is, Mama.”

“Um, hum.” She patted her daughter on the shoulder as they walked the short distance towards Annie’s destination. “How long do you think your lunch will take?”

“I don’t imagine long.” She walked as slow as possible because she was certain her mother had a few things to say and the remaining distance was about a dozen meters. “Maybe two hours at the most.” Annie stopped just short of her destination. “Are you coming to get me?”

“I wasn’t planing on it: I had a different idea…” Pavlina Kirilova removed her mobile phone from her purse and handed it to Annie. “When you’re finished, or about to finish up, text my work mobile and let me know. The number’s in the contacts; you’ll see it.” She adjusted her purse upon her shoulder. “You still want to go to Paradise Center, yes?”

“Yes.” Annie had told her mother before leaving for Sofia that she wanted to stop at the large shopping center and pick up a few items before returning to Pamporovo.

“Okay. After you text me hail a cab and take it to the mall: I’ll meet you at the main entrance.” She eyed Annie’s purse. “I know you have enough for cab fare.”

Annie remained expressionless though she so wanted to raise a brow. Her mother had given her €500 before leaving the house, so she was fully aware that Annie had plenty for a cab. “I do, Mama.”

“Well, then—” She kissed her daughter on the cheek. “You have a good time, Nini. I’ll wait for your text.”

Annie felt the rush of heat in her cheeks as she always did whenever her mother used her nickname in public. “Okay, Mama.”

“I’ll see you in a bit.” Pavlina stepped back a few meters into the entrance of a courtyard and slowly made herself invisible, followed a few seconds after she vanished from sight by the slight pop of her jaunt.

Annie slipped her mother’s mobile into her purse, checked her hair to make sure to was okay, and strode confidently into the restaurant.

 

Here’s that Annie out having a lunch and shopping date.  Only the shopping is with her mother:  which means the lunch is with someone else.  Who is this mystery guest who’s come all the way to Bulgaria?

Let’s take a look at the areas.  This is where Annie is at the start of the scene:

Though she isn't standing in the middle of the road.

Though she isn’t standing in the middle of the road.

There is a restaurant in this view, though you have to know where to look to find it.  And it had to be a particular restaurant for–reasons.  You’ll see.  That took a while to figure out in of itself, but that’s what comes of research.

And then we have the shopping mall:

Take Me Down to the Paradise... Center?

Take Me Down to the Paradise… Center?

Paradise Center is not only the largest shopping mall in Sofia, it’s the largest in Bulgaria and the Balken States.  There are a lot of high-end stores here, making it the sort of place the wife and daughter of a Formula One driver with lots of money would shop if, you know, they didn’t have the ability to jaunt off to Paris and shop there.  And it’s only six kilometers from where Annie is having lunch, so taking a cab there isn’t a huge deal. And we know Annie knows how to hail a cab.

An interesting line in the excerpt is the remark about money:  Annie thought it was strange that since her mother had given her the money she felt it necessary to remind her daughter that she had enough for a cab ride.  The thing I find interesting is that Pavlina hands Annie five hundred Euro and doesn’t worry if too much.  Sure, there will be shopping after, but…  it would have been a cold day in hell before I handed $500 to my thirteen year old daughter and said, “This should be enough for lunch and shopping–yes?”  And Annie probably didn’t bat an eye:  “Yes, that will do, Mama,” and stuffed it in her wallet.  The Rich:  it’s a different way of life.

And in case you’re wondering €500 is equal to $563.   That’s a pretty good afternoon.

Now all that’s needed is for the lunch date to show up.  I wonder who it could be?

Funstyles of the Young and Witchy

Here we are once more on the trip to Kiev and while the chicken jokes are in short supply, we’re getting a chance to see Annie let her hair down and relaxing with someone her age.  Kerry never seems to change that much when he’s away from Annie, but Annie gets to be more open and friendly when she’s away from school and/or her parents, which is how she is most of the time when it’s just Kerry and her out.

So how is the sushi setting with the East Euro Girls?

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Alex didn’t wait to finish her roll before speaking. “So it’s like the sushi in Tokyo?”

“I wouldn’t know—” Annie shrugged. “I’ve only has sushi in Osaka and Kyoto.” They exchanged stares across the table before both laughed. She set her chopsticks aside. “I hate to talk about that stuff: I always come off like a little rich girl.”

“If you didn’t want to look like a rich girl you should have left that purse at home.” Alex chuckled as Annie wrapped one hand around her Louis Vuitton bag. She sipped some tea so to wash down the last of her roll. “Don’t worry about how you appear; I don’t mind. And you’re lucky to have gone to those places. I’ll get there one day: Japan’s one of the places I want to visit when I do my Real Life Experience.”

“I want to go there as well.” Annie held her tea cup in both hands. “I want to visit the countryside and stay in ryokans the whole time.”

“What’s a ryokan?”

“It’s a type of inn. It’s all traditionally Japanese: you wear yukatas—it’s like a kimono—sit on the floor to eat and sleep on a futon.”

“Sounds like fun.” Alex ate another roll but waited until she swallowed before speaking. “You going to do that before your RLE?”

Annie stared off into the distance. “I’d like that.”

“You want to do that with Kerry?”

“Naturally.” Annie picked up he chopsticks and reviewed the food that remained. “We should order more.” She motioned at Alex. “Get what you want: I trust you.”

A wicked smile appeared on the blond girl’s hair. “They make a non-alcoholic mojito here: it’s Sprite, limes, and mint mixed together. We should get a pitcher and then tell everyone when we go back to school that we were drinking mojitos before we went shopping.”

Even though it seemed a bit silly on the surface, Annie knew there were times when it was necessary to break out of seriousness that usually surrounded their lives and have fun.  “Why not? Penny and Kerry did something fun while they were together last week, we should, too.”

 

I learned all about ryokans back in the mid-90s when I was kinda seeing a Japanese woman and became interested in visiting the country and getting out into the countryside.  These are a popular way of getting into the Japanese way of life, though if you really want to get down and dirty in that respect, try a minshuku, which is the equivalent of a Japanese family bed and breakfast where you are pretty much living with the family:  think of if as an AirBnB with the owners still there.  Now we gotta wonder what Annie looks like walking around in a kimono, though I think she’d probably be cuter dressing up with the Harajuku Kawaii Lolita set.

It is true:  Annie is, deep down, a little rich girl and she can’t hide that.  She’s in nice clothes and carrying a Louis Vuitton purse, so it’s difficult not to see her as someone who’s used to having nice things in her life.  And she’s worldly, something impressed upon me by the Original Annie back in the days of the first Foundation novel.  What this means is that she’s a bit of a princess, sure, but that doesn’t prevent her from enjoying hanging with people less well off than her.  Given that Annie’s not one for dealing with bullshit she probably wouldn’t want to hang with other people from her financial demographic ’cause they’re simply no fun at all.

But wait:  the girls are gonna have virgin mojitos?  Sure.  Because it’s fun.  Like Alex says, when they return to school in about seven weeks they can tell their friends, “When Annie and I went to lunch we had mojitos with our sushi,” because when you’re thirteen and fourteen it’s all about having fun.

And when you're twenty-one and twenty-two it's all about getting hammered and doing questionable things.

And when you’re twenty-one and twenty-two it’s all about getting hammered and doing things some may consider questionable.

And this makes me want to have a mojito with dinner tonight because why the hell not?

Now that we know the girls want silly fun, what is this about Penny and Kerry?  Well…

 

“Great.” Alex gave the order for a dozen more rolls and the virgin mojitos to their hostess, then waited for her to leave before speaking with Annie. “What did they do?”

She ran her finger around the rim of her tea cup. “They had lunch in the village of Snape.”

Alex needed a few second to digest this information. “Wait: is that like the Harry Potter Snape?”

Annie nodded. “The same. He wrote and said it was like ten kilometers north of where they were hiking—”

“They went hiking?”

“Yes. Kerry said they talked while they walked and then headed north to this village and had lunch. He said the character in the books was named after the town and he wanted to be able to tell people at school that they were there.” She took a final sip of her cooling tea. “So, you see: silliness. We can do the same.”

“Sure can.” She grew silent as their pitcher of drinks arrived and she poured them both a glass. “Is he gonna take you there?”

“He said he will—if not next month, then next summer.” Annie raised her glass and reached across the table toward Alex. “To having a good day.”

Alex clinked her glass against Annie’s.  “To a good day.” She then downed about a third of the drink before setting it aside. “Can I ask something?”

 

So, a little left over from the last scene.  When I was looking at the whole “Walking around in the Rendlesham Forest” thing I started looking at a few things beyond that area, and lo and behold, I found a little village–

Right around ten kilometers away, just like Annie said.

Right around ten kilometers away, just like Annie said.

I found the village of Snape.  No, really.

Just look at all the Snape stuff.  They can't be lying.

Just look at all the Snape stuff. They can’t be lying.

Some rather easy looking shows that this tiny burg in the east of England is the one whose name was used by another writer who likes witches for one of her main characters, a rather dark and gloomy character with greasy hair who is an expert in, um, potions and dark magic.  And into this two come two witches, both great fliers, both great with, um, “mixtures”, and one of them great with that ol’ dark sorcery stuff, and they sit down for a lunch at the Golden Key Inn and probably laughing about how there were now witches in Snape, likely leading Kerry to do at least one really bad Alan Rickman imitation.  Because it’s all about fun and that’s how he rolls.

I guess tomorrow is when we find out what Alex wants, huh?  I mean, that would make sense…