Beyond the Valley of Ashes

It’s late, isn’t it?  Yep, but it’s been a busy morning, really.  And yesterday was all sorts of busy.  I was out shopping:

Total clothing score!

Total clothing score!

I had a great full-vegan lunch:

Mine is on the left, and I loved the ruben rice bowl.

Mine is on the left, and I loved the reuben rice bowl.

And, oh:  I checked out a Tesla S Sedan.

I could love this dash.

I could love this dash.

And jumpseats in the back for the kids!

And jumpseats in the back for the kids!

Looks good on me, don't you think?

Looks good on me, don’t you think?

This morning it’s been writing and getting some food.  Mostly writing, because that keeps me busy.  And it keeps the story moving forward, which is important, right?  Because, strangely enough, people are interested in my kids.

And this is an important part of the story, because Kerry is off the leash, he’s in a park with Emma, and Annie is four hundred kilometers away.  The last time Kerry was alone with Emma was when school was letting out for Yule, and we know what happened then.  So . . . Wingmates On the Loose.  What could happen?

Well, a lot of talking, actually . . .

 

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

It was no surprise they made it to New York City in two hours. Since Advanced Flight One began Emma and he had developed a great rapport as pilot and navigator. Kerry was great with maps and geography, so it didn’t take him very long finding their destinations and plotting a course. Emma had developed a good feel for reading weather conditions through the broom’s advanced look-ahead systems, and she could calculate times based upon time and speed in her head quickly and accurately the first time, which made filing a flight plan easy.

There was slowly strolling down Herbert Hover Promenade when it became obvious Emma was thinking about their flight. “What’s up after here? Montauk, right?”

“Yes.” For their Scavenger Flight Vicky they’d already visited five locations: the former location of the Danver Asylum; Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts; the Capitol Building for the state of Connecticut in Hartford; the port of New Haven, Connecticut; and Old Field Point on the northern short of Long Island, New York. The Unisphere was their current location, and only three more remained: Montauk Point Lighthouse on the southern tip of Long Island; Woods Hole, located on Cape Code, Massachusetts; and Plimoth Plantation, nearly fifty kilometers to the north. After the plantation, then only need to fly the eighty kilometers across Massachusetts Bay to return to the school—which if they did at three hundred and fifty kilometers an hour would put them on the ground in less than fifteen minutes later. “We just gotta fly out to the end of Long Island for that, then do another water crossing to get to Woods Hole.”

“Uh, huh.” She glanced at him out of the left corner of her eyes. “How did you know Montauk was at the end of Long Island? You said back at the school you’d tell me.”

“Right.” He stared straight down the lane, his eyes focused on their objective. “It was in a science fiction novel.”

Emma’s eyebrows climbed quickly towards her hairline. “What?”

“There was a scene in a novel where a couple of people had to go to a spaceport to get a ship, and it was stated it was out by Montauk Lighthouse. After I read the book I looked up the location to see if there really was a lighthouse there, and—” He shrugged. “That’s how I know.”

“More stuff you know because you just do.” She smirked. “You and your science fiction stories.”

“Well, that’s where juanting came from—” He cocked a strange look in her direction. “—or did jaunting come from The Foundation first, and the author put it in his story to tell people that it existed?”

 

Now you know what all those points on the one map I showed were for:  they were the points on their Scavenger Flight.  And they had a lot of them for some reason–probably because they’re so good at what they do.  Actually, that’s why, and it’ll get brought up later.

There’s Kerry talking about what seems to be his favorite novel again, The Stars My Destination–which happens to be one of my favorite novels as well.  And just so you know Kerry–and I–are telling the truth, I found a copy of the novel as it was serialized in Galaxy Magazine in 1956 and 1957, and if you look at the highlighted sections, you’ll see what Kerry was talking about.

See?  They even have jaunting.

See? They even have jaunting.

And that’s how he knew where Montauk Lighthouse was located, just like he said.

But Emma isn’t thinking about lighthouses–she’s got something else in mind.  No, not that, but someone else–

 

Emma shrugged. “I have no idea. Maybe Mattie will tell us in history one of these days.” They walked in silence for another thirty seconds before she brought up something that had been on her mind for a while. “I heard a rumor about Annie.”

Kerry was fairly certain he knew what this rumor was. “And?”

“Some of my covenmates said Annie didn’t use levitation in her Judgment Trial, but that she was actually flying—you know, like—”

“Like using a Flight Gift?” Annie had spoken with Isis the next night while Kerry was in Advanced Transformation, and she was told that while she wasn’t in trouble for using her gift to win her trial, the rumors going around the school about what she was doing with her Friday mornings at the Aerodrome were going to stop being rumors. Annie let Isis know that wouldn’t be a problem, and told Kerry that night that if anyone should ask if she could fly, he should answer truthfully. “Yeah, she did.”

“How long did you know?”

“Since the beginning.” Answer truthfully. “At the end of last school year we were told we’d be tested for gifts when we returned, and that’s what happened our first Saturday back. That’s when they told us about our gifts—”

Our gifts?” Emma looked at him strangely. “You, too?”

“Yeah, I’m a Mimic. That’s one of the reasons I’m in Advanced Transformation: Jessica’s teaching me how to better my ability to transform different parts of my body.”

“Wow.” She grinned widely. “Why didn’t you say something?”

“’Cause we were told not to talk about it to others.” He shrugged. “That’s why people didn’t know Annie could fly.”

“Hum.” Emma nodded once. “I can see that. So, what can you do with this Mimic? Just change parts of your body?”

“It’s more than that: I can change stuff so it’s just like that of other people. Here—” Kerry stopped Emma before looking around to make sure they were alone. “Watch this—” He looked at Emma for a couple of seconds before his hair grew out down to his shoulders, his now curly locks a duplicate of Emma’s. “See?”

Her eyes grew wide as she chuckled at the sight. “That’s just like mine.”

“Yeah, it should be exactly like yours—without the styling, of course.” He returned his hair to its natural state. “I could do this last year to a limited extent: just hair shade and complexion. I practiced with Erywin a few times—” He didn’t go into any detail on why he was trying to match Ewywin’s hair color. He turned and continued heading towards their objective. “Now Jessica’s got me learning how to narrow thing down so I can so different areas—”

“Like?”

“Eye color, nose and lip size—” He turned from Emma for a moment. “I’ve been doing extremities like fingers, hands, arms . . . It’s not hard with the guys, but trying to make changes with the girls isn’t easy. You guys have small hands.”

“Well, yeah.” She sighed, the smile still on her face as she examined Kerry and saw him as a completely different person. “So, how does it work? What kind of magic is it?”
Jessica had explained the way the Mimic Gift worked, but as Kerry didn’t want to spend five minutes giving that explanation to Emma, he pared it down. “It’s not really magic, it’s just something I do—that’s the way it is with Gifts. My aural aspect kinda touches yours, and since your aura is a reflection of your physical aspect, it means I can make it part of my physical aspect.” He shrugged. “It’s really a lot more complicated than that, but that’s basically what happens.”

“Okay.” Emma looked straight down the path towards the clearing ahead. “You practice with Annie? You know—” She quickly glanced in his direction. “Change things so your parts are like hers?”
He nodded. “Just my hair and complexion and stuff, though I’ve done her eyes.” He chuckled. “She gets a little weirded out by that.”

“I can imagine.” They stopped in a small half-circle where two wide, parallel paths converged so they was smaller and closer together as continued towards the Unisphere. “Do you know what this place is called?”

“I think it’s Astronaut Court.” He pointed to the statue to his left at the top of a small, terraced garden. “I know that statue is supposed to be famous, but I don’t remember what it’s called.”

She giggled. “Finally, something Kerry Malibey doesn’t know.” Emma looked towards their goal. “How’s Annie?”

 

Yeah, how is Annie?  Oh, she’s not here, is she?  Ding Ding Ding!  Let’s see where this goes . . .

 

“She’s good.” Kerry didn’t try to deflect the question: this was the first time Emma and he had been alone since they’d started flying, and he figured it was only a matter of time before she returned to a subject he knew had to be on her mind. “We’re both real busy, though, what with all the advanced classes and the Gift training.”

“Is that what she’s doing this morning?”

“Yeah. Isis and she are supposed to be flying around Cape Ann this morning, getting her more used to the colder weather.” He sighed. “She should be sitting down to lunch right about now.”

“Where as we have to settle for energy bars, jerky, and water.”

“Such is our curse.”

She laughed. “Yeah.” Emma grew silent as she seemed to grow slightly withdrawn. “Can I ask you something?”

Here it comes— “Sure.”

She slowly sighed. “Are you happy?”

“You mean with Annie?”

“Yeah?”

Just like with talking about their Gifts, Kerry didn’t want to hide anything anymore. “Yes, I am.”

She looked down at her feet. “I still like you.”

He nodded back. “I know.”

 

Eleven months after the cat was let out of the bag, it’s out again, though this time it seems as if Kerry was expecting something.  Well, let’s see where this goes–

Oh, wait:  that’s it.  That’s as far as I got before I went out shopping.  But!  I’m going to finish the scene this afternoon, and, I promise, I’ll post the remainder tonight so people don’t go to bed wondering what happen to these two.

Trust me:  you’ll see it almost as fast as I will.

Return to the Valley of Ashes

Yeah, so, the Planet of the Apes series is a good one to rip-off for titles, and that’s what I’m doing here.  Which means, if you’re paying attention, there will be other posts like this to follow.  Because series, oh yeah.  Hey, maybe I should do that with this novel . . . oh, wait–

Last night the computer was better, but I was being bothered by some wanker trying to catfish me into believing he was some guy from Kansas City.  Ha ha!  One, you’ve seen my maps:  I know my way around the world.  And, two:  Kansas City?  I wrote about a fight there.  Bye, Felicia!  You just wasted a bunch of my time.

Still, I wrote seven hundred thirty words on top of being able to look up stuff along the way.  So a much better time of things on the writing side, which makes for a happy lady writer.

And speaking of writing, let’s see what my kids are up to now.

 

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

They walked slowly down the Avenue of Commerce, one of the former walkway of the 1964 World’s Fair, now just another wide path leading to Universe Court and the Pool of Industry. Kerry took in everything, trying to imagine what this area looked like almost fifty years before. “I don’t think my mom was even alive when the fair was here.”

“My mom wasn’t, I know that: she’s just turned thirty-nine.” Emma stated down the lane towards three people in the distance. “Aren’t we gonna look a little out of place here?”

“In New York City?” He snorted. “Naw, they’ll just think we’re school kids staying away from the shopping centers.”

She chuckled. “Guess that’s why we’re out on Black Friday.”

“Probably.” During the pilot’s briefing Vicky had explained that sending her class out on the day after Thanksgiving—the infamous “Black Friday” shopping day throughout America—would likely make it easier for everyone to touch down at one or two locations and not worry about drawing too much notice. Kerry saw that was true here: while the park wasn’t completely empty, he would have expected there to be a lot more people here on a normal Friday close to noon. Everyone’s off buying stuff; they haven’t got time to notice a couple of kids dressed like they’re getting ready to take off from LaGuardia in a DC-3.

 

LaGuardia, by the way, is just down the road from where my kids are.  Back when I used to watch baseball, whenever Chicago would play the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, you could hear planes taking off every so often as they were right under the flight path.

But now you know the date:  it’s Black Friday, 2012, which means it’s 23 November, just a week and a half after Annie’s fight–I’m really gonna need to start putting these dates in the novel chapters.  And now you know something else about Emma:  the age of her mother.  We also know Kerry’s mother wasn’t alive in 1964–or so he believes.  Is he right?

You should have known I'd have a list somewhere.

You should have known I’d have a list somewhere.

Yes, this was created before the first novel, so I’d have a reference for ages.  Now that it’s 2012 I should update this, right?  And if you want something a little freaky, Kerry’s “I had the sex talk” argument with his family happened the day after his mother turned forty-one, so she likely wasn’t in the best of moods when they got into things.  Then again, when it comes to her strange son–who she thinks may or may not have a girlfriend–her mood is usually set at one level.

Now that we have that crap out of the way . . .

 

Emma stopped and turned to her left, gazing across the huge, still Pool of Industry. “Too bad that thing isn’t here—” She turned completely around and pointed at the the reason they were here. “We should have landed closer.”

“That was your call—pilot.” Kerry smiled and tapped her on the shoulder. “It ain’t that far to walk.”

“Naw, it isn’t.” She stuffed her hands into the jacket’s pockets. “What’s this thing called again?”

“The Unisphere.” They began walking at a leisurely pace down the Herbert Hover Promenade. “It sits where the Perisphere was located during the 1939 World’s Fair.” He gave Emma a slight grin. “You’ve seen it before—”

“I have?”

“Yeah.” Kerry mimed holding something large in both hands. “Step away from your busted ass vehicle and put your hands on your head.”

 

See?  I told you he’d say it.  Did Harry Potter ever quote Will Smith?  Ah, hell no!  None of those kids ever did stuff like that because it seems like witches and wizards–even the one’s from non-witching families–ever watched the telly or went to movies.  Or listened to music.  I’m sure Ron’s dad is all like, “What’s a tablet?  Those are from Egypt, right?”  Le sigh . . .

Anyway, Kerry’s a fan of, at least, the first Men in Black movie, and has probably even read the original comic by Lowell Cunningham on the down low, because those suckers are hard to find.  These days he can probably buy mint condition issues right outta The Foundation Pond and read them in his room whenever he likes, or whenever he’s not putting on another public display of affection with his Bulgarian Buttercup.

Did he impress Emma with his knowledge?  Er . . .

 

She rolled her eyes. “Oh, jeez—yeah. That was here?”

“Yeah. With a little help from special effects.”

“Of course.” Emma shook her head. “How do you know all this stuff?”

 

So, not impressed.  At least Annie would have smiled, Emma.  You got a way to go if you wanna be a Soul Mate stealing girl . . .

What’s Kerry’s comeback?

 

“I’m the navigator on this scavenger flight.” He tugged on his open jacket lapels. “It’s my job to know this stuff.” He stared into the tree line to his left, wondering if it was due to his knowing a lot of strange fact that he was now nearly three hundred and fifty kilometers from the school . . .

Today was the famous Black Friday Scavenger Flight, when the wing teams of Advance Flight One were given a list of landmarks to locate, required to plot a course to each of them, and then set out on the day after American Thanksgiving to return with photographic evidence that they’d reached each location. It didn’t matter that the flight data from each Class 1 PAV would end up downloaded and examined: Vicky enjoyed having the teams show their photos in the very next class.

The flight teams gathered for a breakfast at seven, set up in the Dining Hall away from the rest of the students. They were given sealed packages that contained a lists of the sites each team would visit, and the teams were then to return to the Flight School and spend an hour developing their flight plans. The plans were then submitted and the flight were expected to be airborne by nine.

Kerry had no idea what lists of landmarks the other teams received, but he was greatly surprised by the Emma and he received. With the exception of the first landmark—the former site of the Danvers Asylum, where now stood apartments and was only twenty-eight kilometers from the school—all of theirs were located far on the other side of Boston, and just more than half were located in states other than Massachusetts. There were nine landmarks on their visit: their current location—the Unisphere, located on the former site of the 1964 World’s Fair in the Queens, New York City—was the sixth, and Kerry expected this would be the one place for the gathering of excellent photographic evidence.

 

So now you know what all this flying around is for:  it’s the Black Friday Scavenger Flight.  That explains that huge map that popped up yesterday showing the route Emma and Kerry were on, and now, it would seem, they are about two-thirds of the way through their list.  And the first item on their list is exactly where Kerry said it is–

Because maps, yo.

Because maps, yo.

Danvers Asylum was actually known as the Danvers State Hospital, thought most people at the time knew of it as The Danvers State Insane Asylum.  It opened in 1878, and it wasn’t the place you wanted to get sent if you had “problems”, because when you think about horrible mental hospitals where patients are neglected and more or less tortured by sadistic orderlies and doctors, Danvers was the poster child for that shit.  The place was designed to house four hundred and fifty patients:  usually there were about two thousand there, and in 1939 the population was two thousand, three hundred and sixty.  That was also the year two hundred and seventy-eight patients died, because, well, yeah, evil place.  Oh, yeah:  it was also where, supposedly, the lobotomy was invented.

Totally evil.

Just look at the place.  Totally evil, I tell you.

The joint is believed to have served as the inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanatorium, which appeared in the story The Thing on the Doorstep was mentioned in the stories Pickman’s Model and The Shadow over Innsmouth.  And if we want to trip down the rabbit hole just a little deeper, Arkham Sanatorium served as the inspiration for Arkham Asylum, the place outside Gotham City where Batman dumps all the insane criminals who seem to come and go as they please while those arrested for lesser crimes are executed–no, really.  Tough place, Gotham.

What happened to it?  Cuts to the state budget eventually led to the closure of the hospital, and for a long time it remained abandoned, which meant it was the perfect place for people to go looking for ghosts–

Just the place to take a witch for a late-night renduvous.

Just the place to take a witch for a late-night rendezvous.

But it was demolished and turned into, as Kerry said, apartments–

"Look, honey:  we can get a two-bedroom right over the location where they used to stave people to death."

“Look, honey: we can get a two-bedroom right over the location where they used to stave people to death.”

And if you believe that living here wouldn’t be the best of ideas, look up some reviews for Halstead Danvers Apartments and read the reviews; it’s just about what you’d expect from living on a site that’s just one step removed from camping out in a cemetery.

And one last bit of trivia.  Before the town became known as Danvers, it went by another name:  Salem Village.  You’re welcome.

Come for the overpriced living, stay for the insanity.

Come for the overpriced living, stay for the insanity.

Actually, the town of Gloucester, which is just to the south of the school, was the original location of the town that eventually became Salem.  The settlement began in 1623, but was abandoned three years later because of the harsh environment.  Say, you don’t think any witches has something to do with that, do you?

I’m going to be on the road today, but I should be back this evening to answer your probing questions, and maybe get a little more writing in.  ‘Cause, with Emma alone in New York City with Kerry, something’s bound to happen–

Right?