The Final Solo: The Final Shenanigans

New day, new stuff, it’s bright and sunny outside, and I’ve been writing.  You know I would because I told you I would.  And what did I do?  I finished the scene!  Yay for me, right?

Well, I didn’t lose it at the dinner last night, though someone didn’t like my “hula hoop” earrings, so I kinda told them to screw off and moved on.  It’s really the way to do it, ya know?  I also didn’t get blind drunk, so I had a pretty good night’s sleep.  Which is why I was able to focus for the most part and get this all written.

Now . . . I mentioned shenanigans, and that’s what the kids are up to here at the end of Annie’s solo.  So let’s get into that scene, all of what I just wrote, so you can see what they’re up to here on Cape Ann.

 

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

Vicky jaunted to the three-by-three meter platform set atop the center of the Flight School’s room and ran along the railed walkway to the stairs leading to a larger viewing platform set at the north end of the building four meters above the roof. She heard Isis pop in behind her and saw her soar over her head so that she was waiting for her.

The sky was the same solid gray overcast from this morning, but unlike the area where Annie did most of her solo flight it wasn’t raining. Vicky knew the kids were still following Invisibility Flight Sanctions and couldn’t be seen from the ground, but she’d see them if she looked for their auras, which they were so far unable to hide. She scanned the area to the south and spotted them a few seconds later. “There they are.”

Isis saw them peeking in and our of their light bending effect as the approached the south grounds of the school. From better than a kilometer away she heard the faint echos of music. “Christ, he’s blasting that thing.”

“Yeah, no kidding.” Vicky rolled her eyes as they entered the school’s south grounds. “He’s gonna wake the neighbors with that shit.” “Waking the Neighbors” was a euphemism used by the staff and instructors to indicate an activity on school grounds that could become noticeable to the Normal population living outside the school wall.

Both women watched the couple streak across the sky while remaining close to the western wall. Isis shielded her eyes and picked out Annie in the lead with Kerry following close behind. “How high you think they are?”

“Probably seventy, eighty meters.” Vicky saw them pass Sunset Tower and the Instructor’s Residence as they continued northward. “They’re gonna buzz the whole school.”

“Yeah.” Isis began laughing. “Kinda looks that way.” The solo flight slowed as Annie and Kerry circled around Observatory Tower and headed southward. “Recognize the song?”

Where the Streets Have No Name. Kind of appropriate considering where they were this morning.” Vicky sighed as the two spots moving near the east wall turned and flew towards The Pentagram. “Mathilde in her office?”

“She usually is this time of morning. Have breakfast and catch up on morning news and emails before enjoying the weekend.”

“Yeah.” The children slows and dropped lowers, appearing to swerve inside Ceridwen Tower. Vicky shook her head, sighing. “Of course they gotta buzz The Pentagram.”

“Twice.” Isis watched them make a second circuit of The Pentagram before gaining altitude and heading their way. “Mathilde knew Annie was gonna have her last solo today so she shouldn’t be too pissed.”

“Right.” It was only as Annie and Kerry approached Selena’s Meadow that Vicky realized how loud they were: the music seemed to fill the whole of the open space as if there was attending a concert. They dropped to about three meters near the center of the meadow and slowed as they approached the school, coming to a soft landing about ten meters away from the hangar.

The moment Annie was on the ground she threw back the hood of her parka, pulled down her balaclava, and began dancing wildly to the music, bouncing and spinning around with a huge smile on her face. As soon as Kerry was off his broom her joined her, smiling as broadly as he raised his arms and began swaying back and forth.

Vicky and Isis said nothing as the song entered the outro and Kerry kissed Annie as the last lines were sung as the music faded out before they turned and looked upwards to the viewing platform, holding each other tight and still laughing and smiling as they waved.

“You know—” Isis moved a little closer to Vicky as they waved. “This year we’ve taken these two and put them through some incredibly demanding shit, and they push through and make it all work. And you know what we keep forgetting?”

Vicky glanced at Isis. “No, what?”

“That no matter how bad ass these witches are, they’re still kids.” She turned to face the flight instructor. “And from time to time, we gotta let them be kids.”

“That we do.” She nodded slowly. “That we do.”

 

There you have it:  they come flying into the school grounds at high speed, soaring over parts of the Normal world with magic-enhanced computer sound system (Thanks, Isis!), and they do a major flyby/fly over of the school grounds, including buzzing the Instructor’s Residences, the covens, and the Great Hall, just to let everyone know they are back, Jack, and they’ve done more this morning than all the other witches in this joint combined.

Let me tell you, I put more time into developing this scene than I did in writing the sucker.

It really started on my Friday walk into work, when I started getting the song Where the Streets Have No Name stuck in my head.  Mostly because I’d though about Annie flying about in the ocean with nothing to guide her but a heading.  Since I usually find time at work to think about these things–which is to say, most of the time, because my mind is always working–I started wondering about how this might play into the end of the solo flight–

When I got home that night, after dinner and a nap, I started putting it together.  First I had to find a YouTube song that Kerry would use.  He’s got a computer that’s Foundation Powered now, so getting a download or stream fifty klicks out to sea isn’t a problem.  I found the song after a few searches because I never give up on that shit.  Then I started listening and checking times:  I probably went through the song a half-dozen times before I saw the scene laid out in my mind.

But I had to check a few things.  Like knowing how far they’d need to fly before getting into the vocals a minute forty-five seconds after the start of the song while flying three hundred kilometers an hours–the answer is nine kilometers.

Then I needed to know the path they’d take on their flyby, and since I know the layout of the school upon the land that is Cape Ann, I mapped it out:

Only one buzzing of The Pentagram here, but know you know they did two.

Only one buzzing of The Pentagram here, but know you know they did two.

The mark in the lower right-hand corner is where they dropped to eight meters off the ocean surface as the music started.  Why?  ‘Cause they wanted to do something exciting.  You’ll discover in the next scene that on their leg into the school their comms were off for about ninety seconds, and that’s when all the plotting started.  They popped up over the northeast corner of Gloucester then headed over the school wall and up the west wall.  They slowed a little, and since it’s about five kilometers from the south end of the school to the north, there’s another minutes or so killed–

Because you know I know the time.

Because you know I know the time.

This means by the time they loop around Observatory Tower and head back south the song is about half over.  So they speed up, do a couple of quick loops around The Pentagram (Hi, Headmistress!) and finally make their way to the Flight School, where during the last minute of the song Annie decides to let her exuberance break free and starts dancing around, because she’s a thirteen year old girl and, as Isis points out, some times you gotta let bad ass witches be kids.

And after all that Kerry ends the flight by laying a big, tender kiss upon his little cabbage roll as someone croons out “I’ll go there with yooooouuuuu.” as the music fades.  They aren’t thinking about getting in trouble for their little stunt:  they’re home and Annie nailed that final solo flight, so absolutely no shits about the consequences are given.

Seriously, I spent like two and a half hours Friday night figuring this out, and probably went over this scene here and there yesterday to the point where I likely invested another three hours visualizing this to the point where I could totally make a movie out of this part if I knew how to make a movie.  I even had the chance while getting my nails done to explain the entire scene to my manicurist while she worked on my pedicure, because she loves hearing about my little witches, as she calls them.

And lastly, here’s the version of the song Kerry played, taken from the 1993 HBO broadcast of U2 in Sydney, Australia, during the Zoo TV Tour.  And remember, Annie:  wherever you go, Kerry will go there with you.

The Final Solo: Naming the Unmarked Roads

Well . . .

After leaving at nine-thirty to get my nails done, I returned about thirty minutes ago.  And looking at the big clock on the wall that means I have about ninety minutes to get ready for tonight’s dinner, which could see me flipping right the hell out at some point if people start talking shit.

But I look great, and don't any anything bad about my earrings.

But I look great, and don’t any anything bad about my earrings.

This means what I said I would do earlier–finish this scene before making this post–ain’t gonna happen.  I lied.  Annie will likely get mad at me at some point, but I can handle her.  I think.  Now that she’s learning Kali, aka Arnis, aka Eskrima, and she is learning how to use alongside magic, she’s gonna make Jason Bourne look like a child stumbling around in the dark.  Since Kerry is learning this as well, one has to say that you gotta pity the poor fool who decides to pick a fight with either of them, and just laugh like a loon at any one who think they can take them both on at the same time.

But where are we?  Oh, yeah:  the solo flight.

It’s the end of the solo flight as we know it, and it seems like the kids feel fine.  As you’ll see they reached not only Marker 2 but Marker 3 before setting sail for home.  Here’s how that looks:

Three buoys and a final leg home.  Pretty simple, huh?

Three buoys and a final leg home. Pretty simple, huh?

Marker 2 is about one hundred and ten kilometers, or about seventy miles, out to sea, with Marker 3 being one hundred and thirteen kilometers from the school, but about fifty-five kilometers from Cape Cod.  That’s going to come up later in the book, trust me, because it’s something important.  Would I lie?  Don’t answer.

Up until now the focus has been on Annie and Kerry, but now, with the flight nearly finished, we head for the school and see what Vicky and Isis are up to.  One might say “trouble,” but you’re looking at the wrong people for that . . .

 

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

Vicky got into the habit of keeping half an eye on Flight Deck’s central holo display since Annie and Kerry departed the Marker 3 buoy almost fifteen minutes ago. After a short stay there Vicky gave them the approval to return to school at best possible speed. She’d imagined Annie wanting to return at as high a speed as she could stand, but they weren’t traveling much faster than they had at any point during the ocean legs of the flight, maintaining a steady three hundred and twenty-five kilometers an hour.

Isis returned to the Flight Deck after stepping out to use the bathroom. “How are they?”

“They’re fifteen klicks out—” Vicky checked the clock. “They should be here in three or four minutes at this rate.”

“Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo.” Annie’s voice showed just a touch of excitement. “Slowing to three hundred and preparing for final approach. Over.”

“Roger, Athena. We have you on final approach. We’ll meet you downstairs so we can take you to the hospital for a checkup. Over.”

Annie’s reply wasn’t immediately forthcoming, but given they were a few minutes out from the school Vicky wasn’t concerned. It was only after Isis’ sharp intake of breath that she snapped to attention. “What?”

“What the hell are they doing?” Isis pointed to the holo display.

Vicky immediately saw what was causing Isis’ concern. “What the hell?” She checked the numbers being fed back from Annie’s Band. “Why did they drop from two hundred meters to eight?”
Isis grunted. “Maybe you should ask?”

“Yeah, maybe.” Before she could query her fliers sound began filtering though the Flight Deck’s comm system. Vicky listened for a few seconds with a puzzled look upon her face. She was hearing music, but there was something else there as well— “Is that cheering?”

“Sounds like it.” Isis started at the display. “Gotta be Kerry.”

“Gotta be.” Vicky expanded the display as the music began to swell. “They’ve changed course. They’re heading for Good Harbor Beach and Brier Neck.”

“Looks like they’re gonna skirt northeast Gloucester.”

“Yeah.” Vicky called out to her students. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. What are you doing? Over.” When a response wasn’t immediately forthcoming she called again, this time with more of an edge in her voice. “Athena, Starbuck, what the hell do you think you’re doing? Respond. Over.”

Kerry was half-chuckling as he returned the call. “Flight Deck, you’re breaking up. Last transmission tango bogus. See you on the flight line in a few. Over and out.”

“Wait—” Vicky tapped near hear right ear. “Salem Solo, Salem Solo, respond. Athena—” The music grew louder as a guitars and drum joined the synthesizer intro along with a loud blast of cheering. “Shit. Shit. I know what they’re doing.”

“Yeah, so do I.” Isis couldn’t stop smiling as she saw Annie and Kerry pop up to about forty meters just before they reached the southern coast of Cape Ann. “Here they come.”

The music blasted through the Flight Deck while Vicky alternated glances between the central holo display and the exit. “I should have expected this. Let’s get up to the roof—”

 

If you remember Annie’s last solo flight there were some shenanigans performed at the end.  Well, as this solo flight is a lot bigger than the last, said shenanigans gotta be properly proportioned as well.  And that’s where this scene is headed.

I’ll finish this up tomorrow over Sunday coffee.  You can believe that, ’cause Annie will come after me with magical batons if I don’t.

 

The Final Solo: Three Little Words

Believe it or not I finished the scene last night.  It required a nearly nine hundred word burst of writing power, but I pulled it off–and in doing so, I finished the first scene of this chapter to go over two thousand words.

There it is, all in black and white.

There it is, all in black and white.

Anyway . . . it may feel like a lot isn’t happening in these almost nine hundred words, but that’s because it’s all instructions followed by feelings.  This scene is not so much about flying as it is about knowing who you are and recognizing you have fears, and once you know they are there, you try to deal with that shit.  Remember this, ’cause while I won’t test you on this, it is gonna show up in the next novel big time.

But first we gotta get through the instructions.  And here they are:

 

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

“You feeling rested? Over.”

“I think we about as rested as we’re going to be, Flight Deck. What do you think, Starbuck?” She leaned in and kissed Kerry on the tip of his nose. “Do you feel rested?”

Kerry wiggled his eyebrows as a smile brightened his face. “I feel rested and well, Flight Deck. Over.”

They had no problem hearing Vicky’s chortle over the comms. “They’re you’re ready for the next objective. Over.”

Annie slowly floated back from Kerry. “We’re ready to go. Over.”

“Then here’s the info: your next objective as another orange marker buoy, this one hovering at an attitude of one hundred meters above sea level. Just like Marker 1, Marker 2 has an active tracking system you’ll detect once you’re three klicks out from the marker.

“The marker is off on a heading of one forty-nine—that’s one-four-nine—degrees, at a distance of sixty-two point five kilometers. Your time-on-target will be fifteen—that’s one-five—minutes after departure from Marker 1. Also, you are to maintain an altitude of two hundred meters above sea level for the duration of this leg. Any questions? Over.”

“No, Flight Deck.” Annie reflexively shook her head even though Kerry was the only one to see the action. “Everything is understood. Over.”

There was a slight pause before Vicky returned. “How much time do you need to compute speed? Over.”

“It’s figured, Flight Deck.” She looked at Kerry as she checked her goggles and parka hood. “Sixty-two point five times two is one hundred twenty-five, and twice that is two hundred fifty. Any speed above two hundred and fifty kilometers an hour will get me there in fifteen minutes or less. Over.”

Vicky cleared her throat. “Sound good on our end, Athena. Let us know when you’re ready to depart so we can monitor and start the clock. Over.”

“Roger. Over and out.” Annie slipped the balaclava over her face. “You ready for another high speed run?”

 

Sure this is a load question, because what’s Kerry gonna say?  “No, I’d rather take my time getting to Marker 2”?  Not gonna happen, ’cause a certain soul mate would kick his butt.  Annie’s not all about that, however, and this is where the feelings come in:

 

Kerry covered his face as well. “What speed are you setting?”

“We did three hundred on the last leg—” She appeared to think for a moment. “That’s seventy-five kilometers in fifteen minutes, so we should get to the next buoy in about twelve minutes.”

“Sounds about right to me.” Kerry started punching up things on his tablet.

Annie floated closer and motioned to Kerry to shut off his comm, and spoke as soon as she was certain they weren’t being overheard. “Feel nervous?”

“About going that fast two hundred meters up?” Kerry shook his head. “I got this, my sweat little banitsa. I’ll just stay focused on you, and—” He tapped his tablet with a flourish. “I’ve got a tune lined up that will take us all the way to the next marker.”

She arched her eyebrows. “Really?”

“It’s almost twelve minutes long. That will get us there.” He relaxed in the saddle and chuckled. “Really, if something happens to my broom while I’m zipping along at three hundred kph, drowning is gonna be the least of my problems.” He looked down at the ocean below them. “This is your flight: you do what you have to do, and I follow.”

She floated over his broom and pressed her forehead to his. “I love you so much.”

“And I love you, wife of mine.”

Annie remained in place with her eyes locked on to his. “That’s the first time you’ve called me your wife.”

“Well, you call me husband-to-be, so—” Though his smile wasn’t visible through the balaclava. “And the only one who heard me say that is you.”

 

Since the whole “You’re linked together for life” thing came to light, Kerry’s been pretty quiet about the matter.  Yes, he’s been known to say that he expected to marry Annie, and that he thought there was a good possibility she’d end up his wife.  But beyond the time Annie stopped during their walk from the Instructor’s Residence to the hospital and laid the “I’m a witch and your wife” speech upon his young mind, he’s not said a lot.  This is really the first time he’s come right out and called Annie “wife”.  Not “wife-to-be” or “maybe-wife”–nope, he goes all in with this deal.  Though he’s probably not going to lay that down in front of the student body during meals or class or the Midnight Madness, but in private moments, it’s the truth he knows.  It’s all in those three little words.

And Annie?  You have to ask?

Enough of the feels:  let’s get this party on the, um, road.

 

“That’s so true.” Annie pulled back about three meters, her mood lifted tremendously by Kerry’s pronouncement. She tapped her comm on. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. Preparing to depart in fifteen seconds. Over.”

Vicky was waiting for Annie to speak. “Roger, Athena. We’ll start the timer the moment we see you move. Over.”

“Good, Flight Deck. See you soon. Over and out.” She activated her HUD and turned until she was facing her new course heading as Kerry pulled along side. “I’m ready.”

“As am I.” He pointed towards the open sea before them. “After you.”

“Thank you.” Annie waited a few seconds then launched herself out over the sea, dropping her altitude was two hundred meters while picking up speed. Unlike the last leg Kerry stayed four meters to her right and slightly behind, and about twenty seconds after leaving Marker 1 behind he started playing the song. The sound of guitar strings being slowly strummed surrounded them. “I don’t know if I’ve heard this before.”

“You haven’t: this is Cinema Show.” Kerry leaned out over his broom as he adjusted to the slipstream. “It starts slow, but picks up a lot about half way through.”

Annie didn’t care. Despite the cold and the rain, she felt warm and comfortable inside, all due to three words spoken by Kerry. She glanced over his way and gave a slight wave. He say it’s his job to follow me— She turned back to her HUD, keeping her attention on her course and altitude while listening to the music. I’ll hold him to that for the rest of his life.

 

You have one job, Kerry!  One job!  And you better do it right, ’cause thirteen year old witches are not to be trifled with.  So when does the Astral Etchings for the “rings of forever” begin?  Um . . . I know when, but I’m not saying.  Not yet.

Oh, and what is Kerry playing?  As he said, Cinema Show, the live version as performed by Genesis during their And Then There Were Three… Tour, which was the last time this song was played in its entirety.  Like he says, it’s a nearly twelve minutes long song, at around the eight minute mark the tempo goes from about 3/4 time to 8/8 time because Tony Banks sometimes played like a maniac, and for some reason whenever he played the keyboard solo of this song he sped it up like he needed to finish because he had to go to the bathroom, or something.

Two more scenes and then Annie’s home.  Well, really, in the last two scenes it is Annie being home–

You’ll see.

The Final Solo: Not One of Those

Finally–finally–I managed to break five hundred words in a sitting.  Given that I had finished churning out a recap that took longer than I imagined–honey, they all take longer than I imagine–and I was feeling the Brain Dead Blue creeping up on me something fierce, I got into the point because there was something that needed addressing.

Kerry admitted that he was a touch rattled on the flight out to Marker One, and it was because he didn’t like zipping along at high speed a couple of hundred meters above the sea.  This is the same kid who, a year and a half earlier, traveled on the same kind of broom at nearly the same speed, and did it a few meters above the ground with trees all around him, while also negotiating a couple of curves and another flier.  He wasn’t thinking about what he did then, and ever weekend he goes out and doesn’t think about doing the same thing, or that he’s crashed into the ground at speeds that, were he a Normal kid doing the same, he’d likely die.

Why is he a bit rattled?  Simple:

 

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

“It’s—” The rain and cold, misting air make Kerry’s blush all the more brighter. “It’s not that I’m traveling so close to the water at high speed, because, like you said, I’ve went that fact a couple of hundred meters over land. It’s that the land is so far below the surface. We go in the water and you don’t just lay there waiting for pickup—” He gulped. “You sink.”

“I understand perfectly.” Annie removed her right glove and let it hang by it’s attachment cord as she caressed his face. “Being a mountain girl, I’m not all that comfortable being on the water, either.” She looked down as she blushed. “I’ve never been on a boat. And other than the few excursions we’ve made over water while at school, this is the first time I’ve been out to sea.” Annie began chuckling “You do understand that flying at high speed a few hundred meters over the ocean is a psychological ploy, right?”

He nodded. “I kinda got that feeling. Everything they’re putting you through is designed to rattle you in some way.”

“The flying doesn’t bother me, but—” Annie quickly slipped on her glove. “The rain makes it feel colder.”

“It’s not just the rain.” Kerry clenched his arms tight around his torso. “The water temperature is like minus two Celsius, and it’s acting like a heat sink—at least that’s true here in the Gulf of Maine.” He pointed towards the mist in the east. “The Gulf Stream is way out there, so we don’t get all that warm southern water here.  It feels colder out here than it would over land because everything below us is colder.”

 

Kerry’s problem is pretty straight forward:  he has a small fear of drowning.  Crashing into the sea at high speed he could handle–it’s the sinking to the bottom that kinda freaks him out.  And here we learn something new as well:  Annie’s never been on a boat.  Planes, yes.  Brooms, for sure.  Flying free on her own:  she’s doing it now.  A boat?  Nope, not even once.  Which means at some point I gotta get these kids on a boat.  Cue The Lonely Island–

And Kerry is once again right:  the Gulf of Maine is cold, and that’s due to the influence of the Labrador Current bringing cold water down from Greenland and Northern Canada.  It sets up a barrier that prevents warming from the Gulf Stream, so the Gulf of Maine tends to remain cold though the majority of the year.

And with cold water comes all this sort of nasty looking stuff.

And with cold water comes all this sort of nasty looking stuff.

Yeah, that picture is a pretty good approximation of what they’re seen, though it’s just a bit nastier than that.  And they’re floating above it like it’s no big deal.  As Annie pointed out, keeping the kids out here is probably a psychological ploy of Vicky’s, and both kids know this.  So best to concentrate on each other and ignore the water below.

However, Annie does bring up something else:

 

Annie checked the collar of her parka, making certain it was secure. It was only after discussing the temperature of the water that she felt the chill. “This isn’t as bad what you went though back in December.”

“That whole flight—” He shook his head. “Oh, man: The Polar Express isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to be like a lot like this, only a little—”

“Worse?”

“Could be. I didn’t say anything, but during the debriefing the next day Vicky told us not to fly back like that again.” Kerry glanced around the featureless ocean. “She said if we tried a five hundred kph run back in temps like we hit coming back from Nova Scotia for more than a couple of hours we’d probably end up dead, and she didn’t want to go searching about Canada for our bodies.” He watched the waves slip by to the southeast, driven by the wind. “I don’t want to be one of those people.”

There was only one thing Annie could add to her soul mate’s statement. “I do not want you to be one of those people, either.”

Vicky’s voice broke thought their thoughts. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. How you holding up? Over.”

Annie didn’t move away from Kerry as she gave the reply with a warm smile. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. We are holding up just fine. Over.”

 

During the kid’s C Levels The Polar Express is going to become something of a deal.  Kerry will fly it, and Annie will deal with Kerry being out there in the arctic wilds of Canada almost alone for three days.  This is the first time he’s admitted it’s not going to be easy, and he’s saying aloud that he doesn’t want to do anything stupid that could get him killed.  Though it hasn’t happened in some time, students have died during The Polar Express–but then, we’ve already seen students die in the process of defending the school.  Shit does happen, even to my witches.  And they both know how dangerous said shit can get.

Kerry is not the only one who knows next school year can bring at least one nasty event.  Annie knows it, too, and she’s ready for some down time.  She does want to find an environment more conducive to, well, relaxing.

"This year he gets water, next year he gets snow. *sigh* When do we get Paris?"

“This year he gets water, next year he gets snow. *sigh* When do we get Paris?”

You’ll get it soon enough, young lady.

First you gotta get through the flight.

The Final Solo: Over Sea and Seen

Six days into April and I am one tired little girl–well, I’m not so little, but I’m tired.  Why?  Writing.  Only I can hear you now:  “But you’re not working on your novel, Cassie!”  And that’s true:  if I were counting what I’ve written for my recaps, I’d be in Camp NaNo land right now, ’cause for two shows it’s been close to thirty-five hundred words in two days, and that’s some humping.  Also, I find I write better in the morning with my story and that by nighttime I’m usually a bit befuddled, which isn’t helping get things out.

None of that is helping out my word production where it should count.

"No, no:  I'm getting to this story.  Only, right now, the inside of my eyelids look so nice . . ."

“Really, just one more show out of the way I’m gonna tackle this . . . beast . . . zzzzzzzz.”

And not only that, but if you’ve been keeping track, I’ve another important milestone coming up.  Besides coming close to three hundred thousand words.  But we’ll talk about that next week.

What I did get out is this:  my kids are where they are supposed to be, and they are literally in the middle of nowhere.  And unlike me, it’s time for a rest.

 

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

Annie relaxed and twisted around to find Kerry only a few meters away. “Yes, we are, Flight Deck. My chase is getting photographic proof we’ve arrived right now. Over.”

“Good to hear, Athena. Why don’t you guys take a five minute break before we send you off to the next objection? Over.”

Annie was ready to go now, but given that the only thing she knew was another objective existed, she thought it best to take Vicky’s advice and spend a few minutes taking a rest. “Roger, Flight Deck. We’ll see you five minutes. Over and out.” She leaned slightly forward and rolled so she was facing Kerry. “How did I look in the picture?”

“Busy and a little cold.” Kerry inched his broom closer. “How are you feeling?”

She exposed her face so he could see her grin. “Are you asking, or are they?”

He exposed his face and returned the grim. “I’m asking. Though they did ask about half-way through this leg about you.”

“And what did you tell them?”

“I told them you looked good.” He slid his broom sideways next to her and took her hand. “Which you always do.”

“Thank you, my love.” Annie saw something in Kerry’s eyes that she hadn’t seen before leaving Isles of Shoals, and she wasn’t sure she what hide behind this look. “I felt a little tired when we arrive, but that’s gone now. How are you feeling?”

 

Any time you ask Kerry how he feels, it’s a loaded question.  You know what you’re going to get:  “I’m okay.”  Because that’s his go-to response to just about everything.  Now, while he does cop to letting Annie know back home wanted to know how she was holding up on her three hundred kilometer dash, he also knows that now is not the time to give pat answers:

 

He looked past Annie and stared at the buoy for a few seconds. His usually response was to say all was fine, but given their situation and location, Kerry was aware that wouldn’t be in best interest of either of them. “The run out here didn’t bother me. It’s just—” He glanced downward for a second. “There’s something about being this close to the water I don’t like.”

Annie kept her tone and mood light. “You’ve flown over this area before, yes?”

He laughed. “Yeah, I’ve been over this area before.” He gazed upward while pointing. “Only I was about seventeen hundred meters higher.”

“And going almost three hundred kilometers an hour faster than we were coming here. So why would flying out here bother you when you’ve all ready done something far more extreme?”

He shrugged.  “That was different.”

“How so?”

Kerry looked about, going over the answer in his mind as if to make certain it made sense. “It just feels like if something went wrong, we’d be in the water so fast—”

“My love?” Annie floated in front of him, her eyes staring into his.

He took a deep breath. “Yes, my Darling?”

“You race, don’t you?”

He nodded slowly. “Yes.”

“At speeds around or over as fast as we flew here?”

He bowed his his, chuckling. “Yes.”

Annie touched his cheek. “What’s the difference between going three hundred kilometers an hour eight meters above the ground and between trees, and going the same speed three hundred meters over the ocean?”

 

Yeah, what is the different, Kerry?  I would have liked to have gotten to his reasons, but at the time I put the last of those six-words-short-of-five-hundred down in Scrivener, it was eleven-thirty PM–or, as my kids would say, twenty-three thirty–and I was right at the point of nodding out at the computer.  Because I’m crazy and I’m really pushing myself to get things done.

Tonight should be better, with “should” being the operative word.  Next week, though–oh, boy.  I’ll be in Chicken With Head Cut Off Mode.  But I’ll get through.

"I've written a little bit here, so . . . just a quick nap and I'm ready to go again.  I think.  Zzzzzzz."

“As soon as I get this last–bit–out.  About the . . . zombies . . . zzzzzzz”

The Final Solo: Head East

In what was one of my better writing days yesterday, I finished off the scene I started Sunday morning with another thousand word run that early evening, and then sat down to do about nineteen hundred words of snarking backup work for recaping the season finale of The Walking Dead, which Rachel will get out later today and to which I’ll add my thoughts after that.

But there was writing.  A lot of writing, though trying to imagine all the stuff happening in the my novel isn’t an easy thing as I’m pulling all the stuff out of thin air and getting it down on the page for you.  In finishing this, however, I realize that I’m now more than mid-way through Chapter Thirty and closer to the end of Annie’s solo flight than I am to the beginning.

I'm certain there's some kind of synergy here, but the coffee hasn't kicked in so I'm blankin' my butt off.

I’m certain there’s some kind of synergy here, but the coffee hasn’t kicked in so I’m blankin’ my butt off.

I left my kids hovering off a bunch of rocks off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine staring out into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and now Annie is gonna want to find out what Kerry meant by his last statement . . .

 

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

Annie squinted out towards the east and widening ocean. On a clear day, at their altitude, Annie figured they could see close to fifty kilometers, but in this weather she estimated she could see perhaps a third of that distance. “Why do you believe that?”

He sat back in the saddle and crossed his ankles. “When it comes to your flights, everything with Vicky and Isis has been push, push, push. They said the night solo was supposed to be your third solo, but—” Kerry shook his head. “It always felt like BS to me. Vicky always tried to make it sound like that flight wasn’t that hard—”

“It was more difficult that it appeared, I know.” Annie rolled part-way on to her side, a floating position she found comfortably when resting. “The few times we flew at night during Basic Flight taught me that seeing things at night are not as easy as seeing them during the day. It’s easy to get lost in the dark.”

“And it’s easier to get turned around when you’re overflying a city and everything looks the same at night.”

“I don’t believe there was ever going to be a ‘second’ solo flight—” Kerry rocked a little back and forth. “The night solo was always going to be the second flight ‘cause Vicky wanted to give you something that wouldn’t be easy, and that was the best way to make the situation difficult.”

Almost as if she were waiting for the right moment to speak, Vicky cut into the conversation. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Ready for your next objective? Over.”

Annie flipped around so she was upright once more. “I’m ready, Flight Deck. Over.”

 

We return to a feeling that Kerry has had a couple of times, and that is everything is a test, but in their case, those tests are usually a hell of a lot harder.  Annie and his walking tour of London was a test; sending them to Kansas City was a test; and now, the second solo flight was never one that was “moved up”, it was always meant to be that way.  Add to this all the stuff with them being asked into advanced class, being able to tutor each other in a couple of magical disciplines, Emma’s and Kerry’s finally flight back from Canada during the first overnight, and the puppeteer work over at The Manor, and it does seem as if these kids are being given a hell of a lot more to do that the other little witches.

But that’s something to be told later.  Right now Vicky’s on the air and talking:

 

“All right, then.” The air went silent for a moment; when Vicky returned she once more sounded as if she were reading information verbatim. “You are to remain on IFR from now until you return to the school. Your next objective will require you to be in position within a specific time period. I will give you the heading, your altitude, the distance to the object, and the time needed to reach your objective, requiring you to calculate your speed. As your Band’s in-flight calculator was disabled for his test, you need to do this calculation manually.

“Here are the specifics: you will set off on a heading of eighty—that’s zero-eight-zero—degrees and maintain an altitude of three hundred fifty meters for the duration. Distance to objective is ninety-five kilometers; your time-on-target is twenty minutes. Your objective is an orange marker hovering at an attitude of two hundred meters above sea level. It has an active tracking system your Band will detect when you are within three kilometers of the marker. Are there any questions? Over.”

Annie exchanged glances with Kerry, whose expression indicated he had at least one question. “Flight Deck, this is Starbuck actual. Is this marker outside the school’s one hundred kilometer local detection range? Over.”

They both could imagine Vicky nodding as she answered. “That’s correct, Starbuck. You’ll be outside our local detection range. We’ll still be able to communicate via the radios—we just won’t know where you are once you’ve reached this marker. Over.”

“Roger. Please stand by.” The look of concern was still in his eyes as he spoke with Annie. “They’re not going to know where we are once we’re out that.”

She tried to alleviate his concern with a smile. “I know. And I imagine most of this part of the test is outside that range.”

“That’s my guess, too.” He chuckled as he shrugged. “Not like it’s gonna make a difference.”

“No.” Her smile brightened. “Going to have to go there if I want to complete the test.” Annie turned back to the comm. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Solo Flight. Questions asked and understood. How much time do I have to calculate my speed? Over.”

“You have five minutes, Athena, starting now. Over.”

 

They are headed out to sea, just as they thought, and they’re even gonna end up flying off the school’s radar, so to speak, as they near their first objective.  What does this leg look like?

In case you're wondering, this is their route.

In case you’re wondering, this is Annie’s route.

There you go.  Between Isles of Shoals and this marker in the middle of the ocean, there’s a whole lot of open and empty water to cross.  And just so you have another reference, down in the left hand corner, where you see the word “Rockport,” the school is sitting on the “R”.

They are a long way from home and going out even further.  Not only that–

 

“Roger. Please stand by.” She turned to Kerry. “She’s giving me way too much time to figure this out.”

He laughed. “Oh?”

“Vicky probably wants me to rest a little more because this calculation is easy.” Annie straightened her body as she gripped her hands before her. “Twenty minutes is a third of an hour. Distance is ninety-five kilometers, so twice that is one ninety, and adding ninety-five to that is two hundred and eighty-five kilometers an hour.” She curled her legs slightly while relaxing. “Going three hundred kilometers an hour will get us there with time to spare.”

“And if we haven’t found the marker in twenty minutes—”

“Then I did something wrong and went off course.” Annie placed her right hand next to her head. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. I’m ready to proceed to the next objective. Over.”

Annie was certain she heard Isis said something over a muted comm because Vicky laughed for a couple of seconds before responding. “Okay, then, Athena. You have one minute to get underway.

Notify when you are so we can start the clock. Over.”

“Roger. Over.” She slipped her balaclava back into place over her lower face and glanced at Kerry. “Up for some high speed flying?”

Kerry recovered his face as well. “Totally.”

“Then we shouldn’t waste time.” Annie checked her hood and gloves. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. We’re preparing to depart in fifteen seconds. Over.”

“Roger, Salem Final Solo. Counting down now. See you in twenty. Over and out.”

Annie leaned slightly forward, preparing to depart. “You ready?”

Kerry nodded from under his hood. “Yep. Let’s do this.”

Annie nodded back. “Let’s.” After the fifteen seconds passed on her clock she waved her right arm forward and sped off on her proper heading as fast as she could will herself. In less than twenty seconds she reached three hundred kilometers an hour and settled in behind the windscreen her Band set up.

Kerry pulled into position close behind and to Annie’s right. Now that they were at speed he could only be heard over the comms. “How’s ‘bout some music?”

She rolled slightly on to her side for just a moment so she could see Kerry better. “I’d love music.” She slid back into position after only a second, seeing she lost neither her heading or altitude. One of Kerry’s songs began playing, something that began with a long, droning synthesizer and the singer lamenting that the city streets were empty—

Given where they were headed, the streets to her destination were certainly empty.

 

Not only are they heading sixty miles/ninety-five kilometers out to sea, but they’re doing it at three hundred kilometers an hour/one hundred and eighty-six miles an hour, which is sorta like race car speeds, right?  Annie has cranked it up before, but nothing this fast.  But she’s in a test, and when you test you get tested.  And this is how she’s getting tested, by heading out into the unknown at high speed.

And what song is Kerry playing as they leave?  Why, Electric Light Orchestra’s Turned to Stone, which begins with a lyric about how the city streets are empty.  Just like the ocean, am I right?

They’re on their way.

The Final Solo: Seeing At Cedar

Here I am down to the coffee shop in windy Harrisburg, where last week I was in sandals, jeans, and a sweater, and today–

I'm not.

I’m not.

It’s cold as hell outside, and the wind blowing hard enough that the wind chill isn’t good to a body.  This is what’s known as “spring” in this part of the country, and we’re supposed to be chilly the whole week, though probably not as bad as we are today.

This is probably some kind of weird revenge for the misery I’m putting my kids through right now.  Strangely enough, Annie’s current solo flight is taking place right about the same time as today, only three years back in time.  Which makes me think:  I know exactly where they were last month, and . . . nah, I’m not gonna tell you.  At least I’ll be able to tell you what the weather was like when I get around to writing their E Level adventures.

But right now they’re on their B Level adventures, and those adventures have taken them out away from the mainland for the first time and put them out over the ocean.  Well, it’s put Annie out over the ocean for the first time:  Kerry’s been here before, though now quite as close as they are now–

 

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

Contrary to what Vicky stated Annie’s journey to her next objective took ten minutes because she kept her speed to one hundred and thirty kilometers an hour. It was one thing to cross Salem Sound at night when she knew there was a sizable land mass on the other side that would let her know when she was no longer over water, while aiming for a small group of islands a dozen kilometers off-shore was something entirely different.

She maintained her course properly for the duration of the leg, however, and wasn’t all surprised when a cluster of small islands appeared out of the rain and mist while she was still a few kilometers distant. Her Band labeled each island in the group so Annie was able to locate Cedar Island without difficultly.

From four hundred meters up there wasn’t much to see of the Isles of Shoals, which to Annie’s untrained eye appeared as four large rocks surrounded by a number of far smaller ones, and she was hesitant to call the bigger rocks islands as the three largest didn’t appear to be much larger than four hundred meters in any direction, and the objective below Annie’s feet, Cedar Island, was no bigger than a couple of football pitches set side-by-side.

She was surprised to find habitations here. The island to her left—her Band indicated it was named Star Island—was covered with buildings, while the large island to the north, Appledore, possessed a number of buildings as well. The other large island to the north of her, Smuttynose, had two two structures standing, and Cedar, directly below, had four. Annie didn’t see anyone out and about on another of the islands, which she took to mean it was either too early for activity on a Saturday morning, or the structures were currently unoccupied. Either way it meant little to her, as it wasn’t her intention to make contact with anyone on the ground during this test.

 

First of all, what is this Isles of Shoals place?  It’s pretty much like Annie said:  a bunch of rocks in the ocean.

Though don't call them rocks to their faces; they're a little sensitive about that.

Though don’t call them rocks to their faces; they’re a little sensitive about that.

The Isles of Shoals is about ten kilometers off shore from New Hampshire, and has been at one time or another a major fishing port, an artist’s colony, the rumored location of pirate’s treasure, and the scene of a semi-famous murder.

These days there’s a no-frills hotel on Star Island, a research station on Appledore Island, and one of two lighthouses in New Hampshire on White Island.  Everything’s pretty barren save for some grass on Star Island, so again, like Annie said, rocks in the ocean.

Her view is a little better than the one above:

Because why not get up close and personal with those rocks, huh?

Because why not get up close and personal with those rocks, huh?

Cedar Island is actually privately owned, though I can’t find out much more than that.  Star Island has been owned and operated since 1915 by the Star Island Corporation.  One thing of note about Star Island is that it contains, as of right now, the largest off-grid solar farm in New England, which makes the island nearly self-sufficient in terms of energy.  It also has it’s own septic treatment plant capable of handling salt water, and a reverse osmosis water purification system for converting sea water to drinking water.  In short, if you got enough food you probably could stay there year long.

Oh, and if you want to know how I know that Annie flew out to the islands at one hundred an thirty kilometers an hour–

Calculators, don't you know?

Calculators, don’t you know?

Remember, folks:  even when you make things up you should check that it’s also right.

And now they’re there, and Kerry is the first to notice something:

 

Kerry pulled to a stop next to her and yanked down his balaclava. “Welcome to Maine.”

Annie checked the map in her HUD. “We did cross the state border, didn’t we?”

“Yep. Three states in no time.”

“Since we’re here—” Annie twisted around so her back was now to the northwest wind. “—I better call in.” She exposed her face before speaking. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. We are in position over Cedar Island and my chase is documenting our position. Over.”

“We see you, Salem Final Solo.” Vicky’s tone softened a little from the professional demeanor it normally carried. “How are you feeling, Athena? Over.”

Annie wrapped her hands around her torso. “A little cold. It feels as if the wind has picked up speed. Over.”

“More that likely it has since there’s nothing to slow it down. Over.”

“True.” She twisted slightly so she could watch the waves crashing into Star Island. “At least at this altitude we’re not getting hit with ocean spray. Over.”

Kerry snickered. “No, we have the rain to keep us nice and damp.”

“Wouldn’t want you to feel too good, now would we, Starbuck?” Vicky nearly laughed. “We’re gonna give you a few minutes to rest up, kids. See you in a few. Over and out.”

 

Vicky ain’t about to let these kids get away with a snide remark here and there, is she?  But Kerry is right:  why worry about the ocean spray when you’ve got a chilly rain to keep you nice and wet, even when you are wearing waterproof parkas?  This flight isn’t just about making sure Annie can cross her “t’s” and dot her “i’s”:  there’s a few psychological factors going on as well.  Something that Annie kinda picks up on–

 

While Annie softly giggled at the exchange Kerry lifted about ten meters higher than Annie and backed away a bit so he could set her up in his phone. “Look this way and smile.”

She did as asked then waited for Kerry to return so she could see the results. “I look so alone.”

“Well, it is just you and a few rocks and a lot of water.” He looked up from the image. “We may be the only people out here.”

“I’ve already considered that.” Her face turned up in a grin. “Can you levitate the phone out a few meters and keep it still?”

“I think so. Why?”

“Because in all these solo flights we’ve only taken a couple of pictures together, and this—” She waved her arms around. “This is an important milestone. We should have a record.”

“Not to mention no one will likely believe it when we say we were here.” He set the timer and moved the phone so it was floating about three meters up and away. It didn’t take much effort to keep it still in the gusting wind, and a few seconds later the phone was back in his hand with the photographic evidence. “There you go.”

Annie smiled while examining the photo. “Nice that you could get the island in as well.”

“If all anyone saw was sky, they’d just think we shot up a few hundred meters over the school and took this.” He slipped the phone back into his parka and zipped it closed.

“I imagine that’s true.” She tugged slightly on the hood, pulling closer to her face. “Where do you think we’re going next?”

“Well . . .” Kerry sighed before spinning around to face the open water to the east. “Out that way.”

 

If I were a better person–and I’m not, but that’s beside the point–I’d say the odds that Kerry’s correct are . . . well, pretty good.

It’s just a question of where out that way they may be headed . . .

The Final Solo: Seabrook Seaside

Hello again, and welcome to the story that never seems to end.  I only say that in jest in that I doesn’t seem to end for me, but that’s my own damn fault, right?  Actually, it’s been a productive night and morning, as I polished off four hundred and forty words last night, and another eleven hundred and sixty this morning, which inched the story another sixteen hundred words towards the end and brought another scene to an end.  Given that I wasn’t in much of a writing mood last night, I consider this quite the accomplishment.

Also, I’ve a lot of pictures, because that’s how I am.  It helps where there’s a lot of visuals to help with what’s going on.  And the first I’m going to give you is this:

Looks like the sort of area you'd want to spend the summer.

Looks like the sort of area you’d want to spend the summer.

This is what my kids are right now, just a tick or two north of that state line about a third of the way from the top of the picture.  So if you’re ready for a sixteen hundred word scene, lets get to it, shall we?

 

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

Though the weather at school was reasonable at the time of take off, it began deteriorating just north of Ispwich, and by the time Annie reached Newburyport and crossed the mouth of the Merrimack River at four hundred and fifty meters the temperature lay hovering around two Celsius, the wind was steady out of the northwest at close to thirty kilometers an hour, and there was a light rain that reduced visibility and cut the view to the horizon by about a third.

The closer she got to Seabrook, the more Annie became convinced that Vicky and Isis had Harpreet’s weather forecasting abilities to find the one day that was going to be bad without being too bad.

The rain didn’t bother her: the parka was waterproof and there was no possibility of it becoming soaked even in the worst weather. She was concerned with atmospheric conditions deteriorating further—though perhaps that was the plan. Vicky stated before they left the school that she’d fly visual flight rules all the way to Seabrook, after which, as the flight instructor stated, “further instructions would be forthcoming.” Considering that Annie believed her two trainer/instructors were aware the weather would be marginal today, maybe she wasn’t supposed to use VFR after their next objective.

Her Band indicated she was closing in on Seabrook Beach, so she slowed and began scanning inland for her last known objective: the Seabrook nuclear power plant. While her Band was slighted “detuned” for this flight, making it impossible to pick out individual buildings as she’d done during her night solo flight into Boston, Vicky told her to look for two domes about two klicks inland from Hampton Harbor—

She came to a stop and looked around. The Atlantic looked a little over a kilometer to her right, and the bridge a kilometer and a half away had to be Route 1A crossing the Hampton Harbor inlet. In her ten o’clock position she spotted a group of buildings nearly two and a quarter kilometers away, and while she wasn’t certain the tall structure on the left was domed, she was absolutely certain the larger one on the right was . . .

She turned to Kerry, who was allowed to answer questions without being specific. “Does that look like a nuclear power plant to you?”

He raised his flight goggles and squinted into the growing mist. “That looks like a containment dome to me.” Kerry slipped the goggles back over his glasses and adjusted them so they sat comfortably once more. “I’d say you found your objective.”

Annie grinned. “Let’s slip over there and call in, then.”

She quickly covered the two kilometers to the station and took up a position between the two cylindrical, domed buildings. Annie was slightly puzzled by the fact that the building to her right appeared finished and usable, while the one to her left looked as if it were under construction. “Are they working on the one down there?”

Before Kerry could venture a guess Vicky came on the comm line. “That building is the containment dome for Seabrook #2, which was never completed. If you notice all of the buildings around that dome are unfinished.”

Kerry nodded. “She’s right.”

 

Of course she is, because I do my research.  Here’s the area Salem Final Solo is floating over–

Yeah, it looks pretty much like Vicky described, doesn't it.

Yeah, it looks pretty much like Vicky described, doesn’t it.

Unit 1–the dome on the right that’s all nice and gray and solid-looking–was completed in 1986 and went online at full power in 1990.  Unit 2–the silvery looking dome on the left–was supposed to go online about the same time, but it was canceled in 1988 while only about a quarter finished, and whatever equipment had been installed was stripped from the buildings and sold to other plants.

In story terms Annie and Kerry are sitting a few hundred meters up right between the two units, probably breaking lots of laws in the process, but since they’re totally in stealth mode no one sees them.  Also, being a couple of witchy witches working for the fantastic Foundation, they could likely land on top of Unit 1 and dance a jig and no one could do a damn thing to them short of yell up, “Hey, you kids, get off my nuclear reactor!”  Being Aware has it’s perks.

With the kids in place that means they’d done what they’ve needed to do up to this point, save for a few things–

 

“Needless to say.” Annie smiled as she spun around to face Kerry. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. As you’ve probably guessed, we are in position over Objective Four and my chase is in the process of documenting our arrival as we speak. Over.”

Kerry finished snapping a picture of the nuclear plant below before turning the phone on Annie. “Give us a smile, luv.” Annie obliged, throwing one hand behind her head in a mock pose.

Vicky’s chuckle seemed loud in their ears. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. We confirm your position over Seabrook Station. We’re gonna go dark on this end and let you rest for five minutes before we continue with the flight. Any questions? Over.”

Annie exchanged head shakes with Kerry. “None on this end, Flight Deck. Over.”

“Okay, then. We’ll see you in five. Over and out.” The comms went dead as Vicky terminated communications on their end.

Annie looked off to her right, examining the area they’d previously covered, before turning to Kerry. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m good.” He pulled down the balaclava but left his goggles in place so his glasses wouldn’t get wet. “Considering it’s crappy and rainy, I’m not too bad. How about you?”

“Much the same.” Annie exposed her face, setting her goggles atop her head. “I have a feeling the weather is going to remain this way for a while.”

“Yeah.” Kerry set back on his broom and let his arms dangle at his sides. “Where do you think we’re headed next?”

“Well . . .” She spun slowly in place, examining her options. While accepting that her flight was sent north so that she’d experience this weather, she hadn’t given any thought to her next objective.

“We’re not far from the mountains, are we?”

“Not really.” He pointed off to the northwest. “The southern part of the White Mountains are about a hundred an twenty kilometers off that way. We flew through those on our second and third overnight flights, and the last time we did it through some snow—” Kerry shook his head. “If it’s raining like this there’s gonna be a lot of mist, and that’s gonna make visual flying a pain in the butt.”

“I believe that’s the idea.” Annie floated closer to Kerry. “Vicky made a point of stressing visual flight rules up to this point. I suspect Isis and she want me to start reaching my objectives using instrument flight rules now.”

Kerry pressed his index finger against his pursed lips. “Yeah, that makes sense. You haven’t done that in a solo flight test yet, and this kind of weather would pretty much require you to use IFRs.” He set his hands in his lap and sighed. “Getting up there, doing some flying around, and then flying back at high speed—that’s four hundred klicks easily.”

Annie moved so she was at Kerry’s left side facing the same direction. “Any chance we would hit a mountain?”

“I don’t think so: the HUDs have collision avoidance turned on, so if we got too close to something big, it’d let us know before we plowed into it at a few hundred kilometers an hour.”

“That’s comforting.” She leaned in and kissed Kerry on the cheek. “You wouldn’t allow that to happen.”

“Nope.” He blushed furiously. “That’s why I’m a good chase.”

“And a good husband.” A burst of white noise told Annie the comms were active once more. “Get ready—”

 

It’s cold, rainy, and misty.  And there’s a possibility they’re heading into the White Mountains, thought Annie likely doesn’t think much of the mountains around that area given she lives in the middle of some real mountains.  Then again, she’s not done a lot of flying around her mountains in bad weather, so it really doesn’t matter if she thinks the mountains in New Hampshire are rubbish or not, smacking into a rubbish peak at a hundred and sixty kilometers an hour will kill you just as quickly as slamming into one of the great peak around her home.  Dead is dead, no matter how it happens.

However, Vicky has something else in mind–

 

“Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck.” Vicky’s tone turned slightly humorous. “I hope you’re feeling relaxed and comfortable. Over.”

Annie snorted. “About as relaxed and comfortable as you might expect given the weather, Flight Deck.” She glanced over at Kerry. “I take it this weather was expected. Over.”

“Yes, it was, Athena. That’s because—” Vicky paused for just a moment. “We’re about to start you on the instrument flight rules portion of the test. Over.”

“I’m not surprised, Flick Deck.” She winked at Kerry, who winked back. “Salem Final Solo is ready to begin. Over.”

“Good deal, Salem Final Solo. All right, then, since you’re ready to fly, then let’s get you started.” Vicky’s tone turned serious. “Set your course heading to sixty-six degrees—repeat, zero-six-six degrees. Your next objected is twenty-one point six kilometers distant, so I would expect you to get there in less that five minutes. Do you copy? Over.”

Annie read the look on Kerry’s face the moment Vicky called out the course heading, and she realized it was likely the same look had passed over her face at the same moment. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. The heading you gave—” She rotated slowly until she was facing the New Hampshire coast line. “That takes us out over the Atlantic. Is that correct? Over.”

Vicky responded immediately. “You read correct, Salem Final Solo. Your objective is Cedar Island in the Isles of Shoals. Please confirm. Over.”

“I copy, Flight Deck. Please stand by.” She looked at Kerry. “I didn’t expect that one.”

“I didn’t, either.” He pulled his broom around to his right and slid into position so Annie was once more on his left. “Over water travel. That’s sort of a new one.”

“I’ve crossed Salem Sound; this shouldn’t be that bad.” She squinted out into the rainy mist. “Nothing but gray out there.”

“And it’s probably going to remain that way until we’re a couple of klicks away.” He chuckled. “That’s why she gave is a distance: if we know it’ll only take five minutes to get there, and we fly for ten, then we’ve missed the island.”

“Makes perfect sense.” She reflectively placed her right hand next to her ear as if it would help her hear better. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. We’re ready to proceed. Over.”

With her instructions given Vicky sounded far more upbeat when she spoke. “Roger, Salem Final Solo. You may proceed at your discretion. See you in a few minutes. Over and out.”

Annie began floating forward as Kerry and she pulled their balaclavas back into place. She glanced over her shoulder as her chase took up his place a few meters behind and to her right. “One good thing about going in this direction—”

Kerry slowly followed. “What’s that?”

She twisted her head slightly to one side. “There’s nothing to run into out there.”

 

So instead of heading inland, the kids are heading out to sea.

Though it's not that far out to sea--see?

Though it’s not that far out to sea–see?

Now, one last thing:  once of the things I needed to figure out for the upcoming sections of the story is how to figure out headings on Google Maps, since if Annie’s doing instrument flight rules, it’d be nice to know if I’m really sending her off in the right direction and not just pulling numbers out of my butt and hoping no one goes, “Hey, you’re going to wrong way!”  Because no one has ever done that, right?

Fortunately for me I found a site that allows you to overlay a compass on to Google Maps and figure out if my directions are at least close to right.  Having all ready figured out Annie’s course, I needed to bring up this other site, determine her start and end points for each leg, and chart the heading by pulling the compass line over the objective.  As you see in the image below, there’s a heading number in the upper right hand corner of the display, and that allows me to know what course to set for Annie.

Not quite as easy charting everything out on an pilot's map, but for what I'm doing it works.

Not quite as easy charting everything out on a pilot’s map, but for what I’m doing it works.

And there you have it:  I’ve gotten her to points north, and now–

Well, you’ll have to see where she goes from here.

The Final Solo: Quiet Moments On the Flight Line

My computer was being a pain in the ass this morning, but somehow I manged to get it to act nice long enough to finish this scene and get the post prepped.  I hate when my  computer isn’t being nice to me, and perhaps it’s time to think about moving up to something new–even though I hate most of the systems I’ve seen.  I know:  First World Problems.

Speaking of those, I did not expect to write as much as I did last night.  I thought, “Eh, I’ll get five, six hundred words in and go to bed,” and before I realized what was going on it was after eleven PM and I’d passed a thousand words, and there was no way in hell I could go to bed without finishing the scene.  So I did, topping out at twelve hundred and twelve words.  Must be some kind of synergy there, right?

Doesn't matter.  I'm done with the scene.

Doesn’t matter. I’m done with the scene.

So what happened with Annie in the Hanger?  Well . . .

 

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

She leaned against the wall waiting for him to arrive and allowed her thoughts to wander back to the overview Vicky and Isis gave when they finished with breakfast. The solo would start as soon as both fliers were in place and ready to go. From the school Annie was to set out under visual flight rules for the Annisquam River and the parking lot at Wingaersheek Beach, then proceed to the intersection of Martin and Main Streets in Essex. After that she’d turn north and zip up to the train station at Ispwich, then continued heading north up the coast until they reached the nuclear power station at Seabrook, New Hampshire.

What concerned Annie was what came after she reached Seabrook, for neither Vicky or Isis would say anything about what happened after that point: the only think either would say was that “further instructions would be forthcoming” and left it at that.

That wasn’t true, thought: there were two items concerning the solo that Kerry and she were giving in the short briefing. The first is that she’d have thirty minutes to cover the almost forty-five kilometers to Seabrook—and the second was that this solo flight would cover a total of four hundred kilometers. Given that she had thirty minutes to cover just under one-eighth of the course, and that they were ordered to wear their arctic parkas and winter gear, Annie suspected there was an excellent likelihood this solo would involve some high speed flying at some point.

Something Kerry said as they headed into the locker rooms began making sense. He told her that one of the reasons for a steak and eggs was not that it was just traditional, but it was high protein meal that would digest slower and provide energy for a longer time while producing little or no waste—though his exact statement was that they wouldn’t need to stop and poop at any point. He also suspected that since the sides were mostly carbohydrates and starches, it would give them a quick energy release to get them going and probably wear off within the hour.

That information fit with the profile Annie was developing: they’d both receive a quick burst of energy from the starches that would take them thought the easy part of the course, after which the protein left them with a reserve of long-term energy through the difficult part of the flight. However, this didn’t answer the question of where she was flying where Kerry and she were going to need this energy—

 

What she thinks about breakfast is true, because I did my research.  Protein does digest slower, so you have more energy for longer.  And there’s little residual waste, so that means hardly any pooping.  True story:  when William Anders prepared for the Apollo 8 mission to the moon, he started on a high protein diet about three weeks before lift-off, and he even stated that one of his goals was to not poop at all during the mission.  Why would you do that?  Because when you flew in space in 1968, you stuck a Ziploc bag on your butt, did your business, and then stored it away.  And Anders didn’t want to do that, so–high protein, low poop.  As it was it didn’t matter, ’cause Frank Borman caught the flu on the way to the moon and pretty much used up all the bags through bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.  Yeah, that was a fun trip–

In case you were wondering–and it doesn’t matter if you are, ’cause I’m running this blog–here’s Annie’s route Seabrook under visual flight rules:

Pretty straight forward, wouldn't you say?

Pretty straight forward, wouldn’t you say?

Twenty-seven and a quarter miles/forty-three point eight-six kilometers in thirty minutes.  Because they have to stop at three spots along the way and get pictures, she’s gonna fly along as a little better than one hundred kilometers an hour, which is sixty-two miles an hour.  Annie knows that part is easy ’cause she’s already do that in the previous solo flights.  And look!  Here comes her chase:

 

Kerry came bounding down the stairs, his gloves hanging from the sleeves of his parka and broom in his left hand. “Sorry I took so long.” He hurried up and gave Annie a kiss. “Vicky was being a total pain about checking out my broom.”

Annie found that surprising as, in the past, flight instructor did little more than give Kerry’s broom a quick inspection before handing it over. “What did she do?”

“She had me go into hover while she did a processor check.” He glance to the stairs to make certain no one was standing there listening. “We didn’t even do those when we went off on overnight flights.”

“What about when you flew back from Nova Scotia during your first camp out?” The high altitude, near six hundred kilometers an hour leg Emma and he flew last December during Advanced Flight One’s first overnight camp out and test flight was a subject of discussion among the students in A Level Basic Flight, and Annie had overheard some of the hushed conversation in the tower covens from time-to-time when Kerry and she entered the area.

“We checked out the brooms before leaving camp, but not at any point after that.”

She nodded. “I’m certain we’re going to do some high speed flying today.”

He gave her hand a squeeze. “You ready for that?”

She chuckled. “Like I have a choice.”

Before Kerry answered there was a voice in their heads. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Comm check. Over.”

Protocol demanded Annie respond first. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo, Athena Actual. Over.”

Kerry glanced up at the ceiling. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo, Starbuck Actual. Over.”

Vicky’s voice was smooth and professional. “Roger, Final Solo. Proceed to flight land and prepare for take off. Over.”

“Roger, Flight Deck. Over and out.” Annie smiled at Kerry. “This is it.”

“It certainly is.” He waved the large hangar door aside and he waited for Annie to take the first steps before following.

 

You gotta love the attitude everyone takes when they start one of these flights, and both kids know how to get their game faces on when it time for business.  It’s another of the reasons Kerry is allowed to be Annie’s chase without needing someone older, like Nadine, to back him up:  he’s not there to goof off or screw around, he’s there to do his job, and he does it.

Now all that remains is to get this party started . . .

 

The sky was lighter but remained a solid gray. The temperature had finally risen over three Celsius, but the wind was blowing at a steady twenty kilometer’s an hour. And didn’t worry about the wind as in a few minutes they were going to leave the school and fly along at five times that speed, which was going to drop the temperatures to below freezing. She slipped on her gloves and waited for the final go while Kerry set his broom to hover and set his tablet in place. “How are you feeling?”

“Nervous.” He locked the computer in place and jiggled it to make certain the enchantment was crafted properly. “I want everything to go well.”

“It will.” She reached for his glove and slipped it on to his left hand. “We do what we’re supposed to do, nothing more. Just like the other two times.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “No problem.”

Vicky interrupted their conversation. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Prepare for take off. Over.”

Annie didn’t take her eyes from Kerry. “Roger, Flight Deck. Preparing for take off. Over.” She wrapped her arms around Kerry’s neck and kissed him hard. “I love you, my darling.”

Before she could pull away Kerry pulled her close and kissed her back. “I love you, my little sarmi.” He flipped her hood into place. “You’re gonna do great.”

She shot him a broad grin. “Yes, I will.”

Almost the second Kerry was on his broom Vicky gave the order. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. Take off and proceed to Objectives One through Four; upon reaching each objective call in and document. You have thirty minutes from lift off to reach Objective Four, Seabrook. Any questions? Over.”

Annie slid her balaclava up over her face. “No questions, Flight Deck. We’re ready to go. Over.”

“In that case, Salem Final Solo—” Vicky paused for just a moment. “You are cleared for take off. Over.”

“Roger, Flight Deck. Taking off now.” Annie went into hover then slowly rose twenty meters into the air, checking that Kerry was with her. “We are airborne, Flight Deck. Over.”

Vicky choked slightly as she spoke. “We have you airborne, Salem Final Solo. The clock is running; best get going. Over.”

“Roger. We’ll call you at Essex. Over and out.” She shot another hundred meters straight up, clearing the trees. She was already facing west and had her first objective, the mouth of the Annisquam River, in sight. She glanced over to Kerry. “You ready?”

He waved forward. “Lead on, Athena.”

“Will do, Starbuck.” Annie leaned forward and pushed through the air.

Her last qualifying solo flight was under way.

 

The party is underway, and Annie’s in the air.

What’s coming next?  You’ll be the second to find out.

The Night Air: A Proper Finish

Before getting to the good, writty stuff, let’s get the personal stuff out of the way first, because that’s how I usually do it here at Casa Burg.  Yesterday marked eighteen months that I’ve done hormone replacement therapy, and there was some time–not much, but some–to reflect on what’s happened.  Needless to say, there’s more craziness than I care to admit that has followed me around since that time.  But I’ve made it so far, and I’ll hope to ilk out another six months now so I can make it to two years.

I even thought to snap a picture before heading out into the cold to work.

I even thought to snap a picture before heading out into the cold to work.

Now the writty stuff.  The scene is over, because I sat down last night and in two and a half hours time wrote just a smidgen over twelve hundred words.  And it was something of a strange situation because because the fifteen hundred words of the scene focuses on my kids through the eyes of Vicky and Isis.  But before we get into how they see my kidlettes, we get a reminder that there is always a bit of multiculturalism going on at the school:

 

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

Isis entered the Flight Deck carrying a small cup of steaming coffee. She held it up for Vicky to examine. “You sure you don’t want me to get you one, too?”

Vicky shook her head. “Thank you, but I enjoy coffee that I don’t have to cut with a knife.”

Isis chucked before taking her seat. “Can’t help it if I prefer Egyptian coffee over that Americano crap you drink. It’s part of my heritage, you know?”

“Did you get your love of that strange ass sausage from the other side of your family?” Everyone at the school was aware that Isis was not only half-Egyptian from her mother, but that her father was half Puerto Rican, and due to this family connection she’d developed a love of the cuisine of both her father’s and father’s mother’s countries.

“You mean botifarra?” Isis set her coffee aside. “That stuff’s the shit, I’m tellin’ you, girl.” She stretched out her legs. “I made carne bif and oxtail soup for Wends over Yule holiday and she loved them both. She even likes my coffee.”

“That’s cause she’s crazy in love with you. Did she make you borscht while you were hangin’ in the desert?” Vicky wasn’t the only instructor who enjoyed kidding the school’s spell mistress about her long-hidden Russian heritage.

“She said she’ll make it next year when we go to Innsbruck for Yule.” Isis adjusted her glasses before nodding towards the display. “Where’s Annie?”

 

We knew from past readings that Isis is half Egyptian, but now we learn she’s also a quarter Puerto Rican from her father’s side.  And that she has a girlfriend who was secretly half-Russian for quite some time before her dad was outed as a spy.  And Vicky’s Jewish, so a lot of bases covered.

That little part above required some real quick research as I looked up how Egyptians make coffee–like Turkish coffee is made, only thicker–and I found botifarra quickly along with carne bif.  One interesting thing about making Egyptian coffee is you’re told not to pour the sludge at the bottom of the pot into your cup, except in the cases where you want to stay up all night.  Apparently Isis doesn’t need to bother with that Americano crap–aka, what most of us in the U.S. drink that passes for coffee–and it’s probably why she’s drinking out of small cups.

In case you’re like Isis and wondering about Annie’s location, she’s somewhere on this map of the last leg of her flight.

More towards the upper right than the lower left.

More towards the upper right than the lower left.

Actually Kerry and she are approaching the next to last dot, with the last one being the Flight School.  This map is the final leg from the Wonderland station to home, so you can see where she’s been and going.  And as expected, Kerry and she took the route across the sound to Manchester-by-the-Sea before turning towards the school.

With them just outside the walls, more or less, Vicky needs to get something ordered–

 

Vicky examined the tank without getting up. “Looks like they’re about to stop at the last check point and head home.” She slowly stood and pointed at one of the computer displays, bringing it awake. “Better let the hospital know we’ll bring them in and see if they wanna keep them overnight—”

“For observation?”

Vicky nodded. “Sure.”

Isis turned a playful smirk towards her friend. “You’re an enabler, you know that?”

“Why? Because I want to make sure they don’t have hypothermia?”

“Because you know if you get Coraline to put them up for observation, they’re gonna spend the night together in the same bed.”

Vicky tapped the computer display before. “Text mode, direct to hospital. Start: Gretchen, we’re bringing Annie and Kerry by for their after-flight checkup right after they land. Let Coraline know we’ll be there in about ten minutes. End: Send.” She turned back to Isis, folding her arms across her chest. “Enabler, huh? Did anyone enable you into bed with another girl when you were a student?”

Isis took a long sip of her coffee before answering. “None of the instructors we’re making it easy for me, I know that.”

“Um, hum.” A slight smile appeared on Vicky’s face. “You’re Chief of Security, so when Coraline’s finished with them, you can pull them aside and tell them to knock that shit off—” She winked.  “Yeah?”

 

Yeah, Isis:  you’re the Head Cop about town, why not sit those kids down and tell them to stay in their own beds?  I mean, if it came right down to it, the Chief of Security could tell the kids to chill their jets.  However . . .

 

Isis stared back at Vicky for nearly five seconds before she snorted. “You know I’m not going to do that. It hasn’t become a problem, and if it were—” She shrugged. “The headmistress knows about it, and if she hasn’t comment by now, I’m not going to say anything.” She stared down at her nearly empty coffee cup. “Though if someone ever walks in on them in the hospital doing something—”

“It won’t happen; they’re not like that.” Vicky sat back against the instrument console. “They’ve been out tonight, fifty kicks out and back, and we both know they’re hitting negative wind chills the whole time, and not once have either of them complained about this flight. Sure, they’ve privately said it’s cold, and that they’re cold, but they haven’t publicly bitched about how cold their are, and could they please come in early.” She recrossed her arms as she lowered her gaze towards the floor. “They’re like that with everything: give them an assignment or a job to do, and they get it done. No whining, no bitching, no pissing and moaning. I wish more of our students were like that.”

Though Isis had no contact with either student in a classroom environment—other than her flight lessons with Annie—she knew of their exploits through numerous dinners conversations in the Instructor’s Residence and late-night talks with Wednesday. There were, however, things of which she was aware that only two other instructors at Salem knew, and while she didn’t have all the facts from their weekend away from Salem, she knew why their student files were yellow flagged as well as knowing that they should have a red flag . . .

“You’re right: they’re good kids. I suppose that if everyone else can look the other ways concerning their—” She raised an eyebrow. “—occasional nocturnal actives, I can as well. Besides, if their parents ever find out what they’re doing, I won’t be one of the people who’ll have to face them.”

“True there.” Vicky pushed away from the console and moved closer to the holo tank. “They’re coming in.”

 

. . . Even Isis knows it’s a fool’s journey to get between two kids in love.  The only solution she could ask for while they’re in the hospital is put them in separate bays, and Coraline is probably hip to the fact that one or both kids would need monitoring through the night to keep them from sneaking into the other’s bay.  They seem to have the light bending invisibility down pretty well, so trying to keep them out of a single bed in the middle of the night in the hospital is kinda like Lori keeping Carl in the house and away from zombies.

They could also lock them into a bad.  Which isn’t good, either, because what if they need to get out.  Or just drug them up and make them sleep.  Eh, they aren’t getting sexy with each other, so let it bed.  After all, if the headmistress hasn’t said anything, then no biggie.  And it seems that Isis doesn’t mind cutting them slack because she knows things about them.

So they’re almost home–right?

 

“So they are.” Isis stood and joined her friend watching the two small blips coming closer to the middle of the display centered on the Flight School. Only . . . “It looks like they’re going to fly past us.”

Vicky shrunk the display to show only the school grounds, now that they were inside the outer walls. “Looks that way.” She tapped her left ear. “Salem Night Solo, this is Flight Deck. Where are you going? Over.”

Annie’s answer was prefaced by a laugh. “Flight Deck, we’re taking a short detour—” The comm exploded with the sound of a loud, screeching guitar before breaking into a driving song.
Isis watched the dots closely. “Looks like they’re going to buzz The Pentagram.”

Vicky started laughing as she dots heading straight for the Great Hall. “Shit. Kerry and I did that the first day he checked out on an Espinoza, and he told me Annie and he did the same thing later that day.” She watched them fly between Ceridwen and Cernunnos Towers before slipping between the hall and Åsgårdsreia Tower before buzzing Mórrígan and Blodeuwedd Towers on their way back to the Flight School. “Let’s get outside.”

“Right with you.” Rather than head for the stairs and walk outside, Isis and Vicky jaunted down to Selena’s Meadow. Isis immediately looked to the north and the music. “Jesus, he’s really blasting that computer.”

“You should know it can do that; you modified it for him.” Vicky watched both fliers come in fast, slowing only at the last moment before dropping eight meters straight down to land slightly harder than normal a few meters from their observers. Vicky waited for Kerry to kill the music before speaking. “Rock in America, Kerry? I didn’t think you had that in you.”

He threw his leg over his broom and dismounted. “I can be full of surprises—” He lifted his goggled before slipping back his hood. “When it’s needed.”

“I see.” Vicky turned to the smiling girl in front of her. “And what the hell was that last maneuver? I don’t recall that being authorized.”

Annie pushed back her hood before removing her goggles. “Well . . .” The moment Kerry reached her side she threw her right arm around him. “It seemed like a good way of letting everyone know we were home.”

 

Tunes, baby, and Annie is having fun with them.  Also, blasting around The Pentagram, Great Hall, and coven towers with music blaring as loud as possible is a great way to let everyone know you’re back on the reservation.  I guess after a few hours in the cold Annie wasn’t about to sneak in like a teen trying to cover up that she was out late with her girlfriends.  Annie’s pretty much saying, “I’m home, bitches!” and Kerry’s right there helping her the whole way.

And what is he playing?  (You Can Still) Rock in America, by Night Ranger.  Given that Kerry’s already played Sing Me Away by the same band, either Vicky wasn’t paying attention to the comms at that point, or she was having a bad reaction to Isis’ coffee.

One scene left in the chapter, and as you can probably guess, there’s some warming involved . . .

The Night Air: Buzzing the Grounds

For me, starting anything new–a story, a chapter, a scene–is always difficult.  Not to mention that Wednesday night is usually when I stop off for dinner and a few adult beverages, and last night being no exception, it was really difficult getting my butt going on the next scene.

Really, for something like getting this new stuff going, I really need to sit in a room with everything off save the music and just jam away.  Sort of like I’m doing now, with the buds in listening to Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like a Hole blast into my ears.  Why am I listing to this?  Because it’s a song that’s gonna play during one of the various excursions Annie and Kerry go out on when they’re flying about wherever they fly.  And that deals with a scene that won’t come up for a while, but me, I gotta get into it now, because most of the stuff I know about this novel are already set in stone.

Yeah, I can figure out future scenes in my head, but I can’t get the current ones going.

"All I gotta do is put one word after another.  It's really easy--at least that's what everyone tells me."

“All I gotta do is put one word after another. It’s really easy–at least that’s what everyone tells me.”

Let’s put this behind me and move forward . . .

What comes is short–two hundred and ninety-five words–and kinda sweet, because we’ve not seen much internalizing with the following instructor.  Vicky doesn’t get the same kind of exposure that some of the other instructors get, mostly because she’s the Flight and Jaunt instructor, and the Jaunting doesn’t come until the kid’s D Levels–assuming they need the the class, if you know what I mean.  You really think Annie and Kerry won’t figure out teleportation before they start that class?

Which means this witch is chillin’ back on the Deck, and considering things in her mind–

 

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

Vicky kept her eyes on the hologram tank in the middle of the room, much as she had nearly the whole night. It was much the same way the month before when Annie was out on her first solo flight, though they flight was in broad daylight and she and her chance were twenty-five kilometers from the school at their furthest.

She’d taken a chance sending them out on a night solo her second flight. Normal protocol would see Annie doing an early morning forty kilometer run to Lawrence before turning south to Middleton and back to Manchester before returning to the school. Total distance would have been right around ninety kilometers, but it would have been in daylight, and if there had been issues getting home would have meant flying towards the rising sun until they reached the ocean, and then followed the shoreline back to Cape Ann.

This solo flight saw them over a mostly urban environment, at night, venturing out to fifty kilometers from the safety of the Flight School. Vicky was aware they’d flown further on their own on brooms: once at the end of their A Levels, and once at the start of this school year. Both times they’d flown more than a hundred kilometers away, but those were straight-forward flights out and back, with little navigating in between. She also had it on good authority that Kerry did all the planing for their trips, figuring out their flight plans prior to departures.

He’s good at that. Vicky watched the dots in the tank heading towards their last checkpoint in Gloucester. Annie’s never shown an interest in that part of flying until now. Like everything else in her life, she develops her talent on her own schedule.

 

The only big revelation we have here is that the second solo flight would have been a morning jaunt to the west and back, about ninety kilometers total, with Annie never getting more than forty klicks out.

Do I have that mapped out?  You have to ask?

Do I have that mapped out? You have to ask?

It was a simply flight, and that’s probably why Vicky decided to blow it off, because it was too simply.  Little Miss Death Spells loves a challenge, and sending her to Boston at night is a good one, don’t you agree?  If Vicky hadn’t, Annie would have likely complained a little about how easy that mission was.  And let’s not give Annie anything easy to do, shall we?

This isn’t going to be a long scene, and it’s likely the scene after won’t be a long one, either.  Like I said, I know what to write.

Getting started on it is always a pain in the butt.  If only that were easier . . .

The Night Air: Fenway Fraternization

Mornings with good coffee seem to do the trick for me, because today I’ve had good coffee, a good muffin, and good music, and in two hours time I’ve written almost twelve hundred words even with breaks for conversation and research.  And with the three hundred words I wrote last last night, there almost fourteen hundred and fifty words to post today.  That’s a whole lotta writing, let me tell you.

The flight moves on, and by now my kids are well down into the city of Boston–or Bastaan, if you prefer.  This scene leads off with a bit of recollecting as my Solo Flier and her Chase arrive at the next stop of their whirlwind tour of the Night Skies of New England . . .

 

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

The universities were behind them. They flew past Tuffs University on their way from the Salem Street Interchange to Porter Square Shopping Center. They flew over the Harvard Law Library and the Cambridge Public Library. They stopped and admired the Barker Engineering Library at MIT despite the creeping cold. They follow the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge over Charles River and then make their way the few blocks to the I-90 Massachusetts Turnpike.

Her Annie floated next to Kerry as she stared into a large encircled space filled with darkness. According to her flight computer this was her next objective. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Night Solo.” She didn’t bother telling Vicky who she was: it was obvious who was speaking. “We’re outside Fenway Park. Over.”

“Roger, Salem Night Solo. We see you in position.” Vicky’s voice was as it’d been throughout the night: calm and cool. “Proceed to the interior of the park. You can descend once inside, but do not get any closer than ten meters to the field surface. Over.”

“Roger, Flight Deck. Heading inside now. Over.” She turned to the chase pilot on her right. “Are your ready?”

“Always.” Kerry motioned to the park ahead and below. “Lead on.”

 

At the start of the scene Annie and Kerry have covered the following ground since the last scene:

Leg Number Three: schools for rich kids and points south.

Leg Number Three: schools for rich kids and points south.

And when Annie radios in, they are pretty much, well . . . here.

Out over the ribbon of highway on the right looking at the big open space on the left.

Out over the ribbon of highway on the right looking at the big open space on the left.  Without any of the people in that space, naturally.

Now that they are here, time for pictures and what not, right?

 

Annie nodded, then began moving slowly and cautiously toward the park ahead. As they were at an altitude of two hundred meters, they were dropping towards the field almost as quickly as they were approaching the structure. Given that they were only a few hundred meters away, they were over the outer walls and moving into the park proper after only twenty seconds. After passing over a large wall and bleachers she stopped about twenty-five meters above a large grassy area. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Night Solo.” She looked about the structure, slowly spinning in place. “We’re inside. Over.”

“Roger, Night Solo.” Vicky’s tone soften and even grew a bit quiet as if she were speaking to them privately and in person. “Isis and I are gonna get coffee and relax a bit, so you may as well rest, too. Stay inside your current location, but as stated don’t get any closer to the ground than ten meters. We’re gonna turn the comms off, too, so hang tight and enjoy the me time.” The flight instructor chuckled. “Catch you in twenty. Over and out.”

The constant white noise that always seemed to be in her ears vanished, and Annie understood that Kerry and she were truly alone since leaving the school—or as alone as any two people can be while surrounded by a million people. “Well, then.” She glanced over to Kerry. “Fancy anywhere in particular?”

Kerry pointed straight ahead. “How about there by home plate?” He indicated the stands to their right. “The wind’s out of the northwest, and if we get down to ten, eleven meters, they should block most of it.” He turned to Annie. “At least we won’t have to deal with wind chill that way.”

“I like that. Get us into position.” She followed Kerry until they were nearly out of the field area entirely, almost over the seating but not quite. They both spun around so the stands were behind them and to each side, while they faced the expansive open space. Now that they were at rest Annie could better see the large, dark, quiet area. “What is this place? It’s obviously a stadium, but it’s far too small for football.”

 

“Isis and I are gonna get coffee and relax a bit–”  Sure you are.  The instructors at Salem are such horrible bullshitters, am I right?  It’s not like they can’t get as much coffee as they like when their waiting for the kids to get from one destination to another, and they certainly wouldn’t need to shut off the comms while drink:  that’s what the mute button’s for.  No, this is just ploy by the Vicky and Isis to allow the kids a few moments alone, floating around in the darkness while out on their own.  Plus, they’ve heard enough lovey dovey crap, so it’s not as if they need to hear more.

Before that happens, though, Annie’s about to get a mini-lesson in American sporting venues.  She’s seeing something that she’s likely never seen before in her whole life . . .

 

“Fenway Park is a baseball stadium.” Kerry slipped over until he was only a half a meter away from his floating Annie. “I don’t know much about baseball, but I know a bit about this place ‘cause it’s really famous.”

“Like?”

“I know it turned a hundred years old last year; there’s like one other baseball park in the country that’s that old. There’s a few others that were built in like the 1960s and 70s, and then all the other parks are like twenty years old or less.” He pointed to his left at the large green wall at the far end of the field. “That’s called the Green Monster. I think it’s twelve meters high.” He chuckled. “Which is why we can’t see over it.”

Annie curled her legs just a little under her. “It’s so quaint.”

“They always used to build these inside city neighborhoods, so if you wanted to see a game you just walked or took a cab or train. I think a few are still like that; I flew over one in New York when I went to the World’s Fair site, and it was sorta in a neighborhood.” He stretched his legs as he leaned back a little. “That’s about all my baseball knowledge.”

Annie pulled her balaclava down exposing her face. “Don’t forget to get a picture.”

 

And it turns out Kerry doesn’t know much about the place, either; it would appear he’s not much on baseball.  He is right, however:  the year before the park did turn 100, and he’s pretty much correct about the other ball parks around the country–that’s some of what I was researching.  He’s also correct about the Green Monster, which is thirty-seven feet two inches high, or 11.33 meters.  As they are hovering at ten meters, that does put them below the top of the tallest wall in any US baseball stadium.

So here they are, inside a totally dark and silent edifice–

Lights are off and the Green Monster to the right is quiet.

Lights are off and the Green Monster to the right is quiet.

And they are out of the wind and sorta cozy.

They're sort of floating over that big green circle on the left side of picture, just about even with that first overhang section.

They’re sort of floating over that big green circle to the left of center, just about even with that first overhang section with the dark seats.  Hi, kids!

Now that I got them all situated and the comms are quiet, they can finally start talking.

 

“Right.” Kerry snapped a photo with his tablet and set it back into position on his broom. “You cold?”

“Just a little.” Annie wrapped her hands around her torso. “But we’re out of the wind. It’s not that bad.”

Kerry exposed his face as well. “We could always set a fire and warm up. It won’t take much to set it floating.”

“I’m afraid we if did someone would see the glow and report a fire.” She shook her head. “I’m fine, my love. Besides, it’s not as if we didn’t know it was going to be cold. It was cold during our last solo flight.” She waved her hands at the structure around them. “And that time we didn’t have an old stadium in which to rest.”

“True that, my Darling.” He lightly tapped the top edge of his tablet. “What about music? There aren’t a lot of people walking by tonight, and even if they hear it, they’ll think it’s coming from somewhere else.”

Annie began beaming. “That would be great, my love.”

Within a few seconds music began playing, only unlike the upbeat tunes Kerry played while they were airborne, this one had a slower tempo and was much more melancholy. “What’s song is this?”

Drive, by The Cars. They were from Boston—” He rested his hands in his lap as he leaned forward. “Kinda seems appropriate now, given our location.”

“Um. I see your point.” Annie brushed Kerry’s arm. “Let’s not have the songs get too depressing, though.”

He laughed. “As you wish.” The moment the song ended he tapped up another, one that started with a solo piano into before launching into a far happier tempo. “Year of the Cat should be better.”

Annie nodded her approval after a few seconds. “Yes, I like this one much better.”

“Anything to keep my little soloist happy.” He stared straight ahead for several moment, seeming lost in thought. “I spoke with Helena last Friday while Isis and you got ready for this flight.”

 

First off, Kerry’s got the tunes rolling once more, and you can almost imagine them echoing about the confines of the park.  They are right:  the bright glow of a warming fire might get noticed and cause someone too call the fire department, which would be awkward to say the least.  First you get the depressing tune–and trust me, even though I love this song it is depressing.

And once it’s over he pulls up something a little more upbeat, because the last thing he wants to do is bring Annie down.

Once he gets that song going, Kerry fesses up that he spoke with Helena.  Because he did tell Annie, you know that this means she wants to know what was said–

 

“Really?” Annie didn’t appear surprised. “What did you discuss?”

“Oh, life and death. You know—” His chuckle came off with just a hint of darkness. “The usual for us Guardian types.” He sighed softly. “I asked her about the comment she made when we first tried puppeteering, about how dying was easy, and what she meant. She told me about the times she died, about the Astral Realm, about the Curtain and the Veil—” He turned slowly to his soul mate. “About the Void and the Multiverses and reincarnating. All that stuff.”

Annie floated around so she was now facing Kerry. “What do you think?”

“About all that stuff?”

“Yes, my love.”

Kerry shrugged. “It’s nice to know what’s really going to happen to us after we die. The way Helena talked it seems like people have done some exploring—”

“They have. It’s my understanding that witches have explored the Astral Realm and the Void for long before The Foundation became involved in magic.” Annie’s face softened. “My mother told me about this years ago; she felt it was something I needed to know.”

“That was good of her.” Kerry stared off into the darkness to his right. “Helena told you on Tuesday night, didn’t she?”

Annie slid closer. “You know she did.”

“Yeah.” He turned back with a smile upon his face. “It’s to be expected. I mean, I know in the future there are gonna be Guardian secrets we gotta keep from each other, but stuff like this—” He shook his head. “We need to know.”

“Yes, we do. And I knew it was only a matter of time before you told me.” She paused for only a moment before saying more. “You told her there were strange things going on in your life.”

He nodded slowly. “I did, Sweetie.”

“The dreams?”

“Yeah.”

“Have they come back?”

 

Kerry’s no dummy:  he knows that Helena told Annie the first time they were alone.  He knows there are some secrets they’ll have to keep, but there are others that it’s necessary to know.  If he’d gone to Helena and said something like, “I’m not sure I’m cut out for the Guardian stuff,” you damn well know the Dark Mistress of All would tell a certain soul mate all about that conversation.  And Kerry knows she’d tell.  Though the chances are good that Kerry would speak to Annie about something like that before going to Helena, but you never know.  Either way, Annie would hear, and she’d have a conversation with a certain Ginger Hair Boy about that.

But what’s this about the dreams?  Are they back?  Are they?  Ha ha!  I’m not telling, not yet.

Actually I can’t tell you until I write that part.  Which I’m going to do.  Probably tonight.  After doing my nails.

Just wait for it.  My kids won’t disappoint.