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 . . .