Once More Unto the Curtain: Land of Mist and Honey

We have Kerry’s Big Secret out of the way and we’re into the last part of this part about his big life change.  But as I said, there’s another secret about to get uncorked, and it’s going to change a lot of things.  Seriously.  I’m not kidding.

Here is what’s ahead:

Looks like a normal chapter to me, Cassie.

Looks like a normal chapter to me, Cassie.

But this is going to set up and wrap up everything.  Well, for what’s been happening through most of the novel.  There are still three parts to the novel remaining, and I’m wondering if anyone has guessed how it’s going to end?  Beside finding “The End” written at the bottom of a page.  Don’t get wise with me, Sunshine:  I’m way ahead of you.

When we left the library it had exploded in light, which, under most circumstances, isn’t a good thing.  But this is the world of magic, and The Phoenix is working her grove, which is probably uber magic these other witches have never seen.  That means it’s not as bad as you’d imagine . . .

 

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

The walls of the library were covered in glowing embers of energy that bathed the room in bright pastels and striking neons, while hazy, creamy light seeped through the ceiling above. Though Annie had never seen something like this before, she knew what was happening almost instantly: she was seeing the room as it appeared from within the Astral Realm.

She wasn’t the only one who understood what was happening, either. Erywin was on her feet, a sharp breath preceding her words. “My god; she’s pulled back the Curtain.  We’re inside the astral realm.”

Jessica slowly made her way to her feet. “She can do that?”

Deanna was the only one now sitting, as Coraline and Matilde were also standing. “Apparently she can.” She pointed toward the sofa where Annie and Kerry were sitting moments before. “Maybe you’d like to ask her directly.”

Behind the sofa hovered a amorphous mass of hazy light that slowly shifted from a tendrillar blob into something that appeared almost humanoid in form. In the middle of what appeared as the head a pair of golden eyes broke through the haze. A dry chuckled filled the room, seeming to come from everywhere. “Sorry I didn’t prepare a better form, but when I first appeared it wasn’t my intention to entertain a lot of guests.” The eyes turned on Deanna. “Doesn’t seem that long ago we were facing each other, does it, Seer?”

Before she could formulate a reply Kerry’s voice rang out excited and high pitched while indicated the five women. “What’s those things behind you guys?”

Annie turned and saw all the women on their feet, as Deanna had finally decided to stand with her fellow instructors and administrators. Each woman’s physical form appeared outline by a hazy but colorful field of energy that was their aura, showing their current state of mind and emotions. She was fascinated by the brightness of each aura and remembered something her mother told her: that the auras of the Aware are far brighter than those of Normals, because witches are constantly channeling mystical energy into their forms.

There was something else, though: the things that of which Kerry was inquiring. Emerging from behind each woman was a tendril of silver cord, as thick as two fingers pressed together, extending about a meter and a half above their heads. The cord shimmied slowly from side to side like a silver snake moving through the a misty gray grass.

 

First off, don’t get any ideas that what everyone in the room is seeing is the true form of The Phoenix.  That old spirit pretty much does whatever she feels like doing, and she’s probably screwing with a few people by starting out looking like some kind of astral Abomination.  Yeah, she was a floating ball of something with identical.  Cute.

As for that end there . . . that’s what’s coming next, and trust me:  it’s right after that you’re going to see the really big secret here.

As Genesis once sang, tonight, tonight, tonight . . .

Putting it All to Bed

I said I would finish the scene before the end of the year, and that’s what I did with about forty-five minutes to spare.  And in finishing the scene, I finished the chapter and the part.  At the moment, in the bright sunlight of 2015, the novel looks like this:

Doesn't look all that big from this point of view.

Doesn’t look all that big from this point of view.

Two parts, five chapters, sixteen scenes.  That’s it, that’s what remains.  And running the numbers in my head, Act Three will likely top out between one hundred and one hundred ten thousand words, so while short of the other two parts, it’s likely going to a six-figure word count.  Not bad at all.

Oh, and my first picture of 2015:

As you can see, J. J. Abrams snapped the picture.

As you can see, J. J. Abrams snapped the picture.

The last scene . . . we’re back in Salem, and the kids are in the hospital for the night, because that’s where they’d be.  Annie’s bandaged and has a broken arm, Kerry was shocked bad and could get around on crutches if not for the former problem, so . . . hospital.  In their “regular” bay, and in their regular beds–though the party is at Kerry’s right now, and he’s got something on his mind . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

As Annie and he finished a second plate of banitsa, Kerry wondered for the first time how he was going to get through the summer holidays without having this Bulgarian treat at least once. He was certain there wasn’t anywhere in Cardiff he could go where he’d eat anything as fine— “I’m really going to miss these.”

“I’ve spoiled you with the cuisine of my home.” Annie giggled as she finished hers and wiped her fingers on the napkin on the rolling tray. “I could always make some and bring them to you.”

“I’m sure that would go over well with my parents.” The events of the past few weeks—in particular, the last couple of days—had started him wondering how he could talk to his folks about Annie without getting into the truth of her being his girlfriend. No matter how he spun the story, they were going to have a huge difficulty believing the relationship they shared.

Then again, there wasn’t much he could talk about this summer. School and Foundation regulation demanded that he not reveal to anyone in his immediately family, or any assorted friends, that he was a witch. There’d already been a few meeting with Professor Semplen telling him what he could talk about, and how he could frame the discussions so that he could make a few of the magical classes appear to be nothing more than Normal, mundane courses.

Still, there’s Annie. He watched as she struggled a bit turning while her right arm was magically immobilized across the front of her torso. Probably the best I’m going to be able to say about her is that she’s a cov—class mate and friend. I can’t really anything about how we spend all our time together, how we’ve fallen asleep together, how I’m in love with her, how she’s my soul mate . . .

“You’re deep in thought again.” Annie had finally given up trying to move about using her left arm and has just levitated herself enough that she could spin about. “You’ve been doing that a lot since we returned from Atlanta.”

 

Well, yeah, there’s a lot to keep in mind since returning from Atlanta, which they were at because of Kansas City, but right now the end of the school year is coming up, and that’s starting to occupy Kerry’s thoughts.  Probably Annie’s as well, but she’s better at keeping things under wraps.

They never get to talk about those thoughts–not yet–because who shows up the person who’s minding their health.

 

Before Kerry could answer a pajama-wearing Coraline entered the bay. “I’m sure he’ll tell you as soon as I’m gone.” She slid the dessert cart out of the way and sat on the edge of Bed #1. “How you feeling, Annie?”

“Fine, Nurse Coraline. My arm is good and—” She reached up and touched bandaged left side of her head. “No more headaches.”

“No more dizziness either?”

“No, none at all.”

Coraline stared at Annie for a few seconds. “And you haven’t tried anything magical, right?”

Due to the slight head trauma and concussion she’d received Annie had been ordered not to use magic until she was cleared by Coraline. “Umm—”

“If I catch you levitating anything again—yourself included—” She pointed a warning finger at Annie. “I’m gonna give you something that’ll make you unable to do any magic for a few hours.”

That was something Annie did not want at all. “I’m sorry, Nurse Coraline. I won’t do that again.”

“Make sure you don’t.” Coraline grinned and pointed to Kerry. “You should use your significant other as an example of what to do when you get a concussion.” She rubbed her hands together. “You don’t see him trying magic when he’s like that.”

Kerry sat back and started off into space. “To be fair I’m also too messed up to do anything else.”

“There is that, too.” Coraline set her hands in her lap and drummed on her thigh with her right fingers. “How’s your dizziness?”

“Pretty much gone away. I can sit up now for about twenty minutes at a time before I gotta lay back.”

“Good to here. Shoulder and knee okay?”

He hadn’t been aware he’d stressed out ligaments or suffered a dislocation until he’d arrived at the CDC and they popped his shoulder back into the socket and began casting his left knee. “I don’t feel anything pain there at all.”

 

After everything that happened to them earlier in the day they’re feeling, well, as fine as they can given their situation.  And Annie’s starting to used that levitation for a lot of things, it looks like.  Girl better check herself there before she gets slipped a concoction that’s gonna shut down that mojo.

Coraline gives them a few orders for what’s to come–stuff they’ve both heard already, but she has to go over it ’cause rules–and then not only brings up something that’s just between her and them, but she shows she knows a little more than Helena about some Guardian things . . .

 

Coraline stepped around the serving cart and closed the bay curtain fully so they could speak in private. “I know you guys can’t tell me what you were up to this weekend, but the fact I got a secure call from the CDC so they could make arrangements to transfer you tells me whatever it was, it was pretty damn important, ‘cause The Foundation—and the Guardians—don’t just send normal injuries off to the CDC to get fixed up.”

“Yeah, but I was hurt a lot worse during the Day of the Dead—and I got shocked her before as well.” Kerry shrugged. “I don’t think I was in that bad of shape.”

Annie nodded. “I had a broken arm and a concussion: they’re not major injuries, either.”

“Well, the Guardians must have had their reasons.” Since Coraline had toured and visited the Foundation hospital at the CDC she suspected they were jaunted there because of the psychiatric and counseling staff that were constantly for one reason: to help those may have needed the used of The Foundation’s only Resurrection Facility in North America. And if they aren’t needed because a bunch of Necromancers zapped your Essence back into your body before it crossed The Veil into the Multiverses, it’s because they figure you could lose your shit over killing someone . . .

Coraline wasn’t one to speculate, but given what she knew about Annie’s and Kerry’s Crafting abilities, she suspected one of the two options available were the reasons for the Guardians shipping them off to Atlanta.

 

Resurrection Facility.  Essence.  The Veil.  Multiverses.  And most of all, Necromancers.  Allow me to explain . . .

In the cosmology I’ve created one’s Essence is their inner energy–some might call it a “soul”.  The Veil can be seen as the membrane one must pass through to leave our universe, but it’s really more than that.  The Multiverses are just what they appear:  there are billions of universes out there, of which we are one, and once you’re beyond The Veil then you’re in the space between the universes.

And at Salem, there are a couple of courses that only a few people ever get to study.  One is Demonology, and that’s pretty self explanatory.  That’s something that Adric Lewiston, the school’s expert on spirits, entities, and, yes, demons, teaches along with help from Helena and Deanna.  You have to be pretty good with spirits to get into Demonology, and all the books on that are kept under special lock and key by Trevor Parkman.

And then there’s Necromancy, and that’s some heavy shit.  Now you’re not just dealing with spirits and other things that go bump in the night–you’re dealing with the active retrieval and manipulation of the dead and their Essence.  There aren’t many people who can do this:  Adric knows a little bit of it, as does Helena, but if any student was good enough to become a Necromancer, people from outside the school would come in and teach them, or they’d go somewhere else to learn about these things–like, say, a Resurrection Facility in Atlanta.

As you may have guessed, getting pulled back into your body after having died is a fairly traumatic experience–hence the need for a on-site psychiatric staff.  And it might be just that much more traumatic an experience if you’re, say, eleven or twelve, and you’d went down after going into Final Stand mode with a group of Decontructors who were looking to put you Beyond The Veil . . .

Did the Guardians know what was going to happen in Kansas City, and they were on stand-by just in case?  Only I know for sure.  Maybe one day I’ll write about it.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering:  yes, a Necromancer can manipulate the dead without their Essence.  And you know what that means . . .

You were saying about there not being zombies at the CDC, Cassie?

You were saying about there not being zombies at the CDC, Cassie?

Back to the kids and Coraline.  She doesn’t tell them any of this because, well, why should she?  Instead they dwell on other things–

 

Coraline wasn’t one to speculate, but given what she knew about Annie’s and Kerry’s Crafting abilities, she suspected one of the two options available were the reasons for the Guardians shipping them off to Atlanta.

She didn’t want to dwell on the matter, as she might find it necessary to answer questions. “Okay, then, I’m gonna get back to the Madness—”

“First one we missed.” Annie hung her head. “Both dates.”

Kerry lay his hand upon her leg. “We had our own tonight—and it was really good.”

“Yes—” Annie smiled and placed her left hand over Kerry’s. “It was fantastic.”

“On that note . . .” Coraline opened the curtain to the ward and pushed the serving cart into the aisle. “I bid you a good night, and I’ll see you in the morning.”

Kerry looked around Annie. “Good night, Nurse Coraline.”

Annie looked up, still smiling. “Good night, Nurse Coraline.”

“Good night, kids. Oh, and Annie—”

“Yes?”

“At least make it look like you slept in you bed.” Coraline’s smile stretched wide as she closed the current behind her.

 

Coraline has that girl’s number, and there’s no way she’s not going to remind her that she knows what will happen after she leaves.  She also knows she’d had to drug Annie to keep her in her own bed, so the warning is more humorous than anything else.  And of all the things that could bother the kids right now, they’re upset about missing the Madness.  Yeah, they got their priorities down.

Those priorities include other things as well . . .

 

As the ward lights went out and the bay lights went to low Kerry patted Annie’s thigh. “I guess this means you’re gonna sleep in your bed?”

Annie almost jumped off the bed and was next to hers in one stride. “No—” She pulled back the covers, flipped the pillow and punched it twice, then pushed on the mattress a few time to make it rumpled. “Coraline said to make it look like I slept here.” She hurried back to Kerry’s bed, pulled back the comforter, and climbed into bed next to him, snuggling against his body. “Cover me?”

“Of course.” He lowered the bed so they was laying flat, then pulled the covers over her broken arm and almost to her neck. “Better?”

“Much.” She rotated her shoulder. “I hate not being able to use my arm.”

“I’ve been there. At least it’ll be healed in the morning.”

“Yes.” She looked pasted Kerry. “Lights minimum.” Almost immediately the lighting dropped to the lowest level, the way Annie remembered it being the first night she spent here after Kerry was injured during the Day of the Dead attacks. “There: better.”

“Romantic.” Kerry sighed and make himself comfortable. “You know . . .”

“What do you want me to know?”

“I’m going to miss this last weekend.”

“Oh?” Annie slowly rolled so she was on her left side facing him. “Do you mean you miss being a Guardian, doing secretive work and getting into a fight with the Deconstructors? Or . . .” Her eyes softened as this part of the weekend rose up within her memory. “The two nights we spent alone living almost as a couple?”

“While the first part was interesting and had its moments—” He turned his head towards her. “I was definitely by the second part.” He grinned. “I’m going to miss that.”

“I will, too.” She moved her head slightly, finding the most comfortable position. “Three nights of sleeping as one . . .” Annie sighed long and low. “Tomorrow back to our own rooms.”

“Yeah.” He ran his fingers through her hair. “No more spooning.”

“No more getting kissed on the neck in the morning.”

“No more kissing your neck in the morning.” Kerry’s voice caught for just a moment. “It’s not fair.”

 

This is a mantra that’s going to come up in the next few chapters:  Summer is almost here, School is almost out, and these two will be apart for the first time in nine months.  Sure, they can visit each othere in their dreams, but . . . not the same thing, right?  No, it’s not.  They’ve both had a taste of what it’s like to live together, and it’s going to work their young minds.  But Annie will be the strong one and push it all down the best, right?

 

Annie wished her right arm wasn’t in a cast and held in place against her body, because she wanted to run her fingertips over Kerry’s chest. Instead she turned inward . . . No, it’s not fair, my love. It’s not fair we’ve we able to be together and now we’ll be so close and yet apart; it’s not fair that we’ll have to wait so long for this last weekend to be all the time . . .

It’s not fair we’ll be apart for three months in a short time.

“We shouldn’t think about these things.” She turned her head upward and kissed his cheek. “We’ll just torture ourselves if we do.”

“I know. And I don’t want to do that.” He curled his arm around Annie’s shoulders. “We’ll just have to find our moments together and make them memorable.”

Annie kissed him again. “We will, my darling. Lights off.” The bay was immersed in darkness as they felt their love drawing them together. “We will. I promise.”

Kerry pressed his face into his soul mate’s hair. “So do I.”

 

Nope, Annie isn’t digging it, either.  she may be good at hiding her emotions, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  And being woke up in the morning with a kiss on the neck–I’m sure come Monday morning she’s gonna feel a bit of depression that she woke alone in her coven tower bed . . .

Kids are back and Beltane is up next.  And there is going to be a revelation and a warning–

Just wait.

Blithe Future

The night was not one of my best:  I woke at least three times, and there was a point around four AM when I didn’t know if I was falling back into sleep or not, and I considered getting up and doing something.  Which isn’t the best thing to do when you’re not able to sleep, because it makes for a very long day if you never sleep from that point on.

There were some disturbing dreams during the sleepy time moments, too.  These days most of my dreams see to revolve around rejection and loneliness.  I was getting that last night here and there; people just didn’t want to be around me, and dismissed my creative efforts.  It was quite off-putting, and there are times when I don’t want to dream because I’m tired of what awaits me on the other side of the curtain of dreams.

A long time ago in a high school far, far away, I took an acting class.  I was a bit of a puzzle for my instructor, because most people in the class thought I was one of the best when it came to acting (notice I didn’t say ACTING!  because that stuff ain’t for me), but for the life of me I couldn’t memorize my lines worth a damn.  Part of the problem was not being able to work with other people to get my lines down:  I was always at home, always alone, unable to hook up with the people who may have been able to help, and I was just too much of a mess to develop the discipline to get this stuff right.

I can still remember the first thing I did in front of the class:  it was a scene from Blithe Spirit, and I was acting opposite the ghost Elvira–well, the person playing her.  I managed to get half way through the scene, and then the brain locked up.  I couldn’t remember a single line.  The teacher sort of ripped into me for not bring prepared, and the girl I was acting opposite was mad because she had her part down cold and I ended up making her look bad.

Yeah, Elvira wasn’t happy with me, which sort of paralleled the plot of the story.  What a surprise, right?

"You screwed up my big scene, Cassie, and now I'm going to come and haunt you every night--just like in the play!"

“You screwed up my big scene, Cassie, and now I’m going to come and haunt you every night–just like the play!  Who says life doesn’t imitate art?”

You’re looking a little green, Elvira.  Maybe you should go lay down.

My sucking at acting literally coincided with my sucking at my first attempt at writing.  At least I kept trying the writing thing–and, let’s remember, giving it up as well–until I finally got good with myself and found I didn’t really suck all that much, but there still seems to be something going on in my subconscious that is keeping me from getting relaxed with this creativity thing.  The deeper I’ve ventured into The Foundation Chronicles, the more the dreams of, “You suck, you’re a failure, you’ll never amount to anything, shun the loser–Shuuuuuunnnnnnnnnn,” keep coming like an iTunes playlist on repeat.

Though there was a slight change in the tune this morning . . .

Yesterday, in the afternoon and before heading off to bed, I was working out a couple of scenes in my head.  I call them the Presents scenes, because that’s what they are about; one has a panicked Kerry beseeching Nurse Coraline and Professor Sladen to help him with getting a present for Annie’s rapidly approaching birthday, because he’s an eleven year old boy who knows nothing about what to get girls, particularly for one who a few weeks before told him she’d loved him all her life.  The other scene takes place after the kids return from Yule holiday, and Annie gives Kerry a belated Christmas present.

They’re sweet scenes, and both will appear in Act Two.  I was playing them out now because I’m bored, there’s nothing to do, and like I said yesterday, I’m always thinking about my stories even when I’m not writing.

On to the next part of this tale . . . During my four AM wake up I lay in bed hoping to fall back to sleep, and during this time I thought a little about the gifts Annie and Kerry give each other.  I thought about how they would feel receiving them, how they both added little touches to make them more personal . . . all sweet little touches that add to the characters.

I did drift back into dreams, and for a while I was feeling a little of the old sensation of being alone and somewhat unwanted.  Then someone started looking through a box I was carrying.  They found something I’d written, and they slowly read it over, turned to me, and said, “I would love to format this on a large square and hang it up for all to see–”  The person who was saying this broke into a huge smile.  “This is brilliant–simply brilliant.  You should be proud.”

I know what writing they were talking about:  it was the scene where Kerry gives Annie her birthday present.  And I know who the person was telling me to be proud of my work–it was someone I know, but whom I haven’t seen or spoken with in a while.  Even though it was a dream, I needed to hear those words, and I needed to hear them from her.

Even if it was a dream, so often we require validation from those whom we respect and cherish.  It doesn’t always happen, but when it comes you feel as if you’re dancing upon a cloud and nothing bad will ever happen to you again.  The doubt can keep tormenting you like a nasty spirit–but you also have to remember that the spirit may be tormenting you because it remembers all the great moments you shared, and it wants you back by its side.  It’s not tormenting you out of spite:  it’s doing so out of love.

You’ll never lose this spirit completely, so make the best of the future to come.  And try to convince that spirit that, yes, you do have your brilliant moments.

Maybe then she’ll send you off to wonderful dreams with a kiss.

Northern Lights

The strangest things happen from the smallest conversations . . .

The other night I was chatting with a couple of my friends.  I should say Gurls, but that makes me sound too much like a hipster, neh?  Anyway, the chatting was kind of free-flowing, nothing in particular, and I was sort of working on some editing at the time as well, so I was popping in and out of the chat.

One of the women lives in Alaska, but given her location she can’t see Russia from her back poach.  She was making a joke, more or less, about the other woman in the conversation and me coming up to visit.  My other friend isn’t much for the wilderness, but me?  I can be at home in the country and the city.  It’s the people who make it kinda scary at times, you know?

We chatted, and the subject of abandoned buildings came up.  Specifically, the subject of abandoned buildings that are haunted.  Our Alaskan Connection mentioned that where she lives there are plenty of places that are suppose to be haunted, because–it’s Alaska, and there were a lot of violent deaths.  Gunshots, knifing, sickness, freezing, being eaten by a bear . . . it’s all there.  Read the story, To Build a Fire, by Jack London, and you get an idea of one of the many ways one can check out while in The Great White North.

It was when there was a pause in the general banter that the person I know the best of the two women says, “Cassidy should write a story about this.”

That’s about the only thing I need to get an idea rolling.

Long time ago I read the story, Cabal, by Clive Barker.  What I liked best about the story–besides all the strange creepiness that was going on–was the location of the story.  The secret town of Median was somewhere in northern Alberta, Canada, way the hell out in the middle of nowhere.  I loved that remoteness, the feeling that with so few people around you could do just about anything and not worry about repercussions–and at the same time, there could be all manners of spooky-ass things lying in way for some innocent travelers.

I’ve used Google Maps to look at a lot of things in the northern regions of North America.  There are some interesting things to see if you spend the time looking.  I’ve found roads where you wouldn’t expect them, towns that you didn’t know existed, abandoned structures that have been there for almost a century, and huge open pit mines in the Northwest Territory.  (If you want to find those. find Yellowknife in the NWT, then move over to the right and locate the islands of Great Slave Lake.  About one hundred kilometers of that you’ll see Lac de Gras.  Zoom in a little and you’ll see some bright areas about ten, fifteen kilometers north, close to Ursula Lake.  Zoom in and you’ll see the mines.  Make sure you follow the roads and locate all four)

There’s a story here.  It would take some research to learn more about the area, and about the general idea I have bouncing about in my head, but it can be written.  I joked last night about doing it as my NaNo Story, but that’s not possible, because the idea is too nebulous at the moment, and I’m keyed on something else right now.

But three women investigating an abandoned hotel in Alaska?  Yeah, that’s something I can do, something I might even make frightening.

And no one would run upstairs to take a shower.

Hangin’ Out the Van at High Speed

Yesterday . . . what can I say?  Well, I could say it sucked, but that would be unfair.  The day didn’t suck, but I sure felt like I sucked.

It was a day of big-time headaches, and there were a few times when I was almost yelling due to the pain.  I mean, remember Tony Dogs gettin’ his head put in a vice in the movie Casino?  I felt a little like that, only my eye didn’t pop out of my head.

Brutal, I’ll tell you.

But, just like the time I was turned into a newt, I got better.  By night time I didn’t feel that bad.  If anything, by the time I went to bed, I felt like I was doing pretty well.  But during the day–no.  Not feeling good.

However . . . I kept writing.

I wasn’t blazing through the story as I have been.  In fact, it was a real struggle.  I think some of the headaches are coming from having to copy street names found in Makassar.  Here is my document notes for the chapter I finished last night:

From the square at Jalan Pasar Cidu and Jalan Tinumbu, down Jalan Lamuru to Jalan Mesjid Raya, to Jalan Jenderal Urip Sumoharjo, on to Jalan Perintis Kemerdekaan, to a road past Rumah Sakit Bersalin Daya Grasia Hospital.

Ya got that?  You spend part of the day typing “Sumoharjo”, and your head is gonna hurt, too.

It was an interesting chapter, though.  I had my main character chasing another van that was being driven by . . . no one.  Ooooooh, spooky.  Really, they not only chased it, but they managed to get next to it, and one of the characters decided she needed really good video of no one driving a van, so I had her hanging out of her window for about a half a kilometer.

I liked the scene.  I could see everything in my head, and the flowed nicely.  The chapter ended up running four thousand, three hundred fifty words, which was a good run, and my biggest chapter yet.  I know I’ll have a few more that will be this big, and a couple will even be larger.  When I run the numbers, Nate Silver Style, I find that the story is inching toward fifty-nine thousand words, which is the goal I’m aiming towards.

Thing are going according to plan–yessssss.

I’m actually a bit surprised that the story is going well.  There was some concern before NaNo that I wasn’t going to have enough of a story to fill out sixty thousand words.  But that doesn’t seem to be the case now.  I know where I have ahead of me, and when I look at the places where the novel is going to stretch out a bit, I see that sixty thousand isn’t going to be a problem.  I’m actually thinking that sixty-five thousand isn’t out of the possibility of reality, either.  But I’m not going to count my words before they are written.

Just let them come, one at a time, and the story will end when it’s time.

A Leaf on the Wind

If you were in the Chicago area yesterday, you experienced some incredibly weather early in the morning.  For about thirty minutes, it was pretty much a downpour, with lots of wind and lightning.  The Real Home is up around there, somewhere to the east, and it got caught in the deluge.

From what I was told later, it was pretty bad.  Tuesday is Garbage Day for us, and everyone had their stuff out, so that ended up all over the streets.  The neighbors had up a canopy, and that ended up in our yard–and may have damaged one of the arborvitaes that we use as a natural fence.

But according to the wife and daughter, our big tree, the one at the front of our house, the one that was there, maybe a year old, when we moved in eleven years ago, took two lightning strikes, and went down.

My daughter is pretty upset over what happened.  She wanted to know if there was any way it could be saved, even though–from what I understand–half of it came down during the storm.  It upset me as well, because . . . well, I get attached to things.  Of course there isn’t any way to save it, because it’s been split to hell and gone, and the only thing to do now is cut away what’s left, and have it hauled off.

I have some unusual feelings about this.  Like I said, I was upset yesterday.  To be honest, I’ve shed more than a few tears over the fact that our tree is no more.  You would think people shouldn’t get upset over a tree.

I’m not like most people, in case you hadn’t noticed.

It used to be that, in China, most people thought a dragon lived in every mountain.  Here, and a lot of other places, there are many who think of trees as having spirits residing within, entities that are part of the natural order that surrounds us.  Now, I’m a rational person; I’m not suppose to believe in spirits in trees.  And yet, I can’t help but think the tree was looking out for us . . .

See, it’s wasn’t one of those really tall trees, not like the ones in the back.  It was low and very spread out, with thick foliage.  On a hot, summer day, it gave great shade, and more than once, when I needed a break from mowing, I’d go lay down in the grass, stare up into its limbs, and gather my thoughts.  It was very comforting to be there, feeling cool and relaxed, and I’ve ideas come to me while I was there, gathering my strength.

We watered it in the beginning, pruned it when necessary, and, if I can be so open, showed it a lot of affection.  I love having trees around a yard.  Every time I see a house go up a property that’s had every tree cut down prior to construction, I want to find the owner and beat them with a lead-filled rubber hose, because they’ve desecrated their land.

This tree was only about as high as my house.  The house had as good a chance of taking the strike as the tree–and there were two strikes, from what my daughter said.  If the house had been hit, we probably would have lost all the appliances, the daughter’s computer–maybe the place would have caught fire and burnt down.  That’s all very possible.

And the tree, or the spirit inside, or both, decided, “I got this.  Don’t worry; you’re going to be safe.”

It took the strikes, and died.

Like when The Doctor lost his sonic screwdriver in The Visitation, I feel like I lost an old friend.  I’ll go home tomorrow afternoon, and see it lying upon the ground.  I’ll be home Friday, and the service will come to remove it, to take it away, where it’ll likely be chopped up into mulch.

But while the service is there, they are going to dig us another hole, a foot or two away from where our tree used to stand.  We’ve planted two other trees since moving in, and they’ve grown tall and strong.

We’ll do the same Friday.  As soon as everything is clear, we’ll plant another tree, and help it grow, and let it take its place on the corner of the yard where everyone can see it.

I’ll make another friend.

‘Cause that’s just the way I roll.