Ipswich For Witches

What are we up to today, kids?  And I mean you kids, not my kids, which is something completely different as they exist only in my imagination and you don’t.  Then again, if you’ve ever watched The Twilight Zone, maybe you do exist in my imagination–dreams, actually–and when I wake up you’ll all vanish.  Stranger things can happen.

The other thing to celebrate is going over a thousand words on this new scene and finally coming to within nine hundred words of twenty-five thousand total.  By the end of the week I’ll be over twenty-five thousand–I’m shooting for 1 September for that–and I should be close to thirty-five thousand words by the time Month Two of his new novel starts.  Which means by the time Month Three begins I should be into Part Two, Chapter Four, and that’ll put the kids somewhere in Paris.

But for now they're right here--wherever here is at the moment.

But for now they’re right here–wherever here is at the moment.

Today we get into Kerry’s luncheon date with Penny, but really, it’s far more than just lunch:

 

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

 

The sun was bright, the sky clear, and the weather warm as Kerry walked alongside Penny Rigman though the quite woods. They’d covered nearly twelve hundred meters by now and they were about a hundred meters away from the first objective on their hike—

Despite a hectic beginning to the day Kerry was enjoying himself…

He met Penny in Ipswich at close to nine that morning after making a mad, nearly five hundred kilometer an hour dash across England from Cardiff. He’d expected to leave at least thirty minutes earlier, but for some reason his parent had taken their time leaving for work. Kerry half-expected that maybe they suspected he was going to leave the house after they left, but at this point he didn’t care if they asked him about it or not: after his mother catching him returning from London he’d begun to care little if they were upset with this comings and goings.

After landing in the courtyard of the St. Mary-le-Tower Church he walked a short distance to the Costa coffee shop at the corner of Carr and Upper Brooks Streets. Penny stood the moment he entered the shop and greeted him with open arms and a large hug before they ordered breakfast. They both had something to eat—Penny a porridge and Kerry a bacon roll—and had both had a cappuccino with their food. This was the second time Kerry drank coffee: he’d had his first with Annie during their second London lunch and he was found the experience a little strange.

Kerry was also developing a taste for the hot, caffeinated beverage because Perry and Alex told him that he’d have coffee rations with him on the Polar Express—both for the warmth of the hot liquid and the caffeine rush needed for flying—and they’d both said that it was better to get used to the drink and understand your tolerance now, than drink it for the first time in the wilds of wintertime Canada and get sick from too much on his first day. As Alex had said, he didn’t want to find himself on his hands and knees on the frozen ground throwing up due to a caffeine overdose, after which he’d spent the rest of the day feeling miserable while flying.

He certainly didn’t want that, either, so he worked on developing his tolerance. It was the smart thing to do.

 

Kerry got out of the house early so he could go hang with his covenmate, who, by the way, didn’t fly nearly as far as he did.  It would also seem that his folks are of a mind that their boy seemed like he was ready to go somewhere, so they decided to be dicks and just hang out a little long at the home front.  Why?  Maybe they wanted to see if any witches showed up on their front doorstep.  And then do what?  Ask to see their witch IDs–which, you know, they do have.

Now when I say it was a short walk through Ispwich–and I should point out, this is the English city that shares a name with the town close to the Salem school back in America–I know it’s a short walk because–

I measured it out.

I measured it out.

I also decided they’d meet and chill out for breakfast at Costa, which is the second largest coffee house chain in the world with locations in thirty countries, though the U.S. isn’t one of them.  They’ve actually been in business since 1971 and are quiet the fixture around the UK.

And they have beans on their logo--no topless mermaids for these guys.

And they have beans on their logo–no topless mermaids for these guys.

That is actually the Google Streetview of the location where Penny and Kerry meet, so if any of you are ever in Ipswich, you can stop in and have the same thing they’re having–

Which brings up an interesting point:  Penny and Kerry are drinking coffee, and you can thank The Polar Express for this.  See, the people in charge figure that given the cold and the hostile conditions, plus the fact that the kids are gonna have to consume food high in calories, a little caffeine might do wonders in keeping them awake.  That means some of the items in their arctic kit are a small kettle for heating water–they also get a water ration as well, though they should be able to melt snow, too–and a few packets full of ground coffee.  They’ll also have some of the school’s famous hot chocolate, but the coffee is going to help get them kick started in the morning–or, if they aren’t careful, make them shaky as hell and prone to getting sick to their stomach if the aren’t careful.

Kerry has a couple of friends who’ve already done the Express and know a few tricks.  And that’s why Penny and Kerry are enjoying a cappuccino over breakfast, so he can get used to the taste and the jolt that come from drinking a caffeinated beverage that ain’t Mountain Dew or Red Bull, or worst of all 5-Hour Energy, which is completely insane shit to consume.

If I’m gonna get the kids buzzed, I’m gonna keep it natural.

I Left My Dreams in San Francisco

The really good news is that with the exception of one little glitch last night my HDMI issues seem cleared up.  I’m keeping an eye on the sucker, but this morning I’ve had it running for a good forty minutes and haven’t had any issues.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but I hope I won’t have any more problems.

As for writing–the next scene has begun and in about an hour I managed four hundred and ten words.  When I say “In an hour”, a bit part of that hour involved looking at Google Maps and checking out a meeting location for Penny and Kerry, and the actual writing probably consisted of about thirty minutes of pounding away at the keyboard.  I should mention that I also spent a bit of time working out an Annie scene:  not the one that follows–that’s Annie and Alex meeting–but the one after, when Annie has a rather import meeting about her future.  No, don’t get worried:  it’s all good.

I also thought about the possibility of Annie and Kerry living up at Lake Tahoe at some point in their future and came to the conclusion that it’s all possible.  After all, the lake is only 150 miles/240 km straight line distant from San Francisco, which really means nothing when you’re talking about jaunting, but it also puts them within quick flying distance of the city if they wanted to take the scenic route:  both of them could be in The Castro in thirty minutes if they decided to take to the sky.

And where would the live?  I can tell you right now Kerry would have his heart set on one place:  The Fleur Du Lac Mansion.  What’s so special about that place?  Oh, you know, it’s the house used in the movie The Godfather II, and Kerry would probably spend the first year there pretending he’s Micheal Corleone.  Now, the property the mansion sits on is all condos these days, but the main 4,100 sq ft/380 sq m house stands all by itself and is a one-owner building.  The perfect place for some Foundation up and comers and their little witches.

You know Kerry couldn't settle for anything less.

You know Kerry couldn’t settle for anything less.

But… does Kerry really want to come back to this area?  Well, the last four hundred words of the last gives his answer–

 

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

 

Kerry wrapped his arm around Annie and held her close against his torso. “I had some horrible times at my old place, but there were some good times as well. The day my grandfather and I came here was one of the best, which is probably why this dream seems so real. But the best memories I’ll have of San Francisco—” He kissed Annie on the forehead. “They haven’t happened yet. They will, my darling, but not for a while.”

Annie kissed Kerry full on the lips and gave a happy sigh when it finally broke. “When we have our year of Real Life Experience I want to visit the city. I want to see everything here; I want to see where you lived.” She rested her head against his shoulder. “Most of all I want to see the tree where you first read to me—”

“And I’ll read to you there for real. After all, we have the same book now.”

“Yes, we do. I’ll make certain I’ll pack it.”

Kerry got to his feet and helped Annie to hers. He gave his dreamscape one long, encompassing look. “It’s nice here, but before I dream this again I want to come here with you for real.” He closed his eyes and the scene around them returned to multicolored fog and mist before swirling into place to form another location they both knew well. “I’d rather spend time here with you.”

Annie looked west along the road outside her grandparent’s château in France. “You liked it here?”

“Quite a lot. Maybe one day your grandparents will let us stay here.”

In that moment Annie wanted to tell Kerry of her dream of only a few nights ago, a dream that saw them inside the château, all the lights out in the house with them lying on the floor before the fireplace. That has to happen after we’re married because… She didn’t continue the thought because she was afraid she would affect their dreamspace and change the scene—perhaps change it too much.

The only think she allowed in that second was a smile as the memory faded from her mind. And I know it will happen because it felt real enough that I know it was a vision

She kept her eyes and smile turned upon her one and only soul mate. “I’m certain that will happen, my love.” Annie gave one slow nod. “How could they say no?”

 

So Kerry has made a promise:  he won’t bring up San Fran in his dreams until he visits the place with Annie.  He wants to concentrate on the now and the future and leave the past sleeping.  The château owned by Annie’s grandparents have made an impression upon him, mostly because he knows Annie wants to live in this area and he doesn’t want to say no.

And at the end we see Annie’s had another vision of this place in France, one where it seems they, you know, were married because they did that thing you can’t do until they get married and finalize The Three Bindings.  And she just had that vision–good thing it wasn’t a shared vision.  Or was it?

Well, this isn’t the place to think about that.  And besides, like Kerry, I’m thinking about the future…

Troubles on the Laptop Front

Yesterday, all my writing was so far away…

I lazed around all afternoon because I really did need the rest–at least I was lazing until I lost my video driver that allows me to connect my laptop to my television, at which point I had about an hour trying to figure out how to get it back, which wasn’t a lot of fun.  Then I was going to do maybe forty minutes of writing after taking my notes for Fear the Walking Dead, and I plug in my HDMI cable and get a picture on my TV, but no sound.  That took me about forty minutes–my writing time–to finally figure out to do a full-on reboot with the cable plugged in to reset the drivers and get everything back to where it was–

"This is not fun!  I could be writing about my kids being miserable!"

“This is not fun! I could be writing about my kids being miserable!”

So now I know the routine:  if I lose my HDMI connection plug in the cable, reboot the system, get the drivers back where they were.  Easy Peasy, as Pinkie Pie would say.  At least I relaxed, didn’t take a two hour nap, and slept through the night–though, if all the stuff I kicked off the bed and on to the floor is any indication, I didn’t sleep easy.

So, lots of writing tonight as we prepare for what a lot in the U.S. consider the last full week of summer.  I don’t ’cause it’ll stay hot for a few weeks into September, what what do I know?

Well, I know Kerry’s about to admit something–

 

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

 

Kerry glanced to his right. “You mean here? Or San Francisco?”

“The later.”

Kerry stared off towards the bridge. “I miss it more than I like to admit—and, at the same time, I don’t.” He sighed. “Does that make sense?”

Annie rested her hand upon Kerry’s leg. “Not yet, but I’m certain you can explain yourself.”

He nodded. “Before I came to school I missed living in San Fran a lot. This is where I sort of grew up, and there was a time—maybe about the time my grandfather brought me here—I figured I’d live here forever.

“Then you told me about the difference between a house and a home and how all the time I lived here I was in a house; I didn’t have a home.” He began bobbing up and down slowly, something Kerry did when he was nervous. “I still don’t have a home, but that’s another story—

“Before I met you face-to-face I thought maybe I’d come back here some day and maybe, I don’t know, get a place downtown and live here for a while.” Kerry set his left hand over Annie’s. “I never said anything but I, um, thought you’d be with me, too.”

Annie was surprised to hear this as it was the first time Kerry ever admitted he thought of them sharing a life together before they knew it would happen. “You never said anything because you were afraid of how I’d react, weren’t you?”

 

Right here is the first indication we have that Kerry Who Could Remember His Dreams–not to be confused with the kid in the A Level book who couldn’t–thought at an early age that maybe Annie and he would eventually, you know, settle down with The Chestnut Girl–whom he latter knew to be Annie–and, I don’t know, have a life together in the City by the Bay?  The stuff you wouldn’t imaging he ever thought about, but apparently did.  Which is why when he thought Annie was abandoning him, he completely lost it and blocked her out–completely.

No need to worry about that, but he makes an another admission he’s probably not said many times–

 

“I’ve always been afraid, Darling.” Kerry hung his head a little. “I was nine and had only said I loved you a few months before. Even though we’d both professed our love, it’s another thing to mention to your ten year old girlfriend that you sometimes imagined you both living together.” He finally turned to her and offered a weak smile. “We know better now, don’t we?”

“Yes, we do.” She raised his hand to hers and kissed the back. “Tell me more, my love.”

He nodded. “Now that I know what you would like and we know our future together, I don’t have the feelings about this place that I used to have. Do I want to bring you here for a visit? Yes. Would I live here if The Guardians had us working out of the headquarters? Absolutely, though with jaunting we could live at Lake Tahoe and commute every day.”

“We could, yes.” He understand that we can live in locations that aren’t close to our work.

“But as far as coming back to live here because I miss the local?” He shook his head. “I don’t need that anymore. The whole world is starting to open up to us and it’s ridiculous to think I should confine myself to this spot because my seven year old self thought I’d stay here forever.”

 

Now you gotta give him a little credit:  he’s thinking that if they ever work in San Fran Annie and he and whatever gaggle of little witches they have can live up in the mountains around Lake Tahoe and jaunt into work every day, then jaunt home when the day is done.  The reality is you can always live anywhere within a time zone or two of your place of employment and just teleport back and forth to work on a daily basis.  So, you know, they could both live in the Rocky Mountains and jaunt off to the West Coast or Chicago and be within an hour of either place.  It makes communing a lot less stressful, that’s for sure.

Even then, however, Kerry admits to being scared.  Not about fighting things that want to kill him, but rather his personal life.  And we’ve seen that a lot with him, and will probably see it more in the future.  I know we will because I know their future, and it won’t always be pretty.

So we finish up this scene tomorrow, I do my recap and a little writing tonight and everything will be copacetic.

Let’s just hope I don’t have any more computer issues.  I hate that.

East to West Memories

Believe it or not I didn’t hit my thousand word limit last night.  I had a two hour nap then wrote just over six hundred words before calling it a night.  However, this morning I sat down and ripped off eight hundred and eighty-four words in about seventy-five minutes, bringing the two day total to nearly fifteen hundred words and bringing a end to scene two of Chapter Two.

See, I didn't lie.  I never lie except when I do.

See, I didn’t lie. I never lie except when I do.

It was a lot of fun bringing the scene to a close and there was something I wrote this morning that forced me to stop and sniff back a few tears, because that’s how I get sometimes when I’m writing and a come upon a line in a scene that invokes a strong emotion.  I’m just like my kids in that sense:  at least I don’t swoon and nearly faint.

Because I’ve written so much during this period I’m gonna present about half of the remainder of this scene, which is going to nicely tie up what was presented yesterday.  And I should be able to write a little of the next scene today, as I don’t intend going out and doing anything today.  I was working through some of that scene this morning–I didn’t sleep well last night and was up at five today–and I think I’m gonna have a good time putting it together.

Picking up from yesterday…  Now that we know about the political affiliation of Annie’s family, Kerry’s got all that stuff out of his system–yeah?  Well, maybe that takes him somewhere else…

 

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

 

“I’ll remember that.” Maybe fifteen seconds of silence went by before Kerry started giggling. “Sorry.”

Annie almost rolled her eyes again because she knew something silly was coming. “What is it?”

“Oh…” Kerry half-looked towards Annie with a sheepish look. “I was just trying to imagined what you’d look like if you were living thirty years ago. You know, winter comes and you’re walking around in your black skirt and black boots—” He turned a little more towards her. “A heavy jacket over your sweater and, you know, your hands stuffed in a fur muffler and one of those big fur hats on your head and…” His voice trailed off. “I’m digging myself in a hole, ain’t I?”

“I think it’s rather entertaining watching your attempts at bad humor.” She kissed him on the cheek to show she wasn’t angry. “By the way I do have that outfit and you’ve seen me wearing most of it.” Her right eyebrow arched as she considered something. “Though I’m certain the boots I have likely cost far more than the entire outfit would have run in the early 80s.”

“You have the hat and muffler?” Now her was trying to see Annie in the full outfit and imagining how beautiful she’d appear.

“I do, but there isn’t any point in bringing them to school: they’re too dressy.” Annie held her head up and did her best to sound snooty. “I’ve even worn that nearly same outfit in Russia.”

“You’ve been to Russia?”

“Three times: once to Moscow and twice to St. Petersburg: once during our Yule, and once in late June for the White Nights Festival.” She snuggled closer to Kerry. “Some time we’ll go to St. Petersburg in the winter and you can seem me all dressed up in my full outfit.”

Kerry stroked her hair. “Just like a Russian girl.”

“No: Russian girls are snobby.” A grin appeared as Annie turned up her nose. “Nothing like me.”

 

Now we now:  Annie thinks Russian girls are snobs.  Bold talk for a Bulgarian girl who some people thought of as an “Ice Princess” for a while, with one actually having the temerity to tell this to Kerry.  We’ve also discovered she’s been to Russia, though given she’s a bit of a globe trotter this shouldn’t be a surprise.  Her trips to St. Petersburg seem to impress her the most, however, and as well they should because St. Petersburg is consider a beautiful city by a lot of people.

The White Nights Festival runs from June to August and has events that last well into the evening–which, since the city is so far north, doesn’t get all that dark during he summer months.  There are parades and concerts of all kind, with a number of them taking place in the main courtyard of the Winter Palace, probably the most well known location in the city.

Imagine Annie spending a long summer's evening here--

Imagine Annie spending a long summer’s evening here–

And during the winter St. Petersburg is the place to be with lots and lots of snow and sub-zero temperatures:  just the sort of place you’d expect Annie to be walking around in her full-on stylin’ winter outfit with her fur hat and muffler.

Now, crazy me, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to find an image of a Russian girl with that sort of outfit, and while I didn’t find one–believe it or not so many of my image requests kept returning pictures of women in Russia wearing stuff I would think are the wrong sorts of garments one would wear in a Russian winter–I did find one picture of a Russian woman with a fur hat, and this led me to getting down into some history with one of my favorite groups…

Allow me to introduce nineteen year old Natalya Kravtsova of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, otherwise known as The Night Witches.

See?  Fur hat to keep her warm.

See? Fur hat to keep her warm.

The Night Witches was an all-woman flight group that flew thousands of missions against the Germans form 1942 to 1945.  Starting out as the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, they were later reorganized into the 46th “Taman” Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, working alongside the 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment of the Soviet Air Force.

Now, because this was an all-woman group, and the Soviets were hard-pressed to find good equipment to pass around, these ladies generally flew outdated Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes with open cockpits and little instrumentation–oh, and two bombs per plane, because that’s all they could carry.  Since the aircraft were so slow and so vulnerable to attack they flew night missions only and were tasked with harassing German positions–

A job they did extremely well.

Just to give you an idea of what they had to work with:  their planes had a top speed of about 95 mph/152 kph, but normally cruised at about 70 mph/110 kph–in other words, about as fast as you drive down a modern interstate.  Because of weight limitations due to their bombs the pilot and navigator found their way to their targets using maps and a compass:  no fancy instrumentation here.  Oh, and the women couldn’t wear parachutes ’cause they weighed too much.  We need that extra weight to carry those bombs, guys.

The Polikarpov was a noisy plane: Wehrmacht troops called it Nähmaschine, which means “sewing machine”, because that’s what it sounded like as it flew up on your position.  But the Night Witches knew how to get around this:  as they approached their target they cut the engine and glide in on the usually sleeping Germans.  Then they’d drop their bombs and once they glided a short distance, refire the engine and fly the hell out of there and back to base, usually at tree top levels to avoid being shot down by Luftwaffe pilots on night patrol.  I should point out that that last was hard to do as the top speed of the Polikarpov was well below the stall speed of all German fighters, which mean the Germans pretty much had to put their planes into a controlled crash to hit these pesky Russians.

The Germans were the ones who gave the unit the name “Night Witches” because they said the sound of the planes coming in for a bombing run sounded like a witch’s broom swooping by in the darkness.  Some of the pilots said the Germans would often scream at them as they flew by, though surprisingly the last word screamed at then often wasn’t witch but something that sounded quite similar.  The Germans hated these women, and at one point Luftwaffe pilots were promised the Iron Cross–one of their most sought-after medals–for every Night Witch downed.

All together the units flew about thirty thousand missions:  Natalya Kravtsova flew nine hundred and eighty during her tenure as a Night Witch.  They were about as bad ass as anyone can get, and they are proof that while Annie thinks Russian girls may be a little stuck up, you should never mess with one, witch or Normal.  (It was noted that on occasions when the engine of their aircraft shut off in mid-flight, it was necessary for the copilot/navigator to climb out on the wing while the plane was going down and hand-crank the prop to get the engine started.  Yeah, bad ass.)

And here's one witch getting ready to fly during the winter.  Annie probably has this outfit as well.

And here’s one witch getting ready to fly during the winter. Annie probably has this outfit as well.

Now you know where Vicky gets her call sign and why her patch has it written in Russian.  And why she’s proud as hell to have that call sign…

Now that we’ve gone past that history, Kerry has something else he wants to bring up, history-wise:

 

Kerry had to admit there were no other girls like Annie, Russian or English or American—or anywhere in the world. There was something tugging at the back of his mind, however, that had nothing to do with Annie… “That brings up something else: how did your parents and grandparents get out of Bulgaria to go do school in America? Did The Foundation use magic to get them out without anyone noticing?”

“No, they didn’t have to.” Annie crossed her legs and rubbed the bottom of her foot as if she were looking for dream dirt. “From what my family has said The Foundation had a good working relationship with the Soviet Union; they were a foreign trade organization with favorable status with people in Moscow. Since their headquarters were in Paris they could claim that they weren’t unduly influenced by America.” She narrowed her eyes as she stared at Kerry. “Our bourgeoisie enemy.”

He laughed. “Is that you or them speaking?”

“My grandmother once said that jokingly. Anyway, the managed to prove—probably with a little help from The Art—that children from the Soviet Bloc were not only going to receive an ideology-free education, but that they’d freely bring that knowledge back to help their comrades.” She started grinning. “Yes, I said that.

“The Foundation also helped the Russians with…” Annie grasped at words. “I was told they often assisted them with engineering and scientific matters, though nothing that required them to become involved in their military efforts. The way my fraternal grandfather put it, The Foundation made certain the Soviets didn’t fall too far behind the West, but also made certain they didn’t get too far ahead.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “They helped keep the playing field even.”

“Quite so, yes. They were also here to make certain the Deconstructors didn’t gain a foothold in the country.” She rested her chin against her fist for a moment. “We haven’t leaned about it in history yet, but I think the Deconstructors were somewhat behind the Cuban Missile Crises.”

 

Now we find out Deconstructors may have played a part in trying to blow up the world in 1963, which sounds crazy, but then it doesn’t seem like they give a shit about a lot of things.  These guys just love embracing the crazy, don’t they?

 

“I can see that happening.” Now that the relationship between the Russians and The Foundation were clearer, he had another thought. “Did The Foundation get anything from the Russians? Were they paid?”

“No, they received something better: land. Since the Russians couldn’t pay them—rubles weren’t convertible to other forms of money—they bartered for land in Siberia where they could open lab and training facilities. That’s how Department 62 in Serov and The Cosmodrome came into existence.

“With those and other places available The Foundation could play with forms of magic and technology that wasn’t possible in areas where they might not be able to hide a—mistake. Also, being out in Siberia allowed The Foundation to keep track of…” Annie looked off across the straight as her voice dropped to about half her normal speaking volume. “Other things.” She turned back to Kerry and smiled. “Enough of that: why did you want me to see this? Do you miss being here?”

 

And at this last we find out that The Foundation has worked on stuff in Russia that may or may not have led to a mistake, and you gotta wonder what the hell they were doing where a mistake is big enough that not having anyone within a hundred kilometers of their test site is a good thing.  Also…  they’re keeping an eye on other things in Russia?  Stuff… and things.  What’s going on in Russia?  Well, I know, and maybe one day you’ll know, too.

We are left with this last thought:  “Do you miss being here?”  And you know what?

You’ll find out tomorrow.

Love and Rockets and Politics

Here I am back earlier than I’d imagined.  Shopping done and a lot of money spent, probably more than I should have spent.  I was considering going out for lunch but I think I’ll keep it indoors for today and relax and catch a nap.  But I will get all my writing in today.  And some tomorrow.  But I will get it in.  After that nap ’cause I can feel yawning coming on.

Yesterday Kerry was going on about the defenses that used to be around San Francisco, and while he touched on the big guns there he left off one thing that Annie remembers to bring up:

 

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

 

“And what is this Nike base you mentioned?”

“Oh, that.” He once more pointed off to his right. “They had missiles there from the 1950s until the mid 1970s.” Kerry moved so he now faced Annie. “They were supposed to shoot down missiles that were coming in to bomb the city.”

Annie searched her memory for she was certain she knew the event that Kerry was describing. “That was during the Cold War, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah. Back when Russia was our—the U.S.’s—enemy. As was any country that was aligned with them.” A broad smile appeared as he leaned closer to his dream girl. “Which means your family was the enemy—Comrade Kirilova.”

“Oh, please.” She broke into laughter as she spent a few seconds rolling her eyes. “No one has ever called me comrade, nor have I ever heard someone being called comrade. You must have gotten that from a movie.”

“Not really.” Kerry couldn’t keep the smile off his face. “I’m just imagining what it’s like having a girlfriend whose parents were communists.”

Part of Annie knew he was being silly, part of her admired the fact that Kerry knew the history of her country. Bulgaria was four months away from celebrating twenty-four years since leaving the Warsaw Pack and she imagined that the only people who actually gave any thought of the condition of those countries were people like Alex and her and a few others at school who were from those countries. “My parents were never communists: they were too young. They were several months into their B Levels when Bulgaria gained independence from Russia and the Warsaw Pack.” She gave him a smirk that considered of a great deal of side eye. “So you needn’t worry about having communists in-laws.”

“Fair enough.” He stared straight ahead for a few seconds before speaking in a low voice. “What about your grandparents?”

 

Before we get into Annie’s history, let’s look at this other history:

San Francisco is the last place in the U.S. to have a relatively intact Nike Launch Facility, SF 88.  The control center is on top of a hill called Wolf Ridge, but you have to hike up there as it appears the road that used to lead to the center has washed out.  The launch facility looks pretty much as it did when it was decommissioned in the 1970s–

Pretty nice, huh?

Pretty nice, huh?

–save for the fact that it no longer has any nuclear missiles.  That’s right:  SF 88 was one of the sites in the Strategic Defense Network of Nike launch centers where the Nike Hercules missiles, which was armed with either a 2 kiloton or 20 kiloton warhead, were located.

This must be the nucwewer missel.

This must be the nucwewer missel.  Someone tell Chekhov.

While there may be a missile or two still there, they are not active, nor do they have warheads.  And Kerry was wrong:  they weren’t designed to knock down missiles–at least not at first–but were instead shot at incoming bomber with the intention of blowing them out of the sky with nuclear fire.  None of that ever happened, which is good ’cause if it had happened I probably wouldn’t be writing this now.

And, as we see in the picture below, the base is close to the gun batteries Kerry described that were actually set inside a hill, Battery Wallace #1 and #2:

Needless to say there has been a lot of money spent on defending of San Francisco.

Needless to say there has been a lot of money spent on defending of San Francisco.

For the record one home I owned in Indiana was close to Nike launch site C-47, which was actually the first site to deploy the nuclear-armed Nike Hercules missiles, and I drove past the site many times.  Going back even further, when I was a kid, I can remember my parents driving past launch site C-46 in Munster, IN, and seeing the missiles out there ever so often, ready to go just in case war broke out.  Which if it had–

 

With this history out of the way, let’s move on to this new discussion of Kerry’s soul mate and–dirty little commie?

For those who don’t remember, from 1945 until 1989 Bulgaria was a communist country, being a member of the Soviet Union-controlled Warsaw Pack known as the People’s Republic of Bulgaria.  This means they sat behind the other side of the Iron Curtain, and were considered by many in the west to be nothing more than a puppet of the USSR, aka The Evil Empire as Ronnie Raygun once told us.

Now, from Annie’s point of view, the last of this happened ten years before she was born, but given that her parents were both born in 1977, they spent twelve years of their lives under communist rule.  (And a note of trivia:  Annie’s mother Pavlina was born on 28 August, which means she turned eleven while waiting to report to school, which happened on 1 September, 1988, exactly twenty-three years before her lovely daughter did the same.  Talk about just hitting the cut-off for admission.)

But as Annie points out, neither of her parents were ever old enough to join the Communist Party, though who knows if they had to do Communist Youth stuff as they were growing up.  Probably not, as the party in Bulgaria was falling apart in the 1980s, and maybe there was some witchy stuff that kept her folks from having to do anything party-wise.

But what about her grandparents?  This is probably the first time in her life Annie’s been grilled about her family’s political affiliations:

"Communists?  No one in my family is, or ever has been, a communist.  Wait, what story is this?"

“Communists? No one in my family is, or ever has been, a communist. Wait, what story is this?”

However, when it comes to Annie’s family–

 

She didn’t lie because she was certain Kerry had likely figured everything out. “Both my paternal and maternal grandparents were in the Communist Party, and I think their parents as well. My father’s parents worked in national energy production and were required to travel to Russia a couple of times a year for meetings and training, and my mother’s parents were involved with a state organization that imported goods from Western Europe. Because of what they did, it was almost mandatory that they be party members.”

Kerry eventually nodded in agreement. “I can see that. They’d need to be connected politically to get ahead.”

“Exactly.” Annie learned towards Kerry, a whimsical smile upon her face. “My grandparents were in the Communist Party, but they weren’t communists.”

He nodded a couple of times fast. “I didn’t mean to imply they were: I was just joking.”

“I know.” She wrapped her arms around his. “I can’t wait until you finally meet my grandparents; they’ll probably love it that you know these things and will happy to answer your questions.”

 

There you have it:  while all the grandparents were in the party, they weren’t communists.  The same probably goes for Alex’s parents and grandparents–being from the Ukraine her family were actually considered living Soviet Russia for a while–and for another girl in their level, Dariga Dulatuli, who is from Kazakhstan and had parents and grandparents who were considered living in Russia for a good part of their lives.

There is probably a part of Kerry’s mind that has slipped back and imagined what it might have been like for them if Annie and he had been born twenty years earlier and they were trying to meet each other over the Iron Curtain–

What am I saying?  You know he has done just that…

Saturday Morning Silliness

The post title says it all:  it’s a quick update of what’s going on but…  you’re getting more than that this morning.  Oh, yeah:  a lot more–

Though Memories and Song

Crazy things happening, yo.  One of the things I started doing the last couple of days is putting some song lists together of tunes I listen to on YouTube.  Part of this is so I can have something to listen to as I’m walking to and from work–yes, I’m like all the other girls now with my earbuds walking to my own soundtrack–but then I thought, “Hey, you know:  I have a lot of music in my novels:  A lot of it,” and since I am a bit scatterbrained at times I figured it might not be a bad idea to put them all together so I can jam out on them from time to time.

Therefore, if you are interested, I have compiled all the songs that I can think of that put in an appearance in the story so far, and–SPOILERS!–this includes songs that haven’t yet appeared.  They are also in chronological order, with Zoo Station–the song Vicky and Kerry flew to during his broom checkout–being first.  And as you’ll see there are just over two dozen songs, with may more to come in time.

And in case anyone is wondering I also have a song list for everything that Kerry plays during Ostara, but that list is private as it has every song he plays so neener neener, you can’t have all my secrets.

With music out of the way let’s get on to the quick history lesson.

Kerry created a dream version of a place he knew outside of San Francisco:  Battery Spencer.

Why, it's this.

Remember this?  Maybe a little?

Naturally Annie–who living in the mountains thousands of kilometers away–asks the question most people would ask:

 

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

 

Annie looked around just a bit puzzled. “What’s that?”

“This.” Kerry stomped his bare foot on the dirty concrete. “This. This used to be part of the defense of San Francisco.” He sat on the edge of the low structure, his feet almost touching the ground. He looked at Annie as she joined him. “Back over a hundred years ago they had all these guns in place around the Golden Gate—” He pointed towards the water in front of them. “—that’s the straight there—they were here to keep out enemy ships that might try to sail in and attach the city and ports. There used to be couple of big guns here, a few more down the coast—” Kerry waved his arm to his right. “—and a bunch of them over on the south side.”

“I had no idea.” Since Annie had spent her entire life living in the mountains she couldn’t imagine living in an area where these defenses existed. “Where are they now?

The guns, I mean.”

“Scrapped. All this stuff was obsolete by the 1920s because everyone was building huge war ships and aircraft carries. They pulled the guns out of here in 1942, melted them down, and used them for other things. There’s only one gun left over on the other side by the Presidio. It’s just used for demonstrations.”

“Interesting.” She loved how animated Kerry had grown talking about something that she’s never heard him mention in all the time they’d been together. He’s proud he was able to create all this; it’s likely this place was important to him. “What’s the Presidio?”

Kerry began rocking back and for as if he were anxious to do something. “It used to be a military base that was supposed to defend the city. It was shut down a while back and the buildings sold for development. The Disney people bought one of the buildings—” He stared at the bridge with a wistful look upon his face. “That’s where my parents used to work.”

“At this Presidio?”

“Yeah. That’s where ILM has their offices.” His chuckled was almost unheard. “That’s where the Yoda statue is.” Kerry finally looked at Annie. “I had my picture taken in front of it when I was six.” He grew quiet as he turned back towards the bridge.

 

First, the defenses.  Like Kerry said, back in the extremely late 1800–mostly in 1895–a whole lot of gun emplacements were set up overlooking the Golden Gate, the entrance to San Francisco harbor.  There were, for the most part, 10 inch guns set up on platforms that allowed them to drop down for loading, then pop up for shooting.  There were at least two guns at Battery Spencer, and at least a half dozen more spread down the Marion Highlands, including two that were buried inside a hill.

On the southern approach there were even more, with a few going as far down the south coast as to be almost outside of the city limit.  The idea was that any enemy ships that tried getting into the harbor was gonna get blasted to hell and gone before the got too close.

This whole area was a death trap, trust me.

This whole area was a death trap, trust me.

By the way, Battery Chamberlain, seen in the picture above, is that “one guy left” that Kerry mentions, and there are demonstrations these days showing people how it worked.

Not only did the Golden Gate have guns, but there were hardened forts as well.  There was Fort Point which was, um, on the point right there where the straight narrows, and is more well known as that building the Golden Gate Bridge goes over–

As seen here in a still from "Vetigo".

As seen here in a still from the movie Vertigo.

And further inside the harbor was Fort Alcatraz, which is known these days as that prison that no one could escape.  These places were chock full o’ guns as well and ready to blast any bad guys who made it past the outer defenses.

Overseeing this all was the Presidio, the military installation tasked with overseeing to the protection of the city.  It was put in place originally by the Spanish in 1776 and was inactivated as a military base in 1994, which made it one of the oldest active military bases in this country.  It’s all parkland these days and is open to any and all.

Just imagine if the greedheads were allowed to build condos here.

Just imagine if the greedheads were allowed to build condos here.

As Kerry also pointed out, the Presidio is where his parents used to work as Industrial Light and Magic–their former employee–has their offices on the old base.  On the picture above ILM occupies a few buildings in the group of four at the very right center.  And in the courtyard of one of those buildings–the one at the bottom of the group–is the Yoda Fountain, where Kerry was photographed standing in front of the grumpy old puppet.

"Jedi Knight I was; water flowing from base I now have."

“Jedi Knight I was; water flowing from base have I now.”

Yeah, Kerry has a lot of memories of this area and Annie prods him a little to talk–

 

Annie rested her hand over his. “When were you here last?”

He didn’t need any time to consider the answer. “Like the middle of June after my seventh birthday. My parents were working and my grandmother didn’t want to do a lot of walking, so it was just my grandfather and me. He brought me up here, then we went to the Nike base down the ways, and before we went home we actually walked out on the bridge.”

“You did?” Annie grew a little excited. While she’d crossed many river bridges in Europe she’s never stood on a structure as huge as the Golden Gate Bridge. “How far out did you walk?”

“Out to about a hundred or so meters beyond the north tower.” Kerry held his arm next to Annie’s face and sighted down it towards the spot he remembered. “Right about there.”

“That had to be exciting.” Remembering what Kerry was like then—the intelligent boy who only saw a certain Chestnut Girl in his dreams once in a while but knew her presence meant he had someone with whom he could talk for what seemed like most of a day—she imagined he felt a combination of exhilaration and fear as he walked out on the bridge. “What was it like?”

“Windy.” He laughed. “And chilly, but you dress for that around here. I remember how far down the water seemed: like eighty meters or so.” He glanced at Annie. “Not so far these days, huh?”

She gave him a slow shrug. “It is if you fall.”

“True.”

“And what is this Nike base you mentioned?”

 

Yeah, what is that Kike base you mentioned.  Well, I’ll mention that tomorrow–along with a dirty little secret Kerry figured out about Annie.  Will it change his perception of Annie?  Ummm, probably not, but he’ll have fun pointing it out.