Hospital Visitations: Patient Questions

It’s been a good, productive morning here in The Burg, even though I wasn’t sure it was going to go that way.  I woke up not knowing if I was going to stay in or go out–you know, “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”  One of the eternal questions that are always asked and eventually answered.

And answer I did, for I finally decided that I wasn’t going to spent time sitting in my apartment, not when I could be outside on a bright, sunny morning.  So I hopped in the car and drove up to the other branch of the coffee shop that I visit on Sunday mornings, only this one is located in old Uptown neighborhood of Harrisburg.

Looks like something you might see in a movie, right?

Looks like something you might see in a movie, right?

Since this place is only a mile and a half from my apartment, maybe I’ll try walking here once the weather gets better.  I can totally do that, I know I can.

Once more we’re back in the Salem School Hospital, Bay #1, and Coraline’s about to speak with her Very Important Patient.  Kerry’s doing a little better than he was when he first arrived, but he’s not one hundred percent, as one might say if they were discussing their racing condition.  Only Kerry’s not racing anyone right now–or is he?

 

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

The lights were set at half-full, giving the space enough illumination without being too bright. The head of Kerry’s bed was at full elevation, allowing him to set straight up: Coraline took this as a sign he wasn’t ready to head off to sleep. He didn’t have his glasses on as they were still in his room in the tower, left there when Nurse Gretchen brought him to the hospital, leaving Coraline to make a mental note to have Gretchen pick them up in the morning so Kerry would be able to see once out of bed.

Annie sat to Kerry’s left, holding his hand but looking in Coraline’s direction as she entered. She didn’t know if they were talking before she entered the bay, but she figured that they were both sitting quietly, waiting for her to check up on Kerry as Gretchen told them she would. Annie might comfort Kerry, but she wouldn’t question him only to have me question him again. Coraline headed up the center of the bay between the beds so she could check Kerry’s displayed vitals. She doesn’t want to waste time—and it’s likely she already knows the answers to most of her questions . . .

Seeing there wasn’t anything physically wrong with her patient, Coraline pulled out the chair next to the right side of Kerry’s bed and sat where she could see both Annie and him without a problem. “Hey, Red.” She gave him her best smile. “You relaxed?”

His smile was weak. “I feel calm.”

“That’s better than when you came in.” Coraline slid a little closer to Kerry’s bed. “I want you to get back to sleep as soon as possible, but before that happens I need to ask you a few questions first. I won’t keep you long; I just need to know what happened to I can tell Deanna when I see her later today.”

His smile grew a bit brighter. “You’re going to meet with Deanna?”

“And Erywin, too. We’re getting together a lunch to talk about you.”

He turned to Annie. “See? The brain trust is gonna figure this out.”

Annie returned his smile, but Coraline saw the stress in her eyes. “It’s a good think, my love.”

Coraline nodded. “Yes, it is.” She kept her tone relaxed. “You had a dream, right?”

 

Since Coraline already knows Kerry had a dream, she’s asking a rhetorical question.  Probably because she wants to see what he’s going to say so she can tell “The Brain Trust” makes of his answers.  At least he doesn’t start tap dancing–

 

“Yeah.”

“It was one of those, wasn’t it?”

He turned to Annie before turning back to Coraline. “Yeah. She was there. She was in my house.”

While she wasn’t an expert on dreams, this new development led her to believe events were coming to some sort of conclusion.  “What happened?”

He looked down the length of his bed before speaking in a low, dejected tone. “She got in the house. I was on the landing and I heard her come in the front door then come up the stairs. She looked kinda—” He pursed his lips for a few seconds. “She was sad.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do. She got to the landing and sorta stared ahead for a few seconds—” He faintly chuckled. “Funny thing, though—”

Coraline was encouraged that Kerry could chuckle about anything at this point. “What is?”

“She turned to the right when she stepped off the landing. In my want to go into my room you have to turn left off the landing, but she turned right. You do that and you’ll walk into the wall.”

“Did she come into your room?” Though Coraline made a note of this point, she moved the conversation along as she worried Kerry might become fixated on a particular scene.

He began his answer with a sigh. “She did. After she stepped off the landing everything jumbled around—” His eyes closed for a moment. “Way it is in a dream, right? After that I’m sitting in my room in front of my computer and I hear my door open, and there she is walking inside . . .”

Coraline prodded him along as his pause stretched out. “And?”

“We talked.”

“About?

He shrugged. “I can’t remember. I just know we talked.”

Annie squeezed his hand. “Tell her what you told me?”

Kerry almost seemed to nod, though Coraline thought he might be fighting to stay awake. “I think I might know who she is now. I keep getting—” He touched his temple with his right hand. “It’s like I know her name, it just won’t come to me.”

“And I’m not going to try and make you remember.” Coraline patted his right arm. “I’ll pass this along when we meet and see if it means anything.”

He pushed the pillow up behind his head and settled back. “Whatever.”

 

This is the first time Kerry’s expressed the feeling that maybe he knows the name of Carrot Girl–the cute name one of my readers gave to this mysterious dream vixen.  Up until ow he’s said he doesn’t know her, but now–hey, maybe he does.  Or maybe he doesn’t, because the name is there somewhere in his memory and it won’t come out.  Either way you look at it, like Coraline imagines, things seem like they’re coming to a head.  And Kerry seems tired of it all, because when has he ever said to someone, “Whatever.”  Like never, that’s when.

This leads to an interesting discovery, and the need for Coraline to do her doctor thing:

 

Coraline ignored his dismissal, writing it off as a symptom of the evening’s activities. “Just a few more things and then it’s time to put you to bed, okay?” She didn’t wait for his reply. “Your vitals show advanced exhaustion, so I need to ask this question: have you been avoiding sleep?”

He didn’t try to dance around the question. “Yes. I’ve been staying up late to keep from sleeping.”

“Because you were afraid to dream.”

“Yes.”

“How long has this gone on?”

“Since right before Katahdin.” His face grew slack as he continued. “Like the Wednesday before.”

“Why did you do that?”

He met Coraline’s gaze. “Because I felt something coming. That how it felt.” He broke away and stared down at his lap as his demeanor turned dismal. “Like something bad was going to happen.”

“It’s okay, Kerry.” She patted his arm again, trying to comfort. “We’re gonna help you, don’t worry. It’s gonna happen.” Coraline quickly moved on. “Now, for the rest. First, I’m placing you on magic restrictions: no crafting of any kind until further notice. Given your current condition, I can’t risk you trying to craft a spell and having it get away from you. This doesn’t mean you can’t go to class—”

He nodded once. “Just no magic.”

“Right. And don’t let me hear you tried something, ‘cause . . .” She shook her head gravely. “I’d have to do something to ensure you couldn’t do magic, and I don’t want to do that. Okay?

“Second: you’re also grounded until further notice as well. I don’t want you need a broom, and I sure as hell don’t want you on one. And if you’re grounded—”

“No racing.” He pulled his shoulders inward as he hung his head.

“Yeah. Can’t have you racing for the same reasons I can’t have you doing magic. Holoč’s aware, and he said he’ll take care of things with the team.” She gave his right hand a pat. “I’m sorry, but I can’t have you on a course when you’re like this.”

“It’s okay.” He bravely smiled as he lifted his gaze towards the school doctor. “I understand.”

 

The last surprise to come out of this is that Kerry’s felt something bad is about to happen, and that’s kept him up so he does’t have to dream, that’s serious shit.  And, as you’ll find out when I post the rest of this scene, it doesn’t do him any good.  Coraline’s put the hammer down on him, and maybe another seven, eight hundred words will finish this out.

I’m surprised I pretty much breezed through almost eight hundred and eighty-five words.  I have to admit, it hurts writing this ’cause I’m hurting my kids.  I’m not doing Kerry any good, and I’m damn sure not helping Annie out any, either.  As it was pointed out to me the other day, Annie’s went through a lot with Kerry, and it’s a testament to how much she loves him that she’s put up with so much.  Why?  Because as I said before, Annie has her eyes on the prize, and the prize is Kerry, and it’s Kerry because she loves her little ginger oh, so much.  And she knows that were their roles reversed, he’d be right there for her, too.  Though he’s only had to defend her once from certain death–when he was literally the Last Boy Standing in The Link of Kansas City–Annie knows Kerry would lay his life on the line for her.  It won’t happen here, but believe me:  he would do so.  Because I know so.

Is this the Resting Bitch Face of someone who would lie?

Is this the Resting Bitch Face of someone who would lie?

Nails get done this afternoon, then it’s back to the casa tonight to finish this scene.  And finish it I so want–

‘Cause the scene that follows is going to show something no one–including me–as so far seen . . .

Intervention Time, Start to Finish

Chapter Twenty-two is history, complete, done.  I only managed about four hundred and fifty words last night, but this morning I felt inspired to complete the scene and end the chapter, and after a hour of writing I’ve accomplished that very thing.

Interestingly enough, Kerry’s final scene of this chapter had nearly the same word count as Annie’s final scene, though it was a few hundred words shorter.  Whereas Annie was all about bringing out the homicidal feelings, Kerry was fighting to stay alive.  One almost brought about death, the other was doing his best to avoid death.  A strange, neat little dichotomy, I believe.

Here it is:  Kerry’s run from death and the aftermath that brings a close to Chapter Twenty-two:

 

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

 

18:38 to 18:42

Kerry couldn’t get away from the creature chasing him.

Since running from The Diamond Kerry had tried everything possible to shake this thing on his tail. He’d zigged and zagged from east to west. He’d changed altitude rapidly. He’d made one high speed run from the south to the north and back several times.

Nothing worked. The creature kept on his tail, and was slowly closing the distance.

Kerry was tired and growing exhausted. It wasn’t the high speed runs from on end of the school to the other: it was the dips, the weaves, the turns at the north and south ends of the school, the ones that brought him closer and closer to the screens, which were becoming more difficult to see at hight speed in the growing darkness. The g forces were tremendous, like he’d expect in a race car. His head hurt, his back was sore, and his knee was on fire. He’s learned quickly to stay out of the area of the school north of the Observatory, because the area there was smaller compared to the rest of the grounds, and it was there he slipped up and not only all most slammed into the screens, but allowed this monster to gain a couple of meters on him.

And no one was responding to his cries for help.

He knew it was only a matter of time. Eventually he was going to miss a turn and go into the screens, or misjudge a weave and feel a tentacle wrap around his neck and rip him off his broom and drag him to the forest below. While he thought it was possible it might throw him to the ground and let him die on impact, a nagging fear in his mind told him it would pulled him screaming into the forest, alive, and it was there it would . . .

He turned back to the northwest, heading towards Sunset Tower and the West End portion of the Green Line. He couldn’t help but notice The Pentagram, glowing a soft blue in the darkness under the defense screens. Annie was in there, safe, maybe working, maybe wondering about him. He had no idea what the people inside the Blue Bubble knew, and even less what she’d know. The image of her face as they said goodbye in the Dining Hall this morning instantly came to mind, and he fought to control his emotions as he fought back the notion that the next time she saw him, it might be to identify his body—

 

Remember, parents:  the next time your kids complain that, two months into the school year, they’re bored with everything, tell them they could be flying for their lives trying to get away from some monster that probably wants to eat them.  They’ll likely remained bored, but at least you can lay some nightmare fuel on them.

But Nightwitch gets on the comm and gives him instructions to fly towards Selena’s Meadow, to come in close to the pavilion on the west side, and to break left when word is given.  It’s all quick and clear, and if there’s one thing Kerry’s shown throughout this ordeal, it’s that he knows how too follow orders.  With the word given he does exactly as told.

 

He reached the tree line north of Selena’s Meadow and pushed hard towards the ground, dropped almost seventy-five meters in a few seconds. He pulled out at just under three meters, and a couple of small adjustments set him at two meters as he stayed on the west side of the meadow and headed straight for Toft Pavilion. He didn’t look back; he didn’t glance over his shoulder; he didn’t bring up the rear view display. He didn’t want to know how close that thing was, if it was only a couple of meters away and was now reaching out to snatch him away—

Break left; break left.”

Kerry did exactly as instructed, throwing his broom into a sixty degree turn while speeding away from the pavilion as fast as possible. There were bright lights behind him, and Kerry didn’t need to look back to know someone was throwing some destructive magic at the creature.

For the first time since leaving The Diamond Kerry felt safe. He felt he could relax. Most of all, as he slowed he felt there was nothing more to do that find a place to stop and wait for orders, perhaps get taken to a place of safety—

He saw two people pop into existence up ahead on his right. It was hard to see given the night vision and distance, but it looked like two women, one supporting the other. A couple of seconds later another person, obviously a man, popped into view, standing behind the women. His right arm was drawn back slightly, and there was something blue and glowing in his hand. Kerry had seen this before—his exhausted mind recognized it from the time Annie showed him the spell. Kerry kept his eyes locked on the ball of cold fire in the man’s hand—

The broom shook hard; Kerry felt the force through his hand and up his arms as it threatened to wrench his shoulders from their sockets.  As he continued flying something warm and sticky splashed his face—

He sailed through the air, finally giving into the exhaustion that wanted to take him for the last five minutes. Kerry surrendered and went limp, waiting—

He barely registered smashing into the ground; he paid little attention to the violent tumble that followed. There was only one final thought:

Annie.

Darkness greeted him long before he came to a stop . . .

 

And there you have it:  Chapter Twenty-two coming to a stop, just like Kerry did.

I could end the novel right here, but that would probably drive a few people mad--myself included.

I could end the novel right here, but that would probably drive a few people mad–myself included.

Now we just have to wait for Chapter Twenty-three.

Won’t that be fun?

Abomination Time, The Fight

This is what it’s come to, and you knew it was coming.  If they’re moving and contact, and the last thing you remember is someone getting dragged off by Octo-boy, then there’s gonna be a fight.  And here it is–

It’s not a good place for Kerry right now, and things are about to dive right down the toilet for the poor kid.  How bad is it going to get?

"My money's on the not-human."

“My money’s on the non-human.”

Your money’s no good here, Hastur.

Let’s look in and see for ourselves.

 

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

Kerry was frozen, held in place by surprise and terror. This was on of the creatures that made it through the screen breach: some octopus-like monstrosity that seemed to scurry along or spider or crab legs. He sat there on his PAV, Emma’s broom in his right hand, and listened to her scream as the creature kept her pinned against the wall of The Diamond—

It’s going to kill her.

Another voice in Kerry head responded. What are you going to do about that?

Do? I can’t do anything.

Yes, you can. You have the call sign of a hero, a woman who wasn’t afraid of anything, who would do anything to help her friends. You are a witch and a sorceress; you can do anything. Are you going to let your wingmate get eaten?

I

Are you going to let her die?

I—

Keep your wits about you

Kerry mumbled between clenched teeth. “—When everything is going to hell around you.” He raised the broom in his right hand and charged his broom forward, screaming as loud as possible.

 

When all else fails and you don’t know what to do, attack.  Scream.  Go at . . . things.  Even if you’re not sure you’re doing the right thing.  Because sometimes you score–

 

The sixth or seventh blow failed to attract the creature’s attention, and Kerry knew he had to do something fast or Emma was gone. He he couldn’t use an Air Hammer foci to chop at this thing—but there was nothing that said he couldn’t use the spell for stabbing. Kerry pulled back a couple of meters and fashioned the spell around the forward tip of Emma’s broom. He didn’t know how many shots he’d get with this, or even if it was going to be effective, but he had no choice: Emma’s screams were fading, and for all he knew she was already dying . . .

Kerry sailed into the creature again, this time using the Air Hammer foci for Emma’s broom to harpoon the monster. A blueish-green liquid jetted out of the puncture wound, splashing all over his jacket and gloves. He pulled it out with difficulty; this creature may look like an ambulatory octopus, but it wasn’t an invertebrate, making it far harder to damage—

He finally managed to get its attention, though—and piss it off at the same time.

 

And sometimes you piss off the wrong thing.  Not like that wasn’t going to happen, though, right?

 

The creature spun around and knocked the broom from Kerry’s hands. Three tentacles reach for him, but he was quick enough to back away some six or seven meters before they could latch on and drag him away. His breathing quickened; he fought to keep from shaking and loosing control of his senses and mind.

He had his first real look at the monster he faced.

He saw the thick spider-like legs, eight of them holding the creature off the ground. He couldn’t tell how many tentacles the thing had: there were at least six around the body, maybe eight, but there are more around the face, perhaps six, maybe more. The mouth was lip-less and wide, stretching nearly all the way across the three meter wide body. It was impossible to tell the color of the creature’s hide; everything in the low-light goggles was tinged green.

But the eyes . . . They weren’t human, or even like those of an octopus, but rather eight large saucers maybe twenty or twenty-five centimeters across, ringed around the mouth and up onto what passed for a forehead. It opened its mouth and showed a double row of pointed teeth, perfect for piercing and tearing.

It reared back and turned loose a low rumbling growl that made Kerry’s teeth vibrate. He knew what it was: ultra low frequency sound. It must be adapted to do this . . . It hurt his head and nearly made him throw up, but as Professor Lovecraft taught, he kept his wits about him. For the first time since the breach he was glad he had to ride a broom due to his damaged knee, because Kerry knew he couldn’t out maneuver this thing on foot.

He would have died the moment it turned on him.

 

In case you’re wondering, twenty to twenty-five centimeters is eight to ten inches, but those Foundation people:  they drill the metrics into you.  And those are big eyes–all eight of them staring back at you, sizing you up for dinner.

 

It moved slowly towards him, snarling, not with low frequency sounds, but as an animal would do before killing its prey. The tentacles around the mouth began writhing, and Kerry figured it was going for a quick kill: probably grab him with the larger tentacle’s, then pull him close to the mouth, have those tentacles latch on, and . . .

And he wasn’t about to make himself a late afternoon snack for some mutated Spawn of Cthulhu.

The creature leapt at him, screaming, it’s mouth wide open, the tentacles reaching—

He pulled hard to his left and dodge it, then turned to face it in time to dodge another leap. He wanted to check on Emma, but he couldn’t take his eyes off this thing, not for a moment. If he did—

Kerry couldn’t help himself, however; he had to know. He glanced to his left—

The monster charged forward.

 

Important lesson learned:  never take your eye off the Cthulhu creature.  Even if it’s driving you mad.  Fortunately, the kid has his wits about him . . .

 

Kerry threw up his hands and tossed out the biggest Air Hammer spell he could pulled together. The creature slammed into it and stopped dead in the air about two meters from the front of his broom. He didn’t damage it, but he did shield himself from the attack.

I can’t keep this up for long, though. Kerry figured someone would come soon, but he was worried that if he continued to fight this thing it would grow bored and go after Emma again—or, worse, attract the attention of identical creatures.

He couldn’t continue to wait.

He had to act.

He was frightened, breathing hard, fighting to hold himself together—

He held out his right arm and extended his middle finger at the monster intent on killing him. “Come on, bitch.” He spit at the thing. “Come ON.”

The creature hurled itself at Kerry.

There was only one thing to do . . .

Run.

He jerked upward on this control shaft as hard as possible and shot forty meters into the air. He was vaguely aware that the creature was off the ground and coming for him. He turned hard to his left and sailed over the roof of The Diamond, accelerating as he turned towards the north and The Pentagram. He cast a quick glance behind: the creature was there, maybe eight meters behind. It kept pace with him as he picked up speed and rocketed over the Flight School and Selena’s Meadow.

He was running; the only thing left to do was get on the comm and tell someone. “Nightwitch, this is Starbuck.” He looked out over the school before him, trying to put the things intent on devouring him out of his mind. “I’ve got something chasing me, and I need help. I need it now. Someone, HELP.”

 

There you go.  Emma left in an unknown state, and Kerry zooming through the darkening sky with Octo-squid monster after him.  And that’s where I’m going to leave her, because the next scene takes us back into the Great Hall–

Because I don't like leaving people helping people out of the action.

Because I don’t like leaving people helping people out of the action.

–Which is going to move the action forward just a little more.  Chapter Twenty-two is almost finished.

And it’s going out with something of a bang.

Where the Darkness Ends

I hate when I wake up in the middle of the night with something bothering me.

Allow me to explain:

Last night my two thousand words and change I wrote for my NaNo Novel involved an attack by a supernatural creature.  The scene is still on-going, and I may, or may not, finish it today.  But I had a great set up:  a street section going dark, something that looks like a big cloud of badness, and one of my main characters getting knocked about.

Yep.  Just another exciting night in the city of Makassar.

The computer was acting up bad last night, and I finally shut down once I hit my goal of hitting thirty-five thousand words.  I was tired, so I figured I’d fall right asleep–which I did–and . . .

I can’t tell you what was really happening throughout most of the dream, but I know at the end, I was driving a van, someone else was with me.  We parked, and they got out.  And then . . .

The darkness closed in on me.

That’s just how it felt.  I was sitting there, I looked back, and everything turned black.  Not only that, but I felt something touch me, and remain in the room as I woke up.  With a huge pain in my left leg.

This isn’t the first time something like that has happened, but it freaked me out plenty.  Plus, the pain I had in my leg wasn’t doing a lot to help me get back to sleep right away.  I couldn’t find a position that was comfortable.  I tossed around for maybe thirty minutes before I dozed off again.

Only to wake up with this song going through my head.  Which was going through my head when I went to sleep.  Damn it all, why does this have to happen to me?  I just want a good night’s sleep, and pleasant dreams.  I don’t want demons of the darkness coming after me when I’m really hoping for is to have Christina Hendricks to show up and model lingerie.

It’s a tough world out there; show the creative types a little mercy.

That’s it, though:  creative types have this shit going through their heads all the time.  We go to sleep, and our dreams are usually full of insane things.  It has to do with how we keep ourselves occupied.  As Stephen King pointed out in his book, Danse Macabre, the kids that read books and comics grew up to be bright, intelligent, imaginative people, and the kids who didn’t grew up to be soulless, no talent hacks.

I saw a lot of this during the Go Go Reagan 80’s, where everyone who was hellbent on cashing out as a millionaire by thirty-five didn’t read anything as kids, much less science fiction and comics.  One guy I worked with in 1985 would have licked the ground upon which Donald Trump was going to walk, and actually refused to speak with me after I pointed out that Trump inherited a ton of money, which was one of the reasons he was able to succeed in business without really trying.  I wish I knew where he was today, because just imagine the fun I could have pointing out the insanity of his hero today . . .

You lay down with ghosts, you’re going to dream about them.  Can’t be helped.  It’s the way our minds work.  Even when we don’t want them to bring the horror, they’re going do it anyway.

I’m going to start writing about Christina.  I deserve a break tonight.