The Tower Turmoil

In the grand scheme of things one could say not a lot was accomplished.  About six hundred and forty words were fully written, but for some reason I didn’t have the feel down while typing away.  You know how it is, where you get the sensation that you’re just writing, but the words are jumping off the page at you and it’s falling flat.  I don’t feel they are, but I get in this way at times, and it’s hard to shake them off.

I did help someone during a discussion on Scrivener.  They wanted to know what the package did, and I showed them several examples of my own work and directed them towards a few of my posts where I go into detail about the various things I’ve done with the package.  That kept me kinda half-busy when I should have been writing.

But I kept at it, writing along, keeping the story moving, and then I realized something that I had to check.  And, yep, it was true.  I passed a quarter of a million words in the story.

As in 250,000 words.

As in 250,000 words.

For the third time I’ve hit the quarter of a million mark:  this novel, the monster that came before this, and my probably-never-to-be-published novel Transporting, and when you figure in that I still have maybe fifty thousand words to go in this novel, and the last was four hundred and twenty-five thousand words, that’s a million words between three works.  Not bad for stuff finished over the last four years.

Now to get published, but that’s another story . . .

I finished the scene in the coven tower where Annie hears Kerry screaming in his sleep.  As expected it’s not long:  about eight hundred and fifty words.  It didn’t need to be that long, because it’s there to set the mood, the kickoff so to speak.   And since that’s what I wanted, I got it.  I got it well . . .

 

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

She needed a moment to take in his appearance, for she’d never seen him looking this disheveled. His arms hung limp at his side and his shoulders were slightly hunched over. His mouth hung open matching his slack, unmoving face. What shocked Annie the most were his eyes: there weren’t so much unfocused as they were uncomprehending. He doesn’t even realized I’m here. “Kerry?” She took him by the arm and eased him into the corridor. “What’s wrong?”

He blinked a couple of times, looking towards Jario first—who’d stepped up next to Annie—then Penny and Alex, who still lingered in the background. He moved his hands close to his face as if he was going to adjust his glasses, then slowly lowered them to his sides when he realized he wasn’t wearing them. “It’s, um—” Kerry turned to Annie, a look of incomprehension still affixed to his face. “’I don’t—”

“Darling—” Annie took his hands and stood so they were almost touching noses, allowing her to speak in a whisper. “Did you have a dream?”

There was a long sigh as Kerry finally began focusing on his soul mate. He barely nodded. “Yeah.”

Annie chest tightened as she closed her eyes. Though she wanted to ignore any possible that Kerry’s screams were related to the ginger girl who stalked his dreams, even before she was out of her room she was certain that girl was the source of his fear. I want to help, I want to save him from whomever she is, but there’s nothing I can do . . .

She held his hands tight. “We need to go to the hospital. We need to go now.”

He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. “Okay.”

“Come with me. You can wait outside my room while I send—”

“I’ve done that, Annie.” Alex hurried to a stop next to Penny. “The nurse should be here any second.”

Annie nodded. “Thank you, Alex. Jario—” She tilted her head towards the open door behind her dazed soul mate. “Would you get Kerry’s robe and slippers? I can’t go in his room.”

“Sure, Annie.” He squeezed past the couple and vanished into the black privacy screen that prevent any of the girls from seeing into and entering any of the boy’s rooms.

She threw her arms around Kerry and held him. She didn’t want to let him go: she would do anything to protect him, just as she knew he would do for her. Deanna told me last year Kerry would die defending me—and I would do the same for him. “Nurse Gretchen is coming. I’ll be with you the whole time. Everything is going to be fine.”

He buried his face in her hair and spoke in a mumbling whisper. “I don’t know if it’ll ever be fine again.”

“Oh, my love.” She held him tighter, counting the seconds until Nurse Gretchen arrived and fearful that this was his one vision that would prove to true—

 

Now we know Kerry is off to the hospital, and believe it or not I started up the next scene so that I’d have a benchmark upon which to start writing tonight.  And since the kids were off to the hospital, that’s where the story picks up.  It doesn’t pick up with the kids, however–

 

“What do you intend doing?” Holoč Semplen pulled his robe tighter around his neck. “For tonight, I mean.” He glanced at each of the three women in the office before finally settling on Coraline.

She eased back into her chair and crossed her legs. Like everyone else in the room, she wore pajamas, slippers, and a robe, having come straight from the Instructor’s Residence as soon as she’d heard what happened. “Tonight he’ll sleep here.  I’ll keep Annie as well—”

He nodded. “I expected that.”

“I’ll check on his condition tomorrow—” She sighed as she remembered it was an hour after midnight, making it the next day. “—when he wakes up, and I’ll keep him if I feel it’s warranted. I’ll keep you informed on his condition, naturally.”

Holoč pressed lower lip against his thumb and index finger. “Are you going to impose restrictions on his activities?”

Coraline folded her hands across her stomach. “Given what I’ve seen of his med scans, it’s necessary. I don’t have a choice.”

“That’s fine.” He his hands against his hands lightly against his thighs. “I’ve never questioned your judgment regarding a patient, and I won’t start now.  You get him well, I’ll deal with any fallout.” He stood and tugged on his robe. “One question, though: does this have anything to do with this situation for which you’re counseling?”

 

While Holoč’s indicating he’s aware of counseling for Kerry, it’s likely he doesn’t know why.  About the only time the coven leaders who aren’t counselors are told why a student is being counseled is when they’ve become a danger to themselves or others, and then it becomes necessary to monitor them.  Kerry hasn’t been considered a danger to himself, though with talk of “restrictions”, that could change.  You’ll just have to see what comes next.

And if you’re lucky that’ll happened tonight . . .

The Night Air: Out of the Cold

It wasn’t so much a long night as it’s been a long morning.  Though not too bad:  I slept until five-twenty and began writing about six, and churned out about five hundred words over the course of an hour on this extremely foggy morning here in The Burg.  I’m about to get on the road in another two hours because I have things to do some ninety minutes to the south in Maryland, so I thought it might be best to get a little noveling in before I do all the stuff I have to do in order to make myself presentable to the outside world.

It’s a slow and probably quaint little slice of life at the Home by the Sea, and after all that flying about in the cold the kids are happy to be back in the bosom of comfort.  It was discussed by Vicky and Isis in the previous scene, and here we see it coming to fruition:

 

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

The evening wound down into the expected as soon Annie and Kerry were back at the school and on the ground. Within a minute of landing Vicky and Isis them off to the hospital, where Nurse Gretchen greeted them in the waiting room and escorted then to Bay #1, where they were order to remove their heavy coats and flying gear, strip down to their thermal underwear, and to each lay on a bed so Gretchen could run her preliminary health scans.

Coraline showed up about a minute into the scan and told Gretchen she’d finish the scans and asked her to get them slippers and robes. A minute later the scans were finished and Gretchen was back. After Kerry and she were in their robes and slippers, Coraline said she didn’t see anything on the scans that indicated any problems, and told them to head down to the lounge area of the ward and wait for the snacks coming from the kitchen. They were also given a blanket and told the huddle under it while they waited if they felt cold, and by the time they reached the small lounge they agreed they needed more warming.

They didn’t need to wait long. The kitchen sent up hot chocolate, which wasn’t a surprise, and tikvenik, which was. Annie knew these well: they were a traditional Christmas Eve desert, a type of banitsa made with pumpkin and walnuts, but this was Kerry’s first time enjoying them, and while he admitted he didn’t enjoy pumpkin that much, he loved nuts, and thought serving them with powered sugar and a touch of whipped cream made them taste fantastic.

 

This is the first time we’ve had both Annie and Kerry down to their thermal underwear, something that doesn’t bother Kerry that much as he’s already seen another girl in her thermals *cough*emma*cough*.  At his point neither of them are uncomfortable being with each other like this in front of others, probably a consequence of their having spent time together at locations outside the school.  Anyway, they’re comfortable at least.

Now, another Bulgarian treat makes an appearance.  Tikvenik is a banitsa made by wrapping a pumpkin and walnut mix in Philo dough and setting it to bake.  The banitsa the kids have had up to this point are usually sweeter, making this a new experience for Kerry.

Did you ever imagine you'd learn so much about Bulgarian food?

Did you ever imagine you’d learn so much about Bulgarian food?

And there’s a reason for this, too:  Coraline’s using something tasty to build up their metabolism–

 

They both understood the reason for this snack selection: a good concentration of carbohydrate and protein combined with a touch of sweetness. Tikvenik filed and gave her energy on many cold evenings in Bulgaria, and they were doing the same thing here. Annie sat close to Kerry, eating her pumpkin sweets and drinking her hot chocolate, and keeping her mind not on the activities of the last few hours, but of the person to her right.

It took them about twenty minutes to finish their snacks, and as soon as they finished Coraline marched them back to Bay #1 for a second med check. This check took about two minutes, and when it was over Coraline turned away from the machine with a self-satisfied smile and not only addressed them, but Vicky and Isis as well. “There was a negligible reduction in their body temperatures during the first scan, but they’ve recovered from that nicely. I don’t seen anything here that would constitute a medical issue—however . . .” She glanced over her shoulder at the two women standing behind her. “I’ve been asked by Vicky to hold you overnight for observation. Just in case.”

Kerry sat up straight. “Are we spending the night here, then?”

“Yes. I’ve already sent Gretchen to get your night clothes and supplies for the morning.”

“Maybe we should keep a pair of pajamas here all the time—” Annie did her best to keep from smiling. “That way Nurse Gretchen isn’t running off to the tower to retrieve our things.”

Vicky nodded. “Probably would make things easier.”

Isis cleared her throat, something which Coraline didn’t let slide. “Something to say, Director?”

Isis shook her head. “Had something stuck in my throat, Doctor. Nothing you need to examine.”

Coraline nodded and turned her attention back to her patients. “As soon as Gretchen is here you can change and get to sleep. It’s past lights out and we should all be off to bed.”

Vicky positioned herself at the end of Annie’s bed as Coraline stepped back. “Since we don’t have lessons tomorrow, we’ll debrief at nine. Come out to the Flight School after breakfast.”

“We’ll be there.” Annie leaned over her crossed legs and bid everyone a good night.

A few seconds after everyone departed Nurse Gretchen appeared with their night clothes. Annie wasn’t under any illusions about why they were here: there wasn’t anything wrong with them, and the way all three women looked when Coraline mentioned they were being held for “observation” told her they were all intent on allowing Kerry and her the night together, and felt they were being rewarded for a job well done.

 

Nice move there, Annie, suggesting Coraline keep some of their pajamas there because, well, why not?  Annie’s already figured out what Isis was accusing Vicky of doing:  being an enabler and treating the kids to some time quality night time together.  And it seems that’s happening, because even Coraline knows there’s nothing wrong with the kids.  She could send them back to their tower, but she’s not, and Isis has decided to keep her mouth shut about the matter, because as she said, until the headmistress says something, she’s chill about it, too.

I’ll be gone most of the day, but I may finish this tonight after arriving back home.  Only because there is something big about to happen in the novel, and that’s gonna really eat up some time to make it come to life . . .

End These Bed #2 Blues

What starts always has an ending, and getting Kerry into bed and mended has reached that point.  I thought about all the stuff I could have added to the scene, but the reality is you keep the story stripped down too what is needed, and not what you want to show.  Even so, it took almost another eight hundred words to get to that point.

"I could have left in the part about Annie going down and whipping Emma with some rubber tubing, but I'll save that for another scene!"

“I could have left in the part about Annie going down and whipping Emma with some rubber tubing, but I’ll save that for another scene!”

Here we are, then:  Annie and Nurse Thebe discovering that, yes, Kerry had the crap scared out of him.  And it’s time to do some clean up . . .

 

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

After handing over the clean wipes Annie opened one of the bio-bags and held it while Thebe opened one of the sterile wipes and began cleaning Kerry’s groin. As she would use up the wipe, Thebe would drop it in the open bag and unseal another package. As she was opening the fourth package the nurse cast a sideways glance at her young assistant. “You may not want to mention that you were here while we cleaned feces from his nether regions.” She chuckled. “Or that you saw him naked.”

Annie calmly regarded Nurse Thebe and her comments. She had been right about one thing: seeing Kerry now, with parts of his body broken and twisted, and large sections of his skin discolored from sickening yellows to horrifying reds to deep purplish-blacks, was heart rendering. She wanted to use his injuries to further fuel her anger towards Emma, but instead she found it driving her to help him, to make him whole and healthy again. Hurting her won’t help him him get better—but working on his like this will.

As for Thebe’s last comment . . . Annie raised an eyebrow and kept an unwavering gaze upon her face. “Yes, well . . .” The right corner of her mouth curled upward for three second before settling back to something normal.

A slight grin played across Thebes. “Yes well—” She tossed the wipe into Annie’s bag. I’m done here. Seal that and throw it into the container.” She grabbed the catheter off the cart and began unwinding it. “Then you can give me hand with this.”

 

First off, Annie’s getting out of her murder mindset.  That’s good, because there was never any option open where Annie was gonna go off all Natural Born Sorceress on Emma and torture her for what happened.  She’s starting to understand that revenge isn’t going to work, no matter how much she wants to let the Dark Witch inside run free.

And two:  what’s with the raising of the eyebrow when asked about not saying anything to Kerry about seeing him in the all together?  Of course the idea is to leave the reader guessing about what that means–and that’s what I’m doing.  I mean, I know what she means, but that’s because I’m Annie.  And Kerry.  And Nurse Thebe.  It’s a little crowded in here, let me tell you . . .

 

Thebe slowly made her way to the foot of the bed and faced Annie. “First, we’re going to reset his dislocations; I can do the shoulder on my own, but you’ll need to help me with the hip. Then we’re going to wipe him down and get him as clean as possible without scrubbing him down—you’ll take the right side and I’ll take the left, because I need to reset his broken limbs and I know how to work around them before I put on the nanobindings.”

She looked down Kerry’s body. “I’ll place those on and immobilize his left side so the shoulder and collarbone will heal. I’ll clean his face and hair and get the skull cap on. All I’ll need to do after that is get him into a gown—”

“What will I do?”

Thebe laid a hand lightly upon Annie’s shoulder. “You’ll be back in the triage center helping out. I can do all those thing in about fifteen minutes.” She gave the shoulder a slight squeeze. “He’ll be in good hands, Annie. You’ve no need to worry.”

Annie slowly turned to her left and saw her love and soul mate still out, broken and bruised—and knew what Nurse Thebe was telling her was the absolute truth. I can’t help with the bindings, but I can help those who come into triage. Once I’ve helped clean you, my duties are elsewhere

“—My love.” The sigh that escaped was slow and low, as were her words.

Thebe didn’t ask need to ask Annie what she’d said because her hearing was better than those of a natural person. And she could imagine what this girl was feeling. But she’d allowed Annie to see her boyfriend’s condition, and she’d allow her to help him as much as was possible—

After that, she needed to seed her back where she could help others while Kerry slept and began mending.

She tapped Annie on the shoulder. “Come on; we’ll do his hip first, and then you can start cleaning while I do the shoulder.”

Annie turned back and smiled. “Yes, Nurse Thebe.”

 

Back to triage with you, Annie, where things are . . . well, we don’t know.  But there’s been a little adjustment to the time line, and that might give Annie something to do.  I know there is something in the next scene that should be pretty clear based upon the scene name.  And then after that we move on to other things . . .

Just like Poppy, it keeps growing.

Just like Poppy, this sucker keeps growing.

Really, the end for Act Two is in sight.  I can see it–

Pretty much like Annie can see something coming her way . . .

At Home With the Insane

Lets get this out of the way right now:  I have mental illness.

I was in therapy at ten because I was lonely, frightened, depressed, and didn’t like the company of others.  Well, there were a few reasons leading to that, but part of my problem is that I was bi-polar.  My therapist then was starting to get to the root of things, then my parents pulled me out of there because, one, they didn’t see improvements, and two, they thought the woman who was working with me was putting “strange ideas” in my head.

Let me tell you, she didn’t have to:  there were plenty of strange ideas there already.

I had friends when I was in school, but not a lot.  I started smoking pot in 1972, and drinking a couple of years later.  These days the behavior is called “self medication”; back then it was just getting high.  And I did it quite a lot.  Mostly because it felt good, mostly because it kept whatever demons were chasing my ass away.  I had my books and I had my music, but I also had my “medication”.

There were some incidences of bullying in school, but nothing really physical.  It was all mental, all designed to wear you down and break you.  At the end of the day, when I walked home from school–because after a while I was afraid to take the bus, and I didn’t want to be with other kids–I’d sometimes find a moment, while alone in the woods, to cry a bit.  I did that often, and it bothered my parents when they saw it happen, so I only allowed myself the chance to do this when I was by myself, and there was no chance of being discovered.

There was a place where we used to get our drugs, and sometimes even our booze.  The home was owned by a husband and wife, with the husband’s brother living with them as well, and they seemed to be able to get their hands on just about any kind of drug you wanted.  For the most part I was interested in pot, but they let it be known that they could get their hands on just about anything . . .

And not just drugs, either.

There was one time when a friend and I stopped over to see them, to buy a bag, and the brother wanted to show me the latest acquisition–which were not drugs.  I didn’t get a full tally of what they had, but I do remember four M-16’s, a couple of boxes of grenades, and . . .

See, the story they were giving us was they’d knocked over a National Guard armory a few nights before, which may or may not have been true.   This was 1973, Vietnam was winding down, and who the hell knew what was being kept in some of these places?  In all likelihood they’d traded a lot of kilos of drugs for weapons, but since I knew these guys were a bit crazy themselves, it was just as likely they’d knocked over an armory.

But lets get to the payoff, the item hinted upon.  The brother opened up as case and said, “Hey, I got twenty kilos of C-4.  I’ll let you have it for $250:  I’ll even throw in the detonators and det cord.”

So lets review:  a guy I knew was offering to sell me about forty-five pounds of high explosives, along with the means to use it, all for $250.  Which I happened to have.

I said no, because . . . well, what was I going to do with twenty kilos of C-4?

Let me also state this:  I was very smart and very imaginative back then.  I was also pissed off and scared and upset a lot as well, and for a few weeks after that incident my fevered little mind thought up all sorts of shit that I could have done with that sort of stash.  The only reason I didn’t?  Stephen King put into words many years later:  “If you take yourself out, you’re a hero.  If you take out others when you take yourself out, you’re chickenshit.”  I hated myself, and a few other people, and if I really wanted to get back at those I hated, I’d get after them, and that would be that.  Anyone else who’d get caught in your madness would just notch you a little higher on the Chickenshit of the Year list.

I won’t say the thoughts of revenge and getting evenness vanished after that time.  Oh, no.  They aren’t there as much any more, but they still show up from time to time.  These days I chalk up thoughts like that as “Research”, because you never know when you’ll need to know, like I did in 1991, how to bring down a very tall office building–say, 125 to 150 stories–with everyone inside.  I spent a few days looking over the office building I worked in at the time, and understood that, if you have the right tools, it’s not that hard.

I did that because I needed a scene for a game I was running.

I don’t act upon any of these ideas–which are research, remember, because I do write; you should see the really bad ones–because I’m not that crazy.  I’m bi-polar, but I can tell the difference between right and wrong, and as ignorant as I have believed most of my co-workers to be from time to time, I’d never do something that would eventually see me labeled as a “disgruntled worker”.  (Does this mean there’s a grunted worker?)  As an atheist I long ago created my moral compass, and have worked at doing the right things because they are right.

Taking out others just because you’re nuts and pissed off at the world is the wrong thing to do.

Probably is, a lot of people don’t have the same moral clarity as I.

If you are mentally ill, getting help is damn near impossible in the U.S..  You are stigmatized because you have a “problem” that you can’t “handle”, and if you just “sucked it up”, you’ll work through it.  That was what I was taught as a kid; it was bullshit then, and it’s bullshit now.  It is easier to get access to treatment these days, particularly if you work for a large company, but that’s only come about after more than a few large companies have had their offices shot up by disgruntled workers, and they’d had to go through the hassle of hiring new people.

That was how I got treatment.  The company I was working for had a program, and I basically had to tell my manager I was loosing my shit, and bad things were going to happen if I didn’t get help.  They told me to call the help line to set something up, and then let me go home for the day.  Let me repeat that:  I professed to suicidal behavior, and they had me call a help line, and then sent me home.  Now, I did get in to see a counselor a few days later, and while she was a great person, she couldn’t get me medication.  The only person who could do that was a psychiatrist, but it might be weeks before I could get in and see one of those.  She told me the easiest thing to do was go to the local ER, tell them I was suicidal, then have myself checked into a facility for forty-eight hours–at which point I could get on meds.  Oh, and lets point out:  she couldn’t commit, even with my permission.  I had to do it myself.

That was how I was able to get on medication to help me with my bi-polar disorder, and all it really took was . . . maybe two weeks of speaking to, or seeing, different people.

Good thing I wasn’t having any serious problems.

You wanna have a discussion?  Lets talk about why we have the worst system for mental health this side of the old Soviet Union.  Lets talk about why if you need help, it’s a culture of “Go see them; I can’t do anymore for you”.  Lets talk about why people are vilified and made to think they are even worse than they are if they profess to being sad, or depressed, or if they feel like they have no choice but to hurt themselves.  Lets talk about why we have so many people with mental health issues in the first place, brought about by stress, by over-work, by being made to feel that if they are LBGT they are scum and should probably die anyway.

Lets talk about why it is every time someone who is mentally unbalanced, who isn’t getting help, flips the hell right out and does something horrific, we act so surprised that something like that can happen here.  Lets talk about the idiots who, upon hearing about said horrific thing carried out by the mentally unbalanced, believe the one thing that will fix this problem is arming everyone . . .

Those of you who think that last is the end-all solution to everything, there’s this thing called “Cause and Effect”.  You fix the cause, the effect becomes diminished.  It does work.  Reaction to the effect does little good, because you didn’t prevent the effect from occurring.  That is what the kids these days call Epic Fail.

There needs to be dialog.  There needs to be discussion.  Without discussion there are no solutions.

Without solutions there is no future.