The Underground Warmth

The long weekend is nearly over, and for once I haven’t spent nearly twenty hours driving a couple of thousand kilometers to and from The Burg.  Even so, I haven’t written a huge amount, though I suppose a few thousand words in three days time isn’t that bad.  I’ve done better, but there were times when I did far worse.

But now the last scene of Chapter Twenty-One is here, and after an evening and a morning that scene is almost almost eleven hundred words long.  It’s the after math of the previous scene, though it takes play a long time after that scene finishes.  Where are we?  Back in the Midnight Madness–or, I should say, at the end of that Madness . . .

 

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

Kerry calmly opened his eyes as he was shaken back to consciousness. His first thought was Annie was waking him, but in moments he saw she was still laying between him and the back of the sofa. He was about to close his eyes once more when he was shook once more, and this was enough to get him to roll over and begin sitting up. He rubbed his eyes as he looked up. “Hi, Professor.”

Jessica Kishna gingerly set down on the edge of the coffee table. “Morning. I hate to wake you up just to send you off to bed again, but it’s twenty after midnight and we’re shutting down the Madness. You both need to head back to your tower.”

Kerry retrieved his glasses from the side table and slipped them on. “Sure thing, Professor.”

Jessica didn’t seem in a hurry to leave, however. She looked at the blankets that still covered most of the two children. “You guys were under two comforters tonight.”

“Yeah, well . . .” He stretched his shoulders. “We were really cold flying today.”

“I can imagine.” Jessica looked at the still-sleeping Annie. “Did she do well today on her solo?”

“Annie did better than well—” Kerry shifted around so he could smile down on his sleeping soul mate. “She was fantastic.”

 

Jessica being friendly and nice is something that hasn’t come up that much; most of the time when we’ve seen her she’s been in the running for the title of Queen Bitch of Salem, one which has apparently been coveted by Helena for some time.  Then again, Kerry, nor Annie, aren’t just another B Level couple struggling through their spells.  With these two she can afford to let down her armor just a little, particularly when no one else is watching.

Once Jessica is on her way Kerry goes about the task of waking up his soul mate.  And we find out that not only does he know more choise Bulgarian phrases, but Annie is still a tough one to wake:

 

Kerry grabbed Annie’s robe from near their feet and lay it across his lap before leaning close to Annie’s face. “Time to wake up.” He placed a soft kiss on her left cheek. “Sŭbudi se, skŭpa.”

While her eyes remained close, a slight smile began forming upon her face. However, Annie wasn’t quite awake— “Moyata lyubov, spish s men.” She sighed softly. “Nakaraĭ me topli s teb obicham.”

Since Kerry had no idea what Annie had said—he recognized only a few words—but he managed to understand the gist of her mumbling. Still, he knew that Jessica wasn’t one to bend the rules for them as Helena and Erywin had done before, so it was necessary to get Annie back to the towers. “Come on, my lovely girl.” He kissed her again. “Wakey, wakey.”

Annie’s eyes opened enough to see Kerry’s smile face centimeters away from hers. “I love being awoken by your kisses.”

Kerry pulled back a little so Annie wasn’t staring herself cross-eyed. “Well, one day—” He traced her left jaw line. “You’ll get it when you’re not giving them to me.”

“Oh, I can’t wait.” She sat up slowly and stretched. “What time is it?”

 

Needless to see, Annie’s comments are sorta . . . well, let’s just say when Annie is feeling loved, she has love on her mind.  Kerry’s only partially sure of what she said, but you can bet he’s a lot closer in his understanding of her words than someone who doesn’t understand Bulgarian.

They leave the Dining Hall and head back to the tower along a route they don’t normally use.

 

Their departure from the last of the Midnight Madness differed from their past departures. Because the outside wind chill was near minus twenty Celsius, instead of taking the outside route back to Carnunnos Coven, they headed directly to the stairs on the east side of the Rotunda and made their way to the lower levels of the Great Hall. They wound their way through the dimly lit corridors until they came to the tunnel that led to the lower level of the Pentagram Walls and the coven tower.

The entire length of the tunnel was deserted. Kerry expected this: it was a rare occasion when Annie and he shared a walk back to the tower with fellow covenmates. They made they way in silence, Annie pressed against Kerry as they walked, her robe secured tight. They were nearly two-thirds of the way along the passage before she spoke. “It’s been quite the day.”

“That it has.” Kerry released Annie’s hand and wrapped his arm over her shoulder. “Vicky and Isis were really happy about your solo flight.” He kissed her forehead. “Hit all your marks perfectly.”

“I know the next one is going to be tougher—” She sighed and rested her head against Kerry. “But that’s not going to happen for another month, so no point in worrying about it now. How was flight class?”

“Good. Next camping flight is this coming Thursday, and a lot of people nervous.”

“Do you know where you’re camping, my love?” Annie hadn’t given much thought to Kerry’s next overnight flight due to concentrating on her own solo flight.

“Lake Mansfield, up in Vermont. We’ve been told the snowfall is good, so we’ll get to see what it’s like setting up in arctic conditions.”

 

First, the tunnel walk.  By now we have a pretty good idea of what The Pentagram looks like from above:

Here's the walk we all know and love.

Here’s the walk we all know and love.

Right now, however, the wind chill is -20 C, and that’s cold.  Given that they’ve always spend a ton of time out in that sort of cold, they decide to take a slightly warmer route.

They night not get a good view of the sky, but they're not freezing right now.

They night not get a good view of the sky, but they’re not freezing right now.

They can walk straight back to the tower underground, and just like above ground it’s quiet and secluded.  By the way, the tunnel to the right is the one Wednesday flew down when she left The Pentagram to help with with the defense of the school during the Day of the Dead.  That’s the passage that was built to reach the tunnel system heading south, the one that was later excavated to become The Chunnel.

And here we hear of Kerry’s next overnight training flight in perpetration for next year’s Polar Express.  It starts on the last Thursday of the month–31 January, 2013–and has the students returning to the school the next night, 1 February, just in time for the Imbolc feast, and do we remember what happened after the last Imbolc feast?  I sure do, and you can be Helena does, too.

Where is the camp out going this time?  Well, up here:

Just down the road from Stowe--can you imagine these witches on the slopes?

Just down the road from Stowe–can you imagine these witches on the slopes?

In the image above the lake is just below the “Mt. Mansfield State Forest” legend, and given that the lake is fifteen hundred feet, or about four hundred and thirty meters, above sea level, there’s gonna be snow.  And it’s not gonna be that long of a haul to get there–

A lot closer than central Maine, that's for sure.

A lot closer than central Maine, that’s for sure.

Two hundred and seventy kilometers, which means they can get there in a little over an hour.  Assuming it’s not bone-chilling cold that night they leave.  Which it might be.  Maybe that’s what’s making students a little worried?

 

“Why are people nervous?” Given what Kerry told her after the last flight, she had her suspicions about why some students in Advanced Flight One felt nervous.

“Because Vicki’s still pissed about how the last flight went. She told us today that she felt most of the class wasn’t up to speed on being able to navigate using maps and visual references, and told everyone she was gonna grade hard on this flight.” He chuckled darkly. “She pulled Emma and me aside and said we’re not going to fly a single leg this time out, that we proved we know our stuff, and said if she has to turn to us, it’s because everyone else has screwed things up beyond any hope of recovery.”

“That’s what I expected. I’m sure Vicky’s comments were reassuring.”

“To me, yeah, but Emma?” He shook his head. “She keeps screwing up the Fire spell, and she can’t do a Compress spell at all.” The reached the end of the Great Hall tunnel and stopped just before the doorway to the Pentagon Wall passage. “She’s freaking out that she’s not gonna get proficient on either before the last overnight flight, and she’ll scrub out for The Polar Express.”

 

Hummmm . . . I wonder what Annie thinks about the possibility of Emma washing out of The Polar Express, and not being able to spend at least a couple of days and nights alone with Kerry.  I’m sure she’ll say that she knows Kerry won’t do a thing even if Emma does, and that Emma knows she’s gonna have to spend some . . . alone time with Annie . . . should she does something stupid, like hit on Kerry.  Then again, Annie probably has a curse or two she’s ready to lay on Emma just before Team Myfanwy heads off to the wilds of Canada, so it’s likely she has all her bases covered no matter what.

There’s more to come, and I should get to that this afternoon.  After a nap.  And while the zombie fun run is on the telly . . .

Historical Hidings

First off, let’s get to the good news:  I have a new mouse!

All hail the new toy!

All hail the new toy!

Yes, I went with something pink and pretty, because yes, I can.  Also, I like how it feels in my hand, and the pad makes things all that much easier to do thing, so I like it a lot.

Second off, the shoulder is feeling much better.  I’m off to do my nails today, and I’m trying to come up with a good fall color, and I’ve been taking it easy this morning so that I’m not sitting around feeling nothing but pain shooting through my body.  In a way I help the process by not doing a whole lot last night, and it showed in the fact I wrote only three hundred and fifty words.

Ah, but that helped, because . . .

The scene is finished, mostly due to writing almost sixteen hundred words this morning.  It didn’t feel like I was pouring out words:  actually, the whole process seems to have slowed down as I try to visualize what I want to say, and then find the right word for the visualization.  And trust me, I’ve done a lot of visualization, starting with where Annie was taking Kerry . . .

 

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

Sequestered among several birch and pine trees sat one of the many covered stair casings that led to the school’s tunnel system. Every building save the Headmistress’ Residence Rhiannon were connected to the system, there were various locations on the grounds where access to the tunnels was possible. The covered staircase near Memory’s End and the one behind the Transformation Center were the most well known, though the staircases near Rhiannon Fettle’s grave—used by Wednesday Douglas to access Sunset Tower during the Day of the Dead attack—and the staircase just north of Perquat’s Grove were also familiar to the students.

Annie opened the entrance to the staircase and held the door for Kerry. Like most of the stairs in the coven towers, the circular stone structure was three and a half meter in diameter and descended easily six meters to the tunnels. She followed him down until their reached the bottom of the stairwell, at which point Annie stepped past him, open the door, and stepped out into the tunnel.

The tunnel was like the majority of the other tunnels under the school: six meters wide by four and a half meters high, with an arched ceiling segmented by columns and soft, indirect lighting. The staircase was situated to one side of a Y-junction, with two tunnels running off to the left of the staircase entrance, and one long tunnel vanishing off to their right.

Kerry let the door close behind him as he glanced from side to side, “Where are we?”

“Believe it or not, in one of the oldest tunnels at the school. I looked it up.” She pointed down the single tunnel. “That was one of the escape tunnels dug in 1762 when the grounds were expanded and the outer walls installed. The staircase behind you—” She pointed at Kerry and the door beyond. “—used to lead up into the wall where there was a hidden door leading to the outside. The idea was if the witches needed to evacuate the school, this was on of the ways they would leave.”

“Or if they were looking to get out of the school for the night.” Kerry stood beside Annie. “Then you could just jaunt out.”

“True.” Annie took his hand and led him down the left-hand Y-tunnel. “Just a little further.”

He stumbled along, smiling. “What is?”

“You’ll see.”

 

The school tunnel system was something that I spent a lot of time figuring out, because with the school being spread out all over the place, and with it being situated on a small island right off the coast of Massachusetts–which is what Cape Ann really is–winter weather is gonna be a real bitch.  So I figured the area under the school was riddled with tunnels, with most of them going way back to the 18th and early 19th Centuries.

This is what the area Annie’s discussing looks like–

That little Y in the upper left hand corner is where my kids are--you'll see them if you look hard enough.

That little Y in the upper left hand corner is where my kids are–you’ll see them if you look hard enough.

You can see so many things here.  The Pentagram is right down there at the bottom, and near the middle-top is the lower storage areas of The Aerodrome.  That little building basement in the upper right hand corner is the lower levels of the Flight School, and that blue spot near the “Y” I pointed out is the bottom of Van der Kroff Spring.  And in case you’re wondering, those round things sticking through on the left side of the picture are the lower levels of towers are those stuck in the West Wall of the school.

Where is this headed?

 

They walked for a couple of minutes before coming to an innocuous passage cut into the right wall. The entryway was maybe two meters wide, and was difficult to see due to being located directly to the right of a tunnel support arch. “Here.”

Kerry squinted past the entrance. “Not very bright in there.”

“One of the reasons this tunnel doesn’t stand out.” She headed inside with Kerry right behind. “The first time I was down here I almost didn’t see this.”

Kerry glanced up at the ceiling. “I’m surprised the lights are still on.”

“You know it doesn’t take much to keep a lighting enchant going.” Annie couldn’t help but look around as well. “Once you craft one, they’ll run until dimmed or shut off.”

“Yeah.” He tightened his grip on Annie’s hand. “Do you know when this tunnel was put in?”

“No, but probably the same time as the two branching tunnels; Isis told me those were dug out in 1802 when they did the final expansion of the southern grounds.” She came to a slow stop. “Here we are.”

Kerry faced a large wood door slightly countersunk into the left side of the passage. Unlike similar ones in the coven tower, there wasn’t an electronic hand scanner in the wall to the right of the entrance. “And where is here?”

“Where we are.” She motioned to Kerry. “Go on in.”

He pushed it open and stepped through the doorway. On the other side was a room nearly the same size as their private lab in the lower levels of Cernunnos Tower: perhaps four and a half by three and a half meters. The walls didn’t seem finished: even in the dim light Kerry saw they were slightly rough, as if the room were cut out of the native limestone and then rendered flat enough not to be an issue.

What surprised Kerry was that the room wasn’t empty. Besides a few small wooden crates there were three items of furniture: a sofa and an easy chair positioned around a makeshift table thrown together from a slab of board sitting on top of a couple of crates and covered with a blanket. He stared at the tableau for a few seconds, then turned to Annie. “What’s all this then?”

 

So . . . hidden rooms, are there?

Yes, right there, if you must know.

Yes, right there, if you must know.

The staircase that Annie and Kerry descended is there to the center-right, and they walked down the bottom corridor.  I put this model together last night, because writing isn’t always writing, right?  Let’s just say I needed to give the new mouse a workout.

Now, this is where it gets tricky, Kids–

None of this stuff existed last week.

I planed this chapter months ago:  according to Scrivener, the chapter was created 21 June, 2015.  But the first and second scene of this chapter weren’t all that well thought out, to be honest.  Like I’ve said before, I do the meta plot thing and then let things come to me.  And up until last week I had nothing for this scene other than a few mental images.

Until I imagined Annie and her mother together over the summer . . .

 

“Something I found.” Annie closed the door and crafted a couple of light spells to make the room brighter. “There: better.” She slowly made her way around the easy chair. “After leaving you at Advanced Flight a couple of weeks ago I decided to do a little exploring. There are a lot of tunnels in the southwest section of the school, but almost no one ever comes down here because there aren’t any buildings—”

“So no need to come down this way.”

“Yes. I’ve taken that one tunnel back to The Aerodrome a few times, but never ventured down this way. I actually found the passage outside walking down the left-hand tunnel: it runs all the way between them.” Annie paused behind the sofa and leaned against the back. “Found this room, looked inside, and . . .” She spread her arms wide. “Found this.”

“Yeah, but what is it?” Kerry stepped up to the table and prodded it with his foot. “This stuff has been here a while; that sofa looks like it’s older than my folks.”

“Mine as well.”

“How’d it get down here?”

Annie shrugged. “Someone likely made it using transformation magic.” She walked around and sat. “Come—” She patted the spot next to her. “Sit, my love.”

Kerry joined Annie and immediately wrapped his arm around her shoulders. “Exploring, huh?”

“Yes.” She snuggled against him, getting herself comfortable in his embrace. “I was curious.”

“About?”

Annie crossed her legs and stared straight ahead with half-opened eyes. “Over the summer Mama and I were talking about school, and she began asking questions that . . .” She giggled. “I think she was asking about us without actually bringing up the subject.”

“Really?” He chuckled as well. “Like?”

“She asked me if we’d walked through Astria Portal. The way she phrased the question—”

“—She wasn’t asking if we’d walked.” He moved his fingers slowly against her jacketed arm. “So what did you do?”

“What I usually do in that situation, my love: I gave evasive answers.” She sighed and settled back into the hollow of his shoulder. “She told me about a place Papa and she used to go to, as she said, ‘be alone’. She said there was a spot near Gloucester Bend surrounded by trees: the way she described the stop it reminded me of where Emma and you hid—without the danger, of course.”

“Of course.”

“She didn’t go on about what they did there, but it wasn’t necessary: it’s where they went when they wanted to be alone. She was telling me that story because—” Her hand glided across Kerry’s thigh. “—she wanted to know where we went to be be alone. Only . . . we don’t actually have a place like that. Not really.”

 

Yes, they don’t have a place like this–a place where they can go, well, you know.  Do what kids in love do.  Anne’s been doing a bit of looking, it seems, and she’s upfront not only about her explorations, but the reasons behind them–

 

“When I found this room, though, and I saw the furniture here, I realized couples use to come here. There was a lot of dust on the floor—”

“There was?”

“Yes, my love: I’ve cleaned up a bit before this.” She chuckled and pressed her finger against his lips. “Shush, and listen. No one has been here in decades, so I know this room is undisturbed. But it was used; a couple used to come here to sit, talk, relax . . .” Annie shrugged. “Who knows what else? It doesn’t matter. Since we both fly—” She grinned at the same moment as Kerry. “—we don’t need to worry ourselves that someone will notice us heading down The Chunnel to get here. Maybe security will see us open the doors to the staircase, but I don’t care; it doesn’t matter.”

Annie folder her legs under her as she wrapped her arms around Kerry’s shoulders. “What matters now, moyata srodna dusha, is that we have a place where we can ‘be alone’. Where we can come when we have free time and sit, talk, cuddle . . .” She leaned in and kissed him with great tenderness and passion. “And do that.”

Kerry moved slightly to his right and settled back into the arm of the sofa. “We’ll need some pillows to rest against.”

“There are blankets in those crates: I checked.” Annie lay against Kerry’s chest and listened to his rapidly beating heart for a few moments. “Tonight we’ll be alone: I’ll be here while you’ll be several hundred kilometers away. And in a week we’ll be even further apart. But . . .” She kissed him again, holding it for almost twice as long as the prior kiss. “Until you leave in a few hours, you are all mine.”

 

This is how my mind works, and how things come together in my head.  I wrote a lot, I pushed the story to within a few hundred words of one hundred and forty thousand words, and I’ve opened up a little insight into my kids.  And once more showed that when Annie wants something, she gets it–

All to herself.

Climbing Up Under Sideling Hill

As indicated yesterday I was out on “special assignment.”  This is a little different than just road tripping, and it usually means I went somewhere to do some investigating.  My destination this time was a location I’ve visited before:  the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike, just east of Breezewood, PA, and a place I blogged about almost two years ago in my post On The Road to Nowhere. That time I went alone, but this time I was with a friend.

I’ve wanted to return here for a while, but my determination returned when I discovered my newest friend, Holly–a women who works in the same division as me and who is new to the Harrisburg area–wanted to see this place she’d never heard of until I’d spoken.  So . . . road trip?  Of course.  We left The Burg about seven AM and zoomed westward to Breezewood, where breakfast was the first order of the day–

Gril's gotta have her coffee before walking The Road.

Girl’s gotta have her coffee before walking The Road.

Holly giving me that,

Holly giving me that, “We’re gonna get murdered” look.

That last was a running joke we had all during our expedition, that somewhere along the line a serial killer was gonna jump us and leave our bodies on the turnpike.  And, truly, we were the only ones there at first:  when we finally arrived at our first stop, we were the only ones around for miles.

Looking east along the road.

Looking east along the road a famous filming location.

It was quiet save for the sound of bugs and birds, and if you don’t believe me–well, this time I did something I hadn’t the last time:  I shot video.  I put on my Hodgepodge Groupie tee shirt and brought my big tripod–I figured a way to bungie it to my backpack so it wouldn’t slide around–and it was time to get on camera and let you see what we were seeing:

As you can hear, it was quiet.  And you can also tell, I hope, that we were having a bit of morbid fun.  I should also point out that I incorrectly said that Laurel Hill Tunnel is being used by Bobby Rahil Racing:  it’s actually used by Chip Ganassi Racing.  My mistake.

After this it was back in the car and up to the west portal of Sideling Hill tunnel.  If you wondered what it used to look like, here it was during construction:

Nice, clean, and pristine.

Nice, clean, and pristine.

And how it looked when it was in use in the 1950s:

You can almost smell the petrochemiclas being burned.

You can almost smell the petrochemicals being burned.

Today, however, it’s a far different deal, given that it’s been left to the environment and elements for almost forty years.

Sideling Hill Tunnel 07252015005

Abandon All Hope–

Sideling Hill Tunnel 07252015006

Ye Who Approach.

And looking west along a famous filming location.

Looking back to the west from whence we walked.

Here I shot another video, and it’s a bit more creepy, because of things like dripping water, echo, and no one else being around for miles.  No, really:  we were the only ones in the area, and would be for at least another half-hour.

As you can see, and hear, we were staying upbeat, and we were actually joking about a lot.  It was also a lot cooler in the shade where we were standing:  by this time, about ten AM, it was already 90 F/32 C outside.

And all that kidding around about going inside the tunnel–yep, we did go inside.  And not just like fifty feet or so:  we went inside–deep under the mountain.

Here's all that running water leaking from the ceiling.

Here’s all that running water leaking from the ceiling.

Here's what lay ahead of us as we went deeper--

Here’s what lay ahead of us as we went deeper–

And the light we were leaving behind.

And the light we were leaving behind.

Holly totally in charge of keeping the way lit and reading all the grafiti.

Holly totally in charge of keeping the way lit and reading all the graffiti.

Eventually we reached a point far enough inside that it was totally creepy dark and dry–and still completely alone.  And this is where I shot the last video.  And if you don’t like dark spaces, or you get claustrophobic imagining being inside a mountain with tons of rock surrounding you, do not watch this next video.  It wasn’t bad for us, but then, we were there in the first place, so how could it be bad?

As indicated at the end of the video, people finally started showing:  it was two couples on bikes riding in from the west.  As they biked past the comments on how they wondered why we were moving so slow.  Well, because we’re on foot?  Yeah, something like that.

Before we left the deep interior of Sideling Hill–if you didn’t watch the video, we walked about fifteen hundred feet, or about four hundred fifty meters inside–we caught a couple of selfies:

Holly working on her Japanese ghost cosplay.

Holly working on her Japanese ghost cosplay.

Me practicing my remake of the Mama music video.

Me practicing my remake of the Mama music video.

And we did a group shot once we were back in the sunlight–

Tunnel Exploring Babes, Yo!

Tunnel Exploring Babes, Yo!

And Holly does her happy dance as we return to the car:

“Yay, we weren’t murdered!”

I should point out that we tried to make our way over to Ray’s Hill Tunnel, but the only area with close access also seemed to be protected but paranoid hillbillies who may or may not have been up to nefarious things, and the feeling was we should just get the hell out and come back to the other tunnel when it was cooler and we could stand a mile and a half walk.

As it was we still had a nice walk:  1.9 miles, or 3.06 kilometers.

As it was we still had a nice walk: 1.9 miles, or 3.06 kilometers.

On the way back to The Burg we stopped at Sideling Hill service plaza and changed into more comfortable clothes–aka skirts and jumpers–and sped back home to grab lunch before we began hangry–hungry and angry.  There we dined on pretty fine Italian food, and grabbed another picture together because why not?

Also, there were a few adult beverages going down--

Also, there were a few adult beverages going down–

--because that's what you do when you walk out of the Mines of Moria.

–because that’s what you do after you walk out of the Mines of Moria.

There we are:  another successful adventure, and one shared with another person who said she enjoyed herself immensely.

Now . . . what can I do next?

Chunneling Through the Storm

Today has been a bit of a disappointment.  First, I run over to Panera for my morning coffee and blogging.  I get everything I need and, boo–the Panera page won’t go past the log-in.  It was really a shame, too, ’cause I’m totally in Allison Mode, which means I have my thermal top on under my turtleneck sweater, and my little gold hoop earrings, and I could almost pull off the “I’m a horny, pissy soccer mom who’s also a clone” look.  Oh, well:  can’t have it all.

Then I get back to the apartment and I discover that a pair of boots I must have didn’t get shipped.  Why?  Maybe because the story doesn’t know how to keep track of their inventory on their web page, and they lead you to believe they have said boots when they don’t.  Bummer.  They were so cute, I gotta have them.  Which means I now have to hunt for another pair that’s probably going to cost me an arm and a leg in the process.

Oi, such a bad morning.  Lets hope the rest of the day is filled with much mirth.  Or at least some happiness.

The story.  Oh, yes, the story.  They’re out of history class, and there was a mention of them attending algebra right after.  Now it’s onto flight school, but there’s one hell of a storm blowing around outside–which is actually different from the weather for that day and time, but I changed it because–well, I wanted the storm.  I have my reasons.  That’s all you need to know.

Anyway:  Chunnel.  So named because when the tunnel was opened on the same day the first breakthrough happened at the English Channel Tunnel, which was 30 October, 1990.  It’s the biggest and longest tunnel at the school, and people started calling it The Chunnel about the same time the thing was opened.

It keeps the students linked to all thing south of The Pentagram.  Chunnel AboveSee here:  when you look south, you see The Pentagram and the Old Classes to the left, the science centers, the Hanger, and the Aerodrome in the lower middle, the Flight School in the upper middle, and all the way to the right The Diamond.  From Founder’s Gate at the south end of the Pentagram Wall to the Flight School is about a kilometer hike over uneven ground.  And it’s raining hard.  Not a lot of fun to walk at the moment.

What are students to do?  Go underground.

Here’s The Chunnel is all its glory, running from Chunnel Belowthe Transformation Passage straight to The Diamond.  One thousand, eight hundred sixty meters long, twelve meters wide, seven meters high.  For those of you not digging metrics that’s six thousand, one hundred feet–or 1.15 miles–almost forty feet wide, and twenty-three feet high.  Everything is connected, so all the students have to do is hit the cut-off tunnel from The Great Hall’s lower levels to the Chunnel, hang a left about six hundred meters along, and trundle over to the Flight School.

It’s quiet, it’s fairly warm, there’s romantic low lighting, and most of all, it’s dry.  You can’t even hear the storm raging overhead because you’re under a several meters of granite.  Along the way two more characters will put in an appearance, and then we get to . . .

Are they going to fly in this weather?

You never know.

 

Philadelphia Freedom

Really, if you read yesterday’s post, how could you not think I was going to follow up with this title?  After all, it’s the title of one of the most well-known songs of the 1970’s, and the name of a sports team that Bill Burr forgot to mention when he was ripping the city a new one a few years back.  No way I wasn’t going to make it my title.

Outbound from The Burg, the train left on time, but lets note that it’s a local train, so you end up stopping a few times along the way.  We were also held up by another train at one point, which is a major fault with commuting by train in his country–you have to share the line with freight.  When building high speed rail you need dedicated lines; when I rode the TGV back in 2006, it wouldn’t have done to bring the train to a stop from 180 mph just because a fright line was crossing ahead.  Gotta nip that crap in the bud.

This saw us getting into Philly about and hour late.  No real biggie, ’cause I wasn’t on any kind of time table save for my return trip, and I’d still have time to make it with time to spare.  Spent a few minutes looking for the subway station, and then realized that I had to leave the train station and walk across the street.  Bought two tokens–to get to 5th Street and then return–and I was on my way inside a car that seemed packed to the rafters with people.

So it was I made it to the Park.

I arrived at the corner of Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.  Really.  You step out of the train station and to your Independence Hallright is the Liberty Bell, and as you walk across the park, there’s Independence Hall to your left.  It looks none the worse for wear, but then you’d expect that because being part of the national park system, there are people taking care of it.  At least they don’t have to worry about douchebags looking to destroy it because it’s old . . .

I didn’t go inside ’cause I was on a schedule, but I did take time to walk in and see the Liberty Bell, just to see if, like the Constitution, Nic Cage could steal it.  After giving it a close examination, the verdict is no, he couldn’t,  Liberty BellYou can see it’s pretty big, and doesn’t look as if it would be something you could pick up and run with, but hey:  maybe they’ll rig up something with explosives where they touch them off and Micheal Bay it right into the back of a U-Haul, and just like that, they off into the night!  Yes, Hollywood, you can cut a check for my idea right now.

Saw the first bank–it’s not ripping anyone off ’cause it’s closed, but it looks pretty cool.  Then I headed over to the location of Ben Franklin’s house, and why it’s no longer standing, you do get to see his privy hole.  What is a privy hole, you may ask?  The 18th Century equivalent of a nice outhouse.  It’s where your, um, “business” went when you were finished with said doing.  And, in Franklin Court, there were a number of covered privies, all marked so you’d know where people were pooping over two hundred years ago.  History!

I mailed a document from Franklin’s post office, the only one that doesn’t have a zip code or flies a flag–for obvious reasons if you think about it–and visited his print shop.  No where did I see his opinion on why having an older mistress is totally hot, nor of his connections to The Hellfire Club and if he partied with Sebastian Shaw.

Then it was back to the 5th Street Station and a return to the train station, and while waiting for the subway I could hear Bill Burr going on about “your shitty little subway”.  Yeah, after you’ve been on Chicago and Hong Kong’s subway, it seems small, but then it’s old as hell, too.  At least it’s still running, and I could get back and forth for a couple of bucks.  I really love traveling by subway, don’t ask me why, but zipping through the dark is sort of a cool rush for me.

I had to wait for my return to The Burg, so caught a little lunch before waiting for The Pennsylvanian to return me home.  For one the jobs I held in Chicago I had to pass through Train Station SouthUnion Station every day, and Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station reminds me a little of Chicago–though you have to walk down the famous Untouchable Stairs to reach the main floor.  But the feeling here is the same:  huge and majestic.  It’s one of the reasons I set a Train Station Northscene in Her Demonic Majesty in Chicago’s Union Station because nothing says timeless like one of these places.  I’m a sucker for buildings like this, and while I’m the first one to say I want to live in the future, seeing all these places disappear slowly gives me a sadness, because I know we’ll never see their likes again.

Then back home.  The The Pennsylvanian is more of a direct route home, so no stopping all long the line, which meant getting home when I was suppose to get home.  I looked up the route for this train, and discovered it takes five hours to travel from Philly to Pittsburgh, due in part to the line following rivers for most of the way through the Allegheny Mountains.  This is where high speed rail would kick butt, but ultimately be far more expense to employ, because you’re gonna do a lot of cutting through mountains, and where you can’t go over, you go through.  That’s going to mean long tunnels that you can go through fast, maybe some as long as fifty miles, and given the longest train tunnel in the U.S. is only eight miles, who’s going to build a fifty mile tunnel?  Hey, it’s been done.  And when it comes to getting water, distance doesn’t seem to be a problem

The end to all this was I ended up having dinner about four-thirty, then went out for a long walk.  When I returned to Laputa, my body felt as if someone had beaten it with a pool cue, and it was all I could do to make it through Torchwood.  I crashed and burned about ten-thirty, but today I’m alive and in much better shape.

Where to go next?  Well, now . . . that’s the question, isn’t it?  Back into the novel today–

Tomorrow, we’ll see where my mind takes me.