Gather the Fliers: There is Only the Flight

Though I said  I’d get in some writing yesterday it didn’t happen.  I was far too busy before leaving for D.C. and I didn’t return home until 1 AM.  The only good thing is that I did not encounter a lot of traffic coming home, which is a first as I-495 to I-95 to I-695 is  usually a madhouse even late a night.  Instead, once I was off the Capital Beltway the trip home was pretty nice and I could drive long distances on cruse control without having to change lanes because drivers were unsure if they should go slow or fast.

So I’m out for coffee this morning and I’m down one cup and ready for my hot cocoa.  I’m also ready for this afternoon’s protest march–

All pinned up and ready to go.

All pinned up and set to go.

Today is also Big Excerpt Day, where I finish off the scene I’ve been in for a few days.  As I am now only 6,100 words ahead of you I need to get some writing in today least you overtake me this week.  But since it would be ridiculous to split up the rest of the scene, it’s all coming at you so we can move on to the next.

And  this is gonna be fun because it’s All Vicky, All the Time…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“Good morning, pilots.” Vicky Solomon stepped out of her office and walked slowly toward the middle front of the Ready Room. Like the students she was dressed in her flight gear, though given her years writing a broom her jacket, pants, and boots all possessed a well-worn appearance. “Look at you, all so ready and eager to start the year. Is everyone here?” She waited a beat and received no responses. “Okay, then. I guess that means I’m going.

“Just so we get it in the record books this is Advanced Flight Two. Everyone who is in last year’s class is here this year—although it would appear we have one or two people who are still changing.” As if on cue the door to the girl’s locker room opened and two students came hurrying out. “This is the last year we will have flight instruction. After this class the next time any of us will meet will be in Introduction to Jaunting, which you will all take in your E Levels. But that’s two years from now: today, we deal with what’s going to happen in the level to come.

Vicky stepped behind the podium. “The main emphasis of this class is to teach you more about maintenance of the PAVs, and not just your Class 1, but also the Class 2 and 3. We are also going to learn about long-distance flying and navigating, as well as some of The Foundation’s guidelines and rules concerning flying in the Normal world. This will come in handy for you in the future, as I’m certain some of you will want to begin taking the knowledge you’ve developed in these classes and use it to begin going out and enjoying the recreational benefits of being able to fly long distances without spending any money.” This last remark brought out laughter from several flight teams.

She gripped the sides of the podium as she leaned slightly forward. “But there’s one thing that’s going to happen in this class that will overshadow everything else and you know what it is without me even having to mention. The most important goal you have this year is to prepare yourself for the Polar Express. You’re going to spend at least two days and two nights in the Canadian wilderness in the second weekend in January, and it will not be a picnic.

 

Now we  know when kids start learning to jaunt:  during their E Levels.  Of course some students don’t wait that long because they are Pushy McPushface when it comes to learning new stuff, and Annie has already stated she intends to start on jaunting soon, no matter what.  Which means it won’t be long before Kerry starts learning to jaunt.  It’s gonna be interesting to see who learns it the fastest.

But Vicky hits on the one thing that’s on everyone’s mind:  the Polar Express.  It’s been spoken of through the last two novels and we’ve seen Penny and Alex head off into The Great White North to partake in the event.  Though we’re about to discover it’s more than a normal event…

 

“Everyone approaches the Polar Express the same way. When they first hear about it they think it’s going to be fun, just them and their wingmate spending a couple of days doing winter flying and camping. How hard can it be? Well, you got a little taste of how hard it could be in Advanced Flight One, when we went out on overnight flights and you had set up tents in winter conditions at night and then spend the next day flying a thousand kilometers with minimal navigation equipment. Some of you bitched; some of you didn’t do so well. And at least one team came damn close to not even making this class because of their performance on the overnight flights.” Vicky stared off slightly to her left so she wouldn’t have to see the glares Franky and Jiro were sending her way.

“This year the minimal navigation equipment will be slowly rescinded. You’re going to do one overnight flight in November with maps stored on tablets and accessed via a holographic interface, but your HUD compass will still work. There will be another overnight flight December using tablet maps and hand-held compasses because that is the gear you’re going to use on the Polar Express. In the weekend before the Polar Express the teams will be sent out on individual overnight excursions—call it a test run. You’ll be jaunted down somewhere within a thousand kilometers of the school and you’ll have to set up camp, prepare for and sleep through the night, then break camp, load up the sleeping bags and tents, and find your way home with the same navigational equipment are going to be using the following weekend.

“The test run will be your make or break: if you can’t complete it successfully, if you get lost and have to use your panic button—which each of you will have when you go out on both the test flight and the Polar Express—to get home, you will not be jaunting off into wintertime Canada the following weekend.” Vicky’s eyes swept around the room. “This last item is nonnegotiable: if you can’t make it back to the school on your own during the test flight, there’s no point in shipping you off to the middle of nowhere hoping you’ll make it back then. In all the time I’ve been at Salem I’ve never seen anyone go out to retrieve a body, nor have I had to do it myself. I’m not about to set a precedent this year.”

Vicky stepped out from behind the podium and slowly made her way around the room.  “Besides having just a map and compass and visual flight rules by which to navigate, you won’t know from where you’re starting, you will have limited supplies, and all of your brooms will be throttled so that they have a top speed of two hundred and fifty kilometers an hour. That way I can pretty much be sure you’ll spend at least two days flying home and you won’t be giving yourself a case of severe frostbite and hypothermia by trying to set speed records getting back to Salem.

“One of the unpleasant things you’re going to have to learn is how to hunt small game in the wild.” As she expected, this statement brought out a few grumbles. “You all know the deal here: the Polar Express is first and foremost a survival test and you will not have enough supplies to last you two days in the Canadian wild. You will need to supplement those supplies with food found in the wild.”

 

And by “food found in the wild” we don’t mean nuts and berries, ’cause there’s no way in hell that shit is growing on the frozen tundra.  It means a snow fox or bunny is gonna have to give up their life in order for our intrepid fliers to not get that hunger going in their bellies.  Either that or the teams will need to get home before they run out of food.  Or ration their shit.  Either works.

But really: who doesn't want to get their Hanna on?

But really: who doesn’t want to get their Hanna on?

No matter how great the flight has sounded in the past, there doesn’t appear to be anything “cool” about the Polar Express except for the weather.  It sounds like a stone bitch and the test leading up to the actual event don’t seem like a cakewalk, either.  And if you wash out on the “test” flight, no Polar Express for you, kids!  This is also the first time they’ve heard about their brooms being throttled back so someone figures out they can make it home in three hours if they just fly five hundred kilometers an hour the whole way.  Sure, they’ll have frostbite and likely be deep into Stage 2 hypothermia with their sights set on Stage 3, at which point they fall unconscious, slide off their brooms, and die.

That is something Vicky doesn’t want…

 

Vicky held up her her hands to hold back the now increased grumbling. “You knew this when you entered this class, so end this bullshit now. Either you accept the terms of the test—and this is a test upon which your proficiencies will be marked should you decide to go—or you can just say right now, or at any time within forty-eight hours before departure, that you’re not up to the trip. That way you don’t put yourself and me through a lot of unwanted torture.”

The room went quiet as Vicky stood in the middle and looked around. After a few moments of silence she did something that no one expected: she laughed. “Man, you guys should see your faces. Most of are sitting there looking confused as hell, but you have absolutely no idea what it is him talking about.” She walked back toward the front of the room and stepped behind the podium. “And the truth is, you don’t know what I’m talking about. You’ve heard the stories, but you don’t know.

“That’s all going to end starting with the next class. This class—” Vicky raised her right hand and shook it back and forth. “Eh, today were going to have a little bit of fun. You may as well get some in today, cause I think you’re gonna find from here on out, the fun is probably going to be limited—and it’s going to be spaced out…”

 

Now you know:  Emma and Kerry are out “having fun”.  You can imagine they’re not off at another person’s house playing GTA on an xBox, but probably flying in a big-ass hurry to some location many hundreds of kilometers away.  Because that’s how this class roles:  getting the kids out off the school grounds is great fun and also gives them an opportunity to see parts of New England they didn’t know existed.

But while The Ginger Hair Boy is off on his broom, the Chestnut Girl has some fun of her own coming  up…

The New Tradition

Chapter Thirty is a go, and more of a go than I’d imagined.  That’s due, in part, to a lot of re-figuring of this section that I’ll actually discuss more once I get to the end of this excerpt.  For now, let’s get into the morning, which isn’t going to be as long as the last we just visited–

 

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

The overcast to the east was slightly lighter than the rest of the sky as Annie reached the Flight School only moments after the alarm on Kerry’s phone sounded, indicating the time as five-thirty. At a time when most students were sleeping in or just starting their Friday morning, Annie and her always-present chase pilot were getting ready for her biggest solo flight—

But first they needed to get through the pre-flight ritual.

Annie found it unusual to find an after-dinner email from Vicky indicating the time she needed to report to the Flight School, but more importantly how she wanted her breakfast prepared. She asked Kerry about this when they met a few minutes later before heading out for a relaxing evening in their tunnel hideout, but all he’d tell her was that he’d received an email as well, and that Vicky asked him not to say anything about what was going to happen in the morning. Try as she could short of quickly brewing a Draught of Submission, there wasn’t a thing Annie could do to make Kerry give up this secret.

Upon entering the Hanger Annie headed to the spiral staircase and proceeded to the second floor, as the email had instructed. She headed down the long corridor to the Flight Deck, but instead of entering that room she stopped before the last door on the right and knocked.

Vicky answered the knock, half-opening the door. “Ah, right on time.”

“Yes.” Annie put on her best smile. “Can we come in now?”

“Certainly.” Vicky stood aside allowing unobstructed access. “Nikh’nas.”

 

That last part is “Enter” in Hebrew, because Vicky being Jewish and all, and this is the first time we’ve actually heard her say anything in that language.  She’s proficient enough that she could hold a conversation with a native speaker, but that likely doesn’t happen much.

Also:  doesn’t Annie have feminine wiles she can use on Kerry to get him to tell her things?  After all, they did spend the evening in their “tunnel hideout”, as Annie calls it, and that means they were alone and Annie–well, she could have asked or cajoled or whatever, right?  She must be losing it.

So what is this ritual Annie must perform that is so important Kerry is willing to take the secret to his grave?

 

The moment she was inside Annie quickly scanned the room. There wasn’t much to see: a few chairs along the side walls, two projection screens on the far wall, a long table with two chairs facing them in front of the screens, a podium in the right-hand corner.

What drew her attention, however, was a second table in the middle of the room situated five meters from the other table, with two chairs set facing the far wall. Before each chair were two plates of food, a tall glass containing a beverage, silverware, and a napkin. While each of the smaller plates and the glasses were different, both of the larger plates contained the same thing: a steak and two eggs prepared sunny-side up, though the steak in the left-hand plate was much smaller than the one on the right.

Isis, wearing jeans and a sweater, stood on the other side of the middle table. The moment Vicky closed the door the security director motioned the couple forward. “Good morning.”

Annie stood behind the chair on the left, holding the back lightly in both hands. “Good morning.” She examined the plates of food. “I take it this is why we’re here so early?”

“It is indeed.” Isis spread here arms wide. “The traditional final solo breakfast of steak and eggs.” She chuckled. “Though you two are only the second to partake in this particular tradition.”

Kerry stood behind his chair examining the plate before him. “Oh?”

“Yes. I’ve only done this for one other student. It’s been a tradition elsewhere for fliers elsewhere, and I thought, what the hell? May as well do the same here.” She nodded towards the kids. “We know how you guys normally sit, so everything is laid out as expected.”

 

Steak and Eggs is the title of this scene, and I’d decided a long time ago–even before I began plotting this novel–that Annie was going to get this breakfast before heading out on her final solo flight.  There’s reasons for this, and they’re going to get brought up in the next scene, but for now–yeah, she’s getting steak for breakfast.

Now, about the changes:  I’ve said before that while I do a lot of plotting nothing is actually written in stone.  I mapped out all three of Annie’s solo flights, but after getting the first two out of the way, once I began re-examining the final one, I saw that it left me wanting.  So I set about changing it, and in doing so I had to change the time lines and a few other things–one of which was using a specialized web tool so I could figure out compass headings.

You can't see any of that stuff yet, but just wait.

You can’t see any of that stuff yet, but just wait.

Most of all, though, I changed the date.  Originally Annie’s solo flight was Saturday morning, 13 April, 2013, but as I wrote this scene, and as I remembered why this scene was developed in the first place, I realized that I was missing something incredibly important.  So the date was moved up to Friday, 12 April, and the reason for this is going to become painfully clear–

Though right now it’s probably clear only to me.

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 . . .

The Night Air: A Proper Finish

Before getting to the good, writty stuff, let’s get the personal stuff out of the way first, because that’s how I usually do it here at Casa Burg.  Yesterday marked eighteen months that I’ve done hormone replacement therapy, and there was some time–not much, but some–to reflect on what’s happened.  Needless to say, there’s more craziness than I care to admit that has followed me around since that time.  But I’ve made it so far, and I’ll hope to ilk out another six months now so I can make it to two years.

I even thought to snap a picture before heading out into the cold to work.

I even thought to snap a picture before heading out into the cold to work.

Now the writty stuff.  The scene is over, because I sat down last night and in two and a half hours time wrote just a smidgen over twelve hundred words.  And it was something of a strange situation because because the fifteen hundred words of the scene focuses on my kids through the eyes of Vicky and Isis.  But before we get into how they see my kidlettes, we get a reminder that there is always a bit of multiculturalism going on at the school:

 

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

Isis entered the Flight Deck carrying a small cup of steaming coffee. She held it up for Vicky to examine. “You sure you don’t want me to get you one, too?”

Vicky shook her head. “Thank you, but I enjoy coffee that I don’t have to cut with a knife.”

Isis chucked before taking her seat. “Can’t help it if I prefer Egyptian coffee over that Americano crap you drink. It’s part of my heritage, you know?”

“Did you get your love of that strange ass sausage from the other side of your family?” Everyone at the school was aware that Isis was not only half-Egyptian from her mother, but that her father was half Puerto Rican, and due to this family connection she’d developed a love of the cuisine of both her father’s and father’s mother’s countries.

“You mean botifarra?” Isis set her coffee aside. “That stuff’s the shit, I’m tellin’ you, girl.” She stretched out her legs. “I made carne bif and oxtail soup for Wends over Yule holiday and she loved them both. She even likes my coffee.”

“That’s cause she’s crazy in love with you. Did she make you borscht while you were hangin’ in the desert?” Vicky wasn’t the only instructor who enjoyed kidding the school’s spell mistress about her long-hidden Russian heritage.

“She said she’ll make it next year when we go to Innsbruck for Yule.” Isis adjusted her glasses before nodding towards the display. “Where’s Annie?”

 

We knew from past readings that Isis is half Egyptian, but now we learn she’s also a quarter Puerto Rican from her father’s side.  And that she has a girlfriend who was secretly half-Russian for quite some time before her dad was outed as a spy.  And Vicky’s Jewish, so a lot of bases covered.

That little part above required some real quick research as I looked up how Egyptians make coffee–like Turkish coffee is made, only thicker–and I found botifarra quickly along with carne bif.  One interesting thing about making Egyptian coffee is you’re told not to pour the sludge at the bottom of the pot into your cup, except in the cases where you want to stay up all night.  Apparently Isis doesn’t need to bother with that Americano crap–aka, what most of us in the U.S. drink that passes for coffee–and it’s probably why she’s drinking out of small cups.

In case you’re like Isis and wondering about Annie’s location, she’s somewhere on this map of the last leg of her flight.

More towards the upper right than the lower left.

More towards the upper right than the lower left.

Actually Kerry and she are approaching the next to last dot, with the last one being the Flight School.  This map is the final leg from the Wonderland station to home, so you can see where she’s been and going.  And as expected, Kerry and she took the route across the sound to Manchester-by-the-Sea before turning towards the school.

With them just outside the walls, more or less, Vicky needs to get something ordered–

 

Vicky examined the tank without getting up. “Looks like they’re about to stop at the last check point and head home.” She slowly stood and pointed at one of the computer displays, bringing it awake. “Better let the hospital know we’ll bring them in and see if they wanna keep them overnight—”

“For observation?”

Vicky nodded. “Sure.”

Isis turned a playful smirk towards her friend. “You’re an enabler, you know that?”

“Why? Because I want to make sure they don’t have hypothermia?”

“Because you know if you get Coraline to put them up for observation, they’re gonna spend the night together in the same bed.”

Vicky tapped the computer display before. “Text mode, direct to hospital. Start: Gretchen, we’re bringing Annie and Kerry by for their after-flight checkup right after they land. Let Coraline know we’ll be there in about ten minutes. End: Send.” She turned back to Isis, folding her arms across her chest. “Enabler, huh? Did anyone enable you into bed with another girl when you were a student?”

Isis took a long sip of her coffee before answering. “None of the instructors we’re making it easy for me, I know that.”

“Um, hum.” A slight smile appeared on Vicky’s face. “You’re Chief of Security, so when Coraline’s finished with them, you can pull them aside and tell them to knock that shit off—” She winked.  “Yeah?”

 

Yeah, Isis:  you’re the Head Cop about town, why not sit those kids down and tell them to stay in their own beds?  I mean, if it came right down to it, the Chief of Security could tell the kids to chill their jets.  However . . .

 

Isis stared back at Vicky for nearly five seconds before she snorted. “You know I’m not going to do that. It hasn’t become a problem, and if it were—” She shrugged. “The headmistress knows about it, and if she hasn’t comment by now, I’m not going to say anything.” She stared down at her nearly empty coffee cup. “Though if someone ever walks in on them in the hospital doing something—”

“It won’t happen; they’re not like that.” Vicky sat back against the instrument console. “They’ve been out tonight, fifty kicks out and back, and we both know they’re hitting negative wind chills the whole time, and not once have either of them complained about this flight. Sure, they’ve privately said it’s cold, and that they’re cold, but they haven’t publicly bitched about how cold their are, and could they please come in early.” She recrossed her arms as she lowered her gaze towards the floor. “They’re like that with everything: give them an assignment or a job to do, and they get it done. No whining, no bitching, no pissing and moaning. I wish more of our students were like that.”

Though Isis had no contact with either student in a classroom environment—other than her flight lessons with Annie—she knew of their exploits through numerous dinners conversations in the Instructor’s Residence and late-night talks with Wednesday. There were, however, things of which she was aware that only two other instructors at Salem knew, and while she didn’t have all the facts from their weekend away from Salem, she knew why their student files were yellow flagged as well as knowing that they should have a red flag . . .

“You’re right: they’re good kids. I suppose that if everyone else can look the other ways concerning their—” She raised an eyebrow. “—occasional nocturnal actives, I can as well. Besides, if their parents ever find out what they’re doing, I won’t be one of the people who’ll have to face them.”

“True there.” Vicky pushed away from the console and moved closer to the holo tank. “They’re coming in.”

 

. . . Even Isis knows it’s a fool’s journey to get between two kids in love.  The only solution she could ask for while they’re in the hospital is put them in separate bays, and Coraline is probably hip to the fact that one or both kids would need monitoring through the night to keep them from sneaking into the other’s bay.  They seem to have the light bending invisibility down pretty well, so trying to keep them out of a single bed in the middle of the night in the hospital is kinda like Lori keeping Carl in the house and away from zombies.

They could also lock them into a bad.  Which isn’t good, either, because what if they need to get out.  Or just drug them up and make them sleep.  Eh, they aren’t getting sexy with each other, so let it bed.  After all, if the headmistress hasn’t said anything, then no biggie.  And it seems that Isis doesn’t mind cutting them slack because she knows things about them.

So they’re almost home–right?

 

“So they are.” Isis stood and joined her friend watching the two small blips coming closer to the middle of the display centered on the Flight School. Only . . . “It looks like they’re going to fly past us.”

Vicky shrunk the display to show only the school grounds, now that they were inside the outer walls. “Looks that way.” She tapped her left ear. “Salem Night Solo, this is Flight Deck. Where are you going? Over.”

Annie’s answer was prefaced by a laugh. “Flight Deck, we’re taking a short detour—” The comm exploded with the sound of a loud, screeching guitar before breaking into a driving song.
Isis watched the dots closely. “Looks like they’re going to buzz The Pentagram.”

Vicky started laughing as she dots heading straight for the Great Hall. “Shit. Kerry and I did that the first day he checked out on an Espinoza, and he told me Annie and he did the same thing later that day.” She watched them fly between Ceridwen and Cernunnos Towers before slipping between the hall and Åsgårdsreia Tower before buzzing Mórrígan and Blodeuwedd Towers on their way back to the Flight School. “Let’s get outside.”

“Right with you.” Rather than head for the stairs and walk outside, Isis and Vicky jaunted down to Selena’s Meadow. Isis immediately looked to the north and the music. “Jesus, he’s really blasting that computer.”

“You should know it can do that; you modified it for him.” Vicky watched both fliers come in fast, slowing only at the last moment before dropping eight meters straight down to land slightly harder than normal a few meters from their observers. Vicky waited for Kerry to kill the music before speaking. “Rock in America, Kerry? I didn’t think you had that in you.”

He threw his leg over his broom and dismounted. “I can be full of surprises—” He lifted his goggled before slipping back his hood. “When it’s needed.”

“I see.” Vicky turned to the smiling girl in front of her. “And what the hell was that last maneuver? I don’t recall that being authorized.”

Annie pushed back her hood before removing her goggles. “Well . . .” The moment Kerry reached her side she threw her right arm around him. “It seemed like a good way of letting everyone know we were home.”

 

Tunes, baby, and Annie is having fun with them.  Also, blasting around The Pentagram, Great Hall, and coven towers with music blaring as loud as possible is a great way to let everyone know you’re back on the reservation.  I guess after a few hours in the cold Annie wasn’t about to sneak in like a teen trying to cover up that she was out late with her girlfriends.  Annie’s pretty much saying, “I’m home, bitches!” and Kerry’s right there helping her the whole way.

And what is he playing?  (You Can Still) Rock in America, by Night Ranger.  Given that Kerry’s already played Sing Me Away by the same band, either Vicky wasn’t paying attention to the comms at that point, or she was having a bad reaction to Isis’ coffee.

One scene left in the chapter, and as you can probably guess, there’s some warming involved . . .

The Night Air: Buzzing the Grounds

For me, starting anything new–a story, a chapter, a scene–is always difficult.  Not to mention that Wednesday night is usually when I stop off for dinner and a few adult beverages, and last night being no exception, it was really difficult getting my butt going on the next scene.

Really, for something like getting this new stuff going, I really need to sit in a room with everything off save the music and just jam away.  Sort of like I’m doing now, with the buds in listening to Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like a Hole blast into my ears.  Why am I listing to this?  Because it’s a song that’s gonna play during one of the various excursions Annie and Kerry go out on when they’re flying about wherever they fly.  And that deals with a scene that won’t come up for a while, but me, I gotta get into it now, because most of the stuff I know about this novel are already set in stone.

Yeah, I can figure out future scenes in my head, but I can’t get the current ones going.

"All I gotta do is put one word after another.  It's really easy--at least that's what everyone tells me."

“All I gotta do is put one word after another. It’s really easy–at least that’s what everyone tells me.”

Let’s put this behind me and move forward . . .

What comes is short–two hundred and ninety-five words–and kinda sweet, because we’ve not seen much internalizing with the following instructor.  Vicky doesn’t get the same kind of exposure that some of the other instructors get, mostly because she’s the Flight and Jaunt instructor, and the Jaunting doesn’t come until the kid’s D Levels–assuming they need the the class, if you know what I mean.  You really think Annie and Kerry won’t figure out teleportation before they start that class?

Which means this witch is chillin’ back on the Deck, and considering things in her mind–

 

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

Vicky kept her eyes on the hologram tank in the middle of the room, much as she had nearly the whole night. It was much the same way the month before when Annie was out on her first solo flight, though they flight was in broad daylight and she and her chance were twenty-five kilometers from the school at their furthest.

She’d taken a chance sending them out on a night solo her second flight. Normal protocol would see Annie doing an early morning forty kilometer run to Lawrence before turning south to Middleton and back to Manchester before returning to the school. Total distance would have been right around ninety kilometers, but it would have been in daylight, and if there had been issues getting home would have meant flying towards the rising sun until they reached the ocean, and then followed the shoreline back to Cape Ann.

This solo flight saw them over a mostly urban environment, at night, venturing out to fifty kilometers from the safety of the Flight School. Vicky was aware they’d flown further on their own on brooms: once at the end of their A Levels, and once at the start of this school year. Both times they’d flown more than a hundred kilometers away, but those were straight-forward flights out and back, with little navigating in between. She also had it on good authority that Kerry did all the planing for their trips, figuring out their flight plans prior to departures.

He’s good at that. Vicky watched the dots in the tank heading towards their last checkpoint in Gloucester. Annie’s never shown an interest in that part of flying until now. Like everything else in her life, she develops her talent on her own schedule.

 

The only big revelation we have here is that the second solo flight would have been a morning jaunt to the west and back, about ninety kilometers total, with Annie never getting more than forty klicks out.

Do I have that mapped out?  You have to ask?

Do I have that mapped out? You have to ask?

It was a simply flight, and that’s probably why Vicky decided to blow it off, because it was too simply.  Little Miss Death Spells loves a challenge, and sending her to Boston at night is a good one, don’t you agree?  If Vicky hadn’t, Annie would have likely complained a little about how easy that mission was.  And let’s not give Annie anything easy to do, shall we?

This isn’t going to be a long scene, and it’s likely the scene after won’t be a long one, either.  Like I said, I know what to write.

Getting started on it is always a pain in the butt.  If only that were easier . . .

The Night Air: Weather Rules

It’s the morning of the last day of 2015, and I have such strange feelings for this year.  That’s because a lot of good happened, and a lot of bad hurt it as well.  I finally came out completely as myself and spent nearly the whole year that way, while at the same time I was ripped up by emotions that nearly tore me apart.  In other words, a lot of highs and a lot of lows.

The short and long of it:  I’m glad 2015 is finally getting out of the way, and that 2016 is a much better year for me.  There are a lot of things I’d like to do, and crawling out of depression whole is one of them.

One interesting things I read last night:  two years ago yesterday saw the beginning of the scene where Erywin was introduced as the instructor of Formulistic Magic, and a certain Franky Smith outta Canada asked the Stupid Question of the Day that she was expecting:  “Can you cook meth?”  Of course she can, and she began giving him a rather varied history of all the way it can be done, telling him at one point that she needed great methods because she wasn’t about to “shake and bake” like one might do “where you live in the arse-end of Deer Bollocks, Canada”.  I remember I had to do a lot of research on that scene, because there are so many different way of cooking meth, and I needed to make it look like Erywin knew how to cook.  At least we know she isn’t afraid to call someone “bitch”.

But what about the end of this year’s writing, Cassie?  Well, the current novel stands just short of two hundred sixteen thousand words.  I was actually about one hundred thousand words further along in the other book after this much time, or so I believe:  I’d have to go back and do some figuring to see if that’s true.  I know I had one NaNo under my belt, and I wrote seventy thousand words in that sprint, so that puts me ahead about fifty thousand right there.

As it is on the downward slide with the book, and if things go well I could finish this up right around the time I started.  Which would be good.

It would also mean I'd be past this part in the novel.

It would also mean I’d be past this part in the novel.

Let’s see how the meeting goes–or should I say, finishes up?

 

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

The Chief of Security stood facing the students with her hands behind her back. “As you’ll both be within one hundred kilometers of the school, there’s no need to give either of you active tracking: we’ll know you’re the only ones in the air tonight. We’ll have the comms open the whole way save for when you’re resting—” She nodded in Kerry’s direction. “As usual, you’ll have access to the private channel, but you won’t be able to open it directly: you can only respond once we open the line.

“Tonight’s weather won’t be the worst you could experience, but it’s not going to be fun. Screen temps will be around minus three, but there’s a steady wind out of the northwest at sixteen kilometers an hour, and that’s gonna send the wind chill down to minus ten. Since flying anywhere near one hundred kph is gonna keep the wind chill around minus fifteen, keep in mind it’s gonna be steady all night.

“Because of the weather I want you—” Isis pointed at Kerry. “—to keep a close eye on her. You may be used to flying around in this sort of cold, but she isn’t, and things can start going sideways when you least expect. Something else to keep in mind: you’re going to be flying with overcast skies most of the night, so you’re going to get a lot of light reflection from the ground, and that will make observation from the distances you’ve normally flew problematic.”

Vicky stepped in and took over. “I want you to stay within three meters of Annie all night tonight. Keep yourself slight back, but we won’t say much if you get up along side. Just don’t get forward of her position, or look as if you’re trying to lead.”

Kerry nodded. “Sure. I know the rules.”

“I know you do. And I know you won’t do anything to compromise Annie’s flight.” Vicky addressed her other students. “You know the drill: we, along with Kerry, will monitor your vitals. If any of us see you starting to falter, you get on the back of Kerry’s broom and you both come home. And if you should feel that something isn’t right, you tell us, get on the back of Kerry’s broom—”

“And we come home.” Annie smiled as she nodded twice. “I understand, I do.”

“No need to drive that point home, then.” Vicky smiled at co-presenter, then back at her students. “Okay, Isis and I are going up to the Flight Desk. You can finish dressed and head outside. Once you’re both ready, Annie, you give us a head’s up and we’ll get stated.” She waved the holographic map away. “Our call sign is the same: your’s is Salem Night Solo.”

Annie nodded as she stood. “Understood.” She began gathering up her winter gear. “We should be ready in five minutes.”

“Sounds good. See you on the flight line.” Vicky tapped Isis on the arm.

“Have a good flight tonight.” Isis followed Vicky out of the room, leaving the door open.

Kerry slipped on his leather comm helmet and fastened it in place. “Nervous?”

“Not any more than usual.” Annie put on her comm helmet and rolled her balaclava over the top. “Are you’re going to be nervous flying close to me?”

He shook his head as he shrugged on his coat. “We’ve done it before—and I’ve done it with others at night.” Kerry half-zipped the heavy coat. “Nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Good.” Annie moved up to Kerry and kissed him on the lips for a few seconds. “Then let’s do well tonight, my love, so you can get more of those when we return.”

He returned the kiss and slipped into a hug. “You certainly know how to give someone the incentive to do their job right.”

 

That Annie:  finding time to kiss when she should be getting ready.  Then again, she may as well get those lips warmed up now, because it’s likely they won’t be warm for some time after this moment.

The kids handle this like it’s no big thing–just gear up and get going.  And that’s exactly what they’re going to do, because they both do like to fly, and Annie loves her flying the most when she’s with her soul mate.

And in a few minutes they’re going to be alone under the night skies of Gloucester, Salem, and Boston.  If there were ever a time to feel as if you are the only ones in the universe, it’s coming up.

The Night Air: The Briefing

First off before getting to the good stuff–I have a new coffee grinder.  It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time, and now I have one that you hand crank, and after about fifteen minutes of cranking while waiting to eat, I have enough ground coffee to give me something to look forward to on New Years Day.  This is going to work well with my Chemex coffeemaker, which I picked up the other night after wanting for a long time as well.  After I use it I’ll let you know how it comes out, as the coffee made in a Chemex is supposed to be among the best you can drink.

Maybe Annie will need some of that after what’s awaiting her in just few thousand or so words . . .

Seven hundred words right on the nose, and it’s all talk-talk, but as with all briefings it’s all about letting her know where she’s going and what she’s doing.  Vicky’s running this show with Isis at her side, and since they have a map out for Annie to see–one that you’ve already seen–it’s time to tell her what she’s doing.

 

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

“Tonight is all about navigation using visual and interment flight rules, and being able to do so in less than optimal conditions. Flying at night is a good time for this, because as much as you think you know the landscape from all the times you’ve been out during the day, when it’s dark everything looks different.

“This is better than flying in bad weather, though. Given our location next to the Atlantic Ocean, it’s easy to find the line where the land ends and the sea begins, and that prevents you from possibly flying out over water, getting tired, and crashing into the ocean. In bad weather—fog, mist, rain with a low cloud ceiling—it’s possible to get disoriented and become lost. While the sky will be overcast tonight, you’ll have a clear view of the ground. If you get completely disoriented, you’ll know where you can land and where you can’t.” A faint smile grew across Vicky’s face. “Just make sure you land inside the lights, or close to them. Stay away from the dark.”

Vicky turned to the map between Isis and her. “You’re going to do a lot of flying tonight. You’re going to cover over one hundred kilometers—perhaps close to one hundred twenty-five depending on the route you take. You’ll fly out of her directly to Grant Circle in Gloucester. From their you’ll head west—” She began pointing out locations on the holographic display. “—to Gregory Island—which you know by now isn’t really an island—then to Wenham Town Hall and, beyond that, the intersection of Valley Road and Wenham Road. At each of these points you will stop long enough to take a picture of your location, just as you did during your first solo flight.

 

That part about flying at night and the lights making it easy not to get disoriented–that’s happened a lot to pilots, particularly the ones in small, private aircraft.  Throw in fog or mist and an inability not to know how to read your instruments, and before you know it you’re a statistic.  At least in Annie’s case she can stop, look around, and figure out if there’s ground or water below before something bad happens.

The first part of her trip happens right outside the school walls, sort of.  The two circles–or roundabouts, as we call them here in the States–are close to each other.  The first one, Grant Circle, is on the left, and that’s the one she’ll fly over on the way out.  The other, Blackburn Circle, is on the right, and that’s what she’ll pass over on her way back to the school.  It’s also the one they passed on their first night at school, as the train from Gloucester to Rockport travels right past–though it’s hard to see through all the trees.

Circles, roads, trains--now we get some flying up in this as well.

Circles, roads, trains–now we get some flying up in this as well.

And after these places?

 

“From the intersection you’ll head to the Halstead Danvers apartment complex—” She saw Kerry’s smile even though he was doing his best to keep it hidden. “—though there are some in this room who like to call that location Arkham Asylum. After you reach Danvers you’ll proceed southward toward Boston. Your next landmark is here—” She indicated a point far to the southwest of Salem.

“The Northern Expressway/Salem Street Interchange in Medford. From here you’re going to run into a lot of points of interest, but it’s all city over flight after this point. You’ll overfly the Porter Square Shopping Center before heading to University Strip.” Vicky lightly tapped the display. “Harvard Law School, Cambridge Public Library, and the Barker Engineering Library at MIT.” She turned to Annie. “Any questions?”

Annie beamed. “None, Vicky.”

 

This is probably Kerry’s favorite spot near the school, as evident by the smile on his face.  Halstead Danvers sits on the site of what was Danvers State Mental Hospital, aka Danvers Asylum, and as I’ve pointed out before, that complex was the inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft’s Arkham Asylum, and later into modern times, Arkham Asylum from the Batman Universe.  Here’s what it looked like back in the day:

If you squint you can almost hear the screaming.

If you squint you can almost hear the screaming.

And now it’s almost all gone saved for some of the central building.  Now you can live on the grounds and raise your kids and never mind the fact that people died in screaming agony right where you’re cooking up some quick chicken fettuccine.

One could say you'd have to be crazy to live here . . .

One could say you’d have to be crazy to live here . . .

The other half of that is for when Annie head down into the Boston–or do you say “Baas-TAN”?–and meanders over by the colleges there.  Before researching this flight over a year ago I had no idea that Harvard, Cambridge, and MIT were pretty much right next to each other.  Now I know, and by extension, you do as well.  But, no kidding:  here is University Strip:

You can almost smell the money on this picture.

You can almost smell the money on this picture.

Of course MIT is kept away from the blue bloods at Harvard and Cambridge, only because science probably makes the law and business grad light headed.

Now, let’s move on:

 

“All right, then. After MIT you’ll head to Fenway Park: at this point you’ll be the farthest from the school, and your farthest south. There you’ll rest up for a bit before reaching the rest of your objective on your way back to the school. Once you leave the park you’ll head for Boston North Station and Tobin Memorial Bridge before heading on to the Wonderland MBTA Station. The reason we’re having you fly by Tobin Bridge is so you stay clear of Logan International. Tonight the wind is out of the northwest, and that means flights will depart on runway 33 Left, so by keeping you over by US 1 you’ll avoid the jets.

“From Wonderland you’ll fly northward to Marblehead and the Naugus Head and Cloutman Point. After that you will head for the Manchester MBTA Station, and you have the option of either following the shoreline to Manchester, or you can head directly across Salem Sound. The distance isn’t that great—it’s less than ten kilometers—but again, it’s up to you. This is really the only option portion of the flight.

“After that it’s a short hop back: Manchester to Blackburn Circle in Gloucester and then turn to the north and head for the Flight School.” Vicky raised her hands. “And that’s it: you’re home and the flight is over. We’ll have warming blankets and hot drinks for you at the hospital, and after you’re feeling better you can head back to your tower for the night; we’ll do the debriefing tomorrow morning.” Vicky rocked back on her heels. “That’s all I have for now. Isis?”

 

Fenway is pretty much right across the river from MIT.  The other points Vicky mentions are well to the northeast of the park, with the Wonderland station being north of Logan International.  And, yes:  the runway in question is 33 Left, because you can use Google Maps to go right down on the airport and look at the runway markings, which they are required to have by law.

No runway markings here, just the route out of the city.

No runway markings here, just the route out of the city.

And then from Wonderland it just a forty kilometer/twenty-five mile run up the coast and over the sound back to the school.  Like Vicky said, just over a hundred kilometers, or sixty-two miles, though it’s likely going to be longer, right?

Since it looks as if Isis has something to say, assuming I don’t get wasted at dinner tonight, you’ll find out what it is on the penultimate day of the year.  Just think:  last year at this time my kids were kicking ass and . . . well, getting beat up, too.

Funny how that works out.