So far things have been getting along pretty smoothly. I still like a lot what I’ve written, with just a bit of tidy-up here and there. Now, though, I’m coming into the heart of the story, which is where I made my most extensive edits. At long last I’m going to get to see how those hold up in the midst of the older material. As always, you can refer to my previous draft for comparison here.
Now let’s get to it.
“What’s your status, Harry?”
“Not good. I’m having lots of engine trouble, in fact it’s barely turning at all! I can’t make it around the cape, so I’ve just been tryin’ to hold her steady. I don’t mind telling you I’ve been real scared out here, Oscar!”
“Yeah, well I still am! Stay put, Harry.”
Oscar spun the wheel until he was in alignment with Harry’s vessel, then opened the throttle and surged forward. As he went forward his vessel finally pressed through the misty curtain that stood at the edge of the storm. Large and heavy raindrops broke across his windshield, momentarily obscuring his vision. Then the heavy rain subsided, and darker forms were revealed beyond!
I spent quite some time reworking this “breaking through the veil” scene. I think it’s an important and theatrical moment, but it just felt so clunky to me how I had it before. Hopefully this new transition will read much more smoothly. It’s definitely much leaner than the previous attempts.
It was a world of muddled black. Pitch skies hung low overhead, whipped by strong winds into long wisps, thin and fragile, yet so numerous as to entirely crowd out the evening sun. Under the grim ceiling lay a landscape of fomented waves, rolling in endless agony, and colored the green-black hue of ink. Shocks of lightning bristled every second at random places, each bolt immense but straight, efficiently transferring energy from darkness above to darkness below.
I also did an extensive rework on the above paragraph, cutting out a full half of the storm’s descriptions. I don’t think it was a waste to have written those excised parts, though, I just generated all the imagery I could think of in the first pass and this time pruned it down to the very best.
And caught in the thick of everything, was Harry’s vessel, twitching and swaying erratically, entirely at the mercy of the storm. Only on occasion it would surge to life, just enough to jerk back into line with the rolling waves, and then the engines would die and it flounder. The boat must have taken on a great deal of water already, growing more sluggish by the minute. Growing more difficult to haul out by the minute.
Oscar’s heart fell, but he only allowed himself a moment’s dread before he grit his teeth and grabbed the mic. “You gotta hold it more steady, Harry! I can’t come up alongside just for you to swing into my hull!”
“Okay…” came the timid reply. “I’ll try, Oscar.”
Oscar spat and shook his head. He knew it was a hard thing he was asking, but it was necessary if they were to pull this off.
“Yeah, you gotta hold her straight. I’m gonna come up on your starboard side and throw you a line as I pass. You be ready to catch it, and then run like anything to get it through your bow cleat.”
“Okay, Oscar. Okay. I’ll try.”
Apparently that was as good as Harry was going to give.
Oscar held firmly to the wheel, maintaining as straight of a line as possible to Harry, running through the next maneuvers in his head. They would need to move with precision and speed, minimizing the number of seconds that their boats would be so treacherously close to one another!
Oscar glanced to the raised beam back at the center of his boat. He punched the release, dropping the net at the end of it. Then he pulled a lever, letting the rope run out until there was about fifty feet of it unfurled on the deck.
“Alright now, Harry,” Oscar called into the mic. “You ready?”
Harry didn’t respond. Oscar raked his eyes over the other sailor’s ship and saw that the man was already out on his own deck, waving his arms.
“You’re supposed to be keeping your boat straight!” Oscar said in anger, turning the wheel for an even wider berth between the two of them. Then he turned the throttle up, pushing his vessel just a little ahead of Harry’s boat.
“Alright, alright,” Oscar told himself encouragingly, then cut the throttle and locked the wheel in place. As his boat slid backwards he ran back to the rope pooled out on the deck. With practiced skill he found its end and coiled it around his hand as he leapt to the port side. His boat came level with Oscar’s for just a moment, and in that moment he gave a mighty fling, arcing the rope through the air and into Harry’s waiting arms. Harry pulled it to his chest for dear life, then sprinted towards the front of his trawler to run it through the bow cleat. Meanwhile Oscar dashed back to his own wheel and spun it rapidly to correct for drift.
“Harry, are you ready yet?” Oscar spoke into the mic, but there was no response. He raised the throttle, moving a little beyond Harry’s boat, but not so far as to pull the line out before Harry had it secured.
Mostly the same as before, just with some extraneous details removed. It does feel good to cut the fat and leave the more lean, focused story. Anyway, that’ll do for today, come back next week as we tackle the next section.