I started making some significant changes to The Storm last week, throwing out and replacing entire sections. When I took a look at last week’s work, I realized that there was yet another change I wanted to make to it. Its last paragraph is interrupting the sequence of Oscar and Harry turning headlong into the waves. I will therefore pull it from last week’s section and move it into today’s work. I’ll point it out when I reintroduce it.
For now, though, here is a link to my most recent draft for comparing changes, and now let’s get to work.
Oscar tapped his fingers on the helm as the next wave roared up to them. He had turned his boat as far to port as he could but was still thirty degrees from hitting the water head-on. Oscar’s boat creaked as it was pulled upwards, bow pointed towards the sky. As before, the wave wanted to turn Oscar’s vessel back to starboard. Oscar moved his rudder a little in opposition, but not nearly so far as before. When he finally breached through the wave he swung his head around, waiting for Harry’s boat to burst through also. It did, and then Oscar sprang into action!
“Harry, hold that angle, but give me a little slack!” Oscar called down towards the mic. He thrust his wheel hard to starboard, opposite the way he needed to go. All the water in the hold rushed over, making the boat careen onto its side. Oscar splayed his toes wide, feeling the movements of the vessel through his boots. He could make out the shift when the water in the hold collided with the hull and started to slosh back the other way. Now he spun the wheel back to port as quickly as possible, encouraging the water’s momentum, flowing it back across the hold until it slammed into the opposite side of the hull, the port side! With the rudder and the rushing water combining forces Oscar found that extra push, just enough to finally pull his boat out of its angle and pointed head-on towards the next wave.
“Now, Harry, now! Get back in line behind me!”
Oscar had gotten himself straightened out, but he had lost considerable speed in the process. Already the next wave was upon them, and he wasn’t sure if we would have enough momentum to push through it!
“Full throttle, Harry, full throttle!” Oscar cried out, pushing his own acceleration to the maximum.
Oscar’s boat spun its propellers valiantly, but it grew slower and slower as it crawled up the slope of the wave, and the slower it went the more the prow tried to follow the path of least resistance, falling off to either one side or the other. Oscar spun the wheel back-and-forth and applied the throttle in controlled bursts, trying to counter the boat’s shying and keep it pointed forward. But he wasn’t even advancing so much as just holding still in place. The crown broke upon the front of the boat, but rather than bursting through Oscar felt himself boat starting to roll backward with the water!
Then came a sudden blow from behind and the sound of crunching! Oscar’s boat had slowed down faster than Harry could turn out of the way, and Harry had rear-ended him!
“Harry!” Oscar shouted angrily, but then he felt the push. Harry’s engines had come back to life, and he still had some inertia, even against the slope of the wave! It gave Oscar the push he needed, and he was able to steer his way through the top of the wave! Together the two boats rushed down the backside of the wave and returned to their proper speed.
“Alright Harry, that was lucky,” Oscar pulled the mic back to his mouth and wiped the nervous sweat from his brow. “But you keep your distance from now on, you hear?”
There didn’t seem to be any response, but then Oscar realized he still had the button on the radio locked down. He released it just in time to hear the last of Harry’s reply.
“–and I’m sorry.”
“I don’t want your ‘sorry,’ Harry,” he shot back. “Just competence.”
I had a note on the next paragraph about how it was strange to pull back from direct action for just three sentences, then to descend right back into it. I knew I needed to remove or revise that oddity somehow.
I also realized that the above sequence, where Oscar and Harry turn headlong into the waves, was strangely interrupted by an explanation for how that turn would alter their plans to get back home. So, I’m killing two birds with one stone by moving that interrupting sequence down to here, which also helps to fill out the time between one moment of action and the next.
Oscar knew he wasn’t being fair, and he let go of the radio and tried to gather his nerves. They had successfully made the turn, and that was well and good, but now he had to consider what their next steps would be. They were no longer cutting across the waves, which meant they would have to change the route back home. Now they would have to ride up the waves and push for as much distance as possible. Then they would turn around and use the water’s momentum to slice through the eddies, hopefully pulling far enough to port as they went to clear the Broken Horn.
How far into the waves would they need to go before turning around? Oscar wasn’t sure. Did they have enough fuel for this new route? It didn’t matter. They just had to deal with the situation at hand and worry about the other matters when they came up.
That question of fuel did make Oscar look down to his gauge, though, and he found that it was already teasing at empty.
“Harry, where are you sitting with fuel?”
“Uhh–probably just fumes left, to be honest.”
“You have a spare tank?”
“Used it already.”
Oscar slammed his hand against the wheel in exasperation. Why hadn’t he thought to have them top up when they were tethering the boats together? Certainly he had had a lot of other things on his mind then, but it wasn’t like him to just miss something like that.
But Oscar couldn’t worry about would’ve and should’ve now. Now he needed to deal with the situation as it stood.
“Alright, Harry. Run out to the front of the boat. Here comes my spare tank.”
Oscar locked his wheel in place and grabbed the yellow, plastic diesel tank from under the seat. It was a common six-gallon container, and as soon as he reached the back of his boat he poured half of its contents into his own fuel tank, then gripped the handle with both hands and flung the canister through the air and into Harry’s waiting arms.
In my previous read-through I wasn’t been so sure about keeping this sequence of them sailing against the onslaught of waves, but I’ve decided to keep it for the time being. I will make all the other intended changes along the way and see what I think of it then.
To that end, I’m going to modify the next sequence in a few ways. First, Oscar is not get lost in idle thought, the wave is simply going to catch him before he is able to make it back to the wheelhouse. Second, he is going to rescue himself from the boat rolling sideways, so that using the maneuver of a boat using the rope to tug the other onto its hull won’t be repetitive when it shows up later. Finally, it will be in that moment of desperately fighting to save his boat that I will reintroduce the moment of regret where he wishes he had quit the business before his son passed away.
All of that, however, will be a task for next week, as I’m going to call it good here. See you next time!