Returning to this draft felt like detaching my self from ‘the writer’ mindset to ‘the reader’. Some parts I wrote sounded too obvious as a reader, and some parts weren’t as clear. So I added character names and expanded the background and well, corrected grammar mistakes. Finally, below is my Self Edited Draft 2!
The Desert Spirit
Genre: Supernatural, Young Adult, Fantasy
Words Count: 1037
The clinking of glasses and the gruffy voices of men filled The Boots Lounge.
The pub was dimly lit and smelled like beer, sweat and salt from the sea. It was located at the last corner of Old Town so both sailors and miners were the regulars you’d find at The Boots Lounge.
The weird and the unusual people also occasionally visited the pub. Just last month a lady had walked in and she was not the ones you find at the Red District nor the ones you find in the Markets of New Town either. She wore a suit. She had wagered a game of poker with every man in that room. At the end of that night, she had won all hands leaving none the wiser. But, no one had seen her since.
What was unusual about today was that there was a young man, no older than 20. There are young men enlisted as miners and sailors, but those usually wear the blue stripes or the khaki uniforms. This one wore all black and no part of town had black uniforms. He took a seat next to the bar. The Bartender, Finbar, looked him over and asked, “You new here lad? What’ya want to drink?”
“Aye, I don’t frequent this part of town. Um- one Ginger Ale would do, please.” He replied.
“In all my life at the sea, I’ve never seen one,” an old man with a missing index fingertip said, banging his third glass of beer on the oak table. “And the new sailors won’t shut up about how dangerous the waters have become! They are as feeble as yesterday’s hatchlings!” he continued obviously irritated.
“Alright mate, I hear ya! You’ve not seen the Loch Ness Monster, but you must’ve seen the Kraken, surely,” replied a frail miner in his mid-50’s with permanently blackened nails, named Aidan.
The conversation had been going on for a while now. At first, it seemed like any other night’s chat about Sirens and Mermaids. Now however, it had expanded to several tables, everyone weighing in their opinions on what other ways you can die at sea. “I’ve heard half a dozen ships have gone missing,” someone from another table added. Hushed voices filled the room as the group recounted the news when the sixth ship had gone missing at sea.
“The Kraken is real alright!!,” said the young man in the black uniform, joining the conversation from where he sat next to the bar. The old man looked up at him, “What’s yer name lad. The name’s Barley, and no one here has ridden the waters as much as I have. And the last time the Kraken was sighted was over a 100 years ago.” He paused momentarily to gulp the remaining contents of his glass. “Finbar! Get me another round,” he said to the bartender.
“Fraser, fill him up, won’t you,” said the bartender turning to the boy who was washing the dishes. “Aye, Pa.” the boy said running to do the new assigned task as ‘bartender in training’ as his Pa called him.
“You can call me Ruari,” said the young man coming over to Barley’s table. Ruari was handsome on most accounts, but his eyes gave away years that perhaps might be even more than Barley’s time at the sea. “One of my friends have gone missing, they say it’s the Kraken.” The atmosphere had visibly changed as others remembered those who had gone missing as well.
“Well then, who thinks Red Beard is real,” said a short portly miner sitting next to Aidan, attempting to change the mood. However, his attempt backfired as any sailor in hearing distance became clearly tensed up.
“We are talking about legends, Gerard. Mind when you take his name as there can be pir—I mean his accomplices anywhere,” Barley said in a serious tone after finishing his fourth glass, rubbing his missing fingertip absentmindedly.
“What about the Sand Sailor? Anyone heard ‘bout him?” asked Ruari, genuinely sounding curious. This fortunately elevated the mood. “We are talking about real legends here, not some fairytale, boy!” Barley retorted and the pub was filled with light laughter.
The tinker who was playing a forgotten tune in the corner of The Boots Lounge changed to play the nursery rhyme and soon enough the pub’s regulars joined in.
Sailor O Sailor,
Gone to the sea.
Sailor O Sailor,
Tell me you see.
Sailor O Sailor,
This is all but sand.
Sailor O Sailor,
Come back to the land.
“I’m curious about the Sand Sailor though. I’ve heard they unveiled a painting in the New Town. The painter claims it’s the boat of the Sand Sailor,” the bartender spoke when the laughter and singing had quieted down.
“The sailor who wheels a fishing boat in the middle of the desert and comes to the land when the sky is clear and the moon is red,” Barley sighed, lighting his pipe and taking a long puff. “I’ve heard that painter is a complete nutcase after getting lost in the desert looking for the brightest star to paint, spouts nonsense half the time.”
Just then the bell tolled 12 o’clock and the pub started to filter out as the night shift was about to begin. Ruari paid his change for the Ginger Ale, which was still half full and made his way out. Finbar noticed that Ruari’s coat was sitting forgotten on his chair against the bar. Holding the coat, he ran after Ruari.
Meanwhile Barley was just getting up from his table when Finbar returned. “You okay mate? You look white as a sheet,” Barley asked concern evident in his voice.
Finbar sat down on the nearest chair and told his son to get him a glass of water. “That- that Ruari or whatever his name is, he-,” he paused to gulp down water and fingered-combed his ginger hair back, then continued, “he doesn’t have a shadow.”
The young man headed towards his awaiting boat, in the Northern Desert.
His ship sailed across the sand with no destination in sight, guided by the stars that filled the night sky and the blood moon for that one night and one hour.
Stay tuned for next week’s post where we fine tune this draft based on the feedback gained from our critiquing partners! You can read the self-edited drafts by other authors, here!