Drafts – The Steelskins

Musa almost walked into them.

Coming out of Lucky’s, pulling his coat tight against the cloud-dimmed afternoon, he didn’t notice the steelskins until there were six of them, in varying degrees of contrapposto.

Only one of them eyed Musa–a stern look through a dented visor, promising there were no answers to be had here.

The others were fanned out, scuffed leather hands keeping other citizens back–away from two workers with a mop and brush. They shared a bucket between them, filled with water made frothy and pink by red bristles.

Musa knew he could ask what happened–anyone but the steelskins would be eager to gush about the person who had bled out front of Lucky’s.

But there would be significantly less heart in the asking. Someone had bled. Someone always did. If they were alive, good for them. If they were dead, Musa would rather not know.

Because it had happened so quietly–so quickly–that, if not for the steelskins, he would’ve walked past the blood without noticing.

“Alright, alright,” one of the workers said. “That’s enough.”

And one of the steelskins sighed. “The rain’ll get the rest.”


I like drafting short, throwaway scenes. It’s just practice on days when I feel like I haven’t written enough. I’ll be posting them here now, however, on an extremely loose, unreasonable schedule (Hi, 2AM!). I want to stay consistent with these . . . and I thought they might be interesting.

Thanks for reading. And, if you enjoyed and would like to know when I post again, feel free to click the subscribe button on the left side of the screen. You can also follow me on Twitter @LSantiagoAuthor.

Muse Tuesday – Jadha Swayne | Freewriting

Hi there, and welcome back to Muse Tuesday.

This week, I’m drawing from the ether; this isn’t going to be a WIP or a fanfic–just freewriting with a single goal in mind.

Write a character I absolutely hate.

It’s an exercise to expand my range as a writer. I don’t want my characters to feel samey, so I’m trying to broaden my horizons.

And,  I feel like the best way to do that . . . is by writing a character I despise, based on some of the weirdos I’ve encountered here in New York.



Jadha Swayne always shook her head when she invented a deity.

It bought her time. Gave her a heartbeat to find a name, the beginning of a story.

“Konlo, the Despoiler.” She said. “You’ve heard of him, right?”

And the man who’d come to her–a villager named Gavin–shook his head.

Of course he did.

By reflex now, Jadha lifted an eyebrow and looked as disappointed as she could. “You never heard of Konlo? A demon lord from the east. Konlo the Jealous, they call him, too. He steals children. Not himself–he whispers in the ears of the weak while they sleep. He convinces the jealous and the lonely to steal other people’s children away.”

When Gavin’s brows furrowed, she suddenly remembered this man’s son had fallen into a coma, not been kidnapped. Shit.

“Sometimes, they do it physically. But, most times . . . Konlo tells his people how to steal children’s souls.”

She watched Gavin’s face pale, his lip quivering. “He–”

“Yes,” Jadha said, controlling the conversation. Always keep talking. Always steer the dialogue in a direction you could control. “Yes. I’m saying that your son’s asleep . . . because Konlo had someone steal his soul.”

Gavin looked away, shaking. “How? How did it–?”

“There are many ways,” she said, steering toward a wild current now, almost smiling. “This person–the one who has your boy’s soul–might have a painting of him. It doesn’t have to be new; Konlo often tells them to paint their victims onto canvases that have already been used–scenes that were already hanging in their homes. It makes it harder for people to find their children and free them.

“But it could be something worse. A pinch of arm hair, torn out while they stared at your son. A mirror with his soul burned onto it. A stoppered flask, hidden away in their home, warm from the soul light inside of it.”

“Just,” Gavin cut in suddenly, eyes wet. “Just tell me . . . how to get my son back.”

And Jadha breathed deep, finally reigning herself in. “You have to find this thing. This painting. This tuft of hair. The mirror or the bottle. And you must destroy it. Without the captor realizing it. Only then can their bond with Konlo be broken, and your son’s soul set free.”

Gavin breathed deep for a moment, looking away. Jadha had to wonder if he realized how impossible that task was. How difficult it would be for him to find the one hidden flask among all the houses of his neighbors–without getting caught.

For a moment, his brow sharpened, and Jadha’s heart raced. For just a moment, she was certain that Gavin saw through her lies.

But then he was up on his feet. “What do I owe you for this counsel, sister?” he asked, reaching into his pocket for a bundle of spare notes.

And Jadha, putting so much sadness into her eyes that they shined, shook her head. “You don’t owe me a thing, Gavin Cask. It is enough for me to have told you what you didn’t know.

“It is enough for me to have helped educate you.”


Phew. Well . . . that was surprisingly easy. And fun enough that I might actually use Jadha for something in the future. And, man, I have to say, moments like these are part of the reason why I love this site. Without this site, I never would’ve pushed myself to practice like this.

Of course, the other reason why I love this site is you guys. I don’t want to get too mushy, but thank you so much for reading. For coming back, for liking, or just for passing by. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it absolutely keeps me going. Thank you.

My name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Regardless though, thank you just for dropping by. And, as always, write well.