Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 162

veneer in the days to come. They stopped at the 258th and newest grave. “Miner Raoul Larsson,” intoned Priest Kylone over the shuttle’s announcer. “You gave your life for the ice and rock of Miranda. Hero, rest alongside your comrades in peace.” The shuttle lingered next to Raoul’s grave as the portholes and screens darkened to black. In the silence, Vaclav’s hand found hers and gave her a squeeze of comfort. The lights brightened. Their harshness blurred her vision. She squeezed her eyes shut, closing out the small world of the shuttle to form a haven of darkness. The shuttle swayed and flew away from the graveyard. She worried about how she was going to hide her own grief from public view. Others had done it, so there was a way. It was a case of finding it. The clunks of the shuttle docking and locking into place pulled her out of her morass. She watched and waited as the passengers in front of her silently left. Priest Kylone opened the cockpit door and waited. Emma got up and glared at her. It made her wary. Raoul’s sister, Francesca, was about to step off the shuttle. She stopped and looked back over her shoulder. “This way, Mum.” Emma, her lips firmly pressed together, stood staring at Alva. Vaclav stood up, acting as a barrier between her and Emma. “I know you are upset. We all are, especially Wife Alva.” Vaclav hid Emma’s face from her. She guessed it still showed disapproval of her. Emma would be too polite to let her anger flare up. After the funeral maybe, but not now when it would bring condemnation from the Priests, and through them, from all Mirandans. make ends meet, or he would not have been down there when the mine collapsed.” “That is not true,” Alva exclaimed. “Mother, please.” “Widow Larsson, we all wish Miner Raoul was still alive,” Priest Kylone quietly intervened. Emma blushed as she stepped towards Priest Kylone. “You’ll have to forgive me, Priest Kylone, but a mother should not have to lose her son,” she mumbled. “A hero will never be forgotten,” Priest Kylone said bowing as she hurried past Francesca and him. Francesca hastened after her mother. Vaclav turned to help her up out of her seat. “It is only her grief talking.” She did not want to face Emma, not if she was going to lose her fiery temper. “The mourning guests are waiting,” Priest Kylone hinted. The hint left her with no choice. She stood up without Vaclav’s help. Picking up her helmet, she followed him through the concertinaed gangway into the waiting room. Mourners were huddled into cliques murmuring. A waitress in full black stood beside the inner door holding out a tray. On it remained two small ice-glasses of clear firewater beside a remnant pile of black serviettes. She picked her drink up with a serviette and stood aside to let Priest Kylone get his. “Raise your glasses,” Priest Kylone said. The mourners turned to him and raised theirs. “Mother, the others are waiting,” Francesca said. “Miner Raoul Larsson,” Priest Kylone said as he lifted his glass in the air. “It’s regrettable he had to do extra mining shifts to “Miner Raoul Larsson,” everyone chorused lifting PAGE 161