A Light in the Black

Author: Jae Miles, Staff Writer

There’s a dark atmosphere here on the hill, which is a sad achievement: with modern lighting and the city sparkling below, the Governor’s place is usually the brightest spot.
Until Maleshi brought the ruckus to the docks and Grunhilde took it personally. The mother of thieves versus the smuggler lord.
“Denton, you making up articles again?”
I turn and smile: “It’s my living, Governor. I’m always thinking about making articles.”
“Well, this won’t be one.” He seems dead serious.
Which means there’s a better tale to be had: “Then give me a story that makes it worth my while not to tell the galaxy about how a corrupt police chief suborned a planetary council to allow the criminal he obeyed to run our spaceports for personal gain.”
William appears too genteel to be a Governor. He should be cultivating roses or teaching history to scions of nobility.
“I know that look. You’ve told me the story behind it. I hate roses and spoilt brats. Looking like a fop is part of the repertoire. Get over it.”
I cut him a little curtsy: “We’re back to ‘tell me a better tale’.”
He huffs: “I give you a decent story and you forget your designs on me and outing Chief Retnagnir before we complete the case against him?”
“To cover both, it’ll have to be an epic.”
“Winonna Rogers.”
“Bandit queen of this sector, until she disappeared.”
“Classically trained pianist, horticulturalist, and the mother of my estranged children.”
That I did not see coming.
“Your children?”
“Son and daughter. So devoted to one another it was worrying. Of course, in their teens that devotion occasionally flared into hateful arguments. One would storm out, Winonna would intercede, there would be sullen silence for a couple of days, then they’d be amigos again.”
I suspect this not leading to a happy place.
“My son tore it all up. Being bandit-raised most of the time, I had tried to immunise him to the poisonous aspects of their culture. It didn’t take. Nineteen and full of machismo, he came down hard on his sister for being ‘unladylike’. For the first time, Winonna took a side. He stormed out. As usual, she waited a few hours, then sought him out. I guess he thought his mama had betrayed him.”
He looks at me and I can see tears in his eyes.
“The love of my life was killed by our son. Our daughter vowed revenge.”
This’ll get readers.
I’m not sure I like myself right now.
“No-one knows you have scion or had a lady. Why tell me, especially over a silly threat?”
“Those kids are beyond my reach. Maybe your article can get that far, if you add the impact their war is having on the common people.” He looks out across the city as another plume of smoke rises: “People their father has taken an oath to help yet is powerless to do so while his children quarrel using other people’s lives.”
Oh, no.
He looks back to me, tears spilling down his cheeks: “My children call themselves Maleshi Blood and Grunhilde Storm. Both are younger than thirty. I dread what they could become.” He waves his hand toward the city, where fires mark battles every day, and whispers: “Look at what they do.”
William, dear William.
“You realise one or both might turn on you?”
“Yes.”
“Why now?”
“Their deeds are getting darker. Something must change to break this cycle. So, write as well as you always do. Publish without regret.”
He smiles.
“Shine a light, Miss Denton. Show them what they cannot see.”

9 Comments

  1. SimonJM

    Yet another ‘little’ tale that carries an untold and unseen trunk-load of baggage with it, yet manages to let us lift the lid on that trunk.

  2. xdhz8

    Good story. I especially liked the effective use of dialogue to create the sense of gloom and character development.

  3. Hari Navarro

    I was drawn right into this complex sad torn world that you’ve created, amazing is such a limited space.

  4. Jatayu

    Your portrayal of a long standing and intimate relationship in a dozen words was stunningly minimalist. And the story was absolutely heartbreaking.

  5. mina

    If regret and sadness had a colour, this would be it.

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