Below, you’ll find Chapter Eleven of the Life of a Miner short story. There are no more chapters.
Artwork: Roberto Gabriel Garcia
Chapter 11 – Epilogue
“How much trouble are you guys in?” Priloe asked in the virtual channel he shared with the Licht boys.
Ulran’s avatar made a face. “Dad liked Pete’s idea of making us clean the septic. Do you have any idea how much of that junk a family makes? He’s also making us scrub the atmo filters and every other icky job he can come up with.”
“Do you hate me?” Priloe asked. “I’m sorry. I tried to take the blame, but they weren’t buying it after Pete tracked all the sled’s movements.”
“Are you kidding?” Ulran asked. “It was coming one way or another and you might not have noticed…” He chuckled and swatted at his brother, “but we’re in trouble all the time as it is. How’s Demetria doing?”
“Ask her yourself,” Priloe answered. “Part of my punishment is that me, Mouse and Demi are sharing the bunkroom. Mind if I join her in?”
“Sure,” Merley said.
“Demetria Borisova has joined the channel,” the AI announced.
“You really letting him call you Demi?” Ulran asked. “I didn’t think you liked that.”
“It is acceptable,” Demetria replied, her speech patterns more formal than they were used to. “No one has ever stood up for me before. Priloe may call me what he wishes.”
“What are Silver and Pete going to do with you, Demi?” Merley asked.
“That is Demetria to you, unless you would like me to call you Merl,” she said. “And, Silver has given me a choice. I may live here and work the claim or she will take me back to Lèger Nuage on their next trip.”
“We’d sure like you to stay out here,” Ulran said.
“Yeah, we need four people to play pod-ball. That is, if Dad ever lets us come over there again,” Ulran said, taking a swipe at his brother.
“We better get to sleep,” Priloe said. “Big Pete’s got me loaded up with work tomorrow. I’m cleaning out ore containers and fixing welds. Whatever that means.”
“Oh, geez,” Merley said. “He’s still pissed then?”
“I’m not sure,” Priloe said. “It doesn’t matter, though. He’s not making me go back to Lèger.”
“That’s good to hear,” Ulran answered. “I’d hate to have to play one-on-one my whole life. Anyway, talk to you guys tomorrow.”
“What’s wrong with Lèger?” Demetria asked after the comm with the Licht boys closed.
“Nothing,” Priloe answered. “It’s a beautiful city. It’s just that I want to learn how to do something with my life.”
“And, you think that’s mining?”
“Uh huh,” Priloe said. “Pete said he thought he had a line on some precious on one of Liam’s asteroids. He said we might check it out later this week.”
“Sounds fun,” Demetria said.
Priloe reached over and turned out the light in the bunk room. Somewhere along the line, Milenette had fallen asleep in the bunk directly beneath him, her light snoring a comforting sound.
“‘Night, Demi,” Priloe said.
He lay in the darkness, waiting for her to respond. It took a few minutes, but finally she asked, “Do you think I could come along with you and Big Pete?”
“You should ask him,” Priloe said.
But of course, that’s another story entirely.