Daily Archives: December 30, 2008

And There Is A Right Way by Katy Board

I am so enjoying writing the activities for this last chapter, which is dealing with prose. I was asked, in activity 11.4, to write a story in 500 words, and so I did, using a sci-fi genre to do so – my very first attempt at sci-fi!
We were given a multiple choice of subject, and I chose ‘ a funeral’, but we were to use a different title for the story, which I have.
Anyway, here it is, and I hope you enjoy it:

And There Is A Right Way

In the instant that the sun sank beyond the horizon, Zed placed the torch into the stacked wood in front of him. For a second, nothing happened; the only sound was Zella intoning the death dirge quietly in the background, as was her role in this passing of a mate. But, in a second, the flame flared brightly and the wood, stacked neatly in the cremation pyre, caught and quickly spread to envelop the wrapped form of Zarn.
Zed stood back, placing the torch in the holder waiting beside the pyre. He turned to face west, and saw a flare, an after-image of coruscating green, where a shard of light from the set sun reflected back from the clouds. He knew this was a sign that his mate’s soul had reached the gods, and he felt happiness that Zarn would be there waiting when it was their turn for the funeral pyre.
Zella finished intoning the prayers of the dead, and then silently came to stand beside Zed. They shared a moment of reflection, remembering the times before Zarn breathed his last in this world. They quietly spoke to each other about this, using it as a way of remembering their mate, and of reassuring themselves that they had done everything tradition demanded for this precious time of death-dealing.
Zed was reassured by Zella’s respectful demeanour, knowing that he had dealt the death-blow in the correct manner and at the right moment, so that Zarn would know nothing of it. He knew that Zarn would now be finding his way to the gods, still full of enough vigour to serve them in whichever capacity they chose, and this comforted the two remaining mates. They knew that it wouldn’t be long before it was their time to join with him, and they looked forward to that time with peacefulness.
As the pyre burnt down, all that was left was ashes. Zed and Zella waited patiently and, as soon as the ashes were cool enough to handle, they were gathered into the box waiting nearby. Then, with solemn steps, they made their way down from the headlands, until they reached a promontory that led out to sea. With all the solemnity it deserved, they continued the funereal tradition, by taking it in turns to scatter the ashes of their mate into the sea.
Just as the last handful was spread, they looked eastwards, and saw that the sun was about to rise once more. They had timed it perfectly. They looked at each other in the growing light of the hot, white sun, and the nictating membranes that served to protect their eyes in this bright world automatically slid over their eyes. With a last look out over the sea, they turned, and stepped slowly back up the promontory, using their powerful legs to push upwards to the headlands again. Zella carried the emptied box in her central arms, using the front set to pull herself over the rim of the cliff, and then walked back to the site of the pyre, where she placed the box for the next cremation.

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