So, started a brand new prologue for The Lost Race. I’m happy where it is going.
The house was quiet and Richard’s heart was hammering in his chest as he ran inside, hoping against all hope that he wasn’t too late. The blood and the bodies he ignored, his eyes searching for Mira. He moved into the house, trying not to look at the signs of carnage. He found her in the kitchen, and even as he knelt at her side, his hand on her neck searching for a non existent pulse, he knew he was too late. He bowed his head, trying to keep back the scream of rage and grief that threatened to break out of him.
“Richard! Mira!” a voice called from the front and Richard closed his eyes, bringing his breathing and heart beat under control.
“In here, Kevin,” he called, his voice rock steady as he rose from the floor, paying no attention to the blood that had stained the front of his shirt as well as the knees of his pants.
Kevin stood still at the door, his eyes staring at the unmoving, bloodied figure on the floor, and Richard moved towards him, catching him and pushing him out.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “We’re too late,”
“Richard, let me go,” Kevin said, struggling. “Let me go, please!”
Richard didn’t release him. “I’m sorry,” he said again. “I’m sorry, Kevin.”
“Richard?” James appeared at the front room. “What-”
“Mira’s dead,” Richard said, pushing Kevin forcefully into James who caught him. “Take him home. I’ll stay. Call the Licits. Tell him I’ll bring her home.”
“Let me stay,” James said, his hands rubbing soothing circles into Kevin’s back. Kevin had stopped struggling and was crying silently into James’ shoulder. Richard’s eyes burned. “Richard,” James said again. “You take him home. I’ll stay. You need to go home.”
Home. Except it didn’t feel so any more. When he had found Mira was gone and where, all he had time for was to take Steve to Helen’s and call Kevin and James.
“Steve is at Helen’s,” he said, putting an arm around Kevin. “I’ll take him there. You’ll be all right by yourself?”
“I’ll be fine,” James said. “And Richard? I’m sorry.”
“Thank you,” Richard said, choking on the words. Loss was not foreign to him, but this…this was new. He half carried half dragged Kevin on to the car. Kevin slid in, without fighting and Richard followed him in.
“I’m sorry,” Kevin said in a voice thick with tears as the vehicle started moving.
Richard put an arm around the man’s shoulder. “You shouldn’t have to say that to anyone right now,” he said. “But thank you.”
“She was your partner,” Kevin said, tears flowing again.
Richard hugged him close. “She was your daughter.”
Kevin broke down again, and Richard let him, allowing his own tears to fall. What was he even going to tell Helen? At least, Steve was only four months old, not old enough to know his mother wouldn’t be coming back. Richard’s heart broke all over again for his baby.
Kevin regained some of his composure as they passed Meorn. “Where are we going?”
“Helen’s. I left Steve there.”
“We could fly,” Kevin muttered.
“The next flight is seven hours later.” Richard said.
The car was specially designed for spaceflight if needed. It wasn’t as fast as the spaceships, but it would still get them there quicker than the flight. It would also give them the privacy to mourn.
“He stayed back. Someone needs to deal with the Licits, and bring her home.” his voice broke at the last.
“Why did she even-” Kevin whispered. “Without any back up? This was madness!”
Richard wished he knew. Mira had always been her own person, and it was one of the things he loved about her.
“She probably felt anyone she asked would take over the hunt,” he said, his voice tight. “That she would be sidelined.”
She was probably trying to prove a point, but at what cost? Oh Mira, why didn’t you just take me along?
Kevin rubbed his forehead. “I told her to quit,” he whispered. “Whenever she talked about wanting to go back to hunting, I tried to dissuade her, told her she should be focussing on Steve, on you…. Gods, Richard, did I do this?”
“Don’t,” Richard hugged the man again. “Don’t do this to yourself, please. Haven’t you enough to bear already without it?”
“If I had told her she could go back,” Kevin started, but Richard interrupted him.
“Kevin, she was always planning to go back. We both know it. This is not on you or anyone else.”
She had made her decision, and now she was gone and Richard had no idea what to do or say to the grieving man beside him. Hadn’t Kevin suffered enough already? Mira was all he had. Richard tried not to think of his own life and future, of his son, and what this meant for him, for both of them.
I’ll just have to make sure I’m always there for him.
She hadn’t told him, not even a message. If she had, perhaps he could have been there in time. If he hadn’t ignored the nagging feeling in his mind when it started, perhaps he could have saved her. If he hadn’t stopped to take Steve to Helen, and to cal James and Kevin, if he had-
“Stop,” Kevin said. “I can tell what you’re thinking and stop, all right? This isn’t on you either.”
“She was my partner,” Richard whispered. “I failed her… it was my failure that she didn’t trust me enough to come to me.”
“We don’t know what she was thinking,” Kevin said. “We… there’s nothing we could have done, that you could have done… don’t think that… there’s no end if you go down that road.”
“She killed them all,” Richard said, after a moment. “There were four of them.”
Kevin was sobbing again, and Richard could understand why. No hunter had ever taken down more than two by themselves. It was an extraordinary feat.
If only she had lived to enjoy it.