by Dave Hartley
With the new fleet delivered, serviced and named ‘Mosquitoes’, Parsifus and the other pilotieres submitted the names that they wished to be attached to the ships. He opted for The Golden Silence because his sweetheart, Keira, in one of her more poetic moods, had said to him ‘I love it here. I love the sound of the golden silence,’ and it stuck with him. She had been referring to Lake Gathoe on Ithry where they had romanced, and she had been right about the tranquillity. Ithry was a planet with such a stable atmosphere that Parsifus had only ever seen it as suspicious and eerie, and had avoided being stationed there. But Keira had changed his mind, with that one simple phrase. He was wrong to be suspicious of calmness. He had been conditioned to the busy life in the hectic hangars and never stopped for long enough to appreciate a place like Lake Gathoe and the citadel of Lon where Keira hailed from. It was only one of the reasons that he loved her. She had a peculiar ability to change his mind about everything, from the smallest thing to the most profound. Like stars. A life flying around in space within various different star systems makes the nonsense of constellations and star-signs archaic and silly. But she was a stargazer and drew wonderful and wild shapes. Then she’d encourage him to do the same. And he did. He surprised himself in doing it, but he did it, even when she wasn’t there. She called him ‘Stargazer’ and told him that she loved him for letting her open his mind. Even after only three weeks together, he’d grown with her. Matured.
He insisted on helping the hangar crew to cut the stencil and paint it onto his new fighter. He chose a deep, lovers’ red, her favourite colour.
‘Golden Silence,’ said Lancel, his wingman. ‘It has a nice ring, Captain.’
‘Thanks,’ he replied while turning to see what Lancel had opted for.
‘Lake Gathoe,’ said Parsifus hiding a frown, ‘I know it well.’
Lancel seemed to catch the frown as it suddenly flashed across his face. ‘On Ithry? It’s where my girl likes to meet, romantic place.’
A moment of silence passed between them and there was nothing golden about it. They read each other’s eyes. Lancel spoke first. ‘Y’know its funny, she used to say that she loves that lake because of the sound of the golden silence.’
Parsifus had no reply. Lancel was about to speak again when a shout erupted from the other side of the hangar. Two other Mosquito pilotieres, also wingmen, had named their ships Keira and had started pushing each other. Almost simultaneously, away to their left, another fight had begun, this one with punches being thrown. Confusion echoed through the cavernous space but soon settled like heavy dust when the pilotieres looked at all the newly-sprayed names. Out of the forty new Mosquito Class Fighters, twenty-three were named Keira, nine went for Lake Gathoe, five went for Stargazer, there were two Lon, Ithrys and Parsifus’ Golden Silence.
And with that, the hangar fell dumb.
The next day a war began.
Dave Hartley is based in Manchester and lives with one human, two rabbits, five guinea pigs and two fish.