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Cosmic Camel

The cool blue earth and friendly yellow sun had vanished. In their place, a huge
red globe scowled fiercely at them. Plumes of fire writhed like snakes across its
“Morning!” said the lemming. “Breakfast?”
“That’s the wrong sun,” whispered Donal. He turned to look the other way, and
nearly jumped out of his skin at the vast planet that completely filled his view.
“We’re about to crash!” he yelped, before he realised that the spaceship was not
diving towards the planet, but skimming swiftly across its surface.
This was definitely not Earth. It was a black and desolate planet. Its surface
bristled with spiky hills, steeper and more vicious than any mountains he had seen
back home.
And they were barren, with no sign of life. Donal’s heart sank. Surely nothing
could live on those jagged mountains and grey, dusty plains?
I’ve really messed up, he thought wretchedly. Why did I ever touch that silver
ball? Why did I have to get lost in the Zoo? Now I’m really lost. I’m Nowhere.
He felt sick.
Ulan Nuur, in contrast, gazed down hungrily, shifting his feet as if he would like
to leap right through the wall onto that empty land.
“Behold the Altai Mountains of Mongolia,” he murmured solemnly. “A thousand
miles from end to end.”
“It’s not Mongolia!” Donal watched the new world roll past beneath them. He
longed to see a scrap of blue, a single shred of green – but there were only ranks of
fierce black hills like sharks’ teeth, topped by clouds of grey dust…
“Hang on!” he cried. “That isn’t dust – it’s smoke!” Through the swirling smoke-
drifts, he saw red spots below, like burning coals scattered on the ground.
“Volcanoes,” he breathed in awe. “Look! There’s one erupting.” A slow trickle of
red oozed down a black hillside.
“Hill’s bleeding,” said the lemming with concern.
“Volcanoes? In the Altai Mountains?” queried Ulan Nuur doubtfully. “I was not
informed about those.”