Donal didn’t hesitate. No matter what was down there in the dark, it couldn’t be
worse than the sandstorm. Carefully lowering himself down through the gap by his
arms, he dangled his legs into the hole. His feet slid down a pile of sand, and then, to
his relief, came to rest on a sloping floor.
The hole was not deep. He reached up to catch Brola as she half-slid, half-tumbled
“Ulan Nuur?” cried Donal. “Try and get down too – it’s your only chance!”
Coughing and snarling, Ulan Nuur kicked at the opening. “I don’t like holes,” he
“Ulan Nuur, please! You can’t survive the storm up there! Just think of it as a
“A very low one,” grumbled the camel. He stamped nervously round the opening,
until its edge gave way and tipped him down the gap.
He landed in an undignified sprawl of legs. “Brragh!” he spat, shaking himself.
“Are you all right?”
“Yip,” said the lemming’s voice. “Nice hole. Nice ’n’ big.” Its voice echoed as if
this was a much larger space than Donal had realised.
Picking Brola up, Donal carried her away from the wind and swirling sand, into
the echoing dark. As he felt his way forward, his footsteps rang hollowly on a hard,
After a few metres he put Brola gently down. The floor was smooth and cold, like
metal. The instant Brola’s body touched it, Donal was amazed to see the darkness
lighten until they were surrounded by a ghostly, silver-grey glimmer. It reminded him
of the Skywheel.
He stared around. They were in a huge, curved dome, bigger than the school hall.
The floor wasn’t level, but sloped down from the entrance, for the whole dome was
tilted. Sand blown in through the crack trickled past Donal’s feet to gather in a thick
drift at the lowest point.