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Cosmic Camel

For Donal, it was the last straw. His hopes had been dashed yet again. He turned
angrily on Ulan Nuur. “Now look what’s happened! If you hadn’t put them off the
idea, we might be on our way home!”
Ulan Nuur raised a haughty eyebrow. “With a ship full of Meerie, all ready to
colonise Earth?” he retorted.
“We could have sorted that out once we got there! At least we wouldn’t be
stranded here!” Donal kicked furiously at the lush Greengrass, sick of seeing its
bright, wrong shade of green everywhere he looked. “I’m starving,” he grumbled. “I
wish I’d never come.”
“You needn’t have,” Ulan Nuur reminded him. “It was only Me they wanted.”
“I didn’t have any choice, did I!”
“But if you had not come, you would not have met Me.”
“Oh, big deal!” said Donal. “What do you want, Camel of the Year Award? Stink
of the year more like!”
Ulan Nuur half-closed his eyes and looked down his long nose at Donal.
“Do you know,” he said, “the Meerie remind me very strongly of you humans.
Do this, do that, and no Hay at the end of it.”
“Well, thanks very much!” Donal stamped away in a huff.
But he didn’t go far. There was nowhere to go. He sat stiffly by the stream with
his back to Ulan Nuur, and chewed on a stalk of Greengrass. It tasted as bitter as old
tea-leaves, and Donal felt very depressed.
Nearby, the lemming emerged from the water with barely a ripple. It shook itself
dry, and began to graze noisily on the Greengrass.
“Glad to see somebody’s happy here,” said Donal morosely.
“S’alright. Nice streams. No foxes,” pointed out the lemming.
“No.” Donal pulled a face. “Nothing but Meerie.”
“Don’t you like it?” asked the lemming in wonder.
“Not any more. I want to go home.”
“To the zoo?” The lemming sounded faintly horrified.
“Not much chance of that,” sighed Donal. He glanced across at the precious
Skywheel on its stone slab, surrounded by a huddle of admiring Meerie. Even