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Cosmic Camel


“–lemming?” finished Donal, breathless in the dark.
“Who do you think was under your coat?”
“But we can’t leave the lemming behind!”
“I think it knew what it was doing,” said Ulan Nuur.
“You mean it sacrificed itself so that we could get away?” The Skywheel’s walls
cleared to reveal a horde of stunned and angry Meerie down below, shaking their
arms like a forest of stubby grey branches.
Donal’s raincoat lay limp on the Greengrass. He couldn’t see the lemming
anywhere.
And then they were sailing away until the Meerie became just a distant shrubbery
in the middle of a green meadow. Soon they could not be seen at all.
“I don’t know about sacrifice,” said Ulan Nuur. “I think it may be quite happy to
stay. Now, you had better program this ship to go back to Earth.”
“Let me think,” said Donal. He put his hands to his head. Palzack and Ulan Nuur
thought he was resourceful, so he had better be resourceful… He tried to remember
what Brola had told him. “Set if for Out, not Level, and then sector nine… first
planetary system,” he muttered.
He went to the control panel, counted the segments on it carefully, took a breath,
and touched the screen.
Artificial gravity on,” rustled the ship.
“Let’s hope this works. If we can just get within sight of Earth, I can guide us
home. I know my way around the globe all right. And I know where the Zoo is on the
map – we had to plan the route to it at school. It’s finding Earth that’s the tricky
bit…”
“We are bound to find somewhere,” said Ulan Nuur composedly.
“I feel a bit sick,” said Donal, watching a thousand stars crawl past. “Ulan Nuur?
Can you tell me some more about the Gobi Desert, to take my mind off it?”
The camel closed his eyes and cleared his throat. As he began to speak, Donal
pulled his clipboard from the rucksack, found a fresh sheet of paper, and started to
draw.
 
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