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Cosmic Camel


Donal clung to the pillar, not daring to move.
He was inside a giant, clear bubble ten metres across. He felt that the smallest
step might burst it and send him hurtling out into that huge, black, star-riddled space.
The camel, with no such qualms, stamped on the floor as if trying to put the stars
out. Amongst them hung a great disc; a globe of swirling blue and white.
Donal gulped. Donkey-brain he might be, but he knew what that was. “Earth!”
he croaked. His voice had disappeared.
“Earth? I see no earth,” grumbled Ulan Nuur in his gravelly rasp. “Earth is brown
and crumbly. But I observe that somebody has painted the moon blue.” He put his
head between his legs to glare down at the sun, which blazed beneath them. “And
that is in the wrong place.”
“We’re out in space!” said Donal huskily. “That’s not the moon – it’s Earth.
We’re on a spaceship!”
“Spaceship?”
“You know what a ship is, don’t you? You must have been on a ship, on your
way from the desert to the zoo!”
A thoughtful look came into the camel’s liquid brown eyes. “Possibly.”
“Well, we’re inside a ship now, floating through space. Only it’s not ours! I don’t
know whose it is. We’ve stolen it!” Donal whirled round guiltily, half-expecting to
see a tentacled Thing crawling up behind him.
“Or it has stolen us. In either case, if this is a ship, it will come to land
eventually,” answered Ulan Nuur, quite unperturbed.
“Land? Land where? We’re out in space!” Donal began to panic. “We’ve got to
get back to Earth! What should I do?”
He clenched his fists, but he felt helpless. What could he do?
The glowing panel might hold the controls. But there were no switches or buttons,
unless they were well hidden.
Donal put out his hand to touch the panel; and then froze. Supposing he pressed
the wrong bit and set off the wrong control – like the ejector button, or the self-
destruct-in-thirty-seconds switch?
He jumped backwards as if the panel had burned him. He dared not risk it.
 
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