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THE DWARVES OF CERES (standard:science fiction, 2066 words)
Author: Danny RavenAdded: Jul 29 2004Views/Reads: 1940/1164Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Sam Harding is a farmer and has come to the planet Ceres to grow his crops. He thinks he's alone....he's not.
 



I 

Even from a distance, Ceres looked fertile. In the black wastes of space
it hung like a rich yellow ball, bright and alive. It was easy to see 
why farmers liked coming to such a planet – without much effort you 
could imagine crops growing there, could picture the bountiful harvests 
a farming man might raise. 

From the Observation Room on Solnas 3, such a farmer was looking at
Ceres, a faint smile spreading across his creased, weather-beaten face. 
In his mind, Sam Harding was already there, feeling the rich dark soil 
underfoot and smelling the rain on the abundant green foliage. Looking 
further ahead, he could see himself on the porch of the farmhouse, the 
days work done, puffing contentedly on his pipe and watching the first 
of the crops growing up towards the sun and swaying gently in the 
breeze. Sam's reverie was interrupted as the door of the Observation 
Room slid open and the Navigator came in. “Thought I'd find you here,” 
he said, smiling. “'Fraid you'll have to tear yourself away from Ceres 
for the moment, Sam. We'll be entering her gravity field shortly and 
everybody'll have to be locked into their seats. D'you want to return 
to your cabin ?” “Sure,” said Sam, returning the smile and moving 
towards the door. It slid open and he turned for a final look at Ceres. 
The Navigator waited for Sam and watched him gazing back at the planet. 
“Don't worry, Sam,” he said, “you'll be there soon enough. Then it'll 
be just you and Ceres for the next few months. You'll probably be so 
sick of the place by then that you'll be glad when we come back for 
you.” Sam just nodded and smiled and they strolled along the short 
corridor to the lift. As they descended, Sam reflected on what the 
Navigator had said. ‘Sick of Ceres,' he thought to himself. ‘How could 
a farming man get sick of a planet like Ceres ? How could a man ever 
get sick of planting and growing and harvesting ?' Sam Harding came 
from a long line of farmers, a line that stretched back to the times 
when farmers ploughed their fields with horses and sowed the seed by 
hand. Farming was in his blood and now, after only two visits, so was 
Ceres. The lift doors slid open and the two men stepped out. The 
Navigator made his way back to the Bridge and Sam strolled along to his 
cabin. 

II 

From a small hill overlooking the Landing Bay, Sam watched Solnas 3
depart. He raised his hand and waved but knew that everyone would be 
locked into their seats and wouldn't see the gesture. He was glad to 
see the ship go. 

He turned and looked at Ceres and a smile of contentment spread over his
face. The trees, the grass, the soil all looked fertile and in the 
distance, he could see the empty fields where he would plant the seeds 
from which the crops would grow. He knelt and scooped up a handful of 
soil. He raised it to his nose and smelled it. It smelled good. Rich 
and earthy. “Earthy!” Sam said aloud and smiled as the word brought 
back memories of home. He squeezed the soil through his fingers and let 
it fall to the ground. He picked up his small suitcase and started 
walking towards the farmhouse. The day was almost through. The second 
of Ceres' suns was already half-way through its orbit. On Ceres there 
was no darkness. It was always light. It had been arranged that way. 
For the crops. ‘Start work tomorrow,' thought Sam as he walked along 
the path to the farmhouse. ‘Yep, settle in the rest of today and start 
work tomorrow. Sounds fine to me !' He arrived at the farmhouse and 
climbed the stairs on to the veranda. He turned and had a look at the 
empty field in front. It was broad and long and the soil lay dark and 
waiting. It seemed to hold the promise of a good harvest to come. Sam 
turned and let himself into the farmhouse. Inside, it was fairly clean 
considering it had been a month since the last man had left, although a 
faint coating of dust clung to the furniture. ‘Shift that soon enough,' 
thought Sam, ‘but first best check the Controls.' In the middle of the 
Control Room, on a narrow table, the main computer and monitor had been 
covered by a sheet to protect them from the dust. Sam removed the sheet 
and tossed it into a corner. He turned on the computer and waited while 
the monitor flickered to life. He pressed the Test button and several 
panels on the screen in front of him lit up one after the other, 
showing that all was working properly. Sam grunted his satisfaction and 
shut the computer down. Happy with the controls, Sam strolled through 
to the kitchen and made himself a sandwich then took it through to the 
living room. He loved the view from there - two of the walls were glass 


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