The Educators : Part 3

They raked far on into the night, in silence. Marnie’s mind was numb. His upper arms hurt. He had adjusted surprisingly quickly to the noxious smell.
‘Halt!’ Commanded Simla. ‘That’s it for now. We’ll return to the Hive and get some rest before the next delivery.’
Marnie shuddered. It was only then that the true horror of his future became clear. This was it. This is what he would do for the rest of his life. He cried out, before he could stop himself. Some of the others turned to stare at him. Simla was one of them. Whereas the others turned back to what they were doing almost immediately, he continued to stare. His ice, blue eyes made Marnie squirm. Marnie attempted a smile, then put his head down and hurried after the others, who were getting into the carts ready to go home.
The carts were like wooden train trucks, used for transporting coal. There were five of them, coupled together. They were open to the starless sky and ran on metal tracks. There was no engine to pull them and Marnie had not yet summoned up the courage to ask how they worked. He climbed into the last truck and squeezed on to one of the narrow benches, next to a large, hairy, muscular man, whose permanent scowl deterred any attempts to strike up a conversation. Marnie only knew that his name was Zeb. There were seven people in total in their carriage and they all shared a hive. Simla was sat next to Zeb. His head was shaved, his face angular. He was one of the youngest of the men who worked on the planet. Opposite was a wiry-looking man called Alun. He had been the friendliest person so far. He had worked on the planet for several months, having been reassigned by the Educators from a ‘dull admin job’, as he called it. The other three occupants were females, though only one was human. The human was a pretty, blonde girl called Lisa. Marnie could not make eye contact with her, as he blushed every time he did. She seemed to be good friends with the other two females, Pala and Eshun. They were constantly laughing and joking together. Pala and Eshun were twins from Sheepah. Marnie could not begin to guess how old they were, as he had only ever met a couple of inhabitants from Sheepah before, when he was very young. Both of them had a shock of dark hair. Their skin was tinged green with an algae, which helped them to breathe. They spoke in a language that only Simla and Lisa could speak and so all Marnie had done to communicate, was smile and nod, which sent them into peals of laughter..
The trucks creaked forward, slowly gathering speed as they trundled across the spartan, silver surface of the planet. Away from the entrails and the trauma. The dark sky added to the desolation that Marnie felt, as he gazed out over the dusty plains.
‘So Marnie, how was your first delivery?’
He looked up.
Lisa was watching him, her eyes dancing.
He felt the blood rise in his cheeks.
‘Yeah, umm, yeah. It was okay.’
Lisa frowned. It was obviously not the answer that she had been expecting.
‘Okay?’
‘No, no. I mean it was fantastic. Really. It was fantastic.’
Lisa did not seem convinced as she turned and talked to Eshun and Pala. Marnie presumed that she was translating his less than enthusiastic response.
‘It takes a bit of getting used to’ added Alun. ‘It can be very overwhelming.’ He winked.
Marnie nodded, though ‘overwhelming’ was certainly not the word he would have used to describe it.

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~ by envisioningutopia on June 13, 2013.

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