Thursday

I Remember When This Was All Fields by @Chimping_Dandy (493 words)



I looked down into the dwindling flames of my campfire, all around me I could hear the low murmur of the cattle as they grazed on the mossy vegetation that characterised the 'The Big Sulky'.  I'd often wondered why it was called that, it wasn't a particularly depressing place, maybe it meant something in the locals' language. 

I'd never bothered to learn it, the few times I'd had to interact with them I'd managed to get away with hand signals and saying everything loudly.

'Where nearest water?' I'd ask, waving my hands around and miming taking a drink.  They'd look at you as if you'd banged your head on a rock and then point all around them. In fairness, you couldn't move very far without putting your boot in a stream.  That's what made these plains good for cattle; plenty of plants for them and the occasional fruit bush to keep my rations interesting.  The potted beans they gave me at the cattle station were good, really good in fact, but you'd get bored of anything if it was all you had.


Boredom was the real problem.  The cattle knew where they needed to go, we moved them south in the winter and back north in the summer, years of running as a herd had ingrained the route into them. Calves were born, old stock died.  Nothing ever really changed.  The rain didn't help things, it could last for days; The cattle didn't mind, they didn't seem to able to feel it through their thick hides, but it just made it dismal, and damp, and even more boring.


The cave I'd chosen as my shelter for the night was roomy and I'd made sure I could see the herd as clearly as the rain would let me.  It'll give me the opportunity the dry some of my gear before moving on in the morning.  I hope it will have stopped raining by then; I hate riding in the rain, despite my new hat, which was a Birthday present from my beautiful Beth, the rain still managed to find its way down my neck and into my pants.


There were much worse things than having a wet ass I suppose, some of the guys were fighting in the south, seems that some of the natives were protesting.  Saying that the land couldn't support our lifestyle, the amount of cattle we ran, the farmland we diverted streams to irrigate.  It sounded like it was getting pretty rough.

I settled down onto my pack, and was soon lulled to sleep by the rain and the noise of the cattle.


Hours later, I was woken by the sunlight creeping into the cave; I stretched and checked that the cattle were still there and marvelled at the beauty of the sun rising over Olympus Mons, the natives were worried about us ruining the land, but looking at all this lush greenery, how could Mars ever become a desert?

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