DISCLAIMER: Star Trek and the Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. This story is the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 1974 by Cheree Cargill. It is Rated PG. It was originally printed in Tal-Shaya #3, 1974.


Cheree Cargill

With the coming of night, the wind howled even louder. Eve Childress sat numbly, listening to the roar of the wind turbines on the roof. They clutched at the gale, channeled it through themselves and stored the energy in batteries, a never ending source of power. The planet was barren of water or vegetation, its only attraction the sparkling lithium crystals hidden in its bowels. For them, men came to this world of rock, wind and dust and often forfeited their lives to Rigel's harsh existence.

When Eve came, there were only three miners here; she had come to marry one, Ben Childress. Her companions had long since gone. Magda Kovas Benton had fled the first year, unable to stand the horrible loneliness of the outpost. The sensuous beauty of Ruth Gossett had been crushed in a rockslide two years later. Only Eve was left. There was now a small settlement on Rigel 12 with about 25 miners and a few women, all whores who had followed the men here. But Eve was the only wife, the only one left. She could not even derive comfort from the other women, for the outpost was two hours ride away by ore transport and her monthly trips into town for supplies were too infrequent to form friendships.

Her life revolved around the little outpost Ben Childress called home. Five years had crept by since their marriage, at first satisfying if not completely happy, but then progressively worse. The boy, Benjamin McHuron Childress, had arrived a year later and had proved to be his mother's comforter in her loneliness. At least then Ben came home every night. Now he worked with the other miners in eight day shifts. At the beginning he had been afraid to leave Eve and the boy alone but then he saw that nothing would happen to them. Nothing ever happened on Rigel. Nothing.

Eve turned her dull eyes on her son, playing with crude toys on the dusty floor. Every eight days, Ben came home smelling of whiskey. They had sex mechanically, ate mechanically, did everything mechanically, then after three days Childress would leave again.

Her hair had grown dull and lifeless, the once brilliant gold now the color of the dusty ocher landscape.

How she had welcomed this change of worlds. Her life on her home planet had seemed monotonous and filled with drudgery--cooking and cleaning for her silent farmer brothers, alone on their station all day with only the world to stare at. But what a world! Green rolling fields stretched out behind the farm station, green and yellow fields of undulating crops met the horizon in front, a too-blue sky arching over it all. Here you couldn't even see the sky and the landscape consisted of half-seen rock formations veiled with the constantly blowing grey dust.

Once she had bought a small potted plant from a trader in the village, just something green to break the colorless surroundings, but after a few weeks, the plant had died, choked by dust.

It was now four days since Ben had left, four days with nothing to break the monotony save the sinking and rising of the great red hazy sphere of Rigel beneath the unseen horizon. Yet Eve was content. She wouldn't spend another night on the gale-swept ball of rock. When Ben next came home, she and Mac would be gone. She'd had five years of hell, now she was through. At first light over their rude stone hut, Eve and her son would be aboard a freighter heading away from Rigel 12. She didn't know where yet nor did she care. Any planet with green grass and clear skies and people to be with would do. Maybe she'd go to Earth, maybe one of the stops here in the Rigel system, maybe somewhere else.

Eve rocked quietly in her chair, watching her son's play. Tomorrow the wind could blow this whole planet away. Tomorrow she wouldn't care.