Written with Love Written Special


The 'Day of the Sun'

Hans Brockhuis

Today was a ‘Day of the Sun’. On this planet, this happened only once in three local months, depending on the time of the year. The inhabitants did not like it and were not visible on a day like this. Erlinde, from the Earth, who was keeping an eye on the local flora en fauna loved it. She was carrying out an assignment of the Bureau for Planetary Research.

“Life is good this way”, she was thinking while she looked outside. You had to get used to it, after all those damp and cold rainy days. During the time she was here, two earthly years, she could remember but a few occasions that it was a ‘Day of the Sun’, as the local inhabitants called it. Usually the skies were grey and false winds were blowing over the sea and over the land. Regularly fierce rain showers were hitting the windows of her small cabin, which was hidden in a deep valley, next to a deserted almost bare dune, a mile and a half from the nearest settlement.

From the top of the dune she had a view over the sometimes calm, but mostly wild ocean, of which the waves broke in slow motion, or when the wind had come in, quick surf on the rocks of the lagoon to die on the cold wet sand of the first row of dunes in the end.

Erlinde went outside and climbed over the dunes closest to the beach, where there was a small group of arrow-trees (something like cypress trees). The sun shone warm upon her skin. As usual she was alone. It happened rarely that somebody ever passed here. She had radio-contact with Jerôme of the lab, almost five hundred miles further in the part of the ‘Lonely continent’ where there were woods. And then there was Ehpalumabarid of course, a native whom she shortly called Paul, because he reminded her of an ex-boyfriend. Actually this good man was the only villager who showed up in her cabin once in a while. They then had long talks and he would tell her about Mobg, his planet, and she would tell him of Earth.

But now she was enjoying the wonderful sunbeams and forgot all around her, just thinking of the sun and feeling the comfortable warmth of it on her white skin. In fact this sun was no more than what on Earth would be called a thin watery autumn sun, but here different standards were applied. There was almost no wind, which seldom happened, but most of the clouds had dissolved or blown away over the top of the mountain that was visible in the east. After all the dampness and cold it was in one word terrific.

When she had not lived here very long it had been very hard on her to see so little of the sun, with just the dry dunes around her. Except for the arrow-trees that were present all around, there wasn’t very much flora and animals were rare as well. Therefore in the beginning she had been very bored. But slowly she had grown to love this planet, at least this corner outback, on which she did her research. She loved her little cabin, which was visited by a helicopter with supplies from the lab once every thirty days. She loved this endless sea that always looked different, with different waves and shades of colours every time she looked at the lagoon. She also loved the beautiful, always passing skies that reminded her of the paintings of the Dutch masters, at home on Earth. And then there were the few sunbeams sometimes, which could break the clouds in-between the rain showers and left the beach in a magical treasure-room of colours. The horizon here was much further away than at home, because Mobg was 25% bigger than Terra. Gravity was also a little bigger because of that, but that didn’t disturb her anymore. At any rate there was far more oxygen here and that compensated the gravity more than enough.

Always, if the workload permitted, and she was standing on the dune looking west, time and again she found this powerful ocean with its moods a fascinating film to watch. She knew this world sea covered thousands and thousands of square miles. Three times as big as the Big Ocean on Earth and in some spots more than twice as deep. On the eastside there were the almost endless rows of dunes, grown over with a kind of grass, some thorn bushes and the arrow-trees, up to about 30 miles land inward. Behind those the marshes found themselves and after the marshes the royal peaks of the enormous mountain chain that were clearly visible on a day like today.

Suddenly the cry of a domestic seagull which was passing by, together with a flock of other seagulls on their way south. Yes, she loved this desolate land, with about once every three months the distraction of the sunshine, that didn’t last longer than a few hours usually. She was still puzzled over the way the few inhabitants kept themselves alive in this inhospitable land. One of her assignments was to find that out, but outside of a few vaguenesses from ‘Paul’ she had not been able to find out much. Communication was hard when the subject became a little more technical or complicated. Ehpalumabarid’s Galactical, or whatever it seemed to be, existed of that what Erlinde had taught him and the local language was very hard for her because of the ever differing sounds. It was about time a linguist was starting to interfere with that. Pretty frustrating all that. For the daily business they could get along well enough though.

While she lay thinking this all over, a few banks of clouds had come in from the sea. It was clear this ‘Day of the Sun’ came to an end again. Erlinde listened to the ocean. She heard the rustling of the surf that gradually became heftier with the stronger wind that had become gradually stronger. Slowly she walked up the dune again, to her cabin. She felt that it became colder again. Soon the sky would be entirely covered again, the rain showers would attack her windows again and she would keep her scores and ‘Paul’ would drop by again. The winds would come up again and it would be autumn again. The time for Erlinde to work on her research again, do her radio talks and sometimes receive one of the explorers on his or her travels through the Lonely Continent. Time for the ever going on play of the winds and shadows, with the waves of the ocean and the clattering rains on the roof and windows of her cabin…

This ‘Day of the Sun’ had come to an end.