Other Eden
Jo Hewlett

    The small space ship swung erratically through the sky. 
    A man, very pale and sweating struggled desperately with the controls. 
    The planet loomed up beneath them with terrifying speed.
    "Brace yourself Elvi," he cried. "We are coming down, I can't hold her any longer."
    The landing was bad. Both the travellers blacked out for several minutes. The man came round first. His head felt as though it would explode and he was shaking uncontrollably. 
    Pulling himself across to the view-finder, he looked out on the strange new world. The small escape craft which looked more than anything like a huge silver egg, was lying over on one side and would certainly never fly again. His companion opened her eyes and looked about her. 
    They were tall thin people with pale skins and pale gold hair, which hung very straight.     Their eyes were of greeny gold, only a little darker than their hair. They wore identical silver space suits. The woman sat up and held her head in her hands.
    "Have we landed Thon?" she said, in a shaky voice. "I never thought we would make it."
    "Nor did I" replied Thon. "I had prepared myself for death. Thank God we seem to be safe."
    "Yes", said Elvi, "let us thank God indeed. - Do you suppose any of the other escape craft have landed?"
    "I cannot tell," said Thon. "The explosion damaged the controls and I lost touch with the mother ship almost at once. I have no idea where we are."
    They went cautiously over to the exit hatch, which was tilted over at an acute angle. Thon stood on a bunk and wrenched it open.
    "Say your prayers Elvi," he said. "If we cannot breathe the atmosphere it will soon be all over."
    Elvi closed her eyes and gripped the edge of the bunk.
    With a struggle, Thon forced the entrance hatch open and good clean air flowed in.
    "We can breathe" he exclaimed with deep relief.
    For some time they sat side by side on the bunk, putting off the moment when they must leave the safety of their small craft. 
    At last Thon stood up and took her by the hand.
    "Come on!" he said. "Let us see what sort of place we have landed on."
    He heaved himself through the hatch and turning round pulled her up beside him. 
    Because the ship had rolled they were quite a long way from the ground and holding hands they slid down the shiny silver curve and landed in thick green grass. They were in a small clearing, all around them great trees grew close together , the leaves nearly meeting overhead. A little bright sunshine filtered through the leaves making a golden pattern on the grass. It was very warm.

    They looked about them. Elvi pointed to a trees covered with red and green fruit.
    "There is something hanging on that tree Thon, that might be edible. I think perhaps God may have been kind to us, but oh, how strange it all is." 
    With a little sob she turned and threw her arms around her husband.

    "Oh, that dreadful final explosion, " she sobbed. "The fire and the radiation, those poor, poor people."
    Thon held her tightly.
    "They started it," he said. "They started the war, we had to defend ourselves."
    "Oh yes I know," said Elvi. "Our people were in'the right, but they are just as dead as the enemy. Oh, Thon, it was all so awful. Do you think we are the only survivors?"
    "No," said Thon bravely. "Sure to be others. Tomorrow I will try and get the radio going. At least we are alive and God has sent us to a safe haven. The air is good, and the climate seems pleasant. I don't think we have anything to fear."
    At that very moment a monster came out of the trees.

    It was about the same height as the visitors, but nearly three times as thick. It was covered all over with long ginger hair and its arms were so long, they nearly reached the ground. In one huge hairy hand, it held a massive wooden club. 
    Elvi screamed and jumped back towards her husband.
    Thon raised his phazer and pointed it at the monster. But Elvi grabbed his hand. 
    "No, Thon," she said. "Don't, shoot."
    "Why not" asked Thon. "It looks dangerous to me."
    "I don't know why really," she said. "It just seems a shame to start our lives on a new planet, by killing something."
    "It would be much more of a shame" answered Thon, 'If' we started our lives on a new planet by getting killed:"
    He turned to look at her, and when he looked back, the monster had disappeared. It had melted back into the undergrowth from whence it came.
    "Let's pick some of that fruit and get back into the ship", he said. "We will sleep tonight and come and out and explore tomorrow."
    And so they climbed back in to the little silver craft and nervously tasted a small piece of the fruit and it was good.
    The next morning, feeling refreshed and more able to face:their strange new world, they emerged from the hatch once more and dropped down on to the grass.
    They had not gone more than a few paces when the monster emerged once more from between the trees. Thon again raised his phazer and again Elvi stopped him from using it.     The creature's face was terrifying. Its forehead was narrow and sharply sloping backwards into the coarse ginger hair. It opened its large rubbery lips and displayed a set of huge yellow teeth.
    "Thon," said Elvi in amazement. "I believe it is smiling!" Thon did not lower his phazer. "It may be smiling" he said. "But what is that in its hand? It looks like a bomb."
    "Oh, No," said Elvi. "Surely not. What would such a creature know of bombs, I am quite sure it is smiling." 
    She came round from behind her husband and bravely approaching the monster, she held out her hands in the intergalactic sign of peace. 
    The monster stepped forward and placed its 'bomb' into her outstretched hands. 
    And they stared in amazement at their very first pineapple.