Grain: Stories for Peace in Ukraine
Step into a future reality with this inventive story by Adam Carpenter.
A nice routine touchdown.
Arkady listened to the engines spin down after his descent from orbit, which was followed by the whir of servicing arms connecting to his shuttle. Once his post-landing checks were completed, he opened the rear hatch and descended the ramp onto the concrete of the landing pad.
He walked over to the clubhouse of Vesele Space Field, opened the door and put his landing fee in the honesty box, also paying for a slice of honey babka that one of the locals had made and a cup of black tea. He looked out of the window and admired the view as he ate, before beginning his walk to the farm. He could have got the bus the two kilometres, but he liked the walk through the fields.
Tall golden wheat flourished either side of the path as he walked beneath the warm early summer sun. The sky was a brilliant blue, with barely a cloud to be seen and there was a bright sun that provided a pleasing warmth on this beautiful day; it would get much hotter later, but right now, it was a comfortable temperature.
Two large apples trees stood proud in the middle distance of this otherwise .
He loved this part of Ukraine just as much as his colder home in Russia. It was nice to get away from the steel and plastic of Valentina Tereshkova Station too, where the regulated temperature never really varied, just endless mildness without any rain or wind to make it a truly living environment.
As he reached the gates of Holubka Farm, he saw a young woman dressed in overalls with a headscarf painting a battle tank pink. She was half-way through the barrel, the rest a very bright green that would have been counter-productive in its combat days.
“Yulia Ivanovna!” he called out. “Good morning!”
Yulia put down her paint brush and clambered from the machine of war. It had been there for a very long time. No-one was quite sure how old it was, but a previous owner of the farm had bought it in 2035, almost three centuries ago, as a decorative piece. A plaque explained its previous history, but Arkady had forgotten what it said. It had been from a war fought by a bloodthirsty invader who had overreached himself, a figure best forgotten, for whom no statues now stood.
“You here for the normal load?” Yulia asked as she closed the lid of the paint tin.
“That’s right.” The two of them stepped past the tank and headed over to the office. Opening the door, she led Arkady into the small but comfortable room, stepping behind the desk and tapping at the keyboard to bring up some details.
“You know, we’ve had a bumper apple crop this year.” The bright green fruit rested on the table; Arkady took one for later. “We’ll throw in a couple of tonnes free of charge. Consider it a thank you for your loyal custom.”
Arkady smiled. “I’m happy to accept! I’m sure that my managers will appreciate that.”
“We’ll be launching the first rockets tonight. Want to join us for dinner and watch them? Mum’s made some excellent varenyky.”
“So, if you study hard, you too will be able to fly for the Stellar Transportation Corporation,” Arkady told Yulia’s eight-year-old daughter Nina as they sat out in the garden, the patio heaters lightly glowing as they digested a dinner of tender meat, savoury black bread and very creamy dumplings.
Arkady could see the beautiful night sky and identified some of the places that he had visited for his job as a buyer for the supermarkets of Valentina Tereshkova Station. The moon was currently below the horizon, but when it came up, he would be able to see that space station orbiting it, a small glowing dot around 384,000 kilometres away.
But that wasn’t what he was looking for. Near the horizon, three rockets were being readied for launch. Each would carry a tonne of grain into lunar orbit to make the bread and other products that the in-station bakeries would then sell to the thousands of inhabitants at the station. He glanced at his watch. A minute to go.
He heard the distant hoot of an owl and the miaow of Yulia’s adorable black cat. Then there was a glow from the horizon as the first of the grain rockets left its silo. He turned and saw the massive joy on Nina’s face. The launches were something that he and Nina saw a lot of during their lives. But it never ceased to be enjoyable, seeing this activity that kept human life going in this star system and beyond.
Soon he would go back to his day job at the station, doing more buying of goods for the facility. Visiting fish factories and orbital farms. There would be haggling and office politics… all the usual grind that put money in his bank account.
But soon there would be another visit to this joyous place in Ukraine… and that was always something to look forward to.
Adam Carpenter was born in the 1980s, but was too busy being a toddler to properly appreciate the culture at the time. He's been a fan of Doctor Who since before it was cool and, with a strong knowledge of trivia, is very handy to have on your quiz team. He has published two short novels in the Space Freighter Tulyar series and is working on a full-length third tale. Adam also hopes to visit Ukraine one day and see that beautiful country for himself.
Discover more about his work here: https://www.facebook.com/adamcarpenterauthor