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The road ahead of us stretched out for miles. Hwin must be bigger than Earth, because the horizon seemed so much further away. The air smelled spicy: pepper and something like cinnamon.
The ground was covered in more of the sandy coloured moss. Hand-trees lined both side of the road. They ranged in size from not quite my waist to probably double my height. The colours varied from ivory to a rich, warm brown. And every last one of them looked exactly like a human hand.
As we passed an especially large hand-tree-cactus-whatever on my left, I gasped. Okay, actually I shrieked. ‘What the hell is that?’
Spock arranged herself awkwardly to do a wee on the … the … the thing.
The whole group stopped walking. Bexley followed the line of of my finger with a puzzled look on her face. ‘It’s a eggplant-tree, silly. Did you think all our trees looked like your funny little forked hooves?’
Susan punched Peggy playfully in the shoulder. ‘You must know what type of trees they are? Come on, I know you’re dying to explain.’
I snapped a few pics before we started walking again. If I ever met another human, they were going to die laughing.
Peggy pushed her glasses up her nose. ‘The ones that resemble Lem’s hooves are called asparagaceae. I believe Bexley mentioned that you primarily eat nutrient porridge when you’re travelling. It’s interesting to note that the root of the asparagaceae is used in producing nutrient porridge. It provides the majority of the complex carbohydrates. The protein source is … well, actually, I don’t know much about it. Except I do know it comes from the seed of a plant that grows on a moon I visited once.’
The further we walked the more of the other trees I saw.
Peggy coughed. ‘What’s also interesting about the asparagaceae is that, on Hwin, we mainly eat the flesh and the cladode. They’re really fascinating plants, actually. In fact, all the plant life on Hwin is similar. The stalks can be harvested and will regrow in just a few months. Even taking the root – or rather part of the root – doesn’t necessarily kill the tree. With a mature asparagaceae, you can remove up to eighty per cent of the root and the tree will grow back.’
‘That’s amazing,’ I said nodding my head. ‘But what about the willies?’
All three areions stopped and gawped at me. Bexley looked at her two stepdads and then at me. ‘I’m sorry … the what? I don’t think that translated correctly.’
I felt the heat rise in my cheeks. ‘The, er…’ I waved a hand at one of the X-rated cactus-tree-things.
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File under keywords: science fiction, sci-fi, quirky characters, misfit characters, British, bumbling hero, strong female characters, transgender characters, agender characters, asexual, found family, outsiders, Canadian, dogs in fiction, geek, nerd, dork, fictional pubs, humour, humorous, sarcastic, queer, space opera, alien abduction
Print edition ISBN 978-1-9162878-5-3
ebook edition ISBN 978-1-9162878-6-0