Science Fiction and Fantasy | An Indian Experience

Guleil: The First Leg - Part 1 By A Serialised Novel Som Nandivada |
Issue 22

Guleil: Part 1 – The First Leg – A Serialised Novel By Som Nandivada

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“Honey toots, how about we do the laundry now?”

While seemingly innocuous, Lizzie’s words were as a matter of fact poised astraddle of a keen line of demarcation. It was a line that bordered on uneasy, for her and for Dik Suchak. It was an unknown to which they both were feeling drawn towards, and tantalized by. It marked an unfamiliar territory for both of them.

Dik had been living in the torp most of his life. And Lizzie, well, Lizzie was a Sheer. She was her clothes, so to speak. Laundry, what laundry?

In fact, calling it by the human term was itself a concession from her.  Sheers usually referred to it as the catacomb, because clothing was considered a part of their very persona, so they had a tomb like image in their minds, even for the cleansing and recycling of human clothing.

“Come on sweetheart, I’ve seen men nekkid lots a times on this route, gimme what you got.”

Even as she was saying this, she knew of course, that he was different. Lizzie was the stew on this beat. Yes, she was his assigned stewardess, and she was well aware that he was not like the ones before him. For him in his life, up to this point, hesitation for shedding the torp was not a matter of squeamishness; it was about survival. And so now, even though his wear was something else, his reflexes maintained inertia.

Dik, he belonged to the equatorial pacific waters, in the Kiribati vicinity. Although much of his recent life had been spent in the Indian Ocean, near the Maldives, where the tube was set, as a matter of fact. Not a surprising thing, because the tube was where underwater tradesmen had jobs more than anywhere else in the oceanic world. His job was as a technician to help provide structural support for collision avoidance maneuvers between the elevator and space based structures. Occasional forays on land at the atolls, but mostly below the water. That was the space of Dik Suchak, Orc Welder.

And they all of course lived in their torps, down below the ocean surface.

The torp was a body suit, designed to provide oxygen by means of a catalytic converter, with controlled thermostatic equilibrium, ablutions support, freedom of sex, and in general, all-purpose underwater comfort to humans. Dik had spent hardly any time out of it, so far in his life. His torp was his blanket, his armor, and well, pretty much a part of him. It never needed a wash, outside of the ocean itself, that is. It was self-cleaning based on a titanium oxide based crystal structure, with built-in photo-catalyzing mechanisms to break down carbon-based pollutants of the likes of harmful microorganisms. And also it had molecular level nano-functional intelligence to maintain a growth cycle in correspondence with a human life graph. He had never had to either clean it, or replace it.

So, yep, Dik hadn’t had occasion to consider laundry much either, so far in his life.

§   §   §   
Slender and of medium build, Dik was of a wiry frame, and well built for flowing through the waters. He was a typical okeano, a water boy. You wouldn’t see many like him on land, though. The okeanos referred to land folk as gonds, a term that originated from the geological Gondwanaland notion.

At Kiribati or on whichever other land where gonds happened to come across him, he had acquired for himself the nickname of tadpole, probably due to envy on their part, since he was shaped like a god, and had hardly a trace of either the rana or the bufo genus in him. Of course, he modified it to his advantage and broke it out as Tad the Pole.

Dik the Hep; he was known by the name of Hephaestos, the ancient God of the Forges and Husband of the Goddess of Love, who now is intent on giving Aphrodite a taste of her own medicine, in terms of (in) fidelity and largesse and distribution.

Yes, the girls loved him.

So too, did Lizzie, in her own way. On this trip, she was caught off-guard by this dude. A Sheer who flips for a man, huh? That was almost unheard of. They were supposed to be beyond such matters.  Sheers usually loved their cobols, who likewise were devoted to them. This trip was shaping up to be history in the making.

OK, some context here:

Tubies (or pipers, as they were also known) were beings that came down the pipe, or tube, howsoever you chose to refer to it. It was a field theory based Being-Boinger – that is to say, it brought out Beings with a BoinnngGGGG! The “pipe/tube” aspect was of course metaphorical, but that was what it was.

And as the word on the street went, Tubie or not tubie, that was the question.

There were three types of tubies: Type 1 were originally alive as human (the cutovers), the Type 2 were cadaver originated, and the Type 3 were animal originated. The delineation was quite sharp, but they all mixed quite well.

Envious humans referred to male tubies as cauliballs in a derogatory way, or cobols – it was slang for “cauliflower testicles”.

The cobols rarely spoke up, but on this matter one of them who was more outspoken than most, he had once said, “Yes, we swear by the cauliflower, rather than the four leaf clover. We engineer our own luck. And yes, it is Organic Luck.” He was something, that cobol, name of Ruk, native of Komango.

Komango was a mobile city, presently situated on Triton. It was as a matter of fact an intermediate destination for Dik

He was thereafter headed for half town Half Town, which itself was the “half” of the outbound town that walked the planck.

That is to say, when Kiyama acquired a new world by means of Guleil (which was a method named after the traditional Sling Shot), Half Townwould act as a booster rocket, and stay back in the solar system.

Kiyama was a human friendly star system much like the solar system, with worlds revolving around a yellow sun much like ours.

Regarding Guleil of course Dik had many questions. A means by which we “shrug” a whole minor planet into a whole another region of the universe: he was thrilled when he got to know about it on this voyage. Anyway, back to Komango, and back to cobols.

The cobols were originally human males who had succumbed to the tarp’s power (and that of the follow on piper pangs), and gradually surrendered to the Pipe. Some men regained control, but most gave in to the Pipe.

The piper pangs were said to be terrible when not sought, and heavenly if desired. It ultimately resolved itself to the eternal conflict between Eros and Thanatos, with an ironic twist of role reversals thrown in for good measure. A man who went on to become a cobol was just as likely to have been chock full of life force, as the one who was able to contain and control his energy and retain the ability to discard the tarp when the occasion demanded it.

Which was basically why Lizzie’s request for laundry was such a crossroad question for Dik.

§   §   §   

The totem tarp by itself was the veritable Coup de Grâce, the last word in the world of wear for men. It was probably the one single reason for the conversion overdrive these days, with more and more space-bound humans opting for a Type 1 tubie deal. It was working out as a form of robotic sexual being which pretty much most humans leapt at, with hardly a second thought. The totem tarp provided an on-demand hard-on. No pressure on the man any more. He now needed to shrug the tarp off only for his pleasure if ever that specific need was felt. The girl, she got it all from the totem.

And furthermore, as indicated a while above, it started with the tarp, but if you went on to take on the tubie deal fully (by means of getting systematically mauled), it was in effect immortality too, thrown in for the bargain. The maul (it stood for “Meat Job Overhaul”, or “m.o.j.o, the Meat Overhaul Job Oh ‘Yeah”) was the means by which a tubie received parts, repair and service over the “tube”. Once you were adjusted enough to have the thrombator flow through you, you could keep receiving the feed virtually perpetually. It involved Space-Time constraints of some sort.  There were transmission cells strategically located, and receptor infrastructure (which so far worked only when you got out at least as far as the OSS, and the thrombator. Yes, I got my M.O.J.O workin’.  One thing though, the big shrug needed at least an OSS gig in order to be able to kick in. OSS of course stood for the Outer Solar System.

The female tubies were known as Sheers, from an amalgamation of She Pipers. And of course, there was something about them that harked back to nylon sheers. The way they themselves saw it, “A she is a human woman. A sheer is a Piper woman, and we are sheer because we are more she than they are.”

The sheers were often possessed of demoniac characters, designer meat features and all; voluptuous by make.

Whereas cobols were often vacuous in some not very well defined sense, in terms of body and spirit. With of course a notable exception, of their phallic shell (which too though had a touch of the husk to it).

Be that as it may, not only sheers, even human women lusted for a cobol on occasion.

And once in a way, even the eyes of a cobol had been known to burn. God’s answer to the cry of man’s tortured soul, maybe? Here, sucker, try this for good measure.

Sometimes Dik wondered if they knew their role as weapons of Divine Amusement. Lizzie for sure knows where he hurts. He has never known a human female who could twist his insides like Lizzie can. Well, she was a sheer.

But of course, the baseline was that sheers were built for pleasure. Soup to nuts, it was a hedonic progression from the oldest profession to Goddess Hood. The pagan pioneer sheers, a hardy and sparse band, were folks like Irma and Lizzie. And once they took the leap of faith and took the headlong foam plunge, there was no stopping the flow.

Pipers were not much taken note of back on earth, but Irma was someone who was known even back there. In fact, she had acquired a Super-Being status, and was fast approaching deification. Of course, Dik was very much excited and looking forward to becoming closer to her as he headed spaceward.

Pipers had good brains. For instance, take the bremsstrahlung (braking radiation) harvesting. When the ship took off from Guleil, there was a team of technicians who roped in the braking radiation energy and harnessed it and channeled it appropriately – the bremsstrahlung harvesters. From the scientists to the engineers, tubies had done it all on minimum headcount. But the industrialists involved were humans.

In fact, intellectual efforts amongst humans were going down these days due to the wave of deprecation towards brainwork that had become a fashion (obviously humans needed some kind of an escape route in order to not be so negative about the comparison). So, it so happened that these days, humans followed meditative, occult and such paths more often than pure intellectual paths.  And of course, management of piper enterprise was a human domain, because that was a trait pipers didn’t usually possess. They were maybe better at self-sufficiency than the humans, or maybe they didn’t have killer instinct, or maybe some other thing. Any which way, they didn’t feel much enthusiasm for corporate strategies and such likes. So, humans retained the industrialist domain.

There was a comical “we will overthrow the humans” underground tubie organization based out of half town, akin in some sense to the town gatherings as were portrayed by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. Of course, there was no real likelihood of tubies feeling oppressed, since their core needs were in the unreal realm and humans didn’t threaten them in that department.

Like for instance, with respect to elections and politics: tubies would say “look at the choice of human words: ‘landslide victory’. A landslide for most purposes paints a picture of ecological problems, incorrect agricultural practices, deforestation, and all that. It is only in politics that it has a positive meaning. And maybe that stands to reason, because human politics are a depraved and corrupt mechanism. And only holy statistics can save it.”

Actually, after statistics fully took over politics, things had remained quite as dirty, or maybe even dirtier. (Like it used to be said, lies, damn lies, and statistics). But Irma was the one who said, “Hold on, all that was meant to be”.  She had some threads on Meta-Confidence, inference, information, and all that was meant to be.

Because, come to think of it, once a world left Sol and joined Kiyama, we gained tremendous entropy, which stardust would take a lot of information support in order to equate. Such were the books that Irma kept.

Which was where human politics, and tubie gatherings, everything had to be journaled somewhere.

So basically this tubie underground was a rollicking way of whiling the time away, and it got some good charge going between the primer wenches and the pod matrices. Dik asked about the wenches and matrices several times, but Lizzie kept him hanging on, and he was yet to whet his tongue on what lay ahead. That was for when he got further along Guleil-wards. But he did know that the primer wenches were sheers and women both, whereas a matrix was necessarily a woman. He was curious about the setup, but the time for his clarifications hadn’t come yet.

And so the tubies held forth about humans, in their Aristophanean ways.

And as to humans, they were more likely to get jealous of the strengths of the tubies, but consoled themselves by reflecting on their apparent emptiness of soul (myth it was, and myth it is. And what will it be?).

Also, there was now a systematized “shadow arrangement” whereby a human could achieve “immortality” by contracting for a tubie transition in life. This of course cost money, so the jealousy towards tubies is more of a class struggle thing in a sense.

“Tubie, or Not Tubie, That is the Question.”

Note: Read the complete Guleil Series:

Cover pic by apasciuto.

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Born in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh, India at the Feet of Lord Shiva and now living on the edge in Toronto Canada, Som is a software engineer by profession with graduate background in mathematics, physics and space studies. He is also a classic blues rock drummer/lyricist. Science fiction is Som's chosen portal.