Science Fiction and Fantasy | An Indian Experience

Guleil: Dik and the Tubewalk - Part 3 of the Serialised Novel by Som Nandivada |
Issue 24

Guleil: Part 3 – Dik and the Tubewalk – A Serialised Novel By Som Nandivada

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In his dream, Dik’s Spirit went back on a trip to his recent transition from Okeano to Spacer, when he had first started out on this OSS deal. The first point of departure had been the tube. The tube as it was known, and meant, for humans. Not the “tubie” Tube, so to speak, although they did share the infrastructure.

From hoary ancient legend, he knew of the story of Jack and the beanstalk. This now for him was his own personal version, of Dik and the Tubewalk. And of course, the pod matrices at Guleil of whom he’d heard many a tale, they made it a legume tale worth a basket for him. Who wants beans anyway? He was headed for the pods, oh yes. All steamed up for the legume drive. To the tabernacle, the symplectomorphism tabernacle, that was where he wanted to go.

§   §   §   

The tabernacle was where the gut engines of Guleil were. And the tales he had heard, it made him tingle at the nape of the neck just from the pictures in his head. There were two orders, primer wenches and pod matrices. The primers were Sheers. And the matrices were female humans who had opted for children to be born at the tabernacle, and who would be headed for the horizons. Usually a matrix would deliver her embryo to the cause, and gradually morph into a sheer. Some of them stayed human, but that was not the typical case.

This he had heard of, and was looking forward to seeing, if possible. His current assignment was only up to Komango, but who knows, he could pitch for an extension run. (And as happened, it did work out that way for him, in a more involved way than he expected, but hey, it happened).

Located at the Indian Ocean south of India on the island of Gan in the Maldives, there was the elevator tube. Dik knew it well, but only from the outside. His work hadn’t taken him in there ever, yet. And one fine day, way out there in Canada as a matter of fact, he got commissioned for a space job, and presto! He found himself inside of the tube, ready for to go. Dik knew the outsides of the tube, because it was housed in his waters. Also, some of his friends worked in the insides, so he had a fair notion of what it meant.

The tube served a dual purpose; it was a transmission station for the tubies, as also a transportation elevator for humans. For Lizzie, it was an umbilical cord, and for Dik, something to move in.

§   §   §   

From the top of the tower to the station at GEO was a long 36,000-km ride. He was to ride on an electromagnetic-propelled vehicle that could travel thousands of kilometers per hour, suspended in a track, with no moving parts (“Look Ma, No wheels!”) in contact with the elevator rails. This propulsion system was decidedly ingenious, since any other type of mechanical system would have required traction wheels that would have been much slower and would have caused considerable wear on the vehicle and the elevator structure.

Acceleration and braking were done by electromagnetic means such that the energy was used to accelerate the vehicle, and energy was recovered through the braking process, an incredibly efficient arrangement.

The vehicles were completely reusable, and returned as and when needed to the base port on Earth, transferring passengers and cargo back down.

§   §   §   

At the GEO transfer station, passengers and cargo were transferred into the station or to outbound space transfer vehicles. This station was the center of gravity for the total system; it was a delicate orchestration, the location of the station, the tension of the structure, and the counterbalance mass. Docking ports provided access to space transfer vehicles at GEO, and there was an inflatable habitation structure for living and working environments, rotating as needed, to provide artificial gravity.

§   §   §   

There were a lot of tubies of course. The tube was mostly their territory. There was a pack of timberwolves and a kerberos, some ogres and trolls, and lots of podunks dripping voluptuity, manifestly on the Guleil route.

Yes, there were a bunch of folks around, he was not sure who all were passengers, and who technicians. Dik kept an eye out, but it was not easy to make eye contact with anyone. One woman caught his eye, pert and snubby, tight as a jockey. He fervently wished she were a fellow traveler. She had a business suit of some kind on, with what looked like an undershirt below, but some instinct told him it was extreme designer, worth some thousands of bits.

And his instinct was bang on, as a matter of fact.

It was funny that he thought of the worth of her shirt in terms of “bits”, which was the gond currency. Okeanos used the old “credits” and “debits”. The Power of Persuasion at its best, he thought.

For gonds, bit meant “plus” money, which originally was debit with the “de-” plucked off to get positive, and “dekrit” was “minus” money, morphed from credit and negative for reasons unexplained. All in all, it was a weird economic history lesson for those who chose to dig in.

In the old math, bit used to stand for binary digit. Most new math was symbolic.

§   §   §   

Well, back to this girl who got him to think a “bit” in his head. Below the belt she was a piece of art. From hips down to calves, thick wet hillocks and lush meadows, she was a world on the move. She looked as though she was made of some mist, waist on down. One gracious moment, which had to have been cosmic in intent, she turned and bestowed a vision unto him, and he saw that the lower part of her business attire was animal leather Capri pants, and the mist was making it look like a skirt. He was bewitched.

It’s funny the way attraction works. This girl was of expression sullen and irritable, almost to the point of being surly. For Dik though, she was heaven sent. And her irritability was to his mind, a way of expressing her ache. She must want a man, he figured. And it could be, that he was right. At any rate, there was a distinct undertone of the hunted look in her eyes, that sort of came with the “sullen” package. And that really aroused the predator instinct in Dik.

To be sure, there was a lot that was attractive about her. Henna streaks low flung in her hair, and the locks running down the sides of her forehead, and across her cheeks and getting on to her nose. From neck down to cleft she had a rough front to her, sort of like sweetbread, or khoya. Seemed as though it was a land hard of tillage, but extremely satisfying to come home to at dusk. Or like a land ravaged and pillaged by savage marauders, as her lovers would have had to be.

He fervently wished she would be a fellow traveler beyond the tube.

And yes, the elevator itself had some interesting personalities too, built into it. One of them went by the drawing board name of “Horrendous Algebra”. And the other one was denoted “Tortuous Analysis”. The behavioral patterns that lay bare the souls for these machinery were finely embedded. For example, in the embossed panels there were signal detectors for communication.

Dik set some theme tones for the ride in his chute. It invoked some trans-dimensional moat and drawbridge images, with a Transylvanian setting. Which was most appropriate, as Lizzie’s arrival proved for him.

Lizzie showed up while he was lost in the front office hallway of the tube, she looked like a huge hipped anaconda – island blood, and jungle meat. A vampire queen; tug breasted and hull thighed, with the pounding of thick blood pouncing out from her gong in the shape of her areolae trying their best to dam the flow.  And as to her pelvic urn, it was a guardian vessel holding immortal nectar, a holy grail.

She had a Balkan theme going on with her gong. This was the first time Dik was seeing a gong, or even a sheer, for that matter. There were two claws on her breasts, which respectively she called Anton and Leopold, satiators of her bestial urges.

“I always get what I want, Dik.” She smiled. A slew of susurrations emanated from her thoracic realms. Dik had a horrific rush going in his head, and he was about set to crawl on the floor and howl. He held himself back with difficulty.

In tone, pitch, timbre and every other acoustic sense, she sounded like a dragon. Later on when on ship he got to realize that her coding had gotten mixed up about the interpretation of komodo.

The word Balkan originates from two ancient Turkish words meaning blood and honey, she explained to him after due acquisition of composure on his part.

§   §   §   

And what a gong she had going for her! A throw of some kind, minkish but flesh, not fur. And then she had some basic stuff further below. It was some kind of a camisole like dress, but not quite a dress. It was like some unguent matter, changing all the while, emphasizing her body facets, as she felt wont to express. Lettuce edge, chopper lace, stretch lace, ruffles, all kinds of dynamic effects appeared as if by magic. No Velcro side closure was needed, no straps, no fitted cups. Pure body. Some kind of a slip the gong had, but off the shoulder. And it went to show, that there was many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.

It was a psychedelic freeway, and Dik was looking to ride standard – there was a sign buzzing in his head – Easy on the Brakes: Bare Shoulder Ahead. But then he drew back with a shudder, for reasons unexplained. There was some kind of a fascination she had, but he wasn’t biting, or so he thought. Urgrgh, a tubie, no way I’m messing with her.

She set him up in his chute, snug and fit.

“I was sure looking forward to the twin sonic booms and the orbit burn, but hey, here I am, on the elevator. The common man’s ride.” He said, while fastening his restraints in place.

“Honey, I got all the boom and burn you want,” she said.

Dik couldn’t believe it. How can such a wacko think he’d be interested? She must be nuts. Stick to your dials and knobs, puss, he wanted to say, but desisted. What do you know; he might do this route often, no need to rub her off wrong.

She plugged into her headphone ding thing, and lost him for a while. Some kind of a punching apparatus, he got interested slowly.

“Hey, you’ve got gadgets and stuff on you, huh. Nice.” He mentioned, just for conversational upkeep. She glanced at him and kept on punching. Very binary, you either dig my puss or piss off, no in betweens. OK, he was clear.

She looks like an overdone kidney bean, he thought, a hippo wallowing in ooze mud, or something. Especially when she took a quick moment to bask on the wall of the elevator tube. Oh, she must have been getting her juice.

“So what’s all this gizmo for? You don’t need air traffic control or anything?” He tried to make some headway conversation.

She looked at him scathingly. “Conelrad, toot. What’d’yu think? Doors open for you by magic? Conelrad: stands for Control of Electromagnetic Radiation.”

He was somewhat offended, but chose to ignore it. “Hey, the earth rotates, right? How does this thing stay put?” Dik preferred to get his bearings in place rather than bother with her bearings.

Lizzie clarified, “The center of mass is at the geo-stationary point.” He didn’t quite get it, but figured he’d let it ride for now.

At about 25,000 KM she said, “here you could very well drop off, and you’ll go into orbit.”

“Is there air outside?” He asked.

“Are you kidding? That lasts for hardly 500 KM.” She sounded rather scathing with someone who was obviously new to this whole gig.  But that was illusory, in the sense that behavioral manifestations were unnervingly offbeat with pipers. She wasn’t really rude or anything. It was a way of speaking, basically.

“Out here, you’re on your own already. In fact, we just passed the second Van Allen a while ago.”

Ah well, an elevator that climbs 40,000 KM into space.

“Does it get any higher?” Dik asked Lizzie, but she was busy setting some connectors and didn’t get his question.

“It does, but not in the elevator. You could go hybrid, or HEO, or polar, or a whole bunch of other orbits.” An engineer, who was working nearby, responded.

“Subterranean, this is Dik.” Lizzie introduced them. The engineer was actually called Subrahmaniam, but Lizzie always got confused with his name.

“My favorite is the HEO, the Highly Elliptical Orbit. We know it as ucch dirgha vrttiya kaksha mein gati.” Subrahmaniam told Dik.

Dik thanked him, and they got on to further small talk, and checking out the atmospheric scenery.

Keep going, Dik said to himself.

Lizzie’s midriff, alloy handles and designer wart, they drew him to her. The gong had built a theme around the wart, and parted in a saw tooth based pattern around and about it, and drawing down all the way in into the hot cake. There was a jagged allure – a promise of a fractal coastlines between the legs. She saw him ogling, and smiled. Looked like it was going to be OK after all.

But her body was something he was still intimidated by. He wasn’t much at ease with large women so far.

She somehow sensed that.  “Ah sugar, daddy sugar, I see I need a shedder maul for you. This boy is going to make me work out, oh mamma. My predilection for corpus; you know, it always gets me loaded. What am I going to do with myself? No worries, by the time we get to the ship, you’ll see a slimmer me.” She said.

And of course she was true to her word. By the time they got on ship, lithe and lissome she became. But dragon she remained.

Later on he got to know the intricacies of AOC/LOC (acquisition of corpus/loss of corpus) and became better aware of her as she was. And she turned out to be someone he was more comfortable with than he’d been with humans hitherto, as a matter of fact.

And he figured, why not?  He was getting to realize that tubies were happy-go-lucky usually, whereas OSS humans were prone to dispositions of the darker variety. Which was the reason why Dik’s macabre work was in much demand in outer space, and he was getting this job to go there.

§   §   §   

And up, up, up the tube, and finally, he got bundled up for the ship, the HoLa, and before he knew it, he was in his cabin, and Lizzie was showing him a view from the window.

“See the blue green blob on the other side of the bulwark? That is the earth. I love the greenish brown of a prairie in February. Good, huh!”

And then he woke up, and got back to the present. Trip, Oh yes, trip on.

Note: Read the complete Guleil Series:

Cover pic by Ryan Somma.

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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.