Ship Trap. Chapter 8: Pumped
The gradient equalizer.
Walking in around noon, David proceeded towards the prep stage area. Swiping his card at the gate, he waltzed on through as if it were a regular day for him. The sun was shining, the building was full of people, it was as if the party from last night never even happened. Hell, Mallory’s car spot from last night was still available this morning, when they pulled in.
Checking in with Samuel, the expedition expert, he was preparing himself for the eventual rift.
“Hey Dave, what brings you he-,” he sniffed at David. “Okay, I know you shower and practically decontaminate before passing, but dude. Phew! You smell like… like.”
“Uh oh. He’s onto me.”
Samuel’s eyes didn’t widen, but his brow furrowed for a quick second. Dropping his mouth slack jawed, he rolled his tongue around his teeth, and stuck out his hand. “Just give me a firm handshake.”
David’s grin grew to one side of his face with a muffled, “Heh.”
After gripping one another’s hand for understanding what did not need to be said, Samuel broke the silence with, “We gotta get you dressed and prepped before you’re pressed. Come on, this way.”
Heading to the locker room, Samuel continued to give him the details of his excursion. “We’re sending you with a bit of cash in your pocket. Make sure you get yourself something simple to eat for the few days you’ll be there.”
Whilst getting undressed, David said, “What does the council have in mind? If I’m on a boat, I’ll be surrounded by ocean. Though it’s not like I’ll be able to fish for my meals. Plus, would that not interrupt the supply and demand of the time back then? Wouldn’t I potentially be taking food out of somebody else’s mouth?”
“Well, when it comes to items like food, that’s still up for debate. The main thing that they don’t want is the potential for genetic material to interact.”
“So don’t f around an find out is what you’re telling me?”
“Yeah, no illegitimate time babies.”
“Well, I know that we’re still human, but would my genetics even be able to pair with theirs or would the pairing be too unstable for conception to even occur?”
“Well, since genetic drift is based on a small population experiencing changes, our genetics should still be highly compatible. Also, if time is indifferent like we talked about last night, then maybe it’s possible for such a thing to occur.”
“Indifference really does make the difference.”
“Yup, but that doesn’t mean we take unnecessary risks. Keep your head low and be like water off a duck’s back.”
“Exactly,” Samuel patted a hand on David’s shoulder. “Ready to get decontaminated?”
“Will it remove the stink?”
“Depends on how long you’ve been marinating,” Sam snorted a grin out of that. “You might just have to wait for a few days for a new layer of skin to get pushed to the surface.”
“Or worse, I have the company exfoliate me to all hell and back sending me roughed up through the fabric rift.”
“If they did that, then they’d have to give out a better insurance policy.”
“Ha!” David threw his head back. “They wouldn’t dare, because every employee would throw a fit for having a huge pay reduction.”
“Well, the more employees they have the less they’d have to take from us. With a larger pie, there’s more to take, so we have less taken away.”
“Hey,” David slapped Sam’s chest with the back of his hand, “what are you an expedition expert or an economist?”
Samuel scoffed at that out his nose, “Let’s get you cleaned up. I swear, when you didn’t show up at 07:00 Jorgenson almost had a panic attack.”
“He almost had a panic attack? I was confined to my bed when-.”
“Well, uh, I had tossed and turned so much that I had trapped myself in my sheets. Then I had a dream where I was having the motherload of nature callings. I had to wake up, and when I tried rolling out of bed, I had an arm and leg caught in the sheets.”
Samuel looked at him queerly, “Riiight. I’ll go along with “the sheets” for now.”
“Hey, if you don’t wanna believe me, that’s all up to you.”
“I don’t have to believe you David,” Samuel started walking his friend over towards the showers. “I saw you leave the building last night.”
David’s face froze for a minute, then with a pointed finger he said, “Well, you got me there.”
“And like the hokey dance, I got you fair and square.” They both laughed at that. After David had washed up, Samuel handed his friend a robe.
“Oh, this is nice. Normally they just give us paper thin towels that’ve been through a holy abstinence of fabric softener and tell us to deal with it.”
“Yeah, I know right? It seems that things are really changing around here.”
“Remember when the first towels they gave us?”
Samuel couldn’t help but to roll his eyes, “Yeah, the men’s were barely a dishrag, and the women’s may have been longer, but they could barely wrap around their bodies.”
“And if you were well figured, you were screwed six ways to Sunday.”
“Yeah, there was an entire fiasco about that. Either way, I gotta get pumped and I hope that they make this one easy.”
“I’ve heard that they’ve improved the solution.”
“Really now? How so?”
“I’ve heard that it’s not as watery. So, they’ve added tons of electrolytes to it, along with a load of calories and other nutrients.”
“Thank goodness you didn’t say “vitamins and nutrients”.”
“What? We both know that vitamins already are nutrients. Just like water and oxygen. The body’s immediate needs can vary from time-to-time, with some being more consistent than others.”
“I’m surprised they haven’t added any genetically engineered viruses carrying telomere extenders.”
“Nah, they want to make sure that they’re in control of that. Can’t provide too much, eh?”
“Too much of a good company makes for bad benefits?”
“Nah, I think it’s too much of a good company makes for lazy employees.”
“I don’t blame them. If it’s too good some employees just become lazy. If it’s not good enough, they’ll have exit strategies for some other company in some other industry or just become entrepreneurs.”
“The world could always use some more entrepreneurs, I’d say.”
“True, some new inventions and patents, especially when it comes to resource recycling would be great, though that sector started booming in 2015 in countries like India.”
“Now those people really know how to engineer.”
“You know what they say, “give a man a fish and he eats for a day but teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.””
“Give a means to become rich through irrelevant means, and they’ll only produce entertainment, services. Give a means to become rich through materials and good will be produced along with services for the goods to reach the market.”
“Shall we get going, Sam?”
“Yeah, might as well.”
“Hey, did they prepare the machine to make it less irritable for the pumping?”
“Well, they did use that idea you helped come up with.”
“So, I’m going to be my own guinea pig?”
“No, they’ve already run several trial tests before. It more than meets the factor of safety.”
“Thank goodness, sounds like they’re trying to kill me.”
“Well, not exactly, but I heard that the developmental team that you’ve worked with help to make it more comforting in the long run. Ready?”
“As I’ll ever be.”
Upon leaving the locker room to head for the pumping cleanse, Jorgenson met up with them.
“David, glad to see you here.”
“Where else would I be, sleeping in?”
Jorgenson couldn’t help but to laugh at that. It was just what he needed to not feel so anxious. “I was going to say watching Saturday cartoons, but with all of these streaming services these days they’re no longer only reserved for Saturdays.”
“Ugh, I get the feeling. My dad used to tell me that when he was a kid, they would try to go to the tv channel’s website to watch their cartoons when they missed an episode, but sadly at times the service provider was so slow that they’d have enough time to make a sandwich in between email responses.”
“Those were the days back then. I remember that.”
“Oh, so, what’s the meal plan look like for 1912?”
“Well, we’d figure that we’d keep it simple. You know less is more.”
“By that logic I’m going to assume that I’m only going to be able to eat three if not four things at max.”
Jorgenson put his head down, “Yeah, that’s sort of exactly how it is.”
“Well, out with it man, is it anything that’s going to give me stomach troubles?”
“Not as long as you fully cook it.”
“You make it sound like I’m going to have to make sure that I’m going to overcook it instead of under. Am I working with chicken here to make sure I don’t get salmonella poisoning?”
“Well, the diet plan consists of pork belly, eggs, bread, and oranges.”
“They had oranges in their markets at that time back then? Sweet, I’ll guess to make sure that I eat wash the rinds well enough to eat them.”
“You eat the rinds,” Samuel asked.
“The rinds are where most of the nutrients and fiber is stored. If all I’m eating is bacon, eggs, and bread, I’m going to need something to force that food through my gullet besides the bacon grease. If that bread’s whole grain, then it’ll help, but not all that much. Fruit’s the way to go, especially when preventing scurvy.”
“Oh please,” Samuel said, “it’ll take forever for you to get scurvy. I don’t know anybody else who eats as much fruit as you.”
“What can I say? I like good food.”
“How will he be cooking it,” Samuel asked Jorgenson.
“There’s simple small candle lit stoves that are on the ship. As long as he has his own frying pan and keeps his ice box cold, he’ll be golden.”
“That’s what I like to hear.”
“So, how are you feeling about this David?”
“The faster we get me through that rift the faster I’m back.”
After all of the pleasantries have been exchanged, David laid back in reclining chair. Remaining relaxed as much as possible, he steadied his breathing for the tube to enter down his esophagus, and for the tip of the hose to spread lining the wall of his stomach.
“Ugh, I hate this part. Feel like I got a parasite in me, or it’s like that time I got my adenoids removed.”
With a warm smooth current of water, his stomach filled. As the tube sent small electric shocks causing his stomach walls to contract, the contents from his digestive system were pushed out and emptied. After a few minutes once the water that exited his body ran clear, only did they stop and have the tube removed.
Getting help from two nurses, they lifted him up and laid him on a bed, transporting him to the rift box. With engineers and councilmen alike lining the computer systems, David could rest well assured that his travels would remain easy. He’s done it before, and there was no need to be fearful again.
Getting off the gurney, he walked towards the glass door and disrobed himself. Placing a hand on the doorhandle, he was ready to enter, mentally relaxing himself for the vacuum.
“David,” Katrina spoke up, approaching him, “I hope you’re feeling alright. Do you feel up to the tasks?”
With watery eyes he shook his head yes, the silence without his words being his solemn answer.
“Thank you,” as she went in to hug him, he put up a hand, stopping her advancement. “Oh, that’s right, you’re already decontaminated. My bad.” She bowed her head in appreciation of his attention to detail. “We wouldn’t be able to achieve this without you. Please, return back to us safely.
As he pushed on the door handle, the sound of the gas pressure giving way, he turned towards Katrina and smiled with a big thumbs up on his left hand.
Once in the chamber he stood in the center. All eyes were on him. A voice came in through a stereo, with the man in front of him making eye contact with David. “On you’re count David. We’ll initiate the vacuum on your designated exhale. Then once the air’s been removed, we’ll open the rift, and the pressure difference will send you through. Are you ready?”
He nodded his head and gave him a thumbs up as well.
“Here we go.”
They counted his breaths and looked at the anticipation of his chest rising and falling.
With his fingers held up for them to count along with him visually, David counted silently to himself, “Three. Two… One.”
All of the air was sucked out of the room in an instant, and his lungs felt flat on the inside. The only pressure remaining was from that of his own bloodstream. His head felt like it was starting to burn, like he could hear popping sounds like when he used to sprint 800 meters when he ran track in high school.
Then, before him, was a tear, a rip, a rift. The tear in the fabric had commenced, and in the instance of a blink, like a falling motion in a dream, David was pulled through.
Gone, vanished from their site, in the blink of an eye, their mission was now considered to be a success. The team all clapped and cheered.
“HE WAS STILL STANDING ON HIS FEET WHEN HE WAS PULLED THROUGH! WE DID IT!”
“His clothes were sent correct,” Katrina asked an engineer. “Yes, ma’am. We’ve sent them an hour before him. Along with the money and identification cards. They’ll arrive five minutes before he does. He’s well prepped.”
“Good then,” she said. “Let’s pray he returns to us unscathed and unscarred.”