“No, the Russian verb for that is dayte,” Ms. Congi explained patiently.
“Sorry,” Chu-hua said. The girl straightened her ascot, feeling pretty miserable.
“No need to be sorry,” Ms. Congi said kindly. An immigrant from India, formerly a co-chair of the State of Assam Communist Party, mother of three, she turned gracefully in her sari and looked out at her class of forty boys and girls, thirty-nine of them in the full-coverage school uniform, white shirt with red ascot, black pants, black shined shoes and white socks. She glanced at the boy at the end of the front row, next to the window, then up at the clock. As long as it was within the next five minutes . . . As she turned toward the blackboard she squinted at the bright snow outside, a typical February day here in Qinghai Province. She wrote a short sentence in Cyrillic then turned around.
“Zui-da, can you translate this for me?”
“Um . . . ‘it is a nice day today’,” said the boy near the window, in his quiet, high-pitched voice.
“Very good! . . . Now --” She wrote another sentence and called on Bao, a tall boy in the back row.
Ms. Congi was well impressed with these students’ dedication. A few weeks ago they had been totally lost, but they were coming along nicely now. Five minutes later, a low hum emanated from the tube in front of the last, specially designed desk, ignored by Chu-hua as she concentrated on redeeming herself by properly conjugating the verb bizhat. A minute after that, Ms. Congi, in a voice loud enough to be heard over the rhythmic boyish gasps, spoke about irregular verbs. Wang-lei, in his deep voice, read aloud another sentence to the backdrop of a catching of breath as the hum stopped. The class went on.
“I’m not sure if what you ask is possible,” Principal Huo said. He was in his office, speaking to Mr. Qinghu, Instructor of Mathematics.
“It’s only for the boy’s benefit,” Mr. Qinghu said. “The loss of concentration for the -- what --”
“I believe the penumbra has been timed as averaging at two minutes, with an umbra of fifteen seconds.”
“He can’t afford to be out of touch for that long, every class,” Mr. Qinghu said.
“It doesn’t seem to present a problem in the other subjects,” Mr. Huo said. He looked through the student file in front of him. “He has excellent marks in every other class. And of course we know about his obedience, which is exemplary.”
“Math is different,” Mr. Qinghu said. “He has to listen to every minute. The other day, he couldn’t answer a question about quadratics because he had been in . . . penumbra . . . when I explained the formula.”
“You could always plan the lesson around the draw,” the principal pointed out. “Remember, the draws are timed exactly, to the minute.”
“I’m afraid that’s not possible. And anyway, I thought we’re not supposed to pay any attention to that when teaching.”
The principal was a little miffed at the math teacher’s obstinacy, but decided the best course was accommodation. “What do you propose?”
“That the draws be rescheduled so that they don’t happen during my class.”
“You must know that is impossible. They have to be evenly spaced.”
“Then . . . can you transfer him to another math class?” There were three in that grade. It was a big school, with over a thousand students.
The principal exhaled. He called in Ms. Tung, the Vice Principal. “Do you think Zui-da can be transferred to Ms. Chung’s class? Or maybe Ms. Fui’s?”
Ms. Tung made a few taps onto her tablet. “Possibly Ms. Fui’s.”
The principal looked at Mr. Qinghu. “I suppose you know this means you will have to change rooms, just for sixth period. We’re not going to rip up the floor for this, you know.”
Mr. Qinghu looked out the window and sighed. As it happened it was recess for Group III, and the boy ran past, having kicked the ball toward the goal. “I’ll let you know what I prefer.”
The “red” team was clearly besting the “white” team; the boys were identified by the color of their kerchiefs, with one exception of course. Bits of wet snow flew as they chased the ball from one end of the field to the other and yelled to their teammates. If they got too heated, they were allowed to take off their coats.
Zui-da was good at snaking through the scrim, aided by his small stature, unburdened by clothes or shoes. Naked all his life, he was practically indifferent to the cold. Now his evenly tanned body darted between two much larger boys and with his tough bare heel he angled a backward kick which went right into the goal.
There was cheering but it quickly stopped. In twisting his body his foot had slipped on the snow and he had fallen on his side. In fact, it looked like he might have landed on a testicle! He winced as he got up onto all fours, then crunched into a fetal position and fell onto his side. The referee, Ms. Su, ran over, as did Mr. Ting. They helped the boy up. With two hands Mr. Ting drew the penis up against the boy’s tummy while Ms. Su gently lifted a precious testicle in each hand. They concluded that he had merely had the wind knocked out of him. The boy was led away to where he sat his bare bottom on the bench, relieved to rest his kiwi-sized testicles on the freezing metal. The game resumed. The incident was, of course, not reported, per the Principal’s unspoken rule.
Mr. Ku, the Maintenance Director, checked the carrot-sized protruberance rising from the back of the seat. “It seems a little loose.” The seats and desks in this school were constructed as one unit, so he had to bend over the connecting armrest. This was one of the few left-handed desks.
“I thought a little ‘play’ was desirable,” said Ms. Tung.
“True,” Mr. Ku said. “But I think it’s more effective via a wiggling cam, instead of simply a loose fitting. Think of the prostate.”
“I agree,” said Mr. Wong, from the National Energy Commission. It was one of his monthly visits. “Our policy is that nothing be left to chance.”
“What about this?” Ms. Tung said, bending down with both hands to squeeze the flexible tube (Tiquqi) which extended from the seat down to the flange bolted into the floor. “It seems a little snug these days.”
Mr. Wong said, “According to the latest genitometrics a larger model is indicated, about 5mm greater diameter, more length also. They have been ordered and you can expect installation in about two weeks.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
“Believe me, the health and comfort of the Maik-ya is of prime importance to the People’s Struggle.” He said this on just about every visit.
“To return to the jiia,” said Mr. Ku, referring to the carrot, using the official term, “I understand there will be a change of design.”
“Yes, actually,” Mr. Wong said. Then he smiled. “I see where you’re coming from . . . If we’re going to replace it anyway, why not just wait?” The three had a good laugh. “Mr. Ku, you’ve been around the block too many times, you are a real piece of work! . . . It will be more rounded, thicker, and longer. We think more volume can be accommodated at this point.”
“But why?” Ms. Tung was always on the outlook for the boy’s well-being.
“Well as you know, the jiia is installed only on this desk, to facilitate the fourth draw . . . but they have been discussing the possibility of a fifth draw. In such a scheme the jiia acquires more importance.”
Mr. Ku and Ms. Tung looked at each other. “A fifth draw?” she said. “When would that take place?” The fourth draw was during the eighth (last) period.
“There was brief discussion of an after-school installation,” Mr. Wong said. “But we believe the Maik-ya is now able to be drawn on five times during the school day. The first will be at the start of first period, the next, toward the end of second, then fourth, sixth and eighth as at present. The jiia will be on the seat for the desks where the final two draws are made.”
Ms. Tung said, “That will involve installing an extra Tiquqi. And possibly rerouting a couple of the others.”
“Do not worry, the Commission will reimburse the school for the expense.”
Today it was Chu-hua and Fei-hong who won the daily race to sit next to Zui-da at lunch. His place on the bench was over the Tiquqi, of course, in the middle of the cafeteria, and girls had devised numerous ways of getting on line first, selecting the fastest-delivered food, and taking the most direct route to the nude boy, while making sure they didn’t get scolded by Ms. Ti for running.
“I’ll do it!” “No, me!!” They fought over who would insert the penis into the Tiquqi. Zui-da rarely touched it himself; by now it had been handled by half the girls in his grade. He looked down with a tolerant smile as the two winners of the race reached a compromise. Fei-hong inserted the glans; then Chu-hua, both hands around the root, helped Zui-da work the rest in as he shifted and wiggled his hips, until the mouth was snug against his pelvis, and his testicles separated and cradled by the twin cups below with the soft bristles.
They ate silently for a while, though Chu-hua was obviously biding time. Finally she said: “Guess who this is?” She opened a notebook to show a heart with an arrow through it and two sets of initials, then shutting the book before the initials could be recognized.
“Wooo!” whispered Fei-hong. That they loved to flirt with Zui-da was no surprise. In a poll passed around by the girls during Study Period he got the most votes for “cutest boy”.
“Are we talking marriage here?” teased Bao, sitting across from them. He jabbed his elbow in a conspiratorial fashion at Li-jie, sitting next to him. The two boys rolled their eyes at each other at the antics of the girls.
Zui-da blushed, then said, “No of -- uhhhh” -- the hum started as his penis was massaged along its entire length by the undulating villi -- “uhhh -- no one said that!”
Principal Huo walked past on the way to the faculty lunchroom, tray in hand, and the kids suddenly got quiet, making the hum more noticeable.
As soon as he was gone Chu-hua opened her notebook again, then shut it a microsecond later. “Wh - what was th - that?” the boy said, with a crooked smile. The girls saw that he was losing concentration -- everyone knew that “look” of his -- and then -- heavy breathing -- and then --
“OHH! OHHH! OHHHHH!” Zui-da squeezed his eyes shut, his body jerking against the mouth of the Tiquqi. “OHH! OHHH! AHHHH!” His bare feet slapped against the floor in rhythm. His high-pitched cries echoed through the huge cafeteria. An everyday event which everyone had become oblivious to. Bao and Li-jie called to their friend Feng, who was sitting down at the next table. Fei-hong looked in her little mirror and fixed the ribbon in her hair. After the nude boy’s final jolt she waited until his eyes opened again and he caught his breath and the humming stopped. Then she put her own notebook up to his face, and allowed an impossibly quick glance at another scribbled heart, possibly inscribed with different initials.
“You -- girls -- are too -- much,” Zui-da managed to squeak out, panting.
“You know, marriage to two girls is against the law,” Li-jie teased.
Mr. Ku, in the basement, monitored the delivery to what was anachronistically called the “boiler”. The draw was unusually fast this time, and voluminous. He was concerned about the clunky first-generation converter and how it was receiving more these days than it could process.
It was a Saturday meeting, which was inconvenient, but if the Commissioner of Energy calls one to Xining, one goes. In their best suits the four of them, Principal Huo, Vice Principal Tung, Maintenance Director Ku, and Assistant Commissioner Wong, waited in the forty-third floor corner office. Through the big window they could see below them the city of two million, with the Qilian Mountains in the distance.
“I must admit,” Mr. Ku said, “it seems odd to me that they would allow an American engineer onto their team.”
Mr. Wong said, “I don’t really know, but I think there is an element of flaunting involved. He will of course report to Washington. Can you imagine the American reaction to the Maik-ya?”
“With their level of maturity about such things,” Ms. Tung said, “they will not be able to digest the news with a clear head.” There were smiles and a nodding of heads.
“Also politically and culturally it would be impossible for them to imitate us,” Mr. Huo said, “should they ever produce a Maik-ya.”
“If only there could be a second Maik-ya,” said Mr. Ku. “Or a third.”
“If there is one, there might come others,” Mr. Wong said. “We are a populous nation. The appropriate searches, and I might add extensive ones, are ongoing. In the meantime we have one, the Maik-ya, to which we direct our energies, no pun intended.”
The Commissioner of Energy entered with his assistant and they stood up. After everyone bowed they sat down. The Commissioner was an overweight man of about 60, contrasting with the female assistant, who was young, thin and pretty. She handed him some papers.
“We have brought you here to announce the changes that will be taking place. To begin with, we greatly appreciate your stewardship of the Maik-ya. Stability is key, so any changes, such as we will effect, must be done carefully. Ms. Jong?”
The secretary said, “It has been noticed that the Maik-ya’s draws over the last few weeks have become more voluminous and potent. By potency, I mean that the mixture of fluids has gravitated to a more useful ranyou.” She was using the term for the “fuel”. Colloquially around the Commission, Zui-da was referred to as the “fuel boy”, though officially he was always called “the Maik-ya”. “As to the increase in volume, that is no surprise; I’m sure you’ve noticed that his testicles, already outside the normal human range, have gotten even larger.
“At first,” Ms. Jong went on, “we thought the increase was due to exercise, the four draws per day, but in fact it is just part of the normal maturation process. Which of course is good news. We expect the increase to continue.”
The Commissioner then said, “Thus far the Maik-ya has been powering only the school plant. If that was the limit of his capability, the Party would not be taking much interest. But this is only the beginning. The use of his powering function is to be expanded.
“Notice here the new generation of converter.” He passed around a photo. “It is smaller than the present model yet is ten times more efficient in converting ranyou to electricity. It is currently in production.” He let his visitors absorb this information. Then he passed around a sketch. “And this, is the third generation converter, in its planning stages. Through a circuiting technique, which is too complicated to describe right now, it can ramp up, so to speak, the efficiency to over a hundred times times, to be specific, one hundred twenty-eight times.”
“A circuiting technique?” Mr. Ku said.
“Yes . . .” He smiled at Mr. Ku, who was even older than himself, from the Deng era. “To be brief, you and I are old enough to remember when computers were limited to physical RAM, maxing out at 640 kilobytes. The circuiting is similar to the development of virtual RAM, which increased computing power exponentially.”
“So, this means,” Mr. Huo said, “that instead of powering just one school . . .”
“Yes, the boy can power one hundred twenty-eight schools. And this is not taking into account the increase in ranyou output.”
The Commissioner gave his guests a few moments to think about the implications.
“That is about the number of schools in the entire city of Lanzhou,” Ms. Tung said. “Are you talking about a hub-and-spoke setup, with Zui-da -- I mean, the Maik-ya -- powering from a central location?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes,” the Commissioner said.
Mr. Huo was, like the others, trying to grasp what was being presented. “How could the ranyou be piped such a distance? You know that it degrades within a minute or two after it’s drawn.” The “half-life”, arrived after extensive periodic measurements, seemed forever limited to 46.8 seconds, no matter what the diet, or the season, or even the application of ice, externally or internally.
“There would be only one converter, fed from the Tiquqi,” Mr. Ku pointed out. “After that it would be just pure electricity, with the usual network of capacitors and boosters. Am I correct?”
“Yes, you are correct,” Ms. Jong said.
“Now about the wider prospect,” the Commissioner said. “Powering schools is all very well, but to be truthful they have never had a problem as far as energy goes. The Maik-ya’s power capabilities are a higher priority in business, industry and government.”
“What do you mean by that?” Mr. Huo said.
“To be truthful we are not so sure ourselves,” the Commissioner said, “at least not yet. One assumes that converters could be fitted onto any type of system. Adapters are currently being tested. We are formulating a summer program. The Maik-ya will be taken to various locations to see if he could power a variety of applications.”
“A ‘variety’?” Ms. Tung said.
“Yes. It may be a very busy summer for him.”
“I would imagine so,” said Ms. Tung.
“I don’t mind giving you a preliminary list.” The Commissioner took out his glasses and read. “Mind you, this is tentative. June 26: powering a 24-story office building in Wuwei. June 29: powering a nighttime sporting event in Baiyin. July 1: powering a 33-story building here in Xining. July 7: powering a light show for the Chairman’s birthday in Lanzhou. July 11: substituting for that small dam on Qinghai Lake. . . as you know, the lake has been drying up, due to that dam. July 13: powering the Wuwei commuter line. July 16: powering the University of Qinghai, including extension campuses, during its summer session.” He took his glasses off. “This is only a partial list of course. With proper scheduling, the Maik-ya can provide power several times a day, of course. We will give Ms. Zhu-yi leave from her job so that she can accompany him.” Ms. Zhu-yi was Zui-da’s guardian; he had been orphaned while still a baby.
“Where does this lead to?” Ms. Tung said. “The boy can’t be everywhere at once.”
“Of course not. We see his role as a roving generator, on special assignments, providing energy where there is a one-time need. And there is something else you should know,” the Commissioner said. “Some of the more ambitious and important projects . . . might require more than one draw.”
“Well that shouldn’t be any problem,” Mr. Huo said. “Zui-da is drawn from four times a day, possibly increasing to five now.”
“No, I mean, one draw right after another. Consecutive draws.”
There was a confused set of glances around the table. “But -- I thought draws had to be carefully spaced.”
“Yes, that is true,” Ms. Jong said, “ordinarily. But the applications requiring more than about 500 kilowatts might need more than the 8 cc’s or so of ranyou that the Maik-ya delivers in one draw. It is just a conjecture, but we believe that further draws, done immediately after, would still be potent enough to be useful. Afterwards there can be whatever recovery time is needed.
“That is why Mr. Wong will be supervising an experiment to see how many draws can be elicited from the Maik-ya, one after the other.”
The experiment was done in the gymnasium, after school. Anyone was allowed to watch, and the stands were pulled out. Students and teachers sat as they had many times to watch basketball games, except now there was no cheering, just curious and watchful silence.
The preparations had been unusual. Fortunately it was a rather warm day and the school did not need any power. Classes were held with the lights off; lunch was vegetables and water, which did not need refrigeration or cooking. Zui-da, his testicles no doubt aching from not being drawn from, found it hard to concentrate in his classes, especially with the special feathered attachment to the Tiquqi constantly brushing his testicles. As further preparation he was given two enemas in the nurse’s office.
There was no Tiquqi in the gym. There could not be said to be any “draws”. These were ejaculations for the sake of ejaculations; it was a violation of Part II, Chapter I of the Criminal Law to waste the Maik-ya’s precious ranyou, but in this case, a special dispensation had been granted from Beijing. The first ejaculation occurred when Zui-da was sitting on a table, tortured by feathers worked by Ms. Congi and Ms. Chou, per the careful instructions. Mr. Wong watched. Also watching was Dr. Shen-yi, the bioenergy specialist from the Commission. At the great moment the boy’s screams echoed through the gym with his long-denied first orgasm. The thick, white spurts shot past Mr. Wong, who had to dodge to get out of the way, and landed three meters from the table. The moment of intense sensitivity was ignored, no doubt causing pain to the boy, as his penis was fitted with a lubricated tube which was vigorously worked back and forth by Ms. Tung.
The Commissioner was late due to traffic. It was an hour before he finally arrived. Mr. Wong told him that at that point eleven ejaculations had been wrung out of the Maik-ya. The Commissioner, taking stock of the situation, signaled that the twelfth would be the last. He smiled; the point he had been trying to make with the Party had been well proven.
Zui-da’s thin, sweating body was suspended and stretched out, with his wrists and ankles tied to ropes which extended to the opposite doors and way up to the corners of the ceiling, to where Mr. Zin the custodian had attached them this morning using a long ladder. The boy’s eyes were closed as he was besieged, his nipples sucked by Ms. Congi and Ms. Fui, his anus and rectum worked over by a long-tongued Ms. Ro, and most amazingly, his entire oversized penis down the throat of a Ms. Min, both of whom had been brought in specially for the occasion. Below, his hanging, overtaxed testicles were being gently sucked by Ms. Tung and Ms. Su, again following the careful instructions given. A strangled scream, then a grunt, and five weak jolts signaled the arrival of the twelfth orgasm. With each jolt the ropes going to the ceiling vibrated. They had to wait for the ropes to stop moving before the boy could be untied and taken down. The exhausted little sweaty body fell into the arms of the nurse, Ms. Go, his head landing on her shoulder, as she hooked her elbows under his knees and carried him back to her office like a mother bringing a tired child to bed.
“You know I like you a lot,” Chu-hua said. They were walking down the sidewalk, with ice cream cones.
Zui-da was silent. He licked his ice cream all around, trying to prevent drips. It was a warm night, a night for ice cream to melt. With unsteady, nervous eyes he said, “I like you too.” Wanting to say something else, he settled on, “I hope you have a nice summer.”
“You too. . . You’re going to be busy, Zui-da.”
“Yes.” His soft eyes glanced downward, then up at Chu-hua. “They want me to power . . . a lot of things. I’m a little nervous.” He looked around at the main street, the stores, the movie theater they were just at. “I’ve never been out of this town . . . I hope I can do what they want me to do. I feel so . . . like, there’s not enough of me.”
“You can do anything, Zui-da! I think you’re the best!”
They stopped and looked at each other, holding their cones. It was a brave look, at first tentative, then unflinching. Their faces drew closer.
A drop from Chu-hua’s cone fell and landed squarely on his penis, at the halfway point, right in the middle. It was vanilla and against the tanned skin looked like white paint. Or maybe something else.
They jumped apart and looked down at it. “Oh I’m sorry!” she said. Almost as a reflex she bent down and licked the drop off. The penis grew a little and rose up. The boy and the girl looked at each other in puzzlement. They then again regarded the stiffening organ, and very quietly, giggled. It was awkward, with both holding melting cones, but they hugged with one arm. In the bravest act of all, they held hands, and decided to keep holding them, all the way to where Chu-hua’s parents were waiting to pick them up, Zui-da’s erect penis swinging side to side in front of him with each step as if clearing the way for them, the gritty sidewalk warm beneath his tough soles.
Principal Huo and Ms. Congi waved goodbye as the buses pulled out. End of the semester, last day of school, the long assembly with applause and lots of rounds of good-byes. Now they waved to the bus carrying Zui-da -- the Maik-ya -- with his tanned bare arm almost lost in the flurry of white sleeves waving to the Principal and staff and the teachers.
“He will have an eventful summer,” Mr. Huo said.
“I hope they take good care of him,” Ms. Congi said.
Mr. Huo sighed. “It’s like with the Maik-lings. Supposedly they’re taken excellent care of, but those girls are put through so much. You wonder what they’re really thinking.”
As they walked back to the building, Ms. Congi said, “I wonder if he will ever get together with them.”
“That,” Mr. Huo said, “is something I would love to see.”
“So would I!”