Before the trip to the Middle

The thought of absence makes the heart fonder

Jon A received a very fast authorization to travel to the Middle. Included were instructions on how to update his self-chip to receive new and more protective features. He was also guided to the relocation center where the work would be done.

The relocation center was only a few minutes away from his place of work. After teaching his classes that some time ended with spontaneous applause, alas not this time, he walked to the nearest “footer” station. He made a smooth transition into the continuous travel belt, inserting his foot easily into the stirrup. He remembered how when he was young he overthought this process and was always afraid of falling. He arrived at the relocation center in less than 10 minutes. While walking had been an option, he had done an extra 30 minutes of exercise that morning and after standing on his feet for three hours teaching he was a little tired.

As he entered the center he saw that additional finger stations had been put into operation. There were now five as well as a “manual” booth at the end for those that needed special assistance. For symmetry, he chose the middle one and inserted his index finger in the reader. This action coupled with the simultaneous reading of his self-chip by surrounding sensors prompted a response, “Jon A. Frisco, please proceed to door number three (again the middle door), please take your token”. A small disk the size of a dollar coin was ejected from a rectangular opening just below the reader and Jon A took it. The disk contained hash information that would key the type of process and materials that Jon A would need for his trip and stay in the Middle.

Upon opening the assigned door, Jon A inserted the disk in the front of the Human Services Combine or “hiss” as was commonly referred. A feminine voice instructed, “Please disrobe and place your feet in the marks on the floor”. Jon A looked down and saw a projected image of feet and stood on it. Jon A complied and removed his one piece garment.

He was also advised, “Please lower the harness and locate it on your shoulders, be sure to insert your head in the loop, your arms must hang loosely and straight down your torso.” After a few seconds, he was admonished “Please rotate your pelvis forward, so that your arms hang more naturally”. After this final instruction, the machine appeared to be satisfied and asked Jon A to breath normally.

What followed was a choreographed performance worthy of a ballet. He was given three air injections, a sensor searched and found his self-chip and updated it and several images to be used for his travelling and identifying documents were taken. With a very soft touch an instrument prodded his body, obtained and recorded his vital signs: temperature, blood pressure, height, weight and body mass index. The government was always collecting data, but especially from people travelling to the Middle. The data collected now would be compared with that collected upon his return.

Not giving Jon a chance to feel uncomfortable, the whole process ended in less than three minutes. Jon A was further asked, “Please get dressed and place your communicator in the spot marked by the blue light, we will update your data bases, add others and upload your travel authorization documents, transportation tickets and schedules. You will find other physical needs in the basket near the exit door, make sure you compare the inventory with the actual objects to make sure you have everything. If there is a discrepancy, we will resolve it immediately. Please make sure to retrieve your communicator and to gather the rest of the items before you leave the room.” After a few seconds the voice returned, “your communicator is now ready, please fetch it. Thank you for your patience.”

With a smile of satisfaction for having completed all his pre-trip tasks, Jon A started to think how he was going to approach the most enjoyable part of his days before the trip.

He was scheduled to take the mag to Terra only two weeks after the Reply. Time flew as it does when a trip is eminent.  Jon A decided to spend as much time as possible with his pair. They have selected to pair with each other through a very long process and as was the norm, she was everything he would have wished. He had been given assurances by her that he was also what she ever wished for.

As he entered the manifold to the podhive she lived in, he started thinking of the little time that he would have with her and how to best use it.

He inserted his finger in the finder and his image appeared in her communicator. She immediately activated the access button for him to be able to enter her pod.

She was at the door to greet him, “Hello love, I really want to give you a send off that you will not forget.” She held him tight and presented her lips for him to kiss.

“Fernanda A, it has been so long or seemed so long”. They had actually seen each other less than two days before.

She was dressed in his favorite attire. Al low cut blouse tied pirate style just below hear firm bust, courtesan pants and no shoes. The outfit really framed her strong athletic body and her voluptuous derriere. Her hair was up showing off her picaresque profile.

As he entered the public part of the pod he noticed that she had been busy setting up a feast. He first saw the oysters on the half shell and the salty lemonade that he liked so much. Small bowls with minced ginger, finely cut onions, Siracha sauce, lemon quarters and everything else that a raw oyster eater would have dreamed.  He knew that after the sumptuous appetizer, there would be a very blue piece of prime rib to enjoy with horse radish sauce. She had gone all out and probably had made a dent in her exotic food budget, especially considering the delicacies that she had and intended to serve.

He hugged again and expressed his joy, “Wow, this is out of this world, and a prelude to what I think one of the most wonderful nights of my life.”

She blushed and her eyes sparkled with anticipation. Reminded him of the lyrics of the old Bob Dylan song,

She wears an Egyptian ring that sparkles before she speaks.

Fernanda A did not need a ring. This scenario was to be repeated in the days before his trip.