The neon sign outside the dingy brown building said “Roxie’s Travel Agency” and featured a woman in a fedora holding a white machine gun. Few people but Roxie, the owner, are old enough to get the reference. She’s had a good deal in front of her that night, a couple of newlyweds right out of the chapel, coded together forever. The door displayed them as legally married when they passed under, a fact that made the woman squeal with delight. They were holding hands so tight that she could see their tattoos shift over between them, the designs and the viral skin ads all mixing together. Roxie smiled. Newlyweds were always a sweet deal.
“How can I help you folks?” she said reaching out and shaking their hands, shaking the mechanical ad dust off the membrane on her gloves. Roxie was plump and just old enough to start reminding people of their grandmothers.
“We want to go to the Moon!” said the woman, one of the high-rise women, manufactured celebrity feature. She leaned into the man. “It’s our honey-moon!”
The man laughed. Roxie pulled her tight plastic pants down on her legs; crazy fabric was always riding up. “That’s mighty expensive folks, are you sure you might not want to take a few weeks and go to New Slavia?” She pulled out an animated brochure. “Best service in the world in New Slavia. For what you would pay to go to the moon you could stay in your own palace apartments and be treated like a King and Queen!” She winked. “Awfully romantic.”
“My baby wants to go to the moon,â€ said the man “What she wants, she’ll get.”
Roxie could never understand trips to the moon. Sure, there was a bit of romance behind it, but there were much better, cheaper and more comfortable trips here on earth. “Well alright, but you know lots of people get nauseous up there and have to take pills – you two have any objections to pills?” The couple looked and each other knowingly and roared with laughter. Roxie shook her head, aware she was being made fun of “Well, it don’t hurt to ask. I never do like to assume anything.” She removed one of her gloves and palmed her computer.
“Luna-Vista travels” she said, and the booking site popped up. “When you folks want to leave? They got a shuttle going in two weeks, you want to be on it?”
The man looked suddenly uncomfortable. “Nothing sooner?”
Roxie produced another brochure, but the couple didnâ€™t even glance at it. “Luna-Vista is the only real reliable tour and it only departs once a month. I wouldn’t be responsible if I told you to go on the Wen-Kuo or Verba lines.”
The man shrugged. “We don’t care. We want to go now. You don’t book us for tomorrow, and we’ll take our business elsewhere.”
Roxie shook her head. “Now I’m going to be honest here kids. The Wen-Kuo line departs tomorrow, but they’re not going to treat you right, no amenities, lots of turbulence and you can barely see anything from those little portholes on the ship. Folks, for what you are paying, you should really book something nicer, even if you’ve got to wait.”
“We don’t want to wait.” The mans smile was stiff.
Roxie folded her hands. “Well it just donâ€™t feel professionally right to do it, so if you want to take Wen-Kuo, you can book it yourself.”
The womanâ€™s face fell, the ditzy, happy expression vanishing. “We need to get off this planet, as soon as possible.â€ Her voice had fallen about an octave, was now husky and dark. â€œJust book the goddamned flight.”
Roxie wouldn’t have noticed it if she wasn’t looking, but her Buddy had been a member of the Central Enforcement before she lost him in 52â€™ to that horrible infection scandal. Both of these folks had clothes that covered up places just big enough to hide a holster right in the places where Buddy used to carry his. She relented. If this was Central Enforcement, she didnâ€™t want to block their way.
“Fine, whatever you want.” She said. The man handed her a credit disc, and she fed it into her wall unit. She reserved the flight, her first ever booking with Wen-Kuo. The wall spit out two plastic discs. She handed them over cautiously.
“Your flight leaves tomorrow at 5AM. You can use your discs to take any kind of public transport you want to the shuttle.” The couple examined the silver discs and tucked them away.
“Thanks.” The man cracked a smile. â€œTake it easy.â€ He sounded earnest and sad, like he really meant for Roxie to take the rest of the day easy. The couple turned to leave. Roxie called after them.
“Hey!” The couple turned and Roxie gathered up her courage. “Is there any reason why you two want to leave Earth so quickly?”
“Yeah.” Said the man “Remember the expression; live each day?”
“Like the last.” Roxie completed the phrase. The man nodded.
“Nothing truer.” He said, and left with the woman, into the florescent night.