Author : Dr. Alexanders
Kevin stared upward at the â€œArrivals/Departuresâ€ sign in the main concourse of the Europa Delta Interplanetary Spaceport. He blinked, rubbed his eyes, and looked again. The information didnâ€™t change, not a single number. It read:
Europa Delta, Jupiter to Gatwick, U.K., Earth
Scheduled Departure: 18:45, Aug. 23, 2159
Scheduled Arrival: 03:22, Aug. 29, 2159
—DELAYED— 83d 13hr 27min
Glancing around the concourse he saw a customer service desk on the other side of a throng of Brazilian tourists. When they didnâ€™t immediately part for him he simply pushed his way through so that when he finally reached the desk he was followed by strings of what he assumed were Portuguese curses and swear words. A slender, blonde woman wearing the standard spaceport uniform took a second to finish whatever she had been typing and then looked up at him with a false smile.
â€œAnd how can I help you today, sir?â€ Her eyes flicked past him for an instant to the Brazilians who were still shouting at him incomprehensibly.
â€œI think there has been a mistakeâ€¦ my flight, ummm, hereâ€™s my ticket; the board over there says that my flight’s going to be over eighty-three days late.â€ He started to laugh and then stopped when he realized she wasnâ€™t laughing with him. Instead she looked at her computer and his ticket, typed something and faced him once again.
â€œIâ€™m sorry, sir, but the board is correct. Here at Icarus Budgetary Space Flights we offer flights at a quarter of the price of other space liners by passing on savings to our customers. One of those savings is reduced fuel costs by taking advantage of optimal flight windows and I am afraid that your flight just isnâ€™t going to make this next window due to spaceport congestion.â€
â€œWhat!? And the next window isnâ€™t for 83 days? I have a meeting in Prague in two weeks!â€
â€œI am sorry, sir, but you booked a flight at our minimal fuel cost price. There is only a ten day window between arrival and departure and today is the last day in that window. I could book you on our premium flight that leaves tomorrow, though it would cost a little bit more.â€
Kevin sighed, â€œFineâ€¦ how much?â€
The woman checked her screen again, â€œAn upgrade will cost 1,345 credits.â€
â€œBut thatâ€™s more than four times what I paid for the flight to begin with! I canâ€™t afford that!â€
The woman gave him a sympathetic smile, â€œI am sorry, sir, but there really is nothing else I could do. Can I give you a voucher for a free night in the spaceport hotel?â€
Kevin cursed, violently.