Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

I blinked twice to fast-forward the counter-person to the ticket purchase but nothing happened. She still stood there behind the counter, asking me again if I had packed my bags myself. I blinked again. Nothing. I sighed. They were using real people.

That’s how much of a backwater dive this planet was. I couldn’t wait to leave. Real people? That wasn’t even retro anymore. It was almost slave labor.

“Yes, I packed my bags myself.” I answered.

“Passport, please.” She said.

I mentally shunted my passport over to her computer. I didn’t get the okay in my peripheral vision. Her system must be slow. We looked at each other with an expectant pause.

“Sir?” she asked, hand out. She was growing impatient.

Oh no, I thought. Seriously? Totally analogue. She was expecting actual physical paper printed in some sort of booklet. I had read about it. It might have been in the package I received for my Earth tour but I must have assumed it was a receipt or something.

“I don’t have it.” I said, lamely.

“Well, sir, you won’t be able to leave the spaceport without it.” She replied smugly. I got the feeling that every time this happened, she chalked a point to herself and the other luddites who believed in an old way of operation. Ignorant tourists like me must make their days a happy place.

Some planets had themselves a belief that cranial implant software was evil and led to a lack of privacy. I could see where they were coming from in some ways. I mean, that’s why I was here. I wanted an offline vacation package.

“Take a seat over there, please.” She said, pointing to a bench with six other pale men sitting on it. Bewildered and lost, they stared at their dead feeds for information. There was a public terminal inset into the wall with ‘email’ that would let me access the UniNet but it would take days for my peers to respond to my requests in that way.

It was going to be a long wait.

Stupid backwater planet. I’m never coming back here.


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows