Friedrich Leinheldt ran the access card through the reader, entering the pin-number – 2029.
“I still say that the year of our marriage is a bad choice for a pin-code. We might be in 2054, but identity theft is still a thing, you know.” Mary Leinheldt passed him, entering the BodyBuster office. “I left Lusianna with the car, she should be here in a few minutes,” she pointed inside, “Lets get signed in.”
For their 20th anniversary, they had been given the gift of a lifetime; one of the fancy new BodyBuster tours to one of the newly-opened planets in Alpha Centauri. They were rather expensive and you needed to book several years in advance. A trip could not last less than a year, giving time for both the journey there and back. Friedrich and Mary were both retired, peacefully leaving their games development- and veterinary jobs a few months ago. The house and pets were left to their second-eldest daughter who normally lived in a small apartment in Berlin, studying medicin. So, Earth-bound responsibilities taken care of or delegated, they could safely escape to a wholly different planet for a year and a half.
“It should be the first door on the right.” Friedrich called out as his wife as she stopped briefly in the entrance hall.
She waved at the receptionist. “I know. You’re normally the forgetful one, you know.” They to the sign-in together. The in-house security system would already know Friedrich was present, but they would still have to sign into the travel management. Due to the nature of the travel method, you could not bring any personal effects, so there was no check-in beyond confirming your presence and preparedness for the journey. Waiting in the chairs provided by the check-in counter, they were met by a tall, bald man, dressed in the same jeans and blue shirt as all the other employees. A small name-tag read ‘Johann’
“Mr and Mrs Leinheldt, if you would follow me, there is a small formality before you may start your journey.” He waved his left hand towards a small office with an open door. Following, they found the room to be quite spartan in its decoration, with a table and 5 chairs crowded around it. “Please, take a seat.”
They both sat down, with Johann closing the door then taking the single chair that stood on the far side of the table. Mary cleared her throat as the door closed. “No offense, sir, but I thought we would be met by the young lady we talked to when we registered for the trip.”
“None taken, Mrs Leinheldt,” Johann quickly scanned the paperwork on the table, “Miss McCanneigh is still with us, she will be helping you with your internment once this little meeting is over.” The man shuffled through the papers again before removing one and placing it before the couple. “This is merely to confirm that you still understand the journey you are to undertake, a formality as I said.”
Friedrich scanned the document as Johann talked. “Your Earth bodies will be put into cryostasis, your personal belongings put in a secure holding facility monitored by the police, for the duration of your journey while your consciousness will be transferred to our facility on the planet ‘Alpha Centauri Bb’ in the Alpha Centauri system. There you will have full control over your actions for the full duration, which of course means that you are also fully responsible for any actions taken while occupying BodyBuster property. While you will be able to return at any time should you experience trouble or simply wish to return to Earth, that will incur a surcharge for unplanned activation of the BodyBuster facilities.” Johann waved vaguely towards the legal document. “If you would sign this document, you agree that you still agree to these terms and the ones set down at your initial interview 2 years ago.”
The office was silent for a few moments as Friedrich scanned the document before nodding at his wife. Mary dragged it over then signed it with a provided pen. The employee looked briefly at the signature then nodded. “Excellent. If you would continue through the door behind me, Miss McCanneigh will receive you for the next step. I hope you have a pleasant vacation.”
Johann followed them but went to the right, whereas to the left Friedrich and Mary could see the young woman they had been interviewed by 2 years prior. Lucy McCanneigh was from Australia, having pursued an educational opportunity in Germany. She was sitting on an office chair, tapping her foot.
“Hello again, Lucy!” Mary called out, waving towards the young woman.
She looked up, and seeing the couple, immediately rose from her chair. “Well, I’ll be. Look who’s back,” she looked at her wrist-watch, “And pretty timely, too.”
Friedrich grinned. “Well, we did say we would be back. Your german has improved.”
The young woman grinned back. “Well, it would be difficult pursuing higher education when your native is worse than a dingos.” She waved towards closed-door with the words ‘CHANGING ROOM’ written in english above. If you would change to the provided overalls, I believe your daughter is waiting in the reception. I will go fetch her, shall I?”
The overalls fitted them both very well, and were coloured to look like a tighter version of the clothes the employees wore. Their personal clothes and belongings were put in a drawer that then flowed into the wall. They would be held by the company until their vacation was over. As they exited, their daughter was chatting with Lucy. The two had met before, as Lusianna was to be the first point of contact in the unlikely event something happened to them. As they shared a first name, as well as a hobby or two, they had hit it off quickly. They both looked over as the couple emerged from the changing room.
Lucy clapped her hands together, before walking over to the far wall. “Good, now that’s over with, I need to activate the cryo-pods. If you want to talk to Lusianna, now’s the time.” With that, the employee rounded a corner.
Their daughter looked them over as they walked over to her. “It looks,” she hesitated briefly, “interesting on you. And before you say anything, Mom, I will of course ask the neighbours if I need anything. And I will clean up after parties. I’ve got the vet’s number on my list, too.”
Mary nodded, her face quickly becoming flushed. Over the last week, they had spent more time helping their daughter prepare for the next year and a half than preparing for their vacation. As they could not bring any physical objects, and they were effectively retired, there was not a lot to prepare with. Lucy returned to find the family in a quick hug. When they broke it off, Lusianna quickly said her farewell to the employee then left without another word. The couple followed Lucy to long corridor. Along both sides, doors led to small cubicles of cryo-pods, full of people travelling other planets. They were guided to a room on the far side of the corridor, to a cubicle with 2 empty pods leaning out of the wall.
“Here we are, the last brief stop before your vacation,” Lucy briefly worked the panels next to each pod, “the pods are fully automated once you’re inside, so if you’d please step inside, it will handle the rest.”
Friedrich and Mary shared a brief glance before climbing into their pods. Lucy manipulated some more controls, and a gentle whirring started as the pods slowly closed.
“I’ll see you guys in a year and a half’s time.”