Harmony Chapter 3: First Class

Filed: Harmony @ 5:24am on November 2, 2010 No comments yet! :(   Word Count: 1,893
This entry is part 3 of 27 in the series Harmony

After a few weeks spent entirely alone in the economic section of the ship, I started to seriously feel space sick. Have you ever spent weeks without seeing a single human being while being assured you wouldn’t feel contact with another person before at least another 10 months?

Can you realize spending your birthday alone without having anyone to talk to? Can you understand the loneliness of waking up in the morning and not bothering to put clothes on all day long simply because there is no chances of meeting anyone? This is enough to drive anyone crazy, including me. I was approaching a breaking point. That’s when I realized something odd. On the ship, everything works with fingerprints.

Want to open your cabin door? Put your thumb on the scanner.

Want to eat food? Put your thumb on the scanner.

Want to unlock the exercise room door? Put your thumb on the scanner.

Rules are clearly labelled next to each door. The exercise room is open 24 hours a day for business class travellers and from 10 to 11 in the morning for economic class travellers.

Now that I was alone, I simply kept the exercise room door opened at all time but the stupid cleaning robot usually fixed it every 2 or 3 days forcing me to wait until the next day to use the room.

One morning however, the door unlocked even thought it was only 9h55 in the morning. It wasn’t supposed to unlock, but it did. Economic class visitors get a brunch at 9h00 AM and a supper at 5h00 PM. Business class visitors used to get a breakfast at 8h00, a dinner at noon and a supper at 6h00 PM.

We simply had to thumb-in a few minutes ahead to reserve our meal. Forget to thumb-in? No meal.

I thus took a chance and a little before noon, pressed my thumb to get dinner. To my surprise, the distributer served me a meal despite not being allowed in my meal plan.

I re-read my paper ticket and it clearly indicated I was in economic class and thus, only allowed two meals per day, at 9h00 AM and 5h00 PM.

Does being the only traveller in this sector enable me for a class increase? I doubted it but there was no one I could really ask. The computer system had a helpdesk, but it was fully automated and completely unhelpful.

I only understood when I consulted my medical files. Every few days, you had to visit the automated medical center to get your blood pressure taken in case the low gravity affected your health.

You could also ask questions and have additional tests performed but being in good health, I never needed it.

The next time I went for my blood pressure however, I asked for a print-out of my medical history since I boarded the ship and discovered that it was under the name “Harmony Ferrat” and not “Harmony Smith”, the faked name printed on my ticket.

This meant that my parents didn’t have the time yet to inform the ship computer system of my exile and that it still recognized me as the heir to my mother’s empire, possibly from the personal files.

Being a future owner has it’s privileges, so I dressed back up, grabbed all my things and approached the service elevator which should be locked to all travellers and reserved to personnel for emergencies.

When I pressed my thumb on the lock and the door opened, I exploded in joy at the knowledge that in a few minutes, I would be in first class!

Meals whenever I would want them, greater choice of food, a massage parlor, movie theater, big rooms with a private bathroom, windows everywhere, in short, the great life!

But more importantly, human attendants. Someone to talk to. When I arrived in the outermost deck , I ran across the halls hoping to meet someone, perhaps a lone first class traveller going to the same destination as I was but the entire place was just as deserted as the economic level.

Soon enough however, an officer reached me asking me what I was doing here and how I got access. I hadn’t seen a fellow human being in over 4 weeks and I almost ran to him to hug him.

Instead, I kept my composure and addressed him the way I was raised to treat servants.

“Not bad. Not bad at all. Good reaction time despite the surprise. Did you see me on the monitors or did an alarm trip ?”

“Pardon me lady, you are not allowed here. You have an economic class ticket. This is the first class”.

“Do you think I don’t know that ? I am here undercover. My mother asked me to survey this ships to get acquainted with its operation so I would be a good CEO. I knew enough about economy and decided to learn more about first class.”

“Your mother ?”

“I am Harmony Ferrat, heir to the Transworld Shipping Conglomerate. I can provide my thumbprint for identification”

Doubtful, the officer approached with his portable terminal and verified my identity.

“We were not informed of your presence.”

“I didn’t want special treatment then. Now that I am done, you will treat me properly.”

“Are you still debarking on Sigma 8 ?”

I couldn’t tell them that I am moving there.

“Yes. Another ship is in route and will pick me up for the return trip. I’ll need to inspect them as well.”

I didn’t have a ticket back and didn’t know when the next ship was really scheduled, but he didn’t need to know that.

I quickly learned that the first class was equally empty. With my exception, the ship was now only a cargo vessel dropping supplies to another colony before travelling to my final destination. Each time a ship docked to a space port, containers were left in orbit with much needed supplies and retrieved precious minerals or simply agricultural products.

The automated orbital port and the standard land counterpart did the rest, allowing the ship to remain in orbit only a few hours.

Passengers were almost an afterthought. The cargo ships needed a crew and colonies needed immigrants, so why not simply sell tickets in the habitable sections of the cargo ships instead of still splitting passenger ships and cargo ships into two fleets ?

But the cargo routes couldn’t change. Now that there were passengers on board, using a direct route would have been logical. Sigma 8 was only 5 months away from the solar system, but because it was at the far end of a 5 star system route, it took 14 months to get there and 12 to get back, skipping one of the systems on his forward route.

Splitting the route in two wasn’t even possible. The new home of the Clark family most likely had goods traded with our next stop or even with the Sigma 8 colony simply because they were all in the same route.

A certain grain which grew easily there might not find a suitable climate on Sigma 8 but could cost too much to ship to Earth to compete with the locally grown version on the birth planet of humanity.

So, the rare direct passenger companies closed due to the low cost of adding passenger capacity on the longer but more frequent cargo routes.Passenger used to hate it, but with time they had to accept the lack of alternatives.

The real problems began when the routes became too long. When the system began, the outer colonies were all less than 2 months away from Earth.

Getting 100 people on a few months journey wasn’t that bad. You needed to store a lot of food, offer automated medical assistance and laundry services. Add exercising and a book library and you could get most of these people to be patient enough to last 3 or even 4 months.

But how can you get a rich magnate to stay in place for a 8 to 15 months trip ? Even the movie theater becomes old after a few months since there would be no additions during the trip. Exercising in a gym isn’t necessarily their style.

Instead, they get spa treatments, virtual reality systems and plenty of sports activities, starting with a pool. Yes, a pool. In the economic sector, I had the right to take one shower per day and it was limited to 1 minute of water which I could turn on or off a few times to last a few minutes. If you still had shampoo in your hair when the water was stopped, you had to use the sink.

Now, I could relax in the heated pool all day long while watching a movie on a giant monitor.

Normally, I’d need a bathing suit but I didn’t have one and I was the only passenger in first class anyway. I did see attendants from time to time.

For example, the food was served by a chef instead of by an automated microwave and health check-up was done by the ship’s medic instead of by the automated medical system.

But I no longer had to choose between wearing my now almost torn-up clothes and being naked. I now had access to fresh bath towels allowing me to remain modest without looking like trash.

It was a sweat life.

The crew all kissed up to me because they thought I was their future CEO and I brought some variety in their daily conversations. Most of them hadn’t been on Earth for decades and in many cases, have not even left their ships for years.

I even got a tour of the sections reserved for employees, including the bridge from which all operations were handled. I quickly discovered that their job consisted of doing almost nothing all day long. Their trip was just as boring as it was for the passengers, but without most of the perks of the first class.

Soon enough, routine returned and being bored in economic class no longer seemed any worse than being bored in first class.

The food was better, but still repetitive.

Even the pool became like a chore after a while.

The only thing I really enjoyed was the beauty technician, Cathy. She was a hairdresser and massage therapists which officially charged for her services but since there was no other passengers on board, I got my nails done and a lengthy massage free of charge on a daily basis and my hair trimmed to be kept in perfect shape whenever needed.

She even continued my legs hair laser removal I had started back home. I did like how this trip was slowly letting my hair grow. My mother had always insisted I kept it only slightly below the shoulder but it was already significantly longer despite Cathy’s work.

When the ship finally stopped in a star system, I felt relieved that I was finally arriving to my final destination, but it was just our 4th stop. I still had another 4 month to go on my 14 months journey.

I was officially one year older then when I left and my brother I never met was most likely already married, having taken the place I was raised to take.

Leaving the star system left me completely with the blues. I was depressed even more than when I left because now I was out of choices. I couldn’t avoid Sigma 8 even if I wanted to. That was where I would leave the ship and mostly likely, where I would die and I had no one I could share my burden with.

Series Navigation«Harmony Chapter 2: The shipHarmony Chapter 4: Landing»

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