“Running is not allowed.” This was the third time and much louder.
Jordan gave up ignoring the the otherwise unperturbed voice in his ear. “Yeah, yeah. Only on treadmills. Shouldn’t you be asking me to walk?”
“I tried but it seems your receptiveness to well reasoned suggestions is lacking.” She could say that again.
Jordan glanced up at the displayed time and saw only a few minutes before the scheduled departure. He didn’t need to make the launch, but he wanted to see her again.
“I will have to notify the authorities as you are not self-regulating.” The tone of voice didn’t change for the threat, but Angie didn’t have that capability as a ten year old version of the virtual assistant software.
“Ang, could you give me two more minutes? I promise I will keep the running to just the gym after this.” He dodged past surprised tourists visiting the habitat. Their guide calling after him.
“I cannot promise that others are not going to call you in, and I will definitely have to file a report.” Jordan could imagine her as a woman taking a grumpy tone and crossing her arms. He had to grin at that.
“It’s totally worth it.” He thought of the girl he had met so many months ago, Gertrude. She was on the habitat with her parents, inspectors, for the last three months. No one really wanted to get to know her because inspectors were an odd entity, both ensuring the safety of the habitat but also finding things that needed money in order to fix.
They were also there for only three months, another reason that the shy, pretty girl really wasn’t making any friends. Jordan had his daydreams, what boy doesn’t? But he was so unsure of himself that he really didn’t meet her until last week when his parents invited her and her parents over for dinner.
They hit it off, and talked most of the rest of the week whenever they could get a bit of free time. They mostly discussed sci-fi, specifically from the twentieth and early twentieth-first centuries. They both had vast electronic libraries that their parents had allowed them to read as well as a few very precious volumes of printed books. With all of that distraction all of his teenage romantic plans disappeared while they discussed how it must have been back then. The wide range of sci-fi that had never come true, or was yet to come true, and the very few that did.
How could those people live without all the conveniences of today? And all but a very few were stuck on the planet surface, living out their entire lives without visiting Jupiter or Venus.
He skidded to a stop and hit a clear section of rail causing the other onlookers to give him nasty looks. He scanned the line and saw her scanning the railing. He waved, she waved and smiled. If he had only been able to get up earlier then he could have said something to her, because last night he had a realization, he really enjoyed spending time with her.
He watched as she boarded the sleek HAL (High Altitude Lander.) It detached from all the different tubes and maneuvered away from the habitat. Just then Venus came into view with its swirling yellow clouds and silver towers stirring the brew. The white ship with red-striping became backlit, even with the habitat lights on it. A silhouette of darkness.
“Was it worth it?” Jordan was glad that her inflection was non-existent, he was sure she would have put a bit of sting into it.
“No,” if he had been ten minutes earlier he could have actually talked to her, not just waved like a maniac. “Yes.” It was, she had asked him to wave at her as she left and he had. They would be able to communicate, and Jordan was looking forward to it, though maybe he should remember to write his grandmother, the one who got him hooked on sci-fi in general, and thank her.