Sharp Fee

“HELLO!!??” Gavin yelled at the top of his lungs. His call echoed around the empty lobby; but, no one showed up. He managed to wait several seconds before getting fed up. Screaming was his resort. He rang the service bell on the desk several times and even tried calling the hotel number; no one answered. Finally, he decided to call the travel agent. Gavin’s panic died down once he heard another person’s voice.

“How can I help you, Mr. Walker?” Gavin was glad he wouldn’t have to dig out an account number or anything. He recognized the voice as the woman that put together the vacation for him. It was a small detail that helped him temper his anger. The woman on the other end sounded pleasant and willing to help. Gavin felt guilty for not remembering her name.

“Uh, hi. There’s no one here. I can’t check in to get a room. Where is everyone?”

“You requested the Lonely Planet package,” the woman replied. “There’s no one else there.” Gavins suddenly felt a knot growing in his stomach. “Pick any room you like.”

“Whoa… wait. I don’t have the money to rent out a whole hotel.,” he said. He hoped they would let him cancel due to what was obviously a misunderstanding.

“There won’t be any more fees on top of what you already paid,” the woman said. “However, if you’re unsatisfied with your current package, you may choose another destination. At Sharp Travel, we strive to do our best for our clients.”

Upon learning it wouldn’t cost him anything extra, Gavin reconsidered his situation. He did want some quiet time away from everything. Having an entire hotel to himself didn’t sound half bad all of a sudden. But, he was there via misunderstanding.

“Well, I think I’m here by accident,” Gavin apologized. He knew it was his own fault for lack of attention. “The travel guide, ‘Lonely Planet’ puts out vacation recommendations. That’s kind of what I wanted when I said ‘Lonely Planet’ package. But, since I’m here, it’s only right that I give it a fair shot. That being said, can you remind me again what this vacation is supposed to be like? I thought I knew what I was getting.”

“Of course, Mr. Walker. My name’s Lucy and I’m your personal concierge for this vacation. Anything you need, I’m at your service.  You signed up for a two-week ‘Lonely Planet’ package. For two weeks, you are the only human anywhere on that Earth. Many of our clients use these types of vacations to live out their ‘last person on Earth’ fantasies. You’ll find a welcome package with a node in the manager’s office. With that node, you can customize the Earth for your experience as you see fit.” Gavin spotted a door behind the check-in desk and headed toward it.

“Wait,” he asked. “I’m the only human on Earth? How’d you do that? Where are you?”

“On another Earth,” Lucy replied. She tried to maintain an even tone, but Gavin heard a slight, ‘duh’ in her voice. In the manager’s small office he found a white folder with the travel company’s logo- a pair of red scissors- on the front. He opened it to find several welcome pamphlets as well as a smaller red envelope. A card-sized pane of glass was in the envelope; its display lit up to show the time when he touched it.

“So, not only do other Earths really exist. For a few thousand dollars I can rent one out for two weeks? That seems ridiculously cheap.” Gavin sat down at the manager’s desk and began playing with the node. After it greeted him, it started to ask him questions about the kind of Earth he wanted to vacation on.

“Sharp Travel isn’t about making money, Mr. Walker. We simply want to give our clients the best vacation of their life. Honestly, the money is just a service fee.” Gavin pressed enter on his last choice. Then, the node displayed a new message.

[Cyber-future template selected. Build time – 8 hours.] Gavin didn’t know exactly what that meant, but he hoped it would somehow give the hotel a futuristic look.

“Service fee?” Gavin chuckled. He put the node down and stopped splitting his attention. “My signature on a few forms hardly seems like it’s worth this amazing vacation.”

“I did inform you that your soul was part of the transaction,” Lucy said.

“Wait… you were serious!??” Gavin was glad he was seated; his head spun at the news. “I thought you were joking because of your slogan. ‘Vacations worth selling your soul’,” he repeated as if she didn’t work for the company. “I don’t want to sell my soul! Cancel everything!”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Walker. If you had changed your mind five minutes ago, I would have been happy to refund your soul. However, you’ve already used the amenities. There is actually another reminder on the node before you use it; which, you also agreed to.” Gavin vaguely remembered seeing the word ‘soul’ somewhere in the wall of text he acknowledged. He accepted the responsibility of his situation with a heavy sigh.

“Is there anything you can do for me?” Gavin begged.

“Let me check,” Lucy said. After a few quiet moments, she spoke up again.

“Mr. Walker, because it’s the slow season I can extend your vacation for three more days if you like.”

“Well,… it’s better than nothing,” he replied with a shrug.

“Great! Your total comes out to $627.33 cents. Is it okay if I pull it out of the same account you paid with?”

“You’re charging me!?” he asked.

“Of course not, Mr. Walker, we already own your soul. However, there is still a service fee.”

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