The Our Little Secret Travel Agency – Chapter 9: The Initialization


Morgana’s eyeballs feel like they are being sucked into an electro-magnetic vortex as her consciousness corkscrews through some other dimension. The Brain-Computer Interface has been activated and fully initialized.

Her inert body, now covered head-to-toe with a lightweight insulation blanket, lies cadaver-like on the gurney in the pink lab. Her body’s functions have slowed almost to a standstill and her skin takes on a greyish pallor. Its flame of sentience reduced to a flickering pilot light, her old body is a mere flabby bag of bones, an empty house: lights off, nobody’s home.

She slowly wakes up in her new body, hot off the 3D press.

How strangely different is this new body! Relaxed just short of the seductive tranquility of death, she subliminally perceives the undulating sensation that she is floating in a warm, blue sea of peace.

Her tenem opens its eyes, their gaze fixed on sylph-like hands as they show themselves off to her newly-dawned and utterly-amazed awareness, each of their long, tapered, young, flawlessly-manicured fingers moving gracefully. The hands seem to be on a reconnaissance mission as they reach for the top of her head, the fingers burrowing into the soft tangle of long curls. They trace their way over her high cheek boned, dewy face, the smooth contours of her long, willowy neck, over her satiny shoulders and trim, toned arms, the smallish breasts, soft yet so firm, the tiny waist, the slim hips, and the flat abdomen with just the slightest hint of roundness. Her “delta of Venus” is already pulsing with new life. She wiggles her new toes, flexes and stretches her feet and ankles, stiffens her legs and then bends her knees and hugs them up to her chest. The hands massage her left foot, and then her right, caressing the curves of both legs as she draws them gently upwards, exploring their cool perfection. This new body, so deliciously alive!

“Rain? Can you hear me?”

She now realizes that not only is she naked, but that she is not alone. Instantly, she is embarrassed that the sensual delight she has just experienced has been observed.

Rain turns her new head and sees an attractive older woman in a white lab coat sitting next to the bed, making notes on a clipboard.

Disoriented, Rain tries to remember her “real” name, and cannot. So powerful is this urge to remember who she really is that she almost cannot think of anything else.

“Rain,” says the woman, “My name is Veronica. I know your mind is racing, trying to reconnect to your real, physical self, but please focus on me, right here, right now.”

“Who am I?” demands Rain. As the words come out of her mouth, she is surprised not only because she uttered them, but even more so that she doesn’t recognize her own voice.

“Your name is ‘Rain’—the name that you chose for yourself and your ‘tenem,’ your new body. Your real name is not accessible to you while you are in tenem mode.”

Veronica checks Rain’s facial expressions to see if she understands.

Rain nods her head. “Yes, it’s coming back to me now.” She likes this new voice of hers, and thinks it’s an improvement over her old voice. The pitch is just a tad higher and has a mellower, more pleasant quality—not at all nasal—not that she ever thought about it before. Even though she’s not quite sure how to classify the accent, she does know that it sounds rather refined.

Veronica continues slowly, careful to enunciate clearly and evenly. “Good, very good. Your memories are somewhat accessible, but you will not be able to recall the city or state that you live in, the names of your family and friends, employers, etc. You will recall enough general information so that who you are as a person remains intact, but not enough to enable you or anyone else to encroach upon your present, real-world life.”

Rain’s focus sharpens as Veronica’s silver curls and soft features fill the frame of her vision.

“Yes, I remember now…The Our Little Secret Travel Agency…I’m finally here—in Switzerland…”

Veronica smiles. “Good! We’re on the right track! Let’s work the kinks out of your tenem and see if there’s anything that needs our attention. Before we do anything, though, let’s make sure that you can see properly—it just wouldn’t do to have you stumble around and ruin that beautiful face the first day you’re using it, right?”

As soon as Veronica props Rain up in bed with two fluffy pillows and tucks the sheet modestly high across her chest and under her arms, she produces a stack of large cards with random pictures of shoes, a truck, vegetables, a computer, and other items. Rain’s task is only to name what she sees and does so with no hesitation. A quick examination using an eye chart confirms that she has 20-20 vision. Veronica’s check list of mini-tests shows that Rain is able to track motion with no delays, and has the peripheral vision, depth perception and hand-eye coordination of a teenager.

Next, Veronica offers a hand mirror to Rain. She sees herself for a delighted instant and her image is immediately blurred. She blinks away the first few tears of emotion, and her vision is even sharper than anything she has ever experienced before.

She takes a deep breath and exhales a very contented, peaceful sigh.

Veronica gets up from the bedside and opens the closet behind her. A rack of beautiful, brand new clothing is illuminated by soft interior lighting.

“Any special requests? We’ll be taking a tour of the Spa facilities! Anything you choose will be appropriate. For today, we will not be going outside since this visit is just to get you accustomed to your tenem and to acquaint you with the Spa and some of what it has to offer.”

And just because she can, Rain chooses a slinky, strapless, orange tube mini-dress that fits like a glove with high platform shoes.

“The shoes are great, Rain, but I’d go with something lower until you get your bearings. Walking shouldn’t be a problem but your equilibrium has to refine itself. Those platforms will still be waiting for you next time.”

Rain considers the wisdom of practicality and quickly agrees.

Veronica locates the perfect alternative and holds them out for Rain’s approval.

“Meanwhile, how about these cute little cork-wedge sandals with these sparkley orange and turquoise gemstones?”

Rain slides her feet into the sandals which fit perfectly!

“I would never wear something like this in my real life. The old me would look incredibly ridiculous in this whole get-up,” she laughs.

Veronica guides the sheet-draped Rain from the bed to the dresser, where she chooses a pair of black, lacy bikini panties and a matching strapless push-up brassiere. Her modesty gone, she quickly dons the sexy underthings and wriggles into her orange tube dress. Veronica hovers nearby to make sure she doesn’t fall.

Looking this good, feeling this toned, this sexy, this attractive, is a new experience, almost spiritual if it weren’t so carnally exhilarating! This could never get boring, she thinks, as she remembers not her name but her real body, the one lying inert on the gurney in the pink lab. Oh, how she hates to be so wrapped up in her physical being, but how delectable it is to have a physical being such as this to be wrapped up in!

“What are you thinking, Rain?”

Rain twirls and sashays in front of the mirror, totally smitten with her reflection.

“I can’t believe this is me! I’ve got to be dreaming.”

“You will be happy to know that you will always be delighted by your tenem because the contrast of going back and forth between your real body and your tenem will keep this thrill alive for the duration of your ‘travels’ with The Our Little Secret Travel Agency.”

Rain tries not to think of the day when her tenem will no longer be hers.

“Are you ready to see the Spa?”

Rain does a final twirl in front of the mirror. “Absolutely!”

Veronica puts her chart on the dresser, takes off her lab coat, folds it and places it on top of the chart. She is dressed to the nines. Suddenly, she doesn’t look that old. Old people just don’t have faces and bodies like that, right?

Offering Rain her arm, she says, “Shall we go?”

Rain takes Veronica’s arm as the door closes behind them.

“Oh, how lovely! It looks like I’ve got a heart-shaped birthmark on my hand!”

“Oh, my!” says Veronica, examining the back of her right hand. “Indeed you do! I’d take that as a lucky sign!”

They walk slowly down a plushly-carpeted hallway with glass walls to keep the blue-cast, glacier-covered mountains at bay. Gaining momentum and fluidity, Rain’s first tentative steps turn into a confident, graceful stride.

“The first stop is The Lounge. You can come here anytime you like. We have twenty-four hour a day live music, if you’re in the mood—and around here, it seems like most people are! And there’s always a good crowd of people in there. Do you like to dance?”

“Oh, yes! How I love to dance! I just haven’t done it in years!”

“Well, good thing you’re here now. I have the feeling you will make up for lost time!”

As they approach the lounge, a small crowd of gaily chatting and laughing people exit through the smoky-glassed doors, bringing with them the driving, deafening music that would wake up the deadest of the dead for one last dance:

Music Credit: Embedded Youtube Video, ‘Ca plane pour moi’ version 2010, by Lou Deprijck

Illustration Credit:

To Be Continued in Chapter 10: A Rainy Day with the Spabots


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Filed under Proto-Novela, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Short Story Series

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