|"This is it! I am here!" Leeanne thought to herself as she stepped out of the teleporter and stared at the massive building in front of her. Cosmos, the largest restaurant in the world, even far exceeded the size of the place people called "The Mall of America" in the year 2000. Floors and floors of different varieties of food; too far to walk from one end to another. Looking upwards to the sky, she could not see the top of the building.
"How am I ever going to find him," Leeanne asked herself. "He did not tell me where to meet him. There is no way I can find him in this crowd. I do not even know what he looks like."
This was a blind date that her co-worker had arranged. From previous dating failures, she decided to meet Jacob at a neutral place. This way, if this was like the last blind date, she would never have to see him again. She had already made the mistake once by letting a date pick her up at her apartment. A total geek, but she went out with him because she did not want to hurt his feelings. Then he kept showing up and calling her, wondering why she never returned his calls. Not again, if this date did not work out, she would just disappear into the crowds. She would not give him her coordinates.
Marianna, her co-worker had kept pestering her to go out on dates more often. While Leeanne preferred to stay home and read books and teleport to different parts of the world, finally gave in. She got tired on the constant reminders of "you are getting older. Nobody will want to date you then. It is not normal for a twenty-one year old to not have a boyfriend. Hell, most women your age are already married. Look at me, I have been married for a year and I have three grown children."
True it was not like ancient history. A woman would have to carry around a baby inside her for nine months. She would have no idea if the baby would be a boy or a girl. Then she and her husband would have to take care of the baby for many years while he or she grew up. With today's technology, a husband and wife can decide the sex of the baby, put it in a test tube and within months have an eighteen year old boy or girl. She, herself had been born three years ago.
Yet, before she got settled down with a husband, she wanted to experience life for a while. Plus, while Marianna had proven to be a poor matchmaker so far, Leeanne had her own insecurities about herself. She was not sure if men would accept her for who she was.
While Cosmos was over 500 miles away, it was easy to get to. All she had to do was type the coordinate into her computer, step into her teleporter and she was there a few seconds later. This restaurant, built just a few years before she was born, boasted of food from different cultures of the world, even ones from ancient history. Yet this was the first time she had been here. She never found the sense of eating food when she had pills to provide her the nutrients she needed. She had the typical ones for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus she had the one that would help keep her hydrated. She did not see the sense of sitting down for an hour, or more, to eat a meal where taking taking a pill would take just a few seconds.
Well, this is where Jacob wanted to meet her. She might as well try to enjoy a meal at Cosmos. She walked through the massive double doors.
She stopped and looked around in shock. While the building itself was impressive, the inside itself was even more so. The place was crowded with people. Who would believe that this many people would rather eat food than just take a pill? It was as if the entire city was inside. Four people near by were arguing about what to eat.
"I want Chinese," said one.
"I want seafood."
"I want Mexican."
"We can have all three," said the woman. "Just take the pill."
"Pill," Leeanne thought to herself.
She watched as each person in the group ate a pill. Then they each got on a hovercraft.
"Chinese is at coordinates 195241. Let's go there first, Mexican is not far from there." The group of people drove off on the hovercrafts, floating inches from the floor.
"I hope they do not hit anybody with those," Leeanne thought to herself as they drove off.
"Hello," a thin blond woman approached Leeanne. "Welcome to Cosmos. I am Julie 097643. Are you waiting for someone?"
"Yes. A Jacob 137830. However, I do not know where he is."
Julie looked at the computer she was carrying in the palm of her hand. She spoke into it, "Jacob Lewis. Here it is. You must be Leanne 438596." Leeanne nodded her head. "He left a message that he will be here in two hours. So you have time to explore Cosmos by yourself." She handed her a card. "He wants you to use this while you are waiting. It has 20,000 credits on it. Come over here and I will get you set up."
"Get me set up for what?" Leeanne thought to herself as she followed Julie to a group of hovercrafts.
"This one will do," Julie said as she stopped in front of a red hovercraft.
"I have to operate one of those?"
"This must be your first time here. There is nothing to worry about; these are quite safe. This restaurant is too big for you to walk from one end to another. Why it is over 300 square miles, with hundred of floors.
"Put this bracelet on, I have your name typed in. When Jacob arrives he will know you are here and will tell you where to meet him. This hovercraft knows where each area of Cosmos is. For example, if you want to eat pizza either speak 'pizza' or the coordinates into the microphone. The hovercraft will take you there."
"I do not know how to drive these. What if I hit another hovercraft or a person?"
"Nothing to worry about. These have built in sensors. They know what is all around them. Just do not be in surprise if your craft suddenly rises high in the air. All you have to do is hang on to the handlebars and let the hovercraft do the driving. Oh, I almost forgot," Julie said. "Here is your pill."
"What do I need a pill for?"
"It is a Satiation Suppression Pill. You will probably want to try different type of food at Cosmos. This pill lets you eat what you want and you will not get full. You only stop eating when you want to."
Leanne swallowed the pills and suddenly she felt a funny sensation in her stomach. "Hey! I think I am hungry. What should I try first?"
"Mexican," she spoke into the hovercraft's microphone.
The hovercraft rose into the air and took off. Leeanne held tightly to the handlebars as the craft sped at breakneck speeds, everything passing below her in blurs. "I am going to fall off!" she screamed. Then she realized that there was a safety shield that kept her from falling as the hovercraft took sharp turns.
Soon the hovercraft slowed down and came to a stop. She got off and looked around. She was standing on sand. "This is a beach! I have never seen the ocean before!" People were lying around on blankets absorbing the sun. Some were in the ocean swimming and riding surf boards. She walked up to the deck, where people were eating.
"Welcome to Cosmos, Mexican. What would you like to eat?" a dark skinned man, wearing a sombrero, asked.
"I never had Mexican. What do you recommend?"
"Sit down here. I will get you something you will like." He returned a few minutes later with some burritos, nachos and salsa. "Enjoy your meal at Cosmos."
"This is delicious," Leeanne bit into the Taco, relishing the first bite. "Oh boy, this is hot," she said as the tried the salsa. The waiter returned with more water and cornbread.
"I am sorry, I should have warned you about the salsa. Here is you bill. I will charge it to your card. Do not worry about tips. They are included."
Leeanne walked back to the hovercraft. She still had some time to kill before Jacob arrived. She punched in some coordinates into the hovercraft. She was not sure where it would take her; she wanted to be surprised.
Once again the hovercraft was soaring through the air. Soon Leeanne found herself in a cold place. Snow was everywhere and people were running around throwing snowballs at each other. A polar bear approached her and said, "Welcome to Cosmos, North Pole. Would you like a snow cone?"
Leeanne would have loved one, but this part of the restaurant was much too cold and bitter for her. Maybe if she dressed warmer the next time, she would come back. Shivering violently, she walked back to the hovercraft.
"I never noticed this button before," Leeanne said. "I wonder what it does." She pressed the cruise button. Instead of speeding off, the craft rose a few inches off the floor and moved at a slower speed. This way Leeanne was able to see what food Cosmos offered more clearly.
She passed a sign that said Hobos. Men wearing torn and dirty clothing were sitting around garbage cans that were on fire. It looked like they were eating beans out of a can.
Another time she passed a sign that said Cannibals. "I don't even want to eat there," she said with a shudder as she passed.
She spent the next hour cruising Cosmos, sampling foods from different parts of the world, and even from different planets. Overall, Leeanne enjoyed what she had seen of Cosmos. She would come here more often.
The bracelet on her wrist buzzed. "He must be here." A message showed up on the screen: "Meet me at Eden. Jacob."
She spoke into the hovercraft's microphone, "Eden."
The hovercraft sped off once again to the center of cosmos. Then it rose up into the air. Higher and higher the hovercraft went up. Leeanne passed balconies of people eating their meals. Finally after going what seemed like 110 floors, the hovercraft glided to a stop. She got off and looked around. She was in a tropical rain forest.
Yet it was not like the tropical rain forest she had read about. Usually these were cold and wet. There were so many trees that they blocked the sun's ray from reaching the ground.
In this rain forest, while there were trees, there were not too many. She was was able to look around at all the beauty. The sky was the brightest blue Leeanne had ever seen, a beautiful rainbow arched across the entire forest. Looking around, she noticed all the animals. Typical of rain forests, there were lions, tigers, zebras, monkeys and gazelles. However, the predators were not hunting they prey. In fact, they were playing with each other and getting along. She even noticed other animals, that usually belongs in the snowy environment, such as polar bears and penguins being in this garden.
Leeanne jumped as a tiger rubbed against her. He lay down at her feet, purring. Hesitantly, she reached down with her hand and petted his head.
"How do you like Eden?"
Leeanne jumped at the voice behind her.
"Are you Jacob?" she asked, looking at a tall man with curly black hair. "Marianna did a good job this time," she thought to himself. "He is cute."
"Yes I am."
"This place is beautiful!"
"This is the top of the restaurant. I always like coming here because it is so peaceful. Hardly anybody comes to Eden. I am not sure why. Well it can gives us some privacy, where we can get to know each other a little better. Follow me, I have a place for us."
Jacob led Leeanne to an apple tree, where a tablecloth was spread out on the ground. "Our food will come shortly. I always prefer picnics than sitting at a table."
She sat down under the tree and studied Jacob. He appeared to be a quiet person; in a way he looked like he was a little sad. She glanced over to a stream nearby. Mermaids were playing in the water.
In a few minutes, centaurs came carrying baskets of food. As she stared at the creatures that had the upper bodies of men and the lower parts of horses, she thought, "I never knew they existed. I thought they were just from stories made up centuries ago."
One centaur poured glasses of wine and handed them to Leeanne and Jacob, while the others spread out the food on the tablecloth.
"This is delicious!" Leeanne exclaimed biting into a chicken leg. "I never realized that food tastes so good."
"Unfortunately people do not know what they are missing. While taking a few pills a day keeps them from going hungry, they are not enjoying the taste of food. With their busy lifestyles, they think that it is more convenient not to eat food."
"I have to agree. This is the first time I have eaten food. Now that I have, I want to eat more."
While they ate, Jacob and Leeanne talked, telling each other about their jobs. Leeanne decided that she liked Jacob. She would be interested in going out with him again. Yet he seemed guarded about himself. Sometimes when she asked him a personal question, he seemed to change the subject. She had talked freely about a couple of her dates and he did not mention anything about his.
The effect of the Satiation Suppression Pill were starting to wear off and she was starting to become full.
"I had a very good time," Jacob said as they finished eating ice cream cones.
"Me too," Leeanne said. While at the beginning of this date she had decided she would not tell him where she lived, she decided she wanted to go out with him again. Not alone was he handsome, he was mysterious. "Do you want my teleport address?" she asked.
Jacob was silent and slowly shook his head. "I am sorry, but we can not date anymore."
Leeanne was silent for a second, "I understand. It is just that I thought we hit it off."
"We did hit it off. However, it would not be fair to you if we did get married then you watch me as I grow older and age."
"I don't understand," she said.
"I am twenty-one years old," Jacob said. "However, I have been living for twenty-one years. My parents were poor and could not afford to have me born in the hospital like most people are born. They had learned how babies were born in ancient history and decided to have a baby the "natural" way."
"How is it different? We are both twenty-one years old."
"When I was born that way, I did not have the anti-aging gene. I am going to die at a much younger age than you If I am healthy, I can live well into my eighties and possibly a bit longer. See it wouldn't be fair to you. You will not even begin to age when I die."
"Actually, yes I will," Leeanne said. "People born in the tubes can live for a long time, one hundred fifty to two hundred years. In my case no. You see, I was born without the anti-aging gene. This is a very rare condition; the odds of this happening are one in a billion."
"Are you saying that you will grow older as I get older, age as I do?"
Jacob smiled, making him even more handsome.
"I guess this changes things. Leeanne, do you want to go on another date with me."
Leeanne smiled, happy that she met Jacob. "Yes, I want to very much." Jacob embraced her and they began kissing.