And, With StraightSoul

h1={color:#000;}. And, With StraightSoul

By DC Vermillion

Copyright © 2016 By DC Vermillion. All Right Reserved.

Published by DC Vermillion at Shakespir.

No part of this material may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of very brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

Disclaimer: Any similarities to any persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This is a work of fiction.


Dedication: To my wife, Debra. Thank you for all your love and support in making this possible. And also to Andy, Twiggy, Terry, Brice and Mic for suffering as my beta readers on this project and others… Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten this done. Thank you. And also to the dear reader, I hope that you enjoy this work of fiction.


And, With StraightSoul

“…You get our million dollar, million year, guarantee. Simply the best offer ever made, anywhere!”

The middle-aged man, in the commercial, looks to be a scientist, or doctor, or something. He has a white lab coat, stethoscope, and salt & pepper hair, that’s too slick by half. His voice drips honey smoothness, while his eyes convey honesty. I couldn’t be sicker to my stomach. My temples throb. I’ve seen this one before, several dozen times.

The man strides to a bank of square black boxes that twinkle with blue, green, and red lights. It stands several times his height, against a wall of black granite. Granite is used, I imagine, to convey the permanency of this offer. I wonder if a place like that really does exist outside of whatever studio it was shot in. The throbbing in my temples dulls a bit. I’ve been at this for what seems like an eternity.

But, as the lead attorney for LaMey & Fisk, I know I must push on. If we are to be ready for our class-action lawsuit by week’s end, I have to. There’s a hole in the clauses somewhere, I’m certain. I search through the reams of terms and conditions.

The man in the lab coat drones on. “Using our patented Spiritual Optimization by Utilizing Logarithms, or S.O.U.L., we will guarantee a Virtual Paradise for you, or your loved one’s, consciousness for well over the next million years.” The actor folds his hands. “We will all pass on, one day. But, with StraightSoul, when you do pass on, we’ll ensure your consciousness is transferred into our servers. And at a cost of only one million dollars, why, that’s less than a dollar, per year.”

The camera cuts to animation of geothermal generators changing the Earth’s internal heat directly into electricity, without moving parts. Another man, another lab coat, says even NASA guarantees that their generators, along with the black, twinkling servers, will work well past a million years. I no longer pay attention to the slick packaging; I know it all by heart.

No moving parts means no wear, and with the seismically stable vault, the souls are guaranteed. But I don’t care about guarantees; it’s the warranties that are important. Nothing can be over-looked, if the dearly departed’s families are going to have a chance, in court. But how do I fight a company that has sold over a million, million dollar products, in the last twelve months alone? It’s a trillion dollar company versus me, and my firm. How can I win?

I know others are working different angles, but I simply can’t rely on some nameless and faceless ‘others’ to do their work. I must do mine while I can. I wonder what day it is, realizing immediately it’s Sunday, and just past noon. Church is out.

My wife Patrice will be home soon, and she will want to run over to Stanley and Marge Waverley’s house. Marge is Patty’s sister, and Stan’s been a close friend, since college. We do it every week. There’s a knock at the door.

I ignore it, and then stretch a bit. My back cracks. Looking at the television wall, I’m thankful the commercial is over. The white door to my study opens.

“Everything okay in here, Donald?” asks Patrice. She pokes her beautiful head into the room.

I never heard the car pull up, and wonder if the brilliant blue hologram numbers on the desk are correct. Sapphire jewels hang, midair, in the shape of two after twelve. It should read one o’clock, for her to be home.

She steps into the room, looking as lovely as ever, in a tan and black dress, with matching high heels, that seem tailored to order. The bill in the drawer says they were. I don’t mind, it relieves the headache. Her face, filled with curiosity, is framed with her curly blonde locks.

“Just work, and remnants of my hangover.”

“Ah ha! So you WERE drinking last night. I never even heard you come in. I thought maybe you were—” The curiosity drains from her, replaced by a look of anger? Betrayal? Goodness knows what she is thinking after my confession.

Pangs of guilt mix with hunger. I realize I haven’t eaten for a while. Dear Patrice, she’s worried for me. Or maybe she’s worried I was having another fling, like I did twenty odd years ago with her roommate. Even after all these years, somehow, the haunted look in her eyes said that the trust wasn’t earned back. I wonder if it ever will be. Maybe it’s my imagination this time.

“Another Jill?” she asks.

“That was over twenty years ago, and she’s been dead for ten.”

“Then what was it!”

“I’m sorry, it’s this case.”

“It’s always; this case.”

“This is different,” I say, briskly.

“It’s always different!” she shouts, leaving the study. She slams the door behind her.

Moments tick by in silence as I wait, listening for Patrice’s footfalls going down the hall. It never comes. Picking up a pencil and legal pad, to begin again, I hear her muffled voice from behind the door.

“Are you sober enough to go to Stanley and Marge’s house, for lunch?”

“I’m sober. My head hurts is all.”

“Good, they are expecting us at one thirty. So, get ready.”

With a mind to protest, I toss the pencil and pad back onto the desk. I need to work, but also need to make up for being out so late. I’d surprised myself by blurting out that it was a hangover.

That’s what it felt like, although I don’t remember drinking. The previous evening is blurry in my mind. All I can recall is lab coats, and images of the actor from the commercial. I realize I’ve been at this way too long, and decide making up is the best course. Besides, after an evening off, maybe I’ll see things from a new angle, find a better approach. My mind works like that.

My old friend, Dr. Stanley Waverley, would agree, as he knows me so well. Never mind the fact that he’s a neurosurgeon. He’s likely to come up with a dozen reasons why. I really should’ve married his sister, Jill.

“Are you going to get ready?” came the terse, yet muffled voice of Patrice, from the other side of the door.

Running my hand through my hair, I call back yes, and then slip my shoes over bare feet. The white shirt and black pants, that I’m wearing, are obviously slept in.

“I’ll need to shower first.”

My voice carries and Patrice’s responds nearly instantaneously. “Your things are already hanging in the bathroom,”

No more words are exchanged between us, until we are on I-80 with my hair dripping in my eyes as I drive. We bypass the city. Drops of water stain the shoulders of my gray dinner jacket. Patrice broods in the passenger seat of our limited edition, Classic Rapscallion Elite. With its brown, leather, chesterfield seating, it makes me nostalgic. Patrice’s Uncle, Anton LaMey, had given me one to take Patty on our first date. That day stood crystallized in my memory, as it was the first time I met Patty and Jill. My mind turns to Stanley.

“Maybe I’ll ask Stanley to be deposed this week,” I mumble aloud. “As an expert witness.” I know he’s no fan of this computerized spirit mumbo jumbo. He’s voiced concerns over neurological damage, in a few of the major journals. The idea flickered to life, before fading.

“Are you kidding me?” asks Patty, with bewilderment. “Marge’s application for StraightSoul approval has been held up for weeks, probably because of our friendship with them. You’d have Stanley risk that? Senators and Congressmen have been turned down, for less.”

“Well, maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

“Being turned down from a chance at living forever NOT a bad thing? You have your head way too deep into this case.”

“That’s not living,” I say, referring to the black boxed, Virtual Paradise. “Heck, to me, it smells of fraud. And I believe it’s been Stan’s unwillingness to sign off on having probes sunk into his wife’s head, that’s been the hold up. There’s no guarantee on such a procedure.”

Patrice looks at me quizzically. “And how many people have had the procedure done?”

I take my eyes off Sunday traffic for a moment to answer. “You mean this past year? Or in total.”

“In total. The United States and World.” My wife’s voice is light and sweet, thinly disguising the rattrap I know is now set. Light traffic gives way to slate skies. We crest a hill, and the first sprinkles of the approaching storm hit the windshield.

“Around eight million from the US and fifteen million worldwide.”

“And how many complaints from those that actually had the procedure done?”

I already know the answer from the newspapers, television, and my own personal investigations. This was the deathly question that spelled the doom for our case. It was the hard scaly question, which stood boldly, on cloven hooves. The one question I was working to get around.

“Not one complaint,” I say, collapsing inward slightly. Sprinkles turn to sheets of gray rain, hitting the car at once, with a thud. I stare hard into the watery spray of the sudden deluge.

“Then why not just give it a rest, if not for good, then for at least one evening.”

Patrice’s demure lips, and pleading gray eyes, work at me. I swear off bringing the subject up at dinner, maneuvering through dark curtains of water sloshing from the sky and off the roadway. We settle into solitude, as I turn down the correct off ramp, a little late, before halting the car. We’re a foot past the stop sign that I didn’t see. Looking both ways, I barely notice Patrice deftly turning on the Auto Drive.

Pulling my hands away from the steering wheel, it disappears into the dashboard. A protest works its way up my throat, dragging a taste of bile.

“Hey! I was—”

“Taking too long looking for cars coming, when the Auto Drive can do it better. It’s like this case. Sometimes it’s better to just let go.” The car rolls smoothly forward, as Patrice bats her eyes. Patting her flat abdomen, she admonishes, “No need to be such a Luddite.”

My ears burn.

Wearing my best stern look, I stare up at the mirror. My hair is still a mess, and I decide to brush it out during the last two miles of our trek. Though, subconsciously, my mind plays out the fight that I know better than to start. The Luddite jab is in reference to my first client, Marcus Lud. Had I known, those long years ago, that he, and his group of terrorists, would be responsible for Jill’s death, things would have been different. I grit my teeth. They would have been very different.

We pull up to the Waverley’s young willow tree, at the edge of their cul-de-sac. The car announces our drive is complete, in a sultry, country girl accent, one hundred feet from the submerged sidewalk.

The whole of creation becomes a carwash, as the wind picks up. We watch, as the willow beats and thumps at the window and side of the car. The windshield’s view blurs with wave after wave of dark rain.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” escapes my mouth, as I restart the car. It demands the destination in the same sultry voice as before. It was the voice of Jill.

“Kittens? Is that correct? Kittens are sold on Sandor drive, five miles.”

“I said KIDDING, you Damn Car!”

“McKinley’s Drapes and Carpet, twelve miles,” taunts the voice from beyond. The dashboard lights up. We pull forward. “Shall we take the expressway?” Jill asks.

“Shutdown!” I demand, all too quickly. We are still fifty feet shy of the submerged sidewalk.

“Shutdown complete.” Jill’s voice trails off, fading in memory.

“Now honey,” says Patrice. “You know better than to argue with the car. She always wins.”

A giggle later, and we both look to the back seat. The handle of her pink umbrella smiles at me wickedly, next to my Fuller’s Fedora.

Its wide brim, and rare sparrow’s feather, peeks timidly over the edge. I find myself yearning for the common bird of my youth, which has nearly died out. Facing my wife, inches away, I stare blankly as a suggestion forms. But today she plays the mind reader. She cuts me off, before I speak.

“Not on your life, Mr. Attorney-at-law.”

My eyes sadden. “But this jacket is expensive. It’s silk, real silk.”

“As is my dress,” she says, before snatching the umbrella. “You should have brought one of these instead of that stupid hat.”

A peck on my cheek, and Patrice opens her door, slightly. The crack allows some rain in, and the pink tendrils of the personal umbrella shield to snake around the chrome windowpane. It protects her shapely, tan and black, silk dress, from the weather. With the whirling neon pink shield in place, she steps forth, regally. I screw my Fuller’s Fedora onto my head, rare sparrow feather and all, before marching into the storm. It reminds me of a certain other Sunday, years ago, with Jill. Faced with a similar storm, with the same umbrella, we’d shared it to my door.

With ice water up to our ankles, Patrice stays five steps ahead of me. We sprint to the front door. It opens. Marge welcomes us in, though we trail water. I’m sodden, to the bone. Stan, whom hid behind the mahogany door, flings a warm, blue towel around my shoulders. Water leeches off onto the dark wood floor.

“Boy Donald, you’re soaked,” he says. I discover that only a neurosurgeon can make that kind of statement sound intelligent. I bite my tongue. “Here, let me take that,” he continues. He pulls my Fedora from my head, spilling nearly a half-quart of water. My priceless, yet now vapid, sparrow feather flops onto the floor, with a splat.

My heart sinks, and I blurt out, “Your MOP isn’t on, is it?” without thinking.

With the words ‘MOP’ and ‘on,’ the mechanical insect, hiding in its place in the wall, whirls to life. It darts out. Its white plastic octagonal pods rotate swiftly. It glides across the floor in half a second. I spring to the side, with a mind to smash the bug with my foot, as it sucks up some of the water, and my hat’s feather, in the next half second.

All I manage is to look ridiculous. I curse under my breath, standing on one foot. I yearn to smash the thing. Raising my knee up and down, my intentions are obvious. Patrice shakes her head no. Lowering my leg, I watch as the girls head to the dinner table.

Out of earshot, Marge’s brunette hair shakes despondently to whatever my wife is telling her. I can only guess it has something to do with me. They giggle.

Stanley’s balding forehead wrinkles into a washboard of concern. “Hey, mind if we take a trip to the utility room? You’re still dripping, and your clothes look like they could take a spin in the microwave. What do you say?”

Wrapping a beefy arm around my shoulder, Stanley squeezes water from my clothes, with the slightest bit of pressure. About to protest, because of the delicate fabric of my jacket, I realize that the rain has probably already ruined it. I resign myself to doing as told. I shiver.

My shoes squish and slurp at my feet, making a trail for the automated centipede, called MOP, to clean up later. We reach the emerald carpeted, and spacious, utility room.

Opening the large black rectangle, of the clothing microwave’s door, Stanley pulls out a stack of folded towels. He tosses one to me before setting the stack on their pool table, in the center of the room.

“Shoes first, then the rest of it,” he says.

I pour about a cup of water from each shoe onto the floor, before handing them to Stanley. Metallic clicking, on hard wood, tells me MOP is on the move. Being phobic about the thing, I hurry. My shivering intensifies.

In moments, I’m standing in wet boxers and tee shirt, nearly convulsing with cold. Stanley places the last of my clothes, with hat on top, into the microwave. He sets it to high dry.

“N-n-n-no….itds…ss-sa silk!” my mouth chatters out, between rattling teeth.

“Oops. No problem.” His fingers dance at the controls. “I’ll do gentle dry and fold instead.” Twenty minutes begin to rotate and count down in the holographic display. “All’s good. Now take another towel and dry off, before you catch your death.”

Grateful, my shivering hands accept the offered green towel. I find relief; until he suggests we go eat with the girls. There’s no way I’m leaving the utility room without my clothes.

Drying my hair, and paying close attention to the sounds of the automated mop, I exclaim, “Are you kidding? I can’t go out there like this.”

“Like what?” asks Marge. Her voice comes around the corner as I swiftly pull the towel from my head and tie it tight around my waist. It leaves my hair hopelessly skewed. Chuckling, upon entering the utility room, Marge works her laughter down to that of a bemused smile. “You seem more shocked than I. You’re more than welcome to use one of our hairbrushes if you like. They are self cleaning.”

Staring down at the hairy knuckles of my toes, I realize I must be quite a sight of derision. Standing in my wet tee shirt, and towel, my splayed hair looks as if the automatic mop, and automatic vacuum, had played tug of war with me; and that I had come out as the only loser in the game. Metallic clicking on wood accents my thoughts, until I realize the sound is that of Patrice’s high heels.

“You’re such an embarrassment,” she says, scornfully.

I grab another towel, a red one, from off the pool table. I pat my hair down, and then my tee shirt. Patrice saunters closer. The returning warmth of my skin helps me to dry. My face feels heated.

“Didn’t you hear me? You ARE such AN—” White hot embers flash in my eyes as I restrain myself. Patrice hesitates, and then pushes again. “—Embarrassment!”

The dull ache in my head has returned. I feel my blood pressure rise. The fight, I had been avoiding, comes spilling from my lips.

“Why Patrice!” I shout. “Why this time?” My voice moderates as my tongue goes to overdrive. “Is it because I did as our friend Stan asked, and came in here to dry off? What the heck are you girls doing in here anyway; or, are you too STUPID to realize that since I was soaked, that maybe I’d catch pneumonia if I didn’t dry off?”

My wife glares at me, but I push harder.

“And I wouldn’t have gotten soaked in the first place, if you weren’t so selfish. You couldn’t even share Jill’s umbrella. Honestly, honey, I don’t know why I didn’t marry her instead.” Shocked gazes all around attempt to bore into my soul. They didn’t know why I chose the legal profession in the first place. Their Uncle found me, and employed me, because I’m soul-less.

But they don’t need to talk to their Uncle, Anton LaMey, to know I’m a bastard. They know this already. Their hard gazes only find stone. I continue. “That’s right, I said it. I’ve been paying for that one little tryst over the past twenty odd years. I may as well say how I really felt about it. It was g-g-r-GREAT! She’s gone anyhow.”

I swear, if a spec of dust had dropped at that moment, I would have heard it. The room was beyond silent, and extended into an eardrum-pulling vacuum of anything related to sound or movement. We were, for all intents and purposes, statues frozen in place, as part of some grotesque tragedy. Nobody seemed possessed of the ability to see a way forward and I looked inward for anything overlooked, personally appalled at what I had just said, yet hardened against taking any of it back.

My wife, Patrice, was the first to thaw from her frozen state. Her chin trembled, as her lips opened, and closed, without sound. Spit clung harshly in strings between those lips. She breathed heavily under a mighty weight. We all did.

“You are an embarrassment,” she says. “Because the President of these United States was just on the news holding up your picture, wearing that silly hat, with that ridiculously expensive feather, as an example of lawyers getting rich from frivolous law suits. President Kindle says you pick the pockets of honest companies simply providing a needed service. He named you personally, and sited your ‘all important’ case, specifically, in the legislation he will introduce to congress, tomorrow.”

She had said it perfectly, in one breath, flowingly. Blinking twice, I said everything that came to mind in those moments. “…Oh… I see… So this was about no more hats, at court? …Oh…”

The women, that I had known for over half of my life, wore expressions I had never seen before as they nodded yes. I realized, in that broken shard of time, that, if not for Stan’s presence, my life may well be in danger. Even with him at my side, it was still iffy.

With a melodious set of chimes, the clothing microwave’s holographic display contained a rotating zero meaning that my clothes, and I, were finished. I focused on that numeral, transfixed as to it’s meaning, as everyone else became animate again. Forgetting their former statuary state, they behaved, for a few moments of normalcy, as if nothing had been said.

“There we are,” said Stanley, opening the microwave door. “All done.” In the center of the expansive white interior, of the clothing microwave, sat my attire neatly pressed and folded. My tan Fuller’s Fedora was crisp and perfect, minus one feather.

I didn’t know how these things worked. I was no engineer, as Jill had been. She’d invented the clothing microwave on a whim. She’d invented so much, in such a short life, on a whim. This is why Marcus had targeted her. He’d told me, in so many words.

I should have killed him.

I think it’s the case, that makes me so nostalgic for Jill. So many of her patents, and inventions, went into the making of the StraightSoul technology. I missed Jill, but not the things she left behind.

As with StraightSoul, I didn’t trust the clothing microwave, and had refused to buy one for our house. This, also, was a point of consternation between Patrice, and I. And also a frivolous item, to remember, at this time.

A furious Margery approached. With a gentle cupping of her hands, which clapped lightly, Marge announced, “Well, good,” and I allow myself to relax. Her smile was as warm as the clothes that were handed to me. Marge’s voice was as matronly and friendly as ever. “Dinner’s ready, so be a dear, Stanley, and be sure to THROW THAT TRASH OUT! Before washing its stink off of you, my sweet.” Her accusing finger pointed straight at my forehead, I guess in case there was any doubt as to her meaning.

“I will just as soon as he’s dressed,” said Stanley, whose voice also seemed normal, which must have been a feat, as my frozen mind recalled too late that Jill had been his sister. The pain, that was evident in his brown eyes, must have been caused by my callous words. The, over twenty-year-old, truth would have been better left unspoken. Stanley hadn’t known of the affair.

“No honey, I think IT needs to leave NOW.” Margery crosses her arms, her face ready to explode.

“Yes my love,” said Stanley before gripping the backside of my elbow and fore arm holding hat, shoes, and clothes. He propels me forward, from the room.

I felt nearly weightless on that side of my body as my former friend, Stanley, pressed forcefully on my wrist and forearm with ever increasing pressure at the back of my elbow.

Patrice’s damp, reddened, and glaring gray, eyes wouldn’t quite meet mine, in my passing her. Though the half smile, as she chewed her bottom lip, showed she took real pleasure from any pain I was receiving. It was deserved.

My bare feet slap cold hard wood, mixing with the clickety clack of the MOP. I find that maybe my lack of empathy isn’t as well appreciated among family as it is, and applauded by, my employers, LaMey & Fisk. I wonder if my dear old friend’s mindset has indeed become murderous, being that the electric trash incinerator is near to the front door. Indeed, from my standpoint, that did seem my destination. The MOP trilled towards my foot.

Raising my knee high, I allow my nightmare to pass underneath. I pray Stanley doesn’t recall whom it was that had taught him such a Jujitsu move, that held my elbow, in the first place. Bringing my heel down hard, I remind him by breaking his foot. Two quicker stomps and the hellish mop also lay broken. Its pieces splintered, scattering against the walls of the hallway. The bug mop whirled to a final stop with its blackened guts exposed.

Reaching down into its belly, I pluck out a particularly loathsome piece of goo. I hold it skyward, as an unholy trophy, shaking my fist. And then, with every fiber of discernible indignation, I pronounce, as I would if in court, what I hope is a summation.

“My Feather!”

As ridiculous as it sounds, to any outsider, it drew looks of brief understanding from the whole jury of three.

They knew the feather represented the start of my career. It was a token of appreciation from the whole chicken industry for breaking Andrew’s Pharmaceutical. The live-virus created by Andrews, though undoubtedly saving millions of human lives from the avian flu, had the unfortunate side effect of wiping out a quarter of the chicken, and 99.997% of the sparrow populations.

My firm, LaMey & Fisk, and I, had dared sue where none had dared sue before. The most public of faces of everything good and right, that a Pharmaceutical company could be, was demonized as the horrible monster that people wished it weren’t. We were applauded for it. We were reviled for it. Yet now, the only ones outside my profession, or clients list, that had ever appreciated its meaning to me, looked as if they had other ideas on where I could place my trophy feather.

Always the lady, Margery eloquently explained what to do with it; in the most crass of terms. Her husband, Stan, hobbled to her side, with foot dragging oddly. He didn’t seem much for more commentary. Throwing an arm around her, his weight makes her sit on the edge of the pool table, holding him close. Over all, I appreciate the situation and look to Patrice who was commenting.

I had missed most of what she had said, but got the gist that my parentage was brought up. Then came a request that was impossible, outside of cloning. As cloning was illegal anyhow, outside of Mexico, I ignored her. It was at that point I realized how well adapted to detachment I was during such times of high stress. I wondered why my dear soon-to-be-ex-wife, if I didn’t fix this, was so infuriated with my calm.

“Are you listening to me!” she shouts. Her expensive, no-smear, mascara had run at some point. I was about apprise her of it, when she pronounced, “I said you’re a lousy, cold, B—”

“My dear,” I say, lightly. “Our friends already know I grew up in a boys home. To repeat it, when we heard you the first time, is simply redundant.” Rearranging my arms, around my clothing, that had nearly fallen, I smile. I believe they mistook it for arrogance. Or maybe not.

But in either case, I deduce how strikingly similar the number eight, in flight, is to that of the symbol for infinity, a millisecond before the black billiard, arcing through air, strikes me in the nose. The source of a new headache, along with watering eyes, sends a spray of my blood onto the hapless mop. It was now ill equipped to deal with such an outcome, as was I. Upon recovery, I did the logical thing. I ran.

On the other side of the door, I was back into a small gale. I find myself safer, than in the hurricane going on in the Waverley home, that I played a small part in creating. Nearly walking on water, I flew to the Rapscallion.

I’m in hell, I think, starting the car. I shout, “Home,” expecting any second to see a stripe or solid smashing the windshield.

“Home, yes Donald, at once,” says Jill’s voice. She was an ethereal angel, come back to deliver me from the maw of Hades. We headed in the general direction of the interstate.

Blood streamed down from my broken nose.

Crawling over the armrest and into the back seat, I do as I do after every hard case.

I didn’t weep.

I bawled.

Praying, to my concept of God, I repent a great deal of recent sins. I pull myself tighter into the fetal position. I held a sock to my nose, hoping I could redo this day, not conceiving how it could have been worse. I was cold.

A kernel of salvation blooms in my innards. I’ll call her. I’ll fix this.

But call who?

And fix what?

The questions, and answers, mix inside my brain. I can almost see Jill in her signature white lab coat. I feel a stabbing pain in my temples, and then become drowsy. By the time the car rolls to a stop, and shuts down, I’m fast asleep, ending this Sunday.

At the edge of my consciousness I’m aware I’m home. Patrice is no longer mad. I get the inclination that I’m asleep at my desk. With familiar surroundings, an idea buzzes at my brain. Maybe those Senators and Congressmen, turned down by StraightSoul, were turned down BECAUSE they were a danger to a trillion dollar company.

And why would the President single me out? And my firm? This case? Specifically in legislation? Was he bribed? Threatened?

I knew Senator Kindle, personally, back before he was President. I remember something from the commercials, something important.

I’m positive I’m in my study, but crack an eyelid to be sure. My oak desk, and my study’s wall greet me. The blurriness, of last nights rains, recede. A quick flick of the wrist and the remote dials through a kaleidoscope of images. The well-worn, eternal commercial plays.

Standing in the foreground is the Presidential Seal of Approval. Mr. Lab coat & stethoscope, with salt and pepper hair speaks with his false honey smoothness.

“Presidents, Congressmen, and even trusted academic scholars agree. They all recommend our product.”

That’s it! screams my mind. Kindle’s a client! Nothing like a threat of electronic Hell, to keep him in line. Or, maybe, shut our case down, by an Act of Congress—

I ransack my desk, finding the brochures. I’ll apply; sue to apply if I have to. With a smarmy precordial gadget, implanted by Stanley, recording my thoughts, then I’d have them. I’d have them when it was my turn to be threatened.

Blinding, screaming, pain, that waters my vision, strikes out the thought. It was a bleeding pain that drips ice into my brain. Reaching up shakily to touch my nose, I suppose, somehow, it should be broken. It was as fresh and new as I could expect, though my temples shout for relief.

My world shrinks and focuses on the wall’s view screen, as the pain eases a bit.

“And with StraightSoul, you get our million dollar, million year, guarantee. Simply the best offer ever made, anywhere!”

The middle-aged man, in the commercial, looks to be a scientist, or doctor, or something. He has a white lab coat, stethoscope, and salt & pepper hair, that’s too slick by half. His voice drips a honey smoothness, while his eyes convey honesty. I couldn’t be sicker to my stomach. My temples throb. I’ve seen this one before, several dozen times.

The man strides to a bank of square black boxes that twinkle with blue, green, and red lights. It stands several times his height, against a wall of black granite. Granite is used, I imagine, to convey the permanency of this offer. I wonder if a place like that really does exist outside whatever studio it was shot in. The throbbing in my temples dulls a bit. I’ve been at it for what seems an eternity.


About The Author

DC Vermillion lives in NW Ohio with his wife and three children. When he isn’t writing SciFi or Fantasy, or working as a maintenance electrician, he enjoys his family, gardening, and reading just about anything.

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And, With StraightSoul

In order to confront a trillion dollar company peddling a virtual paradise, Donald, a soul-less attorney, must face his past mistakes.

  • ISBN: 9781310332586
  • Author: Daniel Vermillion
  • Published: 2016-01-02 00:40:07
  • Words: 5754
And, With StraightSoul And, With StraightSoul