Short Story: SoulWave (part 2)

Posted: March 19, 2016 in Short Story
Tags: , , , ,

soulwave

If you missed part one of SoulWave you can find it here.

__________________________

Lindsey took advantage of the Eternally You staff’s offer to take her purse and coat down to her car and inform her driver that she would not need a ride.

The receptionist called the elevator for her and gave her a final, professional smile as the doors slid shut. Around her, the car began to descend but she did not move with it. Instead, she was given her first taste of passing through the steel, wires, and wood and left to float in her own illumination in the dark elevator shaft.

After a moments she realized that there was no longer a need for elevators or doors. She considered passing through the walls but the idea was unnerving. It was one thing to move through something thin, such as drywall, but quite another to fly through solid concrete. Instead, she descended down into the elevator and out through the metal doors.

The lobby of the building which housed Eternally You was just as richly decorated as the clinic. There was a small café near the windows with a view of the busy sidewalk. Lindsey floated past, unable to smell the coffee brewing. She also took note of the confused glances in her direction, and some full on stares.

Out on the sidewalk she crossed in front of a young man who jumped back when he saw her. “Whoa! What is that?”

“Excuse me,” she said, hurrying past.

More faces and exclamations of surprise met her along the way. People pointed and snapped pictures with their phones. Perhaps being at eye level for conversation was helpful for others, but traveling would be much better at a higher altitude. She made her way to the rooftops, where only those on upper floors would be able to see her pass. At least she would be less aware of their reactions.

Without having to concern herself with traffic, it was a quick flight to her office. It had been four months since she took a leave of absence until she was well. A few weeks ago she lost hope that she would ever return.

Lindsey felt a swell of joy overtake her as she descended into the lobby. If she was going to take the lead once more, the employees would need to get used to her presence. She prepared herself for the shock and confusion that followed. At the security desk she stopped to speak with the guard, who stood up and took a step back as she approached.

“Martin, I’m heading up to the office and I wanted you to be aware to prevent any possible negativity from your staff.”

His mouth dropped open and his eyebrows lifted. “Ms. Roker?”

“That’s right. I’ve returned and I’m glad to be back.”

“What happened to your body?”

“It’s a long story, Martin. I’ll have a memo sent out once I’m settled.”

Still confused, he didn’t stop her as she flew past. This time she didn’t bother to wait for the elevator. Behind her, the gasps of surprise from those standing outside the doors were quite audible. She was starting to feel a small sense triumph at the reaction. Her competitors would have nothing on her uniqueness.

Lindsey shared her office space on the top floor with little else than the primary boardroom. The comfort and familiarity of the place made her happy. She was surprised to discover a meeting was in progress when she arrived. All of the usual faces sat in their usual seats around the big glass table; all but one, the vice president serving as her temporary replacement.

As she approached the reception desk, her assistant sat up straight in her chair.

“Good morning, Gloria,” Lindsey said.

“What?”

“I’ve returned from leave and am ready to get back to work. Can you brief me on the meeting?”

“I…” Gloria’s dark eyes widened, then narrowed. “How is this possible?”

“I’ll explain later,” Lindsey said, exasperated, giving up on getting any useful information and instead entering the board room.

“What’s this?” Alan, the head of accounting, sat back hard in his chair when he saw her.

Sitting at the head of the table, in her chair, was Scott Gleeson. His blond hair was slicked back and shining. He dropped his pen with a loud clatter onto the glass table.

“I’ve returned,” Lindsey said. “Before you all start asking questions, I’ve had a medical procedure which separates my consciousness from my body. I am expecting that none of you will show me special treatment due to my new condition.”

“What is this?” Scott laughed, leaning back in the chair, which reclined slightly. “Is this a prank? Did you set this up, Marcus?”

Marcus, heavy-set and balding with nervous eyes behind the thick lenses of his glasses, shook his head vehemently. “No, it wasn’t me.”

“This isn’t a prank.” Lindsey moved forward. Every head in the room turned to follow. “Continue with your discussion, I’ll figure it out as you go.”

Scratching at his temple, she could see by Scott’s expression that he was not amused. “That’s not going to happen.”

“I know this isn’t proper procedure but I’m ready to get back to work.”

“Yeah, that’s not what I mean. How do we know you’re Lindsey Roker, exactly? You’re…” he scrunched up his face in an attempt to find the right word, “a very convincing drone, perhaps.”

“Drone?” she almost laughed at his audacity.

“What would you call it, Beth?”

The older woman shrugged, leaning with one elbow on the table. “Maybe she’s a ghost.”

Everyone at the table chuckled.

“I’m not a drone or a ghost. I’m very much alive and I am still the head of this company.”

“That’s debatable,” Scott said with a shrug. “From where I sit, I’ve been the head of this company for months, and things are better than ever.”

“He’s right,” Marcus was nodding furiously, always one to back the most expensive suit in the room.

“My body is in cryo stasis back at Eternally You, that can be confirmed.”

“Then you’re dead.” Beth leaned back, crossing her arms over her chest. “Only dead people get turned into popsicles.”

“I’m not dead. I’m alive right here in front of you; the SoulWave was a voluntary procedure.”

The faces around the table cast skeptical glances at each other.

“I think being alive, and remaining head of this organization, requires a body.” Alan said quietly.

“Damn it, that’s discrimination!”

“Is it?” Scott shook his head, smiling his infuriating, pretentious smile. “Quite frankly, I believe if you pass on, half of your shares are up for sale and if it was your choice to have this done, it may even count as suicide.”

She knew exactly what that meant. In the event of suicide she would forfeit her remaining shares, the ones which would have been willed to her husband and daughter. Instead, they would drop directly into Scott Gleeson’s pocket.

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“It’s not what I would dare; it’s the reality of the situation.”

Another thought came to mind. “It seems to me you’re ready with this knowledge. You’ve been researching it, haven’t you?”

“We had to, Lindsey,” Beth said quietly. “Things weren’t looking good for you.”

“You’re going to hear from my lawyer about this, do you hear me?”

Scott frowned, tenting his fingers before him. “Not to be rude, but I don’t think you have a leg to stand on.”

The executives erupted in laughter. Enraged, Lindsey exited the room, flying directly through the wall and out into the open air. She sped her way across town, ignoring the roadways and flying directly over the rooftops. Her anger boiled through her. It wouldn’t be the last they saw of her. She would bring a case against Scott and his cronies. Once she was installed into her old position, she would find new bodies to fill the seats in the boardroom.

Brooding as she was, it wasn’t long before she was in her neighborhood and her house came into view. The lovely four story home was a dream to behold. A finely manicured lawns with perfect gardens full of flowers waited to greet her. Her husband’s car was in the driveway, and she was glad. In this instance recruiting his help would be beneficial. Until people were used to her new form she would need a body to take the direct focus away.

Passing through the front door she found the house was quiet. “Michael! Michael are you here?” She hurried up to his office to find him sitting at his desk, working on paper work. “I’m glad you’re home.”

“Of course I’m home, I picked up Abby up from school today.” He lifted his head and jolted in his seat. “What the hell? Lindsey?”

“Yes, it’s me.” She sighed in relief to see his face. “I’m so glad you’re both here.”

Michael made his slow way around the desk. “What the hell happened to you?”

“I had a procedure done, the SoulWave. I wanted to surprise you. I’m not sick anymore.”

He drew near, inspecting her with confusion. She couldn’t smell his cologne or feel his warmth. After moment of silence he pulled back, shaking his head and putting his hands into his pockets.

“I’m speechless. This is unbelievable.”

“I know. We won’t have to write up a will. I was thinking that we should put a down payment for you to have it done, too. Not now, of course, but when you’re ready; and for Abby, for the future. We can be a family forever, no matter what.”

“No.” Michael shook his head. “You’re not listening to me, which isn’t a surprise. I can’t believe you would do something like this without talking to me first.”

“Michael, I…”

“Actually, never mind. I can believe it. This is just like you, only thinking of yourself.”

“How can you say that? I did this for us, for our family.”

“For us? No. You did this because you’re afraid to die. Jesus, Lindsey. What the hell are you supposed to be anyway? How will you work? All of your finances are going to be tied up because of this.”

“No, I have documentation…”

“Stop, I don’t care. I’m done with all of this and now you’ve made it easy.”

Lindsey felt as if she were spinning, her emotions began to boil back up. “You want to talk about selfish? I was in pain, dying, and about to leave both of you forever. I found a solution. All you can think about is about the money.”

“You’re right, I’m thinking about the money, because how are we going to pay for a place to live? How are we going to pay for Abby’s school? Our debts? No, I’m not the selfish one because I actually think about these things.

“I’ve wanted a divorce for a long time, but then you got sick. I wasn’t going to be the asshole who divorces his sick wife. Besides, at least I knew I had an out. You were going to die. Now what? You’re going to live forever and you expect me to spend eternity with you?”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’m sick of you and how you never consider that other people might want a say in what happens around here. I want out, and I want half. Actually, I want more than half. Look at you. You don’t need a house. You’re a ghost.”

“Michael….”

“Mommy?” a small voice said from the doorway. Abby peeked her little head around into the room, eyes sad. Her sandy-blond hair was pulled into pigtails and she carried a doll under her arm. “Is Mommy home?”

“I’m right here sweetheart,” Lindsey said as calmly as possible.

Her daughter looked up at her, startled. “You’re not my mommy,” she said.

“Beautiful,” Michael said, shaking his head.

“Yes, it’s me,” Lindsey lowered herself to Abby’s level, but the girl screamed and ran.

“Abby!”

“Now you’re a terrifying monster. Good job. That’s another thing I’ll get. How does a ghost take care of a kid?”

“Shut up, you prick!” Lindsey snapped, hurrying after her daughter.

Abby ran to her room, slamming the door behind her. Lindsey was right behind her, but stopped at the wood, choosing to wait.

“Abby, it really is me. I’ve just changed, that’s all. Now I can stay with you forever.”

She listened for a response. After a few moments she could hear Abby sobbing.

What have I done?

Lindsey passed through the door. Abby was sitting on her bed, hugging her doll tightly to her chest. When she saw the light she scrambled toward her pillow, pulling the blanket over her head.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“What happened to my mommy?” Abby asked, still hiding.

“I’m right here, I just look different now. I’m not sick any more, and I won’t die. I can be with you forever.”

Very slowly Abby lowered the blanket, her eyes were red with her tears. Lindsey waited while the girl considered whether the change was good or bad.

“How will you tuck me in?”

“Well,” Lindsey thought for a moment. “I can’t but I can still read you a story if you hold the book and turn the pages.”

“How will you kiss me goodnight?”

A powerful sorrow filled her. If she still had eyes she would have cried from the pain. “I can try. It will be different.”

She dared to move closer to the bed. Abby reached out her hand, and Lindsey brushed against her fingertips.

“It’s warm,” Abby said before pulling away. “I miss my old mommy.” She began to cry again.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart, but I am your old mommy. I just don’t have a body any more, and my body was full of sickness. Isn’t it better that I won’t die?”

Sniffing into her dolls hair Abby nodded, but continued to cry. Lindsey stared helplessly at her daughter, unable to pull her close and comfort her. She was filled with grief at her losses; things that she never expected to lose once her body was gone. Her career, her husband, her daughter; everything was hinged on the fragility of flesh and bone.

“I still love you, Mommy,” Abby said suddenly.

“I love you, too. Forever.”

___________________________________

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed my short story, SoulWave! Please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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Comments
  1. Oh, come ON! I need to know what happens next! Does she accept that death is the natural thing, does she work out how to live as a disembodied mind, does she go wandering the universe, what? Great story, need more!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. cwhawes says:

    I like this, RR. You’ve captured the importance of our physical form and how it governs the way we act and how others act in response. My only nitpick is perhaps it ended too quickly. I would have liked to see more struggle with Lindsey and especially her daughter. Kids are quite resilient and yet they also like the same old stuff. I would have also liked to see Lindsey make some effort to compensate for her new liabilities. I think you have lots more you can explore here. This is easily a novella. 🙂 Good work. I look forward to reading more of your work!

    Liked by 1 person

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