Soul Intent - Prologue

October 15, 1946
Nuremberg, Germany

ARCHIBALD MORGAN WITHDREW HIS hand from the prisoner’s clammy grasp and wiped it on the sleeve of his brown robe. “The deposit has been made,” he said.

The prisoner, a large man in a larger baggy uniform, licked his lips and spoke in a whisper. “Everything left was accepted? My gold and my papers?”

“All of it.” Morgan dipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out a small sheet of flimsy paper. “Your depositary receipt.”

The prisoner took it and used his finger to caress the listed items. “Sleep well, my little darlings.” He handed the receipt back to Morgan. “Please destroy this. If the guards discovered it after they…” His voice trailed off.

“Neither of us would want that to happen.” Morgan secreted the paper inside his robe. “Good luck, sir.”

“I believe my luck has, how do you Americans put it? Run out.” The man frowned. “Keep everything safe for my return.” His voice rose in volume. “When I shall gaze upon the marble monument the Berliners erect in my memory.”

The white-helmeted guard banged his stick on the door. The sound bounced off the stark walls. “Enough already with that monument crap,” he said. “Keep the noise down, Nazi.”

The prisoner bowed his head to the guard, then glanced at Morgan. “Since the verdict two weeks ago, they have become unbearably rude,” he whispered.

As the guard let Morgan out of the cell, the prisoner called out, “I won’t forget this, Archibald Morgan. I shall find you once I return, and I shall reward you for your good work.”

The Soul Identity overseer shuddered at the thought. He shuffled as fast as he dared out of Nuremberg Prison’s Cellblock C and almost tripped on his robe. He climbed the two flights of stairs, nodded at the soldier behind the desk, and escaped into the brisk October evening.

As far as Morgan was concerned, Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering’s promises had fallen upon deaf ears. The Nazi general should rot in hell; his soul should never return.

He paused after he crossed the platz and stepped onto the sidewalk. Spotlights mounted on the Palais du Justice walls cast an array of sinister shadows in front of him. He had done his despicable duty. He alone had understood that the journey to a better world required distasteful compromises. Maybe someday Flora would also understand…

He shook his head. Enough. The journalists he had met in the Nuremberg Grand Hotel bar were giving four to one odds that the eleven condemned Nazis would hang before sunrise. He had finished the deposit just in time. His work was finally over—he could flee this war-torn country and return to his own battles in Sterling.

Chapter One

Present Day
Kent Island, Maryland

“THEY EXPLOIT PEOPLE WHO believe in reincarnation,” Lester the reporter said. He glanced up at me, pen poised over his pad. “Did I get that right?”

“I didn’t say that, Lester.” If I squinted just right, the white streaks of scalp poking through his greasy combed-over hairdo looked like a bunch of tiny bananas.

Val sat next to me with her arms crossed. Her smile looked decidedly more forced than it did ten minutes ago, when this interview started.

The reporter gave me an oily smile. “I’m sorry, Mr. Waverly. Maybe you could repeat it for me.”

“Soul Identity assists people who like the concepts behind reincarnation,” I said. This was my fourth rendition.

He wrote that down again. “Got it. Exploits people who like the concepts behind reincarnation.”

“I said assists. Not exploits.” I pointed at him. “You put all kinds of words in my mouth last year, and it’s not going to happen again. Either get it right, or get out.”

He flashed that used-car salesman’s smile again. “Assists. That’s what I said.”

Val uncrossed her arms and rubbed her palms on her tanned legs, just below her white shorts. “Let’s just show him how it works, Scott,” she said.

“You think that’s wise?” I asked.

She shrugged. “We’ve got only twenty minutes until your picnic, and Lester seems tireless in his search for dirt.” She smiled at him. “No offense.”

He smiled back, showing off a gap between his front teeth. “None taken, Ms. Nikolskaya.”

“Do you have a reader?” I asked her.

“I always have a reader.” She dug into her purse and pulled out a yellow device about half the size of a matchbox car. It had a tiny lens on one end and a big button on its side.

“What’s that?” Lester asked.

“A camera,” I said. “Let Val take your picture, and we’ll use it to explain how everything works.”

Lester licked his palm and used it to smooth his hair. He sat up straight on the couch, sucked in his gut, and attempted to pull tight the gap in his shirt where his belly hair poked through. Then he smiled at Val. “Ready when you are.”

She looked at him steadily. “I’m taking a picture of your eyes, Lester. It’s not a portrait.” She brought the reader to six inches in front of his right eye and clicked the button.

“My eyes?”

“Keep still.” Val held the reader in front of his left eye and clicked again. “Okay, I’m done.” She tossed me the reader. “Work your magic.”

I caught it and beckoned to Lester. “Come with me as I uncover your soul.” I followed that with the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth: Da-da-da-dum.

The three of us walked out of my living room and into the office.

Lester headed for the windows. “You waste this scenery on your workplace?” He gestured at the panoramic view of the Chesapeake Bay. “Why not make this your living room?”

“Because this way we get to enjoy the view all day long.” I flipped open the top of the reader, exposed its USB port, and plugged it into my laptop. “Now watch carefully.”

I clicked on my latest Soul Identity icon. Images of two brown eyes appeared on opposite sides of the screen.

Lester stood next to me. “Those are my eyes?” he asked.

I nodded. “Pay attention.”

The eye images cut away all but the two brown irises and pupils, then sprouted grid lines on their outside edges. The right iris rotated clockwise until it aligned with the left.

“You’ve improved your program,” Val said. She stood behind my chair, her arms on my shoulders.

I leaned my head back and looked up at her. Her red hair caught the sunlight. “One hundred percent automated,” I said.

She smiled, which upside-down looked like a frown.

“Is this some kind of way to steal my identity?” Lester asked.

I straightened up. “So far it’s just a photo of your eyes. It’s not yet your soul identity.”

The two irises moved toward each other, but instead of colliding, the left slid over the right. The screen filled with an enlarged view of the resulting single image.

“Now it’ll calculate the differences between your two irises,” I said.

A few dozen arcs, whorls, lines, and starbursts glowed on the screen, and the overlapped irises faded to a very light brown. The computer beeped.

I pointed at the image. “And there you have it,” I said to Lester. “That’s your soul identity.”

“Is it like a fingerprint?” he asked.

“If you mean, is it unique, then yes, it’s the only one just like it in the whole wide world.”

“At least for now,” Val said. “But after you die, that identity will come back in somebody else’s eyes.”

He turned to her. “What does that mean?”

She smiled. “Your soul identity repeats. Before you were born, another person carried it in their eyes. And after you die, somebody else will get it.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Can you prove this?”

She sighed. “It’s a matter of faith, not proof.”

He smiled and pulled out his pad. “So Soul Identity is tricking people into thinking they’re reincarnated.”

“Hold on a second,” Val said. “It’s faith, but there’s some science behind it. We’ve read over fifty million sets of eyes, and we’ve never found two living people sharing the same soul identity.”

He shrugged. “So?”

I spun in my chair to face him. “Lester, you’re missing the point. These guys have been tracking soul identities for almost twenty-six hundred years. They have examples of identities repeating eight, ten, and even twelve times over the centuries. If you like reincarnation, you’ll love Soul Identity.”

“I still don’t get it. What’s there to love?” he asked.

“What they offer you,” I said. “Are you married?”

He shook his head.

“Any kids?”

“Nope.”

“So what happens to your wealth when you die?”

“I don’t care. I’ll be dead.”

“But if you knew you were coming back in the future, wouldn’t you want to give yourself a head start in your next life?” I asked. “Soul Identity can hold onto your money and memories until you reclaim them.”

He scratched his head. “You’re saying I could give my future life an unfair advantage? I could’ve used a leg up this time around.”

“Check with the folks at Soul Identity,” I said. “Maybe your previous soul carrier left you something.”

“I can do that?”

He looked like somebody just told him he might have won the lottery. But I didn’t want to raise his hopes, or his greed level, too high; if he found nothing in his soul line collection, he’d pen a nasty piece about us.

So I smiled and said, “Of course you can. The chances of having a recorded past are slim, but you can at least plan for a bright future.”

Lester scratched his chin, and after a minute he nodded his head. “I’ll do that.”

Val handed him a card as she let him out the front door. “Give Madame Flora a call,” she said. “She’ll get you started.”

As I straightened up the office for the party, I thought about how easy it was to seduce Lester with Soul Identity’s promise.

Like everybody in the world, Lester’s identity in his eyes will remain unique as long as he is alive, and then after he dies, somebody else will be born with it. That new person and Lester will share a soul line, and they each will take their turn being the carrier of the line. Soul Identity’s first job is to keep these identities and soul lines connected—they maintain the bridges between Lester’s past and future carriers.

Their second job is to be the world’s largest bank. Once they calculate Lester’s identity, they check to see if any previous carriers have left him any money, memories, and lessons in his soul line collection, stored in Soul Identity’s depositary. Soul Identity invests the money on his soul line’s behalf. They’ve been doing this for almost twenty-six hundred years. They have several million soul lines, and they’re managing over two trillion dollars’ worth of investments.

Over the past year, I’ve noticed quite a range in the way Soul Identity members think about their soul lines. Some become deeply religious: they attribute a grand plan to God, and they bask in the glory of how special they are. Others treat it as their proof of immortality. Neither of these approaches sits well with me. I prefer the way Val sees it—she hopes to pass on her memories and lessons to others who’d feel she was significant. This makes her relevant far into the future.

I sighed. I didn’t think Lester was searching for relevancy. He probably was just gold digging.

 
Soul Intent
Excerpt
Reviews

Publisher: NetLeaves
Paperback: 276 pages
ISBN-10: 0979805627
ISBN-13: 9780979805622
Library of Congress
Control Number:
2009907927
Buy "Soul Intent"

Soul Identity

Excerpt
Reviews
Synopsis

Publisher: NetLeaves
Paperback: 268 pages
ISBN-10: 0979805600
ISBN-13: 978-0979805608
Library of Congress
Control Number:
2007932540
Buy "Soul Identity"