Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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Body and Soul

by James M. Hines

Jenna Carr stood transfixed in front of the mirror in the ladies room across the hall from her cubicle sized office. She was nearly sixty now, but looked barely thirty thanks to genetic engineering and the effects of living in the low gravity conditions of the asteroid.

She had spent her entire life in Necropolis, an entire city inside a hollowed out rock adrift in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. Jenna gazed deeply into the mirror, studying her features and daydreaming about the fresh air and the lush green forests of Earth. She was a fair skinned woman with long red hair and deep blue eyes, all of which were complemented by her naturally curvy figure and full red lips. Jenna was an attractive woman by anyone's standards and the picture of health, but even so, she could never set foot on Earth. Her body was simply not capable of withstanding the bone crushing gravity. It had always been a hard thing for her to deal with, but it had never stopped her from dreaming of the pale blue world and of a life lived in the warmth of the sun.

It was still early and as usual Jenna had been the first to arrive. These early morning daydream sessions were part of her daily routine, but now it was time to go to work, so Jenna took one last look in the mirror, straightened the collar of her jumpsuit and headed out into the brightly lit corridor. A few others had shown up for work by this time and she exchanged a few greetings with them as she headed to her office.

Necropolis was chiefly a scientific research facility and nearly all manner of scientific endeavors were undertaken there. Most of the people who lived in the city were scientists of one discipline or another.

Jenna's own parents had been geneticists, but she had not chosen to follow in their footsteps. Instead, she had settled on life as a journalist, an occupation that she had turned out to be exceptionally good at. Due to her parent's skill at genetic manipulation, Jenna possessed uncommon intelligence and a perfect photographic memory. She kept her talents secret. They made her the perfect choice to report on the new scientific discoveries that came from the Necropolis complex because she had no trouble understanding the technologies involved and she certainly had no need to take any notes. Her parents had warned her early on that her abilities would promote distrust and jealousy in others and so it probably wasn't a good idea to advertise them openly. She had taken their advice to heart and had never told a living soul.

Jenna took a seat at her desk and asked it to display the list of the week's available assignments. The transparent desk top sprung to life with a list of stories for her to choose from. Her editor often let her take her pick of the most interesting interviews and stories and in return she never disappointed him. As a matter of fact, Jenna was fast becoming one of the best known journalists in the system. This was not only due to her skill as a reporter, but it was also due in part to her location. If you wanted to work on something secret and earth shattering, Necropolis was the place to be.

She scrolled through her editors suggestions until something of interest caught her eye. The readout stated, "After nearly a decade, Dr. Wade Tressler returns to Necropolis to continue his work in matter transfer technology." Jenna immediately hit the com button and the assignment list on her desk was replaced by the image of her aging editor, Peter Croft.

"Pete, I'm glad you're here."

"I'm always here Jenna. What is it this time?"

"I want the Tressler story."

"You've got it Jenna -- just remember our arrangement."

"I know Pete, deliver big time or no more special treatment."

"That's the deal Jenna. Is that all?"

"Not exactly Pete ... This will take some time. I'll need at least a month."

"Are you insane? You need a month for one routine story?"

"Trust me Pete, this one's going to be something special."

"It had damn well better be, Jen, and I want it in three weeks. That's all you get."

"Then I'd better get moving," Jenna responded then switched off the com.

Tressler was a hard man to track down, but Jenna had made a lot of connections over the years and after calling in a few favors she had set up a meeting. Now she found herself gliding along the maglev track, lost in another daydream. The small pod floated effortlessly down the track, riding on a frictionless magnetic cushion. There was little else for her to do but daydream as the pod was fully automated and the ride was so quiet and smooth it took little effort to become lost in another world.

It was nearly a fifteen minute ride to the far side of Necropolis and the temporary home of Dr. Wade Tressler, plenty of time for Jenna to imagine herself going for a moonlit stroll on some secluded beach. She could almost feel the wind blowing through her hair and smell the salt air. She could see the moonlight shining down upon the water and almost feel the sensation of sinking her bare feet into the wet sand. It wasn't long before Jenna was totally engrossed in her fantasy and she was rather annoyed when the pod slowed to a stop.

The bubble canopy slid open and Jenna stepped out onto the concrete walkway beside the maglev track. She only had to walk about a hundred feet or so to get to the glide-way that would take her to the section of the community she needed to reach.

The glide-way meandered around the community like a stream and took her past old buildings and a small park with transplanted trees, grass and even flowers, all of which were nourished by artificial light and recycled water. It was one of many in Necropolis, an oasis in a city encased in stone and iron. They were all rather small and had always seemed out of place to Jenna. This one only served to remind her of the reality of her isolation from nature.

After about ten minutes on the glide-way it was time for Jenna to step off. She would have to walk the remaining half- kilometer to reach the home of Wade Tressler.

Jenna had thought that in her fifty-nine years of existence, she had seen every conceivable part of Necropolis, but her journey was taking her farther and farther away from the familiar. She was in a narrowing tunnel now, consisting of rough-cut, unfinished stone.

The Necropolis complex consisted almost entirely of tunnels, but most were much larger than this and they were lined with titanium plate. A few were bare stone, but they had been finished and smoothed so that the surface felt nearly as slick as glass. The tunnel she was in now was only twelve feet or so in diameter, quite a bit smaller than the maglev tunnel she had ridden through earlier.

A quick glance at her wrist-comp assured her she was close to her destination, but there were no signs of life or habitation in her vicinity. The tunnel was dank, dusty and smelled much like an old gym locker. It didn't look like a place that anyone would choose to take up residence in, but still she continued on. A little further down the tunnel, Jenna came to an outcropping of rock, on the other side of which she found a heavy steel door with a com panel and key pad mounted at shoulder height to the right of the entrance. The tunnel was small and crudely formed, but it was very well lit so Jenna had no trouble finding the button to activate the com panel.

When she pressed the lighted button on the com panel, she could hear a buzzer sounding inside. A few seconds later, the com panel sprang to life with the sound of a male voice.

"Just a moment," the disembodied voice informed her, "I'll be right with you." A few moments later the door slid open to reveal the tall slender form of a salt and pepper haired man in a white lab coat. He simply motioned her in without saying a word.

Jenna stepped through the doorway into a cavernous room filled with dust covered scientific equipment. The cavern was much the same as the corridor outside. It too consisted of the same rough cut stone, but it was quite a bit larger and looked more like a cave than a tunnel. Tressler pointed across the room to where he had set up a small table and a couple of chairs. "Please, take a seat Miss. Carr. We undoubtedly have much to discuss."

The two of them took their seats and Tressler poured a couple of glasses of wine. "I have food if you're hungry," he offered.

"No thank you," she responded, "I ate earlier."

"I hate to sound rude, but I am somewhat annoyed that the press has become aware of my presence here. I came here to work alone and in secret. I have nothing against you personally Miss Carr, but I've just arrived and I have a lot of work to do. I have no interest in talking to the press until I have something worth talking about."

"Please, call me Jenna," the journalist insisted. "I respect your wishes, but I believe we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement. I am after all a reporter, and I know there is a story here."

"What is it you propose?" Tressler inquired.

"The deal is, "Jenna began, "I will not publish anything until you are ready. In return I have the exclusive. I will follow your progress and you will tell me everything about the project. You will discuss the project with no one else but me."

"Well, I suppose I have little choice in the matter," Tressler admitted. "The press knows I'm here and if the story is to be told, I prefer that it be told objectively. You may proceed, but please, try not to portray me too unfavorably."

"Why would you worry about such a thing?" Jenna asked.

"Well, let's just say this project has a history and it's a very long story."

"Doctor Tressler, I think it's time you shared that story. After all that's what I'm here for."

"How much do you know?" Wade inquired.

"Very little, I'm afraid," Jenna answered," only that you had some very promising experiments nearly a decade ago. The rumor is that you were on the verge of a major breakthrough, but something went wrong. Your assistant was killed in some sort of lab accident and you dropped the project and left Necropolis. To my knowledge you haven't spoken about it publicly since."

"That's all anyone knows," Tressler admitted, "but there is more to the story. I just don't know where to begin."

"Perhaps it would be best to start at the beginning," said Jenna, trying to sound as unthreatening as possible.

"Very well," the good doctor began. "Over a decade ago, I was a very wealthy man. Up until that time I had spent most of my career developing new mining equipment to be used out here in the asteroid belt. I was very good at it and amassed a sizable fortune in royalties, but I wasn't content.

"I wanted to do something, something unequalled, something that could shatter the notion of the boundaries' of time and distance. I had been working on the problem for years in my spare time. It wasn't an easy thing by any stretch of the imagination, but after years of work, I finally had a complete set of plans drawn up for the apparatus. I went over and over my calculations trying to find a flaw in the theory or the design, but the more I tried to find something wrong, the more I became convinced that the device would work. Finally, the day came when I had a solid scientific theory, detailed construction plans and enough money and freedom to do as I pleased. I chose Necropolis as the site for my laboratory, partly because it was a good location for those that wished to work in secret and partly because I knew that all the equipment I would need for construction would already be here. All I had to do was purchase what I needed when I arrived.

"This cavern was being carved out for me while I was still en route from Earth and was completed before my arrival. I arrived from Earth in good health and in the weak gravity environment of the asteroid I had no trouble carrying the equipment in by hand. I saw no reason to hire help or have things delivered when I could easily lift objects that would have weighed four or five hundred pounds on Earth. I had to be careful, of course, to allow for inertia when bringing heavy equipment into its intended position, but it only took a few minor mishaps to learn that lesson.

"There was only one flaw in my reasoning. People took notice of a stranger from Earth making so many purchases of exotic and expensive scientific equipment and carting his new found treasures off to some secret lab. Rumors ran rampant and I was soon forced to deal with the media whether I liked it or not."

Tressler paused for a moment to wet his palate with another taste of wine. The scientist rubbed his eyes. He cleared his throat and waited for a moment before continuing. "I'm sorry," he apologized. "I didn't realize I was so tired."

"It's okay," Jenna responded. "We can continue tomorrow after you've had some rest."

"No, I'm fine," Tressler answered. He resumed his story. "I issued a statement to the press that I was constructing a device capable of transferring objects from one place to another, at great distances, at the speed of light. That's all I gave them and it wasn't enough. They hounded me continually, but I stayed here locked in the lab, working nearly around the clock for over a month.

"Unfortunately, after finishing the device, I ran into a problem. There were ridiculous amounts of computer programming to do to translate the equations describing the physics of the transference into instructions for the device. It would have taken me too long on my own.

"What I needed was a mathematician and programmer. What I needed was an assistant.

"There was no shortage of applicants for the position. I had a reputation in the system as a damn good engineer and the press had already released the basis of my plan to the public. There were hundreds of people right here in Necropolis that wanted to take part in the experiments, but in the end I chose only one."

"Walter Hicks was a genius at number crunching and an artist with computers, but more than that, he was a good and decent man. Walter was honest, loyal and one of the most kind-hearted people I have ever had the privilege to know. After I explained the work required to him in great detail, he showed nothing but enthusiasm for the project. He too believed that the equipment would work as designed and within two weeks had all the software and subroutines written."

Tressler continued, "We were in uncharted territory. Nothing of this nature had ever been tried before and we hoped that we were on the eve of watching science fiction become reality. The two of us woke early one morning. We hoped that that day would be the day we made history, if the machine worked."

"Did it work?" Jenna interrupted.

"Flawlessly," Wade replied.

Jenna managed to keep her expression neutral, even though her theory seemed to be wrong.

Wade closed his eyes for a moment, then said, "We started slowly at first. The device consisted of two chambers. One of the chambers scanned the object that we wished to move. All possible information about the object, right down to the molecular level, was then fed into our massive computer system. The object in the first chamber was then disintegrated completely. The information would then be fed from the computers into the other chamber where it would be use to reconstruct the object one atom at a time from already existing matter in the environment."

Jenna blinked, wondering if Hicks had been 'disintegrated completely'.

"That morning we placed Walters' Wrist-comp in the first chamber and started the sequence. The whole process was instantaneous. There were two bright flashes of light and we opened the second chamber to find the wrist-comp in perfect working order. Over the next few days we sent many objects through with the same result and to keep the media at bay, I released a statement to the press that we had met with phenomenal success, though I didn't give them any details."

Wade reached for his wine glass and almost knocked it over. Jenna managed to snag it -- not difficult in the low gravity -- and kept the wine from spilling with a deft circular motion as she handed it back to Tressler.

The man blinked in surprise, but Jenna couldn't tell if it was due to his clumsiness or her skill. He took another sip of wine and began to speak again. "Walter was becoming increasingly excited and wanted to release all the details to the media. He could see unlimited applications for the invention and he was right. We could have stopped there and both retired wealthy beyond imagination, but I wasn't ready. I had started the project for a specific purpose and that was the transportation of human beings. It was true that the device was capable of amazing feats. It could have been used to make copies of any object, so long as we didn't disintegrate the original. It could have been used in the medical industry. Imagine reassembling a person without the disease that was killing them, all of which could be accomplished with programming. Nonetheless, I insisted on continuing with the experiments. After all, we didn't even know if it would work with living tissue."

"I went on to spend an entire month sending living things through the machine. The first series to go through were plants. They seemed to suffer no ill effects, so I moved on to lab mice. Those experiments were successful as well, but I still wasn't ready. I wanted to be certain before I sent a human through. All the while Walter was becoming more and more impatient, until finally one day it happened."

"What happened?" Jenna asked.

"He lost his temper. He was fed up with me and my experiments. You see, Walter thought that the machine was far too dangerous to use on humans and that it should only be used to transport cargo. He believed it was ready to be released to the public as it was. To tell the truth, he didn't even believe it would work on a human being.

"Anyway, words were exchanged and the argument turned into an all out brawl. We struggled and fought all over the lab until we were both nearly out of breath. While we were both struggling for air he managed to blurt out the word fool and unfortunately for him he was standing in front of chamber one when he said it. I kicked him as hard as I could with what little strength I had left and he fell right into the chamber. You must understand that I was angrier at the time than I had ever been in my life. I slammed the door on him and keyed the sequence. I intended to prove my point once and for all and the machine did as it was asked. He was transported clothes and all, which by the way, I discovered is a bad idea. It tends to end up adhered to the skin and is quite painful to remove. Anyway, a split second later he rematerialized and my point was proven or so I thought at the time."

"The device killed him?" Jenna said.

"No, Miss Carr, he was unconscious, but very much alive."

"It was my understanding that Walter Hicks died in the machine."

"He certainly did Miss. Carr; the part of him that mattered did anyway. He regained consciousness fairly quickly. His memory seemed to be intact and all the tests I ran on him seemed to confirm that he was in perfect health, but I knew right away that something wasn't quite right.

"There was something different about him. I used to hate it when I caught him staring at me. He had the most piercing pale blue eyes. They made him look more like a wild animal than a man, different somehow than they were before. It seemed as though he could stare right into your soul -- and stranger still he seemed happy about what I had done. He said I had set him free.

"I tried to keep him in the laboratory as long as possible, to run more tests and study his behavior, but he became increasingly upset and even violent. The time came when I had to let him leave. After all, I couldn't keep him locked up against his will forever. He would have left anyway, sooner or later."

"Not long after Walter stormed out of the lab strange things began to happen. As you know there has always been very little crime in Necropolis, so it came as quite a shock to the entire city when the bodies of young women began to be found all over the asteroid. There was a rash of robberies and assaults and nearly every other crime imaginable, all carried out in ways that circumvented all the surveillance and security systems. I had no doubt that Walter Hicks was to blame. Before he went through that machine he was a good and decent man, an honest man who loved his wife. Though I never met her, he had spoken of her often. I have no doubt that he would have given his life for her, but after the teleportation he could have cared less about his wife or anyone else. He had the intelligence and expertise to commit the crimes -- and after the trip through the machine, he had the desire."

"What do you think went wrong?" Jenna asked.

"Nothing," Tressler responded. "The machine was built for the transportation of matter and that's exactly what it did. You see, the machine wasn't in error, I was."

"I'm afraid I don't understand."

"It's very simple," Tressler answered. "It is one thing to rebuild an inanimate object or a lower form of life, but it is quite another to reconstruct a human being. I found out the hard way that a man is more than the sum of his parts. Wade Hicks went into the machine a human being, but what emerged wasn't human at all. It had no moral convictions, no sense of honor and no conscience. He was a soulless beast, nothing short of a monster. The device reconstructed the matter just as it was programmed to do, but it was never instructed to deal with energy patterns. The part of Walter Hicks that made him human was released the moment his body was destroyed."

"Are you saying that his soul was destroyed?" Jenna asked.

"No, it was merely separated from his body," Tressler answered. "Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It is an absolute law of physics. I might have taken this all into consideration if at the time I had believed in such unscientific premises as the soul or an afterlife, but sadly I did not."

"If all of this is true and his soul was separated from his body, then where did it go?" Jenna asked.

"That, I cannot say. There are still many things beyond the understanding of man," Tressler answered.

"I see," said Jenna. "So what happened to Walter, his body I mean? Did you go after him?"

"I didn't have to. I knew he would eventually come back to the lab. Necropolis is a relatively small place, so it was only a matter of time before the authorities caught up with him despite his cleverness. He needed a way off this rock and that left him with only one alternative."

"I don't mean to keep interrupting Dr. Tressler, but I'm afraid you've lost me."

"Walt knew what I had been planning to do and he knew it was the only way he could escape. He too was from Earth and that is where he was planning to go. Walter had spent several years here in Necropolis, but he hadn't been here so long that his body couldn't handle Earth's gravity. He knew it would take quite a while to be able to function normally again once he got there, but he had little choice. Hitching a ride home on a ship was out of the question because by this time his likeness was plastered all over the asteroid. He'd have been arrested immediately."

"You see, before I left Earth I constructed a large receiver and reintegration chamber in a remote location. The information is transferred between the chambers in the lab by data cables, but that would be impractical over large distances. There is a large transmitter on the surface of this asteroid right above the lab. After I had proven the machine was viable, I had planned on tying the computers into the transmitter. In this manner I could be disassembled here on the asteroid and the information for reconstruction could be transmitted to the second chamber on Earth where I would be reassembled. I figured that if I could accomplish this then there would be no cause for anyone to doubt the practicality of the device. This is how I knew Walter would return to the lab. It was his ticket to freedom. All I had to do was wait for him to show up and late one night he did."

"What did you do?" Jenna asked.

"I let him reconfigure and use the machine."

"You let him escape!"

"No, he didn't escape, Miss Carr. You see, Walter was unaware that I had disconnected the data cables that led from chamber one to the computers used to store the reintegration patterns. When he stepped into the chamber that night he was disintegrated permanently. I then went back and deleted his pattern from the first time he went through, so I'm afraid he's gone for good."

Jenna kept her face immobile.

"Afterward, I called the Necropolis Police and told them that he had been disintegrated in a lab accident, which in a round about way was the truth. When they informed me that he was a suspect in the recent crime wave, I simply explained to them that we had been sequestered in the lab engrossed in our work for weeks, so there was no way it could have been him. I saw no reason to disgrace his memory. After all, it was not really him that did those monstrous acts in the first place."

"I packed up and returned to Earth shortly afterward. For several years I did nothing but drink and wallow in my own failure and pity. It was my fault that Walter and his victims died.

"Living with the guilt nearly killed me, but finally I came to realize that it would be a crime to let it end this way. The device could still be used for the good of humanity and after a lot of work I finally arrived at what I hope is the answer. With a few modifications the device could be used to convert matter into energy and then transmit it along with the reintegration instructions. The energy could then be converted back into matter and reassembled using the accompanying instructions at the destination. In this manner I hope to preserve that which makes us human. I have already made the necessary modifications to the equipment back on Earth. Necropolis and Earth will be in the correct alignment in less than a month, so I have a limited amount of time to make the modifications to the equipment here and reprogram the computers to handle their new task. Only after I have reached Earth, may you have your story Miss Carr. In the mean time, you are welcome to observe the work I'm doing and I will be happy to explain the operation of the equipment in as great a detail as you wish."

"I only have one question Dr. Tressler. What if it doesn't work?"

"It seems to me that you will have one hell of a story either way Miss Carr. Now I'm afraid that I need to lie down for awhile. I haven't slept in nearly three days. I do have guest quarters if you would like to spend the night."

"Thank you for the offer, but I believe I'll return home. May I come back tomorrow, Doctor?"

"Of course you may. Just remember not to discuss our conversation with anyone, or our arrangement is over. And Miss Carr, I would appreciate it if you would leave out the tale of Walter Hicks's demise when you write your report."

"I won't say a word," Jenna said. "And Doctor Tressler, as I said before, it is okay to call me Jenna."

"Very well, Jenna. And you may call me Wade."

Jenna arrived back at the lab early the next morning to find Wade Tressler hard at work. He had already thoroughly cleaned the lab and now he was hanging out of an access panel beneath chamber number one modifying the old circuitry. When he crawled out to greet her, Jenna noticed how much differently he looked than he had the night before. He was actually quite handsome for a man of his age. A night's sleep had done him a world of good. She really didn't know how old he was and it was hard for her to judge. It was difficult to tell with people from Earth as they aged quicker than asteroid dwellers. Wade stood up and dusted off his lab coat. "Good morning Jenna. I see you remembered the door code."

"Yes, I have a pretty good memory," she responded.

"That's good," Wade replied, "You're going to need it. I have a lot to show you."

Tressler was as good as his word. They worked long hours every day and the scientist explained everything to her in great detail as they went. Jenna's deadline came and went. She was nearly out of excuses for the delay and Peter was becoming quite impatient with her.

Fortunately the machine was nearly ready. The night before Wade's planned departure from Necropolis, the two of them had a small celebration in the lab. It was nothing fancy, just a little food, champagne and music. They talked into the night about the work they had done and Jenna had endless questions about Earth. Tressler had a gift for description that made the images of Earth that Jenna carried around in her mind come to life. She could see clear flowing streams, green pastures, snow capped mountains and lush forests where trees swayed gently in the breeze. At length, the conversation turned to more serious matters.

"I am very impressed with you, Jenna," Wade began. "You have a mind like a sponge and I believe you have come to understand the project nearly as well as I do. You should have been a scientist. I'm leaving tomorrow so I wanted you to know how much I have appreciated your help, not to mention how much I appreciate you keeping your word."

"It is I who owe you Wade; you have given me the opportunity of a life time."

"You mean if it works," Wade responded.

"You were right when you said that I understood the project as well as you. That's how I know it will work."

"It has to work, Jenna. This invention is all I have left. If I die tomorrow, no one will miss me."

Jenna reached over and took Wade's hand. "I would miss you," she said solemnly then stood up and walked away.

Jenna spent the night in Wade's guest room. She didn't fear him any longer. He had been nothing but a perfect gentleman from the start and that's the way she wanted it. Jenna understood now that this project was his obsession and seeing it through to its conclusion was the only thing he had on his mind. She tossed and turned most of the night, thinking about all that could go wrong. She thought about what had happened to Walter Hicks and what might happen in the morning. Jenna laid awake most of the night, but in the end sleep finally found her.

Jenna awoke early the next morning to the sound of lab equipment humming to life. She threw on her jump suit and ran out into the lab to see Wade systematically powering up equipment.

"You weren't going to leave without saying goodbye, were you?" Jenna asked.

"Of course not, Jenna, I'm just warming things up," Wade replied. "But since you're up, I guess we may as well say our goodbyes. Now is as good a time as any to leave."

Jenna walked over and gave him a hug and then he turned away from her to face the chamber.

"Start the sequence as soon as I'm inside," he said and began to disrobe. It was then that Jenna grabbed the empty Champagne bottle from the night before and knocked him unconscious. She finished undressing him and with much effort pulled him into the chamber. She then removed her own clothes, set the sequence to start on a ten second delay and stepped inside with Tressler. The chamber began emitting a painful high pitched noise followed by a blinding flash of light then all went dark.

Sometime later Jenna awoke in the reintegration chamber dazed and confused. It took her a few moments to come to her senses. She stood up slowly and looked down at the twisted form of Wade Tressler, who lay groaning on the floor of the chamber. She looked down at her naked body. It appeared to be intact and in remarkably good condition. She was still Jenna, but more muscular. She was much stronger than before and her skin had taken on a darker tone. Tressler's body was another matter. Now he resembled a skeleton with loose, pale skin draped over it. Wade was conscious, but unable to stand.

"What has happened Jenna?" he groaned.

"A long time ago you took something away from me and I finally got the chance to return the favor. You see, Carr is my maiden name. It was Hicks until my husband died. I wrote a little subroutine into your program which allowed me to incorporate your greater bone density, muscle mass and skin tone into my body. I know that I could have gotten what I needed without taking it from you, but I figured after a decade, it was about time that you were punished. You took my husband's humanity, Wade, and in return I have taken your body. I figure it's a pretty fair trade."

Jenna opened the door to the booth to reveal the air-car that Wade had left there months before. Inside was a clean jump suit and boots which didn't fit perfectly, but they were close enough. She surveyed her surroundings while getting dressed. It was so open and the air had a sweet smell to it that Jenna had never experienced before. The sky was the most beautiful blue she had ever seen and there was a light breeze blowing through the evergreen trees. It was an entire forest, a far cry from the little parks on Necropolis. She stepped back into the booth as she finished zipping up her jumpsuit.

"I must leave you now, Doctor -- oh, excuse me, I mean Wade. I have a hell of a story to write and a lot of explanations to come up with."

"Please!" Wade responded, "Don't leave me like this. He had to be destroyed. The man had no soul!"

"Do any of us, Wade?"Jenna responded, then turned and walked away.

The End

© 2011 James M. Hines

Bio: James M. Hines is Kentucky native who has been living and working as an engineer in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the past 11 years.

E-mail: James M. Hines

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