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Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder

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Genre/Category: Crime, Thriller, Mystery
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Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder
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Synopsis

What if you could bank your money for your next life? Smart-aleck and computer security expert Scott Waverly is skeptical of his new client's claim that they've been tracking souls for almost twenty-six hundred years. Is it a freaky cult, or a sophisticated con job? As Scott saves Soul Identity from an insider attack, he discovers the importance of the bridges connecting people's lives.

Purchase the sequel, Soul Intent


Excerpt:

A delivery man in a green van carried a package down my dock later that afternoon. He should have delivered it to the house, but we were out back fishing, and he needed a signature.

I watched him as he walked out the dock. He wore a green long-sleeved uniform and a small pair of silver sunglasses. When he got close, he pulled a green pen out of his pocket and held out a clipboard. “Delivery for Mr. Waverly,” he said. “Can I get a signature?”

I took the pen and clipboard and wrote John Doe in the signature box. The loops on the J invaded the neighboring boxes. “Here you go.” I handed him the clipboard and glanced at the embroidery on his shirt pocket. “I didn’t think delivery companies worked Sundays, Robert.”

“Ours does,” he said. “And my name’s Bob. Not Robert.”

“Did you change your name after you ordered your shirts?”

“Another Bob started before me.” He shook his head. “They told me I could add an initial at the end, but then it would say Bob O. That sounds like a clown.” He looked at my signature. “Mr. Waverly, can I see some identification?”

I was still wearing the bathing suit from the airport work. “It’s in the house,” I said. “You got the right address. What’s the problem?”

“You signed John Doe in the box.”

“You claim your name is Bob, but you’re wearing Robert’s shirt.”

His frown made his forehead crinkle between his eyebrows. “I need to be sure that I deliver this package to Scott Waverly.”

“You have. That’s me.”

He sighed and pulled a small handheld computer out of his pocket, flipped open its cover, and typed on its miniature keyboard. “Just a second while I verify, sir.”

“Verify what?”

“You.” He tapped the screen. “Here we are. Five foot eleven, medium build, brown hair, hazel eyes.” He tilted the screen my way. “It’s you, all right.”

A photo of me standing in the airport this morning graced his screen, along with my address and information about our company. “So it was you talking to Jane this morning,” I said. Jane was right; he was a little freaky looking.

Bob flipped the handheld’s cover shut and shoved it in his pocket. “Yes sir.” He handed me the package and headed up the dock.

“Hey, you forgot your pen!” I called.

“You’ll need it, sir.” He climbed into his green van and drove away.

Dad examined the package. “It’s from Soul Identity—do you know them?”

“Nope,” I said. “Wait, I do. Somebody from Soul Identity called on Friday. I gave him the spiel about our security auditing services.” I handed him the bait knife.

He slit the package open and pulled out two yellow envelopes. He pointed at a READ ME FIRST label. “We should start with this.”

“I’ll get the other.” I tore the end off my envelope and pulled out a yellow plastic device, oblong in shape and flat on its sides. It looked like a bright yellow slice from the middle of a hard boiled egg. Instead of the yolk it had a button labeled “Soul Identity reader.” A lens the size of a pea glinted from the small end, and a key ring dangled from the other.

Mom plucked it from my hand. “It looks like a keychain flashlight.”

“It’s not a flashlight,” Dad said. “Listen to this. Dear Mr. Waverly, blah blah blah, we wish to engage your services, but in order to commence the engagement—” He looked up. “Commence the engagement? Who writes like that anymore?”

“Old people. Old companies. Old lawyers.” I said. “What do they want?”

“In order to commence the engagement, you must signify your acceptance by providing us your soul identity. Kindly use the enclosed reader, blah blah blah, return the reader by the same delivery company, blah blah blah, instructions for using the reader are attached.” He read to himself. “The rest is just legal stuff, and then it’s signed by Archibald Morgan, executive overseer of Soul Identity.”

“Scott, what kind of wackos are you involving us with?” Mom asked.

“Beats me,” I said. “We’re not involved. Yet. Let’s see the instructions.” I took the sheet from Dad and read:

 

Using the Soul Identity Reader:

  1. Press and hold button for five seconds, until lens flashes red.

  2. Place lens two inches directly in front of right eye. Do not blink.

  3. Press and hold button for one second. Lens will flash green if successful. If lens does not flash green, start over.

  4. Place lens two inches directly in front of left eye. Do not blink.

  5. Press and hold button for one second. Lens will flash yellow if successful. If lens does not flash yellow, start over.

 

Just then the tip of my fishing rod jerked down. I handed the paper to Mom and grabbed the rod. I adjusted the tension and fought the fish in close. It was a bluefish, the only kind in the middle bay that puts up a decent fight.

Dad snagged him with the long handled net, and together we lifted him onto the dock. “Careful with his teeth,” he said as I grabbed the fish under his gills.

Bluefish love to bite, and they have razor sharp teeth. Many bluefish fishermen have lost a finger or two by not paying attention.

I got the hook out with my digits intact. “You’re one lucky fish,” I said. House rules: the first fish caught is returned to the bay to appease the fishing gods. I was about to toss him back, but then I stopped. “This guy can help us out,” I said. “We’ll read his soul identity.”

“From the fish?” Mom asked.

“They want an identity, so we’ll give them one. Dad, bring that reader over here. I’ll hold him steady.”

Mom looked at the instructions. “They say press the button for five seconds. Did it flash red?”

“It’s too bright out here.” Dad cupped his hands around the reader. “Let me try again. Yes, it’s flashing red.”

“Two inches from the right eye,” Mom read. “No, the fish’s right eye—that’s his left one. Press the button for one second. Did it flash green?”

“It’s flashing red,” Dad said.

“You must have held the button too long,” Mom said. “Do it again.”

Dad did the fish’s right eye, and the lens flashed green. He shifted to the left eye, and the lens flashed yellow. Mission accomplished.

I tossed the bluefish back into the bay and watched him swim off. I wiped my hands on my towel. “Now what?” I asked.