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SOUL-SHIFTER
©2009 Bonnie Watson


CHAPTER 1

The memory was as clear to me now as though it had just happened. Smoke wafted under the basement door while my mother continued to fix dinner. It wasn’t the first time, so she was used to it – or so her thoughts told me.

Being only a year old at that time, everything fascinated me, to the plain white tablecloth on the kitchen table to the smoke wafting under the door. On wobbly legs I ventured close and pressed my hands against its wooden frame. That’s when my mother grabbed me.

“Allen!” she scolded in a warm tone just before the door opened.

“What?” My father halted on the other side, then cautiously peered around with a flask of liquid in one hand.

My mother just shook her head and returned to the stove with me tucked under one arm. She stirred the stew beginning to bubble.

“You should be more careful,” She pointed at him with her spoon. “He’s learning to walk, remember? The last thing I want to hear is his head bumping that door because of your…whatever you’re doing down there!”

“It pays.” He grinned, closing the door behind him, and walked over to the stove. He was a compassionate kisser. My mother never resisted his lips. “Got an extra glass?”

My mother frowned and pulled away. “Again? I have to use them too, you know.” She opened a cabinet door and pulled out two baby bottles. “Here. Use one of these. It’s time to feed him anyway.”

She readjusted me in her arms and turned to open the fridge. While my father sat at the kitchen table with one bottle, my mother fixed mine and heated it in the microwave. Just as she was taking it out, the phone rang.

“I’ll get it,” my mother said before my father could get up. “It needs to cool first.”
“At least we’re finally making enough to have a phone.” He rose and motioned that he was heading down. He left the bottle sitting on the table.

“And will you do something about that furnace?” My mother called after him. She reached for the baby bottle. It wasn’t until my father returned and stopped to stare in horror that she realized what she’d done. On the counter sat the container with baby formula in it. The one my father had used was now half empty.

He started toward her, a look of fear plastered over his face. And then came a memory of pain. Glass from the back door flew across the kitchen. My mother gasped and dropped the phone. My father lunged for me.

Bang! A gunshot, I was sure.

Red suddenly dotted the countertops. We were both falling. Around us, people were rushing. Somewhere, my father’s voice echoed.

That was as far as my mother’s memory went. The pain had come from the backside. No doubt, a bullet had killed her. As for me, trying to remember such an event from so long ago would not have been possible if not for my mother’s mistake. She had given me what they had come for, and it was they who splattered my mother’s blood into my mouth. The rest was up to the altering chemical. In that way, my mother was always with me. So then were all the others I collected over time.

I thought of the memory again while standing on the corner across from the vacant apartment complex. Back then it was home. Now, it was a hole for drug dealers and gangs. I smiled and checked the gun beneath my jacket while licking a spot of dried blood off my other hand. Getting a gang leader to ingest a good portion of my fluids was not new, but difficult. I could feel the part of my being burrowing into his core. It took a moment before memories started pouring in.

I held my head to adjust to the new voice. The others were quite loud on their own, but I had grown accustomed to filtering out what I needed. I waited a few minutes more. Then I casually approached the building.

Even before I reached the front door, I knew my body had changed. I glanced at my fingers, no longer Caucasian, but a dark tan – just another added characteristic. I kept my hat pulled low and the collar to my jacket up high.

I stepped inside. From the memory I’d just obtained, I knew the door was guarded from the inside. I flashed a hand signal. They never uttered a word, and I passed between them without so much as a glance to their semi-automatic rifles.

My mind was a GPS system guiding me through a maze of overused hallways. I ignored the glazed stares from crack-heads and cocaine addicts, often stepping over them. A few tossed money into card games. Graffiti signatures were everywhere. Cracked walls with leftover pill shells and needles littered the floors. At one point broken beer bottles decorated a sidewall as though darts marking a bull’s-eye. I ducked a loose tile dangling from the ceiling and turned a corner toward the Janitor’s closet – or what used to be one. I opened the door with a wide grin plastered across my shadowed face. The two men in the room looked up.

“Long time.” I nodded in greeting to the other man. He’d pulled a gun, but at a gesture from his companion, he soon put it away. I stood aside to let him leave before taking a seat across from a long-time friend.  

“I don’t want to know who,” was his reply. “Don’t care to know how.”

I could tell he was faking the frown. The twinkle of amusement in those Latino eyes begged for more information – had I kept to the agreement?

“I’d give him about two days; three at most.” I leaned back in my chair.

“Allastor, Allastor.” A thin smile spread from the corner of his lips. “You do realize what that means, right? A small chunk of you hitting the grave sooner than the body. You get that, right?”

I poked at a still-smoking cigarette lying between us. Nodding slowly, I raised it to my lips and took a puff.

“I get that.” I exhaled, letting the toxins from the burning paper relax the voices in my head.

“Don’t you hate that feeling when they go?”

“And I’ve been doing this for…how long?”

He balked, not really believing I’d pulled off another accidental death. He cursed under his breath.

“You got balls of steel, my friend! I mean, I know Tony boasts a lot, but – shit, man! You gotta’ stop doing that or you’ll…shrivel up or something.”

I laughed. “I’ll go mad first. That, I’m almost certain.”

“I wonder about you sometimes.” With serious expression returning, he leaned close. “So Tony’s really got it - a piece of your soul? How’d you do it?”

“Wasn’t easy,” I admitted, “especially with body guards and all. Had to slip a few drops in ‘em first to figure his daily routine.” I tossed the leftover butt onto the floor. There was barely enough left to crush under my shoe.

“You spied using his guys?” My friend gave a hoot. “Think you got enough voices in that head yet?”

“Well…” I held my bandaged hand up for him to see, then smiled at his gawking expression. He knew what I’d done. Slipping enough for all four of them to go was going to be hell. Thinking better of, I reached into a pocket and took out a couple of hundred dollar bills. “I’m going to need a double dosage for this one.”

“Allastor…” My friend shook his head. “Why you give me that?” he asked. “Only thing I ask in return is that you don’t do to me what you do to them, got it?” He slid the money back, then reached down and pulled a small rolled up case from under the table. I watched with interest while he unrolled it like an artist unraveling a new paint set.

There were six syringes included in the pack. Each contained a small amount of clear liquid. Carefully, I pulled out one to examine.

“Same supplier?” I asked.

“Generic version of Quetiapine (kwa-tie-a-peen), but yeah. Knock you right out!”

“Good. I’ll need it.” I watched him roll it back up with quick expertise. Then he handed it to me. “Now what about your end?” I asked after tucking the bundle into a side pocket. “Did you meet him?”

He nodded. “Took a few drinks, but I got this much.” He leaned in across the table, his voice barely a whisper. “Looks like the company’s gone underground. They’ve already changed their name seven times. So the one you’re familiar with?” He waved the title aside. “Out the window; they now go by the name Formula A.”

“Government backing them?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Didn’t get that far. Police busted the joint last night, so we had to leave fairly quickly.”

“Cutting it kind of close, aren’t we?” I kept my tone neutral. “Get anything else? What about access codes?”

He looked doubtful. “You going in yourself?”

“Oh, I can get in, but in order to shut the place down I’ll need the codes. Normally, I’d tag several people, but right now I’m at max with the ones in my head. I need your guy to get them for me.”

“No guarantees, Allastor. Everything’s changed since I left the company. They got a whole different ball game now.”

He lifted a bottle of beer that had been sitting on the table corner. Loud gulps soon followed.

“But you do know the layout of the place.” I let my voice grow cold. “Or do I need to slip a few drops into that drink of yours?”

He nearly choked.

“Man, don’t do that!” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “’Less you want a new dealer!”   

I rose from the chair and tipped my hat lower. “Then think about it.”  I left the money on the table. “And keep the change.”
Next Chapter: Coming Soon!

Previous Chapter: [link]

Summary:
What happens when a toddler drinks a chemical and alters the way the soul and body works? When a company wants to develop the same formula for its own personal use, Allastor Roberts goes on the run. Only he can make it work, but he's not going down so easily...not without bringing the company down with him...
:icongrissyg:
GrissyG Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2009
Like how it's developing...:floating:
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:iconbonbon3272:
bonbon3272 Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
I just finished Chapter 2. I'll post soon.
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August 28, 2009
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