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SOUL-SHIFTER
© 2009 BONNIE WATSON


CHAPTER 2


I didn’t need to look to see whose quick steps entered the control room. The click of scanner confirmed no weapons before buzzing her through the double sliding doors. Even before she was granted access I knew she was angry. The rest of the guys just stared at their monitors while I had a mind to get ready for yet another tantrum.

“Again?” That was probably the wrong greeting, but by this time I was prepared to retaliate with some new information brought in by one of our hackers.

A picture of a young girl’s death scene was tossed upon the stainless steel counter. The stark white backing reflected over the surface that drew a few questioning stares.

“She was only fifteen,” came a sharp reply. “Can you believe that bastard had the audacity to call after it happened and explained why he infected her?”

I shook my head.

“Come on, Marisa. You’re the specialist on the subject. He probably wanted to play to your sensitive side.” When she didn’t reply, I added, “Did you get a trace?”

I could feel her piercing gaze boring a hole through my skull. It was people like her that drove me nuts. Then again, government agents just seemed to have that affect. To choose a woman sleekly fitted with an all-black suit decked out with all the possibilities of hidden weapons unchecked by a mere metal detector, was more deadly than a muscled man holding a bazooka. Desire and lust soon triumphed over all other thoughts, and she knew it.

“Disconnected,” she finally said. “This isn’t my normal assignment. I’m hearing the guy doesn’t even have a blood type due to...chemical alterations? I’m no science whiz, Bob. I came to find a serial killer. If you wanted more scientific results, you should have hired a nerd!”

I chuckled. “What with your record to uncover missing persons and track down criminals with little information to go on, how could we resist? You’ve done well in locating potential carriers.”

“Victims, Bob!” She tapped the picture. “This one fell off a rooftop right in front of me!”

“And we thank you for bringing back blood samples because of that.”

She kept her face devoid of emotion, but I knew she would have rather smacked me. “I love your sensitivity here.” She sighed. “Were you able to find anything?”

“None. No sign of contamination. But we were able to find this.” I held up a report. “With photo ID.”

It was quickly snatched from my grasp. I watched her serious expression shift to a look of surprise.

“Wait. How old is this?” she asked. “This can’t be current.” She pointed to the image of a photocopied driver’s license. “This expired more than six years ago. I need something more up-to-date.”

“You won’t find anything more up-to-date than that,” I explained. I quickly typed in a few figures to pull up some data, then swung the monitor around so she could see. The image on the screen resembled the one she held. “He goes by the name Allastor. “A few more clicks produced a wealth of information snatched from social security networks tied into our system. “His real name is Allen Roberts. When we looked up the origin of Allastor, it came up Greek for ‘avenging soul.’ Quite proper in his case, since the chemical has altered his DNA, disconnecting it from normal functioning, and is now capable of mutating upon itself, thus creating a moveable piece of inner being, or - what we like to term - a soul-shifter.”

A look of ‘I’m not following’ touched her features, so I brought up a quick animation that theorized the chemical’s chain reaction.

“Basically,” I began, “this is how we think it works. The chemical acts as a sort of pigment replicator, the same in which can be found on chameleons and cuttlefish. But it also has the same formulaic plot course as a virus. Once transmitted to another person, it slowly consumes from the inside. Now, we speculate that Allastor has had this for so long that his body became immune to its effects. But there’s another part of it that we don’t understand -  the part where the pigment comes into play. Once inside another person, the chemical somehow submits signals back to its original mass, which allows for color transformation - and a few other oddities.”

“Such as?”

I raised an eyebrow. “Ever heard of telepathic energy? It’s sort of like that.”

“What?” She stared at the computer screen as it completed its demo. “You sound like some...whacko scientist! I didn’t come here for that. I came to find a killer. Now you’re telling me he’s a psycho telepathic freak show?”

“Quite possibly.” I swiveled the monitor back to its normal position. “In any case, he needs to be stopped. The hardest part will be locating his exact position...and an exact look. I mentioned pigment change? Well, get this. Every time he infects another person, he takes on a piece of their appearance, so you’re really not far off calling him a freak show.”

“And how long does it take for something like that to occur? This telepathic stuff?

The pigment change?”

I shrugged. “According to our studies, it should be...almost instant.”

*****

Almost instant... I let a smile show. You think?

I hung a leg over the scaffolding left alongside an empty construction site. Reaching into a pocket, I withdrew the pack of needles I’d bought earlier. The tug of minds getting ready to collapse from invading DNA was not something I enjoyed feeling. I unrolled the pack and selected a syringe. Filled and ready, I held it between my teeth while rolling the rest together and stuffing it back in my jacket.

“Wonderful observation, Bob.” I said to the passing breeze. “But you’re no good without access codes,” I rolled the needle between my fingers, “although your passwords will come in handy.”

I chuckled and rolled up my sleeve to position the needle over the underside of my arm. A small crevice was beginning to mold upon the area where I had injected so many times. It didn’t even bother me now as the first wave of drowsiness took me. Somewhere below I heard the needle ting against metal before realizing I’d dropped it.

I was asleep the moment three of the voices died from my thoughts - and with a part of my soul…
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...
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September 22, 2009
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