Bounty of Soul

“Now, I shouldn’t be showing you this, Ms. Bowman. It’s only for our more well-to-do clients.” Gus smiled at the young immigrant woman seated on the other side of his cluttered, wooden desk. She wore her greasy, stringy brown hair in a bun. Her sharp features and lean body hinted at malnutrition. Her once navy-blue dress was faded and worn from too many washes. Both of them knew she did not fall into that category. She did not move to take the brochure; but, she noticed the title. “Reincarnate Into Your Fantasy World.”

“No, thank you. That’s not for me,” she repeated the phrase her mother raised her with. Gus shook his head; his round, puffy cheeks trembled with the gesture.

“Not so fast,” he pushed the brochure on her again. She accepted it not knowing what else to do. “When I say it’s only for our wealthy clients I don’t mean it’s expensive. The truth is this option is free.” The large balding man grinned. Upon hearing the word “free”, Leisa opened the brochure and looked at all the pictures. She saw orcs and ogres strolling on a beach under a purple moon. Goblins atop centaurs on vast crystalline planes. The pictures of knights, unicorns, and dragons looked so real.

“Is this a game? How is it free?” she asked. “Why do only the rich people get it?” Gus shrugged, but his salesman’s smile did not diminish.

“My boss wants to keep things as exclusive as possible. We’re instructed to only show this to clients that meet certain financial requirements,” he winked. “But once it’s done there’s really no way to know.” Gus sat up straighter and clasped both his hands on the table. He looked at Leisa and took on a more serious tone. “Please don’t be offended, but it looks like you could use a break, am I right?” Ms. Bowman nodded timidly, almost ashamed.

“So let me tell you about this. It’s more than just simple immigration.” Gus tapped the word “Reincarnate” on the brochure.  “You’ll leave your life in this world behind and start living the life you want in the body you want. The first thing you do is create a character,” he tapped a couple of the pictures. “There are different races, as you can see. 25 total and 25 classes to choose from. But it gets even better!” He flipped over to the next page in the brochure and tapped at a box that said “Oversoul” with a short list of 10 more items. The word “unicorn” caught Leisa’s attention.

“You actually get to pick a body and a soul for your character. You can pick any of the 25 other races, or any of these 10 for your soul.  You can be a goblin with the soul of a dragon or a slime-person with the soul of a vampire, and so on.” Leisa’s eyes grew wide as the possibilities flooded her mind.

“After you’re happy with yourself you can choose the type of world you want to live in. From pre-historic to ultra-futuristic and everything in between.”

“How do I get there?” Leisa asked. She already made her decision to go but wanted to hear more details. “You said I had to leave this world?”  Gus nodded.

“It’s simple, really. We plant you,” the salesman grinned. He loved putting it that way.

“Plant me?”

“Yes, Ma’am. We lay you down on a bed of soil and put you to sleep. You’ll wake up in the new world never to return to this one.”

“And that’s it? Why does it say reincarnate?”

“Well, you’d be leaving your body behind too. Your consciousness is relayed to the other world using some very top secret technology that I can’t tell you any more about.” He shrugged. “Because I don’t know myself.”

“But, what happens when my body dies? I won’t be able to eat or drink anything.” Gus shook his head.

“That’s the beauty of it. Your body doesn’t die, it just changes. Remember, we’re dealing with advanced technology here. The soil has enough nutrients to keep you alive until you take root.”

“Take root?” Doubts began to form in the back of Leisa’s mind.

“The only way to keep you alive long enough for you to properly enjoy the other world is to give you a body that lives for quite some time. Instead of hooking you up to machines, there’s a more environmentally friendly option. Your body grows into a tree that holds your soul until it dies. Several hundred years from now.”

“I want to do it!” Leisa blurted out. The moment of fear she felt was replaced by hope. She would have hundreds of years in her ideal world. For free!” Gus smiled and stood up.

“It’s a good thing you decided,” he glanced at the wall clock. “My boss likes to make surprise inspections,” he chuckled as he guided her to the door. “I don’t think she realizes how punctual her surprises are. Do you need to prepare anything? Say good-bye to anyone? If not we can get you planted right now.” Leisa shook her head.

“No one… that’s why I wanted to leave.” Gus nodded and opened the door. “Hey Fred!” he yelled down the hall.

“Yeah?” Fred’s voice drifted up the hall, but Leisa did not see anyone.

“Do me a favor and plant Ms. Bowman here before the boss gets back.” A short blonde man in jeans and a black t-shirt stepped into the hall and waved at Leisa.

“Another one? No problem!” Gus patted Leisa on the back.

“Good luck. Enjoy your new life.”

“Thank you!” Leisa braved a kiss on his cheek then dashed down the hall toward the short man. Gus returned to his desk and pulled out a small red notebook that he used to keep track of his progress. “Another soul, another easy 10k!” he grinned as he added another tally mark next to the dozens that were already there.

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