Soul Rights

by Leslie Milligan

Jenkins was worried. He had only been with Soul Share for two months and now he was making his way to Max Drummond's office. Max Drummond: the founder of Soul Share, the top man, the great genius and the inventor of soul transfer technology. Jenkins trembled. If Drummond wanted to see a mere sales rep, it could only be bad news very bad news!

Jenkins entered an office brightly lit by wide windows placed at the highest level of a high building. It was sparsely furnished. Drummond stood, middle aged, unimpressive, unassuming and above all disarmingly charming, behind his plain, functional desk.

'Please take a seat Jenkins.' Drummond smiled at the tall, thin, angular, young man, who was embarrassed and head hung. Once both were seated Drummond continued, 'You've not been with us that long, have you Jenkins. How are you taking to your new job?'

Jenkins stared at this trembling hands and thought: what's this leading too? Then he cleared his throat and replied softly, 'It's everything I dreamt it would be. I like it. I love it actually. To be involved in giving someone the chance to preserve a dying loved one within their mind, so that they can be there with them to share the rest of their life, is all I could ever wish for. In doing this I've tried my best and have prayed that my work is of an adequate standard.'

Drummond raised an open palm, 'It's nothing like that. I summoned you here for a special job, because your work has been proved to be more than adequate exemplary in fact, so relax. You can smoke if you like.'

'Thanks, I don't.' He raised his eyes to meet Drummond's with the beginnings of a smile.

'That's better.' Drummond reached for an auto-light cigar and made a blue, billowing chaos of smoke with several generous puffs, 'you're not the best salesman, we've got, but you have other qualities, which I admire and need to put to use. Have you any idea what these qualities may be?'

Jenkins shrugged and was lost for words.

'That's one of them. You are unassuming, yet capable, ambitious yet moral and above all you are sincere about the work we carry out here.'

Jenkins mumbled a thank you. Emotion caught his throat and moistened his eyes. The rules by which he had set himself to live had been seen and appreciated by someone of real worth. Drummond had won Jenkins' utter loyalty in doing this and not just by the words he had spoken, but also in the way he had said them. Jenkins knew Drummond was completely sincere and in all probability, honourable as well.

'The feedback we have received from your customers, places me in no doubt as to your appropriateness. We have a problem, a very real problem.' Drummond swung his swivel chair around to look over the twinkling spires of downtown Tri-city. His face was now at right angles to Jenkins. There was a hard glint to his left eye, which shone out from the surrounding folds of a deep frown. 'I knew it would come upon us someday and now it has. Who would have thought Charles Plank would be the first?'

Jenkins roused himself from the warmth of self satisfaction Drummond's previous words had placed him under, 'Plank? Yes well, he's the head of the Quarter Globe Corporation, isn't he? He's the first to what?'

'He contacted our web site. Evidently, he's terminally ill and he wants soul transfer.' Drummond became introspective. He gazed in silence at the far spires and left Jenkins feeling he should speak.

Jenkins searched for words and with a dry throat asked, 'he wants soul transfer, for a loved one he'll leave behind? According to the media he's somewhat of a hermit, having no living relatives, nor loved ones?'

Drummond dropped his gaze, 'He's rich, one of the richest and he's found a young man, who for the sake of his impoverished family, is willing... willing to share his mind, but Plank I fear Plank may have other ideas.'

Jenkins was puzzled, 'I don't follow sir?'

'Plank doesn't mean to share! I'll stake my soul on it!'

'He wants a complete takeover? Can that be done? Would we do such a thing?'

Drummond swung around and looked Jenkins in the eye, 'Yes it can be done, but what would be the point? Like so many, Plank is under the impression that an actual transfer takes place. It doesn't. A copy is made of the personality engrains and memories of the soon-to-be-deceased, which is then implanted into the brain of the soon-to-be-bereaved. It is a solace for someone who has truly loved and cannot live without their object of affection.

We support the illusion that an actual transfer is made to give the bereaved the feeling that the deceased is actually still with them. This you did not know of course as it is on a need to know basis, but now you need to know.'

His shock was evident and a stunned Jenkins replied, 'not an actual transfer. Are we not cheating our clients by pretending it is so? Does the government know and approve of this?' A certain amount of anger was welling up in Jenkins and he thought: is this truly a man of honour? What lies have I been spreading to decent people when they are at their most vulnerable?

'Is a duplicate, accurate down to the finest detail, not the same thing as the original? Why philosophise about the niceties when so much good is being done? And as to the government these days it is a body where all is said and never done and irrelevance is held in reverence. We do good Jenkins, that's the bottom line. Admit it, you've seen what our work has done, are you not convinced?'

Jenkins sat and remembered the look on his clients' faces and could not disagree, 'I'm convinced sir. I was just taken aback what would you have me do?'

'I want you to do your standard visit and find out exactly what Plank wants. If he has turned altruistic, follow the usual procedure. However, if I have guessed correctly, he will come clean about wanting a full transfer and offer to bribe you and any of my staff who are necessary to provide him with it. I want you to accept his bribe and I will then furnish you with a list of technicians whom I can trust and who will be brought in on my deception. You will present this list to him at your next meeting and arrange an appointment for the transfer at that time.'

'Why not just refuse him?'

'He's a powerful man. He may put pressure on me through ministerial means. He has many friends high up in government. If that pressure is exerted, it may come to light that an actual transfer does not take place. All our work will have been for nothing; not to mention the misery it will cause to the thousands we have already helped. I cannot risk a confrontation of that magnitude.'

'I see sir. I'll follow through.'

When Jenkins left Plank's palatial grounds he felt dirty. He had accepted his bribe of five million and each of the staff at Soul Share needed to enact his plan would receive the same. Drummond was right and Plank was in a hurry. He did not have long to live. Jenkins saw the desperation in him and knew he would stop at nothing to get his way. This made him feel a little cleaner.

Within three days it was all set up and the young man who had volunteered to receive Plank's mind received an edited version of it, a version which omitted his personality and left only his memories and a special inclusion telling the young man of Drummond's plan. This was needed as Plank's trusted entourage were present throughout the procedure and when the young man awoke from the procedure he was fully aware of how he must act. He could pass himself off as Plank in another body.

The original Plank was, as were all 'soul donors', in a state of unconsciousness until they eventually died, which was never more than a few days.

The young man now referred to as Mr. Plank requested a meeting in private with Drummond to thank him. A generous donation was received by Soul Share and the young man's impoverished family members were poor no more.

Jenkins felt very good about it all until six months later when he heard that the young man had committed suicide. Drummond called Jenkins into his office once more upon hearing the news.

Drummond, though saddened, came straight to the point, 'I know you will feel bad about that young man Jenkins. Don't. It's entirely my responsibility. I should have realised that a man of conscience, as he was, could not live with the memories of a man like Plank. I should have told him that it was always possible to remove them. However, that would have put Soul Share at great risk. That decision is something I shall have to live with for the rest of my life.'

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