This story is by C.L. Sigurdson and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Souls R Us
Mr. White an elderly gentleman, a representative of Glory Co. responsible for the processing of Souls, attending a meeting with his counterpart Mrs. Black, he arrived early to Grey’s office.
A nondescript room, grey walls with one entryway and two exits with signs above the doors, “Glory Co.” and “Hades R Us”.
A meeting about quotas and the Anomaly issues they were suffering.
And as usual Mrs. Black was late.
A fresh-faced Grey entered the room, walking towards the chalkboard hanging on the far wall, with chalk in hand took to make notes prior to the meeting. His ancient eyes out of place for the youthful face.
Mr. White looked on as any grandfather would to their own grandchild. White’s eyes were bright, a trait one would expect from someone much younger than him.
He wore a grey pinstripe suit, classic fedora, and shiny black patent leather shoes, and he sat in one of the two chairs before Grey’s desk.
Grey looked up from his board after noting the time and said to Mr. White “She’s late again, isn’t she?”
Mr. White pulled back his sleeve and looked at his watch and said, “Of course she is, she’s late for everything. Is she ever on time for anything Grey?”
Grey responded, “Well it would nice for once, we all have things to do.”
Grey continued to write on the chalkboard, the harsh scraping as the chalk dances across the board becoming the only sound once again.
The words returning, then leaving, and on the next line “quotas and Anomaly” with quotation marks around the word “Anomaly”.
The Anomaly defined, no one believed anymore the roles played by the dark and the light, they no longer believed in their power.
White fixed his sleeve to cover his watch, the sound of footsteps in the hallway outside of the office door. A Slow turn of the brass doorknob began and in walked Mrs. Black, dressed in her usual black business suit with shiny, white shoes.
She looked from Grey to Mr. White and said,
“So sorry I’m late, you know the traffic is what it is. Who can be on time for anything?”
Mr. White and Grey exchanged a look as they took in her latest excuse.
“Please do sit down we have a lot to cover and not much time before I change my mind and reschedule the meeting.”
Mrs. Black gave a deep sigh, crossed to the chair next to Mr. White and sat down. The seat cushion let out a small whine of air as it was being pushed down. A small innocuous noise considered to be quite funny under normal circumstances. But neither Grey nor Mr. White found any humor in the matter.
Grey said, “Now that we’re all here let me refresh everyone’s memory, the purpose of this meeting. Low quotas and the vexing Anomaly both of your companies have been suffering.
“It is serious!”
“Detracting from stockholders earnings and the members of the board are not pleased. Would either of you care to offer an explanation?”
Mr. White cleared his throat, adjusted his tie, and pushed his fedora back to leaning closer to Grey’s desk. He glanced sidelong at Mrs. Black to see if she was about to give an explanation. Seeing her pinched face, nothing was coming from her. He decided to plunge in and make the best of this mess.
Mr. White began, “It seems that since both our companies involved in the handling of Souls, we’ve run into some supply and demand issues.”
“Along with the Anomaly we suffer from.”
“As a representative of Glory Co, we strive for the best quality product available. But the turnover has been much lower than expected and we are seeing gaps unlike any we have seen in quite some time.”
” And I do believe that Mrs. Black who represents Hades R Us has experienced the reverse. Stockpiling, instead of processing.”
Glanced at Mrs. Black, White said: “Wouldn’t you say that’s an accurate assessment, my friend?”
Matching his stare she took a deep breath, adjusted her collar shifted her gaze to Grey.
“Yes, White’s report is accurate, we’re still looking into the matter to determine how best to correct it. Hades R Us shakes them and Glory Co. bakes them. The souls that is.”
“Yes quite.” Grey noticed the tension rising between White and Black. Seeing the stress twisting their faces, with productivity dropping far below acceptable levels.
Grey went to the chalkboard, made a note of the first appearance of the Anomaly when the drop off begun occurring.
The sole responsibility of Grey’s office is answering to the Board, currently experiencing a great deal of pressure.
Mr. White was aghast, he couldn’t believe the lies coming out of Mrs. Black. He glanced over to Grey and they share a knowing glance.
White got up from his seat, crossed the room to make a note on Grey’s chalkboard. He wrote down lies and the friends I’ve known. He walked back to his seat, knowing full well Mrs. Black was aware of the admission.
He began to speak very slow and clear so that nothing was in misunderstood. “Grey, my friend, I know you doubt the accuracy of Mrs. Black’s statement! You and I both know telling the truth are not one of her strong points.”
Black smiles, turns to Grey “True, we all know I’m more comfortable with half-truths and non-truths, it’s well-known.”
Suddenly a glistening black demon with red talons wreathed in flames clutching a red-tipped mace crashes through the wall. Locked in a heated battle with a shiny white angel with golden wings brandishing a red flaming sword.
The demon swung down with its mace aiming for the angel’s head.
The angel brought up its right hand catching the maze leaving bloody rivulets, preventing the weapon from delivering a crushing blow.
The demon had many bloody gashes torn in its wings, a result of the angel’s own might, bleeding and burning as continued to fight its way through to defend itself.
Grey, Mr. White, and Mrs. Black paused to take in the spectacle.
“Quite effective don’t you think?” Mr. White commented to Grey. “It’s something Mrs. Black and I have been working on to combat the problem.
It seems that during re-manufacturing leftover beliefs are from the previous occupants still cling to the soul, causing the Anomaly.
Fundamentalism, new age beliefs, and passing trends all play a part in what gives a person their foundation of beliefs.”
“This new campaign we’re calling “Believe What You Will” will stir things up so the fundamentalists don’t have such a firm foothold and the new age sector can start to take more belief shares, thereby making the souls easier to clean for the new clients.”
“Worldwide manifestations planned in areas affected. Using our telemarketing surveys and demographic information, we plan on implementing the campaign soonest, with a wide range of subliminal messages sprinkled about to help infuse this. We hope it will help us with the Anomaly issue.”
“And for demonstration purposes, the avatars for myself and Mrs. Black are currently embroiled in discussion evolving some of the finer points of the campaign so we’d use this opportunity to prove to you the effectiveness of the visuals we are planning on using.”
“As we roll out, we’ll be modifying our imagery so it’s reminiscent of each dominant religion with every religion being incorporated.
Which will help instill our message so we can have the beginning and end product back to the standards we’re all used to.”
“So I’m hoping you’ll agree it should be an effective way of getting back our productivity, keeping the board members satisfied, and letting us achieve our own ends. It’s a Body hardware and Soul software issue. There is no other way to maintain balance.”
Grey Smiled wryly, shaking his head.