Soul Protector
it, but I couldn’t move. I stood rooted to the
spot. Above the mirror I could make out some words; Switch
Enforcement Chamber .
    I looked up at Dan with hot
tears springing to my eyes. “Where’s his primary body? They can’t
switch him without his primary body.”
    Dan put both his hands on my
shoulders and forcefully turned me round so I couldn’t face the
room any longer.
    “There’s no point, Gracie,” he
said gently. “Once your aura goes red, there’s no way to survive a
switch-back.”
    Burning acid rose from my
stomach, and I thought I was going to be sick.
    “I know it’s harsh,” Dan
continued, “but his primary body will expire the same time his mind
is extracted from that man’s body.”
    I squeezed my eyes shut, trying
to force his tormented features to leave my mind. It was pointless
though. I knew his face would haunt me for a long time. I shook
myself. I just wanted to get registered and get out of there as
fast as possible. I allowed Dan to lead me away and after we’d
taken a few steps, I heard the pitch of the man’s protests change,
and it chilled me to the core.
    When we were a safe distance
from the SEC, Dan stopped walking and pulled me over to one side.
He rested his hand on my shoulder and looked at me.
    “I’m really sorry. You
shouldn’t have had to witness that. Are you okay?”
    “I’m fine,” I said quietly. “I
know he was in the wrong. It’s just, the look in his eyes. He was
so frightened.”
    “He knew what he was doing,
Gracie. What about the guy who was violated? He’ll have been
missing for a while, and his family and friends will be beside
themselves wondering what’s happened to him. Remember, the face
that’s haunting you is actually that guy, not the face of
the CSP.”
    I took a deep breath. I knew he
was right.
    “So what will happen next for
the man who owns that body?”
    “He’ll be okay. They’ll be
erasing all recent memory now, and then he’ll be deposited near a
hospital. One of the monitors will stay with him, posing as a kind
stranger who just happened to find a bewildered man wandering
around with amnesia. We’ve got SPs working in all the local
hospitals and they’ll be made aware, and there’s SPs on the outside
who’ll help him pick up the pieces of his life once he’s
released.”
    I felt slightly better as I
thought of this man getting his life back. I hadn’t really thought
about that side of it.
    “Right, let’s get this over
with shall we?” I said, trying to put it out of my mind and speed
up the whole Office experience. “Where do we need to go?”
    Dan pointed at the door we were
standing in front of.
    “This is it. Are you
ready?”
    I took a deep breath and
nodded.
    Dan knocked on the door, and
without waiting for an answer, he opened it and walked into a large
room. I followed close behind, taking in the clinical looking
surroundings.
    A long strip-light suspended
from the ceiling buzzed away, illuminating the white tiles on the
floor. The walls were also painted white, and the overall effect
was so bright it took a while for your eyes to adjust. There were
several steel benches scattered around with surgical looking items
on each one. They varied from small instruments to large,
sophisticated-looking machinery.
    In the far corner a
bespectacled middle-aged lady sat behind a desk. Her hair was dyed
an unnatural shade of red and she was wearing lipstick in exactly
the same shade. As soon as she saw us, she jumped up beaming and
hurried over, her lab coat flapping with the motion. I watched in
astonishment as she unhooked her glasses from her ears and chucked
them on the floor. They clattered to the ground, and Dan stooped
down to retrieve them.
    “Oh my goodness, I keep doing
that,” she said, laughing as Dan picked them up and inspected them.
“They’re usually attached to a chain round my neck, but I’ve broken
it. I just can’t seem to get out of the habit.” She bit her bottom
lip, grinning at the same

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