You can read this as a standalone but it’s part of the Old Spirits season and if you’re following it, I consider the best time to read it is somewhere after reading Side Effects.
SPOILER WARNING: If you really don’t like spoilers, you might want to wait until you’ve read Stolen Spirits 🙂
I hope you enjoy.
“Welcome at the Rebirth Foundation, sir, how may I help you?” the woman looked up and smiled as Travis entered the room.
“Um, I was told to come here,” he said. “I just got reincarnated… this morning.”
“Oh yes! I’ve been expecting you.” She got up from behind the desk, walked up to him and extended her right hand. “You must be Travis Barker.”
He nodded and took her hand. She shook it enthusiastically, her smile growing bigger.
“I’m Betty, I’ll be getting you installed today.” Letting go of his hand she turned to her desk and picked up some papers. “I hope you had a pleasant reincarnation?”
“I can imagine it’s all a bit daunting for you, having been away for so long. Not to worry, I’m here to help. First things first. Did they give you the information package?”
Travis showed her the thick folder he held in his hands, “This?”
She bent over to look at the cover. “Yes, perfect. I’m sure they already told you this, but I’ll repeat it anyway, you should read that all the way through. It contains anything you need to know about how the city works, layout, laws, civic services, your rights as a citizen, things like that. It also has a list of useful addresses, police, hospitals, the library, us…” She put her hand on the folder cover. “When you look at it, you’ll notice the first couple of pages are a summary of the Great Fires and how the city has evolved since. Now, you’ve been away for a very long time, Travis – may I call you Travis?“ – he barely had time to nod – “but that will give you the short version of what you’ve missed and what’s changed. Make sure you read that bit first, okay?”
“Really, the package should answer a lot of the questions you might have, and for the ones it doesn’t…” She tapped her own papers against his chest and winked. “…you come to me. Which brings me to us, the Rebirth Foundation. We are a non-profit organization helping reincarnates to get back into society, especially old spirits like yourself – congratulations on winning the Lottery by the way – but basically anyone that has little to no means after being reborn.”
She paused a split second to take a breath.
“We set people up with an apartment, help them get jobs, show them around, in fact we support them throughout the entire reintegration process until they are back on their own two feet, metaphorically speaking. We work in the strictest confidence and are here to help you in any way we can.”
The flood of words suddenly stopped as she pointedly smiled at Travis. Apparently the initial introduction speech was over.
“O-okay,” he replied, unsure if a reaction was expected.
She pulled up her nose and squinted her eyes briefly in an expression of sheer enjoyment. “No reason to stick around here, I’m sure you’re dying – or well, living – to see what apartment we have for you.”
Betty grabbed her coat from the hanger standing in the corner, put it on and took out her car keys. “Come, I’ll drive you there, you’re gonna love it.”
Feeling overwhelmed, Travis obediently followed her out of the office.
The water kettle beeped, indicating boiling temperature was reached. Travis poured some of the water in his tea cup. He much preferred coffee, but no coffee maker had been provided in the apartment, he’d have to buy one himself.
The apartment was clean with basic equipment, a table with two chairs, a two-seater couch, a bed with fresh sheets, a plain kitchen with an empty fridge and a bathroom with a toilet, shower and two folded towels. Most of the closet space was empty, except for the additional set of clothes they had supplied. A bottle of welcome back wine had been standing on the table when he arrived.
Seated at the same table now, Travis stared out the window at the buildings across the street. The city had changed a lot, very different from how it was in his previous life, unrecognizable even. As he sipped his tea, wondering how to find his way around and pick up this new life, the doorbell rang.
Betty had informed Travis that she would drop by once a week during the first three weeks, to see how he was doing. But he hadn’t expected it to be on his very first morning.
He walked to the front door and opened it. A man waited outside, a big man, with broad shoulders and a lot of muscle. His grey eyes twinkled and a smile formed on his lips as he saw Travis.
Travis was stunned, staring open-mouthed at the person he had least expected. “Wh… Leroy!?” he stammered when his speech returned.
The man stepped forward and put his hands on Travis’s shoulders. “Hello brother.”
Thanks for reading, I hope you liked this tiny story. If you did, you might also like the entirety of season 1 of The Cases of George Alpha.
In the nearby future I will be adding little scenes like these more often, just subscribe to this blog if you’d like to get them delivered to your inbox.