“New lives for old,” proclaimed the advertisement.
It was an interesting, if likely not entirely legal, offer. At first glance, it wasn’t clear at all what sort of trade was being suggested. After close reading, it still wasn’t obvious. But from where I sat, it seemed I ought to at least call.
There was no phone number. No link. Just an old fashioned address in real life, that must be somewhere downtown. How novel, and yet oddly inconvenient, as if the offer was contingent on being willing to do a little work to find them. I have nothing but free time these days, so the legwork was no real problem. Legs, on the other hand, were a problem. As in, I’m short a couple of them. One above and one below the knee, thanks to a one in a million logging accident. I get around fairly well in a chair, but public transit is never easy no matter how many elevators they install in the busses.
So after some fuss and bother, and only one squirrel managing to disrupt my service dog’s concentration, we find our way downtown, then then off the major arterials into the concrete canyons where the storefronts are seedy and the businesses upstairs are only slightly less colorful.
The address led us to a bare door sandwiched between a Unity For Peace storefront and an Army Surplus outlet.
It gave the impression that the door was the only thing keeping the peace between the cultists and the (well supplied) veterans. Yes, I’d heard of the Unity crowd. They used to be very hush hush, but in recent years enough of their secrets have leaked that they’ve apparently decided to just follow the examples of many cults before them and open recruitment offices where the rent is cheap.
I worried for a moment that my address was actually a back-door into the cult, but from the glares of the quota hounds they had leaning on the glass out front, it must not have been related. Which is good. I’m not interested in a cult.
The door opened onto a tiny lobby, barely large enough to wait for the elevator that faced the door to the street. The outer door had a classic gold-leaf legend on it reading “ReBirth”. The elevator opened as I rolled in, and the dog and I had room in the car to turn around to face the panel. There was only one button. I pushed it, and the doors closed.
Unexpectedly, the elevator went down.
What had I gotten us into this time?