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Caveat Emptor

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Joe Hancock was in his way to work when he was stopped on the street by a pretty young man with a clipboard.

“Do you have a moment to talk about buying some souls?”

“No, I already take--” Joe froze midstep. “Did you say souls?”

“Yes, sir. Finest souls on the market!”

Joe stared at him blankly. “You're selling…”

“Souls, yes. Are you in the market for a soul?”

“I think I already have one.”

“You might. You'd be surprised how many people find they are without a soul. Besides, haven't you ever wanted a friend in those lonely hours?” The young man talked so fast he shimmered in and out of existence.

Joe thought it over. He lived alone, didn't have a dog or a cat, didn't have close friends he met with frequently.

“I suppose I have,” he said slowly, only mildly aware that he needed to get to work soon.

“Then you're in need of a soul!” The young man held out his clipboard. “We have all kinds of souls available. Starter souls are good if you've never had a soul before. We have intermediate souls, good for those who have some experience with souls already.”

He flipped to another page. “We also have deals on soul packages, if you're interested in more than one soul at a time.”

Joe felt like his head was spinning.

"Maybe I should start with a starter soul," he said hesitantly.

"That's sounds great, sir! Now, how would you like the soul's karma? We have good, bad, and mixed."

"I don't think I want bad," Joe said, unsure of everything right then. "I don't know how good I am. I guess mixed works."

"Mixed it is!" The young man checked off another box on his page. "How would you like to pay for that soul?"

"Uh, I don't need to do anything like a blood sacrifice or anything, do I?" Joe asked.

The young man laughed, and his laugh sounded like raining lava. "Nothing like that. This is the twenty-first century! We take all major credit cards, cash, and Paypal."

"I'll just use my Visa, I--"

"Visa? That's perfect," the young man said, writing something down. "No, no need to get out your card now. We'll charge it when the soul's delivered. Now, there's a thirty-day money-back guarantee and a one-year warranty, but we're so sure you'll love your new soul, you'll never want to return it."

The streets spun around him for a few seconds, before everything came back to normal. Joe checked his watch and realized he needed to leave. Strangely, only about two minutes had passed, when it had seemed like much more.

"We'll call at your earliest convenience," said the young man. "And if you could, please leave a recommendation with my boss."

"What's your name?" Joe asked, taking the form the young man handed him. It had a company website and phone number that changed when Joe looked at it too hard.

"Luce. Pleasure doing business with you, sir." Luce shook Joe's hand hotly, then let go, stepping back into the shadows of the building once more.

Joe looked around but didn't see him anywhere. Shrugging, he headed towards his job. They hadn't taken his money. And he had an interesting story to tell his coworkers. Not bad for one soul.