Scene 26: Missionaire

When Amory and Daisy were six years old, they were assigned to their first posts of missionaire. The Cadet Org would contract the children out as labor to The Church’s administrative offices, having them perform duties such as filing, cleaning, or handing out promotional materials.

Previously On:

Amory has her first encounter with “normal” life outside the CoS.

Last lines: The experience back at the bar makes her even more weary of wogs. Her only real option is to hit the button for the northbound crosswalk, so she returns to the familiar.

Before

When Amory and Daisy were six years old, they were assigned to their first posts of missionaire. The Cadet Org would contract the children out as labor to The Church’s administrative offices, having them perform duties such as filing, cleaning, or handing out promotional materials. The Cadet Org would be paid by the offices, and the children were given a small salary of five dollars per week, which they usually spent on candy at the local liquor store.

The girls had been studying the alphabet in preparation for their jobs. They had to learn it forwards and backwards before they would be assigned this post. The girls practiced every day—forward, backwards, forward, backwards. They would rattle off the letters so quickly that they became nonsensical blurs of sounds. But they were right on target, every time, which is why they were selected for their positions.

One morning at school, they were told that they were ready for their posts, and they could not have been more excited. After dinner that day, a security officer, Robert, escorted the girls down the street to the office where they would work. His hair was thinning, and he had the look of a salty old man who had spent many years of his life manning the decks of large ships. Robert seemed ancient to the girls, but in reality he was only thirty-seven years old.

The three of them left the Cadet Org and began the four-block journey down the street to their post. The girls held hands and skipped down the street, ready for their new responsibility and happy to do important work for The Church.

They stopped at a street light to wait for the signal to change. Amory noticed the cars driving past them. She always looked at the cars, searching for her mother. All of the drivers seemed focused on their destinations as they sped by, not noticing the pedestrians on the side of the road. To Amory, the cars meant leaving. People always came and went in cars. Kids would be dropped off and picked up, always in a car or bus. Los Angeles was filled with cars—cars that could take their drivers wherever they wanted to go. Amory watched the cars drive past and imagined where they were going and where they were coming from. She wondered about the road that lead to her mother and when her mother was going to drive back down that street and take her and her sister away.

She tried not to think about her mother’s car leaving the day care, but the image would appear in her mind at inexplicable times with the rawness of the day the event occurred.

As the group walked across the street, Robert asked the girls if they wanted to hear a story. Upon their insistence, he began, “Just last night, I was lying in my bed in my apartment, just sleeping, minding my own business. Then all of a sudden, a fat Mexican wearing a wife-beater shirt and holding a knife entered my room and ran straight at me. He started stabbing me again and again as I was lying in my bed.”

The girls stood motionless in the middle of the crosswalk, enraptured by his story.

Robert pulled on their arms to get them safely across the intersection before continuing, “At that moment, I had to will my spirit out of my body, and I told his spirit, ‘I am not the man your wife was cheating on you with.’ You see, girls, this man, when he was alive, had a wife who cheated on him with another man, and he wanted to get revenge.”

The girls asked him what he did, and he continued, “Well, I had to help him realize that he was dead and what had happened. I told him, ‘You don’t have to keep repeating events. It’s time to move on. Come into present time. This is now. You’re reliving something that happened when you died, however many years ago that was. You’re just repeating that same moment. So move on! Go!’”

“Did he leave?” Amory asked, anticipation grabbing his words.

“With that he vanished. I hope I never see that spirit again. He was a scary one. One of the scariest I’ve ever seen.”

 

The group stopped outside their destination. The Church bought this old hospital years before, but had not spent much money renovating it, just the sweat of Sea Org members. Amory hesitated to enter the building. She knew that people died in hospitals, and that there were probably spirits stuck inside.

All of the files were kept in the basement of the building. Robert led the girls to the elevator and hit the button to call it. He continued with a new story. “Girls, you know,” he said, “I’ve been working in this building, on the night shift, for a couple of years now. Another scary thing happened to me as I stood in this very spot.”

He looked at the girls to see if they were watching. They were enthralled, again, by his words. “I was just standing here, minding my own business, just like we are now. When the elevator came and stopped, I heard a banging from the inside, like someone was trapped, and a young boy’s voice yelling ‘Let me out! Let me out!’”

They stood frozen, waiting for Robert to finish the story. He didn’t say another word, and the silence was broken by the elevator’s buzz.

The ride down to the basement was equally quiet. Amory was trying to make sense of what Robert was saying. She had heard ghost stories before and had always believed them. After all, she was a thetan, just like everyone else, and had lived many lifetimes. Of course there were ghosts. She had never seen one herself, but she knew they existed.

Robert’s voice broke the silence when he said, “To get to the filing room, you just walk right down this hall here, and it’s the only door on the left. You can’t miss it. I’ll be back at nine to walk you home.”

Robert had to practically push the girls out of the elevator. “Don’t worry girls,” he said, “no one’s gonna get you down here. You’re perfectly safe. I’ll see you soon.”

His words offered little comfort in the cold, unfamiliar basement. The light fixtures in the hallway were missing bulbs, so the only illumination came from the room at the other end, the office where the girls were supposed to work. In the dim glow, the girls could see the filth that covered the ground, the floor looking like it had not been mopped in years. The wall on the right was covered with old, leaky pipes that seemed as if their rusty seams would burst at any moment. A continual drip … drip … drip … and the hum of the fluorescent lights were the only noises. The hallway was only about four feet wide, and the wall on the left was the backside of an old freezer, where it was rumored that body parts were kept when it was a hospital.

Halfway down the hall, Amory suddenly stopped, petrified by a strange noise. Daisy bumped into her back. The girls listened. Coming from the freezer, they were convinced that they heard the faint cry of a little girl. “Grandpa … Grandpa …” Her voice sounded the same as theirs, except distant, faraway. A lost little soul, trapped here in this awful basement.

The girls took off in a sprint towards the light in the office. They ran in the room and slammed the door behind them, convincing themselves that ghosts don’t like light and couldn’t get them there.

Earlier in the day, the girls had been briefed on what they were supposed to do in the filing room. Every auditing session of every church member is recorded and transcribed, and the girls were hired to organize those transcriptions. They needed to alphabetize the papers by last name, and then put the auditing session transcription for each person in his or her file. Easy enough, the girls thought.

Now, looking at the stacks of boxes, they grew overwhelmed. The entire room was filled with towers taller than they were, and filing cabinet after filing cabinet lined all fours walls. The girls had no idea where to begin, and there were no adults to answer their questions.

The girls knew that they each needed to file one box per week to meet their stats. When Amory opened her first target, she couldn’t believe how many papers were in it—it seemed like hundreds and thousands of transcriptions.

After four hours of continuous work, the girls were startled by a noise in the hallway. They scampered behind a tall stack of boxes. When they recognized Robert’s voice calling to them, their fear eased. It was time to go home to the Cadet Org. Amory closed up her box, but realized that she was not even a quarter of the way through it. A new wave of fear pulsed through her body.

When Robert checked their work, Amory asked him how many days they had to meet their stats for the week. He reassured them that they were scheduled to work four days, but that he could always bring them down extra, or stay late, if they needed more time to finish their task.

Scenes from the Next:

Amory begins her task for the ethics project and meets a new ethics officer.

Scene 25: Frolic Room

Back at her dorm that night, Amory restlessly tosses on her cot. The noise from the street outside seduces her with the unknown and will not let her sleep. Once the moon is high in the dark sky, she peeks her head out of the door and finds Garrett snoring away in his chair. She decides to sneak past him and explore the foreign world immediately around her.

Previously On:

Amory’s first task in the ethics project is to clean the apartments of the high ranking officers.

Last lines: Other than Garrett and Don, Amory hasn’t spoken to anyone all day. Her head has been a confused mess of boredom and resentment, relief and obedience. She has no idea what to think anymore. But, somehow, it doesn’t bother her. She feels free to drop the charade for once, and she concentrates on pushing all thoughts from her mind until nothing is left. Only her. She can be quite and still, finally listening to herself for a change. She feels her lips rise to a smile.

Back at her dorm that night, Amory restlessly tosses on her cot. The noise from the street outside seduces her with the unknown and will not let her sleep. Once the moon is high in the dark sky, she peeks her head out of the door and finds Garrett snoring away in his chair. She decides to sneak past him and explore the foreign world immediately around her.

Without making a sound, Amory changes into jeans and a t-shirt and tiptoes around her sleeping guard. She feels her heart jumping in her chest as she carefully places each step. At every creak that echoes in the deserted space, Amory recoils, terrified she will be caught in mutiny. She breathes a sigh of relief when she is safely in the stairwell and beyond Garrett’s earshot.

She opens the outside door, and the crisp fall air exhilarates her tired body, leaving her too excited to be cold. As she steps onto the sidewalk, she feels naked without her vestiges of The Church branding her a certain way. She is free to experience the familiar area around her with fresh eyes. It’s Friday night and the street is crawling with people. She begins walking at her usual, rushed pace, but quickly notices that she is flying past everyone else. Trying to blend in more, Amory forces herself to slow her step and meander down the road. She is amazed at how much more she notices by merely decelerating. Unfamiliar music sounds from every bar, neon lights illuminate the sidewalk, clouds of smoke rise above groups of people. The noises and sights create a sense of excitement, of life being lived, and her curiosity grows with every step.

Before long, Amory finds herself approaching HCO. She quickens her step and looks in the opposite direction, wanting to avoid the all-too-familiar building. Luckily, she does not see any uniforms coming or going from the office block.

Once she passes, Amory slows back down and notices a neon sign spelling “Frolic Room,” in large cursive letters. “How have I never seen this place before?” she asks her shadow.

The tattooed doorman sees her spying in the window. “No cover” he tells her.

Amory has no idea what he means. “Thank you,” she replies, surprised that someone noticed her. His colorful markings catch her attention and she finds herself inconspicuously trying to discern the strange shapes on his skin.

Amory lingers outside the bar while deciding what to do. She wants to enter the bar, but she is scared of the unfamiliar place and has no idea what to expect.

She begins inadvertently eavesdropping on two girls having a smoke next to her. They are discussing a concert they wanted to see, but Amory can’t follow their foreign terminology. Even so, she is intrigued. She tries not to stare at their painted faces and short skirts.

She looks down at her own clothes and sees how different they are than the other girls’. Amory straightens her shirt in a feeble attempt at changing her appearance. One of the girls throws her a dirty look, and the two giggle.

Suddenly uncomfortable, Amory darts into the bar behind a large group the bouncer just let inside. If she knew she had to be twenty-one to enter, she wouldn’t have had the courage to attempt entry.

The entire bar is the size of a two car garage. People stand shoulder to shoulder, packed into the small space. Amory’s eyes jump from object to object—a woman with bright red lips, a man wearing suspenders and no shirt, a jukebox playing songs she doesn’t know, glass after glass of ice and straws and unknown liquids. The details are so flashy and exotic that she can’t peel her eyes away from them and see the entire space as she usually does. Amory’s vision starts to blur, and colors flash by in long waves making her feel dizzy. The bottles stacked behind the bartender catch the light of the modern fixture hanging overhead, and Amory turns in that direction.

As she moves through the space, Amory brushes against strangers, and the sensation of sweaty skin rubbing together other makes her cringe. The body heat collecting in the small space gives the room a damp, musty feel, and Amory grows uncomfortable at the thought of inhaling the breath and odor of wogs. She grabs her shoulders and wipes the moisture from her skin.

But while she is repulsed, she is also enraptured by the sexiness of the scene, like a bad smell she can’t get enough of and wants to bury her face in. Everything in the room is more carnal and visceral, brighter, louder, warmer than her own haunts. She feels the music pulsating in her skin at each pluck of a guitar string, each kick of a bass drum. She smells stale liquor and hormones and lust as her feet stick to the ground covered in drinks spilled by loose hands. It rouses a slumbering sensation that has never awoken in her body before and makes her feel alive.

She looks up and finds herself at the bar. The bartender flashes her a friendly smile, orienting her back to this foreign place. “What’ll it be?” he asks. She gives him a blank look, her eyes wide in surprise that someone saw her. “Um … I don’t know …”

He leans in closer to her, trying to hear her soft voice above the noise of the bar, and notices the gray scarf she forgot to remove from her arm. “First time here?” he asks.

She follows his glance to her upper arm and looks away, guilt written all over her face. She unties the scarf and stuffs it in her pocket. Amory is mesmerized by how quickly his hands work—grabbing this, pouring that. She’s never seen anything like it before.

He slides a drink her way, and it stops right in front of her. “You’ll like it. It’s sweet.”

Amory inspects the drink, first smelling the strange orange liquid. It does smell sugary, but also something else she can’t place. She stirs the ice with her straw, and then sucks up the cocktail.

“That’ll be eight dollars,” he says.

The liquor hits her tongue, and she spits it out reflexively, unable to stomach the new taste. Suddenly, Amory feels like all of the eyes in the bar are trained on her, even though no one noticed. She grows self-conscious of her behavior and clothing that mark her as an outsider. She instinctually reaches for her pocket but realizes she has no money to pay the tab. She panics—at the unfamiliar stares, at the punishment she will face for not paying her tab, at the sheer confusion of normal life around her. Scared of what will happen, Amory drops the drink to the ground and runs outside.

She runs past the bouncer, past the group of women, past HCO. The crisp night air fills her lungs with every leap away from what’s behind her. She does not stop until she is two blocks away, and then bends forward to catch her breath. Her heart is racing, and her ears are ringing. Her entire body is hyper aware of each sensation as the cold breeze caresses her skin. She looks over her shoulder to check if anyone is following her, but sees no one. She begins to calm down as she realizes she is alone.

Amory stands at the crosswalk, deciding which direction to go. North is the HI, and west is something unknown. She could just head west, and leave the mess of her life behind. She feels her pockets, and they are empty. She thinks about who she could call, especially in the middle of the night, but can’t come up with any names. The experience back at the bar makes her even more weary of wogs. Her only real option is to hit the button for the northbound crosswalk, so she returns to the familiar.

Scenes from the Next:

Flashback scene to Amory and Daisy’s first job, or “post,” in the Cadet Org.

First Review!

I am very excited to announce that “Blown” has now officially been reviewed on Scientologybollocks.com!

Here is a short excerpt:  “Telling it all as a story which revolves around a few individuals, all of whom are victims of the Sea Org regime, brings home the human consequences of this kind of high-control situation, where the welfare of the individual is totally subordinated to the interests of the organization.”

Check out the entire review.

 

 

Scene 24: Laundry

Amory wakes up from her first night’s sleep in her new room to a loud knock on the door that scares her out of her cot. She has no idea what time it is, but it’s still dark outside.

Previously On

Flashback scene to Amory’s time at the Cadet Org, when he father mistook another girl for his own.

Last lines: He gave up everything to be with them—his freedom, his identity, his passions. That was the only way. And now look at him. He couldn’t even recognize his own daughter. He had never felt more ashamed. He bent down to pick her up and whispered to her, “Come on baby girl, let’s get you home.”

Amory wakes up from her first night’s sleep in her new room to a loud knock on the door that scares her out of her cot. She has no idea what time it is, but it’s still dark outside.

She throws on her new uniform of jeans and a t-shirt, and she opens the door for her ethics officer of the day, Garrett. He throws a dirty gray scarf in her direction. No explanation is necessary. She already knows she’s supposed to tie it around her upper-left arm and wear it the entire time she is in the ethics program. She struggles to loop the ends into a knot with one hand, but Garrett doesn’t offer any help. After wrestling with it for a few minutes, the smell drifts up to her nose, making her gag. Once outside, the late summer humidity makes her skin sweat under the filthy material.

Garrett escorts her across town to the compound, and they find a small condo complex she has never seen before. It is hidden amongst some office buildings, a secret retreat complete with lush plants and a splashing fountain. They find a tiny office at the front of the building. Garrett tells her, “Amory, this is Don. He’s in charge of you today.”

“Looks like we have you on cleaning duty,” Don says without a smile.

“Yes Sir.”

Don continues, “Why don’t you start with laundry. Some of the execs need it done.”

Amory is surprised by the order. Usually it’s an honor to clean the executives’ clothes. Any contact with the privileged few is a sacred distinction. But she can’t question anything, especially an easy work assignment like this. She responds, “Yes Sir.”

Amory follows Garrett to the first residence. Before they even open the door, she is struck by how clean and new everything is, a vast contrast to her dorms, current and former. She has heard rumors that the top brass have nicer living spaces, but has never seen them herself.

Garrett gives her instructions: “The laundry should be in a sack right in the living room. Just grab it and come straight out.”

“Yes Sir.”

Once inside the room, her curiosity is beyond control. There is a plush new couch, covered with pillows and draped with a warm blanket, sitting in front of a beautiful cabinet. She wonders if there is a TV closed inside; it is rumored that some of the execs have TVs even though it is against Church policy. Heavy velvet curtains, hanging from floor to ceiling, cover the windows in lush extravagence. She peeks in the kitchen and sees the remnants of a breakfast tray—fresh fruit, a half-empty cup of coffee, part of a bagel with cream cheese and honey. Her empty stomach growls, and she realizes that she hasn’t had a meal in two days. The food looks delicious and decadent, galaxies beyond what is served in the mess hall. Her mouth salivates, and she’s tempted to inhale the leftovers until she remembers that Garrett is waiting outside. She hears him call, “Do you see it?”

Amory quickly grabs the laundry sack. “Right here,” she shouts in Garrett’s direction. “Coming Sir.”

A week ago, this sight would have inspired her to work even harder so that she could become an executive leader in The Church and have a suite like this to herself. But not today. She leaves the condo angered at the disparity between the top brass and everyone else. She works just as hard, if not harder, than whoever lives here, but she’s given a third-rate room and disgusting food to eat. And that was before she got in trouble.

As she exits the room, he looks at her impatiently and barks, “We’ll get a couple more sacks, and then you can head down to the laundry room.”

“Yes Sir.” She collects four more laundry sacks from four more beautiful suites. With each residence, her resentment grows.

Garrett instructs her to return to Don’s office when she is finished.

She replies with a curt “Yes Sir,” biting her teeth to contain her true thoughts. The tiny complex of six condos has its own laundry room with three washers and dryers. Her dorm building has a hundred units and four washers and dryers for everyone. They get Sunday mornings, their only time off, to clean their rooms and do laundry, which makes it impossible for everyone to wash clothes.

This is the first time Amory has been in a laundry room alone. Just her and the clothes. She doesn’t know how to pass the time. She throws in one load and then carefully sorts the other clothes until the first cycle is finished. Amory considers removing the dirty gray scarf from her arm and washing it with the other clothes, but then quickly decides against it, fearful of the repercussions of such a blatant act of insubordination.

When the first load finishes, Amory folds with the utmost precision, just how she was taught. The creases need to be in exactly the right places, the folds perfectly symmetrical. In the Cadet Org, the children studied LRH’s policy directives detailing how to fold. There were hundreds of directives they studied, from making beds and cleaning dishes to folding clothes. Everything, even the most mundane tasks, has a process to be followed exactly. Amory remembers the directive word for word: lay shirt flat out, collar away from you, front of the shirt up, buttons buttoned, smooth out all wrinkles; fold sleeves in the front of the shirt, make fold even with outside of shirt, fold sleeves diagonally at the shoulders to make even with outside of the shirt; fold outer edges of the shirt and sleeves inward almost to buttons; fold top of shirt over towards center, leave two inches between shoulder seem and top edge of shirt, fold bottom of shirt up four inches; fold lower half of shirt evenly over upper half, even all edges, adjust so that all sides are exactly the same length and width. And those are just the directions for shirts. Pants, undergarments, socks, undershirt, small towels, large towels, jackets, blankets, sheets, and hats each had their own protocol. She can recite every one.

In an effort to relieve the silence she’s not used to, Amory sings the directive as she folds. She gets a little carried away and even begins to sway her hips. After two shirts, she stops to laugh at herself and looks around to make sure no one heard. This is the most fun she has ever had in the Sea Org.

After folding a few items in the familiar way, she starts to feel rebellious and haphazardly takes a shirt out of the dryer. Leaving in the wrinkles, she brings the sleeves across the front, folds the top down, and then folds it in half lengthwise. She tosses it on top of the growing pile, trying not to look. Still making an effort to be careless, Amory reaches back in the dryer to grab the next item.

But the poorly folded shirt hurts her eyes. It looks sad and lonely as it sits on top of the pile, neglected compared to the other shirts. A pang of pity stabs her heart, and she can’t leave the shirt like that. She refolds it in the familiar manner and stacks it with the others. She smiles as she inspects the folded clothes.

When she finishes the laundry, Amory finds her way across the courtyard to Don’s office. Garrett is nowhere in sight. Skipping across the flagstone path to the tune she make up while folding, she carries all of the laundry with her, not wanting to leave it unattended and risk punishment.

Her smile instantly disappears at the sight of Don behind his desk. “Good afternoon Sir,” she calls, trying to get his attention.

“Finished already?” Don replies.

“Yes Sir.”

“Here, let me see the clothes.” Don motions for her to put the sacks on the desk. He opens each bag, combing through the piles of folded clothes to uncover sloppy and inconsistent work.

Amory stands at attention, afraid she will have to redo everything. To her surprise, he tells her the laundry looks good and excuses her. For once, she doesn’t care about the approval. She’s just happy she doesn’t have to wash and fold the clothes again.

The clock on the wall reads half past five. Typically, she would eat dinner and then study her Church lessons, but now those chores are over. Even though she’s confused about what to do with her free evening, she doesn’t dare ask Don what to do. He would surely think of something.

Now that she’s on ethics project, she needs to wait until everyone else is finished eating before she’s allowed in the mess hall. She finds a quiet corner buried in the hallway and curls up to read until dinner is over.

When she thinks all the uniforms have cleared out, she enters the communal dining area. She rounds the corner and runs right into two people—Lucas and Dave, the downstat and her twin from their studies. She tries to excuse herself by saying, “Sorry … I, uh …”

The rumors about Amory are already circulating, so they both know she’s on ethics program. “Oh, hey, Amory … We were just leaving,” Dave cuts in. He gives her a pained look then hurries out the door. Lucas stares at the ground, completely avoiding eye contact.

Amory remembers how she treated Lucas before and is ashamed at her earlier behavior.  She can relate to him now that she knows how it feels to be shunned from the group. Maybe I am the piece of shit Erika insists I am, she thinks. Amory grabs a plate, and she scrapes the bottom of the beans and rice trays. She sits alone, aimlessly pushing the cold, leftover food around her plate. Her stomach is an empty pit, but she forces a few bites down her throat, chewing the tasteless mass and swallowing as quickly as possible. She longs for the days when she could afford Frosted Flakes.

Other than Garrett and Don, Amory hasn’t spoken to anyone all day. Her head has been a confused mess of boredom and resentment, relief and obedience. She has no idea what to think anymore. But, somehow, it doesn’t bother her. She feels free to drop the charade for once, and she concentrates on pushing all thoughts from her mind until nothing is left. Only her. She can be quite and still, finally listening to herself for a change. She feels her lips rise to a smile.

Scenes from the Next

Amory has her first encounter with “normal” life.

Scene 23: Broken Cot

It was almost nine o’clock one evening at the Cadet Org. Riley was already part of the herd of children, waiting for the nannies to open the doors of the closet where the cots were kept. With each passing minute, more children lined up to claim the good beds.

Previously On:

Amory is taken to new home.

Last Lines: “If she could, she would take more pills and end everything, but there is no possibility of that now.

She lies back down on her cot and begins her book again until unconsciousness sweeps her spirit away.”

 

Before

It was almost nine o’clock one evening at the Cadet Org. Riley was already part of the herd of children, waiting for the nannies to open the doors of the closet where the cots were kept. With each passing minute, more children lined up to claim the good beds.

Riley looked around, anxiously waiting for Amory. But, as usual, Amory was late. Riley’s eyes kept darting from the closet door to the hallway, hoping that her sister would make it in time.

Without warning, the doors swung open, and the group of children rushed forward in a mass of swift feet and pointed elbows. Each young cadet tried to push his way around his friends so that he could get to the prize first.

Riley battled her way to the front of the pack, not noticing that she stepped on one friend’s toes and pulled another friend’s hair. The same happened to her every night. It was part of the ritual. And this evening, Riley needed to claim cots for herself and her sister since Amory was still not there.

As she flew towards the stack of beds, piled one on top of the other up to the ceiling, Riley stretched her right arm straight out in front of her, past friends who were trying to push her out of the way. She lunged forward, positioning herself in front of the other cadets, and grabbed hold of two cots at the top of the stack that did not appear to be broken. As her fingers gripped the metal frames, she closed her eyes and held her ground as the other children claimed the rest.

But the taste of victory did not last long. A split second after she secured the beds, a little boy named Timmy grabbed one of the cots for himself. She shouted, “Hey Timmy! These are mine. Go find your own!”

But Timmy was not willing to concede quickly. He shouted back, “You can’t get two! That’s not fair! And I got it the same time you did, so this one is mine!”

“No it’s not! This one is for Amory. She’ll be here in a second.” Riley looked around again, searching for Amory. She stood up to her tip toes, and saw the top of Amory’s dark brown head running towards the chaos. She turned back to Timmy and continued, “See, she’s here now.”

“She’ll have to get her own cot because this one is mine. No saving!” He refused to release his fingers from the frame.

Amory ran up to Riley, and between breaths said, “Thanks sissy. Sorry I’m late.”

Riley threw Timmy a dirty look and said to her sister, “I tried to get you one, but Timmy says it’s his.”

“Yeah,” he interrupted, “It’s mine. No saving. If you’re not here, you get a broken one. I was here, so I get the good one.”

The sisters looked at each other in dismay, fully knowing the implications of a broken cot. “I’m sorry sissy. I tried to get you a good one,” Riley said.

“It’s okay. It’s not your fault,” Amory said as she shot Timmy a nasty look. She then surveyed the remaining cots in the stack. She was stuck with the only one that hadn’t been claimed, a broken bed at the bottom of the pile.

Once the chaos of the claiming process quieted down, the nannies began unstacking the beds for the night. As the children stood next to their cots and held the frames as if they were covered in precious stones, a nanny pulled off the top bed and handed it to the child who owned it for the night.

After Riley was handed hers, she crossed the room to the mountain of fabric so she could grab a pillow and blanket. This time, she was able to take extra for Amory, happy that at least her sister would have a decent cover.

Riley also saved her the place next to her in the mess hall, which doubled as the sleeping area every night. The cadets tried to position themselves next to their friends, but if there wasn’t space for that, they at least tried to stay away from the kids who wet their beds. As the pee seeped through the cots and onto the floor, it pooled underneath the lucky ones with good cots but saturated the clothing of the unlucky kids whose broken cots touched the ground. Riley motioned for Amory to set up her cot in the middle of the room, next to her.

The girls lined up their beds to match the rows the other kids had already begun. They spread out their sheets and punched some life back into their pillows. Amory’s cot wasn’t too bad. It had one broken leg, but the fabric was not ripped. She put her head on the high end and her feet over the damaged side so it wouldn’t bother her too much.

Just as they were getting situated, Daisy set her cot next to Amory. It would have been easy for someone to confuse the two girls. They were both about the same size, and they shared the same disposition encouraged by The Church.

Scenes from the Next:

Amory’s dad picks her up that night, but he makes a horrible mistake.

Scene 22: New Home

Back at HCO, Amory has not yet written the Enemy formula, even though she has been alone in the room for two hours. She has no idea what to write and knows that she will never find out who she truly is while sitting in this tiny, windowless room.

Previously on:

Daisy reports to her commanding officers.

Last lines: “The Comm Ev gives her hope in the process established by The Church. As she walks down the hallway, she forces herself to think rationally and decide on a plan of action. She will need to collect any evidence she can if justice will prevail. Those who show disloyalty, or selfish tendencies, must be punished. By any means possible.”

Back at HCO, Amory has not yet written the Enemy formula, even though she has been alone in the room for two hours. She has no idea what to write and knows that she will never find out who she truly is while sitting in this tiny, windowless room.

She is startled by a new uniform barging through the door. He motions for her to follow him, and she runs to keep up as they find the exit.

As they leave the HCO building, the cool fall air is refreshing to Amory’s lungs. She can tell it’s late in the afternoon because the sun is sinking into the horizon, turning the sky into liquid amber. The thought of night and sleep is a welcomed relief. Her stomach is growling, but her complete exhaustion overrides her hunger. Dreams of rest give her the motivation she needs to keep up with the ethics officer’s fast pace. Amory feels disoriented from being interrogated in a closet all day, but not enough to realize they aren’t going back to her dorm.

“Umh … Sir?” she asks. “Shouldn’t we be going in the other direction?”

“No.”

She follows, knowing it’s best not to ask questions. They head north on Hollywood Blvd., and Amory quickly realizes he’s taking her to the HI, or Hollywood Inn—another old, converted hotel owned by The Church. The building is located at 6523 Hollywood Blvd, just down the street from Hollywood and Highland, right in the heart of the city. For The Church, it’s the perfect place for Amory while she’s on ethics project. She will be isolated from her friends back at the compound but only a short walk to HCO, where she will be spending most of her time.

Amory is relieved at the thought of isolation. It is meant to be a punishment, but she is thankful for the break it will afford her. There will be no expectation to be happy all the time, no pointless small talk, no encounters with people she would rather avoid. Finally an opportunity to be alone with herself.

As they walk down the street, Amory and the ethics officer pass through crowd after crowd of wogs, some gathered outside restaurants, others aimlessly wandering down the blocks as tourists. Amory has walked to the HI from HCO many times before on Church business, but she never paid much attention to the people and businesses along the street. “Keep your head down,” she was always told by her superiors. “Wogs are evil people and you don’t want to interact with them.” So she did. She believed that the sex shops and bars were the manifestations of evil in the outside world. That they, the Scientologists, were better than that. They were saving wogs from their own filth and depravity.

Now, she pays attention. A car cuts over to the sidewalk, trying to squeeze his way around another car. She instinctually jumps away, remembering the many times wogs threw rotten eggs at her and her friends as they walked down the street in their uniforms. She takes a deep breath when she realizes he hasn’t even seen her, too wrapped up in his tiny little world. Horns screech as cars race from one signal to the next. Flashing lights seduce her eyes from one location to another. They walk by a group of high-heeled girls smoking outside a bar. They don’t notice her either. She is still wearing her uniform, but it doesn’t seem to mark her as it once did. This invisibility amongst the chaos of public life gives her a welcomed sense of comfort, and she gazes in childlike wonder at the endless possibilities just beyond her reach.

Her tired legs can’t keep up with the ethics officer, and a short distance grows between them. Her mind wanders, and she begins to imagine a new chapter of her life, now that everything has changed—no post, no dorm, no contact with friends and family. She knows she’ll be doing MEST work, Matter, Energy, Space, Time. Any kind of physical work, as opposed to the spiritual work thetans must focus on, meant to reconnect the spirit and the body. Essentially, it is a fancy term for manual labor. She wonders what they’ll have her do. A few years ago, someone she knew wanted to leave The Church. They made him scrub a dumpster and clean the kitchen grease traps with a toothbrush. Amory doesn’t mind hard work, but that is revolting. Regardless, she won’t have Erika screaming down her throat, a reality that gives her more freedom than she has ever known.

Before long, they arrive at the HI. It blends in well with the other buildings on the street, an eight-story brick building with white trim. The only thing that marks it is the giant, vertical “SCIENTOLOGY” sign hanging on the front of the building, a billboard advertising services of The Church. The top floor is one location used for the downstats from HCO, so the dormitory is not kept up very well. People in lower conditions do not deserve much in the eyes of The Church. They are the untouchables.

Amory skips up the stairs to the top floor, excited for this new phase in her life. But as soon as she leaves the stairwell, the harsh reality of her new existence hits her with the force of a steel door slammed in her face.

The hallway has exposed concrete floors and walls, the ceiling showing the pipes that service the building. It is cold, dark, and wet. As they walk down the hall to her room, Amory hears the incessant drip … drip … drip … of a leaky pipe overhead. Shallow puddles of water have formed on the ground, and the walls and floor are saturated with years of plumbing leaks and mold. With every step her unease grows. The ethics officer stops at a room about half way down the floor. A chair has been placed outside the door for him to sit watch.

As Amory opens the door, she hears rats scurrying across the ground. She pauses before looking in. Be strong, she tells herself. You can do this. She sees carcasses of dead cockroaches on the ground. A sad cot sits against one wall and a small metal dresser against another. There is one tiny window with bars guarding the outside. She wonders if they’re meant to keep people out or her in.

This is her new house for an indefinite amount of time—it could be months or years, she has no idea. After her initial disgust of the filth, rats, and cockroaches wears off, she tries to imagine the room as her new home. Aside from the ethics office on watch outside, she has the place to herself, which is new. She opens one of the dresser drawers and sees her civvies folded and neatly stored. The clothes remind her that she doesn’t have to wear her uniform now that she’s on ethics project. It is meant to be a punishment, a rejection from the group, but she has always liked her civvies better than her uniform. Whoever packed her things must be a friend, because with her clothes is the book she’s been reading. The familiar items bring a smile to her face.

Officially, she’s now in isolation, banned from having contact with anyone other than her ethics officers, and once she begins auditing, her auditor. She will be living alone, eating alone, working alone, and spending all of her free time alone. Sitting on her cot, though, Amory does not feel like she’s being punished. She savors the freedom of quietness. She picks up her book and begins to read, trying to loose herself in a different reality.

There is no clock in the room, so she has no idea how much time has passed. The night sky and her finished book tell her it’s been hours. She peeks her head into the hallway.

“I need to use the restroom,” she tells the ethics officer, someone new. The previous officer’s shift ended and he has been replaced.

“It’s at the end of the hallway,” he says without even looking up.

As she walks down the hallway, she notices he’s following her. She says, “I can go to the bathroom by myself.” He feels closer than he needs to be, an unwanted shadow she cannot make disappear.

“Not anymore.”

Amory finds the lone toilet for the floor of twenty-five rooms. “Is this it?” She asks, looking around for more alternatives.

“What were you expecting?”

“How many people use this toilet?”

“Depending on how many are here … between fifty and one fifty.”

“People?”

He turns his back and takes a few steps away, apparently trying to give her some privacy. The bathroom looks the same as the rest of the floor. Wet, filthy concrete. A bare light bulb hangs from the middle of the ceiling. With all the Sea Org members, probably close to two thousand in Hollywood alone, they could have at least stuck some linoleum on the floor. But she guesses that’s the point. Treat people like the scum The Church says they are.

Amory hovers over the toilet seat, trying not to touch anything she doesn’t absolutely have to. She tries to look past the superficial filth and think about her higher calling. She has been conditioned to believe that these policies are for the greater good, that they enable The Church to reach its noble goals. However, she can’t understand how forcing loyal soldiers to endure these offensive conditions is for the greater good.

The ethics officer shadows her a little too closely, staying one pace behind her on the way back to the room. The critical time is at the beginning of someone’s isolation. But the last thing she’s thinking about is running. If she could, she would take more pills and end everything, but there is no possibility of that now.

She lies back down on her cot and begins her book again until unconsciousness sweeps her spirit away.

Scenes from the Next:

A flashback to the bed time routine at the Cadet Org.

Scene 21: Comm Evs

The Comm Ev gives her hope in the process established by The Church. As she walks down the hallway, she forces herself to think rationally and decide on a plan of action. She will need to collect any evidence she can if justice will prevail. Those who show disloyalty, or selfish tendencies, must be punished. By any means possible.

Previously On:

Five-year-old Amory signs the billion year contract.

Last lines: “She wondered why her mom and dad weren’t in the audience. She looked down at her feet and decided that she didn’t like her new black canvas shoes. She liked her old shoes better, the white ones her mother gave her.”

When Daisy leaves the security check dungeon, her eyes squint as they adjust to the blinding natural light. She hurries directly to her superior’s office to hand deliver her sacred notes. She knows that there is enough evidence to have Amory thrown in the RPF, and she hopes that the top brass concur with her conclusion.

Daisy finds the office of the ranking officer in OSA and knocks on her door.

“Good evening, Sir,” Daisy says as she enters. “I have the notes for Amory Baldwin’s security check.” Daisy smiles as the officer takes her notes and carefully reviews them. She stands silently at attention while her superior reads the evidence.

After a few minutes, the officer asks Daisy, “And what is your conclusion?”

“Sir, if I may speak freely?” The officer nods in the affirmative. Daisy continues, “It is clear that Amory is a liability to the group. Her loyal is in question, and she has become a suppressive person.” Her unwavering conviction to The Church runs far deeper than any personal loyalty.

“What action do you recommend?”

“I think the RPF is appropriate in this case. It will give her a chance to prove her dedication to the group.” As she waits for her commanding officer to consider the information, Daisy remembers her time at the Ranch with Amory. They were as close as friends can be, perhaps closer since neither of them had a family, other than in name. The dorms they lived in, known as the Motel, housed sixteen girls in four rooms and bathrooms.  Amory and Daisy were always in the same room. One night when the other girls were asleep, Daisy and Amory wanted to test the myth that putting someone’s finger in warm water makes her wet her bed. They chose the new girl, Jackie, as their victim. It worked, and they laughed about it for weeks.

But Daisy also remembers bitterly the jobs they had and still feels raw about it. Daisy’s post was health officer. It was her responsibility to make sure that all of the cadets took their Cal-Mag pills so that they would not get sick. She distributed them every day in little plastic cups to all of the children. It was a good post, but Amory was the commanding officer at the Ranch. Her stat was to get people to graduate into the Sea Org. Amory monitored the progress all of the cadets made in their schooling. If they were lagging behind, she had to get them to work harder. No one was surprised that Amory got that post. After all, her sister had been commanding officer before her. Amory and Riley were quite the pair—they were the pretty girls, when all the other girls seemed to be going through the early-adolescent awkward phase, who always did everything right. They never seemed to be in trouble, probably because they always followed the rules and were completely dedicated to their posts. Perfect Scientology children. And they were rewarded for it by being quickly promoted to the top posts. Obedience was always rewarded. It was no secret why they were given jobs as “enforcers.” They were good at following rules, so the logic was that they could get the others to follow the rules as well. But Daisy wanted the post of commanding officer. She was in line to get it, and she thought she would. Her stats were almost as high as Amory’s. But not quite. She was never good enough. When she heard that Amory got the post, her heart broke. Everything she worked for was shattered. Amory was CO and she was health officer, something that would always haunt her.

After minutes of contemplation, the commanding officer finally speaks up. “I’m going to recommend the ethics project for Amory.”

“Sir? There is plenty of evidence …” Daisy questions.

“That will be all,” the officer cuts her off and dismisses her. Surprisingly, the top brass has decided to show Amory mercy.

“Yes, Sir.” Daisy is shocked into silence. She has seen many people sent to the RPF for far less egregious crimes than a suicide attempt. She controls her instinct to punch the door, and instead she calmly exits the office. Daisy thought that she had finally beat Amory, that her perfect friend was shown to be incompetent and subversive. But all of her illusions are shattered with one simple phrase. She cringes as the words “ethics project” repeat in her mind.

“Oh, wait … There is one final thing,” the officer adds as Daisy is about to exit.

Daisy’s ears enliven, and she halts immediately.

“I will be convening a Comm Ev for Amory. I expect you to compile any evidence you find and present it to the group.” A Committee of Evidence, or Comm Ev, is Scientology’s equivalent of a criminal or civil trial. No jury of peers. No defense attorneys. Just the accused up against a group of superiors. She continues, “You have until the first meeting to develop your case.”

The Comm Ev gives her hope in the process established by The Church. As she walks down the hallway, she forces herself to think rationally and decide on a plan of action. She will need to collect any evidence she can if justice will prevail. Those who show disloyalty, or selfish tendencies, must be punished. By any means possible.

Scenes from the Next:

Amory is taken to her new home.