Scene 43: Int Rundown, Part 2

After another long day of MEST work at the Celebrity Center, Amory sits, exhausted, on the bus back to HCO with her watch. She spent the last ten hours installing ductwork again, and since she is not with Adam, she did it without any help. She has not eaten anything other than cold rice and beans for weeks now, and the effects are showing.

Previously On:

Daisy recruits Riley for an ally.

Last Lines: As Daisy descends the stairs back down to the street, she quells her growing frustration with the Amory situation. There are more unknown variables than she is comfortable with, but she tries to have confidence in the fact that Riley and Adam will help further the cause of The Church.

After another long day of MEST work at the Celebrity Center, Amory sits, exhausted, on the bus back to HCO with her watch. She spent the last ten hours installing ductwork again, and since she is not with Adam, she did it without any help. She has not eaten anything other than cold rice and beans for weeks now, and the effects are showing. Her jeans would fall right off if she weren’t wearing a belt to keep the sagging fabric cinched to her waist. Her muscles are so sore that she strains at every step, and her energy level is low, making it hard to concentrate on things. Her headaches grow more intense each day.

Once they arrive at HCO, Amory automatically walks towards the cafeteria, but her watch stops her, telling her that she is scheduled for auditing this evening.

“Really?” she asks. “More tech?” The thought makes her shudder. The sooner she convinces the top brass she’s mentally stable, the sooner she can route out. But the last thing Amory wants to do is sit in a small room with Daisy and go through past traumas. She is worried that her exhaustion will impair her ability to think clearly, and that she will reveal her true intentions in desperation to get a floating needle.

After waiting in line outside the auditing rooms for about ten minutes, Amory is called into session. Daisy gives her a concerned look and says, “Are you okay? You look terrible.”

“Thanks,” she says, feeling the sting of the insult. She musters every ounce of her strength to retain her composure and fires back through a smile, “I actually feel pretty good. I’ve never felt stronger in my life.” She smiles.

Daisy is undeterred. She shuffles through her paperwork, a reminder of her position of power. “Well, let’s get this over with,” she says. “I don’t want to keep you here all night.”

The initial questions begin. Daisy asks, “Are you hungry? …”

The needle does not read.

“Good. Are you tired? …”

Daisy’s expression remains unchanged. She continues, “Good. Have you had an ARC break?”

Amory sits motionless through the questions. She is relieved that she can begin the session and advance one step closer to routing out.

Then, the real commands begin: “Recall a time when you were put in something.” The needle jumps across the chart. This was the same question that read last time. Daisy asks, “There! There! What were you thinking about just now?” Daisy is animated, her talent as an auditor shining through.

Amory’s upper lip curls and she throws a groan of disgust at Daisy’s enthusiasm. Amory would not expect otherwise, but witnessing the extent of The Church’s reach makes her sick. “Well, let’s see,” she says. She leans in closer to Daisy, her posture confrontational. “I was thinking about when my mom put me in day care.”

Daisy pushes further. “Okay, let’s go through that whole thing and examine it in detail. Remember that the tech can help you deal with that trauma.”

“Right.” Amory rolls her eyes to the ceiling and folds her arms across her chest.

Daisy knows the story—she was with her at day care. But protocol requires Daisy to force Amory to relive the trauma until there is no emotional reaction. Daisy presses Amory further, commanding, “Recall for me the exact time, place and event. Where were you, who was there?”

Amory takes a deep breath, and counts to five before exhaling. She has thought about this moment often. Before the ethics program, she walked past the day care center daily. The building is used for storage now, but the same chain-link fence covered in blue tarp is still there. As soon as thoughts about the past boiled up, she immediately tried to suppress them. It was the last thing she wanted to think about. And now Daisy is forcing her to bring those feelings into the present. Amory takes a second deep breath and begins, “Well, I was in Hollywood with my mom and my sister Riley. My mom pulled up to this building we had never been to before. Then, she left us there.” At the mention of her family, Amory diverts her eyes to the ceiling.

Daisy smiles and continues, “That must have been hard. I see there’s a lot you’re still hanging on to.”

Daisy’s words provide the ammunition Amory needs to complete the session. She puts her reactive mind aside and focuses on the facts of the event. She continues, “Yeah, she left us with our new guardian, and he was nice, but mostly the nannies watched us. I was three years old and Riley was five, so it was 1980. It was summer because I remember it being really hot.” Amory uncrosses her arms and sits back comfortably in the chair. She is in familiar territory.

“The heat stands out?” Daisy asks, surprised Amory would remember such a detail.

“Yeah, I guess because the room felt really stuffy. I liked our guardian. He was nice. Later, when the other kids were mean to me or Riley, we would run to his office and hide under his desk. He never cared if we did that.” Amory trails on, lost in childhood images that she can never fully neutralize.

“Yeah, I remember Miles. You two were lucky to have him as your guardian,” Daisy says. “Your needle’s not floating. Was there an earlier, similar situation where you had a break in reality?” Her question is piercing, reminding Amory to be careful.

Amory can’t leave until her needle is floating. But she begins to feel indifferent about the e-meter and the marker that dances across the screen.

Amory closes her eyes, giving herself a moment to think. She doesn’t know what to do anymore. She’s starting to wonder if having relationships with her family and friends is worth the effort. She feels so tired. Her head rocks in a small circle, like a baby soothing itself.

She opens her eyes and sees where she is. She can’t muster up the strength to just walk out, so she says, “Yeah, you know, in 1860 … I was an assistant for a magician, and you know what … he locked me in a box as part of a trick. He started to saw the box in half. He wasn’t supposed to cut me, but the trick went really wrong. He ended up cutting me in half and I died.”

“So, you were put in a box?” Daisy is skeptical. She believes in past life experiences, of course, but she has also used the strategy of making up stories to end sessions. When she sees Amory’s eyes look up and to the right, she thinks Amory is lying, and she will not let her succeed in deceiving The Church. Daisy persists, “Describe the moment in detail.”

Amory continues, “Yeah … just my head, hands and feet were sticking out of it.”

Daisy doesn’t care what the needle says, so she doesn’t even look. She won’t let Amory win that easily. She says, “Your needle’s not floating. Was there an earlier, similar situation you were put in something?”

Amory feels stronger. She begins to have fun with her charade. “Let me think … yeah, in 1580 I was locked in the Tower of London.”

“What did you do?”

Maybe Daisy does believe her—Amory can no longer tell. She is too wrapped up in her own story. She remembers a book she read once years ago and says, “Let me see … I was the wrong religion. There was a big revolution, and I was a Catholic who was loyal to the old king. So they locked me up in the Tower. They didn’t give me anything to eat, so I starved to death. It was a horrible way to go.”

“Your needle’s not floating. Was there an earlier, similar time you were put in something?” For Daisy, the truth is the tech, the process that controls everything. Good and bad is not rigidly defined—the only thing that matters is the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics. She follows the exact process detailed in LRH’s directive and won’t allow herself to make any mistakes. Daisy will make Amory lie to discover the truth.

The session goes on for hours. Daisy keeps her there through the night, determined to take the tech as far as it will go. She goes through all of the commands, following up with even the slightest reading.

“Your needle’s not floating. Was there an earlier, similar time?” Her words echo in Amory’s ears, like a constant refrain that will never cease. “Your needle’s not floating. Was there an earlier, similar time?”

She makes Amory spin stories for hours. Amory is so delirious by the end that her words have turned to gibberish.

“Your needle’s not floating. Was there an earlier, similar time?”

Amory’s body slouches in her chair, and it takes every ounce of her strength to remain upright. But Daisy looks as if she could keep going for days.

“Your needle’s not floating. Was there an earlier, similar time?”

As the sun begins to ascend the horizon, Daisy says, “Thank you, your needle is floating.” With that, Daisy stands up and leaves the room without another word.

Scenes from the Next:

Amory meets a new stranger.

Author: laurenhalsted

I am a writer and English professor with a passion for all things sweet, salty, and tragic. This website is my way to share my writing. I hope you enjoy it.

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