Scene 46: OSA

Within the hour, Lucas and Amory sit in the busy lobby of OSA, waiting to be reprimanded for their incompetence. Amory fears they will be thrown in the RPF, and she needs to avoid that outcome if she ever wants to make it out of the Sea Org.

Previously On:

Amory meets her new partner in the ethics project.

Last Lines: “I know more than you think,” he says. “I know The Church, so I know you.” Lucas sits down against the wall, protecting himself from the icy rain pelting the concrete.

Within the hour, Lucas and Amory sit in the busy lobby of OSA, waiting to be reprimanded for their incompetence. Amory fears they will be thrown in the RPF, and she needs to avoid that outcome if she ever wants to make it out of the Sea Org.

The two wait quietly, their shoulders lightly touching due to the close chairs which they cannot move. Amory situates herself against the arm rest opposite of Lucas, trying to move as far away from him as possible. Lucas rests with his head back, staring up at the ceiling, and Amory rapidly taps her foot on the ground and twists the dirty gray scarf around her arm. She has a difficult time confining herself to the small chair while anticipating the inevitable. She tries to hide her face from the people passing them, but the effort is unnecessary since no one acknowledges the downstats as they come and go from their important work.

After they wait for twenty minutes, Tracy walks out to meet them. In the middle of the crowded hallway, she shouts, “You idiots! You are both pieces of shit who can’t do anything right! I heard that you two almost burned down the Celebrity Center. If either of you so much as coughs without authorization, I’m immediately throwing you in the RPF. Now get out of my face.”

Images of Erika flash in Amory’s mind as she listens to the familiar lecture, and old feelings of guilt and shame resurface in her body. The confidence she has been building drains from her instantly, and she sinks lower into her chair.  Every eye in the room is trained on them. She clutches her upper arms with her hands and stares at the ground. Each second seems to defy physics and last hours as Tracy’s words painfully reach their target.

After Tracey leaves, Amory follows Lucas’ lead and rolls out of her chair. They obediently run of the office as quickly as they can.

Once they are outside the department and slow back down, Amory sees that, somehow, Lucas is still smiling. Confused, she asks him, “What are you so happy about? Didn’t you hear with Tracy just said?” Lucas is a complete mystery to Amory, his words and actions outside her realm of comprehension.

“Of course I heard. Everyone heard,” he says indifferently.

Amory stops. “Don’t you care?” she asks, her brow wrinkling in bewilderment. Her tone is no longer angry but curious. She is perplexed by this strange creature, like a gruesome accident she can’t help but stop and watch.

“No, I don’t,” he says with a quick wink. He grabs her shoulders from behind and gently shakes the rigidity from her body. “Maybe you should loosen up a bit. Then you wouldn’t care either.”

For the first time today, Amory smiles. “Maybe you’re right,” she says under her breath. His touch no longer disgusts her, and she welcomes the warm contact. She leans back against his hands, and the pair walks side by side back to their bus.

Scenes from the Next:

It is Sea Org Day, Amory’s favorite day of the year. But this year, things are different.

Scene 45: New Ally

About two months into her ethics program, Amory lies shivering on her cot while a fierce El Niño storm rages outside. Fifty mile-per-hour winds, barrage her window throughout the night, savagely knocking the glass and screaming with the force of the dead.

Previously On:

Amory can’t tell if she’s hallucinating or if someone is taking pictures of her.

Last Lines: She can’t tell if she is delirious or if he was really snapping pictures of her. The stress of the past months must be clouding her rationality.  Amory can’t shake the thought from her mind as she tries to steal some rest before starting the cycle all over again. If only she weren’t so tired.

About two months into her ethics program, Amory lies shivering on her cot while a fierce El Niño storm rages outside. Fifty mile-per-hour winds, barrage her window throughout the night, savagely knocking the glass and screaming with the force of the dead. Freezing rain leaks through the frame and pools on the cold concrete floor under Amory’s cot, gradually trickling up the legs and soaking the fabric. Amory struggles to cover her body with her single, threadbare blanket, but her feet stick out of the end and rely on socks filled with holes to keep them warm.

Her fingers and toes are purple when her watch pounds on the door to wake her.c

“Some storm outside!” he shouts through the closed metal.

She tries to bring life back to her frozen body by bending her knees and wiggling her fingers and toes. Once she is confident her legs will support her weight, she stands to get dressed. She pulls her jeans to her waist, but the denim folds over itself as she cinches her belt tight enough to keep it in place. Her t-shirt, now a size too large, hangs loosely on her body and disguises the strong muscles that have formed on her arms, shoulders, and back. She easily ties the dirty gray scarf to her upper left arm, expertly looing the fabric with her right hand and teeth.

Moments later she looks for Garret, her watch for the day, in the hall, but he has disappeared. She searches for him and sees him down the hall a few rooms. She’s grown accustomed to someone always being there, so the change seems odd.

He sees her looking around, and says, “You’ve got a friend now.”

“Friend?” she asks, surprised at the word.

Garrett meanders back to Amory’s room, confidently pulling his sagging pants back up to his waist. He continues, “They don’t think you’re going to try and kill yourself again, so you and Lucas will be sharing a watch from now on.”

Amory curls her upper lip at the name. Lucas is the last person she wants to spend her days with. “As long as he doesn’t get in my way,” she says, “we’ll be fine.”

The three of them ride the bus to the Celebrity Center in silence, Amory refusing to acknowledge Lucas. When they reach their destination, she speeds ahead of him, charging forth into the blustering storm.

Lucas runs to catch up to her, calling to her back, “Are you just going to ignore me all day?”

Amory keeps walking, disregarding his question. As they enter the building, she finally asks him, “Why are you here?” She knows he was a downstat months ago, but she hasn’t heard any gossip since she’s been in the ethics program.

“I’m routing out,” he says. “Can’t handle this place anymore.” He wipes the water from the lenses of his glasses, and tucks a wet, stray curl behind his ear.

Amory folds her arms across her chest and snips, “Don’t think we’re friends just because we’re sharing a watch.” She turns her back and walks away. The last person she wants to associate with is Lucas. Other than rumors, all Amory knows about him is that he’s from Denmark, his mom is a commanding officer in the Flag liaison office, and he’s in CMO like she is. She is not excited about being so close to a perpetual downstat, someone who could easily delay her progress.

At the Celebrity Center, Garret finds the foreman and checks them in. The project for the day is running electrical lines. They are installing boxes in the ceiling for overhead lighting. Amory has become pretty good at this kind of work and feels confident about her skills. Lucas walks upstairs so that he can catch the wires she feeds up to him. Amory cuts a small hole in the drywall next to the electrical outlet and fishes the line up the open cavity behind the wall. She aims straight for Lucas, whose boyish face she sees smiling down at her. He reaches down for it, but his hands keep missing the target. Amory says, “Here, let’s try this again,” trying to hide her annoyance. “I’m going to feed this right up to you. All you need to do is catch it.”

He says, “I know, I know. I’ll catch it this time. Don’t worry.” There is something calm in his demeanor. He acts as if he has all the time in the world to complete the task.

Amory is not used to working with people like this. “Ok, here goes.” She fishes the wire back up to him, this time more slowly. She wants him to see it, follow it with his eyes before he tries to grab it. “Got it?” she asks.

He reaches down, but fails. “Oh, missed again. But we were close that time. Let’s try again.”

His voice makes Amory’s skin crawl. Amory waits, impatiently tapping her foot.

Lucas stops to wipe the dirt and sweat off his glasses. When he’s finished, he says, “Maybe I can see better now.”

“Try to get it right this time,” she barks. “I don’t want to be working on this wire all day.” Under normal circumstances, Amory would need to file a knowledge report against Lucas for his behavior. He keeps making errors, thus slowing the progress of the project.

Finally, he catches the wire, and attaches it to the overhead light before descending the ladder. As his feet hit the floor, Amory and Lucas hear the crackle of heat and see sparks overhead. The electrical box erupts in blue and yellow flames that dance across the ceiling in an improvised performance of destruction and quickly run down the inside cavity of the wall, leaving a trail of black.

Amory screams, “Fire!” and Lucas freezes in place. Garrett runs to get a fire extinguisher. Everyone in the building drops what they’re doing and stares at Amory and Lucas.

“Get the foreman!” Amory shouts.

Garrett runs to the flames, extinguisher in hand. He opens the value and douses the fire in carbon dioxide. “Someone kill the circuit breaker!” He shouts, his voice shaking with anger.

Amory watches in disbelief as the chemicals smother the flames. Everything she has been building has been destroyed. She turns to Lucas and yells at him, “You did this! This is all your fault!” Before he can reply, she storms through the exit, and finds a path around the building that she walks as a track, the wind and rain howling in her face. She counts one hundred and six steps on her first lap.

As she begins her second lap, Lucas runs outside, trying to catch up to her. She ignores his pleas of “Wait! Amory, wait!” and she continues to speed around the jobsite, shielding herself from the storm with her arm.

After four laps, she stops in front of Lucas, who is sitting on a low wall next to the building exit. From a few feet away, Amory yells at him, “What have you done? We’re both screwed now!”

“This is not my fault,” Lucas responds calmly. “Everything in that building is suspect. There hasn’t been one inspection by the city, not one.”

“If you weren’t here,” Amory’s anger builds with each word, “that fire would have never happened!” Her reprimand is cut short by the foreman walking towards them, Garrett in tow.

“What the hell happened in there?” He yells at them.

Amory points at Lucas, and says defensively, “It was him. Lucas did it.”

“I don’t care which one of you did it. Both of you report immediately to OSA.” He heads back to the building, and yells over his shoulder, “And you can forget about lunch and dinner today!”

Amory’s thin hands shake. OSA is Daisy’s office, the last place she wants to be. She takes a deep breath and holds it in while closing her eyes, an act which typically calms her down. However, today, she is in no mood to be composed. She decides to let herself feel the full impact of her fury. She explodes at Lucas, “Why do you have to ruin my life? You’re a piece of shit downstat who can’t even wire an outlet! What is wrong with you?” When she is finished yelling, her hands rattle at her sides.

In a voice hardly louder than a whisper, he says, “Nothing is wrong with me.” He remains as calm as he was when the day began. “You’re the one who has no clue how to treat people. But I guess that’s not your fault,” he says with true sincerity.

Amory bristles and continues to pace around the room. She counts nineteen, twenty steps, the familiar ritual doing little to calm her rage. She does not understand what he said, even as she replays his words in her mind. Her confusion only makes her anger grow, and she shouts, a little softer this time, “You don’t know anything about me.” Amory wipes her wet hair from her eyes. Her clothes are soaked from the downpour, but she doesn’t seem to notice.

“I know more than you think,” he says. “I know The Church, so I know you.” Lucas sits down against the wall, protecting himself from the icy rain pelting the concrete.

Scenes from the Next:

Amory and Lucas receive their punishment at OSA.

Scene 44: A Stranger

Once Daisy is gone, Amory stumbles out of the room, struggling to keep her eyes open. She has two hours to rest before she must report to work at the Celebrity Center. As she leaves the auditing room, the hallways are deserted, even her watch having abandoned her.

Previously On:

Amory continues her Int Rundown with Daisy.

Last Lines: 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.

Once Daisy is gone, Amory stumbles out of the room, struggling to keep her eyes open. She has two hours to rest before she must report to work at the Celebrity Center. As she leaves the auditing room, the hallways are deserted, even her watch having abandoned her. Without waiting, she exits the building and begins the familiar walk back to the HI so she can have at least an hour of sleep before another long day of manual labor. She resolves to push through her exhaustion, determined to turn their weapons into her source of strength.

The cold air outside makes her shiver and slaps life back into her skin, giving her the motivation she needs to complete the walk. It is that fleeting, early dawn moment when the night crowd has vanished but the early risers are not yet on the street. Amory savors the quiet, relieved no one is barking commands at her.

Her illusion of isolation is shattered when she gets the menacing feeling that someone is following her. She stops suddenly to look back, but sees no one. Thinking it must be her tired mind playing tricks on her, she continues up the street. But five steps later, she distinctly hears footsteps far behind her. This time, she does not turn back. With each pace, the steps grow louder, closer. It is five blocks to the HI. The pace of her steps builds with every street corner as if she is being slowly chased.

When she reaches her building, she looks up to see a camera lens pointed straight at her. The Hollywood Wax Museum is only a few buildings down, so there are tourists hanging around, taking pictures, all the time. But not at this hour. The middle-aged man who looks like a typical tourist turns when she notices him. He pauses for a moment, and then trains his lens on something across the street.

Amory darts inside the building, away from his scope. She can’t tell if she is delirious or if he was really snapping pictures of her. The stress of the past months must be clouding her rationality.  Amory can’t shake the thought from her mind as she tries to steal some rest before starting the cycle all over again. If only she weren’t so tired.

Scenes from the Next:

Amory gets a new friend in her ethics project.

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.

Scene 42: Daisy’s New Ally

Daisy opens the cereal and tilts her head back to let the sugary flakes spill into her mouth. As she hears the loud crunch, she feels more like herself. Throwing the empty box in the trash can, she marches out of the building and towards the blue dorm where Riley lives now.

Previously On:

Daisy presents evidence to Amory’s Comm Ev committee

Last Lines: She wonders if there is something else, a vital fact she is missing. She knows what to do, something that always makes her feel better.

Daisy digs for change as she approaches the vending machine. Frosted Flakes are one dollar, but she finds two buried deep in her back pocket. She straightens the bills on the corner of the metal, running them back and forth across the fold. She keeps one box in her hand and puts the extra one in her pocket.

Daisy opens the cereal and tilts her head back to let the sugary flakes spill into her mouth. As she hears the loud crunch, she feels more like herself. Throwing the empty box in the trash can, she marches out of the building and towards the blue dorm where Riley lives now.

Daisy climbs the staircase to the top floor of the housing unit, and must fight her disgust once she reaches her destination. The stench is the first thing that hits her, invading her nostrils in waves of unapologetic assault. She covers her nose in a futile attempt of relief as she looks around and sees broken cots lining the walls under cracked windows, which invite winter gusts into the room. But worse than the physical space are the RPFers themselves—people who have been stripped of all hygiene, decency, shame, all connection to the cause for which they have sacrificed their lives. Daisy justifies the scene by remembering that these people deserve these conditions, and that they are lucky to be given another chance with the group. They are here because they have committed great crimes, and The Church is giving them an opportunity to repent for their sins and prove their loyalty once again.

Amongst the filthy black jumpsuits, Daisy finds Riley shining a man’s boots. She cuts in, indicating that Riley is needed immediately for important business. She notes to bring shampoo next time so that Riley can clean the filthy hair she has not washed during the three weeks she has been in the RPF.

Once they are alone, Daisy extends the box of Frosted Flakes to Riley, offering, “Here, I brought you this.”

Riley’s cheeks are sunken in and her eyes are ringed with black circles. She looks greedily at the nourishment. “Thanks,” she says, about to grab it. But she pulls her hand back and studies Daisy. She continues, “What’s this for?” she knows to be suspicious, even of old friends.

Daisy smiles, trying to ease Riley’s fears. “Oh nothing,” she says. “I just heard you were in the RPF and I thought you could use something to eat. That’s all.”

Riley seems satisfied with her response and takes the cereal. She rips open the box and ravenously devours the food. She then looks up at Daisy, ashamed of her behavior, and says, “Sorry … I’ve just been so hungry.”

Daisy rubs Riley’s arm and asks, “How have you been, anyway?”

Riley jumps at the touch, her first human contact in three weeks. She has no idea how to answer that question and different possible responses race through her head—exhausted, alone, lucky, conquered, starving, hopeful. Even she does not know which one is true anymore, too vanquished to think straight. She looks at Daisy, searching for the correct words.

Daisy sees her friend’s defeat. She wraps her arms around her and reassures her, “It’s okay Riles. I’m here.” The two embrace for a long minute before Daisy grows uncomfortable at the closeness and steps back.

Riley takes five deep breaths, regaining what little composure she has left. She tells Daisy, “I had the procedure. I’m not pregnant anymore.” She does not let herself feel sadness for her loss. Now, it is just a fact. Nothing sentimental. Nothing for her reactive mind to agonize over.

“Well that’s good,” Daisy says hopefully, smiling at the good news. “Now you can rejoin the group and get your life back.” She needs Riley as an ally, so she is glad that her friend is making efforts to atone for her sins.

“That’s what I’m trying to do. I’ll do anything, anything at all.” The desperation on Riley’s face is undeniable.

Daisy feels a stab of pity for her friend. She knows that this is Riley’s first time in the RPF, which is unusual for someone who has been in the Sea Org as long as she has. Daisy says, “You know, I could try and make it easier for you.” She pulls a napkin from her pocket, moistens it with her saliva, and wipes some of the grease and dirt from Riley’s face.

Riley’s skin is eager for the attention, and her eyes grow large with anticipation. She asks, “How could you do that?”

Daisy gives her a knowing look. She lifts her head high and says, “It more about what you can do than what I can do, really.”

Riley is defeated and powerless. Everything has been stripped from her. She has no idea how she could possibly help Daisy. She asks, meekly, “Me? What can I do?”

Daisy’s face turns serious and she gives Riley a razor-sharp look. She says, “You need to convince Amory to leave.”

“Amory?” Riley asks, shocked by the mention of her sister’s name.

Daisy tenderly brushes Riley’s hair out of her face with her fingertips. “I know you haven’t seen her much lately, so you don’t know what’s happened. Amory has become a danger to the group.” She continues stroking Riley’s hair. “She’s a threat, Riles. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true.”

“But Amory? A threat?” Riley steps back from Daisy, searching her face for some indication that this is a bad joke, a falsehood that could never be true. “What has she done?”

Daisy steps away from Riley and looks out of the window as if searching for a different reality. She continues, “She said some things in her sec-check that were suspicious. But her evil intentions really came out when we began her Int Rundown. She kept talking about how she was forced into The Church and is kept here against her will. She wants out.”

Riley shakes her head, refusing to accept Daisy’s words. She asks, “Evil intentions? Amory? How can that be? The Church is her life … I don’t understand … Amory?”

“I wish I were making this up Riles, but it’s true. You can read the transcriptions for yourself if you don’t believe me.” Daisy rubs Riley’s arm again. She tries to give Riley a hug, but Riley steps away.

“No … of course I believe you. It just seems so … so not her.”

Daisy knows she must tread carefully, that Riley and Amory are close. That no matter how committed to The Church she is or how much she believes that the group is more important than her family, it is still hard to intentionally disconnect from her sister. But Daisy also knows that Riley is at her mercy.

“It’s just,” Riley continues, “She’s all the family I have.”

Daisy gives her a sharp look, and responds, “You know that’s not true. And even if it is, what do you need a family for?” She has a hard time containing her growing anger. She expected more from Riley. “You have the group. That’s the most important thing.”

Riley hangs her head in shame. She knows Daisy is correct. She says, submissively, “You’re right.”

“I’ll give you some time to think it over,” Daisy says. “I know you’ll make the right decision.” Daisy leaves Riley alone to consider her options.

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.

Scenes from the Next:

Amory’s Int Rundown continues.

Scene 41: Comm Ev

Daisy stands before Amory’s Comm Ev committee, summoned to give them an update on the status of the case. This is the first convening of the group which will determine Amory’s future.

Previously On:

Daisy catches Adam and Amory in an intimate moment.

Last Lines: She must continue her strategy of routing out properly if she ever wants to build a real life for herself one day.

Daisy stands before Amory’s Comm Ev committee, summoned to give them an update on the status of the case. This is the first convening of the group which will determine Amory’s future. Daisy’s hands guard the file of evidence and hold it close to her chest. Each of the uniforms in the room is perfectly pressed, the creases in the sleeves holding firm through each slight movement.

Daisy stands straight upright, her heels lightly touching and her shoulder blades arching in towards each other. She has convinced herself that she must do whatever it takes to get Amory thrown in the RPF, that The Church is in danger otherwise. And she is here to plead her case.

One of the uniforms asks her, “How is the Int Rundown progressing?”

“Well, Sir,” Daisy begins using the correct intonation of “Action,” which is number 20.0 on the tone scale. “We began Amory’s Int Rundown yesterday.”

“And?”

“And, Sir, to be honest, it did not go very well.” Daisy quiets her reactive mind and does not reveal any emotion on her face. She must be fully in control of this situation.

A different uniform questions her this time, “And why not?”

Daisy straightens her back and looks at him confidently before continuing, “Sir, she had a strong read on the command, ‘recall a time when you were put in something.’ It was almost a Rock Slam, Sir.” Daisy steps closer to the row of officers, her voice revealing a hint of strain at every word. She continues, “I strongly believe that Amory is a threat to the group. Her evil intentions could do serious harm to us. She should be sent to the RPF immediately.”

For a moment, she feels a slight pang of guilt. But she only has to remind herself that she’s working for the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics to quiet this reaction. She must protect the group against any possible enemies, even if they are her long-time friends.

“Yes, Daisy,” one of the lower officers answers her. “Your opinion is noted and recorded.”

Another uniform jumps in the exchange. “A Rock Slam?” She asks pointedly, “Are you sure?”

“Yes, Sir. Very sure. It surprised me as well. Amory is the last person I would expect to have evil intentions against L. Ron Hubbard. She went on and on about how she was forced to be in The Church. I don’t know what’s happened to her.”

“But it wasn’t a Rock Slam?” a different officer asks, his tone a clear indication of his skepticism.

“Well, it was close, Sir.” She tries to picture the e-meter screen and exactly what the reading was. “It almost was.”

“Well was it or wasn’t it?” the officer asks, his voice growing louder and harsher.

Unprepared for the questions, Daisy scrambles for a defense. She pauses, taking a moment to regain her composure. She continues, “The reading was exactly one notch under a Rock Slam. I thought about alerting you immediately but decided against it since she did not have an actual Rock Slam. I have the evidence here, if you would like …” Daisy approaches her superiors, her file of evidence extended out before her like an offering.

“And who gave you the authority to make that decision?” A different officer throws another sharp question. He grabs the file from her and begins combing through the documents.

“I … I” Daisy searches for the correct words to guard herself. “I though …”

The ranking officer interjects, “If you think she should be in the RPF, make it a Rock Slam next time. You write the report, after all.” He takes Amory’s file from the other officer and waves it in Daisy’s face. “It should say what you need it to say.”

Daisy nods humbly, keeping her eyes cast to the floor. “Of course, Sirs,” she says. “Anything to serve The Church.” She retreats backward, leaving her evidence on the table before them.

“That will be all for now. Keep up apprised of any significant developments.” He turns his back to Daisy and consults with the other officers quietly.

Daisy exits the room silently, hiding the rage she feels at the inaction of her superiors. They must be idiots if they can’t see what a threat Amory really is. Slowly lifting her hand to the door knob, she forces herself to think with her analytic mind. She knows she must examine the situation in order to devise a new battle plan for herself, so she calms the pace of her walk in order to think. She suspects that they are protecting Amory because of her strong record of service and perhaps because of her mother’s high rank. But even those facts do not usually justify privileged treatment in The Church. She wonders if there is something else, a vital fact she is missing. She knows what to do, something that always makes her feel better.

Scenes from the Next:

Daisy recruits an ally.

Scene 40: Almost Caught

They ride the bus across town to the Celebrity Center. Amory looks in awe as they enter the building. After a month of constant work by at least twenty Sea Org members, the place is coming together.

Previously On:

Amory is greeted by a fellow Sea Org member on the bus to the Celebrity Center for MEST work.

Last lines: But she keeps smiling as she sits down in the last row. Amory rests comfortably for the first time in weeks. She is reminded about how deeply she is tied to these people, and questions if she will ever, really, be able to disconnect.

They ride the bus across town to the Celebrity Center. Amory looks in awe as they enter the building. After a month of constant work by at least twenty Sea Org members, the place is coming together. What began as an empty shell is taking shape and becoming a beautiful space. The ballroom is being transformed into an auditorium with a removable stage, the perfect venue to host a range of events, from live shows and fancy parties to workshops and lectures. Everything an established or aspiring actor could need.

Even though it’s not finished, she can see how it’s going to look, in all its opulent splendor. She has mixed feeling about The Church and how they will use the space, but she feels good about the work she has done. Seeing such an immediate transformation is deeply satisfying.

Amory is glad to be back at work. The thought of laboring towards a definite goal is reassuring to her, not nearly as confusing as what happened between Adam and Kimberley. She knows how to set a goal, and she knows how to work. People are a different story.

As usual, Adam checks in with the foreman and gets their task for the day. He says to Amory, “They got us on ductwork today. Ever done it?”

She wants to rehearse her new strategy for auditing—make up stories The Church wants to hear. Let them believe she is being “rehabilitated” while she is really just routing out. “Let me think …” she says. “Yeah, I did ductwork once. It was in 1748, and I was a homeless girl who needed a job to buy some food. That was the job I got.”

Adam rubs his chin skeptically. “1748 huh?” he asks. “Ductwork wasn’t around then.”

“Oh, right.” Amory’s cheeks turn red in embarrassment. Making up stories with plausible events can be difficult since she lacks knowledge about most non-Scientology topics.

“What’s with the story?” he asks.

Without thinking too much, Amory confides in him, saying, “Just practicing. I need to be ready for my next session.”

Adam steps in closer and asks, “Ready for what?”

She wants to trust him. She is never like this with anyone, but she needs to change. She responds, honestly, “I’m going to route out. I need them to think I’m rehabilitated.” The words sound strange in her voice. Impossible even.

He gives her a wink, just a quick flash of his right eye. She thinks that he understands her. With his look, Amory’s body tenses up again. She can’t tell if it’s just the attention or a true attraction, but she doesn’t care either way. Between this and the greeting from Kimberly earlier, Amory no longer feels invisible.

They organize their supplies and figure out a plan for the day. The amount of silver tubing is intimidating. It loops back over itself so many times that the pile is as tall as she is. Amory needs order, though, so she asks Adam what a reasonable goal for the day would be. She’s lost without her battle plan and stats.

When Adam admits that he doesn’t know how people measure progress for ductwork, Amory gives him a flirtatious sigh, and asks “You mean you don’t know everything?”

“Ha, ha,” he says with a sigh and rubs the back of his neck with his right hand. “I’d guess they measure it in linear feet.”

Amory scans the pile of silver tubing. “How about we finish this room?”

“You’re the boss, apparently” Adam replies.

As they begin the ductwork, Amory stops what she is doing and asks Adam, “Can you do me a favor?”

He wipes the sweat from his brow and pauses to give her his full attention. “Sure,” he says. “Anything you need.”

“Will you go through the Int Rundown commands with me?” She asks, looking around to be sure no one is listening. Her eyes plead for help.

“Amory, I …”

“That’s fine if you don’t want to…” she says, avoiding eye contact. “I was only kidding.”

He grabs her hands and pulls her close. “I’d be happy to help you.”

She releases an audible sigh of relief and her body relaxes into his arms. “Thank you,” she says, resting her head on his strong chest.

A long moment later, a familiar voice interrupts them. “I’m glad MEST work is so … comfortable,” Daisy says.

Amory and Adam both jump back a foot at the sound of Daisy’s voice. Adam snaps into a salute and Amory follows his lead halfheartedly. “Sir.” Adam stammers for the correct words. “We didn’t expect to see you here.”

“No,” Daisy says, inspecting them like a drill sergeant. “Obviously you didn’t. Adam,” she trains her sights on him. “Can I speak with you … alone.”

Daisy leads Adam away, and Amory watches them cross the room. Before she even realizes what she’s doing, she finds herself pacing back and forth between the pile of silver tubing and the opposite wall, unable to stop the constant motion of her feet. It is twelve strides side to side. Amory tries to breathe to the pace of her feet as she races back and forth. Adjacent to her is the building’s exit. The neon-green exit sign catches her eye, and she considers running—just leaving everything and starting again. Truly disconnecting.

She turns to finish her current lap, so her back is to the door. Just as she is about to change direction again, she sees Daisy and Adam returning from around the corner. Her heart races as she pivots to complete her lap. The exit is directly in front of her. All she needs to do is run. Adam is far enough away that she could probably make it out of the building and disappear somehow before he could catch up to her.

But she hesitates a second too long. Adam sees her eying the exit and runs over to her. He grabs her upper arm like a prisoner and whispers in her ear, “What are you thinking?”

She flexes her bicep and instinctively pulls away. She silently implores him to release her.

He whispers, more softly this time, “Just come with me. You need to let me help you if you don’t want to be declared.” She holds the tension in her body. She doesn’t feel like she has a choice with his hand gripping her arm.

Daisy catches up to them, calmly, never increasing her pace. “Let her run if she wants,” she says to Adam. “The ethics project is voluntary, after all.” She sets her sights square on Amory and continues, “You can leave whenever you want.”

The color red floods Amory’s vision. She takes a deep breath and counts to five before exhaling. With a long, slow release of air, she lets herself relax into Adam’s grip.

“That’s what I thought,” Daisy says, and exits the room.

Once Daisy is clear of earshot, Adam lectures Amory. “What were you thinking? You can’t just run. Where would you go? What money do you have?” His voice grows louder with each question. “And what about your family? You’d never see them again.”

“What family?” Amory fires back. But she knows he’s right. She must continue her strategy of routing out properly if she ever wants to build a real life for herself one day.

Scenes from the Next:

Daisy stands before Amory’s Comm Ev committee