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 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

Scene 33: New Auditor

The pair work side by side until dinner, and Adam waits until then to tell her the bad news. As they’re stepping off the bus, Amory asks him if she can run back to the dorm to get her book. “You won’t need that today,” he responds.

Previously On:

Adam grows closer to Amory.

Last Lines: In an effort to detach, he thinks about this wife. When that does not alleviate the knot in his stomach, he thinks about the greater good, the mission that brings them together. But Amory keeps pulling him back to the present.

 

The pair work side by side until dinner, and Adam waits until then to tell her the bad news. As they’re stepping off the bus, Amory asks him if she can run back to the dorm to get her book.

“You won’t need that today,” he responds. He sees the confusion on her face and continues, “I need to take you over to HCO for auditing.

Amory’s stomach sinks, and she pauses to process the information. She knew this was coming, she just didn’t know when. She has grown accustomed to just working, secretly hoping they would forget about her auditing. But The Church never forgets.

“You okay?” Adam asks.

“Yeah … fine,” she says. “When do we need to go?” She armors herself against the forces that refuse to relinquish control of her. She must construct an impenetrable barrier between herself and her auditing if she wants to gain any kind of true self awareness.

“Now … Sorry, I should have told you earlier, but it seemed like you were having a good day. I didn’t want to spoil it.” He tries to place his hand on her shoulder, but she pulls away.

“Yeah … Well, I guess it’s better just to get this over with.” She doesn’t know the exact tech she’ll get, but all of it serves the same purpose—to help Amory see why she needs to be in The Church.

They enter HCO and walk the maze of suffocating, white hallways to the auditing rooms in the back. With every bend in the hallway, the tension in her stomach tightens. She tries to convince herself that this is routine, that she has been through this before. But her anxiety builds with every step.

Amory’s mouth drops when she sees Daisy, again, as her auditor.

“Hello Amory,” Daisy greets her and smiles in her direction. “Nice to see you again.”

The knots in her stomach travel up and constrict her throat, and a curt “Sir” is all Amory can manage to say.

Daisy uses her most comforting voice to explain Amory’s situation to her. “From what I’ve been told, your diagnosis is Out-Int. We’re going to start an Int Rundown today.”

Amory stares blankly at her friend as shock pulses through her body. She knows what an Int Rundown is, but she is stunned that this is the tech she needs. She has never exteriorized, never had an out-of-body experience, let alone one that went badly. But that is her diagnosis the top brass arrived at without even speaking with her. None of it makes any sense.

In Daisy’s face, Amory no longer sees an ally but the embodiment of The Church. A memory from the Ranch flashes in her mind. It was a typical, hot summer day in the Los Angeles valley, east of the city. Amory and Daisy were weeding the grounds for fire control. After a few hours of work, the girls paused to take a five-minute break. They drank some cold water and took salt and potassium tablets in order to prevent dehydration. As the girls were walking back over to the weeds, they heard Jake yelling at them to start running. He was always giving them a hard time. Jake threatened to write a chit on them if he saw them walking again. That was the rule—they had to run everywhere. Chits were written demerits that went straight into a cadet’s ethics folder. In order to graduate from the Ranch, all cadets had to have great ethics, which meant a clean file. The demerits were rarely given by adults, and instead were given by other kids, who were taught that if they saw someone who was out-ethics they needed to speak up, otherwise they themselves would be an accessory to the crime and receive the same penalty. The children were trained to police themselves and spy on their friends.

Attached to the inside cover of Daisy’s folder, Amory sees the Int Rundown checklist, along with a deep stack of notes she knows Daisy has spent hours going through. Handling an Int Rundown is tricky. The tech itself is simple enough, but there can’t be any errors. The policy directive from L. Ron Hubbard explaining the process says so. Any mistakes would only compound the problem and lead to further introspection. This rundown is for a psychotic break, after all. Every precaution must be taken.

Amory’s face turns red. She shouldn’t have expected anything else, but being labeled as Out-Int hurts worse than any physical punishment could. She was at the lowest point in her life, and the top brass says it was her fault. That she alone caused her depression. Amory breathes deeply so the buildup of blood drains from her face, but it is replaced by an intense headache.

Daisy appears to comfort her, saying, “Don’t worry Amory. We’ll get through this together.”

This dishonest reassurance makes her nauseous. She steps back from Daisy, now seeing that Daisy does not care about her or want to help her, that Daisy is trying to lull her into a false sense of security so that she can use her for her own gain. She suppresses her gag reflexes and swallows the saliva building in her mouth, needing to retain everything she can.

Scenes from the Next:

Amory begins her Int Rundown auditing.

Scene 17: Security Check, Part II

The questions never seem to end. Daisy drones on and on, filling the vast emptiness of the tiny room.

Previously on:

Amory begins her security check with Daisy as her auditor. As she listens to the questions and relives past experiences, she begins to hear the prompts for what they really are.

Last lines: “Amory wonders how her life came to this, why she even took the pills in the first place. For the first time, she feels the depth of her depression, a feeling she has been denying for years. Her head throbs and her chest clenches. But instead of letting the feeling incapacitate her, she listens to the questions, to Daisy’s voice, with new ears.”

The questions never seem to end. Daisy drones on and on, filling the vast emptiness of the tiny room. “Have you ever been a mutineer? Have you ever had anything to do with pornography? Have you ever committed arson? Have you ever been a drug addict? Have you ever made anyone into a drug addict? Have you ever peddled dope? Have you ever PDH’d anyone? Have you had any dealings with stolen goods? Have you ever divulged government secrets for pay or political reasons? Do you have a police record? Have you ever raped anyone or been raped? Have you ever been involved in an abortion? Have you ever committed adultery? Have you ever committed bigamy? Have you ever practiced homosexuality? Have you ever practiced or assisted intercourse between women? Have you ever had intercourse with a member of your family? Have you ever been sexually unfaithful? Have you ever practiced sex with animals? Have you ever publicly exhibited yourself sexually? Have you ever hidden to watch sexual practices? Have you ever practiced sodomy? Have you ever consistently made a practice of sex with a member of your own sex? Have you ever slept with a member of another race or another color?”

The questions make Amory’s stomach turn. Her intense focus is beginning to drain the energy from her body. She lets her mind wander. As she listens, she wonders about LRH himself, as a man. Not the mythic figure he is in The Church, but a real person. For the first time, she has her own questions. Who was he, before Scientology existed? What was he like as a child? Based on the questions, Amory thinks he sounds like a pervert. Why all these strange questions about sex with animals? And why did he care so much about homosexuality? Why is that even bad?

Daisy’s voice is Amory’s only connection to reality. It continues, “Have you ever committed culpable homicide? Have you ever committed a justifiable crime? Have you ever bombed anything? Have you ever murdered anyone? Have you ever hidden a body? Have you ever attempted suicide? … Oh! Oh! There! What were you thinking about then?”

Amory blinks her eyes and looks up. She is listening so intently to the questions that, for a moment, she forgets what she is doing. She recalls that last questions asked, suicide. She looks Daisy square in the eyes and responds, “That’s why I’m here. I tried to kill myself by taking pills.” She wants whoever is watching them through the camera to see her confidence.

Daisy asks, a bit more softly, “When did this happen?”

For a moment, Amory thinks she hears a note of compassion in her friend’s voice. But she pushes that thought aside and discusses this question as rationally as she explained her supposed cannibalism, not a note off key. “Last night, before I went to bed.” Admitting what she did makes it feel more real. As she hears her voice, she struggles to contain the wellspring of feeling behind her words.

“Where did it happen?”

Amory thinks she hears the real Daisy, her friend who has been with her through everything. She continues, “In my apartment. Well, in the bathroom, actually. In the same building we both lived in when we were kids.” Amory imagines that she is talking to Daisy instead of the auditor sitting across from her, that she is not holding metal cans, nor that every word she says is being recorded.

“How did it happen? Recall the exact moment.”

Daisy’s voice reflects an exact adherence to the official auditor protocol. Amory closes her eyes and continues, being careful not to reveal anything that could come back to haunt her, “Well, it’s a bit foggy. I was in the bathroom and there was a bottle of pills, just left there. It was kinda weird, like they were left there just for me. Honestly, I didn’t really think about it too much. I just took them … I was tired. I needed a break.” When she opens her eyes, though, she cannot deny where they are and what is happening.

Daisy scribbles furiously with her pen. She looks up and shoots Amory a sharp look. She has no concern for her friend’s mental health or happiness. Only the greater good. Daisy continues, “Committing suicide is an egregious crime, nearly the worst. It makes The Church look bad if it becomes public news.”

Amory knows this already. She thinks about Lisa McPherson and the frenzy her death caused amongst the top brass. All she can say is, “I know.”

Daisy continues, “Then you must also know that your actions are unacceptable and must be dealt with immediately. We cannot give our critics ammunition to attack us.”

“I know.” The only response she can give is the propaganda she knows they want to hear. Unless she wants to face further punishment, she must lie to hide her personal truth. She continues, “I feel horrible about what I did, and I’m here to repent. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get my stats back up and rejoin the group.”

Daisy is satisfied that her friend knows her place and says, “As long as we’re clear on that point.” Daisy looks down at the e-meter screen and says, “Okay, your needle’s floating.” She continues crafting the record of Amory’s reality.

Daisy continues with the questions: “Have you ever kidnapped anyone? Have you ever done any illicit diamond buying? Have you ever acted as an informer? Have you ever betrayed anyone for money? Have you ever betrayed a trust? Have you ever betrayed an employer’s trust? Have you ever speculated with somebody else’s funds? Have you ever knowingly implicated an innocent person? Have you ever withheld a communication concerning a crime or misdemeanor committed by another? Have you ever threatened anyone with a firearm? Have you ever been in illegal possession of firearms? Are my questions embarrassing? Have you ever been paid for giving evidence? Have you ever acted as an informer? Have you ever injured somebody’s reputation by knowingly spreading lies? Have you ever injured somebody by spading tales you knew were true? Have you ever destroyed something belonging to someone else? Have you ever plotted to destroy a member of your family? Have you ever had a member of your family in an insane asylum? Have you ever been pronounced insane? Have you ever been a spy for an organization? Have you ever looted any place? Have you ever stolen from the armed forces? Have you ever conspired with anyone? Have you ever had anything to do with Communism or been a Communist? Have you practiced fraud? Have you ever been a newspaper reporter? Are you hiding anything? Have you ever had intercourse after placing another under alcohol or drugs? Have you ever used hypnotism to procure sex or money? Do you collect sexual objects? Have you ever ill-treated children? Have you ever practiced sex with children? Have you ever practiced masturbation? … Oh! Oh! There! What were you thinking about then?”

Amory is embarrassed, but not surprised, that the e-meter is reading on this question. “Yes. I have masturbated,” she admits.

“When?”  Daisy does not look up, keeping her eyes focused on the e-meter screen.

Discussions of masturbation, or “sexual deviance” as it is considered, are commonplace in auditing sessions. Before Amory’s suicide attempt, masturbation was the only crime she ever committed, so it repeatedly came up in auditing, her guilt giving her away. But even though Amory has explained this sin, at great length, to many different auditors, her face grows red in embarrassment. She continues, “The first time, I was thirteen.”

“Where?” Daisy asks.

“It first happened at the Ranch, but I was sent to Flag for rehabilitation after it came up in session.” The Church’s headquarters, known as Flag, is located in Clearwater, Florida. In the 1970s, The Church targeted that city for its land base. At the time, the mayor called it “the occupation of Clearwater.” Like many Sea Org members, Amory has spent time at Flag.

Daisy knows that this topic is a good way to add incriminating information to Amory’s file, so she digs for more detailed information, asking, “Were there more times?”

“Yes. Maybe five or so?” Amory fidgets in her seat and looks around the room, trying to remember the specifics of inconsequential acts that happened years ago.

“Or so?” Daisy looks up and forces Amory to make eye contact. The corners of her lips lift into a grimace.

Amory confronts Daisy with confidence to show she thinks this topic is meaninglessness. She responds, “Yes, five. But I’ve already discussed each instance many times and been through the tech.” Amory is losing patience. She is appalled by the ridiculous nature of the conversation and questions how an innocent act of masturbation when she was essentially a child relates in any way to clearing the planet. She hopes that this sec-check will end soon, before she says something she will regret. She is starting to wonder what Daisy keeps writing furiously in her notepad.

Daisy does not respond to the insinuation and continues with the questions: “Okay, your needle’s floating. Have you ever taken money for giving anyone sexual intercourse? Have you ever sexually coerced a servant? Do you have any bastards? Are you withholding anything? Have you ever had any connection with a brothel? Have you ever coerced anyone into giving you sex? Have you had anything to do with a baby farm? Have you ever killed or crippled animals for pleasure? Have you ever crippled a person? Have you ever been a spy for the police? Have you ever pretended a disability? Are you afraid of the police? Have you ever committed a misdemeanor? Have you ever committed a felony? Have you ever committed a capital offense? Have you ever done anything you are afraid the police may find out? Have you ever falsified the books in any firm you worked for? Have you ever criminally avoided taxes? Have you ever counterfeited money? Have you ever fraudulently altered or issued certificates or documents? Have you ever obtained money under false pretenses? Have you ever done anything your mother would be ashamed to find out? How could you help yourself generally? What represents yourself? How could you help your family? What represents your family? How do you feel about sex? What represents (the Org (others (a group to you? How could you help (the Org? (others? (a group? How could you help mankind? Have you ever controlled people? How do you feel about being controlled?”

As her body slouches in the chair, Amory focuses, again, on the questions. She finds it interesting that LHR could jump from helping mankind—the intention of The Church—to the questions about control so quickly. She realizes that the two topics must have been linked for him. She is finding it harder and harder to concentrate on the ludicrious questions. She knows they were not written specifically for her, but it still feels strange. She is also seeing patterns—a fascination with sex, legal issues, politics, honesty. She closes her eyes and lets Daisy’s voice lull her into a waking sleep.

Daisy’s words rattle on. “What is Communism? Do you feel Communism has some good points? Have you ever been a member of the Communist Party or any associated group? Have you ever been a member of any group with similar ideals as the Communist Party? Do you know any Communists personally? Have you ever injured Dianetics or Scientology? Have you committed any overts on a Scientology Organization? Have you wronged anyone in a Scientology Organization? Have you ever stolen anything from a Scientology Organization? Do you have anything in your possession that you shouldn’t have? Do you have any overts on L. Ron Hubbard? Have you ever had any unkind thoughts about L. Ron Hubbard? Do you have any overts on Mary Sue Hubbard? Have you done bad things to leaders in Scientology or Scientology orgs? Have you withheld anything from executives in Scientology? Have you sought to get any staff member dismissed? Have you knowingly planned not to do your job? Have you ever had any unkind thoughts about Mary Sue Hubbard? Have you ever injured any Scientologist? Have you ever had any unkind thoughts about Scientologists? Have you ever betrayed Scientology? Do you know of any secret plans against Scientology? Do you plan to steal a Scientology Organization? Have you ever taken money to injure Scientology? Do you deserve to be helped by Scientology? Have you ever used Dianetics or Scientology to force sex upon anyone? Have you ever falsified a claim for money to be repaid to you or to be paid you? Do you know of any plans to injure a Scientology Organization? Do you know of any plans to injure a Scientologist? Are you upset about this Security Check? What question in this check shouldn’t I ask you again?”

Again? NO! she thinks. It could happen. She knows of sec-checks lasting over twenty-four hours, or for eight hours a day for weeks on end. They can go on and on, asking the same questions over and over again—waiting, forcing a person to break and reveal a sin they have not even committed just to make it stop.

The weight of Amory’s own exhaustion hangs on her. It takes all of her energy to keep her fingers wrapped around the cans. She has no idea how long she has been in this room with no windows, completely isolated from the outside world. She does not know if it is day or night and can’t remember the last time she ate.

Daisy’s words are sounding indistinguishable from each other and they ramble on, echoing the incessant hum of the fluorescent lights. She asks: “Have you withheld from answering anything because it might injure someone? What unkind thoughts have you thought while I have been doing this check? Have any of your answers here been designed to injure another? Are you upset about this Security Check?”

The e-meter does not read, and the needle is floating. Daisy says, “Thank you very much. That concludes this security check.” Daisy puts the cap back on her pen and closes the folder, caressing her notes as if they are made of gold. She has put the undisputable truth of the situation down on paper. Daisy sends the final message, “Thank you Amory.”

Before she leaves the room, Daisy smiles at Amory, trying to reassure her that everything will be okay, but Amory knows that she cannot trust Daisy. That she cannot trust anyone.

And just like that, it ends.

Amory releases the cans and carefully places them on the table. Her hands tremble even after she releases the familiar objects. She takes a deep breath and exhales everything down to the bottom pit of her stomach. She knows she’s lucky, though, and realizes she got off easy. No one screamed in her face or physically assaulted her. While it seems like it took a long time, she guesses it has only been a few hours. It could have been much worse. She feels like she has won this round, if only by a fraction.

Scenes from the Next:

Amory must write another conditions formula, as she has dropped down another level of existence.

 

Scene 16: Security Check, Part I

Amory sits with her back to the door of the interrogation room when she hears footsteps behind her. Her nerves calm when she sees Daisy take the seat across from her, and she relaxes into the chair. At least she has an ally conducting her sec-check.

Amory sits with her back to the door of the interrogation room when she hears footsteps behind her. Her nerves calm when she sees Daisy take the seat across from her, and she relaxes into the chair. At least she has an ally conducting her sec-check.

Both young women feel the gaze of the camera directed at them from the top corner of the room, the watching eye they will never escape. Daisy greets her old friend with a short, “Hello.”

Amory’s eyes plead with Daisy, silently begging her old friend to show mercy through the upcoming line of questioning.

Daisy reminds Amory, “Remember that the purpose of this sec-check is to help you. We want you to remember your full commitment to The Church, and this will help you reveal all of your overts and withholds so you can get past them.” Amory knows the purpose as well as Daisy does, but her words reinforce that she is the one in control.

Daisy opens the file on Amory and reviews the copious notes she has made in preparation for this moment. While Amory was writing her conditions formula, Daisy used every minute to compile the evidence against her friend. She pulls a gilded pen out of her pocket and carefully places it on top of a blank notepad, the place for her to record Amory’s responses, which will be submitted to Amory’s Com Evs trial. Daisy scans the paperwork with detailed instructions for handling Amory. She instructs her to pick up the cans of the e-meter. Tapping her pen on the table, she says from memory:

“We are about to begin a Security Check. We are not moralists. We are able to change people. We are not here to condemn them. While we cannot guarantee you that matters revealed in this check will be held forever secret, we can promise you faithfully that no part of nor any answer you make here will be given to the police or state. No Scientologist will ever bear witness against you in Court by reason of answers to this Security Check. This Security Check is exclusively for Scientology purposes. The only way you can fail this Security Check is to refuse to take the test, to fail to answer its questions truthfully, or if you are here knowingly to injure Scientology. The only penalty attached to failure of this check is processing or our refusal to employ you or issue you a certificate, and this will only happen if we find that you trying knowingly to injure Scientology. You can pass this test by (1) agreeing to take it, (2) answering each question truthfully and (3) by not being a member of a subversive group seeking to injure Scientology.”

Amory feels claustrophobic in the tiny room. As her lungs constrict, she reminds herself to breathe. In, out. In, out. Daisy sees Amory’s labored breathing, and mouths to her quietly, “You will get through this.” Amory sees the message, and it gives her the strength to draw her breath down to the pit of her stomach and release the tension that has been building all morning.

Daisy begins with the test questions: “The first questions are null questions to determine your reaction pattern … Are you sitting on a chair? Are you on the moon? Are all cats black? Am I an ostrich? Is this Earth? Have you ever drunk water? Are you holding up a tree? Am I an elephant? Are you a table? Is this a Security Check?”

Amory tries to push her fear of the situation out of her mind as she listens to the questions. If she wants to pass the test, in a relatively short time, she can’t let her emotional reaction to anything cause the e-meter to pick up readings. She draws a breath in her lung, holds it in, and then exhales. In, out. Push the emotions out. She feels her body relax. The e-meter does not get a read for any of the initial questions. The real questions begin.

Daisy begins the litany of thinly-veiled accusations in her calmly assured tone, with which Amory is deeply familiar. “Have you ever lived or worked under an assumed name? Have you given me your right name? Are you here for a different purpose than you say? Have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever done any shoplifting? Have you ever forged a signature, cheque, or document? Have you ever blackmailed anybody? Have you ever been blackmailed?”

Amory has had sec-checks before, but this is the first time she is doing one because she has done something wrong. Listening to Daisy’s words, she cannot help but feel like a criminal. Each question feels like an allegation against her, even though the entire process is a fishing expedition meant to bring any demons to the surface. Logically, Amory knows that she is innocent of a crime against The Church, but she squirms in her seat as if she has something to hide, something they don’t already know about.

Daisy’s voice continues the barrage: “Have you ever cheated? Have you ever smuggled anything? Have you ever entered a country illegally? Have you ever been in prison?”

As she sits in the cold, metal chair, Amory intently focuses on Daisy’s words in order to relieve the tension in her chest. She thinks about each question, and they are starting to sound ridiculous to her. How could she have been in prison? She is nineteen and has lived her entire life in The Church. Why on earth would they ask her something like that?

Daisy continues, “Have you ever tried to act normal?” She sees a reading on the needle and exclaims: “Oh! Oh! There! What were you thinking about then?”

Amory’s eyes widen in surprise at her friend’s excitement. Her focus is snapped back to Daisy and why they are in this tiny room. She recalls her thoughts, “Well, I’m not sure if normal is exactly the word, but when I was younger, I tried to copy my friend Jazmine and she got mad at me.” Amory sighs. This is the experience she just relived in her clay demos and prompted her epiphany that she is her own person, so it is fresh in her memory, an easy question to answer. She stares at Daisy with each word, searching her friend for answers of her own.

Daisy presses, probing Amory exactly as she has been trained to do. She demands, “When was this? Recall the exact moment.”

Amory overcomes her irritation with her friend and the questions. It will be a long session if she begins fighting back now. She answers, as objectively as possible, “I was eleven years old, but I already went through this with clay demo.”

“Well, I’m still getting a reading. Where was it?” Daisy asks. The e-meter never lies, so Daisy must have Amory talk until the needle is floating.

Amory focuses on her breathing as she explains, “It was at the Cadet Org, around the corner. I can’t remember all of the details, but I was copying her, trying to be like her. I just had the correct realization the other day.” She stops short of saying the actual insight she had. She does not want it down on paper, for anyone to see the true reason for her recent poor performance at work.

Daisy asks, her eyes still trained on the needle, “Is that all of the overt?”

“Yes,” Amory says with confidence, “like I said, this engram was cleared in clay demos.”

“Okay, the needle’s floating …” Daisy scribbles notes in her folder, carefully crafting her version of the truth. She continues with her line of questioning, “Have you ever indulged in drunkenness? Have you ever done any reckless driving? Have you ever hit and run with a car?”

Amory chuckles at these questions. She has never had access to any alcohol or driven a car. As she sits silently, she searches Daisy, waiting for any indication that her former friend realizes how ridiculous the questions are. But all she sees is an expertly-trained auditor.

Daisy’s voice rattles on. Her words are like a barrage of bombs dropped from a plane high above, blanketing an entire city in order to hit a single target. “Have you ever burglared any place? Are you guilty of anything? Have you ever embezzled money? Do you have a secret you are afraid I’ll find out?” The needle jumps back and forth across the screen, and Daisy exclaims, “Oh! Oh! There! What were you thinking about then?”

Amory heart jumps wildly in her chest. This question could be her downfall. She takes a moment to consider her response. She does feel like she has a secret—that she truly is in doubt about her place in The Church.

But she can’t admit that, not now. She settles on the obvious answer, hoping it will suffice, and answers with all of the confidence she can muster, “My only secret was taking the pills, but that isn’t a secret anymore, obviously.”

Daisy does not remove her eyes from the e-meter screen and says, “Okay, your needle’s floating.” She continues the questions: “Have you ever assaulted anyone? Have you ever practiced cannibalism?” The needle reads again, and Daisy shouts, “Oh! Oh! There! What were you thinking about then?”

Amory cannot believe the e-meter is reading on such an outrageous question. “Cannibalism?” she asks, her face revealing her true reaction.

Daisy is undeterred, convinced that the sec-check process works. She asks the required follow-up question in complete seriousness, “When was it?”

Amory thinks about what she can say without sounding completely insane. She responds, “Well … I eat meat, but that’s not cannibalism.” She knows that she must go past life on this one. She tries to remember back and back in time, but nothing comes to mind.

Daisy insists, “I’m getting a reading so you must have done it.”

Amory has experience with this kind of situation. She knows it’s better to jump straight to a past life and save the time of going through multiple different lives. That’s what they want to hear. She had a friend in the RPF who was kept there for four years because she couldn’t go past life. Amory does not want that to happen to her. She would rather just make up a story, so she says, “Umh, let me think. I’m remembering something. It is 10,000 years ago, and I see large grassy plains and small huts. I am with my tribe.”

Daisy continues to press, “Recall the exact moment.”

Amory closes her eyes in an effort to transport herself to her fictitious life. She says, “Umh … everyone is gathered in the center of the village. It is some kind of ritual, but I can’t remember exactly what. Oh, there they are, the bodies of our enemies. We eat them.” She recoils in imagined disgust.

Daisy is satisfied and responds, “Okay your needle’s floating.” She writes more notes, and then continues: “Have you ever been in jail? Have you ever told lies in Court? Have you ever been Court Martialed? Have you ever deserted from a military service? Have you ever illegally prevented conscription?”

Amory does not even know what conscription means. She searches Daisy’s face for any kind of sign, but her eyes are glued to the e-meter. Amory wonders how her life came to this, why she even took the pills in the first place. For the first time, she feels the depth of her depression, a feeling she has been denying for years. Her head throbs and her chest clenches. But instead of letting the feeling incapacitate her, she listens to the questions, to Daisy’s voice, with new ears.

Scene 4: First Audit

Amory’s routine of auditing sessions began long ago, when she was still at The Church’s day care where she lived with the other children and nannies. Her first experience would never leave her memory. She was five years old, and it was a day like any other.

Amory’s routine of auditing sessions began long ago, when she was still at The Church’s day care where she lived with the other children and nannies. Her first experience would never leave her memory. She was five years old, and it was a day like any other. After she helped prepare the morning bottles for the younger children, Amory went through the usual routine of playtime, Church studies, nap time, and more coursework. At the end of evening playtime, one of the nannies pulled Amory aside and told her, “You’re gonna go in for auditing now, honey.” Amory followed obediently.

The older woman took Amory’s hand and led her through the maze of halls to the training room at the back of the day care. An auditor’s preparation involved practicing skills on the children before they were permitted to serve paying customers. Amory had never been in this room before, but she had seen adults and other kids go inside. She always wondered what happened down the mysterious corridor where her friends would disappear with strange, yet somehow familiar, adults.

The room itself was unimpressive, with no decorations on the walls other than the obligatory L. Ron Hubbard portrait, sparse furniture, and no exterior windows. It was a large, open space with twenty tables in the middle arranged with two chairs, one on each side, facing each other. What caught Amory’s attention were the peculiar machines sitting in the middle of the tables, shoe box sized metal boxes with intricate gears and bolts. Two cans, which looked like soup cans without the labels, were connected to each instrument by wires. To her young mind, they looked like futuristic creatures that would spring to life with the press of a button. She paused in the doorway, not wanting to make any noises that might awaken the slumbering objects.

The nanny pulled Amory to one of the tables and sat her down. An unusual man waited for her and sat tinkering with the knobs of the machine. When he was satisfied with the settings, he looked up at her with the curiosity of one who inspects a research specimen. The nanny introduced the man as Wyatt, and left Amory alone with the stranger.

Wyatt reached across the table to pick up the cans. As he grabbed them, Amory noticed that the tips of his index, middle, and ring fingers were missing—he did not have any fingernails, just skin growing over his knuckles, making them little stubs. Amory stared at his disfigured hands and grew fearful of this man.

He instructed her, “What I want you to do is hold these cans here.” When she did not respond to his signal, he continued, “One in each hand, just like this.”

Amory could not remove her eyes from his fingers. She was scared to take the alien creatures that sat cradled in his skin.

He repeated his order. “All you have to do is hold the cans. Today, I’m just going to show you how the e-meter works.” Amory sat staring at him. She knew she had to do this, whatever it was, or she would be in big trouble. Reluctantly, she took the cans, being careful not to touch him in the process.

He smiled as she obeyed. “Good,” he continued. “What you’re going to do is hold these cans … yeah, like that. One in each hand. The meter in front of you will show me your energy. Put your palms up … Good.”

She held the cans as lightly as she could, her skin retreating from the metal warmed by his touch. He reached across the table to adjust her hold. When his fingers touched hers, Amory jumped out of her chair. The cans slipped from her fingers and fell toward the table. Wyatt sprung from his seat, trying to grab them before the crashed on the wood. But he was too late. His hands fumbled in the confusion. He corralled his arms around the bouncing objects and finally succeeded in containing their energy. The sound of crashing metal echoed in the room. With fear written across his face, Wyatt instinctual looked at the camera mounted in the ceiling that pointed down at them and recorded their every move.

Amory sat motionless, watching the scene in bafflement.

“Don’t ever drop them again!” he yelled at her across the table.

Amory’s back shot straight up as she contained the tears forming in her eyes, her hands planted firmly in her lap.

Wyatt handed her the cans once again. “You don’t have to hold them too hard,” he said in a consciously calm tone, “Just enough so you don’t drop them.”

Amory wrapped her tiny fingers around the metal. She sat absolutely still, focusing all of her attention on the cylinders her palms could hardly control.

He practiced the instructions he would later give to clients: “How this works is that this machine here reads the energy in your body. You don’t have to say a word. I’m just going to ask you questions, and the meter tells me your response. All you have to do is sit still and think about what I’m asking you.” The little girl had no idea what his words meant, but they felt familiar, like they echoed the religious lessons she heard every day. The cadence of his voice and reassuring diction began to relax her body and made her feel at home. The cans must be magic, she thought, if they could answer her questions.

Amory’s peace was broken by his stubby fingers reaching across the table and pinching her, hard, on her forearm. She screamed in pain and shock. Instantly, tears welled up in her eyes, as she stared at the burning red mark on her arm. “That hurts!” she cried out, not daring to release the cans and soothe her pain.

This is where the true lesson began. He sat back comfortably in his seat and began reciting the required questions with the confidence on one who has recently mastered a new skill. He asked her, “Recall the moment of the pinch … okay … how do you feel now? …”

At the mention of his brutal act, tears streamed from her eyes, and the burn where he pinched her pulsed with blood.

“Again, recall the moment of the pinch … okay … how do you feel now? …”

“It hurts!” she cried. But her hands remained frozen in place and could not wipe the tears that dropped to the table.

Wyatt was undeterred by the frightened child before him. He asked again, “Okay, again, recall the moment of the pinch … okay … how do you feel now? …”

Amory whaled at the mention of the pinch. She looked in horror at the mark on her arm which seemed to grow a deeper crimson with each passing second.

“Recall the moment of the pinch … okay … how do you feel now? …”

Tears flowed down her face. She could not understand what was happening and why he kept asking her to think about the pinch. Focusing on it just made it hurt more.

Wyatt grew frustrated as the needle jumped violently across the screen. This was not how auditing was supposed to work. He was new and had never worked with a child this young before, but her reaction went against everything he had been taught. The experience was supposed to get better as she relived it, but the e-meter indicated that her negative reaction was increasing. He tried again, “Recall the moment of the pinch … okay … how do you feel now? …”

Amory’s body crumpled in the adult-sized chair. She looked up at him, her terrified eyes pleading for mercy. It took all of her strength to keep her fingers wrapped around the cans.

The reaction displayed on the e-meter was far from calm, so Wyatt could not stop asking questions. He knew that it was sacrilegious to end an auditing session without a floating needle. He repeated his mantra, “Recall the moment of the pinch … okay … how do you feel now? …”

The corrections officer watched Wyatt and Amory through the ceiling-mounted camera and saw that the inexperienced auditor had no chance of recovery. He sent word down to the nanny to retrieve Amory and end the session.

The woman entered the room and ordered Wyatt to end his questions. He resisted, mortified that he had not gotten a floating needle with Amory. This had never happened to him, and he could not understand what went wrong. He went through the entire experience again in his mind. He set the meter properly, he checked the wires on the cans, he asked her the right questions. He could not think of one thing he had done wrong. He looked at Amory and instructed, “You can put the cans down now.”

Amory let the metal objects fall from her fingers. She took the nanny’s hand and left the room without a backward glance.

Even though it was dinnertime, Amory was not hungry, and the nanny didn’t mention food. She told Amory, “We’ll come back for you tomorrow so you can see the corrections officer.”

Amory crawled onto her cot and cried herself to sleep.

 *           *           *

The next day, the nanny found Amory and led her back to the auditing room. Except this time, she did not sit at the tables with the other children being audited. They put her in a private side room with glass windows facing the interior hallway—one of the rooms for the corrections officers she would frequent for many years to come. It was small, just large enough for one desk and two chairs. But the e-meter was the same.

As Amory sat down, the corrections officer finished adjusting the meter.

“Place the cans in your hands,” he commanded. “Remember, you can’t say anything. Just think about what I’m asking you”

She did as she was told.

“Was there a break in affinity? …” Amory sat quietly. “Was there a break in reality? …” Amory sat quietly. “Was there a break in communication? …” Amory sat quietly. “Have you committed an overt against Wyatt? …” Amory sat quietly. “Do you have any withholds? …” She had no idea what his words meant, but it did not matter since she was instructed not to respond. She masqued her confusion with a blank stare in his direction.

The corrections officer was asking her if she had ever done anything bad to Wyatt, if she had any overts against him. That, somehow, it was her fault that the session didn’t go well. But Amory didn’t know that. She also didn’t know that he was asking her about the ARC triangle—affinity, reality, and communication—the same shape depicted in the double-triangle insignia of The Church and their hallmark method for developing strong relationships. There must be affinity, or affection, and reality, an agreed upon truth, in order to have effective communication. But those words were just meaningless sounds to the confused little girl. She sat alone, uncomfortable in the hard chair and focused on cradling the cans in her hands.

The needle gently floated on the screen. The corrections officer told her, “Okay, you have a floating needle. Please put down the cans.”

Amory placed them on the table, and the nanny came in the room to get her. As they left the room, they saw Wyatt in the hallway. He crouched down beside her and said, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be your auditor.”

Amory just stared at him. She still recalled the moment of the pinch—his strange fingers cramping down on her skin. The mark began to burn again with a fierce memory that imprinted itself deep in her body. The nanny pulled Amory away and walked her back to the kitchen for her chores.