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 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

Scene 39: Voluntary Disconnection

Amory awakes early the next morning after her first Int Rundown, before the sun is up, feeling like she never really slept. She spent the entire night tossing and turning on her cot, her mind carried away by a wave of new thoughts and emotions. Her decision to leave The Church is too painful to contemplate, the enormity of the decision too overwhelming, that the only thing she can think about is her immediate escape plan.

Previously On:

The march routine at the Cadet Org.

Last Lines: The teacher yanked the girl up and reminded the rest of the cadets, “All right. Back at attention. Remember—the greatest good for the greatest number. Reset the clock!”

 

Amory awakes early the next morning after her first Int Rundown, before the sun is up, feeling like she never really slept. She spent the entire night tossing and turning on her cot, her mind carried away by a wave of new thoughts and emotions. Her decision to leave The Church is too painful to contemplate, the enormity of the decision too overwhelming, that the only thing she can think about is her immediate escape plan. She decides that her first step must be to disconnect from those around her, to sever all ties that hold her to her current life and strangle the personal agency she will need if she ever wants to leave.

She determines that she must route out properly—finish the Int Rundown, testify before the examiner that she is “rehabilitated,” and then still decide to leave. At that point, she would not be considered a threat and would be judged to be of sound mind when she left. She could walk out without being declared and still communicate with her loved ones.

But finishing the Int Rundown means playing by the rules of The Church and lying to do so. She would have to “realize” that the good people of The Church have done everything they can to help her, but that she is an insane criminal pervert for rejecting their goodwill and leaving the group. Since she is not very good at lying, she decides to practice the stories she will tell in session.

Amory finally accepts the fact that she won’t sleep any longer and grabs her book. She sits on her cot reading under the dim light of her lamp until daylight begins to shine through the bars on her window.

At what must be seven o’clock, she hears Adam’s voice calling, “rise and shine sleeping beauty.” The butterflies are back. She tries to stifle them, acting upon her recent decision to disconnect, but they remain in her stomach.

Rather than rushing into the hallway to see Adam like she truly wants, Amory forces herself to take her time getting dressed. When she pulls on her clothes, she can see how three weeks of heavy labor has changed her body. She must cinch her belt to the next tighter hole so her jeans stay around her hips. Her arms show the definition of every muscle, and her core is stronger that it has ever been. Amory spends an extra minute admiring her new physique in an uncharacteristic act of vanity, proud of how far she has already come.

She opens the door and runs past Adam, shouting “Back in five minutes” over her shoulder.

The bathroom is deserted, as always, since she’s one of the only people on this floor. She finds herself in the mirror and is startled by what she sees. There isn’t one in her room, so she doesn’t glimpse her face much these days. Despite her lack of sleep, her eyes are bright, sparking even, as they catch the light. Her cheeks have a healthy color, growing brown in the natural light of the job site. She brushes on some neutral eye shadow and waves some mascara on her lashes. She even dabs some tinted gloss on her lips. She feels silly putting on makeup before a day of hard labor, but she does it anyway.

Amory finds Adam sitting in the chair stationed outside her door. He’s whistling a tune she’s never heard.

“What took you so long?” she asks.

“We should get going.” He tries to act annoyed, but Amory see the left end of his lip curl up in a smile. “You might want to grab a sweater. It’s starting to get cold outside.”

Leaving the building, she feels a warm winter sun on her face, giving her hope that the months ahead won’t be so bad.

“Ready for another day in paradise?” He asks as they wait for the bus outside the HI. Adam places his hand on the small of her back.

At first Amory’s body tenses. He is close, too close. This is the first physical contact she’s had with anyone in months. Not even a handshake. As the tension lifts, she pauses for a moment longer than she should. Being so near to him sends a rush through her body. She turns and looks him in the eyes, a mere inches away. After a lingering moment, she turns her head so they’re cheek to cheek, then whispers in his ear, “Ready.” She can feel her warm breath bounce off his neck.

As soon as she hears herself, she cringes. This is exactly the behavior she resolved to avoid. She wipes the gloss from her lips and steps away from Adam.

Acts of flirtation are new for Amory. She has certainly never kissed anyone. Even close proximity to other people is a foreign sensation. It’s not that the The Church prohibits intimate relationships outright, it just makes them very difficult. Working over one hundred hours a week, Sea Org members don’t have time to develop relationships. Unofficial Church policy is to split up families because each Sea Org member’s ultimate loyalty needs to be to The Church—not to herself, not to her family, not to anyone else. Amory has not been close with many people, or anyone really, in her life. The sensation Adam gives her is strange and new.

The bus pulls up to the curb. Most of the seats are taken already. Amory walks down the aisle looking for an empty spot at the back, past all the eyes that look away as soon as they see her and her dirty gray scarf. She’s grown so accustomed to being shunned by everyone in a Sea Org uniform that she has stopped looking at them. If they’re going to avoid her, she will save them the hassle by not seeking their engagement.

But today, something strange happens. Halfway down the bus, she hears, “Hi. How’s it going?”

At first, the greeting doesn’t register. When Amory hears people speaking, other than Adam, she assumes it’s directed at someone else. Not looking up, she hears it again, a little louder this time. “Hi Amory.”

My name? Someone said my name? she thinks, confused. Amory looks up, surprised to see her old friend Kimberly directly addressing her. “Hi …” Amory says, startled by the act of kindness. “Thanks.”

Amory has worked with Kimberly for a few years and made her grovel more than once before signing off on her conditions formula. And now Kimberly is fraternizing with the downstat and putting herself in jeopardy. They catch each other’s eyes, and Kimberley looks back down, staring awkwardly at her feet. Amory does the same, embarrassed by her past behavior.

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 if she will ever, really, be able to disconnect.

Scenes from the Next:

Amory installs ductwork at the Celebrity Center, and Daisy overhears a conversation.

Scene 35: Int Rundown, Part 2

She tries to calm her emotional reaction and let her rational mind take control. If she really does want to leave and still have contact with her loved ones, she needs to route out properly, not storm out of her Int Rundown.

Previously On:

Amory’s Int Rundown began.

Last Lines: “Amory is sickened by the realization that she is a mere peon in the machinery of The Church. She finally sees that it is destroying her life and that she needs to get out. But this time, instead of taking the easy route of swallowing pills, she must walk away and build a new life. She must leave The Church.”

Before responding, Amory takes a moment to think. If she admits that she has intentions to leave the group, she will be declared an SP and permanently cut off from her family and friends. If they speak with her, they will also be declared. That’s how The Church deals with critics—make them enemies so that the faithful have someone to rally against. Amory is upset with her friends and family now, but she doesn’t want to lose them for good. They are all that she has. And she knows The Church can take them away if she’s not careful. Even more, she knows that she doesn’t want to treat people the way she has been treated—she wants to help them, as The Church says it does, not sacrifice them in the name of the greater good.

She tries to calm her emotional reaction and let her rational mind take control. If she really does want to leave and still have contact with her loved ones, she needs to route out properly, not storm out of her Int Rundown.

She also thinks practically. She has no money, no friends outside, nowhere to go. She is trapped. She tries to breathe and regain her composure. She needs time to think, after this session and away from Daisy.

She continues, “I’m sorry, I’ve just been under a lot of stress the past few weeks. The isolation is hard. The work is hard. The food is disgusting. It’s hard to admit, but I know I’m in a bad place. I do know this is best for me. I have to remember that it’s not about me, it’s about the best for The Church, the best for everyone else.” The words are lies, but they are familiar. They help her body relax so she can gain control of the situation and win herself some time to create a new battle plan. This time, one for herself.

“That’s the right attitude to have,” Daisy replies, disappointed at Amory’s change of tone. She thought she had her and could push her out quickly. It will take longer if Amory does not surrender right away, but she can be patient.

Everything is familiar again. Amory knows that she’s far from free, but she’s not in immediate danger as long as she limits her words to what The Church wants to hear. She doesn’t need to look at the meter to know the needle is floating.

Daisy confirms her intuition.

A wave of relief passes through her body as the session ends. Daisy walks out without saying goodbye. She knows this is only the beginning.

Amory leaves the room to find Adam waiting for her. She’s thankful it’s him. He pauses when he sees her, taken aback by the unfamiliar look on her face. “You okay?” He reaches forward, as if to grab her hand, but stops himself.

She smiles, “Yeah, never been better.” She is no longer shackled in fear of what they can do to her. She resolved to leave the group, and in doing so relinquished herself from much of the control they have over her.

He says, “You look like you’ve been hit by a truck.”

He asks her if she wants to go to the mess hall, but she declines. Rice and beans, or running into a uniform, would spoil her newfound relief.

They walk in silence back to the HI. Amory’s head swims in the possible outcomes she could face. She could route out fairly quickly, six months or less, and leave on good terms with the group. She could route out and still be declared a SP. She could be sent to the RPF. Anything could happen. But as each thought emerges, she tries to block it out and instead focus on the present.

As the cool breeze crashes against her face, she feels stronger than she’s even felt. The same breeze rattles the palms of the trees overhead. Amory thinks about them and how every storm makes their roots grow deeper, making them stronger and stronger each time. She imagines herself as a tree, her roots stretching far into the earth. Able to bear the worst nature has to offer and sway with the winds of change rather than breaking from rigidity. Able to emerge from each storm standing tall.

When they reach the building, Amory runs up the stairs two at a time. She approaches her room and shouts over her shoulder to Adam, “going to bed.” She doesn’t wait for his response before she enters her room and secures the door. Her hands have finally stopped shaking. She takes a deep breath as she sits down on the cot. She exhales twice as slowly as she breathes in—trying to push all of the air from her lungs. She needs to let go. She needs a fresh start.

Scenes from the Next:

Riley takes actions of her own.

Scene 34: Int Rundown, Part 1

There is no read on any of the first commands. Daisy sits patiently, with full confidence the needle will reveal at least one of Amory’s secrets. She keeps her eyes trained on the e-meter, hunting for the slightest indication of a read.

Previously On:

Amory learns that Daisy will handle her Int Rundown.

Last Lines: 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.

The session begins like every other one with Daisy asking, “Are you hungry?”

Amory knows that she must be cautious in what she reveals if she wants to get through the tech. She lies, “No.” She’s been malnourished for the past three weeks, but if she tells the truth, the session will be further delayed.  She just wants to get it over with.

“Good. Are you tired?”

“No.” Another falsehood. After working all day at the Celebrity Center she is exhausted.

“Have you had an Affinity, Reality, or Communication break?”

“No.” Again, she lies. How can she not be upset? Her entire life has deteriorated. She is upset with everyone—the auditor sitting across from her, all of her “friends” who won’t even look at her, the Church uniforms who are dictating every second of every day, her family, her mom, especially her mom. And now they’re saying she’s had a psychotic break. She fears the e-meter will read but hopes it doesn’t.

“Okay. Let’s get started.” Daisy goes through the Int commands: “Recall a time when you went in … Recall a time when you caused another to go in … Recall a time when others caused you to go in … Recall a time when you caused yourself to go in.” Amory sits silently and lets the e-meter speak for her.

There is no read on any of the first commands. Daisy sits patiently, with full confidence the needle will reveal at least one of Amory’s secrets. She keeps her eyes trained on the e-meter, hunting for the slightest indication of a read.

And then it happens. Daisy commands: “Recall a time when you were put in something.” The needle jumps across the screen. It’s almost a rock slam, a violent reaction of the needle that indicates evil intentions or someone wanting to harm L. Ron Hubbard. Rock slammers are taken immediately to the RPF. “There! There! What were you thinking about just now?” Daisy asks.

Amory is forced to speak. “I was thinking about a couple weeks ago when I was put in this ethics program.”

Daisy must push her to explain. She asks, “Did that upset you?”

Amory knows she needs to elaborate. She decides to be honest, to listen to herself for once and not say what they want to hear. “Yes it did.”

When Daisy asks her why, she explains, “Well, let me think … I am completely cut off from everyone I know and can’t talk to anyone. I’m living in a shit hole. I’m doing hard physical labor every day, all day. I can hardly eat anything. Is that enough?” Pointedly, she stares Daisy in the eyes, shooting a look of cold and steel.

“Can you see that the ethics program is for your own good?” Daisy asks in the familiar Church rhetoric.

Amory is tired of feeling scared and confused. She is sick of the work and the pressure of saving the world. Being in isolation has given her a taste of freedom, and she doesn’t know if she can go back to her old life. She sees her hands trembling. She wants to drop the cans, but she can’t. She replies in a whisper of a voice, “Yeah, The Church thinks it’s good for me, but I don’t know anymore.” A weight lifts immediately from her chest and her headache eases.

Daisy watches the needle jump back and forth. Amory sees her eyes following the movement. She hopes it’s not a rock slam. If it is, she’s in great danger.

Daisy can’t stop now. She continues to press Amory. “Can you explain?”

Amory thinks about how to voice her recent revelation. She knows she must be careful with her words. Admitting any intention to leave The Church is one of the biggest crimes a Sea Org member can commit. She knows she could be vindictively declared an SP—a suppressive person who has evil intentions against the group—and excommunicated entirely.

She continues, “I’m not sure. I’m still pretty confused about everything. I don’t think I want to be here anymore, and they say I’m in a condition of doubt. I didn’t think I was when I wrote the formula. But now, I think I may be.” The words surprise even her as she hears what she is saying. She has been having these thoughts but didn’t fully realize their implications until she said them and they became real.

Daisy is also surprised. She didn’t think it would be this easy to handle Amory. She wants Amory to elaborate, to say definitively that she wants to leave, so she asks, “Why do you feel this way? Don’t you know that The Church has all the answers?”

Every phrase from Daisy’s mouth sounds as if it is taken directly from a LRH directive and makes Amory’s skin crawl. “Of course. I know … I know. I’ve known my whole life,” she says in frustration.

Daisy asks the required follow-up question: “Can you think of an earlier, similar time?”

Amory can no longer hold back. The words that have been building spill from her mouth. “Yes and no. No, I’ve never been in doubt about wanting to be part of the group. That is new. But yes, about being put in. I’ve been put in dozens, hundreds of times. Let’s see … when I was put on my current post, when I was put in all the classes I’ve taken, when I was put in the Sea Org. Let me think, all the way back to when my mom put me in the day care. My whole life is a long series of being put in something.” Amory looks Daisy square in the eyes and says, “You, if anyone, should understand that.”

Even without seeing it, Amory knows the needle is jumping back and forth more violently than before. She can see it in Daisy’s reaction to the e-meter. She must be close to a rock slam, if she’s not there already. This is uncharted territory for her. She’s done thousands of auditing sessions, but she has never been close to this.

Her hands begin to tremble and she must concentrate to keep a firm grasp on the cans. Amory must control her truth and keep it guarded behind her lips, otherwise she will be here answering questions all night. Or worse. The top brass already think she’s dangerous, but this would make her situation heretical. She knows plenty of people who were sent to the RPF for years for far less egregious offenses. Breathe, she tells herself. Breathe and slow your heart rate.

Daisy’s excitement is hard to contain as she knows she almost has Amory admitting intentions to leave. She shouts, “There! There! What were you thinking of then?”

Daisy’s reaction to her possible demise makes Amory sick. Everything starts falling into place for her—the accusations in her sec-check, her horrid treatment for being depressed, her sister in the RPF, her mother’s abandonment. Her own guilt and fear and obedience. Her participation in the whole charade. The pieces all come together and paint a subversive picture of control and domination.

Scenes from the Next:

Amory has a realization as the Int Rundown session concludes.

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.