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We Return

We return


Estimated reading time — 17 minutes

“There is nothing in the thetan, past or future.” – George M. Witek, “Lucifer’s Bridge”

FIRST comes the coronation. Off comes my hair. The Crown will come later.

Second, the washing and shaving of my body.

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Third, the bleaching of my skin. This takes a long time and it hurts a lot.

Fourth, the donning of my ritual garment.

I’m almost prepared for the last step. Gennie will prepare everyone else.

We’re gathered at the old Gateway Inn, Suites and Conference Center in town. No one goes here except for us. R. Anne Meadows, our dearly Departed and the founder of Recursus, Inc., bought this property and the entire hotel chain. When we come back in our younger, healthier bodies – as we soon will – we’ll all live in deluxe suites.

No more pretending we’re like our friends and neighbors, with houses and lawns to maintain, jobs to keep, and families to raise. They’re still waiting at the Station: where we all start in life, and where we’ll stay if we never learn where we’re going. Voyagers know. Our communal journey has taken us past the point where we need to worry about material things. That’s just stuff. As for our families? I’m done bringing up my boys, thank U’um.

No, not “UMM.” “OO-um,” two syllables. Spell it with an apostrophe between the U’s.

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Oops. Now that I’ve introduced you to the Universal Unified Mind, I’d better introduce myself.

My name used to be Marjorie, Marge for short. Now I’m Humility, Millie for short. It’s one of our Prime Principles. The other two are Unity and Generosity. H-U-G. That spells HUG. Ha!

Once a teacher, always a teacher. I spent forty years telling little kids how to clap and sing.

My boys are Eddy and Neddy. Teddy’s not my son. Not anymore. Why’d I give them rhyming names? Technically, I didn’t. They’re Edward, Ned and Theodore. Their nicknames sound alike. They got teased at school about that, but hey, it made them easy to remember. Now they’re Ed and Ned. Ed’s an engineer. Ned’s a nurse. Ted, who doesn’t count, is a trucker.

He’s also an IMP – Individualistically-Minded Person. Not a team player. Selfish to the core, like his no-good daddy. My ex-husband. They both said I joined a cult. I did not. I joined the one group who can bring you back from the dead. Not a church. I went to one before I learned about Departure and Return. Who needs an old rugged cross and a crown of thorns? Not me.

“Millie?”

Whoa. I’d better start paying attention. I have a huge part in the ceremony coming up.

“I’m right here, Gennie.”

‘Generosity’ is hard to say over and over, so I call my VP – my Voyage Partner – Gennie.

“Thought I’d lost you for a minute.”

“Nope.”

“Ready to be someone else?”

“The sooner it gets me out of this flimsy thing, the better. My noggin’s also freezing.”

“Now, now. What would our founder think if she heard you complain?”

Gennie’s right. R. Anne suffered a lot more in her last days than a cold head and a cold butt.

“Sorry. I’m not used to being so. . .exposed in front of people.”

“They won’t see your naughty bits. Just you in your hospital gown on the modified gurney.”

“I know.”

Still, my VP gets to play the part of Laura Cavendish, R. Anne’s loyal companion and nurse. She looks so nice and comfortable in her uniform. I’ve got goosebumps all over.

In the Diamond Ballroom, I hear the natives getting restless. My fellow Voyagers have finished their vegan chicken, green beans, and iced tea. Typical conference fare. After the Return, however, we’ll feast on vegan prime rib and twice-baked potatoes. Mark my words.

“Can’t we get this show on the road?” I ask.

“Wait for Unity.”

Right again. We may be Millie and Gennie, but Unity is Unity. She not only practices and preaches our first Prime Principle, but she’s the Universal Unified Mind in the flesh. If R. Anne Meadows is our founder, U’um is what she found, and Unity makes sure we all keep finding it. We’re real big on physical manifestations of our concepts, if you haven’t guessed.

Unity also made the ultimate Baggage Drop: erasure of identity, both physical and spiritual.

“Where is she?”

“Calibrating.”

Meaning: taking a bath, then using our patented organophonic resonator and its many bodily amplifier-sensors to calibrate to U’um’s frequency. Make sense? It never does to Stationites.

“Seems like it’s taking longer than usual.”

“Well, of course,” Gennie says. “She has to be strong enough.”

No pressure there. No pressure on me, either. I’m just the instrument of R. Anne’s Return.

The grumbling in the ballroom’s getting louder. I’ll tell our A/V guys to start the video. It keeps them – er, us – quiet until we’re ready for a lesson or ceremony. I can’t help but wonder if they’ll start a riot tonight, though. They’ve seen “Voyage” dozens of times already.

Its opening music begins. Tears well in my eyes, and not because our techs know what they’re doing. I know the Voyager’s Hymn that R. Anne wrote by heart. I want to sing, but I don’t.

“Do you know where you’re going in life?
Are you lost in the world and its strife?
Wandering from here to there (here to there),
But you never feel like you belong anywhere?

Do you yearn for your ship to come in,
Working and waiting, and meanwhile, within,
Do you feel all alone (all alone),
Wondering if this world’s your only home?

Take a voyage, a voyage with me,
Of peace and progress and prosperity.
A voyage where all your dreams will come true,
For all of the answers lie inside of you.

Take a voyage, a voyage with me,
The ultimate wonder – self-discovery.
Together we travel. Together we learn.
RECURSUS: We return.”

I’m glad to hear Gennie sniffle. She’s usually bored during this part, waiting for her cue.

A figure in the hallway approaches.

Gennie stands at attention and gives our salute. Awkwardly, I sit up and do the same.

So does Unity. She doesn’t say anything. She can’t. She had her tongue surgically removed.

Don’t get me wrong. She can eat and swallow, but not form full words. She doesn’t have any eyelid folds – those were also removed – or a prominent nose. Unity looks as much like an alien as possible, one of the Grays, though she and I have been bleached white as bone. A sign of status, but also sacrifice. Our connections to R. Anne and U’um are unparalleled.

Gennie chickened out. When she found out her breasts and lady parts also had to be removed, at least if she was going to be R. Anne’s Voyage Partner, she decided she’d rather show her generosity through becoming Generosity and serving us. Once I Depart, she’ll bring me back.

Unity nods to both of us.

“All right. Strap me in.”

Generosity straps me to the gurney, a custom apparatus with wings for arms. It’s got white sheets over the leather, but the restraints are black. I wanted white ones. Less visible. On the other hand, why shy away from the reality of what R. Anne suffered? We three didn’t.

Gennie checks to make sure we have all the ritual supplies. She put them on a medical cart. She pushes it down the carpeted corridor. Unity pushes me. We’re big on leader service, too.

Into the green room we hustle, though the room’s not green. It’s white with motivational posters all over the walls. My favorite says “VOYAGE: In Order to Set Sail, Get on the Boat.” If I hadn’t gotten on this boat three years ago, I’d be stuck at home cleaning toilets and watching soaps. I suppose I could’ve gone back to teaching, but kids these days have gotten worse.

“Ready, Millie?” asks Gennie.

“Ready.”

Unity leans down, her face a hair’s breadth away from mine. She’s asking the same thing.

I can’t say the word. All I can do is shut my eyes so tight it hurts, then nod.

Gennie goes over to our green room intercom and presses the button. “Lights, please.”

This signals the overhead fixtures to dim, then darken. A gentle spotlight will beam onstage.

“Ten seconds.” We count silently with Gennie. “Five seconds.” We wait. “We’re on.”

She said “we’re on,” but my VP is also tonight’s emcee. Unity and I have to wait until after her introduction. No problem. I want to cry so bad, but if I do, all is lost. I can’t waver.

After Gennie’s stupid lapel mic goes SKREEE and the feedback dies down, her voice echoes:

“Hello and good evening, Voyagers. You all know me as Generosity, the living embodiment of our third Prime Principle. However, tonight you’ll know me as our founder’s closest companion and nurse, Laura Cavendish. That’s why I’m wearing her uniform. That’s why I’m using the same medical equipment that served R. Anne, including the gurney on which she Departed.”

A beat of quiet. A rest.

“The world in which we live, full of Stationites and their various Conductors, says she died of metastatic ovarian cancer which spread to her breasts and throughout her body. This is true. However, is it true she’s gone once and for all? The world in which we live says yes.

“It says once life is lost, it can never be regained. Let me tell you about the word never.

“Christians say Jesus came back from the dead. Oh? Have you seen Him physically? Never.

“Other religions say the afterlife is vague, but we go where we’re meant to be. Have you seen any version of heaven physically? How about hell? How about the old cosmic waiting room?

“Now, many Stationites believe in rebirth and reincarnation. They also believe we must go through physical birth and growth, from infanthood through adolescence and into adulthood, before we come to remember the details and lessons of our past lives. Have you heard of a five-year-old doing this in true and exact sequence, without hypnosis? Have you heard a despairing teen speak of suicide in complete bliss because they know they’ll come back, healed and whole, in a mature adult body? I’ve told you before and I tell you now: Never.”

Uh-huh. Other than the Laura Cavendish part, this is our standard recruitment speech.

“Yet there is hope. We here at Recursus know the truth. We can turn never into forever.”

Hee-hee. I came up with that little slogan.

“Renata Anne Meadows was the first person on Planet Earth to not only believe this in her heart and gut, but to know it as fact. She spent her life preaching and teaching our first three Prime Principles in order to pave the way for the fourth and fifth: Departure and Return.

“After all, if you haven’t become humble, unified as a group and in U’um, and generous first, how can you finish life’s Voyage without tons of mental and emotional baggage? You can’t. We’ve spent the past two years preparing ourselves to Depart sooner rather than later.”

Yeah, yeah. Get on with it. I’m turning into an icicle in this paper-thin – Oops! Sorry!

“That’s why we’re here in this room, at this moment, right now. Tonight’s the night. Only if R. Anne Meadows, the Prime Voyager, makes a successful Return can we all do the same.”

A storm of thunderous applause. If I wasn’t strapped to the gurney, I would’ve fallen right off.

When it finally dies down, Gennie says, “Let’s first call upon U’um to unify us.”

My eyes start welling again as the Call of the Unified Mind starts softly, then builds. Like at a sports event, but a thousand times better. A million. A billion. Ultimately, who gives a fig if this or that team wins? We’ll Depart just the same. Why not spend your voice and energy on things that matter? Humility. Unity. Generosity. Departure and Return. Your own Recursus.

When the chant of U’UM is so loud it nearly blows the roof off the Conference Center, then it’s time to give the signal. In my mind’s eye, which is so clear now that I’ve made all the Stops on the Voyage except two, I see Gennie jerking her arms down for quick silence.

The stillness that engulfs us is so total that my whole body breaks out in goosebumps.

Five seconds. Ten. Gennie says, “May the Universal Unified Mind now manifest itself.”

Unity’s cue. She lifts her index finger – hold on – and leaves the green room to go onstage.

More stillness. I know the crowd must be gasping and murmuring because Unity hardly ever shows herself, even to us. She stays in her quarters in the hotel wing. Her skin is extremely sensitive to stimuli, and she has the whole Unification Sigil on her head. It’s raised and fragile.

Now, you may ask: Is Unity naked? Not if you count head-to-toe Descendant Sigils as clothing. Those with us don’t mind nudity. If so, they wouldn’t be here. They wouldn’t deserve to.

“Are you frightened?” asks Gennie. “Fear not. Are you ashamed? Blush not. Are you doubtful or uncertain? Doubt not and waver not. This is no mere Stationite before us, one of seven billion on this Station Sphere, but U’um in the flesh. What have you to fear or be ashamed of in the presence of Mind? Which of your doubts would not be quelled by its infinite wisdom?

“Yes, this being was once human like all of you, like Humility and me. We two seek to complete our Voyage through U’um. In fact, we elder Voyage Partners all do. How? First and foremost, as I’ve said, our Prime Voyager must Return. I must retrieve my Partner. Then we’ll proceed.”

I go stiff. Stiff as the gurney underneath me. Stiff as boards. Stiff as solid ice, as steel.

Gennie comes to get me. I relax. She looks so much like the real Laura Cavendish.

In fact, she is Laura. Why do I have so much trouble remembering that? She’s been wearing that uniform for hours now. Curled her hair. Done her makeup. Lowered her voice an octave.

Yet something’s off. I’ve spent so much time with Gennie that I know her mannerisms, know the way she bites her lower lip when she gets nervous and pouts when something doesn’t go her way. That little furrow between her brows from frowning so much at our Junior Voyagers. She can’t erase that no matter how hard she tries. She hasn’t gone through what Unity has.
Or what R. Anne Meadows has, for that matter. Is the Recursus true? Can she really Return?

What about me? If I’m not humble and selfless, I’m not worthy. I can’t be her Voyage Partner.

“Come on, Millie. Inhale and exhale. Inhale. Exhale,” Gennie says.

I do as I’ve been taught, in 6/4 time like “Silent Night,” and chant U’um in my head.

“Talk to me.”

I blurt out words. “I miss my birthing parts. I miss my boobs. I miss my damn hair most of all. Dammit, dammit! I’m cold and scared and don’t know if I’m ready to do this at all – ”

“Marge.”

“I’m sixty-two, for God’s sake, and about to bawl like a baby!”

“Breathe. Unity’s waiting. I’m waiting. The others are waiting. R. Anne’s waiting. Just for you.”

“I know.”

Gennie gives me the look a mom gives her unmarried pregnant daughter. “Then let’s go.”

“You sound like Laura.”

“Call me that.” She positions herself behind the gurney, ready to push. “Now or never.”

“Now.”

Onstage we go.

The spotlight is blinding. I thought the A/V guys had it set on the least intense setting? I shut my eyes again and vow not to open them until the ceremony’s over. It’ll be better that way.

“Take a look,” Gennie/Laura hisses in my ear. “Take a good look. It’s your last one at some.”

You know when you pry your eyelids open in the morning to full sunshine? That’s how it feels to try and glimpse anyone in the audience. I just can’t. Older or younger, they’re swallowed up by the darkness. Only we are illuminated. Symbolic and fitting, but it’s so. Damn. Bright.

Gennie/Laura discreetly clears her throat and continues. “R. Anne’s Voyage Partner is here.”

“Greetings from U’um,” says the crowd.

That’s what we tell one another in the privacy of our hotel. If we told you that when we handed out tracts on the street, you’d run as fast as you could in the other direction. Three years ago, I almost did. What kept me from it was the expression on Unity’s face. So tranquil. So serene. She had a full face then, full of the joy and love I so desperately need.

Needed, I mean. I’ve found it. Eureka.

I thought I could find it with my ex. Nope. He’s gone. Twenty years since our divorce.

I thought I could find it with my boys. Nope. They’re gone. They’ve got their own lives, and they don’t need me anymore. Even Ed and Ned only call me on holidays and my birthday. They get pissed when I call them. You know how it is. Mothers mother, and then they die.

I thought I could find it with my kindergarteners, as naïve as that is. I was their teacher, not their friend or substitute parent. Sure, lots of them gave me hugs. Then they all grew up.

I thought I could find it with my old friends. Nope. Back then, I always said or did something wrong.

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Pets? Nope. I’m allergic to animals and find hairless ones disgusting. All that skin. Ugh.

There’s nothing and no one for folks like me. Not on this Station Sphere anyway.

Unity turns toward us. She’s so close. I want her to hug me, warm me up, say what she did when she first saw me: “Come and see.” Come and see who Voyagers are, she meant. I thought she meant her, personally, and was disappointed when that wasn’t the case. Until I started attending Recursus meetings. Then we clicked. We Connected, as Voyagers say.

I meld my mind to hers, will her to come nearer. Then Gennie – Laura – opens her maw.

“In order to facilitate the arrival of our founder, I must now receive the necessary tools primed by U’um’s hands. Without them, R. Anne cannot find her way back.”

Sounds scary, but all it means is for Unity to take the ritual supplies off the bottom of the medical cart, bow her Sigil-covered head over them, and give them to Laura. She does.

Antiseptic, blindfold, caustic pencil, gauze, mouthpiece, saline, shears, and tweezers.

Laura puts all this stuff on top of the cart. Unity could have, but the handoff is crucial.

Now for the crucial question.

“Marjorie Lynn Cole, known as Humility: Will you allow Renata Anne Meadows to Return?”

I take three deep breaths, swallow hard and answer. “Yes. I permit and await her Recursus.”

Laura beams. So does Unity. This is the moment I’ve waited sixty-two long years for.

“Glory to U’um!” Laura cries. “We know what and who U’um is. What is its glory? As we’ve learned, the wisdom of the Universal Unified Mind lies in all of us once we join as one in its name. Unity serves as its physical body – its eyes, ears, hands, feet, mouth and audible voice. But its GLORY, its magnificence and resplendence, lies in the Sigils on Unity’s physical body.

“Concentrated power. So concentrated that it can only be contained in the longest Voyagers. The whitest and purest vessels. Those who have proven their worth not just through attending classes and meetings. Not just through performing menial tasks like our Helping Hands. Not just through devotion to U’um. We’re all a part of Mind, so what differentiates the three of us from you? One word: sacrifice.

“Humility, Unity and I have sacrificed all we hold dear – our time, talents, and treasures on Earth. Unity and Humility have also undergone surgery to give up the parts of themselves that R. Anne sadly had to surrender to cancer: both breasts, their ovaries and uteruses. They can no longer reproduce, whether they’re of age or not. Ergo, Stationites deem them no longer female.”

Blah blah BLAH. Rub it in, why don’t you?

“Yet in return, they’ll gain so much more. Connection with and eventual fusion to U’um.”

Now you’re talking.

“First? The Return. We will prove for all time if our faith is true. Dare we believe otherwise? Never. There’s that word again, which we’ve spoken for the last time. Now for the Crowning. Unity has the full Sigil of Unification emblazoned on her brow. Humility will receive all but the central mandala. This is because, as great as R. Anne was and is, she will never equal U’um.”

Naturally.

“I’ll blindfold Humility so she can’t see the top of Unity’s head, from which I’ll copy the Sigil design. I’ll etch it with a caustic pencil, as I once used for mere nosebleeds and skin tags.”

Laughter. It stops cold when Gennie frowns. In her Stationite life, she was a doctor.

“I’ll also give her something to bite. Like all greater Voyage endeavors, this will hurt.”

Like before, I go rigid on the gurney. I know I’m supposed to relax, but I can’t help it.

Blindfold on. Mouthpiece in and strapped on. Lapel mic off. Restraints checked and tightened.

“Music, please. Medium volume.”

The A/V guys cue a Mozart piece. What’s it called? It translates to “teary.” Ah. “Lacrimosa.”

Unity’s gentle gaze. Her signal to proceed.

PAIN.

RED and BLACK. BLACK and RED. BITE down. HARDER. Breathe. Breathe. BREATHE. . .

“You made it. You blacked out for a bit and we had to take care of you, but you made it.”

“L-Laura?” My dear nurse nods. “How long was I out?”

“Not long. Ten seconds. I gave you morphine from a needle you didn’t see. You hate those.”

Indeed I do. “Now what?”

“I ask you a couple of questions. Ones that doctors use to tell if you’re in your right mind.”

“Okay.”

Laura sits me up on the gurney so I can see. . .darkness. What is this place? Where am I?

“Hello. My name is Laura Cavendish. What is your full legal name?”

I blink. When did my eyes get so full of water? “I’m. . .Renata. Renata Anne Meadows.”

“When were you born?”

“On the thirteenth of March, 1940.”

“Where are you right now?”

I look around, frantic. Then I recall. “The Gateway Inn, Suites and Conference Center.”

“Good. This location’s now our headquarters. When did you found Recursus, Incorporated?”

“Uh. . .” It takes me a moment. “Officially? April 20, 1965. I wanted to call it Comeback.”

A burst of gasps. Laura shuts it up with one of her famous glares. I love her for that.

“Why did you almost choose that name?”

“Because we do.”

Silence.

“What is something only you would know? Tell me your deepest, most shameful secret.”

Something’s wrong. My voice is too loud, but why? What is this blasted thing on my chest?

“Do I have to be so loud? Can I whisper?”

“It’s all right.”

I talk as soft as I can, but the thing makes me as loud as a hurricane. What the hell?

“I was a man before I was a woman. I’m still a man. I’m in the wrong body. I can’t help it.”

“None of us can, R. Anne. We haven’t learned how to. We hope to in the future, from you.”

Silence.

“One more question. Do you recognize who my partner is? Do you know who she represents?”

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I stuff my whole fist in my mouth. It’s god. The Universal Unified Mind. Savior of us all.

Once I can talk again and wipe my hand on this hospital gown (why am I in one?), I cry out:

“U’um. U’um. U’um.” There are lots of people here, and they all start saying it with me.

Laura doesn’t glare this time. She lets everyone get quiet by themselves. She takes my hand.

“Listen to me carefully. You are not only Renata Anne Meadows, born March 13, 1940 and the founder of Recursus, Inc. You are now in a younger and healthier body. It’s sixty-two years old. You were eighty-two when you sadly Departed our Station Sphere on March 14, 2022.”

“Huh? Departed? You’ve got to be kidding. I never left.” I blink again. “If I did, I’d remember.”

Laura doesn’t talk for a long time. Then she jumps up and down, screeching with joy. It hurts.

“Praise U’um! Praise U’um! You have not Returned, R. Anne. You’ve become IMMORTAL!”

Pandemonium. It’s all that Laura and even U’um (dear U’um!) can do to calm everyone down. It turns out there’s one more thing for me to do. I mean us. I don’t want to. I’m pooped.

I tell Laura. She won’t listen. “R. Anne, I know you’re tired, but it’s time for the rest of them.”

“What do you mean?’”

“All the elder Voyage Partners. They want to do what you’ve just done.”

“What on. . .Station Sphere. . .are you talking about?”

“Those of us here who are older than fifty, and/or those with serious conditions, have been paired up with Voyage Partners who are twenty-one to forty and healthy as horses. Our elders will Depart and then Return. Just as you did. Just as you promised. Just as it says in your Voyager’s Guide.”

“Right. Do they have to shave their heads and bodies, too, and wear this paper thing? I feel like a plucked chicken.” Some of the rest of the people start snickering, then stop cold.

“No. They haven’t achieved as much as you have. Nor will they unless they work harder. Here’s what will happen. I’m going to distribute special pills to the elder VP’s to ensure their quick and painless Departure. You won’t get one, of course. Neither will U’um.”

“Ha!”

A glare. I crumble. Laura’s my friend, nurse and servant, but I often feel like she’s the boss.

“Helping Hands, Helping Hands, everywhere. Helping Hands, Helping Hands, serve and care.”

Eight people who aren’t the other people come up on stage. They’re in identical uniforms.

They have tags with weird names: Axiom. Basis. Canon. Dictum. Ethic. Maxim. Rule. Tenet.

“Laura? I’ve never seen names like those.”

“Never mind. They’re our earliest Voyagers. They’re here to pass out pills, watch, and clean up.”

“Watch what?”

“The Departure. To make sure it goes well and none of our Voyagers wander off.”

“Oh.” Wait a minute. “What pills? For carsickness? I used to get that all the time as a kid.”

Laura nods like her head’s going to fall off. She distributes pill bottles like cafeteria food.

Then something strange happens. Once the Hand called Tenet gets hers, she swallows all the pills.

She faints. Her eyes roll into the back of her head. She starts breathing really, really fast.

U’um wails – a howl from deep down in her throat. What’s the matter? Cat got her tongue?

My nurse mumbles a bunch of big nurse words I don’t know. Then: “Never mind. No matter.”

“What? I’m your founder. I’m R. Anne. You can tell me. What’s in those pills?”

“She’s faking. They’re not what you think. They’re just full of essential cherry pit extract.”

“Oh.”

Laura clenches her hands into fists. She turns away from the faker and back to the crowd.

“Hear that? Cherry pit extract. Organic and vegan, from our own cherry tree orchards.”

“Those are pretty. I like cherries. What is vegan, though? Is that like Ronald Reagan?”

Laura smiles. Not a good smile, though. It’s all perfect white teeth.

“Our Prime Voyager’s very tired,” she says, a too-loud thing on her chest. “It’s natural to assume a slow, gradual acclimation to twenty-first century surroundings and terminology. That said, it’s time to continue our Departure. Helping Hands? You know the drill. Distribute the meds.”

Some of the people try to leave, both older and younger folks. The doors seem to be locked.

What’s U’um doing to Tenet? It looks like she’s trying to break her ribs. It’s not working.

“VOYAGERS UNITE!” Laura screams at the top of her lungs. It almost breaks my eardrums.

Everyone stops. U’um stops too. Tenet is. . .gone. Who’s going to help her Return? Can I?

Tears are streaming down U’um’s face and mine. Not Laura’s, though. She just looks mad.

“If you value your lives, you’ll do as I say. Renata may be back, but I’m in charge now.”

Hold on. I’M Renata. “No, you’re not.”

“The Departure will go on as planned. As you planned from start to finish, my dear.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Do you want to go to prison, you shameless con artist?” I shake my head. “Then listen up. The elder VP’s are going to come back in their new bodies. That’s what they agreed to. It’s in our Voyager NDA under ‘Departure and Return.’ I may have been a doctor instead of a lawyer, but U’um was one in her Stationite life. She drew the NDA up at your insistence, R. Anne.”

“No. . .” Now I bawl. “I don’t want to be a murderer!”

“Then you should have left us alone. You should have joined the real U’um in outer space. Booga, booga.”

Shouting. Raised fists. Sounds, colors and overhead lights. A tidal wave of people everywhere.

Some of those cherry pit extract pills, poured right into my mouth by a Helping Hand – Axiom.

“Natural. Organic. Vegan, vegan, vegan. I like meat. Gnaw on these, you fucking bitch!”

He grabs my chin and upper jaw and makes me chew. I can’t do anything else but swallow.

I try to remember something pure. Something good. Something that proves I’m not evil.

The last things I hear are the words of a song I wrote before my Voyage began:

“Together we travel. Together we learn. RECURSUS: We return.”

Credit: Tenet

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