Artemis

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12

Back on Artemis we were still learning and trying to get used to their way of life. Peaceful, controlled, masterfully metronomic. Did we really enjoy this? Initially, everything fascinated us but eventually, we missed home with one collective aching heart. Everything here was just too perfect to be real. We debated at length about whether the people were real or not. No-one argued, questioned or complained. Their impassive expressions indicated that they were devoid of feelings. We had just arrived from a year-long trip in space. At least, we expected someone to notice that we were dressed differently, that we were tired and possibly needed to wash and eat but no-one so much as looked in our direction. Hospitality was not forthcoming and it unnerved us somewhat that we could be surrounded by robots and that we could possibly be the only living creatures on the entire planet.

We observed how people all walked at the same pace, never stumbling or trying to overtake the next person. No one veered off the path to cross a road suddenly, nor did they look left or right.

“See how they look straight ahead?” Donny whispered. He was the first to voice his fear of the robots.

“I know...”

“No-one looks around. They don’t even look up.”

“...and look, when they stand at the traffic lights... They just wait for the lights to change. They don’t look at the cars.”

“Yeah. What if a driver decides not to stop?”

“I guess that never happens here. You would only do that if people always obeyed the rules of the road.”

“But see... They don’t even look at the building they’re entering. Doesn’t one usually look at a building before you enter, you know, to make sure it’s the right one?”

We were the only ones talking, pointing and I guess, being unruly.

I omitted to mention that we were bar-coded so that we could be tracked wherever we went. There was no getting lost off the beaten track. It was both a blessing and a curse. We were announced at every stop, whether it be refueling, buying a snack or simply slowing down to admire an underground store.

Stores were unfamiliar things too. Artemisians were disciplined people who had learnt to only take what was needed. Excess was not part of their nature. It was at this juncture that we decided that we were dealing with very well-controlled robots. Theft did not exist, yet everything was “free” or more to the point, taxed in arrears. As you entered a store, your bar-code was recorded and as long as you were in the store a computer mounted against a wall recorded everything you bought. Check-out counters as we knew on Earth was outdated on Artemis.

Groceries were billed monthly or rather taxed directly from one’s salary. It certainly ensured that one never ran short of anything.

It only worked because of the stable population and the fact that religion as we knew it, didn’t exist.

We discovered that we had entered a Thetan refuge. On Earth we knew them as Science of Mind devotees who believed that brainwaves could be controlled to attain higher consciousness, a state in which one could manifest material objects from what they called blank slate technology.

Somehow, it seemed far-fetched, but then again, what did we know? The mystery of this belief system lay in the fact that it was never over-stated. It was never preached. It didn’t have to be. It was innately understood as if they were genetically predisposed to being non-religious.

Everyone worked seven days a week with the freedom to take time off whenever they chose to, or rather, ordered to. The system would notify a citizen if he was not fulfilling his quota of hours or if he was spending too much time at work. It would also notify everyone that Mr. Jones had just visited the doctor and why. His medication would be ready and announced to everyone on arrival at the pharmacy when he collected it.

Few people, very few people, therefore fell ill. They preferred to expire from their condition in secret if they could avoid inspections from state doctors (spies) from the health department who were known to make surprise house calls. It was then that we understood why we never saw elderly people. They were probably put out of their misery before they had the chance to fall ill or suffer any kind of misfortune.

The illusion of transparency was upheld on all levels. It kept citizens honest and, we suspected government as corrupt as anywhere else in the universe while they were made to appear to be taking care of their people.

Television was like nothing we could ever get used to. Throughout the day we were fed up to the minute good news only.

Traffic is flowing at a steady pace, car 37 needs to keep pace, else there will be a snarl-up. Shop 45 on Stutterford Lane has sold all it’s pink vitamin C reinforced bread and will be stocking up at 06:00 am again. There are three tables remaining at the Eastern restaurant for lovers of sushi and violin music. We ask that interested Artemisians book via their inboard computers only, thank you.

If bad news did exist, there was definitely a huge cover-up. We listened meticulously for any sign of underlying hints of bad news, but there was none.

Another striking feature of this lifestyle was the absence of children. When we enquired, we only got silence which caused us great discomfort. We speculated that perhaps they bred elsewhere, then left their children behind to live a stress-free, interruption-free existance on Artemis. Did they breed at all or was this a colony for hand-picked citizens only, such as a genius class or those with an extra chromosome ?

The absence of domestic animals took some getting used to. Conditions were just not conducive to keeping pets. We suspected that few, if any, people knew what a dog or a cat was, since they had never seen any images of either in their lifetimes.

We did meet an ex- Earthling who remembered what having a pet was like but would not go into detail about why there were none on Artemis.

“They just never made it here,” was all he would say. His accent was a welcome reminder of earth. He was lucky enough to hitch a ride on a reconnaissance flight right after Japan was hit by the tsunami that sank the country one final time. He was swept miles out to sea, struggling to maintain himself above water. The swirl of water was too strong for him to swim. He could no longer see land and was caught up in a maelstrom of debris and sea water.

Frightened, he started to pray. He’d never prayed before and had no idea who to pray to, so he simply called out, “please, if there is someone who can hear me, please save me.” The next moment something in the sky caught his attention. He looked up to see a silver, dome-shaped craft coming straight at him at an amazing speed. It suddenly stopped to hover right over him. He watched as a hatch opened and the next moment he was blinded by a beam of bright blue light. In an instant, he felt himself being lifted by the ray and deposited inside the craft. As the light dimmed, the hatch closed. He stepped forward into the hollow, pearlescent interior where there was nothing except an onboard computer. He expected to see a pilot or two but there was no one, not even a voice to instruct him as to what to do.

He looked all around for windows but there were none. A giant television screen appeared on the wall in front of him where he could watch a rapidly receding ocean as the craft flew up into the sky. A seat rose from the floor . He moved forward to sit and as he did so, straps were ejected from the back rest and wrapped around him.

He watched as the earth grew smaller until it was a tiny dot, then finally disappeared from sight.

He remembered experiencing no fear, despite being the only person on board an unfamiliar, high-speed craft to an unknown destination. It wasn’t long before the craft slowed down. The display screen showed what looked like a well-lit, floating city. At first he thought he’d been taken back to Osaka, but he had to remind himself that he was out in space.

The craft continued to slow down until it was hovering as if waiting for a command. A door opened in the mother ship and the craft docked inside a brightly lit cavern.

Two people dressed in navyblue jumpsuits appeared. He alighted when the hatch opened.

They greeted him in Japanese and welcomed him aboard their craft, explaining that he was now safe and would be taken to a better earth.

To all intents and purpose, they we human, though more beautiful than any he’d ever seen before. They were very tall, probably about two meters in height with very long, black glossy hair and bright green eyes. Although they weren’t smiling, they seemed friendly and relaxed, as if they were happy to rescue another person.

He was led to an enormous dining room where he was offered a plate of food consisting of fish and vegetables and a glass of sweet water. There were people walking about though he was the only one seated at a table. The two rescuers left him to finish his meal then returned later to brief him.

After drinking the water, he remembers feeling very light and energized.

He said it was a long time ago, yet he looked no older than, maybe, thirty-five. We enquired about his age but he was confused about the question. He’d stopped counting in earth years a long time ago.

“Do you ever get homesick?”

“Not really. Artemis is very similar to Japan in many ways.”

“Come on, there must be something you miss? Like the ocean for instance?”

“No. There is an ocean.”

When we heard this we nearly flipped. “Where! Where! Take us there.” We were like children on Christmas morning.

He described an indoor artificial ocean with all the relevant sounds created specially for ex-earthlings. Yoosha showed us how to programme our hover-car to take us there anytime..

We entered his four-man hover-car and for the first time, we experienced it the way it was meant to be experienced. In a short burst of energy it thrust us up into the air, over the city. As the found gave way, it felt like being on a rollercoaster, but much smoother. We whooped and hollered like children on a zip line for the first time. Yoosha was bemused by our reaction. We were unabashed.

“Weren’t you excited by your first ride, Yoosha?”

“Not as much as you guys but then again, I was plucked from the sea by a UFO, remember?”

“Yeah, what was that like again?”

“Now that was exciting. Do you know that I was not scared at all? I was scared when I was swept out to sea by the powerful surge of water. Now that was scary. Shoo...I could not swim, as hard as I tried. I was so afraid of being dragged down by the sheer weight of the debris, then once I was out in the open sea with no one else in sight, a different type of fear took hold. I was crying and praying all at once but once I was beamed up, I felt like two strong arms pulling me up. Then, once on the craft - it was so quiet - I felt like I was in for an exciting ride. The craft did not disappoint. I loved it!”

In silence we tried to contemplate what an experience like that would feel like. Yoosha continued.

We were overwhelmed by Yoosha’s excitement of riding on a UFO which could hardly be compared to anything we knew, least of all a ride in a hover car.

As the metropolis fell away the scenery gave way to a desolate expanse of blackness devoid of even the smallest bit if light. In the distance we could see a faint blue shimmer which brightened as we neared. A dome appeared as we lowered altitude and slowed down to line up with the entrance. The hover-car carefully took us into dome which housed the ocean resort that turned out remarkably similar to what we remembered back home, except it was just a fraction of the size.

We were delighted that we could finally swim, albeit in an artificial wave-producing, indoor sea. The sand was a good enough imitation, complete with starfish, nautilus and abalone shells. I picked up a pebble and threw it into the sea as a wave came crashing towards me. There weren’t many people on the beach and Yoosha explained that only earthlings like ourselves who had experienced the sea before would be interested in visiting the beach resort.

The temperature was kept cool. There was a light breeze complete with the smell of the ocean.

Yoosha explained that he was uncomfortable there. He still harboured a fear of a tsunami, despite knowing that nothing at the resort was real. Over the years his fear had dissipated but it was still lurking at the back of his mind.

Frolicking like a child, I enjoyed the salty experience and the gentle breeze on my face alongside my colleagues. For a moment we were blissfully unaware of the strangeness of it all.

If something was afoot, we were hesitant to enquire, preferring to prolong our enjoyment with what would obviously never compare with a genuine beach resort.

Yoosha remained on the shore observing our childish behaviour and we only returned when we felt guilty that we’d left him there by himself for too long. We dried ourselves while he continued to stare wistfully into the distance. He seemed aloof, almost unaware of our presence. We were probably all wondering the same thing. Was he a Control?

We had to test our fear and took the opportunity to enquire about the expired body and the green blood.

Without making eye contact he responded promptly, “Oh that was an expired control. Sometimes, they just dump them and replace them with a newer model. They are not supposed to dump them outside. They should in fact report it for collection.”

“What about the green blood?”

Our question amused him and for the first time, we saw his face break into a smile. “That was just oil, not blood. It serves not just to keep the components from rusting but also to keep the control from overheating.”

We were never invited to Yoosha’s home although we met with him on several occasions. We were careful to acquaint ourselves with Artemesian etiquette before we could ask to be invited.

Later we would discover that he stayed at Bay 56 of hive 3113, 94 Boulevard. What a strange address? We decided to drive past the address to take a closer look. It turned out that a bay was an apartment small enough to house a single bed, shower and toilet. That was it. No other rooms.

People who lived in bays ate either in the communal dining room in the building or in a restaurant. The lifestyle was minimalist. There was no need for bookshelves since information could only be accessed in digital format. Works of fiction did not exist on Artemis.

We decided to test a bay for a night, but renting five adjacent bays proved rather diffficult. We were spread on various levels which were so uniform and nondescript we couldn’t tell one from the other. Although superfluous, a small television was mounted on the door. Everything could be accessed from a cellular phone so it was hard to believe that people still owned televisions. We were told that it was a fixture in every bay to ensure that people kept abreast of news. What news, we wondered. More like brainwashing to ensure that citizens were obedient. Citizens were constantly instructed to do this or that since there was no formulated law.

I found the experience claustrophic and monotonous. There was no window, so the only contact with the outside world was the little television mounted on the door. The lack of freedom, movement and variety alone would have killed me had I stayed for longer than a day. The feedback was no different for my team mates although Donny, the lazy one, enjoyed uniformity as long as he had very little to do in the form of housework. I on the other hand, preferred variety, choice, multitasking from one activity to the next to relieve boredom. I wanted space, being able to walk from room to room and being able to look out of windows. The little television against the door hardly entertained me and I fell asleep out of sheer boredom.

Back at the hotel the next day, debate raged among us about whether the status quo represented the future on Earth. ‘Never!’ Said Farlane, who doubted that we would ever reach such a level of orderliness and discipline.

‘People would protest against so much control. They would never allow it, was Su-len’s, opinion.’

‘Well’, said Donny, ‘with time, people can get used to anything. Look at how we protested against VAT all those years ago, until it became part of everyone’s budget, knowingly or not.’

I knew that Earth could never reach such an advanced level of discipline in one life-time. We were battling too many fears.

The one question that remained unanswered was, where were the children? Everyone to whom we posed this question responded with a quizzical stare, then walked away. It was very disconcerting. We looked for clues everywhere but could find none. What about the so-called breeding programme? We wondered if that even meant the same thing as it did on Earth. Likely not, we decided and sought to investigate our theories about an isolated colony, but Artemis was not very big, if it was, there must be secret enclaves hidden deep in its bowels.

We were wandering around when we were approached by the citizens’ police. They came alongside us silently, in their hover-car to enquire if they could assist.

There was only one brand of hover-car but only the police were allowed to drive black ones since it was less visible than other colors in the dark.

“We heard that there is life underground,” we ventured to which the response was an emphatic “no.”

We were not convinced but were careful not to force the issue.

“We will have to escort you back. Please come this way.”

We returned to the hotel more suspicious than ever. The conversation never stopped. We racked our brains trying to figure what could possibly be going on.

I was of the opinion that if we stayed long enough we would figure it out. In the meantime, we should just be good Earthlings and learn as much as possible until we become smart enough to understand how things work on Artemis. My fellow Earthlings would have none of it, being so used to fighting for everything.

“Guys, have you noticed that no one here fights, or even argues about anything? We should adapt. It is expected of us. We cannot consider getting into trouble. We still want to get back home, right? We need their technology and so we need to play nice, come now, guys.”

There was reluctant agreement all round. I was hoping that they were being sincere else, I would have no idea what would happen to us.

We spent everyday in training, either visiting the lab or watching training sessions in digital video. These were interspersed with animated discussions about whether we could impart this knowlege successfully once we returned home. We were growing impatient to see our beautiful blue planet.

“Wish I was back home, we were heard saying frequently.”

“I miss the beach,” was my only complaint.

“But you’ve been to the beach...”

“I mean a real beach.” I enjoyed our occasional excursion to the resort but it didn’t satisfy me fully, knowing that everything was artificial.

“Can you believe that our oceans are completely polluted?” As an Oceanographer, Sue-Len was depressed about the condition of the oceans back home.

“It’s still an exquisite sight, though,” I heard myself saying. “It still offers respite during hot weather and refreshment after long, stuffy, winter days.”

“Yes, but so many beaches are littered with whale carcasses. Poor whales. There are none left anywhere.”

“I’ve also seen dolphin and shark carcasses along the east coast of South Africa. It was horrifying. I cried all the way back home after my visit to KZN last holiday. The seas are so polluted, not even the cetaceans want to live in it anymore.”

“I know,” said Su-Len. “If only we had heeded the call in the seventies.”

“Su-Len, I think we had enough time to put measures into place but as you know, money always wins. Corruption always wins. We should have taken out the corruptors when we had the chance. The support was there..... We had the numbers on our side....”

My voice trailed off and I collapsed into a heap on the floor sobbing bitterly. Su-Len came over to comfort me. Though not the best of friends, we did agree on one thing. We should have done more to save our planet but we stopped at killing the agents. Had we taken up arms, perhaps we could have diminished their power over us. It would have been a long, hard fight with no end in sight and we did not want to add to the misery.

My heart was broken. As founder of the Green Army, I had given in to the threats of world government agents who had found and killed our pets, leaving it on the porch as a warning not to continue to rally for support to vote for an alternate leader. I had become a threat and chose to back down.

My biggest fear was finding my parents killed. There was no need to sacrifice my parents for a cause I believed in. Dad was of the opinion that nothing could be done. I was of the opinion that if enough people voted, we could change our destiny but dad kept reminding me that there were no guarantees.

We studied hard, not wanting to be seen to fall short but we had no idea what the Artemesian academics expected of us since they never assessed us.

As always I was the one who fell silent first but I was hungry for Earth food. The distraction was too much as I pondered the contents of our dinner. Peas were bright green, almost flourescent in colour. The carrots were bright yellow as if it were artificially coloured and the meat was too tender to be real. We never saw any rice, potatoes or bread. Sometimes we would get a kind of porridge which we could never figure out the contents of since the taste was so strange. Neither sweet nor bitter it formed little chewy balls in our mouths which took a long time to dissolve. It did however, keep our teeth very clean and our breath smelling fresh and slightly minty. It could have been made specially for us.

I found it hard to sleep while there was a constant mysterious hum that was hard to discern. Aside from the delicious water we suspected kept us awake, the constant hum did nothing to help. Whether it was coming from within the walls or from outside was diffult to figure out. I lay listening, trying to detect its origin but it seemed to emanate from no one particular place. Beneath the floor, in the walls and in the ceiling. I had to accept that it was part of life there.

At first we would touch everything to detect a vibration but there was none. Just a low humming sound that came from a generalized area.

The air inside buildings always seemed cool and fresh. I for one, felt healthier on Artemis. My persistent dry cough had disappeared. My skin had stopped itching and I had far more energy than I was used to. If I stayed up all night, I wouldn’t be tired in the morning. We calculated that we could stay up for about a week before we needed any sleep. This gave me the advantage of being able to read all that I could. On Earth I always fantasized about being able to stay up all night just to read. Here I could fulfill my fantasy.

We found it unusual that we could receive facebook updates from our Earth friends but didn’t complain. Seeing the violence from Artemis made it seem that much worse in contrast to the peace and orderliness of our new home. The Earth population, though still large had been reduced by forty percent in two years. The high levels of pollution everywhere had reduced fertility among women to critical level. Coupled with the fact that life in post-war times was not conducive to breeding made giving birth a rare, celebratory occasion.

Malnourishment was a problem for the general population. It became apparent once we’d started eating regular meals on Artemis that we too had suffered from malnutrition. To be able to get our strength back, was the one thing we were greatful for.

One night I had gone out alone in the middle of the ‘night’ or what we regarded as the middle of the night, to see what life was like after normal routine activities. Everyone was occupied and hadn’t noticed me slipping out. I stepped into a bustling street as if it were daytime. Traffic was a normal steady flow and I stopped to stare at something that seemed suspicious. At the traffic lights was a hover-car I was convinced I’d seen before. I remembered seeing the driver that morning on my way to the training centre. Despite my intense stare, he never once looked my way. In fact he seemed to have no sense of anyone else being around. On earth we were accustomed to sensing if we were being stared at, so it was strange to find that Artemesians, despite their advanced intelligence had no sensitivity. The car behind too looked familiar but this time the driver noticed me before I noticed her. She stared back without acknowledging me then drove on.

I continued to stroll along the boulevard observing for clues that something unusual was afoot. Stores were still trading so I entered one. I strolled past someone purchasing fruit or what to me looked like fruit. He picked up something, held it for a second, then placed it in his basket. He too was unaware that I was staring at him. I followed him and observed him doing the same each time. No matter how hard I stared at him, he never once acknowledged my presence. I went right up to him to stare closely into his face and even then he wasn’t aware of my presence.

I looked at another shopper but this time the person smiled at me and turned to walk up the aisle. I followed the smiling shopper and observed the same robotic movement when reaching for something.

I decided to strike up a conversation with the smiling shopper.

“Hello. Hi. Excuse me.” The smiling shopper was still smiling but refused to respond to my attempts to make conversation. I stood in front of her but she continued to smile without acknowledging me.

Something creepy was going on. I was about to flee the store when someone approached me and asked if I needed assistance.

“Oh, yes. I was wondering if you had any chocolates?”

“Why are you wondering and what exactly would chocolates be?”

I laughed, thinking she was being facetious but her expression was deadpan.

“You may not be rude and you may not interfere with the Controls.”

“What controls? I was not interfering with anything.”

“I saw you following the male Control and talking to the female Control. Do not do that. They are busy fulfilling a task for their clone masters. One day maybe you will be privileged enough to have a Control yourself.”

“Why would I want a Control?”

“So that you can stay home and let your Control do everything for you.”

I figured that a Control was a robot and a replica of the person who owned it. Now it made sense why no one cared about the expired control we found outside.

“I understand. So tell me, do Controls also drive vehicles?”

“They can drive anything you program them to drive.”

“Do they go out and work?”

“Work? What is work?”

I couldn’t understand her question and she couldn’t understand mine. I was hard pressed to make myself understood.

“Work is when one goes out to earn a living. Someone pays you to fulfill a task.”

“Here we don’t go out to work. We stay home. Only Controls go out and we don’t pay them. Government pays us to be good citizens.”

For one crazy moment, I thought it was a strange but attractive way of life and one I could easily get used to. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel to tell the others but didn’t know how to extricate myself from my new acquaintance. I was wondering if she was a Control too and I was relieved when she asked, “would you like to go now?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“What does that mean? Thank you?”

“I’m just being polite. It’s how I was taught.”

“By whom?”

“My parents.”

“What are parents?”

Oh boy, things were becoming creepier and I needed to go but I was also becoming more curious about what was really going on, so I continued the conversation.

“Parents are people who have children.”

“I don’t understand. What are people and what are children?”

If I continued the conversation I would get to the bottom of why there were no children on Artemis.

“We are people and if we give birth, then we will have children and become parents.”

I proceeded to explain the process of planting a seed inside a woman’s body by a man, the development of the embryo into a foetus and the birth of a baby but it was all Greek to my new acquaintance.

“So, there are no children on Artemis?” I had to know and stayed until I got a satisfactory answer.

“Artemesians are not allowed to replicate unless selected by government to do so. Replication takes place in a laboratory and the replica is kept in a facility until fully grown.”

“Where is this laboratory?”

“In an underground facility in level three.”

“How does one get to this underground facility?”

“We may not go there unless selected by government to replicate. Once you replicate, you may not go back.”

I deduced that no bonding took place with children who never got to know their parents. But the sounds of it, parents could only replicate once. It appeared that they were not allowed into society unless fully grown.

I was about to ask another question when an alarm sounded and Zona -that was the name on her name badge - turned to walk away. I left the store in case I was in trouble and hastened towards the hotel.

My fellow trainees were fascinated by my story and took turns vowing to find out more about life in Artemesian society.

“So we were right, everyone here is a robot.”

We were whispering in case our conversation was being monitored.

“Robots can work twenty-hours a day. They don’t require oxygen to stay alive The shops are permanently open and there is no crime because people don’t work for money. They get paid to be good citizens. How about that?”

“I wonder how much they get paid? Does everyone get paid the same?”

“I don’t know, but we must find out more.”

The next night we all went out to a restaurant where we sat and observed the patrons for two reasons. One, we had no idea how to place orders since there were no waiters and two, we wanted to know how to interact with the robots.

We noticed that the occupants of the only other seated table were touching the glass that covered the table and figured that there must be a computer of some kind built into the glass top. We followed suit and sure enough a screen opened up that displayed a menu in the middle of the table. All we needed to do was select our items from the menu and our order would be placed. We could swing the menu around by swiping it in the direction of anyone seated at the table and once all the orders were placed, anyone could save and close the screen.

Our orders were brought to us promptly by a robotic serving tray carrying five trays stacked above each other. Here is the order for table twenty-two.

The food seemed real enough and quite delicious but we learned later on that they could clone anything in their laboratories. We ate our fill and more since restaurants were paid by government and not the patrons. Nobody came or went in the time we were there with another seated table of four. They were clearly not robots since they looked over at our table intermittently. I found it strange that they made no conversation, unlike us who wondered aloud about everything.

We enjoyed the sweet water since there were no other options. The table of four stood up as if to go but we noticed that they were staring straight at us. As they approached, our table fell silent, nervous that we may have said something to offend them.

The tall man wearing a Stetson hat was the first to speak. He stretched out his hand to introduce himself to me.

“Hello. I’m Hank. We see that you are new to Artemis?”

“Yes, we came here to learn Water Manufacturing Science, and you?”

“How unusual. We lost our way in the galaxies and found our way here. We have no idea how to get back to earth but it seems like a nice enough planet. We like the idea of a non-violent society.”

“Yeah, so do we,” we all responded at once. “Don’t you get homesick sometimes though, or bored?”

“Only in the beginning when we didn’t know what to expect but as soon as we realised that we could develop superpowers, we decided that we had to stay.”

We became curious. “What superpowers?”

“Telepathy, for one.”

Then it struck me why they were so quiet. They were in fact having a hearty telepathic conversation.

“Right. That is why you were so quiet earlier?”

“Correct. We haven’t used our voices for a very long time.”

“How long exactly?”

“In earth time, about three years.”

“Really?”

“Yes, with practice, you too can learn to communicate telepathically. Everyone here does it.”

I was surprised to hear this. “Oh, I thought most of the people were robots.”

“No, most people have robots or controls as they prefer to call it but everyone is humanoid. It is only at night that they send out the controls for fear of anything happening to them.”

“Like what? What could possibly happen? I thought this was a crime-free society?”

“It is a crime-free society, but occasionally, we get invaders from other planets who come to torment the Artemesians for their soft nature.”

“Where do they come from?”

“From everywhere. They have no home planet. The Greys are very unstable creatures and they travel the galaxies simply to torment others. On earth we call them the devil. This is actually who they are. The Greys.”

“If they have no home planet, how did they come about? Who created them?”

“They were created by the Annunaki as robots to do their bidding but eventually, they got tired of taking orders and left the Federation. They haven’t been allowed to return and so they trawl the galaxies causing mischief wherever they can. Make no mistake, they are highly intelligent but cannot resist causing trouble. They are capable of learning anything at a glance, even a language they’d never heard before which was useful to the Annunaki who could store vast quantities of data without it being found. Now, however, there are very few good Greys in service.”

“Okay. Now we understand. Are they responsible for all the upheaval on earth at present?”

“Only some of it. Most of it is caused by our own people who put money before eveything else. The Greys only aggravate already bad situations. Earth seems to be their playground.”

“So we’d be better off here then?”

“Definitely.”

“Have you ever had an encounter with a grey?”

“Almost. Once we were hovering over the metropolis when we saw something in the distance. It came at us so fast that we barely swerved out of the way and when we did, we saw two Greys staring at us from an aircraft. We got out of there so fast and we were lucky they didn’t follow us.”

Getting answers to age-old questions was quite enlightening. I was intrigued and continued to ask questions.

“So would you say that what we call Angels are really good ETs?

“Mostly.”

“So if they are not Angels, then what are they?”

“They are holograms projected into your mind. Compared to us, ETs are very clever. They know how to make us feel better and here on Artemis you are going to learn some very useful tricks yourself.”

“So when I think that an Angel is speaking to me, It could be just a hologram projected by an ET?

“Yes. That is exactly it.”

“Okay, so let me get this straight. When I see blue Angels, I am not having a religious experience. I am simply being decieved in the nicest way possible?”

Our new friends laughed till the tears ran down their cheeks. “Don’t worry, we too had religous experiences before we came here until we figured things out. We used to meditate, we visited ashrams and even had a guru or two. We were deeply spiritual, let me tell you this. We thought we were enlightened.”

Hank noticed my discomfort and tried to reassure me. “Don’t worry. You are not going to hell. There is no such place.”

“Correction, earth is hell,” responded Farlane.

“Yes, true.”

“Do you think that conditions will improve on earth?”

“We’re past the point of no return, unless government is replaced by one from a more advanced civilization, life on earth will continue to deteriorate until the population becomes extinct.”

“So praying won’t help?”

“It might. Some benign ETs might decide to assist. They will always heed the call to assist.”

“Here’s my question. Do they come of their own accord, or do they get assigned a task or a project by a more senior ET?”

“You mean like a God?”

“Yeah, something like that.”

“Often they do get assigned a task or a project by someone higher up, but in an emergency, they could decide to take matters into their own hands to help you out of a situation.”

“So, all this stuff about having faith is all nonsense?”

“Not quite. Faith plays a big role in whether we get the desired outcome and it does no harm to pray because we send out a message to the universe that a situation needs a push.”

I wanted clarification on what exactly is meant by faith.“Hank, what exactly is faith?”

“I think it means holding the energy of the desired outcome long enough.”

“So one doesn’t have to have faith in a God as such?”

“You see, our earth knowledge had become distorted over the centuries by those who wanted to deceive us with religion. Politicians invented religion to control the minds of the ignorant. At first they found that they could create fear, then use it against people in order to tax them. This is how individuals became rich. They usurped land, and other property to enrich themselves while impoverishing others.”

“It was all politics, in other words?”

“That is so.”

“Okay, what I don’t get,“said Farlane, “is should one or should one not adhere to spiritual practices? I mean, if everything is at the discretion of the ETs, then what’s the use of trying to be a spiritual person?”

“Good question, and we can’t presume to know everything but I think eventually you figure it out for yourself. If you are comfortable with spiritual practice, then don’t stop. It’s better than spending all your time worrying, fearing and not doing anything constructive.”

“Yeah, makes sense.”

“Always choose a positive option.”

We wanted to chat at length but we had studies to complete and made arrangements to meet on a regular basis. Hank and his three friends were happy to agree and we left feeling high.

Needless to say, studies didn’t happen as we continued a boisterous debate about whether we should believe them or not. We couldn’t decide if they’d make good friends or use us in a mind control experiment. In the end we decided that we had lots in common and they could be relied on to help us get used to Artemesian society.

The next night proved just as interesting and I was taking a liking to Hank. I made sure to ask all the questions and kept the conversation going until way past our self-imposed curfew.

Everything was going well until Fred said something that threw us for a loop. He tapped Hank on the shoulder and said, “By the way, Hank, I saw Lady Diana driving past earlier.”

Thinking that it was a nickname for someone, I asked, “who is Lady Diana?”

“Do you want to tell me you don’t know who Lady Diana is?”

“I know of the late Lady Diana. Is that who you mean?”

“Yes, I also saw Whitney Houston yesterday and last week, I saw Marvin Gaye.”

Su-Len was spooked. “You do know that you are talking about dead people, right?”

“Yes. On earth they are presumed to be dead but here, they are very much alive. You see, this is where earthlings come when they conclude their earthly phase.”

My response was, “what?”

“Artemis is where earth souls get a second chance. Here they are given a new body and a chance to consider whether they want to return to earth or go elsewhere.”

“Are you serious?” Was Donny’s response. I keep seeing my late aunt but I couldn’t say anything because I didn’t know how to explain it. She walked right past me more than once with no recollection of who I am which was fine with me because I had no inclination of speaking to a dead person. What am I expected to say? How are you? So nice to see you again? Geez, that would be creepy.”

We roared with laughter, not noticing the Social Monitor approaching. We stopped abruptly when she stood at our table to find out why Hank was telling us things without giving us the chance to discover for ourselves what life on Artemis was all about.

She left as suddenly as she appeared and we decided to go the beach where we talked about Social Monitors.

Hank assured us that we had nothing to worry about but that we should rather make an effort to learn how to communicate telepathically. I was falling in love with Hank just when he mentioned that no one on Artemis falls in love.

“If people from earth who loved each other died together, they may find themselves doing everything together until they learn to be individuals again. Other than that, falling in love is not what people on Artemis do. You may have noticed that no one acknowledges you, or each other for that matter..”

“That’s weird.”

“To us, yes but time is different here. Attachment doesn’t exist here.”

“Wow. That’s why people can give birth and leave their babies in the underground level three?”

“Yes, exactly. Attachment is time consuming and energy consuming. That is the most important lesson here.”

I was shocked and very sad but wanted to know more.

I wanted Hank to hold me, to let me know that he was attracted to me but all he said was, “don’t worry, you’ll get used to the idea that bodies don’t touch here and as soon as it does, there will be chaos. It will send ripples throughout Artemis. There might even be a court case to decide where to deport you.”

Hank noticed that I wanted to cry. I covered my face with my hands. He got up and walked away. When I looked up, he was playing in the waves without acknowledging my sadness. I got into the hover-car and sat by myself contemplating what a cruel blow had just been dealt. The others came over and we left the beach without saying good-bye to Hank and his friends.

Our debate consisted of questions such as, Do we return to earth, stay on Artemis or go to an earth-like planet?

I would have done anything to be able to embark on a homeward trip but unfortunately, it wasn’t up to us. We could only return once our government was notified that we had successfully fulfilled our mission and obtained the formula to create water from nothing. This depended largely on the Artemesian academy’s satisfaction with our progress to learn and to date, we had not received any reports.

We continued our studies which had become complex, often beyond what I considered my capability but no one stopped to complain, so neither did I. The academy was of the opinion that we had to increase our capacity for learning or we’d be sent home. Since none of us wanted to fail, we decided that it would be in our best interest to ask for regular assessments. We were notified via email that we would be tested every two-hundred hours, starting with part one of our studies. We would be summonsed to the great hall when the time arrived.

This caused us to become unsettled, since we had no idea of knowing at what hour the assessment would take place. It could be in the middle of the night as we knew time or in the early hours of the morning when we were getting ready to attend study classes.

For fear if causing trouble, we could only wait for the time to arrive.

When we met Hank and his friends again, I decided to put my feelings aside for the sake of gathering information. I enquired about the controls and how one acquired them.

“Artemesians have to go to the great hall to apply for a permit to have a control. There are no qualifying criteria, except that you have to be a permanent resident of the planet. In other words, we cannot apply to have controls.”

I was curious about Hank using the term ‘we’ and enquired further. “Well, you see, we haven’t been here long enough for their liking.”

“So what would be considered to be long enough,” I wanted to know. Time wasn’t calculated the same way we knew, so everyone else too was curious.

“I think it has something to do with our heartbeats or our breaths, I’m not sure but I figured from the moment we arrived here our earthly breaths and heartbeats were being recorded.”

“How would you know this?” We were intrigued and literally held our breath collectively as we listened for the answer.

“If you go to any of the data stations, you will find information about yourself. Just type your name and see.”

“What? Really?”

“Yes. Just try it. My earth breath-record stopped at twenty-two million and my Artemis

breath-record started at one and is now at ten-thousand three-hundred and one.”

It was here that we hit on the idea of who was on Artemis, whether Lady Diana or Marvin Gaye were in fact here.

We went to the nearest data station and first satisfied our curiosity by finding a few famous names. Lady Diana arrived after her thirty-five millionth breath. It seemed there was no way out for her. She had to go at that exact time.

It was the same with Marvin Gaye. His father had no option when the programme was implanted to end his son’s life. Elvis Presley was easy. He asked to be expired.

It was incomprehensible. We had it read it all a few times before we could assimilate how people left earth to take up life on Artemis. We couldn’t decide if we were dreaming or not. Reconciling the old teaching with the new was not going to happen overnight.

We left without trying to find our own information, walking the entire way in total silence. We were so shocked at what we’d learnt but, I guess Hank knew that it would turn out this way.

We spent the entire night unable to articulate anything, just tossing and turning, restlessly, unable to find peace.

I got up to get water. Farlane was sitting at the kitchen table dazed. When I tried to make conversation, his first words were,“do you think we’re dead?”

For the first time I realised that I had to check my reality.

“If I am dead, I think someone I know would be here to let me know.”

“Like who? You mean, like a relative who’s died?”

“Yeah, or Jesus Christ, Buddha or Sai Baba.”

“Sai who?”

Farlane had never heard of Sai Baba and I spent almost half an hour explaining that he was an earthly avatar but it went way over his head.

“Okay, so let’s say that we’re the only ones alive....well, no wonder no one responds like we do. Everyone is dead.” We couldn’t wait to meet with Hank and his mates again to ask about this.

The restaurant was quiet as usual and we had no way of knowing if they’d turn up. We sat eating our fill until we decided we’d been there long enough and left.

In the hope of finding them at the beach, we asked Yoosha to take us there but there was no one. All was quiet except for the sound of artificial waves. I walked a little way along the sand thinking that perhaps they were sitting in an alcove but I was mistaken.

It was important that we find out if this was what we could expect of death.

Yoosha himself was puzzled. As far as he was concerned he was very much alive when he entered the craft and when he landed here. There were no blank spots in his memory.

No, he was convinced that not everyone was dead. Only the controls could be considered dead but the ones to whom they belonged certainly considered themselves alive.

We returned to the apartment where we fell silent once more, bothered by the conundrum of whether we were alive or not.

We routinely ate at the restaurant in the hope of finding Hank and his friends but eventually we tired of the routine and returned to our own programme of attending classes during the day and studying at night. Sometimes we would walk around the streets or swim in the artificial sea. We would walk around the underground concourse listening to constant stream of messages.

Sometimes we found the messages quite puzzling. I suggested that we write down or record some of the messages on one of our cell phones. We would return to the apartment, analyse the wording in case there was a sinister underlying tone that we hadn’t immediately detected. It became a project and one that we were glad to say, relieved the ennui.

Night after night we’d listen, write and read the messages.

The number three craft is leaving for the Orions. Anyone wanting to meet in the halls of learning may embark now.... All female controls to wear green suits. All male controls to wear navyblue suits..... Please do not bring water. Water can be obtained on the craft....All those who arrived on craft four-hundred, please remain behind. You are not eligible to enter the Orions.... Please do not use the beach. It is being purified....

The mention of the Orions intrigued us. We knew it was in the twelfth universe just like earth but we’d never entertained the possibility of travelling there. It held no interest for us until now that we were curious to find out more, but we were prohibited from going there. Yoosha couldn’t tell us why regular trips to the Orions were taking place because like us, he wasn’t allowed there.

Hank and his friends wouldn’t be allowed there either, so where could they have gone, we wondered. Yoosha couldn’t tell us any more than we already knew.

We went to the nearest data station. We were still spooked but decided that it was the only way to obtain answers to our questions. We typed in ‘Hank’ and got a strange answer. It said fourth level guardian, assigned to assist those who’d left earth. It was the same for all his friends.

It was time to check our reality. If they were who we thought they were, then it was possible that we were no longer alive as we knew on earth. Meeting Hank was no coincidence. We’d been watched since landing on Artemis and since we needed assistance with making sense of our new surroundings, they’d been sent to give us subtle clues about what was happening to us.

So why then the water manufacturing training? Was that the last thing we remember? We went back to the data station to check. We typed in our names. Farlane earthling, Donny earthling, Su-Len earthling sent from planet earth to learn Water Manufacturing Science. Time spent on Artemis: one.

We had no idea what one meant. There was no other information. We decided to check Lady Diana’s information again. We checked for time spent. It read thirty. We were about to calculate her time spent when we heard a familiar voice. We turned around and there she was.

“I see that you are confused about why you are here?”

We were trembling like thieves caught in the act. “Yes,” we said simultaneously, like naughty children. She smiled sweetly.

’Never mind. Eventually, you will know.”

“Know what?” I enquired.

“Why you are here and how you got here.”

“Do you know who can tell us? Do you know?”

“I’m not allowed to know about the reasons for others being here, only why I am here.”

“Will you tell us why you are here?”

“Why would you want to know why I am here?”

“Maybe it will give us a clue about why we are here.”

“What does the data station say.”

“Not very much. Only that we are from earth, come to learn Water manufacturing Science. Time spent here says one, but we don’t understand what that means.”

“It means that you are new arrivals and still on level one.”

That made sense to us. In fact, it was the only thing that made sense.

“Right. That makes sense. So, how many levels are there?”

“I have no idea. It could be infinite. I met someone once who was on level nine-thousand.”

“Wow. That’s scary.”

“Not really. You’ll get used to things eventually.”

“This guy, whose on level nine-thousand, when is he eligible to return to earth?”

“Only he will know. Some people never return and others have to return to complete unfinished business.”

“Will you be returning, Your highness?”

She hesitated and smiled. “I am known simply as Diana now. We have not titles or surnames here. I have one more level to go before I return.”

“And when you return, who will you return as?”

“This time around I will be a holy woman in India.”

“Why?”

“That’s next on my life list. I have to do it. My new family is waiting for me.”

“By the sounds of it, this will take place soon?”

“The guardians are putting things in place for my return, so I would say, it could be any minute now.”

We were shocked at what she’d just said and looked at her, speechless. She was still smiling her sweet smile when someone called her away. At the same time an announcement was broadcast. Craft four-hundred will be leaving soon. Please embark.

We followed her and others going towards the concourse. Curious to know if she would be embarking on craft four-hundred, we continued as people turned to follow her. Others were simply going in the other direction, unphazed.

We found ourselves in a throng of people all dressed in grey coats intently focused on moving forward.

“Do you guys think that if we could get into this craft, we could make it back home?”

“Would they let us. We stand out. Look at us. We’re the only ones dressed in navyblue jumpsuits. At some point they will tell us to stop and turn around.”

“Let’s see how far we can go.”

We pressed on up a long flight of steel steps that seemed to never end and watched as thousands of grey backs moved ahead of us silently. Except for the swish of the coats and sound of new shoes, no one said anything. We had lost sight of Lady Diana and craned our necks to see above the crowd but we couldn’t distinguish her from anyone else wearing a grey coat. Though everyone remained very orderly, the vast number of people could only be described as insipid. No one looked in our direction and there seemed to be no one in charge.

As we neared the entrance to the craft, we watched as people embarked. There were no seats. Everyone simply stood where they could, moving further into the craft.

No one stopped us as we entered and no one raised an eyebrow at the sight of the four of us dressed inappropriately. Further into the craft, we noticed that it was just an enormous empty plane of some sort. Despite the vast number of people, there was room for everyone, albeit, standing room only.

After what seemed an interminably long time, the last person entered and the doors closed. The craft lifted slightly, then hovered before moving in a slow, foreword motion. Unexpectedly, there was no roar of engines or beeping of indicators, just an almost imperceptible low vibration, accompanied by a hum that one only became aware of because it wasn’t there before. It was quite a pleasant sensation like being in a fast- moving lift; one I rather enjoyed.

No one looked our way and no one spoke. We glanced at each other waiting for someone to tell us that we were not meant to be on the craft but no one was perturbed by our presence.

As the craft gained momentum I felt dizzy and and thought I would faint. I don’t remember what happened next, except that there was a very bright light.

I woke up in the apartment. It was time to go to training. Everyone else was awake and calling me to get ready for class. I felt woozy and couldn’t stand up. Su-Len brought me a glass of water which instantly woke me fully. I wanted to talk about what happened but no one was interested. It was happening again. No one else could remember but me.

I looked around but they were all focused on leaving the apartment. I stood and looked at them, not acknowledging my need to discuss what had happened to us.

The entire day was spent going over things mentally. Lady Diana, the craft, the bright light. We were obviously brought back somehow from an unscheduled trip we were not authorized to be on.

That night I decided that I would do research by myself so I found a hall that looked not unlike an Internet cafe. There were few people present and once more, no one acknowledged my presence. I had to know what the purpose of craft four-hundred was. Craft four-hundred is the only vehicle to take souls to level thirty-one where they are prepared for the next phase of earth life.

So. Souls are prepared for the next incarnation back on earth. But how does this happen? Souls spend time self-programming. This involves reviewing the last incarnation, noting mistakes and deciding how to rectify them. They dictate the programme to a guide who types everything into a computer. Souls will be bound by their own programme and possess free will to end the programme at any time. They are allowed to return to level thirty-one to rewrite the programme. Termination can only happen on the request of the soul and no one else.

When I returned to the apartment, my fellow students had all fallen asleep over their books. I had no intention of sharing my new-found information just yet.

Each night I would steal away to seek enligtenment. I was satisfied to learn that we were not dead, just in transition, in other words, our brains were being upgraded with Artemesian knowledge to be shared on earth. There were many like us, many had disappeared without a trace and had been missing, some for short periods, others for long periods.

On return, they would know that they were different but couldn’t explain why. One man had been ‘abducted’ on his way to the shop to buy cigarettes and only reappeared twenty years later to find other people living in his house. He became world famous inventor despite having no formal education.

Another man woke up on a beach, drenched, unable to remember his name. He walked past a cafe where he heard someone playing the piano. Fascinated by the sound of the music, he wanted to try it for himself . He found himself playing perfectly despite being unable to remember who he was or whether he’d had musical training at all.

These abductions are necessary to prevent humankind from completely destroying itself. It works by interrupting consistent negative thought patterns. My heart gladdened to learn that earth would not become extinct and that we would experience many nadirs we would recover from to recreate our world. The one world government would be overthrown by some well organised underground movements that coalesced for a common goal.

When this would be was unclear. The United Nations would be disbanded many times before it would be replaced by something far more noble and enduring. Members will include Artemesians and Arcturans though no one would be any wiser about their true identity. Only people like myself, who had had direct contact with Artemesians would recognise who they were.

We were well into our studies but hadn’t made any progress as to how to manufacture water. All we understood was that the technology existed and we would one day have access to it. We looked forward to the day that we would be able to leave but in the meantime, we feared that it would never happen. It seemed that our studies were being drawn out deliberately to keep us there but we had no way of proving it or anything for that matter. We had no recourse to any higher authority, or so we thought.

By now I’d been able to drive a pod car by myself and would often go to the beach for solitude and to contemplate my options. It was here that I ran into Hank again.

He was walking toward me as I sauntered on the edge of the water. I happened to look up to think about my exasperating situation when I noticed someone in the distance. I took no notice, having long ago forgotten about him. We hadn’t seen him or his friends for ages and had all but given up of ever finding them again.

As he neared me, I recognised him, though incredulously, I had difficulty acknowledging him. He approached me with a friendly smile, saying, “you must have wondered what happend to us?”

“Yeah, actually I have. My friends and I were hoping to get more information about how to adjust here and you were our only hope. Where have you been?”

“Well, it’s difficult to explain but let me try. I found myself bumped into the next level unexpectedly where it was explained to me that they wanted me upgraded for a science experiment. They didn’t say so a immediately, but eventually I gathered that it was a science experiment. I had to study and exercise continuously without tiring. Blood tests, muscle tests and brain activity were all part of the programme.”

While he was talking I became distracted by how youthful he appeared. He explained that all he ate was food made from seaweed.

“Was it really seaweed or something that looked like seaweed?”

“That’s the question I keep asking myself but it certainly looked like genuine seaweed. I was shown where it was grown. On the other side of the beach is a sea-farm which is where I was just now, to inspect the progress of the next harvest. Unfortunately, you cannot go there.”

“Yes, it’s becoming frustrating. There’s a lot I’m not allowed to do here.”

“Don’t fret. In time you will gain more privileges.”

“Will I?”

“Yes, of course you will.”

“So, what was the aim of the programme?”

“To create a better humanoid that can repair the aging process.”

“Mmm... I noticed that you look a lot more youthful.”

“I do?”

“Yes, you definitely do. Is your hair softer?”

“I believe it is.”

“May I touch it?”

He leant forward so I could feel his hair. It felt smoother and less tangled. Even his beard was very soft with few grey hairs. His hands were less wrinkled and his chin seemed firmer. His nails were shiny and the ridges had all but disappeared. He was remarkably attractive.

“Wow, you look great. I hope that they will do the same for me some day.”

“Well, you’d have to hang around much longer, then maybe they will.”

“Yes, that is the challenge. I am becoming very homesick. On the other hand, it’s great to enjoy a peaceful society.”

“It certainly is, though sometimes one can feel so stale and unchallenged.”

“I know exactly what you mean.”

There was an uncomfortable pause before I asked if we’d be seeing him and his group of friends again.

“Well, Toby has gone to level thirty-one. Jack has gone into experimentation to regrow his right leg and Jason has been recalled.”

“Recalled? What does that mean?”

“He was fast-tracked back to earth for an untimely abduction. It was discovered that he was dropped here accidently by a grey. In other words, they interfered with his timeline.”

“He’s lucky. How often does this happen?”

“Often enough but he was lucky that he was dropped here and not anywhere else where he could have been trapped for eternity. You see the technology allows the Artemesians to run a very efficient planet. Anything out of kilter is immediately noticed - Like when you guys tried to sneak a ride on craft four-hundred.”

I was embarrassed and pulled my hair behind my ears uncomfortably.

“How did we get back?”

“It was easy. Firstly, your bodies weren’t prepared for the velocity of the craft and so you fainted.”

“All of us? Not just me?”

“All of you fainted and when everyone disembarked on level thirty-one, they simply gave you a ride back and placed you in the apartment. So now you are on the watch list.”

“Watch list?”

“Yes, you have listed in the database so that if you make another such attempt, you will be stopped ahead of time.”

“Are we criminals?”

“Not quite. Just listed. There are no criminals on Artemis. They have no idea what that means. In fact, they were very confused about why you would want to embark on craft four-hundred.”

“We thought that it was on its way to earth.”

Hank was amused by my answer and sniggered. “No, craft four-hundred takes people to a facility where they are prepared for the adjustment to life on earth. They could stay in the programme for a long time before they are deemed ready for their next trip back.”

“How long is long?”

“Well, until the guardians decide that they are ready for a new incarnation.”

“It’s like a training programme before you are born into a new body.”

“Training programme, you say? So then, how come so many have such awful lives if we are trained before reincarnating?”

“Those awful lives are what you are trained for. The awfulness is an experience you choose, just like wealth, illness, patience, leadership, or anything else.”

“Are you telling me that we willingly enter into our struggles?”

“Yes. That is so. No one chooses on your behalf. You alone choose the experience.”

“All my life I believed that God decides for us. Are you telling me that I’ve been wrong all along?”

“Unfortunately, yes. Firstly, the concept of God is a false one, invented to instil fear in you and secondly, no one decides on your behalf, no matter how much smarter than you they are. That would be tampering with your free will.”

“Free will. What free will. All my life I felt like someone was orchestrating my life.”

“Because once you select the programme, you become part of it. You were literally inside your own programme.”

“Can I change the programme?”

“Yes, you have absolute free will to change the programme any time you wish. Except the incomplete part of the programme will be deferred to another lifetime, but bear in mind that th new programme may not run to completion either, so there will be two incomplete programmes to run.”

“So I’m running my own programme?”

“That is so. You are both the programmer and the programme.”

I was out one questions, trying to assimilate what I’d just learnt. It felt that the water manufacturing training was not the reason I’d come to Artemis. I felt exposed, raw and uncomfortable. Tears were brimming but I couldn’t understand why. Was it because I’d been lied to my entire earth-life? Was it possible that everyone I knew had been lied to, and for what reason?

I needed to go and left as tears brimmed over. I watched Hank standing on the beach staring at the sand. Scratching a wide arc with his foot, most likely contemplating whether he’d achieved something or not by telling me the truth.

I lowered the pod car at the entrance to the parking garage and slowly rolled into the parking bay. It was great to be in a safe society, where time didn’t matter and no one bothered me. It wasn’t great to discover that my whole life was a lie.

I wanted to phone my parents to tell them what I’d learnt. I was at once afraid and excited, wishing my brother was there to talk to. Though younger by three years, it was good to bounce ideas off him for a second opinion. He would probably ask, ‘does it resonate with you? If so, explore the feeling. If not, then forget it. It’s just someone else’s opinon.’

I couldn’t decide if I should abandon everything I’d been taught about how life is supposed to work and adopt this new idea that I and everyone else, had programmed our own lives. If that were the case, I’m sure I would have been smarter, even a genius. It was always a dream of mine to be a genius and be able to figure things out at lighting speed, to have people admire me for my prodigious memory or vocabulary. I could have been a maths prodigy. Why not? Instead, I programmed myself to be an ordinary person who had to study hard to understand and retain information.

Hard to believe. There must be someone else involved, surely, I told myself.

I lay on the bed looking up at the ceiling. I had visions of our struggles on earth and wondered how many of us knew that collectively, we’d programmed everything. They would laugh if told. They would ridicule anyone who held such beliefs.

We attended classes everyday without a break. The only free time we had was after and before studies. It started to bother us that there was no way to find out if we were allowed time off. The next day at class we decided to test the system by turning off the lecture monitor. Immediately it turned itself back on. We tried again with the same result, and yet again. After the third try, the face of a man appeared. We could see the gold trim on the collar of his navyblue jumpsuit.

I am guardian G assigned to your studies. What seems to be the matter?

He was soft-spoken and politely enquired as to what we were doing. I decided to be the spokesperson for the group and told him that we needed some time off. He didn’t understand the concept and wanted to know why we wanted to switch off time. We had to explain that we needed a break from studies. This too presented a challenge. Eventually, I explained that we didn’t feel like studying at this time, to which he responded,‘don’t waste your feelings, just learn.’

We were exasperated and just sat there, knowing that the lecture wouldn’t be repeated. If we kept this up, they might decide to send us home. The monitor stayed black and we sat and waited for what must have been ten minutes, then the door opened and a posse of navyblue-suited people walked in.

My heart skipped a beat. At last we had contact with some real people.

“We are the board of learning for level one learners. You may address me as guardian G. What seems to be the matter?” I was surprised that he appeared mature though his posture was erect and he walked like someone half his age. His body certainly was exquisite if he was anything upwards of sixty. He must have been the first mature person we’d encountered in the time we were there.

I stood to address him and his youthful posse. “Guardian G, we need some rest. We are exhausted. We are not accustomed to doing anything without pausing.”

“What do you propose?”

“Could we pause after every five lectures?”

“Why would you want to do that? Already you are learning too slowly by our standards. We need to put you into acceleration.”

“We need some time away from lectures to recover our strength at regular intervals. Surely, you must know that on earth we work five days and rest for two?”

“That is the earthly way and based on Biblical scripture which we know to be a lie. Had they taught you to work continuously, we would not be having this problem.”

“We are tired. We have to rest.”

“You will come with us for rejuvenation, then continue with your studies. Please follow us to level X.”

In the corridor we passed many display screens announcing how to be better humanoids. We turned right and got into a lift which went two levels down. Here was where we were placed into upright glass capsules and told to breathe normally. Immediately, the oxygen revived my tired brain and I felt alive again. I could have stayed in the capsule all day but we were only allowed about one hour by my estimate, before a beep signaled the end of our session and we were marched back to class. We enquired as to whether we could use the capsules anytime we wanted and we were told we could do so after every two lectures.

This seemed to do the trick and we got through our studies more enthusiastically, despite the concern over what we were breathing at other times. We took full advantage of the oxygen therapy every two days, knowing that it was our only lifeline to remain fully functional.

Once we’d all passed level one, level two was not so difficult and with it came more privileges. We were each awarded with our own hover car and access to more areas. Beyond the beach, we found a garden so beautiful it left us speechless. Birds in trees, ducks in ponds and little squirrel-like creatures hopping right up to us brought tears to our eyes.

As we walked we noticed that there was a point beyond which they could not go.

We figured that the animals were confined to the garden by an invisible force-field. The squirrels only went as far as the grass verges and the birds could fly no higher than the tree tops. The ducks were happy to remain in the pond at all times.

Staring in thr direction of perimeter, I was the only one who could see a fain blue haze cried-crossing like laser beams. I knew better than to convince my colleagues of it and let them test the perimeter by walking past the verges. Instantly, we found ourselves facing what looked like a scrap yard in a desert, but unable to see the garden behind us. Our throats choked up with dryness, forcing us to step back into the garden. It felt like a spider’s web touching our faces and hands as we clambered back through the force-field. Though momentary, at first it was frightening but then we decided to play with the idea that we could be in two places at once. We stood with one leg in the garden and the other in the desert, flicking our heads back and forth.

Our minds went on a convoluted loop to try and comprehend the dichotomy. We simply had to get used to what was happening.

At the height of our tomfoolery, an alarm sounded and the animals all scampered away. We jumped back into the garden and ran towards the hover car which seemed to have acquired a life of its own by starting up and driving away. We were intercepted by four people who cornered us trying to run up the stairs towards the moving vehicle.

“You have to come with us.” Too nervous to argue, we obeyed without hesitation.

We were taken to a facility where we had to endure a lecture on obeying the rules of the garden.

“Earthlings, you are known for your capricious behaviour. Something we are challenged to deal with. Let’s make this quick. You are never to interfere with any force-field as it could endanger the future of the entire planet. We have been living in peace for longer than your planet has been in existence. We have resources to annihilate your planet but for the good of humankind, we choose not to. We ask that you show us the same courtesy.”

How, we could not comprehend until it was explained that entities from less evolved planets could break through and cause disruption to their orderly society.

Only later, back at the hotel, when we read the written warning again did we realise that messing with the force-field weakened it. Weak spots could cause holes in the force-field through which unwanted entities could access the garden. Fortunely we were not considered unwanted entities.

A building we were allowed access to was one that was frequented by many. It was a stark-white theatre where one could sit on a vibrating plain white square bench about a metre long, to watch documentaries. The benches seemed scattered but they were evenly spaced about two meters apart each with ample walking space between each bench as well as the rows.Whether the bench was vibrating or the entire building, was hard to discern but we loved the sensation of a weak electrical current passing through our bodies.

At least once a week, we would go there at night and sit with eyes closed, kick off our shoes and just relax after classes. It was wonderful. We’d forget completely about watching the documentaries, many of which were too advanced for us anyway. We could drink the cool water and eat berries placed on tables along the walls.

As usual, no one talked except us and no one was distracted by our whispering which attested to their ability to focus. A skill we still hadn’t mastered.

One night, I saw Hank sitting a few rows ahead of me and waited until he would leave but he outlasted me and I left without being able to assail him with any of my many questions.

When we checked the data station again, we discovered that our misdemeanors had been listed against our names. From then on, we resolved to being good visitors by asking before doing anything that would embarrass us again. Returning to earth with a criminal record would not do us any good as water scientists. If any case, we had no idea if we’d be punished on our return. The last thing we wanted was to be arrested as we got off the craft. Instead, we had visions of returning home to a heroes’ welcome, a tickers-tape parade and a hansome reward for bringing back unearthly knowledge. We could be forgiven for thinking that we were important, afterall we were tasked with saving earth from extinction.

Five scientists, five continents. They depended on us to start water manufacturing plants and teaching others to do likewise. It was a huge responsibility for which we anticipated great respect.

Level two was far more enjoyable than level one and made life infinitely more bearable for a while until we got bored.

We would visit the supermarkets simply to walk around checking the ingredients of products and to see the Controls come out. We played a game of guessing who they belonged to. One resembled Marvin Gaye, another Mahatma Ghandi and yet another, Julius Caesar. Every night we would spend a short time just playing this game before returning to the apartment.

We knew that there was a factory that manufactured the Controls but we were not to get too curious or we’d be in trouble once more.

Level two seemed to go on forever but our resolve kept us going with the promise of more privileges on level three.

Level two had its downside. Our knowledge was constantly tested which meant we had to study more thoroughly. My fellow students had settled into their studies and new way of life like true professionals. I was afraid to let them down. I was the one most prone to seeking fun and distraction which left me scoring at the lower end of eighty percentile while everyone else was scoring in the top ninety percentile.

It didn’t bother me in the least. I was pushing myself as hard as I could.

One day, I was called from class and taken to guardin G.

His office was a sparsely furnished, high-tec glass enclosure, within a glass enclosure. As I walked in, he smiled and addressed me by name. “Gina, we at the Academy note that you have never scored more than eighty-two percent on any of your tests and we’d like to offer some assistance. Will you accept?”

“What kind of assistance?”

“We can teach you techniques to open up your mind for better absorption and recall of information.”

“Only if I can become a genius.”

“Of course. We would love that more than anything.”

“So would I, guardian G.”

“So, let’s start then. My assistant will take you to the acceleration chamber where you will be guided to learn better study techniques.”

I was led deeper into the glass chamber to the end where a wall panel opened as we approached. Inside was a desk, a navyblue leather high-back chair, overhead computer screen and headphones. The walls as expected, were blank. I sat in the chair and told to make myself comfortable. A pair of headphones was placed on my head, covering my ears. The computer screen came on and without any introduction, a video opened up.

It showed idyllic nature scenes shifting to classical music as I knew back home. It sounded familiar, like De Bussy, but I wasn’t sure.

An instruction appeared. Listen to the end then study chapter one. When the video stopped, I opened the text book and started to study. After a while the video started again, this time with a different piece of music and scenery - this time of gentle waves lapping the shore, pristine beaches lined with coconut palms and aerial images of resorts.

Each chapter of study was preceded by a short scenic video designed to relax my mind to make it more receptive and absorbant like a dry sponge tossed into a pool of water.

My test results increased but not enough to satisfy guardian G.

He tried another technique of adding ambient lighting to the mix and kept the music playing softly in the background. This time my results showed a significant increase, going up to the ninety-nine percentile.

My fellow scientists were so proud of me, though I was taken aback by Su-Len’s reticence indicating that she may have been harbouring some jealousy.

I went to lie down, satisfied by a good day’s work.

Level three came up unexpectedly when we’d been informed that we satisfied the criteria to move on. We were taken on craft two-hundred to a water manufacturing facility. At last! This was what we came for but it was not all we anticipated.

We entered a facility so large it was like being on a separate planet. The craft entered the building which was like something out of an XFiles movie. From the window we observed that everyone was dressed in white overalls, masks and boots. Sanitation was key.

We disembarked right into the sanitation area where it felt like we were steam-cleaned with disinfectant. I rather enjoyed that everything smelled of a diluted version of Sanex shower gel. We felt confident that we were good enough to be there and walked proudly down the steel stairs in our sanitary gear to meet the team leader of the junior team. We would spend the day there trying our hands at manufacturing water from nothing, except it wasn’t nothing.

We were each given a single droplet of water and tasked with multiplying it to produce one liter of water. Everything we had been taught over the last three study courses were completely useless.

We observed other students being given a droplet of water from a dropper into the palms of their hands. They spent a short time focusing intently then pouring a handful of water into a jug. We we each given a sample of water to drink which tasted as sweet as the water in the training facility.

It came as a total surprise that we were expected to use pure mind power instead of science to produce drinking water. We glanced at each other surreptitiously. I had to suppress my anger at being deceived about everything.

I was woken out of my anger by the team leader’s voice. ’You have spent a long time strengthening your minds, now it’s time to put that energy to practice. You have learned to focus and acquired discipline. It is no different than what w do here”

I hesitated for a long time before showing willingness to try. All around were gigantic white tanks of what I assumed was water since it was marked H2O in large bold font.

The size of the facility was surreal and the number of staff staggering. I was wondering how many of the staff were actual people or Controls when I was called assertively to try my hand at multiplying a drop of water. The team leader was growing impatient and I was clearly showing reluctance.

My collegues were already busy focusing on their cupped hands when I turned towards the table. I didn’t think much of their water manufacturing technology and it must have shown.

“We would like you to try, Gina.”

I held my hand out for the team leader to add a drop of water to my palm. My energy was low with disappointment but as soon as I saw the drop growing, I was skeptical at first but then decided that there must be something to this. I produced a cupful of water before my skepticism took over again.

“The water has been doctored,” I whispered to Donny who was struggling to grow his drop.

“So how come mine isn’t growing, then?”

“Could be from a different tank.”

Despite Donny’s best efforts he got no results and neither did anyone else. I thought of the study acceleration programme I’d been put through and couldn’t help thinking that it had an influence on my ability to grow the drop of water.

We were taken on a tour of the facility which turned out to be quite exhausting. The combination of the pure water and the slight distinctant smell was enjoyable despite the tiresome tour.

My colleagues could not stop asking me what I’d done differently to produce the cup of water. My conjecture brought forth intense controversy and I encouraged everyone by saying that their turn would come soon. They remained unconvinced, blatantly accusing me of using trickery.

The jealousy surprised and hurt me more because I’d spent so much time with this small group of people whom I’d supportely unreservedly through some of the toughest times. Clearly they were of the opinon that I’d been given preferential treatment somehow, yet the law was fair to everyone.

Level three was as challenging as it was exciting and I needed to roll with the punches, hoping that level four would vindicate me. It did. I moved into level four ahead of everyone else after I’d succeed in consistently creating water from one drop. My next challenge was to create water from nothing. At first, I managed to get my palms very wet but I was hardly holding any water, until eventually, I learnt to create one drop and from then on it was plain sailing.

My colleagues were still struggling on level three and I was glad to let them battle on their own. Revenge was good after all the insults I’d endured by them. I was now on my own enjoying more privileges.

I could venture beyond the perimeters of the force-fields, albeit under supervision. A gas mask ensured that I breathed normally without choking on the nitrogen and I could enjoy more frequent oxygen therapy sessions. I’d been shown a dam created by the students from the facility where I could swim anytime I chose. The water was pure, fresh and rejuvenating. I couldn’t get enough, not just to drink but to immerse myself in as often as I could.

I’d been granted an apartment to myself which was spacious and elegantly furnished on the training facility property. I was a fully-fledged scientist. I made new friends who were far more interesting and intellectually superior than my earth friends. They showed me many tricks to become more efficient and proficient at negotiating Artemesian society.

The data stations proved to be far more useful than I imagined. It was fun to know that it served as an ATM of sorts as one could check token balances and request extra tokens to purchase goods. This was a moneyless society in which everything was purchased in tokens. Payment was in virtual tokens. Everyone earned ten-thousand tokens during a twenty-day cycle, regardless of education level or status. At the beginning of each cycle I would go to a data station to print a token card used to acquire food, access to certain facilities and of course, biofuel for my hover car.

I now had a busy life, no longer plagued by the inane fears of my earthly collegues. I was having fun, playing stimulating games not to win but to enhance my brain functioning. Theatre became a far richer experience where I came to enjoy the documentaries for its own sake, not just to while away the time. I felt important and accepted.

I was one of four-hundred top scientists creating water routinely as part of a science programme for the survival of Artemis and hopefully, I would be able to do the same for Earth. As an expert water manufacturer I was credited with creating a sprinkler system in the garden that mimicked rain.

I was on cloud nine, enjoying so many accolades and privileges I didn’t know existed. The once boring Artemis had come to life and so had I. I’d forgotten about the challenges back home and no longer had nightmares about dying of thirst.

It was uncanny that life could change so suddenly.

I was at the dam one day when I met a man who looked vaguely familiar. He was incredibly good looking but not in an Artemesian sort of way. He was elegantly tall with long attractive legs, an erect posture and his glossy black hair fell over his olive-skin forehead to one side. His beautiful black eyes looked at me benignly and I notice that his eyebrows formed perfect arches. I stared back at him smiling, wondering if he were real or was I staring at a Control. Then it struck me that Controls didn’t have emotions. He was real.

He stood still while I approached him unable to think of anything to say. All I could think was “oh my god... He is so beautiful.”

Immediately I had the urge to touch him and he must have felt the same because we fell into each other’s arms and held each other tightly. His warm body wrapped around me felt comforting. Our eyes wer closed but our mouths find each other and we kissed like elicit lovers in a secret tryst.

My heart was pounding. I hadn’t been held in this way since I was a teenager. We couldn’t let each other go and we eventually did, he too had tears in his eyes.

“I’m Daniel, who are you?”

“I’m Gina.”

“You’re from earth, aren’t you?”

“Of course. We are the ones who can feel.”

“Why do I feel that I’ve missed you for a very long time?”

“I feel the same way. Kindred spirits I guess.”

He touched my face lightly and I was astounded when he whispered, “I want to make love to you.”

I looked around and wondered where, but he read my thoughts and showed me the floating platform in the middle of the dam where no one ever swam. He lifted me off my feet and carried me to the water’s edge. We swam out and as soon as we reached the platform, he lifted me up, before pulling himself onto the platform. We lay down next to each other and rolled into each other’s arms to kiss intimately.

The experience was completely surreal, dreamlike, a complete fantasy. I surrendered to his expert hands unconditionally as he slid my bathing costume off my shoulders and down my body and my legs, very gently, as if he were careful not to hurt me. He placed it behind him as he stared at my body running his hands languidly over my hips. My excitement mounted as he touched my inner thighs, massaging it repeatedly. I could feel my labia swelling and throbbing with each caress.

My body went limp as he sat forward to gently massage my breasts. I gasped with pleasure. I’d never been touched in this way before.

Slowly his hands worked lower down to my hips once more. I was throbbing all over as I moaned with pleasure. His fingers found my labia, wet and swollen with excitement. My arms went over my head and my legs parted for him to access me. Gently his fingers entered me. I was his for the taking. I looked up at his gorgeous face, his dark hair falling over his eyes and his beautiful dark lips, now parted as he enjoyed my body.

I wanted more and I moaned. Oh..Daniel...that’s so good...

My hips were moving up and down. Daniel...Daniel...oh...that feels nice...

As he pulled off his black silky underpants, I saw his enormous erection. He saw my anticipation and teased me. He touched himself as he whispered, “do you want this inside you.?”

“Of course I whispered. He kissed me passionately, deeply and with intense emotion once more. The warm, sweet air lifted me on a cloud of sexual ecstasy. My body was mine no longer. I couldn’t help but raise my hips in anticipation as I wrapped my legs around his beautiful, firm buttocks. Passionate with excitement, I moaned, at first softly, until eventually, I cried out with every thrust. It’s okay..it’s okay...he whispered into my ears, kissing it with his soft wet lips.

When he put his hands on my buttocks to pull me as if he couldn’t get deep enough, I could hold back no longer and cried and hollered with delight. I could not believe that he was inside me filling me with his manhood. He continued to thrust as my body gave all that it could, my arms and legs helplessly sprawled in submission.

I expected to wake up from a dream but my body was feeling the most intense emotion I’d ever felt in my life. For the first time, I was aware that my heart was thumping so hard, I could hear it.

He was breathless when he whispered, “this is real, Gina. This is all real.”

We were lost in ecstasies of passion, caught in the most enjoyable dream. I didn’t want him to climax. I wanted him to keep thrusting forever. It was like the most enjoyable roller coaster ride that was bound to end too soon. My body was feeling so amazing. When he exploded inside me, he pulled me hard into him as I screamed, letting go all inhibition. I was shaking, he was sweating and I was still crying when he collapsed on me, his energy spent.

I held his head as we both tried to catch our breath, our bodies heaving. My lower body was still tingling and my head was throbbing painlessly as my heart tried to find its normal rhythm once more.

When he finally looked up and brushed the hair out of my face, our eyes locked and we knew that we had become one. Our eyes were wet and we smiled with embarrassment. He’d been crying too.

My labia were still swollen as we fell into the water to cool down. The water was sweet just like the water from the dispensers. I let my naked body drop slowly, outstretched for a brief moment, then tumbled around, letting the water caress every part of me. I watched as bubbles formed on my skin, heightening the tingling sensation between my open legs. All the while Daniel was closeby, watching my every move. I smiled and he smiled back. When I could hold my breath no longer, I rose to the surface and mounted the platform by pulling myself up like I remembered doing as a gymnast at school.

Once back onto the platform, he put his arms around me. We couldn’t stop touching each other’s bodies, kissing and hugging. It was inevitable that we would make love once more. I loved the way he made love, keeping me close, taking me with him. It wa a long time before he climaxed, but I didn’t mind. I rolled over and lay on my back naked, recovering my breath.

I looked up at the sky and for the first time, realised that there were no stars. Not a single star was visible in the night sky. I was startled and sat up to look at the glint of light on on the water. Daniel noticed my perturbation and reached out for his clothes.

“What’s wrong? He wanted to know.

“Have you noticed that there are no stars in the sky, yet the water is reflecting some kind of light?”

He paused to reflect. “I see what you mean.”

“Where is the light coming from?” I looked further afield. In the distance was a faint haze of light. “It’s a force field,” I whispered.

Daniel squinted his eyes. “Yeah, I see that now.”

Whether he was spooked or not was hard to tell but at that point he was keen to leave the floating platform, so we swam out to the edge of the lake. No one was about but as we reached the shore a hover car was just leaving. Mine was still standing where I had parked it and I wondered where Daniel’s vehicle was if he had one.

“Do you need a lift?”

“Not really.”

“What does not really mean?”

“I live here.”

“Where?”

Let me show you.”

He took what looked like a remote control from his pocket and pointed it in the direction of the hill. Immediately, an enormous house became visible and lit up the immediate area. I gasped. He smiled when I expressed surprise, almost yelling with delight.

He took my hand and led me up the path. As we neared the top of the stairs a door opened. We took two more steps before entering the house. Inside it was warm in a comforting, motherly sort of way. Furniture was only what I would describe as futuristic and practical.

He picked me up and lay me down on the couch. We kissed and made mind blowing love once more. I clung to him as he took me to the bathroom where we showered for what seemed like ages. It was a proper shower, that emitted water unlike the one we had at the apartment that merely blew disinfected air over us.

The water was sweet and soft. I felt wonderful and let him have me over and over again. Time stood still as we enjoyed each other’s bodies without inhibition. When eventually we stopped and he’d turned off the shower, he carried me into the bedroom whe he dried me from head to toe.

He sat beside me and brushed my hair with his fingers. “I want to keep you,” he whispered. I was surprised and didn’t know what to say. I held my breath, unable to respond. If someone on earth had told me that, I’d have thought he was being creepy. I had to remind myself that I was elsewhere, with more evolved beings.

“What’s wrong?” He wanted to know.

“You don’t know anything about me,” I stammered.

“I know that you came from earth to learn how to make water. You’re in level four in your training at the facility. Your friends are still in level three. Your quietness makes them uncomfortable. You are the brave and curious one. You question everything and you’re constantly looking for answers. They are jealous and suspicious of you all the time.”

I was surprised, flattered but spooked at the same time, wondering when he could have watched me when we’d only just met. He switched on the television and showed me how he’d found out about me. I watched my friends in the apartment and could hear them talking about me.

“Is this a recording?”

“No, this is real time.”

“So, they’re in the apartment right now?”

“Yes.”

“How long have you been watching me?”

“Since you landed. You impressed me as the one who wasn’t afraid. I am always interested in earth people.”

“Can you watch anyone at anytime?”

“Yes. It’s normal here on Artemis to be able to tune into people. Look...” He switched from the apartment to the Main Street where people were strolling. “See that woman there, she’s just arrived. She’s afraid and uncertain about why she’s here. See that man, he’s going to befriend her.”

We watched them tentatively trying to make sense of their surroundings, asking what they should do and who they should ask just like we did when we arrived.

“Let me show you something else.”

He switched to the theatre where people were sitting silently watching a documentary about earth. I wanted to watch but Daniel said it would upset me and he switched to the lake. A craft was surfacing from beneath the water. I was embarrassed when I realised that they could have been watching us making love on the floating platform.

He took my hand and kissed the palm. “We don’t watch people doing private things. It is not our way. On earth people get excited by watching naked people but we consider that extremely rude. We will never watch others making love.”

“Never?”

“Never.”

I was unconvinced. Daniel saw my skepticism and explained that the monitor could not tune into naked bodies. He kept repeating, “It was designed not to tune into naked bodies. Only fully clothed ones. So if you don’t want me to find you, then remain naked.”

I laughed at his advice.

I felt that I needed to go to my own apartment but Daniel couldn’t understand my reasons. He could take me to the facility each morning and collect me each evening. I, on the other hand, loved my independence and wanted to keep it that way but Daniel seemed offended.

“I’ve just found you and now you want to leave me.”

“Daniel, I’m not leaving you. We can see each other everyday but I do need to be alone sometimes.”

“I know. I’ve watched you enough to know that you enjoy being by yourself but that is not good for you. Others are watching you too and as long as you are with me, you will be safe.”

“I thought Artemesians don’t get attached?”

“But I’m not Artemesian. I’m Arcturan and we do love to get attached. We love to make love and take care of others, especially earthlings who’ve lost their way.”

“What makes you think I’ve lost my way?”

He came to lie down beside me. He kissed me again before explaining, “I’ve watched you long enough remember? At one stage your energy was so low, you thought you were dead. I hope I’ve convinced you that you are very much alive.”

I watched his beautiful mouth while he was talking. His lips were a dark wine red. His teeth were perfectly even and white. I stroked his glossy black hair and touched his perfectly arched eyebrows. He took my hand in his and kissed my fingertips.

“I’m so lucky you came to the lake tonight.”

“Why’s that?”

“I could not devise any way to meet you without the Artemesian police noticing.”

“What would they do if they found us together.”

“Firstly, they wouldn’t allow us to be together and secondly, they would not allow us to make love.”

“So how come we can do it here.”

“We can do it here because as the leader of the Arcturans, I am in charge of this enclave. Here, I am the boss. I allowed you through the force field.”

I felt trapped. He noticed and immediately tried to reassure me. “Don’t worry, I will not keep you prisoner. You still have your free will.”

“But if for some reason I cannot penetrate the force field, I should know that you are not available for me.”

“If we were on earth, that might be the case, but here we are never not available for anyone. So please understand, it is better for you to stay but I won’t seal the force field to lock you out. It is not our way. So, will you stay with me? You will be able to go to the facility anytime and return anytime. All you have to do is press this button.”

He gave me something that looked like a large remote control device, about the size of a bar of hotel soap and explained that the red button was to break the force field and the blue button was to seal it. I could come and go freely.

I was concerned about all the privileges the Artemesians had opened up to me recently. If I chose to stay with the leader of the Arcturans, there was the possibility that I could lose them. What then? In any case, I was working my way through levels to obtain more privileges.

Daniel explained that it was all a deception, that he could open up all the levels to me at once if I wanted. The Artemesians were treating me like an embecile and since I didn’t know this, I had no idea that I could fast-track my learning. I felt humiliated but I had no idea how to handle my new-found information. How would the Artemesians react to me being involved with the leader of the Arcturans. Would there be trouble? Worse still, would there be a war? Was I doing something illegal?

I was afraid and Daniel sensed my concern. “I tell you what, here’s the opener. I think you would feel better if you went back to your apartment and you worked your way slowly through the levels.”

He kissed me then took my hand. We strolled back to my hover car parked on the crest of the ridge. That night I could do nothing but lie in bed thinking of Daniel. I couldn’t help but touch myself as I reminisced about us making love. I was trembling as I climaxed in a big way, surprised by my own ability to climax through self-stimulation. Strangely, it felt like an achievement.

Thoughts of romance intermingled with concerns about his high-ranking position caused me stress. He wanted to keep me. What does that mean? People don’t marry here and Hank said they definitely don’t get attached, so what is Daniel up to. He was no doubt watching me right now.

I took all my clothes off and lay naked on the bed to avoid being seen by him. It felt good to lie naked and I experimented with more self-stimulation and discovered that I could climax by merely clenching my buttocks repeatedly and thrusting my hips forward. I was alone and could experiment to my heart’s content. I wanted to see how many times I could climax. I only stopped when I was completely out of breath and my heart felt it would stop from the exertion. I continued to lay naked, legs slightly apart and arms above my shoulders enjoying thoughts of Daniel. I missed him being inside me.

The linens were cold and wet when I sat up. Something caught my attention in that moment. I got up and stood still, listening for the persistent hum that we’d spent so much time debating. It was gone. The silence was palpable.

Was it possible that the hum was related to the monitor? I tested my theory by grabbing my favourite white robe. As I threw it on, the hum returned. I pulled it off and the hum disappeared. I concluded that the monitor was akin to a drone designed to switch off when people were naked.

If I got into trouble, I could get deported. Not a bad thing but I would miss Daniel terribly. Or I might be kept a prisoner by Daniel if he wanted to protect me from the Artemesians. They seemed benign but only because I knew very little about them. What if he were looking for the perfect pawn to use in his disputes with them? Why was I thinking that I was that important?

I needed to stop obsessing about Daniel, so I got dressed and went to the theatre where I watched a documentary that seemed more like a sci-if movie. Time travel wasn’t something I’d paid much attention to except as a matter of fiction. My mind unravelled at the prospect that travelling between planets took one to different time zones. It dawned on me that I was in a different time zone and had more than likely travelled out of earth time into a future time zone.

I’d had a light bulb moment. I wanted to share my discovery with someone but everyone was so engrossed in the documentary that it embarrassed me to make the slightest sound. I also discovered that force fields influenced time zones depending on how strong or weak they were.

I thought of Daniel living in an enclave all by himself. It was possible that his ranking warranted strong protection;like the earth equivalent of having two-hundred bodyguards. But why? Furthermore, why was I allowed at the lake? It was strange and stranger still that I was the only other person at the lake. It all seemed so sinister.

I got back to the apartment to find a message on my television set. It read did you enjoy the film? Daniel’s face was posted next to the message.

I had not forgotten that he could tune into my activities any time he wanted, yet I still found it creepy. He must have seen my reaction and posted another message. It is the way of life here to be able to see anything at anytime. Nothing is hidden.

I ignored his messages and walked into the shower where I knew I could stay for as long as I chose to. When I returned to the bedroom, there was another message. Come on over to my place. I am cooking your favourite food, salmon.

I hesitated, unsure of how to respond. Another message flashed up on the screen. Not sure how to use the screen? See the ledge, place your fingers underneath and pull.

I did as instructed. A flat keyboard emerged with fluorescent lettering. Amused, I started to type. I don’t know what’s going on.

He replied. When you come over, I will try to explain.

He must have watched me pace up and down for ten minutes before I left the apartment. I strolled tentatively through the parking garage, nervous that I was stepping into a trap I may not be able to extricate myself from. My heart throbbed to make love with him again while my head told me to beware of danger. I was torn apart. I tried to convince myself that this exquisitely hansome man couldn’t possibly be a threat.

I drew a deep breath and braced myself for the worst as I commanded the hover car to start and take off for the lake. The ride was was too short. I needed more time to talk myself into being a big girl and face whatever was in store. Before I knew it, he’d unlocked the force field and I was in his territory.

I felt vulnerable and was planning to sit in the hover car for a few minutes to catch my breath but when I looked up, he was already standing in front of the vehicle. My heart beat faster at the sight of him and he cocked his head, seeing me so worried.

“Come,” he said taking my hand. “I see that you are emotionally loaded.”

I kept quiet, unable to respond. His hand was comforting and warm and soon I was feeling relaxed enough to stop and let him him hold me. We stood staring at the lake which held memories of our first time. He picked me up and carried me into the house.

The table was neatly laid for two. In the centre was a fluted blue vase holding a single red rose and on either side, a small white candle flickering gently in the dimly lit lounge.

As I sat down, I thought I saw a shadow of someone walking by.

“Just my assistant, don’t fear.”

“Where,” I wanted to know, thinking I’d imagined it.

“Over there.” He pointed in the direction of someone, then I saw her, barely visible in the dim light. She was an apparition wearing a long flowing dress. I could discern that she had long hair almost down to her hips. She startled me as she swept past me like a ghost.

He kissed me on the cheek and squeezed my shoulder.

“Gala has reached Angel status and is playing with frequencies. She likes to appear as a hologram.”

“Oh,” was all I could manage. After a short pause, I mustered a question.

“Are there others?”

“You mean Angels?”

“Yes, Angels.”

“There are many. They’re all around.”

A flash memory of us making love on the couch embarrassed me.

“No need to be embarrassed. They left just as soon as they noticed our bright red auras. They would never hang around and spy on us. After all, I am their god. They have only the highest respect for me.

I looked up from my meal to scan his face for any hint of facetiousness but there was none. He was being serious when he said that he was a god.

I was dining with a god, and worse still, I had made love to a god. I started to tremble. He reached over the table to grab my arm. Instantly, I felt a surge of warm energy coursing through my body. I couldn’t eat anymore. My head was spinning. It felt like I was slipping into a black vortex.

When I opened my eyes again, I was lying naked on the coach and Daniel was massaging my body. The air smelled sweet and I was floating on a soft pink cloud, or so it seemed to me anyway. I became aware of my slow steady breathing.

Daniel stroked my hair as I moaned softly. He turned my face to his and kissed me passionately while my eyes remained closed. It was an unearthly experience.

I opened my eyes to looked into his gorgeous, smiling face. He was still fully clothed.

He whispered, “you will be fine. Stop worrying so much.”

“What happened earlier?”

“Your energy plummeted so fast. I hope you don’t mind that I had to restore your frequency?”

I was embarrassed that I had spent so much time masturbating. I sat up, pulling my knees up and looked at him. “You did say you were a god, didn’t you?”

He smiled, amused by my confusion. “Yes, but it’s not at all like you’ve been taught. You’ve been taught about an imaginary being who sits on a golden throne, holding a golden sceptre who has to be feared. As you can see, I am nothing to fear.”

“So how did you become a god?”

“I learnt my lessons well.”

“I don’t understand.”

“To become a god, you simply have to overcome the challenges that are set for you. Most people fall out of the challenge but I was determined to rise in frequency.”

“What challenges did you have to overcome?”

“The same as everyone else. Controlling your energy is the most important challenge.”

“How does one do that?”

He had placed a soft blanket over me and positioned me so that I was snuggled comfortably between his legs, my back against his taut abdomen and his arms enveloping me warmly.

“If you can control your mind you can control your energy. I was lucky I started the programme very young. By the age of twelve I was already adept at teaching others to raise their frequency. ”

I was listening for any signs of godlike qualities in his voice but knew that I was inadequate to even try.

He continued explaining. “Like with any other skill, one simply has to practice intensely and one should never give up trying. I’ve watched you. Sometimes you simply give up.”

I was startled. “What did I give up on?”

“Remember that time you were trying to learn Japanese? What about the time you wanted to rescue animals? Oh, and how about that time you thought of becoming a doctor? You would have been a very good doctor but you doubted your own intelligence to make the right decision.”

I recalled all these times and was surprise that the memories were so fresh. It was true, I had given up on many of my goals but often there were other options available.

“How was I to know that I chose the wrong option?”

“They were not the wrong options, just the easier, less challenging ones. You see, the more challenging option would have taught you a bigger lesson. It would have strengthened your mind to deal better with challenges.”

I understood clearly what Daniel was saying, but couldn’t understand why someone would deliberately choose to have a challenging life. I was about to ask when the television screen flashed a message.

Daniel respond by calling, “yes, Master Artemis, go ahead.”

Your presence is requested at the council meeting. We need to discuss a matter of topmost priority. We await your arrival.

Daniel pecked me on the cheek, scooped me up and explained that he would have to leave. I threw the blanket off me as I grabbed my clothes, reluctant to enquire as to what the council was about.

He rushed outside. His hover car was already parked at the door. It was bigger and more intimidating than I expected. He told me to get in and that he would take me to my hover car parked on the hill. Everything happening hastily and before I knew it, he was gone in a flash and I was left to wonder what was going on.

At the apartment I was glad for the respite and caught up with some studies I’d neglected of late. It was as long time before Daniel messaged me via the television.

Meeting’s over will be there shortly.

I wasn’t happy about Daniel inviting himself over. I was doing well to concentrate without thoughts of him intruding but he seemed pressed to tell me something important. He was there within minutes and I had no choice but to let him in.

It was hard to gauge his feelings, except to say that he seemed genuinely in love with me. He took both my hands in his and looked at me searchingly.

“I have something to tell you. ”

“Okay...”

I was nervous, expecting the worst but he assured me it would not be all bad news.

“The Artemesians have found out about us and are unhappy.”

“I don’t know why that doesn’t surprise me but how did they find out?”

He sat down on the bed beside me and hesitated before responding.

“I guess they have their spies. Someone could have followed you to the force field. There are monitors everywhere.”

Having known about the monitors, I felt that I’d been careless and let myself down but at the same time, I knew that Daniel could have prevented this from happening, or did he deliberately allow them to find out just to assert his power as a god, I wondered.

“They’re afraid that if we procreate, we might produce a privileged child who will forego learning challenges. As you know, they are all about teaching people how to advance from one level to the next but if we create a nation of gods, this might upset the balance of power. Our children would not need to undergo the progression like everyone else.”

Procreate? Who said anything about procreating?

I was not facetious when I said, “Sounds like a weighty responsibility? I had no idea that that could even be possible but believe me when I say that I have no intention of giving birth to a nation.”

“That wouldn’t be your choice. You’ve been chosen by the Arcturan nation to be my goddess.”

“For whatever reason, Daniel?”

“For the simple reason that you are sufficiently evolved and we need your DNA to perpetuate your species on a higher level.”

“But I have to return to Earth with the water manufacturing technology. That’s the only reason that I am here. I ’m not up to getting involved in politics.”

I was unsettled and felt trapped. You have been chosen by the Arcturan nation to be my goddess. The words reverberated in my head ricocheting from one empty space to another like a ping-pong ball trying to find a player. I was powerless to do anything to avoid the plans of a god.

“Do I have a choice?” I wanted to know anxiously.

“I guess you do but it would be a long time before the Arcturans change their minds. You see, you were chosen when you were just fifteen years’ old. Remember that story you wrote? The one about the princess from another planet? That was us giving you the information. You wrote yourself into that story, remember?”

I gasped, shocked by the realization that it was all true. I had written myself into the story. I could have written my sister into the story but after some internal debate, in the end, I decided that I had to be the princess. Rita would never make a good princess. She was far too rebellious. When I told my mother, she confirmed that my sister would start a war if she had half a chance. I was proud that my mother thought of me as far more sedate, obedient and compliant.

Every Wednesday night I would fold the washing while my sister watched television. Like clockwork, I would feed the dog each morning and evening, never missing a single opportunity. I would accept a challenge anytime it came my way while Rita remained disinterested in learning anything new.

I recognized the qualities that the Arcturans themselves found attractive in me and couldn’t help liking myself just a little more.

Daniel smiled a knowing smile and I winked at him. He scooped me up and squeezed me firmly.

“Whether you like it or not Gina, you are the one.”

Daniel attended more meetings with the Artemesian council to negotiate an amicable arrangement, during which time, I took the opportunity to find Hank. He would be able to bring some perspective on the situation.

The restaurant yielded nothing, so I checked the theatre. I sat for a short while to observe the audience for a familiar face but he was not there. On the deserted beach, I found solace and a chance to contemplate my current involvement with Daniel. Feelings surging through me could not be curbed. I was afraid that if I did not extricate myself from the situation, I may never return home. How would I do that when he could monitor my every movement. It was a dilemma that I desperately needed Hank for. I prayed, hoping that he could hear me. I sat for what seemed forever when I heard a voice to the left of me.

“You called?” I was overjoyed to hear Hank’s voice. Jumping up, I pumped the air with both fists. I was ready to throw my arms around him but remembered his words, you will get used to the idea that here bodies don’t touch. I felt guilty about my involvement with Daniel wondering if I was about to become very famous as a result.

Hank sat beside me. Despite the warning, I grabbed his arm and told him how glad I was that he had come.

“How did you know to come?”

“Well your emotions are on a very high frequency. You have triggered a high alert warning which means that everyone can tune into you. Do you know how much trouble you’re in with the Artemesians? Even I’m in trouble now.”

I was more afraid than before. The tears were brimming. I felt guilty that Hank had to come out but I knew that I needed to get advice.

“So what is really going on? Why does Daniel have to attend meetings with the Council?”

“Well, they have to persuade Daniel to let you stay and either you get banished to the lower levels where you will be trained to control your emotions or Daniel has to take you to Arcturus. He is the one who will ultimately decide. The way I see it he has become attached to you emotionally, so his only option would be to take you to Arcturus. That would mean that he loses his standing with the Artemesians and someone has to replace him.”

“Hank, is he a god?”

“Arcturans are all gods.”

“Will the force field in his territory not protect me?”

“No, and in any case, that is not his territory, just his quarters designated by the Artemesians. They ultimately control the force field and they will collapse it any time they feel it is no longer needed.”

“I want to go back to Earth, Hank. Please help me.”

He sighed heavily and hesitated before answering, “You will have to request a meeting with the High Council.”

“Go to a data station and type, request meeting with the High Council and your name. I don’t know if they will grant you a meeting. ”

I felt like I was the equivalent of a prostitute, that my reputation on Artemis was tarnished for eternity.

I took the opportunity to ask hi about the water. “Hank, why is the water her so delicious?”

“It’s only delicious to you since your water back home has been through a chemical process. What you are tasting here is water devoid of chemicals. In other words, Virgin water, made from scratch.”

“The water in the lake....”

“Which lake?”

“The one in Daniel’s enclave, is that also virgin water?”

“All the water here is virign water.”

“So how does it get into the lake?”

“Did you notice the glow at the far end? That is another plant where a large group of experts spend all their time just creating water from scratch.”

“So there are people there all the time?”

“Yes, and Daniel must know about the plant.”

I was upset. Daniel knew that we were being watched. He must have deliberately let them see us. I was feeling vulnerable.

No one ever watches others making love. It is not our way here. Was he being truthful?

I thanked Hank and left hastily to follow his instructions. When I approached a data station to type in my name, I was listed as under review. I ignored the words and continued to type my request for a meeting with the High Council. When I pressed the Enter button, a message flashed on the screen. Meeting request declined. Not on authorized level to request meeting.

I panicked and started to cry. As I turned, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up and saw Daniel.

“Come.”

He led me to his hover car parked at the side of the road. We were both somber as we drove to his quarters. When we alighted from the vehicle he came around to carry me into the house.

“Why do you always carry me, Daniel?”

“Because you earthlings burden yourselves with so much emotion. It makes you heavy and slow.”

“And here I was thinking it was a gesture of love.”

“It is a gesture of love.”

He placed me on the threshold and I walked into the house where I fell onto the couch.

“The high council will only see you once you are on level fifty. In the meantime, I will speak on your behalf.”

I trembled and he reassured me by pouring me a herbal drink. “Here. Drink this. It will soothe your nerves.”

The warm soothing liquid tasted slightly of honey and liquorice. As I sipped it, Daniel excused himself. When he returned he was wearing an outfit fit for Indian royalty and he was barefoot.

We talked at length about how we would appease the Artemesian High Council which consisted of just ten elders and was the equivalent of the planet’s government. I had a long way to go before I reached level fifty and my patience was already wearing thin. Daniel offered to take me to Arcturus where I’d be well received but that would mean abandoning my studies and what if I never returned to earth. The thought frightened me but Daniel assured me that he would take me home to visit. I had more chance of visiting home if I went to Arcturus than if I stayed on Artemis and waited till I reached level fifty.

"Water manufacturing science is redundant where I come from.”

“Really?”

“Yes. You don’t need it. Sometimes it is just an excuse to observe earthlings close up.”

“I can reach you how to live without water, to never thirst and to have it on demand as and when you really need it.”

“Sounds spooky.” I didn’t want him to trick me into going to Arcturus.

“You sound skeptical but I assure you, life on Arcturus as a thousand times better than on Artemis and a million times better than Earth. Why anyone would choose to live there is beyond me.”

“I don’t think I had a choice.”

“You always have a choice.”

“When exactly did I have a choice?”

“Before every incarnation, you are presented with choices but so many people only choose what they are familiar with, thus you end up on that horrible planet which is completely off-balance on an energetic scale. There are so many challenges which will take eons to rectify.”

This was a revelation to me and I was intrigued to learn more. We sat and talked for what must have been hours. For me it was like free therapy and for Daniel it must have been a pleasure to have such an ignoramus for a pupil. It was my chance to clarify all my fears and concerns.

Daniel assured me that the survival of Earth was not my responsibility. If I didn’t return, it would survive. Not very well, but it would survive. Arcturus would in fact be a better option for me if I could compare them. Daniel wanted me to accompany him on his next trip home. It was a daunting proposition but in the end, I relented, knowing that I could only decide once I’d experience Arcturus first-hand.

We didn’t have to make any preparations. Daniel simply notified his staff via the television that we would be taking off soon.

There was no mention of passports or inter-galactic permissions to depart for another planet. We simply put ourselves in travel mode and took off.

“You relax and lie back. You don’t have to go anywhere.” I was not prepared for what happened next.

As the lights dimmed, the windows darkened. Daniel used the remote control device to break the force field. The television screen came on bringing some light into the room. It had became a navigation console. Daniel pressed a few icons on the screen and then I heard a sound like that of a vacuum cleaner. I felt the house moving. Then it levitated for a second or two and we were off. The house itself was a craft.

“Just relax. All will be fine. You can fall asleep if you feel more comfortable.”

I was not going to miss such an exciting event even if it meant I’d have to stay awake for a year. Daniel chuckled, knowing my thoughts.

I tried to sit up but Daniel assured me that for a first timer, it would be better if I lay down.

I felt the house-craft continue to ascend then veer away sharply to the east, as I would know it back home. I looked over at Daniel lying perfectly still like someone who had passed away. His eyes were open and he told me to calm down, that he was fine. I would be less nauseous if I could relax my solar plexis, he advised, so I entered a meditative pose, lying prone on my back.

It wasn’t long before swirling colours appeared before my eyes and I fell into a hypnotic trance. Nothing else was visible as the colours captivated my attention fully mind, body and soul. It was as if I had entered the swirling colours and become part of its teasing dance. My eyes remained fixated on the movement, first white, then pink like a strawberry ice-cream swirl, then blending and separating to form their separate streams.

I had no idea if Daniel had arranged this display especially for my benefit or if it was part of the standard in-flight entertainment.

When the house-craft slowed down, so did the swirling and as it came to a complete stop the light display ended abruptly disappearing into a mere dot in the darkness. I beame aware of my breathing and lay still waiting to see what would happen next. A shaft of light appeared as the door opened. Three beings dressed in flowing white garments entered and stood, waiting for an instruction.

Daniel stirred and sat up. The Three beings spoke first. In one voice, I heard them say, “Welcome back, Master Daniel.”

“Thank you Mitra.”

“Gina, this is Mitra.”

“Which one?” I heard myself asking spontaneously.

“We are Mitra,” they responded in their gentle almost etheric voices.

Daniel smiled and explained that Mitra were at his beck and call to assist any way they could. That would mean that they were at my beck and call too. They never tired and therefore never slept.

We rose and Mitra entered the house-craft to join the other assistants who had travelled with us through the wormhole to reach the fourth dimension Acturus galaxy. Outside, nothing seemed unusual, in fact, it looked like a complete replica of Earth and I wondered if the illusion was created for my benefit when Daniel came to put his arm around me.

“Arcturus is not much different from Earth in many respects but looking closely, you will notice that there is no violence here. Everyone aims to love and respect, not just themselves but everyone else too. We therefore exist at a higher frequency.”

“How come,” I was curious to understand.

“Love vibrates at the highest frequency and anyone who slips, gets banished to earth where negative emotions are processed.”

I wondered if that was why we had so many miscreants, when Daniel explained that Earth was really the dumping ground for the wayward types of many other planets. There were in fact very few Arcturans on Earth and it surprised me to learn that many of the miscreants were from an array of other planets in the fourth dimension.

Daniel wanted to take me on a tour of the immediate surroundings. As I stepped forward, a surge of energy entered my body. Something strange was happening to me. A high-pitched ringing sound in my ears caused me to feel dizzy. I teetered for a second or two, then opened my eyes. At first I thought that my eyesight was going. Everything seemed to shimmer as if I was seeing through a heat wave. As people moved I could see their energy fields wafting around them. Daniel explained that I was experiencing being in a higher frequency for the first time and that I would eventually grow accustomed to it. People resembled the earth humanoid, except, I am tempted to say, looked almost angelic and spoke softly. The benign expression seemed permanently fixed and they walked as if gently floating just above the ground, barely touching anything solid. Everyone wore long flowing gowns made of the lightest fabric, yet, despite its lightness was completely opaque and appeared to be made of pure light.

Colours on Arcturus were, well, I can only describe them as dynamic. Nothing remained one colour. Colours were soft, pastel, reflections of many shades, constantly changing depending on the angle from which one was seeing it.

There were no birds or animals since they didn’t need much to amuse themselves, nor did they consume flesh. No plant life appeared anywhere.

I marvelled at the magical, mysterious vision before me and I couldn’t help wondering if this was heaven. Daniel understood my confusion and smiled when he explained that the earth mind had become unwired by theories of heaven as a place where good people go and hell as a place where bad people were banished to. It simply wasn’t true, he explained but it was difficult to convince a race that had been brainwashed over millennia. It would require a complete energy shift to understand. I counted myself fortunate that I was already experiencing the energy shift.

We were on a landing on a mountain, rimmed by a low wall. People walked towards the wall then stood completely still. I watched as people came and went at regular intervals, staring into the bright light ahead, then turning to walk away.

“Daniel, what are they doing?”

“I guess you could say they are working.”

“Working?” I was not able to comprehend this type of work where no energy was expended and everyone remained smiling. No one tired, no one complained, no one looked strained.

Daniel took pleasure in explaining that the only work available on Arcturus was channeling energy and projecting it to those who needed it. Energy was constantly being projected to planet earth for instance, to rebalance it. This prevented it from being completely annihilated.

It took an enormous amount of energy and the cooperation of many people. The short bursts of effort kept the workers from being depleted and kept the energy continuously channelling.

“Sometimes when you look up in the night sky and think you are seeing stars, could actually be energy being projected to your planet from Arcturus.“.

Naturally, I was curious about payment. “So how do people get paid?”

“They don’t. They pay themselves by receiving energy. Energy is the only currency here. If earth humans weren’t enslaved by those from other planets, you too would have no need for money. Money was a means of tricking you into believing that it was the only reward. A a result, your consciousness has become enslaved by concepts such as rich and poor, have and have-not, priveleged and under-priveleged, fortunate and less fortunate. Money has caused you to judge not just yourselves but others. Your planet has created benefits for wealthy and deprived those who cannot acquire money. It has caused those who don’t have money to devise ways to take it from those who have. You have set up laws for punishment and reward based solely on money.”

I gasped at hearing the truth so bluntly described to me. My head reeled with all the jobs I’d had on earth, the reasons for leaving and being fired, all based on my dissatisfaction with the monetary reward or someone else’s perception of my monetary worth. I cringed at memories of judging others for having or not having money, at how much more attractive I found those who could spend freely versus those who begged for a morsel to eat.

Tears welled up for the regret of having been so wrong about everything I held dear, including friends who made me feel worthy. The cars I drove defined me and created a false image of what I thought I was. In an instant I knew how mistaken I was to think that those who travelled by public transport were less fortunate than I and that I was a privileged person.

Despite my attempts at being a more aware person, I was just another earthling with limited beliefs causing pain through limiting behavior.

I wanted to die with embarrassment. Surely, I needed to be punished. I didn’t deserve to be with Daniel or on Arcturus, for that matter.

Daniel put his arm around me and assured me that I didn’t need to be punished, that I had learnt a lesson few on earth would learn in a lifetime. He walked me to the common area where he showed me television screens broadcasting images from earth. It wasn’t exactly news but activities that needed to be monitored in case it tipped the balance of energy and caused a domino effect around the planet.

It was his job to ensure that activities on my planet were well co-ordinated. Too much sadness led to more brutality, self-loathing and ultimately, suicide.

“How come you don’t prevent all of the negative activities altogether?”

“It is not our job to interfere in your free will, except if it means total annihilation.”

“Why did you not prevent the 9/11 attack?”

“It’s complicated. We could only be there to guide many to safety and to assist those who needed help but had we prevented it, there would have been full-scale intergalactic war. The guys who wanted it to take place are a controlling force on planet earth and we could not just step in to divert their plans. The Annunaki are very powerful and their agenda is different to ours. We are forced to collaborate with them when they work on your planet.”

“What was their agenda for 9/11?”

“It had something to do with exposing the money system. The many lives that had to be sacrificed were due for recall. They had all been doubting their involvement in their jobs, they’d seen the corruption close-up and had all prayed for a change in the money system.”

“How do you hear our prayers? Is it via the television?”

“Yes, generally but we can also feel the urgent prayers of the desperate ones who are in trouble. In other words, we can tune into your emotions. Usually, we can anticipate events and will be on stand-bye as it happens. We feel each other’s need to assist, so we pool our energy when the need arises, but the are so many things happening at once, so we have to prioritize at all times to determine which events need more urgent assistance.”

“Do you get to everyone?”

“No. Some are left to fulfill their life plans through what you term misfortunes.”

I fell into Daniel’s arms as a deep sadness overwhelmed me but just as soon it stopped when I became aware that a small crowd had formed around us. I looked up to find a group of angelic beings looking at me benignly. A warmth penetrated my core and it seemed that my spirit was instantly lifted. I heard the sound of sweet voices singing though their mouths were not moving. It was very distinct and Daniel confirmed that the sound was being transmitted telephathically. They were projecting healing energy at me and I recovered instantly. They dispersed too quickly. I longed for more of their uplifting energy to transport me to a better place within but I understood that I would have to learn to uplift myself.

We were alone when Daniel scooped me in his arms and carried me into the corridor. I thought of food yet I wasn’t hungry, just wondering how I’d be nourished.

“You are in a higher dimension now, Gina. You have no need of food. We could go and have a drink from the fountain. Would you like that?”

“Of course,” was my enthusiastic response.

We arrived in the centre of the hall where the enormous fountain stood. Daniel took two white cups from the ledge and reached out to fill them with the beige-coloured liquid. When I placed the cups to my lips, a pleasantly mild sweet smell wafted up my nostrils.

“I bet you’ve never smelled anything like this. Wait till you taste it.”

I closed my eyes as I sipped the unfamiliar drink, careful not to take in too much in case it was unpalatable but I needn’t have worried. It was beyond delicious. As all my senses awakened, I began to giggle uncontrollably. A most pleasant sensation arose in my core that made me feel like I was about to take off without wings.

As I raised my arms to jump, Daniel caught me mid-air.

“Whoa.... Not so fast, you are unaccustomed to flying. Just take it easy.”

“What’s in that drink?” I enquired, still giggling.

“Nothing. You are just not used to experiencing a higher vibrational state.”

My head spun as we lay down on the grass to give me a chance to adjust. The vibration of the ground soothed me until eventually, I calmed down and spoke coherently again.

Daniel invited me to a meeting he was summoned to urgently. We entered an auditorium so quickly, I was challenged to understand or recall how we got there. Daniel led me to a row of seats in the front where we made ourselves comfortable and didn’t have to wait long to find out why the urgent meeting was taking place. Everyone was on time. What a pleasure!

At the centre was a boardroom table where the Elders opened the meeting without hesitation.

“I think it is time that we created version three of earth human.”

“Why?”

“Well, Master, version two is proving to be an embarrassment to the Creator Technology Services.”

“For what reason?”

“The current version of human is letting us down in more ways than one. He spends too much time watching television and unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. This is a problem for us in that earth human is not advancing in the way we planned. His mind is idle ninety percent of the time. He tried to be busy but his brain is hardly working.

On a technological level, he should have been on level twelve by now, way past the light propelled flying motor vehicle; instead he is still challenged by the ancient use of fuel.

On a behavioral level he spends way too much time watching television and is still unable to distinguish between one reality and the next. His thoughts are tending towards increasing violence. There is simply no hope for the next generation who will take us to tipping point with the birth of the first trillionth human. Another concern is their inability to control procreation which has become one of their many mindless, meaningless sources of pleasure. That was never the intention. It just does not make sense. We never anticipated that the programming would take them down this path.”

“Which path would you be talking about?”

“The path of excessive sex. They seem to spend an inordinate amount of time planning the next sexual encounter, manipulating and controlling each other to acquire it. It doesn’t help that there are so many stimulants in the environment.”

“Such as ?”

“Movies, which brainwash them to control and manipulate for sex. Inventions of new gadgets such as digital phones and digital tablets facilitate the transmission and downloading of damaging information that creates interfering neural networks in their brains. Advertising too plays a role ...”

The creation supervisor was interrupted mid-sentence.

“What is advertising?”

“The constant use of images and messages to remind them to buy things.

“How are these transmitted?”

“Through print, illustrations, digital boards, films, television, digital phones and digital tablets - technology given to them by the Greys to keep them constantly amused. It is everywhere and difficult to avoid. Take a look, Master.”

The Creation Supervisor turned on the earth monitor. I hadn’t seen home since I’d left for Artemis. Tears welled up as I watched a bustling Times Square teeming with people being bombarded with advertising. If they weren’t looking up at the digital boards, many were either listening to or reading their digital phones while walking as if their minds were captured by a rogue program from which they were unable to extricate themselves.

“Who are those people sitting there?” The Master pointed at a group of homeless people.

“Master, human version 2 has become enslaved by money and those who can’t acquire it have become outcasts who cannot enjoy the comforts of earthly existence such as food, houses, clothing and other basic necessities.”

“What do they do?”

“They steal and face retribution. Once they have been to prison they are no longer allowed to work. Work is the only way to earn money.”

The noise and confusion was unbearable to the Master who asked that the earth monitor be turned off. He was horrified and seemed to be on the verge of tears. He held his head in his hands, keeping his gaze fixed on the onyx desk before responding.

At that point I was sobbing into a tissue at the stark reality of what humans had done to each other.

“That is not good. It is interfering with our Programme. The humans are unable to create their own thoughts. It has the Greys written all over it. How can the Greys be causing so much trouble wherever they go? They are merely artificial robots doing the bidding of others.”

“Yes, Master, but they have developed their own intelligence using the tools of the human against him. We were mistaken to believe that they are mere recording machines but they have surprised us with their incredible logic, analytical and technical prowess.”

“Are they trying to imitate our intelligence?”

“It seems possible, Master that the Greys are also using our intelligence against us.”

“My first instinct tells me to destroy the earth”

“No Master! What if we destroyed only those parts which are delaying progress?”

“I see that you care too much for human2?”

It was more a question than a statement but one which touched at the heart of the matter.

There was a pause as the Master contemplated his decision.

“I tell you what. Let’s create more ascended masters and gurus to teach meditation. Flood every continent with Avatars. Create communities of Gurus to teach human 2 to seek the silence. This should bring rebalance and higher awareness. I do not want the human to become enslaved by the Greys. That would be an absolute disaster for both them and us. They are our creation and we need to keep it that way.”

“Yes, Master. We should ensure that they understand that we love them unconditionally and have only their best interests at heart.”

“Correct. Ensure that more books are channelled to counteract the damaging effects of the Greys’ programming. Infiltrate the churches, use their digital technology to transmit directly from fourth dimension into the homes of every human. Accelerate the awareness of preachers and teachers to transmit the message of meditation and remove at least forty-four thousand people from mainstream earth society into temples of accelerated learning.”

“Forty-four thousand is hardly enough, Master.”

“For now, it is. The number will keep doubling until the light overtakes the darkness.”

“Master, what about the war zones?”

“Tricky, very tricky. I see that the Greys have complete control of the minds of the warmongers. I can only suggest that we remove as many children as possible to temples of accelerated learning. Do so while they sleep to minimise the shock of translocation.”

The Master became pensive, contemplating his sudden implementation of an unrecorded plan. Only once before did the Master of the Fourth Dimension ever implement such a sudden plan - when he had to remove the Atlanteans from earth for abusing their powers over human2.

“So, we destroyed the first human with fire, the second with water, how do you propose we destroy the third human if things don’t work out?”

“We will try our best to avoid that scenario this time, Master.”

“We said that the last time but our experiment is proving to be more unreliable than we anticipated. Our mistake was using human 1 as a template instead of starting from scratch.”

“Yes, Master, but our creation skills are improving. First human was a Neanderthal and second human started as a gold mining slave, albeit an awakening slave. In any case, we could seek the expertise of the Brotherhood of the Fifth Dimension to find out where the Programme needs redevelopment. It might be a simple addition or removal of code for all we know and full scale destruction might be unnecessary.”

“My thoughts exactly, Creation Supervisor. Get on with it then. How far to the Brotherhood of the Fifth Dimension? ”

“About two light years, Master.”

“Well, prepare the resource team and keep me posted. When do you plan to leave?”

“As soon as the aviators are ready. I believe they are undergoing training as we speak, Master.”

“Good. Leave the creation manual with me. I want to see if there is anything I can do to assist.”

The Master noted that the creation manual had been tampered with and marked each altered line. He was despaired by the number of marks where original instructions had been altered and was not pleased. No approval for alteration had been granted by the Master in the last four light years.

“Who would be so irresponsible as to alter the creation manual? Why would they think that they could get away with it?”

The Master of the fourth dimension summoned the creation supervisor to inform him that the trip had to be postponed until the creation manual was restored to its original state. Without it they may never reach a reasonable solution regarding the fate of human 2.

Creation supervisor was not pleased by what he’d discovered. It was unthinkable that someone from 4-dim could have been responsible for altering the creation manual. Someone could have replaced the original creation manual with a fake one to discredit him. He remembered that the original text could still be on the laser disc in the ancient records library and assured everyone that all would be fine.

“Supervisor, please get me the disk from the records library.”

A cherry-picker appeared from the opposite wall. The creation supervisor climbed on and it silently disappeared into the wall.

A large screen displayed him being taken into the great library where he was denied access by the guard who could not verify his DNA. Flabbergasted by this sudden turn of events, he returned hastily to the Master of the fourth dimension.

“There must be an intruder from another dimension and we need to find out who it is”, was the Master’s response.

This set back the resource team who were picked from various elite squadrons to participate in procuring assistance from a more advanced race.

Special clothing would have to be made for such a long trip. A craft would have to be developed by the light engineers and research would have to be conducted about suitable nourishment to sustain the crew over such a vast distance and time. Even if they could find wormholes they were not guaranteed a short trip. Wormholes were notorious for harbouring delinquent bands of humanoids who were known to hijack advanced craft. They were therefore advised to avoid wormholes at any cost and to take the longer, yet safer route through galaxy seven, if they were to travel to the brotherhood of the fifth dimension.

Investigation was short. The shape shifting guard had been identified as the culprit who attempted to sabotage the creation plan. A Shapeshifter’s many disguises can make him very hard to detect but this time, split-second timing and a fake access card gave us a lucky break. The guard was banished immediately to the dark side of the moon colony where nothing can be created or destroyed. Not even a simple thought. It is hell. Just endless days of thought suspension. One doesn’t realize until one is there that thought creates things. This is the last place anyone wants to go to.

Plans to travel to galaxy four were underway once more. The resource team was summoned to level blue and given the good news. Everyone was assigned their rank and duties but no sooner had the meeting got into full swing, when news arrived. There was silence as the messenger arrived to speak to the Master. Everyone knew that the Master could only be interrupted with transformative news. We didn’t have to wait long for the Master to announce that a milestone had been reached with regard to human 2.

We squealed with excitement even before we’d heard the news in anticipation of a good outcome.

The program had succeeded in eliminating a pocket of high breeders. Stasis had been reached to allow every one-hundred female humans to carry.

There was jubilation all round as the Creation team was congratulated. Finally they could breathe a sigh of relief after being challenged by the de-bugging of the breeding Programme.

We all moved closer as we tuned in to watch activities on planet earth via the earth monitor. The Master accelerated earth time to watch the hourly births and we were pleased that the creation team no longer had to keep rewriting the Programme to kill off one human for every three births. We could let the Programme release one human for every birth as it occurred.

Someone enquired about whether karma was still playing a role in the timing of reincarnation.

“Karma didn’t ever play a role. The Greys were responsible for spreading that rumor to cause fear and vulnerability among human 2.”

Many were surprised to learn this, except the creation supervisor who was asked to keep the information confidential to avoid wide scale confusion among the fourth dimensionals, or 4dims, as they labelled themselves.

“Well, that is one less thing to worry about, then,” came the response from one of the younger 4dims. “I simply have to remember to remove it from my programming module.”

“That is an excellent suggestion, young one”, came the Master’s reply.

Daniel and I remained seated while many people got up to leave the auditorium. As the last person closed the door behind her, the Council of Elders turned to addressed me.

“Your planet is still in turmoil. You are welcome to remain as long as you wish.”

Dumbfounded by the offer, I was at a loss for words. I tried to stammer something but nothing came out of my mouth.

“If you are not convinced, we can show you.”

The screen lit up and showed our beautiful blue planet from space. It looked so inviting but as the satellite zoomed closer, it revealed the mayhem and destruction. In the four years I’d been away nothing had changed at all. Starving, emaciated refugees were everywhere - in the mountains, the deserts, makeshift boats on rivers and seas. Constant steams of war-weary families were trekking into cities only to be turned away by armed guards who regarded them as pests. They were beaten and shoved, many simply gave in to the abuse, not caring if they would die. Many, it seemed were ready to die and just lay where they fell, hoping that the next blow would be the final one.

The Elders saw my consternation and apologized for my discomfort. Daniel let me sob on his shoulder. I understood that there was no obligation on my part to return to Earth, although at times I felt homesick and guilty that my loved-ones had to suffer while I was living in paradise, possibly heaven by their estimate.

I wondered if I’d ever return and if I did, would anyone recognise me? Would I have the same body or would I be reincarnated into another?

No one ventured an answer, careful not to get my hopes up and have me counting the days. I guess it was better that way. I was safe. I was loved unconditionally. Better still, the One World Government would never find me.

It was impossible to punish me for treason or for abandoning the Water Science Programme.

“You certainly worry a lot, ” was the Master’s parting shot. I dried my tears and looked around at the empty auditorium.

Daniel assured me that there was no deadline. It was a conundrum for me to assimilate the idea that there were no time issues as I knew it. The only way I could deal with the adjustment was to suspend all judgement. Daniel would guide me every step of the way.

I had no idea of knowing how long I’d been there and thought about all the things that governed our time on earth such as television, radio, transport, work, extra-mural activities, friends, family, paying bills, shopping, politics, religion, social issues, crime, pets - essentially, health, wealth and happiness issues. I came to understand that time and energy consumption were inextricably intertwined, that our emotions were heavily invested in our energy consumption. We expended our energy on so many unimportant actitivities which now seemed quite insignificant but at the time seemed like life-and-death situations.

I was grateful for the peace of mind; an unattainable commodity when I existed as an earthling. The paradigm shift wasn’t hard once the frequency difference was elucidated.

“That’s exactly the reason I chose you. You make the shift so easily.”

“Am I guillible?”

“No at all. We saw that your pineal gland was more developed than your fellow earthlings. In other words, it allows more energy to pass through. More Energy equals a higher frequency. You think on a higher frequency. So, no, you are not gullible at all.”

It was hard to feel flattered about something I had scant knowledge of.

“We knew that you would have the least trouble making the transition but we had to take you through various processes to prepare you.”

“What processes?”

I was shocked. Suddenly it dawned on me that Daniel was behind the programme to bring me to Arcturus.

“You would be right in thinking that we put you into the programme to leave earth. The blinding light was necessary to hypnotize the others but we needed you to be fully conscious for it to work. ”

The recall was instant and vivid. The long white passage. The bright lights. The dentist chair. I was there once more, trying to relive the experience. My colleagues couldn’t recall much after they entered the room to receive the implants.

“Daniel, what was the purpose of the implants?”

“It would serve to track you easily and to prevent you going off-course.”

“Like when we boarded the train on Artemis?”

“Exactly. We had to intevene very quickly to bring you back or you’d be lost forever once you tresspassed the Orion Line.”

“The Orion line? What is the Orion line.”

“It is the barrier between Artemis and the portal to other galaxies. If you’d mistakenly chosen to embark on a craft manned by the Greys, there would have been no hope of finding you. They were aware that you are a more developed humanoid. They too had their sights on you but fortunately, we got to you in time.”

“Why would it be a problem to go with the Greys?”

“They are what is classified as robotanoids or robot humanoids, devoid of compassion or any other emotion. Their only goal was to delete your programming and replace it with one of their own. You would have become one of them, completely at their mercy, doing their bidding.”

I gasped. “Oh...I am so glad you found me then.” I hugged Daniel, holding him tenderly. His back felt warm and I soaked up his love as we held each other. When we finally separated, I was as warm as a glowing ember.

Daniel explained that as long as I could feel and experience emotion, I had proof of life. Anything else is death. One can remain in a state of death indefinitely and there was no guarantee of ever coming back.

“So explain death to me. If you say that one can remain in a state of death indefinitely and there is no guarantee of coming back, does that mean that one can reverse death?”

“Well, yes. Nothing is permanent. Not even death. The light beings are constantly looking to reverse death in abductees. When we find them, we infuse then with energy and light, deprogram them and then re-program with with strong defenses to prevent another abduction.”

“How do you find them?”

“We have scouts that ride the Orion line. It is their sole responsibility to capture abductees. Sometimes they are caught before they cross. Often the scouts have to cross the line to bring them back. This is a challenging task, entailing de-manifestation techniques to avoid detection. In other words, they are obligated to operate at very high frequency to ensure they are invisible to the Greys. They would have to contact the nearest craft, which has to become invisible as well or run the risk of being immobilized. We always have crafts standing by to transport them at moment’s notice.”

“Have any of your craft been caught?”

“Many times but our technology is far more advanced than theirs and we have rescue craft that will cross over to capture the craft regardless of whether there are Greys on board or not. If they are, we simply immobilize them and bring than back with us. They are easily detected because of their grey suits and usually they are not so clever.”

“So, coming back to death, I would assume it is simply a low frequency state, devoid of energy, but as you explain, you can easily inject or infuse energy into a body to bring it back to life?”

“That is so. Anyone on a higher frequency can share their energy with someone of lower frequency. Remember you learnt in physics that energy travels from high concentration to low concentration? That is all it is. You can easily learn how to do it.”

“I can?”

“Yes. Shall we try?”

“Is my frequency high enough?”

“Well, we can teach you how to bring it up to a required rate before you become a life-giver.”

“Is that what you call it. A life-giver?”

“Yes.”

“Sounds like a huge responsibility.”

“It is but don’t be intimidated. We will stand by you when the next craft of rescued humanoids return.”

We walked to the hover craft and flew to a very busy docking station where we observed numerous craft docking silently. It was fascinating to watch them landing in quick succession then directed to a parking bay where they came to a complete stop. Once the craft was perfectly parked, a blue light flashed overhead and all lights were extinguished.

“Are those all rescue craft, Daniel?”

“No. The rescue craft are invisible and will only materialize when they enter the mother-ship. We would have to go past the docking station and into the rescue centre. Let’s go.”

Daniel flew the hover craft slowly past the docking station and into a tunnel which exited in the rescue centre. Four craft had already arrived and the pilots looked up as Daniel and I entered. Clearly, they respected Daniel’s presence. The pilots fell on one knew and saluted until we had come to a complete stop. When Daniel and I alighted, they stood to attention and allowed us to pass.

Daniel explained that he was showing me around and introduced me to the pilots who in turn bowed very low as they acknowledged my presence.

It seemed that they had already been briefed about my coming and my purpose on their planet. I felt moved to tears by their veneration. Daniel squeezed my shoulder to show that he was pleased with my show of emotion.

They had already accepted me as Daniel’s consort. I was uncertain whether to ask if there would be a wedding or even an engagement when Daniel explained that there would be a formal ceremony but nothing like I was accustomed to. It wouldn’t be lavish, just formal.

“When you become the goddess Gina, you will be required to wear gold stripes in your suit and head gear. I will show you later what it will look like.”

We strode hand in hand to the beds where the rescued humanoids lay. They all looked like corpses. Their lips were blue, their skin was almost grey and their nails wer pure white, like chalk.

“How long have they been dead, Daniel?”

“They not dead, Gina, just in a death state. There is a big difference. They are capable of storing energy just like we are but first we have to jump-start them with our own energy.”

Many of the humanoids seemed very young, tiny, like children. Most of them wer from earth but some were from diverse planets I’d never heard of. One was from Ghurus, another from Libertine and another from Carat.

Daniel wanted me to work on one of the the earth children but first I’d have to recharge my energy by spending a brief time in the energizing chamber. This looked very much like a circular shower. As I entered it, the doors closed on either side and I was bombarded by what felt like a light-shower which lasted but a few seconds, if that. My hands were tingling warmly when I approached the bed of the tiniest child. She must have been about five or six and Daniel explained that they preferred girls since they could use them in the breeding programme to propagate a hybrid species. They were yet to discover that the female body had to undergo biological a transformation before she could bear children. Thus the reason for the indiscriminate abductions.

I held my hand over her forehead and watched as the colour returned to her lips. Her cheeks were flushed when she opened her pretty blue eyes. Immediately, she tried to sit up and asked for her mother.

We had to block the memory of her mother temporarily, just until we could place her back on earth where she’d been taken. I worked on all the earth souls in the same way, then put them to sleep before they were transferred to the Return Craft.

I watched on television as one by one they were welcomed back by their families on different continents. I could not hold back the tears, especially since I’d had a hand in returning them to their homes.

“Did you enjoy that?”

“Of course, I did. I could do this all the time.”

“Then you have found your purpose here. How about that?”

“Yes, indeed I have.”

One day I was receiving more rescues when I noticed a familiar face. It was Su-Len. I had no idea how I would handle her recognizing me or perhaps resenting the fact that I didn’t have to complete the Water Science training programme. Daniel assured me that he could block her memory and she would be none the wiser.

Su-Len had been abducted while snooping around the garden perimeter force-field on Artemis. She’d disregarded constant warnings until one day she entered the perimeter just as the Greys were scouting for fresh faces. Before she knew it, she was taken across the Orion Line. Her abduction did not go unnoticed by the Artemesians who contacted the Arcturans for urgent assistance.

She would have to be taken back to Artemis once we’d brought her back from death state. She opened her eyes briefly before I put her to sleep and blocked her memory of me. Once in the return craft, she was safe and hopefully would never disregard Artemesian rules again.

I longed to find out what happened to the others, if they were close to completing their training and perhaps returning home, but my first obligation was towards Arcturus and Daniel.

My time spent helping rescued abductees find their way back home was deeply satisfying. More so than I could ever have imagined. I was part of a grand scheme that no one would understand had I tried to explain it to them. No amount of education could have prepared me for my new life. It truly was heaven and I was a Goddess.

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