Artemis

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6

I surveyed our unfamiliar surroundings to find only white sand reflecting a sharp sun in all directions. Our immediate surroundings consisted of a flat, featureless landscape. A dusty haze hung over the land making it difficult to discern anything but blurry outlines in the distance.

A thin line of people walking in both directions like ants was the only thing that broke the monotony, and of course the dead body which was of little interest to anyone but ourselves. Where we came from, death always elicited a sense of foreboding, as if one were to go next.

We continued to stand around waiting for something else to happen, like the appearance of a police vehicle or ambulance, but when we calculated that we’d stood there long enough, we returned to the cave.

After the military, pseudo-scientific training, five of us had been corresponding for three years via email, prior to embarking on the all-important mission. We joined social media groups under assumed names for the purpose of finding a solution that would prevent us from having to go into space.

The very thought of a trip into space was daunting but if we were even suspected of doubting whether we would go, we knew that we’d be replaced in a heartbeat. While it was an exciting prospect, it caused distress as we had no way of knowing if we’d return. Despite assurances to the contrary, we knew that anything could go wrong.

While we knew we were already deep into the programme we still wished that someone would come up with a genius solution that would abort the mission.

Way back in the seventies the mobilization of Green Peace and the Save the Whale campaign, spawned many similar movements such as save the the dolphins, the elephants, the rhinos, the tigers, the lions, the dogs but we could not save the the Earth from the dysfunctional minds of a few mad men. We had done well to save a variety of species of animal, until we were told that they belonged to the government who dispensed all types of meat for consumption to the starving masses.

Military vehicles offloaded carcasses to butchers where long lines of people waited in the midday sun. As soon as the vehicles arrived the lines dispersed, as people ran forward to grab meat before it could be placed on the counter. Often people would get shot in their eagerness to secure some food for their families. The butcher himself couldn’t feed his family and often only ended up with scraps left behind by a trampling hoard desperate to survive.

The once rotund butcher had lost so much weight, his clothes were now just hanging loosely around his body. His face was gaunt with a ghostly pallor.

Sometimes we would take him some cooked beans for which he would be sincerely grateful and promise to save something for us, but we knew that he was making a promise he could never keep.

We long suspected that the carcasses were either elephant, giraffe, hippopotamus or lion meat since our wildlife had all but disappeared. We knew that anything that was delivered in buckets and cut into small, delicate cubes would be either dog or cat meat. Many fell out of queue when the meat arrived in buckets. We stopped going to collect meat when we saw this for the first time. They didn’t even bother to disguise the paws or the heads of the animals.

One day we collected pig snouts which surprisingly, made a delicious soup but after that, we became strict vegetarians. It was difficult to have a conscience in those days but we tried as hard as we could.

Once the one world government had decided that war was the only path to peace, we were on a downward spiral to oblivion.

One country after another was left with interim rulers appointed by the One World Committee in preparation for the one world government. Ruler afte ruler was assassinated and factions had become completely muddled. No one knew who was fighting whom and why. They were simply caught up in war for no relevant reason. War became a way of life.

Churches, mosques and synagogues were demolished to eradicate inter-faith skirmishes. It became illegal to erect a place of worship of any type anywhere. Only those who had enough one world currency or OWC as it came to be called, could bribe government officials for land to build places of worship on the pretex of using it as a multipurpose structure, if they agreed that government could use it as a Medivac centre whenever they chose.

Fake foodstuff lacking nutritional value was all we could find when we took pains to to avoid those peddling their dog meat, cat meat or human flesh.

Mental instability became the norm. Our family was the first to start a hive where people could meet to check their sanity levels through discussions, meditation and general support. We also offered a library service for anyone seeking motivational material. It made us feel better if nothing else but we drew strength from the knowledge that everything was temporary, though it was hard to believe in anything positive in a time of such bleak despair.

We were thankful for the small group of scientologists who were willing to share their uplifting philosophy with us. They’d suffered enormous persecution at the hands of the Christians who deemed their teachings to be satanic. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it was everything but what we were taught. They were helpful, kind, highly intelligent and always had a practical solution to just about every problem. We could always rely on them to provide food and water to those who believed there was no hope. How they did it was an undescribable marvel.

We witnessed them heal someone’s bruise just by touching it. Larry had come through the door limping one night, just as we were about to start a meeting. He looked like he was in a great deal of pain and everyone was naturally concerned about his condition. We were shocked at the large purple bruise when he uncovered his leg. Joe, one of the Scientologists, offered to help.

’You don’t need to be afraid, okay? Just go with me on this. Joe touched his leg gently as everyone fell silent, then he proceeded to ask Larry a few questions while keeping his hands on the bruise, careful to touch it just very lightly.

‘Do you remember what you were thinking at the time that you fell? Were you angry about something?’

‘Yes, in fact, I was. I was thinking about my dad giving my dog away to some people who had come to the door demanding food. I was so angry, I just screamed.’

‘Did you cry at the time?’

‘No. I was too upset to cry. I just ranted and raved at my dad all night until I fell asleep exhausted.’

‘Do you still feel sad and angry about this incident?’

‘Yes, I do.’

Larry started to cry while Joe encouraged him to express his feelings about his dad and his dog. He closed his eyes and stayed silent for what must have been ten minutes, all the while holding his hands over the bruise. When Joe raised his hands we were surprised to find that the bruise had reduced in size and it was a no longer purple but only slightly blue.

Joe continued to ask Harry questions, explaining that when we struggle to express our feelings, we unconsciously hurt ourselves as we suppress the need to hurt others.

We were astonished when Larry stopped crying and let off a deep sigh. He remarked that the pain had disappeared. When Joe removed his hands, there was just a hint of where the purple bruise had been. Harry stood up as everyone applauded Joe for the healing, and Harry, for his willingness to be vulnerable.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when I got up to make tea. When I returned to the lounge, Joe was explaining how physical healing works, that as we unburden ourselves emotionally, the body responds, often immediately, sometimes within a few days.

Once the scientologists proved their worth, the motivational sessions became more popular and some of the Christians even apologized for their bad behaviour.

Community police would visit regularly to monitor our meetings but could find no cause for concern. Often they would stay to join in the discussions which ranged from Nietzche to Tony Robbins. We even set aside one night for the Christians to pray in our efforts to give everyone a voice. It also became apparent that prayer lifted peoples’ spirits and in times of deep despair that was really all that many people could resort to.

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