Before she could even react, Helena was sitting on the floor in the yoga retreat, surrounded by women who were forming a circle, all looking at her and waiting for something to happen. A woman dressed in an expensive looking red tunic walked into the room, and looked at Helena. She walked ceremoniously to the centre of the circle, and took Helena by the arm.
“Women, let’s go outside” she ordered in a soft voice. “It’s the best place to connect with nature”.
It was freezing cold outside, and the women were not wearing much. Helena looked at them in pity, as they shivered. “I don’t think the weather is appropriate for this” she told the woman in red.
“The weather is always appropriate to connect with nature” the woman answered, in the arrogance than an ‘enlightened’ person uses with others. “You will learn”. The woman then looked around and talked to all of them. “Sisters, today we are welcoming a new member to our sisterhood. This is Helena, a woman that has been traumatized by a close family member’s meat eating habits. She has been brought here to heal and learn the principles of an eco-friendly and chakra balanced lifestyle”.
“Actually, as I told the officers before, I am not really traumatized…” Helena started to answer.
“Let’s chant for her, sisters!” the woman in red interrupted.
The chanting went over Helena’s voice, and nothing she said interrupted it. After a few minutes in which half the women looked like they were going through a seizure, Helena jumped out of the circle and started to run towards the fence that surrounded the green area outside. She jumped onto it with the intention of climbing it, but was soon thrown back by the electric shock.
“Shit!” she screamed in pain.
The women approached her, one of them before the rest. She was wearing a grey tunic, and had cut her blonde hair short. She helped Helena sit and whispered in her ear.
“If you want to escape this hell, we need to collaborate. Look for me, I’m Maud. But don’t say a thing to anyone else”.
The woman in red approached. “This is the first lesson Helena. You cannot escape from your fears, you need to confront them. All of the women here have undergone the same process, all of them afraid of facing the darkest in them. But they have learnt, isn’t that right, Maud?”
“It is” Maud answered, bowing her head.
The woman in red nodded. “You will now be taken to your room, where you are going to start your new life”.
One of the women took Helena into the building, up to the third floor – there were, of course, no elevators, so they had to walk up –, where Helena’s new room was located. The woman told her that she needed to shower and change into a grey tunic, and that she would wait outside until Helena was done. Helena looked around in the room: the only window available was locked, and there was no sort of sharp objects (or objects in general, really, as the room was pretty empty).
Helena took the shower, and she heard noise in her room as she was taking it. When she came outside, her clothes and possessions had been taken away from her, and there was only the grey uniform that everyone else wore. She took it and went outside, looking for the woman that had accompanied her to the room, but she was nowhere to be seen.
Helena went down the stairs, where she met another woman in grey, who took her by an arm. “Hi! Welcome, Helena, I’m so glad that you joined. I used to be named Barbara, but my rebirth name is Kallpa, which means strength in Quechua. The Elder Sister has said that you and I are going to be study partners. We are now going to be inseparable”.
“What?” Helena had not been paying attention.
“We need to study together. It’s study time now” Barbara insisted, pulling Helena’s arm.
“Do I have an option?”
Yet another woman in grey approached. She was carrying a whip in her belt, and she stroked it with her hand. “No” she pronounced in a tone that left no room for doubt.
Helena decided that she had already had enough with the electric shock before, and that she’d rather not get whipped, too. She followed Barbara into the corridors of the building. When she thought they were far enough from the guard, Helena decided to get some information from Barbara.
“So, Barbara, what is study time all about? Do we have to read and understand books about some sort of philosophy?”
Barbara seemed a little bit distressed. “OK, I understand that Kallpa is unusual, but that is my name now. Please don’t call me Barbara. And books are one of the greatest sins of humanity against nature, because they make us cut trees. Damned be the moment in which books were created”.
“What? There are many other industrial applications that consume a lot more wood!”
Helena looked around the house. “For example, this whole house is made with wood, which could have been avoided through the use of other materials. There is also that pellet stove over there, which could be replaced by an electric stove” Helena pointed out.
“I don’t want to hear any of that, Helena! I used to be like you, questioning everything with logic and facts, but I now know the truth, thanks to my study here!”
Helena decided not to continue her questions, at least not in that direction. “So… What is this whole thing about? I’m new to it all”.
Barbara spoke in a more relaxed tone as they walked into a small room. “You just have to connect. Come on, sit here”.
Each of them sat on a cushion on the floor, facing each other, and Helena waited for something to happen. Nothing happened for a few minutes, just stillness. Helena was about to ask a question about what they were supposed to be doing when Barbara spoke.
“Oh, my. You’re doing this so well already. I am connecting with you in such a deep spiritual level, and this is only our first session! Keep going”.
Helena looked around and saw that was what it all was about. Barbara had her eyes closed through the whole process, so she could do whatever she wanted to, so long as Barbara did not notice. Helena spent a couple of boring hours looking outside the window, and then Barbara stood up and looked at her.
“Your ability to connect is incredible, Helena. I think you are ready to go through the First Test and the New Baptism” Barbara said happily.
“I’m going to go talk to the Elder Sister”.
Barbara ran out of the room, leaving Helena alone. She walked outside and found Maud, who had also finished her study session. She made a sign for Helena to accompany her, and they both walked into a large dining room. Helena followed Maud and took her dinner, which consisted of half a bowl of celery soup. They sat together.
“Is this our dinner?” Helena whispered.
“Yes” Maud nodded. “They starve us with this diet based on small rations of fruit and vegetables. It’s apparently a way to ‘attain transcendence’, or whatever. The Elder Sister, on the other hand, feasts on whatever she wants to. Anyway, how was your study session?”
“That Barbara was babbling some stuff about connecting, or whatever…”
Maud made a sign for Helena to shut up, and then looked back into her bowl. Barbara sat next to Helena, and greeted Maud.
“Hello, Sister Maud”.
“Greetings, Kallpa” Maud responded.
Barbara looked at Helena. “I have spoken to the Elder Sister, and she says that you can go through your New Baptism today!”
Helena was not as excited as Barbara. “Oh… that’s… Great, I guess”.
Barbara took her by the arm. “Come on, let’s go to the Elder Sister…”
“Um… well…” Helena was trying to make up an excuse.
There was a sudden burst sound and some shooting sound. A wall of the building collapsed, and a tank appeared in place. Helena’s grandmother was on top of the tank, shooting from the aperture.
“¿Dónde está mi nieta?” she shouted authoritatively.
Helena ran towards the tank, and Maud and Barbara followed. “Abuela!” Helena shouted.
“I’m getting you out of here!” her grandma shouted.
Helena started to climb into the tank, and Maud did the same. But Helena soon found that she could not go any further. Barbara was holding her tight.
“What are you doing? Let go of me!” Helena shouted.
“No! You are my study partner! I’m not letting you go!”
Helena’s grandmother and Maud pulled them both up and into the tank. Helena breathed in relief as the tank started to move away from the yoga retreat. Helena hugged her grandmother.
“How did you know?” Helena asked her.
“I followed the police car all the way here” she explained.
“And the tank?”
“We have some business to talk about” she told Helena. Then, looking at the people in control of the tank, she ordered. “Speed south, and shoot this place to the ground!”
Barbara screamed in horror. “No! That is my community!”
Helena’s grandmother saw her for the first time. “Did we get one of these brainwashed retards with us? Damn it”.