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Jeremy

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Chapter 04

      "Just lay down here." Querik said, pointing to the circular bed in the floor. Jeremy looked at it, and quirked an eyebrow. "I sleep curled up," the Ambassador offered with a smile, "a bowl shape is more comfortable."

      Jeremy stepped onto the bed and was surprised at how much give it had. He made it to the center without tripping, and sat down then laid back, moving about until he was somewhat comfortable. The position put his rump in the middle of the depression, and his legs and torso moving up the slight incline.

      "This is more comfortable than I thought it would be," he said. "I mean, I don't know that I'd want to try to sleep a whole night this way, but I could see myself napping like this." He intertwined his fingers and rested his hands on his stomach. The mattress shifted and he looked up to see the kelsirian kneel down, his knees almost touching his head.

      "Will you be okay if I am in this position?" Querik asked.

      "Sure."

      "Good. Close your eyes and just breathe. Don't worry about fast or slow, just let your breathing settle to a comfortable rhythm."

      Jeremy nodded and did as he was told.

      Querik touched the human's mind and felt it quiet down. "Now, I want you to imagine a box. We are going to use that box as a place to put your anxieties. That box is going to be special, because once an anxiety is placed in it, it will not be able to escape. The longer it remains in the box the weaker it will become, disintegrating to nothingness over time. Can you see the box?" He felt Jeremy's mind process the commands.

      "Yes, i do. Oh wow. It's a Japanese puzzle box."

      "What is that?" Querik didn't probe deeper to get the answer himself, he needed to remain spread through his mind, keeping note of the nuanced way the subliminal programing moved. He hadn't lied to Jeremy when he said this was an exercise to help him build some tools to fight the anxiety, but he didn't know the extent the human government had gone to, to make sure those fears would be ingrained deeply within his mind. He wouldn't do the work for him, but he would help reinforce the defenses.

      "It's a box that's locked, and the only way to unlock it is to figure out how to slide the parts of the box. It was my birthday gift, when I was eight. It took me a year to figure out how to open it. It had sixty-four moving parts, and it took a thousand and twenty-four moves to open it. In it was a figurine of a samurai, of course by that time I didn't care about samurais anymore, but I loved that box. I hadn't though about it in over a decade."

      "Can you open it faster now?"

      "Of course."

      Querik felt as Jeremy visualized himself opening it, noting that the man's fingers jerked with the imagined motions. He laced the motions with instructions, far more subtle that the subliminals, that would turn the visualized box into a trap for them.

      "There, it's open."

      "What is in it?"

      "Nothing," Jeremy answered after a moment of hesitation.

      "Good. I want you to see the inside as being dark. As dark as you can imagine, but not only dark, also infinite." He felt Jeremy do that and added programing to the 'sides' of the box to reinforce them. "It won't matter how much of your anxieties you put in it, there will always be space for more." He let Jeremy absorb the information as he continued to strengthened the box. "How do you lock the box?" he asked once he was done.

      "I close it and do the steps in reverse."

      "Since the box is in your mind, maybe we can change that. So that it locks automatically as you close it."

      "Sure."

      "Good. The next time you feel your anxiety kicking in, I want you to open the box, grab that worry, put it in there, and close it. It won't be able to affect you from there." He felt his work within Jeremy's mind, light and gossamer, but unbreakable, and then slipped out. "You can open your eyes. Can you still feel the box?" he asked, once Jeremy blinked and sat up.

      "Yeah, I can. Is that really all it takes?"

      "This won't be an instant solution. Your anxieties will come back, over and over. Think of them as invaders, trying to conquer you. This is an exercise to create the habit of fighting them, instead of letting them overwhelm you."

      "I do have medication, to deal with them."

      "Yes, but medication only deals with the consequences, rather than with the attacks themselves. From what I've seen, your government much prefers keeping symptoms under controls, rather than eliminating the cause." He raised a hand before Jeremy could speak. "I apologize. I don't mean to disrespect your government. My people are warriors, even the most peaceful of us will stand and fight a problem, rather than enduring them."

      "You don't have to worry. A lot of people on earth and the colonies feel the same. And it isn't like we aren't trying to find cures, it's just that until we do, we still have to manage the condition."

      Querik nodded.

      "I should head back, I haven't eaten yet," Jeremy said, standing. "Thanks for helping me. I hope this works."

      "I'm confident it will, and remember that whenever you need it, my counsel is available to you."

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