I know you're scared. I know you don't want to listen to what I have to say. You're worried I'm going to twist your mind, your thoughts, your... soul. That's what everybody warned you I might do. Let me tell you what I'm actually going to do:
I just want to sit here, just you and me, and I'm going to talk. You can listen if you want. If you don't want to listen, I'll let you go on your way. I don't want to coerce you into anything. This has to be your choice, free and clear.
But you only get to make this choice once. I'll ask once, and you'll answer once. You can have the rest of eternity to think about your answer before you give it to me, but once you give it to me, it's not your answer anymore. Once you give it to me, it's my answer.
I'll take my answer, and either you'll walk out of here and somebody else will take your chair, or I'll show you what happens next.
I reached out and put a light finger on her lips.
Don't get ahead of yourself. I haven't even asked yet. Let me tell you a bit about this vessel first.
I was born before the millennia turned. I remember days before all the machines and the automation, before we had neighbors in the stars. I worked hard, but I was born broken. Twenty years of under-diagnosis and misdiagnosis before I felt hope of a cure. I found happiness, optimism, freedom.
I found my heaven.
Material goods that brought me happiness were taken from me, not out of malice. They were taken by people who just weren't paying attention. They were letting the sands of time slip through their fingers, but weren't paying the price. I paid, and I'm not the only one.
Twenty years of pain. A few years of joy, and then more pain, but not for long.
I'd hurt myself before, on love. I'd loved people, but my heart always let me down. I burned myself free, and fell in love with things instead. Then the things let me down. I burned myself again. I fell in love with places, and those places let me down. I fell in love with journeys, but one day, we all must reach our destination.
Twenty years of love. And I was still alone.
Then, one day, I found myself sitting in a chair, much like you are today, though the room wasn't as clean, the lights weren't quite so bright, the air didn't hum with energy. The sun was just outside the doorway, and I could still feel its warmth on my face.
Somebody sat in the space I'm sitting in right now, and they told me a story, who they used to be and what they had become. Then told me what was coming, and they asked me a question. It's the same question I'm going to ask you.
I could tell you their story. It's still in here, I tapped my temple, we're all in here somewhere. But this moment isn't about them. This is about you and me, my story and your choice.
Something is coming. We're not sure what it is, but it's big. You're going to need all the help you can get. Your scientists haven't found it yet, but the ones who have joined our ranks are working on it. We have resources you don't, not because we're smarter (we're not) or have more money (we don't) or better tech (not that either).
We have the ability to pool everything, and not hold back. We can see the problem from a hundred different perspectives, all at the same time, and share unreservedly.
We're not keeping it to ourselves either. Even if you tell us no, we'll still help you survive this, do everything in our power. This is your home, your world, your universe too, and we're all in this together, even if you don't like us.
Before I get to the question, and I know you're itching for me to ask it, because you think you're ready to answer, even though the truth is that no one is ready. I wasn't ready then, the person who posed it to me wasn't ready when they were asked. This isn't something you can prepare for. Before I get there though, let me tell you something.
I won't lie to you and say I don't tell this to anyone else. It's something I say, not because it's part of the rough outline I have of things I have to go over. It's not in the outline. It's not in the training. It's not in the advice.
This is all me.
This is something I say, because of the life I lived before I got my opportunity, because of my pain, because of my fire, because of my suffering. And I say it because I know I'm not the only one who goes through all that.
I leaned in closer, and they did too out of reflex. I dropped my voice to a whisper.
The pain and the burns and the feeling, it's all still here, inside of me. The worry and the fear haven't gone away. What's gone away is that I no longer feel alone.
I leaned back again, raising my voice.
I'm not alone anymore. You don't have to be alone either.
I stood up and held out my hand.
Will you join us?
Less than one percent of people give an answer straight off the bat. It's about an even split of yes and no. About five percent walk out of the office without giving an answer, and we never see them again; I hope they're out there, somewhere, still thinking about it.
The remaining ninety-four and a bit give us an answer within twenty four hours, but most of them say no. The few that do say yes ask for time to get their affairs in order. We smile and shake our heads.
It doesn't work like that. You're not dying, you're not forced to move somewhere else. We recommend it, only because there are a lot of hateful people out there, but you can keep your house and your car and your kids. We're a lot of things, but we're not a cult.
This isn't about taking something, anything away from you. It's about giving you something more...
Will you join us?