Bearer of STATE for 3 months, 1 week, 5 days, 13 hours, 44 minutes and
In her quick pace, S. distances herself from the Palace, from the grand houses. Like other nights, she soon finds herself in the neighborhood of one of her favorite hide-outs: always rowdy, people speaking different outlander tongues, roads lined with eating stalls and liquor stores open most of the night. The streets are busy, but people leave each other well alone, as their differences have been known to explode at the slightest indiscretion, whether intentional or not.
Here, STATE can be together with people, without being social.
Here, she can be away from the empty circle that always respectfully surrounds the Bearer of STATE, away from the Captain’s attentiveness and people springing to attention, away from the fear.
S. walks down a darker street when she suddenly sees Moss from behind. His broad back and awkward gait, a leftover of a mine he once stepped on... It has to be him. Moss!
The sudden confines of her remembering body, sensations she had not had nor even thought of for more then a year. Moss...
He had been the one who had turned her into S., introducing her to the terrorist group. About five years her senior, she very much admired his quirky mind, his bright intelligence, his love for words. He taught her about politics, to discuss violently for hours every night, he taught her to drink, he taught her about love, about sex, and even now her body remembers his body against her, in her.
Moss, her first love.
Softly, S. follows him, but her fatigue-clumsy body does not have the skills anymore. Moss disappears in a dark alley and S. halts. To pass the alley is dangerous, he is probably waiting in the shadows. To turn is worse. But before she can call his name, he descends on top of her, bringing her down at once. From behind he takes her arm and presses hard on the Mark’s scar, draining all strength from her.
“OK then, shall we?” His alcohol-laden voice crawls in her neck, and he pushes her in front of him. They walk. In an identical even pace, the pace they trained together, they walk and walk. They cross the neighborhood, follow the highway going out of town, and end up in the outskirts of the capital, where commuters live in concrete houses.
Moss opens a door and pushes S. up the dirty concrete stairs of the portico. Rubbish is strewn around the container in the corner, the smell of piss and Moss’ smell alternating unpleasantly. He fishes for the keys, and S. stands numbly beside him, instead of using the opportunity to escape; weirdly indecisive. She should run, but cannot. She has to speak to him after all this time. And to be honest, her body had not minded to be touched, after all this time...
Inside, there is almost no furniture. A chair, a table, a bare bulb illuminating the room. The smell of stale alcohol and piles of empty bottles in the corner.
Moss pushes her down on the chair and ties her carefully, then he pulls the table out of her reach and sits on it. He looks at her with cold eyes.
“Now what do we have here?” he mumbles, “A bird, yes, a bird, but of what feather? A lady bird, yes, yesssss... That’s nice, that opens up many interesting possibilities! And what shall we do with the lady love bird then, what shall it be this time?”
“Moss,” S. says.
“The bird she sings then, but what tune she makes,” Moss continues, looking at her, his head askew. He does not seem to recognize her at all.
He still had it. Moss’ mind had become unreliable, at times losing his brilliance and transgressing into dangerous hyper-states. One of the most intelligent of the group, he had thought out strategies which were incredibly daring and so improbable that they often worked. And then he would lapse in these periods when it was best not to get near to him, which sometimes, though, they were forced to be.
“The bird knows your name, Moss,” she says. Suddenly his eyes click into focus. He juts his face near hers, his mouth smells.
“What! Again you say it! You mouth my name, you dirty bird! How can you know that, hey? Nobody knows that name, nobody here... So what filthy traitor told you my name?! Hey? Hey!?” He shakes his head, ferociously rubbing his graying stubble.
“No, no, this is not good, not good at all. Maybe it is better to kill the bird then! So she will not sing anymore, nevermore, never ever again! Yessss”
S. tries another way: “Moss, I worked with you, remember? You taught me how to sidestep the mine threads, how to load the mGun, you told me how to cook bamboozle...” Again, he blinks and looks at her anew.
“Hey! What are you doing here then? Hey? You remind me of someone, yes you do… Hey, tell me then! Come on now, stop playing games! I hate games! I do not want tot play with you! Stop playing at me with your round birdie eyes! You will only peck at me, like the others, you will, I know! Just go and leave me alone! Hey! Wait, you are tied! Who tied you there, I wonder, who?” Suspiciously, he starts looking around the room, his profile an acute memory for S..
“OK then, you birdie! Tell me your name then. Let me see, you are… not from here, no? You are, you are... from some time ago… yes? You”
“I am S..”
“S.!” Moss blinks and jerks his head sideways. Then, he looks at S. almost kindly.
“S.! What a pleasant surprise! Long time no see! How are you? Girl, have you grown old!”
“No, no, no! Let’s first talk about old times! Me and you. Yesss… I remember about you!” Moss closes his eyes a little, his voice softening.
“That was nice, it was, you young and hard like an uncut stone - and just as rough, yes! Nice, very, very nice! I taught you, I remember. Yes I did...
But then… Then… Then what?” Moss looks at her and his eyes become withdrawn.
“And then you all threw me out of the group, now, didn’t you? You filthy betrayers... Didn’t want me there anymore, wanted me out, you did. Ungrateful scum! But then you were all caught, HA, served you right that was! But you... You were not caught then, now were you? Only you stayed out! What did you do then, little ladybird? Did you sing then, hey, sing like the birdies do? Hey?”
S. shakes her head, does not speak.
“No? So what happened then to the little bird, hey? Were you alone, then? Like me, huh? Or... Of course! Did you please the bastard some other way, then?”
While he squints at her suspiciously, S. has a flash of having to suck the President’s dick, the smell of his silk crotch, and she swallows.
Odd, the way she is thrown back into the past. Normally, STATE does not allow her to dwell on things this personal, from this perspective. But it seems the memories of Moss function as an antidote against STATE, activating parts of her old self. Moss is still staring at her with hard eyes.
“And then... Then... You were… you were… Wait, wait, I remember, I am not crazy! What again had happened to you?!” And suddenly his eyes slide down and rest on STATE. He draws a deep breath and retreats on his table, keeping his eyes onto STATE.
“WOW! The birdie brings me a nice egg! Nice! Very, very nice! And I tie the lady birdie and she sits still, now how did I do that? Or is there someone?” Again, his eyes search the room, give up and return to the Bearer.
“Then, now. I will take that from you! You are too young to carry that, yes you are, you cannot lie to me, I remember your body trembling... I remember how much you did not know, you never knew anything now did you? Still don’t I see! HA! I will know how to deal with it. I will teach the people how to fear me! How they will loooove me! Yesss...
Let me see… what can I do when I am the one to carry that thing around, hey? Do we want a true democracy then, like we always fought for? Like we said? Or do we mistrust the people, when it comes down to handing over power… What will the people do with it, hey? Whom will be elected to take over, huh? And how will he then play the power game, making sure that he keeps it, keeps the egg forever and ever... No, no, no! We are different, yesss, but not stupid! Better to keep it myself! I am wise, I can think! I know what to do, better than you, hesitating little bird! What did you do with your power, then? Hey! Well?!?
No, no, no, it is definitely time to hand it over to someone more capable. You know I am more capable and more clever than you. I always have been.
Give it to me, then, birdie… Give it! Finally I will be the one to sleep in a nice warm downy bed, and eat delicacies, and fuck with any and all birdies in town! Yes I will! It is mine, now… I will take it.”
“You would have to untie me first, Moss.”
“Aaah, yes, the birdie still sings, and she is not totally stupid now, is she?
But when I untie the love birdie, she will fly at me, no? She will peck at my eyes and kill me, and I don’t like that, nooooo…. And then… then she will take the nice egg away from me now, won’t she?” Moss closes his eyes to slits and looks at the Bearer for a long time in silence. He is going through different strategies, the way he always does when he looks that way. Moss takes his time.
S. can only wait. She tries to keep her eyes open, but she cannot stop herself from blinking too long, from longing for it all to end. She knows she should not, but she cannot help herself. Her body is heavy and her mind wanders. So tired, if it would just stop…
Of course, Moss takes the chance he has been waiting for. In sparse fluid movements, he draws a rough knife from his sleeve, slices through the ropes and has the knife at S.’ throat. He does not stop at the skin and S. feels the rusty blade cut in.
STATE is not reacting. Why? Is it the memory of her love? S. tries, but she cannot even activate Bearer of STATE thoughts. She thinks as she used to, fears like she used to, dissolves into wavering like she used to, hungers for him like she used to. I am nobody. I am nothing’
“OK, lady. Now, you gently pull that thing off and put it at your feet!” Moss snarls in her ear. S. tries to, obediently. But she knows it is impossible.
“I can’t, Moss…” she says. Even her voice sounds like it used to, a soft whine.
“Do not think for one minute that I would buy that, you birdie bitch! Wait now, why don’t I just slice that nice little neck of yours, right at this moment, and then I take it from you! That is what you do when you want to eat the birdie! Slit the nice little neck! There now!” Moss presses the knife in S.’ throat.
But now STATE pushes the knife away. Moss stumbles from her and S. tries to stand, to run. But she is still bound at her ankles, so she trips and falls on her nose. Blood starts streaming out. Moss jumps on her and turns her to her back. With his groin he pins her lower body to the ground, painfully hard. Eagerly, he reaches for STATE.
S.’ whole body hardens, the touch of his flesh suddenly repulsive to the core, the memories obliterated by a white flare of hate. The edges of STATE turn razor-sharp and cut his hands, and when he perseveres in pulling at STATE, Moss is electrocuted. Dying, he slumps on top of her.
S. lies there, the body of Moss gradually getting more cold. She is so drained of energy that she can barely blink. She cannot move, her body as cold and stiff as his. She just lies there, thinking of how he had been, of how he had become, of how he had died by her hands. At the hands of STATE. Nothing she did, or could have done. ‘I am nobody. I am nothing. I am no one. If only STATE would allow me to’