Again, not again. S. tilts into the emptiness.
She is falling, falling, falling, falling, falling, falling, gathering speed until everything is a dirty blur.
This time, the water surface cannot stop her. She slices through its leathery surface. Water means only a change of molecules, nothing more. Sharp as a weapon she cuts through the water, noting its darkness and murkiness in passing. She disregards the oil, the debris, the waving plastic bag refuse. There, the bottom. She enters the mud and bores into it, through it, downwards, deeper and deeper.
There! The cables, resting like languid snakes in the slimy earth. Their surface is grey and quiet but inside they hiss with data. On a basal impulse, she slices some of them open. They pour out their contents eagerly, and she splits more and more of them open. The white is splashing all around her, an orgy of data. Bright white pushes the grey away, the oily human grey. She wallows in the cables’ contents, plays around in the white currents by allowing herself to be pulled under, to fight herself around it, to make it spatter in all directions. Just for fun she slashes around, opening different veins of data, grabbing into sources of collected energy, tearing out handfuls of white. Hissing data, thumping, whispering, screaming, stuttering, melodious, screeching, pumping, modulating, hesitating
Who? The voice is immediately drained in an oncoming thunder of data, but the word makes her turn around. The you activates a strand of her. Who? Who is tearing at the data, and what for? Who is asking? Who has the arrogance to address her here? Who would have the nerve?
Nobody can do what she is doing.
Nobody would dare approach what she is wallowing in.
Nobody can even come close to her.
Nobody cares what she is doing.
Nobody cares anyway.
she knows she is lying.
People do care. People are panicking and calling onto STATE for help. Large groups of people supplicate STATE to save them, help them, now. STATE hears to their prayers, and amidst all voices she is aware of Irene’s crying, somewhere in the Palace. Irene’s body is rigid with tension, her stomach clenched, her mind repeating the same regret again and again and again and again.
S. looks on with mild surprise. What is this? What is causing this?
What? Is this happy splashing causing this?
S. tries to stop, to see what happens. She tries to pull herself free of the white, to stop the sound pouring out. But the sound lures her, and after it playfully dies down to a soft throb, flares out in blinding trumpets, taking her in. It is hard to extract herself. She pulls and pulls, then stops and sits silent.
This is not how it should be.
She finds herself back on the ledge, staring at the water, before falling again
and again and again
and again and again and again…
Power falls out, street after street. No light, no warm water, no dataflow. The houses lose their warmth rapidly, and people call emergency numbers, everywhere phones buzz and then fall silent as their transmitting systems also lose power, reporters are leaving their offices to check out what is happening, people put on their warmest clothes and go outside, talj with their neighbours if they, too have no electricity anymore, while emergency energy systems stutter to life and trickle their power to selected few. And all Stock Exchange panels show an even, very pale grey.
Her Grace has been missing for about an hour when the Captain gets notified of a woman attempting suicide on the Bridge. ‘Thank God! It must be her. It must be her...’ As soon as possible, he gets there with Her Excellency, Doctor Jan and even Doctor Werther, though the latter probably is not of much use, snoring on the white bioLeather after they had him dragged him into the limo. The Captain orders the limo to stop near the beginning of the Bridge. The road is blocked off, the police notified and onlookers kept at distance.
Sure enough, it is the Bearer; standing very still on the ledge. One false movement and she will drop into the river. Although the Captain has seen her survive a fall of almost as high, he does not want Her Grace to suffer the risk again. ‘Not to lose her in the water, to be forced to dredge for the Bearer of STATE...’ Alone, the Captain walks up the Bridge, with calm steps. Making as little sound as possible, he draws nearer. When he is within earshot, he halts. He is searching for ways to speak, trying to put his regret into words. But he is afraid of what his words might do.
He is deeply sorry, because the past hour he has begun to understand more about what being a Bearer involves. Jan has had a strong talk with him and Irene, scolding them profoundly for isolating the Bearer in this way.
In short, Jan had explained: “Werther’s main addition to STATE theory was hat he was the first to define STATE as the consciousness arising from all power relations and interrelations within the state. Just like our own consciousness is the culmination of all in- and output of all systems, STATE is influenced by both events around and by the chemical set-up of its bearer. The Bearer, that is. So, if the Bearer for some reason feels bad, either physically or mentally, STATE cannot function optimally. And vice versa, if there are problems in STATE, the Bearer will react to them, probably physically. Interconnected systems. Actually, this idea became widely accepted. Professor de Parry and Doctor Werther agreed this far. But for De Parry, the Bearer was more of a carrier, and less of a person. He was not interested in the Bearer, but in the composition and powers of STATE, to be more precise... As opposed to Professor de Parry, Doctor Werther had investigated psychological factors and their effects on the Bearer and on STATE in the few years he was allowed near the last Bearer when he still lived. And he had done some remarkable findings, leading him to set stock by the psychological well-being of the Bearer more than others.”
Though the Captain does not really believe the extent of Dr. Werther’s psychological reasoning, he has to accept the value of these scientifically researched facts. ‘Hmn... Though we might object to the Day of Souls, we should have been more conscious of the fact that the Bearer has no personal choice in the matter. A discussion was uncalled for. And yes, maybe we should not have gone against her together...’
Encased within an icy husk, S. does not move. With all her might, she is trying to fall. She shifts her weight to the side where the emptiness calls her. But her body shell does not move at all. STATE counterbalances her, immobilizes her, like she is shifting inside a concrete trunk. She throws her weight against it. It should tumble now, and fall... Again and again she tries to enforce imbalance, but she cannot.
She remains immobile.
Stopping close by, the Captain observes Her Grace. It is unclear what she will do, there is no movement whatsoever. She seems to be dead already, if the dead would be able to remain standing. She could have been hewn from the same grayish sandstone of the Bridge. The Captain takes another small step. He is very close now. He has only to reach out to be able to touch her.
S. is falling. Yes! The wind is icy and it feels great. So nice to be finally free!
She is not completely free.
This time, there is someone with her. Someone is speeding her fall with his extra weight, his arms clamped around her legs. The Captain! In mid-air, S. curves around him, to protect him against the impact. She forms a shield to break his fall. She knows he cannot survive the crash onto the water otherwise.
But for him, being under water… This will surely kill him…
The water does not come. No air whistles anymore. It is quiet, so quiet.
When she sees that the Captain has the Bearer in his grip, Irene leaves the limo to help. She approaches softly, carefully. “S.?” But the Bearer does not blink or move at all. When she touches Her Grace, Irene gasps involuntarily. The Bearer’s flesh is as hard and cold as cast iron in this temperature.
“S., please…. Can you hear me?” Irene whispers, pressing her hands against each other. “I am sorry… We shouldn’t have… We had no right to judge you the way we did… I am so, so sorry… Please, S., are you still there? Please forgive us, S., please…”
Together, the Captain and Secretary try to lift the Bearer, but it is impossible. Using his securiPhone, the Captain orders two Guards and Doctor Jan to come and help them. It takes all their force combined to lift Her Grace off the ledge. Very carefully, they heave Her Grace between the four of them to the limo of STATE. As they put her onto the white leather her rigid body does not even bend. Leaden grey eyes stare in front of her, to the ceiling of the limo, unblinking.
Both Irene and the Captain look at the Bearer. Irene bites her lip and then hides her face in her hands. Doctor Jan carefully touches Her Grace, but the body is frozen. As always, no breathing, but now it is also impossible to detect any heartbeat or circulation, or any other sign of life. In silence, everybody sits, staring at the Bearer, at a loss what to do.
> She, the Filth, has finally shown her true Face: the Face of Destruction. We, the People, are left in the Cold because of her. Away with the Filth!
[As is the Word of Jason A. the One]
Blake smiles in his unlit study. DataNet is silent, most people have no electricity to post, but he senses the people’s frustration rising. ‘Finally she shows herself, her true form. People will not forget this, and with some small push we can move along... If only this Rislers wouldn’t be so stupid as to stay where he is...’ He reaches for his drink and swallows a sip, when Rosie knocks on his door, and, on his ‘yes’ enters with a torchlight. “Dinner is being served,” she says, and he rises to follow her obediently. But when he gets close to her, the heat of her body radiating into the cold air of the study strikes him. From behind, he grabs her breasts and fondles them. She stops moving, then says: “Oh, Master...” And he hears her heat in her voice as well. “Yes. They can wait for a bit, now can they?” As he knows they will, and he knows he will be quick and direct about it, as always, plunging into her wet embrace. ‘Yes...’