Chapter 38: Rislers
S.’ body is warm and soft and heavy. On all levels, cells are recuperating, tissues being repaired, energy recharged, and an oily substance is secreted by STATE, attaining a different level of symbiosis with STATE, while S.’ mind is open for other experiences than the white.
She is dreaming. Really dreaming. An illogical string of events, slightly amusing, just simple scenes of the past and of yesterday, of going into shops and trying the back door to escape, of chancing on a beautiful butterfly and trying to keep it, of endless grey castStone corridors, the corridors of the Eastern Palace, full with bowing servants, door after door, the doors changing into the doors separated by the gilt brownStone columns of Parliament, and she knows she is forgetting something. Again, she is forgetting something... She has to change something... Soon...But she has to sleep now, her body is exhausted. She lies numb for a long, long time, longer than she remembers sleeping and deeper asleep than ever.
When she tires of the inconsequential dream events, she lets go of the narrative. Floating, cushioned in from all sides, she is alone; and though she values the solitude, she knows being left alone is not the good thing to do. The people clamoring for change are right: STATE cannot do what she has to do. She cannot be what she should to be. She is being restricted, tied in the Etiquette of STATE. S. sighs, tries to think to the time when she was in control of her life. Come to think of it, maybe she had never been in control that much, but still, being a terrorist, even being a wanted terrorist, had allowed her at least the illusion of deciding her own rules, her own way. But - to be honest, these rules were not hers; formed by the people surrounding her, by Hermon talking persuasively, his curls dancing, by Sterre laughing wildly over a successful exploit, by Moss taking her hand and telling her how proud’
Her body does not belong there anymore. It belongs to STATE.
She is STATE, and STATE has to write history. She has to perform this role. But STATE is encapsulated into an existence ruled by the people of STATE. Where do their expectations bring STATE? Is this what STATE is, what she should be? What STATE should be?
> does nothing, now does she? I’d rather have that fucking preseident ruling us than this! we only have this nice blonde secretary doing all the work, while the scrawny one is walking around insomniac, hiding in the streets at night
> around in the streets?
> yes, don’t you know? she leaving the castle, she is
> Palace, you must mean, come on man, a bit more respect!
> what for? huh? WHAT FOR? hasn’t done ANYTHIN,now has she? No-Thing
, ow if I wouldn’t be pissed off so much you’d think it funny, but really, what country we have with a ruler like this?
> I really cannot abide your language, friend! As if we do not have any SecuriPolice?
anymore! I object, I strongly object
> ow safe-ass pussy come off it, that Bearer has never reacted on anything, Harry is right-o! powers of state me ass I tell you, nothing of the kind I tell you, she ain’t got any powers, aside form not sleeping hihi
> from you mean
> from form fmor whatever, come off it I’m typing and in a hurry, she mighta come after me hah
S. is floating, not on water, but on air. From high up, she looks down. There is the farmhouse, deep under her, the rooftops orange and the treetops waving in the wind. A group of tiny people, down there, and a limo… there is her Guard. She catches wafts of thoughts, most of them utterly forgettable. Only one thought-voice sticks out, going on in repetition mode. ‘This is stupid. She is not worth it. Why are we here? We should be doing useful things and not be waiting for this insomniac who when she finally does sleep chooses to do so in this stupid countryside place. Really! Why can’t she sleep somewhere normal? This is stupid. Why do I stay here, I should resign! She is not worth it after all, the President was better. Well, maybe not better, but anyway more clear. It is impossible to work for someone who has no agenda, no time paths, nothing! This is stupid! It’s about time the Bearer of STATE starts making her political agenda! Why do we stay here? We have better things to do!’
S. pulls back from him, remembering his face. For a moment more, she allows herself to wallow in this sleep, but gradually her body becomes hot, too hot. S. tries to move, to swim in the air, but finds she cannot. She is lying in stone, soft stone, stone warm from the sun. Framed in the stone, she knows there are people she has to get in contact with, people who can help her make the changes necessary. STATE cannot do this alone. STATE should not do this alone... And one of the people who can help is the one complaining nearby. Rislers. Martin Rislers, lobbyist for the Traders’. STATE retrieves other names, though S. does not really know what to do with these: McKinsey?
, Mr. de Brown, the elderly statesman who was able to touch STATE at the Test, Doctor Wertheim, Blake Feyman. She activates her muscles and jawns.
---Bearer of STATE for 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 3 hours, 56 minutes---
An immediate flutter through the servants when the Bearer opens her eyes. The Captain, still keeping guard in kneeled position, salutes her:
“Your Grace! Forgive me, but we were so worried! How is your throat, are you hurt? Would it please Your Grace if I would call for Jan, maybe also to massage? Though to be honest, Your Grace does look well this morning!”
S. is lying on something so good, so soft, so comfortable… She sits up and feels the material behind her flatten, like a soft mattress returning to its rectangular shape. But when she feels it again, it has hardened. It is the slab of stone.
Doctor Jan approaches and briefly examines Her Grace before he cleans the cut on her neck. He is happy to have witnessed Her Grace’s sleep first hand, and now he sees the results. ‘Incredible! The flesh is harder than before but the muscles are more supple, the skin looks oiled and the temperature is more even. The auto-immune like reactions have stopped.’
He takes his paper notebook and writes: <<3 mns; 2nd wk - somn=+ (!); cre: h=+/s=++/tmp=+; ao-rcts: - (!); wnd: neck=hld>>
The Bearer of STATE rises and the circle surrounding her opens, people lowering themselves.
S. shifts her view to the one from above. The Dresser of STATE carefully approaches her from the back, offering a mantle to cover the dirty clothes. The Guards, who were keeping the retinue away from where she was lying, step aside to let the Bearer of STATE pass.
To her right lies the farmhouse, but first S. turns towards the retinue standing in small groups. Their chats interrupted, everyone bows to Her Grace. Surprised, the Guard catches up with her. Reverent thoughts surround her, petty human thoughts, tinged with a fear that originates from their long experience with her predecessor, the President. She passes through them, seeing their faces for the first time, looking for that one, the impatient one... Soon, she is face to face with the person whose thought-voice she heard before. Martin Rislers. He keeps his face very still, and bows, but STATE can gauge the grain of disrespect in the timing. She has to speak to him alone.
“Martin,” she says, and the moment Her Grace starts speaking, the people around them clasp their ears. A terrible low drone is blocking out all sound. They can see Her Grace’s lips moving, but her words are inaudible.
Only Martin can hear her. He looks up, surprised, looks around and is more so. The Bearer says: “You are perfectly right. Being a Bearer has implications that we had not counted on, both physical and practical. It is time to start working. STATE needs people to help rethink the necessary reforms in the political power structure in this country. Let me see,” the Bearer concentrates, two fingers at her nose. “Ah. You have a degree in Political History.”
Martin nods carefully. ‘How can the Bearer know all this?’ He shifts uneasily when he concludes that the rumors about STATE are probably true. ‘The Bearer of STATE can read my thoughts! Or at least, part of them... The President would not have hesitated to kill or lock away anyone dissenting in such a way, had he known or even suspected... Uh, I’d better be silent. But she does not seem angry, does not call in her Guards - in this, she seems to be true to her ideals. Ha, just in case all those around would be of a different opinion, it’s good that nobody appears to be hearing anything. Is STATE doing all this?’
“Martin. I expect you have connections or ideas as to what persons can form a committee, researching the best ways to democratize the state. The process has to be regulated in some way. World history crawls with terrible examples of starting democratic ending up the worse. We will exchange views about this later.”
For the bystanders, the drone lifts.
“STATE wants you to come with me to the Palace immediately after breakfast.”
Martin Rislers bows, grateful and more careful with his thoughts than before.
“Found? Found her, did they, and where? Hah, and do I know that neighborhood! Well folks, good to hear that Her Grace still is visiting her old hang-outs, proving she still is the scum she is!” Loud laughter erupts in the café, and Jason nods, then turns to stare at two newcomers who glance around nervously. A dark-haired man clamps them on the shoulders. “No need to act like that, people!” he booms. “Unless you’re two securiMice yourselves? In that case, we are with more than you two can handle, and your Grace has signed her First Decree herself, didn’t she?”
The two men shrink and mutter something about coming in for a beer. “Well why don’t you go get one, man? As long as you don’t piss on our good time, you’re welcome!” And again, laughter fills the room.