Chapter 39: punishment
The door that a day before was slammed in her face is opened respectfully by one of the Guards as S. approaches.
The Bearer walks through the corridor and enters the living room. Guards position themselves in the corners, the Captain stays near Her Grace.
“There! There she is, she the one you looked for, no?” The old farmer indicates the Bearer, turning to the Guard who is keeping him on his knees. Shocked, the Guard roughly pushes the man to the ground, the gun barrel in the old neck.
“You DO NOT point your dirty finger to the Bearer of STATE! Where do you get the bloody nerve! You did not offer Her Grace the hospitality that any citizen of this state is bound to. You have refused to help the Bearer of STATE when she came wounded at your doorstep. This is treason in the first degree and you will pay for it! Your possessions and your lives are forfeit to STATE.”
The farmer’s wife looks at the Bearer, turns white, goes down on the floor. The farmer is down also, shaking and protesting his innocence under his breath.
---Bearer of STATE for 3 months, 1 week, 6 days, 4 hours, 2 minutes and---
S. walks towards the dining table, takes some fruit from the bowl. She turns and has a chair offered, sits down and enjoys the tasty apple. She is very hungry.
“Your Grace’s breakfast is almost ready,” the Captain whispers. “Where would you prefer to be served? And… What do you want to be done with the prisoners?” Both have been kept like this, kneeling on the stone tiles, for hours.
The Bearer speaks: “STATE will be served here. And have the retinue enter the kitchen, it is a bit conspicuous to have such a crowd waiting outside a farm!
Bring the documents of ownership, they are upstairs, in the man’s study.” One Guard leaves the room to order everybody in, another to search upstairs. Her Grace adds: “Offer the woman a chair, she has been on the floor long enough. Gently.” The Captain looks surprised for a moment, but the Bearer’s orders are executed efficiently.
The farmer’s wife, once seated opposite Her Grace, makes herself as small as she can in her chair. She keeps her gaze fixed on the table and wrings her hands.
“Forgive us,” she whispers, “Don’t have no dataFlow, we did not know how Your Gr… Grace looks like… Hail STATE, we… it’s no excuse, I’m s… sorry, but my husband, he is always so s… suspicious. P… please”
The Bearer stands and allows her Guard to take off the coat. With her blood-stained clothes, the cut on her throat still visible, she looks more like she did last night. The farmer’s wife glances at Her Grace and remembers the face white and all bloodied. She bows her head, genuinely sorry she had not been able to do more for the young woman yesterday. She cries and cries, tries to stifle her sobs but does not manage to.
The Bearer is seated again, and, after a pause, speaks.
“You did give STATE what it required. And you did so endangering your own safety, by going against the commands of your husband. Your husband, on the other hand, has threatened to kill a person already wounded, a person asking for help. STATE will take the farm from him.”
“No! No, please, no, no, noooooo,” the man moans. He tries to get up, but is reminded of the gun with a jab.
“Your Grace, p… please, it is all we own,” the wife starts, but the Bearer cuts her short by lifting two fingers.
“STATE has no use for the farm, only for the slab of stone I slept on. The farm will be for you. It is up to you to decide if you want your husband to stay.”
The Guard enters with the documents of ownership and the Bearer asks the woman’s full names, alters the document and validates the changes with her Seal. The old man looks vile with a barely contained anger.
“Bring him here!” the Bearer orders. Two Guards have to drag the man, who is fighting them, over to Her Grace. The Bearer stands and approaches him.
> the bearer must go!
> the bearer must GO!
> time for a true democracy!
> STOP the hierarchy! the bearer must GO!
> stop state : time for democracy!
> time to stop the hierarchy
S. plans to wipe his memory and stretches out her hands. But when she almost touches him, she halts. Slashing through her restraint, anger claws out. She wants to punish the man as painfully as possible. This little man refused her entrance to his house. He sent her away as a common vagabond. He threatened to kill her, her, the Bearer of STATE.
He will be punished in such a way that he will never be able to talk about it.
He will pay in pain; he will pay with blood until he finally gets the enormity of his stupidity. Until he gets that no one lives after sending STATE away. His blood will leave him in slow thumps until he is finished. STATE will have his anguish, his absolute submission, his death. And no one can stop her. The Guards will admire her, for her true rulers’ behavior.
She looks into his eyes.
The Bearer’s pupils are contracted black holes in a very cold grey. The farmer senses what she is about to do and defecates in his pants. He is so afraid he cannot move anymore.
He is an animal, staring in the headlights of the car that will smash it, not a man. A despicable weak old lump of living flesh. A vile bag of skin and meat and blood and bone. A thumping brainless bag of mistrust and disrespect. He is nothing; no: he is her prey. He will die for crossing STATE. S. reaches out for him.
“No….. P…please… Your Grace… I beg you… Forgive him…” Almost inaudible, the woman pleads for her husband. S. pauses.
She turns and takes in the woman’s lined face, sees how she has suffered in this life, with this man, remembers the warm milk in the kitchen. Then, she looks again at him and sees a hard-working, grumpy and very afraid farmer. Reaching out, she gently wipes his front.
The farmer slumps and has to be carried by the Guards. The Bearer turns to the white-faced woman.
“He is not dead. But he will not remember anything about this, or about the change of ownership. Do not ever tell him what has happened. You have always owned this farm, and he will help you run it. After you have served me, you can go upstairs and help him.” She indicates the Guard to take the smelly and limp man somewhere above.
“Your Grace, your breakfast,” the Captain says. The servants with golden covered plates are already in the corridor.
“Yes. Serve those to the people waiting in the kitchen.”
The Bearer turns to the farm wife, “If you have some baliesch, I noticed you were making some yesterday?” The farm wife looks up, surprised. “B…but… Your Grace, how do you… But of course, if it pleases Your Grace…”
The Captain looks slightly disgusted at the brown porridge-like substance the farm wife is serving the Bearer of STATE, but S. eats the dish with relish, with a nice strong coffee.
On the way to the Palace of Parliament, in the limo, the Bearer discusses strategies with Martin Rislers. They disagree violently on many points. He is all in favor of a method as quick and direct as possible, she forces him to keep some balance in mind. Martin is glad that again, STATE seems to be blocking out all sound.
In the end, they agree on two things. One, before any democratic movement could be made, the Constitution has to be changed considerably. For that, a law-decreeing committee is needed, with trustworthy people knowledgeable of state law. Because of the vast STATE knowledge, Her Grace would have the role of chairman of this committee.
Two, to check on this committee, and to validate the changes in the Constitution, a second committee with representatives of various social groups has to be formed.
“But still, Your Grace, I think this set-up risks to become as elitist as the President’s so-called ‘special interest groups’. How do you plan to ensure a variety of backgrounds? Where will we find the people trustworthy enough for these tasks? There is no one we can ask for advice, there will be no neutral point of view… There is simply too much power involved!”
“STATE will select and appoint these people.”
Emboldened by their free exchange of ideas, Martin exclaims:
“And what makes you think that that does ensure a good balance? With all due respect, Your Grace, do you know what that thing is up to? Do you even control it? Well? Do you?” Silently, the Bearer looks back at him. Pushing his point, he adds: “And even if we imagine that you do, how can you trust yourself?”
The Bearer looks away and seems to freeze, refusing any answer.
Later that day, huge machines arrive at the farm with a team of professional stone carvers. With some difficulty, they commence to hew out a large block of 2 by 2.5 meters by 80 centimeters, partly by hand as machines stop to function one after the other. They work like crazy but still needs days to finish the job.
The grey, rusty-veined magnetic block of stone is transported to the Palace of STATE, to serve as the Bearer’s Bed.