S./The Bearer of STATE - a book by Karin Arink

Chapter 7: the fall

The soldiers’ dataCommunicator informs them that the inner city Borough is barricaded off by the President’s tanks. Without reacting in any way, the Bearer orders a military helicopter and directs it to the nearest landing platform by passing coordinates to the chopper’s pilot and informing the limo driver. She does not even seem to have to think about it, the information just issues from her mouth, the best option, clear and precise. 14:39 p.m.

A few minutes later, the limo halts before a high building, and, flanked by the soldiers and Jan, the Bearer goes up to the roof and enters the helicopter. Without delay, it takes Her Grace up.

--- Bearer of STATE for 4 hours, 34 min and 08, 09, 10---
The state is in turmoil, the President is mobilizing all forces still true to him, fast-speed data summoning forces from the provinces to immediate stand-by in the capital. More and more people seem to pick up the dataFlow reports of the broken mausoleum of STATE, the knowledge of the Bearer spreading faster than even the President had feared. Civil war is near, very near, and she has to try and stop it.

Around the National TV Tower, many troops are concentrated. The Bearer orders the helicopter to circle once over the area. On one side of the square, to the right of the National TV building, there is a small but bitter crowd with crude banners, calling for the President to go. They push in the direction of NationalTV??, yelling for freedom of press, for information about STATE, news about the Bearer. They are protected by a small group of newly converted STATE soldiers. Opposite, armed Elite forces of the President keep their weapons aimed at the pro-STATE crowd. They are heavily armed and the STATE soldiers are no match for them. It is clear that the Elite forces are only waiting for a sign, maybe for a camera to film the violent beating of this ‘insurrection’. To go straight down is the only option, and the Bearer tells the soldiers so.
"Your... Your Grace... This... This is clearly suicide!"
But she insists to let her go down alone. “If STATE will not protect me, nothing can,” she says. After some hesitation, she is put in a harness and shown how to let herself down. And then she goes.

The air is cold up here. Far to the west, the thin sun is behind a cloud and S. has a very beautiful view of a clear turquoise to blue sky above the high buildings.
She lets herself down carefully, not thinking about what will be next.
Though the air moves around her, there is no sound. The dense blue surrounds her, its spectacle overcoming hers. Nobody below her notices her.
S. slowly whirrs down.
Then, a TV spotlight hits on her. Immediately, a roar of the crowd, and within seconds all Elite troops are firing on her. A high whistling splits her head as audio assails her. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Tak tak tak tak tak tak tak. Wroooooooooooaaaagh! Chop. Chop. Chop.
Tak tak tak tak tak...
The bullets are like raindrops, a very thick cloud but not hurting her one bit. All bullets miss, sometimes only just.
S. holds very still.

The Elite troops shoot and shoot until a lot of ammunition is spent. Meanwhile, STATE soldiers aim for their backs and a fair number of Elite men drop dead.
Seeing their disadvantage, a clever Elite sergeant shouts: “Aim for the rope!”

Tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak.
Sure enough, the bullets bite through the hardSteel cable. Just above her head, the strands unwind, first one by one, then more rapidly, while S. tries to hold the rope with her bare hands. The metal bites her skin, hurting terribly.
She is still very high up.
Pang! The last strand splits and tears, and S. falls.
And falls.
And falls.
The wind howls in her ears, harder and harder.
She falls.

The crowd utters a strange sound, between a stifled cry and intake of breath.
NationalTV cameras catch the image of a slightly built woman, arching in mid-air as she drops from more than fifty meters in the sudden silence.
STATE glitters once in the spotlights.

S. thuds on the square’s red stone pavement, her fall only broken by some corpses that were lying there. Even after her body has stopped moving, her mind speeds onwards, through the sand, through the wires twisting in the sand, through the sewers, the mud and into the welcoming
white.

The Elite troops hesitate before venturing near her.
Is she..?

?
After what seems to be ages, the spotlights’ blaze on the fallen Bearer brightens. Those standing near look on closely. Is she?
A slight movement. The Bearer turns, like in a deep sleep, but nobody can see her clearly.
They can when she suddenly stands up. Very normally, like she just stumbled over a pavement tile, she picks herself up and stands in a circle of light.
STATE is a white, blinding rectangle and the new Bearer is no more than a silhouette behind it.

15:08 p.m.
The Elite troops jerk out of their surprise and pull at their arms, but they cannot lift them against STATE. When the STATE soldiers realize this, they run up towards the Elite troops and disarm them.

Through the crowd, accumulating verisimilitude, the story is passed on: the Bearer of STATE survived a fall of 50, no: a 100, no: more than a 1000 meters and disarmed an army one-handedly! Even those who had come to see a terrorist killed now applaud her, the crowd turning pro-STATE this instant, though some will negate this afterwards.

> she fell and died and then got up again!
> did you hear? did you see?
> we serve STATE!
> we serve the Bearer of STATE!

Power tingles in the people, a power they have not been able to feel for a long, long time, and all frustrations of the past exit in a huge surge forwards.
A roar.
Like a tide, the crowd approaches. More and more people are coming out of buildings and side streets, adding to the flow, people are picking up speed to get there first, people are being pushed aside, people are pushed under and trampled.
Surrounded by the captured Elite men on the ground, the Bearer of STATE stands. Only a few STATE soldiers have survived to protect themselves.
The pavement is trembling from the feet approaching. The feet, pounding on the hard red surface. The human masses are closing in, about to trample them in their enthusiasm, when the new Bearer says: “People of STATE.”
The new Bearer speaks casually, as if she is there alone, but again her voice reaches to even the last person who just came running out of his house, still pulling on his coat.
As one huge organism, the crowd stops right there. No one moves, no one speaks.
“People of STATE! Finally, we will be free of the President.
I am your Bearer of STATE now.
You know me as a dangerous terrorist. But I fought only to serve democracy. I fought to serve you.
Now it is my opportunity to do so.
But it will not be an easy time. STATE must first find and destroy the powers that have held our country captive the last years.
STATE must learn to rule this country as it is now, to make way for a new government.
We all must work to make a new society possible, and again: it will not be easy. But if we do not give up, our country will be a free country.
Finally!
Because it is my fate and my duty to serve STATE.
To serve you all!
But before STATE can do so, we must return to our houses, quietly.
Remember: the Bearer of STATE is your Head of State, and I am your Bearer, at least until the Bearer’s Test, tomorrow.
No more orders of the President or ANY of his men must be followed.
We all serve STATE! We only serve STATE!
So, to prevent conflicts, stay away from the streets, stay at home with your families, eat only what you still have there.
Do NOT go out!
Listen to STATE.
There will be no civil war.
If the President desires to bear STATE, he can come and get it at the Bearer’s Test, tomorrow.
STATE wishes you all a safe return home, and follow the dataFlow news!”
A great hush for some minutes, some people slightly moving to catch a glimpse of the Bearer of STATE. Then, softly talking amongst themselves, the crowd brakes in small groups, returning home as quickly as possible.

15:31 p.m.
The Bearer stands very still.
Around her, soldiers slowly relax, as they at last see no immediate danger. They check on the wounded, the blare of ambulances approaching.
From the crowd, a small group of former Elite Guards move towards them, kept back by the Army officers and held tight, disregarding their arrogant shouts that they should be brought to Her Grace, instantly. Finally, one soldier plucks up courage to approach the Bearer. “Your Grace, forgive me, are you all right?” he asks and the Bearer blinks, nods slowly before turning her grey eyes on him. “What shall we do with these men?” and he points to the Elite Guards.
“Ah… They are my Guard of STATE,” she says softly.
Suddenly respectful, the soldiers hasten to release the Captain and his Guards.
Jan comes whirring down from the helicopter and is introduced as Her Grace’s personal physician. He gently presses Her Grace to let him examine her after her fall, but she will not let him.

---Bearer of STATE for 5 hours, 23 minutes and 43, 44, 45---
S. wants to rest and is irritated at it. In her group she was known to be indefatigable, and now after each and every move she feels like lying down! Again, her body is throbbing, and time is bobbing along, the intervals dragging. Focus. Before she can leave this scene, she has to claim National TV’s cooperation first.

Surrounded by her Guard and some extra soldiers, the Bearer enters the National TV building.
After just witnessing the whole scene first-hand and seeing its mass appeal, the Director present cannot refuse the Bearer of STATE, but he fears the President as well. Smiling politely, he offers Her Grace a seat and some coffee, then claims he will need approval of his Board to do this. He leaves the office, bowing.

15:29 p.m.
15:38 p.m.
15:52 p.m.
The Captain paces through the Director’s waiting room, tired and agitated. ‘This is incredible! To have Her Grace wait like this! At a time like this! What takes them so long!’ He had tried to make the secretary call the Director time and again, but she had said that unfortunately, she did not come through. To appease him somewhat, refreshments are brought in, sandwiches and fruit. The men offer Her Grace the best, but she does not eat anything. While they cannot help themselves and finish the last bit of food within minutes, she is sitting unmoving, only a slight shiver sometimes shaking her frame. Concerned, the Captain glances at her face, still very pale under her natural tan, her complexion a weird grey. ‘Is she ill?’
16:08 p.m.

---Bearer of STATE for 6 hours, 0 minutes and 16, 17, 18---
STATE is content here, relatively safe. The President will not bomb this building, will not disable his main tool for communicating with the people, not now. It is good to be here and rest. S. can wait.
While her outward body sits still, things shift within her. She does not put words to it, she cannot, but while she sits, her inner composure changes. The sharp voices commenting on her, chiding her, blocking her, are gone, and instead she continually hears a cacophony of sounds: the high sound crying out from time to time, the low sound of voices speaking next door, a whirring inside of her, a faint whispering. At times she gets hot, she tries to disregard a painful stirring in all of her tissues and fibers and watches as time moves by.

16:54 p.m.
A moment before the Director steps in, the Bearer opens her eyes and stands. Wringing his hands uncomfortably, the Director perfunctorily bows to her. Barely polite and visibly afraid of the camCorders positioned here, as everywhere, he conveys the promise that National TV will broadcast the recent events in their entirety on dataFlow, and that they will keep up an as neutral as possible coverage of subsequent events.
S. knows that with the President watching, this as much she could hope for. After years of bending images, being neutral will not be possible for them. But STATE will know what happens and STATE will force National TV to keep its promise, so she is content. She inclines her head and turns to leave.
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