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

Chapter 83: changes and match

Rosa is busy dusting around in the full study. Even though she knows Her Grace is wont to sit here, she jumps every time she encounters her, sitting still as a sculpture somewhere.
‘Hail STATE! Hail the Bearer of STATE...’ Tacitly, Rosa agrees that the study is the most comfortable place to be in. As she is the only person allowed to clean in here, she too spends time here regularly in an attempt to keep the disorder at bay without deranging Blake’s things too much. While she works around, the weather is changing continually, making the study bright and dark alternately. Her normally cheerful mood is also swinging strangely. Looking at and handling his things, she is aware of how fondly she always looks on them, allows them to partake in the feelings she has for Blake. He of course had spotted her soft spot soon enough; and had taken advantage as she had known he would. She loved him for it, for his generosity. ‘But now, somehow, things are shifting meaning... Oh!’ Rosa realizes that Her Grace is still there. Though she does not really believe the Bearer would descend to the level of doing so, the idea of having her thoughts about Blake readable for someone as all-powerful as STATE makes her ashamed and she tries to think of something else.
In vain.
The whole study smells of Blake, is an externalization of his preferences and habits, his persona. The full ashtray with pipe ashes amidst the books, old-fashioned pens lying in the oddest places, piles of magazines and reports and dataNet print-outs and hand-size dataCorders, everywhere slipping out of shape, on the wall a seemingly haphazard collection of notes arranged very precisely during hours of concentrated thought… Rosa tries to force her mind away from his things as she dusts around. ‘Haven’t been on OCC for days now, they probably have noticed... Must make up some excuse, it won’t do to say the Bearer was sitting here... Oh... Trust STATE... Hail the Bearer of STATE’ Then, the door bell chimes. ‘Another unexpected guest?’ Rosa rises and curtseys before leaving the room. The Bearer does not move at all.
In the hallway she finds the door already open. Hank is holding it; and when her eyes adjust to the bright light flaring outside Rosa sees the STATE limo on the driveway. Guards of STATE are everywhere, some just getting off their motoBikes, one already opening the limo. The Captain comes out and looks around him sternly before bowing to help the other passenger step outside. ‘Oh... It’s Her Excellency herself!’ Aggressively, the Guards enter the house, push Rosa aside and check for people present. Most servants have the afternoon off, as always on Wednesdays. ‘This is a penetration of our house!’ Rosa thinks, glad that Blake is not at home. ‘He would have exploded with a fury…’ As haughtily as she dares, Rosa stands still and is allowed to stay there after a frisk from one of the Guards.
The Secretary of STATE walks from the limo, her blonde hair catching the sun rays before a cloud masks the sun’s brightness again. ‘What is happening? Are they collecting Her Grace? Are they checking on Her?’ Rosa bows as the Captain and the Secretary enter and approach her.
“You. Where is she?” The Captain’s voice coolly asks, so she looks up to answer. Her eyes take in his strong jaw, the clear-cut nose, the cold brown eyes. ‘All measure and control, the opposite of Blake…’ Rosa’s mouth is too dry to speak, so she points to the three steps leading to the study instead. Without another look, the Captain, the Secretary and three Guards are past her and move towards the study.
Two other Guards close the heavy realOak front door as the limo drives off to the side, out of sight. ‘They are here to stay, at least for some time. Oh God!’ Rosa thinks and blushes for no reason at all. Smoothing back her hair without being conscious of it, she turns to rush off somewhere, to the kitchens, anywhere. ‘Dear God!’ The wholeness of her existence, her peace of mind, is ripped apart. She does not want to think about it, not now, not here, Guards near the door and looking at her sternly. But before she can leave the hallway, a Guard calls at her from the study: “Hey! You! Come here!”
As Rosa comes closer he opens the door and beckons her in. She glances at the Bearer, who still sits still as a stone in the same corner. The Secretary of STATE is kneeling near her, looking intently at Her Grace, nods at something, frowns slightly to think something over.
‘Apparently they are discussing something…’
The Captain beckons Rosa closer. She cannot help but catch a whiff of one of his scents. ‘His aftershave?’ “Who is serving on Her Grace?” he asks. Rosa thinks. ‘Actually, nobody had been. But in effect, I did.’ Softly she says: “I was, Captain, Sir”
“What is you name, then?”
Rosa glances at him and swallows. ‘Why am I feeling this?’ “Rosa, Sir.” She bows slightly and feels like the young girl she had been when she entered her master’s service. ‘The same. I am the same!’ She had not blushed for such a long time, she is surprised to find herself doing so. She, the most steady person in this household. ‘What is coming over me!?’
“Get us some tea and prepare some large room, eh…” He looks blankly for a brief moment and then continues, “yes, the dining room would suit fine for our guest.”
“But…. Sir..!” Rosa feels she has to defend her master’s house at least to some extent. “Mr. Feyman”
“This is an affair of STATE. Your master nor the guest need to know of our presence here today. Do I make myself clear?”
His eyes bore into hers and she understands perfectly. Curtseying, she backs off a few steps before turning to leave the study. How she wishes she would feel his eyes on her back, tracing the curve of her hips..! But she knows it would be a delusion to think he is doing so.
While she gets things organized and makes sure neither Hank nor Steven comes near the study, she is distracted by her emotions. But most of all, by how much the intensity of them is like what she feels for Blake. ‘So there is something generic there after all…’
- ‘Power.’
She suspects the word is not coming from her mind, but she refuses to think about its origins now. ‘Yes, power...’ Covers have fallen off her eyes and she sees that it was his power that had attracted her to Blake and now to the Captain: power, not love. ‘My whole romantic story of living my life in service of a secret love was a lie! I am living a lie, allowing him to take advantage of it!’ She is repulsed by herself, by her predilections. But then, the front door is being opened by Hank and she has mercifully no more time to think.

Dressed in a peacock blue realSilk suit, a multi-colored scarf fluttering in another capricious gust of summer wind, Mr. Martin Rislers descends from his nice car, flanked by two bodyguards. Curious and on guard, he approaches the door opened for him. Of course, he has had the address investigated into when he found the anonymous invitation, and he knows the house to be registered to a Mr. Blake Feyman, husband of the successful producer Sarah Feyman and into advertising himself. He has no clue as to the reasons of the invitation, but contrary to his habit of declining all but the best, he had decided he should go. ‘It is a Wednesday afternoon, not much I would miss, anyway. Let’s see what happens,’ he had thought. Inside, he allows his eyes to adjust to the dark for a moment, before handing his scarf to a servant with pleasant curves.

Rosa feels his eyes on her and again an unbidden glow courses through her body. She has recognized him from NationalTV? and to her shame feels her body attune to his presence even if she does not like his face. ‘Commonplace, a discrete leer disguised as an open smile, eyes hiding behind creases of laughter... Fake.’
The Guards of STATE had left the hallway before Mr. Rislers had entered, so the hall is empty as Rosa curtseys to Mr. Rislers and shows him through the antechamber and into the dining room. He looks around surprised. It is only 15:48 p.m., not dinnertime for a long while.
“Tea will be served shortly,” Rosa says, attracting his gaze as she turns and walks towards the door. His eyes do linger on her and she is satisfied, redeemed though disgusted at her taste. ‘Power. Power. Power.’ When she crosses the hallway to go to the kitchens, she sees the Captain, Her Excellency and Her Grace come out of the study.
‘Make sure he stays until Blake arrives.’ The Bearer had barely communicated with her during her stay, but Rosa recognizes the voice instantly from when she had entered the house. She bows in acquiescence.
Again her body is attuned to him, the Captain; its measure of indifference towards the person directing any power is blatant. Rosa tries to disregard all such sensations, and thinks: ‘Blake will be happy that the Bearer is gone upon his return!’ In her mind, the Bearer answers instantly: ‘Yes, he will be. Inform him now, to make him return. But do not inform him of Mr. Rislers! Let them meet here.’
Rosa bows again; and then the country’s most powerful people leave the house. The moment the limo is leaving the drive-way, a deep sense of quiet marks the atmosphere’s change. ‘The Bearer has left!’ But Rosa’s mind is not calm. Though outwardly docile and performing her duty as hostess to perfection, she fears the moment when she will be alone. Her persona is a ruin, and she will change her life, very soon. She does not know yet, that she will have a violent affair with Martin Rislers, that she will betray Blake to such an extent, but she intimates she might do something like it soon.

Served tea with exquisite cakes by the attractive servant who continues to hover near him, Martin takes the measure of this man, Blake. His is a house not often seen and the few well-selected photos on an ornate side-desk show him to be intimate with some of the nation’s greatest entrepreneurs and politicians. Martin sits back and envisions himself in their place: the most powerful man of this state, in the future, the near future...

When Blake Feyman returns to his house not much later, he meets to his surprise the politician he had been following with interest and irritation for the past months: Martin Rislers. During a nice dinner with plenty of his best wines, they soon find common ground: their dislike for the Bearer of STATE. Blake had thought Martin Rislers was maybe still a pawn of her, so he is more than content to hear this promising politician had become a vicious opponent. Martin, flattered by exactly the right mix of honesty, trust and regards, and tickled with allusions to other great clients, is impressed.
Over deserts, they reach a deal.
Happy with Her Grace’s removal from his house, Blake is thrilled by his new big project: the image of Mr. Rislers, the politician for a new era. “You will have to change your style of dress, Martin, to start. You look like a spoiled rich man’s son, did you know? Try something more simple and stylish! You will never win appeal of the people this way! Think of them as YOUR people, Martin. They are through with being the people of STATE! We are finished with her! She is creating a mess wherever she is...”

> As we continue to feed the Filth, so we, the People, will remain tainted by its Power.
[As is the Word of Jason A. the One]

It is the biggest project of his life and Blake cancels many others for it. His friends and acquaintances praise him for taking on political responsibility, for sticking out his neck, and many support his cause with all of their networks. With almost infinite resources and connections to dataNet, dataFlow and NationalTV?, his campaign for Martin Rislers’ Party of the People is full speed on the move. Where before, only more militant groups supported him, he is soon the icon of good sense, the perfect son-in-law, the informed and straightforward politician. More and more people start to talk about this man, his modesty, his normality, his good-naturedness as compared to other rulers...
Meanwhile, Blake discovers that the Bearer had left him with his private life in ruins. For months after she had at long last left his house, Rosa refuses to bed with him and he curses the Bearer for messing with her mind. His wife divorces him openly and marries Johan Delaware, Minister of Internal Affairs, after an indecently short interval. And he soon finds out Rosa and Martin are having sex in his house. Blake does not blame Martin. He blames STATE and STATE only, for having changed the time in his house. And he works as best as he can, to bring out Martin’s talents, to make him so powerful he will overthrow the Bearer, at the coming elections, or, if needs be, before. ‘I will make that small woman obsolete. I will take her time. All of her time, soon. As soon as possible.’

He never considers that that might have been her aim. In the STATE limo, S. knows what will unfold, and watches silently before she allows her attention to return to the present.
---Bearer of STATE for 1 year, 3 months, 1 week, 0 days, 5 hours, and---
‘To the Palace Office, Irene. Alexander has the papers ready?’
“Oh yes, uh” ‘yes, Your Grace. The final draft is awaiting you there. Of course, if there are any changes’
‘STATE knows the document, Irene. It is time for the Seal of STATE.’

In the Palace, Her Grace spends hours inside the Office, alone with Alexander. Page after page of expensive waterMarked paper enters STATE and exits with the New Constitution, signed with the Seal. Alexander’s thick lips are smiling. Every time his hands touch STATE, a brief flash of white touches him, smelling of his mother...

Some pages are printed with small corrections, but that evening, the New Constitution is finally ratified by Her Grace, the Bearer of STATE. Irene celebrates in her chambers with Mc Kinsey and Mr. de Brown, the chairs of both Committees and the people who had worked hardest to achieve this. The Captain had claimed to be otherwise occupied. While they drink champagne in quiet celebration, Irene sighs as she looks ahead and sees how much still had to be done before the elections can be held. ‘The CCAP for one thing will have to be activated soon... Anyways, we have 9 months before elections will be proclaimed... There is some time... We still have some time...’

For days on end, the Bearer does nothing. The death of the Countess, the subsequent appearance of the Bearer of light in Parliament, and her disappearance for days immediately afterwards have polarized the press. Some venerate STATE and talk exaltedly about her reaching her full potential, while more and more people become afraid of the powers she has shown to embody. Now, also pro-democratic people start to doubt the Bearer more openly. ‘She is clearly losing her humanity rapidly. What good can such an entity mean to the people?’
Though Irene tries to discuss the changes and their dangers with Her Grace, the Bearer does not react to her at all. Even more than before, she is immersed in STATE, only once mentioning something about parameters needing adjustment, for the future of STATE. So, Irene works day and night to calm the sentiments, which also threaten to disturb any future Elections. ‘Oh... the elections...’
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