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

Chapter 84: white

S. stares and stares at the white, streaming in front of her, around her, into her, filling her. It is the space where she exists and the potential of her existence.
The white is light.
Its almost imperceptible grid of white dots obediently takes on the black marks, if and when required to. Waiting for her move, a small line blinks repeatedly, and then, marks arise. Signs. More and more signs, stringing themselves together to lines, stretching all along the white surface. They encompass the surface of the field and fill it steadily. From top to bottom, in any order, depending on the language from left to right, from right to left. The lines generate meanings, alterations in tone, in atmosphere. Stretching their way into time, the marks, the signs, the lines, the whole of all meanings is woven into an overall pattern, repeating itself, doubling back, developing into something else before returning to structures that remain recognizable even if they are fundamentally different from the ones before… But… wait.
The surface has altered. By attracting attention, the surface of the white has materialized. Grainy. Paper.
Smooth. Screens.
That is what STATE needs: to materialize in another form. She knows the form and STATE is collecting all material for some time now, continues to collect as she is sitting here. But for the form, she has to wait for Casper. She has to wait... again.

‘Did she do it? Did she really kill the Countess? This is terrible. This,’ the Captain rubs his eyes after he has finished reading the report of the securiPolicemen whom he had ordered to track down the fired Guard and get a confession out of him. They had clearly put the men under a lot of pressure, but he kept with his initial statement: how he had witnessed the Bearer standing with her hands tight around the throat of the Countess, whose body already was pale and limp, how the Bearer had dropped the dead body like a bag of rubbish and then had stood in the bright sun, trying to swallow something big with visible effort. ‘What on earth was she swallowing? Or maybe she had throat ache and had grabbed the Countess’ throat in return, but what for? Whatever for? She is bringing all we have built into a vile light, we will be looked at as mirror images of her predecessor... They see us like that now, already, thanks to this Guard’s nice words spread everywhere through that cunt Sarah. Argh, wish STATE had silenced that Guard before – uh... Hail STATE...’


Martin looks through the spy-hole and sees the place fill up with people. ‘Great! And this is not a small conference room either! Blake really knows his trade...’ He has never talked to such a large group before, but Blake had introduced him to a young man whom he had not taken seriously until he had opened his mouth and started talking. ‘You really cannot stop listening to Rob, he is incredible,’ he thinks; and then Martin concentrates to do the excersises that Rob had thought him. ‘Breathe... I am okay... Breathe, I am here... Breathe, I say what I have to say... Breathe’

June 14th, second year of the Bearer’s Reign
“Your Excellency,” Mr. De Brown knows her well enough to enter her Parliament Office without notice and he seats himself with a pleasing smile. Old enough to be her father, she does in fact relate to him like that and she is always happy with his visits. “Mr. De Brown! What brings you here? Nothing wrong with the new Constitution I hope?” She smiles and he smiles as the bode brings in some tea on a silver tray with delicacies; and, after a short look from Her Excellency, departs, leaving the room to the two of them.
As they wait for the tea to brew they chitchat about members of the Committee and their various political tastes. Mr. De Brown waits until Her Excellency herself has poured them both some tea. They are both looking at the steam coming from the fine cups, when he asks: “Have you considered being a candidate, Irene?” He almost never uses her name, and she looks at him. He is very serious, almost reverent: “Well? It would be the best for everyone, Irene... You know Rislers is no good, and think about who else might rise in the next months!”
“Well, at least Matil is dead,” Irene says, trying to keep her voice light. Mr. De Brown frowns: “Yes, yes, so Mc Kinsey says... But is he sure? Nobody really knows...”
“I believe him,” Irene says clearly, but Mr. De Brown looks at her reprovingly: “In any case, Matil will get a successor, one time or other, you know that! They say Almerra is gaining more influence and followers by the day... And, in the political arena, more people may follow Rislers example, even some of the Committee members we were just talking about... Do you fancy any of them as your next leader?”

Irene takes her cup and breaths in the fragrant tea. ‘No... Not really...’ Though she does not think S. is the perfect leader, she cannot imagine anybody else in her place. Mr. De Brown talks on, pleasantly: “Johan Delaware is rallying support for his candidacy, did you know?”
“Delaware?” Irene had just deigned to visit his wedding with voluptuous and famous Sarah Feyman, born Woodcroft. It had been a real media-event, celebrities milling around, mixing with Committee members, Ministers... Delaware had looked happy, but also more than a little pleased with himself, and the prospect of him as President-Elect does sour her, though he would do better than most, certainly. But she is professional enough to allow Mr. de Brown only to read her face and says: “Oh... Really? He never mentioned”
“This is how the game is played, Your Excellency. First, you consent to me discretely asking around for support: political, financial, media-wise... When I find the effort might be fruitful, I will consult you again. Until that time, you can always change your mind...”
“Aha...” Irene drinks her tea too hot and she coughs, adds some milk even though she prefers it black normally.
“Talking about changing minds, Irene... There is at least one more potential candidate... Jason Almerra might change his mind and try for the elections, though many people claim he will be the next Bearer”
“The WHAT? No way!” Irene almost shouts, then keeps her voice down, ‘the Guards...’
“Think about the future, Irene, you must always look three, four moves ahead, you know! Can I have your yes? I will, of course, be discrete...”
“Oh, Mr. De Brown, that surely is only one of your many talents... Er... well, I suppose...”
“Thank you, Your Excellency... and thanks for the tea. I will take no more of your precious time. We will stay in touch!”
After he leaves the Office, Irene cannot work for at least half an hour, pacing the room. She feels she is betraying Her Grace, though in a way she also can see she is the only one to ensure some measure of continuity of the Reign of STATE. What bugs her most, is the sudden image of thin and violent Jason, proudly parading through the capital with STATE on his belly. ‘No! NO. No...’

> Party of the People! went to their presentation and man, must say this Martin Rislers rocks!
> rocks? bit of a boring one I thought? or?
> no man, boring no! he talked about new times, he talked about obsolete relics, about times long due, he did get us thinking I must say
> But I though he is more of a spoiled one, protégé of the Bearer, he was, and close to STATE
> he was, or may have been, but he has seen the light I tell you
> Well, people, I must say that Jason is more of a seeer that Martin or the current bearer
> Bearer, you mean
> no bearer, because she will not be bearing it much longer, she was never meant to be the bearer, it was all double-play, Jason should have been the one to walk there that day, Jason
> cannot stand him, I can’t... smelly and weasely and twitching and all
> Hail the new Bearer is all I say! When the time comes the Filth will be over and done with, and we will be the ones to rejoice, we the People
> People, the People, what people are we folks? incredible, wahaha

That night, Irene tries to bring the subject of her possible candidacy to Her Grace’s attention, but again, the Bearer remains silent and withdrawn. It is hard for Irene to see her like this, and she is almost relieved when Her Grace leaves the Palace next morning.

June 15th, second year of the Bearer’s Reign
09:00 a.m.
The Bearer walks and walks in her even pace, followed by the Captain, who is secretly happy to be outside as well. They walk and walk and the Captain has to work to keep up with her. Once he is outside with her, he cannot imagine her to kill for nothing. ‘She has killed before, yes... but the last person was the President, after all... And the Countess obviously was well connected to the President... maybe there is something there, in her past, which I will never know... And well, yes, sometimes it is better not to know...’
They reach the river and Her Grace slows down. She sits on a bench, facing the river with her eyes closed. The July sun shines on her face, slides off her metalloid skin, making it shine with many small particles. She stays there, not reacting to anything around her.

13:00 p.m.
“Captain? Do you need assistance?” one of his trusted Guards contacts him on the securiPhone; and he asks for someone to pick him up inconspicuously. He is brought in quickly and comfortably. ‘Hmn, What now?’ he asks himself after a good lunch in the Palace. ‘Her Grace is so passive... What kind of state is she in, now? I’m not sure we can leave her alone now... But a whole Guard around her is superfluous and terribly ostentatious...’ so he decides to permanently have one Guard with Her Grace, positioned somewhere close discreetly.

Step. Step. Step. Step. Step/step/step/step. Step. Step. Stp... Stp... St... St...
Tweet. Twit. twit. twit. Twit. Tweeeet. Tweeeeet. Twit. Twit. Twt, twt,twt,twt. Tweeeeet.

A day passes, and another.
Every two hours, a Guard comes and replaces the previous one, day and night. It is a boring job and many a Guard spends his hours just praying that Her Grace would get up, or even look up, or anything.

June 18th, second year of the Bearer’s Reign
Proud to have been Guard of STATE since the very first day - when Her Grace had lifted him from the toilet floor and passed the gift of white through him - Patrick watches her with interest. ‘Strange, how the perception of passers-by changes all the time... At times, many people go by without even glancing at the Bearer, as if she is not present; and even I, as her Guard, have to force myself to look at the bench to be sure. And then, suddenly, something would radiate off her and attract the attention of someone approaching. But then again, sometimes, as if having second thoughts, STATE would return to her very inconspicuous presence... The passer-by looks at her, looks again, briefly surprised, then shakes his head and continues whatever he was doing, though sometimes,’ Patrick had heard that in a few cases, some interaction does take place.

The first time this happened, the Guard on duty had contacted the Captain with whispered urgency: “Captain! Sir, there is this woman… She has approached, er, RedSnake?, Sir! And now she is kneeling in front of her! What shall I do?”
“Does she seem to threaten her or cause discomfort in any way?”
“Eh… Well, no, Sir.”
“Keep close watch but do not intervene. This kind of contact is vital! Over.”

Time does no longer matter. STATE remembers: the woman sits very close and looks up at the face of STATE. Slowly, a strand of STATE pulls herself out of the data, to look at this human looking at her. Within one instant, she knows what is wrong, what is asked for and what will happen if she fulfills the unspoken demand. Within almost the same instant, STATE has decided and acted; and without further ado submerges again in the whiteness that is its core.
The woman feels the touch of STATE but does not dare to hope. But also, she does not dare to transgress on the patience of Her Grace, the Bearer of STATE, and quickly, the woman withdraws to her own life. To the changes or the sameness that STATE has inflicted on her.
For S., these encounters flavor her experience like the sea taints the wind with salt. She does no longer have to fight a faceless enemy, she knows her friends are safe and that their work is progressing well. And though she does remember there are things she could be attending to in person, she can rely on STATE to do so. From the white, she can oversee everything and adjust parameters if necessary. Why would she have to be anywhere else..?
She remains submerged in her self, the
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