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

Chapter 85: a new wind

Week after week the Bearer sits near the river. For the Guards, a routine has established itself, and some even start to enjoy the uneventful hours in the summer sun.

July 8th, in the second year of the Bearer’s Reign
Patrick has just taken over guard and settles down for a quiet watch, when suddenly, the Bearer rises. In one fluid movement, she walks down the bank and crosses the street, while Patrick has only just registered her movement. “RedSnake is moving! Request back-up! I repeat: call for back-up!” Quickly, he follows Her Grace and is just in time to use the pedestrian traffic light turned green for STATE. He catches a glimpse of Her Grace, walking down the sidewalk in her quick even pace and hastens to catch up with her.
A glimpse of her back, the grayish cloak gleaming between the suits of office men going out for their lunch break. ‘Where is she now? Oh...’ Luckily, he recognizes the small head of STATE bobbing down the stairs into the underGround.

---Bearer of STATE for 1 year, 3 months, 3 weeks, 5 days, 2 hours---
For STATE, there are no streets, no traffic lights, no underGround. She moves and though she can will her senses to activate, she does not desire them to. The white undulates as she moves, pulling her forwards by some need. For the first time after finishing Matil, there is a need, a strong need. Almost a craving; and STATE has been looking out for it for quite some time. Casper. He is here and he is ready, almost ready to consent. Moving towards the point of probable encounter through a rapidly changing and stuttering, howling, whispering, thumping scenery of chance possibilities, she knows she has to hurry, the moment awaiting her is almost over: she has to keep up to remain in the rhythm of time.
Here.
Ah…
The white calms down to a hush full of anticipation.
Ah.
Before the sensory input comes the welcome of the white. STATE opens up and reacts in a way she never has. The push and pull of the white are resonating with some other undulating movement. The resonance is very deep and touches the core of STATE, making for a hyper-sensitive state in which different regions of both the physical and the mental are titillated.
Wow!
Curious, she checks all channels of information to see where the input originates.
Audio.
A sound unlike any other, both piercing and soothing, melodious and brusque, a sound which leaves long gaps in which the white writhes with anticipation and the body shell contracts in vain to be able to withstand the impact of the tone to come. In the sound a wild energy, bitterness and also jubilance at the sheer power of the notes. And a rhythm like something S. had felt like long, long ago, a thrusting rhythm, dipping and swinging in her limbs. It has a cadence that STATE recognizes from way deep in its history, speaking without ever forming words, the echo’s delay accentuating spatial patterns to create an environment of layered information pulling at and activating all the various strings composing her, composing STATE. S. is vibrating even though she stands completely still. She does not know nor care how long she is standing there.

Knowing that the ways of STATE are never clear but that opposing them will create some kind of havoc, Patrick and the two Guards who have arrived to assist wait reverently and discretely, dispersed around the smelly metro hallway. Her Grace is standing in the middle of one of the corridors widening to converge with the others just before forming a hall for the ticket machines. She stands transfixed, staring with unseeing eyes at a young man, who is playing clarinet with the clarinet’s case open before him. He looks like a student, well-dressed though his suit is nonchalantly shabby. His long blonde hair is swinging in front of his face as he is concentrating on applying the right pressure, the precise mouthing of the reed. His long, bony fingers drum and stroke and linger on the keywork, following their own logic. His instrument is generating the most bewildering variety of sounds. It is hard to tell if they are pleasing or annoying; and obviously most people do not think the effort is worth their money. But the young man does not care. He is as immersed in his music as the Bearer is.
They stand there for at least forty minutes.
Fond of wind music himself, Patrick is quite enjoying the young man’s unusual talent. Though his improvisations are certainly not easy to listen to, they are clearly ingenious and ground-breaking. Slowly, Patrick realizes that he has been hearing other tones than the clarinet’s. Twining around the clarinet’s characteristic nasal tone, very high and incredibly subtle, but gradually getting louder and more decisive, auditive patterns are playing against the musician’s. He looks around. ‘Who is making them? Or are these just echoes of the sound building up into intricate patterns?’ His ears point to the Bearer. ‘Huh? It cannot be that STATE..?’
He is just wondering how long this is going to last, when he sees a Police officer wandering towards them. There is a slight swoop in his step, maybe a late lunch with too much to drink, or maybe his natural manner. He has the cheerful aspect of someone who is about to take action, his stick already in one hand, lightly bouncing into the palm of the other. ‘Trouble.’ Patrick looks at the other Guards to ascertain they are alert as well. With a frown of disapproval, the Policeman swaggers over to the musician. “Well, well, young man! And what are we up to in the middle of this public hallway, if I might ask?”
At first, the clarinetist does not react at all.

STATE hears the music faltering, the timing off, the tone less pure; and she opens her eyes.
S. does not move, only looks at the human who was making the sounds. Casper. Abruptly, he stops playing and glares at the Policeman disdainfully: “And why would I bother to explain to you?” His voice is unpleasant, drawling like a spoiled child’s, ruffling the Policeman instantly: “You can come to the station and explain there! You are obstructing the passage of people here and the enforcement of the law, and”
“No he is not.” S. slowly turns to the cop.
- ‘You arrogant bitch!’
With the consciousness of the public space comes a whisper of the thought-voice, who had never given up on trying to break into her mind. She flicks the voice to whisper even softer.

The Policeman looks at the interruptor angrily, his mouth opening to spit out some words, but he stops with his mouth still hanging open. ‘The woman’s pupils are white instead of black.’ This rings an alarm bell somewhere, but his slightly dazed mind does not connect to the factual data it is looking for.
“Let him be,” the woman adds.
In unison, both the Policeman and the clarinetist start talking:
“I do not need you to tell him off, I am perfectly capable of taking care of this myself. Stay out of it”
“I certainly will not allow you to tell me off, lady. Let the law take care of this and stay out of it!”

Patrick looks on, wondering whether he should intervene now. The Bearer gives off a soft glow, smiles drily and deigns to speak: “I am the law.”
Both men look at her.

Very calmly she turns to Casper: “Come with me.” He now also sees the pupils, the white becoming more then less dense when he looks closely. He is not afraid to do so. He knows whom he is dealing with. ‘That terrorist bitch! That murderer! That imposter!’ Using his length and stepping closer to look down on her on purpose, he drawls: “I hardly think so! Why would I?”

“Because it is an order!” Patrick snaps. He has stepped forwards and is standing just behind Her Grace. Two Guards approach as well but keep some distance.

The Policeman is blinking to focus on him, still trying to ascertain whom he is dealing with.
“Aaaahw, and tell me then: why now would I follow this Bearer’s orders?” the young musician drawls.
The cop’s mind swallows the information and without anybody noticing, he backs off. ---Hail the Bearer --- Hail STATE --- Trust the Bearer --- Trust the Bearer of STATE --- Serve the Bearer --- Serve the Bearer of STATE ---

Casper does not care what will happen to him. To be thrown in prison because of having opposed the Bearer would make him a hero of his family and friends. Having lost everything when the President fell, they are unanimous is their hatred for this terrorist, this usurper of power, this killer of the Countess, this semi-religious idol. ‘It’s bad enough to be scraping for some extra money in the underGround; and then to be ordered around by the very cause of our misfortunes! No way am I going to comply to her!’
“No,” the Bearer says, “you will come with me because STATE will enable you to realize your talent.” And before he can close off his mind, he sees himself working in an elegant room in the Palace, a servant at the ready, no more money problems and all his time devoted to making music, writing music, playing music to receive a standing ovation at the STATE Concert Hall… Casper swallows, his mind racing. ‘No, no, I am not going to allow myself to be bought by her! It won’t be long before she falls, and then I will have my chance,’ he thinks desperately, but he already has experienced the alternative: the unheated rooms in the unwieldy grand house of his parents, being forced to stupid jobs to help pay for food, almost no time for practicing and none at all for creating what he feels growing inside. The frustration of all these months when practical necessities kept his instrument in its case, ‘my mouthing is weakening from lack of practice, my mind too tired to even imagine what I feel I should be dreaming of - No. No, no, no! I will be fine without her! I will not be found to defect to the enemy’s camp for financial gain! She killed our friend the Countess with her bare hands, in broad daylight! No.’ With some effort nevertheless, he turns from the Bearer.

The other two Guards who have drawn closer meanwhile, make to grab hold of the upstart, but the Bearer lifts two fingers. “OK. You are welcome at the Palace any time,” she says to the young man’s impudent back. The Guards step back and make sure that no one walks into Her Grace, as one of the trains just has arrives a large group of passengers is coming out of the tunnel and walking towards the hall where they are standing. The Bearer stands motionless for a moment, as Casper packs his clarinet in the case and walks away.
‘Your Grace… If you would care to return to the Palace..?’ Patrick ventures, looking searchingly at her face.
‘Yes.’ Indifferently, the Bearer answers and turns to walk to where she clearly knows the STATE limo is waiting for such an eventuality. The Guard of STATE follows her hurriedly outside and escort Her Grace to the Palace, where the Captain and Secretary of STATE welcome them somewhat surprised.

21:09 p.m.
The Secretary of STATE enters the Palace Office and is happy to find Her Grace there, working through a pile of Loan Requests with Alexander. “Eh... Your Grace...”
‘Alexander, go make us some coffee,’ the Bearer orders and the young man crawls up and leaves them.
Irene looks to ascertain Her Grace’s state: “Er... About the Committee investigating Crimes Against the People”
“Yes. It is time to set the dates. The members have been notified. Everything is ready. Pass STATE some paper.”
As Irene guides the paper through STATE, she almost envies Alexander his job. ‘Ooooh... The white is soft and pure, almost seems to sing...’ She is happy that STATE needs three papers to print the trajectory leading from the first to the final gathering of the Committee. Looking at the dates, she wonders how STATE can prevision how many weeks the process will take. ‘Time is of no consequence any more, Irene,’ the soft voice of STATE says in her. ‘This is the last phase... STATE will need to focus first on the future of STATE, then on the future of this state; and then it will be time, to’
Strand S. does not even finish the thought. STATE does not need her to.
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