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

Chapter 90: rent

December 11th in the second year of the Bearer’s Reign
07:20 a.m.
Anna wakes with a jerk of panic. ‘What happened to Bo? Why hasn’t he called out in the night!?’ She rushes over to find him still asleep in his bed. With some difficulty, Anna holds back from waking him. She crawls back in her bed for warmth, stretches and yawns. ‘Whew, sleeping for more than ten hours straight does make a difference!’ Someone stirs and sits up in the couch. ‘Shit, that woman! She is still here!’
“Good morning,” the woman says quietly, “let’s go to the bank to get some money.”
Anna starts to object, there is no money, but then Bo wakes to a violent hunger and cries and cries. The noise is deafening and nothing calms him down. It is hard to discuss or even think, and finally Sheila simply walks out of the apartment, followed by Anna dragging the carrier with Bo. Anna secures the door and together they walk.

In this Borough, all payments are still in cash, as fake value chipCards had been too prolific shopkeepers had reverted to the old system. The Bank had moved to a safer area, quite far from where they are. Public transport is too expensive for Anna and S. does not mind, so they walk.

The cadence of the carrier also calms Bo down and lulls him to semi-sleep, while he continues to suck his thumb as if milk will come out of it.

BEARER ABSENT AT GRAND PREMIERE
WHITE SYMPHONIES LEAVE PUBLIC DAZZLED AND LOST
GREAT GIFT OF WHITE
BEARER REALIZES CHALLENGING PIECE OF MUSIC – BUT MISSES PREMIERE
GIFT OF STATE
STATE HUMBUG PREMIERED, WHAT NONSENSE NEXT?
CASPER DAMIAN ACCLAIMED SOLOIST
STATE AT LARGE AGAIN?

After an hours’ walk, they enter the Bank; and to Anna’s great surprise, she is allowed to withdraw some money. On the way back, she stops by the first superMarket they see and buys simple food for herself and milk for Bo, and some energy chipCards. She asks what she can get Sheila, but she just shakes ‘no’.

Strand S. is not hungry. She is simply surprised. Humans are making their way slowly through the supermarket, carrying heavy baskets or clumsily pushing their carts. The way Anna weighs what to buy, what brand is cheaper or what package gives more value for money, Bo getting restless and impatient for food, pulling things out of the racks and threatening to start screaming all the time. A plump female, peering at the tiny printed contents’ lists, a student carrying a basket with carefully selected foods, a mother pushing a cart crammed to the ridge with foods of all sorts. The worrisome faces, bent over the prices of simple milk or cereals or baby food, the elderly pushing their metal carts with difficulty. The endless cue of people pushing or shoving their shopping in front of them until they can pay. Daily routine for the humans, strand S. remembers, and what a hassle compared to the well-run machine of service STATE is accustomed to.

Outside, Bo can no longer stand it and in the middle of an upcoming drizzle Anna feeds him milk and makes him eat some plain riceBread. Though Bo would want a second bottle immediately, Anna makes him wait. As rain starts coming down, they walk home as quickly as possible. In the apartment, Anna inserts one chipCard in the electricity meter so they can warm the house.

S. huddles in her cloak, hiding STATE. Luckily, Anna does not push her to take it off. She is busy attending to Bo, feeding him a small portion of milk and a crust of bread, changing his diapers, putting him to bed. S. closes her eyes.

Urgently, the Captain talks to Irene. “We have to give out a search warrant! She might be in danger, or kidnapped in some way, or hurt, or even... even relieved of STATE! We have to know!” But Her Excellency stands to look at him. She glances around and gestures all other people out of the room.
Silence.
“Captain,” she says; and he cannot but look into the blue of her eyes. “You do know why she has left, don’t you?” The knot in his stomach, the weight of responsibility. He starts to shake his head, to say no, but he cannot lie to her. Clenching and unclenching his hands without being conscious of it, he remembers his thoughts returning over and over again to her words during the White Symphonies, as if the texture of the music was whispering her warning to him repeatedly, in various tones, but never in Her Grace’s voice. He feels cut off from Her Grace, the absence of her unspoken interspersions deepening every day. ‘Where is she? Where is she? What should I do? I cannot just testify... it’s too terrible... people should not know... No one can know... I don’t want her to know’

When S. looks up, from the cramped atmosphere in the grand Palace halls to the low-ceilinged flat, Anna quietly sits at the table with a cup of milkTea while reading a dataBook, her red-blonde hair hanging in front of her face, highlighted by the hanging lamp. Her hands rapidly move over the keyboard of a small dataCorder. STATE knows she is translating documents for money.

> blatant mind-fck that’s what it it!
> Pardon? Excuse me?
> that’s what she is doing with that msic! suddenly gott it, when watching those people sitting there in ther posh garb, open mouthes, eyes glazed oer
> Could you please try and type correctly, it is getting hard to follow
> better sit up then!
> So?
> Yes, please Harv do tell us!
> ah not alone then, are we? missis i-luv-state is there as well
> I am critical of STATE, just like you, you know that! I’d like to hear your theory, sounds interesting...
> okay, so I can now? lsten up
>
> Hello?
>
>
>
> eh, Harv?
>
>
> does anybody know if Harv’s okay?
> relax, I’m back, went to getta beer, can’t talk with a dry throatd now can i?
> eh, Harv, you are typing?
> abyways, what I think is this: those fat ass types looked all like enchanted, or, put it better, like they were on some kinda dope to me, eperience talking here heh heh
> experience?
> like I’m gonna tell you Steve: notta chance, anyways, these people were not just enjoying a good piec’a music, I tell you, the music took them, trippy like, know whatt I mean?
> Do you think that STATE made the White Symphonies as a tool to occupy minds??? You are definitely more razy than I
> razy, hah hah look at your spelling mate hehe! anyways, yes, listen up, this music was sooo important suddenly, right? and then it is performed, and who’s not there? hum?
> Her Grace might have been occupied elsewhere, Harv! These are busy times, the CCAP preparing, and
> blahblah blah
>
> r
> Er, gentlemen, where’s everybody?
> I went to have a look at the dataFlow takes and I must say, Harv, you’ve got a point there! They are positively gaping...
> well dunno how positive that is me friends, whaddayathink, hmn? we are next! poles broadcasting the sound into our homes and everywhere, a nation of fools, gaping, that’s what you think, hum?
> Oh, really Harv, your prosecution scenarios are getting wilder every day, though entertaining, I must say ;-)
> People, though I do nt agree to Harv’s wording, he does have a point. There is something to those White Symphonies... they’re not just music, I agree!
> Of course they are not! Hail STATE! Hail the Bearer of STATE! She does not make just a Symphony, she incorporated the true nature of STATE, finally
> oh come off it Jane, now YOU are REALLY pushing it! I cannot
>

Anna looks up at Sheila. “You okay?” she asks. Sheila blinks and looks back at Anna. “Yes,” she replies. She gets up to accept a cup of milkTea and sits back on the couch.
“So what is your plan?” Anna says.

STATE is privy to her worries: ‘How am I going to get Sheila out of my house?’ “Don’t worry,” she says. “It will be one more night, Anna.”

Jason sighs and perspires on the bed that his followers had brought him to, to lie on. On his unshaven head, one of the best headPhones available; his eyes have turned inwards. He had ordered the White Symphonies to be brought to him and against all their good judgement, someone did go an fulfill his demand, and ever since he is listening to the Filth. He does not look well on the best of days, but now everyone fears that a fever is taking him, and his followers fret. ‘STATE is killing him!’ But then someone says: “The One is preparing for his Bearing. We must watch and he will heal. Hail STATE! Hail the New Bearer of STATE!”

The day is rainy and Anna has a lot of work to do. After deliberation, she takes some money and brings Bo to the dayCare Center and then succeeds in disregarding Sheila’s presence completely, submerging herself in getting some work done. ‘When I finish this text, I will finally have some money, and then’

“You are a bigger fool than I thought, Martin! I told you to be there” Blake says. Martin stands and uses his height to look down on Blake. “A mindfuck is what it was, Blake! You sat there dazed as well”
“This is not about me, Martin,” Blake says very very softly, his very whisper making the back of Martin’s neck itch. Blake adds: “This is not about STATE either. You showed yourself weak, Martin. People did not want to talk to me after you left. They did not want to know me, or you, or your nice little Party. Yes, maybe we were dazed, effectively so. But you were not there to make any other impression. You left me there sitting like a fool. Had I known you such a coward, I would have agreed not to go. I am disappointed, Martin. People are disappointed in you. This has set us back months.”

- ‘You, good-for-nothing’
Ah, here again. The voice is getting nearer, and STATE urges him to, to’
but she does not finish the thought, turns away to monitor the CCAP judges’ states of mind. They are fine, as STATE had anticipated they would be. Only a matter of time now, passing time...
S. stays inside. Though the Captain has refrained from a full-scale search party for the Bearer, he has activated many former agents of the Military Police. Dispersed over the city, they try to find clues as to Her Grace’s whereabouts. STATE cannot be seen walking the streets now, and S. spends a quiet day with Anna translating and Bo coming back and playing and sleeping and getting fed and getting cleaned, alternately.
---Bearer of STATE for 1 year, 9 months, 0 weeks,
With distant surprise, strand S. finds herself observing a life she in her old days had abhorred to the extreme, a life cluttered with daily grind, a life devoid of any meaning, a life she had thought useless and worthless. But now she sees the invisible threads binding this life together: the clients awaiting their translation, the landlord awaiting his rent, the body shell needing drink and food and warmth and exercise and rest and shelter, the child taking time and energy because of his ongoing basal needs, weaving a web of relations telling Anna constantly, that her work is needed and valued and wanted, that her care is needed and wanted, that she is needed, she is wanted. And that that, for most humans, is enough. More than enough. Just to be there for the others. Just to be, there, because of the others, for the others, and in the eyes of the others. Incredibly simple. Incredibly effective. Incredibly elegant.
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