Surrounded by a bluish white, STATE is at home. Strand S. is an experienced skier, but skiing was never like this. The weight of STATE is swinging her on and on, pushing her firmly into the curves. The skis are terrific as well, and she regulates STATE temperature so she does not get too warm in the suit. STATE has simultaneous knowledge of all details of the slope and of all all skiing routes, all moving humans on it, making her avoid icy patches, stones and rough stretches, circle around the few last loitering groups… S. makes as much speed as she can.
Alone in the white, in the swish, in the blur, finally some unity of experience.
STATE steers her from the main slope, down less used forest paths and over tricky black route fields into another fold of the mountain. Like this, S. can keep on skiing for quite some time, even at her velocity.
A deserted skiing lift goes up one more time, completely made of metal, of course, the thick gloves only just enough to isolate STATE. When she reaches the top of the mountain, the sun is setting. The lights near the restaurant make the snow blaze white in a dark encasing of the woods.
Bearer of STATE for 8 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 8 hours, 13 minutes
Again, STATE speeds down. Coming from another peak this time, but STATE knows where to go. She is about the last person to go down.
Here, to her right.
Her retina cannot register where she is going, as STATE is steering her off the brightly-lit upper slope into a narrow and unlit side path.
She is unprepared for the spiny branches of pine clawing into her face, her clothes.
- ‘You terrorist!'
A brief flash of fear and strand S. finds herself skiing in tiefschnee, chased by the Secret Police, her leg smashing against a tree hidden under the snow; twisting the knee into the wrong angle. The bone splinter piercing the flesh inside her leg. The panic of scrambling away with the leg dragging behind her, the cold. The dark teeming with the presence of persecutors, every shadow a menace, the body anticipating a bullet, pain, pain, pain.
A precipice is luring, its void the ultimate dissolution. Just to throw her body shell in to it, smash it on the rocks, STATE in smithereens…
But STATE would not break, she would pick up her body from the rocks unscathed, she would walk out of the snow and throw herself down again on her skis.
Velocity and snow and spiky branches.
The weight and power of STATE.
The fear of Dorner when he was confronted with her identity, burning like white fire in her.
The white inside and around.
This is better.
She exits the forest and speeds down a small snow-filled field, knees pushing off just in time to jump over a small fence of some sort hiding under the snow. Going fast, going very fast… yes!
Again the shadow of the forest, again her body shell is hurled into a tangle of branches, tearing at her, breaking under the impact. STATE maintains momentum, and she keeps going, breaking free of the trees and plowing through very thick moonlit snow. STATE forces her down, down, down into the snow. She is losing speed. In a hollow, S. stops. She is completely covered in snow.
Through the crystals, the glow of the rising moon is visible, a warm white. The multi-layered suit keeps her dry even though it is torn. For a sweet moment, the strands of her being reunite in the calm of this dwelling. A happiness radiates from her belly to her head and forms a dome of white. This is how it should be. This is’
In her hole in the snow, STATE rests.
Almost no cables to connect to, no people around, the white buzz of the city a drone far away. Other things move here, rustling through the snow: water leaking down, snow crystals changing shape and getting rearranged by gravity, animals not afraid of the cold…
Bearer of STATE for 8 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 9 hours, 55 minutes
For a time, her body shell had been quiet, when the silence is broken by the anxious though-voice of the Captain. ‘Eh… Your Grace… Excuse me… Can you… hear me..? It is… eh… getting quite late… And we are wondering… Are you OK? Do you maybe need some assistance?’
S. remains silent. What does STATE need with his worries?
‘Your Grace…? Please, where are you? Please… Shall I call the Army’
S. sighs. ‘Captain. Stay where you are. STATE will need some time to get there.’ With some difficulty, she maneuvers in the snow to make space for her limbs to move. The snow weighs her down, and she is not in a hurry. STATE has to locate the Captain, and it does so at leisure. There. It is still quite far off, on the other side of this slope.
The body shell muscles are a bit stiff from lying still after the unusual exercise, and she shakes her legs and arms. Decisively, she positions her STATE weight squarely on the skis and off she goes. Through the thick snow, wading up to her hips in it, she does not go too hard, but then she hits a the forest path and whooosh! she goes. Swinging through the curves and pushing herself off at always the right moment, S. bowls over the almost horizontal path, throws herself down a black mini slope and pulls up over a tiny bump and onto another path, cutting through the dark forests. The white path is a moving blur, she a solitary figure navigating on it.
Reaching another wider slope, she swishes down to where the Captain and Guards are waiting for her. The bioWooden skiing café is literally thumping with music played loudly inside, its windows misted over by too many wet and rowdy humans present.
Bearer of STATE for 8 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 10 hours, 24 minutes
When S. pushes the door open, she spots the Captain and Guards immediately, taking up the largest table, drinking and having a good time.
She approaches a step when the Captain turns to look at the door, having sensed the cold draft of her opening it. His face falls and whitens. He is up and near her in no time. “My God! Your Grace! What on earth has happened to you? This… this is terrible… Are you hurt? Should we warn the Army? We need a Doctor!” The Bearer just looks at him.
“Your Grace! Your clothes, your face… You… You are… b… bleeding… P…Please allow me to… this is…”
Around them, people stare. The Bearer’s unblinking eyes look back at them, so they quickly lower theirs and back off, the people upfront bowing. ‘Hail the Bearer of STATE… Do not anger her… Ow… Bless STATE… We all serve STATE… We all serve the Bearer of STATE…’
S. walks to the table where the Guards are standing, looking at her with very concerned faces, and she sits on the chair kept empty for her. She regrets having come, and briefly considers walking out. But her body shell will need something to drink, to eat. “Stop staring! Fries and apple juice.” The juice is brought instantly, and the fries come as soon as possible. Amidst all the fuss surrounding her, she eats in silence.
Seeing her face, the Captain tries to amend his reaction. ‘Maybe I was overreacting? But’
“Your Grace… if you would take off your coat? It is terribly torn, we shall need to get a new one tomorrow! And the skis? If they need some adjusting, I am sure”
The Bearer turns to him. ‘Captain. The best idea ever: skiing. But do bear in mind that STATE allows possibilities and liabilities that no one else shares. Stop worrying!’
An inconspicuous car of expensive make cruses through a fairly well-to-do area just outside the capital. Slowing down on a quiet street, it turns into one of the drive-ways half hidden by winter green foliage. The neat suburb absorbs the movement, and nobody notices the car. In front of the house she had dreamt of so often, the car halts and a Guard jumps out to open the door for the Secretary. Already, the dark green door opens, a lined face welcoming her. “Irene!”
Gently, the two Guards usher her daughter, Her Excellency, into the house. A female servant, probably this Susan, follows with the luggage. The car moves out of sight; all movements measured and executed perfectly. ‘My Irene! And she does not seem to notice it or enjoy it… Looks worn, she does, poor child…"
Without words her mother hugs her; the softness of her body, her warmth so good that Irene does not want to let go, even though she is very conscious of the Guards behind her.
“Oh Irene! It has been so long!” her mother says, looking at her. “Come, come, do sit down!”
The Guards take Her Excellency’s coat and mother and daughter enter the cozy sitting room.
“Leave us,” Her Excellency orders and so the two Guards position themselves in the narrow corridor, out of place between the pressWood furniture and plants.
In his study, Blake follows Rosie’s curves with his eyes. The house is quiet, and though he has a lot to do, he knows that taking her now could bring better ideas later. She turns, understands, approaches with her eye pupils wide open. ‘Ripe for some good taking…’
“You look tired, Irene,” her mother says, “small wonder, if you see what you have been doing the past eight months… Well, I am so proud!” As she smiles Irene looks away from her kind and all too knowledgeable eyes. The grey-green cushions feel as they used to, a faint smell of dog still lingering though Bobby died some years before. ‘Eight months? Eight? Feels like a life-time…’ In the soft embrace of the old couch Irene’s body is oddly stiff, and she tries to relax, though her habitual slump feels really awkward now.
“Your neck aches, does it?” her mother says. A manual therapist, she has always had a keen eye for the tensions in her daughter’s body. “I will massage you, later, OK?"
Irene smiles with gratitude, tries to allow herself to sit, just sit… But her politeness takes over: “How are you and dad, mom? I am so sorry I have not been over before… It’s just so busy… But how are you?” While her mother’s voice informs her of the small events in the neighborhood, the new girlfriend of her brother, the neighbor’s cat, the door is opened by a Guard. Susan enters, carrying a tray with tea.
“Oh!” Miriam Delwin jumps up, “Oh, I could have, eh”
Susan puts the tray down on the table. “Forgive me, Your Ladyship,” she says, bowing. Surprised, Miriam Delwin looks at the nice girl. “Ladyship? Eh, do call me Mrs. Delwin! You must be… Susan?”
“Oh!” Above two blushes, Susan’s eyes dart to Her Excellency, acknowledging that she had apparently talked about her servant to her mother. Her Excellency gives her a pale smile and nods. “Thank you for the tea, Susan. If you have time, do take my luggage upstairs, to the second room on your left, if you will…"
“Does Your Excellency plan to take dinner here?"
“Yes, yes please… something simple…"
One of the Guards approaches and asks Mrs. Delwin: “Ehm, Your Ladyship, sorry to interrupt… Do you expect anyone else to arrive here this evening? Because, well, we will have to make sure that no one”
“I understand,” Mrs. Delwin answers. “Yes, only my husband, Mr. Delwin, he will be home shortly.” While she gives car make and plate number, Susan pours the tea.
“Please leave us now,” the Secretary of STATE says, her voice soft. Susan quickly herds the Guards out of the room before closing the door softly.
‘I am keeping up an empty shell, there’s nothing left inside…'
“But how are you, Irene?” her mother asks when they are alone again, and Irene does not know where to start. She tries to shrug. “Well, I am fine, I guess…"
“Oh come on, daughter!” Mrs. Delwin says. “Don’t lie to me… You know what, maybe you should just lie down and let your body talk to me. OK?” She smiles and they go to the room in the back where Irene lies down on the other coach, the high one with the hole for your face, the one her mother had massaged her on so often. She looks down at the pressWood floor, the fringe of an old carpet just in sight, and tries to rest her muscles. The soft sides of the hole frame her face, the weight of her head pressing her facial bones against the sides first lightly and then harder as she forces her head to just lie there. Her mother’s hands, oily and cool, warming up quickly. She is an expert, starting with wide soothing strokes, connecting her head with the end of her spine.
A strange sensation: her back. Irene had completely forgotten about her physical three-dimensionality and it is as if she unfolds into a volume again. But she cannot relax, not like she used to. Though the familiar hands touch and stroke, shake and push, her body will not be softened.
“Oh my sweetheart,” her mother whispers, and Irene glimpses the composedness of her former life. A life with no servants hovering around, no Guards just outside the door, no responsibilities. ‘I am lost in this life… In the wrong position… I can never keep this up for long… I cannot…'
Her body starts sweating, sweat without heat, and then her frame trembles. Irene tries to relax, to let go, to make the movement dissipate softly, but instead she shakes more and more violently.
“Oh dear… Irene…” But she can no longer bear the hands touching her, and turns to her back, gives in to the shaking. As she looks down, she frowns: it looks like she is wearing another one’s body, so little control she has over hers now. Her mother covers her with a blanket, opens the door.
The Guards spring to attention and swallow when they see Her Excellency, pale and shaking. “What has happened?” But Mrs. Delwin just says, curtly: “Help me bring her upstairs!” They do as she says. Her Excellency’s body spasms, and they have to pay attention to not let her slip free on the narrow stairs. They put her in the bed, and the mother covers her with all blankets she has.
“We will call the Doctor, right away!” one Guard says, but Mrs. Delwin pleads with him to wait for tomorrow. “She will calm down shortly, I think,” she says. “She needs some quiet now, not more etiquette”
“But, Your Ladyship, you do realize this is not just your daughter! We are talking about the Secretary of STATE! We cannot just LEAVE her here, without a doctor, in this… this..!"
“Gentlemen, please… just a little while…” Looking from the pale Secretary to her mother’s face, they hesitate and withdraw for the time being.
Irene sees their fear and would like to order them to obey her mother, but she cannot speak. Her jaw is rattling, she has to keep her tongue out of the way, and though she tries all relaxation techniques she knows, her body will not calm down. ‘What is happening? Am I disintegrating, is this stress, a break-down? Stop! Calm, everything will be alright, everything will be fine, just stop, calm down, rest, rest, rest…’ But her muscles are all tense and still shaking, and she cannot stop.
Susan comes upstairs and looks down on her, frightened. “Oh, Your Excellency, please calm down! Please be quiet, it will be OK! Just take some time, please, just take it easy…"
“Susan, could you make her some herbal tea, please,” Mrs. Delwin says. She takes a chair and sits next to the bed, holds her daughter’s hand. “Just let is come, Irene, just let the waves crash over you… It will be fine, it will be OK… Just breathe, try to breathe…”
Bearer of STATE for 8 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 18 hours, 9 minutes
In the best bed in the best Suite in the best Hotel in this exclusive skiing resort, S. lies awake.
The Guard’s thoughts, longing to join the party downstairs, the fever now raging through Irene’s body, the data whistling through the Hotel’s dataNet and dataFlow systems, the water rushing to shower some late arrivals, the electricity… STATE causes pain when she does not sleep on the Bearer’s Bed, and after hours of turning, it becomes unbearable, even when she tries lying on the floor.
“Excuse me… Your Grace..? Are you wounded? Is there anything..?” the Guard on duty whispers.
“No. Forget it.” the Bearer says and stands. “STATE is going out. Bring my skiing gear."
“B… But! Your Grace! It is two in the morning, and it is dark, it’s dangerous… T… the Captain… well, eh”
“STATE knows where he is, and he is welcome to it. I do not need him.”
‘Hot… So hot… I cannot be… I have to get up, now… there are things to do, and they cannot see me like this… Oh…’
The Secretary of STATE lies sweating in the pale blue room. The Guard glances in, weighing his responsibilities. ‘What should I do… This is an emergency, I should’
In the Hotel Suite’s soft light, the Guard of STATE takes out Her Grace’s torn suit and skiing shoes, and when he sees the skis he knows it is not safe to use them anymore. The hardened plastic is torn and chafed, the sides splintering.
“Your Grace. I will go to Dorner to bring you new ones, and a new suit as well. If Your Grace would please wait, just a moment…”
“No. STATE is coming with you.” They descend the stairs and pass the Hotel bar, packed with people getting high on alcohol and other drugs. A glimpse of the Captain, the center of a small group, laughing loud, taking a break.
But he has glimpsed her as well. Suddenly sober, he detaches himself with a joke from the group and walks out of sight of the bar. He whispers: “Your Grace..! What is wrong? What”
The Bearer turns to him and her voice enters his head painfully. ‘Captain. STATE goes outside.'
” No! Er” ‘It is freezing, there are no lifts running, no lights… It… it is dangerous on the mountains!'
‘Captain! Stop. You are confining STATE to the limits of your safety measures. No. STATE will be fine. See you tomorrow on the slope."
The Captain hesitates, then bows and retreats. Though worried, he knows he cannot and should not stop Her Grace. In the bar, he downs a large glass to stop thinking, and slowly succeeds in getting back in the mood.
‘STATE… where are you?’ In the dark, Artur gropes around, stumbles against some piece of furniture. ‘Why am I here alone? Come on, what I am I doing here? And, er… Why did we not start to organize, er, what again? STATE… I need STATE…’ Without realizing what he is doing, he starts to whine, very, very softly.
The Guard has located Dorner and together they walk down to his shop. In the shop, a sleepy Dorner expertly covers his shock to see what Her Grace has done to the skis, the suit… He brings new skis and a lifesaver’s suit to replace the torn one. Very sturdy and well designed, all openings waterproof; the smallest size fits reasonably well. With the new gear, the Bearer leaves the shop. She refuses the limo and orders for a taxi to take her the top of the mountain. The young Guard accompanies her, deciding it is his responsibility at least to see where Her Grace is being let off.
Bearer of STATE for 8 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 18 hours, 58 minutes
It is icy cold on the top of the mountain. A hard wind blows sleet in S.’ face as she gets out and is offered her skis.
Lamely, the Guard tries once more to withhold her, but he knows he has nothing to say in this. Bowing away from Her Grace, he order the taxi to drive him back to the Hotel.
A massive darkness frames her. Only the snow a bit further down reflects the moonlight. To S.’ left, the dark form of the restaurant looms, deserted. Against the snow, the outlines of the skiing lifts are visible, and some poles… The wind howls and howls, with a threat of more sleet, of snow, cutting through any gap in her clothing, however small.
Thoroughly, she makes sure all straps of the suit are tightened. The hood encases her face, leaving only space for her eyes behind clear glasses, there are no seams between boots and trousers, arms and gloves.
That is better.
Two or three flustered faces look up at him, making sure his glance can enter the strategic apertures in their clothing. Their designed breasts are enticingly round, their couture dresses exhale their perfume, their bodies project their heat. He is the most funny and handsome man here. He is the most wanted man here. He is the most powerful man here. Of course they do what they do. But what does he care, tonight? The softness of their flesh, the absence of all-hearing STATE, finally some privacy, and maybe, time for some fun…
> ha wish I could be that rich little chicky and and I would get some more fun outta it that she does
> You are referring to whom?
> hah haven’t you seen her? she looks tight enough and I wouldn’t mind opening up that little clam for all of us
> I beg your pardon, because I would not know
> no you woulnd’t now would you? haha rock and rock that little girl I’d say, any little cunt can be spilt open, even
> If you are referring to Her Grace, you will be found and killed by us!
> ha, rock da chickie is all I say
The Guard looks down on the figure of the Secretary of STATE. Her body is still shaking, pale and sweating, and he is more and more concerned. ‘I cannot just stand here any longer… She might be in danger! What if the Captain finds out?’ Though neither the Captain nor the Secretary had given any grounds for gossip, his liking for her was obvious to everyone. ‘If anything at all would happen to her the Captain will be furious…’ He turns to the Secretary’s mother: “Your Ladyship… I have to contact the Captain now! It has been hours and Her Excellency is not getting any better! This is an affair of STATE and I have to take my responsibility!'
“Oh, please let her rest some more! Irene only needs more rest, don’t you see?"
“Your Ladyship, I am sorry, but no!”
‘Listen to her!’ The sharp familiar voice in his securiPhone. The Guard springs to salute with his open palm over his brow, even though Her Grace cannot see him. Mrs. Delwin looks up, surprised, but the Guard does not see her. “Er, yes, you were saying, Your Grace?"
‘Listen to Her Excellency’s mother! She knows more about Irene’s health than you. STATE monitors from here. No communications of any sort to the Captain or the Palace! Matil might be listening.’
The Guard salutes again, glad to be relieved of his doubts. “Yes, Your Grace. Certainly.”
The Captain glances down and sees the palpable flesh under a very bright yellow realSilk frill. Alcohol swirls in him, in her. Close, very close, and the woman knows he sees her flesh, wills him to see it, makes sure he does. The bar is warm and the blood is moving down as he knew it would. Throbbing with the deep bass from the speakers. The woman’s mouth is glistening, her deep lipstick pearled with a bead of the most expensive champagne. Casually, he says: “Feyman, Sarah Feyman? So it was you who produced the National TV show on the first night of Her Grace bearing STATE?”
‘Oh… But Captain! I’m not sure…’ Sarah remembers the images vividly. ‘The cameras focusing to catch the assassination of that thief of STATE. The terrible ball of light. The explosion, and then that look from that terrorist, that’ – but also Sarah Feyman knows the whispers about STATE, and from habit corrects her own thinking, now; especially now, ‘The… Bearer of STATE.’ Yes, she had ordered the crew to capture Her Grace’s death. Sarah Feyman is experienced enough not to flinch, so instead, she smiles sweetly. “Oh, Captain, I have always so much projects going on… I wouldn’t know… You know… Let’s not talk work tonight…"
She has been drinking, enough, just enough, to make her body open up. Sarah Feyman looks up at the Captain, gauges his desire to precision. ‘The most powerful man alive. Hmn… Well, well… The two women close to him obviously do not give him what he deserves… Look at him, bursting…’ When the music sways, she turns to put away her glass, her breast just brushing his suit.
And his hand pulls her closer, even if he knows he does not want her, does not want to…
Bearer of STATE for 8 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 19 hours, 4 minutes
STATE is drawing her on. She has to go. With the heavy step of skiing boots, S. walks towards the slope. Briefly, STATE has to get orientated and then she steps into the skis and feels the click. Whoosh! She is away. Swinging and bending her knees, the backache is already lessening.
Wow! This is the best skiing experience ever. Alone, she swings down. Without the bright lights, the slope is more connected to the woods. The snow is very crisp and the skis make a very soft high ringing sound while they cut through it.
- ‘You! Worhtless…'
A glimpse of a precipice, her body steering towards it from an old yearning. She had always wanted the void to be as close as possible,
to be in the void,
to be the void.
Against the intrusive nothingness, the fall
But STATE stays on the snow, solidly pressing down on its hard and soft and smooth and rough surface. STATE is where she is, enjoying the absence of everything. She does not want to do anything, does not have to do anything, there is just the snow waiting for her skis cutting lines through it. Curve after curve swings her body shell onwards, and time halts.
In a continual momentum of now, she is swinging over the dim white plain, never ending up somewhere, just going and going and going and going down.
She has no idea of her speed, whether it is extremely slow or incredibly fast, and does not care. STATE could just keep going forever.
The Captain takes Sarah Feyman up to her chambers. He knows who she is, one of the most powerful women in National TV, the star reporter filming Her Grace under the burning limo, Her Grace touching the people in the shopping area. He knows she is the wife of Blake Feyman, the influential image maker and breaker. He has heard enough to conjecture that Blake would not mind, and also, that he has no rights to care. ‘Against the Captain of STATE? Let anyone try to deny me anything! I will shred him to pieces…’ He does not even take time to undress her, just pushes the breasts out of their flimsy confines, touches the softness with two thumbs, pressing the hardening nipples up and aside, up and aside. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. ‘Oh Irene, this to you… This to you. But you don’t care, you don’t allow me to, you don’t want to… So now I will take what is mine’
Bearer of STATE for 8 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 19 hours, 23 minutes
The moment S. thinks however indirectly of reaching the bottom, her weight is swung sideways by STATE. Again, she is forced over the pile of snow bordering the skiing run, through the forest with pine branches scratching her, through hip-high fresh snow, crossing a skiing path but forced to continue down through the woods for what seems to be ages.
STATE is attracted to something and follows the course of something hidden under the snow, under the dried pine needles, under their bony roots,
under the loose earth clinging there, buried deep, deep in the rock. A vein.
A vein of a specific ore running through the mountain’s stone…
He refuses to kiss the pill-bitter mouth, just pinches the breasts’ protrusions harder and harder. Thumping, his groin grows hotter and tighter. He jerks the yellow realSilk up, finds the underpants easily and tears them down. ‘Ah… There…’ Standing, pressing the body against some door, he frees his member with an unpracticed fumble, then without preamble pushes himself in the hollow she presents. Entering into her heat, he claims his right and uses her to rub his hot penis into and against. What does he care for her needs? She is there for his. ‘Need to… Need to… Need to… there… there… there… there… Take it… Take this… There’ Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.