Another inconspicuous car of expensive make picks the Captain and Her Grace up from the rendez-vous point on a deserted Parking somewhere near the highway. In the limo, they change into normal clothes. While the STATE limo continues to the Palace, they are driven to the Delwin house, and shown inside. The Captain rushes upstairs. ‘Irene!’ When he sees her white face, her violent fever, it is only Her Grace’s voice within that keeps him from punishing the Guard for not bringing her Excellency to a hospital. ‘But she is ill!’
‘Captain, Irene does not need medical help. STATE will help her shortly.’
Bearer of STATE for 8 months, 2 weeks, 4 days, 5 hours, 11 minutes
In the middle of the kitchen, strand S. stands and STATE sees. A hand lifting a spoon full of food, steam dispersing quietly, the food distributed onto smooth white plates, the red curtains drawn, the sound of laughter and cutlery. This is the world S. had glimpsed once, when Irene had talked to her in Hospital, the fairytale world, and while she stands in the middle of the simple living/dining room, she stares. A one-channel dataFlow monitor. No dataFlow connections. Data silence, filled with other traces, other presences. Dog hairs and a faint smell of his animal body shell in the covering of the furniture. Some dark-leaved plants, their systems slowly pumping fluids with nutrients through their veins, unheard by any human ear. So different... So alive...
Someone is taking in her body shell. Someone. The black is there, briefly, but STATE pushes it away.
> Hail STATE! Hail the most elemental, the most pure
> We cannot even deign to judge Her Grace on even this level, Bernd!
> Pardon me, First?
> We are here to feed data with the counter energy of the pure love of the People of STATE. We have to refrain from any calculation, from all projection, we have to remain true to our vows. Hail STATE! Hail the Bearer of STATE!
Mrs. Delwin is there, kept back by a Guard, and the Bearer opens her pale eyes to look at her.
S. sees what the older woman sees: a woman, skin glistening a gray metalloid plastic, eye whites large and unmoving, the thin body tense. STATE is undulating quietly, but Miriam Delwin only dares to glance at STATE, and disregards the unfamiliar surface readily to center her attention on the muscles: hard, unyielding, unfit for any kind of softness of touch. Miriam Delwin is so attuned to any other presence, that her own thoughts, her own self-image, are almost not there. Especially not this moment: Miriam Delwin is anxious about Irene, and S. inclines her head: “Upstairs.” Mrs. Delwin nods and moves, the Guard pushing open the door, frowning at the lack of subservience of Her Excellency’s mother.
‘Oh NO! I have to get up, NOW!’ Heart thumping, Irene tries to rise when she sees Her Grace, and recognizes the Captain near to her. ‘I... I am fine, I will be fine, no problem, we have to continue,’ But the words do not leave her mouth, and she has to lie back, panting.
“Bring water.” The voice of the Bearer is cold; the Guard rushes away. ‘Captain, lift her up so STATE can sit on the bed.’ His arm gently around her, the Captain pushes Irene to a sitting position, and the Bearer pushes the pillow away and sits on the mattress.
Warm and soft textile, damp from perspiration of human flesh.
> We, the People, will cleanse the Filth - by destroying it utterly.
[As is the Word of Jason A. the One]
‘Miriam, you sit there.’ Mrs. Delwin is startled at the sudden inner vocalization of her first name, but then deduces it to be Her Grace’s voice, and does as told. On impulse, she lifts her daughter’s feet and puts them in her lap.
Bearer of STATE for 8 months, 2 weeks, 4 days, 5 hours, 34 minutes
The Captain’s body shell is agitated, moves too loud, too often. S. turns to him: ‘Captain, leave us.’ Reluctantly, he opens the door to leave, just as the Guard returns with the water. The Bearer holds the glass against STATE. A short blue flash. She lifts Irene slightly and makes her drink some of it, and then some more.
Irene Delwim chokes, coughs up some water, then manages: “Uh... Your Grace... Please, I should... leave. Mc Kinsey... And... And... Martin...”
“Shhh Irene,” her mother whispers.
‘Massage her feet, Miriam, keep her body here.’ Mrs. Delwin nods.
Then, gently, the Bearer presses the head of Irene against STATE.
There is nothing here.
Nothing matters here. There are no doubts, there is no wavering, there is no fear, no anger, no loss, no pain, nothing. Just her being, in the white. The white is alive without rushing, going forwards without stress, the white is smooth. Though there are things behind the white, and decisions, and opinions, and humans, and sweat, the white is even and beautiful.
Deeper and deeper she wants to go, to submerge herself in it, to cover herself with it, to loose herself in it, for ever.
Strand S. is invaded by Irene’s fear, the fear of losing control, the fear of failure; a fear she has known, yes, only too well. She pulls Irene’s head off STATE.
> He’s good isn’t he?
> oh really John, stop dropping these hints and then explaining yourself! You know, you can just introduce a topic, explain your opinion, and conclude. This is a political OCChat remember? you can communicate here!
> But it’s more enticing this way, ain’t it? or?
> ok. you were saying?
> Martin Rislers. He is getting better, I think. Still dressed a fool, don’t get me wrong, but his words mean something. He does stand up against the bearer who’s chosen him, he remains critical even though he is high up in power now...
> well, everyone, to be honest I prefer Jason Almerra! He is the genuine article! Straight and sour, that’s the way the truth is: Rislers’ too sweet for me...
> Sweet? He ain’t sweet! Why d’you call him sweet!
> people, people. It is still a bit unclear what Martin Rislers’ role will be though. Is he advising the government, r opoosing it?
opposing I mean ;-)
> Jason Almerra was scarred by the P and contrary to the bearer he has remained true to his belief in democracy and now he has the sight! Now if she’d finally organize the elections, as she’d promised
> Her Grace the Bearer of STATE promised us two years of peace, before the election fever will wipe all values away. Trust in STATE! Trust the Bearer of STATE!
> hey I thought no reli-fanatics were allowed here! go away! this is OCC! Open Chat Channel, if you remember!
> Open exactly! And thanks to Whom? Trust STATE! Trust the Bearer of STATE! Trust STATE! Hail the Bearer of STATE!
> ow I’m outta here ntil Admin kicks them out <
Mirjam Delwin massages the feet of her daughter, the flesh suddenly icy cold where it was raging with fever before. ‘This is strange, and not good at all... Is the water doing this or the touch with STATE? What is that thing doing to my sweetheart’s head? Oh... but I should remain positive, especially this moment... Irene is happy with her new life, she is proud, and yes, I am, as well... My little girl, doing so well, for herself and for the country! Hail STATE...’
‘Where is it? Where has it gone?’ Irene’s breast cage is an icy hollow now the white has gone. ‘I cannot remain here, alone...’ She struggles and opens her eyes: a dim room, a figure looming above her...
“Oh!” The Bearer of STATE is holding her, cradling her head, and she, she can only feel her failure, her ineptitude to keep up. ‘I should get up. We should get going... We cannot be here, all three, the state is waiting... People are wondering.... Those Ministers probably are off onto some of their own schemes already...’ “have to... have to”
Whoosh! ‘Oh dear.... Her body heats up in seconds, too quick...’ “Shhhh sweeatheart, do not rush it.... this will take some time.... Please, Irene, calm yourself... You cannot push yourself so hard...”
But Irene only starts to writhe with an urge to get up, kept back by her mother’s hands, holding her feet, and the Bearer, keeping her head in a relentless grasp. Without even blinking, the Bearer pulls her head closer, and closer still.
Irene lets go of her defenses, even as a flicker of distrust unsettles her. ‘What is happening to me? Why can I suddenly let go so easily? Why...’ But the question has become irrelevant and as she relaxes, her body cools down; and this time, not too much, she even manages to keep up an even breathing as she imagines herself to be floating in the white, skimming its surface.
The tension and fear are unbearable. Involuntarily, S.’ body shell curves forwards. There is so much she has to do... So much she is forgetting all the time. So many people who want something, need something, should do something... And everything fails, fails utterly, all effort just adding to failure, or at the best alleviating the worst effects of what happened before. All this scheming around, people never are what they seem... Masks, lying, trying to get the best from any change... And the pain! Muscles never relax, shoulders hunched and the jaw strained. Constrained, she is constrained, and the body is as unbearable as it used to be, before... Like in the dark. The dark. So lonely...
It is then that Miriam Delwin’s hand touches the base of strand S.’ skull, gently holds the taut muscles, a persistent and precise pressure. The circle closed, STATE calms down. Head touching belly, hand touching feet, hand touching head, head calming belly... And S. knows STATE will endure it this way. Quiet. Irene needs to rest.
Bearer of STATE for 8 months, 2 weeks, 4 days, 5 hours, 59 minutes
STATE shifts attention to the fibers of the bed she is sitting on. The way they are folding down under the weight of three bodies. The way they preserve Irene’s body smells, old and new, lingering. The nights she had lain here, looking at the dark ceiling, listening to the soft ding of the doorbell, when another of her mother’s evening customers would come in. The almost haphazard ticking of the fibers forced against each other, the tiny discharges between their molecules. The space there, still...
The alcohol’s grip on his body lessens, and the pain emerges again. Artur Werther moves in the soft bed, and his servant approaches, serves him some water. This time, he takes it, does not order him to go and fill the glass with something more soothing. His head aches, he knows he needs some water... ‘Where is she..? Where is STATE? I am alone, again... Why won’t they allow me to, to... er... But we need to do something... we have to get started...
I need STATE... I want STATE... I want to touch STATE... Please... Please... Please...’
The white warms a little, and her body is floating, just floating. It does not matter what she does. It does not matter if she fails. There is no such thing as failure in the running of a mountain brooks’ clear waters. Falling and curving and gurgling and breaking against a round stone, only smoothening it even more. Around and over and clashing and dancing and flowing and breaking and over and under and around and again. There are no mistakes. There is no difference. There is no movement towards anything, really, just the continuum of movement in itself, moving and flowing and evading and confronting and admonishing and dissipating and’
To Mirjam Delwin’s surprise, the body of her daughter starts to soften. The blood starts to circulate and the flesh warms up as if she had just taken a warm bath. When the Bearer lets go of her daughter’s head, Irene is asleep, breathing in and out regularly. The Bearer rises and goes downstairs, and after a while, when she has ascertained that her daughter is really sleeping, Mirjam goes downstairs as well.
They eat dinner together, with two Guards near, while two others make their rounds of the family garden. The Captain and Mr. Delwin chat, Mrs. Delwin pretends to listen to the men while trying to gauge the silent and unmoving Bearer. ‘Her flesh felt strange, when I touched her neck I was almost afraid, as if I would be one to believe that “flesh that kills” nonsense! But she did come and save my Irene... Still, wouldn’t say love or any such emotion is guiding her, looks so totally unmoved... Strange... Uh’ At that moment there is a noise in the hallway and Miriam and the Captain rush towards it to see what happened.
The Guard is carrying Her Excellency down the last steps, looking down like a bad boy caught: “She swore she could walk the steps alone, Captain Sir, please forgive me...” To see his big hands around Irene’s shoulders, under Irene’s thighs. The Captain’s voice is sharp and meant to punish: “Fool! Should have kept her in bed! What do you think”
“Bring her to the massage table,” the cold voice of Her Grace cuts in. She turns to Mrs. Delwin: “Massage her.” In her head, Miriam hears the voice continue, softer: ‘After the massage the shaking will start again, and we repeat the circle.’ Miriam nods and points out to the young Guard how to position Irene on the couch in the right way, then sends everybody including the Bearer out with a stern face: “Leave me to do this alone!” ‘Sweetheart, sweetheart, please come back to yourself... I love you, we all love you, please, Irene...’