Opposite them, Artur Werther snorts to life: “Hum! Hmnn, where am I? What the fuck am I doing in here, then? Stupid limo! Are you bringing me back, then, finally had enough of the crazy old doctor? Humn?” He tries to wipe his swollen eyes clean, blinks and looks around. “What’s this, then? Humn? Hey! Come on! That’s STATE! What are you doing to S., then? What’s up?” With his strong arms, he hops over to the other side. He touches the Bearer and rigorously shakes his head: “What the HELL have you been doing to her!? You fools! Do I really have to stay sober just to watch over her, with already this many people on the job!?! Really! Come on! What has been going on, then!? Hey?! WELL?”
The Captain sits a bit straighter and says: “Ehm, there has been an argument, doctor… We disagreed, and, well, Irene also thought…”
“You two have been going against her TOGETHER?! Are you CRAZY? Have you lost your fucking minds?! You still do not get it, huh, the role you two have in all of this? Do I have to spell it out for you?! COME ON! What kind of idiots are you!?” Angrily, Artur wipes his hair away from his face, to glare at Irene and the Captain. When he speaks again, his tone is dripping with cynical patience. “You two are the closest S. has for friends, now. You two are the only humans she is really in touch with. Jan and myself are there for knowledge, for physical help, but you two are the people she cares for most at this moment! And then you think to go against STATE together?! Come ON! You wanna push her into the next stage then, is that it? Push her over the edge, hem?! SURE! Why not?! Why NOT endanger all!? Jeez!”
The Captain and the Secretary of STATE sit with downcast eyes. Scratching his painful head, Artur continues, a bit more quietly: “So. What was so important that you thought it a good idea to tackle her together this way, hemn? WELL… WHAT?!”
“We talked about… well, eh, about the Day of Souls, Doctor.”
“AHA! So you disagree about that, do you? Just the one thing she would need some support about, and then you go against her! That fucking figures! Probably also said something along the lines of it being stupid Werther’s idea, was it?! Hmn?! I gave you the books to read, didn’t I?! And did your read anything, anything AT ALL? For goodness’ SAKE!” Shaking off his headache, Artur bends over the Bearer. “And how long has she been like this?”
“Eeh… well, about an hour”
“A whole fucking HOUR?! Really? She escaped your attention then, did she? You left her fucking ALONE in this condition?! COME ON! You really have NO CLUE then, have you?!
Do you realize whom you are treating like this? Do you ever think about the repercussions that things like this have on all of us? On the state!? On STATE? Hey?! I would not be surprised if the Stock Exchange lost quite some points today, or if there was a huge explosion somewhere, or electricity fall out, or whatever. And we are very, very lucky she did not try to commit suicide!”
Poor Irene does not know where to look. The Captain does feel guilty but reacts by shrugging the Doctor’s charges off. ‘Surely the strange events that Delaware had warned about just before we left to pick up Her Grace could have nothing to do with this?’
Artur Werther softly takes the Bearer’s face and looks into her open eyes. “Hmn, totally contracted, like I feared…” he mumbles. He feels her freezing flesh. “Hmn… totally rigid. This is quite extreme… Of course the cold did not help, not at all… Well, this is not something you can massage out of her, Jan!”
Artur massages his own eyes and head, looks absentmindedly in the fridge and is disappointed to find it stashed with water. “Hmn… Now let me think… What can we do… Come on, think, Artur! Hmn… She is probably lost in some way… either a vision or a repetition… We have to be very direct maybe…”
Werther’s face brightens almost imperceptibly, “Yeeesss… Yes, why don’t we try… we can try now, can’t we? Not much to lose now, is there..? And it is known to have good results, of course, the right person…” He smirks. Sitting at the Bearer’s head, he reaches slowly for her belly.
“And what do you think you are doing?!” the Captain says loudly.
“Will you please stay quiet, Captain? Let me try to amend things, will you!?
You will be needed shortly. Just let me, for one moment…”
Artur Werther closes his eyes in concentration. ‘There. Ah, yes. There.’ He touches STATE. Both his hands are on top of it. They rest there for a while. Then, they start to stroke the smooth and icy material, very, very tenderly, starting from the middle, carefully avoiding the edges. With gradually widening strokes, he softly but strongly strokes STATE.
At first, nothing happens. But then, the material seems to soften, allowing his squat hands to massage a bit deeper.
Almost inaudible, the Doctor is humming something resembling a lullaby tune. The Guards try not to goggle, but cannot keep their eyes off the strange scene.
Doctor Jan is looking on intently, taking in what is there to learn.
Hidden under Doctor Werther’s hands, there is a sudden tiny movement. The Bearer blinks, once. After some minutes, there is a soft rasp. “Uh…Uuuuuuuuuh”
All of a sudden, Her Grace’s ribcage expands. “Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu”
The air comes out incredibly slowly, in a very low weird sound. It gradually unfolds, getting louder and clearer. More like a siren than a cry. Louder and louder and louder it becomes, until the whole limo reverberates with an incredible din.
“CAPTAIN!” Doctor Werther shouts. “TAKE OFF YOUR HEADSET AND GIVE IT TO ME!”
Though he has second thoughts, the Captain does not want to shout a discussion and hands the set over to the Doctor.
“TAKE HOLD OF HER LEGS AND HOLD THEM!
YOU, IRENE, TAKE HER ARMS AND HOLD THEM. BOTH OF YOU: DO NOT LET GO, WHATEVER HAPPENS!!! I REPEAT: DO NOT LET GO! AND DO NOT PANIC! JUST THINK VERY CALMLY… OK!” The securiPhones look funny on the Doctor’s wild white hairs.
“DRIVER! TO THE PALACE, QUICK, AND PUT ON THE SIRENS!”
The driver does as told.
The Bearer’s siren scream just goes on and on at the same pitch and loudness, cutting through the limo’s siren even though she is still clearly not breathing. Everybody who can do so, holds their ears, but the Captain and Irene have to use both hands to hold Her Grace. They try to stay as calm as possible, which is practically beyond their capabilities. The scream fills everybody’s heads, permeates everybody’s thoughts, disables everybody’s ratio.
Meanwhile, there is an emergency call on the Captain’s securiPhones; Delaware, Minister of Internal Affairs: “Captain! What on earth is going on?!”
“HELLO? THIS IS NOT THE CAPTAIN, HE IS BUSY!”
“WHAT?! HELLO? What is that noise? I want to talk to the Secretary of STATE!”
“I HAVE TO BE BRIEF! THERE IS A SITUATION CONCERNING STATE! THE CAPTAIN AND IRENE ARE DEALING WITH IT! WHAT IS WRONG?”
“There is ELECTRICITY FALL-OUT in almost HALF the city! There are irregularities at the energy plants, and somehow some depots are out of reach! PEOPLE ARE FREEZING, that is what is happening! WHAT on earth IS GOING ON?! Do I have to alert the military? Are we under attack? I REPEAT, ARE WE UNDER ATTACK?! What can I tell the people?”
“TELL EVERYBODY TO STAY CALM! DO NOT PANIC!!! BROADCAST THAT THERE IS A TEMPORARY PROBLEM WITH SUPPLIES, TO BE SOLVED SHORTLY. TELL EVERYONE TO STAY QUIET AND STOP MESSING WITH THE SYSTEMS! JUST DO NOT DO ANYTHING YET!!! GOT THAT? DO NOT DO ANYTHING!!
OK. HAVE TO GO.”
“Just as I thought,” he mutters. “Really…! We have to be more careful! The Bearer is reaching a certain stage and STATE is starting to react. Things can get really worse...”
Furtively, a man stashes a piles of paper slips in his coat pocket. A few escape; the white strips flutter away. The man does not care, around him all buildings and lanterns are dark and he knows that in this industrial side-street no one is watching. This is a moment to cherish and to use, to distribute Almerra’s wisdom to the people.
> She, the Filth, has darkened out lives and left us in he Cold. We, the People, will clean ourselves of it.
[As is the Word of Jason A. the One]