Next morning, S. goes to Doctor Werther and finds him dead. Beside his cold and cramped form, there is a deluxe bottle of scotch. STATE does not need to check for poison, but she does so automatically. The alarm of STATE calls in the Guard, but there is clearly no need for an ambulance anymore.
She slumps on the ground near him.
No. No. No. No. No. No!
But she can keep on saying ‘No!’ forever.
Artur is dead.
Matil succeeded in killing him, right under her nose. And STATE had not known, not suspected it!
The core of her being mellows, dissolves into a brownish directionless sludge.
What is this STATE thing doing? Why is she not capable of stopping this?
What use are all her powers if they cannot prevent her invisible enemy from getting at her, from killing the people close to STATE.
What powers does this B. Matil have?! Some information or power source stronger than STATE?
Is there some connection that she is overseeing?
She has to get more information.
The Guard looks on aghast as the Bearer drops dead on the floor beside Doctor Werther. As fast as he can he goes to fetch Doctor Jan.
S. enters STATE and asks impatiently for the man who had called himself the Maker even if in truth his father had been. The white solidifies subtly. A pause, then all of a sudden, the man’s voice rings out: “Hahahahahahaha! Back again, are you? Forgot to ask what you should have asked in the first place, didn’t you?
As quick as she can, S. approaches the voice. She gets closer. But there is always the white, solidifying between them. She starts to use some pressure but then the white becomes more solid. It forms walls and S. is forced around a corner. The voice continues laughing, retreating a bit behind the white.
S. follows quickly, afraid of losing him, but aware that she is being lured into a maze.
“Ha! Got sick over some children’s deaths! You arrogant bitch!
I can see your death toll clearly, I can! Do you want to know? Including the people who died for you as Bearer? Hahahahaha…"
S. pushes forwards, trying not to think about the volume of white enclosing her already. She will find a way out, later… She will find a way out, later. She will find a way out later.
Conversationally, the Maker’s voice keeps luring her in, deeper and deeper into the soft whiteness: “With those nice bombs of yours, and those public accidents you allowed to happen, your death toll is higher than the President’s, did you know?
Ah… The President… Charles… He would have made a good Bearer, he would, had all the right prerequisites,"
“What!?” Though she wants to keep herself from asking, S. does so anyway.
“Yes, yes… The President should have been the next Bearer… But he refused, poor guy. Afraid of what it would do to him, he was. Afraid to lose his natural physique, he said he was! Ha! Just as if that matters, once you are Bearer! Idiot.
No, he was afraid to let something in. To let anything in. HahaHA! As if you can keep the influence of power out! He never did manage that, anyhow… He would have still been in charge, had he chosen to, that’s my guess…"
“He is dead, now.” S. cuts this subject short, as it is still enraging a strand of her, the white inflating and softly bumping against her.
“Ah… Yes, and you were responsible for that, I know. One more on your death count! Let’s get to the point, shall we? So, the key question was..?"
S. tries to open her mouth, but she has no idea. His voice rings out from all sides through the thick white: “Dear, dear, S.! Focus!
What was it you came to ask?"
For a moment, S. can only think of all the walls pressing against her extremities. In prison, this is how she had often felt: trapped in an endless maze of walls, their ruthless enclosure blocking her off from the real world, whose faint buzz she could sense notwithstanding.
She would get back into the flowing white, soon.
“Hahahahaha! Distracted so easily, she is! And so many unbecoming memories she has! Really! Why STATE ever get selected you as Bearer escapes me! Must have been desperate times, I guess!
What do you want to ask me, then?“As he asks her, his voice soft and seemingly gentle, the walls start pressing even harder, squeezing her tight. She has to be quick and decisive.
“Why does STATE not read any information concerning this B. Matil?"
“B. Matil? I do not know any B. Matil..?”
His voice teases as the
walls become thicker and
But S. knows she has to disregard them. “Why does STATE not read any information regarding the President’s secret second in command?"
“Ah! Better framed this time! Not bad, S.! You still can think then, can you?"
S. remains very silent as he sniggers shortly, and he resumes to speak to her: “Well… That is obvious, I would say? I explained to you the origins of STATE, didn’t I? Now, what clan was excluded from the negotiations, would you say?
Consequently, what knowledge was not entered into STATE?
S. frowns at herself. Of course.
The criminal clan had never been incorporated into STATE.
It is so simple that her denseness tumbles over her like a mass. She should have drawn the conclusion herself. Why is her thinking become so dampened since she is wearing STATE?
“Ah… Because, dear S., maybe, just maybe you are not quite up to it! Maybe your mind cannot really bear it, now, don’t you think? So many hitches in you already, and you keep stumbling on them, repeatedly! And then you think to be able to steer the whole of STATE!? Now really! Hahahahahaha!” And he withdraws further into the white maze, whose walls do not allow for any space anymore.
S. no longer needs to follow him.
She has to get out. But she knows better than to feel her way out, or to fight her way out.
She knows better. In the white, she sits down.
> As the heights have cleansed the Filth, so we, the People, will clean ourselves of it.
[As is the Word of Jason A. the One]
When Doctor Jan rushes in, he is struck by a double despair. He is hit by loss for Werther, even if he had for some time anticipated on losing him some way subconsciously. ‘As for the Bearer…’ Then, like a switch is turned over, he understands what Her Grace is trying to do. She is doing the impersonation routine to retrieve any information still in Artur Werther.
‘No… It is a dangerous thing to do, and probably in vain, as poor Werther seems to have been dead some time already…’
He tells the Guard to leave both bodies untouched and monitors them both closely for a few minutes to make sure. Without Doctor Werther, he is completely in charge and the responsibility weighs on him. Still wavering, he is trying to assess the odds of the Bearer getting stuck in STATE when the Captain and Her Excellency run in. Both clasp their heads and shout at Jan even though the room is completely silent. “She is calling! She is calling for help! DO SOMETHING!"
Trembling, Jan reaches for the only medicine he had been able to think of the past minutes. The bottle of scotch.
“NO! Are you crazy!” Both Irene and the Guard who had seen STATE giving off the alarm start shouting at Doctor Jan. But Jan and the Captain remember the Bearer, calmly forcing the scotch down Doctor Werther when he had been poisoned the first time, and Jan knows he has to be quick or there will be additional trouble with STATE. Just to make sure, he puts the bottle again on STATE. It flashes blue, the alarm blares and then quiets down.
Jan then motions for the Captain and Irene to come and hold the Bearer. The Captain holds the head of Her Grace in his lap, while Irene holds her feet. He has some difficulty to hold her, as he cannot make full use of his right hand yet. Then, the Captain’s strong fingers pry open Her Grace’s mouth, to allow Doctor Jan to administer the scotch. Most gulps out immediately. The Captain moves the Bearer’s head slightly, making it lie back more against his chest. Again, Doctor Jan carefully pours some more into the Bearer’s mouth.
For a few minutes, nothing at all happens. The scotch is standing in Her Grace’s mouth, the clear surface still. No swallowing, no breathing. Irene, Jan and the Captain hold their breath, to be able to pick up any changes in Her Grace.
Then, suddenly, the Bearer opens her throat. The scotch whirls down, the throat rasping to take it in.
With a sudden jerk, S. moves, her eyes open. “The bastard,” she says, “the bastards. STATE will get Matil now…” ‘And you… be careful… there is nobody we can trust now, nobody at all…’