Chapter Five Transcript

Intro chime plays…

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Sombre music plays in bg.

Child (An adult putting on fake kid's voice)

Mommy? Are you okay? 

Mommy (A man putting on a fake female voice)

I’m sorry Stevie, Mommy’s not gonna be around for much longer. 

Child 

But, why? 

Mommy 

Mommy’s got radiation poisoning, Stevie. 

Kid cries 

Child 

You should’ve hired Pyre Fyre! 

Grimaldo Power

(Kindly)

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Explosion!

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Ominous intro music.

Alicia (Narrating)

This is Alicia August, and you're listening to Seeds. 

Intro music…

Alicia (Narrating)

Isn’t it funny to watch someone cry at a funeral? Not least at the funeral of someone they never knew. We all cry at third-cousin-twice-removed Prinka’s funeral. What the fuck did Prinka ever do that was so great? 

Ugh… Sorry. I’m a little disjointed. My thoughts aren’t coming out like they should. I guess what I mean is... When someone famous – like Samuel Frinka or High Priest Maté – dies, people come from miles around, just to get a look at their burning corpse. 

 

Part of me thinks most of us don’t go to funerals to see the corpse at all. We go to be seen with the corpse. To show that we had some kind of tangible connection to someone who made it. Maybe that’s unfair. 

Or, maybe, we get a vicarious sense of the satisfaction that we might have gotten if we went with them. Especially when they’re famous, like Frinka. 

Full disclosure, I’m a little drunk. The Namanes might be assholes, but they’ve got the only painkiller in Silitra. Well, apparently not. The pain’s bad. I can’t think straight. Beer helps – a little. But, we’ll get to that later because this investigation took a turn. Actually, everything took a turn. 

 

Just a little heads-up. If you haven’t listened to any of the previous episodes, you should go back and listen from the start. Otherwise, what I’m about to say, won’t make any sense to you. It might not even make any sense to you either way. It doesn’t to me. But, I think it’s important for you to hear it, either way. 

Now: Over the past four days, I’ve done some things I shouldn’t have done, interviewed people I should never have contacted, and gone to places I shouldn’t have gone to. I’ve done some pretty terrible things over the last four days. A lot of it, I’m not proud of. But, I’ll let you decide whether or not my actions were worth it. 

I think, sometimes, when you’re trying to solve a puzzle like this – when each piece reveals more and more pieces – it’s easy to forget the bigger picture. 

Okay, so, here it is: A man is dead. High Priest Maté. Ianderu McConnell murdered him, allegedly – but, why? And, more importantly, how? If everything we’ve been told is true, then why won’t the Aphist Order allow Ianderu to speak? 

Another man, Samuel Frinka, allegedly killed himself. But, I don’t believe that, and I’m betting, by the end of this, you won’t either. 

Over the next few episodes, I’m going to walk you through everything I’ve found over the last four days, and everyone I’ve spoken to. Some of you might hate me by the end of this. But, I hope you’ll at least understand why I had to do what I did. 

I’m sorry if the quality is a little low, or if I’m a little incoherent at times. I’m not at home, and I may never get to go home again. But, I wanted to make sure you heard this, before I leave for good. 

When I went to Ianderu’s trial, I thought the whole world had come to watch – about five hundred people. About a thousand people showed up to Frinka’s funeral in the cremation fields, all packed shoulder to shoulder. Outside that, past the black and cindered pyres, just where you couldn’t see them, the Multipliers – thousands of them – surrounded our perimeter - bowing their heads in silence. Dignified. 

A nice contrast to we citizens who performatively wailed around Sam’s unburnt pile of tinder like a bag of drowning cats. As if he could even hear us. Sycophants. 

Admittedly, I cried just as hard as everyone else. I wondered at the time if everyone else was thinking exactly what I was thinking, but they thought everyone else was being sincere. Of course, we all thought our tears were true at the time. It’s only looking back at what I really felt that makes me wonder if we weren’t just subject to the whims of a mob. 

 

They laid Frinka’s body on a pile of black poplar – reserved for the most special of our citizens. High Priest Maté got the same send off. Ianderu would probably get waste wood-shavings and a damp match. 

He definitely wouldn’t get a free drinks service like Frinka’s, provided by three Multipliers from the Namane brewery who ran from mourner to mourner taking drink orders. I saw one man I didn’t recognise smack a Multiplier across the face when he gave him his drink before his wife. He spotted me looking, then smiled, rolling his eyes. “Stupid Liars, right?” he might’ve said. Charming. 

The Multiplier, now with a shining red cheek, shot me an accusatory glance as he bowed his head to apologise for his impoliteness. 

The Death Priest walked over to the pyre, with a flaming torch and uttered the Death Word: 

Large fires burn in the background. People in large crowd occasionally mumble to one another. Every now and then, a baby cries. 

 

Death Priest  (Transliterated)

Thiwi ethe tailai fuh sithi raifai – ethe tailai chiwhi ensopo raou zai oto ethe nessactexe fuh churna, iwi endese Samuel Frinka kaba oto ethe thur muhfruh entswhe iwi ulla vaha mucuh. 

Alicia (Narrating)

The Death Priest… Sounds so dramatic. It’s always disappointed me that he doesn’t make more of a thing out of our funerals. With a title like “The Death Priest”, you’d think he’d at least wear a little make-up. Speak in a low, threatening voice, maybe. 

The Death Priest – Jerry – was a pretty sociable, open kind of guy. At every harvest festival, he is always the last to leave. Ironically, he’s the life and soul of the party. It’s a pity that charisma doesn’t carry over to his funerals, when he speaks like he’s reading the world’s most boring to-do list. I guess, he thinks it sounds solemn and respectful? 

Death Priest 

Iwi endese mihi thiwi nessada. Thiwi ono tauthau fuh liferafte. Nih ethe ledgenoh fuh Onvilioboh. 

Alicia (Narrating)

I have no idea what he’s really saying. I mean, we all get a translation of the prayers in the Aphist tongue, but he could be saying anything – we wouldn’t know. 

 

Just like that recording: 

Recording (Transliterated)

Ianderu… Audátaupa llistye gósha, faratága !uru. Nautaupa llimisishá. Naudátaupá akitè gósha. Aki fita, etàtama. Etátama. N shikarapa ushára, shikarapa llimisisháshá. 

Alicia (Narrating)

And here’s Death Priest Jerry, again: 

Death Priest 

Ethe thodome aymay daigai suh ni failai. Nih thede, ono idesguy rah rysacene. 

Alicia (Narrating)

My biggest question so far? Why did a talking squirrel give me a USB Drive with someone speaking the sacred Aphist Tongue? And, what was it saying about Ianderu McConnell? 

 

Jerry’s pretty young - eighteen. He used to paint, but then he had a quarter life crisis and joined the priesthood, instead. He’s Maté’s nephew – so, go figure that he got straight in. 

Would he talk to me? Would he translate the recording? Probably not. Ianderu killed his uncle. I can’t imagine he’d help me figure out the truth about the trial – especially if he thought it might lead to Ianderu’s release – which, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t. He performed the autopsy on his uncle - duty over family. 

He touched Ianderu’s knife. He matched the knife to the 42 wounds in Maté’s body. 

Even if there was some kind of sinister conspiracy, I don’t think Jerry would lie about the circumstances of that death. As I said, I’m not insinuating that Ianderu didn’t kill Maté. He did. I know he did. 

I just wanted to figure out what everyone seemed to be lying about, and why they were going so far to hide it. 

At the funeral, it seemed like the perfect time to ask some questions. And, considering the position I was in then, and the worse position I’m in now, it seemed like it could be my only opportunity to ask anyone anything. 

I watched the Priests, on the other side of the Pyre, whispering to each other in hushed tones. The look on High Priest Aarnol’s face when he saw me was pretty satisfying. He wasn’t expecting to see me there. In fact, I’m not sure he was expecting to see me ever again. 

Death Priest 

Samuel Frinka, iwi lihwih ssimih ouyou. Raou zai lihwih rydy. Raou nessada sih ideiftijusu. 

Alicia (Narrating)

Death Priest Jerry touched the torch to the tinder. The flames licked Frinka’s mud-crack skin, his face still stuck in the shape of one final scream – until, at last, they consumed him again. 

But, High Priest Aarnol watched me through the flames – probably trying to figure out why I would risk my life to be there. 

Aarnol had had enough of my questions. Maybe it seems childish – not that any of us would know what that even means – but the more he said no, the more I pushed for answers. 

I just figured, why would you hide something that doesn’t exist. So, the fact that you’re hiding something, means there’s something worth hiding. Considering High Priest Aarnol is now Silitra’s highest ranking citizen, I figured it was pretty important to find out what that secret was. Maybe what he was hiding had nothing to do with Ianderu McConnell, but either way, I was – and am – pretty certain he’s hiding something. 

So, a couple of days after Frinka’s death – and a couple days before the funeral – I went back to Frinka’s clearing. I thought, maybe, they were done investigating and it might be time for me to look around. Maybe, catch something they missed.

 

For the sake of my own sanity, I went back to that tree, where the family of squirrels had been playing. But, they were gone. Probably got sick of the smell. That, or they were never there in the first place. 

When I got to the bottom of the hill, before the dip which hides Frinka’s house, I noticed first, the lack of chemical fumes. It had only been two days but already nature was erasing Frinka from its landscape. Even the metal girders and equipment seemed to have plants growing over them. 

As I stepped further up the hill, a little field mouse appeared out of the metal container, lying on its side at the bottom of the hill. It darted in front of me, but bashed into one of the metal girders, stopping suddenly. I thought it was dead – must have cracked its neck or something, but then: 

A weird tweeting/screeching sound, sort of like a contemporary mouse, but slightly off

I turned around, and saw the mouse, on its back, twitching. I know I shouldn’t have picked it up – it could have had anything – but I had to check if it was okay. When I took a closer look, I realised it was blind. It hadn’t been blinded. It just had no eyes. Just a ball of fur with a mouth. It was twitching. Do mice feel pain? I don’t know. I guess they must. 

I thought about killing it – to put it out of its misery. But, then, wouldn’t that be a bit presumptuous? 

Mouse sounds

Maybe it was screaming “help me” – not “kill me”. I stroked it’s neck a little, to see if there was something wrong with it. It seemed fine, but then, I don’t know what a mouse’s neck should feel like. 

A blind mouse would probably die out here, no matter what state it was in. So, my choices were to kill it, or keep it. Call me a sentimental, irrational, illogical fool if you like; I put it in my jacket pocket. 

Mouse sounds stop

I had a half eaten Citrus Flavour Larbar in there - probably its first meal in days. Possibly ever. 

The recorder makes a strange noise, as if Alicia has quickly hidden it in her pocket. 

Militia Captain (Muffled)

You’re supposed to be at home. 

Alicia (Narrating)

That’s the Militia Captain. He appeared at the top of the hill. They’d put me under house arrest the day before, but we’ll get to that. How long had he been watching me? 

Militia Captain (Muffled)

Alicia, what’s happened to your face? 

Alicia (Muffled)

Found what you’re looking for, yet? 

Militia Captain 

I’m not looking for anything– Alicia, you need to see a doctor. 

Alicia 

Stop it! All of you. I’m not– (grunt) Why are you still here? 

Militia Captain 

Alicia. Please. Go home. 

Alicia (Narrating)

He looked… scared. Not for himself, but for me. 

 

Alicia 

Why? What are you going to do to me? 

Militia Captain 

If you come with me now, I’ll say I took you out for some fresh air. No-one will question that – not even the High Priest. But, you’ve got to stay at home. If you don’t… 

Alicia 

If I don’t, what? 

Militia Captain 

You really can’t see it, can you? You’re becoming just like him. 

Alicia 

Like who? 

Militia Captain 

Ianderu. Alicia, you’re going insane. You’ve got to give this up. 

Alicia (Narrating)

He moved towards me, but I ran – back into the forest. 

Recording of Alicia running – continuous

 

Alicia (Narrating)

Why were they chasing me? Why were they trying to keep me quiet? There was something in that house. They knew there was something in that house. If they were just speculatively searching for something, they would have searched it, and then given up. But, they didn’t. They were still searching, and had been for days. I had to find out what was in that house. 

When I got far enough away, I grabbed hold of a strong branch and escaped into the opaque thicket above. 

Militia Captain 

Alicia! Alicia! 

Alicia (Narrating)

I climbed up to the top, and poked my head out over the carpet of treetops and looked down, into Frinka’s clearing. I realised then how lucky I’d been. Half the Militia were at my house, supposedly guarding me. The other half were here, still searching Frinka’s house. So, that answered my question: They hadn’t found what they were looking for. Neither would I, so long as they were there. 

 

But, over another cross-section of trees, I could see the top of Maté’s house. If half of them were at my place, and the other half were at Frinka’s, Maté’s house would be completely unguarded. 

I didn’t know what I’d find there, but after an earlier brush with High Priest Aarnol, I figured there had to be something worth finding. High Priest Aarnol and the Militia had presumably searched Maté’s house as well as Frinka’s for whatever it was they wanted to find. I was going to find it first. I found a spot in the trees where a few branches from different trees had met and become part of one another and lay down, waiting for the Militia Captain to give up the search. 

When he left, he’d probably go back to my house, to see what had happened to his guards. That would give me just over an hour to get to Maté’s and search for... something. 

I stared up through the branches, watching the reds, browns and whites of the clouds swirl around one another, like some sort of dance, the steps to which we’ve forgotten. 

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the little guy. I was right, he’d eaten my Larbar. Although I was pretty hungry, the mouse didn’t seem to be in pain anymore. Was it sleeping? 

I didn’t want it to wake up and fall out of the tree, so I made a little nest for it, out of my jacket - then lay down to wait for the Militia Captain to finally accept he’d lost me and go away. Meanwhile, I thought about Frinka, and what might be hiding in his house. 

It hardly seemed necessary to creMaté Samuel Frinka, when he’d done such a good job of it by himself. 

Or did he? 

Flashes of his burnt body still raced across my eyes whenever I close them. The sight of his funeral pyre did little to help. 

High Priest Aarnol still watched me through the flames. I smiled back at him as bit’s of ash floated out of the fire, into the crowd. Everyone pretended not to notice, but certain people’s cries were noticeably interrupted by the sounds of hands patting ash off clothes. 

I would have liked to have seen the corpse up close. It didn’t look like the body of a man trying to die. It looked like the body of a man trying to live. But, maybe that’s just my memory playing tricks on me. 

Or, maybe he tried to burn the house down, then changed his mind when the flames got too hot? But, Samuel Frinka wasn’t a stupid man. He was probably the smartest man in Silitra, so he must have known how painful those flames would be… Also, wouldn’t the smoke have killed him before the flames even touched him? 

Would the smartest man in Silitra – a shy, nervous wreck, who had access to pretty much every chemical agent in existence – really have burned himself to death? 

I’m less sure now than I was a few days ago. First, it just seemed too convenient at the time. The Deputy High Priest knew I was coming to see Frinka. I thought maybe he’d figured it out after Mary-Anne-Elizabeth Namane came to see him. Now, I know, that’s not the case. 
 

Anyway, one final thing bothered me about this whole investigation. I listened back to my tape from Frinka’s house: 

Replaying the recording from Chapter Four

Militia Captain 

The house was set on fire from the–

Alicia (Narrating)

Let’s listen to that one more time: 

Militia Captain 

The house was set on fire from the–

Alicia (Narrating)

The house was set on fire from the… From the what? From the outside? From the inside? From the stove? From the… From the… 

Also, he didn’t say Frinka set the house on fire. Surely that’s what you’d say if that was what happened? 

If I set my own house on fire I wouldn’t say “My house was set on fire from the inside by me.” If I’d burned to death, I would hope someone would be coherent enough not to say, “The house was set on fire from the outside by Alicia, the person who lives in the house.” That wouldn’t exactly inspire great faith in their logical faculties. 

“Alicia set her house on fire.” That’s what you’d want them to say. Well... 

But, what if I didn’t set my house on fire? What would they say then? If they knew who it was, they’d say “X set Alicia’s house on fire. She died. So sad.” 

Maybe minus that last part. 

But, if they don't and didn’t know who set the house on fire? They’d probably say something like, “Someone set Alicia’s house on fire. We don’t know who, yet.”

So, why the weird syntax? Between the smells from the water plant, burning wood and cooked flesh, I could probably forgive the Militia Captain – Mazin – for lazy sentence structure - but, considering his self-discipline, I don’t think he’d forgive himself. 

 

Also, High Priest Aarnol interrupted him. He didn’t want him to finish that sentence. 

Militia Captain 

The house was set on fire from the– 

Alicia (Narrating)

It’s a where. Frinka’s was set on fire from somewhere. Somewhere strange. Otherwise, why would that be the first point you’d make? More importantly, wherever that somewhere was, was clear to the naked eye. 

If I wanted to find out more, I’d need to get into Frinka’s house and try to find the source of the fire. Maybe, just maybe, I could fill in that blank. 

I think I also secretly hoped something at Frinka’s might fill in the blank about Ianderu’s timeline. Ianderu went from Bryony’s house to the Namane farm, to Samuel Frinka’s place. But, the times were off. I needed to know who was lying, so I could get the full picture. 

Frinka’s cremation, cause of death, and the apparent sadness of everyone in attendance, was a picture. But, as far as I’m concerned, that picture was about as valid as the Namane’s happy marriage. 

I watched a piece of ash floating between the fire’s rising heat and escaping into the crowd. It glided out, to the edge of fire, and then the vacuum would suck it back, only for the heat to push it back out again. Eventually, the flames grew, the burning ember escaped and floated down onto Ianderu’s lawyer’s shoulder. 

Murphy-Murphy Murphy. He didn’t notice the ember. Too busy pretending to mourn. His head down. Eyes closed. But, his rocking body betrayed him. Steaming drunk. 

I wanted to find out if Murphy knew anything about Frinka. The other priests might not speak to me, but Murphy’s a drunk, and a blabbermouth. If he knew anything, I was pretty confident I could play on his vanity to get the truth. 

The ember on his suit started to burn straight through. Some of those around him did notice - but they were too polite to say anything. 

Other mourners just stared at it out of their peripherals, sidling away unnoticeable step by unnoticeable step. 

I figured, this was as good an time as any: 

I jogged around the pyre - 

 

When I got to Murphy, the ember had made a sharply framed hole in his suit - one among many. But, he still hadn’t noticed - just relieved to see the mourners were admonishing me, not him. 

Alicia 

You’re burning…

Alicia (Narrating)

I patted down his shoulder with my good arm, trying to stop his suit from burning. 

The crowd sounds restless, with mourners shouting to each other. 

Murphy 

(to the crowd) 

It’s a’right. Just overreactin’ that’s all she’s doin’ now. 

Alicia (Narrating)

I looked around at all the teary-eyed mourners, glaring at the leech and suddenly realised I wasn’t crying enough. I sometimes think, half the reason we cry is because we see someone else crying, judge that they look sadder than we do, and that we’re definitely more affected than they are, like some kind of morose dick measuring contest. 

Anyway, seeing Frinka from this angle, his scream flickering through the veil of the fire, was enough to set me off again. I didn’t have to pretend. Flashes, unprocessed, from when I first saw him, stuck to the blackened grass outside his house. They kept coming. I cried again, trying to look away from the flames. 

Murphy 

(performatively) 

It’s alright. I’ve got her now. She’s okay. Don’t worry love, it’s a hard time for us all. 

Alicia (Narrating)

There was so much booze on his breath, I’m surprised he didn’t combust. Murphy

Murphy

Get her a drink ya fuckin’ eejit. And, I’ll have another, too. Make sure it’s full this time ‘aright?

 

Multiplier 

Is this what the lady wants? 

SMACK

Murphy 

Did you actually just question me, like? 

SMACK, SMACK, SMACK

Alicia (Narrating)

I just stared at that Multiplier with a dumb look on my face. I didn’t know what to say. He shook his head at me as he walked away. 

 

Murphy 

The cheek of it. Sure, if it’d said that to anyone else, they’d’ve had it cleansed. 

Alicia (Narrating)

Murphy rubbed my shoulders up and down... Then down... Then down... 

Murphy 

You’re alright there now love. You’re alright. That’s it. Just let it out there now. That’s a good girl. 

Alicia (Narrating)

... And further down. 

This was Murphy-Murphy to a tee. He loved to cop a feel. I was betting on it. Besides, when I looked up, the crowd’s opinion of me seemed to have changed from disrespectful bitch, to torn-up naive idiot. I wouldn’t have wanted to ruin that by telling Murphy to get off me… That would have been impolite. 

Murphy 

What’s that in your pocket there now? 

Alicia (Narrating)

Perfect.


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I feel… so alone.

 

Candice (Also played by Grimaldo Power)

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Ron 

I… I… Candice, I can trust you right?

 

Candice

Of course, you can trust me with anything!

 

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Epic Voice Over (Also played by Grimaldo Power)

Hypocrisy

 

Ron

I’ve been talking to…

 

Sounds of praying, chanting and other religious-sounding rites. Church bells ring out.

 

BIG EPIC HORN!

 

VO

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Candice

Oh, no. Please, Ron. Tell me you’re not gonna say what I think you’re gonna say…”

 

VO

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Candice

Ron! How could you do this to me?

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Ron

Candice! What have I become?!

 

Candice

I’m sorry Ron.

 

A gun cocks

 

Ron

I thought you loved me.

 

VO

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Candice

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Alicia (Narrating)

Murphy fondled the little box in my pocket. I’d found it a couple of days before – a small cube, each side split up into four smaller cubes – all of which you can swivel in rows of two. Each of the three sides of each cube had a symbol on them. 

It had four hinges, one in the middle of four consecutive sides so I was pretty sure you could open it, if you could find the right combination. 

I’d been playing with it since I found it, but so far, no success. 

Alicia 

Just something I found. 

Murphy 

Sure, ‘gis a look there then now. 

Alicia 

No. 

Murphy 

Alright! Jaysus, sure calm down there now. I’s only askin’ seems you’d said you’d found somethin’. 

Alicia (Narrating)

I shook my head and burst into tears. Those ones were fake, for sure. I didn’t want Murphy asking any more questions about it. He’d already confirmed my suspicion. That cube was what they were looking for. 

It didn’t matter anyway. I was just the intermission. As soon as our drinks arrived he shrugged and then held his drink in both hands, smacking his lips like it was the first time he’d ever seen a beer. 

Murphy 

That’s alright now love. Settle down. I’ve gotcha! 

Alicia (Narrating)

Was he talking to me or the beer? 

Plus, I thought, why is Murphy even here? He can’t have been that fond of Frinka. I don’t think he’s ever drunk a glass of water. I’m pretty sure his mother nursed him on Namane beer. 

Maybe he wanted to support the Aphists… 

 

Silitra’s worst kept secret? Murphy gets paid by the Aphist Order, on retainer, for public defence. You probably could have guessed. But, if you didn’t know that, now you do. He tried to join the order around the same time as Jerry. He learned the language. Studied the law. Wanted to become the Legislative Priest some day. 

So, why isn’t he in the order? 

Well, there’s an urban legend that Murphy, at one of the Priests' closed meetings, challenged the then Deputy High Priest Aarnol to a drinking contest: who could drink ten beers the fastest? The winner would get to sleep with the other man’s wife. 

The Deputy High Priest – and not surprisingly, his wife – refused. But Murphy was so drunk already, he just assumed the challenge was on. So, he drank ten bottles of Namane in seven minutes - apparently. Death Priest Jerry timed it, actually. 

The Deputy High Priest left the party before Murphy finished, disgusted by his impoliteness. 

When Murphy downed his last drink, and realised Aarnol, and surprising only to him, his wife, had left, he followed them to their house. 

The rest of the Priests, also drunk, egged him on. 

A couple of years ago, I tried to do a story on the urban legend – find out if it was true. The only thing I found out was that the broad strokes were true. The party. The drinking game. Following Aarnol and his wife home. 

A recording from a relatively small room. 

Jerry 

Oh dear. Really? I’d rather not go into that. 
 

Alicia (Narrating)

That’s Jerry, the selectively charismatic Death Priest. I interviewed him for the story. 

Jerry 

I mean, that was so long ago. I’m not sure anyone remembers really. We were all so royally smashed – don’t put that in. 

Alicia (Narrating)

Sorry, Jerry. 

Alicia 

Okay, but surely you must know what happened in the house? The next day, Murphy left the Order and, well, I guess, why?

 

Jerry 

I don’t want to slander anyone here. That could get me – and you – in trouble. Murphy, just, he wasn’t right for the order. He’s never known when to keep his head down. I think he, Maté and Aarnol all came to the agreement that he could be useful, but that the Order wasn’t the right place for his... talents. 

Alicia 

Okay, but he was lined up to become the next legislative priest, so there must be a reason. Like a final straw, that happened inside the house? 

Alicia (Narrating)

Now, maybe I’m misremembering this, but as far as I can remember, Jerry looked around the room, as if someone was watching him. A bead of sweat dripped from his brow – it wasn’t a particularly hot day. At the time, I thought it looked like he was trying to think of the right thing to say. Now, listening back to that huge pause – I wonder if he was just trying to not say the wrong thing.

Jerry 

Turn that off. 

Alicia (Narrating)

Jerry made me turn off the recorder. I did, but I’ve always got a couple more hidden, in case something like that happens. You might think that makes me paranoid – maybe I am paranoid – but I’d rather be too paranoid ninety-nine percent of the time, than not paranoid enough one-percent of the time. That one-percent could kill you. 

Anyway, it didn’t matter, because he ended the interview. The rest of that investigation led nowhere. No-one wanted to talk about what happened in that house. 

A few weeks after that interview, Aarnol’s wife died in the cholera outbreak, so I didn’t think it was worth going any further with it. If something had happened, and it involved Aarnol’s wife, I didn’t think it would be fair to publish it. 

So, no-one really knows what happened in that house - except, the next day, Murphy willingly left the Order, but got a job as Silitra’s only legal representative. Every week, on Pepday, Murphy gets paid, usually for doing nothing. Everyone knows Murphy’s payday, because that’s the day he repays his previous week’s credit at all those Namanes he keeps afloat. 

Also, occasionally, he defends the public in legal disputes. 

Supposedly, our commitment to providing a lawyer is one of the greatest freedoms Silitra has. Except when you look at Murphy’s track record. He gets paid whether he wins or loses. He might stop getting paid if he stepped on the wrong toes. If there really was more to Ianderu McConnell’s conviction – if that conviction was in the New High Priest’s interest – then surely Murphy’s incentive was to ensure a conviction? 

I’m not saying the idea of public defence, provided by the prosecuting body is unethical. That would be slander against the state – a crime I would never commit. I’m just asking a question: does Murphy have more loyalty to his clients or to his beer money? 

More pertinent: was Murphy at the funeral to mourn? Or was it because Jerry told him about the open bar? 

Back to the funeral the crowd mumbles in the background.

Alicia 

Did you know him well? 

Murphy 

Who? 

Alicia 

Mister Frinka. 

Murphy 

Oh. Right. Eh, yeah. Good lad. Good lad, so he was. Did the water and all that – so it’s good, yeah – I mean, he’s good, not that – ah sure, you know what I mean like. 

Alicia 

Yeah it’s great about the water, right? 

Murphy 

The water? Ya, the water. What about the water?

 

Alicia 

High Priest Aarnol told me about the purification instructions. 

Murphy 

Did he? Yeah, well, it’s a good thing Frinka told him or there’d be no more beer, am I right?

 

Alicia laughs

Alicia 

Yeah, I’m sure the Namanes would find a way. 

Alicia (Narrating)

Told him? I thought they found the instructions in the safe? 

Alicia 

I heard he was a really nice guy... What’s your last memory of him? 

Alicia (Narrating)

I even cringed as I said it. Murphy looked me dead in the eye, then broke into a smile. 

Murphy 

Nice try, love.

 

Alicia (Narrating)

I tried to cover it. The last thing I needed now was for Murphy to get suspicious. 

Alicia 

How do you mean? Got any more cases coming up? 

Murphy laughs, responding incoherently

Alicia (Narrating)

Pathetic. 

Murphy sauntered over to High Priest, Aarnol, who was preparing to give Frinka his final send-off. 

Murphy whispered into his ear, casually glancing over at me. I knew they couldn’t do anything to me here. I didn’t think I was scared, but then, my hands were shaking, so I must have been. 

I’d already screwed this up. I thought about running away. Maybe I could disappear again. No, they’d send the Militia after me. Without the eyes of the crowd to watch me, I’d be dead or imprisoned within an hour. 

Would they torture me? I didn’t know and had no intention of finding out. I pushed back on every impulse I had to run away. So long as I stayed here, in front of this huge crowd, there was little they could do. 

High Priest Aarnol smiled at me - his public face. It was almost like he knew what I was thinking, as Murphy whispered into his ear. 

I grabbed hold of the cube in my pocket again. At the time, I still didn’t know the significance of that little box. But, the lust on Aarnol’s face told me it was important to him. 

He wasn’t so polite when I visited him a couple of days before. 

Recording in a small room

Deputy High Priest 

No. No! You will not look away. You will watch this. You will stop spreading lies.

Outro Music