Chapter Seven Transcript

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Alicia (Narrating)

Frinka’s body started to scorch white -- chunks flaked off. In patches at first, but gradually, his whole body turned to ash, dissolving into the flames. 

I spotted one of the Multipliers -- the one that Murphy smacked across the face. He watched Frinka’s body. Were those tears in his eyes? I couldn’t be sure. Multipliers are pretty good at hiding their true feelings -- they don’t have any other choice. But that one looked like he wanted to cry. 

Bryony 

What happened to your arm? Your face?! Alicia, you look awful. 

Alicia (Narrating)

Bryony Dixon. She’s talking about my broken arm, and the cuts all over my face. We hadn’t spoken in a couple days. Not since the day after my interaction with the High Priest, when I accused her of collusion. 

Alicia 

Nothing. It’s nothing. 

Bryony 

I’m… I’m just--

Alicia 

I forgive you. 

Bryony 

Forgive me? Alicia, I just wanted you to be safe. You’re not acting like yourself. 

Alicia 

Oh yeah? 

Alicia (Narrating)

I was about to say something extremely cruel, but I thought better of it. She could only know what she knew, and even if she had lied… well, I was pretty sure she didn’t know she had. 

She reached out, and rubbed my back, in that generic way that people do when they want to show that they care, but have nothing to say and don’t really care. 

I hated her for a just few more seconds, until I accepted that she thought she was telling the truth. Even if she wasn’t. If I’d forgiven her sooner, I may not have had to run away -- to hide. 

Bryony Dixon’s house is, let’s say, neglected. It’s not her fault. It’s too big for one person to look after. Even if her husband hadn’t died of cholera, they would have had a hard time keeping it in good shape. 

From the bay-window guest-seat she sat me in, you can see a miniscule lightbox, with shattered glass edges, where the eight triangular pieces of her corrugated roof meet. The top piece of glass has been temporarily replaced with a piece of old plastic. Permanently temporarily. 

The lower piece of shattered glass has not been replaced. It’s hard to find plastic these days. It’s expensive. The more settlers we get, the less there is to go around, and we’re running out. 

Instead of a piece of plastic, she’s got a taut fluff of spider web, but the spider is nowhere to be seen. Maybe the flies ate it? 

I thought, at some point, years ago, a fly must’ve gotten stuck in there, and just pro-created, ignorant of the fact that it could never hope to escape, because inside the light-box, between the web and the plastic, flies jump from one side to the other, as if by exploring the same place they’ll ever find something new. 

They reach for the light. Fail. Try again. Fail. I wonder if, in the land of the flies, there’s some motivational speaker that tells them they can do it :“You can do anything you want, if you just keep heading for the light!” 

I guess the flies must have learned not to try and escape downwards. That way, danger lies. The spider’s web is covered in the corpses of flies that questioned conventional wisdom. 

They saw all the other flies, trying to escape through their plastic casing. They saw the futility of it. Instead, they flew downward. Most died. The spider might be gone, dead, changed, moved house. But, once a spider builds a web, it stays there until something rips it apart. 

But, then, a fly, using the dead bodies for protection, makes it through the web, into the real world. Alone. I wondered what that fly might do with the rest of its life. There wasn’t much it could have done to save its friends. 

But then, once enough flies die trying to escape, the web loses its stickiness, and all the other flies can use those corpses as a shield to escape. 

Bryony 

Do you want sweetener? 

Alicia (Narrating)

Fuck it. Flies don’t live that long anyway. 

Bryony heaped another three spoonfuls of sweetener into her tea. 

Alicia 

No. Thanks. 

Bryony 

Is everything okay? 

Alicia 

Yes. It’s fine. 

(Silence) 

Alicia 

Can you just run through that night for me again? 

Bryony 

Sure? I mean, I told you everything. Ianderu came here. He rambled on about all his conspiracies and… Well, yeah, then he left to kill Maté. 

Alicia 

What time? 

Bryony 

I told you, ten o’ clock. 

Alicia 

Why are you lying to me? 

Bryony 

I’m not lying. 

Alicia 

I know, for a fact, that Ianderu murdered the High Priest at ten-fifteen. Are you telling me he ran ten kilometres in fifteen minutes? 

 

Bryony 

I don’t know? No. You sure? 

Alicia 

I can’t tell you. 

Alicia (Narrating) 

I didn’t want to endanger Bryony any further than she’d already endangered herself. With the moving cameras, either everyone knows, or no-one can know. 

Alicia 

It’s a fact. But, I need to know what time he left here. For real. If you tell me the truth, I can stop... 

Bryony 

He left here at ten. I know because I knelt down for my--

Alicia 

You’re going to get me killed. 

Bryony 

Oh stop. No-one’s going to kill you. 

Alicia 

Yes they are. 

Bryony 

You look tired. Have you been sleeping? You always get a bit 

Alicia 

What time did Ianderu McConnell leave this house?! 

Alicia (Narrating)

I didn’t want to shout at her. But, she was trying to turn this around on me. This had nothing to do with me. This was about all of us. The Priests were -- are -- spying on us. 

Bryony 

Alicia, you’re scaring me. Please, just sit down. 

Alicia (Narrating)

Bryony couldn’t prove it. Of course she couldn’t. I’d either have to take her word for it, or assume she was lying. At the time, I thought she must be part of the conspiracy. But, there was no conspiracy. 

I recited the recitations again and again, in my head. Reminding myself there was no evidence of a conspiracy. Therefore there was no conspiracy. Or at least, I couldn’t prove it, so I shouldn’t assume there was a conspiracy. 

Why did I shout at Bryony? What was the point? Even if she was lying, shouting wouldn’t have gotten me what I wanted. Frustration.

 

She frustrated me. 

We didn’t leave on the best of terms-- 

Bryony 

You’re acting insane. This is all insane. Please, just get out. 

Alicia (Narrating)

-- which is why I was surprised she approached me at the funeral. I may have called her some things she didn’t deserve. I have an unfortunate talent for finding people’s worst, hidden insecurities and using them as weapons. 

I’m not proud of it. 

At the funeral, I did something else I’m not particularly proud of, but I couldn’t think of any other way to prove the New High Priest was after something. Specifically, I thought he was looking for the puzzle box in my pocket. In fact, I was almost sure that’s what he was after. 

Bryony 

What happened to your arm? 

Alicia 

I fell. 

Bryony 

Is it broken? 

Alicia (Narrating)

I didn’t want to talk about it -- especially not with Bryony -- especially if she really was lying to me. I couldn’t trust her. Even if she wasn’t lying, she betrayed me. I changed the subject. 

Alicia 

Bryony, have you ever seen anything like this before? 

Alicia (Narrating)

I pulled the puzzle box out of my pocket and showed it to Bryony. I held it up to her face, so it would be high enough for Aarnol to see it through the flames of Frinka’s pyre. 

Bryony 

No. What is it? 

Alicia 

I’m not sure. 

Alicia (Narrating)

Of course she didn’t know what it was. It had nothing to do with her. Except, the New High Priest was sure. He stared at me from across the fire. It was clear, he wanted it. 

Alicia 

Could you look after this for me, for a couple of days? 

Alicia (Narrating)

I didn’t give her the cube. Just an old silver and gold coin I’d found at High Priest Maté’s house. But the High Priest didn’t know that. All he’d seen was the cube and me handing something to Bryony, and he knew I’d been to Maté’s house, so I figured I’d let him fill in the blanks. 

I planned to escape the funeral and then watch Bryony’s house for a few days. Maybe they would come to question her about the cube and/or my whereabouts. If the Militia or the New High Priest showed up to question her, then, that would be proof that I had a thread worth pulling. 

Maybe it seems cruel to use my once best friend as ignorant bait. But, you’ve got to remember here, a man’s life hangs in the balance. Two men are dead. Plus, she hasn’t been my friend for a long time. Not really. She abandoned me. 

Either way, friend or enemy, I am sorry. Not sorry for my actions. They were necessary. Sorry for their consequences. 

 

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Alicia (Narrating)

When I left Bryony’s house a couple of days before, I wasn’t satisfied with her answers. I let her know as much. 

I figured there was one sure way to prove whether or not Bryony was lying. When High Priest Aarnol showed me that video of Ianderu killing High Priest Maté, he said there were other video recorders, all around town. 

If I could find a recording of that night, outside Bryony’s house, maybe I could figure out the exact time that Ianderu left. I hoped, if I could see the recording, I could prove that Bryony was just mistaken. That night had clearly been tough. Maybe she just lost track of time? 

If it turned out that Bryony wasn’t lying, and Ianderu had left at ten, then it raised even bigger questions. 

I left Bryony’s house and stood in the doorway. Looked around, and there it was. Up on an ancient metal post -- a black-tinted glass shell. 

If you get close enough, you can just see the black eye hiding inside. I waved at it. It moved. Followed my hand to the right. I moved my head, the opposite way and it snapped back to follow my movement. I know this sounds crazy. But, look around you. Everywhere you go in Silitra. They’re watching you. Wave. Smile. 

But, that’s not the only thing you can do... 

That thing had all the information I needed. They all did. I got excited. Maybe I could break it off? Plug it into my computer? See the file? Prove that Bryony was lying. With that kind of evidence, she would have to tell me the truth. Then, we’d all know what was really going on. 

I looked around at the edge of Bryony’s clearing for a large rock. When I found it, I climbed up the ancient pole and hit the black sphere. Nothing. 

(Alicia hits the camera, repeatedly, with a rock) 

(Smash) 

I grabbed the black eye and ripped it out of its socket. 

(THUMP - CRACKLE) 

(Fade Out) 

That was dumb. I blacked out. Whether that was because of the fall, or just the usual, I couldn’t tell. Either way, my neck ached. I looked back at Bryony’s house. Her door was open, but she wasn’t there. I thought she must have seen what happened, but had given up caring. Not that I could blame her. 

I took my recorder out of my pocket. Broken. I must have fallen on it. 

But I had the black eye. 

I planned to plug it into my computer, to see what was on it. But, there weren’t any connections on it. I’d have to figure out some way to make it work -- to get to the truth. 

I ran towards the woods, but had to stop. My left shoe was gone. I didn’t remember losing it. When I looked back to the ancient pole, surrounded by shattered glass: no shoe. 

The shattered glass. The black-eye. Had they seen me? Yes. They must have. They’re watching you. Always. I heard shouting, coming from the forest. 

They were coming to get me. 

I had to hide, but where? 

They were getting closer. 

I took hold of the nearest branch and pulled myself up. My shirt got caught in the branch. No time to save it. The shirt floated to the ground. I could only hope they wouldn’t see it. I couldn’t balance with one shoe, so I took it off and tied it to a branch. 

I knew, if they saw me they’d shoot me. I knew too much. I didn’t want to be the first person in Silitra to get shot. 

Two militia men appeared out of the woods, carrying rifles. They were laughing about something. Probably some joke about killing the leech. 

One shushed the other. I peeked down. They’d seen my shirt. They looked around. I leaned back, trying to hide in the branches. 

One of them shouted up to me to get down.  

I didn’t know what to do, so I jumped to the next branch. They kept shouting at me, so I jumped again. Could I get home this way? 

 

On the fourth branch, I slipped. Fell. They stood over me, poised with their rifles. They wanted to shoot me. I think I even said goodbye-- 

(Silence) 

High Priest Aarnol 

Alicia. Alicia? 

Alicia (Narrating)

That’s High Priest Aarnol, sitting on the side of my bed, stroking my hair. 

Still delerious, I reached for the recorder I keep by my bed - I don’t know what I thought that would acheive, but, it wasn’t there.

 

High Priest Aarnol 

I’ve already pressed record, Alicia. I know you like to keep track of our conversations. 

Alicia (Narrating)

He handed me a cup of hot roach broth. Fancy. I used to get it on my birthday. 

Alicia 

Why are you here?

 

High Priest Aarnol 

I feel terrible, Alicia. 

Alicia 

Not as terrible as me. 

(The High Priest chuckles as if endeared) 

Deputy High Priest 

Alicia. I’m sorry. This is all my fault. 

Alicia 

Yeah. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it is. Where’s Bryony? 

Deputy High Priest 

Miss Dixon’s fine. She’s the one who came to get me. When you came to my office I should have known there was something wrong. But, as usual, I was blinded by my own arrogance. Such strange, yet beautiful hair... 

Alicia (Narrating) 

Ew. 

Deputy High Priest 

You were clearly suffering a breakdown and have been for quite a while. 

Alicia 

I’m not suffering a breakdown. 

Deputy High Priest 

You fell off a metal pole, trying to destroy a piece of glass. I’d say that was--

Alicia 

I knew you were watching me.

Deputy High Priest 

That recorder didn’t work. Even if it had worked, you broke it beyond repair. Miss Dixon saw you fall and then came to get me. She was concerned you’d hurt yourself. When the militia found you, you were jumping, half-naked through the trees. I sincerely hope this breakdown is--

Alicia 

It’s not a fucking breakdown. You’re hiding something, and I’m going to find out what it is. Before you murder Ianderu McConnell. There. Happy? Wanna burn my house down? Call it a suicide? Who the fuck burns themselves to death? 

Alicia (Narrating)

I tried to get up, but the pain in my ribs pulled me back down. 

Deputy High Priest 

Shh, shh, shh, shh. Alicia, you’ve sprained your ribs. I can only imagine how painful that must be. I should have realised what toll the sight of poor Samuel’s body would take on your mental state. 

Alicia 

My mental state is fine. 

Deputy High Priest 

I’ve listened to some of your recordings. I think...

Alicia 

What? Are you going to take them? You don’t want anybody to know what really happened. 

Deputy High Priest 

What really happened?! What? That a talking squirrel gave you an ancient device, with a recording of gobbledy-gook on it, that’s supposedly meant to prove that I am an evil genius? Listen to yourself, child. Look at what you’ve done to your mother’s home.

You’ve got rats… 

Alicia 

Where are my recordings? 

Deputy High Priest 

They are precisely where you left them. Even if I wanted to take them, I know that someone paranoid enough to wake up with sprained ribs and still look for a recording device would probably be paranoid enough to make copies. 

Alicia 

I’m not paranoid. 

Deputy High Priest 

I’m trying to protect you. 

Alicia 

Get out.

Deputy High Priest 

I’ll leave, for now. But, I’m afraid you’ll have to stay here. For yours, and everyone else's safety. When you’ve recovered a little, you can stay with us at the Aphist Quarters. I’ll personally pay to have the rats removed. We’ll disinfect this awful place, and then you can move back in. 

Alicia 

Oh yeah? We’ll see if that works. 

Deputy High Priest 

It will, I’m afraid. See, we can’t afford another incident like Ianderu’s. As I said to you before, we don’t have the facilities to care for people like you -- not long-term anyway. 

Alicia (Narrating)

Was that a threat? 

What did he mean by people like you? What? Me and Ianderu? I didn’t know what he meant by my mother’s home or any of it. I pulled myself out of the bed. 

The pain in my ribs was only bearable if I leaned to one side, taking all my weight on my right foot. 

I hobbled downstairs. Outside my front door, two militiamen -- rifles. 

I walked towards the back, but I knew there’d probably be another two there as well. Then I saw it. My mother’s home... 

All over the walls: my papers, my drawings. I can see how that might seem creepy, I’m terrible at drawing faces. Then, up one wall, next to the fireplace, burn marks, where the fire had caught. I don’t remember that happening -- but I guess it did? 

Then, on another wall: Ianderu -- a bad drawing of him, etched into the corrugated metal that makes up my walls. 

All over the floor: buckets of Namane beer. A few broken mugs. 

Fine, so it didn’t look good. I get that. But, I’m working. This is the kind of obsession it takes to find the truth. This is what every investigation looks like. I always clean up, eventually. What’s a normal home supposed to look like anyway? He lives in a fucking castle, filled with peeling wallpaper, mould and the objects of his profession. 

So, really, no different to mine. 

He’s trying to make me look crazy. Maybe he’s even trying to get me to believe I’m crazy, just so I’ll stop asking questions. Did he do the same to Ianderu? Maybe that was why Ianderu murdered the High Priest. Maybe he knew something, and they were trying to discredit him. 

It should have occurred to me before, but I needed to find a way to speak to Ianderu McConnell directly. But, he was in prison. In isolation. There was no way I’d ever get the chance to speak to him. Besides, he is crazy. I know he is. 

We’ve all seen Ianderu McConnell, running through the street, naked, covered in his own blood, screaming prophecies about the end-times. Prophecies about our blindness to the reality of our nature and purpose. I might be a little eccentric, but I’m not crazy. 

Aarnol is just trying to equate me with Ianderu McConnell. To discredit me. Because he’s scared I’ll find out what really happened that night. And he ruined my mother’s home to do it. To try and convince me. 

He must have seen my fireplace, and then set fire to my wall. Then he must have etched that drawing himself. Then… I mean, that’s crazy. What other kind of person would do something like that? 

Then, he put two guards at both exits of my home, so I couldn’t escape. He didn’t want to put me in prison. Not yet, anyway. Why? Because I’ve done nothing wrong, and he knew it. 

Well, it didn’t fucking work. 

Thanks to Methodism, which you taught me, all you’ve done is proven to me that I’m right. And, that you’re more afraid of anyone finding out what’s really going on than I thought you were. 

I don’t know if you’re listening. I bet you are. I bet you’re obsessed. But, you won’t find me. I’m moving on now, and I’ll keep moving. 

Also, I am sorry for what happened to you.

 

I could have told you.

 

But, you would’ve called me crazy. 

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