Chapter One Transcript

A synthesised chime plays…

 

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Intro music…

Alicia August (Narrating)

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

For the past two months, I’ve been investigating the conviction of Ianderu McConnell, a doctor from the ruins of Silitra, known by the locals as “that crazy guy.” I’ve been trying to seperate the truth from the lies – which is extremely difficult when people are willing to lie, even to themselves about almost anything – myself included. 

At times this has felt like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But, most of the time, to be honest, it just feels like trying to find a needle in a stack of other needles in a country made of needles. 

What do I mean by that? 

If everyone agrees that something is true, including all the people who were there to witness it, does that not make it true? Before I started this investigation, I would’ve thought so. Now, I’m not so sure. In fact, now I might even go so far as to say that the truth is false more often than it’s true. 

Haven’t you ever believed something, only to find out later that it was completely untrue? Maybe I’m just particularly easy to fool. I wouldn’t like to think that of myself, but then, neither would a fool. 

I even believed the lies about Ianderu McConnell. 

My original plan with this pitchcast was to record the events of Ianderu McConnell’s trial, the first murder trial in Silitra’s history. If you stay with me, you’ll realise why that wasn’t possible. 

First off, for those of you who weren’t there, here’s a basic rundown of the case as I saw it two months ago: 

Sounds of the courtroom play in the background, people mumbling, wooden furniture being moved – everything echoes.

I walked into the high court one Marsday in 2224 to see a packed auditorium. There must have been at least 500 people there -- possibly the whole town minus the Multipliers, who must stand outside the courtroom. 

As I scrunched myself into the crowd -- finding space in between a stocky farmer with the stench of garlic on his breath and an elderly seamstress with vitriol on hers–

Old Lady 

I ‘ope you die you fucker! 

The crowd mumbles.

Murphy (thick, rural Irish accent)

Public representative Murphy-Murphy, representing the accused, Ianderu McConnell. 

Deputy High Priest (posh, British accent)

Do you agree to use your faculties of logic and reason to represent the accused in the most truthful manner possible?

 

Murphy 

I do, ya, of course. 

 

More mumbling from the crowd.

Alicia (Narrating)

The first thing that popped into my head when he announced his name was “Who the hell calls their kid Murphy-Murphy?”, especially when their last name is also Murphy? There’s got to be a special place in Oblivion just for them. 

Murphy-Murphy Murphy, is a short, stout man with a messy beard, and an even messier briefcase -- one of those antique artifacts people like to think make them look smart but usually only serve to make them look smug.

Anyway, in front of Murphy sat the six judges, all of them Aphist High Priests, with an empty space where the High Priest Maté should be. 

Of course, this was unnecessary. 

It’s not a tradition in mourning to leave a seat empty for the recently deceased High Priest. Other High Priests have died, in far less divisive circumstances, and their seats have been gleefully filled by their second-in-command. 

No, this was a special gesture. It was meant to remind everyone – including the audience – that a man who had played such a large role in their lives was dead and gone. Most likely murdered by the man standing trial today. 

For those of you listening in the future, it might be important to re-iterate that this was the first instance of murder that had ever occurred in Silitra’s 15-year-history. In fact, this was our first violent crime. But, it wouldn’t be the last. 

As if to further flog that fact, and the guilt of one Ianderu McConnell, behind the judges hung a glass box, just large enough to hold Ianderu – though not comfortably. Guilty or not, it was difficult to see the man as anything other than a captured heathen, hanging in that cell. Otherwise, why would he be there? 

The six judges explained the circumstances surrounding the case: 

On Marsday 10th of Petrochin, 2225, neighbours heard screams emanating from High Priest Maté’s (MAT-AY) house. Several sharp blasts of noise, and then, dead silence. Because of the legally mandated distance of one acre between homes, it was near impossible for any of the witnesses -- who testified about the screams -- to verify whether those screams were actually High Priest Maté or whether they were just the sound of two foxes in the throes of passion. In fact, that is the doubt upon which Ianderu’s lawyer rested. 

After hearing the screams, the neighbours rang the alarm bells, and within 30 minutes the militia arrived. The Militia Captain banged on the door as hard as he could, but there was no answer. Eventually, he had no choice but to break the door down, revealing the horrific scene inside–

Militia Captain 

I seen Ianderu McConnell standin’ in the dark, holdin’ onto a big ass knife in one hand, with a red hot poker in the other. There was burn marks all over the High Priest’s body. Right then and there, I could’a killed him, but I didn’t. Maté was a friend o’ the family, and, well, you know…

Alicia (Narrating)

The Captain paused in his statement, scanning the crowd. Despite his apparent horror for the event, there sparked a cold malevolence from his grey eyes as they landed upon Ianderu’s prison box. He went on to say that Ianderu hated the Aphists and blamed them for his wife’s death, so he wanted to take revenge. That’s why the murder was so vicious. Of course, all of this was pure speculation on the Captain’s part. So, here are the basic facts of what he saw, ornamented with a few details from the Death Priest’s report–

As the Captain entered the High Priest’s house, blood seeped across the oak flooring, sinking in through the little grains of the wood. It was dark, so the Captain turned on the light, and he saw Ianderu standing over High Priest Maté’s body. In his right hand he held a bloody knife – in his left hand, a red hot poker. 

Beneath Ianderu, Maté lay, completely still, blood still bubbling out of the forty-two stab wounds in his neck, back, chest, face and hands -- which, by the way, the Death Priest later confirmed were caused by the knife in Ianderu’s hand. He was, according to the Captain, only immediately identifiable due to the High Priest tattoo on his left hand: a little white bird, flying from a bugle. 

Pretty damning evidence, right? The accused stands over the corpse, holding onto the murder weapon, covered in blood. Also important to note, Ianderu wasn’t the one to ring the alarm bell. When the Captain walked in, Ianderu was allegedly muttering to himself, stuck in a daze – something about: 

Militia Captain 

That crazy story he’s been tellin’ himself since he killed his wife. 

Alicia (Narrating)

More speculation. Ianderu McConnell didn’t kill his wife, but that doesn’t stop a small town talking. 

You see, there’s one more part of this story that you need to understand. When I said Ianderu was a doctor, was was the operative word there. 

Ianderu was the town’s only doctor for years. He had treated patients since Silitra’s first formation, 15 years ago. Everyone loved him. He was basically the town superhero. People would travel for miles just to see Ianderu -- from both sides of the two roads, through the ancient iron ruins that form the basis of our city, like explorers looking for the secret wizard spoken of in the wives’ tales. 

But, Ianderu wasn’t a wizard -- and just to confirm for any judicial ears, wizard’s don’t exist. He was the highest example of the success of Silitra. A man of reason and logic – the basis of all truth -- who could use that reason and logic to cure our illnesses. That’s why it hurt so much when Ianderu went completely and utterly bat shit crazy… 

Recording of Ianderu 

They took my wife. It took my wife! The man did! He did. Me! It wasn’t me. 

 

Alicia (Narrating)

Okay, I wouldn’t expect you to be able to pick this apart – no-one in Silitra could either. At least, not at first. One day, a patient came to see Ianderu. I’ll withhold the patient’s name at their request. They knocked on Ianderu's door and he ran out of the house, screaming. 

According to this witness, Ianderu ran from his home, seven miles into Silitra’s centre. He climbed up the spire iron – the second tallest structure in Silitra – and screamed and screamed. 

Back at the house, that patient looked inside. Ianderu was an athlete and the patient was pretty unwell, so it was unlikely they could catch up to him. They called out for Angela, Ianderu’s wife, but heard nothing back. 

They ventured further into the house… up the stairs – through the gap of a doorway, they saw Angela swaying from side to side. “Is everything all right?-- They said -- until they noticed. She wasn’t swaying from illness. Angela was hanging from an old chord, pulled from one of Ianderu’s antique, black glassets. 

Ianderu swore to the Militia, the High Priest and anyone that would listen that his version of events was true. I got this recording from The Death Priest a few years ago, after the incident with McConnell’s wife:

A man screams in a rage and throws objects against the walls. 

Maté 

Ianderu, please calm down. No-one is here to arrest you. No-one is here to harm you. We just want to know what happened. We’re your friends. 

Ianderu 

He just -- he came out of nowhere. 

Maté 

Who did? 

Ianderu

ME! It was me! But it wasn’t me. But it had my voice. It looked like me. It walk like me. Angela is not dead. Not dead. Not gone. Alive. Somewhere else. It’s Six. Six is their number. 

Suspenseful music

Alicia (Narrating)

Ianderu was distraught – it was all but impossible to get a coherent story from him. But, after days of questions, the High Priest finally figured out a narrative for Ianderu’s side of the story. 

According to Ianderu, he and Angela were having their dinner, when, there was a strange crackling noise. Ianderu described it as a delayed pop, that fizzled from non-existence into existence. 

The noise turned into a mixture of colours, which collided with each other, like small spots of paint, coming together to form a painting. But, instead of a painting, they formed a man. That man looked just like Ianderu. In fact, Ianderu swears it was Ianderu – though that possibility was discounted by the High Priest. 

Over his shoulder the man carried Angela, Ianderu’s wife, dead. He laid Angela’s corpse on the dining table, in front of Ianderu and his – still very much alive – wife. Then, he tried to grab Ianderu’s wife, but Ianderu stopped him. 

And, this is where Ianderu’s story gets a little… Strange -- er. 

Apparently, this man told Ianderu the secret meaning to all life in Silitra and the Universe. He told Ianderu that there used to be another society here, who had access to all the world’s information through something called the internet. A similar information network to our own pitchfork network, except, instead of being based on a centralised source, this “internet” was entirely decentralised. 

In Ianderu’s confusion, the man grabbed Angela and she disappeared, in much the same way that he himself had appeared. Ianderu says he begged for an explanation, but the man only grabbed him by the shoulders, and whispered: 

Ianderu 

Micromovements. Macrosteps. 

He then electrified Ianderu, stunning him. 

 

When Ianderu woke up, the corpse of his wife was hanging from the rafters in their bedroom. 

As compelling as that story might be, no-one believed Ianderu that an Alien clone of himself appeared from the aether to steal his wife, replace her with a dead wife and tell him the secrets of the universe. 

The truth is, Angela McConnell committed suicide. She and Ianderu had been trying for a child for a long time, but with no luck. Angela fell into a deep depression, made worse by the tertiary actions of her husband and her ostracism by the rest of the men and women of Silitra. But then, when she’d all but given up, Angela McConnell got pregnant. 

Music break

Alicia (Narrating)

The McConnell’s had an idyllic existence for the next five years, until their son, Jerm, was sent away to Prep. Usually the proudest day in Silitras’ parents’ lives, the mandatory Prep lessons can lead our children to a future, designed just for them. It’s one of the greatest facets of our fledgling nation. 

But, Angela didn’t want the baby boy she had spent ten years making, to go away for another twenty – no matter how successful he might be on his return. She petitioned the High Priests – especially High Priest Maté – to make an exception – to allow her to teach her son from home. Maté wouldn’t allow it. On the very day her son left Silitra, Angela McConnell took her own life. 

Ianderu blamed her death on the High Priests – especially High Priest Maté – who had convinced Angela to let her little boy go to school. Maté had, at one point, been Ianderu’s closest friend. At least, that’s what the High Priests said. Unable to deal with the truth, Ianderu broke from reality, ran through town screaming prophecies, allegedly brought to him from his alien clone. 

After a year of Silitra accepting his madness, Ianderu just disappeared. He was not seen again for five years, until he was at last seen standing over the body of High Priest Maté, clutching a bloody knife and a red hot poker. 

Two months ago, Priests and judges ultimately agreed that Ianderu’s motive for the murder was revenge for, what he saw as, the murder of his wife. 

I spoke to some of Ianderu’s old friends, but none of them were particularly open about him. They said the usual: “Smart guy”, “Really funny”, but then… after Angela left him, something changed. 

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Alicia (Narrating)

Here’s one of Ianderu’s ex-medical students -- I’ve kept her name private at her request: 

Sounds of a waiting room filled with people. A baby cries in the background.

Student 

Yeah, Mr McConnell was a sweet guy. He was always looking out for people, you know? Always there to lend a helping hand. 

Actually, after I graduated from his medical school, I had this patient–- this lady who lived out in the woods. #1You’d know her if I said more, but I won’t. Anyway, she had this thing – kind of like a lump – on her neck. She said it didn’t hurt, but, I’d never seen anything like this before. So Ianderu came round to take a look. He knew immediately. He said it was a rare disease that people used to get hundreds of years ago. Ianderu was totally into all that stuff, old stories, ancient books. 

Anyway, we got the lady around and Ianderu explained what he needed to do to cure her. She was frightened, but he told her she would die unless he did it. So, Ianderu just laid her down on the table, knocked her out with some sort of potion he’d made -- sterilised a scalpal, heated up a poker in the fire until it was red hot and then he cut the thing out of her. He burned it closed with the poker. 

 

Alicia (Narrating)

I happen to know someone else who knew Ianderu – very well, indeed. Bryony Dixon. Bryony was an old friend of mine, from school. This was school before we had the boarding schools. You know, back when we got to go home to our parents after a hard day. Back when we spent Petrochin and the Duotesla holidays with the whole family, instead of being stuck in some stuffy old boarding school. 

Bryony was one of the main witnesses against Ianderu in his court case, the first murder case in recorded history. She was also his jilted ex-lover. 

You see, Bryony and Ianderu had been having an affair, way back before any of this happened. Way back when Ianderu McConnell was still a respected doctor, and his wife was very much alive. Bryony was a patient of Ianderu’s. Their sessions became more frequent. Then, when Bryony got pregnant, they had no choice but to tell Angela. Angela tried to have Bryony arrested for adulterating a husband, but the High Priests refused. I don’t know on what grounds, but it was all over the pitchfork.

 

Anyway, when the Militia arrested Ianderu, the High Priests issued a silence order – he was not allowed to speak to anyone – on the grounds that he was a known liar and dissenter -- they didn’t want his proven lies to infect the prosecution. 

The Deputy High Priest Aarnol – now just High Priest Aarnol – told me a story once about how Ianderu convinced an entire portion of his congregation that God was real and spoke to him from the skies. 

The conversation echoes, clearly in a large stone building.

Deputy High Priest Aarnol

He ran into the chapel, right up the aisle. We’d not seen Ianderu in the chapel since his wife died. He got up the podium to speak – I stood out of his way, not wanting to upset an already depressed man. Our studies have shown that speaking your mind may help in overcoming grief. But no, he started rambling on about all that nonsense -- the man in the sky who replaced his wife with a dead clone. The ramblings of a… madman. I tried to talk him down, but he kept going on and on. 

Alicia 

Did anyone believe him? 

Deputy High Priest Aarnol

Of course they believed him. He destroyed at least a third of that congregation. 

Alicia 

What did you do? 

Deputy High Priest Aarnol

Nothing. What can I do? My job is to teach my flock the soundness of reason and logic – to teach you all the truth. We have evolved to be irrational creatures. When an irrational man runs into a room spouting his irrational theories, it’s only natural that the irrationally inclined congregation should hang onto his words as logic. It’s all about alignment. 

Alicia 

Enlightenment? 

 

Deputy High Priest Aarnol

Alignment. 

Alicia (Narrating)

Despite the cut and dried evidence against Ianderu, the judges wanted to ensure that there could be not a single whisper regarding his guilt. 

Deputy High Priest 

Despite his madness, there are many in this country who believe Ianderu’s nonsense stories… The irrational- well– well, they may rebel… Much to their own dissatisfaction... 

Alicia (Narrating)

So, they brought three witnesses to the stand, each of whom claimed to have seen Ianderu on the day in question. 

The first witness was Mary-Anne-Elizabeth Namane -- yeah, that Namane. She said she saw Ianderu running through the forest by her house at ten in the evening. This was about fifteen minutes before the alarm bells rang. When asked why she didn’t alert anyone to Ianderu’s presence, Mary-Anne-Elizabeth Namane said she didn’t think there was any need. Sure, she recognised Ianderu, but there was nothing strange about Ianderu running through the streets. Even if he’d run past her house naked, she wouldn’t have thought anything of it. 

Courtroom sounds

Mary-Anne-Elizabeth 

We all knew he was alive. Out there somewhere. Why should he be dead? To be honest, I was surprised to see him wearing clothes at all. 

Murphy 

Do you remember what he was wearing? 

Alicia (Narrating)

That’s Murphy-Murphy, Ianderu’s counsel. 

Mary-Anne-Elizabeth 

Oh, I don’t know. It was awfully dark. 

Alicia (Narrating)

It might have occured to Murphy at this time to ask Mary-Anne-Elizabeth Namane how she could remain sure that it was definitely Ianderu that she saw, not least due to Mary-Anne-Elizabeth Namane’s admission of how dark it was, but also, due to her advanced years. Mary-Anne-Elizabeth Namane, despite being a stalwart of the Silitra community, is a ripe 56-years-old. 

But, Murphy never asked that question. And neither did anyone else. In fact, that question didn’t really occur to me until days later. 

At this point in the trial, Ianderu McConnell was howling at us all from within the soundproof box. 

Hands bang off glass, and the sound echoes around the courtroom.

We could hear only the muffled sounds of his cries, but his contorted face seemed nothing less than that of a vicious murderer. 

The second witness was none other than my ex-good friend Bryony Dixon – Ianderu’s ex-lover. She took the stand to say that Ianderu had visited her home at nine that evening, babbling about his usual madness: men from the sky, messages from God, saying that he needed to see the High Priest. 

Bryony said she told him where the High Priest had moved to and that Ianderu left, running at about nine-thirty. On a map of Silitra, that places Ianderu on a straight run from Bryony’s house, to Mary-Anne-Elizabeth Namane and then, finally, on to the High Priest’s house. 

Ianderu’s lawyer argued that it would be impossible for a man to run the seven kilometers between Bryony’s house and Mary-Anne-Elizabeth Namane’s within thirty minutes. However, Ianderu was an extremely athletic man before he disappeared.

More echoing courtroom sounds

Deputy High Priest Aarnol

Perhaps for you, Mr. Murphy. But, as you can see, despite his fault of mind, this man is rather healthy. 

Alicia (Narrating)

I don’t know if Ianderu could hear the judges. Maybe the box was only sound-proofed one way? Either way, when he heard this he began to pound against the glass of his hanging prison, the sinews of his muscles appearing beneath tight skin, as if to prove the New High Priest’s point. 

The chain from which the box hung, clanged against itself as it hopped up and down. The rivets holding the glass together did their level best not to snap. Still, we in the audience heard not a word of Ianderu’s wailing. 

The third witness was the most damning. Samuel Frinka, a water distiller, who lived on the High Priest’s property. A small, nervous, skinny man – you’d think he was a boy if you didn’t know he was one of our founding fathers. 

He was the first one to ring the alarm bell, which set off the other alarm bells all the way to the office of the militia.

Courtroom sounds

Frinka 

I- I’m not one for- well, you know. I don’t know. 

Deputy High Priest Aarnol

But you do know, Mr. Frinka. Don’t you? 

Samuel Frinka 

Well, yes. At least, I know what I saw. Or, at least, uh, what I think I saw. But, maybe that’s not right. I know some things for certain… 

Deputy High Priest Aarnol

Why don’t you start with what you know for certain? 

Alicia (Narrating)

Samuel said he saw Ianderu: 

Samuel Frinka 

Or, at least, I think I saw him – but I might be wrong. It was him I saw. But, you know – mistakes get made by all types.

Deputy High Priest Aarnol

Please continue – with as few stoppages as possible. 

Alicia (Narrating)

Samuel was unable to heed the New High Priest Aarnol’s request, so I’ll paraphrase what he said: 

 

Samuel saw Ianderu running towards the house, clutching a knife. He then banged on the door. He said he couldn’t hear everything that Ianderu was saying, but definitely made out the words “Kill you”. Eventually, he witnessed Ianderu kick the High Priest’s door down. That’s when he rang the bell. 

All in all, not a great day of trial for Ianderu. And, it took all day. The longest, most gruelling trial in Silitra’s history. 

In the end, the judges took a vote. Unanimously, they pronounced Ianderu guilty. 

They took another vote on his sentencing. With a vote of five to one in favour, Ianderu McConnell was sentenced to die by hanging, one year later. 

I asked the New High Priest Aarnol: 

The recording with Aarnol in the chapel continues.

Alicia 

Why one year? 

Deputy High Priest Aarnol

Well, to be perfectly honest, we don’t know all that much about executions. It somewhat goes against everything we stand for. Should we make it public? Should we do it quietly? Is there any way to save him? 

Alicia 

Save him? 

Deputy High Priest Aarnol

Well we don’t want to execute the man. It’s quite likely he’s just insane. But, we don’t have any possible way to care for the insane. We simply haven’t the resources. If there is any way to cure him and re-integrate him into society, we will do that. 

Alicia 

And how would you go about doing that? 

Deputy High Priest Aarnol

We’re going to spend the next year figuring out the particulars of his mental state. Questioning him, talking to him – trying to understand his mindset. Perhaps there will be a way to unpack that mind of his. 

Alicia 

I hope you won’t take offence to this but, in a way, do you think Ianderu is a perfect example of a case for study? 


Deputy High Priest Aarnol

Frankly… Yes. Ianderu is the first of his kind here. It’s likely that this will happen to someone else and we’d like to know why this happened to him, specifically. We didn’t sentence his death lightly. It’s not some twisted form of retribution – but, just like a flower that must be pruned of mutant leaves to survive, we must prune the mutations off our own society if we are to thrive. This is about more than just the good of a single man. 

Alicia (Narrating)

So, there you have it. It’s pretty cut and dried. Ianderu committed the murder. He was sentenced to death and we can all go back to our lives knowing that the priests of the high order have our best interests at heart. 

At least, that’s what I thought, until this happened: 

Playback of a bad quality recording from a small room.

Bryony 

I’m sorry. I know it was wrong -- but, I had no choice. 

Alicia (Narrating)

That’s Bryony Dixon -- my ex-friend and Ianderu’s ex-lover. 

Bryony 

I lied. 

Alicia 

You never saw Ianderu that night? 

Bryony 

I saw him. But, I lied about the time... 

Outro music