Stockholm Noir


Just a feeling, the impression that she was not alone in the house. The grandfather clock chimed twenty past eleven. She intended to go to bed.
Just as she was entering the bathroom, a short, loud bang came from the basement. Maj Lindberg knew her home, she’d lived in it her entire adult life. She was intimately familiar with all the creaks, groans, and sighs of her old house built of wood and brick.
But this was entirely different.
She switched on the hallway light and walked to the stairs leading to the bottom floor.
“Hello?” she called out. “Is anyone down there?”
Of course there was no reply. Her fingers gripped the rail- ing tightly as she started to make her way down. Step by step. Once she reached the bottom, she turned on the light. The laundry room, the guest room, the hallway—all appeared nor- mal. She lifted her head and sniffed the air like an animal, flaring her nostrils. Was someone there? A scent? Something or someone that didn’t belong?


The front door downstairs was locked. There was another door at the other end of the hall leading to the garage. It was ajar. Strange. She was sure she’d closed it. Every morning she
160 // Stockholm Noir
checked the boiler. She knew she’d done so that morning. She switched on the garage light. Empty. The boiler banged away as usual in its corner. The Volvo, the apple of Hasse’s eye, was parked in its normal place. She looked inside the windows. The key was in the ignition. Last week she’d driven to the superstore to shop for groceries.
Nobody was inside the car. Nobody hiding in the backseat.
She hadn’t expected anyone there, really. But what was that noise? Did she imagine it? Anneli had been saying lately: “You’re starting to get forgetful, little Mama. Soon you’ll be forgetting your own name.”
Maj shook herself, closed the door leading to the garage securely, and walked back upstairs to her bedroom. She hadn’t felt frightened while she went on her reconnaissance mission, more bewildered. Now fear swept through her like a wave. She was gripped by a longing to clutch her cats. She wanted them to follow her into the bedroom and jump on the bed, to curl up next to her and warm her.
The cats never joined her on the bed.

(Excerpt from the short story)