The couple inside the house have only hours left to live.
Felix studies the building from his vantage point inside the forest. The property must be expensive; its unfenced lawn borders one of the suburb’s many small woods, and houses with adjacent woodlands always rake in money when sold. Having the wilderness so close brings a sense of authenticity, or so some say.
How this supposed genuineness is defined is unclear. Maybe it’s a sense of tranquillity or privacy. Whatever the case, the trees are good for hiding.
He rests his back against the enormous rock behind him. Too huge to be removed, the boulders lie scattered throughout the whole district. One can find them in the strangest of places: in meadows, on front lawns, in playgrounds and behind shops. Many hundreds of years ago, when the local Vikings worked on their weapons and vessels, the general belief had been that giants had hurled the great stones across the land, for fun or when arguing.
The image is tantalizing: massive blocks of stone sailing through the air and crashing down without warning. One moment calm and quietness, the next destruction and chaos. Not unlike the way he will bring ruin to the unsuspecting pair in the house. Except that in difference to the giants, he has a plan. His strike will have meaning.
And it will be as precise as a surgeon’s blade.
He has spent over an hour examining the doors and windows through his binoculars. Nothing must go wrong. Once he moves in, he will be briefly exposed; Stockholm’s summer nights are prolonged sunsets that meld into dawns, and the house has movement-triggered floodlights. But few will be awake later, in the small hours of Wednesday morning, and those not asleep will be staring at pages or screens.
Getting across the lawn unseen will be easy. Then remain the windows, but tips on the Internet have taught him how to cut through them quietly. He will be inside in less than thirty seconds. No one will spot him as long as he stays low. In the fading light, his second-hand army jacket and grey jeans are as effective as a camouflage overall. Anyone looking in his direction will see only a blur of muted natural hues.
As soon as he’s inside, he will use surprise, speed, and duct tape. That idea, of course, has not come from browsing the Net, but from Timmy.
He shifts and turns his binoculars to the living room.
Seated at a table are a man and woman in their early thirties. On the table are large plates and white boxes with steaming food: Thai takeaway from Ängbyplan, the nearest underground station. The woman smiles while the man laughs. They are young, unblemished, and successful. Half his age but twice as rich. Successful and energetic, while he fights to endure every day.
He would never have thought that such a glowing, homely façade could hide evil beyond understanding. The house is a polished skin around the blackest of fruits. No one has recognized the man inside for what he truly is. No one, except for Felix.
A rustle among the leaves behind him makes him tense, then relax. Timmy is here at last. His one true friend. Not always in view, but never far away.
“Where are you?” Felix asks. “I get nervous when I can’t see you.”
“I’m right here.”
The shadows on Felix’s left shift, and Timmy walks out from behind a large rock. His eyes are large and bright in the waning glow of the setting sun. A slow gust of wind ruffles his hair, and he sweeps it out of his eyes with a quick, clumsy brush that makes him look like a skittish squirrel. Just as he always does when he’s excited.
At least this is what Felix thinks he remembers: his recollections of Timmy are elusive. Not even now, when they are face to face, can Felix recall what Timmy said or did yesterday, only that they have met and talked for hours. But they are friends. Comrades in a world that hides secrets and promises pain at every turn. And starting tonight, they will turn the tables and direct some of their suffering back at the culprits.
“Are you sure it’s him?” Timmy asks.
“Don’t you recognize him?” Timmy’s eyes turn to the dining couple behind the window. “He came at us with knives and questions, one sharper than the other. You must remember.”
“I do,” Felix says. “I just want to be sure he’s the right man.”
Tim nods. “He’s a doctor. We’ve looked him up. In fact, so is she. You should make both of them pay.”
“That sounds dangerous.”
“They’re part of the same breed, Felix. They cut our minds open and let the light in.”
“I know.” Felix’s heart speeds up every time Timmy touches on their shared past.
“And it was far too bright,” Timmy continues. “We were burned, and we can’t see properly anymore. That’s why I’m here to point the way. Our tormentors have had their fun.”
“So now it’s our turn,” Felix says, hoping for more confirmation.
Timmy nods. “That’s right. They pulled us apart and stuffed us with their seeds.”
“And we bring the harvest to their door,” Felix finishes. “Isn’t that so?”
Timmy does not answer. When Felix looks around, his friend is gone.
Felix goes back to studying the house. Timmy always chooses to appear and vanish at the strangest of times. Even now, at the brink of their first task, Timmy is unpredictable. They have planned and discussed the mission for many nights, however. Timmy will be close. Waiting on the fringe, ready to instruct and direct. Only Timmy knows how to extract the ideal revenge.
Felix knows better than to disagree with Timmy. On the few occasions when he has doubted his friend, Timmy got angry, and there is nothing as terrible as Tim’s wrath. So Felix has promised both Timmy and himself to do as Timmy instructs.
He waits until the light in the bedroom goes out. After that, he lets another hour pass, sitting still until the neighbourhood sinks into the brief, hesitant lull of Swedish summer nights. Finally, he runs crouched across the backyard, sticking to the shadows wherever possible.
His moment has come.