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Authors: David Lagercrantz

The Girl Who Lived Twice (26 page)

BOOK: The Girl Who Lived Twice
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The perpetrators do not want the police involved. But when they’re caught, it’s always because the police have, in fact, been secretly informed. She had better ring Bublanski on a secure line, hadn’t she? But when she called, after a moment’s hesitation, she couldn’t get through, he was busy on another line. She began to shake uncontrollably.

“Goddamn fucking Lisbeth,” she hissed. “How could you drag Mikael into this? How
could
you?”


Chief Inspector Bublanski had spoken at length to Catrin Lindås. Now the receiver had been handed to a man who introduced himself as Janek Kowalski, who said he was connected to the British Embassy. Bublanski reckoned he would have to take his word for it.

“I’m a little worried,” the man said, which made Bublanski reflect briefly on the British fondness for understatement.

“In what way?” he said drily.

“We have two disparate stories running together rather neatly here, and that may be a coincidence. Or not. There are links between Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, are there not, and Johannes Forsell—”

“Yes?” Bublanski said impatiently.

“Towards the end of his time in Moscow, in 2008, Forsell was working on an investigation into Salander’s father, Alexander Zalachenko, and his defection to Sweden.”

“I was under the impression that only the Säpo group knew about it at the time.”

“Nothing, Chief Inspector, is ever as secret as people like to think. The interesting thing is that Camilla, the other daughter, later formed a bond with the man at the GRU who was closest to Zalachenko, and who then stayed in touch with him even after his treason.”

“And who is that?”

“His name is Ivan Galinov and, for reasons we can’t quite understand, he’s remained loyal…how shall I put it?…beyond the grave. He has targeted Zalachenko’s old enemies even after his death, and silenced people who hold damaging information in their possession. He is ruthless and dangerous, and we believe that he’s in Sweden right now and involved in Blomkvist’s abduction. It would mean an enormous amount to us if he could be arrested, and we are therefore offering you help, especially since Defence Minister Forsell has his own plans, which I have somewhat rashly blessed.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

“In due course you will, I assure you. We’re sending over some material, and pictures of Galinov which are anything but recent, unfortunately. Goodbye, Chief Inspector.”

Bublanski nodded to himself. It was unusual for him to be offered assistance by an official like that, because by now he had worked out exactly what sort of person Kowalski was, and his mind was on that and all sorts of other matters. He got up and was about to go see Sonja Modig and put her in the picture when the telephone rang. It was Erika Berger.


Catrin Lindås was sitting in a brown armchair in Kowalski’s sitting room, opposite Johannes Forsell and next to Rebecka. She was having trouble concentrating, she couldn’t stop thinking about Blomkvist. She had been able to borrow a tape recorder, having had to put away her mobile, and thought that would allow her to keep working. And little by little she became more absorbed, in spite of everything.

“So you couldn’t take another step?” she asked.

“No,” Forsell continued. “Darkness had fallen and it was icy cold. I was literally freezing, and hoping it would be over quickly. That I would lapse into that last state of lethargy when the body loses its heat and apparently you feel well again. But just then I heard the cries and looked up, and at first I didn’t see anything. Then Nima Rita appeared again out of the storm, but this time he had two heads and four arms, like a Hindu deity.”

“What are you saying?”

“That’s how he looked to me. But in fact he was dragging someone along. It was a while before I registered this, and even longer before I understood who it was. I was too tired to think. Too tired to even hope for rescue. Maybe even too tired to
want
to be rescued, and I must have lost consciousness. I came to when I felt a body lying right next to me, a woman with her arms stiffly stretched out as if she wanted to embrace me. She was mumbling about her daughter.”

“What was she saying?”

“I never understood. All I remember is that we looked at each other, completely desperate, of course, but astonished. I think we recognized each other. It was Klara, and I patted her on the head and shoulder, and remember thinking that she would never again be beautiful. Her face had been destroyed by the cold. I saw the cut my ice axe had left in her lip and perhaps I said a few words. Maybe she replied. I don’t know. As the storm crashed around us, Svante and Nima were having a row above our heads. They were snarling and shoving at each other. It was all very peculiar and the only thing I heard was something so absurd and unpleasant that I thought I must have got it wrong. I heard those ugly English words ‘slut’ and ‘whore.’ Why were those expressions being used when the crisis was at its worst? I simply could not understand it.”

CHAPTER 31

August 28

Blomkvist had never wanted to die, not in the way Forsell longed for death on Everest. He had never even been in a major crisis. But now as he lay on that stretcher, with severe burns to his legs and feet, he wanted to fade away and disappear. Nothing existed but his pain, and he was not even able to scream. His body was in shock and his jaw was clenched, and he could not conceive that things could get any worse. But they could.

The man in the white suit, who had introduced himself as Ivan, picked up a scalpel lying on the table beside him and cut into Blomkvist’s burns, and then he arched his back and screamed. He howled and screamed until he was drawn back into the conscious world. But it was a while before he realized what had happened, and he was only vaguely aware of more footsteps approaching, the click of heels this time. He twisted his head and saw a woman with strawberry-blond hair and a face of unearthly beauty. She smiled, and that should perhaps have given him hope of some sort of relief. Instead he felt only a greater terror.

“You…” he forced out.

“Me,” she said.

Camilla stroked his forehead and hair. Blomkvist flinched at her touch.

“Hello,” she said.

Blomkvist did not answer. His whole being was one screaming wound. And yet…his thoughts raced, as if he had something important to tell her.

“Lisbeth worries me,” she said. “You should be worried about her too, Mikael. The clock is ticking. Tick, tock. But you’ve probably lost track of time, haven’t you? I can tell you that it’s already gone eleven, and Lisbeth would have been in touch by now if she wanted to help you. But we haven’t heard a word.”

She smiled again.

“Maybe she’s not all that keen on you after all, Mikael. Perhaps she’s jealous of all your other women. Of your little Catrin.”

He shuddered. “What have you done to her?”

“Nothing, my dear, nothing. Nothing yet. But it looks as if Lisbeth would rather see you dead than cooperate with us. She’s sacrificing you—the same way she’s sacrificed so many others.”

Blomkvist closed his eyes and tried to trawl his mind for something he knew he wanted to say, but all that was there was his pain. “It’s
you
who are sacrificing me,” he said. “Not Lisbeth.”

“Us? No, no, Lisbeth was made an offer which she did not accept, and I have nothing against that. I’ll be happy for her to discover what it feels like to lose someone you’re close to. Weren’t you important to her once?”

Again she ran her hand over his hair, and in that second he saw something unexpected in Camilla’s face. He saw a similarity to Salander, not in appearance maybe, rather the speechless rage in her eyes, and he managed to stammer:

“The ones…”

He struggled to master the pain.

“What, Mikael?”

“…who mattered to her were her mother, and Holger, and she’s already lost them,” he said, and in that moment he realized what he had been searching for.

“What are you trying to say?”

“That Lisbeth knows perfectly well what it is to lose someone close, while you, Camilla—”

“While I…”

“…lost something worse.”

“And what would that be?”

He spat it out through gritted teeth:

“A piece of yourself.”

“What do you mean?” Fury flashed in her eyes.

“You lost both your mother and your father. A mother who did not want to see what was being done to you, and a father…you loved…but who took advantage of you, and I believe—”

“What the hell do you believe?”

He shut his eyes and tried grimly to focus. “That you became the biggest victim in the family. Everyone let you down.”

Camilla grabbed him by the throat:

“What has Lisbeth put into your head?”

He was having trouble breathing, not only because of Camilla’s hand. It felt as if the fire was creeping closer and he was sure that he had made a mistake. He had wanted to awaken something inside her. But he had only managed to provoke her fury.

“Answer me!” she yelled.

“Lisbeth has said that…” He gasped for breath.

“What?”

“That she should have understood why Zala came to you at night, but she was so focused on protecting her mother that it didn’t register.”

Camilla took her hands from his throat and kicked the stretcher so that his feet hit the side of the furnace.

“Is that what she told you?”

His pulse was racing. “She didn’t understand.”

“Bullshit! She knew all along, of course she did,” Camilla shouted.

“Calm down, Kira,” Galinov said.

“Never,” she hissed. “Lisbeth’s been telling him barefaced lies.”

“She didn’t know,” Mikael stuttered.

“So that’s what she’s saying? Do you want to know what really happened with Zala? Do you? Zala made me a woman. That’s what he always said.” Camilla hesitated and seemed to be searching for words. “He made me a woman, just as I’m making a man of you now, Mikael,” she said, leaning forward and looking straight at him, and if at first there had been only rage and revenge in her eyes, now they changed.

There was a glimpse of something vulnerable there, and he imagined that a connection had formed between them, perhaps she recognized something of herself in his defencelessness. But he could have been mistaken. The very next second she turned and walked out, shouting something in Russian that sounded like an order.

Now Blomkvist was alone with the man whom he knew only as Ivan, and all he could do was try to endure, and not look into the flames.

|||||

MAY 13, 2008

When Klara saw the climbers in the snowy fog, she collapsed and rolled down the slope, away from Nima Rita, and fell against a body lying there, a man. Was he dead? No, no, he was alive, he moved. He looked at her, and shook his head. He was wearing an oxygen mask. She could not see who it was. But he patted her shoulder.

Then he took off his mask and sunglasses and when his eyes smiled at her, she smiled back, or at least she tried to. But not for long—soon she heard an argument going on over their heads. She caught only fragments. It was to do with everything Johannes—did they really say Johannes?—had done for Nima, and still would do. Build a house. Take care of Luna. But she could make no sense of this.

She was in so much pain. She just lay there in the snow, helpless, she could not get up and she prayed to God that Nima would help her again and yes, there he now was, bending over her, and it felt as if the whole world were reaching down. She was going to be safe. She would go home, see her daughter again. But Nima did not pull her to her feet.

It was the other man, and at first she was not unduly worried. They were just picking him up first. She looked up to see the man draped over Nima, just as she had been hanging over his back before, and she thought that the other person there would help her, the one who had been shouting at Nima. But the minutes went by and then something deeply worrying happened. They staggered away from her. They couldn’t be leaving her behind, could they?

“No,” she screamed. “Don’t leave me, please!”

But they did leave, without looking back, and she stared at their backs disappearing into the storm, and only once she was left with nothing but the sound of their creaking footsteps did the sheer terror of it strike her, and she shrieked until she had no more strength and all she could do was sob quietly, in a despair that she had never imagined possible.

|||||

Jurij Bogdanov was sitting in a newly built annexe opposite Kira, who had settled into a leather armchair and was nervously sipping an exquisite white Burgundy which had been sent for her benefit.

Bogdanov’s eyes were fixed on his computer. He had to keep track of a whole series of video sequences, not only the one showing Blomkvist writhing in pain, but also coverage of the surrounding countryside.

The building was a glassworks, now disused, which had produced high-quality vases and bowls until it went bust a few years ago, when Kira bought it. It was in an isolated spot far from any built-up area, close to the edge of the forest, and even though the windows were large and tall, it was impossible to see through them; Bogdanov had been obsessive in ensuring they took every precaution. They ought to be safe here. But he was nevertheless not entirely confident, and his thoughts went to Wasp and what he had heard about her. She was said to have got into the NSA’s intranet and read things that not even the President had been allowed to see. She had succeeded in doing what was considered impossible, and in his world she was a legend, whereas Kira…well, what about Kira?

Bogdanov looked over to where she was sitting, beautiful Kira who had picked him out of the gutter and made him rich. He should be feeling nothing but gratitude towards her, and yet—and he felt it like a sudden weight in his body—he was tired of her. He was fed up with her threats and blows, her thirst for revenge, and so, without quite knowing why, he went to the e-mail address he had created and paused for a few seconds, feeling a strange sense of excitement in his body.

Then he typed in the GPS coordinates.

If they couldn’t track down Wasp, she would have to come to them.


Salander had pulled into another rest area, not far from Eskesta on the E4, and was sitting there with her laptop when a car stopped by the side of the road. It was a black Volvo V90 and that made her start and reach for the weapon under her jacket. But it was only a middle-aged couple with a small boy who needed to get out to pee.

Salander went back to her screen. Plague had just sent her a message containing…well, it was nothing like a breakthrough, not remotely, but still, a new direction, to the east.

Just as she had been hoping, that idiot from Svavelsjö, Peter Kovic, had screwed up and got caught on a surveillance camera at a service station on Industrigatan in Rocknö, north of Tierp, at 3:37 that morning. He looked like shit. Big and wet and bloated. In the video footage he could be seen removing his helmet and drinking from a silver-coloured water bottle, before he poured the rest over his hair and face. Probably trying to recover from the mother of all hangovers.

She wrote back:


Plague answered:




That drunk buffoon could have gone anywhere. Either inland, into the depths of Norrland, or up towards the coast. And she had no fucking clue where they had taken Blomkvist. She felt like screaming and hitting out. But she controlled herself and sat there wondering if it would be worth contacting the bastards, seeing if that would help her work something out. She went into the e-mail account she had been given and discovered something new: two lines of numbers and letters she could not make sense of at first. Then she saw that they were GPS coordinates, of a place in the Uppland parish of Morgonsala:

Morgonsala.

What did that mean? Last time they had summoned her to a place outside Sunnersta, with incredibly detailed instructions on how to get there. Now, no directions, not a single word, just a reference to a position located…where?…she had a closer look—somewhere in the sticks, in the middle of a field. She saw that Morgonsala was a small community with sixty-eight inhabitants, northeast of Tierp, consisting mainly of forest and plains. There was a church, of course, and some ancient ruins as well as a few abandoned industrial sites from the ’70s and ’80s, when the district was humming with entrepreneurial spirit. She thought that looked quite promising, and when she put the coordinates into Google Earth she discovered a long, rectangular brick building with large glass windows standing in the middle of a field, not far from the forest.

Just about any building in Sweden could be a hiding place for criminals, there was a whole country to search through. Why point straight at that one? Why send her any coordinates at all? Was it a red herring? A trap?

She looked again at the map and saw that Rocknö, where Kovic had stopped at the service station, was right by the turnoff to Morgonsala.

Had one of Camilla’s lot squealed? Was that conceivable? Admittedly, it couldn’t have been a popular move to order the Svavelsjö crew to go after someone like Blomkvist. It would have seemed too risky, but why leak the information to her? What were they hoping for in return?

It made no sense. She wrote to Plague:



She sent him the GPS coordinates and wrote:






Then she got on her motorcycle and rode at a reckless speed to Morgonsala. Before long she noticed the wind growing stronger. The sky was clouding over and she gripped the handlebars so tightly that her fingers whitened inside her gloves.

BOOK: The Girl Who Lived Twice
11.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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