Set nearly four years after Let The Old Dreams Die the narrator receives an unexpected phone call from Karin. Although saddened to hear the loss of Stefan he is thrilled to learn She is back in Östernäs.
After he is invited to visit the old cottage he soon learns what happened in Barcelona all those years ago and why she has returned.
The following story is a work of fan-fiction and its author claims no copyright of any of the characters and acknowleges John Ajvide Lindqvist as the original creator of the characters hearin
Dreams Made Flesh
I told you of a miraculous love once, a love between two people I grew to know and love dearly myself.
It seems now that my story has not ended entirely, but like life, stories keep going until you, yourself eventually pass away. But this love story has another miracle interlaced with it born from what I see as a tragedy.
My dearest friends Karin and Stefan had been gone from my life for nearly four years. The first few months of my life without them was tinged by sadness and wonder of how they were living their “new dreams” or even living at all.
Even as the years ticked by every time I sat on the balcony of my apartment in the spring and summer months I had a constant reminder of them when I saw their old apartment below mine. It was then I would be distracted for a moment or two and think about what happened to them or indeed what is happening to them now.
Anyway, like time life for me rolled by and I never felt the need to move out of my old apartment; being the old stoic I merely got on with life and continued the way I always have and enjoyed life for what it is. I have been a resident of Blackeberg since I was a small boy and this is my home until it is time for me to pass on.
After spending a long morning in the shopping centre getting the week’s groceries and finally getting back home to unwind in the warm summer’s day on the balcony I hoped I could start to read my latest book from the library. I managed to get settled and put my feet up on the stool with a steaming hot coffee at my side when the phone rang. I was not expecting any calls apart from the pharmacy about a new prescription; but not quite yet so I reluctantly got up from my very comfortable chair into the sitting room and picked up the phone.
After my initial greeting to the caller a woman’s voice greeted me in kind and referred to me by my name.
‘Hello?’ I said again rather confused.
‘Hello, its Karin,’ there was a pause. ’How are you?’
I was at a complete loss as to what to say I even stuttered in my response, ‘Karin? My word, it’s great to hear you.’ After all these years not knowing what had become of my friends and finally surrendering them to the powers that be of never seeing them again I get a call out of the blue is quite a shock indeed.
‘So sorry to spring out at you like this after all this time,’ Karin said. ‘I thought on the off chance about ringing your old number thinking you may have moved away or something.’
‘No, no not at all,’ I replied. ‘I’m still around.’ I laughed. I was smiling and now my surprise was replaced by being simply overjoyed. I immediately thought of the reasons why they she and Stefan left and so much in a hurry was what I remembered most and about Stefan and how ill he was. ‘Well, did you find what you were looking for, the new dreams?’ I asked.
There was a brief silence before Karin spoke again.
‘I’m sorry, Stefan passed away shortly after arriving in Barcelona.’
I knew he was terminal and didn’t have much time when they left but to hear the affirmation still made it hard to know and I felt a tightness in my chest.
‘I’m so sorry Karin; he was such a good friend,’ I said.
‘Yes, he was,’ she replied softly then hesitated to continue but when she did there was happier tone in her voice. ‘But, we did find what we were looking for before he passed away and in some ways so much more. Stefan was a terrible loss but we gained much more since.’
‘I’m really pleased for you Karin, I truly am. You sound really happy where you are.’
‘I am. In fact we are back in Östernäs in the old house!’
I was stunned to say the least and confused. First she said “we” and the old house. I went back there every now and then just to air the place. It hadn’t been lived in for nearly four years now and the last I went there was about two months ago.
‘I’m sorry Karin you said “we”.’
‘Oh sorry, yes. I have someone with me I’d love you to meet and I sent some people to the house before we arrived to get it ready for us.’
Still stunned by this revelation I said, ‘Yes of course I’d love to meet them. Listen, I could have set the place up for you had I have known. It wouldn’t have been a problem at all.’
‘I know that, but I wanted to see you soon after we arrived and I didn’t want to leave it any longer. How about you coming over tomorrow morning; spend the day with us and have dinner?’
‘Of course, that’ll be great. Thank you Karin.’
‘Wonderful, it’s a date then.’
We said our goodbyes and I hung up. I came away from the phone happier than I had been in ages, almost light headed with joy and yet with a sense of wonder of whom she had with her. She didn’t say who it was, man or woman but it didn’t matter I’d find out soon enough and I was looking forward to seeing my long lost old friend once again. So in the mean time I went back to the balcony to continue my book and drink my now tepid coffee.
The following morning I boarded a bus to Östernäs. The journey itself was eventless and pleasant in the summer sun and when I arrived I took a taxi the rest of the way to Karin’s house.
A mixture of apprehension and excitement filled me when I knocked on the door. I didn’t have to wait too long before I saw a silhouette approach through some of the glass panels and then the door opened and Karin stood there beaming a smile I hadn’t seen for so long. I returning the smile was about to step forward but she was already stepping out and giving me a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek.
Although she was a woman of eighty she was still remarkably youthful in persona and posture and still had that radiant smile.
‘Thank you for coming,’ she said. ‘You look well.’
‘Thanks. You look incredible. Obviously the Mediterranean has kept you well,’ I beamed my reply.
‘Yes it’s lovely out there but it’s good to back. Please come in,’ she beckoned.
As I stepped into the house I noticed subtle changes such as in new drapes and other furnishings and everywhere had been cleaned and the air smelled sweet.
‘So how long have you been back?’ I asked.
‘Just a few days, I wanted to get us settled before I contacted you.’
We continued to walk into the kitchen where the smell of cooking was out of this world. I got the impression that it was influenced by her long stay in Spain.
‘That smells good!’ I said approvingly.
Karin smiled and said, ‘Yes we experimented with a few things while we were still over in Spain and we haven’t stopped. It’s become a little hobby of ours now.’
I frowned a little at this recurring theme of “we” and “ours”.
Karin picking up on this raised her hands in exasperation and tilting her head slightly said, ‘I’m sorry, I haven’t introduced you yet. Come outside.’
Karin led the way out onto the veranda that overlooked the sea. Furniture was laid out and the nearest to us was two sun loungers facing seaward and between them was a small table with a jug and a couple of glasses of orange juice in them.
‘Anna!’ Karin spoke up. ‘Our guest is here.’ She then turned to me and smiled. ‘My great niece, by the way.’
I looked back at the loungers and then from one of them I saw a slender uncovered arm holding a book placing it on the table and then within an instant a head popped up turned to face us. I noticed immediately how pretty this young lady was. Her dark hair was cut short in to bob that hung just below the ears and was highlighted with several blue streaks which seem to be quite fashionable with youngsters these days. This accentuated her small face and strikingly dark eyes. Then she beamed a friendly smile and got up from the lounger patting out the creases of her sleeveless floral summer dress as she did. Making her way over to us in bare feet I tried to reckon her age. She could well be in her mid-teens, no older.
Keeping her warm smile she held out her hand and said, ‘Hello, I’ve heard so much about you. It’s good to meet you at last.’
For a moment when I held her hand I seemed lost. I wasn’t sure if I was looking into her eyes or looking at myself in a mirror but blinking I dismissed it as tiredness of an old man whom just had a long journey and I said, ‘Well thank you. Pleased to meet you too.’ Then for some silly reason I found myself warding off some bashfulness by leaning forward to her and using a poor excuse for a whisper I said, ‘What Karin told you is all lies,’ then winked. Both Karin and Anna laughed and letting go of her hand I thought this was a good start of our day together.
After our greeting we all got settled on the veranda. After so many years there was much to catch up on. Although the conversation flowed effortlessly there would be the occasional secretive glance or permission to continue between Karin and Anna who was so reminiscent of my early days of getting to Karin and Stefan. No offence was taken by either side at my occasional enquiry and reluctance to accommodate a reply. But, I did get to know in general how Anna came into Karin’s life.
It was shortly after Stefan had passed away that Karin found herself lost and very much alone in the big city of Barcelona. During that time she was in the process of contacting Stefan’s family to inform them of his passing and arranging his funeral that they informed her of his brother’s granddaughter studying in the city on an exchange program. After Stefan’s family had contacted her she asked if she could attend her great uncle’s funeral on their behalf and it was from there that their relationship became closer. And after a short while Karin ask her to move in not only for companionship but for Anna’s benefit of no apartment sharing with other students while she continued her studies.
After spending an enjoyable day with both Karin and Anna the evening was drawing in fast and it seemed such a shame to leave. I would have been mortified if that would have showed because when Anna left us for a moment Karin asked me if I would like to stay the night in the spare room. Of course I was reluctant out of the usual sense of out staying one’s welcome but Karin insisted and eventually it turned out Anna was keen on having me stay to begin with. So admitting defeat I looked forward to spending a long relaxing evening in such good company.
After Anna wished us both a goodnight and retiring to bed Karin poured out the last of the wine and took me up to the old ‘Nerve Centre’. A lot of the old stuff remained such as folders and boxes but the desk had been cleared. Karin motioned me to sit and Karin sat down next to me.
Taking me by surprise a little she asked, ‘Do you trust me?’
‘Yes, of course,’
Karin smiled in response and then unexpectedly took my hand. Now looking both sincere and serious she said, ‘Do you remember when I told you we found our dreams in Barcelona? Our intensions were only to live them forever.’ She looked down at her feet for a moment in concentration then looking at me once again she continued, ‘I never made contact with Oskar Eriksson. Although he was around I did meet his companion instead.’
I found this revelation startling to say the least. I could tell Karin did not want to go in to details or at least not yet of how the meeting came about but carried on concerning only the necessary parts.
‘Things didn’t work out the way we planned and Stefan was too weak to carry on.’
There was a long pause before she spoke again, ‘Something happened to Oskar’s friend, I’m not sure what, we both are.’ Then she looked at me more intently, ‘Can I trust you?’
‘Yes Karin, you can.’
Sensing how serious my response was she said, ‘Anna trusts you too and I know I can. I just wanted to hear it again.’
Feeling my hand being squeezed a little tighter she pressed her lips together in making an effort as if gearing up for an important speech at a seminar she looked briefly behind her at the door and then back at me, ‘Anna was that companion of Oskar; the little girl Stefan saw with him that night at Karlstad station.’
I did not know what to think or say at that moment. I let out a long drawn breath and I still did not say anything then Karin let go of my hand and stood up and went over to one of the shelves and took out a folder. Sitting back down next to me again she opened it and took out what appeared to be a photograph. She paced it on the desk and slowly slid it to me.
It was the same photograph I saw that day I discovered both Karin and Stefan had left for Spain all those years ago. I had almost completely forgotten about it.
‘The girl,’ Karin said. ‘Take a closer look.’
I did as she asked and picked it up and brought it closer to me. I focused on the girl. I could clearly see all her features such as eyes, nose, mouth and the shape of her face and hair. I kept looking and it gradually dawned on me that the girl in this photograph although taken only four years ago now shared a lot of the same features of Anna who was sleeping in a room not too far from where I was sitting. Obviously there had been pubescent changes as anyone would expect but they were there. This could be quite possibly the same person but the very idea she was the same person from all those years ago was just simply incredible. For a moment longer I let my gaze rest upon the girl and the certainty of an impossible possibility began to take root but then I looked at Oskar who hadn’t changed since going missing in 1982. It was all too much to take in and yet Anna had grown into a young woman now. What happened? I wondered.
Karin must have seen clearly the turmoil I was in because of this revelation. She placed her hand again on mine and looked at me with sincerity and warmth of understanding she spoke again, ‘You believe that is Anna and Oskar in the photograph don’t you?’
‘Yes, I do. I recognise them,’ I said nodding.
‘This is the same girl that saved him from being drowned in the swimming pool.’
‘Saved?’ I said in a hushed tone.
‘She told me that the boys were trying to drown him. And that they held him under water at knife point,’ she paused then continued. ‘Apparently they threatened to maim him unless he stayed under the water for a certain amount of time. Anna had to do something. The boy she loved and cared about was about to be taken away from her, so she reacted.’ Her tone was almost pleading.
‘Reacted?’ I kept my hushed tone and Karin looked hurt and looked away from me for a moment. ‘Karin, she murdered those kids.’
Now she took on a more serious tone, ‘I don’t advocate murder in the slightest, you must know that yourself from my career in the police? She was something different back then; like anything else trying to survive. She made choices, hard choices, some right some wrong and she still has to make choices. But things are different now.’ Pointing now in the direction of where I assumed Anna was sleeping she continued, ‘She is an incredibly special person and a miracle and what she has done in the past must stay in the past. She cannot be blamed nor punished for what she has done in the normal scheme of things; besides technically all that happened before she was born.’
Karin was now leaning towards me and she lowered her tone to a pleading whisper, ‘You felt something didn’t you, when she touched you and you looked into each other’s eyes?’
I thought about that moment and I couldn’t deny what I experienced. Although I should have been disturbed by it I was not in the slightest. Maybe because I had nothing to hide and was happy in my own skin so to speak. And the other thing was that the more I thought about it, it conveyed to me the impression how Anna saw me too; again I was content with that.
The significance of the whole thing rapidly grew inside me and it felt like a huge pressure pressing against my chest and my nerves began to tingle. The realisation of the truth by what Karin had said and knowing what I experienced with Anna made my thoughts freeze up. All I could do at this point was rest my elbow on the desk with my hand over my mouth.
I wasn’t looking at Karin now but looking out into the night through the window. No thoughts coming to me at all but a strange numbness at this utter impossibility that was very real and present until Karin spoke again.
‘I’m so sorry to bring all this on you and to lie to you earlier.’
Maybe it was the old stoic in me or just plain tiredness but I was not angry. Looking back at her I said, ‘No, no it’s ok. It’s…a lot to take in.’ I mustered a smile. ‘Ok Karin I trust you and although I don’t know Anna I think I can trust her... not to harm me that is.’
Karin on hearing this smiled a smile that was mixed with gratitude and relief and said, ‘You can, believe me you can.’
It was late into the night when Karin and I retired to our rooms. I felt a fatigue like I haven’t felt since retiring from the rail service night shifts and not just my body needed rest but my mind also; especially from this evening’s revelation.
Before we parted Karin made it clear there was much more to talk about and asked me if I would like to stay another night. I was not keen at first as I would be seeing Anna the following morning in a different light and although she was no threat to me I still felt apprehensive but I agreed to stay as long as I went back home to change.
Before getting undressed I quietly went into the bathroom to wash and maybe help myself to a little bit of toothpaste and use my finger to brush my teeth when I was searching as silently as I could through the medicine cabinet I came across amongst the usual bathroom paraphernalia: several bottles of prescribed medicines. One in particular caught my attention and this was oestrogen a hormone usually prescribed to menopausal women. A passing thought about Karin being perhaps too mature in life to be prescribed such a thing and when I began rubbing some mint flavoured paste over my teeth I let my tired eyes wonder around the bathroom. It was then that I saw a green plastic medical box in the corner behind the door. I could have easily have missed it if I hadn’t been actively looking around. After rinsing and drying my mouth curiosity drove me to take a closer look. Although there were no labels or markings as such to indicate what kind of medical box it was its lid was easily removed and inside were dozens of hermetically sealed small gauge tubes, nozzles and plastic pouches. Still I briefly thought of Karin and her advancing years bringing many medical challenges with it. Replacing the lid quietly and carefully I crept tiredly back to my room and climbed into the soft and welcoming bed.
Before exhaustion finally took me away on a tour of blissful sleep Karin and Anna came to mind and I thought of their story, their life together and what brought them back here. And yes all this will be explained to me tomorrow. I wanted to reason why she wanted to share so much with me about this unnatural yet ethereal girl but a force more natural demanded more so I finally yielded and drifted into deep and dreamless sleep.