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Authors: Camilla Grebe,Åsa Träff

Tags: #Thriller

More Bitter Than Death

BOOK: More Bitter Than Death
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Chapter 1


Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Excerpt from Pediatric Health Care Center Patient File

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Excerpt from Pediatric Health Care Center Patient File

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Excerpt from the Student Health Records, Älvängen Elementary and Middle School

Chapter 13


Chapter 14


Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Excerpt from the Student Health Records, Älvängen Elementary and Middle School

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Värmdö Police Station

Chapter 20


Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Excerpt from the Student Health Records, Älvängen Elementary and Middle School

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Värmdö Police Station

Chapter 26


Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Case Notes, Pediatric Health Care Center

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Excerpt from Investigative Notes, in Accordance with the Provisions of the Social Services Act Regarding Young People

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41


Chapter 42


Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Excerpt from a letter to social services from the treatment director at Säby Treatment Home

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Somewhere Outside Stockholm

Chapter 47


Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Somewhere Outside Stockholm

Chapter 50


Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Excerpt from the Forensic Psychiatry Report

University of Stockholm

Chapter 54

Chapter 55


Chapter 56

About the Authors

I find something more bitter than death:

the woman who is a net,

whose heart is like a snare,

and whose hands are fetters.

He who pleases God will escape her,

but the sinner she will ensnare.

Ecclesiastes 7:26


Everything looks different from below.

The massive legs of the enormous dining table, the oak tabletop with the distinct grain, and the crayon drawing underneath—the one Mama hasn’t discovered yet. The tablecloth draping down around her in heavy, creamy white folds.

Mama also looks different from below.

Cautiously she sticks her head out of her tent, glances over at her mother as she stands at the stove. She is pushing down with one hand the spaghetti that’s poking out of the big, gray pot like pick-up sticks, smoking with the other.

There’s a snapping sound as the spaghetti breaks under the fork’s pressure.

Mama’s worn jeans are hanging so low over her rear end that Tilda can see the tattoo on her backside and those pink panties she wears.

Mama’s bottom looks enormous from below, and Tilda wonders if she should tell her so. Mama is always wondering if her bottom looks big or small. And she often forces Henrik to answer that question even though he doesn’t want to. He’d rather watch the horses running round and round on TV and drink his beer.

That’s called a hobby.

Mama puts out her cigarette in her coffee cup, then picks up a little spaghetti that landed next to the pot with those long fingernails and stuffs it into her mouth as if it were candy.

It crunches as she chews.

Tilda picks up a blue crayon and starts carefully coloring in what’s going to be the sky. The drawing already has a house, their house, with a red car out front, the one they’re going to buy when Mama gets another job. Through the window, the weak gray light of the fall afternoon filters into the kitchen, painting the room in a dark, depressing palette, but inside her tent it’s dark in a cozy way. Only a dim light seeps in, enough for her to see the paper resting on the floor in front of her and make out a hint of the colors of the crayons.

A steady stream of music from the radio, interspersed with commercials.

Commercials are when they talk, that much Tilda has understood. Commercials are when Henrik goes and pees out all the beer he’s drunk. Commercials
are also when Mama goes out and smokes on the balcony, but when Henrik’s not home she smokes everywhere. Even when there isn’t a commercial.

The knocking is gentle and considerate, as if maybe it wasn’t knocking but just someone absentmindedly drumming lightly on the wood door as he or she passed the door of the apartment.

Tilda sees her mother light another cigarette, leaning over the sink, seeming to hesitate.

Then the knocking becomes pounding.

Thump, thump, thump.

And there’s no longer any doubt that someone is standing outside the door, someone who wants in. Someone who’s in a hurry.

“I’m coming,” her mother yells, and slowly walks over to the door with her cigarette in her hand. As if she had all the time in the world. And Tilda knows that’s so, because Henrik has to learn to wait. Everything can’t always happen at once, can’t always be on his terms. Mama’s told him so.

Tilda finds a light-yellow crayon she thinks will make a good sun and starts drawing a circle with round, sweeping motions. The paper crumples a little and when she holds it down with her other hand a small tear starts up in the right-hand corner. A crack in the perfect world she is so carefully creating.

She hesitates: Start over again or keep going?

Thump, thump, thump.

Henrik seems angrier than usual. Then there’s the sound of the safety chain sliding off and Mama opens the door.

Tilda searches through the crayons, which resemble grayish-brown sticks in the darkness under the kitchen table, as if she were sitting in the woods under a spruce tree playing with real sticks. She wonders what that would feel like; she’s almost never been in the woods. Just to the playground downtown and there aren’t any trees, just thorny bushes with tiny little orangish-red berries that the other kids say are poisonous.

Then she finds the gray crayon. Thinks it will be a big, dark cloud. One swollen with rain and hail in its belly, one that scares the grown-ups.

From out in the hallway she hears indignant voices and more pounding. Muffled thuds on the floor, as if something were falling over and over again. Sometimes she wishes they would quit fighting. Or that Mama would throw out those yellow beer cans, the ones that make Henrik grumpy and irritated and tired.

She lies down on the floor so she can peek out from under the tablecloth.
They’re screaming now and something is wrong. The voices don’t sound familiar. Henrik doesn’t sound the way he normally does.

The hallway is cloaked in darkness.

Tilda can sense bodies moving around out there but can’t figure out what’s going on.

Then a cry.

Someone, she now sees that it’s her mother, falls forward headlong onto the kitchen floor. Lands flat on her stomach with her face down, and she can see a red pool growing where her mother’s head is lying. Mama’s hands grab hold of the rug as if she wants to cling to it and she tries to crawl back into the living room while something small, shiny, and glimmering-gold rolls into the kitchen from the hall.

Someone—the man—is cursing out in the hall. His voice is deep and sort of rough. Then footsteps come into the kitchen. A figure bends over, snatches up the small object.

She doesn’t dare stick her head out to see who it is, but she sees the black boots and dark trouser legs that pause next to her mother’s head, hesitate for a second, and then kick her, over and over again in the face. Until her whole face seems to come loose, like a mask from a doll, and red and pink goo gushes out in a puddle on the rug in front of her. The black boots are also covered with the goo, which slowly drips down onto the floor, like melting ice cream.

It gets quiet, except for the music still coming from the radio and Tilda wonders how it can be possible for the music to just keep going and going, as if nothing had happened, even though Mama is lying there on the kitchen floor like a pile of dirty laundry in a sea of blood that’s growing by the second.

Mama’s breaths are drawn out and wheezing as if she had taken a sip of water that went down the wrong way.

Then Tilda watches as her mother is dragged out into the hall, inch by inch. She’s still clutching the little kitchen rug tightly and it slides along with her, out into the dark.

The only thing left on the cream-colored linoleum floor is a sea of blood and pink goo.

Tilda hesitates for a second but then continues to color in the gray storm cloud.

BOOK: More Bitter Than Death
10.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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