Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Stories of The North

Annemarie wrote this preamble to her story "The Siren Sings To Ingrid":

One of the nice things about knowing people who are creative, is being able to steal ideas from them.
Almost as much fun, is coming up with an idea resulting from a silly conversation.
Innini and I set each other a sort of challange. To write a story, but that it had to pertain, roughly, to Halloween.
It had to be set in Norway, had to incorporate the fishing industry, and it had to have a mermaid in there somewhere.

Easy peasy!

We didn't quite meet the Halloween deadline obviously, but that wasn't important.
What was interesting, was the different style and approach used.
My (Annemarie) story, is fiction, and written with a particular cadence of speech and thought that differs very much from my own.

My story ended up different from Annemaries. It does not really have a plot, but I did try to capture a tiny bit of the essence of the north. But more importantly, everything in my story is true. It all took place. 

But why don't you make up your own mind, and read our stories for yourself?


Gudrun felt the sun before she saw it, the heat burning on her skin and on her eyelids. With an enormous effort, she opened her eyes, and closed them immediately after. “Fuck”. She vaguely remembered the club she was in, and the walk home. She had eaten a burger. That part she didn’t quite remember, but she could taste the onions and the dressing in her mouth. Her bladder told her what came next. On trembling legs, she walked into the bathroom and sat down. She sat for a long time. 

She was half asleep on the toilet when the doorbell rang. “Noo.. WTF?”, she muttered when wiping herself. She looked at herself as she washed her hands, her hair doing its medusa impression again. Gudrun opened her door, wearing the tshirt and shorts she usually wore in bed. Harald, the next door neighbor smiled at her.


“Hi Gudrun. Could I borrow your lawnmower? I can’t believe how fast the grass is growing in this weather. I told Lisbeth that if the weather gets any better now, we are moving down south, hehehe. Lisbeths parents are coming to stay today, and you know how she is when they are here. Myself, I never had any problems with them, I never really had any problems with anyo….”

Gudrun cut him off. “Just take it. It’s on the other side of the house”. Then she closed the door, ran to the bathroom, vomited and went back to bed. The alarmclock blinked 03:45.

She woke several hours later. “Fuck”. The clock blinked 13:15, only 45 minutes to the beer-store will close. She hated that store. The rest of the country has beer in the convenience stores, but not up here. No, they would have to go out to a special store to get it. She knew full well why this was so. One part was the puritanism, the strict practice of religion in the north. The other part was the fisheries. Well, not the fisheries themselves, but the fact that fishermen and the people at the fisheries made huge sums of money during the season, and very little off season. It was quite common to see people blow thousands on a single night out, literally drinking themselves to death. 

She had seen it. She worked at the fishery.

It was a job. Not one she was very proud of, but not embarassed over either. Several of her friends worked there, or in similar places. She had been working at a shrimp-processing factory, but when she got the chance to cut cod-tounges, she grabbed it. It paid well, the only drawback were her co-workers. Mostly guys, all of them uneducated and with too much money. The perfect recipy for making assholes.

She got the beer, returned them to her fridge and made herself a coffee. She would go to the pub, after all it was Saturday. Most of her friends would meet around 14:00 for beer and lies. She opened the Harstad Tidings paper while having the coffee, skimming through the local news section. There was an update on the two deaths that has happened earlier this week:

“July 12, Harstad.
The two men who died after being found unconcious beside the road just north of Bjerkvik, are believed to have been poisonned. A third man has been questioned, and has explained that the three men found a plastic container near the road while walking from a party. Two of the men drunk the content, assuming it was alcohol. Police say that the content has been sent for analysis, and that they believe that the liquid is methanol or some sort of paint thinner.”

Gudrun walked the 200m to the pub. She already felt better, as she always did when she left the house. Her apartment was located on top of a pet store, and the heat from the aquariums casued the entire building to rot. The walls were filled with critters and animals, and she could her them run during the night. Last week, a mice ran across the livingroom while she was watching TV. Something she could only see as a message from the universe to move the hell out of there.

Happy-hour started early on Saturdays, and the pub was already filling. She eyed a group of friends around the usual table, and as she walked over, she noticed that Lill had a patch over her eye.

“Whats up with the eye?”
“I dropped glue in it?”
“Glue? What the fuck?”
“I looked like shit this morning, and I was going to drop some ClearEyes in them.”
“I took the glue by mistake.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Hurt like hell too. I was at the emergency room all morning. They had to use a scalpel to get it open again.”
“I need a drink. Should you be drinking by the way?”
“Meh. Cheers.” 
“I lost you last night. I think I did. Did you go with that guy?”
“Yeah, he followed me home, so I thought I’d keep him.”
“Hehe, was he any good?”
“I don’t know. I regret the whole thing, and I jumped out the window and I didn’t return until this morning. By then he was gone.”
“Jesus, you are terrible at one-night stands.”

The beers kept coming and the pub filled up nicely. By 16:00, it was packed and loud. Most of them were there. Roger, who was 38, but pretended to be 24, and who once stalked a girl around the university campus until he could no longer contain himself. He had locked himself in the toilet, removed all his clothes and masturbated on the wall. Thor, who had been in a terrible skydiving accident, and now had metal in his skull. Hi right ear was deaf, and everyone always talked into that ear to annoy him. Lill made up some lame excuse and left early, as she always did. Cecilie sat down next to Gudrun and opened the paper she had brough.

“Look, there is the creep I told you about. My boss”

Gudrun read the article

“Anita, 23, has filed a complaint with her former employer, the Fishermans Resturant. After working as a barmaid and waiter for 5 months, she received a text from her boss at 03 in the morning where he told her she was fired. The only explanation given was that she was the wrong star-sign. Anita told the Harstad Tidings that she has contacted a lawyer and plan to claim restitution for wrongful discharge. The general manager at the Fishermans Resturant has declined to comment”

“Ah… Yes, but Anita is a cunt, we all know that”
“Sure, I suspect he fucked her and then fired her to avoid a scene at work. But anyway, he asked me a few weeks back if he could use me in a painting. I didn’t mind, so I said yes”
“Ok, and?”
“They made me into a goddamn mermaid. It right there on the wall now. Huge bloody painting, with me laying there with my tits out.”
“Haha, really? Did you show them your tits when they made it?”
“Fuck you! Of course I didn’t. My dad saw the painting. So did everyone else. Fucking guy grabbed my tits here at the pub last night because he wanted to check it they were as big as in the painting.”
“Lol. So are they?”
“No, and that is the most fucked up thing about it”

The weeks passed by in a blur of work at the fishery and drinking in the weekends. People met, had sex, argued and broke up. The northern spirit is very much linked to the weather and the sun. Nobody is as cocky as a northener during a nice summer. They will grab every opportunity to gloat, and nothing gives them more joy than to see that the southeners have rain, when the sun is shining 24/7 up there. But it never lasts. The rain and the storms and the low temperatures drives them to near desperation. Hysterical rantings in the newspapers, arguing that the government should pay for their trips to Spain, is common to see as the days gets colder and darker. The «if it gets hotter now, I will move south» is replaced by the more sinister «we will endure».

The winter came in october, and Gudrun was already looking forward to christmas. She had agreed to meet her sister Hanna for a drink at the pub. Hanna told her about the latest animals she had bought. Some more sheep and a horse. Gudrun thought she had too many animals already, but knew better than to bring that topic up again. She had’nt said anything about that time she inflated two rabbits with compressed air (seemed like a good idea on how to separate the fur from the meat), but she had said something when she heard that she first strangled them with a piece of rope. 
Hanna ordered two more beers.

«Remember Odny? The old lady next door?»
«Uhh.. the witch?»
«Yeah, the witch. She died yesterday. They found her outside her house»
«Oh fuck. She was really old though»
«Yes. 85 or 90 or something. I think the kids killed her»
«What? What kids? What do you mean?»
«It was Halloween on saturday, right? So all the kids had sort of ganged up, and they tricked or treated their way from house to house. Aparently, some of the older kids wanted to scare the younger kids, and told them about the witch and that she has an axe in her hallway.»
«I heard about the axe when I was little too»
«We all did. Anyways, they all went over to her house, must have been more than 30 kids. All of them dressed like ghosts and zombies and stuff like that. When she opened the door, she had been fucking terrified. She probably didnt even know what Halloween /is/. So she screamed in panic and ran out after them... waving an axe over her head»
«You are fucking kidding me.. She really had an axe?»
«I swear to god. The kids ran for their lives, and she ran in panic after them, probably thinking they were monsters or whatever»
«That is seriously fucked up»
«I know.. Anyways, I need to go. I am picking up a new dog»
«Sigh.. ok, don’t strangle it»
«Fuck you»
«Happy Halloween»

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