Lapland can be a lonely place for many, but for a serial killer like Max, it's a deserted playing field. Quiet roads, isolated people, and huge forests for bodies to disappear in. Max can't help himself. It's all he thinks about. All day, every day. Everything in his life disguises the real him, his real purpose, his driving desire—his need to kill. In this environment, people never see it coming. Robert didn't see it coming—he was too interested in the cement mixer.
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Arctic Chiller Series, Volume 1
Published by Arctic Publishing, 2018.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
First edition. June 1, 2018.
Copyright © 2018 John Hellgren.
Written by John Hellgren.
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Also By John Hellgren
About the Author
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Do you think you would sense your impending death? A psychic premonition a few seconds before the murderer’s axe crunched its way through the back of your skull? Or the moment before a killer thrusts his knife up into your rib cage? We can’t ask the victims can we—they’re already dead.
Robert didn’t see it coming—he was too interested in the cement mixer.
“It’s up here Robert, just over the ridge.”
“Kind of you to show me this Max. It’s so interesting to see construction work, especially in the middle of the forest. Office work can be so boring. How long will it be before the cement is ready?”
“Oh, it’s ready now Robert. The mixer’s been running for a while and all that's left is to add a little water to the drum. You’ll hear a motor kick in now and then while it’s churning around. It’s difficult to connect to power when we are this deep in the forest, so we use small petrol generators to drive all the equipment.”
I’d met Robert at lunchtime, by chance, but great timing for me. I’d finished a job just a couple of kilometres outside of town and treated myself to a decent lunch. When I arrived at the cafe, customers stood in-line almost to the main door, all clutching their plate and cutlery waiting to be served. After I’d finally collected my meal, I ended up sharing a small table with a man called Robert. We ate our sizeable fixed menu lunch of pork cutlet, boiled potatoes, and a chunky salad and chatted about our lives.
He told me about his boring job as an investment banker in Stockholm, and that he lived with his mother in a huge apartment in the financial district of the city.
He was forty-two years old and a baby wearing a suit. Daddy had taken him into the firm, despite not being able to find him much to do due to Robert’s limited abilities. He wanted to work with his hands as a farmer, a builder, or a carpenter, but Daddy wouldn’t allow it—and he was right. It was all just fantasy. Robert was the type of man who had trouble buttoning up his own shirt.
He had visited the town we ate at a few times before, looking for office premises, one of the few jobs Daddy trusted him with. I jumped at the opportunity fate had dropped into my lap and invited Robert to take a look at the construction site. He couldn’t resist a voyeuristic peek into my world, a thirty-minute taste of how his life could have been. He wouldn’t even scratch the surface.
“This is very exciting, very exciting indeed. Thank you so much for this.” Robert’s continued excitement at the mundane had already become irritating. “It was a splendid idea to leave my car in town. I would never have come this far along the unmade road in my Audi, just as you mentioned. Are you sure you need to go back into town in a while Max? It’s very kind of you to give me a lift back.”
“Yes I do Robert, and it's my pleasure.” I had no intention of going back into town, well, not if everything worked out as I wanted.
I’d parked my truck at the side of the track leading to the site, and we’d walked over the ridge and into the clearing I had been working on that morning. The digger drivers had been there the day before and the path to the site was pretty even and dry. Robert’s handmade Italian leather shoes were dusty, but far from ruined. Robert didn’t care. He was so excited about being near an actual construction site, he was close to wetting himself as we made our way to the centre of the clearing.
“My father would be so angry if he could see me now,” Robert said, brimming with defiance.
“Even more enjoyable then I guess?” I smiled as he nodded like a five-year-old.
Robert beamed as he looked at the freshly dug pit that would soon become the foundation for a small, high voltage junction box, and his new home for the next few hundred years. He stared into the pit, hands jangling his keys in his designer suit trouser pockets as the concrete mixer churned around and around. I reached down and picked up one of the wooden packing stays from the equipment lying nearby.
Robert had turned his attention to the cement mixer, so he didn’t notice me when I swung the solid length of wood in his direction. It connected exactly where I’d aimed it. The familiar thud of timber on human skull, one of my favourite sounds, mixed well with the high pitched scream.
“Ahhhh! Jesus!!” Robert’s flimsy trousers didn't protect his knees much when he hit the ground. The blow had kicked off an adrenaline rush, but the shock had debilitated him and turned his legs to jelly. As he leant forward and placed his hands flat on the forest floor, he tried to muster some insight into what was happening. I brought the wooden length down again, this time harder, but on the same spot. Blood poured through his hair as he fell flat on the floor, wriggling in the dust, moaning.
I often wonder what normal humans think about when these moments pass by, hearts racing, time running in slow motion. It’s been hard to muster up the enthusiasm to ask my victims, so I haven’t created any form of useful survey yet—sorry. They’d probably answer my questions in a vain attempt to connect with their attacker, to improve their chances of survival. We’ve all seen the movie, haven’t we?
Does Robert regret accepting my offer to see the site? Of course he does, now—stupid question. Does he think if he’d taken the career path he’d wanted to, against Daddy’s wishes, then he wouldn’t be here? Maybe.
I grabbed one of the thin, strong, plastic packing strips and sank to my knees, onto Roberts back, pinning him down with my full weight centred over his lungs. My folded legs leant on his outstretched arms as I threaded the packing strip under his neck and twisted the two ends together, turning them around and around into a corkscrew shape. He coughed, choking for air.
I pulled the strip back and lifted his head and neck up, and at the same time I twisted the strip a little more. The noose became tighter and tighter as his face became redder and redder. Blood rushed to his brain as it screamed to every nerve ending it needed oxygen.
I loosened the plastic noose two turns—to let him breathe—just a gasp to taste some hope. Hope brings a renewed energy to a victim and helps me savour their departure longer.
Robert wriggled a bit as he lay on the dusty clearing, all alone with his killer in the middle of the Lapland forests. Bliss.
I twisted again before he could cough out whatever desperate plea had popped into his head in that second of relief. This time I kept twisting, and twisting, until the life drifted away from his body and into the ether.
When it’s my turn to leave this planet, I wonder if I will meet all the people I have killed? Probably not. I won’t be going where they are that’s for sure.
Robert’s body went limp. His head tipped forward, and his forehead fell into the dust, his neck suspended at a strange, 90-degree-ish angle.
I sat next to him for a while, soaking up the forest and lake views—and my latest kill.
Nothing else comes near this feeling, not even close. My neck and spine tingled, small explosions everywhere. A euphoric wave ebbed and flowed through me, my heart raced with excitement as adrenaline forced my eyes wide open, almost unblinking. Heaven.
After twenty minutes, I’d calmed down and refreshed the cement mixer with some water. I reflected on the last hour and stared into the drum as it rolled around and churned the wet cement.
The drum was big, but it would still take several loads to fill up the pit with concrete and create Roberts final resting place. I had all afternoon. I work alone in these remote areas and spend my days planning my next kill, and how best to take advantage of future opportunities that present themselves—just like the one that day, Robert’s Day as it’s now called.
It’s a simple life, that of a killer.
There are thousands of people reported missing around the world each year. Hundreds are reported missing each month. Abductions, young adults who find their lives unbearable, women who flee abusive relationships, and people trafficking. The majority return home to their families and loved ones—but many don’t.
The ones that don’t return are part of a core group of people who disappear forever. Some of them fall into the hands of killers like me, well practised killers—born for the job. Killers who have developed a network and a social system for sharing ideas on our craft. Ideas for finding victims. Ideas for disposing of bodies. Ideas for all aspects of making people disappear in a modern world. I plan to let you into a few secrets. Trade secrets. My secrets. How I started and found my mentor. How I built my little kingdom of death in the forests of Swedish Lapland, my killing ground.
I often wonder how I’ve managed to get away with my lifestyle for so long. For me, the urge to kill is impossible to fight, impossible to mute or to tame. Am I a monster? Probably. I am certainly not a normal human. Who cares? I enjoy it. I need it, and I pick out the weaklings in the herd, the people that wouldn’t have survived 200 years ago without our modern day pills, potions and therapists. I’m doing the world a favour, ending their suffering—their torment.
What does it mean to be human in this world, anyway? Wars, beheadings, carpet bombings, genocide—starving or gassing one's own population to death. I’m a minnow in a huge pond of killers, an amateur compared to the people who decide the fate of others en masse, who rule the countries that kill their kinsfolk. Do they feel the same bliss I feel when I wring someone's neck? Can it be the same?—simply giving an order to an underling to gas or bomb a village, compared to thrusting a long blade into someone's rib cage?
Perhaps it is. Perhaps it’s better. The pleasure, heightened a hundred fold when the mad dictator stares at the carnage on the TV news, or better still, some military grade 'close-up' video footage. But where’s the connection, the contact? Where’s the personal experience? I have to feel my victims close to me, watch the life ebb or explode out of them while staring into their eyes. The exhilaration I feel as their breath falters, lungs and heart fluttering like little birds, then falling, expiring. It’s magical.
I’m getting excited now. I need a distraction. Maybe you’d like to hear a little about me? Max Berg’s my name—killing’s my game, amongst other things. I chose to live in the north of Sweden, or Lapland as most of you will know it as, and I’ve spent my 29 years in a small, excitement free town of about 5,000 people. Many who live here have dogs. Some have cats and even horses. Lot’s of reindeer, moose, deer, foxes and a few predators, such as the bear and wolverine. Most easy fare for a young compulsive murderer like me, but contrary to popular belief, not all of us like to hurt animals.
This is a myth punted around by psychologists in an attempt to demonise us even more than they already do. Amazing how most of you ‘normal’ people don’t care much about seeing others murdered or maimed on TV, but if it’s an animal! The shock! The horror! The hypocrisy! Pass me another beef and pork burger please, while I watch this wretched animal on Facebook being skinned alive, or torn to bits by a Chinese psycho in the name of fresh food. It’s you who are all mad—every last one of you. It’s just most of you hide it well enough to stay out of the asylums.
No, I am a misanthrope and an intruder. A cuckoo if you will. I hate people. All of you—with few exceptions. I have to live among you to kill you, but I don’t like being around most of you. My Swedish family? Well, I owe my mother and father a debt for raising me, paying for everything while I grew up, and loving me, so.... I’m not a complete bastard, and I do have some compassion in me—sort of.
My brother and sister? Take ‘em or leave ‘em. My older brother is a know it all as older brothers are. “You stole my Mum!” He would scream when we were kids. I would tell him not to be so gay. I didn’t know what it meant then, but it usually shut him up. My sister is the youngest. Sweet as a bun my mother would say. She’s a bit of a boffin and has grown up to be a science teacher, of sorts. Which is a pity as I find teachers extraordinarily irritating.
One of my favourite kills though, teachers. Most of them are so patronising and seem to want to talk to everyone as if they’re five years old. And the droning—on and on and on. I guess standing and talking at a classroom of captive seven-year-olds who have no choice but to listen, will lead you to believe everyone wants to hear your boring, everlasting, droning.
But I would never harm my sis or bro—my mother and father love them too much, and there are plenty of other pickings.
We all had a charmed childhood. Mum and dad raised us in a small holding just south of the Arctic Circle, a big farmhouse and guesthouse, fun outhouses, and a lake not far away from the garden.
My Dad’s around the house a lot more since he retired a year or two ago. He’d spent most of his career at Vattenfall, Sweden’s national power company behemoth. He found me a job there as all fathers do for their sons in northern Sweden—nine years now for my sins. I travel around the top half of the country working on the main power lines, installing and repairing pylons, large cable posts and shed sized junction boxes. See where I am going with this? Lots of foundation work in the middle of nowhere, a la Robert—concrete—Mafia style disappearances. No? Amateurs.
Dad turned down a few promotions over the years, mainly due to the extra time he would have been away from home, and anyway, he didn’t need the extra money as my grandfather died young and left him the house. My grandmother still lives nearby, as she didn’t want to live in the guesthouse after Grandad died. Too many memories and too much maintenance she said. Dad found her a cabin in a nearby village which has been perfect for her, although she often visits the lake near our house in the summer. She has lots of fond memories from the lake, and likes to sit on her camping chair by the water on nice sunny days, to just reminisce.
It’s one of my favourite places too, especially as my first kill was at the lake. Tragic accident—so everyone thought, but it wasn’t. I don’t know why, but something in me changed that day—my destiny awoke, and the feelings I’d had for months finally overpowered me. I’d had lots of homicidal thoughts before, but this was the day they took hold of me, shook me awake, and threw me into my world. On this day, I became what I really am.
A few of my ‘friends’ and I played out on the lake, swimming and generally messing about. Then mouthy Lars showed up and kept dive bombing everyone. He jumped into the lake from the jetty, running first, then launching himself in, splashing, screaming and shooting his mouth off as usual.
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