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by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

Chapter 24
'Error' synopsis

One day, Jonas, who has recently migrated to the city, discovers that all his records — including his assets — have been erased somehow. No longer able to get work, buy anything on credit or sell his now legally non-existent car, his life becomes a unique adventure.

Jonas exited his apartment and knocked on the neighbour’s door. The neighbour would surely be in now. It was Sunday. But nobody answered. Jonas knocked again, wondering if the woman he knew that lived there was at home.

Perhaps she was visiting someone she knew. So early in the day, on a Sunday. Jonas thought about it. Perhaps it was a child’s birthday. Now who would skip a weekend’s worth of drinking to go to a children’s birthday party, thought Jonas. But he honestly did not know. He had no children, and did not know whether he would have any desire to go to children’s festivities if he had some.

In fact, children’s parties had bored him even when he was a child. Their only redeeming quality was that they usually featured a cake as their main attraction; cake covered with gummy bears and such things.

And the children would eat the cake and drink soda, and then they would run around screaming, or whatever children do. Jonas just knew that a child will run and scream. Children do not run as much as they used to, he recollected. But they still ate an abundance of cake.

Jonas turned the knob. The door was locked. A nasty idea crept into his mind: what if he just drilled the lock? Then he could maybe open the door with his own key, and steal food from the woman on a regular basis. But first he would have to check to see if his key would actually fit in the lock.

Jonas tried his key against the lock. It fit right in. He turned the key. Much to his surprise there was a clear clicking sound, and the door came unlocked. Jonas raised an eyebrow as he opened the door. He took a closer look at the lock, and suddenly everything came clear: the lock had already been drilled. He had to look close to see the damage, but it was present. He checked his own lock for reference, and found that it had similar markings on it.

Jonas made a mental note to change his locks. Any idiot with a key that fit could enter his apartment this way. Maybe a perpetrator would only need a screwdriver. Jonas made another note to ask Frank if that was possible.

Jonas took a step into the apartment. The air was a bit heavy, as if the windows had not been opened for a couple of days. The kitchen lights were on. Jonas walked into the kitchen. There were a few items in the sink, unwashed. Jonas began thinking this neighbour of his was one lazy housewife.

Jonas walked into the living room. There were some toys on the floor, strewn about as if a kid had recently been there, playing with them; maybe two kids. That fit well with what little information Jonas had on his neighbour.

Still, the air was unusually heavy. Jonas opened the kitchen window to let in some clean air. The woman might be thankful. Jonas hoped she would not know he did it. Breaking in makes people think lowly of you. Burglary is not just a crime, it is also unethical.

Jonas opened the fridge and looked in. It was overstocked and smelled of stale milk, and probably other stale stuff. He lost some of his appetite, and closed the door again. He walked out of the kitchen.

The bedroom door was ajar, so Jonas figured he would have to have a peek in there. Feeling funny, sleepless and drugged, what better to do with one’s time than to have a little unguided tour of someone else’s apartment? Jonas could think of nothing better, more constructive to do, so he went to check out the bedroom.

If the neighbour came home now, she would be so pissed off, he thought, as he pushed open the door and looked in.

The stale air was more pronounced in the bedroom, and it was dark. And not only that, but the neighbour was in there.

There she was, in all her glory: naked, limp; hanging from a string looped around the hook that used to hold up the light fixture, attached at the other end to the radiator. She was hanging so high her head almost touched the ceiling.

Jonas looked at her body in amazement. It was all clear now. That is why she did not answer her door. Of course! She was hanging in her bedroom attached to the radiator the whole time. And even if she had not been hanging, she was naked and... Jonas shook his head. He was getting delirious. If she had been alive, she might have bothered to dress herself before she answered the door. Few women are so incredibly proud of their body that they go around naked all day.

After a while, Jonas wondered if Joe had known about this. Surely, the punks who had been chasing him were responsible; they had probably been trying to torture information out of her before deciding to kill her for some obscure reason. Perhaps they had enjoyed it.

And why was she naked? Jonas wondered if she had been taking a bath when she was assaulted. He checked the bathroom to confirm his theory. There were blankets on the floor, still wet. The theory was sound.

How about the children then? Jonas opened one of the other rooms. No children. He looked under the beds and found nothing. Jonas could not see the thugs in his mind taking the children and caring for them, so he continued looking.

Finally he found them. They had been stuffed inside the bedroom closet. The less said of their condition, the better.

Jonas wondered who had been killed first, the mother or her children. He guessed the children, because that way the mother might be tortured some more.

Ah, torture. What would the woman he had never known have said about him, just to make it stop? Would it have been anything even close to the truth? Jonas doubted it. In the end, her torture and subsequent death had served only as temporary entertainment for the late thugs. It might even have slowed down their efforts in catching him.

Jonas looked at the hanging body again. Had this woman in some way inadvertently saved him from hanging? He thought about it. Nah, if that were the case, he might as well thank his enemies for being the sadistic idiots they were.

And now that the woman’s apartment was technically unoccupied, and her identity along with everyone else’s had gone the way of the Great Auk, he could take it over as his own and rent it out for money. He would just have to get rid of the bodies... Frank. He’d call Frank. Frank enjoyed hiding bodies.

Jonas went out, closed the door behind him and returned to his own apartment again. He had this all figured. He just had to find the relevant papers before order was restored again. As for anyone looking for the woman, well, people disappear all the time, never to be found again.

How many people would not survive the transition to hard copy again? Nobody would know.

He decided to call Frank using the phone he had given to him earlier in the week. But first, the news was on. The fire he had started would be a prominent item, he was sure. He turned on the TV and waited.

Jonas made some toast before the news started and made himself comfortable in his chair.

Proceed to chapter 25...

Copyright © 2010 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

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