Chapter 1: September 13, 2016
September 13, 2016
Loki wakes up to the taste of vomit in her mouth and with parts of her hair plastered to her face. For a horrible, terrifying moment, she doesn’t know where she is or how she got here. Fear grips at her threatening to choke her before she realizes that she’s in her apartment, in her bedroom, lying on the bed still dressed with yesterday’s clothes. A ray of sunlight sneak into the room through the opening on the curtains and blinds her, almost making her yell out in pain. Loki buries her head under the pillow and waits as the pinpricks on her skull dim, patting the nightstand in search for her mobile phone. When she finds it, she pokes her face out but finds the battery has run out, she forgot to charge it last night.
Loki curses loudly, throwing the pillow away and searching under the bed for the charger cable. It’s covered in dust and she tries to bat it away without touching it with mixed results. She plugs it in and after a moment struggling with the small button, the screen lights up presenting the clock. Loki curses again, she’s going to be late.
She peels the dirty, sweaty clothes off, draping them over a pile that, for weeks, has lied atop a chair no longer recognizable under them. She’ll have to do the laundry soon, she thinks when she finds there’s only two underwear pairs left in the drawer. As soon as this case is over, she thinks, when she has some time.
Once she’s chosen the clothes she’s going to wear, again, there wasn’t much of a choice on that field either, she lays it down on one side of the bedding that is less wrinkled than the other and steps into the shower. She washes as fast as she can but takes a few minutes to stand under the scalding spray that reddens her usually, colorless skin. Loki leans on the tiles and tries not to think. It doesn’t work of course, but she’s tried everything to chase her thoughts away and none has ever worked.
Her demons didn’t come back with the hangover. They just never leave.
Loki comes out of the shower refusing to wallow in self-pity any longer, at least for now. At present, the pain of others will distract her from her own. She dries as fast as she can, struggling to get into her pants because the back of her legs is still wet. The green shirt gets caught on the hooks of her bra because she didn’t tie it properly. There is no time to blow her hair dry so she just pats it with her towel and runs her fingers through to try and give it some volume.
She’s always been jealous of girls with natural curls, but in this moment, the mere thought makes her sick. As best as she can, Loki holds on to the side of the sink with one hand while lifting the toilet lid with the other. She hurls the meager contents of her stomach in it. When finished, she washes her teeth forcefully then pops a stick of gum in her mouth. Then, taking her badge and car keys with her, Loki runs outside. She forgets her side arm at home, thank God she’s got a spare in the car.
Despite how afraid she was of being late, and despite having forgotten her mobile as well, Loki ends up arriving to the station ten minutes before the rest of her team. She’s tempted to laugh at the irony, but then she crosses paths with Odin. To see that face that figures so prominently in her nightmares wipes the smile right out of her face. Her adoptive father doesn’t speak to her, not even a greeting, and she couldn’t be happier because the only answer that crosses her mind is a punch to his face. And that probably isn’t polite.
She waits for everyone else at her desk, going over the photos and reports for what feels like the fiftieth time. At this point she remembers them word for word, but they don’t have any new information, so this is the only thing they can use to build a case. After a while, she spreads the papers on the table and closes her eyes frustrated. When she opens them, the last member of her unit has just arrived but she doesn’t have a theory yet.
Chapter 2: September 14, 2016
September 14, 2016
Loki wakes up feeling oddly lucid. It’s the first time in years she doesn’t do it with a hangover and it’s a very strange sensation. She’s not sure she likes being so clearheaded. The reason behind this, is the fact that she fell asleep on the meeting room with the rest of the team while they were trying to find their killer. She’s not the first one to wake up either, there is a steaming cup of coffee resting by her side. Loki drinks it in one go, burning her tongue, before trying to fix her hair with her fingers before giving up and gathering it in a ponytail that she’s sure, looks as terrible as her clothes do.
That doesn’t matter, Loki thinks, getting up to wake everyone else up. They have a job to do and if they need to stay another day locked in here to do it, then so be it.
Magnussen wakes up with a grunt, and when he raises his head one of the sheets from his report is stuck to his cheek. That side of his hair also looks ridiculous all plastered to his skin. On the other hand Martinsson tries to bargain, mumbling for her to wait another five minutes. Loki only shakes him more vigorously. She can’t, however, stop a snigger from coming out when she sees the stat his stupid redheaded curls have ended up in.
Loki then turns around and finds herself face to face with Pine that has stopped at the door. He looks distracted, or perhaps that look is one of fondness, she’s not sure. She waves her hand in front of his eyes to get him out of it and he offers her another cup. Loki notices it’s his, but she doesn’t say anything except a thank you. She knows the blond is head over heels for her, but right now there are far too many worries in her life to even think about entertaining a man. He is very attractive, of course, with those incredibly blue eyes and that body… it’s the kind of mountain any normal woman would like to climb, but Loki has never been normal. Perhaps deep down her reticence has her origin in the fact that she knows her second in command, deserves better than a broken creature such as herself.
She shakes her head to chase those thoughts away, they have no place right here right now, and she walks to the whiteboard where they’ve assembled a rough line of events.
“Well” she starts explaining for what feels the thousandth time, only Pine is truly listening out of her team, but even though it makes her angry, right now she’s so tired and so used to go unheard, she doesn’t even bother on reprimanding the other two.
“Two weeks ago, two bodies were discovered, the first one in a state of very advanced decomposition, and the other one just in rigor mortis. They appeared in two landfills on the city. They were the corpses of two young women, with almost identical looks, killed in a very similar fashion with what forensics identified as the same weapon.” She stops to drink a gulp of water, her eyes wander at the crime scene stills, before she continues “the girls have been identified as twenty year old Astrid Lindgren from Uppsala and a local, twenty five year old Maya Hansen. They had roughly the same height, and the same pale eyes and dark hair, however that’s where their likeness ends. Astrid was a teacher, middle class, had higher education… while Maya has a record of drug dealing and distribution and prostitution. They were both discovered naked, with their throat slit and torture marks on their bodies. They had also been frozen for at least a month which makes establishing the hour of death rather hard. They weren’t posed, in fact their position indicates they were dumped instead. Whatever interest he killer had in them, ended when they died.”
Loki spins around once more, looking at the photos again, looking for a detail she knows is not there. Because she’s got her back turned, she doesn’t see Magnussen’s yawn.
“The meticulous way the bodies were treated post mortem, indicates he’s a cold, methodical killer, he didn’t act out of anger but instead planned the crimes beforehand. He must have also an isolated space where he could torture them without fear of their screams being heard. There’s ligature marks on their extremities but none around their mouths which supports the theory that they weren’t gagged. This in turn points to a sadist. Having said that, neither of them was sexually assaulted.”
She drinks some more, her throat is parched “In conclusion, we are before a cunning sadist, that attacks women based on their physical appearance without regard for socioeconomic status. So, do you have any fresh idea you can give me?”
There is no answer, Loki didn’t truly expected one. Right now what worries her, however, is the fact that barring the beautiful curls the girls had, both of them could have passed off as her twin.
There is a serial killer out there with a very specific type and she ticks all the boxes.
Chapter 3: September 15, 2016
September 15, 2016
Loki is barely out of the shower when her mobile phone rings. She dresses up as best as she can with just one hand as she tries to answer with the other. The phone slips through her fingers and she can’t retrieve it in time, but before she can look up the number it starts ringing again. It’s Pine.
It can’t be good, she thinks, taking a bunch of clothes in her free hand and dumping them on the washing machine, what she’s wearing is her last clean change of clothes. She manages to answer this time and the phone slips again. This time it’s because of the news.
Loki looks at the body feeling the tendrils of guilt suffocating her. Another dead girl, another pair of green eyes, so much like her own, that will never see the day of light again. The likeness is even more pronounced this time around because this girl’s hair is almost as straight as her own. As she bends and touches her near frozen skin to examine the ligature marks, the cold sweeps through the thin material of her gloves and into her skin.
In that moment Loki is ten again, defenceless, the cold weights down on her chest making it impossible for her to breathe. She looks around looking for her team but finds only darkness. It’s the basement, she’s on the goddamned basement and she doesn’t know how to get out. She can smell it too, the insidious scent of blood, both fresh and drying and knows it’s all hers. It hurts between her legs, where the majority of the blood comes from, but she’d bear that pain and more to never see her Father’s face ever again. Loki can hear the thundering steps and feels like she’s drowning, anything but this, she thinks, but her childish mind cannot conjure something worse. Reaching out, Loki takes one of the broken bricks and rests the point against her heart. Anything.
Loki feels a hand on her shoulder chasing out the dark. She blinks and realizes she’s in fact not in the basement, and that she certainly isn’t ten anymore. However, her hand is halfway to her chest under the puzzled, slightly disdained looks of everybody else. She gets up, swaying, and ignoring the searching look on Pine’s face, she walks towards the car barely containing nausea. In times like this she really misses the old age tradition of drinking while on the job. Although she probably needs something stronger to cope with that walk down memory lane.
She leans on the hood and swallows compulsively refusing to be sick all over it.
Loki waits there until the forensic team authorises the removal of the body and she can get the preliminary report. She reads it in the car as Pine drives. She gets dizzy before reaching the Station but is not completely sure about the cause. They don’t speak on the car, she’s not in the mood and the others know better than to expect anything but an acerbic response when she’s this pissed. The fact that when entering the building she crosses paths with Thor doesn’t exactly help the matter. It takes a lot more self-control than she usually has to ignore his big puppy eyes and pathetic attempts at conversation. She doesn’t have time for family melodrama. She’s got a killer to catch.
They walk directly into the meeting room and she doesn’t wait for the others to even sit down before starting to analyse the last crime scene.
“Let’s get on with the facts, the third body was found by a truck driver at a service station on the outskirts. This marks a departure from the original two that could indicate he’s getting bolder. Also, this girl wasn’t frozen for as long a time as the previous ones, therefore we can assume he’s getting the need to kill quicker and quicker.”
“They’re calling him the Ice King on the papers.” Magnussen says in that petulant tone of his she so hates.
“We don’t have to name him, just catch him.” She’s sick of that naming game the media shuffles with as if they were rock stars not monsters. Loki braves on as if she hadn’t been interrupted “She was also less clean than the others which might indicate he’s getting reckless or more impatient however this escalation also makes him more dangerous. For the moment our main task is identifying the girl and informing the family. The autopsy and forensic testing are priority one and by the end of the day we should have a pretty good report on that. That’s all, get back to work.”
Again, Loki goes out first and sits at her table. She can almost taste Pine coming over without even having to turn around.
“Are you OK? You seemed a bit off on the scene.” The concern in his voice makes her uncomfortable, and that reaction makes her irk inside. She’s not used to this, to kindness or being fussed over, she’s not sure about how to answer.
“I’m fine, really, I just need to sleep proper instead on napping for five minutes in the shower like earlier this morning.”
He nods, clearly unconvinced and Loki can’t help but wonder when did she lose her silver tongue.
“If you want to talk…”
“Nope,” Loki answers putting an emphasis on the P “I really don’t want to talk” And it’s not even a lie.
Five hours later she wakes up startled. She wasn’t in the basement this time but in her old room and the darkness was just as present. There were many dark places in Odin’s house.
It was nothing more than another cat nap but it did contain more of the memories she really would like to forget. She gets up and sees the rest sleeping as well, they have informed the family already so they’ve nothing else to do until the papers from forensics arrive. The coffee pot is empty, so Loki busies herself preparing some. When she’s serving the four cups, a uniform come in, out of breath and hands her results of the forensic examination. Loki promptly forgets the coffee and grabs the report greedily, she needs a win right now, or something as close to that as possible.
They’ve found DNA Loki thinks for one glorious, victorious moment, then she sees the results and the blood freezes in her veins. She’s glad the rest of the team are still sleeping because she couldn’t bear for them to see this. It must be cross contamination, she thinks, but she only ever touched the body with gloves on. There is another explanation of course, but is much more horrific than her making a mistake. Loki reads the report over and over again until she hears a ruffle of clothing. She tunes it out, the rage has already overpowered her disbelief. With single minded purpose, Loki gets up and walks towards the elevator taking it to the top floor. She strides through the hallway in the brink of an eye. Under any other circumstances, she’d be gripped by fear already, but again, the anger has overcome any other feeling.
Loki doesn’t stop at Odin’s door, she just enters without knocking, Thor jumps from the chair he was sitting on but Loki doesn’t even look at him. She doesn’t care he’s there to listen, she’s not the one with things to hide here. Her eyes are fixated on Odin’s face, she barely stops before hitting his desks.
“I want to know how it is possible for the Ice King to be my biological father and I want to know it now”
Chapter 4: September 16, 2016
September 16, 2016
“OUT!” Odin yells in Thor’s direction, and of course, the lumbering fool does just as he’s told. Like the good dog that he is. Loki would prefer him to stay, anything not to stand alone with Odin but she has long since given up on Thor ever having her back.
After her so called brother closes the door, they stand in silence for a moment. Loki is blinded by all the medals hanging off Odin’s uniform. She looks at the eye parch and contains a sneer, Odin has too much pride to wear sunglasses or a try out a prosthesis. She’s so very tempted to bark something rude at him, to tear his beard hair by hair just to make him talk, but she feels that if she makes a single move, she’ll have lost this battle as well. She can’t show her desperation, not anymore, her own pride won’t allow it.
Loki loses her sense of time as they stand off. She tries to conceal the revulsion and hatred Odin conjures up in her but she’s not sure she manages it. When he finally gives up, Loki realizes that it’s not a victory what she tastes, but at least, for once it isn’t bile either.
“The reason why your DNA and the murderer’s match is because he’s your biological father.”
I already know that, she wants to yell. She also feels the almost unbearable need to attack him, to wound Odin, break him into little pieces and then smash those pieces over and over again until there is nothing left. Loki grits her teeth and keeps refusing to move or say anything, repeating to herself that doing so is like accepting defeat. She can recognize, when looking in the mirror all the damage this creature, because she cannot bring herself to call him a man, has done to her, but she’ll be damned if she recognizes it before anybody else.
After another lengthy and uncomfortable silence, Odin continues talking “I met Laufey many years ago, back when I worked on the Joined Special Forces in Oslo. He was also a policeman and he was quite notorious for the way he treated suspects, and also his wife. Your mother” Odin clarifies as if it weren’t obvious, Loki can’t keep herself from rolling her eyes. Thank goodness, Odin doesn’t seem to notice because he keeps on talking “Then you were born and he became even more abusive until one day… I was the first on the scene, what he’d done…” her adoptive father seems to lose his train of thought “He escaped of course” he continues in a tranquil tone, as if he were talking about the weather, but something on his facial expression changes “Then I saw you, covered in blood” his eye is filled with tears, in that moment something seems to click in Loki, and she has to keep herself from hurling, again.
“And I got you out of there. The next day I asked for a transfer back here and I brought you with us, trusting the Norwegian police would take care of that monster.”
More of a Monster than you are? Loki is tempted to say, but she needs the truth more than she needs a petty victory in her eternal war against Odin. How could you do that to the daughter of the woman you loved? She also wants to ask, because she understands perfectly well what that strange glint on Odin’s eye means. However, it couldn’t be love, she reasons, her adoptive father, or rather, her kidnapper, is incapable of feeling anything towards other than himself. Odin keeps on talking, maybe ignorant, or perhaps ignoring, the dilemma that crosses Loki’s mind.
“Then I thought that tragedy was behind us and that we could be happy…” Odin starts to stutter then, and Loki can barely understand what he’s saying. Or perhaps she can and it’s the rage that prevents her from forming a coherent thought. She listens as if far away, how her very own demon, the man that turned her life into a living hell, belittles her for existing even. It takes every drop of self-control that she has left not to pick up one of the trophies that decorate the table and bash his head in with it.
Loki reaches out towards one of them feeling an unnatural coldness freeze up her insides, when suddenly, the spell is broken.
“From that shack on Södra Törnskogens…” Odin closes his mouth abruptly, he sees to finally have noticed what he was saying because for a moment he gaps like a fish, opening and closing his lips without any sound coming from them.
“You knew? You knew what he did and were he did it from and you didn’t say anything?” Loki can’t contain her disbelief. For some reason, she’d always thought that the only redeeming quality Odin possessed was his compromise to his work, but it turns out that also was a lie “How could you…?”
“I did it for you!” he cuts her, furious, although she’s not sure if he is so angry due to her question or for having told her. She thinks it’s the former.
“I did it to protect you Loki, in the beginning I only wanted you to have a normal life, but when the murders begun, I realized that if you knew about it, you’d pursue him,” he says in a tone that tries to be conciliatory but doesn’t quite manage “I couldn’t let him hurt you.”
Normal life? Loki thinks to herself unable to contain her rage anymore, that comment was the last straw “Since when have I had a normal life? You made sure I didn’t! I NEVER NEDED MY BIOLOGICAL FATHER TO HURT ME WHEN YOU ALREADY WERE AROUND DOING SO!” Without realizing it, she’s started to scream, her voice comes out shattered, broken and deep like a growl that claws at her throat “IT WASN’T A MISTAKE!!” She interrupts him before he can make up excuses or divert the blame towards her like before “I SPENT FIVE YEARS IN HELL BECAUSE OF YOU!!!”
Her own breath echoes in the room while she tries to calm down without success. She refuses to close her eyes and count to ten, not in front of him. But slowly, painstakingly so, she manages to regulate her breathing, although the beats of her heart still resound in her ears.
“DON’T YOU DARE USE THAT TONE WITH ME!” Roars Odin beside himself “YOU ARE MY DAUGHTER! EVERYTHING I DO I DO FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!”
Loki feels a numbness crept up her arms and legs, take over her spine till it fogies up her brain. The whole conversation booms inside her head out of tune, like a broken tape she can’t shut down. Now completely numb, she walks to the door ignoring Odin and the words he’s still spewing. They are all lies anyway. She reaches out and grabs the doorknob in one hand but then turns her head to look at his red face and furious eye “Your daughter or your woman?”
There she sees it, in the stunned silence she’s managed to put Odin into, in that eye of his that betrays him and all the words he said before, the Truth. Terrible and slippery, coiling behind his lonely pupil. It turns her stomach, Loki can’t stand the idea of spending another second in the same planet as him.
She closes the door behind her, with more force than she’d intended, and doesn’t stop walking till she reaches the car. Only then, she lifts up her shirt and turns off the recorder she’d tapped to her stomach.
Hours later, despite being now in the safety of her home, she can still hear Odin’s words, and to be honest, he doesn’t know what to feel aside from rage. He can say whatever he wants but he sure as hell didn’t do it for her. He’s never done something to her that didn’t end up as kindling to fuel the fire of her nightmares.
Despite her earlier anger or perhaps because of them, she now feels apathetic, empty. Her entire life has been a lie and a horror show, and she’s not sure anymore if she’s the victim or the freak. So she stays there, sitting down on one of her kitchen chairs, with her head resting over the counter and blank look in her eyes. She tries to imagine, how her life would have been if her mother had lived, if Odin had done his job.
Suddenly, she blinks chasing the slumber away, it makes no sense dwell in what could have been. Her mind is creating the outline of an idea, dark and twisted, and yet Loki feels it is what she has to do. Not for the victims or her job, but for herself.
Loki gets up to pick up her laptop and logs into the police database. Asking for the file in Norway will take far too long so she takes the easy way, hacking into their server remotely. It’s ironic, she reflects, how a mandatory course in cybersecurity can help a burgeoning hacker. Five minutes later, as she’s looking at the incident report, Loki can’t help but be surprised Odin actually told the truth.
There she sees it, Faurbauti’s photograph, her mother’s photograph.
She caresses the image leaving finger marks over the screen, she doesn’t care.
Loki doesn’t need to think about what she has to do anymore. She reaches out for her gun with one hand, not the her standard issue one but the replacement, the one that usually resides on the glove compartment of her car while with the other she grabs her car keys and jacket.
She drives well under the speed limit, no matter how much she wants to step on the gas, so as to not arouse suspicion. She’s made up her mind. When at her destination, she parks on one side of the road, not bothering to hide the car. Loki just steps out and jumps over the fence walking to the shack. She then takes a deep breath and knocks on the door.
The man that opens up is not exactly what she’d imagined. He’s tall like her, slender, with thinning, light hair and an aquiline nose. His eyes are small and perhaps it’s the lighting but Loki thinks them cruel.
“Your mother’s hair was curly” those are the first words that come out of her biological father’s lips. She’s not sure what she expected to hear, but it wasn’t this.
“I’m not my mother” says Loki through clenched teeth “I’m going to survive you” and squeezes the trigger.
She looks at him in the eye as she does it, thanking all the gods for the fact that those dying eyes look nothing like her own. The nine shots echo in the house, the forest, all around her and her ears. Or perhaps it’s in her mind where they endure. It doesn’t really matter, when she gets out of here she’s going to drink until she passes out, until that echo drowns along the other monsters that live in her head.
Loki watches with indifference how her father’s heart keeps pumping that precious blood outside of his body. She doesn’t fully know how to feel about it. She’s caught the bad guy, more less, she’s made justice and she’s gotten her revenge. But she feels nothing at all.
She just killed in cold blood the father she ever knew, in the name of a mother she doesn’t remember, and of his victims for whom, to be honest, she’s never cared about. Perhaps that is a lie, perhaps at some point she truly cared for them, but right now she can’t remember.
Is that ability to lie to herself something she has inherited from Laufey?
Probably not, probably, his legacy is the indifference that’s allowed her to empty the magazine without the sticky tentacles of guilt latching on and stopping her.
Loki has changed her mind, she’s not going anywhere, she’s not ashamed of what she’s done so it makes no sense for her to hide. Snooping around the kitchen, she finds out a bottle rack. Look at that, she thinks, they have the same taste in alcohol. Loki sits down on the floor by the body and uncorks a bottle, taking a generous swig. After all, if she doesn’t drink it, it could go bad.
After a while, when the bottle is almost empty, she starts to hear the police sirens, coming closer and closer but she still doesn’t feel anything. Perhaps later, when she’s in Odin’s office and he’s yelling at her, as per usual, maybe then she’ll be able to muster a trace of guilt, but now, now she isn’t sorry at all.