Over the past few months, things had changed in Sweden. Sweden was now a broke and nearly bankrupt country, owing insane amounts of money to the Americans. Trading embargos had been played on the Scandinavian nation, and every day the Swedes seemed to make more and more enemies.
But, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. In the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg, a party was raging. It was the day of the first semi final of Melodifestivalen, a Swedish song competition. The winner of the contest would go on to be the Swedish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. Even with everything that was happening, the people of Sweden used the music contest to feel secure.
'A nuclear bomb could drop and we would still do Melfest, just us and the cockroaches,' Christer Björkman had once said, and he had only partly been joking.
Usually, Melodifestivalen was a huge and flashy affair that the Swedes spent a lot of money on, but this year, things were scaled back a little, due to the impending bankrupcy of the country. Not that the people in the audience seemed to have noticed. They just seemed happy to be there.
Petra and Måns were sitting backstage at the Scandinavium. Måns had been in Gothenburg so he had decided to stop by, and Petra was going to be hosting the show alongside Gina Dirawi. But for now, they had both been given a task by Christer Björkman. The competition was beginning in a few hours, and Petra and Måns were supposed to be planning out the details of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest before the semi final starts. Björkman wanted the next Eurovision to be as close to Melodifestivalen as possible, and had given Måns and Petra strict instructions to try and follow the Swedish model closely. Björkman had told them that they couldn't change Eurovision completely, but that they should make it as close to the Swedish model as they possibly could. Petra had gathered all the relevant information and was laying it out on the table in front of them.
She was speaking about Melodifestivalen and all the people that had entered, but Måns just wasn't listening. He was looking down at his laptop. Sweden were in the news again. Last month, America had sent a total of 10 ultimatums to Sweden, and each time Sweden had ignored it. They just couldn't pay the money. This month, however, there was nothing. No demands from America, no threats, nothing. But America wouldn't just forget a debt like that. Especially not one so large. So something else had happened. Måns just couldn't figure out what. Maybe America had finally figured that all of the demands and threats just weren't working. Maybe they would try something else. And it was that which worried him the most. America had already put embargos on all products coming from Sweden, which had crippled their economy but otherwise produced no results for America. What else could they do? Declare war? It was an option that had come up in congress quite a few times. Slowly but surely, the American public were turning against Sweden, it would only take a little more to push everything over the edge. Even in Sweden, things were turning violent. It seemed that violence was the norm now in this once peaceful Scanidnavian nation.
"Måns, Måns!" Petra yelled, putting her hand in front of the laptop screen, "Hey, are you even paying any attention? Hey!"
"Hmmm, wha-" he looked up from the laptop.
"Eurovision! Melodifestivalen!" Petra said, slightly annoyed, "You know, the whole reason why we're both here? I'm sure whatever you're doing can wait."
"Sorry, no. I was just thinking... about this thing with America. We can't ignore this anymore," Måns said, "We can't just bury our heads in the sand and pretend like this isn't real. This is real and it's happening. It's happening right now, and if this gets any worse, then there might not even be a Eurovision Song Contest this year. We barely just scraped together enough money to have Melodifestivalen and you think we can do Eurovision?"
"Look, that doesn't matter," Petra said, "None of it matters, we can't do anything about it, so try not to worry about it, ok? America has stopped asking about the money for now, so maybe we've started to pay them back already."
"Maybe... but that's very unlikely. Where would we suddenly get that kind of money from, magic?"
What they didn't know was that Sweden actually had managed to raise some money. Not enough to pay back all they owed to America, but still, it was a start. But the way they had done it was by selling America's secrets to anyone who wanted them. As an ally of America, they already knew a little, but there was now a network of Swedish spies hiding out in America, working for the American government, waiting and watching all the time, getting pieces of information that they could sell on to whoever wanted it. None of them had been caught yet, which was rather impressive considering the USA's extensive surveillance system. And, if they kept on doing it, then they would have quite a bit of money indeed. Maybe even nearly all that they needed to pay off the debts, stop the embargo and have normal relations with the United States again. And they were hoping and praying that the Americans would never find out about this, because if America knew about what they did, then the Swedish government knew there would be hell to pay. But they thought it would be worth the risk. They just didn't realise quite how wrong they were.