The Girl woke with a start. She was in a sweat, but as she sat bolt upright in bed, the cool air hit her like a pail of cold water. Someone had thoughtfully left a nitelight on. She checked the electric clock on the bedside table. 07.00 – 10:11:04. She rubbed her eyes, disbelieving. What the Hell was this, was she way down the South in Sweden then? What was South? More to the point, who was she?
By the table was a pile of magazines. At the top were newspapers in an unfamiliar language. The Girl flicked through them till she came upon one called ‘Millenium.’ She was unsure exactly why, but that seemed to mean something to her. Her eyes were too unfocussed to read beyond the headlines. Her head throbbed and she had a stomach cramp. It felt like something called a ‘hangover’ but she knew deep inside that she didn’t drink that much.
The back of her mind was wrestling, trying to make sense of a dream she had woken from. Was she still in a dream? It troubled her. Not only did she know that she didn’t drink much, she also knew that she didn’t dream much. Dreams to her were nightmares. They belonged back in that other time ‘when all the trouble began.’ Dreams, like dead people should be buried deep underground and not disturbed, she recalled.
Her fingers fumbled over the bedside table. There was a jug of water and a glass. Ignoring the glass, she lifted the jug and drained its contents. She spat across the room. Tepid, the water tasted of metal. She caught a small glass dish of small pastel pebble shaped objects. Nervously she sucked on one and the hit of sugar registered. She bit hard and crunched. To her disgust, the aroma of cyanide filled her nostrils and she spat out the sugar almond.
There was suddenly the sound of a metallic clanking and creaking of wooden floorboards. Her mind was on red alert until something deep in her brain told her to relax, this was central heating coming on.
Feeling her way over the objects on the bedside table she encountered a small cardboard pack. Tentatively she flipped open the lid. She studied the contents. Instinctively she knew they were not for eating. Drawing out a small cylindrical tube she put it to her lips. There was a shiny metal object next to the pack. Her fingers flipped randomly until this object produced a spark. Lighting the object, she drew deeply in. It felt good. Seconds after feeling good she coughed and spluttered. She felt easy but also queasy and stubbed out the cigarette.
The girl rubbed her temples. Something wasn’t right here. She surveyed the room. It seemed semi-familiar and gave her a good feeling. Against that her survival instincts beat at her breast.
She got up off the bed and explored the room. She checked herself then realised the door was open. Someone was there staring at her. She attacked the tall wooden structure. Suddenly the reflection hit her hard. At first it felt like someone had just opened the door inwards and a stranger had stepped in and was staring at her.
The rational part of her mind fought for control with the ghostly image. The image was her but not her. At first she jerked backwards She raised her fist to smite down the apparition in her Nazi uniform. At the first punch her knuckles were bruised. The shape mirrored her movements as she did battle with it. She punched and kicked and screamed abuse, landing blows on cold flat smoothness instead of bones and flesh.
With an almighty crash the door disintegrated as shards of glass flew off at tangents. The invader was dead. The Girl’s skinned knuckles and her bare feet were cut and bleeding. She paused and drew breath. Lighting another cigarette, she mourned over a chunk of shattered mirror as she studied herself. ‘I’m sorry Camilla. There’s only room for one of us in this World.’
The Girl squatted on the floor. She held up fragments of mirror and observed herself. She moved the mirror plane observing her whole naked body, trying to read the significance of the tattoos carved deep within her.
There was a sound of gunfire. The rat-tat-tat of machine-gun exchange in the distance. It disturbed her reverie. It seemed to be getting closer. Pushing back the drapes, she found French windows opening onto some sort of courtyard. Movement activated lights came on as a line of horseback riders entered the courtyard.
A young woman at the head of the party called up to her and waved enthusiastically, ‘Lisbeth!’
The name Lisbeth meant something to her she was sure. She struggled to place a name for the leader of the riding group. ‘G -G – Gina?’
The ginger headed girl below called back, ‘Yes, Georgina!’
Lisbeth surveyed the sky without reason. She saw the silvery globe low on the horizon. ‘Moon’ she mouthed.
‘Yes! that’s it?’ came the reply.
For some reason, her prescence seemed to be causing amusement among the gaggle of horseback riders, who appeared to be mostly young girls. What looked like an older man to the left of Georgina called out to her, ‘Perhaps Lisbeth should put some clothes on?’ He trooped off to the left and the riding party followed suit.
Lisbeth sensed her predicament and pulled a drape around her torso. ‘Who’s that mofo?’
Georgina called back ‘It’s Paul!’
‘Chako Paul, Shakabao, Paul who?’ Lisbeth shouted back annoyed.
‘McCartney of course!’
‘Never heard of him, doesn’t mean anything to me.’
Georgina giggled. ‘I think that bump on the head may have affected you.’
Lisbeth summoned up the best of her reasoning powers. ‘Just the fuck explain: where am I , whose house am I in, what happened?’
Georgina calmed her restless horse, and attempted to put together a sequence of thoughts. ‘Mmmm you’re in Fairlight, East Sussex. It’s your house, well farm actually. You took a bad fall off a horse, you were concussed. I’m looking after you?’
The inter-neurons beneath the ice-cap of Lisbeth Salander’s skull went into overdrive. Like pieces of a frozen fragmented jigsaw they began to collide and fit together. ‘I’m hungry, I want breakfast. NOW!’
Georgina responded ‘Why don’t you put on a gown and join us for breakfast?’
‘I want breakfast in bed’ Lisbeth asserted, as she felt a resurgence of authority building up inside her.
‘Any preferences?’ Georgina enquired hesistantly.
‘PIZZA of course!’ came the certain reply, ‘Make it Pepperoni.’
‘I’ll see what I can rustle up.’ Georgina nodded, ’but, it may be cheese pizza, with a bacon sandwich. Anything else?’
‘Get me my laptop.’
Georgina nodded in a dispirited way, ‘is that it?’
Lisbeth sucked in the chilled Sussex air through her flared nostrils. Feelings she was unfamiliar with, connected themselves. She observed her flaming-haired disciple. ‘Yeh. You.’
‘Breakfast in bed, with a side order of me, coming up’ Georgina exhaled.
Lisbeth Salander looked out over the Sussex Downs and began to feel at home. The fog and mist in her mind dispersed as the first rays of sunlight penetrated the cloud cover. She pinched herself. She was not dreaming now, but what just what did those dreams mean?
[This is a draft sketch from the first chapter to my novel 'THE GIRL WHO DREAMED TOO MUCH'. The storyline is © Copyright to the Author. The identified character 'Lisbeth Salander' is the intellectual property of the Estate of the late Stieg Larsson (all rights reserved).]
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