Match Seven: Silverpilen:
My name is Irene Berntsen. I am a journalist for supernatural magazine in Sweden. I am tasked with finding everything weird and spooky around the country. Usually, it’s quiet around Stockholm. But lately, something hasn’t been right.
Now, I don’t know if the things I write about are real or not. I just needed the money. I wanted to be on TV when I was younger. That dream turned into a dream career for journalist. Then through turns of fate, I ended up here. It’s not great but it’s not bad either. I could do so much better.
That was until last night.
I had a late night at the office. One of the writers called in sick three days ago. I had to do double duty. I didn’t complain. Heck, this could be the opportunity that I was looking for. But after three days of writing the same ghost story, I am bored. I tired not to fall asleep when someone slammed their hand my desk. I about jumped in place.
“I’m not asleep!” I lied. I froze and looked up to see a beautiful man looking down at me, shaking his head. I paused, blushing.
“Oh, it’s you,” I said.
“You should go home and get some rest,” my manager said. I shook my head.
“I am fine, Lars,” I insisted. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes.
“You don’t look fine,” he said. I rolled my eyes and sat back in my desk chair. I could feel his eyes locked on me.
“Don’t look at me like that,” I said.
“Irene,” Lars said. “Just go home. You look like you are about to pass out any time now.” I frowned and rolled my eyes.
“You won’t let up, will you?” I asked.
“No,” Lars said, shaking his head. I frowned as I wrinkled my nose. I pushed my bangs from my eyes.
“Whatever,” I muttered. “You can be so annoying sometimes.” Lars did that little smile that made me want to reach up and choke him as he shrugged.
“I am only looking out for you,” he said. Where have I heard that one before? I can take care of myself. So annoying.
“Good night,” I called out as I walked out of the building.
“Take care,” the janitor said. I had turned to walk away when someone called my name. I looked up to see Lars running towards me. I put my hands on my hips.
“What?” I asked. Lars leaned against the glass door.
“How are you getting home tonight?” he asked. I gave him an odd look.
“Why?” I asked. Lars shuffled his feet for a moment before having a sheepish look on his face.
“What?” I asked again. “Speak! Why do you need to know how I am getting home?” Lars had a serious look on his face.
“Don’t take the trains tonight,” he said.
“Why not?” I asked. “It’s the only way I can get home.”
“That’s what I was afraid of.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think you still have time. Just don’t try to get on any trains past midnight.”
“What are you talking about? Why can’t I take the trains after midnight?”
Lars walked over to me and grabbed me by the hands. “Just… please be careful.” I stood there with a blank stare on my face.
“Okay…” I mumbled. He let go of my hands.
“Be careful and good night,” Lars told me. He walked back into the building. I slowly waved my hand.
“Okay… Good night…” I said. I turned and walked out into the city.
On my way home, I stop at a local café to pick up a pastry and coffee. I walked up to the glass doors. Good, they are still open. I pushed open the door and walked inside. The man behind the counter looked up.
“Ah, Irene!” he said. “So good to see you again. How have you been?”
“Good,” I said. “And you?”
“Great like always,” the barista said. “Your usual?”
“Yes, please,” I said. He rang up my order.
“That will be 4.61 Euros,” the barista said. I made my purchase. My friend took the money and handed back my change.
“No, keep the change,” I said. He kind of looked at me.
“You sure?” the barista asked.
“Yes,” I said. Why do we always do this? He knows that I won’t take the change. Yet, this boy tries to give it to me. I don’t know why I don’t stop him before we do this dumb ritual.
“Okay,” he said. My friend put the change in the cash register.
“Thank you,” I said. The barista made my coffee and got my pastry. I sat down near the window and started eating. This was my moment. Don’t get me wrong. I like my job. But sometimes I just have to get away. I just want at least ten minutes in reality. If getting fat is the price, then I will take it.
But suddenly, I paused.
You ever get the feeling being watched? I didn’t want to turn around. But I couldn’t escape a pair of eyes off my back. I kind of glanced behind me. There was a man about my age or a bit older sat three tables away from me. He had his coffee on his table and kept staring at me. He didn’t have any emotion his face. His uniform did little to put me at ease. I think he noticed me looking back at him because he looked me straight into the eye. I turned my back to him and finished with my treats as fast as I could. Once I was done, I bolted out the door.
“Irene!” I heard the barista shouted at me. The glass door swung closed.
I kept my head down as I walked to the train station. Don’t make any eye contact. I hoped that strange man in the café wasn’t following. He looked like he was secret police. I shivered as I tried not to think about it. Just get home, take a bath, and go to bed. I took out my phone. Twenty minutes until midnight. Shit. I got so spooked that I lost track of time. I think I can make it before the last train pulls out. If not, I will have to stay in a hotel for the night. I didn’t even pack an overnight bag. Please let me get there in time! Please let me get there in time!
I ran all the way to the train station. By the time I got inside, the place looked deserted. I looked at my phone. Seven more minutes until midnight. Damn it, the last train left ten minutes ago. Now what? I pulled out my phone again. My sister and brother-in-law would be sound asleep by now. Same with most of my friends. I can’t call Lars to come and pick me up. Shit.
Suddenly, the air got colder. I mean like I was standing in Greenland in my underwear cold. But it was summer. Plus, most of the workers in the train station had gone home already. I grabbed my arms to stay warm. Then, I heard a train whistle in the distance.
I lifted my head to see a train slowly pulling down the tracks. Boy, was I happy to see it! However, something about this train looked a little bit… off… There was no logo or different colors on the cars. No, this train was all silver. Wait, was that… singing?
The train pulled to a stop and opened the doors for me. I don’t really remember what happened in those short seconds of time. The next thing I knew, I was walking towards it in a trance. It was like my body was moving on its own. I couldn’t stop walking through the doors.
Suddenly, someone grabbed me by the wrist.
I whipped around to see that tall blonde man I saw in the café earlier. He looked way scarier close-up. The dead eyes made me want to take off running in any direction to get away from him. I began to panic.
“Let me go!” I screamed as I tried to fight him off. He would not let up no matter how hard I hit him. I really panicked as he started to drag me away from the waiting train. No, no, no! I do not want to me kidnapped. I don’t want to be sold into human trafficking. What if he was going to violate and kill me? I had to get away. I had to get away!
I looked up when I heard the doors close. The strange looking train was pulling away. Disappointment washed over my face.
“Why did you do that for?!” I wailed. “You made me miss my train! What the hell is wrong with you?! How am I going to get home now?”
“I just saved your life,” he said in a monotone voice. I gave him a blank stare.
“What?” I asked. This man pointed at the empty train tracks as the whistle blew in the distance.
“That was a Silverpilen,” he said.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Ghost train,” the man said. “If you hadn’t gotten on, you would never be seen again.” I didn’t know whether to believe him or not. How would he know about the Silverpilen and that I would be getting on? Had he been stalking me? Then again, why would a train be coming after midnight?
“Uh… thanks, I guess,” I said. The man pulled out his phone.
“I am going to call you a cab,” he said. I didn’t try to argue with him at this point. He did save me, albeit in a creepy way. I still had my questions, though. The call didn’t last long. The man took my wrist and pulled me out of the train station.
“The cab will be here in twenty minutes,” he told me. I blinked for a moment.
“I don’t get it,” I said. He didn’t make eye contact.
“Get what?” the man asked.
“Why are you doing all of this?” I asked. “How did you know where I was going? Why did you save me? You don’t really know me. I don’t even know your name.”
“Berwald,” he said.
“Huh?” I asked. The man finally looked up at me.
“My name is Berwald,” he said again.
“Oh…” I muttered. That was all I was going to get out of him from the rest of the night.
The wait for the taxi about took twenty minutes. We didn’t speak anymore. He wouldn’t even look at me. I only glanced at him, trying to figure him out. What was the point? My questions won’t get answered anyway. I sighed and rubbed my forehead. I just want to go home.
I got my wish when the taxi finally pulled up. I climbed into the back. Berwald paid my fare and saw me off. He just stood there and watched as the cab pulled away. I slumped down in the back seat and rubbed my forehead. When I got home, I took a bath and went to bed. What was that? Who was Berwald? Why did he save me? Was he stalking me?
I had the feeling that wasn’t going to be the last time I saw him.