An Original Work of Fiction
By David G. Yurth
Draft: Nov. 18, 2012
© 2012 David G. Yurth
All Rights Reserved Holladay, Utah USA
In the village of Sküvoy there was not a single room for rent before the event. It was not that there were no rooms left to rent there were no rooms for rent at any time in the village. Once in awhile someone would have a house guest and roll out a fold-a-bed or put sheets on the sofa, but the only extra sleeping room in the village belonged to the Mayor, Marten Sonnerstrom, who had converted his house to the only public house on the island after his wife died. Other than that, nothing was available. The population of the village exploded within 24 hours after Bogis famous Mayday from 154 to more than 1,000. News crews from all over the world chartered three small cruise ships and a flotilla of other boats, virtually anything that could float, to provide a base of operations and someplace to sleep. At dawn the next morning they began to converge on the tiny village like an invading horde.
The police were there in force. The yellow crime scene tape that had been strung around the square had long since been trampled and removed. Nothing was going to keep the ravenous journalists away from the sweet spot. The scene itself, including the spot where the bodies had been found, was now covered with tents and awnings. Folding tables and chairs were everywhere. Small gasoline and diesel generators hummed a rumbling chorus that filled the background. Two satellite dishes measuring 3 meters in diameter had been set up on enormous tripods. Their feed horns protruded towards the sky like the hooded proboscis of giant devil clams.
There was only one public house in the village. Thirsty patrons could buy a drink and find a place to sit with friends and family. Within 48 hours after the invasion the place had been drunk dry. There was no toilet paper to be found anywhere in the town. In the middle of the third day the septic tank below the town overflowed down the hill, spewing hundreds of gallons of raw sewage into the bay. By evening the odor had become so over-powering that the media invaders began to retreat to their boats and leave the island.
By the end of the 5th day the cruise ships were gone and so were all but a handful of diehard journalists. The debris left by the mindless crowd remained strewn around the town, plastic cups and bags, paper plates and napkins, plastic bags and water bottles by the thousands, and Styrofoam food containers, wrappers, and all sorts of miscellany littered the place. The place looked worse than Ebbets Field after a Led Zeppelin concert. Swirling winds from the sea swept the garbage into piles that stacked aimlessly against the stone hedge that surrounded the church and flowed between the cottages and other buildings. No one bothered to clean it up. No one cared.
Bogi Anderrsons voice finally gave out by the evening of the 3rd day. By last count he had been interviewed no less than 287 times in less than 72 hours. From the moment he rose to discover the bodies till he finally collapsed from sheer exhaustion three days later, he had not slept for a single second. In a signature cover piece aired by B-Sky-B on the evening of the 1st day, Bogi described what happened during the early morning hours. His eyes had begun to sink back into his skull, ringed by dark shadows that belied his deep distress and fatigue. The producer of the piece had deliberately decided not to apply any makeup to his face or brush his hair. He wore clean clothes but had not bathed since his ordeal began. The HD camera was not kind.
He sat in front of the interviewer, a veteran of the B-Sky-B internal news wars, who thought in his infinite wisdom that he had seen it all before. The lights were too hot and bright for Bogis comfort. He blinked and sweated and squirmed while Mr. B-Sky interrogated him. Bogi didnt know that he could stand up and walk away from the interview at any time. Instead, he endured it with typical Nordic stoicism. The questions were easy at first. Tell me about yourself. What do you do here. What is a skinn. What is a grind. A look of pretended horror from the interviewer. Isnt that a bit barbaric. How can you do that. Do you mean to tell me that women and children participate. Cut away to a commercial.
Tell me about this morning, the interviewer said. Bogi would answer this question more than two hundred times over the next three days. Each time the words came out of his mouth they seemed a little bit more bitter.
I came out early in the morning, he said. I seen them lying on the ground like that.
Like what? asked the suit.
Without any clothes on. Laying on the stones. All lined up next to each other.
What did you think when you found them like that?
I thought they was dead. All of em.
What happened next?
I tried to call for help, see, but the mobile wasnt working, so I started shouting.
And no one came?
No. No one. He paused for a moment, then said I thought they was all dead. I thought I was the only one left alive.
So, then ?
Well, I decided to go out to my boat, the one there by the buoy, so I could call out on my radio.
All the townsfolk were interviewed at least once, some more than a dozen times, during the media invasion. As the stories were aired all over the world, three things became apparent. Bogi Anderrson became the most famous man in the world for 3 full days. The bizarre nature of the crime and the unexplainable rendering of the inhabitants of the village to a state of unconsciousness struck a new kind of trepidation into the hearts of many viewers. As far as anyone knew, this was something entirely new and sinister, a message from someone with no name who promised more sinister measures if whaling was allowed to continue. The most difficult of the issues that emerged, however, was the still unanswered question, How? How was this done?
Police helicopters flew into and out of the church cemetery so often that no one paid particular attention to them after awhile. It took some time for the Faroe Island authorities to agree to relinquish control of their air space and helicopters to the spooks from NATO and Interpol, but eventually even the media people ignored them.
Most of the interviews with villagers were conducted by intelligence professionals who had learned how to look like journalists. Their approach to information gathering was so low key that most of the journalists thought the intelligence agents were really part of the media crowd. Blending in was an effective technique for allowing the story to be told as openly and naturally as possible without being noticed. This was not a time for pressure or ham-fisted police interrogation techniques. Instead, amid the orgy of spin doctoring and media flagellation, the story became even more interesting.
The Mayor of Sküvoy was a reluctant public servant. He had been elected to the post by default. He was the only able-bodied person in the village who could not man a boat any longer. Marten Sonnerstrom had been a fisherman for nearly 70 years. His family had lived on this island for more than 400 years, fishing and raising goats and surviving the harshness of the sea for centuries. He was tall as Faroe Islanders go, standing 2 meters 3cm, nearly 68 by standard measure. At age 78 he was still vibrant overall but noticeably hampered by a hip injury suffered during a raging gale at sea. The injury had kept him out of the boats for more than 10 years.
After his wife died of pneumonia, he had turned his two-story cottage with the grass covered roof into the village public house. It was the first such place in the history of the island and a welcome addition to the village. He served food and drink downstairs and lived in the four rooms upstairs. He sold his boat to his eldest son and used the money to refurbish the house. After remodeling the main room, he could seat twenty-four at tables, eight at the bar, or up to fifty people for town meetings if the tables were removed. When a town meeting required more room than that, everyone congregated in the church across the square.
The BBC aired an interview with Marten on the evening of the 2nd day. The producers decided to let the wave of Bogi Anderrson interviews begin to taper off before launching their own offensive. BBCs focus, as always, was to drill down to the heart of the matter by carefully dissecting important bits of information provided by the most credible sources.
In a 30-minute BBC news special, Marten proved to be the perfect subject for an interview. After the 15-second setup and 90 seconds of background information had been covered, Derek Forest, BBCs Chief Correspondent, began to warm to his subject.
What is the first thing you remember about the events of yesterday morning?
The camera panned to frame Martens handsome Nordic face. The deeply penetrating blue of his eyes seemed riveted to the lens. He was well dressed in a Harris tweed jacket, white shirt and knitted tie. His snowy white hair still fully covered his head. The ruddiness of his face carried the history of decades under the sun on the sea.
I remember waking up, still sitting in my chair.
Do you sleep in your chair, normally?
No, I never go to sleep in my chair. I have a bad hip, you know, so I cant sit or stand in one place for very long, His hand involuntarily slipped down his side to massage the spot of his injury, which was still aching after spending a whole night sitting.
Go on, Forest said.
Well, the fire was out and the sun was up. I always get up before the sun. That wasnt right. I had a hard time getting my mind to work properly. I thought maybe I was sick or dying or something. I got up and looked out the window and saw the bodies lying in the middle of the square. I didnt know what to make of it so I started down the stairs, but my hip hurt so bad I could hardly walk.
Yes. My dog was still asleep on the floor. That wasnt right, either. I mean, he usually wakes me up to let him out before daylight. I dont know, he paused for a moment, his eyes rotating slowly up and to the right, looking for inside his recollection for a memory. You know, he continued slowly, I noticed him there but didnt think to see if he was alive or dead.
Isnt that strange?
Yes. Yes, it is. I just didnt think about it at the time. I was having a hard time thinking about anything.
Were you afraid?
No. I was too disconnected to be afraid. That came later, after I sobered up. All I could think of at the time was to get downstairs so I could go outside.
Forest looked up from his notepad and focused on Martens eyes. The mans brow was furrowed, his jaw set, but his eyes were slightly de-focused as if he was searching deeply inside to recall or understand something. In a very soft voice he asked, Marten, when you walked out the front door of this house and looked out on the square, what went through your mind?
Martens eyes slowly focused on Dereks face. Tears began to roll down his cheeks. For several seconds he did not speak and Forest had enough sense not to interrupt him.
I thought they were dead, he said at last. I thought, Oh mercy! Theyre dead. Who could have done such a thing?
What did you do?
It all gets sort of blurred after that. Things happened so fast, it was like my head was in slow motion and everything else was going too fast for me to keep up. I couldnt take it in. At least not for awhile.
The camera cut away for a break. Forest had done interviews with the victims of war and bombings and natural disasters before. He clearly recognized the signs of severe trauma on Martens face, in his body language, in the set of his eyes. It was time to take a break and allow him to get reset. While the camera was offline, Marten looked across the room and to no one in particular said,
I thought I was dying. I just didnt know what to do next.