A STORY OF UNDERUTILISATION IN UPPSALA, SWEDEN
Sand could have taken a flight to Uppsala from Oslo and been there in under an hour, but these days he was in no rush. It had been a year since he had been put into semi-retirement.
After the serial killer Dag Moen had disappeared into the Norwegian Sea off the coast of Bergen, Detective Anders Sand had received the highest commendation available to a Norwegian officer, and then quietly been saddled with desk duty and minor cases. The shift to the next, younger generation of detectives in the Oslo Police Department had already claimed his boss and friend Daniel Pedersen, given early retirement and a handy payout. His partner, Gabi Henriksen, twenty years his junior had been promoted above him to lead the department. Sand could do many things, but he could not hold back the tide of time and the political desire for equality in the police force.
When the call came in from Uppsala, 450 kilometres to the east in neighbouring Sweden, Sand was only too happy to take the job. The Uppsala police had arrested a vagrant on suspicion of petty shop theft. Only when processing her did they realise they had inadvertently caught Astrid Ulberg, a Norwegian national wanted on murder charges in Oslo for the death of her lover five years previously. Thanks to the Nordic Arrest Warrant, an extradition agreement which allowed for smooth cooperation between the various agencies in the Nordic countries, it had not taken long for Ulberg to be claimed by Norway. The Swedes were only too happy to oblige. Sand was aware of the case, although he hadn’t worked it, but it was the chance to get out of the office for a couple of days that tempted him more than anything else.
He pulled up outside the non-descript building that housed the Uppsala Police Department at around three in the afternoon, having left Oslo during rush hour that morning. As he had come alone – he had worked without a partner since Gabi’s promotion and the department was too busy for anyone else to accompany him – a Swedish officer was to accompany him back to Oslo with Ulberg. He would meet Elias Eriksson today, and had been promised a dinner at the finest Swedish restaurant in Uppsala, before they made the return journey to Oslo tomorrow, with Astrid Ulberg in tow.
Having parked the car where directed by the security guard, he got out and stretched his legs and back, rubbing his temples and pinching his nose. He was no longer a young man and the seven hour journey had taken its toll. As he opened his eyes again the sun glinted off a window, dazzling him. In the flash that followed he thought he saw a familiar face, sneering at him. The face of Dag Moen. When he blinked and looked again he saw a smiling young man striding towards him, hand extended in greeting. Sand wished they had found a body washed up on the shore a year ago.
‘The famous Detective Anders Sand,’ the man said, taking his hand and shaking it enthusiastically. ‘Elias Eriksson, we spoke on the ‘phone.’
‘Pleasure,’ Sand replied.
‘We’re honoured that you chose to come all this way. Aren’t you a bit over-qualified to be an errand boy?’
Sand shrugged politely. ‘These days I’m content to take things a little slower,’ he lied.
‘Well, she’s a rough one this Ulberg. Refuses a lawyer. Ever since we informed her that she was being extradited she’s been screaming her innocence. She managed to injure herself battering her head against the cell door. We’ve had to move her to the local hospital under restraint and guard.’
‘I’d like to visit her tonight if that’s okay,’ Sand inquired.
Eriksson was only too pleased to help out, ‘Certainly. You must be tired, I’ll drive.’
They drove through the centre of Uppsala. In all his travels around the various countries of Scandinavia, Sand had never visited the city. Eriksson provided a running commentary of the sights: the university; Uppsala Castle; Uppsala Cathedral, the largest in Scandinavia. Smaller than Oslo, or Stockholm and Gothenburg, it struck Sand as a charming city. He made a note to visit for a longer stay in the future. He was sure he would soon have plenty of available time. If only Camilla was still around to share the comfortable, quiet years ahead.
Eriksson parked in the hospital visitor car park. They walked across a concourse to reach the hospital building. As they entered the main doors, Eriksson’s smartphone rang. As he answered it two uniformed officers rushed out the door, colliding with the detectives. Behind them a police car siren began wailing. At the same time an alarm began to ring round the hospital.
‘What’s going on?’ Eriksson called into the ‘phone, raising his voice above the din.
Recognising their superior, it was one of the officers who had rushed out the building that answered. ‘Ulberg’s escaped. She set fire to the oxygen supply in her room, the explosion caused damage.’
Eriksson turned to Sand. ‘I’m sorry. Wait here and I’ll be in touch when I know more.’
‘If you don’t mind, I’ll tag along.’ Sand felt that familiar feeling in his old bones. He had one more manhunt left in him. Retirement could wait.
Written as part of The A to Z Challenge 2018. Click HERE for more details of the challenge.
Each day in April we will visit a different town or city in the European Union, whose name will begin with the letter of the day – today it’s catching up with Detective Anders Sand in Uppsala, Sweden – for a story based on a theme also corresponding to the same letter.
Detective Sand was the subject of my story for the 2017 A to Z Challenge. You can read that story here, as well as a few other short stories featuring the same characters: THE A TO Z CHALLENGE 2017.
Over the course of the month and 26 stories, we will visit all 28 member countries to complete a farewell tour before Britain leaves the political union next year, touching on the history, politics, culture and people at the heart of Europe.
For a full list of stories and places visited, visit here: THE A TO Z CHALLENGE 2018.