By Karin Fossum

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She had always thought of seconds as tiny metallic dots; now they turned into heavy black drops and she felt them fall one by one. She looked at her hands; they were chapped and wrinkled. No longer the hands of a young woman. She had become a mother late in life and had just turned forty-nine. Suddenly her fear turned into anger and she reached for the tele phone once more. There was so much she could do: Ida had friends and family in the area. Helga had a sister, Ruth, and her sister had a twelve-year-old daughter, Marion, and an eighteen-year-old son, Tomme, Ida’s cousins.

This isn’t 14 really happening, she thought; please let me wake up from this terrible nightmare. But she did not wake up. Helga was stout and thickset, with coarse dark hair brushed away from her face. Her skin was pale, her brows strong and thick. Inspector Sejer looked at her calmly. ’ he asked. ‘My sister will be here shortly. She was the one who called you. ’ Her voice was panicky. She looked at the two men, at Jacob Skarre with his blond curls and Konrad Sejer with his steel-grey hair. She looked at them with the pleading expression of a beggar.

The group which had been ordered to search along the riverbanks kept looking furtively into the rapidly flowing water. They lifted up bushes and other shrubs with low-hanging branches. They searched holes and caves. And they did find things. A rusty old pram. A decaying wellington boot. There were mainly empty beer bottles along the riverbank. From time to time they would stop for a short break. One of the groups came across a small shed. It was tilting dangerously. It looked like it might collapse at any moment.

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Black Seconds by Karin Fossum
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