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The Shadows – Synopsis

The Shadows - kiljukapaTHE SHADOWS – a synopsis by Jóel Enok and Stefán Máni.

Brief summary:
The story is a psychological thriller about Kolbrún (Kolla) and Tímóteus (Timmi), who are going on a hiking trip in the fall, crossing a barren Icelandic highland. Timmi is a 41 year old married photographer and Kolbrún is a 29 year old kindergarten teacher with a history of mental illness. It will be just them and the elements for a few days. Timmi is looking for an abandoned farmhouse on the highland, Kolbrún is trying to save their relationship, and her sanity. The story goes back and forth; it takes place on their trip over the highland (present) and non-linearly in Reykjavík (past) before their trip, exploring how they met, her childhood, their complex relationship and explaining some of the reasons for their decision to cross the highland together.

The painting: In Kolbrún’s apartment (and in the attic of the abandoned house on the highland) is an old oil painting showing daily life in the old times; a small farm on a highland, a lake in the shape of an eye and a dark ravine. The farmer and his wife are working in the field, not facing each other. A young dark haired girl appears in two places in the painting; going into the ravine with head hung and a carrying a dark parcel in her arms; and also running from the ravine and towards the lake, in desperation. The painting tells a sublime story. The young woman is a poor hired hand that the farmer seduces or rapes and gets pregnant. She hides the pregnancy, gives birth in hiding and kills and buries the infant before killing herself.

KOLBRÚN is dead tired, she hasn’t been sleeping well for a long time and when she does, she has horrible nightmares. She’s a passenger in a four seater private airplane with her considerably older boyfriend, 41 year old Tímóteus, called TIMMI. His friend, BIGGI, is piloting the plane. They’re headed north, to a small fishing village called Kópasker.

Reykjavík: Some time before the trip she said goodbye to her three best friends, who were leaving on their own trip to South America. Over a few glasses of wine, some sushi and banter about Kolbrún’s new boyfriend, they read her palm telling her fortune, stating that she will reluctantly be leaving on a trip of her own, warning her that the trip will be hard and she will want to turn back but won’t be able to.

While looking for a grocery store in the village Kolbrún thinks back to when she first met Timmi, working as a kindergarten teacher. He was late picking up his daughter and she offered to wait for him with the girl. He shows up, apologizes profusely for being late and offers to give Kolbrún a ride home as a recompense. She accepts the ride despite having ridden a bike to work because she has a crush on Timmi.

The grocery store in the village is also the town video rental store and is sorely lacking in stocks. She thinks that they should have gone to a supermarket in the city the day before. Timmi talks to the shopkeep about their trip, and they argue about what the highland is called that he and Kolbrún intend to cross and if there is indeed a deserted farmhouse there or not. Meanwhile Kolbrún stands at the horror movie shelf of the rental store part of the shop, looking at the DVD covers and considering if she uses horror movies to hide from her own fear — her own past. An old woman walks into the store, Kolbrún starts feeling like she is going to faint and stumbles outside to get some fresh air. There a black cat hisses at her and the old woman tells her to be careful, that a woman drowned in the lake and her name was also Kolbrún.

Reykjavík: After driving Kolbrún home, Timmi sends her a friend request on Facebook. While checking news sites he then thinks about what he would like to spend his time doing, photographing deserted farmhouses as a series he can put together and publish as a book. His wife wants to take a conventional vacation to Crete during midsummer, his busiest season as an wedding photographer. He checks Facebook, sees that his friend request has been accepted and talks with Kolbrún until his wife, ANNA, sits down beside him. She asks him who he was talking to and when he does not answer she twists his ear and asks again. After getting an answer she likes she starts watching TV.

Timmi and Kolbrún are on a trail from the highway to the wilderness. Doubt seeps into Kolbrún’s mind. She is unsure if she made the right decision, going on this hike with Timmi. She asks him if they can stop for a moment and get their breath, he says no. His argument is that in the wild the strongest rule, there is no feminism, no equality, just survival of the fittest. She doesn’t agree but decides not to argue about it since she would just get emotional and wouldn´tbe any better off. Timmi asks her if she is alright, if she regrets coming on this trip with him. She asks him if he saw the old woman in the village and recounts how she went out to get air and the woman telling her that an another woman drowned in some lake. Timmi tells her that it is nothing to get worked up about, the woman is most likely old and delusional.

Reykjavík: Kolbrún is talking on the phone, with her friend RÓSA, about her love life.. She tells Rósa that she thinks Timmi is married, he’s in a relationship on Facebook with the mother of his child and they’re both registered at the same address. She tells Rósa she should maybe just call the whole thing of, if it isn’t too late, Rósa says it is too late and she has to go. Kolbrún hangs up. When Timmi arrives he offers her a beer and tells her that since he told Anna he’s at some bar with a friend he has to drink one or two himself. Kolbrún is confused but Timmi turns on his charm and tells her that his marriage is over. They talk and then he kisses her and they have sex.

Timmi and Kolbrún walk on alone on the highland, away from civilization, with two hours ‘til sundown. They have been looking around for a good spot to camp for the night, for the last half hour. Eventually Timmi says they’ll camp where they are and asks Kolbrún to gather firewood and fill up the water bottles while he pitches the tent. When she gets back Timmi has started cooking dinner on a gas stove. She asks him if he consulted the shopkeeper on the route they’re taking, Timmi lies and says the shopkeeper confirmed everything he knew before, about the house and the name of the route.

That night they’re sitting at a camp fire, drinking coffee and enjoying each other’s company. A cry from the darkness beyond their fire startles Kolbrún, Timmi tells her it was just a fox, she asks him if they’re big and what they eat. After telling her to try being a little more relaxed, that her depression and mood swings keep him on edge, he shows her a bottle of cognac he took with him on the trip and offers her a little into her coffee, she declines. He asks her why she freaked out in the store earlier that day. She says aomeyhing about the old woman — the witch. He tells her that she is forgetting a key fact, that she was standing in front of the horror movie shelf in the store. He starts talking about how horror movies aren’t real and that being scared of them is to give in to a kind of madness, the key is to think logically and then the movie is powerless.

Reykjavík: When Kolbrún was nine years old her parents got divorced and she had to move away from her childhood home, a house she loved. Her parents sat her down and told her they didn’t want to fight over who got custody so she could choose which parent she wanted to live with. She decided to live with her dad. She moved in with her dad. There she met Rósa. She was happy at first to have met Rósa, her new best friend, but happiness turned to regret when she found out that Rósa was not only controlling and overbearing but also had no friends and so was virtually impossible to get rid of. Her parents then both forgot about her, mom with her pills and TV, dad with his new girlfriend.

When they’re going to sleep Timmi asks Kolbrún if she wants to have sex. She says no. He whines until she agrees to give him a blowjob. While she is blowing him he takes pictures of her. Afterwards Timmi falls asleep. Kolbrún stays awake, she would be able to fall asleep, but she doesn’t want to. She has horrible nightmares and she’d rather not. She falls asleep but wakes up to something scratching the tent. She thinks to herself that it’s just a tree, but remembers that she is on a moor, in a tent with no trees close by. She takes Timmi’s camera and starts photographing in the darkness, using the flash to see. She sees a shadow outside the tent, small like from a midget or child. She tries to wake Timmi up, he stirs and hits the camera, taking a photo of himself. On the screen is a picture of Timmi, but it isn’t Timmi but the old lady, the witch. The old lady opens her eyes, who are all white like hard boiled eggs. Kolbrún screams and falls back, the old lady grabs her with strong, veiny arms, pulling her down into the white room of her dreams, laughing the whole time. It is a another nigthmare.

Reykjavík: Timmi is shaving when Anna and their daughter come home. He calls out, but gets no answer. When he goes into the kitchen, after shaving, Anna is there. He asks her if she didn’t hear him calling, she asks him in return if he’s going out. They talk about him going seeing Biggi, whom he says he’s meeting tonight as so many nights before. When she says she met Biggi at the store earlier and that he didn’t know anything about late night drinks with Timmi. Timmi says he’ll call him and find out why he would say that. After an awkward phone call that Anna only hears one side of and a few explanations from Timmi, she agrees that he is in fact going to see Biggi. Anna is abusive and Timmi is afraid of her.

They keep walking the next day, Kolbrún is tired from walking and her every thought is occupied with last night, the shadow, the old lady and the scratching. She yearns to be back home watching The Sound of Music. Timmi hasn’t waited for her, he’s kept going on his own speed so the gap between them is substantial. When she catches up he is cooking eggs and bacon and drinking some water. He says there are, at most, two hours of walking towards the abandoned house. After they’ve eaten he asks her if she’d mind doing the dishes, since he cooked, that there’s a stream right by them. She says she’ll do it in a minute, she just wants to rest her legs for a little while. He says it isn’t his fault she was slow and that she could’ve rested longer if she walked faster, but she can take it easy for a little while. She says it’s best to have it over with and goes to the stream with the cutlery and dishes, tears in her eyes.
Reykjavík: The alarm goes off at seven o’clock, Kolbrún wakes up. The first kids arrive at the kindergarten at eight so she needs to be there before that. She brushes her teeth, takes the contraceptive pill, she forgot to take yesterday’s pill so she takes two today. Shouldn’t she have started her period already? There are about four weeks since she last had her period. Or five? She has some breakfast and on her way to work she throws up. She’s alone with the kids for the first hour and has to run periodically to the bathroom to throw up. Timmi’s wife, Anna, arrives with their daughter and they talk about how pale Kolbrún looks. Kolbrún thinks she’s sick, Anna jokes that she might be pregnant.

When Timmi gets close to where the abandoned house is supposed to be, it isn’t there. Kolbrún is far behind Timmi. He doesn’t understand, the house is supposed to be just a hundred meters away yet is nowhere in sight. He starts to doubt the existence of the house but tells himself that it must be real. In an attempt to calm himself he takes his phone, which he sneaked along on the trip after telling Kolbrún they’d go into nature without any disturbances like phones or computers and checks for messages from Anna. There are two messages, which he attempts to respond to, but there is no signal. When he is about to search for a little hill or highest point to find a signal Kolbrún asks him what he’s doing. She is suddenly standing right behind him.

Reykjavík: Kolbrún is confused and scared, Timmi walks back and forth in her apartment mumbling to himself that he doesn’t believe it. She has told him she’s pregnant. He tells her he wants to wait, that a baby is not what they need, it would just make his break up with Anna more complicated and would result in Kolbrún being called a homewrecker. Kolbrún says he’ll never leave Anna, he tells her he has a plan and follows it up by articulating his plan for leaving Anna. She is still not entirely convinced.

Kolbrún is in her doctor’s office. He asks her how far along she is, if she was raped and other things concerning her decision to have the pregnancy terminated – she does not want to but she is under pressure from Timmi. He tells her he needs to check if she has any STD’s, if she does she’ll have to take antibiotics. She’s put to sleep while the doctors extract the fetus. In her sleep she remembers the first time she drank alcohol, fifteen years old throwing up in the bathroom of a house where there is a party. Rósa is with her, she tells Kolbrún she needs to get better if she’s gonna go with them to a boy’s house. When Kolbrún isn’t up for it Rósa leaves her at the party. The boy whose house she is sleeping in then rapes her when everyone else is gone. When she wakes up from the procedure Timmi is waiting for her with a cheap bouquet. She asks him to stay with her, he says the doctors will take care of her and says he has to go. She is alone again in the blinding light of the hospital room.

Kolbrún tried at first to keep up with Timmi, not wanting to complain but hurting with every step in her sore heel. She asked him to wait up once but he did that with such a resentment she decided she’d rather just let him run off than ask again. She decides to take off her shoes and socks, hangs them around her neck with the shoes tied together by the laces and walks barefoot. While walking she thinks about her life, if Timmi really loves her and if she really needs him. She decides she doesn’t need a man, her insecurities and need for recognition are founded on horseshit and she’d rather be alone than with a big baby that’ll just ruin her life. She sees a lake a little further away and a bit closer by she sees Timmi and decides to sneak up on him. When she asks him what he’s doing he startles. He tells her about a house foundation he’s found, that his GPS is on the fritz and that he’s going to walk a bit and see if he finds the abandoned house, that she can rest while he does that. Kolbrún decides to walk towards the lake to get a drink. At the lake she remembers the old lady’s words, that someone drowned in some lake and her name was also Kolbrún. She wards off the scary thoughts and follows a stream from the lake towards a ravine where she lies down in the grass and falls asleep. She wakes to a baby crying and tells it not to cry. She’s almost asleep again when she registers that there shouldn’t be a baby there. Someone giggles near her and she sees a shadowy figure in the ravine, small as a midget or a child. Kolbrún screams until her voice breaks.

Reykjavík: It is August. Timmi is at home working, picking out photos from a wedding he shot earlier. He has four, maybe five weeks before it is too dark and cold to go out and take the photos for his book. He can’t wait. On his phone is a message from Kolbrún. He has told her not to contact him, he will contact her. He’s startled when Anna walks into the kitchen. She asks him what’s going on with him, he’s been away more, takes a shower straight after coming home, protective of his phone and sending messages secretly. He tries to give reasons for his behavior, she accuses him of seeing another woman. He admits, after some time, that he made a mistake. She wants to know who the woman is. He tells her it’s Kolbrún. She becomes angry and tries to stab him with scissors. She tells him that he will not leave her, not for some whore. He will never see his child if he does and she’ll leave him penniless. He suggests that Anna goes to Crete, with their daughter, on vacation; he will break up with the whore while she is away. She agrees, reluctantly. He breathes a sigh of relief, he has to break up with Kolbrún, but he just can’t trust her. She might do something rash, something stupid, like talk to Anna.

Timmi walks alongside the edge of the lava, he’s holding his cell phone, there is still no signal. He puts it back in the backpack, better not to take the chance that Kolbrún might see it. He starts to doubt that the French tourists that told him about the abandoned house actually saw it. They were very sure it was there, but they were also a little scared of it. He stops when he hears a loud scream, starts jogging towards where the scream came from and meets Kolbrún coming out of a ravine, all waving arms, screaming and crying. He asks her what’s wrong and she tries to tell him about the crying baby, the laughter and the strange being that stood in the ravine. He tells her she must’ve dreamt it, she tells him it was there and he should go and see it for himself. Reluctantly he goes into the ravine, telling himself never again to take a woman along on a trip. In the ravine he sees a small rock formation, like the formation on ancient graves, under it he finds a baby’s skeleton. When he comes back out of the ravine he tells Kolbrún he didn’t find anything. She breaks down crying, asking him if she’s just crazy, that she doesn’t want to camp here, even if it’s a good spot. He tells her they’ll walk a little further, asking at the same time if they should fill up on water before they head out. She says no, there’ll be more lakes and streams ahead. A little later they come to a field of lava. Kolbrún suggests they go around, since it doesn’t look safe. Pissed off at Kolbrún, Timmi decides to go over the lava. Saying she didn’t want to fill up on water and that is the reason he’s thirsty so he’s going to do the exact opposite to what she wants from now on. He falls down a crack in the lava and hurts his leg. Kolbrún helps him up and out of the lava, back the way they came. Timmi tells her they have to go back to where there’s water and camp there. They need water and it’s too far to go around the lava in the hope of finding water there. They walk back as a mist descends on the moor. In the heavy fog they stumble upon the abandoned house they were looking for.

Reykjavík: Timmi parks in front of his house. When he is walking from the car he hears someone say his name. It is Kolbrún, she is standing a few feet away wearing slippers, a wool coat and underneath it pajamas. He asks her what she is doing there, afraid Anna is coming home any minute now. She says she doesn’t feel good, hasn’t for some time. He asks if she doesn’t need to be committed to a hospital. She says she wants to commit suicide, first writing a letter to Anna telling her everything about the affair and the baby. In an attempt to stop her from killing herself, Timmi tells Kolbrún he still loves her and that he will call her later.

Timmi and Biggi sit at a bar, drinking beer. Biggi asks Timmi what is bothering him and Timmi goes on to tell him of his predicament. How his marriage is in trouble, he had an affair and now needs to dump Kolbrún gently while making sure that she doesn’t go running to Anna with a sob story of an abortion and suicidal thoughts. He wants to invite Kolbrún with him on the trip, telling her to leave her computer and phone at home, the trip will be just them and nature. He tells an off-color joke about Kolbrún falling in a crevasse and dying, eliminating all his problems. Biggi asks him to do him a favor and give Kolbrún a chance, take her along if she wants to go but don’t decide to break up with her before inviting her. A four day trip might change his mind about breaking up with her.

The house in the fog is made of stone, two stories, and half-collapsed. It reminds Kolbrún of her beloved childhood home. She says they should check it out, if they’re lucky they can take shelter in the house for the night. Timmi doesn’t like the idea of spending a night in the house, it gives him the creeps – he realises that it is close to the haunted ravine, where the house he was looking for should be but was not in the daylight. Kolbrún looks around the house using a portable gaslight while Timmi waits in the kitchen. The house is in a bad state, doors are broken, ajar or missing. Most of the furniture is in bad shape, the stairway to the upper floor is missing a few steps and looks unreliable. She finds a room where they can stay for the night, moves a few wood boards and glass shards into one corner and then goes back to assist Timmi through the house and into the room. He starts to complain about the pain in his leg and asks if Kolbrún has any pain killers. She brought some but wonders why he didn’t. She gives him one and he asks for the cognac telling her it’ll help him sleep and increase the effect of the pain killer. She eventually gives in, asking where the flask is. When she goes to get it from the side pocket af his backpack she finds his knife and his phone. He tells her he only brought the phone in case of an emergency, like the one they are in now, but that there is no signal. She asks him if he’s been in contact with Anna, he replies that he has a child with her. She becomes angry and reminds him of the child he was going to have with her before he convinced her to have an abortion. She starts crying and throws the phone in to the wall, breaking it. Kolbrún leaves and Timmi thinks to himself that she’ll calm down with time. He falls asleep and wakes up to his phone ringing. It’s Anna, he tries to tell her that she needs to call the coast guard but when he looks at the phone he sees he’s holding a piece of broken glass and his hand is cut from it. Kolbrún comes back with a lantern and a woolen shawl draped over herself, holding a metal box. She says she found both items upstairs. Inside the box is a metal syringe and a glass bottle with a yellowish liquid, which she tells him is morphine. Kolbrún injects Timmi with the liquid after some debate over his need for the morphine and if it is actually safe. After the injection Timmi calls her a bitch, she goes back out and returns with a chair and some paper. She proceeds to read to Yimmi old news of women that were sentenced to death for having children with married men or otherwise out of wedlock. She ends the “story-time” with a national legend, Móðir mín í kví kví, the story of a woman who has a child out of wedlock, leaves it out to die and is then haunted by its song telling her it’ll lend her its rag — which it was wrapped in when it died — to wear to a ball. After the story they talk about abortion, how some things have changed but women are still burdened and hurt by married men who flirt with them and have sex with them out of wedlock. She tells him she would be five months pregnant if not for the abortion he pressured her into, not directly, but he made his thoughts on the subject quite clear, their relationship would not survive a child. She says she won’t have a child, he says she can have one later, she tells him she’s barren after a complication with the abortion and leaves the room.

Reykjavík: Kolbrún walks around her apartment in pajamas and a bathrobe, curtains holding the summer sun out. She thinks depression is more bearable in the winter, when the world itself is dark like her mind. The summer, the sun and the laughter outside her window just make her own despair and sadness worse, by comparison. On the living room table are four wine glasses and a tray with uncooked pasta. At first she doesn’t know why, but then she remembers her imagined girls night, with her imaginary girlfriends (earlier chapter). She is planning to kill herself, without any actual planning or conscious thoughts, thinking to herself it’s better just to act. On her bedroom table are a handful of sleeping pills, she washes them all down with a glass of wine and lies down on the bed. The song that was playing, Ave Maria, stops and she goes out of bed to turn the vinyl record. In the living room she regrets her decision, runs to the bathroom and forcefully regurgitates the sleeping pills.

Kolbrún wakes up, the sun is shining and the sky is clear. Timmi is sleeping like a baby, she doesn’t want to wake him. Outside she smells the greenery and feels like she is home, not a stranger anymore, after a night in the abandoned house. She walks towards the ravine, which opens up to her and the shadow in it swallows her.

Timmi wakes up. The door to the room is closed, the door that used to lie broken and in pieces on the kitchen floor. Outside it is still foggy, when he hobbles towards the door he sees that the kitchen is in much better shape. There are no broken furniture on the floor, it looks recently mopped. He calls out to Kolbrún, looking for her, and hobbles towards the stairs. He wakes up and sees he is still in the room, in his sleeping bag. The door to the room is closed, so he wasn’t dreaming. He goes out, everything is as he remembers it, then up the stairs. On the second floor he finds some newspaper clippings with headlines about ghost killings. He doesn’t believe in superstitions. There is a knock downstairs. He finds dolls, one female, one male. He takes up the male doll and the head falls off. He doesn’t ascribe any meaning to that, puts the doll down and goes down the stairs on his ass with a lantern and a box of matches. The door to the smaller room in the house is closed, he is sure it was open before, so he assumes Kolbrún must have closed the door. Inside the room he sees a crib, he goes to it and sees there is a parcel lying in it. He knows what is in it, but has to see for himself. In the parcel is the baby’s skeleton from the ravine, the skull is staring at him. He starts hobbling out of the room but stops in the door when he hears a sound behind him. In the room the crib is rocking back and forth, like an invisible hand is pushing it.

Reykjavík. Kolbrún is lying on the bathroom floor. Her phone is ringing. She feels like she hasn’t slept at all, slow and suffering from a headache, experiencing something similar to a hangover after a four day drinking binge from the sleeping pills. Timmi is calling. He says he’s sorry and that he’d like to make it up to her by inviting her with him on an adventure. He’s going to the north of Iceland to take photos of abandoned farmhouses and, if she wants, she can come with him. She says yes.

It’s dark outside, the fog is still thick and all-encompassing. Timmi is lying in his sleeping bag, the lantern is on, the door is closed. He is trying to calm down. What he saw can’t have happened, it is an impossibility. His thoughts go from trying to make sense of what is happening in and to the house to what is going to happen to him, alone and hurt on a moor. He hears someone breathing, he’s not alone in the room. The someone is dragging a metal object on the floor. The light on the lantern goes up, Kolbrún is revealed in the light. She is wet from head to toe, holding a rusty machete. She proceeds to cut his head off while he is desperatly trying to get out of the sleeping bag, having been sentenced to death for his crimes.

Kolbrún is sitting in a rocking chair in the nursery and breastfeeding the small skeleton. She puts the “baby” back in the crib when it has drunk enough. The abandoned house is like a morbid happy hut in a fairytale. There is fire in the fireplace, at its side is a woodpile that never depletes even though wood is regularly taken from it. The same can be said for all the food in the house. On the radio, Amy Winehouse sings Let it go, from the movie Frozen. Kolbrún finishes making thick pancakes in the kitchen, served with butter and syrup, then rings a bell three times from the front door. Out of the mist come seven creepy shadows, that turn into seven ragged children when they walk into the sun and towards house – ghosts of children that where born out of wedlock in old times, killed and buried in the wild. They take a seat, look distrustfully at Kolbrún and the food but eventually eat ‘til they’re full.

Epilogue: Kópasker (the village). An old woman sits and writes with a fountain pen at an old desk. She finishes writing and puts a stack of papers in a brown envelope just before a black cat walks in and meows. She goes out with the envelope in her arms and the cat following her every step, puts the envelope in a mailbox, knocks three times on it then enters the local grocery store. January: In Reykjavik there is a snowstorm. TRYGGVI is stuck in traffic. He is the owner and CEO of a small publishing house. When he gets to work he starts by making coffee and then sits down at his desk, where he accidentally pushes a stack of papers to the ground, finding an envelope addressed to the publishing firm, since September. Inside the envelope is a handwritten manuscript, on the frontpage just one word, Kolbrún. He starts skimming through the manuscript and sees the name Tímóteus in there, thinking to himself: didn’t he publish a photobook by a Tímóteus one time? Who handwrites a manuscript anymore, he thinks to himself while skimming. It would be a whole lot of work to type up the whole manuscript before publishing. He startles when the walls tremble and the lights flicker, the wind is pulling at the roof. He lights a few candles, gets another cup of coffee and, when he sits down again, starts reading the manuscript.

May. Tryggvi has driven six hundred kilometres to Kópasker, the town looks deserted, not a soul outside. He is there to meet reverend FRIÐRIK, the priest in Kópasker. After having traced the origin of the manuscript back to Kópasker he is there to learn a little more about its possible writer, an old woman called Kolbrún. The priest, Friðrik, asks to see the manuscript and what it’s about. Tryggvi tells him it’s about a couple that tries to cross the highland and gets lost on the way. Friðrik is startled by this and asks if Tryggvi does not know about the couple that got lost last autumn. The priest implies that the old woman who possibly wrote the story is missing, then tells Tryggvi the story of how she one day during WWll came to the town, as a five year old girl who just walked down from the highland, out of a thick fog. As she grew older she would sometimes say that her mother “went into the lake”. The kids would call her a witch. They take a look at her house, the house of the town doctor, who took the woman in when she was a child. Friðrik tells Tryggvi how they went missing in September, two weeks later the young woman, Kolbrún, wanders into Raufarhöfn, a village on the other side of the highland. She looked very bad, scratched and in bad shape after the walk. Timmi was never found. Apparently the old woman left everything she had to the younger Kolbrún. Tryggvi asks Friðrik if he knows where young Kolbrún ended up. Friðrik says he can find out, but if Tryggvi is going to see her he’d like him to do him one favour. To give Kolbrún something the magistrate has asked Friðrik to get to her.

Tryggvi parks outside the nursing home in Kópavogur, south Iceland. It is summer, he hasn’t been able to go see Kolbrún before this. She is kept in the wing for demented people in the nursing home. He introduces himself in the lobby and waits for the director of the nursing home, SISSA. Sissa leads him through locked doors and down a hallway with no windows, telling him the security precautions are so the residents don’t wander off, that this is not a prison. While walking the wing they pass an empty chair and some residents in differing mental states. When asked about Kolbrún’s mental state, Sissa says she believes Kolbrún is in a catatonic state. That is, she is mentally catatonic, while retaining bodily functionality. It is unclear if she will ever recover, according to Sissa. At the room Sissa says she will introduce Tryggvi and Kolbrún, then leave them alone, she asks that Tryggvi don’t stay too long. In the room he talks to Kolbrún about the manuscript, how he is unsure who wrote it, (was it the old Kolbrún, or the young?) meanwhile young Kolbrún rocks back and forth. She gives no answers and shows no reactions to anything he says, except for a few seconds where she stops rocking when he mentions Timmi. He thinks of possibilities to publish the book without finding the author. One possibility would be to hand the manuscript over to a known author, let him make some changes and improvements and then split the profit when they publish. On the way out he thanks Kolbrún for the talk, wishes her a full recovery and hands her a key to the house in Kópasker. He walks out of the room and looks back into the room. The key is gone and there is a black cat under the bed looking at him, Kolbrún is still the same. When walking the hallway back towards the lobby he passes the chair which isn’t empty anymore, an old lady dressed all in black is sitting in it. He tries to walk faster, scared, but it’s as if the floor is made of dough. He gets to the door, which is locked, the director’s words play in his head: this is not a prison. Tryggvi raises a trembling hand and rings the bell so someone will open the door. He looks back, the old lady has turned to a black fog, a cloud that floats above the chair. She is a swarm of flies that buzzes loudly in the sweltering heat.

The End.