Mammon in Malmö, by Torquil MacLeod, part two: He was instantly gripped by​ ​a wave of reali​s​ation and fear

Author Torquil MacLeod on Anita's holiday beach for the launch of the fourth book in the series, Midnight in MalmoAuthor Torquil MacLeod on Anita's holiday beach for the launch of the fourth book in the series, Midnight in Malmo
Author Torquil MacLeod on Anita's holiday beach for the launch of the fourth book in the series, Midnight in Malmo
Prologue (cont.) 1951: Per Engdahl held his hand up to shield his eyes from the light.​ ​Sunshine in Malmö at this time of year was always welcome.​ ​To Engdahl, doubly so.​ ​This was a bright day for him, and for a​ ​broken Europe which was about to see a rebirth.​ ​A tram rattled along on the other side of Stortorget.

Soon​ ​people would arrive for the congress. His congress in his town.​ ​Not a bombed-out town like so many others that were half-emerging from the rubble of war. A vibrant town not tainted by​ ​occupation; a low-key town where his philosophy could take​ ​root and spread to create a new way of thinking in a rejuvenated​ ​world.

He knew he was a persuasive speaker ​-​ he’d even learned​ ​enough passable Italian for last year’s Rome Congress. That​ ​had gone down very well with the hosts. So had his ideas. Now​ ​he felt confident that he would have no trouble shaping the​ ​thinking of the disparate groups here in Malmö.

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Representatives​ ​from Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Britain and, of​ ​course, Germany had been lined up to attend. He’d written to​ ​Sweden’s Prime Minister, Tage Erlander, asking that the guests’​ ​visas be fast-tracked, and had been personally assured that this​ ​would happen.He smiled as he thought of the friends he’d be welcoming​ -​ Augusto De Marsanich from Italy, Maurice Bardèche from​ ​France, and Germany’s Karl-Heinz Priester. His only worry​ ​was that Oswald Mosley might have a last-minute change of​ ​mind; the Englishman had issues with Priester. To add a touch​ ​of glamour to the proceedings, he’d boldly invited Colonel Otto​ ​Skorzeny, the man who had daringly rescued Mussolini from his​ ​mountain-resort imprisonment.His only regret was that he couldn’t have his kindred spirit​ ​and collaborator Johann von Leers with him. But at least he​ ​was safely ensconced in​ ​Buenos Aires, where he was doing​ ​invaluable work spreading their message.Behind him was the Kramer Hotel, the venue for the​ ​congress. He felt a tingle of anticipation course through his​ ​limbs. There was so much to​ ​discuss, to agree on, to plan. To​ ​protect their culture from contamination in the face of growing​ ​Bolshevism, there would be a united front with a common​ ​European ideology; an octopus, whose tentacles of concordance​ ​and purpose would reach and coil across the continent.​ ​And he, Per Engdahl would be the mantle; the centre of​ ​it all.

Mammon in MalmoMammon in Malmo
Mammon in Malmo

2018The window rattled. He got up from his seat by the stove and​ ​pulled it tightly shut. The wind howled, and he could see from​ ​the outside light that the snow was starting to thicken in the​ ​yard. The roof of the barn had already turned white. He drew​ ​the curtain. As he sat down, it fluttered slightly.​ ​There was still​ ​a draught coming in. He would have to have a word with Rune​ ​​Tham about getting it fixed. He couldn’t afford his own place​ ​just yet.​ ​But soon.

He shoved another log into the old metal stove. It spat and​ ​crackled as he closed the door. Winter was setting in. He knew​ ​he would have to curtail his plans if the weather continued​ ​like this. He wandered into the kitchen and poured himself the​ ​dregs of the coffee from the thermos, which he​ ​drank in a​ ​couple of gulps. He promised himself something stronger for a​ ​nightcap.On the side of the wooden cupboard in the corner was a​ ​rack of pipes. He still had three. Not that he smoked much these​ ​days. He never took a pipe on his travels but on a night like this,​ ​it felt right. He took his favourite one from the rack, stepped​ ​back into the living room and opened the drawer where he kept​ ​his tobacco. He sat down and enjoyed the sensation of stuffing​ ​and tightly packing the bowl.

You hardly saw anyone with a​ ​pipe these days, except Rune. Maybe it was old-fashioned. But,​ ​he reflected, he lived for the past. He was nothing without it.​ ​And the past had suddenly given him a future. He picked up​ ​a box of matches from the stone hearth and struck one.

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After​ ​several puffs, the tobacco settled down to a satisfying glow. His​ ​contentment was almost total. But he still had one obstacle to​ ​surmount ​-​ how best to exploit the ‘find’, which he’d wrapped​ ​carefully and hidden in his bedroom. He needed a way of​ ​selling it without raising suspicion. Carl said he had a contact​ ​in Germany. He knew there wouldn’t be any consequences ​-​ there was no way they would dare report it missing or even​ ​acknowledge its existence. He would just have to be careful.

He​ ​refocussed his attention on the old map and the photographs​ ​on the table. Next spring, he’d make the follow-up trip to​ ​Walchensee. The find would do a lot more than finance the​ ​next phase of the operation. If he was lucky, it would finance​ ​the next few seasons.Suddenly, his thoughts were interrupted. There was a rap​ ​on the front door. He hadn’t heard a vehicle approach. Maybe​ ​the snow had deadened the sound. Who could it be at this time​ ​of night in this weather? He didn’t normally have visitors.​ ​Even the neighbours kept their distance. And he was grateful​ ​for that. He didn’t need company except of those who shared​ ​his passions. And there was only Rune round here who showed​ ​any interest. He laid his pipe down on the ashtray next to the​ ​map and went to answer the door, muttering to himself.​ ​He squinted into the gloom. Two blurred figures were being​ ​buffeted by the blizzard. It took him a few seconds to see that​ ​their faces were hidden by masks. He was instantly gripped by​ ​a wave of reali​s​ation and fear ​-​ he’d made a big mistake​.

Tomorrow: Meet Anita Sundström

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