On Friday Ekstrom's researchers had also found the link to Evil Fingers. She guessed that would mean more addresses being visited. She frowned. So the girls in the group would vanish from her circle of friends too, even though she had had no contact with them since her return to Sweden.


The more she thought about all this, the more confused she became. Ekstrom was leaking all kinds of bullshit to the media. His objective was clear. He was building publicity and doing the groundwork for the day when he would issue a charge against her.


But why hadn't he leaked the police report from 1991, which had led her to be locked up at St.Stefan's? Why keep that story hidden?


She went into Ekstrom's computer again and pored over his documents. When she was finished she lit a cigarette. She had not found a single reference to the events of 1991 on his computer. It was strange, but the only explanation was that he didn't know about the police report.


For a moment she was at a loss. Then she glanced at her PowerBook. This was precisely the kind of thing that Kalle Fucking Blomkvist could sink his teeth into. She rebooted her computer to access his hard drive and created the document [MB2].


Prosecutor E. is leaking information to the media. Ask him why he didn't leak the old police report.


That should be enough to get him going. She sat patiently and waited two hours for Blomkvist to get online. He read his email and it took fifteen minutes before he noticed her document and another five minutes before he replied with the document [Cryptic]. He didn't bite. Instead he insisted that he wanted to know who murdered his friends.


That was an argument that Salander could understand. She softened a bit and answered with [Cryptic 2].


What would you do if it was me?


Which was intended as a personal question. He replied with [Cryptic 3]. It shook her.


Lisbeth, if it's true that you've really gone over the edge, then maybe you can ask Peter Teleborian to help you. But I don't believe you murdered Dag and Mia. I hope and pray that I'm right.


Dag and Mia were going to publish their exposes of the sex trade. My theory is that could have been the reason for the murders. But I have nothing to go on.


I don't know what went wrong between us, but you and I discussed friendship once. I said that friendship is built on two things - respect and trust. Even if you don't like me, you can still depend on me and trust me. I've never shared your secrets with anyone. Not even what happened to Wennerstrom's billions. Trust me. I'm not your enemy. M.


Blomkvist's reference to Teleborian at first made her furious. Then she realized that he was not trying to start a fight. He had no idea who Teleborian was and had probably only seen him on TV, where he came across as a responsible, internationally respected expert.


But what really shook her was the reference to Wennerstrom's billions. She had no idea how he had wormed out that information. She was absolutely certain that she had made no mistakes and that nobody in the world could know what she had done.


She read the letter over several times.


The reference to friendship made her uncomfortable. She didn't know how to respond to it.


A short time later she created [Cryptic 4].


I'll think about it.


She disconnected and went to her window seat.


Salander had exhausted her supply of Billy's Pan Pizza as well as the last crumb of bread and rind of cheese. For the last three days she had survived on a packet of instant oats that she had bought on impulse with the vague idea that she ought to eat more nourishing food. She discovered that half a cup of oats with a few raisins and a cup of water turned into an edible portion of hot cereal after a minute in the microwave.


It was not only the lack of food that got her on the move. She had someone to look after. Unfortunately that was not something she could do while holed up in her apartment. She went to her wardrobe and took out the blond wig and Irene Nesser's Norwegian passport.


Froken Nesser did exist in real life. She was similar in appearance to Salander and she had lost her passport three years earlier. It came to be in Salander's hands thanks to Plague, and she had used Nesser's identity when necessary for almost eighteen months.


Salander took the ring out of her eyebrow and put on makeup at the bathroom mirror. She dressed in dark jeans, a warm brown sweater with yellow trim, and walking boots with heels. She took out a Mace canister from her small supply. She also found her Taser, which she hadn't touched in a year, and plugged it in to charge. She put a change of clothes in a shoulder bag. And at 11:00 on Friday night, nine days after the murders, Salander left her apartment in Mosebacke.


She walked to McDonald's on Hornsgatan. It was less likely that any of her former colleagues from Milton Security would run into her there than at the one near Slussen or at Medborgarplatsen. She ate a Big Mac and drank a large Coke.


Then she took the number 4 bus across Vasterbron to St.Eriksplan. She walked to Odenplan and found herself outside Bjurman's apartment building on Upplandsgatan just after midnight. She did not expect the apartment to be under surveillance, but she saw a light in the window of an apartment on the same floor, so she walked on towards Vanadisplan. The light was off when she came back an hour later.


She went up the stairs on tiptoe without turning on the light in the stairwell. With the aid of a Stanley knife she cut the police tape that sealed the apartment. She opened the door without a sound.


She turned on the hall lamp, which she knew could not be seen from the outside, and switched on a pen torch to light her way to the bedroom. The venetian blinds were closed. She played the beam of light over the bloodstained bed. She recalled that she had been very close to dying in that bed and suddenly had a feeling of deep satisfaction that Bjurman was forever out of her life.


The reason for her visit to the crime scene was to get two pieces of information. First, she didn't understand the connection between Bjurman and Zala. She was convinced there had to be one, but she hadn't been able to find it from anything she found in Bjurman's computer.


Second was an inconsistency that kept gnawing at her. During her nighttime visit a few weeks earlier she noticed that Bjurman had taken documentation about her out of the file box where he kept all his guardianship material. The pages that were missing were part of his brief from the agency which summarized Salander's psychological state in the most concise terms. Bjurman no longer had any need of these pages, and it was possible that he had cleared out the file and thrown them away. On the other hand, lawyers never throw away documents relating to an unfinished case. And yet these papers had once been in the file box relating to her, and she had not found them in his desk or anywhere near it.


She saw that the police had removed the files that dealt with her case, as well as some others. She spent more than two hours searching every inch of the apartment in case the police had missed anything, but eventually she came to the conclusion that they had not.


In the kitchen she found a drawer which contained various keys: car keys, as well as a general key to the building and a padlock key. She quietly went up to the attic floor, where she tried all the padlocks until she found Bjurman's storage unit. In it was some furniture, as well as a wardrobe full of old clothes, skis, a car battery, cardboard boxes of books, and some other junk. She discovered nothing of interest, so she went back downstairs and used the general key to get into the garage. She worked out which was his Mercedes, but a brief search turned up nothing of value there either.


She did not bother to go to his office. She had been there only a few weeks earlier, around the time of her previous visit to his apartment, and she knew that for the past two years he had hardly used it.


Salander returned to Bjurman's apartment and sat on his living-room sofa to think. After a few minutes she got up and went back to the key drawer in the kitchen. She studied the keys one by one. One set belonged to front-door and dead-bolt locks, but another key was rusty and old-fashioned. She frowned. Then she raised her eyes to a shelf above the kitchen counter, where Bjurman had put about twenty seed packets, seeds for an herb garden.


He has a summer cabin. Or an allotment somewhere. That's what I missed.


It took her three minutes to locate a receipt, six years old, in Bjurman's account book showing that he had paid for work on his driveway, and it took another minute to find an insurance policy for a property near Stallarholmen outside Mariefred.


At 5:00 in the morning she stopped at the twenty-four-hour 7-Eleven at the top of Hantverkargatan up by Fridhemsplan. She bought an armful of Billy's Pan Pizzas, some milk, bread, cheese, and other staples. She also bought a morning paper with a headline that fascinated her.


Wanted woman fled country?


This particular paper did not, for some reason, name her. She was referred to instead as the "26-year-old woman." The article stated that a source within the police claimed that she might have escaped abroad and could now be in Berlin. The police had apparently received a tip that she had been seen in Kreuzberg at an "anarcho-feminist club" described as a hangout for young people associated with everything from terrorism to antiglobalization and Satanism.


She took the number 4 bus back to Sodermalm, where she got off at Rosenlundsgatan and walked home to Mosebacke. She made coffee and had a sandwich before she went to bed.


***


She slept until late in the afternoon. When she woke she took stock and decided that it was high time she changed the sheets. She spent the evening cleaning her apartment. She took out the trash and collected newspapers in two plastic bags and put them in a closet in the stairwell. She washed a load of underwear and T-shirts and then a load of jeans. She filled the dishwasher and turned it on. Then she vacuumed and mopped the floor.


It was 9:00 p.m. and she was drenched with sweat. She turned on the faucet in the tub and poured in plenty of bubble bath. She lay back and closed her eyes and brooded. When she woke up, it was midnight and the water was cold. She got out, dried off, and went back to bed. She fell asleep almost immediately.


On Sunday morning Salander was filled with rage when she booted up her PowerBook and read all the stupid things that had been written about Miriam Wu. She felt miserable and guilty. Wu's only crime was that she was Salander's...  acquaintance? Friend? Lover?


She didn't quite know which word would describe her relationship with Mimmi, but she realized that whichever one she chose, it was probably over. She would have to cross one more name off her already short list of acquaintances. After all the shit written in the press, she could not imagine that her friend would want to have anything to do with that psychotic Salander woman ever again.


It made her furious.


She committed to memory the name of Tony Scala, the journalist who had started it all. She also resolved one day to confront a nasty columnist pictured in a checked jacket whose article had made repeated jocular references to Mimmi as an "S&M dyke."


The number of people Salander was going to have to deal with was growing. But first she had to find Zala.


What would happen when she found him she didn't know.


Blomkvist was woken by the telephone at 7:30 on Sunday morning. He stretched out his hand and answered it sleepily.


"Good morning," Berger said.


"Mmm," said Mikael.


"Are you alone?"


"Unfortunately."


"Then I suggest you take a shower and put on some coffee. You'll have a visitor in fifteen minutes."


"I will?"


"Paolo Roberto."


"The boxer? The king of kings?"


"He called me and we talked for half an hour."


"How come?"


"How come he called me? Well, we know each other well enough to say hello. I did an interview with him when he was in Hildebrand's film, and we've run into each other a few times over the years."


"I didn't know that. But my question was why is he visiting me?"


"Because...  well, I think it's better if he explains that himself."


Blomkvist had only just showered and put on his pants when the doorbell rang. He opened the door and asked the boxer to take a seat at the table while he found a clean shirt and made two double espressos, which he served with a teaspoon of milk. Paolo Roberto inspected the coffee, impressed.


"You wanted to talk to me?" Blomkvist said.


"It was Erika Berger's suggestion."


"I see. Talk away."


"I know Lisbeth Salander."


Blomkvist raised his eyebrows. "You do?"


"I was a little surprised when Erika told me that you knew her too."


"I think perhaps it would be better if you started at the beginning."


"OK. Here's the deal. I came home the day before yesterday after a month in New York and found Lisbeth's face on every fucking newspaper in town. The papers are writing a load of fucking crap about her. And not one of those fuckers seems to have a good word to say."


"You got three fucks into that outburst."


Paolo Roberto laughed. "Sorry. But I'm really pissed off. In fact, I called Erika because I needed to talk and didn't really know who else to call. Since that journalist in Enskede worked for Millennium and since I happen to know Erika, I called her."


"So?"


"Even if Salander went completely off her rocker and did everything the police are claiming she did, she has to be given a sporting chance. We do happen to have the rule of law in this country, and nobody should be condemned without their day in court."


"I believe that too."


"That's what I understood from Erika. When I called her I thought that you guys at Millennium were after her scalp too, considering that the Svensson guy was writing for you. But Erika said you thought she was innocent."


"I know Lisbeth. I can't see her as a deranged killer."

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