Chapter 12

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Chëpter Tvelfe (Chapter Twelve)

Agoost Sevoon (August 7)

BACK IN Stockholm, Marty Stu arrived at the offices of Centennium to check his email. It had an email from Wisp, which he knew to be Elzbeth's online persona. It read:

Dear Karl Freaking Fracking Frooking Bonkvist,

I've attached the sum total of everything I found on Weinerstorm's computer. He's a criminal genius who's organized an intricate web of illegal activities around the world with an epic scope. But for some reason, he was stupid enough to put all the evidence for it on his home computer. I've attached a 200TB file of every email, document, and text message he's ever sent to this email. I probably should have sent this to the police instead of a reporter I met briefly, but whatever.



 Uh, I mean, Wisp.

He opened the file and gasped. "She's right. This is a staggering amount of evidence. Now I can get my revenge on Weinerstorm. I'll write a book about all his crimes, and get him sent to prison, and I'll be a hero. It'll be a best seller, I'll be on all the talk shows, and my reputation will be saved."

Cheesika Burger winced. "Marty Stu, that's really nice, and I'm sure you could go on for pages and pages about that. But nobody cares."

He nodded. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Now that we've solved the mystery of Harried's disappearance, the rest of it is kind of unimportant. Let's just say everything worked out, and leave it at that."

"Good. Have you seen Elzbeth Salamander?"

He shook his head. "Not since she got her passport, said she had something important to do in Switzerland, and left the country. But now I have an odd compulsion to turn on the TV and watch the news."

He turned on the TV, and the evening news came on.

"Hello," the anchorman said, "I'm Flerrbin Yerrbinsen, and this is Swedish News From Sweden in Swedish. Tonight's top story, Weinerstorm has been disgraced by Marty Stu Bonkvist in ways I'm not going to bother going over, because it's really dull. The point is, Weinerstorm has gotten his comeuppance and Bonkvist has been vindicated. Weinerstorm had fled the country, but an anonymous email sent to the Mafia told them Weinerstorm's location, where he was brutally murdered in horrific ways, but it's okay because he was a bad guy. I mean, come on. He was mean to Marty Stu Bonkvist. That alone deserves the death penalty."

Marty Stu nodded. "Glad they see it my way."

"In related news," Yerrbinsen continued, "billions of kronors have mysteriously disappeared from one of Weinerstorm's Swiss bank accounts. Police are just going to assume it's Weinerstorm behind it, and not investigate where the money went or try to recover it."

Marty Stu turned off the TV and picked up the phone. He dialed Elzbeth's number. "Are you behind that missing money?"

"Yes," Elzbeth whispered. "I stole his evil money. Three hundred billion kronors."

"Wow," he breathed. "That's almost one hundred thousand US dollars."

"Yes. I'll be living in luxury for a very, very small amount of time. And I might even buy a new television. I finally have some aspect of my life that matches Pippi Longstocking, her fortune. Don't try to find me. I'm gone forever. At least, until next month."

"So you're a sadist, an antisocial freak, a hacker, a violator of people's privacy and secrets, and a murderer. And now you're a thief of epic proportions. And yet somehow, you're still the hero."

"You said it, I didn't."

She hung up.

* * *

Elzbeth Salamander walked down the streets of Stockholm, headed for Marty Stu Bonkvist's house. She had made the decision to tell him that she loved him, even though he was twice her age, knew almost nothing about her, and she couldn't stand to be around him for more than ten minutes. She had spent all morning preparing a special gift for him.

As she came to his front door, it opened, and Marty Stu stepped out. She started to speak when she saw Cheesika Burger walk out after him.

She ducked behind a pole to watch in secret.

The two of them started kissing passionately and laughing.

"By the way," Cheesika said, "where do you think Elzbeth is, anyway?"

Marty Stu shrugged. "Who knows? Probably off somewhere being weird. You know Elzbeth, all she cares about is computers. I could never imagine a life with her. She's like a little girl. 'Oh, I'm Elzbeth Salamander! All I'm good for is hacking computers! I suffered an emotional childhood trauma and now I'm afraid of the police and have small boobs!' I've been with you for decades, and I'm not about to stop now. And I'm glad she's not here to hear me say that, otherwise she'd be devastated."

The two of them laughed.

"Come on," Cheesika sighed. "Let's go somewhere and have fun, just the two of us. And then we'll make love. I'll call my husband to let him know."

As they walked down the street, Elzbeth heard Marty Stu call out, "Still creepy!"

Elzbeth threw the gift she had brought into a garbage can and fled.

She left a Philly cheese steak sandwich with peppers and onions behind.


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