CHAPTER I The Luleå winter was hot and humid. Gaseous. The sun was covered by the clouds. Sometimes at night the moon would peek through vast expanses of cloud cover, and they would sleep and sweat in its light. It was always hot and humid. All the old things were dead. New species of medusas, insects, virulent diseases and bean stalks flourished. Plants grew thick, pale and moist in the warm darkness. The darkness of the new middle ages was the darkness of the womb. New scenes were brewing. A toothless country music singer named Townes walked into town. At first the Luleå townsfolk treated him with suspicion, then his broken angelic music melted their doubts. They should've trusted their suspicions. Townes turned out to be a cannibal. He had to grind his victims into pulp since his toothless mouth had no bite to chew their flesh with. Raves took place in the darkness of the moist-hot-pulsating-humid-overflowing-pale-sweaty forest. They drank Kombucha, moonshine, urine and spring water. The ravers wore plastic and iron. Elaborate party dresses and cloaks from old Ikea bags were combined with the crude spiral-shaped iron accessories forged by local blacksmiths. A murder of crows flew over the crowd and ripped an olive branch from a raver’s hair. Olive trees grew in Göteborg, where she had travelled from by horse and foot. Margiela, the crows screamed. Balenciaga, the wolves howled from the depths. CHAPTER II She woke up to a sweaty February morning. She rubbed her face with callused hands and wiped the image of the wolf and the crow from her head. She often dreamed of extinct animals, some she had only seen on her device. Last night's party and its xanax-urine-Kombucha-nanobot-lavender cocktail was still coursing through her. She picked up her banjo from the floor and plucked a few notes. Her mind was absent. Her throat burned with acid reflux. She rode around Luleå in her wagon greeting recently moved in Americans with a friendly "Howdy, partner". She rode her horse through swarms of flies, hummingbirds and microdrones. She lifted the bodies of the dead from the side of the road to the back of the wagon and took them to the disposal site. The usual cause of death was heat exhaustion and/or tropical illness. Some had died in drunken fights, with skulls fractured by bone, rock or dense wood. There were three dead bodies on her wagon. She took them down and started going through their stuff. She was combing through layers of dirt, piercings, rags and hair. One of the dead had a fun novelty t-shirt on. The shirt had a drawing of a snowman on it, with eyes and shirt buttons represented by pieces of coal, and its arms made of leafless, twisted branches. The snowman was missing the usual carrot nose, but there was a carrot sticking out of the lower half of its body, standing in place of erect genitalia. There was a crude cartoon reindeer licking the carrot. “Winter is cumming”, it read under the drawing. “Luleå 2012”, it read. She had never seen snow. She took the t-shirt off the deceased body. She could trade it for ibuprofen-bubble-tea-discourse-cider at the next party. CHAPTER III The medusas lived in an unlit pool. The water was dark, but the medusas were self-luminous and did not mind. The water was warm to the hand. There was a large video monitor at the bottom of the pool. Sometimes the medusas turned it on and basked in the glow of old TV shows. They loved Frasier. The pool was in the basement of the castle. During daytime the medusas put on their android bodies and governed the Luleå city state. Through their android bodies they could speak to the townspeople in human language. The medusas thought in a non-linear fashion, and preferred poetic expression. They read Eeva-Liisa Manner to the townspeople from a long papyrus scroll: How the houses have ascended in this city, the abysses deepened, the water blackened, soon to be creeping along the streets. The railings are rusting through, the water table’s rising, the cellars are slopping. Fear is rising, or being covered up behind strangling discretion, outbreaks of crime. We’ll have to take to the boats, can’t you hear the water brawling, take to the boats and forget your hats. Or if you do plunge in, oh bravely, take the word out to the far side of the distress lights. CHAPTER IV This chapter is set in the past when things were still 'normal'. She gets obsessed with photographing mushrooms. She was never into foraging them for food although she doesn't mind the taste. She just doesn't have the eye for taxonomy, categorisation, she might pick the wrong mushroom and get poisoned off it like a fake brand. She is living with her parents in Luleå again, after burning out in London. Luleå, London, it doesn't sound so different. She's pretty sure there was mold in her soggy shared house in LDN. Her parents' house is over-insulated and hot even in the winters. The hot dry air makes her mouth ache. No fungi could survive it. It's not winter yet, so she's photographing the still flourishing mushrooms. Only the visible parts of them can be photographed. There are underground fungi rhizomes older than society. The visible parts are the rhizome's short-lived genitals. That's not always true I guess. She's fixated on the ones that live on trees. Kääpä, polypore. The trees die and the kääpä appear. To do what? It's kind of like damage control, garbage disposal, life after, or in, death. The in-between zone. She identifies with them. She is aimless but also not dead yet, sucking life out of her parents' retirement savings. They accept that she is mentally ill and failed. They have two cars, one for each parent. She doesn't have a car. She sits on their sofa facing the window, watching the light change. Winter is coming. We printed her photographs here so she would feel like she was someone. The Tallinn chamber orchestra comes to Luleå to play Arvo Pärt. She goes to the concert in hopes it will make her parents happy. She is almost late. The music is nice. It's quiet. She nods off for a second. When she comes to she notices that one of the violin players looks like her sister. She sees that it is her sister. But her sister is a financial analyst in Shanghai. Sudden anxiety. She imagines her sister having had a double life all these years, pretending to be a financial analyst in Shanghai while in fact living in Estonia and playing in the chamber orchestra. The music soundtracks her thoughts and makes the whole scene kieslowskian. She imagines going backstage after the concert and confronting her sister. CHAPTER V In her dream three sisters, Flora, Fauna and Fungi, are dancing in a meadow. She looks at them from the shadows. When she tries to record video of them on her phone the sisters pulverize into a cloud of ash.