The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Four (Part 11)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

When Joe got to the trailer, Karl was already waiting there with the door open. He wasted no time with pleasantries. “Do you understand all the sketches and what is to be done with them?”

“I think so. They were pretty clear. But I am a little confused about one thing.”

“And what is that, Mr. Stadtler?”

“You keep telling me that I’m building a castle. But from what I can see in the ‘sketches,’ your castle consists of a single tower.”

“Yes.”

“You mean that’s how it’s supposed to be?”

“Yes.”

Then why does it have such a huge foundation? And this big wall around it? They look the size of a castle, but you’ve only got the one tower. It doesn’t make sense.”

“Whether or not it makes sense is none of your concern.”

“Of course not,” Joe said sarcastically, “I’m only designing it. Who cares if I understand?”

“Mr. Stadtler, may I remind you of the amount we are paying you? I should think that would be enough to quell any unnecessary curiosity.”

It was almost true. The thought of ten million dollars for two week’s work helped some. But it was uncomfortable to be told so little, and it was making Joe edgy.

“Now, Mr. Stadtler, unless you need clarification of any of the design specifications, I suggest you get started. We plan to start building in four days.”

“Fine,” said Joe curtly. The door swung shut as Karl left the trailer, and Joe sat down at the desk.

The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Four (Part 10)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

Joe woke the next morning feeling sore but well-rested. He sat up and stretched his back. The cot hadn’t been very comfortable, but it was better than he had expected, and he had apparently needed the sleep more than he had realized. He stood and went to the door, then stopped as he remembered that he was locked in. Shaking his head, he cursed the situation and went to the window. Karl was coming toward the trailer, and Joe waited while Karl let himself in.

“Good morning, Mr. Stadtler,” he was greeted as the door opened. “Won’t you please come with me?”

Joe followed him without a word as they went outside, where he caught the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee. Others were coming outside; there were already almost twenty people gathered on the hill eating breakfast and chatting. Karl led him over to two tables where there were several coffeepots and an assortment of breads and cheeses. “Help yourself, Mr. Stadtler. Have all you want; there’s plenty,” said Karl, gesturing toward the tables. “But don’t take too long, because we’d like you to get started by eight o’clock. I’ll meet you in your trailer before you begin.” He left without giving Joe much of a chance to respond.

Joe shrugged and turned back to the tables. He picked up a foam cup and filled it with coffee. As he moved to look over the spread of food, he heard someone come up behind him.

“Good morning, Joe.” It was Marta.

“Oh, Hi, Marta. Can I, uh, get you some coffee?” She nodded, and Joe filled a cup and handed it to her. Sipping his own cup, he remarked, “This is really good stuff. I’ve never tasted Norwegian coffee before.”

“Actually, don’t tell Mr. Lund, but this blend is from Sweden. I prefer imported coffee.”

“I can understand that. This is good.”

“So, what is it that you’re doing here?” asked Marta after a moment’s pause.

“I have no idea,” Joe muttered.

“No, I mean, What are you building?”

“You don’t know either?” he asked incredulously.

“I haven’t been told much. I’m just here to help—but I don’t know what I’m helping with. I was only told that my knowledge of Norsk history and artifacts had been ‘highly recommended.'”

“Really? Same with me—they wanted me as an architect, but they wouldn’t tell me why. All I know for sure is that it’s supposed to be a castle.”

“A castle? Here? But why?”

“I’m not really sure. Like I said, I haven’t been told anything. I mostly just play prisoner and do what they tell me.”

“Yes, I know what you mean. I’ve been here for a week already, and I’ve done very little related to Norsk history. Like carrying food to people in their trailers. What does that have to do with anything I know? Of course,” she added with a smile, “I am glad that I brought your food.”

“Yeah…” They stood briefly in silence, then, to change the subject, he asked, “What time is it, anyway? I need to set my watch.”

She looked at her wrist. “It’s 7:53 exactly.”

“Okay… thanks,” he said as he turned the hands on his wristwatch. “I’d probably better be going. I’m supposed to meet Karl before eight. I guess I’ll see you later,” he suggested as he turned to leave.

“See you later, Joe,” called Marta after him.

The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Three (Part 9)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

Joe was awakened by the sound of keys at the trailer door. He sat up and looked out the window. He could see that it was just beginning to get dark, but he couldn’t see who was outside. He folded his arms in a show of impatience and watched the door as it opened.

The first thing through the doorway was a tray piled high with food. Joe couldn’t see a face—it was obscured by the food on the tray—but the legs coming into the room were distinctly female. Joe had trouble not staring.

The tray came down, revealing a face that was prettier than the legs it belonged to. The woman had long, blonde hair, perfect red lips, and bright blue eyes. Joe was awestruck and couldn’t seem to say anything. She spoke without hesitation.

Hallo,” she said, smiling sweetly, “jeg heter Marta.”

“Um, I uh… I don’t speak Norwegian,” Joe managed to get out.

“I’m terribly sorry,” she apologized in rather good English. “I said my name is Marta.”

“Well, it’s very nice to meet you, Marta.” He had composed himself, and flashed an impudent smile. “I’m sure you already know who I am. Everyone so far seems to know quite a lot about me.”

“Actually, they told me nothing about you—not even your name. I assumed you were just another employee of Mr. Lund. They sent me with food.”

“Please, then, call me Joe.”

“All right, Joe,” she repeated with a grin, and set down the tray. “Here is your food. It is only a snack, but it should be enough for now.”

“Thanks, Marta,” Joe said, and smiled at her. She returned it with a smile and a wink.

“Perhaps I will see you again,” she said as she moved to the doorway. “It would be nice to—” she paused, searching for just the right words, then finished, “learn more about you.”

“Yeah… bye,” he smiled after she was gone.

Joe turned to the “snack,” which consisted of approximately two full meals’ worth of bread, cheese, fish, and fruit—bread was by far the most abundant item on the tray. Whatever else they’re doing, at least they’re not trying to starve me, he thought as he began eating.

The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Three (Part 8)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

Joe wanted rest badly, but he was also curious about the drawings. As it always did, his curiosity took precedence over sleep, so Joe sat down at the table and began leafing through the sheets of vellum.

There were a few things that struck him as he went over the sketches. The first was the quality of them: Joe wasn’t sure that they could be called “sketches” at all. They were very precise, very detailed, and in many ways had the look of final plans. The second was the materials list: this castle was to be built in two weeks, yet it was exclusively made of stone, glass, and wood. There was no steel or concrete in it anywhere, not even in the framework or as reinforcement. The third and strangest thing he noticed about it—and Joe laughed when he saw it—was its size. Though the project included a complete and rather large foundation for a castle, the structure itself was not a castle at all, but rather a small tower in the corner of the plot.

Naturally, this raised even more questions, but it seemed obvious that Joe was not likely to have them answered any time soon. After another twenty minutes at the desk, Joe opened the small cot and tried to sleep.

The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Two (Part 7)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

The station was crowded with mid-morning travellers as the train pulled in. Joe and Karl found it much easier getting off the train than it had been getting on, and they quickly made their way to the parking lot. Joe was surprised when Karl stopped next to a small, cheap-looking car splashed with mud. Karl pulled a set of keys from his pocket and opened the driver’s-side door. “It is not locked,” he told Joe. “Please get in.” Joe obediently climbed into the small car. Karl turned the ignition and drove away from the station.

Occasionally, Karl would point out something of interest along the way, but mostly they drove in silence. Joe tried his best to enjoy the scenery. Before long, they were beginning to get away from the paved streets and onto gravel roads. As the little car sped along, splashing through puddles left by newly-melted snow, Joe was surprised at how well-kept the quiet roadways were. He remarked on this to Karl.

“You will find that Norway has a very extensive road system,” Karl responded. “We take pride in the fact that nearly every Norwegian household owns an automobile. Therefore, we tend to care for our roads very well.” He paused and smiled at Joe. “I read that once in an American travel brochure,” he confessed. “But it is true. We have very good roads here, even those that are unpaved.” As he said this, Karl suddenly made a sharp turn to the right, onto a pair of faint dirt tire tracks that Joe hadn’t even seen from the gravel road. The small car, which was never intended for off-road travel, was bounced and tossed along the trail as it curved its way back into the hills. Joe held on to the door of the car with one hand and put the other over his head in an attempt to keep from hitting the roof with each bump and hole in the road.

After twenty grueling minutes, Joe spotted a group of about fifteen or twenty trailers up on a small hill. The area bustled with activity as the little car drove closer, and Joe wondered just how big this castle project was.

Karl stopped the car near one of the trailers and motioned for Joe to follow him as he climbed out of the car. Joe got out and walked behind Karl into the trailer. Inside, Karl pointed to a stack of sketches on a drafting table. “Those are the basic sketches for the plans you will create. The notes and directions are explicit and straightforward; you should have no trouble following them. You will find the necessary drafting instruments in that cabinet, there, next to the table, and anything else you need can be supplied.”

“Anything?”

“Anything related to your task, Mr. Stadtler,” Karl continued. “Now, I expect that you are tired from the journey. You will find a fold-out cot against the wall to your left. Some food will be brought to you later. For now, review the sketches, then get some rest. You will be expected to start working tomorrow morning. I will see you then,” he said as he walked out the door.

“Hey, Karl, wait a minute—” Joe called. The only answer he got was the sound of a key turning. Joe tested the doorknob: it was solidly locked.

The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Two (Part 6)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

Joe had finally dozed, but woke as the plane began its descent into Oslo. He was surprised to find that the Norwegian was wide awake, still watching him—and still smiling.

“Did you enjoy the sleep, Mr. Stadtler?”

Not at all, thought Joe. “Yes,” he answered aloud. “Yes, I did.”

“I am glad,” said the Norwegian, “because the train benches are not nearly so comfortable and make a poor place to sleep. Do not worry, though; the ride will be much shorter.”

“That’s reassuring.” Joe was finding it more and more difficult to hide his sarcasm.

The airplane landed on a private strip near the railway staion, and Joe was led down from the plane to a man with graying hair, waiting with his single piece of luggage. “Please come quickly, Mr. Stadtler,” the man said, handing Joe his case. “The train departs shortly.” Joe hurried behind the gray-haired man, then stopped and turned around when he realized that the Norwegian from the plane wasn’t following them.

“Aren’t you coming?” Joe called over the noise of the station. He was not thrilled about being “handed off” to yet another strange foreigner, still with no answers.

“No, Mr. Stadtler, I am afraid I cannot. I have business here in Oslo. However, I wish you a safe journey.”

“Same to you, Karl—” Joe began, but was cut off as the man he’d just met grabbed him by the arm. “Please hurry, Mr. Stadtler,” the man shouted. “One thing our trains are known for is their punctuality. We must not be late.” The pair rushed through the crowd, dodging their way to the boarding platform. A recorded voice called out in Norwegian, and Joe was pulled up onto the train just as it began moving.

Once on board the train and seated, both had a chance to catch their breath. After resting a few minutes, Joe began to ask questions.

“Where are we going?”

“First, Mr. Stadtler, I think it’s only fair to introduce myself. The man extended his hand. “My name is Karl.”

Joe had finally had enough. “I don’t believe this!” he exclaimed, standing and throwing his hands in the air. This drew surprised glances from the other passengers, but Joe ignored them and continued, his face reddening, “You people are all ridiculous. Your stone play-castle is a little strange, but I could have handled that. But then you’ve got a two-week deadline—which is completely unrealistic—and wave a gun at me. Worse yet, you can’t even be bothered to give me real names, or at least make up good fake ones!”

“But, Mr. Stadtler,” the Norwegian said slowly, unfazed by this outburst, and keeping his hand out to Joe, “my name is Karl. I am Karl Lund.”

Sitting down, Joe mumbled an apology and took Karl’s hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Karl.”

“Yes, a pleasure. Now, to your question: We are taking this train to Tønsberg. From there, I will take you by car to where you shall complete your work. Aside from that, I will not discuss any details until we reach our destination.”

Karl was unrelenting on this point. The trip took less than an hour, and though he would talk gladly and freely about any other subject—he was especially eager to share the beauties of Norway—Joe couldn’t pry a thing from him about the castle.

The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Two (Part 5)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

The flight was long and boring. Though he had seemed talkative enough in the limo, Joe couldn’t seem to get a word out of “Karl” once they were seated on the plane.

“So, Karl, how about if you tell me more about this castle?”

No reponse.

“Who wants it built, anyway?”

Still nothing. Karl simply sat with his arms folded and a smile on his face.

“Why do I have only two weeks to build it? Are you sure this isn’t some big joke? Have you forgotten already how to speak English?” Joe began to get frustrated with the Norwegian, and soon gave up trying to get him to answer. He spent the next few hours trying to pass the time by sleeping.