Context: I am currently living in Stockholm, and have been for almost five months.
I love Stockholm, but more weird stuff has happened here than anywhere else I’ve been, and I’m becoming increasingly convinced that there is some sort of glitch in the simulation that originated here specifically.
Side note: all of these things happened in my own neighbourhood(s) and on public transport, in the middle of the day. Occurrences vary from slightly odd, to plain rude, to casually terrifying.
Lanky, long-haired dude, dressed in (what looks like) pyjamas and shoes that are more like thick socks with a rubber sole, keeps making half-assed attempts at running, almost dragging his long limbs across the pavement, and then stops, looks at his phone, and does absolutely nothing for a little too long. When he runs, he looks like he’s in a rush, but just really bad at running. When he stops, he just… stops.
The creepiest thing is that we keep running into each other, even though we’re constantly walking in completely different directions. The last time I saw him, I was walking straight ahead, and he went right, into a side street. One block further, I saw him again, and he was somehow at the beginning of the next (parallel) street, walking in again. That doesn’t make any sense.
I’m 90% sure he’s either a serial killer or an NPC.
I’ve made it almost all the way down a narrow staircase when a woman with multiple dogs starts walking up. It’s like she doesn’t even see me. I have to walk back up to let them through.
This one’s just rude.
Four people standing at the top of the staircase, blocking the path, holding each others’ wrists and saying absolutely nothing. When I try to pass, they refuse to move. I have to climb through the grass to make it into the park.
A black windowless van is parked right behind them, at the top of the hill. When I circle back, 10 minutes later, to take a photo as proof, all of it is gone.
My first week in Stockholm: an older woman grabs my arm and starts rambling in Swedish. I apologise and tell her I don’t speak Swedish. She effortlessly switches to English (with a thick Nordic accent) and leads me back a few meters. She points at a little pile of dog poop with a Russian flag in it, and smiles.
It’s a Stretch
I sit down in the folding seat in the bus. The man in front of me is full-on stretching. Y’all know I’m into stretching. I’m not into strange butts in my face. I don’t know what else to say about this encounter.
I accidentally summoned a person.
My partner and I are standing at the top of a hill, looking at the full moon. I turn my face to the sky and howl at the moon. (I acknowledge that – up until this point – I might be the strange encounter.)
Alex starts laughing incredulously. “Look, you summoned a person!” I turn around and a man is sprinting up the hill. I wonder if he’s out running, but he’s really fast. Unusually fast. When he reaches the top, he stops, nods at the moon, and casually strolls away.
Sex with a View
I walk through the park, about an hour before sunset. There’s a weird shadow at the lookout spot. A girl is standing on a bench. A man is standing next to it, holding her. The whole bench situation somehow seems to exaggerate the height difference. I think it’s a father and daughter, until I realise he’s kneading her ass. By the time I have to walk past to go home, I’m pretty sure they’re full-on having sex on a park bench. I really wanted to see the sunset from the lookout spot. Instead, I get to rinse my eyes out with bleach.
Through the shrubs, I see some rocks looking out over a bit of the city. It’s not the best view in the park, but it looks remote and quiet, and I could use some of that. I can’t believe I’d never seen this place before!
I make my way over to one of the flatter rocks and sit down. It’s nice and quiet.
About 15 minutes in, I turn around to see an older man standing between the shrubs, looking at me. He has scary eyes. (He looks vaguely possessed, somehow.) Ok, so this is how I die. I look around to see if there are other exits – he’s blocking the one I came in through. I try to figure out what he wants. Maybe he’s looking for some peace and quiet too. He doesn’t appear to be confused. He starts walking towards me, almost cornering me on the rock. I have a bad feeling about this.
I get up and rush through an opening in between the greenery. When I turn around, the man is right behind me. Apparently, he’d turned around and taken the other exit, and we are now both on the main path. I look around to see if there’s anybody else around. The only person I see is a grumpy-looking man – I’m guessing in his thirties – pouring an entire can of beer into the grass beside him. The older man is still walking in my direction. I feel deeply uncomfortable. So much so that I call my partner, just so somebody knows where I am. I circle around a bit and take a different exit, just in case.
I get home and wonder if I’m paranoid. Maybe I am. But I guess I’d rather be safe than sorry.
A woman in the middle of the pavement, talking to someone, and taking her sweet sweet time adjusting her underwear, lifting up her long blue dress at the back for better access, essentially flashing everybody else walking down the street.
She doesn’t seem the slightest bit self-conscious. Good for her, I guess.
Picture of me sitting on an old woman’s shoulders for tax.
Side note: I think this story belongs in a slightly different category, but I believe it’s worth including because it actually turned out pretty wholesome, and – at the end of the day – it was a confusing Swedish interaction.
A woman sitting down in front of the supermarket tries to ask me something. I apologise and tell her I don’t speak any Swedish. Does she speak English? She shakes her head. “Bulgarian” she says. I try to figure out if we have any languages in common. French, maybe? No. She mimes and I understand she wants me to buy her food. I nod and try to mime back that I’m happy to help, but I don’t have a lot of money. What does she want? Anything? She leads me inside. I point at the produce. Do you want any fruit? She shakes her head. I point at the bread. Another no. She pulls me to the cooler in the back and starts pulling out a whole chicken. I look at it in horror and shake my head. No, no animals. I’m really sorry. She nods, and walks back. She points at a loaf of fresh bakery bread. I smile. Sure. I put it in my basket. She walks back to the produce and grabs the fanciest tomatoes. Wait, hold up. I’m only here for two things, I don’t have much money on my Swedish card. It’s hard to explain when we can’t speak to each other. I shake my head. She insists. I shake my head again, a little concerned. If she’s just going to keep handing me stuff, I might not be able to pay. I’m starting to feel a little bit uncomfortable. She puts the tomatoes in my basket. I give her a look. She presses her hands together in prayer. “Bismillah.” She leaves the shop. I stand there, by myself, trying to figure out how I feel about this. My weird “spin the wheel” app is still open. I click on it. Yes, it says. I leave the tomatoes in, and also grab an extra can of beans. (If you have the means to heat up an entire chicken, I guess canned beans should be doable?) I realise she’s probably Muslim, which is great, because, while my Arabic is awful, it’s still vaguely better than my Swedish. (In Arabic, I know roughly three different formal greetings. In Swedish, I can say “hej” and “hej hej” and I’m pretty sure I’m not even pronouncing it correctly.) I pay and walk out. She’s sitting where I first met her. I hand her the bread, then the expensive tomatoes (I don’t even buy those for myself), then I hold up the tinned beans. Would you like these too? She nods. Goodbye, I say. Ma’asalama. She smiles.
Not a Person
Side note: stop reading if you’re afraid of (the concept of) ghosts.
Every single house we’ve been in, I’ve had issues with flickering lights. I was wondering if there are problems with the Stockholm power grid. Nobody seems to think so. I keep asking my partner to keep an eye out. He doesn’t see it. It only happens when I’m alone.
Last night, I walked into the bedroom to finish some work that I needed silence for. I turned on a bedside light. It kept turning itself on and off. I said “hey, is it okay if I come back to you later? I have some work to do” to no one in particular.
The flickering stopped.
It’s late, I’m super tired, and I’ve done my best with the proofreading, and I may very well delete this whole article later when I wake up tomorrow, but I promised I’d tell y’all about my weird encounters in Stockholm, so here you go!