Yesterday was a peaceful day until I checked my phone at 4 pm in the afternoon. I was working in the Royal Library (Kungliga Biblioteket or KB to the familiar crowd) in Stockholm and finished making notes on a book. It was almost the time to leave, but I decided to check if nothing new had come to my phone or happened in the world. To my surprise I had both some Messanger messages and a text message. My husband wanted to know how I was and this made me a little surprised. I answered something along the line explaining that I was working in the library. Then I read a message from my boss explaining that a lorry had driven to the crowds and checking if I was in the library. I said yes and started to scan the news.
Donald Trump got the days wrong. He was expecting a terror attack or criminality in Stockholm when there was none. However, suddenly there was an attack against shoppers on Drottningsgatan and a lorry had hit the wall of the Åhlens department store and caught fire. The driver had escaped and people were asked to leave the centre. When I looked out of the window in the library, people were walking peacefully in the park in Humlegården. I could not even hear a helicopter. I was checking the news for a while but then I decided to go.
I had got news that trains were not running and at least one of the underground lines was down. I left the building and found out that it had closed. Men stood to at the side door to see that those who wanted to leave could but that nobody came inside. I was walking like many others in the park and everything was like normally. Except there were guards outside the nearby hotel. And there were hardly any cars. Suddenly a people carrier drove by and I realized it was filled with police in full combat gear. The nearby square was closed and there were armed police and police cars guarding it. A police van had a loudspeaker telling people to go home. Nevertheless, the underground was closed and there was no way to get to the suburbs.
All the bars were closed but an Expresso House was open and I bought a cappuccino and sit down to recharge my mobile phone. I was asked how to get to Sundbyberg, but I could not help. There were very few indications from where the public transport was running. It was clear that the centre was closed. There was only a police van driving on Birger Jarlsgatan. It took a while to get a confirmation which lines where closed and where one could go. Slowly I found out where I could have gone if I had needed to get to the north or to the south. But I was heading west, so I stayed a put. The waiters in the cafeteria were staying since they could not go themselves either.
When almost everybody else had left and my mobile had a decent recharge, I texted a friend and asked if I could pass by. I could so I started a hike through the closed down city centre to the other side. I was not the only one. Many people where making walks through the town with their smart phone on hand to reach home or some refuge. When I passed the police lines I noticed that many were phoning lifts. But I had nobody to drive me.
Suddenly quite amazingly I heard familiar voice behind. Two of my work mates came from a side road and we exchanged pleasantries and continued our different ways. I could stay in my friend’s place so I did not have to face the deserted roads or test how the trains were running after they got a go ahead. My day in the city got a peaceful ending with a shared meal and watching the news coming from the city centre. It was terror, but my terror was quiet and peaceful.
It is horrible to think that four people lost their lives. And many others have lost theirs in the similar attacks in Nice, Berlin and London. The terror was so near, but I did only see the police and the walking crowds. I was sending messages that I was OK, but I had not even been in danger. But other people had and they were not as lucky as I was. I can only feel for their families.