At the end of the world
I ran past the corner shop that stood gaping in petrified surprise, shards of glass scattered on the pavement. The shelves inside had been empty for weeks, stripped by desperate people under the gunfire of a now disbanded military. Above me, a swath of stars glittered above a horizon of blackened tower blocks. Everything looked different. The world I’d known since childhood was an alien fairy land in the glare of the moon.
The answer is as unexpected as it is horrible: one night, he discovers a new hunger – a mindless craving for blood. Horrified at himself, he flees into the night, but when he tries to find sanctuary, he ends up almost getting killed. As he starts to realize that even a predator can become prey, he runs into Garangjas – another man who drinks blood. Irresistibly drawn, he follows Garangjas to his flock of ‘Confirmands,’ a weird group of people who might just be his ticket to survival.
There’s just one problem: how can the Confirmands stay alive if the rest of humanity dies out?
In Last Communion, humanity is dying out, and nature is taking over. Animals encroach on urban territory, and fruit that isn’t harvested hangs on deserted boughs, only to be pecked by birds or blown to the ground to rot. The world doesn’t smell of car exhausts any longer, but of leaves and earth and snow. In the absence of human sounds, all you can hear is the wind in the trees.
I live in a place where this is almost true already. Out in the countryside, close to the forest, I walk around dictating my books, experiencing the smells and the sounds of nature. Because of this, it was natural for me to set Last Communion in the north of Sweden. But as I wrote, I realized that it also made sense on a deeper level.
In this book, I wanted to contrast the brevity of civilization with the eternity of nature. For that, the area where I live is perfect. Even if modern life crumbles, nothing changes in the ancient landscape around us: the hills and the valleys once carved out by the Ice Age will be here long after we are gone.
The city of Last Communion is all but deserted, but not quite a ruin. There hasn’t been a war, so the buildings are mostly intact. It still looks like a normal town, with a university, a few churches, shopping streets and apartment buildings. But there are piles of corpses that haven’t been buried yet, there are funeral pyres and shattered windows. Inside the houses, things are pretty much unchanged. There are still luxury items like crystal carafes and jewelry, but it has all lost its meaning.
Because the only thing people need is food. Everything else has ceased to matter.
When our hero seeks shelter, he hides in the university library. It’s a place that once teemed with life, but now it’s deserted. The shelves stretch into the darkness like fossils from a bygone era. It’s a haven for human knowledge, but no one wants to know. They’re just on the prowl for their next sugar fix. Out in the streets, muggers aren’t after money or things. They want calories.
And so do the vampires. But where do you feed in a world empty of people?
In the hospital. It’s a veritable smorgasbord for the desperate blood-sucker. The patients lie like fragile sculptures in their beds, drawing rattling breaths, just waiting for death – in one form or another. Even the hospital itself is on the cusp. In the winding corridors, the fluorescent tubes still shine, but it’s just a matter of time. Any moment now, the electricity will fail, and the building will go dark.
But there is one place where a turbine still turns: the ‘Pan enclave.’ A mountain, far outside the city, hiding an old power station. This place is based on a lead mine near my birth town. When I was eight years old, my whole school went down this mine by bus and were guided through it. I remember the
moment when we entered the darkness: how we were swallowed by the mouth of the mine, how it felt like descending into another world. How intermittent lamps illuminated the walls, but not much more. How it felt like a magical underworld, a place where you could be trapped forever.
Will the vampires in Last Communion be trapped forever, or will they be able to carve out a new life in the endless landscape outside? Without the creature comforts they once had, will they be able to survive at all? Nature doesn’t owe them anything. The seasons turn, whether they live or die.
In celebration of the land my characters live off but which may also kill them, I compiled a video about the northern Swedish countryside. They were originally ‘postcards’ that I sent to a dear friend across the pond, and I chose the bits that most accurately describe the landscapes of Last Communion. Enjoy!
Ingela Bohm lives in an old cinema, tucked away in a northern Swedish forest where she can wander around all day long and dictate her books. She used to dream of being an actor until an actual actor asked, “Do you really need to do it?” That’s when she realized that the only thing she really needed to do was to write. She has since pretended to be a dietician, a teacher, a receptionist and a cook, but only to conceal her real identity.
Her first imaginary friend was called Grabolina and lived in her closet. Nowadays she has too many imaginary friends to count, but at least some of them are out of the closet. Her men may not be conventionally handsome, but they can charm your pants off, and that’s all that matters. Recent works include the twisted online love thriller #Not Safe For Work, Shakespeare/Marlowe litslash Rival Poet and the third instalment about seventies rock band Pax Cymrica.
Ingela’s more useless talents include reading tarot cards, killing pot plants and drawing scandalous pictures that no one gets to see. She can’t walk in heels and she’s stopped trying, but she has cycled 1200 miles in the UK and knows which campsites to avoid if you don’t like spiders. If you see her on the train you will wonder what age she is.
Find Ingela here
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I would like to give a big Thank You to Ingela Bohm for taking the time to stop by RGR today to talk about her new book.