This happened a long time ago – I’m guessing back in 2006 – and I can’t have been older than 4 y/o at the time, yet I vividly remember the fear I felt during this encounter.
It was an early summer morning and the sun was up, but few people were out. The streets were practically dead that morning. My mom decided to take my sister – only 1 y/o, seated in a stroller – and I, to throw away some garbage at the garbage station.
I might add that the garbage station is kind of secluded from nearby houses, bordering one of those deep, dark forests of eastern Sweden.
Since I was only 4 y/o when this happened, the memories from the incident have faded a lot. However, my mom remembers all of it. She says that, upon entering the garbage station, she immediately got an eerie feeling of being watched. I remember that feeling, too – I felt creeped out, even though I didn’t know why I was scared. I guess I could sense my mom’s fear.
Walking along that secluded garbage station, my mom suddenly stopped and told me this:
“[My name], hold on to the stroller as hard as you can and don’t let go, no matter what.”
That’s the most vivid memory I have of this and I don’t think I’ll ever forget those words. I’ll, at least, never forget how they made me feel – it was as if my blood turned to ice. I just froze. My mom sounded stern, but even a toddler can sense when someone’s scared shitless. My mom was afraid of something.
The rest is just a blur – I don’t remember much, apart from the aforementioned, so I’ll let the rest of the story be told from the perspective of my mother. This is the recollection of her experience, recalled to the best of my abilities (but in my own words):
“Not far from where we were standing, a truck was parked with a man seated in the front. Nothing unusual, a lot of truck drivers stop to rest by the side of the road – but this man was staring. He wouldn’t stop staring. He stared right at me, examining my body, with the determined gaze of a predator. Gluing the three of us in his sight, he truly seemed pleased by the fear he’d instilled in our faces. And his eyes, they were something else... almost as if they didn’t belong to a human, but rather to a predator on the Savannah. I felt like prey, stuck in the claws of a lion... I just couldn’t move.
“That’s when he smiled at me. I remember that dead smile – those cold, calculating eyes – and the way he licked his lips... almost as if to say, ‘I could kill you if I wanted to’.”
I believe this was the point in time (into this strange encounter) when my mom told me to hold onto the stroller – to hold on tightly and NOT let go.
My mom is a small woman – 160 cm, weighing only about 45 kg (about 5 ft / 100 lbs) – and she could easily have been overpowered by the overweight man in the truck. My mom later admitted she was afraid he’d jump out of the truck and knock her out, possibly assaulting her... or even kidnapping me or my 1 y/o sister...
We bolted out of there. We didn’t throw away much garbage that morning, we just turned around and walked home as fast as a mom can do with a stroller and a 4 y/o toddler by her side. We’ve never talked about what happened that day, up until very recently.
The incident has always lingered somewhere in the back of my mind as ‘that weird thing that happened when I was a child’ and every time I walk past that garbage station, I get a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach...
As previously mentioned, this happened around 2006. Fast forward to 2008, the face of a 10 y/o little girl called Engla was printed across the front page of every newspaper in sight. She had been abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered... and the perpetrator was an overweight truck driver named Anders Eklund, now known as one of Sweden’s most infamous killers.
Anders Eklund was charged with the murder of Engla, alongside the rape and murder of a woman named Pernilla. He’s also suspected of abducting another little girl (who’s still missing)... making him a pedophile, a serial rapist... and a serial killer.
My mom says that when she saw Eklund’s picture in the paper – especially when she saw those cold, familiar eyes – she knew he was the creepy man from the garbage station, that early morning all those years ago.
Thinking how my mom, or my sister, or I... or all of us could have been his victims... that sends chills up my spine. Anders, even though you’re behind bars, let’s not ever meet again!