1011 words (4 minute read)


Julius Bedrieger, the Dutch director of European operations at Human Rights Now, had his own dedicated page on Wikipedia. The article lauded Bedrieger as though he were a combination of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela without all the controversies. Hansen assumed the Dutchman had written it himself. He looked up the editing history and was only mildly surprised to note that the author was a certain moraruomuerte.

A grin appeared on the investigator’s face. Oana had clearly not been too imaginative in picking a username.

Apart from Oana Moraru’s edits, he could only find one other author. It appeared that moraruomuerte had had quite a heated debate with someone called SithKnightCEU. She had apparently deleted an important reference from the page, so that SithKnightCEU had objected and demanded more neutrality and truthfulness from her. He (or she) had also insisted Oana restore the deleted reference. Oana had brought in the heavy artillery and unleashed a barrage of Wikipedia jargon and legal arguments to prove her point. The discussion was too abstract for Hansen to follow. It was like reading a courtroom transcript. He couldn’t help thinking, though, that Oana had won her argument brilliantly.

The page, however, kept a cached copy of the deleted reference. Originally, it had been added to a paragraph praising Bedrieger and the activities of his human rights NGO in Romania back in 2013. The flattery had been toned down, probably as a sop to her defeated opponent, but the missing reference linked to an article by a Romanian news portal. Hansen was curious, and clicked on it, but only an HTTP 404 – Not Found error message came up.

He opened up a new tab to put the words through Google translate: coruptie-agentie-pentru-drepturile-omuluies. A moment later he gave a low whistle. In English it read: fraud-human-rights-agency.

Hansen raised his eyebrows. If deleting this reference was so important to Oana, it could hardly have been flattering.

He went back to Viggo Rasmussen’s timeline and scrolled further. The old lawyer rarely posted pictures, but the last one, posted around the time he had written his secret note to himself, made Hansen frown. As he opened it up to full size, he stared at the screen in awe.

In a dark, starry sky, a demon was falling from heaven towards the cold lights of earth.

Rasmussen’s comment read: “Hubris: the descent of Lucifer into Satan.”

The story of the fallen angel was not unknown to Hansen. However, “hubris” was a word he’d always presumed he understood but had never looked up in a dictionary. Now he did.

“Hubris: ancient Greek term referring to excessive pride or self-confidence, often in combination with arrogance. In its ancient Greek context, it typically describes behaviour that defies the norm or challenges the gods, and which in turn brings about the downfall, or nemesis, of the perpetrator of hubris.”

Rasmussen tagged the name of an organisation in the picture: Julius Bedrieger.

‘What the hell?’ Hansen whispered to himself. He began to find the whole affair much more intriguing than he had expected, and rubbed his dry eyes as if it would help his tired brain to keep up with his curiosity.

He scrolled down the list of Rasmussen’s Facebook friends. Not surprisingly, the Dutch activist wasn’t there, but seeing Oana Moraru’s name had had an almost invigorating effect on him. He went straight to her profile.

‘That’s it baby,’ Mads Hansen grinned at her photographs. ‘Show me what you’ve got!’

The photographs made no attempt to hide Oana’s beauty, nor how proud she seemed to be of it. She also knew how to present her looks in good taste. Instead of posting selfies taken in front of a mirror like so many pretty young women do, Oana Moraru shared professional-looking photographs which almost always had an extra layer of warmth attached to them.

Oana at the beach, Oana doing yoga, Oana in fancy dress and lots of photos of Oana’s two cats. Her photographs had attracted a lot of interest, which was no miracle with her two thousand or so followers between Facebook and Instagram. Of course, the photos showing her doing yoga in a swimsuit on a sandy beach were the most popular. Hansen almost whimpered as he saw one with Oana jumping with her legs spread in a perfect split, laughing into the camera, drops of water flying behind her long, loose hair as the photographer caught her graceful act in mid-motion.

Hansen wondered if he would ever have stood a chance with a woman like Oana Moraru. Probably not, he concluded. For the first time in his career, he realised that one of the few perks of his job was to get such a beautiful, intelligent woman to talk to him, whether she wanted to or not.

His thoughts turned to the identity of the lucky photographer. He browsed through Oana’s many followers who liked the image. Viggo Rasmussen was not among them. Eventually, he found a comment that was as laconic as it was naughty.

“You look good … but not as good as last night.”

Oana reacted to this with a dozen hearts and kissing smileys.

Hansen hesitated before he clicked on the name because it was clear to him that whatever he found would make him sad and envious. He had to remind himself that he was an investigator, that the attractive woman he had virtually been stalking was a potential murder suspect and that her possible lover was either an accomplice or a source of information. Hansen could not exactly put his finger on why he thought of the man as an accomplice. Maybe it was subconscious self-defence to maintain his male pride. Maybe his mind was helping him out by translating a gut feeling he’d been harbouring since he’d found Oana’s cigarette butts on the spot from which Rasmussen had fallen to his death.

When he saw the profile picture of the man called Johan Mortensen, Hansen immediately knew that it was the latter.

Next Chapter: 5