In the August issue of GQ, Sean Flynn has a feature on the Anders Behring Breivik massacre in Norway, in which Breivik killed 77 people, most of them in a shooting rampage on a small island.
Flynn describes meeting a police officer, Håkon Hval, who helped deal with the immediate aftermath of the violence. He concludes with a horrifically modern detail: the unanswered ringing of the phones of the dead and escaped.
When the sun went down, Håkon was in a boat not far from shore. Divers were in the lake, searching the depths for bodies that might have been drowned, and Håkon was providing security. It was very quiet. Håkon could hear waves licking at the sides of the boat, and then, from the island, he could hear something else: a chorus of chirping and buzzing and snippets of pop songs. In the darkness, he saw tiny lights flickering on, then off, then on again, like fireflies. There were hundreds of them, scattered along the Lovers’ Trail and on the lawn below the cafeteria and in the tent field and where the bodies lay. Mobile phones lighting and ringing and nobody answering.
“There was nothing you could do,” Håkon said. “You just had to wait until they ran out of electricity.”
It is, as Matt Pearce pointed out, an almost unbelievably haunting end to an already haunting story.