Geir looked at Bjorn as the two walked in the direction of the village square.
"She's full of it, isn't she?" Geir said as if to brush aside Ane's latest remark as nothing but menace. "She's making a fortune, thanks to us, and she has the nerve to accuse you of being mean. What a bitch."
"She has a point, though. Doesn't she?"
"No! Of course not. Do you really think she's running that business to help people?"
"No, but she is actually paying them. That is more than we are doing."
"Really? And how much is she paying them?"
"Hundred MG per day."
Geir made a quick calculation before concluding. "Per day? Well, that is nothing."
"That's what I told her too," Bjorn answered with a nod.
"And you're right. Those people are her slaves. They are working for free. She's only barely keeping them alive."
Bjorn nodded again. "And this is a gulag of sorts after all," he added. "I don't know why I'm surprised."
"Exactly," Geir continued. "There's a reason we're here, you know. Without us, these people would be gone. They would be in Oslo, selling drugs under bridges and turning tricks in sleazy hotels."
"They would, wouldn't they?"
Bjorn stopped and looked around as they came to the intersection with a road leading up to the little church overlooking the village. The drizzle had stopped and he pulled his hood back off his head. A big pile of wet snow was shoved up against the bare rock next to the street, crushing a couple of bushes struggling to survive in the harsh environment.
"At least, now they're off the streets in Oslo and doing something productive," Bjorn said, contemplating the church at the top of the hill. The tall cliff behind it made it look even smaller than it would otherwise have seemed. And the white painted wooden paneling gave it an air of innocence and purity, fragile, yet strong, like a white dove ready to take to the skies.
"That's what I've been saying all along, Bjorn. This colony is a stroke of genius. We clean up our towns and cities, and people like Ane get free labor to run their factories. It's a win win for everybody."
"Except for the asylum seekers, of course," Bjorn corrected.
"Yes, of course, but we never asked those people to come to our country, did we."
"So they have no reason to complain," Geir concluded, pulling back the hood of his jacket and glancing over towards the village square.
The two men started walking again, crossing the road diagonally in the direction of the square.
"But this Ane really pisses me off," Geir continued. "Here she is, making a fortune, yet she has the nerve to criticize us when we're the ones making all this possible. If it wasn't for us, Lundby would still be the abandoned village that it was only half a year ago."
"Well, the iron mine has re-opened," Bjorn commented, playing the devil's advocate. "That would see people moving to Lundby too. I bet people hesitate to move back here now that it is turned into a concentration camp."
"But the iron mine is also only possible because of the deal struck in Oslo back in November. It's all part of one big plan. And it's genius. It really is."
Approaching the village square, Geir looked over at Bjorn as if suddenly remembering something. "Did you tell Ane to be more insistent on having other people follow the rules too?" he asked.
"Yes. Yes, I did," Bjorn lied, eager to change the subject and explore the village more fully instead.