(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)
Note to Reader
This is a work of fiction. In
other words, it is just a story. It does not make, or intend, any
statement for or against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, its
government, or its armed forces.
Also, zombies do not exist. Thank you for your attention.
Deep under the surface of the inky black Pacific, the water was so still that they
hardly felt as if they were at sea at all.
The Korean People’s Army Naval Force midget submarine Su
120 was hardly moving, hanging almost still in the water while its sonar
searched the ocean for engine noises or any other indication the enemy was
around. Inside the narrow confines of its hull, the crew hunched tensely over
their instruments, waiting for the word to either go in to complete their
mission or head back out to sea and try again later. They were tired and
frustrated, and did not want to go around again.
Leaning back in his cramped seat, Petty Officer First Class
Park Kang Ho finally removed his headphones and shook his head. "Nothing."
Captain-Lieutenant Lee Jae Myung’s fleshy, round features
did not relax. "You’re sure, Sangsa?"
"Yes, Comrade Daewi." Park wiped his face, mildly surprised
to find it was beaded with sweat. "There is nothing."
Lee stared at him, his tiny eyes unreadable in the dim
light. "You had better be," he said. "If a Southern corvette turns up again at
the last minute, like last time, I’m going to start having thoughts about you."
It’s not my fault, Park wanted to say. Even if I
can’t hear a thing, that doesn’t mean there’s no enemy there. You know as well
as I do how primitive our equipment is. But, of course, he could never say
that aloud. Everyone knew that under the Great Marshal, the Democratic People’s
Republic had the best weapons in the world, as well as the best of everything
Lee looked at Park’s headphones, and nodded. "Very well," he
said. "We’ll go up to periscope depth and have a look. But before we do that,
Sangsa, you go check up on the cargo." Even in the dim light, his eyes glinted
with undisguised malicious amusement as he noted Park’s hesitation. "Well?" he
demanded. "What’s the problem?"
"Nothing, Comrade Daewi," Park said, reluctantly rising from
his seat. He hunched slightly, more than was strictly necessary so as not to
strike his head on the low panel above. He was much taller than the
Captain-Lieutenant, and knew the officer resented it. "I’ll go and see to them
"Do that, Park, and make sure they’re prepared for quick
unloading. We don’t want to be inshore a moment longer than necessary." Lee
stared at his subordinate a moment longer, and then turned away to the engine
room, where the third crew member, Petty Officer Second Class Oh Tae Woo, was
hovering over the electric motors.
Sighing to himself, Park made his way past the portraits of the
Kim triumvirate on the bulkhead beside the hatchway, and ducked into the
forward compartment. For a moment he waited, looking up past the ladder to the
short conning tower, and checking what he could see of the seal of the hatch.
But he knew that he was just wasting time, trying to postpone the inevitable.
Squeezing under the lower lip of the tower, he entered the bow section, where
the two torpedo tubes had once been before being removed for this kind of
The cargo lay where he had helped load them eighteen hours
earlier, before unhitching from the mother submarine, two in narrow bunks
against each side of the hull, and the fifth on the deck between them. They
were lashed into their narrow grey shrouds, like chrysalises, twitching now and
again from random reflexes.
The submarine’s bow tilted upwards as Lee began raising it
to periscope depth, without waiting for Park to return. Park braced himself
with one arm against the hull, but wasn’t quick enough to stop one leg from
coming into contact with one of the twitching bundles. The front end jerked
convulsively, hissing, and for a moment it looked as though it might come loose
of the straps securing it. Park jumped back, startled, and cursed.
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