Walking Through the Fall of Korea
I wrote this story to submit to the Seoul Fiction writer’s contest, “From Seoul to the World”. The action takes place 25 years in the future after a North Korean bioweapon is released after President Pence cancels Peace Talks with North Korea and pursues a military option. the weapon kills 99.9% of people. there are about 25,000 people living in South Korea, most under the control of the Military base at Camp Humphreys. Another visitor from the recent past, General Lee is organzing the wild men, cannibal gangs into a militia force so he can kill all the foreigners. I will update it with the audio clip later.
Walking Through the Fall of Korea
Sam Adams one morning woke up to find the power out in his house near the airport on Youngchong island in Korea where he resided with his Korean born wife, Maria Lee. Sam was a retired US Diplomat who had served 27 years in the Foreign Service with the State Department and his wife was a retired US Army major. They had decided to split their retirement between Korea and Southern Oregon. It was early spring time and they had just returned from a trip to Southeast Asia.
They had spent the day glued to the TV Sam watching CNN and BBC, Maria watching Korean news and translating as needed as well as reading what kept popping up on their computers. The situation was grim. It was April 2020 and the democrats were leading the polls with a battle between Kamala Harris and Sherwood Brown shaping up, with Bloomberg, and Schultz mounting credible challenges to the two major parties. Pence was leading the Republican field but in a tight race with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. In a four way race, Pence came in fourth place, Schultz and Bloomberg tied for second place , the democrats were in third place but just barely.
After President Trump was impeached, President Pence cancelled the North Korean peace talks after it became clear to all that the North Koreans had no intention of getting rid of their nukes, but were willing to freeze development and get rid of their missiles. They were also not willing to dismantle their bioweapons programs, but willing to discuss a freeze. The Russians and Chinese unilaterally suspended sanctions telling the U.S. to take the deal offered. Pence refused. He ordered family members and non-essential employees to leave. The North Koreans declared that the Korean war had resumed and they would launch hostile acts but would allow the U.S, to evacuate it citizens first and gave the U.S. two weeks to do so. The U.S. also cancelled the visa waiver program over night.
And announced that if the North attacked the South, the U.S. would retaliate in kind, including using nukes if the North used nukes. And in any event, they would destroy the bioweapons programs which would launch the bioweapons against the North Korean people. The UN security council members voted 9 to 3 to condemn the U.S. reactions and voted 12 to 0 to condemn the North Korean actions. The U.S., U.K. blocked the measure. Israel was the only country that supported the U.S. measure. NATO voted that they would not honor an article Five request if the U.S. were to ask for one. They also voted that the U.S. should take the offer. South Korea also urged the U.S. to return to the peace talks table and take the offer. Pence refused to do so and said that the U.S. was ready for any and all contingencies, and demanded that North Korea immediately dismantle their nukes, bioweapons, chemical weapons and artillery batteries near the DMZ. In return, the U.S. would recognize the North and would formally end the Korean war. The North refused to do so, citing the still hostile U.S. government’s rhetoric and actions.
They had managed to get a flight the next day at 3 pm and were planning on getting up about 6 am to pack up before leaving for the airport about 12 noon. The airlines advised early arrival as the airport was much more chaotic than normal as that morning was the 19th day. All flights would be suspended as of noon the following day as the Korean Military and U.S. Airforce would be taking over the Airport for use in possible military contingency operations. So they were fortunate to have gotten a flight at all, and had to pay three times the going rate, as only business class was left. They would be taking their niece with them as she had a U.S. passport. The rest of the relatives had visa appointments in two weeks but the rumor was that the U.S.G. was denying 95% of visa applicants.
Sam was 63 years old, his wife was 60. They had no children. He was tall, had mostly dark hair, blue eyes, and was in pretty good shape. Maria was also in pretty good health. They had decided to retire a bit early so they could enjoy life. They had made some good investments, had rental income to supplement their pensions so they felt blessed.
About 5:30 am there was a brilliant flash in the sky, and the building shook as if there was either artillery shells coming in or an earthquake. It woke Sam up. But his wife was such a deep sleeper that she did not notice a thing. He decided to let her sleep and he would check the news and then do his usual writing, as he wrote every morning, then wake up his wife and pack for the trip to the airport. Sam was spending his retirement as a writer and blogger.
Sam noticed the power was out, which was unusual. Power was very reliable in Korea these days, he could not recall the power having gone out during the year and half he had been living in his fifth floor penthouse apartment in the airport new city, about a mile from the subway and walking distance to lots of restaurants and services. . Sam and Maria felt that it was quite pleasant to live in, there was the World Peace Forest Park which was a five minute walk away, and Bakrangsan .mountain which was a forested hill about 1 mile from the house. He occasionally saw deer in the park.
With these thoughts in his mind, he turned on the computer, which booted up since the battery was still working. But the internet was down. He tried his phone, no service at all. Sam looked out the window and was astonished to find that all the buildings around him were falling in ruin, the cars were all destroyed, and there were no people to be seen, and the parking lot was filled with trees and bushes as the concrete had been taken over by a resurgent forest. Usually at 6 a.m. he would see neighbors getting ready to go to work either at the airport or to catch the train into Seoul or Incheon where most people worked.
Sam woke up Maria.
’Wife, there is no power, the internet is down, and there is no phone service. And I think that the North Koreans launched an artillery attack at the airport about 5 am as I saw a flash of light and heard a lot of noise and the ground shook like an earthquake. But that is not the most unusual thing. Wake up you have to see this.”
Maria got up reluctantly and walked out and Sam pointed out the deserted ruined landscape outside the house.
“Baby, what the hell is going on?”
“Wifee, I don’t know. We have to go outside to investigate.”
They got dressed and ventured outside. They walked down since the power was out everywhere. Their building appeared to be the only building intact but they knew that the neighbors were not there. Just a feeling that they were the only people left alive on the island.
Sam, being an avid reader and writer of SF speculated that “perhaps a bioweapon got loose in the North and spread across the border? Perhaps the U.S. accidentally released it or North Korean special forces released it. But why are we alive?”
Maria, the practical one of their household, looked at him and nodded. Sam sometimes saw things that she never could as he was a genius. They walked about located their car. Their car was ruined, rusting away. The windows were broken. The wheels had no air and it was obviously not drivable. Sam pondered on what was going on.
“Wifee, I think that somehow we have been propelled into the future. Whatever happened to kill everyone happened some time ago. Looking at these ruins it happened at least ten years ago if not 50 years ago. I wonder if we are last people left alive in Korea? And I sure as hell don’t know how we got here.”
Sam and Maria decide to walk through the town to see what had changed and whether there were any survivors. Most of the buildings were falling apart. A few lay in ruins. The cars were all rusted away. They started walking down the park heading down the bike path towards the central business district. The path had completely reverted to forest. It was early spring just like it had been when they had gone to bed back whenever they had gone to bed.
They came to the park near the library. And saw a gruesome sight. In the middle of the park there were six huge dogs mauling and eating a freshly killed deer. The dogs looked more like wolves than dogs.
One of the dogs looked up and noticed Sam and Maria. Sam told Maria,
“Stand up tall, make a lot of noise and back away slowly. Don’t run.”
Maria looked at Sam like he was an idiot but nodded her head.
The dog looked at Sam, and growled. He got the attention of the pack and the dogs started walking towards Sam and Maria. Sam picked up some rocks and threw them at the dogs. The dogs stopped but Sam and Maria could not get passed them so they retreated. The dogs followed them back towards the house.
On the way back to the house, Sam and Maria noticed other things. There were bones here and there of deer and other animals. The dogs were apparently quite active. They may be other dogs about. They saw a cat who stared at them but did not come after them, but ran away from them and the approaching dogs. The dogs stopped and ran into the bushes pursuing a deer that they had cornered and began mauling.
Sam and Maria watched the dogs for a while then headed back to the house. Sam and Maria sat down in the living room and debated what to do. Sam said,
“We can’t stay here long term. We have to find a farm house where we have water, and a place to make a fire, and some farming equipment etc. We will have to learn how to farm, and hunt. We also need to find other survivors, otherwise we may be the last humans left on earth. So, let’s pack up our camping gear, and basic supplies and head first to the airport to check it out. I suspect that what happened was the North Koreans jumped the gun and attacked this morning about 5:00 am as I heard a large boom and saw the sky lit up. But how we ended up in the future I have no idea. Perhaps the North Koreans were experimenting with a new weapon system, or the U.S.?
You were still sleeping so I decided to listen to the news and then do my usual writing before waking you up. After we go to the airport, we will come back here spend the night then take off tomorrow for COSTCO to get more supplies then we can head down to Camp Humphreys. See if we can find any survivors and get weapons, more camping gear, and survival books from the library. But we can fire up the BB2 and at least heat up some soup and stuff for today, and tomorrow night. And head out the next morning.”
They packed up a back pack, stuffed it filled with hiking and camping gear. Made lunch and dinner and plotted their route to the airport then Costco. The next morning, they woke up to the same nightmare. Nothing had changed.
They ate breakfast, and walked out in the early morning calmness. Korea was at last truly the land of the morning calm as there was just silence. The lack of noise was jarring. They broke into one of the neighbor’s apartment looking for more survival gear. They found skeletons only and remains of ancient meals long rotted away. They added some gear to their back packs and loaded up and moved out by mid-day.
They had knives, and some large sticks as weapons against dog attacks. They walked through the park and saw the dog pack but the dogs left them alone. One of the dogs began to follow them but the dog retreated when they threw rocks at them.
They saw deer in the fields everywhere and they saw cows and wild horses wandering about, lots of wild cats, and birds but no sign of any human life.
The stores were all filled with commercial stuff and they broke into a pharmacy and added some more survival gear to their back packs.
They then noticed a lion watching them. Where the hell the lion had come from they had no idea. The lion appeared to decide to leave them alone, perhaps he had already eaten breakfast.
They stopped at the Lotte Mart –The stench of long rotting away food was nauseating but they were able to add some more essential provisions to their back packs. They also commandeered two large shopping carts and got another couple of back packs and luggage for good measure, got a tent, sleeping bag, booze, spam, flash lights with lots of extra batteries, and a first aid kit.
It took most of the day to reach the airport. As suspected the airport had been bombed back to the proverbial stone age. Nothing was left standing except for planes on the ground. Some had crashed landed, others were stranded on the ground. They went to the book store which somehow had survived the carnage and got newspapers, and some books, and more water and other supplies.
They took the time to make a picnic lunch at the airport and while doing so read the Korean papers. They made a fire and cooked their first meal since the day before. Maria read the Chosun Ilbo, the conservative daily newspaper in Korea. The headline read;
“last issue due to bioweapon attack. 생물 무기 공격으로 인한 마지막 문제
saengmul mugi gong-gyeog-eulo inhan majimag munje “
A bioweapon apparently had escaped from a secret lab in North Korea and had spread across North Korea and killed everyone in the North within days. Terrified North Koreans rushed across the border and infected border control military and residents who all promptly died. The contagion then spread across the border regions, and reached Seoul within a few days.
The city government ordered a 100 percent curfew but that did not stop the contagion from spreading rapidly. All it took was one person to cough to contaminate a ten foot radius. The bioweapon caused a severe influenza attack, followed by an Ebola like reaction. It was 99.5 percent fatal and death occurred within days. The newspaper staff has been affected and there are only a few people left so this is probably our last edition. There is news that the contagion has spread to Asian cities and the US. Apparently some people get the disease but don’t show symptoms for several weeks, therefore people were able to travel spreading the disease wide and far and there are reports of contagions breaking out all over the world. All air travel, train travel, subway travel has been suspended but there are few travelers as close to 80% of Koreans may have perished. There are rumors that some people might be immune.
The US military has announced that they will operate an emergency shelter at Camp Humphreys, and medical testing is being conducted to find a cure or vaccine. Anyone who is still alive and not showing symptoms may be immune and should go to Camp Humphry for a medical evaluation. Anyone showing symptoms should stay at home as there is nothing that can be done for them.”
Sam scanned the U.S. papers and the English language media. Apparently what had happened was that the North had attacked on the 19th day five days ahead of their announced start of hostilities. They had bombed the airport and power plants knocking out the power. The U.S. launched an attack against their missiles and their bioweapons programs which released a bioweapon that killed most people in the North within days and most people in the South as well. North Korean agents had smuggled it into the U.S. and released in over 25 American and Canadian cities. Islamic terror groups had released it in European cities, in Latin America and in Africa. Pakistan and India had exchanged nukes as had Israel and Iran. And Islamic terrorists had launched nukes in NYC, LA and Washington DC and launched attacks including nukes across Europe and Russia. And the North had nuked the South and the U.S. had nuked the North before the virus made all military actions futile. The war had ended within five days as most people were dead from the virus, or the nuke attacks or the artillery attacks.
Sam asked Maria,
“When was this dated?”
“May 15th, my 60th birthday in our timeline.”
“Mm well it seems like it is April 1, a few weeks before that date, and the 19th day of the North Korean self-declared two-week deadline. They must have jumped the gun, and the U.S. must have accidentally released the bioweapon. And North Koreans must have given the bioweapons to ISIS and Al Qaeda to release it in the U.S. and Europe. Perhaps they had an antidote as well to distribute. Wifee, we need to go to COSTCO tomorrow then on to Camp Humphreys a few days latter to look for survivors, get some guns and then find a farm house we can settle down in, if we don’t find survivors.”
They stopped by the Casino, and raided the bank stocking up on gold coins and bars, heavy to carry but could be very useful. They made plans to go to COSTCO the next day.
The bridge to Incheon was falling down. They walked across the bridge and looked down at the Incheon harbor. There were boats here and there in the water. Old abandoned cars and trucks everywhere. And abandoned burnt out building everywhere. The apartment towers and office towers were silent as death. No one had survived the apocalypse.
They got to COSTCO mid-day. Along the way they discovered that if they stuck to the freeway they would avoid lions, tigers, wolves and wild dogs as the animals for some reason did not want to go on the freeways. The road ways below the freeways were overgrown with brush anyway. The freeways were relatively clear except for the downed vehicles everywhere. Costco lay wide open. Sam said,
“Canned goods like Spam can last 50 years or more. So, we need to load up on more Spam, and other canned items, instant coffee, instant tea, charcoal for our stove, wine and lots of booze – we can use booze and Spam as currency save our gold. “
They entered COSTCO. There were skeletons everywhere mocking them and Sam felt that the ghosts of the dead were everywhere accusing Sam and Maria of being in league with the devil that had descended upon the land killing everyone overnight.
Sam speculated that whatever had killed off humanity had acted really swift. He said,
“Probably a North Korean bioweapon escaped from a lab up north and spread down south, perhaps the U.S. military strike released it. It must have been close to 100 percent effective and must have killed most people within hours if not days. Look at all these people. And notice that the store had not been looted? People must have gotten sick and died almost instantly. “
They loaded up their supplies and decided to camp out in the parking lot out front. As they ate their dinner they feasted on spam, powdered eggs, water, and booze liberated from the COSTCO stores. Sam joked,
“Well, I suppose it is fitting we are here at COSTCO finally getting out money’s worth.”
They camped outside and drank a lot of Costco Wine and ate canned spam and canned vegetables. They had stocked up on goods from Costco and their back packs and shopping carts were getting pretty heavy.
Six friendly dogs soon appeared and Sam threw them some food and the dogs ate the food and then settled down near by watching them. They took turns staying up, watching the dogs to make sure that they did not form a pack and attack them. By the morning the dogs had become very friendly and followed them as they left for their epic road trip.
Sam and Maria got up slowly and ate breakfast, and fed the dogs that had had adopted them. They were glad that they had dogs for companions. Sam was a cat person, Maria was a dog person. They talked about the dogs they had before and smiled and played with the dogs a bit. And gave each of the dogs a name and thought them simple commands. They called them Sam, Tom, Roger, Matt, Maria and Inga. The dogs liked the names, and were quick learners and appeared to be used to humans which gave them hope that there were survivors nearby and perhaps the dogs might take them there.
Then they contemplated the route to Camp Humphreys pouring over a map they had gotten at the airport. Neither one of them really knew how to walk there, but they knew the general direction was south. The freeways and highways were littered with abandoned rusting cars but for the most part were in fairly good shape. They hiked on the freeway as the roads down below were so overgrown that it was difficult to go forward and they were worried about wild animal attacks, although their dog patrol as they had started calling the six dogs in the pack seemed to act as a deterrent against attack.
Maria and Sam speculated whether there were any one left alive. Sam thought that the odds were pretty good that someone had survived at Camp Humphreys and that the survivors if any would welcome them and they could join them.
Camp Humphreys was the largest military base overseas with 35,000 people there, mostly American but a lot of Koreans and third country nationals as well. It was located about 90 minutes south from Seoul depending on how you got there. In any event 45 miles away, or two to three days walking distance. They had gone down there to shop at the world’s largest commissary but found the base to be a bit overwhelming, just too big and sprawling everywhere, and they went there on a regular basis to the hospital but they preferred the nearby Osan airbase – nicer commissary, PX and hospital. Sam joked that the “Airforce weanies always got the best stuff.” . Maria laughed and said, “You got that right.”
Along they would come upon skeletons by the side of the road, but no other evidence that anyone was alive and there did not appear to be any survivors. Maria who was very sensitive to ghosts and spiritual phenomenon, felt that there were ghosts all around them watching them. Sam made fun of her for believing in ghosts but as they walked in the silence Sam began to sense the presence of unseen spirits so perhaps he was sensing the ghosts as well.
Perhaps there were just sensing death all around them. The dogs too acted up, barking at unseen creatures and growling – Maria told Sam that dogs were sensitive to these sorts of things.
Sam wondered out loud whether they really were alive, perhaps they were in some personal hellscape? They stopped for the night at a highway rest area, and found to their pleasant surprise that the showers and toilets still worked after decades of non-use. Still no power anywhere. After taking a much needed and appreciated shower and using the western toilets, they decided to camp out and found an empty hotel room and brought the dogs inside as well as they did not want to leave them outside.
The next morning, they feasted on left over spam, freeze dried eggs, and canned chicken meat washed down with COSTCO instant coffee, and whiskey shots. They shared their food with their dog pack.
Along the way they has seen a few more lions, and a tiger, but the presence of the dogs seemed to deter them from attacking them and the tigers and lions did not want to venture up onto the freeway. They also saw lots of deer, some wild cattle, wild horses, wild pigs, and in the distance saw some bears, and some wolves, on the roads below them, and wild chickens everywhere even on the freeway. Sam and Maria stopped for lunch and the dogs caught them some chickens which they roasted on the fire and shared with the dogs. The dogs had clearly adopted them as their pack leaders.
Sam told Maria that the lions and tigers had probably escaped in the chaos of the fall and had managed to link up with other lions and tigers. And perhaps the tiger population in Siberia and North Korea had spread into the south. Probably there were real wolf packs as well as bears running around. Just before the fall Sam had been reading about the proliferation of wild life in the country side, particularly wild deer and wild boars. The countryside was being rapidly depopulated and becoming wilderness areas. The Korean government was buying up farm lands and adding them to the existing state forest reserves and national parks which they had expanded by 25 percent over the last five years taking advantage of the growing wilderness areas in the countryside. And they had just launched an effort to restore tigers, bears and wolves to the mountain regions. Apparently it had succeeded after the fall of humanity.
The next day they came upon a gruesome sight. They saw below them on the road a tiger devouring a dead Korean man, who appears to have been middle age. So that was proof that there were some survivors and that Tigers were human eaters. The tiger looked at them but decided to not give chase. Probably filled from his meal or the dogs were still acting as a deterrent or the tiger were afraid of the ghosts on the highway.
Later in the day they saw what appeared to have been an intact village. They got off the freeway and walked down the street. It had the appearance of a real ancient village, complete with thatched roofs but there were a few modern buildings here and there and something that looked like an old fashioned inn and restaurant.
They walked in and found an old man near death lying on the floor.
“Grandfather, what happened here? Where are all the people?”
“General Lee’s wild men took them. “
“Who are the wild men?”
The grandfather looked at them, and said,
“It appears that there may be others like you coming. We all thought that General Lee was the only one. He appeared five years ago just like you from nowhere. He was dressed in old style clothes and spoke the old language. People nowadays don’t speak proper Korean. They speak a mixture of English and Korean with a very simplified grammar, and no one uses honorifics any more, everyone speaks in pan mal. . Everyone can still read both Korean and English though. No one knows Chinese characters any more. Part of what happened after the fall.”
“Grandfather, tell us who are the wild men. We are indeed from the past just got here yesterday. We don’t know what has been happening since the fall. Please tell us.”
“You had better get going. The next village over is safe for now. It is within the Camp Humphreys administrative zone. Now that there are only 25,000 people left, most of the farmers have moved into the zone which is patrolled by the military and under military rule. This village is just outside the zone. General Lee has been attacking isolated villages, forcing the survivors to flee into the zone. You must tell the military commander something. Part of the deal we had was to provide intel in exchange for their protection. I am the last survivor of our village. We had about 100 people in the village. General Lee surrounded the village and killed the old people. He took the young woman to be sex slaves, and the men to be slaves. The old people they were going to BBQ. They also took the children as there are so few children left alive, even the cannibals are nice to children. The wild men are cannibals. But they only eat other people, or their own if they die in combat. We were defenseless but we put up a good fight. I ended up passed out and they thought I was dead.
I overheard that General Lee had heard that there were others like him walking towards Camp Humphreys. They are going to be looking for you. They also said that they were going to attack Camp Humphreys and enslave them all then unite all of Korea under General Lee’s command and kill all the foreigners and eat them, but keep the woman as sex slaves and raise any children as they own. Tell them that. Promise me that.”
“We will. Can you walk?”
“Thanks, but I am an old man and will be meeting God soon. Don’t waste any more time here. Stay on the freeway, no one goes there too many ghosts. Get off at the next exit and you will find the only inn in town. You will have to pay using gold or canned goods. Over there you will some hidden gold and a couple of guns with ammo. And whatever canned goods you see. Take it all. And get out of here before the wild men come back.”
They took the gold and some more canned goods although that made their packs and shopping carts very heavy.
They entered the village about noon. It was a small community of perhaps 1,000 people. In the middle of the village stood an old fashioned Korean “yogwan” a Korean country inn.
They ordered rice wine and wild boar meat accompanied by fresh mountain vegetables. They were hungry having eaten nothing but canned goods for two days running.
They fed their dogs spam and the dogs were happy to have gotten a new treat. They had to leave the dogs outside.
Everyone was eager to meet the strangers. They told everyone the truth. Everyone said that they believed them as everyone knew that General Lee claimed he came from the past, just before the fall. General Lee had appeared five years before and turned the wild men from being cannibal gangs into a real fighting force.
They chat with the villagers and the villagers told them that they were very lucky to have avoided being captured by the wild men, the savages, 식인종 (sikinjong) cannibals as they called them. The wild men they described as being less than human beings, cannibalistic demons from hell “지옥의 식인종 마귀들. jiog-ui sig-injong magwideul.”
Pastor Pak spoke up,
“ God had condemned the Korean people to this hell scape because they had turned away from God. “하나님께서는 한국 사람들이 하나님에게서 멀어 졌기 때문에이 지옥의 풍경에 한국인들을 비난했다. “지옥에서 온 식인종의 악마들. hananimkkeseoneun hangug salamdeul-i hananim-egeseo meol-eo jyeossgi ttaemun-ei jiog-ui pung-gyeong-e hangug-indeul-eul binanhaessda. “jiog-eseo on sig-injong-ui agmadeul.”
The villagers filled them in told them that there were about 1,000 people left in the village. They offered to escort Sam and Maria to the base as the roads were not safe. Wild tigers, lions, bears, wild boars, wild dogs and wolves were running about as were the wild men. Sam and Maria told them that they appreciated the offer but they would be okay to travel by themselves as Grandfather Lee had given them several guns and sufficient ammo.
They left the next morning after breakfast of spam omelets. They left the spam behind as it seemed to be greatly appreciated just like in the old days. They got typical “precise” Korean directions as “precise” as most Korean directions were!
After coffee, they left for the final trek to the base. They did not encounter anyone else but felt that unseen people were watching them. Maria was having a hard time on the freeway, kept seeing or hearing ghosts. Sam told her that if they were walking down below they might encounter wild men or wild animals. Neither of which seemed to like being on the old freeways.
Around noon the encountered a wolf. They shot at him and he ran off.
The dogs were upset. They obviously knew what a wolf was and that a wolf and a dog were related species but the dogs remained loyal to their pack leader, Sam.
Around lunch time they found the base. It was locked up but they were able to climb over a fence and they walked over to the library. Sam told her that they needed to find some books on survival. He had room for ten books. He also wanted a book of poetry to read and perhaps one or two SF thrillers to read, including post end of the world novels, especially “the Ending of the Light.” which was appropriate reading material, Sam thought. He ended up with ten books and his backpack and shopping carts were definitely too heavy, filled with ten books, gold, guns, ammo, food, booze, cooking equipment, a tent, sleeping bags, spare clothes and a camp fire stove. He hoped that they would meet people soon so he could set it down for good.
They stayed at the library until it was sunset and they camped outside. The dogs were still with them – they had accepted Sam as the alpha male of the pack. The dogs had chased down a deer and they brought the deer to Sam. Sam made a fire and cooked up the deer following instructions in one of his survival bibles. He gave the grateful dogs plenty of table scraps.
In the morning, Sam said that he wanted to find the base community and settle down among the soldiers. Maria concurred with the general plan and felt that they would meet some survivors that morning. She also felt somebody was watching them. When they left the base, after breakfast, Maria told Sam,
“We are being followed.”
Sam looked around and then noticed six men dressed in old tattered Korean army uniforms armed with bows and arrows lurking in the shadows behind a building. They looked like wild men, with a savage look about them, filled with violence, hunger and lust.
Sam did not want to die for their dinner and have his wife who was still good looking becoming a sex slave. Sam was pulling out his gun, when there was a whistle and gun shots as the US Army band emerged from the other shadows and gestured to Sam and Maria to join them. A short fire fight ensured. The wild men retreated into the shadows. Sgt Jones yells out in English and Korean,
“You may retrieve your dead.” 당신은 죽은 사람을 되 찾을 수 있습니다.
dangsin-eun jug-eun salam-eul doe chaj-eul su issseubnida.”
And they walked out and picked up their dead companions and disappeared into the
“Well, welcome. You were fortunate that we were on routine patrol. They won’t bother us any more. They were probably more interested in your dogs than you. The wild men do like their dog meat. You and your dogs are safe with us. It is unusual that they came into town, perhaps they were following you. We had heard rumors that there were two people from the old world walking towards Camp Humphreys. We saw you camped out by the library last night but did not want to bother you until the morning. We’ll take you back to the base where you can meet Commander Baker. You are not the only survivors, there are a few thousand people scattered about here and there. You are fortunate to have survived because some of the other survivors as you know are the so called wild men, basically cannibal gangs. But we have not seen any new survivors since the event.”
Sam told them their strange tale. As far as they were concerned, they woke up 25 years in the future. They had no idea how that happened or even what really had happened 25 years ago.
Sgt Jones said,
“That story is so strange it might even be true. What happened was kind of what the newspaper had said. There was a bioweapon that escaped from a lab in North Korea, and killed almost everyone in North Korea within days. Some of the survivors managed to get across the DMZ and infected the soldiers. And the contagion spread. Within weeks almost everyone was dead. The base gathered together the survivors and over time others joined us. We are the largest community, about 300 people half American half Korean. There are some smaller Korean towns here and there with 100 to 200 people here and there. Down in Daegu there was at one time a community of 1,000 survivors. But something happened to them five years ago and we have not heard a word from them. Same thing in Busan. And the rumors about General Lee being from your time makes sense. He appeared out of nowhere about five years ago and settled down among the wild men, turning them into militias and driving most of the remaining villagers into the CHMZ.
“Oh, Camp Humphreys Military Zone, the closest thing to a government in Korea these days. In any event, we are thinking of taking some people down to “CWMZ, Camp Walker Military Zone” in Daeju, and “ NBBMZ, Naval Base Busan Military Zone” in Busan to see what’s up. We have not heard from either in five years. Perhaps you might want to join our expedition?”
“Sure, but we want to get settled a bit first.”
“Sure thing. In any event, you were really fortunate to have avoided running into General Lee’s wild men. He is a pretty mean mother f….. The Commander will want to debrief you in detail.”
They entered the base, which was located on the edge of the compound and consisted of housing units and a mini-commissary, and a bowling alley. They had even rigged up some solar and wind power so they had electricity and running water. Everyone had their own house but meals were served communally so to conserve power.
Sam noticed that there were few children. Sgt Jones said,
“The deal is that the plague is still out there. Most children die right away. A few survive. It seems that we are all immune and that we can pass that immunity onto some of our children but we have a 50 percent infant mortality rate anyway. We ran out of modern medicine decades ago. It has been 25 years after all.”
They entered the community center next door to the mini-commissary and bowling alley. Colonel Baker was an elderly black man in his late 60’s. He had the aura of being the man in charge. A good man who had the weight of the world on his shoulders.
The Colonel invited them to tell their tale of woe. They recounted everything that they had experienced since they woke up five days before in the future. The Colonel let them speak until they were finished. He asked a few questions, and was particularly intrigued by what the old man had told them and what the villagers had said as well.
“Well, your ordeal is over for now. You are welcome to stay. Welcome to the community. You can stay as long as you follow the rules. The rules are simple. Everyone had a job assigned to them based on their past life and experience and the needs of the community. Sam could be the base librarian. They had been meaning to move the library over to the community but just had not gotten around to it. Was that sufficient for him?”
Sam agreed to take over the library and help in relocating it to the community, and then to keep track of the library’s holding. Maria volunteered to help out in the community kitchen as she was a good cook and liked cooking.
Col. Baker told them the history of the community and their dealings with the wild men who roamed the hills hunting down animals and the occasional unlucky human they ran into. They had a deal with the wild men. If they ever encountered survivors they would turn them over to them. In return the wild men left them alone.
Sam started objecting, but the Colonel stopped him.
“Don’t worry. I have no intention of honoring that agreement. You can stay with us. But first we are going to take a trip down to CWMZ and NBMZ to see what happened to the community there five years ago. There are rumors that General Lee was either a defector or a North Korean general who had access to the bioweapons program and brought the bio-weapons with him. He may have tweaked it so that the virus can be tailored to only attack for example black people or white people. And he may have the antidote for his people. In any event we suspect that he killed everyone in the CWMZ and the NBBMZ as well. And we are next on his list. We also suspect that he wants to capture you alive so he can debrief you as to what you know. He may have been sent forward prior to the Fall so may not be aware of what you know. And he wants to know if you can travel back and forth in time. I want to know that too.”
“Well, Col. Here’s the deal. We have no idea how we got here. All I know is that there was a blinding flash of light about 5 in the morning and then we found ourselves in this time line.”
‘Fair Enough. Well, are you in for our adventure down South? Are you in?”
“Yeah, we’re in.”
“Good. We will move out in five days. Welcome to our corner of Hell.”