by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
Jonas found himself outside the building; the dead trees were there, and he could hear the North Korean army skulking in the thicket beyond. He rounded together all the explosives he could carry and went inside again. As quickly as he could, he wired together 25 more kilos of C-1, placed it at various locations, set the timer for one minute, and ran out.
He saw the first soldiers walking toward him. They seemed not to have spotted him yet. But they would. And then the explosives went off.
The whole building shook, filled up with smoke and every last window in it broke. About five seconds later, the debris began to fall. Pieces of the roof and upper walls were thrown into the air and rained down upon him. Jonas ran to the side, and was spotted by some North Koreans. Some of them fired at him. A round hit his backpack, which was full of deer meat. Too bad, it was good stuff. But then, it was deer, not C-1.
Jonas fired a couple of rounds in their general direction, and kept running. They chased him, hundreds of them.
Jonas hid behind a tree and fired at the oncoming army. He got one, and another, and a third. He saw some of them hide behind trees and some stop to take aim. Jonas threw himself down. The tree got shot up pretty bad. Jonas got up and ran, squeezing off random shots over his shoulder as he did.
He got to the thicket and hid. He reloaded, and waited. The North Koreans didn’t just run in; they threw a few grenades toward him first. Then they fired a couple of hundred rounds into the thicket.
Jonas had crawled quite far into the bushes, out of the range of hand grenades, and behind a thicker tree. He could hear the bullets hit trees around him. That bothered him, because it meant the soldiers were firing in the right direction.
There was silence for a minute or two, and then they began jabbering between themselves. Jonas stood up, and ran deeper into the woods. His movement caught their notice, and they fired after him. Now free of magic hippies, he had a portion of the North Korean army after him. He could hear them running between the trees, shouting at each other. It sounded like they were about to come at him from both directions. That was bad.
He looked around the tree, and glimpsed some infantry sneaking his way. He shot at them. Hit two. The third hid behind a tree. Jonas shot the tree. There was screaming. Screaming is good when the other guy does it.
And Jonas ran. His steak caught another bullet. They seemed to know his general whereabouts, and he could hear pins come out. You know you are too close when you can actually hear the pin being pulled. And not only did he hear the pin, he could hear where the sound came from, quite clearly, too.
He quickly took aim and shot the guy who was crouching behind a shrub with the bomb in his hand. The others started shooting before the bomb went off. The explosion was muffled, because the guy was lying on top of it. More grenades were thrown his way, but he was out of range when they blew.
He heard the enemy running after him. When they’re running, they won’t hit, he thought. He took cover behind a tree, and shot at them as they came running from tree to tree. That slowed them down. When they hid behind trees, he shot the trees. That produced screaming. Sometimes they just fell down. Seven or eight were dead or passed out, three were screaming, some moaning. Two hundred or so live ones were coming his way. But the ones nearest to him were being careful again, giving him time to reload.
Jonas closed his eyes and listened to them. He was close to the patch of death around the compound. He had been running around it the whole time, on purpose. There wasn’t anything in the jungle for him other than more North Korea. His feet were aching, so were his arms and his torso, and he had a headache coming. This was exactly what the British fools he had with him before had been for. Where were they now? Probably on a meadow, fucking hippies and eating fruit.
A new sound caught Jonas’ ears. It was coming closer. The North Koreans noticed it, too. It was a helicopter. No, three helicopters: Black Hawks. Jonas wondered about them. He seemed to remember having been on that meadow for several hours. The Black Hawks should have been there and back long since. But why complain? They were appearing now. Jonas stood up, and peeked around the tree. The North Koreans were looking to the air.
The choppers flew a circle around the premises, the 60-gunners taking shots at the personnel on the ground. They sent everything into chaos down there. Jonas waited for them to drive away most of the combatants before he moved.
He jumped from behind his tree, and fired wildly at the enemy behind him. They fired back, but reluctantly, and Jonas ran into the dead forest again. He waved his arms at the choppers, until one of them got a rope down to him and hoisted him up.
“Whoa, look at you!” said the guy working the hoist. Jonas stared at him like he was an idiot. He was aching all over, and wanted to go back home.
“Where are the others?” someone asked.
“They are all gone,” Jonas answered.
“Gone? Gone where?”
“Ah... I don’t know.”
“You have been shot up really bad, you now.”
“What?” Jonas sat up again. It was right. He counted at least seven holes in the front of his vest. The trees had broken most of the force, it seemed. His back had taken over ten hits. The holes overlapped. A couple of slugs had actually gone into his back, but he couldn’t feel them. Bambi had taken more hits and was well tenderized goulash now. Jonas pleaded with them not to throw the meat away; it was good stuff.
Three of the extra mags had stopped bullets. His feet hadn’t stopped anything. The four rounds that had punched their way through his thighs and calf muscle had just passed through. It was a wonder he could still move his legs. His upper right arm had also been hit. But that was a minor wound compared to the rest.
* * *
Jonas stayed in bed for a couple of days after this. Then he got bored of it.
The North Koreans were furious. Some punks had attacked them, or so they said, and sunk two patrol boats, shot down a MiG and killed about a hundred personnel. Yeah. Jonas remembered hearing something about that. No mention was made of the nuclear event earlier on in the month. No. That still did not exist.
But that wasn’t the main news item. The world was still wondering about a peculiar event of mass hysteria, when the world broke out singing and dancing. It had lasted for half an hour and then suddenly stopped. Nobody knew where all the colourful ribbons and confetti used during the event had come from. Only about ten percent actually remembered it happening, but surveillance cameras in London and a few other places confirmed their story.
The CIA had a brief talk with Jonas about the big black hole he had left when he blew up the facility. The outer walls were still standing, but within, just a dark dot.
“Just tell the North Korean government, that if they want to be in control of their people, they will not mess with the hole.”
“Why? What’s in the hole?”
“The power to turn the world into a musical comedy.”
The CIA guy didn’t smile.
“When the people start dancing, neither you nor they are in control anymore, understand?” Jonas continued.
“Do you know how we can destroy the hole?”
“You could try filling it, but that doesn’t seem to work. Just put a lid on it, and hope the trees grow over it again.”
“Have you tried filling the hole?”
“I don’t think it can be filled, based on my observations.”
Over the next month pictures taken from the orbiting spy-satellite showed how the North Koreans slowly put a lid on the hole.
Jonas took his money and went to Spain to drink coffee and beer and watch the people walk by. He enjoyed sitting at the table, feeling the alcohol kick in as the sun went down. He was waiting for the waiter to bring him some steak, when a woman sat down beside him. He ignored her at first, until she started touching him.
“Who are you?” he asked.
The woman smiled. She was young, thin, with long blonde hair, dressed in a softly coloured flowing gown. Jonas imagined she was just high, and continued watching the people go by. There was a difference in them now. He noticed it as he watched them more closely. They were all smiling. They looked genuinely happy. A nasty thought crept into Jonas’ mind, and he turned to the woman and said: “If they start to sing and dance, I will kill you.”
The woman just smiled brightly, seemingly relieved, as she replied, “It’s a deal.”
Copyright © 2004 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson