this 0

Next up is

Next down is

first created 081007

Last updated:20190217

      I was dreaming. I dreamed that I was on an aeroplane beside a young lady with long black hair and oriental features. I could hear the sound of the aircraft's engines. You don't usually hear sounds in a dream, so I scratched the back of my hand to see if I was awake. I felt the scratch. I really was in an aeroplane, and there really was a young woman in the window seat. "Where am ...?" I tried to ask, but I felt so sleepy.
      She smiled, saying in a quaint sing-song accent, "I will tell you when you are properly awake."
      I must have drifted back to sleep again, because when I woke up next, there was a large man sitting in the aisle seat. He looked like some sort of security guard.
      I turned to the woman, questioningly.
      "We are going to Korea," she said.
      "What ? What's going on ?"
      "We need you, and I'm afraid this was the only way to get you."
      "Am I being kidnapped ?" I shouted, trying to stand up, but the guard pushed me back into the seat, saying in very bad English, "You sit." And that's what I think about you, pal.
      "I remember now. A Korean man telephoned me saying he wanted lessons in technical English. I went to his house. We talked for a while and then he gave me a drink, but I don't remember anything after that. He must have put something in the drink. This is outrageous !" The guard held my arm, and I could see that he was a lot stronger than me, and I still felt weak from whatever had been put into the drink. I wondered how they had moved me from the house to the airport, and then got me on to the 'plane.
      I waited for a minute, and then calmly asked, "Why, and why me ?"
      "You work in radar, and last year you wrote about how radar can be used to see the "invisible" American stealth bomber."
      "Yes, it's true I used to work as a radar designer, but I write computer software now, and anyway that about the stealth bomber was just a story I wrote for a competition."
      "We are working with your idea, but now we need some help from you. It will not be for long - a few weeks, and we will pay you well. Think of it as a working holiday." She reached into a bag and handed me an envelope full of English money.
      I tried to think of the capital of Korea, ah yes, Seoul, where they had the Olympic Games in when was it, 1988 ? "I'm going straight to the police when we land at Seoul."
      She laughed and patted my knee, "We are not going there. We are going to The Democratic People's Republic of Korea."
      "What ! North Korea ? But that's a communist country, one of the last - and one of the worst."
      "Oh, I hope you will think better of our country than that, Thomas," she said, looking rather disappointed. I was surprised at hearing my name. "I am to be your interpreter. My name is Moon Hee, and I will be with you all the time."
      The prospect of spending a few weeks in the company of Moon Hee made things seem slightly more appealing, but then I thought of all the things I needed to do in England, paying my rent, renewing my car tax, and all the other little things like the telephone bill that will only be a lot more difficult if I don't do them straightaway. Maybe being kidnapped is a good excuse, and I'll even get my name in the papers. Perhaps I should try to enjoy it, after all, they seem to want me, so they will not harm me. But what happens when I am no longer useful to them ? Maybe they will... Perhaps I can escape somehow. And what about the radar idea. This is crazy, it was just a simple science fiction story I made up, hoping to get some money while I tried to find a new job, and of course I didn't even win the competition either. I wonder how the Koreans, no the North Koreans, got hold of my story.
      I looked around. We were in a small compartment which I guessed must be somewhere near the front of the aircraft. There was another guard across the aisle, but he seemed to be asleep. Moon Hee asked if I was properly awake. I was impressed at her English, and nodded. "When we get to our country's capital, Pyongyang, you will meet Colonel Kim. He is in charge of the Ferodo project"
      "Ferodo ?" I couldn't believe I had heard her correctly. "In England Ferodo make brake pads for cars."
      "It is somebody's little joke," she said, "a brake to stop the bombers."
      How childish. Is this what I am in for ?
      "I studied engineering and English at Pyongyang University, and I work as a technical translator for the army. Going to England to escort you back to Korea is the first time I have been outside our country. Very few people are ever allowed to go to the West."
      She probably sensed that I wasn't interested in the official policy on North Korean travel restrictions, and she picked a small suitcase from the floor and opened it on my lap. "Here is everything we think you will need, but if you want anything else, please ask."
      I slowly looked through the case. There were neatly stacked shirts, a nice shaver, pyjamas, underwear, house slippers, all new but with a slightly old fashioned look to them, and then a bag with a toothbrush and English toothpaste inside. Well at least somebody had thought. "Did you buy this ?"
      "No, I never left the aeroplane. When we land I will have been in here for three days. I really hoped I would be able to see something of England, but they did not get a passport for me. The man at the house you went to probably bought these things."