FIVE MONTHS AGO
Abdul pulled up to his small one-bedroom apartment on the east side of Washington D.C. He was here, in the world’s cesspool. They had chosen him for this holy duty, and it was an honor to carry it out. Americans were effete and didn’t understand ultimate sacrifice for a pure cause. They sent men with guns to solve all of their problems for them. Above all else, they supported Islam’s enemies—the Jews. This was the most heinous thing. The Jews were at the top of the list of the malaise infecting the world. He did not have a complete understanding why it had taken so long, why they could not get an advantage over them. Yet, he wasn’t oblivious. Part of the reason was because of their allies, especially because of the United States.
Jews were evil. Those who supported them were slightly less evil. The Americans were bedfellows, so Mohammed considered them just as bad as the Jews. They were an obstacle to the goal of ridding the world of all those who did not bow to Islam and Allah; those who were not the chosen ones but insisted they were.
He had heard their side of the story. The Americans believed that side of the story because they had disseminated so many Bibles throughout the world. Ishmael cast out. Isaac chosen. It was a lie. The book was corrupt. It wasn’t a holy Bible, but a sinister manipulation of the facts. Ishmael was not an outcast. Ishmael was the eldest and chosen on that basis. He still loved his father Abraham and formed the nation of Islam.
It was an uncomfortable truth for the Jews, so they had used that as a tool to spread their lies and propaganda. Well, they were about to get a taste once again of what it would be like to cross Allah. However, this came at a price. A compromise. They needed help and support to be strong enough for the call. That came at a cost of freedom in directing the operation, giving it to someone who was not Muslim. They surrendered it for the sake of accomplishing the goal. He was confident it would work out in the end for the allies supplied them what was necessary. They now had what they needed to hurt the right arm of the dragon, the United States. They would come in on its underbelly and thrust the sword into its heart.
Entering the ramshackle apartment, he closed the door and walked straight to his bedroom. Throwing his backpack on the bed, he flipped the blanket, covering it up to reveal the opening underneath. Grabbing the plastic container underneath, he slid it out and opened the lid. A deep sigh crawled from his mouth. Over and over in slow rhythmic beats, his chest heaved up and down as he stared at it. The United States, the enemy of his enemy, was about to feel the wrath of Islam once again.
ONE WEEK AGO
Lee Chong waited in line at Reagan International Airport. His heart thumped in his chest as he approached the ticket counter. Here he was, in the United States of America. He would have never imagined it in a million years. He had consigned himself to living in his small neighborhood in North Korea for all of his life. But the day the visitors came, a fresh opportunity arrived with it. So, he took it and escaped.
It wasn’t easy. They required hard work. That did not bother him. The challenge just made him better. They took notice and offered him something that he couldn’t believe. A pass to go to South Korea. At first, he thought it was a test, so he refused, pledging his allegiance to North Korea. But it quickly became clear they were not bluffing. They insisted he go to South Korea, going as far as dropping him off at the DMZ (demilitarized zone). The orders had gone ahead to the soldiers there to let him cross over. When the South Koreans grabbed him, they were suspicious. No one had made it past the DMZ. Some soldiers had defected, but that was a special circumstance. He was already at the border, and no one suspected since everyone expected him to be there. It was his job.
Citizen defectors never took that route. They went into China, which was hit-or-miss. China was notorious for sending back North Koreans who had escaped, and North Korea had a three strikes policy. The third time, they put you on display in a public execution.
When he arrived, it was a culture shock. The cities were nothing like the ones in North Korea. They were alive and vibrant. Soldiers weren’t patrolling everywhere. The freedom was frightening.
His first year in South Korea was a hard one. He came there with no family, no support. Taking whatever jobs he could to survive, he worked very hard. The only jobs available to him were at restaurants, so he got two of them—one as a dishwasher, the other as a cook. He lived in shelters for a month before saving up enough money for his own apartment.
It amazed him because it was nothing like North Korea. There it was about survival. His family wasn’t poor, but it always had been about survival. Staying in line to put food on the table. Causing no trouble. Never rocking the boat. Now that he was the only one he needed to take care of, it wasn’t as arduous. Time ate away at his North Korean loyalties which waned as liberty engulfed him. He could do what he had never dared to do before. He could dream about a future.
That had been dashed to pieces when the general called him. What he feared had arrived. It was time.
Shuffling up to the front counter, a light-skinned black lady with glasses and a puffy round face looked up at him. She didn’t smile, her eyes scanning up and down his entire body in a matter of seconds. Her questions were terse, but once Lee answered them, she welcomed him to the United States. Reticent, he moved to the side and looked for his luggage.
Here he was in the United States of America. God help them.