Read Being A Greengrocer during the last 90 days of the Apocalypse - Chapter 2 online

Chapter 2: Border Control 2

A brighter, not quite fuller but deeper light layered itself over Pak as he entered the arrivals hall. Pak thought it was a little too theatrical. A stage of stairs descended into a marketplace with coffee shops; newsagents; bars; restaurants. All were fully furnished and fully lit up, yet the only person present was a particularly pudgy Westerner stood by a railed entrance. He had on a long, beige trench coat that was ridiculous for the humidity, yet he wore it bound tight around his globular belly. Holding a Korean phrasebook in one hand, he waved around a signpost in the other, with a shoddily scribbled 'Pak' on it. He was clearly pretending that he hadn't noticed Pak come in, but after Pak stood in front of him for up to half a minute, he looked up and threw the sign down. Swapping between looking at him and the phrasebook, the Westerner opened his mouth, then hesitated and stuffed it away with a grumble.

"I was going to greet you in Korean," he said.

Pak nodded, hiding his reaction to the comically British accent and said "Ra-ight-o" Right.

That caught the sweaty foreigner's attention. They began walking together towards the exit, the railing stuck awkwardly in the middle.

"Hmm, maybe next time, "the Englishman thought aloud. He faced Pak properly. "You're ahead of schedule, you know," he told him. He evaluated Pak with eyes that said they evaluated quite often. Pak wasn't sure how to respond. Was he going to blame him for that? Maybe the guards?

"I suppose you're Pak then."

"Yes-su, sir. I prefer to be called Yeung-Sung".

The Englishman frowned at that, looking at the signpost and probably thinking about how he would've written it. He gave up that thought quite easily, however, twirling the sign post around and behind him, and then trotted faster towards the exit. He motioned for Yeung-Sung to follow.

"Yeung-Sung, then. Let's get a move on, and I might be able to show you something quite spectacular." He stopped for a moment. "I'm Simon, by the way."

Pak had committed to seeing this journey through a while ago. So, he wasn't about to lag behind and wonder why everyone he has encountered thus far was a complete oddball. As he caught up, Yeung-Sung asked him something that was on his mind,

"Are you going to play with my brain?"

Simon groaned. A groan that made Yeung-Sung think that he was sick of him already.

"No-oo," Simon answered in two sweetly ascending tones.

After that they walked in silence for a bit. Simon kept a brisk pace. Yeung-Sung started and stopped, sped up and slowed down, glancing around at the shelves and counters brimming with goods. Each aisle was laid out aesthetically, each table smooth and sparkling. He sought any sign of recent use, but he found none.

Pak found himself in a situation that grew progressively weirder and more mysterious. Being strung along by Simon he felt like both a pet and a prisoner. He decided to try and assert himself, to try and establish exactly where the social boundaries lay.

"I hope," he began (The phrasing in English was difficult), "that you can understand my scary- my fear." Yeung-Sung took a large stride to line back up with Simon.

"As a South Korean, I don't believe that there can by anything good up here." He held a finger out but wasn't sure where to point. Here. He mindlessly flailed it as he went on, "Even if you are doing some good, something to help the world, why to do it here?" Simon was staring at his finger and not responding. As if to say that he got the point. "Why North Korea?" Yeung-Sung repeated, just for clarification.

Simon stopped just short of the entrance. But not to answer anything. The large screen doors bowed aside, allowing a shaky breeze to slip through. Yeung-Sung watched him take out his phone. Tapping it, he played the sides like a drum until a set of headlights appeared and filled the air like a golden, waking spectre.

"Look, I'm not answering those questions right now", Simon said. He stepped out onto the sidewalk and opened the car door. There was no one inside, front or back.

"You'll kind of, learn as we go," He bent over and shimmied in. "This is pretty confidential stuff." He closed the front door and patted the seat leather, which was a dark shade of purple. "I'm pretty excited about our developments myself, but I've been told that I give people too much hope." Looking quite comfortable, Simon lay in his chair and Yeung-Sung made no move to follow him.

"I want to know. I need answers," Yeung-Sung said. He crossed his arms, taking a step back.

Simon thrust his hands at the back seat like he was telekinetically going to shove him inside. "Just, just….get in the car, Pak. Yeung! Whatever!"

He shook his head instead and took a further step back.

Simon was rubbing his forehead now. "Look, I have a lot of work to do, don't waste my time. It's not like there's much a choice."

"I could run," Yeung-Sung put in.

Simon's jowls grew dark. He was done with any politeness. "I wouldn't."

He continued, rummaging through his coat pockets, "The company owns you now. I don't just have government permission to kill you, I have UN permission."

The window opened in an instant and Simon thrust something out. Yeung Sung flinched and ducked low. Upon looking up again, he realised that it was just the phrase book. He walked over to see what Simon was pointing at. UNITED NATIONS. UN. Yeung-Sung wafted the book back through the window.

"I know what the UN is," he said. "Fine. I'll get in the car."


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