Sirwin
Sirwin

Jeju Island 제주도

By NukeAbe | Verbal Diarrhea | 29 Apr 2023


A Political Sci-Fi Magic Surrealism Short Story

July 2022

Aerial view of Jeju Island harbor, 1948. US National Archives/ Public Domain


***

I remember it well. It was the longest second I have ever witnessed. Yet, it was truly an unremarkable scene. A couple of sublime snapshots. A significant moment was captured in the most candid, blurry and out-of-focused footage from the airport’s surveillance cameras. Grainy and badly composed. Almost missing the moment that changed history forever. 

I remember seeing the brother of the North Korean dictator being gagged with a cloth from the rear by two smirking girls. One Vietnamese, the other Indonesian. Nearly laughing as they walk away from the collapsing body of the overweight middle-aged man in this busy transit hub. Gleefully ignorant. Thinking of their favourite K-pop boy band idol’s reactions on some cringey prank show.

Not knowing that they had doomed the fate of the world. Not knowing that in a few short years, their action will lead to two nuclear warheads being dropped on this young tropical city. Igniting the third world war. Pushing mankind to the brink of extinction. 

It was in the same airport where a few years prior, a local snake oil shaman publically used coconuts to help locate the infamous MH370 that disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Stranger things have happened in this equatorial peninsula that Westerners often overlooked. Just above Singapore but below Thailand.

It was like Terry Gilliam’s remake of La Jetée. The world ends in an airport. Due to a bad joke. Death laughs at us all.
 
***

Today is the day. The day they’ll send me back in time. It’s an experimental technology but we have nothing else to lose. We are running out of options. The world is in chaos. We have been at war for the last twenty-odd years. It was fire and blood in the first few years but it has been stagnant due to The Decade of Nuclear Winter. It’s more about the survival of the handful that is still alive. I do not remember what it was like before the war. They said this land used to be sunny and hot all year round. Must have been nice. 

All I have is the cold desolate wasteland of this poisoned earth surrounded by the burning ocean in the ring of fire. Once it was a paradise. Now it’s nothing more than an island prison of backstabbing warlords hoarding life jackets. Self-cut off from our neighbouring enemies or what they used to be.

News doesn’t travel any more. No more tweeting birds. Just Chinese whispers. All information is gathered and certified by the Central Agency for the consumption of the mass population. Labourers and agents. No more confusion about what is real. We are not the only nation to have come to this, others are much worse. We are one of the lucky ones. Our kingdom is the pearl in the black sea. We still have a Sultan who cares. The Great Tiger.

The one who saved us all. He saved me. He chose me for this glorious purpose. Gave me this mission. Made me special from the rest. Maybe today I will get to finally meet him before they send me off. I doubt it. They said he picked me because I was born for this exact reason. I was born on the very same day that the first bomb was dropped on the capital city of what was then known as Malaysia.

I never really knew my parents. Both of them died to return me home to my land from our little vacation behind the enemy's line. I must have been two or three years old. On the ferry in Jeju Island. The southern island of Korea. Being forced to board the ship to Busan. Fortunately, my dad managed to smuggle me onto a defector ship on its way to Nagasaki, Japan where I would be saved by the Malaysian Embassy. The memories are vague, being so young. Yet, I can still recall the pain and loss. I lost my mother and father on that island. They died trying to keep me safe from the enemy. I must do this to honour them.

Many things have changed, the old nations are broken into factions and unified under different banners such as the history of this Nusantara Region. Yet out of all this chaos, a new order was formed. A secret society with representatives from all the Houses working together towards a speculative method of saving humanity. Mysticism and technology combined. One man's magic is another man's microwave oven.

The Bomoh, a military shaman, is confident in the success of the trip. Our intelligence agents have reported that our enemies are also undergoing similar tests but no one has been successful. The first human mission through time. Time Travel. It seems highly improbable. To go against entropy. Suicidal even. But if our Korean counterpart does it first. Then it is the end of us. 

This has to be done. Not for vengeance. Though that is The Society’s mission. But I am sacrificing myself for hope. Hope that no one else has to live like this. Scourging underground like vermin. We cannot go down in history as the last generation and the end of the civilization of Earth. Those boys on Mars cannot be the only representative of human beings in this galaxy. I have to travel back in time and change all this for the sake of our species. I need to go back and stop this from ever happening. 

To send a physical body through the fabric of space and time is beyond what is capable of with our scraps of leftovers. To send a consciousness through the Planck’s Vortex is, however, achievable according to the laws of physics and mystics. It is still highly dangerous and beyond our understanding of its repercussions but I’ve got to do this. It’s the purpose of my life. It is what I was conditioned to do. I was made for this mission. 

Years of being trained and groomed. They feed me with the most hallucinogenic substances that they can concoct trying to loosen up my mind. Sending me into trances and ritualistic therapy trying to toughen up my spirit. They say it’s the only way to survive this meddling with the fundamental elements of the universe. To rebel against Father Time, one must be in the good grace of Dreams. 

We were in the incomplete nuclear power plant repurposed to facilitate this feat of human imagination and ingenuity. The stage for my human sacrifice. They were playing a piece of familiar classical music. Though I could not recall ever listening to one before in my life. It wasn’t in the curriculum.

“Are you ready?” crackled the monitor.

“Yes.”

I strapped myself onto the makeshift dentist chair in the middle of the rusted metal platform as the TV monitor bolted to mechanical tentacles slithers and scans my signatures. The melancholic motif of the composition comforts me in a bed of sound and eases the clanking and wheezing of the machines.

“Do you understand your mission statement?” 

“Yes.”

“Please declare them for confirmation.”

“On the 13th of February of 2017, the brother of the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Nam was assassinated in Kuala Lumpur International Airport by two female individuals; a Vietnamese and an Indonesian. On the 12th of June 2018, The Big Q Trump met Lil Rocketman for a peace summit in Singapore. The Photo Op session was merely a distraction to the actual meeting of powers. Meanwhile, Malaysia was hosting both sides of the table to conduct their missions on our land due to its unique position.” 

My voice was recorded and echoed by the clanking machines. My words cling to the symphony. Amplified by the orchestra of gears. Above and onto the empty sky. Tuned to the colour of a dead channel. 

“Malaysia was the only nation that was allowed to enter the North Korean Regime without a visa. Of course, most travels between the two are often in the opposite direction with their embassy right in the heart of the city. Obviously, Malaysia was still under the long shadow of colonization being easily influenced by The Illuminati society in their local Masonic Lodges. They even helped the crooks who ran the country to embezzle our sovereign fund. Financing the shameless The Wolf of Wall Street movie. Purchasing countless trash artworks like Monet and Warhol instead of Raden Saleh or Latiff Mohidin. Those were ignorant times.” 

A loud puff of steam consumes the platform. I was on cloud nine.

“Malaysia was a cowboy country. Or samurai. Pick your bounty hunter. Biker Gangs everywhere. Ministers blowing up foreign translators pregnant with their kids. Forests being raped. Artists getting locked up. It was the best place for confrontations between The Americans and Koreans.” 

I recall years of educational memorization as the transparent plastic tubes began crawling up from the chair and jacked into the ports in my arms.

“In 2020, due to the scamdemic hoax of the Covid 19 virus, the world was swept by an overabundance of censorship and controlled propaganda.  Imposed through fact-checking paid so-called journalists. All the while the governments are seizing unlimited authority by the loopholes of an emergency act. Most of the credible and trustworthy information concerning this strange period in history is now only preserved in the fragments of what was once the Internet.” 

The eyes on the monitor stare intently at my words.

“It is a known fact in our righteous kingdom of Tanah Malaya that this Covid 19 was a planned biological and geoengineered warfare orchestrated by the old world banking system to cover the economic collapse of Christmas 2019. The Great Reset forced global vaccination to segregate and catalogue us like cattle. Coercively manipulating consent in their transhumanism agenda. The first step towards upgrading mankind all in schedule with The Singularity. This outrageous deception was uncovered by our Great Sultan Harimau (tiger) when he ascended into power in 2027. The day we now celebrate as Terbit (rise) Matahari (eye + day = sun).”

The eyes on the monitor blinked in subtle relief. As the calming blue liquids began flowing into the tubes and snakes their way into my veins. The warmth of the liquid is inviting and intoxicating.

“On the 23rd of March 2021, the Malaysian government allowed the extradition of a North Korean banker to the USA which made Kim Jong Ill publicly declare to cut all diplomatic ties and relations with our land. The visa-free travel between our two nations was revoked. This made things worse as that banker began spilling the state's secret to the newly hijacked Biden’s America. China stationing 200 warships on the borders of the South China Sea. Plus the growing disillusionment of the old world order as a whole, it didn’t take much for things to go south real quick.”

I could feel my soul expanding out of my body and blending with my environment but instead of dissolving, it fractals into the dimensions previously limited by my senses. I could see the colour from outer space.   

 “On 23rd March 2023, three nuclear warheads were… were launched from a submarine in the Yellow Sea but only two reached their target. It flattened...Kuala Lumpur City within seconds. And so begins. The final war.”

The faceless eyes on the monitor unblinkingly assess my statement and examine my vital charts as they correspond with the blue liquid of quantum bots in my bloodstream. Programmed with the instructions to execute the Microtubule Quantum Vibration in my brain neurons needed for my journey. Backwards flowing against Entropy. Surfing the Morphic Resonance of the Universe.

The monitor monotonously echoed, “What is your mission?”

“To stop this assassination.”

“Good. As debriefed and as per protocol, I will have to remind you that this is a lethal procedure. We’ll be transmitting your mind through a dangerous dimension. You will experience the dissipation of your identity and ego. Confusion is expected from the trip. We are only able to send the frequency of your consciousness or as we like to call it, The Mind Song - through the Time Vortex.”

The monitor screen animates a retro 8-Bit graphic trying to simplify the concept to my poor bastard of a brain. 

“Since your soul will still need a body to operate, we are going to send you into your own father’s body for the highest chances of survival due to the genetic similarities. It will be weird taking over your own father’s mind and body to fulfil this mission. It can get emotional and vivid. At times you might even think you’re him but you have to remember your mission.”

“Understood,” I said, knowing my entire skull is drowning in blue liquids.

“You will be experiencing his life in reverse until the fateful day of your mission. Since we’re unable to properly coordinate your timing, we’ll send you to the summer of 2017 as you slowly live his life backwards to February of the same year,” explained the electronic vulture as it circles above my resting body.

“It was stated here that he was doing his curatorial residency at a Korean Art Space in Berlin which will give you more access to information and first-hand encounters with the enemy to collect better intels for your final destination. Once you hit the date, regardless of whether you accomplished your mission or not, you will be slipping further back into your father’s timeline as a backseat passenger of his mind. You will not be able to return. This is a one-way trip. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“I hope I don't have to remind you of what is at stake here. Disregard your personal feelings in this mission. You’re allowed to do all that is necessary to accomplish the agenda, even sacrificing your own father’s timeline if you have to. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes,” I replied as I drifted between states of consciousness.  

“The fate of humanity lies upon your hands. We thank you for your sacrifice. May Allah have mercy on your soul.”

“Bismillah.”

***



***

With the word of God, I begin this journey. The symphony echoes in my head. Taking me deep into the abyss. I feel like I am trapped in a suitcase. Cramped and dark. Unsure of where I am. I began to recognize the rendition of Nocturne in C Minor by the Japanese-German pianist, Alice Sara Ott with Ólafur Arnalds for The Chopin Project. From the wireless speaker on the basket of the rental bicycle. Blink. Like bursting into existence with eyes wide shut. 

There she was. Standing there smiling. Just the two of us. Her. Alone in the middle of a field blanketed by the melting layer of white snow. In the crater of the island. Jeju Do. Jeju Island. South of the Korean Peninsula. Me. A Malay husband with a pregnant Korean wife. Laughing. Loving. 

Is she my mother?

Flashes of bright light illuminate the grey winter morning with three fiery red rockets crawling their way across the sky from the north towards the southeast. My mother’s smiles dropped and concerns replaced happiness. She falls to her knees. Her water broke. This was the day I was born.

***

What the fuck is going on. Where am I?

Why are they all in masks? Is there no human face on this crowded train?

Shit, they are all staring at me. Fuck. 

I am having a panic attack. They are freaking out.

I’m causing a scene. I am so sorry, Father.

Mother?

“Shhh, calm down. Please don’t have another breakdown right now. I promise once the travel ban is lifted we’ll fly back home.” 

***

I remember everything. The frozen sun. The distorted noises. The feeling of relief. I remember the taste of the spicy fried chicken being washed down with some Soju. The dumb orange cat was fighting with the smoke of the incense on the window sill with the Seoul Tower hiding behind the rows of buildings. My Korean girlfriend on the sofa next to me cheekily kicks her yummy legs saying, “See! I told you Bong Joon Ho would win.”

“I mean I do love Parasite but Park Chan Wook’s Oldboy is still my favourite,” said my father. I could feel his lips saying these words. I could feel my lips saying these words. I am in him but not him. I am my father. 

***

“Look, man. Orange President meeting The Great Leader,” said the Malay Brad Pitt lookalike. “Does this trigger any memories, time traveller?”

I shook my head in my fetal position in a corner of the mental asylum.

“Or are you just as mad as the rest of us? Isn't this whole political theatre the reason why you were there at that airport? You were there. I was there too. The one with the toy monkey. Remember? Or are you still having memory blackouts? Still can't remember the nights we had in the jungle together. Just you and me. Before you left me all alone and ran away to that sin city in Germany.”

The monkey man jumped onto the table of the chaotic cafeteria.

“I was there. At the very beginning of it all. Ever since then, I have been trying to talk to you, future folks. All I managed to do was talk to the past. Guess who? It was those guys on that aeroplane that went missing back in 2014. That’s the work of the Bohemian Grove Reptilian Elites of America. I tried to understand the secret knowledge that they used to create the wormhole for that neat magic trick. But instead, I got possessed by the ancient spirit of Sundaland. All that just by trying to follow your tracks. That's why I am here. Don’t you remember our little secret? I remember you. Ronin. Hero.”

I cried on the floor, confused by my predicaments.

“Don’t worry, Lil Tiger. A little birdie told me that they’ll let you out soon enough. You can get back to that Korean girlfriend of yours and ask her yourself as to why she put you in here in the first place. Or you can just ignore all this and have nice little sons and daughters together. They need you in here to make sure you don’t fuck up the timeline any more than you have. Hehehehehe.”

***

“I’ll have spent my life trying to understand the function of remembering, which is not the opposite of forgetting, but rather its inner lining. We don’t remember. We rewrite memory. Much of history is rewritten.” 

***

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바다의 소리 Badasori- The Sound of The Ocean.

The Badasori is a kinetic artwork that reproduces the sound of the sea waves in my hometown, Busan Korea. 8453km away from Berlin. Busan is a seaside city in Korea and I used to spend most of my childhood on the beach. The movement of the wicker tray is processed by real-time weather data from there. The reproduced sea wave sound of the object is very abstract and symbolic but enough to suffer from nostalgia.


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***

 The crumbling dust of time lingers as the naked female figure emerges out of its slumber from the waking bath of fresh milk. She dances in the middle of the mountain of white powder and blue flowers circled by ritualistic candles. She moves with the water projections on the gallery's walls. Dancing with the mystic smokes of the incense. In blue.

“It’s called Jeju,” said Soni Kum, the performance artist in her bathrobe and washed face to the group of semi-drunk visitors. “It’s a Korean Shamanic prayer for the dead soul. That’s why I had him cover me in flour.” 

The Korean woman pointed at my father. She pointed at me. 

“When the audience arrived, you guys were guided to pour the milk onto the pile and all over me. I emerge out like a resurrecting ghost.”

I nodded my head. I hear the man I am possessing saying, “Reminds me of Thaipusam back in my country. They do something similar during the Hindu religious festival. Except with them, it’s more gruesome. Extreme body piercings.”

“Maybe one day I’ll visit you and you can bring me to witness this,” said the German owner of this gallery hidden somewhere in front of Zionskirchstraße. He was the neighbourly annoyance for the legendary exiled  Chinese political artist, Ai Wei Wei - or so were the rumours. 

“Hopefully, I will visit him first,” said the beautiful Korean girl who popped out of the audience behind me. “Do you mind if I steal him for a bit?”

She took me outside for a smoke and offered me her cigarette. It was a cold July sun. The ones where the dark clouds were on the horizon. With the freezing wind sweeping the falling leaves. Ready for a long shower. 

“So urm, this has been fun,” she said as her hands were holding mine tight. “I wish I can stay longer but I have to head home soon and prepare for my flight to Seoul in the morning. I just want to thank you for everything. Everything that we have been through. I hope you will enjoy the rest of your stay. I’ll see you soon, someday. Good luck with your show.”

She gave me a hug that made me whole again. Disorientation cured in a warm embrace. I looked into her eyes and under my breath, I could hear my father saying, “So Young.”

“I know,” said my mother, placing a kiss on my father’s lips. 

***

Her lips. They look so inviting but something is amiss in this young man’s broken heart. So Young Ho buds out her cigarette in front of the retro-futurism minimalistic architectural centre for international cultural exchange, Haus der Kulturen der Welt. The flying saucer roof reflects on the lake giving it an impression of an eye from a Stanley Kubrick’s long-shot point of view. Whatever my father said to her by the banks of the Spree River works. She grabbed my hands.

 “Let’s go.”

It was the exhibition, 2 Oder 3 Tiger. It was about the Asian economic powerhouses and their stories. The struggles of the tigers. I could feel the Harimau Malaya in me growling in resentment seeing a Singaporean, a country that literally has the word Singa or Lion in their name being the voice of the Malaysian Shadow Puppet (Wayang Kulit) in a grand installation that is far greater than anything I have ever seen done by the local artists back home. They did an amazing job. Just unsatisfied to know that the boys and girls could do something similar if not greater, if only they were given the chance.

It wasn’t the gallery’s fault but this young man was hungry and bitter at the inequality. I could feel the pent-up resentment towards the Europeans in general due to the long history of them pillaging the wealth of Southeast Asia. Now even with the ‘independence’, we’re still made inferior to them through the economic system that was rigged in their favour. Damn currency exchange. 

Should have used Bitcoin. Especially knowing how important it will be when the Singularity happens in 2032. Strangest time in history. That’s when most of the Artificial Intelligence and Crypto HoDlers escape Earth and made a new colony on Mars. Handpicked by the alien, Elon Musk who will reveal himself as the Ambassador for the Galactic Empire and was sent to weaken Earth's defence for the eventual takeover. Or at least that's the narrative for the NWO’s UFO agenda. Tom Cruise may have saved us all in some impossible mission for all we know. 

“I’ve always been more of a bear girl myself. This is why I love the Berlin flag. There is a myth in my culture, in Samguk Yusa. Of a bear and a tiger who wished to be human. The bear managed to become a beautiful woman by following a strict rule of discipline and diet. Meanwhile, the tiger failed. I see myself more of the bear lady,” said the glowing beacon of hope in my father’s eye. 

She was enthralled and amazed by the artworks on display as we moved from the jacket embroidery to the TV screening of a documentary on the geopolitics of the pacific ocean. The disappointment on my face was not lost on her. She knew it wasn’t the art here itself but rather the lack of recognition of my country’s culture and the internal bickering that made them unable to break out onto the world’s stage, unlike our neighbours. 

“You should do something about it,” said my mother to my father as we watched the recording of a boat chase on the waters of Jeju Island. “I know Ido only gave you a day to showcase but you must understand that what you have brought isn’t enough to justify a longer period. Regardless, you should make it count.”

  “Like assassinating the brother of the North Korean dictator,” I managed to take control of my father’s voice.

“I supposed. Maybe less drastic. I mean if you got something to confess then sure do it,” encouraged So Young Ho.

“What if I write a bad critique on this show just to piss people off and hope they come for my show,” I hear my father taking back control.

“That might work. A provocateur. Always a risky move. Just make sure you put on one hell of a show for them.”

“Have a feeling I might fail.”

“Then fail in style, my Oh Desu.”

***

“Failure is the best teacher,” said the elderly Korean curator and art space owner in his broken English. “You have got to keep failing till you get it right.”

 “I understand, Ido-San,” said my father, trying to be cute.

“I’m Korean. Not Japanese,” protested Ido as he drove the car past the U Kottbusser Tor station and down the Skalitzer Straße.

“I know, boss,” joked the man I am possessing as he tries to defuse the tension with his mentor as they make their way to an art collective’s studio to drop off equipment. “Just a sign of respect.”

“But you unintentionally disrespect me. I can excuse you since you’re new here but do you know how many times I have gotten that or worse? I know there are similarities but that’s like me calling you a Thai. It just doesn’t sit well, especially when you understand the history.”

“Oh I am sorry,” said my father as he sank into the passenger seat.

“Our history makes us what we are. That’s why I am only giving one day because I can see your vision but you’re lacking a proper understanding of your history. Just vague theories without enough substantial research and proper curation of your artworks. If nothing else, I hope you remember this and learn from this experience. Never forget your roots,” said the wise man in a thick accent that fluctuates from Korean to German.

I could feel my father’s embarrassment and confidence in himself slowly shrinking away. I had to step in and take over his body without any resistance from him.

“That’s something my people are still dealing with. I guess what I am presenting is an honest look at what happens to a nation with dementia and the only person who is trying to do anything about it is this self-funded uneducated boy with a passion. If nothing else, I hope you remember me by this.”  

“Haish. Your country is blessed. Maybe too pampered and forgets easily. The trauma and hardship of my people have made us stronger and remember exactly who we are but yet we’re still separated. Sometimes I think if we follow your style, it could be easier to forgive the past. I also don’t know what is best but I know if you’re showcasing a historical theory of your land, you have got to know what you’re talking about.”

“Well, it’s about Sundaland. About a time long ago when the Nusantara Archipelago was united before the melting of the Ice Age separated us by sea. We were supposed to be the origin of the tale of Atlantis. It's supposed to be a show on how we have forgotten that we are connected beneath these waters,” I tried to dig deep into my father’s mind to help him explain his idea.

“Yes, but seeing the works you have presented to show, only a handful tackle the subject matter. You didn’t collect enough artwork that is specific to this topic,” Ido refuted. I tried to help defend my father but I can hear him in my head admitting that he had failed at his preparation for this journey up north due to heartbreak.

“Look, you came here to Berlin to learn. So did I. I came here to understand how the Berlin Wall fell. In hope that there is something that I can bring back home and help unite my country. But from what I have learned is that the wall came crumbling down purely due to a coincidence and miscommunication. Just dumb luck and the support of the mass. Yes, there are ways to push both sides to accept each other but it doesn’t necessarily work and can backfire. I dunno, maybe I should have gone to Paris instead before they wiped out the Eiffel Tower.”

The defeated old Korean man pondered as he leaned forward to find the house number on the street before realizing he must have made a wrong turn.

“As a student, we have to accept that sometimes we make mistakes. A lot of them. But that’s okay. Learn from it. Teach others to not make the same error. You should do this for your country. If you think they have forgotten then it’s your duty to remind them.”

The wise curator looked to his student with hope.

“I’ll try.”

“No. Just do. Fail. Okay. Do it again. Same thing with your heart.”

“Urm, is So Young Ho single?”

***



***

So Young Ho sits on the bar stool on the right side of the art space that has been set to stage a play. Even with the spotlight aimed at the actors in their dramatic action, she was glowing ever more radiant. Narrating the scenes that were on display. She was the director of Toilet People. 

A show depicting North Korean defector's confessing and sharing their harrowing journey of escaping and crossing the border to what they thought would be a safe haven. Only to be treated like a second-class citizen. I know the actors were doing a wonderful performance but my eyes were transfixed and captivated by her beauty.

Her eyes catch mine. She steals a smile and a blush.

They were discussing the show with the visitors. Over some beers and cigarettes. Outside the small shop lot art space. In front of Kebab 63. Next to a mysterious Egyptian shisha shop. Down the road, beside the Vietime restaurant. Across the road from the Dorotheenstadt cemetery. In the very heart of Berlin. 

“Maybe he did it!” accused So Young. 

The circle of art lovers stood silent, staring at me. Anticipating some sort of witty reply. All I could muster was, “Huh?”

“You’re Malaysian right?”

“Yeah.”

“We’re discussing Kim Jong Nam’s assassination in your country.” 

“And So Young here is saying you killed him,” Ido’s wife, Nana, completed.

“Oh. I..urm.”

“Where were you on the 13th of February this year?” interrogated the professional So Young playfully teasing my brokenhearted father.

“I can’t remember.”

“Oooohhh, maybe you did kill him,” Soni Kum added.

“Wait. No. It was the day before Valentine's Day. So I must have been busy,” I tried to defend my father who is now lost somewhere in the back of my head.

“I thought you were in a long-distance relationship with your German girlfriend. Or is it Ex already?” Ido harshly poked at my father’s personal life.

“Were you cheating on her?” asked Soni.

“Is that why you guys are breaking up?” theorized Nana.

“So you’re a heartbreaker and a killer. You’re dangerous,” said So Young.

“No. No. Look, the CCTV footage shows two girls who thought they were on a prank show. They’ve caught them and they have confessed to their crimes.”

“Sure that’s what they want you to believe,” reminded Soni.

“Yeah like why did Malaysia have a special borderless policy with North Korea but had never accepted any defectors into your country?” criticized Nana.

“Because these boys are pirates,” joked Ido.

“Well, if you really are the assassin, then I guess, you’re my hero,” blushed So Young Ho.

***

The pink of her cheek was visible even underneath the oceanic calm glow of the blue neon lights of this art space. The twinkle in her eyes. The look of adoration and longing. Like a secret to be shared through whispers in the wind.

The musicians fiddled with the Haegeum and beat the Janggu in an impromptu performance. Jamming with the flow. Vibing up an atmosphere.

It was called Blue House. An exhibition where they had Korean poetries and confessions written in Hangul script on banners and flags that were hung from the ceiling making them float above us. Like clouds of promises, hopes and prayers. Of love. Of loss. Of Blue.

That was the day I first met her. 

That was the day my father first met my mother.

That was the first time their eyes met.

That was the first time our eyes met.

***

Who are we?

If not the collections of memories.

Of the stories, we tell ourselves.

Of the hopes and lies that we feed on.

To make meaning of our existence.

Birth and regeneration. Reincarnation.  

Our identity is ever-changing with Time.

Growth. Metamorphosis. We are what we are.

A consciousness floating above the vast sea of cosmic fabric.

We are what we are. 

Regardless.

Forgive me, Father. For I have sinned.

I am sorry for this invasion of your life.

I am on a mission. And you can help me. 

I need you, Father.

Be there.

The Sandman is at The Door.

Tomorrow is just the Future’s Yesterday.

***

The concept ‘Han’ according to Suh Nam Dong:

“A feeling of unresolved resentment against injustices suffered, 

A sense of helplessness because of the overwhelming odds against one,

A feeling of acute pain in one’s guts and bowels, 

making the whole body writhe and squirm,

And an obstinate urge to take revenge and to right the wrong,

All these combined.”

***

I feel the taste of blood. 

On my tongue. On my teeth. In my whiskers.

I feel the lingering of my victim on my claws.

The mushed-up puddle of remains from the devoured innards of a group of well-equipped poachers. The scatterings of torn limbs surrounded me. Underneath my paws. I sit like a meditating warrior after a heavy meal. In the darkness of the tropical rainforest. Alone but being watched. The stiff air on my dirty black yellow fur.  Anger in my glowing orange eyes.

My sharp instinct and heightened senses smell the funk of a rich paranoid schizophrenic man who dabbles in the underworld. The dark arts. I know this scent. From memories of the future. Or is it my past? Things aren’t clear. Who am I? What am I?

“Why have you sent these men to capture me?” screamed the were-tiger creature, Sang Belang. Or as the Japanese invaders in the Second World War had named it, Sitora. The mythical spirit that was the protector of my lineage. The sin of my fathers.

“Because you know something you shouldn’t,” said the monkey man on the tree who looks exactly like Brad Pitt except he’s Malay.

“What do you want?” growled my beast-mode vessel.

“Your secret. To be The Great Sultan.”

It was a crescent moon night in the jungle somewhere in the backbone rainforest of the Banjaran Titiwangsa range.
***Malaya 1957, Bailey

***


At dawn, they returned home

their soaky clothes torn

and approached the stove

their limbs marked by scratches

their legs full of wounds

but on their brows

there was not a sign of despair


The whole day and night just passed

they had to brave the horrendous flood

in the water all the time

between bloated carcasses

and tiny chips of tree barks

desperately looking for their son’s

albino buffalo that was never found


They were born amidst hardship

and grew up without a sigh or a complaint

now they are in the kitchen, making

jokes while rolling their cigarette leaves

***
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***
13th February 2017.

The day it went down.

I am here. Waiting patiently.

I have subdued my father and have full control. 

He won't remember this.

The North Korean officials are already here in the building. I have my eyes on the two girls who will be the scapegoat for this execution. It’s nine o’clock in the morning. The airport is already awake and bustling away from last night’s dreams. Any minute now, one of the men in black will pass them the cloth with the VX nerve agent and seal the fate of the world. 

All I have to do is stop them.

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It’s fifteen minutes past nine. Where are they? 

The target has already arrived and is waiting to pass the gate to board for his flight. Am I missing something? There is something not quite right here.

Wait. Who is that lady in the blue? She looks like a Korean Lily Collins with dyed Kim Novak's blonde hair in that Chungking Express kind of style. Who are the girls talking to? Is that? 

I rushed towards them. I grabbed the lady in blue by the shoulder as she tried to leave. Completely forgetting to stop the cloth with the death sentence. I forced her to face me and remove her sunglasses. 

So Young? She hugged me. Making me watch the girls walk away towards their target. The warm embrace felt like a chokehold. Unable to move. Conflicted and shocked.

“I know this might be weird for you. But this is for the best. The world would be a lot better. We are proud of the work you have done. We treasure your sacrifice for humanity. But things are better this way. It has not only united Korea but also the entire Nusantara and we have become allies a few months after you left for your trip.”

“Who are you?”

“I am your twin sister. So Young. Mother. She had twins. You and me. We were born on Jeju Island on the very same day the first bomb was dropped. Our parents were separated. You were with our father. I was with our mother. You gave your life to travel through time to try to save the world and it was saved after you left. I was sent back a year after you from Seoul to ensure that you did not mess with the timeline. We are the sacrifice of time to ensure the survival of humanity.”

I looked at her in disbelief. Shaking my head. Unsure how to compute the new information. A man in the crowd. A Malay Brad Pitt lookalike with a toy monkey doll for his twelve years old niece. He was standing next to me. Eyes wide shut. He ran off to become a Bomoh who will ascend into a Tiger King. 

The Korean girl in front of me caresses my face in an effort to comfort me from the overwhelming revelation. I don’t know if I should trust her. She might be the enemy. But she is also my sister. My mother. And I am also her brother. Her father. Lovers lost in time. One big family. The world is.

“When the hurting is done and the tears are dried. You’ll be able to see the bright blue sky on one sunny day.”

She kissed my lips. 

That was the last time I saw her. 

That was the last time I was alive.

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***

Like an atomic mushroom cloud going in reverse and compressing back into a single atom. Rewinding the life of a man into a boy and returning to the child that he was. That was how I was conceived. That was how I died.

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NukeAbe
NukeAbe

Nazreen Abraham Stein


Verbal Diarrhea
Verbal Diarrhea

The shit that comes out of my mouth.

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