This story is by David Burns and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Do or Die
Sweat trickled down the small of Minji’s back as she waited for the signal. The starched waitress uniform she wore felt tight and restrictive adding to her discomfort in the confined space of the hidden room. She pondered her superior’s wisdom regarding their agreement to a joint operation with the CIA.
A tapping sound on the concealed door snapped her focus back to the task; it was the signal and time to act. Minji released the revolving door allowing her to step out from one side while her twin sister entered via the opposite side. Minji pushed through the kitchen lobby’s doors and strode confidently into the banquet hall. She balanced a shot glass filled with Korean liquor on a serving tray identical to the one her twin sister carried.
Her heart pounded as she cast her gaze around the guests for any sign they suspected what she was planning. Minji walked to join Bill Yates who stood ceremoniously waiting for Grand Leader Jong-un Dim’s speech to end.
“Good vacation?” Bill asked inclining his head.
“Yes!” She replied confirming the switch had gone smoothly.
Applause erupted throughout the hall as Jong-un Dim’s speech finished.
The CIA operatives in the kitchen tasked with ensuring nobody tampered with the liquor were oblivious to the switch, she thought gleefully.
Minji began mulling over the bizarre circumstances she found herself in as she patiently waited beside Bill. He was a senior CIA agent masquerading as a diplomat, and she was a Korean MSS agent. It was hard to accept they were collaborating. In the past she’d worked as part of a surveillance team who’d monitored Bill’s movements, so she knew him to be a shady and devious character.
American President Ronald Plump rose from his chair as the applause began to fade.
“Game face on Minji,” Bill murmured as they began walking towards Ronald and Jong-un.
It was public knowledge that both World leaders were considered mentally unstable, so it wasn’t a surprise to learn during her MSS mission briefing, that both governments wanted them assassinated. The consensus was that collateral damage would be minimal because the public hated them.
Both World leaders stood side by side ready to toast one another’s great countries ceremoniously.
Minji paused a moment to steady her nerve before announcing, “Please accept this specially distilled Andong Soju to toast the growing cooperation between our two great nations!”
Bill Yates offered Jong-un a shot glass filled with Kentucky Bourbon, then he delivered a similar announcement in Korean.
Both World leaders raised their shot glasses up into the air and then in a single gulp drank the liquor they contained. Ronald and Jong-un sidled away amidst cheers and applause to an area prepared for invited media crews.
Minji looked on fascinated by the crowds of people jostling like swarming insects in a race to get the best vantage point. A few minutes had passed before she realized Bill hadn’t spoken. She turned to ask him if he was OK, but he was gone. Minji scanned the hordes of people just in time to glimpse Bill pushing his way through the crowd to an exit. Instinctively she knew something was wrong. Her mind went into overdrive, why was Bill leaving so quickly?
The sound of the crowd gasping made her look at the large media screens to see what was happening. Images of Ronald and Jong-un being supported by officials took her by surprise.
The CIA’s slow acting poison should’ve taken at least four hours for its effects to be noticeable, so what was happening, she wondered? Minji felt the blood drain from her face as the cold realization hit that the plan was falling apart. An image of Bill scampering away came to mind; this is his doing, she seethed.
Ronald’s voice boomed from the media screens speakers, “It’s OK!…I’m OK!…I just love your little country, and when I buy it, I will turn it into a beautiful thing!”
Minji stared at the screens in disbelief at what she’d just heard.
Ronald slapped Jong-un firmly on his back and announced, “I love this guy, but when I’m your king he goes!”
Jong-un released a feral scream as he launched himself onto Ronald.
The two world leaders rolled around the stage in a tangled bitch fight of flailing arms and legs.
Minji spun on her heels and ran to the exit Bill had taken. She’d almost given up trying to find him, but as she entered a multi-story parking lot, he blind-sided her with a right hook.
Sprawled on the concrete floor, she looked up to find Bill standing over her with his gun pointed at her face. Minji spat the metallic taste of blood out of her mouth and onto his trousers.
“That hurt!” he said mockingly.
“What have you done Bill?”
“I gave them a little something to amplify their craziness.”
“You idiot, we were meant to kill them not drug them!”
“But I’m securing my financial future. There’s money to be made when governments are unstable,” Bill replied coldly.
“You’ll never get away with it!”
“Yes I will, I’ll blame it on you Minji.”
She drove her foot upwards into Bill’s groin causing his legs to buckle at the knees. In the blink of an eye, she’d wrestled the gun from his hand, rammed its nozzle against his head and pulled the trigger.
She wiped Bill’s brain splatter from the barrel of the weapon then checked its magazine. There were twelve bullets to put right what the CIA had cocked up. Minji entered the banqueting hall, thoughts of her family suffering due to her failure steeled her resolve. Better to die trying than to be killed by your government because you failed, she reasoned!