If there was one convenient thing about waiting outside of North Korea’s office, it was that there were a lot of paintings to stare at to pass the time. Sitting in a long corridor, its walls lined with grand, gold-framed portraits, Taiwan was learning more about Kim Il-sung’s facial structure than she ever wanted to.
She turned when she heard a door open and nice shoes click against the smooth tile. With a phone in his hand and something like distraught on his face, North Korea assured her he’d be with her in no more than five minutes.
By the second minute, she felt incredibly tired out of absolutely nowhere. By the third, she took out her phone and tried to fight it off. By the fourth, the world went black.
When sleepy eyes opened and a drowsy mind could process the situation, she realized she wasn’t in North Korea anymore. She was in New York. Specifically, the United Nations Headquarters. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, she woke in a world that wasn’t quite right; all the colors were muted with a faint blue tint, there was a low humming sound that she couldn’t tell was real or imagined, and she was completely alone.
“Hey, check out this pissbaby!”
Taiwan whipped around and met eyes with an American who hadn’t been there three seconds ago. Except, it wasn’t the America she remembered. This guy was more bestial in appearance, with a beak-like nose and deranged sunken eyes.
She stared at him with bewilderment. “America…?”
“Hey, did I f***ing say you could talk to me, you third world scum?”
She gasped. “Excuse me?”
“You’ll be excused when I want you to be excused, bro. Wanna know why? Because I’m the f***ing United States of America. I’ll forcibly take your resources, sh*t all over your sovereignty, go to war with ya, and shoot you in the g*****n face–all while screwin’ your mom!”
While Taiwan was too applaud to speak, a calm, warm voice came to the rescue. “Please ignore this vulgar idiot.”
She turned to find that a strikingly handsome young man had appeared next to her from seemingly nowhere, just as America had. She couldn’t help but admire the man’s smooth features and neat, jet black hair. Taiwan’s mind reeled as she tried to process how strangely attractive this composed, smooth-voiced stranger was. Wait a minute…
“He’s sick,” North Korea explained with a frown. “Sick in the head.”
America hissed. “Oh, sh*t! It’s North Korea! H-Hey, commie asswipe! You think I’m afraid of you? I’ll crush you like I crush all the other weak ass countries who get in my way. I eat financially repressed sh*tlords like you for breakfast–along with a Super Deluxe Greasy Big Mac McLard Muffin because I’m f***ing disgusting, and proud of it!”
North Korea just shook his head. “Go head. Let it out. Release your inner pain.”
The American screeched like a wild boar and Taiwan took a cautious step back. “D***it! Do you ever tire of being so much better than me!?”
“Never,” said North Korea with a smirk.
That put color in America’s cheeks. “Sh*t! He’s amazing! He’s so incredibly smart and dangerous! And I’m just trash! Absolute f***ing trash!” With a metaphorical tail between his legs, the defeated America scampered off to sulk under one of the tables.
“What has gotten into him?” Taiwan asked in an elevated pitch.
North Korea turned to her. “There’s something you wanted to talk to me about, isn’t there? Right this way.”
As they walked to the center of the conference room, Taiwan felt a very cold hand grab her wrist. She jerked her head to see a gentle-faced Russia staring down at her.
“You are North Korea’s friend?” Russia asked. “Oh, I love it when he brings friends. I’m so, so, so, so lonely.”
North Korea struggled to pry Russia’s hand from Taiwan. “Russia, please.”
“So, so, so lonely,” repeated the Russian without any emotion, squeezing tighter. Then she smiled wider. “Follow me, tender little fish,” she coaxed, a sickening sweetness oozing from her voice, “and I will sustain you with my love and warmth.”
When an utterly terrified Taiwan broke free, Russia’s expression twisted with pain. “Why, North Korea? Why do you hurt me, my sweet lapochka?”
“Not now, Russia,” North Korea said through a clenched jaw. He gently pushed Taiwan along, increasing the distance between them and the thirsty Russian.
From behind, Taiwan heard Russia pleading. “Come back to Mommy, my succulent little bunny! I’m sorry for every wrong I’ve done to you! Please just love me! I crave snuggles!”
Once they were a safe distance away, Taiwan turned to him. “She called you a succulent what? And the ‘Mommy’ thing? Is that normal? Are you alright?” North Korea laughed uncomfortably.
When they reached their table, Taiwan forgot all about Russia as the ice in her veins was thawed by a burning hot anger. “What is he doing here?”
“China? He’s my friend.”
Looking way too good in a dashing red button up with three-quarter sleeves and sporting slick glasses was none other than the person Taiwan had the least interest in seeing right then–except for maybe Russia, who Taiwan never wanted to speak to again.
China looked up from the tablet in his hands and pulled his glasses off in a really suave way that made Taiwan even more pissed. “That’s right,” he said. “I’m North Korea’s best friend, and I have the utmost respect for him. He’s intelligent, courageous, witty, talented, powerful, full of potential, hard-working, and extremely sexy.”
China continued, “I only pretend to be annoyed by him because I’m afraid of being judged by my peers. I am also secretly intimidated by his political prowess. But truthfully, I support North Korea in his endeavor to protect Asia and fight treacherous American imperialism. I absolutely agree that he should be allowed satellites and nuclear weapons. Did I mention that he is so good looking?”
North Korea shook his head even though the compliments had him smiling. “Oh, China. Flattery won’t get you anywhere.”
“Yes, it will.”
Just before Taiwan could throw up in her mouth, they all heard shouting. Looking around, they saw a frantic South Korea calling out in search of America. She was wearing a flashy ‘I (heart) USA’ t-shirt and sporting an American flag tattoo on her cheek.
“I worry about her,” North Korea said with forlorn as they sat and watched the embarrassing spectacle.
“I’m not sure what’s going on,” Taiwan admitted.
Not after long, she caught glimpse of a shadowy figure in her peripheral. When she turned her head, she met a distant Japan’s cold, dead stare. Her nervous heart pounded inside a chest that suddenly felt light. The longer Taiwan stared into those black, soulless eyes, the stronger she felt that the very essence of life being drained from her.
“I am going to carve your heart out,” Japan said, soft voice hollow and lifeless as he echoed through the whole room, “and feed it to you.”
It wasn’t until Taiwan tried to talk that she realized how dry her throat actually was. “J-Japan?”
The stoic predator stood up, movements stiff and almost inhuman, and Taiwan noticed the dangerous glint of steel. Swiftly, Japan closed in on her victim with a strong, steady stride and sword in hand.
“Stop!” Taiwan pleaded, trapped and scared. As her heartbeat pounded in her ears, she looked around the room, only to find that she was completely alone. “North Korea? China? …Russia?”
She didn’t even have time to scream before cold steel ripped into tender flesh.
Her eyes shot open and she was staring not into death personified, but into the warm face of a dead dictator. Again she heard a door open and heels click against the floor. North Korea, now so realistically imperfect compared to the dream version, stepped out of his office to apologize for the wait. Then he narrowed his eyes at her pale face and trembling hands.
“Are you okay?”
She laughed uncomfortably.