“…has just been announced that North Korea has declared war on the United States and plans to mount a full-scale invasion. Now our sources tell us that this is due to American involvement in the Korean civil war during the early fifties,” the female reporter said. “The president and cabinet have called an emergency UN meeting to discuss this threat, and whether or not it’s real.”
“But should the American people be worried?” asked another reporter.
The woman shrugged. “It’s hard to say. This could just be a hoax, or it could be real. With the other wars that have happened between now and then, it’s hard to say. After World War three, North Korea was treated like Germany after World War one. It’s possible that, like Germany, North Korea has now begun to rise up and has become a power that we should all take seriously.”
“Now for our viewers just tuning in, let’s show that video again,” the male reporter said.
Ren pressed the mute button and watched the Korean dictator and moved her lips to the English subtitles at the bottom. Trey also watched the video intently. Tim was leaning against the door frame, his face solid and pale. Kathy sat on the arm of the couch, one hand clasped over her mouth, eyes wide with fear. Venitia watched silently, her lips pressed into a thin line.
Ren hit the rewind button and watched the video again. “It’s not an idle threat,” she said silently.
“How can you tell?” her uncle asked, his voice rough and low.
She stood and walked to the flat screen and pointed to the man on screen. “Watch his body language,” she said, pointing to his face and shoulders. “See how rigid and tense his muscles are in his arms and jaw? He’s showing his hatred through his body language. And look at the troops in the background. Those are real North Korean troops, ready for war.”
“She’s right,” Trey said, his voice strained. “They don’t have any ceremonial weaponry or extra frills. They’re dressed for war.”
Venitia looked between her brother and Ren. “Contrary to what the government wants us to think, the military isn’t strong enough for an invasion on our home turf. It’d be catastrophic, similar to France or England after World War two.”
“So then what do we do?” Kathy asked, her voice trembling.
Venitia sighed. “I work for the DOD. They mentioned bringing in some involvement from…”
“No!” Ren screamed, cutting her off. “That is not the answer! There are other resources before you need to call on that.”
Kathy and Tim looked between the two women in confusion.
“Operation Birdsong,” Venitia finally replied softly. “The president thinks it’s our final hope for this.”
“I’m sorry, my niece is still suffering from severe PTSD after being trapped there, and that was ten years ago,” Kathy said harshly. “I’m not letting her go and relive all that trauma. It’s cruel!”
“And I wake up in fear every single morning that I’ll see my brother’s corpse somewhere in my house,” Venitia shot back angrily. “As tragic as Ren’s case is, she’s not the only one who was tortured in that camp. Trey has to go see a barber every week to shave his face because I’m scared to trust him with a razor because he slit his wrists with one last time he shaved himself. There are other people who have suffered, and more will if this war happens,” she said, eyes flashing. “Do you remember the devastation caused by the third World War? It was tragic, the greatest loss of life in centuries. A nuke went off that nearly destroyed New Zealand. People are still recovering from the radiation. It’s like another Nagasaki all over again. And this man is just another Hitler or Stalin. Do you remember the stories from Senator McCain in two-thousand eight?” she asked. “That’s a cakewalk compared to what he would do if he came here.”
“She’s right,” Trey said suddenly. “I don’t like it either, but the alternative is worse. The things that Fagin did to us at Birdsong were awful, sure, but similar and worse things are going to happen to more people if the Koreans invade.”
Tim ran his hands over his face. “Ren? What do you think?”
They turned to look where she’d been standing, but all they saw was the bottom of her black leather boot running upstairs.
“I’ll go talk to her,” Kathy said, standing up.
“No, I will,” Trey said quickly as he moved to the bottom of the stairs.
“She’s my niece, I believe I know how to handle her breakdowns,” she retorted.
“With all due respect, Mrs. Kathy, this isn’t a breakdown. We’re talking about restarting all the training that we both went through as children, and having to fight again. That’s hard enough as is, without the added threat of PTSD or a pending invasion. This is a time when she needs to talk to someone who knows everything she’s been through. Has she ever told you everything?” he asked Tim and Kathy, watching as they both looked down at the floor. “Then I’ll go talk to her,” he finished, already heading up the stairs.