(Pictures don’t lie! North Koreans and L’il Kim applaud as Michael Stang enters the auditorium to read his entry into our contest Once Upon a Time. Dennis Rodman, traveling incognito, blends in disguised with shades and a baseball cap and piercings so popular in host’s country)
Michael Stang has decided that the only way to win our contest is to enter it. Who can argue with such logic? We do hope that those of you reading will enter it as well. I have spoken with a lotta folks (actually, just one) about the contest who say they are not writing a novel so won’t be entering. DUH! If you write a prologue, you are writing a novel!
Take the first step, which is intent. Once you write a prologue, you will undoubtedly discover you actually do have a novel locked up in your computer. Consider your keyboard a combination lock. We are offering $500 in prizes, and to sweeten the pot, the editor-in-chief (moi) is offering a date to the McDonalds of his choice (Dutch) in lieu of all the other cash prizes, books, and Barnes and Noble gift cards we have put up. Check out what you can win and who you have to do to win it here:
In the meantime, here is the prologue to Mike Stang’s attempt to draw attention away from Gary Clark’s entry, with the working title:
by Michael Stang
Sounds penetrated the walls differently, at different times, depending on the time of day. Nights screamed with northern winds and pain. Mornings were a morning after, pound for pound of flesh, a jackhammer against all things living. We waited for the afternoons, waited for the barracks to settle down; I waited for the ringing in my head to stop. There, between hell and brimstone, my mind dominated, and warmed what was left of my bones.
In those few moments, I dared to be careless. Stretched on the deck floor, I marked my limbs in dust. I winced behind the locked doors from my wounds and the smell of human piss, weak, recent, not strong enough. No one could shit: to shit was an act of freedom.
I was fortunate from most. I had the margin of unrestraint. Most of the prisoners hung from hooks that were lagged into the concrete walls, latched to their wrists and waists with slave bracelets. The way to lie down was to die, reaching the floor only with their foreheads.
Guards took a brake around the same time. Nightsticks and tasers rested besides the family style tables, set with Korean food that made me puke to smell it.
As I said, I was lucky. The intelligence on me revealed I owned a pig farm back in the states, and knew a lot about food and demand, and global economy. They knew I was a graduate from UCLA. I was a golden boy, but they singled me out not because of what I could have done to improve the starvation of North Korea’s population, or the dehydration of my fellow inmates. I was pegged for press coverage, and therefore had to look healthy, or at least able to stand straight. “Smug,” they called it, behind the cameras. Look at the American, educated in the best schools, prosperous, a philanthropist. Look at him now, an enemy of our glorious nation. The devil incarnate, personally involved in crimes against out Dear Leader. This pig will die.
They had one thing right. I was dying. Another thing wrong—the crimes.
There was no time.
There was no escape.
There were only the sounds of death, and the guards coming back from lunch.