Project Wither

August 24, 2017
By YashaA SILVER, San Rafael, California
YashaA SILVER, San Rafael, California
5 articles 1 photo 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." -M



James sat in the CIA director’s office patiently. Looking around,he saw that there wasn't really much to be entertained by in the director's office. He brought his attention back to her ….was she going to give him a mission? Probably, yes. He looked at her as she shuffled some papers and fixed her glasses. Her dark brown hair was cut so perfectly just above her shoulders as if with a single stroke. She opened a drawer in her desk and took out a manila file and set it upon the desk. James saw that it had a stamp on it that read TOP SECRET. 

Hmm… he didn't want to be annoying and ask what it was but he was really curious. The director flipped through the file quickly and then looked at him. James raised his eyebrows.

“Mr. Belmont, you're our best agent so we're using you -” she emphasized the word “-for this mission. You must not fail. This is project Wither, because after Kim Jong-Un is dead, his regime will wither like a dying plant.” She looked him in the eyes and James knew she was serious. He nodded and she slid the manila folder across the desk to him. James could feel her staring at him as he examined its contents. Inside, there was a picture of the current leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, along with info on who he was and where he would be at the needed time.

The needed time…

The director broke into the agent's thoughts…

“You are to go to Korea and you will go to the North Korean military parade in Pyongyang…” She paused for a brief moment to fix her hair.  “And assassinate Kim Jong-Un. I’ve arranged a flight to take you to Pyongyang tomorrow. This man must be brought down.” She looked at James matter of factly and raised her eyebrows when he said nothing. A crow called distantly. James said nothing, still taking all of it in.

“Is something wrong, agent Belmont?” She looked at James as if expecting him to pull a gun on her.
“No Madam Director, I just didn't suspect it would be so soon.”

“This man is a threat to the United States and the world. Its crucial that he's brought down as soon as possible. It's hardly a crime to kill him after what he's done and intends to do.” She folded her hands together on the desk and looked at James, her brown eyes inspecting him through her spectacles.

He looked down for a moment. “Yes,...I've heard the threats…”

There was a brief silence and then the director spoke, “I think i'll send you off to see Smith now.” She waved her hand absently toward the door. James stood up and left her office, walking down the hall to the gadgets department.

“This is a contact lens that allows you to see hidden weapons. It's completely invisible to others around you, even if they're looking directly into your eyes.” Smith held up the lens for the young agent to look at. He examined it carefully. It really was invisible. Smith put the contact down and picked up an iphone 7. “This,” he paused to look at it, “Is remarkable. Press the home button, it will shoot a tranquilizer dart so fast it's impossible to see. Go to the camera setting and press the button to take a picture and it shoots a poison dart that will kill its victim in 15 seconds. It does all this as well as being fully functionable as a normal iphone.”

Smith laughed a deep laugh. “But it's not quite normal is it now?” he smiled and looked at James.

“May I try it?” James asked, taking the phone from the gadgets masters hands.

“Yes, yes, just point it over there for god's sake!” He moved James’s hands with the phone out of the range of harm that could come to him and pointed to a dummy standing about two yards away. James smiled eagerly and pressed the home button. The dummy at the other end was suddenly torn and smoking. His eyes widened. “Impressive, Smith.” He looked at the gadget master and smiled, handing the phone back to him.




Dressed in a brand new suit and tie, James walked across the Kim Il-Sung square on Saturday, keeping a lookout for the State Security Department and Kim Jong-Un. People were gathered all around the square, military generals and civilians did not mix. The huge buildings on either side of the square with the enormous North Korean flag and hammer and sickle made the whole experience quite nerve racking.  The militants were clearly defined by uniform, with medals and nice shoes. James walked past a couple of what he assumed were generals talking seriously in Korean when one caught his eye and gave him a warning glance. Watch yourself. We’re on guard, foreigner.  James had the contact that allowed him to see hidden weapons in his eye. As he glanced at the generals, surprisingly, he could see no weapons on them.  Trying to walk through the huge crowds of cheering people, James took note of the way the people acted. Kim Jong-Un had not appeared yet, but the Korean people were obviously excited at this opportunity to see their leader. His orders were to get to a good vantage point before the State Security Department had the chance to protect the North Korean leader. If that didn't work, his only other plan was to assassinate Kim from across the square-because nobody would suspect him if he was just holding up an iphone when Kim was shot dead. He could just imagine the State Security’s words...It could have been anyone… James looked around the square, looking for a vantage point. People pushed and shoved him, all trying to get somewhere. The huge palace looming into the sky at the opposite end of the square would have been good. The State Department would be everywhere though but...but this had to be done. The director's words echoed in his head You must not fail.

Speed walking across the square, James navigated his way to the huge building without being seen by the State Department. Just as he reached the front of the crowd in front of the palace the people in the square erupted into applause as Kim Jong-Un appeared at the top of the stairs. He was smiling and waving to his people as he emerged with two State Department agents on either side of him. He looked genuinely happy, and seeing him here, now, in person made James put the whole situation in perspective for just a moment. The people looked happy, the country looked prosperous, everyone was smiling, and just for a second; James was caught up in it all.

Then the bomb dropped.

James was suddenly jerked back into the cruel reality; the people didn't really know who this man was. He was not their leader, he was not their savior, the country was not a utopia; as they had all been told as kids. It was all just a cruel joke on the Korean people. They were brainwashed to worship Kim Jong-Un. This man was a threat to the world; and yet, they had no clue. James found himself taking his iphone out of his pocket...Slipping it gently, gently, out of his suit pocket.

Kim, standing on the giant steps of the palace....waving…

Suddenly James felt someone slam into him. He was thrown to the ground and his iphone knocked out of his hands. He heard the screen crack on the pavement. His vision was hazy, and he heard the frenzied voices of two men yelling in Korean...James felt someone shove his hands behind his back and someone else shoved his face into the pavement under him. He grunted as he felt the pavement scrape his face and blood run down his forehead. More yelling in Korean. James looked up the tiniest bit and saw through a red haze two Korean men in nice suits. The State Department...James groaned as he was shoved upright and forced to walk. Ashamed faces of those around him passed as he was escorted out of the crowd, bleeding and miserable. How had they known? How had they known…?  The words were the only thing James clung to as he drifted into unconsciousness.

The first thing that came back was his hearing. The room had a slight mechanical whir, as if there were florescent lights. Seconds later, his vision came back. Through the darkness he could barely make out the cement walls of the room. There was no light. He was seated in a chair and his hands were tied behind his back. James could feel a trickle of blood dripping down the side of his hand as the chains cut into his skin. There was still blood all over his face and in his eyes and  he could taste it in his mouth.  Like they would ever bother to clean me up. He thought grimly.  James waited and waited, for what seemed like hours; but nobody came into the dark room. It was hot, and James was thirsty and sweaty. His throat was dry and he doubled over coughing, for he needed water badly and felt sick.

James awoke from a troubled sleep and felt someone wiping his face with a clean, wet towel. He opened his eyes slowly and saw a man that, for a second, he thought was Kim Jong-Un himself, with his pudgy, child-like face. The room was finally lit, but only very little so.

“Kim…?” James groaned as the man wiped his wound, causing James to flinch.

The man looked surprised, and put the towel down. “You stupid American, I am not Kim Jong-Un. You have dishonored the regime and you are filthy.” The man spoke with a strong Korean accent, making his words a little difficult to understand. He looked at James as if he were something on the side of a road.

James grimaced at the Korean’s foul words and spat in the man’s face.

The man recoiled in disgust, perhaps because he'd been spat on by an American, or the mere factor of spit. He grabbed James’s hair in his fist and forced James’s head close to his, pulling the agents hair and yelling in his face.

James yelped in pain, but he could do nothing, for his hands were tied behind his back. The Korean slapped him across the face a few times too, swearing and mumbling in Korean. James had tears running down his red face when the man got up and left the room, turning the lights off with a click and slamming the door. James was left to cry on his own in the dark unfamiliar room. He was starving, and his head hurt like hell. How long had he gone without food? Hours? Days? He had no way of telling the time of day since there were no windows in the small room. The air smelled stale and James needed to use the restroom badly. He yelled, maybe he could get the attention of someone outside of wherever this place was. He had no luck.

After what James assumed was hours, the door of the room creaked open and in came the Korean man he had seen earlier. He was carrying a small key in his left hand as he entered the room and proceed to unlock the chains-or rather handcuffs, around James’s wrists. The relief was amazing. James actually sighed (and glared at the Korean) as he rubbed his sore and bloody wrists. He was going to ask to use the bathroom, but the man interrupted him. “Come, you must need to use the toilet and clean yourself. Follow me.” His voice was still harsh towards James as he led him out of the room and down a dark hall. For the first time, James got a good look at his surroundings. On either side of the musty hall there were heavy, iron doors layered with dirt and grime like the one at the room where he was kept. The whole place was dank and musty and dark. He didn't see much, but of what he did see it all looked pretty much the same. A few times while walking, he thought of taking the man out, but then thought it too risky. 

“Tell me where I am.” He didn't even bother to say please. The State Department had imprisoned him and treated him like a foul animal. Frankly, he didn't have any respect for this man, nor did he deserve any.
The man turned around and once again grabbed James’s hair, bringing James close to his face. “You have disgraced the regime and almost killed the leader. We have imprisoned you in the Chungsan prison camp. This is the last time you will be treated “fairly” as you call it. You are remarkably arrogant for trying to assassinate the leader and have earned your place here.” He let go of James’s hair and James stumbled backwards.

Working out in the hot sun made James feel sick and made his head hurt like crazy. He knew he was sunburned and had a fever. There was an officer in uniform supervising him and the other inmates as they worked the day away. He had only been here for about two days...James collapsed on the ground, the dirt getting into his eyes and all over his face. He couldn't take this anymore. His whole body ached. He had no contact with the outside world, no contact with the CIA. He had been trained to be a spy, but not for this. Not for this. He was only human….

“Hey!” The officer on duty walked over to James and grabbed him by the collar. James scrambled to get up, but the officer had him by his grimy clothes and an angry expression on his face. “What are you doing?!” he shook James and slapped him across the face.

James only stared at the officer in a daze. He could feel himself losing consciousness... the officer yelled again and began to drag James away to the main building.

James was to disoriented and sick to really be thankful to be out of the scorching sun. The officer had dragged James into a room he didn't recognize. He pushed James into the wall and he stumbled over himself and collapsed on the cold floor. The officer had a crop in his hand and was standing over James.  Where did that come from…? He thought groggily as he looked up at the officer. Suddenly the officer brought the whip down with amazing force onto James’s side. James cried out in pain, trying to protect himself from the next unyielding blow. Yet, he did not succeed, it came down again, this time the officer yelling at him. James sobbed on the ground, trying to protect himself. “Im sorry, Im sorry!” He wailed to the officer, yet he did not cease the painful lashes James was receiving every time the officer brought the whip down. James was thousands of miles away from home, in excruciating pain, half starved and in the hands of a merciless regime.

Who was the dirty scumbag who had ratted on him?

The author's comments:

I love this story so much. My favorite line is when she tells James why its called "Project Wither". 

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