Friday, 5 March 2010

an excerpt from Apocalypse! (White Day)

Apocalypse! (White Day, not today)

I laugh way too much.

2 o'clock in the morning as I stand arms crossed, eyes bewitched in the light as the stage show begins, the all night darkness of dancing to electronic beats now giving way to the revelation of a Korean girl in a Viking helmet miming to Pussycat Dolls. The stage is her deck as Korean men dance in sync behind her with bare oiled torsos and fake snakes round their shoulders.

Everyone’s Korean, including the girl I’ve been dancing with, now in the toilets I’m standing by alone, standing out in the crowd with my blonde hair as I chuckle at this camp scene being played out in
Club Mass. She’s been in there for a while now and I can’t find the two mates I'd seen her with earlier in the evening when we were both more sober. She’s alone and so am I, my mates in congress round the bar, all standing out, all teachers.
It’s time to stop grinning and try to help the girl, ‘Elise’, a thin and beautiful twenty something. Everybody's thin here, like the gangly attendant hopping from one foot to another between both toilet doors, whistle dangling from her neck, tights cut off above the ankles, arms stuck to her sides with hands rolled into fists.

'Do you speak English?' I yell.
The attendant nods.
'There is a girl there. She is sick. She needs help'.
'Okay'. The attendant sets off and I’m mulling whether there’s really a need for me to stay on the scene. It’s all a shame really; me and Elise had just been getting to know each other…

As I look out at all the girls and boys all staring at the mad stage almost dancing in lines, I think back to how this morning, yesterday morning, I was panicking in bed hearing how the North had tested missiles during the night, and yet life seemed exactly the same when I went outside for milk, a world obviously used to such empty threats.
Now still no-one cared, dancing through the night. The Viking girl falls in the arms of the men around her, the pearl in their oyster. The lights go back to dark and I set off laughing to the bar, peering into eyes I pass by, my own open wide. 2 girls in black peer back with no expression.

'Annyong haseyo' I say in passing, not waiting for a reply.

This is my year out, I think. This is my life at 23.


I think way too much.
It’s 4am and I’m walking in the rain I forget is acidic. I'm so close to home but I don’t take the left turn by the overflowing river, simply staggering alone up the road with my love for the drench. Up above on my right, the ever-burning yellow cross beams atop the Joyful Church.
By the side of the 24 hour Family Mart I slump against a claw machine, just as effervescent, inside a Black Spiderman and Winnie the Pooh nodding all hours in rows, a Hello Kitty, Wayne Rooney, etcetera etcetera, all solar powered. I never win at this game; one arrow forward, one arrow right.
I’m thinking too much as I rub a hand across my face rubbery with the wet, stare at my phone, all my sleeves and top buttons undone. When I eventually get up, when the night can get no stranger, I find an 8 year old boy manning the Family Mart on his lonesome, laptop open by the till.
'Oh I wanted fags' I moan.
The mother trots out from backstage, strangely done up in these twilight hours in an immaculate blue dress. She can barely smile, flummoxed by this foreigner before her, mouth pursed with the effort to find an English word she can say without fear of embarrassment.
I point, mull whether I should pick up an umbrella while I’m at it.
The boy never looks up once.
'Poor little bastard' I tell the mother, picking up my 500 in change.


  1. a short story about South Korea

  2. Good stuff man. Strong imagery.

  3. Wow, thanks Alex. I just went back to this old blog by chance...I'm out of Korea and now at