My head was throbbing from the beating that it had taken from the soldier’s rifle-butt. My vision was also blurred. I was in very bad shape, but that didn’t make any impression on my captors. My thoughts were centred on Julie and Jack, and whether they had reached the safety of the Consulate. I needn’t have worried, because my questions were answered for me in the shape of a Korean Army officer.
" Your friends may be safe, but you are very far from being so my friend. You will be taken from here to a labour camp, and you can kiss goodbye to England forever.
" But we haven’t done anything." This remark cost me yet another blow to the face.
" Next you will be demanding a trial. Well, there will be no trial. You are guilty of espionage and will either be shot or spend the rest of your life in the camp." With this promise ringing in my ears I was dragged to a filthy cell and left to my own devices. Although I was happy to know that Julie and Jack were safe, it didn’t do anything for my morale having just heard what the officer had in mind for me. I spent a sleepless night, and the encroaching dawn deepened my dread of just what the day would bring. I hadn’t eaten for some hours, but I lacked the courage to ask for food in this place.
After spending a couple of more hours in the cell, two guards came and took me back to the officer. He was sat at a table laden with food, and he obviously took great delight at my hungry glances.
" If you were to tell me how you arrived on our shores, then I would be happy to share my meal with you," was his opening gambit.
" Certainly, we were in an aeroplane which crashed into the sea, and we managed to swim ashore."
" Liar, he screamed, we found no wreckage from any aeroplane.Tell me the truth. Were you parachuted in?. That would account for the woman’s broken leg."
" No, I’ve told you the truth. We were in a plane that disintegrated."
He controlled his temper and said to the guards, " Load him onto the wagon for the camp. Go with him, and this time, he had better not escape, otherwise you two will take his place." The guards paled at this threat. I knew there would be no possible chance of escape this time.The guards would make double-sure of that!
It took around three hours of driving before we reached the camp, and I was feeling terrible. When I was pulled off the wagon I was once again taken to yet another filthy cell and flung into it. I lay on the cell floor feeling sorry for myself and my predicament.
" English or American?", the voice shocked me awake.
As I looked in it’s direction I saw three people all sitting on the floor with their backs to the wall. The cell was so gloomy that I had not noticed them when I was first flung into it.
" English," I croaked. I was dying with thirst and could hardly speak.
" Give him some water," another voice from the gloom instructed.
He did so, and although it tasted bitter I gratefully gulped it down.
" That bitter taste is the guards urine in the water. They do it all the time. They think it’s funny."
I wanted to vomit having heard this, but I didn’t.
" How’d you get here?, was the next question.
I was reluctant to answer, but I figured I had nothing to lose, so I told them the whole story.
" Well, you were lucky not to have been put in front of a firing squad, but this place is as good as being dead. No-one has ever escaped from here, so don’t even waste your time thinking about it."
His words were proven to be true, for I spent the next three and a half years there before we were liberated by the Americans.
Liberated?, I didn’t even know there had been a war, but I knew I had spent three and a half years of hell. Daily beatings, starvation, interrogation, all manner of injustices, and yet I had survived, whilst many around me had not fared so well and had succumbed to the torture and hunger. Sure, I was a broken man, a skeleton of a man, but I had survived it all, and at last I was going home.
All of this was a distant memory as I stood in the middle of the DIY store and hugged Julie.
We had met briefly on my return, and she had helped me through my time in the hospital, but I think that she had a sense of guilt that she and Jack had gotten away at the expense of my incarceration. She needn’t have felt that way, but she had, and we had said a tearful goodbye long ago, and now here she was again, and I was so happy to see her.
" Good morning Tom,", I turned to look into the eyes of Becky,whose expression was displaying hurt and shock to discover me in the arms of another woman, and a beautiful woman at that…