The Consultant: Chapter 16

And it might every well come down to dying while trying. Barry had already made that decision.

But in the meantime, he supposed there was no point in denying himself what few pleasures the North Koreans did offer. 

And he had to eat, after all. 

As the six o’clock hour neared, Barry had to admit to himself that he was very hungry and very thirsty. The rice, vegetables, and water they had given him hadn’t been nearly enough. Barry had never been a glutton, but he had always been used to eating three meals per day. And now he was in a country where starvation was almost the norm.

Barry stood up from his cot. He had been trying to come up with a neat, perfectly arranged plan for getting out of here.

There were none. So he had might as well eat dinner, he figured.

He opened the door of his new quarters, and stepped out into the hallway. In many ways, the hall did resemble the hallway of a college dorm, if constructed along cruder, late Soviet Bloc lines. The floor was bare concrete, and there was only one small bulb to light the entire hallway. 

Barry closed the door of his room. He noticed that it didn’t lock. The North Koreans might have given him his own private quarters, but they certainly didn’t intend to give him a locking door by which he might shut them out.

It was all about appearances, wasn’t it?

Something else that seemed odd (even within the context of a situation that was completely odd): Barry was alone in in the hallway.

Barry had expected that now, right before the dinnertime rush, the hallway would be filled with other inmates. In North Korea, Barry figured, everyone would want to get a meal while the getting was good.

The hallway, however, was empty. When Barry had seen the rows of rooms, he had assumed that the building was filled with other foreigners.

Maybe that wasn’t the case.

He stood there for a few moments, waiting for some of the other doors to open.

They didn’t. 

Barry continued to stare at an empty hallway.

And so he headed for the stairs, and the canteen.

When Barry reached the bottom of the stairs, and turned right for the exit, he got another little surprise. 

Immediately to his left he saw Jung-Ho, sitting behind a desk. 

Both Jung-Ho and the desk were inside a small room. The room was not much larger than a storage closet; but it was big enough for the desk, a chair for visitors, and some bookshelves.

This was Jung-Ho’s office, apparently. 

The desk had a door, but Jung-Ho had left the door wide-open.

Maybe that was another reason why the North Koreans had chosen to house him here, in this building. 

The size of the camp suggested that there had to be other dorms. This building might be a facility where they placed new arrivals during their “transitional” period. 

He would be living right above the office of Jung-Ho, where his North Korean handler could keep an eye on him, apparently. 

We’ll see about that, Jung-Ho, Barry thought. Because all the while, I’m going to be keeping an eye on you, too.

Chapter 17

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