The last relief delivery had arrived nearly twenty years ago, almost like an afterthought.
Heavy rains caused a land slide that wiped out a significant portion of Samjiyon-kun. Nearly a week later, the humanitarian trucks lazily crossed their way over from China and brought not even a quarter of what was expected.
The incident occurred at the time the Dear Leader arrived in the beloved city to assess the damage and, enraged at the weak and delayed response, ordered all of the truck drivers shot and forced the remaining distributors to march back and try their luck swimming across the Tumen River. As a consolation prize, Dear Leader kept the fleet of a dozen vehicles and choice selections from each, leaving the infested rice and fortified bread for the grateful citizens who remained in Samjiyon.
For weeks after, Dear Leader remained enraged at such a display of disrespect with such a sad and pathetic aid gift and mulled over adequate punishment. He needed to reassert his position on the world stage. He consulted with his top engineers and nuclear experts, devising a devious plan. After many testing-induced earthquakes, Dear Leader himself proudly pressed the series of buttons that launched an arsenal of scary missiles that arced blissfully through the sky and, as he imagined, plummeted directly into the heads of every world leader that had scorned him across the globe. Aweing at his splendor and sageliness, his scientists and engineers applauded him.
Dear Leader waited for an international response. He delighted at the billions who were mourning and lamenting their loss of leadership and the destruction of their homes. He wondered how long it would take before they flooded toward his borders, seeking his guidance and governorship.
But nothing happened.
So, he waited longer.
And nothing happened.
His scientists and engineers reassured him the effects of the missiles. They showed him satellite photographs of burned buildings, smoldering columns of smoke up into the sky. There was an image of a rather crispy-looking White House and a skeletal Eiffel Tower. Dear Leader tsked a little at the latter; how he would have loved to have seen it in person.
On his command, they propagated another message to the world, threatening the remaining governments and inviting the broken people to prosper under the Dear Leader. Anticipating response this time, he waited.
In a drunken fury, a fury in part because his supply of Hennessey was running dangerously low, Dear Leader sent for the heads of the top engineer and the top scientist. In a last minute surprise, a phone call from the American president delayed the executions.
“Glorious Leader,” bowed the People’s Armed Forces Master. “Please, wait!” He had hurried to the packed soccer stadium where the engineer and scientist were knelt over boxes on a dais in the middle of the field, readying to be separated from head and body. The Dear Leader held a hand up and the executioner paused.
“It is,” gasped the Master. “It is the President. President of the enemy state. The President of the United States!” He extended his palms that cupped a cellular phone.
The Dear Leader snatched it and held it to his ear. “Speak,” he growled in English.
A voice, wrought with a dry, hacking cough sputtered, “You.. you win.”
The Dear Leader’s eyes grew wide. “Wait. You must repeat that but for all of Korea to hear!” He motioned for a microphone and one quickly was given to him.
“Now, what did you say, President of the United States?” He pressed the microphone to the cell phone and grinned smugly.
“I, ah–” the President’s voice rang sharp through the stadium’s speakers, erupting into a painful screech. “You, uh. You win.”
Dear Leader switched to his native tongue and triumphantly screamed. “We win! The United States bows before the greatness of Korea!” The stadium erupted into cheers. “Say it!”
The President cleared his throat, a funny titter choking out only briefly before being covered with a hacking cough again. “The uh, heh, United States.” There was a sound of muffled voices in the background and the President whispering harshly. “The United States and um, the whole world. The whole world, in fact, bows before the greatness of Korea. Lots of us are dying. Yep, we’re all pretty much dead. Your nukes got.. they got–” Suddenly, a strained, horrible froggy noise burst out quickly followed by a deathly sigh. Then, the line went dead.
There was silence. Then, uproarious, victorious, joyful cheering.
Korea had won.
In the days following, the Dear Leader forbade anyone, military and civilian alike, to leave their cities. Instead, he posted everyone to stand guard with any weapon they had to protect their borders. Since the radioactive air would not infiltrate the borders of best Korea, the world’s survivors would be coming. Korea would need to protect herself from those infested with radioactivity. What remained of planes and vehicles that hadn’t been refashioned into missiles, were forbidden to depart. No risk coud be taken that could violate the purity of Korea and her people.
Years passed. Rare incidents of survivors crossing the land from China, and even rarer refugees from small boats, brought news from the outside world. The world was in ruins, but many population centers still remained strong albeit broken. They advised to never leave Korea, for it was too dangerous and terrible.
The years continued to tick away. For the first decade, Dear Leader was most satisfied that he could run his country without interference from the stupid West and all of the other nosy countries. He had to create a new enemy, since all of the world’s governments were gone or greatly weakened, and he decided any survivor seeking refuge would be the new enemy. That gave his people something to project their hatred at — the evil, sadistic, radioactive refugees that sought to bring down best Korea with their mutated cells and poisons. But strangely, after the first round of refugees were gorily executed, all the remaining ones disappeared. And no more came after that.
The twentieth anniversary of the victory was approaching. Dear Leader, now older and greying, longed for the tantalizing treats of the outside world. He consulted his advisors, asking when it would be safe to traverse the world again. Surely there must be a Scotch factory still producing something, somewhere, radioactivity be damned.
“I will go,” volunteered the People’s Armed Forces Master. “I shall walk the earth to seek out the pleasures my Leader desires.” And so, he went.
Many months later, he returned. He was pleasant and sun-kissed, and even though he smiled strangely, he reported sadly: “There is nothing left. There is no one. I cannot find even one bottle of whiskey.”
Perplexed, the Leader sent out a large scouting party, this time armed with the old trucks from the last aid mission. There had to be something left. Surely one man couldn’t explore it all. The People’s Armed Forces Master, knowledgeable with the strange new terrain of the empty world, volunteered to go and lead the troops.
But he, and they, never returned.
Years passed. The Dear Leader grew anxious. He was certain the remaining survivors were sabotaging him. More and more of his people simply disappeared. He grew paranoid, likening the survivors to mutant ninjas who would sneak through the night and capture his people while they slept. New orders went out: every family was required to have one person awake at all times to watch and remain vigilant. Soon, people were forbidden to go to rivers. They were then not permitted to leave their homes except outside curfew hours. But still, they disappeared.
One morning, torn awake by a terrible nightmare, the Dear Leader cried out and fell out of bed. He waited for an attendant to come hurry to his side, but no one came.
He yelled for them. No answer. “I will have your heads!” he threatened, but even the sound of his voice echoing off the walls of his sleeping chambers, was brittle and frightened.
He managed to get up on his feet and wandered the halls. There was no one. Not a soul. He took to outside, squinting in the early morning sunrise. Where he expected to hear sounds of bicycles and trolleys, he heard nothing. Cars were abandoned in the roads. Umbrellas and briefcases discarded and scattered. He was alone; utterly alone.
“He doesn’t have much time, ma’am.” The General was smiling. “His personal doctor, whom we managed to get out just last month, said that the cancer has spread to every major organ. Kim thinks he’s been getting treatment but rest assured, he is going to die quickly and alone.”
“Good, good.” The President tented her fingers under her chin. “And the remaining citizens?”
“Safe. All accounted for. It helps that our initial plants were able to get a census back then. The last of them have been resettled in Mongolia, some in Siberia. Everything’s going just as planned.”
“Wonderful, wonderful.” She watched the real-time satellite imagery that captured the lonely man wandering the empty road in downtown Pyongyang. There was no audio, but his face said all that she needed to know. A smile came across her lips. “Twenty years, General. Twenty years and we took down the world’s worst dictator without firing a single gun.”
The grainy image of Kim broadcast on the screen showed the man falling to his knees. He pounded the ground with his fists before falling over and gasping. In moments, he was gone.
“The sun has set on your kingdom,” murmured the President. “Good night, Dear Leader.”