THIRTEEN‘s characters try to celebrate Christmas in an occupation zone.

Part 1 – The Crawlspace

Part 5 – The Message

An older Asian man, dressed in a green uniform with lots of shiny gold circles and metals, was sitting behind the local news desk. The images of Kim Jong Un and the military parades played on the green screen behind him.

He looked very official. He was official. He was General Ri Song Nam of the North Korean army, which had invaded Vancouver and the Lower Mainland of BC. He was the man who ruled over the region and was changing their way of life, daily.

“Citizens. There is to be no celebrating of holidays. This includes Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa.

Listen to me. There is no God. No Allah. No Jehovah. No Jesus. No Buddha. No gods of any kind. As of today you will cease to believe in these stories created only to confuse you, to blind you from the truth.

Kim Il Sung our Great Leader will guide us. Our Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, son of Kim Jong Il, will provide for us. No one is more important than our Supreme Leader, his father and his grandfather. Only they know what is best for us.

As of today there is to be no religious icons, decorations, etc in your home, except the images of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un. We are preparing the teachers of Junche to educate you. You will be told when to attend classes at your local schools. Everyone must attend.

You will learn it. You will understand how it is better than your Western beliefs in a god. You are to be grateful that the Supreme Leader saw fit to bring you people this new way of life.

Citizens. Follow the laws that are given to you by our Supreme Leader. Kim Jong Un knows that you are a stubborn culture and many will not follow these laws willingly. He knows that some will need to be re-educated in the better way.

To help all citizens, we ask that you report those who do not follow the laws. Anyone who reports neighbours, friends, and family will be greatly rewarded. Kim Jong Un will remember those who acted for the benefit of the whole of Korea.

Good night Citizens.”

The images of the North Korean leaders and their military prowess came back on the screen. The whole message would loop over and over for the next hour, until the power was shut off again.

“No Christmas? Can they do that?” Jack asked.

“They have the power to do anything they want.” Nick said.

“I am not taking down that tree. I just got the damn thing up and decorated.” Jack’s mom complained.

“Well, we’ll have to figure out where to move the tree, cause right in front of the big bay window is not the best idea.” Nick said.

“While you three figure out where to put it, I’ve got to finish making dinner before the power goes off again.”

“What’s for dinner mom? Burgers?” Jack asked.

“Sure. Burgers and fries it is. It will just look like rice, beans, and canned tuna.”

Jack groaned. It was all they had to eat and he wanted burgers, pizza, fish and chips. Anything except rice, beans, and canned meat.

Every week his mom went to the grocery store where the soldiers gave her very little in the way of food. The system to distribute supplies was efficient, but lacking in substance.

“Are we going to have to cancel Christmas?” Jack asked Nick.

“No. You’re mother wants a Christmas. We are going to figure out how to make sure she gets one. OK?”

Jack nodded. Christmas was his mom’s favourite time of year and it would break her heart not to celebrate. It would also take away the last bit of joy they had left.

Part 6 – Coming Soon

Photo on 2014-04-17 at 12.25 PM

Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN, a novel about a boy, his mom, a cop and an invading army. THIRTEEN is the first book in a series about North American kids trying to adjust to life under a totalitarian regime after a surprise attack utilizing terrorist and conventional tactics. 

Click to visit her website and learn more about THIRTEEN