Bewildering Stories

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Once Upon a Time There Was Korea

by Deep Bora

Prologue: 2655 B.C.

The endless river basin stretched on and on until the view was replaced by a different land formation beyond horizon levels. Immediately afterwards, undulating hills converted the ground mass into higher mountains. At regular intervals one could visually determine springs carrying fresh water from the inner bowels of the earth.

These fresh water springs later gave impetus to formation of rivulets lower down on the mountainous slopes and traversing hundreds of miles; later, one could see large rivers flowing across the plains and finally into the oceans.

The vegetation was lush and green. The trees reached hundreds of feet into open skies, and the air was fresh, crisp and loaded with oxygen — the primary gas needed for mankind’s survival.

“You can breathe in the fresh, oxygenated air and exhale, too, as you breathe normally,” the gentleman leading a human formation suggested casually as he walked ahead, leading a six-member team of interplanetary space astronauts and scientists. They were heading into the upper reaches of a mountain code-named “Cobra.” This mountain — the second highest within an approximate area covering 4 million square kilometers — was their scheduled contact range; this place was also earmarked as part of the agenda.

“Er... sir! Where are we?” The question sounded alert yet confused, and rightly so.

“We are positioned at a region which shall soon become populated by our human race,” the gentleman replied, quelling all apprehension.

“Pardon me!?” The second companion sounded more distressed than the first observer.

“Interplanetary High command at 4616 C.E. desires that we visit 2655 B.C. on our primary agenda. Therefore our time traveling schedule commences here!” The gentleman voice sounded curt. He continued, “They named this place Korea; later on, in the beginning of 2nd year A.D. or so.”

“What! Do you mean there are about 655 years to go before they officially name this place in the old, lost world?” The third time surfer exclaimed. Evidently she was new to the region.

“You see...” The gentleman continued in relaxed tones yet again. They had halted for a brief while to admire the greenery and uninterrupted landscape. “We have landed at the correct coordinates. However, our actual time zone — the year 4616 C.E. — does not relate to Korea in any pattern. That was an independent country then. Now — in our time zone — it is a state-city within country 3.”

“Sir, our time-travel machine!”

“Relax. It is in correct functional order. Have no fear.” The gentleman cautioned them against any further apprehension.

Chapter 1

The present day, in 4616 C.E.

“Earth records indicate fuzzy details related to the 21st century,” the professor stated with finality. There are very little — rather trace-evidence of — what exactly happened, my dears!”

The professor was preoccupied in addressing a four-member team of interplanetary personnel who had recently arrived from Moon satellite duties. They were in jovial mood and inclined to an excursion of variant value — ‘time-traveling’.

“Yes, the war was averted,” the professor commenced yet again, his voice decibels slightly lower. That war was surely on the anvil... Earth records are definitely indicative of this fact.”


“Yes, my dears, you shall love this detour from ordinary outer space duties. In your case the time machine has been regulated to activity — for a further protonic burst of 2,700 years per interval. That implies two successive terms totaling 5,400 years of time travel activity. Superb! However, that is for later. Perhaps you shall leave after a few days.”

“Professor, sir! We would like to enhance our knowledge about this independent country named Korea; of the supposed war — the third world war of the old, lost world. What did actually happen, professor? Do tell us!” The lady interplanetary scientist coaxed.

“Very well then. Remember, in 4616 C.E. — our present-day age upon earth — Korea does not exist except as a past and vague name in our ancient earth records. It is simply a name defining a geographical portion of land. It was a comparatively small country situated at the southeastern portion of the old, lost world...”

The professor continued the explanation in his usual manner, often deviating from the narrative in order to answer queries his junior companions put forward occasionally.

Sometime prior to dinner and after few large glasses of imported Jupiter grapefruit juice mixed with Earth lemons, he came to a halt. “Ah, my dears. The time machine! Your recreation activity is due, perhaps by the day after tomorrow. Your names are on the final selection list for this upcoming ‘time journey’... And now please allow me to retire for the night at my lab. I’ve got plenty of work to attend to at Earth forward space research laboratory!”

“But professor, you did not finish the Korea topic. We still don’t know what actually happened. How was Korea involved?”

The distraught second colleague joined in. “What about the 3rd world war of the old, lost world? Was it ever fought?”

The professor instead implored with them to join him at dinner in the lab cafeteria prior to all relevant discussions. Senior personnel deputed within the interplanetary cafeteria ensured other members of star fields personnel did not occupy the recreational personal chambers. Dinner over, the professor bade them a polite goodnight.

“We shall meet here again tomorrow after breakfast. Then, I shall resume our topic. Now... if you’ll excuse me.”

* * *

Earth Advanced Space Research Laboratory was in reality a huge city now located in one of the former granary fields of the old, lost world. The latest batch of interplanetary deep space personnel was stationed there, preparing themselves for an unusual vacation.

They were gearing up for a scheduled visit on ‘time-travel’ basis and the professor’s official consent was being sought to finally determine an approximate time zone the batch might correlate to effectively. Since this was more in line with a pleasure visit, care was deemed necessary to send them to a violence-free time zone.

* * *

This group of interplanetary deep space personnel was now in the presence of the professor. They were stationed within confines of Earth Forward space research laboratory — the premier lab within their entire sixteen-planet solar system. The time: One hour after a hearty breakfast. The place and location: The professor’s personal chambers.

“Yes. You seem to have finished my prescription of a five-course breakfast, I gather,” he sounded pleased, sipping delicately on an interplanetary fruit juice from a large, tall glass.

“Yes professor! We now yearn to glean further details about the third world war of the old and lost world.” The second companion stated eagerly.

He watched in silence counting three minutes before continuing. “That was scheduled for 2500 C.E. of our ancient earth time.”

The ensuing silence seemed to last till eternity. ”Do you mean it actually happened?”

“Huh? Professor.”

“I don’t really know. It all sounds very unclear and contradictory to you, I know. Even the old Earth records are very vague about it,” the professor stated with finality.

They knew he was drawing their reference to ancient steel boxes recovered during excavations — from deep underground strongholds and chambers. These steel boxes were recovered by the hundreds and provided accurate information on each country existing in the past upon Earth. They were able to trace Earth’s historical data up to the 5000 B.C. in an unconfirmed manner. This was primarily because most of such steel boxes — containing social, cultural, scientific and social records — had been heavily damaged during ensuing earthquakes, wars and floods occurring through the centuries. Many steel boxes or “time capsules” were smashed beyond repair.

In due course of time, almost all such relevant data was compiled and transferred for safe custody to Moon Forward space research labs located upon Moon stations; the repository of solar knowledge. It involved their sixteen planetary past records, including that of Earth!

“You see, most of the computer data relating to past Earth history is almost totally damaged. Our ‘surveillance and reconstruction team’ has been engaged in this exercise for the past 125 years. Ever since I, as professor of old Earth records took over, roughly 25 years ago, as head of the team, little or insignificant progress has been achieved. All this is due primarily to the damaged steel containers containing past Earth records and our inability to gauge the scientific, sociocultural and other forms of progress made by our ancestors. However, some progress has been made over the last 125 years, particularly during my tenure!

We have also been successful in making certain conclusions from obsolete computer data...” the professor continued.

“That something unusual happened during that great war? Or perhaps immediately after it?” the third companion asked in amazement.

“No, nothing out of the ordinary ever happened. We traced every bit and piece of old computerized information and finally concluded upon two basic factors: One, the war occurred as told and was fought till the end. Two, the war was averted on the brink!”

He took a while to sip the remaining drops of the mixed concoction. “I realize you’ll say I’m contradicting myself. However, we have yet to make a formal decision, and it is with this reason in mind that your time travel venture is necessitated. Remember, this is a vacation away from your regular interplanetary and star field duties!”

“We’ll find out, professor sir. We can then determine whether the war occurred or not. Will you send us to 2005 C.E.? Or perhaps 2006!” The first companion suggested. She was deputed from Jupiter outer station duties and was a deep space astronaut.

“Hmm, we shall determine your landing zones pretty soon. The previous interplanetary personnel group is expected aboard any time now.”

Again, they knew he was referring to an interplanetary group of star-field personnel — deputed from Pluto and Mars space stations. They were on near-permanent deep space duties in Forward space research labs, dispatched on ‘non-vacation’ time travel missions.

* * *

“Professor, sir! Which do you conclude as correct even if the old, lost Earth records were taken as significant reference? Did the old battle or war take place? Or perhaps it all never happened and is a myth,” the fourth and last member queried. “I know we will return with evidence and basis for conclusive proof of our deliberation, yet I ask you in utter seriousness.”

Earth Forward research lab was readying its internal mechanisms. It was on schedule to transmit the latest batch of deep space interplanetary personnel on a vacation ‘time travel’ mission.

The fourth personnel asked that seemingly hesitant question whilst preparing to latch their chamber from inside; a large steel-glass chamber — the time traveling machine. He nevertheless waited a few seconds longer than scheduled as the professor spoke, standing few feet away and outside the chamber.

“ I personally think the war never occurred, my dears!”

Five feet thick solid quadrible steel-glass doors were silently engaged into a computer-assisted auto-shut position and firmly locked themselves into the chamber walls. An ensuing noiseless hiss and the five minutes of silence which ensued thereafter were reminiscent of the early stages of an operation code named “Cobra” — Time Travel.

“I wonder when they shall return,” one amongst the senior personnel stated in flat tones as five minutes later the steel-glass doors opened once again, though assisted mechanically on this occasion. None amongst the four member interplanetary deep space personnel were in view — a clear indication that they had successfully managed to overcome all protonic, nucleic and atomic hurdles in the path of time travel.

“We cannot make them return. It is they who shall take that decision. Only they can make that critical decision to return to their own and advanced time zone!” The professor commented quietly.

“Even in the year 4616 C.E., time travel is a one-way journey. We can send you to any time zone. But we cannot forcibly bring you back into our time zone.”

* * *

One and a half years later...

“Professor sir, our last time travel mission failed horribly. The four member interplanetary team never returned.” An interplanetary executive from Jupiter internal stations shared a few moments of concern. He had earlier requested a clandestine meeting with the professor in his personal chambers.

The professor stood up silently, quietly. He switched off a sound system playing ancient Earth Roman harp music. It was rearranged, redesigned, reconstructed and reformatted with assistance of an ancient earth computer.

“I know. They were scheduled for arrival within 19 days of ‘dispatch’. Just nineteen days.”

Later during the day, the upper hierarchy of interplanetary and earth governance issued the following advice:

There shall be no further time travel activities. You all are directed to keep and maintain all time-paths open and secure for the last batch of time travelers to arrive. They may skip the usual official paths and land elsewhere in our Solar System — or in other places of Earth.

We are confident they shall return...

Most of the internal personnel knew the professor had personally issued that statement and the senior hierarchy of interstellar governance simply okayed his decisions.

* * *

Epilogue: 2006 C.E.

Excerpts from the war coverage as recorded by the four-member interplanetary deep space personnel team. It is assumed they were taking shelter upon a very high mountain peak and were using 4616 C.E. anti-radiation fields to avoid dangerous and fatal exposure to radiation.

They were also reported to have applied all 4616 C.E. advanced paraphernalia and high-tech gadgets to assist them for survival...

“Wow, is that a nuclear explosion?”

“Hell, that seems to be a mushroom cloud. Nearly a quarter of the world seems to be totally engrossed in thick clouds of dust, smoke and gas.”

“Here, give me those interplanetary proton-battery assisted binoculars. Wait, I can see few thousand miles with ease. Let me take a look... Hey! Our laser viewfinder cannot penetrate those thick clouds of smoke and gas.”

“What? All humans dead within that area? Which country is it? The old and lost world. One quarter of the world destroyed and the human population extinct!

They were camping on a mountain peak supposedly the highest in 2006 A.D. The heat was unbearable, intense; snow seemed to be melting away rapidly and causing unwanted floods in the river basins below .

“The nuclear war started in 2005 C.E. and the mushroom clouds have not dissipated yet! This one seems to be growing larger all the time.”

“Quick! Let’s quit this place. 4616 seems to be a far more pleasant place.”

“We have spent one year covering this war!”

“That was the 150th nuclear missile launched. It hit its target bulls eye.”

“Perhaps the last, I hope.”

“We can safely conclude 75 percent of the human population is extinct by now. Whatever humanity remains will surely die from radiation hazards, its effects and lack of advanced medication and hospitals.”

“There are no hospitals left on the earth’s surface. No buildings, either.”

“The entire world is enveloped in thick clouds of dust, grime, smoke and gas. There is no oxygen remaining. No trees. Nuclear missiles have created massive miles-long craters simulating earthquakes!”

“Most of the oceans and seas have dried out, too, as a direct result of the overbearing heat of explosions.”

* * *

A total of one and half years after commencement of the war...

“Sir, I can detect and see dust-gas clouds at 25,000 feet above dead sea level.”

“There was talk of underground cities specially built to withstand nuclear bombardment — in the old, lost world’s Earth records.”

“I think we must safely eject from this time zone and reach the safety of our houses. World Council shall not be annoyed with our findings and proof of war. They shall be pleased, instead.”

“Underground cities? Active for how many number of years, I ask? Six months have passed since the last and final nuclear missile strike and the smoke is still spreading. We have seen no land for the past year. Our interplanetary binocular lenses cannot penetrate those dense smoke clouds!”

“I shall pity them when they emerge from those underground safe cities... bunkers. Firstly, sunlight shall penetrate those clouds perhaps after several years. Even if so, the absence of effects of sunlight upon their physiques during their prolonged stay in those underground cities shall play havoc upon them as soon as they emerge into the open.”

The fourth interplanetary scientist stated with finality. “By the time this smoke clears globally, perhaps a decade shall have passed. Even after that an equal amount of time shall be required for sunlight to permeate through and shine upon earth. The natural waters — whatever streams and fountains remain — shall still be poisoned by radiation. There will be no flora or fauna existing except the basic forms of algae and moss, perhaps.

* * *

Six hours later.

“Sir, the cloud dust-gas upward movement is increasing to five feet every second. Earth oxygen level is zero... Counting to minus zero every second now. The carbon monoxide, dioxide and harmful gases levels are rising, too. Permission to return to our own time zone.”

“Permission granted.”

“Shall we pack our tents and sleeping gear?”

“No. Simply pack the active protonic batteries and our observational gear. Countdown begins at two minutes 55 seconds... now!”

“Why was this place called Korea?”

“Well... It was one of the most densely forested jungle lands in the entire world.“

“Next to Myanmar of the old, lost world?”


“I read somewhere while on Moon station duty a few years ago... ‘Korea’ means densely forested jungles in ancient Atlantean script.”

“The oxygen-producing center of the world!”

“Everyone knows trees with leaves produce oxygen and absorb harmful carbon dioxide gases. That is how the world survives! On oxygen, the natural way.”


“Sir... Countdown calculated to last five seconds.”

“Roger, acknowledged!” The four voices said in unanimity.

Copyright © 2004 by Deep Bora

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