Dear Reading Friends, if you have read Distant Harm, the following short story about the character named Shorty will mean something to you, especially since North Korea has been in the news a lot lately. But, if you have not read Distant Harm yet, this is a *spoiler alert!* You may not want to read this post because this short story fits into the main storyline of the novel. A man gives his life for his friends, and though the rest of Shorty’s story is implied in the novel, you won’t read the details there as you will here. Now, you have inside information on Operation: Harm’s Way. On another note, we praise God for the freedom He has blessed us with in this country. Have a safe week. See you on the next page!—David Telbat
He Felt Honored
by D.I. Telbat
Francisco “Shorty” Hernandez stopped the car at an intersection in the Central District of Pyongyang, North Korea. It was almost eleven o’clock at night, and his side was bleeding from a gunshot wound. He checked the rear view mirror and saw headlights of other vehicles racing toward him. They’d found him, just as he had hoped.
He felt his right side with his left hand. It was wet with blood. The bullet had gone through his ribs and one lung. Tasting blood in his mouth, he gripped the steering wheel and focused on his shallow breathing. His two friends had fled on foot. He would’ve only slowed them down. Now, it was his job to lead the enemy in the wrong direction. After all, he had a fatal wound.
Shorty hit the accelerator when three vehicles were a half-block behind him, and he raced toward Pothonggang District. They were following him as planned! Now, to draw them away from the others.
His time in North Korea had been brief. He’d spent most of it under interrogation, but none of it had frightened him. After spending many years in a prison outside Las Cruces, New Mexico, he’d been willing to give his life for God, if it would make a difference. COIL had approached him about the North Korean mission to save a persecuted Christian. The rest was simply following what God had already prepared for him to do. Dying during the mission had always been a possibility. He had counted the cost beforehand.
As he raced down strange, empty streets in the foreign city, he gloried in the friendships he’d developed since coming to Christ in prison. Of course, the men in Christ he’d recently grown close to within COIL stood out most in his mind. Tears came to his eyes as he pictured their humble gratitude toward his sacrifice, and he was honored to be able to express his care for them in this way.
He swerved across a wide avenue and saw the line of cars behind him swerve with him. More vehicles had joined the pursuit. It made him smile to think that this may have been Pyongyang’s first real car chase, since most civilians were too poor to buy food for themselves, let alone own a car.
Shorty’s eyelids felt heavy as weariness tugged at him. He knew he was losing blood fast. Whether he was caught or he got away, he knew he couldn’t survive the wound he’d received. Now, he just wanted his death to count for something.
Already, he was several miles from the Art Theater where he’d left his friends. They would have their own struggles to complete the mission, but he had done his part.
He fell against the steering wheel, then jerked himself alert. No, he needed to force himself to go a little farther! But his strength was gone and his lung was full of fluid. With his foot on the accelerator, the car careened ahead, but his eyes no longer saw this world. His smile, though it spread across his earthly face, was in response to what he beheld in the next realm.
His eyes closed and he slumped against the door next to him. He felt honored to be able to die for Jesus Christ and his brothers in the faith. Yes, to die was gain.
You can read other posts about Distant Harm here: “Themes Found in Distant Harm,” and “Researching for Distant Harm,” and “Losing Everything: Scenario in New Novel Distant Harm,” and “Training to Live well for God Now.”
NOTE: D.I. Telbat has written an exclusive short story as a prelude to Distant Harm, and it’s being sent to only his subscribers. The story has background on an incident and two characters in the book. Be sure to subscribe here to receive his weekly posts, which include his short stories, Author Reflections, novel news, or occasional gifts!
COMING UP: Join us next time for a fun and different Author Reflection post: “Fun Facts about David Telbat.” He shares some little known facts about himself.