Monthly Archives: March 2015

Tim Walker’s Novel 9

He was even bigger up close; the small boy trailing him even smaller. Garth’s giant paw totally enveloped the boy’s hand as they stepped into the house. He looked into the eyes of each resident, smiled warmly, motioning for them to go further inside the house. Immediately understanding the need for silence, both Dave and Beth remained speechless. Garth confidently led the way and as though he knew the exact layout of the house, made his way through to the lounge and took a seat; indicating that the young child should do the same. Garth then returned slowly to his feet, signalling to the boy to remain seated. He moved slowly towards the couple who stood a few metres back. Garth Gleeson then spoke to them in such a low tone that the gravelly, raspy nature of his voice took on the quality of cool wind breezing over tussocks. “Mrs Walters,” he shifted his attention to Beth, “shall I assume you’ve had time to relay the information I gave you, to your husband,” his eyes flicking in Dave’s direction.

Beth visibly froze. “Oh no,” she squeaked.

Mild frustration mingled with Garth’s ruddy features as he turned focus to Dave: “I’ll be brief” – Dave wondered if that would be true – “this boy may or may not have been one of North Korea’s many abducted babies of last century, he has no name, no history, we estimate his age anywhere from eight to thirteen years’ old, we don’t believe he has any education to speak of, he might as well be a newborn,” at this point Garth stopped to gaze lamentably at the child. The boy stared straight back. Garth continued: “He is a clean slate, having never experienced any of life’s comforts, everything he sees is a new experience, that said, he will be prone to overstimulation, his first sighting of the outside world was only days ago, while in the conditioning camp we imagine he was subject to terrible abuse, torture and likely many other forms of inflicting pain, so understandably, he is scared of everything … And I mean everything,” Garth paused to stare into the eyes of his audience as if conveying the remainder of his thoughts telepathically. “Be very careful,” he went on, “very careful indeed, we don’t know exactly what kind of person he has become, but if you still wish to rescue him, Mr and Mrs Walters, Second Chance Adoption will provide any extra assistance you might need – be it financial or otherwise – and are even willing to periodically check in on your progress, should you request this service,” once more Garth’s dark eyes bored into the souls of his onlookers, “otherwise, Mr and Mrs Walters, I would like to extend my own personal gratitude for what you are doing today, and please know that the Second Chance Adoption Agency could not be more grateful.” With that he cautiously spun back around to the small boy on the sofa, who had not taken his eyes of the two strangers throughout the giant’s entire speech, and extended his hand. The boy tentatively placed his smaller hand in it and allowed himself to be pulled up. “Mr and Mrs Walters, it took some time to earn this level of trust but just talk quietly to him, if he likes you, hell respond.”

Dave shuffled forward and extended his hand the way Garth had done. The boy shuffled in behind the giant legs, treating them as though they were his fortress; peering out from between the monstrous pillars. “Oh,” cooed Beth, “you gorgeous little boy, you’re such a sweetheart, aren’t you?”

Still in hiding the child’s eyes nervously flicked from Beth to Dave and back again. “One of you, step back,” Garth suggested. Dave fell back.

“Who’s my little sweetheart,” whispered Beth, steadily moving closer and crouching down to the boy’s height. The child appeared to be fighting a battle of instincts: his immediate urges compelled him to touch, to caress and to breathe this beautiful creature; his primal urges, the urges developed through a lifetime of abject hardship, compelled him to stay away. “You’re my little sweetheart, aren’t you? Aren’t you?” Beth said in a playful tone. The boy stared back from between the giant’s legs; then he slid across to peer around the side. Beth extended her right arm, revealing the backs of long, slender fingers on an immaculately manicured hand. The young child stared at the hand, transfixed. Beth slowly rotated it until it was palm up. She beckoned. The boy’s left hand ever so slowly appeared from behind him; his eyes met Beth’s. She smiled as the warmth of his fingers touched hers. She started to weep. The boy moved closer, his eyes on hers. Tears formed rivulets over her cheeks. The boy looked confused and began to raise his other arm. Beth smiled and felt moisture trickling over her upper lip. The small North Korean child touched her cheek with the fingers of his left hand. Beth sniffed the moisture back up just as the boy collapsed into her, his left hand still on her cheek, his right arm now around her neck; as he tightly clung to his new mother.

Standing in the background, even Dave felt a pang of poignancy.

Over an hour after pulling up in the driveway, having imparted to the new parents all the knowledge they would need to know about raising an orphan boy from the underbelly of North Korea, the yellow Commodore drove to the end of their street and indicated left. Dave watched Garth go, still in a state of disbelief at just how wrong his projected perception of the giant had been; never again would he allow a telephone conversation to influence his impression of a person.

Beth, meantime, was in a state of perpetual glee and could see no reason that she should ever be sad again. Gath had warned her that there was a possibility that the union would fail and for that reason, she should approach the relationship exhibiting emotional restraint; in other words, she wasn’t to name, or to allow herself to fall hopelessly in love with, the child. Alas, from the first time he had reached forward and touched her face she was besotted with the child; now, kneeling on the carpet playing a silly game of who can touch who in whatever place before the other touches back, with no objective, no rules and no way to win, Beth was experiencing a kind of glorious kinship that she had never before known.

She loved this unspeaking child without a name; Dave loved how happy that unspeaking child made his dearly beloved.


As promised, she became a full time, stay at home mum. He had expected there would be unwillingness to keep the promise but no, Beth intended to devote her complete self to providing a life for the unspeaking child.

With each passing day the chances of the ‘union failing’ became slimmer; as the pair had never truly had the ‘baby name’ discussion, they had no idea what this child should be called. Beth’s apparently ‘mortal fear’ of giving a child a name only to later discover they had named the child improperly or inappropriately, prompted them to hold off until they’d each had ample time to consider the task; having seen the child prior to the name being delivered, they could appreciate, put them in a peculiar position but they agreed, it could only be a good thing. Until then, “The unspeaking child’ was popular as the temporary fix, which was quickly abbreviated to just ‘Unspeak’.

Weeks passed with Beth growing ever more attached to Unspeak; the unspoken bond of understanding between the two was remarkable: it seemed that whatever thoughts she entertained or emotions she’d project the boy would, in his way, replicate, or reciprocate. She recalled Garth Gleeson’s words regarding the ‘permeable nature’ of a young child’s mind; moreover when the aforementioned youngster has spent life hitherto in captivity, and while she wasn’t certain about the word ‘permeable’, she did think that when it came to information, the boy was rather like a sponge. Beth took it upon herself to become Unspeak’s private tutor and soon found herself learning almost as much as the boy must have been. She procured picture books, toys and other child-orientated paraphernalia from women in her NZ Airlines clique, then spent almost every waking hour reading and talking about nothing in particular to the captivated child. She took him for long walks around their neighbourhood in an effort to inure him to the rudimentary sounds of life. It took a long time but eventually, Beth noted, Unspeak wasn’t so scared anymore. She had even shown him how to turn the handle to open the front door of the house, put on his footwear and walk down the garden path to collect the morning post. Beth was no expert on child intellect, but if an inquisitive nature and an unrelenting desire to learn were anything to go by, this young boy was going to grow up to be very clever indeed.

Dave had been putting forward his ideas for possible names for days now, insisting that in order to properly relate to a boy, a real name by which to address him is surely of importance. She did have to agree, although in fairness, she had grown fond of ‘Unspeak’ – the name even sounded Korean. No, in fairness to the boy it had to go – if they didn’t hand down a proper name soon the poor lad would never be able to comprehend his latest form of address; besides, he was now uttering the odd word, rendering ‘Unspeak’ a patent misnomer.

Bruce, Jack, and Robert were Dave’s first choice trio; Beth preferred Daniel, Samuel, or Robin. They were set to compromise with Robbie, and that would probably have been the end of it, if it hadn’t been for the haircutting episode.


Tim walker’s Newsworthy

Amazing how the world appears to slow down whenever a major event is upon us.

Think back to Kate and William’s recent visit, think how much there was going on in the world prior to that moment, think how much domestic controversy there was at the time; think how once they arrived everything just seemed to calm down. Suddenly when you turned on the evening News the world was devoid of conflict; the nation similarly bereft of any sort of discord.

Once the royals turn up they’re all a viewer sees or hears. Same can be said for the rugby union world cup, to a lesser extent the rugby league world cup and, most recently, the cricket world cup. While these events are in play, ostensibly, nothing else matters.

In a similar vein was the Ebola crisis: when this first hit the news one would have been forgiven for thinking it was a global pandemic; of course once that story had grown old, allowing something else to take priority, that same person might have imagined Ebola had been miraculously cured across West Africa and it was no longer a worldwide threat at all.

Makes me question the significance of the usual display of sensationalised and presumably hyperbolic content – if it can be pushed aside to make way for whatever’s fashionable at the time then I have to wonder how serious it was to begin with. Of course as a viewer the presenter will have you believe it’s all very important and should take utmost priority…

Providing nothing better is happening.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Thomas Mackey

Photography by Michael Robertson

Tim Walker’s Cricket

Not being an overt supporter of tedium, the game of cricket was never something that I felt was worth my time.

Being a typical Kiwi male however, if any national team starts doing well, you’d better believe I’m as quick as the next guy to jump aboard the bandwagon.

Well. Dull sporting pursuits notwithstanding when I sat down to watch that semi final – the New Zealand Black Caps versus the South African Proteas – I found myself riveted. That was, without a doubt, the most action packed game of cricket I had ever seen; understandably then, with the final just around the corner, I was excited to see more of this marvellous game they called ‘cricket’…

The final played out last night. From the first delivery the match looked uncertain. After seeing McCullum swing at and miss that first ball I heard myself mutter, “Huh, looks like he’s in for a second ball duck.” When he swung at and missed the second ball I cleared my throat and heard my pessimism continued, “Well, perhaps a third ball duck…”

Sometimes I curse my own perspicacity.

From that point on, having lost arguably our biggest hitter and undoubtedly the man who single-handedly, albeit with two hands, made the semi final such a spectacle, the match fell apart. The Australians were in tremendous form – aggressive, decisive; utterly merciless in their attack. I watched as, one by one, the Black Caps batsmen fell. I recall being disappointed but oddly, not particularly surprised.

I think the main reason I have never been an avid follower of New Zealand cricket is because they have never been what I would consider a supporter-friendly team.

That said I have since disgorged from the bandwagon – as I’m certain have half of New Zealand – and am now awaiting the next potential sporting achievement.

That’s how us Kiwis roll.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Vic Coole

Photography by Seb Porter

Tim Walker’s Concern

Furthermore, the only reason that people of New Zealand allow themselves to become so worked up over the plight of Global Warming, or in fact any other kind of issue over which we have limited control, is because as a nation, simply, we have nothing else.

While other countries suffer genuine issues, predicaments, and plights such as war, famine, or life under a tyrannical dictator, in New Zealand where our biggest hardship has to do with the fact that our Government’s efforts to ensure that its citizens remain free from terrorism encroaches on some people’s lives, we appear to struggle with the comprehension of genuine hardship.

Much of the New Zealand public seem to believe their lives to be of such transcendence that, for example, a simple clerical error from a simple Government Department leading to the simple incorrect mailing of information has been known to cause uproar among the nation’s people. Thanks to the New Zealand media who, on account of residing in a peaceful nation devoid of any major tribulations seldom has much of substance to report, tend to blow things far from any semblance of perspective by taking a minor mishap of the aforementioned nature and dramatising, sensationalising, and often even fantasising facts until the largely innocuous story has become one of an unequivocally sinister tone.

So much of the New Zealand public seem to believe their lives to be of such importance that they feel absolute privacy is vital to their continuation and if that privacy is breached, in the sense that they are perhaps told that someone has the potential to watch over their actions and that one day that someone just might choose to do so, those lives of utmost importance requiring absolute privacy will likely spiral well out of control.

Ultimately, we are a ridiculous people. I truly think that we as a nation need to take a step back, lift our precious little heads high on our slumped and beaten-down shoulders, smell the fresh air surrounding our bodies and just realise that the world doesn’t begin and end with us; we need to stop complaining about trivialities because here in New Zealand, there really is nothing to complain about.

We really do have things pretty damn good.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Oscar T Grouch

Photography by Drama Monger

Tim walker’s Blinkered

Seemingly the globe is warming; evidently this is due to an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; supposedly this is due to irresponsible and unnecessary polluting…

Realistically, do we think these dick-headed conservationists will ever open their eyes and observe the increasingly high number of living, talking, breathing souls walking the aforementioned cuddly globe?

There it is: the greatest cause of carbon dioxide pollution in the modern world – the expulsion of human breath. The world’s population is larger now than it has ever been. Planet Earth currently contains more living hence breathing creatures than ever before; based on size rather than number, the majority of these living entities are warm blooded.

Question: did you ever file into a freezing school hall on a winter’s morning, disbelieving of the fact that your sadistic teachers were forcing you to subject yourself to such intolerable cold – only to leave around an hour later having removed all of your winter garments?

Answer: the fact that our world is currently warmer than it has ever been and is only forecast to become warmer might very well relate to industrially or commercially manmade pollution but please, let’s not discount the most obvious yet least recognised cause of manmade pollution – our very own bodies.

While most people seem to be aware of, and indeed make a valiant effort to adhere to, the most ‘pollution-friendly’ way to live their lives, all this really achieves is to make room for the millions of litres of expelled gases to be inevitably emitted by the next contribution to our inexorably burgeoning population.

People are warm, people breathe. By no means am I suggesting we should relinquish our worldwide endeavour to reduce pollution levels, not at all; what I am saying is, to the scientists/conservationists/zealots/idiots of the world, for Christ’s sake stop blaming your bloody Global Warming on automobile emissions or industrial pollution or anything else that’s not biological.

It’s us. Accept it.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Worm Bludded

Photography by Brie Thur


Tim Walker’s Novel 8

The phone was ringing when he stepped out of the car. How long had it been ringing for? He asked himself. His girlfriend ought to have been at home anyway. Why wasn’t she answering it? He wondered. He wasn’t expecting a call but supposed that if it was important they’d leave a message. How many rings before the machine gets it? Dave started to run for the door. He unlocked it and burst inside. The ringing stopped. “Nice one,” he muttered, grabbed the phone from its cradle and slumped onto the couch. After allowing time for even the most garrulous caller, he typed in the code to access the message service, listened, put in a few additional numbers, and waited.

“Call received today at four thirteen p.m.,” said the automated voice who could never seem to manage casual intonation. “Ah, yes,” said a rather pompous voice, sounding as if it might have recently recovered from a bought of laryngitis, “yes, hello, Mr and Mrs Walters” – that made Dave chuckle – “it’s Garth Gleeson here from Second Chance Adoption Agency,” Dave rifled around in a nearby drawer, found a pen and paper, and put on his listening face. “right, now, Mr and Mrs Walters, I have some good news for you both … I am delighted to inform you that your quest has come to an end, I have found you a child to suit all of your adoptive parent needs … Well, I suppose he is a smidgen older than the seven years’ you requested, but I assure you, Mr and Mrs Walters, in every other facet, this child is a veritable delight … So I’ll let you two go and revel in this most joyous of occasions, be sure not to drink too much celebratory Chardonnay, and I’ll hope to hear from you tomorrow, when we will discuss what happens next … Oh, gosh, I am so very excited for you both and -”

“Message length exceeded,” said another mechanical voice.

Dave put down the phone. He hadn’t taken any notes. He wondered if Garth was gay.

She arrived home some hours later. The house appeared empty. She glanced at the wall clock: 3.24 a.m. If he was home he was probably in bed, anyway. She switched on the lights and went into the kitchen, wondering if Dave had picked up groceries as she had asked. She opened the pantry door; the dearth of vital food products gave her query a resoundingly negative response. She grabbed a few rice crackers from an open packet then went back out to the lounge and sat on the sofa. She glanced at the cabinet to her left and saw the cordless phone lying there where Dave had obviously left it; to think, she thought, he has the gall to complain when the battery’s dead. She picked it up and placed it in its cradle. She worried about the orphaned children of the North Korean Horror Story; wondered how their lives would now be with nobody to love, and to care for them.

She felt her mascara started to run, wiped a clumsy hand across her cheek, and decided to go to bed.


She woke to the sound of her boyfriend thumping around in the kitchen – probably making another batch of ‘Dave’s patented eggs on toast’: regular eggs on toast but garnished with a sprinkling of basil then laced with grated cheese and tomato sauce – so reluctantly rolled out of bed to face another day. Beth made her way into the kitchen wearing only a well-stretched t-shirt and kissed her boyfriend on the cheek, who incidentally, was preparing a meal of eggs on toast.

“Mornin’ baby girl,” he cooed.

“Morning hun,” she replied with a sleepy grin, “how was work?”

“It was great, flew to Jakarta, via Adelaide, brought a load of Indonesian-ites back to Kalgoorlie – why anyone’d want to go to Kalgoorie’s beyond me but – then came home … You know Beth, you should really take your makeup off before you go to bed, can’t be good for your skin – or the pillow for that matter.”

“Thanks Martha Stewart,” she retorted, “but as long as I’m the one who has to wash the pillowcases, you can go to hell.”

“Well as long as I’m the one who has to kiss that pretty little face,” he jested, “I’d rather you took better care of it.”

Beth had zoned out, pondering something else. “Yip, OK,” she said idly, then once a few seconds had passed, “hey Dave?”

“Yes my insatiably hot little piece of 34-year-old arse, what is it?”

“First, please don’t remind me how old I am and second, I was wondering, since you fly those long flights and that, and I don’t go on those ones anymore and even when I did we weren’t allowed off the plane anyway, I was wondering, what’s it like in those places?”

“’Those places’..?”

“Yeah, you know, like, those Asian countries and that – is it as bad as we see on the News and that?”

“Shit,” Dave suddenly enlivened, “that reminds me – remind me to tell you something after this.”

“O-K, what is it?”

“Look, Beth, do you want me to tell you about what those Asian countries are really like from the perspective of a handsome pilot sitting in the cockpit of a massive jet airplane at an airport surrounded by nothing but black asphalt for as far as the eye can see,” he took an exaggeratedly loud breath, “or, would you rather I told you my news from shortly after I arrived home last night?”

“News first please.”

“You sure? Acre upon acre of black asphalt can be pretty engaging stuff once that equatorial heat hits it..?”

“See, I don’t even know if you’re being serious right now, but I wanna hear your big news.”

“Hang on, I don’t recall saying it was ‘big’ news…”


“…Although it is pretty massive.”

“Stop playing with my brain just ‘cause I’m not as smart as you are,” Beth scolded, feigning indignation.

“I’m sorry, baby girl … Alright, the news, of which I earlier spoke, and which came only last night – are you ready?”

“You’re building it up way too much, Dave.”

“You know what, little lady, I don’t think I am … I know that no matter how much time I spend building up this sensational piece of news, it will never be too much.”

“So what is it?” she asked again, beginning to lose interest in the game.

“Alright, here it is … Last night when I arrived home, the phone was ringing” – Beth’s attention piqued – “so I dashed inside to answer it -”

“You ‘dashed’ inside?” Beth mocked, “Really? Gee whiz, I hope you didn’t break a hip, old man.”

“Come on,” smiled Dave, “what’s wrong with ‘dashed’? It’s a good descriptive verb, or active metaphor, or whatever they call it in literary circles – you wanna hear the story or not?”

His meal prepared Dave had moved to the breakfast bar; Beth took a stool to his right, a stack of rice crackers cradled in her palm: “Go ahead,” she urged sarcastically, “don’t let me stop the flow.”

“Anyway, the phone was ringing, I was dashing – in speed and in appearance – I unlocked the door, dashed inside; the phone stops ringing.”

“Oh wow, Dave, you were right, there was no way you could have talked that story up too much – wow.”

“Aren’t you a clever little bitch this morning? Anyway, I come inside, I grab the phone, I check the messages, and guess what?”

“They, didn’t leave a message?”

“Oh but they did,” he said, gesturing to the phone, “and just be aware, when you hear the message, that it should be considered part of my story, otherwise, you were quite right, my story went nowhere – but with the phone message…”

He then watched, smile broadening, as the face of the woman he loved became increasingly mirthful – then fell back slightly as Garth must have begun his rambling – then culminated in her already makeup-streaked face becoming awash with tears of joy.

“It’s finally happening,” she whispered, her voice quaking with emotion.

“Oh it’s happening, baby girl, and all you have to do is make the call.”


She made the call. The call was a long one. Looking on, in Dave’s opinion the call lasted anywhere from two to three hours and while Beth was certain that it hadn’t been quite that long, by the end of the call she was being intermittently badgered by the ‘low battery’ tone.

She sat the phone back in its cradle and from the enveloping cushions of the low-slung sofa, the very same position she’d been in for the duration of the call, gazed up at the love of her life. “It’s happening, Dave,” she said listlessly, “we’re gonna be parents.”

He simply smiled his response; lifted his girlfriend from her seat and embraced her.

Suddenly Beth was revitalised: “First thing,” she instructed, “we have to tidy this place up. Garth’s coming around with our child and I don’t want it looking like the pigsty it normally is.”

Dave smiled again. He was so very happy for her; she deserved a child more than anyone he knew and it still broke his heart to think that he couldn’t be the one to give it to her, even so hearing her use the words ‘our child’ gave him goose pimples. He was pleased that she was again excited about the prospect of children and regarding the housekeeping, he’d put up with any amount of nagging just to see her happy.

She never did get to hear about the equatorial asphalt.

Exactly three hours later Garth’s big Holden Commodore rolled into their driveway, eliciting an ironic remark from Dave, having rushed into the kitchen with his dearly beloved to watch as the unknown duo disembarked. A big man of at least 190 centimetres with shoulders to match stepped out from the drivers’ side. He wandered around the front of the car, as if nothing in this world was worth his haste, lifted the passenger side door handle, pulled the door fully open and with a warm smile on his broadly featured face, peered inside. From the vantage point inside the house the view was poor. Neither of the pair could make out any more of Garth than his dapper black trousers and nor could they see through the lightly tinted windows of his car. They scrambled over each other for the best view until Dave announced: “To hell with this, it’s my house, I’m going outside,” and strode towards the front door.

“No!” called Beth just as he was placing his grip on the handle, “Mr Gleeson instructed us to stay indoors until they were ready to enter.”

“Really?” he said, hesitating before turning a gaze of incredulity at his partner, “Sounds pretty dumb to me.”

“No, Dave, if you come back here you’ll see why – and hurry up.”

He walked back to the kitchen window where, just as he’d been told he would, he could see exactly why they’d been told to not intervene during passage to the house: Garth the Giant was leading an emaciated lad painstakingly across their front lawn. The poor boy looked terrified. Every car rushing by on the street, every noisy pedestrian; every sound in the least, even screeching birdlife had the boy wide eyed and glancing around, continually assessing then reassessing his surroundings. Gradually they made it to the front door. Dave and Beth Walters now milled around the doorway and awaited their guests. There was nothing to be heard. No indication they should intervene. There was nothing at all. Should they wait for them to knock, Beth wondered, or just open the door? As if reading her mind Dave gently shook his head and mouthed the word, ‘wait’. The expecting parents waited. She considered going back to her hideout in the kitchen with the slim hope of seeing what was going on under the porch. It was strange. There was no sound behind the door, no quiet discussion; not even the shuffling of somebody removing their shoes. There was absolutely nothing.

Finally, a whisper. Neither resident could make out the words, but it was a start. Another whisper – this time louder and with the distinct inflexion of imploring. Beth stared quizzically at Dave, trying to make sense of it all; suddenly there was a knock. There was a knock at the door. Someone wanted to come in. She lunged for the doorknob; Dave restrained her. “Be calm,” was all he said as he slowly turned the handle.





Tim Walker’s Novel 7

The Pyongyang Chief of Police had struggled to comprehend it at the time and he was no closer to understanding it now. He had been operating with the assumption that every man under his command was a good, honest and above all, loyal man; then it was revealed that around half of his charge were instead loyal to the General of the North Korean Army, and worse still, those treacherous subjects were involved in, what the media was calling, the North Korean Horror Story. He couldn’t understand it. He knew the General of the Army, he knew him well, they’d had drinks; never had the Chief of Police thought he could ever be capable of such ghastly atrocities against children.

What made matters more difficult is that when Chief Dewar had executed the warrant, recruiting man-power from around the country and deploying them in one giant sting operation, yielding results that shocked and repulsed him to the point of physical illness, the General was among those arrested. The Chief was justifiably outraged to find how many of his own men turned out to have been corrupted by the General’s charge; but to see his own comrade in shackles, so heavily restrained on the charge of being complicit in mass child abduction, was crippling. Chief of Police, Chi Dewar stood now behind a lectern in Pyongyang’s city square before over 200,000 confused little faces with no idea what was happening, or what had happened to them. The horde comprised more people squashed into one space than Dewar had ever seen; certainly more than the city square had ever accommodated. Children were bulging into doorways, forced into alcoves and flooding down side streets, shepherded by a speckling of uniformed officers making up the oversized throng’s perimeter. The Chief was more nervous at this point than he could recall. How was he expected to address a group when he hadn’t the slightest clue who he was talking to? He knew most would have had little or no education and that some would likely even lack the ability to articulate, thus probably wouldn’t understand a single word he said. Unlike the sting that had given these children another chance, the Chief was unsure how he was going to execute this giant operation.

“Children of Pyongyang,” he bellowed into a microphone, which emitted a loud squawk in response. He lowered his volume, took a step backward and tried again. “Children of Pyongyang, nobody, least of all I, can extend our regret far enough, to cover the great injustice, that has been done, to all of you … All I can offer, in token consolation, are my sincerest apologies, and the assurance, that you, Pyongyang’s young, will be given every opportunity, all the support, that you need, to once again, become great … I thank you all, for your enduring, fighting spirit, and my very best wishes, for the future.”

With that the Chief stepped down from his platform. No applause followed; he hadn’t expected any would. He looked on as his officers now directed tearful parents to their rightful young. It had been the Chief who had orchestrated proceedings immediately after the release: each rescued child had first undergone rigorous medical checks to ensure they were of satisfactory health and while most were malnourished to the point of collapse, a lack of contact with the outside world had ensured that every child was free from serious disease or in fact any modern malady at all. They were then bathed and assessed for any distinguishing marks or features so, along with dental records, there stood a good chance of locating their origin. In most cases this technique proved successful, for the remaining few, not so much; it was those remaining few who stood alone once the rest had been matched and had disbanded. Each child whose history had been discovered had had a number allocated to them; when the caregiver was located they were given a matching number. The mass of children who had stood before the Chief of Police in Pyongyang city square, although forming an ostensibly haphazard arrangement, were in fact, albeit roughly, placed in numerical order: number 1 stood at the front; number 212,101 lingered somewhere at the rear of the mob.

5,732 orphans now remained, some with numbers, some without. Whether their parents were no longer living or simply didn’t want to be found, these 5,732 had no one.


Tim Walker’s Novel 6

She was fast learning the particulars of this newfangled Internet contraption.

It occurred to her that everything anybody could wish to know about anything, was online; including comprehensive information about the child abduction ring in North Korea. By following the appropriate channels Beth was able to find out that an incredible 212,101 Korean boys of varying ages had been caught up in this most despicable of crimes; of whom, 5,732 were now orphans.

As she peered up at her computer screen to read of these atrocious actions perpetrated by her fellow man, Beth found herself weeping for the human race. She couldn’t help it; photos of these orphaned children were being posted to the Internet site as quickly as she could read their names and ages. They all looked so sad. Beth scrolled idly through the pages of melancholy until she came upon an address; a phone number. She ran to the lounge to grab the cordless phone then back to the computer. She once more read the displayed number, mentally added the international extras, then with attention split between the telephone keypad in her hand and the computer screen before her she began dialling…

Something else caught Beth’s eye. It made sense that they’d do it that way. Seemingly the organisers of the website had foreseen the wealth of compassion from abroad, and in the probability of international appeal there was a list of various countries along with the international calling options provided; but looking at them more closely, they weren’t all international numbers. At least one of them was local. Beth felt herself filling with further exuberance when she saw the contact phone number for New Zealand – local inquiries were going directly through the Second Chance Adoption Agency.

Body trembling she gripped the phone with one hand and flicked through pieces of paper with the other until she found where she’d scribbled Garth Gleeson’s business number. Her skin had taken on the sheen of incipient perspiration. She was aware that her breathing had become ragged, as if her lungs had lost the ability to fill to any more than ten percent capacity. Suddenly Beth felt lightheaded. Everything was beginning to swirl around the room. She felt nauseas. She closed her eyes. Beth clenched her teeth and did her best to control her breathing: slowly in through the nose, right to the top and hold, two, three, four, five; then slowly out through parted lips, right to the bottom and hold, two, three, four, five, and so forth. Two minutes later she opened her eyelids and turned her gaze to the bookcase to her left. It had stopped moving. Everything had stopped spinning. She felt able to maintain a conversation. Beth checked the computer screen then confirming Garth’s number, she dialled.

It was engaged. She spent another two minutes with eyes closed, breathing calmly before trying again.

Still engaged.

She spent some time gleaning further insight into the ‘North Korean Horror Story’, as journalists appeared to be referring to it, no doubt in an attempt to garner as much interest as possible. This annoyed Beth. On one hand it was good that the media were making people aware of these recent atrocities, but she understood media corporations well enough to know that their biggest objective would be to engender public emotion; outrage and sympathy which could be subsequently translated into ratings, thus revenue. That part of it made her ill – as if money was so important; as if the welfare of these kids was simply valued as currency in some big-time editor’s pocket…

Beth was calm again. She picked up the telephone. She dialled Garth Gleeson’s number. It rang. She smiled.

“Second Chance Adoption Agency, you’re speaking with Garth Gleeson,” announced a clearly strained voice.

“Oh, Mr Gleeson,” said the expecting mother, “I do hope you’re well today – this is Beth Fle… Gosh, I’m sorry, Mr Gleeson,” she laughed nervously, “I almost gave you my maiden name -”

“Mrs Walters,” he cut in, “how pleased I am to hear from you.”

“Oh, well, yes, sorry, Mr Gleeson, you caught me off guard, I didn’t expect you’d remember me.”

“I seldom forget such an attractive voice, Mrs Walters, how are you today?”

“Oh, Mr Gleeson, you’ve made me blush, I am well today, thank you,” as she tiptoed around the inevitable inquiry Beth was experiencing the onset of her debilitating nervousness – she held her breath and awaited clarity.

“I’m glad to hear that, and if I may ask, although I can speculate, what was the reason for your call today?”

A rush of air preceded her speech: “I’ve just been online, Mr Gleeson, reviewing that Korean Horror Story, and I saw your number.”

“Well,” he laughed, “isn’t this a surprise, the very woman who, only a day past, was in search of an Asian adoptee, may now have her pick of, if I’m not mistaken, over five thousand … But seriously, Mrs Walters, horrific business, this child conditioning, wouldn’t you say?”

“I agree, Mr Gleeson, truly horrific, in fact I think even if I had not been on the search for an Asian child to adopt in the first place, I think I would still be on the phone to you now – I just want to do something helpful for those poor kids.” Beth thought she heard Garth smiling down the phone at her.

“Bless your beautiful heart, Mrs Walters, I’m sure nobody deserves a child more than you do, alas, I’m afraid many others share your sentiments of altruism – the phone has been ringing off the hook all morning.”

Beth had no idea what ‘sentiments of altruism’ were, but she could work out that there must have been other people also wanting to give these unfortunate kids a home: “Oh, well … Are there any left?” she asked with all the innocence of a saint.

This elicited a roar of laughter down the phone: “Oh,” he managed between breaths, “Mrs Walters, you wonderful woman … Yes, to answer your question, there are still, some, left, but you must be aware of course, that New Zealand is not the only country adopting these orphaned children, so I really couldn’t tell you exactly how many children, are, left.”

“Oh, no, I hadn’t thought of it like that, but,” she felt like a fool for the wording of her question and now, right on cue, Beth’s anxiety levels were rising, “but if you could, kind of, I don’t know, reserve, one for me – for us – Mr Gleeson, I’d be very grateful.”

“Bless your sweet heart, Mrs Walters, yes, I will be glad to put your name forward as an adopting parent…”

Darn it, that was exactly the kind of thing she had wanted to say; her brain just didn’t work properly under pressure.

“…and permit me to clarify, it was a seven-year-old Asian boy, is this correct?”

“Yes, thank you, Mr Gleeson.”

“Alright then, Mrs Walters, you can expect a call tomorrow, or the day after … You have a great day now, won’t you.”

“Oh, ah, Mr Gleeson,” Beth spoke up quickly, “before you go, sir, sorry, but, um, does this mean, we’re, you know, going to get one?”

“Well, let me tell you, if I were a child, I would give anything to have someone as sweet and kind hearted as you as my mother … So, yes, Mrs Walters, you have not only my unreserved recommendation, it is my belief you will soon have your very own child … Good day.”


Tim Walker’s Novel 5

She knew there was no one else she would rather have by her side. It didn’t matter how they came to be parents, just so long as he was the father and she was the mother.

They discussed their options. The first possibility and indeed the most viable option; much as the concept disgusted her, Beth could be artificially inseminated. The main issue she took with this was that after spending however long on a hospital waiting list – reportedly anywhere between one and seven years – then another nine months with a baby on board, she could be as old as sixty by the child’s eighteenth birthday, which meant Dave would be retired and Beth’s dreams of being a fit, agile parent for her teenage child would be lost. No, in her opinion, if they were going to have a child, it had to be laid before her eyes within the next twelve months.

Of course this dramatically lessened the options although there was still something else, and the beauty of this new plan, they were even afforded the liberty of outlining their criteria.

They could choose the age of the child, they could choose the gender of the child, they could pick the hair colour, skin colour, height, weight; by going through an adoption agency they could basically choose their perfect kid.

Unsurprisingly the adoption process was not quite as straightforward as Beth had hoped. She found a lot had changed since the days of Oliver Twist; there was no big room full of sleeping babies and there was no big glass wall through which to view the aforementioned infants. The 2004 adoption process had become much more formal – computerised too. Where Beth had naively expected to walk into a modern day orphanage and walk out with the baby of her choosing, she found the bureaucracy involved was quite suffocating. She was required to go online, as yet a skill she’d scarcely had the inclination to learn, register with the agency so they could perform rudimentary screening to ensure she was a person of suitable and indeed, law-abiding stature, before developing a profile of her spouse and herself. Beth was sure that this was one of those forms where it is acceptable, even expected, that applicants should fib a little, just so long as the total of your lies do not amount to anything that might alter the lives of anyone around them.

Therefore, for the benefit of some poor child who had yet to be fostered, she became Mrs Dave Walters, currently an employee of NZ Airlines, 172 centimetres, 64 kilograms, blonde hair, hazel eyes, etc; married to Mr Dave Walters, also current employee of NZ Airlines, 181 centimetres, 82 kilograms, brown hair brown eyes…

Next, she filled out the Preferential Criteria form. Dave wasn’t present so she was really enjoying herself: Preferred Sex of Child? it inquired; Male, she typed. Preferred Nationality of Child? it inquired; Beth looked quickly over her shoulder before typing, Asian. Preferred Age of Child? it inquired; Beth did some hasty arithmetic before typing, 7. She stared for a long while at the number wondering if she was making the right decision. 7 was pretty old for a kid to be joining a new family, but by that age they’re generally past all the little niggles of younger children so are much easier to handle; but it’s still pretty old. Perhaps she should change it to something younger. Something like 4 or 3 might be better. No, the way Beth had planned it, if the child was 7 and she was 33, it would be as though she’d given birth to him when she was 26, like she’d wanted. It would be perfect. It would be just like she was a normal mum. It would actually be better than perfect because she wouldn’t actually have to give birth to him. No, it was going to be spectacular.

She submitted the form.


The shocking news report was being broadcast across worldwide television and radio: “North Korean Police have uncovered what can only be described as a grotesque child conditioning programme in the country’s capital, Pyongyang.

“According to sources, Korean boys, infants as young as only a few months old, over past years, have been abducted and brought here, to this makeshift prison, to be honed and shaped, their minds broken down and manipulated, their skill sets developed in the realm of weaponry, and maybe the most gut-wrenching, in hand to hand combat, for no other purpose, for absolutely no other intention, than of becoming warriors, in the burgeoning North Korean army.

“At best estimate, over two hundre­d thousand male children, ages ranging anywhere from one to sixteen years old, were released from this unimaginable horror, yesterday set free to go and rejoin the mourning families from whom they were taken, so many years ago.

“Sadly though, where there is triumph there is so often tragedy, and the great sorrow here is that, there still remain perhaps five or six thousand children who, for whatever reason – maybe they were so young at the time of abduction there are no records, or perhaps the biological parents have passed away – authorities have been unable to reunite with the rightful caregivers, so for these couple of thousand lads, life will never, even after such an unfortunate beginning, be the joyous place, it should always have been.

“On a related note, although formal assessments are not able to be performed, the military services of North Korea, with a total population of around twenty-four million, are purported to be, or at least, close to being, the fourth largest in the world.

“Although this reporter has to candidly assume that when one of the smaller land masses in the world propagates a population of twenty-four million, of whom approximately half would be boys, and runs a conscription programme specifically targeted at said boys, your military contingent is going to grow rather large, rather rapidly, so given a few years, who knows?

“This has been Thomas Mackey, with Three News, reporting live from Pyongyang, North Korea, goodnight.”


It was almost six months before they heard anything.

Beth was beginning to give up hope of ever having her perfect son. She hadn’t told Dave that she’d requested a child of the Orient of course, just that she’d requested a son. He’d asked how old their son would be; she’d be unclear in her response. He didn’t seem too bothered anyway. She’d asked him about it, about what kind of child he wanted to adopt; his answer had been almost ignorant: “Doesn’t matter to me,” he’d said, “kid’s a kid.” When she’d urged him to elaborate his words had been anything but ignorant – “I don’t believe that any kid is born with a bad attitude, or born with a poor ability to learn, or desire to accomplish … I believe these things are largely taught … They are instilled in a child’s mind through the actions, the love and the nurturing, and the support of his parents … Baby girl, you could adopt the most ill-mannered baby boy in the world and I know, given a couple of years, you’d have turned him into a gem.” – no, his words had been beautiful.

The phone call finally came in April of 2005. Beth answered it, expecting it would be Dave’s mother, calling again about their plans for Easter. Instead she received a pleasant surprise: “Hello,” she greeted with forced cheer.

“Yes, hello,” said a gravelly tone, “am I speaking with, ah, Mrs Bethany, ah, Walters?”

Beth felt her heart skip; there was only one reason someone would be asking to speak with Mrs Walters: “Yes,” she said excitedly, “this is Mrs Walters, how may I assist you today?”

“Mrs Walters, I’m glad to have got hold of you,” the voice fell abruptly silent.

“Yes,” Beth prompted, “and why was that, sir?”

She could hear the speaker tapping on a computer keyboard until eventually he spoke: “Mrs Walters, my name is Garth Gleeson, I’m from the Second Chance Adoption Agency.”

Beth started trembling so much she was at risk of dropping the phone.

“According to our records, Mrs Walters, you have put your name forward to foster a child through our services -”

“Yes!” Beth blurted. “Yes I did.”

“Yes,” said Garth, “you did, Mrs Walters.” Another long pause ensued; Beth began to wonder if he had posed a question she had missed.

“Yes, I did,” she said again, willing herself to be steady; to be calm.

“The problem,” Garth Gleeson said suddenly with unnecessarily high volume, causing Beth to tremble even more, “Mrs Walters, is that in the course of our regulation background check,” Beth’s breath caught in her throat, she had no idea they performed background checks, “we, how should I put this, we, failed to turn up, anything at all, on one, Mrs Bethany Walters.”

Beth’s pale skin was covered in a cool sweat. “Oh,” was all she could manage.

“Of course, Mrs Walters,” Garth’s tone changed, “this is no fault of yours – clearly our computer records need updating.”

Beth began to sob silently, “Oh,” she repeated.

“Mrs Walters, this small technicality is neither here nor there, I can assure you of that,” Garth Walker took a prolonged, distinctly audible inward breath. “The main reason for my call today is regarding your potential adoptee.”

On the other end of the line Beth was a mess; so many torrid emotions flooding so freely through her fragile being were taking their toll. “Yes,” she prompted.

More keyboard tapping, more paper riffling: “Mrs Walters, you requested an Asian boy of, or around, seven years’ old, is this correct?”

Beth was shaking so much now she had great difficulty just holding the phone to her ear: “Yes,” she answered in a whisper, “yes please, sir.”

“Are you alright, Mrs Walters?” the abrasive tone softening, “I understand the child fostering process can be a tumultuous one, but you must understand, we must be thorough…”

“No, please go on, sir, I’m fine, really.”

“I’m glad, Mrs Walters, because between you and me, after checking over your application, I can assure you, you and your husband will have no trouble adopting with us.”

“Oh, thank you, Mr Gleeson, that’s so kind of you to say,” Beth gushed, “thank you, thank you.”

“Honestly, Mrs Walters,” she could almost hear Garth reading her file, “from what I see here, you and your husband are the exact kind of people we like to foster our children to – stable family environment, both with good jobs – as someone who has seen both sides of the spectrum, believe me, Mrs Walters, you two are a breath of fresh air.”

“Oh, thank you Mr Gleeson, thank you, thank you, thank you, you have no idea how happy you’ve made me.”

“Maybe not as happy as you think, Mrs Walters, there’s still the reason for my call,” the gravelly foreboding had returned to his voice.

“Oh,” Beth trembled, “oh.”

“No, no, nothing to worry about, it was more just a courtesy call to say that the agency is currently experiencing a shortage of seven-year-old, orphaned boys of the Asian persuasion.”


“Yes, you see, Mrs Walters, Asian boys are the ones everyone wants … Had you requested a girl, however…”

“So, is there still a chance, I mean for a boy?” Beth asked feebly.

“Oh yes, Mrs Walters, I should say so, and as soon as we find one who meets your criteria, you are among the agency’s first choice.”

“Oh, thank you, sir,” she said, brightening. “Um, how long do you think it might take?”

“As I said, Mrs Walters, Asian couples are tending to keep their boys – I couldn’t interest you in a seven-year-old girl..?”

“Thank you, Mr Gleeson, we’ll keep waiting,” Beth said, before returning the phone to its cradle and quietly sobbing herself to sleep.


He came home to find his dearly beloved curled up on their sofa looking as though she was in an advertisement for their couch’s amazing comfort and henceforth, sleep-ability. On closer inspection though Dave saw the long black mascara streaks covering her supple cheeks, and wondered what could have been the catalyst this time. He understood his long-time girlfriend was prone to meltdowns but they usually occurred when he was around, which now he thought of it, didn’t say such wonderful things about his nature. He carefully sat down beside her bottom end, leaned over and kissed her beautiful forehead. She awoke and immediately pushed herself up for an embrace. He tenderly rubbed her back as, now from a sitting position, she allowed her frail figure to be enveloped by him. He kissed her hair, savouring the faint strawberry aroma, before softly asking, “Hey, baby girl, what’s been getting you down?”

“It’s not fair,” Beth blubbered in his ear, personifying her pet name.

“What’s not fair this time?”

“They don’t have an orphan boy for us.”

Dave couldn’t help laughing. He laughed hard.

“What’s funny?” she asked with forced indignation.

“Baby girl,” he said after recomposing himself, “I don’t know if you realise just what a selfish, spoilt, entitled little brat you sound like right know, but the fact you are sad because there are no children in the nearby vicinity who aren’t, paints you pretty damned poorly.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“Hey, that’s alright, I know you didn’t mean any disrespect, besides, what about those poor little Korean kids, eh?”

Beth tensed. How did he know? How could he possibly have known she’d been interested in an Asian child? Had he somehow found out what she’d been up to?

“What’s up with you now?” Dave broke into her inward panic, “You look crook all of a sudden.”

“Oh, sorry … What did you mean, Korean?”

“Have you not seen the News? Massive story about those belligerent bloody North Koreans … Apparently they’ve been conscripting young boys into their army for years …They released a whole bunch of them the other day … Can’t imagine what some of them are like, they reckon some o’ the poor bastards have been there since they were babies -”

“What?” Beth was horrified. “Are you serious right now? They’ve been forcing babies to fight?”

“Not the babies,” Dave laughed, “but word is that they were bringing the babies up as warriors to one day fight in the army.”

“Well,” she was still aghast, “how old would they be when they did have to fight?”

“Not too sure babe,” but Geoff at work was saying that in the armed forces in Asia, it’s not uncommon to have fourteen-year-olds wielding guns and the like.”

“Oh, that’s terrible, we should do something.”

“Well shit Beth, I know how much you love to help and that, but what exactly would you propose to do?”

“We could help those poor children who were in the army and now have nowhere to go and no one to love them…”

“That’s not actually a bad idea … It would be nice to help them, eh.”

“Yeah Dave,” Beth was suddenly excited, “let’s do it … Let’s adopt a Korean kid!”



I can hear them around me. Day and night, I can always hear them. They don’t try to be quiet at all, and why would they be? They have nothing to fear, they have nothing to hide from. Mostly I hear their voices and that’s what really puts the shits up me, is their monkey chatter. So my plan isn’t going quite how I thought it would. I thought these little yellow monkeys would have pissed off by now. I have no idea how long I’ve been down here, but it feels like half an eternity. I reckon the monkeys are starting to get wise too, starting to sniff me out maybe, because in fairness, I do stink.


Still keeping the pride, K.