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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Police (10/12/06)

TITLE: Powder
By dub W
10/12/06


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Iseul opened her eyes but continued to look down as the border guard went through her personal things. She was accompanying a group of physicians from a healthy baby program in Singapore. Although she was born in South Korea, she had migrated to Hong Cong to seek an education in pediatric nursing, and upon graduation she was granted a job within the World Health System.

“What’s this?” The officer held up her makeup bag - a simple one pocket-like purse with personal medication, toothbrush, and a cheap powder compact.

She did not lift her eyes, but responded in Korean. “Personal items, makeup powder for my bad complexion.”

The officer emptied the small purse and studied the contents; then he handed her the compact. “Show me,” he ordered.

Iseul took the compact from him, opened it and powdered her nose with the soft pad. Then she put the pad back in the case and handed it to the officer.

“You can go, but the pills stay here.”

She knew that to protest would mean she would not get in, besides she would only be in the nearby hospital for one night; she would survive without her vitamins. Luckily, the border police had not ordered her to disrobe, she had a tiny silver cross, imbedded in the inside fabric of her dress. She knew that her pills would be resold on the black market.

A cold rain began to fall as her group of doctors and nurses splashed toward the hospital. Iseul peered out the window at the faceless people and drab buildings. She pulled out her compact and lightly dusted her cheeks and nose.

“It’ll wash off in the rain, they didn’t put in any umbrellas.” Yi, a fellow nurse smiled at Iseul.

“Habit, I guess I am nervous.”

A Chinese doctor turned in his seat. “Hospitals are hospitals, this one is just a bit out of date, you’ll do fine.”

Iseul lowered her eyes. “Yes, sir.” He had addressed her in a paternal style, which made her uncomfortable, especially on a day when they were in North Korea.

The bus finally stopped in front of a worn building and the team piled out but was surrounded by armed guards. Then they were escorted into the hospital and walked up two flights of stairs to the pediatric department. Like mechanics the team began a process of looking at the bed ridden children. Each doctor had a team of two nurses. The nurses rotated following the doctor’s orders. A small donation of supplies and medicines were sitting on a pallet in the middle of the floor. Nurses ran like bees to and from the supplies as the groups worked their way around the ward. Finally, the head doctor held up his hand. The group had exhausted the supplies.

Iseul frowned. Only half of the floor had been treated. The unlucky ones in the next ward lost by the luck of the draw. She suspected that the children were arranged that way on purpose.

Before the team left she looked in a medicine cabinet mirror and dusted her face and nose. In the mirror she could see the reflections of injured and ill children.

The medical team was escorted to windowless rooms in the hospital. Blue mats decorated the floors. The doctors were sent to one room and the nurses the other.

Minutes later they heard a screaming voice. “Police, you are leaving.”

The policemen entered the room and began pushing the nurses toward the door. In the hallway the three doctors had already assembled. The group was literally pushed down the stairs and into a waiting bus.

The bus was cold and the dampness shot though the exhausted team. At the border they stood in the cold drizzle while a team of customs agents inspected everything they had.

Once again a guard looked at Iseul’s make up case and questioned the contents. He held up the compact case.

“What’s this?”

“Powder for my nose sir.” Her eyes never left the table.

“Open it.”

Iseul opened the tiny compact and produced the soft pad, she touched the pad to her nose. Surprisingly, the guard pointed to his own oily nose. Iseul carefully reached across the table and put a tiny bit of power on his nose. He giggled.

Back in Singapore Iseul got a knock on her door. It was an old missionary friend.

“Great pictures Iseul, but who is the guy getting his nose powdered?”


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This article has been read 1141 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Stevie McHugh10/19/06
I like this story a lot. It would be great to expand it -- of course, here there is a maximum word count -- and include details about the missionary work done in the hospital.
Donna Haug10/20/06
Interesting use of the powder compact. I was a little bit confused when they were put into separate rooms at the hospital. I would never have the courage to do that kind of thing. Good story
Karen Chatham10/20/06
Good story, but had I not been on the web site, I would never have guessed where God was involved in the protection of Isuel. Keep writing. You have talent.
Lynda Schultz 10/22/06
MORE, please! I'd like to know why she was taking pictures (camera in the compact is somewhat 007-ish!). But your mention of the silver cross spoke volumes about her faith - to take such a risk and carry it with her under these circumstances required a deep belief. Good work.
Jan Ackerson 10/24/06
I grinned when I got to the last line--really hadn't seen it coming at all. Good for you!

One small thing: Hong Kong.

My heart goes out to North Korea, surely the one nation on earth most closed to God.
Betty Castleberry10/25/06
Very good piece. I like the creative idea of a camera in the compact. I have a good visual of the guy powdering his nose caught on film.
Sara Harricharan 10/25/06
Loved the piece with 'powder', great link in the story. I wish it could have been expanded slightly, with a 'happier' ending. (I love happy endings) I wish all the children could have gotten help. Good story!
Valora Otis10/25/06
You really know how to build suspense in a story. I was like Chrissy, glued to every single word. The ending was excellent. Who else but Heavenly Father, could have kept her safe, esp since she was spying on North Korea. Or in the very least, looking for a great story. Wow!
Lynda Lee Schab 10/26/06
Very clever, Dub! Creative, compelling story. It's funny what jumps out at you while reading - it was hard for me to imagine a man giggling (as written at the end). Chuckling, grinning maybe...it's probably just me. I'm weird. :-) Great work - loved the story.
terri tiffany10/26/06
Congrats on your win! I loved this story and especially the ending! Wonderful work:)
Pat Guy 10/26/06
Ccongratulaions Dub! And what a great story!

Awesome characters and dialogue, great build up - everything!

And as always - we want MORE of the story! ;)
Peter Thomas10/26/06
The story is authentic and has verisimilitude. Good job.
Val Clark10/26/06
Hey dub, I enjoyed this one - looks like it might be part of a book. You had me hooked into the story so well that I didn't make the connection with the compact as camera until the end. A good red-herring as I was associating powder with drugs. BTW Congratulations. Yeggy
Joanne Sher 10/27/06
Wow, Dub! Congrats on a VERY well-deserved win!! Such great detail. Loved it!
Tabiatha Tallent03/29/07
Great story. You hooked me in and kept me in suspense. Like the others said, this just seemed like a little taste, making me want to hear more.
Betty Castleberry03/29/07
Dub, this story comes to my mind now and then. It's really very well done. The creativity is GREAT. Big thumbs up.
Julie Arduini03/29/07
What a great way to use the topic. I loved the end, your characters, dialogue and backdrop were so rich I never saw the end coming!
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/04/07
Dub, This is really good, very emotional; no wonder it was a winner. I loved the ending.