LightsOutInKoreaGeneral Douglas Macarthur landed troops at Inchon during the Korean War. The lights must have been out that night—and they went out again now under more threats from the North Koreans.

SF soldiers of the 12th Special Forces Group had parachuted onto the DMZ to run security for Operation Brave Shield, an annual war-games scenario that simulated another attack from the North. After a couple weeks freezing and humping mountains, ODA-213, my team, returned to civilization. Our Korean Special Ops counterparts took us out for a night on the town in Inchon, a major city of probably a million people.

Lieutenant Li Shik, my Korean opposite, and I with our teams in tow hit a bar with an incongruous cowboy band wearing fringes, bangles and ten-gallon Texas hats, singing old Westerns like “Home on the Lange” and “Wonsome Heart.” Afterwards, a late dinner at a hotel club where a cute little hooker kept trying to pick me up—not that I was the most handsome of the lot but probably because I laugh a lot.

About midnight, there came an announcement. The midnight curfew! No one was allowed outside on the streets. The Korean War had never ended in a treaty, only in a truce that halted hostilities. Technically, Korea was still at war.

“No problem,” Li Shik assured me.

Since we were due back at Bupyong base, the mixed teams of six Korean soldiers and six U.S. left the club in violation of the curfew. I stepped outside into what seemed to be the blackness of outer space. A city that size and it had swallowed whole every light and every sound. Only silence and darkness with no movement anywhere. No people, no traffic, nothing. The end of the world and footfalls echoed eerily off the darkened buildings.

It was The Day the Earth Stood Still and God extinguished all the lights and sounds on earth.

A Viking warrior is sidetracked by his love for a beautiful enemy maiden—the niece of the King of England. . . Now the military might of two great empires want to tear Brak Bloodaxe and his princess apart. . .

From Bloodaxe by Charles W. Sasser. Specially available only on Kindle and