Dead End Chapter 100

Dead End

Dead End Chapter 100

Chapter 100

The airplane left the darkening Antarctic behind, heading northward. The speckled South Shetland Islands disappeared from view, as did the tiresome ice floes.

“Senior, how long will it take?”

“We’re flying at a hundred knots, so about 200 kilometers per hour? That’ll make it five to six hours?”

“Haha. We worked so hard to shave off those few kilometers, feels a bit meaningless now.”

Son Taehwan, too, had many scenes flashing through his mind. The journey to the Chilean base, and the myriad events that had unfolded along the way.

“Just leave Shepherd be. Everyone’s worked hard enough.”

“…Yes, Senior.”

Han Sujin attempted to say something but instead gazed endlessly into the sea. Eventually, her eyelids fluttered and she began to doze off, and Son Taehwan couldn’t help but smile wryly.

She had since leaned her head against the airplane window, drooling and breathing heavily, sound asleep. The lack of rest and the fatigue from today’s relentless movement accumulated all at once.

Shepherd, too, was sprawled out using the tent bag as a pillow, murmuring in his sleep each time the plane hit turbulence.

“Everyone’s lucky. I’m so sleepy myself.”

Son Taehwan also fought against the waves of drowsiness while flying the plane, glancing at the dashboard. As he struggled to keep his eyes open, suddenly a static crackle from the emergency channel carried the sound of someone catching the transmission.

Startled, Son Taehwan donned his headset, instantly alert.

“May… Mayday. Mayday…”

“I’m listening! Go ahead!”

“Mayde…”

Click.

It was clear, someone had intercepted the transmission only for it to cut off. Mayday was the universal signal for requesting help, suggesting someone was in distress. However, with poor signal reception and no basic information like the call sign or location, the transmission was essentially useless.

“Could it possibly be… a distress signal from the boat?”

The first thing that came to Son Taehwan’s mind was the people they had left behind with Park Donghyuk.

Where could they have gone? There was no trace of them at Livingston, and the tracks from Sejong Base led nowhere.

If they had encountered this plane, they likely wouldn’t have let it go. So, they either headed towards Antarctica or took a long shot to the continent by boat.

“No chance of seeing a boat.”

Son Taehwan quickly scanned the sea, but the waves were becoming increasingly rough. Even if he spotted the boat, there was no chance of landing on the ocean. This seaplane was relatively small, designed to take off and land on calm waters like a lake.

‘It can’t be helped.’

To his side, both Han Sujin and Shepherd remained blissfully asleep. Son Taehwan bit his lower lip, hanging the headset around his neck as the plane continued north.

Before long, the dusk faded away, and in the distance, dark shapes began to emerge. Son Taehwan shook off the unease from the previous transmission and woke Han Sujin and Shepherd.

“Ladies and gentlemen! We’re starting to see the South American continent ahead!”

Han Sujin rubbed her eyes, waking up as Shepherd gazed at the approaching landmass. Islands whisked by, and they cheered in excitement. After surmounting a multitude of deaths, they had finally reached South America, far from the land of snow and ice.

“Senior, look at that!”

But their cheers were short-lived. Han Sujin had spotted something on the islands, and Shepherd halted his enthusiastic cries.

“Black smoke! Miss Doctor, that’s black smoke, right?”

“The cattle are infected!”

They were far from Punta Arenas, and the sight of a herd of cattle simultaneously emitting black smoke struck an instinctive fear in them. The ranch, spewing plumes of black smoke, vanished beneath a cloud, and the plane too entered a maelstrom of dark clouds, tossed about by the turbulence.

Both Shepherd and Han Sujin erased their smiles, looking to Son Taehwan. Outside, a storm raged with ceaseless thunder and lightning. As lightning struck, Han Sujin nearly screamed at Son Taehwan.

“Senior! Are we okay?”

“We’ll be fine! Just have to lower our altitude a bit! We can fly even in rain! It’s okay! I’ve experienced this sort of thing plenty of times before!”

Son Taehwan gently descended the control yoke, and the nose of the light aircraft dipped.

“Senior, birds! Birds!”

It was as if the god of misfortune was chiding them, for just at that moment, they flew straight into a flock of birds amidst the storm clouds, unable to see due to the storm.

“Black birds!”

The birds flying through the storm were not ordinary; fleeing infected seagulls, the plane now faced a barrage from other infected birds.

A loud crash sounded as the windshield shattered, the beak of an unidentified bird piercing it, and the already obscured view filled with more black smoke. Birds struck the fuselage, slamming into the flaps and wings, while the tail rudder flew off upon impact.

Son Taehwan tried pulling the yoke, but no matter how much he pulled, the plane was completely unresponsive and spiraled out of control. He felt heavy as if on a roller coaster, losing consciousness as the plane rapidly descended from the blood rushing to his head.

“No, this can’t be. At least… Uhhhhhk. At least we must crash land…”

Son Taehwan struggled to maintain consciousness, but his hand slipped from the control yoke, and his head lolled to the side.

The last thing he heard was the loud crash of a collision.

“Aaaaaaaaahh!”

Son Taehwan screamed as he woke up. He felt pain all over and for a moment, his gaze fell upon a fluttering tablecloth, reminding him of his familiar studio apartment. Rubbing his face against the tablecloth, he shook his head in denial.

“What a terrible dream. That was a terrible dream.”

He was about to tell this to someone else when he noticed the floor was covered in grass. His hand was smeared with the crushed greens, and he felt a cold breeze on his face. He then realized the white tablecloth he thought he’d seen was actually the surrounding area.

“Could it be…”

Next to him lay the control yoke ripped from the plane, and in the distance, the shimmer of plane wreckage glinted on the field in the evening glow.

“Ah! Aaaaaah!”

His memories suddenly surged back. They were not dreams. The trio fighting for survival in Antarctica had taken a plane towards Punta Arenas, and it had crash-landed near this airport, with the wings destroyed just before reaching it.

“Uhh… Shepherd! Sujin! Sujinnnn!”

Desperately, he got up to survey the surroundings, but stumbled forward, discovering an even more dire reality in the process.

“Damn it!”

His left hand was trampled in the grass, and the right hand was bespattered with the feathers of the black bird involved in the collision.

A crawling sensation as if insects were moving under his skin spread through his hand, and Son Taehwan swallowed what could’ve been screams or curses.

He instinctively stood up, searching for the others, his concerns about potential infection overshadowed by worry for Han Sujin and Shepherd amid the scattered debris.

“Shepherd! Sujin! Sujinnnnn!”

Son Taehwan’s cries were cut short as his consciousness faded and he collapsed forward. The ragged sound of his breath was the only sign that he was still alive.

From Punta Arenas to Seoul.

17,826 kilometers.

Season 2 Punta Arenas.



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