Dead End Chapter 104

Dead End

Dead End Chapter 104

Chapter 104

Had he only run about 20 meters? A sensation like his heart was being crushed hit him, and Son Taehwan came to a stop. Looking at his left hand fingers, trembling violently, he swallowed hard.

‘Could it be? Could it be that seizures occur when I move rapidly?’

Reflecting back, his heart was racing during both of his previous seizures – once during the initial one and the other while on the bushes.

Once more, he looked at his right hand. Could it simply be his imagination? The ominous black veins seemed darker and thicker somehow. What if these veins grew thicker, and his whole hand turned black?

Son Taehwan was loathed to imagine it, but he envisioned his right hand evaporating, and then his whole body doing the same. He intuitively realized that the seizures appeared when his heart was strained or he got excited.

“Of all times, why now?”

It was the worst possible limit in the worst possible situation. He was only a few hundred meters away from the wall of thick shrubbery, yet Son Taehwan could not run. Meanwhile, the Beta zombies were closing in, and with no other choice, Son Taehwan had to step forward in this hellish situation.

The thumping heartbeat seemed to echo right by his ears. The unnecessary tension accelerated his heartbeat, making it pump erratically, further disconcerting Son Taehwan.

“Guns.”

However, the time spent with the truck hadn’t been wasted. In a moment of realization, Son Taehwan loaded Excalibur and took aim at a Beta zombie. His heart’s throbbing grew louder, and the gun shook mercilessly as he tried to aim.

The Beta zombie had already come close enough for its expression to be seen. Son Taehwan’s heart convulsed as if it would burst, triggering another seizure. Agonizing pain nearly made him drop the gun.

Already handicapped by having to hold the gun with his left hand due to his right wrist being severed, his unaccustomed stance caused him to inadvertently pull Excalibur’s trigger.

There was no need to question the gun’s reliability. Buckshot intended for deer hunting burst from the shotgun, shattering the Beta zombie’s skull. Its brains and flesh exploded like fireworks, causing the following Beta zombies to collectively turn their gaze toward Son Taehwan.

“Danger. Argh.”

His left hand, due to the seizure, had already twisted like a fern and was rendered incapable of holding the gun any longer. He knew he needed to reload, but his hands fumbled as he tried to open the box of bullets with his stump of a right wrist. The bullets fell helplessly onto the dry grass as he collapsed to the ground, drooling. The sound of the approaching zombies’ footsteps felt even more chilling than the pain in his forehead.

“Señor!”

Señor? Even amidst his seizures, Son Taehwan cocked his head at the word, then remembered he was in Punta Arenas and looked into the distance.

Someone was shouting in Spanish with a strong Chilean accent. Ignoring the accent, Son Taehwan felt an immense relief upon seeing ‘people’ in Punta Arenas for the first time.

Trembling, he tried to stand up, but this seizure was much worse than the last two. Previously, he could still swear, but now all that came out were strange groans.

He staggered to his feet, drooling, as urgent voices alternated in Spanish from above, seemingly directed at him.

‘Damnit, what are you saying? Hey! Help me! Beta zombies are coming! I’m going to be torn apart at this rate!’

Son Taehwan attempted to articulate these thoughts, but his words came out as incomprehensible moans. Each time he tried to speak, the glass-like black energy at the stump of his right hand vibrated fiercely.

‘No way! Is this thing still trying to invade my body?’

The belt was still wrapped around Son Taehwan’s wrist, and upon inspection, the flesh below the belt had turned completely black. Deciding to take action, he let go of his gun and pulled at the belt on his wrist.

As if strangling a neck with bare hands, the black substance at the end of his wrist seemed to glow. Veering unsteadily, Son Taehwan bit a shotgun shell and attempted to load his gun’s chamber. His shaking, seizing state made it near impossible for the bullet to enter correctly.

Then, male and female shouts could be heard from above the wall, and something whizzed through the air.

‘What? What’s that? Where are you shooting? What is it?’

It was an arrow. Dirt and dry grass flew, spraying Son Taehwan’s face with soil. He watched dumbfounded as the arrow buried itself into the ground beside him.

Closer observation showed a woman standing atop a dirt mound, aiming a bow directly at him. From her posture and focused aim, Son Taehwan intuited she wasn’t targeting another Beta zombie but him.

The woman calmly took a breath and pulled the bowstring. Son Taehwan saw the ensuing arrow fly toward him in slow motion. The wobbling arrow aimed square for his head.

He managed a clumsy roll to avoid it, then realized why she was shooting at him.

The noises he made sounded like the grotesque screams of zombies, and his seizure-induced movements resembled those of the undead rather than a normal human. Moreover, his attire – thermal underwear with only one insulating boot – certainly didn’t help.

‘Goddamn it! She thinks I’m a zombie!’

Glancing at his right hand that was quivering with black dirt, he swallowed. Smoke like dark steam was rising from Son Taehwan’s wrist.

Without question, this black smoke-like phenomenon was proof of an Alpha zombie. Fear felt like it froze his body as he stared at his wrist vanishing like vapor.

‘Am I turning into a zombie?’

Despite decapitating his wrist with a circular saw, the infection from ‘black dirt’ had exceeded all expectations, threatening to consume Son Taehwan entirely.

An arrow flew at his head again, but he was unaware of its approach this time and was nearly pierced by it. As a last resort, he stretched out his left hand toward the incoming arrow.

It might have seemed futile, but from above, he could hear more Spanish – a language he had become somewhat familiar with during his time at the Antarctic base. He could make out a few words they said.

Too late.

Too late for what? Was it because Son Taehwan hadn’t caught the arrow? Because it was too late, and his head had been pierced by it?

Yet Son Taehwan was still alive. To his own astonishment, he realized his left hand had caught the arrow shaft, a fraction away from his forehead. Catching an arrow with bare hands, bullet or not, was not an easy feat – all the more so in the middle of a debilitating seizure.

‘What is this?’

Confused by the arrow in his grasp, Son Taehwan looked around bewilderedly. The stirring black dirt of his right hand; the arrow clutched in his left. An odd premonition struck him, but now was not the time to ponder such intuitions. From the wall, about a dozen people emerged, hurling various objects toward him.

‘What’s that? A catapult?’

Primitive siege weapons appeared on the primitive battlefield, and rubble and beams rained down around Son Taehwan’s location. He rolled forward, narrowly evading the barrage, cursing loudly.

“Shit! What is this!”

To his own shock, a clear and precise Korean curse flew out of his mouth. Suddenly, there was noise from the defensive wall, and sounds of people stirring. The onslaught lessened like a rain stopping, and Son Taehwan picked up the fallen gun.

“Why are you throwing garbage at me? If you’re going to throw it away, at least stick the stickers you bought from the district office! For the sake of the Earth, we should be recycling!”

Son Taehwan could not fathom his own complaints. Staring at his blackened wrist, he realized what he had to do now.

“Alright. Is it time to prove I’m human?”

He pointed the shotgun’s barrel at the end of his right wrist and aimed at the head of an approaching Beta zombie.

“I’m human! Fucking still alive!”

His right wrist was shredded by the shotgun blast, and the black dirt fell to the dry grass as if kicked up mud.

“Aaah! God, that hurts! Why didn’t it hurt when I sawed it off, but now it does?!”

He performed a one-man show, gripped by pain. However, the seizure subsided, and his head felt clearer.

This time he reloaded the shotgun with his left hand, more adeptly, and aimed at the woman on the wall.

“Ever seen a zombie shoot a gun? You heard gunfire and came here because of it, didn’t you?”

“…”

“Wow, what a knockout of a chest. Ain’t that right, señora? But what do I get for you shooting an arrow at my head?”

Son Taehwan made lewd remarks in English while flicking his tongue. The woman spat down at him from the wall as if seeing an insect.

The bow-wielding woman, a typical South American beauty with darker skin and despite being wrapped in a thick zipped hoodie, clearly well endowed. She frowned and spoke to Son Taehwan in English.

“Shh! Stop the nonsense and keep it down! Can ‘it’ hear us?”

“It?”

As soon as “it” left the woman’s lips, the people on the wall began trembling, scanning their surroundings. Indeed, since their arrival, they had consistently pointed at the inner city while arguing among themselves.

Something inside the city?

Son Taehwan squinted, trying to see beyond the wall. What’s happening inside? Right on cue, an infected seagull flew low overhead. Son Taehwan felt his heart freeze.

Is there an Alpha?

It was as he had suspected.

It? Among survivors, the most dreaded entity was certainly the Alpha zombie. Even with guns, could anyone contend with such powerful physical abilities? And if an iron spike-like creature was present here?

“Hey, what are you standing around for? Run!”

“What?”

A young Asian yelled, pointing behind Son Taehwan, trying to say something urgently.

“If you want to live, run!”

“Damn it.”

He had spent too much time in front of the wall. The wailing zombies that once lay with their heads smashed against the wall were now converging. There were hundreds of Beta zombies reaching toward where Son Taehwan stood, using outstretched arms.

“Hey, unlucky guy! Jump to the side! There’s a side gate over there! I’ll open it for you!”

The woman pointed to the side, holding an arrow. By now, the zombies had surrounded Son Taehwan, who then took a deep breath, slung the gun over his back, and gripped a hammer with his left hand.

“Cover me!”

“What?”

Amidst a communication breakdown from the start, when the woman asked, ‘What?’ in English, Son Taehwan dashed, not in the pointed direction but straight ahead.

“What are you doing! Run that way!”

“There are reasons! I can’t run!”

“What reasons!”

Son Taehwan was internally panicking but dared not risk running, fearful of another seizure. Though calmer after blasting his right wrist again, the black veins still stretched from his wrist to his shoulder.

If he had a seizure now, the survivors above might mistake him for a zombie and attack. The side gate, as pointed out by the woman, was at least another 200 meters away. Son Taehwan swung his hammer, hitting the charging Beta zombies in the head, and continued to walk. To an uninformed observer, it would appear as if he was casually taking a dog for a leisurely walk. Fallen Beta zombies grasped at his legs, only to receive blows from the claw of the hammer to the head. He dispatched the zombies with lethal accuracy, grasping limbs with a hook and snapping them, driving nails into skulls.

His left hand became stained with decomposing blood and dark flesh. Son Taehwan’s strength waned; wielding a hammer with one hand, especially an untrained left one, was exhausting.

The sensation of grasping his heart overwhelmed him. HttpNotFoundResult stopped in place, only a few meters away from the wall. Yet the Beta zombies had completed their circle around him, swarming like guests at a buffet.



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