Dead End Chapter 107

Dead End

Dead End Chapter 107

Chapter 107

“Hey. Watch your step. From here onward, we must walk on the ground. If you make noise, the Nonsteams will swarm us, so be careful.”

As Paula descended the ladder, she cautioned Son Taehwan. The passageways they used for moving about were mostly along rooftops. By placing ladders from one rooftop to another, they traversed closely-packed houses. When the houses became sparse, they carefully came down to the ground to move stealthily.

The streets of Punta Arenas were quite wide, but there were Beta zombies lurking around, so everyone tensed up whenever they descended to the ground.

Paula had a map of the city, on which she marked the paths they’d taken with a colored pencil in a V shape.

“Are you searching for something?”

“You heard me. We’re running low on food and water.”

Son Taehwan could roughly understand the situation. The eastern coast, known as Maestro’s territory, was dense with shops and supplies. The western side, where Paula led the survivors, was packed with residential districts.

On the outskirts to the west, where beasts roamed, they desperately struggled to survive in this neutral zone. Son Taehwan shook his head as he looked at a two-story house that still appeared intact.

While climbing another ladder propped against a wall, they navigated skillfully from roof to roof. The elderly and sturdy young men retrieved the ladders after everyone crossed. The young man, silent throughout, was known only by the name Alejandro.

After jumping over a few more rooftops, the building they used as a shelter caught their eye.

“The Nonsteams are downstairs, and we’re up here in offices and classrooms.”

It was a striking red-colored technical high school building.

The school, under construction before the zombie outbreak, was arrayed with scaffolding and safety nets all over. An elderly man extended the ladder, leaning it against a tall barricade. People carefully climbed over the iron bars to enter the school, and Son Taehwan scaled a barricade that resembled a highway sound barrier.

Hearing human voices, the Beta zombies stretched their arms out from beyond the barricade. Despite their flesh tearing against the metal barricade and barbed wire, they paid no heed, flailing their arms whilst emitting a low groaning noise, as if in chorus.

Upon closer inspection, the barricade was clearly well-made, constructed with welded joints. Reading Son Taehwan’s expression, Paula quickly answered his silent question.

“The soldiers built it. They brought supplies here too, but when Maestro attacked, everyone ran away.”

“Where to? The airport?”

“The airport? What are you talking about? The airport defenses broke down ages ago. This barricade was built after that. All the soldiers fled here.”

Son Taehwan’s head spun with Paula’s words. He had heard a radio transmission about a shelter at the Punta Arenas airport. There were abundant supplies, and possibly, a flight to the United States.

He recalled a video on a laptop he’d seen at the Peruvian base on Nelson Island. A Peruvian who’d committed suicide had left behind videos reporting the zombie outbreak from CNN and other international sources.

“So… there’s nobody at the airport?”

“That’s Maestro’s territory now, ruled by beasts. The soldiers fled because of those beasts.”

Son Taehwan’s eyes wavered.

“To be precise, they were drawn there by the beasts. Otherwise, we might have tried to circle around and escape by boat.”

“Wait a moment. Then what about the radio transmission I heard?”

“Radio transmission? What are you talking about?”

“Clearly, there was communication with Punta Arenas from Antarctica.”

“How many days ago was that?”

“I’m not sure. Two, three days? No more than a week.”

Paula seemed deep in thought before shaking her head decidedly.

“The transmission couldn’t have been from the airport. By that time, the airport was already ravaged by the beasts, from what I heard. It’s impossible for anyone to have survived.”

Son Taehwan felt as though he had been struck hard across the face. There was no reason for Paula to lie to him about this.

Paula gestured with a distinctive South American shrug, signaling him to follow.

“This place is somewhat safe from the Nonsteams for now, but let’s move quickly. The first floor has been overtaken by them and is dangerous.”

“Why is that?”

“You’ll see when we get there.”

Son Taehwan followed Paula without another word. The school building was divided into two main sections and from above resembled an elongated stick. Unlike Korean high schools, at a glance it resembled more of a factory or warehouse, not very tall.

“Why the first floor is dangerous, you ask?” Son Taehwan realized why as he saw the situation for himself.

Where the barricade once stood, there was now a statue thrown into disarray. Son Taehwan recognized what it was.

“My God, it’s the Magellan statue!”

The Magellan statue originally resided in a park close to the beach, a good distance from the school. The famous Punta Arenas landmark, which Son Taehwan had indeed seen before.

The statue was in a state as if blasted by a large cannon, the barricade smashed, its head gone, and the indigenous statue, said to bring good luck if touched by tourists, lay tossed to the ground.

There was no need to ask who had done this.

“So Maestro did this?”

“When the soldiers fled, they vowed to confront him. Enraged, Maestro advanced to the church alley here.”

Paula pointed to the church across the intersection, which was also destroyed, with only one wall left standing.

Who exactly was this Alpha Zombie Maestro? The more Son Taehwan saw the destruction left in his wake, the more his curiosity piqued. Was this zombie as muscle-bound as a steel bar?

‘Surely an Alpha Zombie’s form is tied to what the person was like before becoming infected. Could it be another big guy?’

Son Taehwan suddenly found himself longing for the Dragunov sniper rifle. That madman dodged the bullet just by the sound of the shot, but there was no assurance Maestro would react likewise.

However, the survival gun Son Taehwan had acquired only used standard shotgun shells and .22 caliber bullets. Considering their range and destructive power, it was near impossible to neutralize an Alpha Zombie without getting dangerously close.

“Damn. There were better things on that plane.”

Absentmindedly slipping into Korean, Paula quirked an eyebrow questioningly.

“Where are you from?”

“As I said, Antarctica.”

“No, which country originally?”


“Oh, I see.”

Son Taehwan noticed Paula’s indifferent response and quickly realized what had gone awry. There were a few North Koreans here, and many locals did not distinguish well between South and North Korea.

“Ah, the South, I mean.”

Paula just nodded without much reaction and led Son Taehwan to the main building. Inside, it was nearly identical to the Korean high school Son Taehwan had graduated from. Schools on the inside all seemed rather similar.

There were classrooms, and quilts or mattresses fetched from nearby homes were laid out on the classroom floors. As Paula had mentioned, the rooms held the elderly and children, even a heavily pregnant woman.

When the returnees appeared, people rushed out from inside, speaking rapidly in Spanish. While Son Taehwan wasn’t fluent in Spanish, he could immediately understand what they were saying. Water and food scavenged from the neighboring homes came out of backpacks, and even the children eagerly consumed it.

“Paula, shouldn’t a school this size have a water tank?”

“There are zombies that fell into it and died.”

“Oh. That’s some seriously bad luck.”

“Not really. It’s good luck that we didn’t drink from it blindly. Otherwise, we might’ve all turned into zombies by now.”

Paula was surprisingly optimistic. She set down her bow and began chatting with a child. More children gathered around Paula, who then shared some hidden candies with them. Lack of sweets didn’t seem to dampen their spirits as Paula broke them in half, and the children shared, giggling as they returned to the classroom.

“So? Isn’t it true?”

Left speechless by Paula’s words, Son Taehwan estimated the group’s size. There must have been over twenty children alone, plus about twenty more women, including the pregnant woman, and roughly twenty to thirty adult men, including elderly ones. Those figures included the men Son Taehwan had seen earlier on the outer barriers.

“Looks like around 60 people.”

“All told, 66. With you, that makes 67.”

“67 people. They’ve all somehow managed to survive.”

“It turned out that way. But let’s eat first. We can talk more after that.”

Paula led Son Taehwan to where a ruckus of women’s voices filled the air. Inside was busier still, with preparations for an early evening meal underway. Those returning from outside were served first, including Son Taehwan. But the ‘meal’ was only a couple of crackers similar to hardtack.

“Military rations, huh?”

“Left by the soldiers.”

“I never imagined I’d be eating Chilean military rations.”

Son Taehwan dunked the biscuit from the rations into a large pot and ate. The pot contained a hodgepodge of chili chicken, canned beans, and corn all mixed together.

“There’s no water for washing up, so everyone scoops food directly from the pot. It’s an odd mix of flavors, but it should be palatable.”

Paula herself easily spooned up some chili chicken with a biscuit and started munching.

“It has a strange Korean vibe.”

“What does?”


Son Taehwan too scooped the chili chicken with his cracker and drank the broth straight from the pot. The hot food warmed his insides, relaxing the tension and allowing him to breathe a sigh of relief.

There was enough firewood from collected desks and timber to ensure it was not cold. Recalling the hellish cold of Antarctica, Son Taehwan shook his head. He was still wearing just one pair of insulated boots.

Once the returnees had finished eating, men who had been on guard duty had their turn, followed by the women and children.

Son Taehwan recalled holiday feasts from his childhood and shook his head. In the days of yore, women eating after the men might have sounded like old-fashioned sexism, but here, the practice was fair. Those who braved danger ate first.

Of course, with everyone getting only one or two crackers, nobody ate too much. But still, the psychological difference between eating first or last was significant—if one person ate too much, it meant less for the others.

“Ah. I didn’t realize we couldn’t eat it all.”

“That’s right. The kids eat what’s left.”

Feeding nearly 70 people required daily scavenging. Son Taehwan thought back to his military days when he was involved in meal support and sighed again. This group of 70 was close to company size in the military, and securing enough food for everyone to eat and drink their fill was not easy. The volume of food needed each day was substantial when calculated.

Moreover, there were pregnant women and children here, who needed even more nutrients. While adults might endure hunger, children couldn’t be expected to happily romp around on empty stomachs.

Amazed by Paula’s capabilities, Son Taehwan observed that neither women nor children seemed mistreated in any way.

There were plenty of adult men, including teenagers, among this group. If they asserted themselves with brute force, the outcome was predictable — women would be violated, and redundant children would be abandoned.

His superior, that deranged mercenary from Sheperd’s team, had acted just so. The PMC team leader laughed madly as disease spread across King George Island, killing with abandon. Paula seemed to catch Son Taehwan’s train of thought and spoke up.

“I think I understand what you’re wondering. It was like that here too.”

“What do you mean?”

“When soldiers were here, they… with guns…”

Paula’s usually cheerful face darkened. A space where women and children could smile — what had it looked like before?

Guns could kill not just zombies, but also humans. Those armed became kings, freely allotting food and even controlling water supplies. And in a world devoid of morals and law, carnal desires often boiled over.

Some women here might have been violated by those holding guns. In an amoral world, the one with a weapon was king.

Paula sighed with a bitter smile.

“But now, at least, we’re better off. It wasn’t a good atmosphere with guns around. I even hoped they wouldn’t come back.”

Paula glanced at the survival gun in Son Taehwan’s hand and sighed again. He, in turn, noted a discrepancy in her story.

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