Dead End Chapter 108

Dead End

Dead End Chapter 108

Chapter 108

“Hold on, you said there were guns? If the soldiers died, there should be at least one or two guns left, right?”

“There were indeed.”

Paola pointed somewhere outside the window as she continued speaking.

“The guns would have fallen over there, but as you can see, it’s a mess out there.”

Where Paola pointed, there was a horde of Beta zombies. Hundreds of them were jostling each other like commuters on a subway during rush hour, constantly moving back and forth. Even if there were guns there, it would be impossible to retrieve them.

“The soldiers and those with guns abandoned us and died while trying to escape there.”

Once again, Son Taehwan felt a bitter taste in his mouth. Before the incident, they might have held the guns as if they were protectors, lording over everyone else. However, when the Maestro attacked and the Beta zombies surged in, they fled, abandoning the very people they were supposed to protect.

“Of course, it doesn’t mean we’re completely without guns.”

Paola indicated one of the men standing guard outside, who was carrying a common M16A2 rifle without a magazine inserted. Instead, a bayonet was attached, apparently being used like a spear.

“We still have a couple of guns, but there are no bullets for them. A few days ago, there was a standoff between the Beast and the Maestro, and they broke through the barricades we had stacked in the arcade. We had no choice but to use the guns.”

“I see.”

“Well, I did manage to pick up a few bullets.”

Paola spoke to one of the women nearby and had her bring over a cookie tin. Inside the rusty tin were various rounds they had collected while moving around the village.

Chile was a country with liberal gun laws, and the tin rattled with an assortment of ammo. In total, there seemed to be about a hundred rounds, although the variety made it difficult for Son Taehwan to use any of it.

Paola and Son Taehwan began to lay out the ammunition, counting each piece.

It was practically a bullet museum.

Seven 12-gauge shotgun shells.

Similarly, seven 28-gauge shells.

Twenty-one .45 ACP rounds, which Son Taehwan had used during his military service for an M1911.

Twelve .38 caliber rounds, commonly used by police and for service revolvers in South Korea.

Twenty-three .22 caliber LR rounds.

Additionally, there were forty-three rounds of various other calibers that Son Taehwan had never even heard of.

However, among the mix in the cookie box, there were none for the AK rifles or Dragunovs compatible with the Soviet 7.62MM, nor for the M16s 5.56MM. Likely, those had all been used when the first-floor barricades fell.

“Do we have bullets for the handgun but no handgun itself?”

Paola hesitated, looking around. The woman who had the cookie tin with ammunition had been cooking. Catching Paola’s distressed look, the woman swept the bullets back into the tin and passed it to another woman. A few women, now holding butcher knives and clubs, shot dangerous looks at Son Taehwan—actually, more at the gun he was holding.

Reading the change in the previously friendly women’s actions, Son Taehwan quickly figured out what was going on.

“Ah, I see. It’s like each of you holds a key to launch a nuclear missile.”

Paola slightly cocked her head at Son Taehwan’s remark, but a young man named Alejandro caught on and let out a chuckle. He must have seen the same movie as Son Taehwan.

This group had suffered under those who had ruled over them with guns, like tyrants. After the soldiers fled and died, the people who remained had set new rules.

The empty guns stayed with the men.

The bullets were with the women.

It was, upon reflection, an incredibly risky method. Guns were necessary for those who ventured outside to scrape together food and ammo. After thinking it over, Son Taehwan couldn’t help but admit that their decision was wise.

If the women had the bullets, it meant that the absolute firepower that guns represented should only be used when the women and children in the school were in danger. In other words, bullets would only be handed out at the women’s discretion. When the first-floor barricade broke, women must have quickly fetched the bullets from the cookie tin to hand over to the men.

It was like needing both the president and the general to turn keys simultaneously to launch a nuclear bomb.

The women continued to stare anxariously at the gun in Son Taehwan’s possession. His presence, along with the gun, had the potential to completely collapse the fragile control they maintained. Outside, where the women and children slept, the men were glancing over at Son Taehwan, discussing among themselves.

Wherever people gather, not all are good. Certainly, among the men, there would be some who wished to win Son Taehwan over or seize his gun to be king.

‘Damn, what a headache.’

Son Taehwan quickly understood why Paola had purposefully chosen this kitchen to converse. Essentially, she meant that if he wanted to stay for even a short while, he’d have to give up the remaining bullets.

Son Taehwan nonchalantly pulled shotgun shells out of the inside pocket of his parka. There were five unopened boxes of five shells each and one box with three shells remaining. There were 18 12-gauge shotgun shells in total. Son Taehwan removed one shell from the chamber with his teeth, let it drop to the floor, and took out all the spare rounds from the stock as well. He handed over his twenty-one 12-gauge shells and seven .22 caliber rounds into the cookie tin, now devoid of bullets. He took off his parka and slapped various parts of his body as a gesture to show he wasn’t hiding any more ammo.

Finally eased, the women let out sighs of relief and buzzed among themselves with chatter once more. The men outside also dispersed with their own stories. Son Taehwan took a deep breath.

‘I left one round for self-defense, but this is a messed-up situation.’

Unnoticed by the others, Son Taehwan did not hand over the .22 caliber round that fit the chamber below the shotgun’s. No one realized that he had kept one round loaded in the gun.

‘I don’t think they’re bad people, but I have to go save Sujin and Shepherd. If things get rough.’

Son Taehwan was ready to use his last .22 round if necessary to take back his shotgun shells and leave. When Son Taehwan was about to leave the cafeteria after getting dressed,

“Take this. It should fit roughly.”

Paola kindly offered a pair of padded men’s trousers and sneakers as well. Both the clothes and shoes were new, still with tags on – needless to ask where they had been procured.

“So you went shopping, I take it.”

“While many died that time, thanks to them we have enough clothing and sanitary pads at least.”

Paola shrugged with a wry smile, pointing to the stacks of hygiene products and toilet paper against the classroom wall. Next to the hygiene products were boxes filled with packed underwear and outerwear. She looked at the boxes with a chuckle.

“At first, I thought these were boxes filled with food or water. We only realized they were clothes after bringing them over. Oh, and if you need a jacket, feel free to change. Everyone’s unable to wash, so most just wear and throw clothes away.”

“No, this might look shabby, but it’s gear for Antarctic expeditions. It’s incredibly warm. Only my pants got taken by those zombie bastards.”

Removing his mismatched boots, Son Taehwan got fully dressed and pulled a chair over to sit.

“Let’s get to the point. Say what each of us wants. I’d rather not waste energy on unnecessary talk.”

Paola gave a slight arch of her eyebrow and pulled over an opposite chair to sit down.

“Alright. Where I’m from, how it all came to this, why you came from Antarctica, what took you there—asking all that would be pointless.”

“I agree. Specifically, what do you want from us? You wouldn’t have given us a free meal for nothing. I heard you need to reach the harbor by boat?”

“There’s a yacht there. It’s pretty large, so about 70 people should be able to fit comfortably.”

“So you want to escape that way? Including the elderly, women, and children?”

Son Taehwan’s gaze flitted about, resting briefly on the playing children. In his memory, the distance from here to the harbor on the coast was at least 2 to 3 kilometers.

“By car?”

“No, the Maestro attacks anything that moves within his territory.”

“Then on foot? Walking or running for 3 kilometers is rough.”

“Probably have to take a detour around the barricades on the outside, so it might be about 5 kilometers. If we’re unlucky, it could be even longer.”

“5 kilometers?”

5 kilometers or 5,000 meters—for those who jog, it’s just the usual morning workout distance. But the problem was that the group included old people and children. Even if they ran frantically, it would take tens of minutes, meaning they’d have to walk through an area swarming with Beta zombies for at least an hour.

Sure, there could be a method of moving along rooftops using ladders, but given the mix of older people and children, that might take even more time.

“So you need more guns?”

“Yeah, I was hoping you could join us for this.”

As the sun started to set, Son Taehwan sighed. He had never faced this kind of situation where he had to protect so many people, and it overwhelmed him.

He couldn’t save everyone in the fierce battle that had taken place at the Chilean base on King George Island. Memories of Park Donghyuk making a path with his machine gun and others being speared by Beta zombies kept flashing in Son Taehwan’s mind.

At that time, the group had been all adults, a polar expedition team with physical and mental strength far beyond ordinary people. But this group might be fortunate if even half could fight with any strength.

Considering the Maestro’s incredible throwing ability, the prospect of reaching the coast seemed utterly hopeless.

“It’s impossible. Even if we had more guns.”

Upon hearing Son Taehwan’s words, Paola’s expression darkened. She leaned closer, whispering just loudly enough for him to hear.

“Ha, but food isn’t infinite. And once we run out of food, the men might flee.”

Son Taehwan also couldn’t help but exhale deeply upon hearing that. It was the obvious course of things. Even the soldiers had tried to save themselves and abandoned this place filled with children, only to die. As long as the men cooperated with the women, it was because of the food.

“So the yacht is it? At least it gives hope and is easier to gather the remaining people together, right?”

“Yeah.”

“But even if everyone makes it to the yacht, are they able to get out?”

The most threatening thing at sea for Son Taehwan and his group wasn’t the harpoons; it was the Alpha zombie that the killer whale had become. It persistently pursued and tormented them. However, Paola seemed to interpret this somewhat differently.

She showed a key to Son Taehwan and smiled.

“It’s something left by the yacht owner. Among the men, there’s a captain hired by the yacht owner too.”

He was a person Son Taehwan hadn’t noticed from the barrier above—a Caucasian, about in his thirties, smoking and chatting with his colleagues. He was wearing a white yacht crew uniform, which looked a lot like navy attire. Captains of large yachts sometimes wear uniforms resembling navy clothes rather than plain clothes.

Son Taehwan observed the white man carefully, then again noncommittally nodded. Perhaps this white man was absent from the ‘search party’ due to his special status as a captain. If the captain were to die, the slender hope they clung to would vanish.

“Fine. I’ve heard your conditions. Now, let me state mine. As I said, I need to find my companions.”

“Ah, did you mention before that one of your companions is a doctor?”

“Yeah. A good doctor with excellent skills.”

Paola seemed to ponder something for a moment. Her gaze unconsciously drifted towards where a pregnant woman lay. Son Taehwan quickly followed up.

“Even though he’s a surgeon, he should manage gynecology just fine. He’s a good guy.”

“But the plane crashed in the Maestro’s territory, right?”

“It doesn’t matter. You’d never believe what I’ve seen in Antarctica.”

Paola seemed conflicted. They knew all too well the terror of the Alpha zombie Maestro and understood the danger of sending someone there.

“The risk is huge.”

“It doesn’t matter. I can go alone. Just return the ammo you gave me, and I’ll disappear quietly.”

“That won’t work. Didn’t I tell you? We need every person we can get with a gun. There are at most two guns with us.”

Without meaning to, Paola let slip her weakness and then quickly covered her mouth, surprised by her own admission.

“Two guns. A shotgun would indeed be valuable.”

“That’s not what I meant. Going there would be suicide. You saw it yourself, didn’t you? The Maestro doesn’t forgive anyone who trespasses into his territory.”

“Hold on, something’s not adding up. How do you plan to escape then? If the whole beach is under the control of the Maestro, or those damn tambourine-shaking creatures you mentioned.”

“That’s…”

Son Taehwan abruptly snatched the map from Paola’s waist. Caught off guard by the sudden action, Paola could do nothing as her map was taken. The map had checkmarks for searched houses and red crayon denoting the Maestro’s territory.

A blue pen marked a detailed route from the north to the harbor. These people hadn’t just been searching house to house, they had also recorded how the Beta zombies moved and how the Maestro responded.

“How did you do all this?”

“Dogs.”

Dogs? Son Taehwan was puzzled by the sudden mention of dogs. Paola’s face grew even more somber as her eyes moistened when she revealed the truth.

“We attached cans and noisy items to them and sent them into the streets. There’s no food for people, let alone enough to feed dogs.”

“Ah…”

Animal lovers would be outraged, but it was an unavoidable choice. It’s not like they could resort to cannibalism, right? Suddenly, Son Taehwan remembered a story Sujin once told him about animal testing.

In order to maintain a civilized society, humans had done numerous unspeakable things…



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