Dead End Chapter 116

Dead End

Chapter 116

“Is there any weapon inside by any chance?”

“If you mean guns, there’s a sniper rifle and an automatic rifle. Ah…”

Son Tae-Hwan only then realized that he didn’t have his revolver. The revolver that had blown off the head of a metal spike. It must have fallen somewhere on the outskirts of Punta Arenas when the plane crashed.

“A revolver?”

“Ah, Paula, it’s nothing. Just talking to myself. More importantly, there’s a sniper rifle out there. A gun that’s way better than this one.”

At the mention of a sniper gun, Alejandro and Miguel nodded as well. They knew about snipers through movies and such.

“Weapons? Really? Something like a sniper rifle?”

“Why would I lie in this situation?”

“A doctor… Son, you could be leading us there just to rescue your colleague, right?”

“Then I’ll go there alone. You guys go ahead and take care of the medicine.”

Paula casually agreed as her eyes turned towards the wreckage of the plane.

“Alright, then let’s head to where the doctor is for now. With just one gun and the weapons we have, we can’t even compete against the Maestro, let alone a horse.”

Paula was rational. She had judged that their current weapons would not be enough to win against a horse.

“Son, we’ll have to settle the score with the horse. If it attacks us while we’re heading to the yacht, we’ll be annihilated.”

“That’s true. Even though it’s single-shot, it’s still a disaster even with a gun in hand.”

The people here were more aware than anyone how terrifying the alpha zombie horse could be. What would happen if the horse attacked them while they were trying to escape on the yacht? It was unavoidable that many children and the elderly would be hurt or killed. The mad horse would not spare children, the elderly, or women just because they were vulnerable.

“It seems we’ll have to decide our fate with that damn horse if we want to get out of Punta Arenas.”

Son Tae-Hwan shrugged his shoulders and Alejandro, understanding the gist of what was said despite the rough language, shrugged as well. Alejandro then nodded again, after having a conversation with Miguel about the horse.

Son Tae-Hwan then turned his gaze towards the beach and asked Paula.

“What about the Maestro?”

“I’m not sure. It suddenly stopped attacking.”

That reminded him that the Maestro’s movements were strange. Just earlier, it seemed ready to push forward with both hands up to the school, but after the horse returned to the racetrack, Punta Arenas fell silent once again, as if the church bell tower which had flown like a shell had never happened.

Miguel gestured towards the beach while explaining something to Paula in Spanish.

“Miguel says it’s returned to the beach. We’re not really sure what’s going on either.”

Son Tae-Hwan shook his head as he looked at the traces left by the horse.

“Maybe they’re having a territory dispute amongst alphas? Like those beasts outside, that damn horse was clearly an alpha too.”

For now, whether it was a territory fight with the horse or something else, the Maestro had retreated. It didn’t seem likely that Son Tae-Hwan would have to face an unexpected attack from his side at the moment.

“Surely in Antarctica, the spike and the fat ones had a hierarchy.”

“Alpha? But why do you keep calling those steam people alphas? Is there a reason?”

“It’s a long story.”

“What the hell happened?”

“I’ll tell you later. Now doesn’t seem like the right time.”

Son Tae-Hwan loaded a shell into his shotgun and pointed down with his finger. The horse had withdrawn to its territory, but the dogs had not. The dogs were sniffing around and looking towards the rooftop of the mart.

One lucky thing for Son Tae-Hwan’s group was that this mart was higher than the surrounding buildings, standing out like an island. However, on the flip side, if they didn’t get down from this rooftop, they wouldn’t be able to return to the school nor move anywhere else.

‘Dogs are betas, but for betas, they’re incredibly fast. If we go down here, we won’t get far before being surrounded by them.’

The dogs were the ones that had fearlessly attacked the mad horse. Remembering the method they used to attack the horse made Son Tae-Hwan’s back run cold with sweat. The Rottweiler they had encountered earlier at the house too was not an easy enemy. Son Tae-Hwan himself had felt that killing the Rottweiler earlier was almost a miracle.

The dogs were not about to leave easily. The one that looked like the leader was eyeing the rooftop where Son Tae-Hwan’s group was, and the other dogs were circling the mart, looking for a way to get up. The height of the mart’s rooftop was about ten meters – a crazed horse might be able to jump it, but it was too high for a dog’s leap.

There were more dogs than expected. Apart from the ones Paula had mentioned that were sent to create a map, there were about 30 more, including the dogs that residents of Punta Arenas originally owned, circling the mart.

Son Tae-Hwan had more than 30 shotgun shells, so theoretically, he could kill all of them, but there was no guarantee that the dogs would obediently get shot. Moreover, the problem was the Maestro and the horse. What if the horse came running back at the sound of the gunfire? What if the Maestro started throwing buildings over here again? That would be a scene they didn’t even want to imagine.

Paula, too, seemingly guessing what Son Tae-Hwan was thinking, didn’t make the irrational demand to shoot the dogs.

“Paula, those dogs. They know we’re up here.”

“Because of the smell?”

“Whether it’s beta or alpha… or whether it’s your steam men or non-steam, zombies seem to be influenced by the basic traits their hosts possessed. Dogs have a better sense of smell than horses, so they must be sensing something.”

Paula looked a bit troubled at that revelation. She had seen endless cases of dogs and people turning into zombies, but she had never thought about that before. She looked at Son Tae-Hwan with suspicion but then shook her head from side to side.

Now was not the time to explain or to hear explanations. The most important thing for them was a way to escape from the mart’s rooftop.

Son Tae-Hwan then looked at the sign of the place, which he hadn’t noticed until now because they were too busy climbing the ladder and avoiding dogs.

“Paula. What kind of place is this?”

“It’s a shop for household items. Things like pots and tools. But I doubt there’s anything useful left, as people have already taken everything usable before things got to this point.”

It was an expected scenario. With law enforcement collapsed, people would loot stores. Son Tae-Hwan surmised that valuable stores were likely looted before the Maestro started making grand appearances.

That was also why Paula and the survivors at the school mostly searched the residential areas. There were a few small shops on the way here, but Paula never paid attention to them.

“Could you lend me a mirror, Alejandro?”

Son Tae-Hwan received the mirror from Alejandro and examined the inside of the mart from the rooftop.

At first glance, it looked just like other shops that had been looted by survivors. The first floor of the mart had windows made of glass already shattered, and human and dog zombies were growling at each other as they wandered around.

There, it was essentially a ‘dollar store’ that sold household goods, so there was almost nothing to eat or to be used as weapons.

“Pipe. And what is that?”

Son Tae-Hwan’s gaze stopped at one place. The mart itself was a single-story building, but deep inside, there was a midfloor (mezzanine) accessible by stairs. On that midfloor were camping gear and all sorts of small household items on display. Looking at that store, Son Tae-Hwan suddenly remembered a toy he thought would be fun to make after seeing it on YouTube.

Inside the mart, if used properly, there were still items left that could serve various purposes.

“Paula. Is there a way here to sneak inside the mart?”

“You’re thinking of going inside the mart?”

Instead of explaining, Son Tae-Hwan showed her the inside of the mart through the mirror.

“If we can just carefully make it down to the midfloor, we could enjoy some ‘shopping’.

“But there are lots of non-steam zombies in there. And the dogs can get in too, right? Isn’t it better to fight them here on the rooftop rather than inside the mart?”

“And if the horse comes back while we’re fighting?”

“That, well…”

She was caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, there were dogs below, and on the other, fighting here on the rooftop would attract the Maestro or the horse. The latter could pluck buildings like a weed. Even if they fought the dogs on the rooftop, they couldn’t take all of them down.

“Besides, the only way down from here is to go inside the mart.”

The ladder Son Tae-Hwan and his group had used to get on the rooftop was already tilting over and broken, no longer usable for descending. Although Alejandro still had a ladder, it was nowhere near long enough to reach the bottom of the mart. Even if they had a rope, the clothesline wrapped around Son Tae-Hwan’s waist wouldn’t be enough to reach down.

So eventually, Paula had no choice but to look at the mart’s back door.

“Do you plan to sneak in quietly and then run away through the back door?”

Towards the back door, there was once again a residential area, so if they could reach the roofs, they might be able to shake off the dogs with a bit of luck.

“It’s not just about running away. I was thinking of making noise at the front to get the dogs to pay attention there first.”

Son Tae-Hwan demonstrated, tossing an empty soda can towards the dogs. The clattering attracted the dogs reflexively to the spot where the can fell. That too was evidence that, despite becoming zombies, dogs still followed their instincts. The dogs by the back door also ran towards the sound, madly sprinting in its direction.

“Indeed.”

“Besides, inside there might be a trump card if needed. Let’s head down and see. If it doesn’t work out, we can just climb back up here.”

“But where will we go down? Even though I’ve been here a few times, I’ve never been up on the rooftop.”

That’s when Alejandro tapped Son Tae-Hwan on the back and pointed to the emergency door on the rooftop. It appeared to be the way down. The group cautiously walked towards the rooftop door. Apart from a garbage can and a beverage vending machine used by employees as a smoking room, there was nothing on the mart’s desolate rooftop.

Son Tae-Hwan tried the beverage vending machine just in case, but to no avail – it opened weakly and was completely empty.

“I told you. This place has already been looted.”

“That’s right.”

With food scarce, people would have been desperate to find something to eat. Punta Arenas was a small city, and there wouldn’t have been a large stockpile of groceries. Shrugging his shoulders, Son Tae-Hwan stood before the rooftop door.

“There must have been a reason why the beta zombies didn’t come up this far.”

The rooftop door was made of glass with steel bars, and someone had locked it with a bulky padlock.

“Son? Who could have put this padlock here?”

At Paula’s question, Son Tae-Hwan pointed towards the edge of the rooftop. Either they had gone outside, or they had possibly jumped off the edge, committing suicide. Either way, without breaking this padlock, there seemed to be no way down.

Alejandro hit the padlock with a piece of broken cement, but the lock didn’t budge. They even tried using the makeshift spear from a parasol stand like a lever to break it, but instead, the U-shaped shackle of the lock and the parasol stand both bent—threatening to damage the door frame and possibly jam the door.

“Damn it, seems like we’ll have to shoot it?”

“But isn’t that risky?”

Son Tae-Hwan himself was looking where Paula was while shaking his head in apparent agreement with her.

“If we keep this up, we’ll all grow old and die here.”

“Well, that’s the last thing anyone wants.”

Son Tae-Hwan pointed his gun at the lock and gestured for the others to step back. This was his first time trying to open a lock this way.

Bang.

With a loud noise, the lock burst open, and the multiple plates stacked within the lock recoiled and hit Son Tae-Hwan’s right arm. Although it must have hurt terribly, Son Tae-Hwan didn’t feel any pain. Instead, he chuckled as he undid the U-shaped shackle. Miguel and Alejandro spoke in Spanish upon seeing this.

“Isn’t that strange? He doesn’t seem to feel the iron plate embedded in his skin.”

“Didn’t something similar happen a week ago with the person who was turned into a zombie? A knife fell on his thigh while he was eating, and he didn’t feel a thing.”

“Wouldn’t it have been better if he was just shot?”

Alejandro cut his conversation with Miguel short and glanced at Paula. Paula seemed equally concerned about Son Tae-Hwan’s right hand.

“He is a bit unusual. If it were steam, he would have turned into a zombie by now, and if it were non-steam, he wouldn’t be walking and talking properly still.”

“That may be, but…”

Just as Alejandro was about to say something, Son Tae-Hwan pulled off the U-shaped shackle from the door handle. The lock and door fixings must have gotten twisted when they tried to pry it open with the parasol stand earlier.

As soon as the door opened, numerous arms protruded from inside, trying to grab Son Tae-Hwan by the head.



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