Dead End Chapter 117

Dead End

Episode 117

“Agh! Dammit, what is this!”

The reason why someone had locked the padlock to the rooftop was now painfully clear. The zombies in the emergency staircase sensed the smell of human flesh and all at once began to groan and moan, rushing toward Son Tae-hwan.

Son Tae-hwan didn’t even have the time to reload, so he swung his baseball bat and, holding his rifle backwards, smashed a zombie’s skull in with its buttstock. Meanwhile, Alejandro thrust an umbrella stand under Son Tae-hwan’s armpit to help push the zombies back.

On the inside of the rooftop door, beta zombies were packed like sardines in a subway car, but then toppled backward in a heap. The sounds of heavy objects tumbling and dogs barking echoed in the air.

“Damn it all! No wonder it was locked!”

It was too late to blame his own carelessness. Son Tae-hwan bent his rifle to reload and surveyed his surroundings. Everything seemed to move in slow motion to his eyes.

If the beta zombies and the dogs took over the way down, Son Tae-hwan and his group would have no choice but to fall from the rooftop; thankfully, there were only human beta zombies in the stairwell for now.

“Alejandro! Push them back! This is the only way!”

“Okay!”

Alejandro used an extension ladder to force the beta zombies back. Fortunately, there were only beta zombies inside. If there had been even a single alpha, they would not have been sitting quietly behind a lock and a set of iron bars.

Together, Son Tae-hwan and Alejandro managed to push the beta zombies down the stairs. Perhaps it would have been impossible if the zombies were above them, but pushing them downhill made the task relatively easy.

Paola followed behind them, wielding a hand axe, shattering the skulls of fallen beta zombies while Son Tae-hwan used a roofing hammer to make sure the ones on the ground stayed down. The stairwell below was now strewn with stumbling beta zombies, and the group quickly descended the stairs before they could rise again.

“Quick, down we go! If we hesitate here, we’ll be in deep trouble!”

Son Tae-hwan was right. They entered a mart swarming with human beta zombies, probably drawn there while chasing someone who had fled to the rooftop.

Son Tae-hwan protected Alejandro’s back with his roofing hammer while Alejandro used the ladder like a lawn mower blade, forcefully pushing zombies away. The narrow alley leading to the emergency staircase was cleared as if a street sweeper had just passed through. Pushed by the ladder, beta zombies fell from the mezzanine railings to the ground below, their flesh squishing upon impact, which drew dogs to the commotion. It was a worst-case scenario through and through.

Once inside the mart, it was far more complex than expected, and it was impossible to tell which way to go. Son Tae-hwan found himself unknowingly asking Paola for directions.

“Which way?”

“To the left! And then go downstairs!”

“How do you know your way around here?”

“I used to work here!”

Paola showed him her staff badge marked with the mart’s logo. That’s why she easily found the emergency ladder to the roof. Son Tae-hwan smiled briefly, thinking of Paola working here, in a place that somehow didn’t seem to suit her at all.

“Son! What are you thinking? Watch out in front! And take what we can use!”

“Got it! Let’s grab what we need!”

Paola too seemed intent on taking goods needed for the school. Batteries, collapsible water bottles, burners, butane gas, and more. The mart’s mid-level was stocked full of camping supplies that were surprisingly handy for survival. Alejandro, with a ladder in one hand and a camping axe in the other, furiously attacked the beta zombies.

Human beta zombies were dangerous in numbers but not particularly threatening on their own. Son Tae-hwan’s group, like bank robbers, frantically stuffed their bags with everything they could from the mart shelves.

Just as Son Tae-hwan got his hands on some plumbing pipes and a commercial lighter from the kitchen supply section, dogs barking loudly could be heard deep inside the mart.

“The dogs are coming! They’ve heard us!”

The dogs weren’t going to just sit by idly. The downstairs displays had fallen over, creating a maze, but the dogs soon found the stairway leading to the mid-level. The lead dog barked to alert its companions that there was a path here, then surged towards Son Tae-hwan.

Son Tae-hwan’s gun barrel was already aimed at the dog’s head, and without hesitation, he pulled the trigger. From his previous encounter with a Rottweiler, he knew that allowing the dogs any distance was dangerous.

The dog’s head exploded like a firecracker, and flesh and bone spattered backward like stones thrown into a puddle of mud. The buckshot tore the head apart, leaving just a twitching torso that slammed into the display shelves.

“Run! Here come the dogs!”

Other dogs were scaling the stairs. Son Tae-hwan tossed Paola his shotgun and threw a box of shotgun shells after it.

“What are you doing!”

“I’ve got a bigger gun now!”

He showed Paola the large plastic pipe for sewer plumbing. A bigger gun?

“What? What are you on about!”

“Just load it and shoot as best you can! Buy us some time! I need to see if it works!”

Paola quickly grabbed the gun, and following Son Tae-hwan’s example, loaded the shells. It seemed desperate, but if Alejandro and Miguel could manage to topple the tall displays, it just might work.

“Paola! Fast! Hurry!”

Miguel waved frantically at Paola from the other side. She and Son Tae-hwan just made it past the display as Miguel pushed over the tall units with a grunting effort.

The impact of the kettles falling, along with hefty camping stakes and tents, crushed the leading dogs. The sickening sound of flesh being crushed under heavy objects was horrifying.

The two shelves collapsed into each other, squashing several dogs as if bursting cockroaches. But even in the chaos, some dogs, exhibiting astonishing agility, leaped across the fallen displays. Among them was the leader that had watched over the rooftop after catching their scent.

“Paola! Shoot! Don’t let them charge at us!”

Incredibly, the dogs, mere beta zombies, dodged the gunshots by twisting their bodies. One got hit on the side and tumbled to the ground, but they rapidly closed the distance with Son Tae-hwan and the others.

“Pull the rear trigger! It’s a .22 caliber with one round—”

“Stay behind!” Hearing Song Tae-hwan’s command, Paula pulled the trigger. Unlike the 12-gauge shotgun, the .22 caliber was insufficient to stop the dogs. A bullet grazed the lead dog’s face, and there was a sound of its skull cracking, but it seemed not to care at all and kept charging.

Alejandro and Miguel knocked over another display case, but the dogs had seemingly anticipated that maneuver and took a wide detour to try to outflank them.

“This way!” Paula yelled, reloading her shotgun and urging the group toward an emergency exit for staff members. A flash of fire burst from the shotgun, and one of the dogs went down with a yelp.

As Song Tae-hwan rounded the corner, he was stuffing crafting clay into a pipe with a stick used to beat the dust out of blankets.

“What are you doing?” someone shouted.

“A cannon! Damn, it’s taking more time! Just a bit more! And is there a narrow alleyway or something?”

“There’s a narrow corridor next to the office!”

Song Tae-hwan was about to respond with an “Okay” when he dropped the bag of clay. He decided not to pick it up and instead started running forward. The dogs, already snapping in anger, were crazily chasing after Song Tae-hwan’s group. Paula managed to buy some time by slamming the office door, but the dogs broke through the office panels and charged inside.

Paula fired her gun again, but this time the bullet went wide. The dogs had seemingly learned how to hunt these humans in that brief instance, using the office’s desks and chairs as shields to dodge the gunfire.

“They’re damn clever!” Paula shouted in Spanish, and though Song Tae-hwan didn’t understand the language, he seemed to grasp the meaning. Like a game of tag, they passed through the office and reached a narrow alley.

As Paula had said, there was a narrow passage leading to the back door—a g-shaped bend that caused Song Tae-hwan and the others to crash into the wall due to their momentum, only to push forward again.

Only about 30 feet remained to the back door. If they could just make it out, they could shake off the dogs and move to safety.

“Damn it!” Even Paula had to exclaim at the unexpected sight—chains tightly wrapped around the door. Alejandro tried pushing the door, but unlike the rooftop door, this steel door wouldn’t budge.

“Shoot!” someone yelled.

“Got it!” Paula tried to ready her shotgun, her hands trembling so much that the shells clattered to the ground. Alejandro swiftly picked them up and loaded the chamber for her, but the dogs were faster.

The dogs, charging at a terrifying speed, collided with each other at the g-shaped corner. They tumbled, shaking their heads in dizziness, trying to regain their senses. The leader appeared behind them, and at its growl, the dogs surged forward again.

It was a mere 30 feet. The door still wasn’t open and Paula hadn’t fired at the chains yet. Miguel began muttering prayers in Spanish, preparing for the end. There were still about 15 dogs remaining, and if all of them attacked, it didn’t matter that they had guns—it would be over. As Miguel was about to face his final moment with his eyes tightly shut, Song Tae-hwan was doing something odd.

“Hey, you, what are you doing?” someone asked him in Spanish, but Song Tae-hwan couldn’t understand. He was furiously spraying something inside a drainage pipe and then inserted a commercial lighter with a long nozzle.

One end of the pipe was wrapped several times with plastic wrap and sealed with Velcro tape. Song Tae-hwan pointed this bizarre pipe toward the dogs and pressed the trigger of the lighter.

“Eat this, you bastards!”

With a loud bang, flames erupted from the end of the pipe. At the front, camping forks and knives were stuffed in, turning into a sort of makeshift shrapnel cannon, sending the assorted items flying towards the dogs. Knives slashed through the dogs’ faces and bodies, and heavy fishing sinkers embedded into their skulls, the impact shattering heads. The dogs in front were torn to pieces by the improvised missile, and those behind them were injured in their legs and necks, halting their assault for the moment.

The narrow space gave them nowhere to dodge, and the dogs’ sharp ears now worked against them. The tremendous noise threw off their balance. Those not yet around the corner tried to push through but were slowed down by the bodies and their fallen packmates in front.

The weapon fired by Song Tae-hwan was even more fearsome than a shotgun. As Miguel kept asking how this was possible, Paula managed to cut through the chains with the shotgun.

“Miguel, push!”

Alejandro grabbed the back of Miguel’s neck, and together they pushed against the emergency exit. Song Tae-hwan helped from behind, and with a clanging sound, the chains broke, and the door swung open. Paula, Miguel, Alejandro, and Song Tae-hwan rolled to the back of the emergency exit then without a word, slammed the iron door shut.

At the same moment the door closed, the dogs slammed against it, yelping and barking furiously.

“We need something to barricade it!”

Without waiting for Paula’s word, Song Tae-hwan and Alejandro already started stacking heavy boxes in front of the door. The dogs might throw themselves against it, but their strength was not enough to overcome the steel door.

“What the hell kind of shot was that?” someone asked.

“It was a potato cannon.”

“What’s that?”

“A toy people play with a lot on YouTube.”

Song Tae-hwan casually held up the rudimentary pipe.

“How does it work? It’s like a real cannon!”

“It’s a long story. It’s not that different from an 18th-century pirate’s cannon, except the propellant is this spray instead of gunpowder.”

Song Tae-hwan began to explain the principle of the potato cannon while climbing up to the roof. This monstrous yet simple cannon works on a principle similar to that of a gasoline engine. A potato or something of similar size is shoved down the barrel of the pipe, and an inflammable spray is applied to the back end. The spray acts as the charge, and upon ignition by a spark, the potato is launched with astonishing speed.

There was no chance for a potato to be found, so Song Tae-hwan had substituted it with crafting clay, but the power was beyond his expectations. Several dogs were either killed or knocked down by the potato cannon, and the noise was so loud that Paula was left with tinnitus in her ears.



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