Dead End Chapter 120

Dead End

Episode 120

However, the Coca-Cola sign that flew away wasn’t towards where Son Tae-hwan was. Under the moonlight, he clearly saw water columns splashing up into the air.

“What’s that? What’s happening? What in the world is going on over by Paula?”

“I, I don’t know. No one should be alive over there, right?”

Paula was the most knowledgeable about the local situation. There was no way that Maestro would suddenly start throwing things around in his sleep. As far as Son Tae-hwan had observed, the Maestro was someone who responded almost mechanically to invasions of his territory.

While it was unclear why the Maestro had retreated earlier, this attack was clearly a territorial defense action. After the Coca-Cola sign went splash and fell into the beach, next, a park bench flew towards the beach like a Coke can had been thrown.

At first glance, it looked similar to a bombing scene in Iraq one might see on CNN. There was a loud bang, and then a motorboat was seen splitting in two, soaring into the sky before crashing down. Even through binoculars, the boat was a medium-sized model used for water skiing, not something Maestro would typically target.

The boat had been hit. The motorboat had just started its engine when it clattered noisily through the air and crashed into the harbor’s concrete with a loud bang. This raucous noise even caught the attention of some dogs, which bolted toward the wreckage. The other beta zombies also began to move slowly as if orbiting around the Maestro like planets around a star.

Up to the market, the outskirts of the city hadn’t felt that remarkable, but this place was barely 2 to 1.5 kilometers away from the beach. It was quite the scene to see all the beta zombies moving in unison, following the Maestro. Likely, the closer they were to the Maestro, the more they were affected.

Son Tae-hwan had no interest in the relationship between the Maestro and the beta zombies.

“Paula. What do you think the chances are that a motorboat’s engine just starts on its own?”

Paula’s expression also shifted subtly. She could understand a motorboat being wrecked if Maestro had a whim, but she had also clearly heard the sound of the motorboat’s engine starting up.

“Then?”

“It’s a survivor.”

“No, that can’t be. There’s nobody over there. It’s an area dominated by Maestro and the Nonsteama. You’d be relentlessly attacked by them.”

“But, you heard it too. A motorboat engine starting on its own? That model has to be pulled to start.”

“Son, I fled from over there. There’s no living soul around there.”

Son Tae-hwan raised his eyebrows at this unexpected revelation. It seemed Paula had her own share of troubles while escaping to the school on the west side. But, this was of little concern to Son Tae-hwan.

“There are survivors.”

Paula gasped in astonishment, looking where Son Tae-hwan was looking. Son Tae-hwan gave a thin smile as he looked towards where the plane wreckage had fallen and where the motorboat had crashed.

“Son, you’re not thinking that your colleagues went as far as where the ships are, do you?”

“It’s simple. A motorboat’s engine wouldn’t start on its own, there are no survivors in Punta Arenas, so there’s only one answer left, right?”

Reluctantly, Paula had to admit there was only one possibility.

Was it someone from Son Tae-hwan’s group who tried to escape Punta Arenas on a motorboat and was attacked?

“Paula, you go back to the school. I have to go over there.”

“Are you crazy? Look over there! The place is swarming with Nonsteama.”

Paula pointed out desperately to the beta zombies. They were further clustering around as the Maestro began to move. It was a relief that dogs couldn’t move as freely now, but surrounded by that many beta zombies, one might not survive.

Son Tae-hwan was not well-armed, with only a single-shot shotgun and thirty bullets. The zombies near the Maestro almost amounted to the entire population of Punta Arenas—nearly ten thousand. Only a handful had survived and fled to the school, and if he entered deeper, he would have to fight the entire population of Punta Arenas.

Son Tae-hwan attached a hammer to a laundry pole on the rooftop with the binoculars’ strap. This allowed him to attack beta zombies from a distance like using a polearm.

“It’s reckless. How do you plan to survive in there? Besides, Maestro is also moving that way.”

It was a strange sight. Maestro was tearing through houses towards the beach as if playing with toy buildings. As the Maestro passed each house, dust billowed up, and the beta zombies perked their ears to the noise and gradually followed him.

“What, are you telling me to go back? Take your gun. I understand. Even if I turn into a zombie, in this situation, I would be torn apart by Maestro anyway. So don’t worry about that.”

“Given how things have turned out, why not chase it to the depths of hell? You need a guide, don’t you? If you go by yourself, you may die without even reaching the park.”

Paula shrugged nonchalantly, signaling it was okay.

“Don’t worry. I’ll run away if it gets dangerous.”

“Damn it. Why do women have to be so stubborn?”

“If men didn’t put on such useless bravado, women wouldn’t need to be obstinate.”

Paula sighed, strapping the supplies from the market tightly to her back.

“I never thought I’d have to go back there.”

“Luck doesn’t seem to be on your side.”

Paula handed the gun back over her shoulder to Son Tae-hwan.

“Why are you giving this to me?”

“It’s useless there. If a gun needs to be used, one or two shots at most, and I’m not confident I can hit with that. Better if you have it.”

Her reasoning made sense. In Maestro’s territory, there was unlikely to be a chance for more than two shots. The mere act of starting a motorboat had already turned the area into rubble.

“Don’t worry. And I have my own ways.”

Paula took something made out of a shoelace from her pocket. Son Tae-hwan was puzzled by the shoelace but soon realized its purpose.

It was an item he had seen occasionally in YouTube videos. Paula tested it, placing a small pebble from the rooftop on the shoelace and flung it with a whoosh into Maestro’s territory.

The stone flew beyond what human strength could achieve, hitting a wall and shattering. A small cloud of dust rose distantly, and Paula shrugged proudly.

“You must know my favorite part of the Bible without me saying it, right?”

“David and Goliath?”

David and Goliath’s story featured a weapon. What Paula held was a sling made out of merely a shoelace and a piece of cloth—a remarkably simple weapon for the poor. Yet, its effectiveness was anything but modest. Depending on the user, a sling could be a terrifying weapon capable of toppling giants. This lady’s skill with the sling was also not ordinary. Because while it’s a powerful weapon, it’s not easy to hit a target with a sling, but Paula seemed confident in that aspect, too.

Paula filled her fishing pocket with pebbles from the rooftop and signaled to Son Tae-hwan with her chin to move on. Paula was no ordinary brave person. To leap into a domain dominated by zombies, as good as walking beside a person who could turn into a zombie any moment?

Son Tae-hwan shook his head stubbornly and followed Paula’s lead. Ahead of them, the beta zombies loitered like crowds at a concert. Paula was right; no matter how many guns they had, they could be quickly surrounded and killed by the beta zombies.

“It’s good that the dogs aren’t clinging on.”

“Yeah, where did the dogs go?”

“Alpha zombies, I mean Maestro must be involved.”

From his experiences in the Antarctic, Son Tae-hwan deduced that the disappearance of the dogs had to do with the alpha zombie. Beta zombies seem influenced by an alpha zombie. Dogs were clever enough to attack horses, but not enough to defeat Maestro.

‘The problem is my heart. If I have an attack in there, it’s not just me, but also Paula will be in danger.’

If Paula was endangered because of his condition, it wouldn’t be just uncomfortable—it would be deeply regrettable. As they approached Maestro’s domain, Son Tae-hwan felt even his own stubbornness was unnecessary.

The school’s vicinity was loosely roamed by beta zombies, but not here. There was no opportunity to gather food or water. Son Tae-hwan now understood why everyone at the school was shaking their heads at the sight of the airplane.

“This way. There’s an emergency staircase around this corner. We can go around the back here, enter through the window of the building there, and at least make it to the roof of the opposite building. From there, we can decide where to go and how.”

Modern buildings of concrete were appearing more frequently, replacing the increasingly sparse wooden houses. Son Tae-hwan could feel they were entering the inner city without having to say it, though the buildings were as close to each other as the wooden houses—privacy seemed to be forgotten.

Paula passed the laundry line to Son Tae-hwan and carefully jumped between the buildings. The opposite building’s window was closed due to winter, but fortunately not locked. Son Tae-hwan also climbed through the window frame with a heavy sigh. His heart had been pounding for a while.

‘What if I have another attack?’

The ongoing vexation for Son Tae-hwan was the seizures. Earlier, there had even been black smoke, leaving him unsure of how to proceed. Meanwhile, Paula had opened the door to the roof they had mentioned.

The rooftop door turned cautiously, and Son Tae-hwan and Paula prepared to attack at the sight of any beta zombie. However, there was nothing on the roof except for a tooth-shaped sculpture signifying a dental building.

Paula breathed a sigh of relief and walked up to the roof’s edge. Indeed, as Paula said, this building was one of the few five-story buildings in the city, providing a good view of Punta Arenas.

Using binoculars, Paula alternated between looking at where the airplane wreckage fell and where the motorboat was destroyed, then passed the binoculars to Son Tae-hwan.

“Whether it’s because of Maestro’s movements or not, the area around the plane has loosened up. If we go a bit northwest, we should be able to get there safely.”

Son Tae-hwan also surveyed the area through the binoculars and agreed with Paula’s opinion. The flickering lights of the airplane were now within reach. If they descended the building and went a little northwest, they could reach where the plane had crashed.

“The problem is the road. From here, the area is zoned, and every block has completely squared roads.”

The roads of Punta Arenas were already quite wide. Until now, they had been traversing fallen or adjoining buildings, but that was no longer an option.

If they were attacked by dogs in the middle of a broad road, it couldn’t be worse. The noise of the guns would call other beta zombies to swarm around them.

“At least this should make it easier for Alejandro and Miguel.”

“Looks like the zombies in the south are flowing down around the hospital.”

Maestro was quiet again, but the beta zombies were moving toward where the motorboat had been destroyed, like a school of fish. Son Tae-hwan watched the beta zombies stagger forward and felt his heart thump with anxiety.

It would be the worst situation if Han Soo-jin and Shepherd were indeed on that motorboat. Even if they survived Maestro, they couldn’t defeat a dense crowd of beta zombies.

The site of the plane wreck and the motorboat’s location.

Son Tae-hwan could only keep observing both places through binoculars. But watching with binoculars didn’t present any clever solutions. While Son Tae-hwan hesitated, Paula made a quick decision for them.

“The airplane crash site here is the safest place now, and if we go there, we can check whether those people are alive or dead, right?”

“But what if they’re stranded over there?”

Paula bit her lower lip and shook her head sternly.

“Don’t think I’m heartless. I followed you here out of a smidgen of good will, but even that won’t make me enter the place closest to Maestro.”

Son Tae-hwan couldn’t say much against her reasoning. As Paula said, she’d followed him here out of ‘good will’—she was under no obligation to help him to the point of risking her life with him.

Besides, Son Tae-hwan also thought that going down to the road teeming with beta zombies was madness. It didn’t matter that he was a survivor from the Antarctic; the beta zombies here wouldn’t care.

‘I need to figure something out. A way. The motorboat didn’t just get destroyed; there was definitely someone there.’

Son Tae-hwan looked at the beach again through his binoculars. From this vantage point, he could clearly see the harbor. Almost no substantial structure stood at the harbor. The church’s bell tower had been destroyed by an earlier flying piece, turning to dust under the moonlight, and the harbor’s crane facilities were completely demolished.

‘Maestro is not someone metal rods can handle. But something’s off.’

The motorboat.

‘Soo-jin knows about the alpha, and Shepherd had a rough time with the alpha in the Chilean base. But would they really have tried to escape on a motorboat?’

Squinting his eyes, Son Tae-hwan peered toward the beach. They’d been pursued by zombified orcas because of the sound of the motorboat. And today wasn’t the first time Maestro had shown off his ‘strength.’ Whether it was throwing fishing boats at the barrier or tearing down the church bell tower when Son Tae-hwan roamed the residential area—if Han Soo-jin and Shepherd had survived the plane crash, they surely would have seen that too, and the idea that they’d just tried to escape on a motorboat seemed unbelievable.

Son Tae-hwan’s gaze shifted back towards the north.

“Could they have fallen there, run to the beach, and then, perhaps? Paula. Could you lend me the map for a moment?”

Paula handed her precious map to Son Tae-hwan without knowing why. Using the flashlight, Son Tae-hwan looked at the map illuminated by the light and chuckled softly…



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