Dead End Chapter 121

Dead End

Chapter 121

“Paula, if you were to flee from this place to there, where would you run to?”

“Well, skirting around the park, this way…… Huh? You don’t mean?”

Paula also realized what Sohn Tae-hwan was getting at. The zombies were currently heavily concentrated to the south, and the Maestro was heading toward the spot where the boat had been destroyed.

As Sohn Tae-hwan and Paula had confirmed, this meant that the zombies were gradually moving further away from the plane crash site. Sohn Tae-hwan almost let out a victorious groan with a grin on his face. It was evidence that either Shepherd or Han Su-jin was employing their tactics to move them.

The closer they got, the more evidence they found of the two being alive, welcoming Sohn Tae-hwan. He then returned the map to Paula and once again looked down at the quiet cityscape of Punta Arenas.

The joy was short-lived as neither Shepherd nor Han Su-jin’s whereabouts were known to anyone. The distance between where the plane wreckage had fallen and where the motorboat had been was well over a kilometer. When jogging, a kilometer wasn’t much and could be run in a few minutes.

However, this place was swarming with zombies. No one knew how many zombies they would need to avoid over that kilometer, which route to take, or what dangers might be waiting. What’s more, unlike Sohn Tae-hwan, who had lived here and knew the area, Shepherd and Han Su-jin were strangers who had landed in a completely unfamiliar place without a guide.

Sohn Tae-hwan also had no clue he could use to find Han Su-jin. As a test, he tried sending signals around Punta Arenas with his flashlight, but no lights were seen returning the signal from the beach.

Instead, a response came from the direction of a hospital on another path.

“Is that Alejandro? But Paula, did the school’s people have a signal set up? What kind of signal is that?”

It wasn’t Morse code, just flashing lights that were visible.

“We didn’t have a specific signal. We haven’t moved at night until now.”

“Ah, right. That makes sense. Without streetlights, sweeping through houses with a flashlight would be difficult.”

Sohn Tae-hwan nodded and flicked his flashlight. Alejandro and Miguel were already near the hospital. While Sohn Tae-hwan was a bit worried about the ‘crazy horse,’ it seemed quiet on the other side, so likely nothing was amiss.

“We have no choice but to head to the airplane wreckage. If we shout, the Maestro will attack us.”

Paula nodded in agreement. The silence had become so profound that the destruction of the motorboat seemed like an event that happened hours ago.

“Paula, where do you think the Maestro is?”

“I’m not sure. But judging by the movement of the nondescript ones, it seems to be near the Magellan Square on the beach.”

“The Magellan Square on the beach.”

It was where the statue of Magellan, which had been placed in the school, had originally stood. Punta Arenas didn’t have many landmarks, but Sohn Tae-hwan remembered visiting there.

When he first arrived here, he had taken a leisurely ride from the airport in the north, to downtown in a pickup truck. It was a short distance of no more than five kilometers from the airport, and Sohn Tae-hwan had casually smoked a cigarette while gazing at the Atlantic Ocean even back then.

Just five kilometers. Moving 50 meters in the city of Punta Arenas felt like marching 50 kilometers. Sohn Tae-hwan recalled that memory while looking at the airport, then suddenly tilted his head, thinking.

“Ah, that’s right. They’re trying to head that way. Maybe the motorboat was used as bait for that reason.”

“What are you talking about, Sohn?”

“Remember what I told you? When we came from Antarctica, we heard over the radio that the Punta Arenas airport was safe.”

“But, the airport was already proven wrong. It’s to the point where this place is safer.”

Paula was right. If the city of Punta Arenas was in this state, the airport wouldn’t have been spared either. According to the survivors, the area north, including the airport, was the domain of ‘beasts.’

Trying to fend off a beast on par with the Maestro and defend the airport was nothing short of a dream.

“Paula, but you know, although I’ve met you and the others, none of my companions have.”

“Ah, I see. They must think if you’re alive, you would go to the airport!”

Paula inadvertently let out a cry and covered her mouth.

Sohn Tae-hwan quickly surveyed the north with his monocle. Ironically, neither the airport nor the yacht dock was visible from this side. The survivors were in a technical high school located to the northeast of Punta Arenas, and Paula and her group had taken a wide detour to the south to avoid the Maestro.

The North.

The Yacht.

The Airport.

Sohn Tae-hwan and Paula were equally shocked. Shepherd and Han Su-jin didn’t have the luxury of considering what had become of Punta Arenas or who the survivors were. Based on the radio communication they had heard from Antarctica, they would be trying to escape through the northern airport as quickly as possible.

But coincidentally, the survivors’ ‘ship of salvation’ at the school was also located in the direction of the airport.

“If they’re alive, we must find them quickly. Otherwise, stimulating the sound-sensitive beast or drawing the Maestro toward the yacht could spell the end for all of us.”

The movements of Sohn Tae-hwan’s companions now became extremely important to Paula and the school survivors as well. There was no way to communicate the information, and Shepherd and Han Su-jin would choose the most efficient way to survive on their own.

Shepherd and Han Su-jin’s survival tactics could lead to the worst outcomes for the school survivors.

“Sohn, we, we have to find them. The school could also be in danger.”

“Alright. But we’ll have to head to the airplane first.”

“The airplane?”

“If they’re alive, I would’ve left a message there too.”

Paula nodded in understanding. While there was no response to the lights yet, perhaps when they reached the plane and shone the light, they would get a response.

Now, Paula was feeling more urgent than Sohn Tae-hwan. A wrong move could result in all seventy survivors dying.

Did she hurry too much? As Paula was descending the staircase from the rooftop, she accidentally kicked an empty paint can. The paint can, unfortunately, fell to the side of the stairs before Paula could grab it, rattling loudly down to the first floor.

And at the same moment, from below on the first floor, annoying dog barks resounded. Sohn Tae-hwan quickly grabbed Paula’s nape and dragged her backward, closing the rooftop door.

“What kind of idiotic thing to do!”

“I’m, I’m sorry.”

It was always a mess when hurried. As dogs barked around them, attracting the zombies lurking in the outskirts, the rooftop door’s weak lock seemed about to give way under their pressure. Sohn Tae-hwan quickly secured the door handle with a clothesline he was carrying, wrapping it around the rooftop railing.

Almost simultaneously with Sohn Tae-hwan securing the door, something slammed into it with a resounding crash. Paula was startled and stepped back, while Sohn Tae-hwan braced the door with his body, securing the clothesline even further. The dogs were tenaciously chasing Sohn Tae-hwan.

The commotion caused by the barking dogs drew more beta zombies to the area, and Sohn Tae-hwan glanced nervously in the direction where the Maestro was. For now, the Maestro seemed uninterested in this location. Except for this dental building, the city of Punta Arenas lay in tranquility.

“This is maddening. If it stays this noisy, they might focus here again.”

Even while Sohn Tae-hwan spoke, the dogs continued to shove against the door. However secure the clothesline was tying the door handle, the strength of the dogs was more than he anticipated. Each time the door shook precariously, rust flakes fell from the hinges rather than the handle, and the door rattled intensely.

If it continued, the hinges could snap, and the entire door might fall off.

“Now, what do we do?”

Faced with Paula’s question, Sohn Tae-hwan also had a troubled look. Their situation was not much different from the one on the supermarket rooftop earlier. The clothesline had been used to tie the door, and they were trapped on the rooftop, waiting for the dogs to break in.

Sohn Tae-hwan, with a mockingly innocent expression, noticed a red door on the wall next to the tooth-shaped decoration. Fire safety regulations were relatively consistent across nations, and this five-story building had a fire hydrant as well. Without considering the consequences, Sohn Tae-hwan smashed the hydrant cover with a sledgehammer. Inside, as expected, was a fire hose.

Sohn Tae-hwan pushed the hose to Paula, gesturing for her to tie it around her waist. There was no need for explanation. Paula quickly secured it to her waist and nodded. Sohn Tae-hwan tied one end of the fire hose to the support for the tooth-shaped decoration and handed the sledgehammer to Paula.

“You, what about you?”

“Ladies first.”

Paula couldn’t help but let out a cynical smile as she dashed to the edge of the rooftop. Bang, bang. The door shook wildly, and one of the door hinges broke with a snap, a piece of metal tumbling across the rooftop floor.

There was no more time to dawdle. Sohn Tae-hwan held the fire hose from above, and Paula, like repelling from a helicopter, slid down from above to below. No matter how much it was only a five-story building, the height below was dizzying.

“Paula. Look up! Don’t look down!”

“I-I got it!”

But looking down was inevitable not just because of the height but because beta zombies were swarming below. If she continued like this, Paula would essentially be throwing herself into the horde. Moreover, the fire hose length proved insufficient.

“Damn it, is this what they call a mere eyewash in fire inspection here!”

Before Paula even reached the first floor, she hung helplessly around the third-floor window.

“Sohn! I’m going in through this window! Come down too!”

“Darn it! Alright! Be careful!”

Paula reached out to open the window, but as expected, a beta zombie from inside the third floor lunged to grab her. Unable to watch, Sohn Tae-hwan threw a potted plant from the rooftop, and the beta zombie hit in the head by the pot tumbled lifelessly to the first floor.

It was a horrific scene. More beta zombies that had started to gather at the flowerbed immediately tore into their fallen comrade, their body shredded in all directions as if being quartered.

Imagining what would happen if she fell there wasn’t even necessary. Paula, swinging like a pendulum, bashed the head of another beta zombie inside with the sledgehammer. Fortunately, the interior side of the third floor, where Paula intended to enter, was distant from the staircase, so it appeared the beta zombies had not invaded yet.

Paula skillfully straddled the window frame and climbed into the third floor’s interior.

“Sohn! It’s still safe here! Come down for now!”

“Don’t hold the fire hose, tie it to something! Secure our way first!”

Paula heeded Sohn Tae-hwan’s words and firmly tied the fire hose around a pipe in the office. Sohn Tae-hwan saw her give an “okay” sign with her thumb and forefinger from below. Then, he gripped the hose and cautiously prepared to descend.

With a snap, the door hinge completely broke off, and the dogs lunged straight for Sohn Tae-hwan. He bent over the rooftop railing, hanging like Spider-Man on the wall. The dogs, not anticipating Sohn Tae-hwan’s disappearance from sight, couldn’t control their speed and tumbled over the rooftop.

Thump. The impact with the beta zombies below was visible, and the dogs instantly realized where Sohn Tae-hwan was. From the rooftop, the dogs barked towards the Maestro, leading the beta zombies drawn by the sound towards them.

“I was hoping for a rock star dive into a crowd, not this.”

The scenario was akin to a concert crowd reaching out for the artist. The beta zombies crowded below as if awaiting their turn. If it continued this way, they might not even make it out of this building alive. The dogs continued to bark madly while Sohn Tae-hwan slowly inched downward on the fire hose, unable to firmly grip it with his right hand.

“Damn it, please, just keep still, heart. Stay put.”

Perhaps it was the extreme danger that spurred it on. Sohn Tae-hwan’s heartbeat raced, and hanging from the fire hose, he felt a spell of severe dizziness. Swearing under his breath, he carefully descended.

When things started going wrong, they snowballed without mercy. The rooftop door was knocked down by the dogs, and beta zombies climbing up pushed the tooth-shaped sculpture.

Like the rooftop, the sculpture had rusted bases, and when the beta zombies pushed, it tilted off the rooftop instantly.

It was as if a tooth had fallen out from the gum of the rooftop. The wobbling tooth-shaped sculpture broke away from the rusted supports and crashed to the ground. As if a drop of detergent was spilled on oil, a hole emerged within the throbbing mass of beta zombies. The sculpture crushed zombies beneath it, causing them to suffocate.

Zombies on the rooftop started shoving each other, tumbling outside the building.

“This is pure insanity!”

Sohn Tae-hwan was certainly facing a situation worth cursing. One of the fallen zombies happened to grab and bite at Sohn Tae-hwan’s right shoe. Despite being at the rubber sole, that wasn’t Sohn Tae-hwan’s problem. The fire hose, unable to bear the weight of the zombie and Sohn Tae-hwan, started to tear with a zipping sound. Sohn Tae-hwan thrashed his foot trying to shake off the zombie, but it clung on, attempting to crawl up his body.

“Those damn bastards.”

Moreover, the sculpture support that the fire hose was tied to was bending visibly from the rooftop. Zombies randomly climbed it, falling straight onto Sohn Tae-hwan’s head.

Sohn Tae-hwan’s mon…

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