Dead End Chapter 122

Dead End

Chapter 122

The building was shaped such that its rooftop extended slightly further out than the buildings below. There was ample space, and Sohn Tae-hwan dropped down to the third floor, riding the fire hose like one would ride an amusement park attraction. The zombie, which had been hanging onto his leg, flailed as it fell to the ground, and Sohn Tae-hwan descended as if he was committing suicide by jumping. The third floor’s windows shattered completely along with their frames as Sohn Tae-hwan crashed through, rolling on the floor like a special forces operative making an entrance.

Simultaneously, the support for the roof sculptures, unable to bear the weight of Sohn Tae-hwan’s body, completely broke off and plunged downward. With a creaking noise, it crushed the Beta zombies below as it slammed into the ground.

“Damn it, Paula! What the hell are you spacing out for!”

“What the—”

Since Sohn Tae-hwan had blurted out in Korean in his urgency, Paula, with eyes wide in surprise, was about to retort when Sohn Tae-hwan grabbed her wrist and pulled her into his embrace.

Before Sohn Tae-hwan even had a chance to explain what happened, the pipe the fire hose was tied to ripped away with a pop. Where Paula had just been standing, the concrete wall crumbled under the impact of the pipe, scattering into fragments.

The wall of the third floor collapsed contagiously, as though someone had kicked down a mud wall. The structure above the third floor was compromised as a result of the sculpture’s fall, leaving the entire wall to topple destructively.

“Damn it, run!”

Although he cursed once more in Korean, Paula seemed to understand the gist of it. The dental building, like many others in Punta Arenas, was old and susceptible to such shocks. It was the place where “Maestro” had been tossing buildings around, and perhaps the interior structure was already rotting unseen, despite the facade appearing intact.

As chunks of wall tore away, the cityscape of Punta Arenas became momentarily visible before the floor of the third level itself began to crumble, and both Sohn Tae-hwan and Paula leapt forward, as if the building had been hit by an earthquake. The floor continued to collapse behind them, and along with it, they plunged down.

It was fortunate that the section of the floor where Sohn Tae-hwan and Paula had been standing fell cleanly through to the level below. The zombies that had been loitering on the second floor were crushed under the third floor debris, and Sohn Tae-hwan had one less floor to worry about descending. Shaking his head and clutching Paula’s wrist, he dragged her along.

“Paula! Run! We have to keep moving! Damn it all!”

Again, he blurted out curses in Korean. It seemed Paula had hit her head during the collapse as she was bleeding from her forehead, unconscious. Sohn Tae-hwan slapped her cheeks sharply, but she remained unresponsive. She wasn’t injured aside from that, and she wasn’t infected by the zombies.

“I can’t leave you here!”

Without hesitation, Sohn Tae-hwan carried Paula. She was someone who didn’t shoot him and had followed him all the way through this hell; losing her would be a significant loss for the survivors at the school.

Leader.

The survivors needed a fair leader to maintain order. If Paula died, it wasn’t just the loss of a warrior, but also the male survivors who had shown disquieting signs might seize the chance to revolt.

Though Paula’s ample chest pressed against him, Sohn Tae-hwan had no time for such distracting thoughts. He slung his gun over his shoulder and checked the second floor. It was still intact, but dropping down with Paula from this height was too risky. As he mumbled more curses, the building groaned ominously. After the collapse of the third floor, the second floor was no longer safe. The fall of the rooftop structure had set off a chain reaction that could lead to imminent collapse.

He had to worry not about Beta zombies or Maestro but about dying under the rubble from a meaningless structural collapse. One piece of luck was that the metal corridor door was barely open due to the deformation of the building. Dogs snarled and snapped at him from the gap.

“It’s not about the dogs. We need a way down! Think, think!”

Coincidentally, the two-story wall was entirely made of glass, and this very dental office was now his problem. The rooftop tooth character, depicted on a poster, grinned toothily at him.

“Is this some sort of joke? A ladder would be handy right now!”

The ladder would have been perfect, but Alejandro had taken it. However, Sohn Tae-hwan quickly found a suitable replacement.

In hospitals around the world, long benches are often placed for waiting patients, adorned with pharmaceutical company logos. These benches, resembling long church pews, were just the right length to serve as ladders.

Then Sohn Tae-hwan’s eyes sparkled as he looked outside.

“If this is God’s plan, although I am an atheist, I would believe in God ten times over. Oh my God!”

With a playful gesture of crossing himself like Paula, he smashed the glass wall with the butt of his gun. Yet, the dentist had installed pointless reinforcement in this old building; the tempered glass wouldn’t break despite Sohn Tae-hwan’s kicks, and in that moment the building threatened to collapse with a terrifying rumble.

“I’m sick of all these curses!”

The building partly collapsed, widening the gap by the door just enough. The dogs were nearly pushing their way through, and if the gap widened a bit more, they would be able to come inside.

Not hesitating any longer, Sohn Tae-hwan struck the reinforced glass wall with his gun.

With a crash, the glass shattered, and he immediately pushed the long bench through the window. Conveniently, a delivery van was parked just below at the perfect height, and the bench landed on top of the container.

Carrying Paula, Sohn Tae-hwan raced across the bench. Sounds of something being dragged and dogs barking came from behind him. Without looking back, he made a leap onto the high van.

The long bench teetered precariously before crashing down to the first floor, and the dogs leapt towards Sohn Tae-hwan’s location. He aimed the .22 caliber gun at the building, ready to fire. Within that brief moment, three dogs started sprinting towards him.

If even one dog made it to them, both Paula and Sohn Tae-hwan were in danger. Calmly, within that small window of time, he took aim at one dog and was about to pull the trigger.

But what neither the dogs nor Sohn Tae-hwan had anticipated happened. As the building collapsed with a roar, engulfing Sohn Tae-hwan in a dust storm, he shielded Paula and turned away.

The dogs that had leapt at Sohn Tae-hwan were crushed by the falling building, disappearing into the dust storm, and the building they had painstakingly descended was now fully demolished. Struggling in the dust, Sohn Tae-hwan rolled off the van’s roof, never forgetting to protect Paula in his arms.

The delivery van, meant for parcel distribution, had its container resembling a cargo hold, and beside it was a stack of delivery boxes. Evidently, the survivors of Punta Arenas had left these after looting anything edible or useful. The empty boxes saved Sohn Tae-hwan as he landed amongst them somewhat safely, letting out a groan. As the building crumbled, sending a storm of dust and debris in all directions, the side of the van shielded him. With heavy thuds, the van tipped precariously before righting itself with another loud noise.

“Lucky or not, what the hell?”

As if a vacuum cleaner had swept everything away, the Beta zombies were caught in the crumbling building and swept outside, and Sohn Tae-hwan was just about to stand, carrying Paula, when an incessant barking filled the air.

Growl!

Sohn Tae-hwan paled as he got up. As the boxes sank beneath their weight, his legs fell through, and clutching Paula, they both tumbled backward in the unsteady pile.

“Damn these boxes!”

The fall dispersed their weight, softening the impact, but trying to stand on two feet was too much for the delivery boxes, which kept collapsing under them. Like one struggling in a thicket, Sohn Tae-hwan put on a slapstick comedy atop the courier boxes before rolling aside with Paula in his arms.

His elbow jabbed the corner of a box, and his ribs were poked by the hard cardboard, but now was not the time to complain about pain. After tumbling down the mountain of boxes, Sohn Tae-hwan reached the street, picked up Paula, and prepared to run again.

“Darn dogs!”

These dogs were unyielding. Unaffected by the building’s collapse, they followed Sohn Tae-hwan, barking all the while. If things continued this way, not only would he fail to save Han Su-jin or Shepherd, but he also would be torn to pieces by the dogs. The dust from the collapsed building spread like fog, confusing the dogs and causing them to lose track of Sohn Tae-hwan.

Sohn Tae-hwan considered ways to shake off the dogs, but the only viable option seemed to enter a nearby building. Clutching Paula, he dashed straight for the building in front of the dental office.

The entrance on the opposite side was fitted with glass doors. Sohn Tae-hwan opened one, turned the lock above, and secured the door. Just as he was about to sigh in relief, a zombie dog charged through the haze of dust and slammed its head against the glass door.

“Damn it, you scared the hell out of me!”

The impact was so forceful that the zombie dog’s head cracked slightly, oozing brain matter, and the door’s locking mechanism threatened to break completely.

‘These creatures broke down a metal door. It’s only a matter of time before this one gives out!’

Sohn Tae-hwan wedged a chair that had been lying at the building entrance against the door handle of the glass door. The door handle was U-shaped, and after he slotted the chair’s legs like electric cords, it seemed like it would buy them some time.

Sohn Tae-hwan then used cable ties to bind Paula’s hands like handcuffs, hanging them around his neck. This way, at least one of his hands was free to use. Supporting Paula’s body with his amputated right arm, he held a demolition hammer attached to a pole in his left hand.

Again from behind, a dog slammed against the glass door, creating chaos. The sound attracted other Beta zombies that had avoided the building’s collapse, drawing them to Sohn Tae-hwan’s location. Even without the building’s collapse, this area had been teeming with quite a number of Beta zombies.

Taking a deep breath with Paula in his arms, Sohn Tae-hwan sighed heavily. Perhaps, as he had said, his body was adapting. He could run and jump with Paula without the previous excruciating pain of his heart being compressed.

Of course, he still felt numbness in his right arm as if it had been anaesthetised, which was frightening. In the meantime, glass shards had embedded and then fallen out of his right arm, seemingly healing on their own.

His arm was healing?

Despite the dire situation, Sohn Tae-hwan couldn’t help but wonder.

Alpha zombies did not heal their wounds. The iron spike stuck in the neck of one had evaporated with black smoke, and the orca had likewise spewed black smoke from its injuries on the beach until it died.

‘This can’t be happening.’

Sohn Tae-hwan’s right hand had regenerated just as it had been, right down to his fingertips. Maybe it was his imagination, but even with Paula’s arm slung over his shoulder, he could no longer feel its weight. Of course, he could sense something touching him and feel Paula’s ample chest. The sensation was exactly like being pricked with needles right after anesthesia.

When Sohn Tae-hwan flexed his right hand, as if to test it, an unexpected event startled him even more than the hordes of zombies outside. The blackened blood vessels at the end of his amputated wrist appeared to squirm. Even without any lights inside, the movement at the end of his wrist was clearly visible in the moonlight peering in from outside.

The scene resembled ripples spreading across a still lake after a stone’s throw. The reflective surface of Sohn Tae-hwan’s severed hand made concentric circles, moving rhythmically.

“This is insane.”

Was it just his imagination again? As the black appendage at his wrist began to twitch, the barking of the dogs outside ceased. While the humanoid Beta zombies continued to push against the glass door, the barking had stopped.

“Why did the dogs stop?”

Sohn Tae-hwan felt an odd premonition but didn’t have the time to ponder it. While he hesitated and focused on his hand, the Beta zombies shoved against the door until the glass shattered completely.

Panicking, Sohn Tae-hwan started up the stairs, but to his misfortune, a Beta zombie was coming down after hearing the noise. They filled the corridor, stretching their arms towards Sohn Tae-hwan, before tumbling down the stairs together.

The sound of those zombies falling was horribly chilling. If one of the fallen zombies caught his legs and bit into his ankles, it would be catastrophic. Sohn Tae-hwan was infected already, but Paula was not.

Glancing around frantically, he was startled again by barking. Had a dog gotten inside somehow? He reflexively looked toward the main entrance, but there were still no gaps large enough for a dog to enter. Human Beta zombies crowded in, tripping over one another and howling by the stairs.

The source of the barking sound came from beside the stairs, inside a food store. A small door there had a broken glass window, from which the barking echoed.

In a mix of confusion and alarm, Sohn Tae-hwan aimed his gun towards the noise. Having used his shotgun shells to break the glass window above, he was out. Could he hit a dog cleanly and kill it with a .22 caliber round? Behind him, the Beta zombies made their way, about to overtake Sohn Tae-hwan…



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