Dead End Chapter 123

Dead End

Episode 123

The interior of the grocery store was as expected: ravaged by the zombie outbreak, with everything usable long since looted, and the aisles toppled into disarray. Son Tae-hwan frantically searched the store for the dog but it was nowhere to be seen. The zombies had already begun to crawl towards him, reaching out to grasp his legs.

The grocery store windows were now on the verge of breaking, pressed upon by the onslaught of Beta zombies. Unlike the reinforced glass at the dentist’s clinic, these windows seemed like regular glass, no match for the horde.

With a crackling sound, the front windows began to spiderweb, and Son Tae-hwan had no choice but to dash towards the back door. Although he was concerned about the dogs, which had demonstrated the ability to ambush and coordinate complex attacks, he couldn’t hesitate any longer.

As Son Tae-hwan sprinted past the aisles towards the back door, he heard a sudden ‘clack-clack’ sound from atop an adult-height display unit and felt chills run down his spine as he aimed his gun in that direction.

He was sure he had pulled the trigger, but there was no response. Then he remembered: this gun had two triggers. He had pulled the one for the shotgun shell, while the trigger for the .22 caliber bullet was the other one.

Ice ran down Son Tae-hwan’s neck. If the dog—man-sized atop the display—pounced, it would be over. Even if it wasn’t a police or military trained dog, it would be near impossible for a human to withstand such an attack.

Son Tae-hwan twisted his body, avoiding the dog’s teeth, and pulled the trigger again. To no avail, the shot went wide, ricocheting off the ceiling before embedding with a thud into a wooden counter. Squinting his eyes, he turned and stretched his left arm, gun in hand, towards the dog. It was a feeble defense that only invited attack on his exposed limb.

He was already infected, but Paula wasn’t. He didn’t know what would happen if bitten again, but at least he could bide time for Paula to come to her senses.

His left hand was bitten.

Son Tae-hwan reached out with his right, but realized something entirely different was happening to it. “Huh?” Contrary to his left hand, where he was bracing for excruciating pain, his right hand felt something warm touch and then leave. “What? What’s this?”

The dog on the display was looking down at Son Tae-hwan, panting in an almost smirking manner.

The dog. It was just a dog, but evidently not an infected one.

“You? You!” Astonished to meet an unexpected ally, Son Tae-hwan exclaimed with a leap of surprise. This was downtown Punta Arenas. Paula had sent dogs to track Maestro, all of which had turned into zombie dogs. Could it be that one had survived against the odds?

This dog on the display was certainly not one of those sent by Paula. The dog, who gave Son Tae-hwan a knowing look with its innocent eyes, was precisely the one he had previously encountered on Livingston Island.

After the showdown with the iron spike, the dog had naturally boarded the plane and survived this far through sheer tenacity.

“You rascal! Gave me such a scare! You’re still alive!” Son Tae-hwan recalled the shaggy creature’s name as he gazed at its scruffy fur. “Ragdoll!”

The dog seemed annoyed, tilting its head before barking briefly at the window again. Ragdoll understood the timing for barks and movements, having survived the zombie-infested Livingston Island.

“Are you telling me to follow?” Ragdoll glanced back at Son Tae-hwan and then dashed out through the back door. Left with little choice, Son Tae-hwan carried Paula on his shoulder and followed Ragdoll.

As he exited the grocery store, the windows exploded, shattering under the force of the Beta zombies flooding in. Had he hesitated, Son Tae-hwan could have been torn apart. He silently thanked the dog, continuing his pursuit.

‘Are the zombie dogs not chasing us?’ Judging by Ragdoll’s full-speed run, there appeared to be no nearby zombie dogs. One upside of the journey with Paula was the death of many zombie dogs caught in collapsing buildings.

The zombie dogs that had been pursuing him in the homeware store were now nowhere in sight. However, one problem remained.

“Damn. I’m exhausted. Hey, slow down.” Paula was heavier than he expected, and keeping pace with Ragdoll while carrying her was far from easy.

Eventually, Ragdoll led them out of a building and down an alleyway, skirting around zombies as if sensing their presence. The sight of Ragdoll breezing past a Beta zombie, fur flying, felt surprisingly reassuring.

Son Tae-hwan followed suit, dodging past the Beta zombies as Ragdoll waited intermittently to ensure he kept up. The dog guided him out of the alley onto a wider street, changing direction multiple times, leading them away from danger.

It seemed Ragdoll knew where they should go. Son Tae-hwan saw a flickering hope in the dog’s actions. ‘It’s guiding us! To where Shepherd and Soo-jin are!’

Whether due to raw instincts or prior training, Ragdoll knew to keep quiet, even when Beta zombies popped out suddenly. In fact, the dog maintained silence like those trained not to bark, such as guide dogs for the blind.

Soon, Ragdoll stopped by a collapsed building and barked lowly, summoning Son Tae-hwan, who turned upwards, his heart sinking at the sight. Above the building, a sign featured flickering, radiant white lights, stealing his breath as he stared up.

“You brought me to where the plane crashed.” Ragdoll nudged Son Tae-hwan, who absently reached out to pet the dog. The dog growled, stepping back with a whine before approaching him again.

“Oh… sorry.” Son Tae-hwan strapped the gun over his shoulder and petted the dog’s head with his left hand. The dog licked his hand, panting, making Son Tae-hwan increasingly nervous.

‘This dog knows what danger is like. On Livingston Island, it always avoided digging in the dirt.’

Back then, he had thought the dog’s behavior cowardly, but now it seemed like a survival strategy. Ragdoll spent a lot of time licking Son Tae-hwan’s hand before bounding into the building. Taking deep breaths, Son Tae-hwan followed inside.

The building was nearly zombie-free, likely because the Beta zombies had followed Maestro in his movements. Son Tae-hwan knocked down any undead that approached and hurried upstairs.

The upper floor was in ruins, torn apart by the fallen airplane fuselage. Ragdoll barked lowly from an inclined section and called Son Tae-hwan over.

“The zombies are down.” Around the dog lay Beta zombies, their heads smashed by concrete chunks or throats slashed by sharp edges. Son Tae-hwan’s excitement grew; the cleanly dispatched zombie bodies clearly indicated the presence of other survivors.

According to Paula, there shouldn’t be anyone here – this was the crash site. No amount of denial could hide the evidence of survivors from Son Tae-hwan.

Ragdoll whined and gestured for Son Tae-hwan to hurry over. With a cough, he called out, “Soo-jin. Shepherd.”

His voice cracked with urgency, but surely they would recognize it was him. Yet no response came from the silence inside. Son Tae-hwan’s joy froze in an instant. The dog kept pointing towards a curtained interior.

“It’s me. Don’t shoot. I’m here.” The dog continued whimpering as Son Tae-hwan cautiously moved the curtain aside.

“Oh no.” The first thing Son Tae-hwan saw was a bloodstain. A vivid red trail smeared from the airplane fuselage to the floor. Inside the familiar plane fuselage, blood pooled, and there were signs of frenzied medical treatment. Ragdoll barked softly, as if briefing Son Tae-hwan on the events that had taken place.

“The bleeding from coming down off the plane… there’s a lot of blood…” Son Tae-hwan followed the blood trail and stopped short at the sight of a palm print. The trail ended where Beta zombies swarmed in the street below.

The trail poured downwards, leaving Son Tae-hwan clueless as to what had transpired here. His legs faltered, nearly causing him to stumble backward with Paula in tow.


Suicide? The circumstances could point to it—an incurable wound leading to a desperate leap.

“No. That’s not possible. She wouldn’t… would she? Right?” Son Tae-hwan stepped back, and Paula woke with a groan, finding the scene unfamiliar since she had lost consciousness during their descent from the roof. She rubbed her eyes, wondering if this was still a nightmare.

“Son. Where is this—hey.” She tried to climb off Son Tae-hwan’s back, but he held onto her legs, refusing to let go.

“Son? What’s going on? Where are we?” Recognizing the plane fuselage, Paula wriggled free from Son Tae-hwan’s grasp. Meanwhile, Son Tae-hwan stood frozen by the bloodstains, and Paula uttered a low moan at the sight of the blood volume.

The handprint on the plane clearly belonged to a woman. Paula approached Son Tae-hwan and gently touched his shoulder. Unsure of what to say, she too had suffered losses during the retreat to the school and knew that words of comfort might not reach the heart.

“I’m sorry.”

Paula’s voice squeezed out, but Son Tae-hwan just blankly stared at the stains.

“Son. There are things beyond human power.” She spoke desperately but knew her words wouldn’t reach him. As she began responding to him, something hot and damp touched her hand, and Paula whirled around, shocked.

“Son! The dog!”

It was Ragdoll, licking Paula’s hand, making her jump with fright and grab a nearby pipe to strike the dog. Her last memory was being pursued by zombie dogs at the dental clinic – naturally, she wouldn’t expect a living dog here. Ragdoll, puzzled by her reaction, didn’t even try to dodge her strike.


Both Ragdoll and Paula were equally startled. Ragdoll, who had been whining at Son Tae-hwan, suddenly growled defensively. Paula was shocked to see the dog, still uninfected, acting protective and stepping in front of her.

It wasn’t just a guard stance. Ragdoll focused intently on Son Tae-hwan’s right hand.

Both Paula and the dog could see changes happening to his hand, and she covered her mouth with both hands, muffling her scream.

“No, beast. You’re changing into a beast. Can you hear me? You’re turning into a beast!”

The black smoke from Son Tae-hwan’s right wrist no longer billowed. Instead, black muck coalesced, squirming like tentacles of an octopus or squid.

It was as if Son Tae-hwan was holding a live black squid in his hand. Panicked, Paula wet herself, stepping back reflexively, recalling one of many similar scenes she had witnessed in Punta Arenas.

Another Alpha zombie, controlling the area along with Maestro.

The Beast.

“No way, you’re the Beast? Is that it? There are two beasts? This means we can’t escape. This means we all die?”

Overcome with panic, Paula couldn’t think straight. Son Tae-hwan had only arrived in Punta Arenas earlier that day. It was impossible for him to be the Beast that had been fighting Maestro for territory before then.

But the sight of Son Tae-hwan’s right hand made her shake her head in disbelief. Ragdoll, too, dropped any loyalty and prepared to attack Son Tae-hwan as he moved.

The Beast, an overwhelming force, an apex predator among zombies, seemed to be taking form right before their eyes.

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