Dead End Chapter 58

Dead End

Dead End Chapter 58

Chapter 58

Eventually, people shared the warm meal they had prepared.

A few gestured to Son Taehwan and Han Su Jin, pretending to offer them some food.

“Come over here! There’s a lot of delicious food!”

“Ah, it’s okay. This guy’s a glutton; he’ll eat up everything there is. You go ahead and eat. We need to save our supplies. Ugh.”

Han Su Jin elbowed Son Taehwan in the ribs.

“Hey you, glutton, does it hurt?”

“Humph.”

As Son Taehwan returned to preparing the combat rations, he noticed another problem.

Glancing around, he whispered in Korean, deliberating on purpose.

“We’re running low on water. We’ll need to conserve.”

Han Su Jin, sensing the mood, replied quietly,

“Water? You said the combined heat and power generator is working fine, right?”

If the generator was running, they could melt snow for water.

But Son Taehwan thought that was the issue.

“That’s not the problem. Black blood has splattered all over outside. We can try to gather the untouched snow, but there’s no telling if it’s been contaminated or not. The zombies are roaming everywhere, especially the Alpha zombies exhaling black vapors.”

“Then… we’ll just have to rely on the water we brought.”

The water she referred to was from Sejong Base.

Naturally, there wasn’t a vast supply.

“We have no choice. We just have to make do until we can escape.”

Some who drank melted snow might become infected.

But it was too late to warn them now.

Based on his experiences, Son Taehwan knew Antarctica’s harsh cold couldn’t neutralize the formidable infectivity.

He should have spoken up before they drank, but by now it was already done.

If he brought it up, it could provoke a riot amongst the desperate people.

‘Damn, I forgot Alpha zombies exhale steam made of black blood. It risks contamination, not just through breathing but all supplies they’ve passed by.’

Han Su Jin, as well, while watching the steam rise from the boiling combat rations, had similar thoughts.

She knew the infection from the Alpha zombies too well, having witnessed it herself.

Even as a member of Doctors Without Borders, who had been in various outbreaks, this was a new level of contagion.

“If you consider the infectivity… even boiling the water may be dangerous. We can’t guarantee it’s sterile.”

“That’s true. Avoidance is the best policy.”

“What exactly is this black blood?”

“If you, the doctor, don’t know, how would I?”

“Wow. Only a doctor when it’s convenient, huh?”

“Well, it’s not exactly like that.”

Son Taehwan had watched her caring for the injured.

‘As much as I tease about quackery, a doctor is still a doctor, and Su Jin is a rare one at that.’

She had been diligently treating the wounded while he searched the Chilean base.

“Anyway, let’s eat. It should be ready by now.”

“Wow, changing the subject, senior?”

The two began eating their belatedly cooked combat rations.

Despite the limited options, their meal was impressive.

Combat rations, yet they had ribs and chili chicken.

“Where did this come from? Chile? This is my first time experiencing such a variety.”

“Wow, senior, yours looks delicious.”

Han Su Jin ate half of Son Taehwan’s ribs, and they playfully bickered until Son Taehwan snatched her chili chicken in retaliation.

Ultimately, sharing their meal, they crunched on the included biscuits for dessert and even belched.

“Hey. Are we seriously belching now?”

“It’s an emergency. I’ll reclaim my manners when we escape Antarctica, maybe from a pawnshop.”

“Do you even have any manners to reclaim?”

“I seriously hate you at times like this.”

Later, Park Dong Hyuk came down after his shift to have a late dinner and sat in front of Son Taehwan and Han Su Jin.

Others started to drift off to sleep, discussing the day’s events.

It was already 8 p.m., and after several days of stress, the security of a safe place to sleep overwhelmed them with exhaustion.

“Eat slowly. No one’s going to steal it from you.”

Park Dong Hyuk also started wolfing down the combat rations in front of Son Taehwan.

Then he stopped eating, choked back a sob, and tears welled up.

“You’re really losing it.”

“Brother… thank you.”

“Save such words for after we leave Antarctica… And…”

Park Dong Hyuk wiped away his tears with his hand and finished his food.

Son Taehwan, confirming that Xiao Wan had fallen asleep in a heap, spoke in Korean.

“I’ve been thinking about finding the boat.”

Park Dong Hyuk, who had been eating, and Han Su Jin, who was falling asleep, snapped to attention and looked at Son Taehwan.

“Senior…?”

“Brother, if we do that, what about these people…?”

“Yes, I wanted to hear your thoughts on that.”

Son Taehwan recalled the thoughts he had had in the boiler room.

Leaving these people behind wouldn’t bring condemnation—they were seen as their saviors and weren’t expected to do more.

“What do you think, senior?”

“Two realistic issues come to mind. One, whether there is still a boat left, and two, Dong Hyuk’s injury.”

“We haven’t found antibiotics yet, but they must be around somewhere.”

“No, doctor dear. I’m talking about real issues here. We’ll need to fend off the Red Scorpions and find a boat, but can we hold out till then?”

Park Dong Hyuk dropped his spoon with a clatter, a look of extreme unease on his face.

“Yo-You’re not planning to abandon me, are you?”

Son Taehwan shook his head calmly as he looked at Park Dong Hyuk.

“I didn’t say abandon. I’m just setting the stage for a realistic discussion. Soon we’ll have to fight, and since you can’t even run with that leg injury, you’re in more danger than others. We’ve got to consider infection risk and complications. With uncertain rescue, finding a boat seems the only option, but will you last that long?”

“That’s…”

Park Dong Hyuk had no reply.

And Han Su Jin took a sobering glance around.

“But would we definitely survive if we flee and leave them behind?”

“If we’re lucky enough to find the boat, our chances certainly go up.”

“But what if they follow us? If we can find a boat, then they can too, right?”

“Yes, well said. Since the AC-130 leveled this place, both sides are in the same boat. In the absence of rescue, we both need to find a boat to leave this island. In short, this is… a survival game. We need to find the boat first to make sure we don’t lose it to the Red Scorpions.”

Han Su Jin rested her chin on her hand and looked intently at Son Taehwan.

“Senior. You’re just playing tough, aren’t you?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play dumb. You don’t have the heart to leave these people. You’re just pretending to be stern for our sake, right?”

Son Taehwan was speechless, and Han Su Jin gently ran her fingers through his hair.

It wasn’t to dodge the point but was truly heartfelt, although it left the atmosphere a bit too mushy.

“You are kind, kind indeed.”

“Hey… am I a child or what?”

Park Dong Hyuk struggled to contain his laughter as his face went red, and Son Taehwan reluctantly accepted her caress with a mix of resignation and a sigh.

Then Han Su Jin continued petting Son Taehwan’s head as she spoke softly.

“In fact, I thought I was already dead.”

“What are you on about all of a sudden?”

“When I returned to the Peru base and had to fight that zombie. And later, when I held out in the Sejong Base’s shower room… I thought I was dead already. No more hope. I’d either freeze or end like them. I figured I’d surely die. That was my thought.”

As he listened to Han Su Jin’s confession, Son Taehwan slowly turned his head and, to break the awkwardness, stuck a straw into a juice box.

“When you came, senior. It’s strange… how fickle humans are. I was scared but relieved. I reckon these people feel the same? And you too, senior. So…”

Son Taehwan spat out the straw and interrupted her.

“Are you saying we should fight alongside these people and die? Absurd. Red Scorpion is unimaginably strong. Fighting just because of sentiment could be sheer madness.”

Yet Han Su Jin was gazing directly at Son Taehwan with soft eyes.

“No, that’s not what I meant. What I’m saying is, I’ll go along with whatever you decide, senior. Whether to leave or not to leave these people. Because you’re my leader.”

Han Su Jin’s eyes did not waver.

“Alright.”

Once more, Han Su Jin stroked Son Taehwan’s head, and he let out a heavy sigh.

Being with this lady somehow made even the direst circumstances feel less serious.

“Then let’s agree on one thing. If we decide to escape on our own, the signal will be me shouting ‘sweet potato fries.’ Once you hear that, we turn our backs and run for the hill beyond the control tower.”

“Why sweet potato fries again? Another of your dad jokes, senior?”

But the reasoning was unexpectedly pragmatic.

“It’s a word foreigners will never catch on to. They’ll stand there bewildered while we flee.”

“Ah.”

The pair faced each other, barely holding back laughter.



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