Dead End Chapter 59

Dead End

Dead End Chapter 59

Chapter 059

Although the story wasn’t particularly funny, everyone was so starved for laughter amidst the difficult emotions they were enduring, that they found humor where they could. Eventually, the three of them also took turns to sleep. The absence of bombings and the threat of zombies brought a strangely serene feeling.

Even though it was a loose alliance, the sheer number of people alive was comforting.

“Mmm… senior, my chicken… my chicken…”

Han Sujin had already fallen asleep using Son Taehwan’s lap as a pillow, and Park Donghyuk snored away, leaned against Son Taehwan’s back. Son Taehwan looked at them with pity before turning his thoughts to the situation outside.

His gaze then drifted to the map of Chile Base hanging in the control room. Staring intently at the map, he pondered their strategy. He had to support all these people until the phrase “sweet potato fries” was no longer necessary.

Son Taehwan suddenly felt the weight of Han Sujin’s head; it felt as heavy as the weight of life itself, reminiscent of a poignant feeling he had experienced during his military days. An officer must bear the lives of his soldiers on his shoulders, ultimately responsible for them. And now, Son Taehwan had to take responsibility for the lives of twelve individuals.

“Let’s do this.”

While looking at the map of Chile Base, Son Taehwan tirelessly thought about tactics to attack the enemy without falling victim themselves. But today had been an incredibly taxing day for him.

Running 200 meters in light clothing, engaging in a sniper battle, and the journey to this control room – he had been running non-stop. Today’s bombing and the cold had been enough to knock even a healthy young man like Son Taehwan off his feet. Fatigue took over, and he soon started snoring, leaning towards Han Sujin.

Bodies, freezing cold, the boiling black blood.

Son Taehwan found himself on the runway of Chile Base, dressed only in summer clothes. He thought he had fallen asleep after a warm meal in a heated space, but all he felt now was bitter cold.

‘What happened? I’m sure…’

Han Sujin had been sleeping peacefully beside him, but now he was alone. Park Donghyuk with his injured leg and Shepherd with his coarse jokes were nowhere to be seen. Son Taehwan stood dumbfounded in the blizzard, gazing into it. And from afar, beyond the snowstorm, a figure with a metal stake lodged in their neck slowly approached.

Son Taehwan knew he had to run, but his feet wouldn’t move. The metal stake inched closer, and he soon realized why he couldn’t move – numerous hands had shot out from under the snow, gripping his feet. He tried to scream, but no sound came out; his feet were stuck, and his body did not respond.

And when the figure with the metal stake reached out to grasp his neck…

“Arghh!”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t shoot.”

Before him was the black man who had been with Son Taehwan earlier, his hands raised. Son Taehwan had reflexively grabbed his sniper rifle and aimed it at him. Beside him, Han Sujin rubbed her eyes as she woke up, and Park Donghyuk shifted in his sleep.

The atmosphere was warm, and people snored haphazardly all around them. Son Taehwan, with a pounding headache, shook his head in denial.

“Sorry, I was still half asleep.”

“I understand.”

The black man shrugged and patted Son Taehwan’s back. They had all watched how much Shepherd and Son Taehwan struggled at the control tower. The man then yawned widely and crawled into his part of the curtain.

Immediately, Son Taehwan checked the time on his broken watch.

“Six-thirty. Did I sleep that long?”

He climbed up and took over watch duty from another man who had been guarding the area.

“Anything happen?”

“Nah, just that the lookout at three saw some shadows up on the hill through binoculars.”

“Red Scorpion?”

“I couldn’t say for sure, the weather’s been terrible.”

The middle-aged man recounted events nonchalantly before heading down.

“Oh, and if you smoke, do it over there. If Dr. Lady here wants coffee, it’s over there.”

“Lady?”

Son Taehwan glanced back and sighed. Han Sujin had followed him, clutching the hem of his clothes like a child who feared getting lost without her mother.

“Aren’t you going to sleep more? The doc excused you from duty, right? We’re doing it in pairs for three-hour shifts. The numbers don’t add up.”

“You’re lonely without me, aren’t you senior? And one of us is injured.”

Han Sujin rubbed her eyes and thanked the man in his fifties, who poured her a cup of coffee before descending.

As the man said, cigarettes were laid out one per person on the radio console, which continued to emit static noise.

“Lucky Strike, huh? No wonder Shepherd would hate these.”

“Why is that?”

“There’s a superstition that the red circle on the cigarette pack attracts bullets, like a target.”

“I see.”

“I don’t like them because they’re strong though.”

Nevertheless, Son Taehwan lit up a cigarette, his first in almost two days.

“Cough, cough. Can’t you smoke outside?”

“Give me a break. It looks like there is only one per person. The last one’s for the end, it seems.”

Son Taehwan stealthily tucked the remaining lone cigarette into his fishing hook case. Han Sujin stared at the steamy coffee before pouring it back into the pot.

“Aren’t you drinking?”

“You told me to be careful earlier, didn’t you?”

Han Sujin found a clean pot, poured some water into it, and stirred in some coffee mix, leaving out the sugar from the day before. The two sat in silence, gazing out at the landscape while the snow continued to fall persistent and detestable.

Had they been following the original winter research plans, Son Taehwan and Han Sujin were supposed to be spending monotonous time at Sejong Science Base.

“Ah, a spectacle is only good when it’s a regular spectacle.”

While aiming the sniper rifle, Son Taehwan thought of various things. Naturally, his first thought was about measures against Red Scorpion.

‘Can we really survive?’

It would be a lie to say he wasn’t scared. Most of them held cold weapons like iron pipes or poles, which might work against dumb Beta zombies but were no match for a rifle.

Looking at the loaded machine guns and hunting rifles, Son Taehwan swallowed hard. Apart from the machine guns, all the firearms here were foolishly brought by Son Taehwan’s group. Without these guns, combat wouldn’t even be possible.

‘Having guns or firepower doesn’t guarantee victory, but this is just outrageous.’

As Son Taehwan focused on the map of Chile Base, he suddenly felt a heat on his cheek.

“Ouch!”

“Pfft! You look like Yong-gu, senior.”

“Ow! You should’ve just…”

“Why didn’t you just listen when I told you to drink? Why do you never pay attention?”

Han Sujin winked cutely and handed him a cup, while Son Taehwan grumbled. He sipped the hot coffee and relaxed.

“It’s good.”

“Wow, senior even knows how to give compliments?”

“Is that what Han Sujin, the child, wanted to hear? Huh?”

Han Sujin laughed gleefully as she turned her gaze back to the window. Zombies occasionally groaned outside the window, but other than that, it was a quiet dawn. Son Taehwan picked up a pen and paper and started to draw a detailed map of Chile Base.

“Chile Base?”

“Yeah. We need a tactical map. This is the building, that’s the hill we scouted earlier, beyond there is the Chinese base, and this is the control tower.”

Son Taehwan kindly explained the diagram to Han Sujin.

“Kid Han Sujin, what do you think is the best strategy in this situation?”

“I don’t know? Winning the battle?”

“That’s going to be tough. And it’s not the best approach either. Sun Tzu said in ‘The Art of War’ that the best victory is the one that doesn’t require battle.”

“Wah? How can you win without fighting?”

Son Taehwan marked “Everyone Deceased?” with a question mark on the map.

“Everyone deceased?”

“Yes, AC-130 killed everyone. No survivors.”

“Then…”

“Red Scorpion could ignore this place and just pass by. I wish that was the best outcome.”

With a deep sigh, he looked at the burnt-out cigarette butts.

“They said something loomed over that hill at 3:30am, right? That could mean two things: one, Red Scorpion came to scout, and the other…”

Annihilation. Like yesterday’s spiked and one-armed zombies, even with guns, catching them had been difficult. Son Taehwan began to entertain the possibility that Red Scorpion had been wiped out entirely. He wrote ‘Spiked’ on Chile Base’s sketch.

Although they retreated at the sound of gunfire yesterday, there was something not quite right about their withdrawal.

“We have to keep in mind the spiked guy too. It seemed like he was controlling the zombies.”

“Definitely. A third force. Then we’ll have to prepare for them too.”

“Yes. Red Scorpion is likely short on supplies, so they’ll probably search this base thoroughly, revealing our location sooner or later, right?”

“Yes. That’s why I even thought about burning down the rest of the base and escaping into the snow field. But that’s only possible for a few. And facing off against someone like Spiked in the open field is suicide. It’s better to stand our ground here.”

Once again, he turned to the map of Chile Base. Recalling the nerve-wracking close-quarter battle with the sniper they had encountered yesterday, Son Taehwan marked ‘600m or more’ on the map. Whether the enemy was Red Scorpion or Spiked, they had to be prepared for both.

“The clearing is an advantage for us. There’s nowhere for the enemy to hide. We should take out as many as we can here, zombies or whatever else.”

“Do you have a good plan?”

“I have some ideas and the resources and manpower to support them, but the problem is time.”

Son Taehwan whispered his strategy in her ear, and she nodded with an ‘Oh-ho’ expression of realization.

“Senior, you know a lot of useless things.”

“Useless, my ass. We’ll just have to decrease their numbers as much as possible and make the zombies or Red Scorpion retreat. The goal isn’t complete annihilation, but retreat.”

Son Taehwan pointed towards the open area.

“But, senior. We’re low on weapons.”

“……”

Son Taehwan merely sipped his coffee. He then explained in detail his defensive strategy to Han Sujin as if writing an ‘innermost plan’ on the map, and informed her of the cruel choices that might have to be made in case an attack came.

“Senior. That’s a bit hard to accept?”

“But it’s necessary. If another creature like Spiked shows up…”

Thinking of zombies like Mr. Han, Son Taehwan considered the characteristics of those creatures – to counter their explosive attacks, there was only one possible remedy.

“Senior. I’m… I’m your supporter.”

“Thanks… But I wonder who will be the one to carry out that task…”



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