Dead End Chapter 62

Dead End

Episode 062

“Did you make one for me too? When?”

“Just now, when you were sleeping.”

Han Sujin pulled down her mask and flashed a laughing grin. Sun Taehwan playfully tapped her on the head with his fist and gestured for her to pull her mask back up.

The two continued walking as if they were the only people left in the world. Han Sujin, pulling down her mask again, gasped for air and said, “You’re not planning to run away like this, are you, senior?”

“…”

They stopped momentarily, standing in the midst of a blizzard so thick they couldn’t see an inch ahead. They held onto a rope that led back to the 200-meter mark. Despite the presence of daylight, darkness enveloped the surroundings. Wandering aimlessly in such conditions was akin to suicide. One could easily become disoriented within a measly 10 kilometers, finding themselves walking in circles.

Sun Taehwan had enjoyed reading about the chilling ordeals faced by Antarctic expeditions since he was a child. Now, finding himself in similar straits, the reality was far from a joke. They had neither a compass nor an ordinary smartphone with them.

“Miss, let’s save our escape for another time. It’s not just those people; I can’t guarantee our survival.”

“Haha, anyone watching might think we’re a couple running from an opposed marriage.”

“Pwahaha, that’s a good one.”

Sun Taehwan, mindful of his stride, continued to walk ahead. Now at 300 meters, this was a place beyond the reach of typical weaponry. While they were within rifle range, actually hitting a target was an entirely different matter. Sun Taehwan had placed decoys and zombie corpses around for potential targets. Ultimately, responsibility for this distance lay with him, who held the Dragunov sniper rifle.

“Do you think you can make the shot, senior?”

“Well, I did hit one at 300 meters earlier, but that was pure luck.”

“No, senior.”

Han Sujin once again removed her goggles and looked at him with naked eyes. Sun Taehwan knew what she was implying. She understood the struggles he faced back at the ruins of the Chinese base better than anyone. In the end, Sun Taehwan hadn’t shot accurately, merely grazing a target. The enemy Red Scorpion members met their end at the hands of zombies.

“Don’t worry about it too much, miss.”

“Ouch! That hurts!”

He let go of her goggles as though releasing a stretched rubber band, and Han Sujin, wincing in pain, kicked his behind. As Sun Taehwan was about to scold her, he suddenly lay down, taking Han Sujin with him.

“Senior?”

“Shh. Lights out. Lights out.”

At first, Han Sujin thought he was playing around but then fell silent as she looked uphill. Like a Bat-Signal calling for Batman, a column of light emerged from a snowmobile. Behind them, those working turned off their lamps and hunkered down in the snow.

Soon, a light way off in the distance shone toward the Chilean base. Sun Taehwan quickly covered himself and Han Sujin with a white cloth.

“Donghyuk, can you see anything from there?”

“I can see the light. The rest is hard to make out because of the snow.”

The hilltop, as seen from the control center, was almost 600 meters away. The men were where Sun Taehwan and Han Sujin had previously hidden. Sun Taehwan fumbled with the Dragunov strapped to his back, peering through the scope.

‘Can I make the shot?’

And as though to mock Sun Taehwan’s dilemma, the figures that disembarked from the snowmobile began to slowly approach. The distance was considerable, but it was clear that they had abandoned their vehicle and were on foot.

‘They’re scouting too!’

After swallowing hard, Sun Taehwan raised his eyes to the scope. He started to hear the men talking. Han Sujin trembled once again, but Sun Taehwan had no intention to shoot just yet. The men from the snowmobile advanced, stepping through the snow with their lights off.

“That bastard is nowhere to be seen. Are there no guards at the Chilean base? Could Shepherd’s words be true?”

“I don’t know, but stay alert. This place could well be finished too.”

‘This place could well be finished too?’ That struck Sun Taehwan as an odd statement.

‘What? Aren’t these guys Red Scorpion scouts?’

They appeared disheveled, covered in black blood like Sun Taehwan and Han Sujin after a fierce battle the previous day, with gas masks inverted over their heads.

“Shepherd said there was definitely a plane here.”

“But that light…”

The aftermath of the fires set by the AC-130 hadn’t been fully extinguished yet.

“Fucking hell, it’s been cut off by that weird guy.”

“That weird zombie!”

At the mention of the ‘weird zombie,’ Sun Taehwan looked at Han Sujin who mouthed the words ‘iron spike.’

‘Maybe they’ve encountered the iron spike zombie somewhere!’

He imagined a scene of encountering the iron spike zombie in the snowfield. Even armed, there was no guarantee of overcoming it. This particular zombie had a strangely keen edge to it, reminiscent of a ‘wild beast,’ as Han Sujin put it. Its method of throwing objects by scent alone was a trick no hunter could imitate.

“What now? Should we go back?”

“Back where? Didn’t you see? The Angel of Death is out there somewhere.”

“The AC-130 is withdrawing? This too was exactly as Son Tae-hwan had predicted it might happen.

‘Is it that a hound gets boiled once the hunt is over? I have no idea who planned this operation, but it seems this ground attack force was destined to be abandoned from the start.’

Son Tae-hwan sighed at the irony of it all. Red Scorpion had managed to penetrate a blizzard and attack the power and boiler facilities. Once the aerial support withdrew, their destructive actions turned into a situation where they were practically strangling themselves. At least Chile Base still had some heat and electricity, but the other bases had nothing left. It was a foolish outcome. Son Tae-hwan couldn’t help but mutter under his breath.

‘Hehehe, what prize are we talking about? In the end, they were blinded by damn money, killing people for it. Everyone’s been left behind on King George Island.’

‘Senior… ‘

‘These fools didn’t expect to be abandoned. Maybe Shepherd made the right choice.’

Shepherd, having heard accusations of civilian killing, caused a commotion and got locked up in a makeshift jail. Son Tae-hwan thought again about the thin red line and humanity. He pondered what would be the correct choice to make. Meanwhile, the men kept conversing in murmurs as they walked closer.

‘What now? We’ve run out of fuel for the snowmobile.’

‘I don’t fucking know! Why the hell are you asking me? Think Chief is going to forgive us even if we go back? He doesn’t forgive anyone who points a gun at him!’

Hearing this, Son Tae-hwan let out a cheer. From the strange radio transmission he had heard at dawn and this conversation, he knew that Red Scorpion was divided. This was a good sign for Son Tae-hwan and his group. But he felt the weight of two words he heard earlier heavy on his mind.

They’re coming. A lot of them.

The two men started to quarrel again in Spanish, seemingly out of fear, disputing whether or not to go to Chile Base.

‘Ah, fuck! Let’s just go forward! My balls are freezing here! There’s fire over there.’

‘Yeah, let’s go, fuck it. Maybe there are more women still alive over there.’

‘Hehehe. That ol’ gal at Peru Base was pretty decent before we had to run, huh?’

‘You bet. Being able to do that sort of stuff wouldn’t be half bad, if we could just make it back alive. Couldn’t do whatever we wanted in Iraq, you know?’

‘Hah! Hehehehehe.’

Han Su-jin gripped Son Tae-hwan’s arm tightly. There was a female soldier at Peru Base who seemed to have suffered cruelly the previous day. King George Island had already become a world without law and morals, and the scoundrels were exploiting the situation quite adeptly.

‘Anyway, if there are women, don’t kill them.’

‘Of course.’

Han Su-jin shivered even more. Flashlights flickered above them as the enemy descended towards them.

‘It’s okay. We have two guns. And whatever happens, I will protect you.’

‘Hmph, talk about cheesy.’

‘No, really.’

Son Tae-hwan put his eye to the scope of his Dragunov rifle. There was no real need for aiming. The enemies were completely unsuspecting and walking straight towards them. As Son Tae-hwan had predicted, they had too much faith in their firepower, and the only way for Son Tae-hwan’s group to survive was to exploit that.

The enemy was two. It didn’t matter if the day had dawned; in such bad weather, it was still as dark as night. Son Tae-hwan swallowed hard, looking at the flashlight. He could shoot one of them right now. But he was still hesitating. The words of the priest he had encountered earlier kept coming back to him.

To die as a human being.

The priest looked like a despicable coward, but he spoke true words. Son Tae-hwan was not yet accustomed to the idea of killing another human being as a person. In movies, it seems easy to take a life, but in reality, even veteran soldiers receive psychological treatment for the trauma of killing.

While Son Tae-hwan wavered, the ‘survivors’ of Red Scorpion approached till they were near Chile Base, which appeared like a decaying zombie kingdom with some parts still ablaze. The enemies began to grumble and complain as they smoked cigarettes.

The distance was closing. If things stayed the same, an engagement was inevitable. Son Tae-hwan gulped and racked his brain. He had to avoid confrontation with the enemy at all costs with their defenses not fully secure. As he was thinking of countless strategies, the enemies suddenly drew very close to where Son Tae-hwan and Han Su-jin were hiding.

He hesitated again. As he did, the enemies gradually moved closer to their hiding spot, and Han Su-jin’s trembling grew worse. Finally, she pulled out the concealed handgun she had.

The enemies stopped right in front of Son Tae-hwan and Han Su-jin, unzipping their pants. Both of them felt nauseous.

‘But that Shepherd guy isn’t to be taken lightly. I think he’s still alive.’

‘Pfft. Who’s afraid of that damn seal flop?’

‘There’s nothing scarier than a marine back from hell.’

‘Both Chief and you are overestimating Shepherd too much. We have guns. And we have ‘that’ too.’



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