Dead End Chapter 74

Dead End

Episode 074

As the two quarreled, the ice sheet they were on completely flipped over. With a splash, both fell into the icy sea, the MRE plastic bag slipping away, and Son Tae-hwan’s flashlight dropped from his grasp, plummeting into the murky depths below.

Far off, an orca’s head could be seen ablaze, glowing from the fire. Of course, being dead, it felt no pain, but the Molotov cocktail Son Tae-hwan threw had brilliantly struck its sensory organs. Even submerged, the fire, fueled by waste oil mixed with the Molotov, didn’t extinguish easily.

Even Alpha Zombies can’t regenerate.

Now blinded by the flames and his face covered with the foul smell of waste oil, the orca had lost its sense of smell too. Confirming the orca was a complete mess, Son Tae-hwan grabbed a red clothesline in the water and frantically scrambled up. He didn’t take long to grab a fissured ice sheet and haul himself onto the ice. But then,

“Su-jin! Su-jiiiiin!”

Shocked, he yanked on the rope, but it was severed, just like some other equipment, and no longer tied to Han Su-jin. Son Tae-hwan cried out in desperation, just like when he lost Park Dong-hyuk,

“Su-jin! You morooooon! Noooooo!”

Son Tae-hwan was on the verge of tears again. Had Han Su-jin fallen into the water? Forgetting that another orca might be lurking below, he was about to dive back in when someone behind gripped his hand and yanked him backwards!

“Su-jin! Oh Su-jiiiiin!”

“Don’t call me a moron!”

To his surprise, Han Su-jin had surfaced on the other side, grabbing the back of his neck. The orca, struck by the Molotov and glowing with fire, had smacked her location with its tail, propelling her not down, but up out of the water, making it easier for her to climb onto the ice. The line had broken, but she was indeed fortunate to be alive.

Son Tae-hwan donned his gloves and touched her face with strangely mixed expressions of crying and laughing. Ever since Park Dong-hyuk’s death, Son Tae-hwan had been in an unstable mental state.

“I’d love to snap a photo of that expression, senior, but now’s not the time!”

After head-butting Son Tae-hwan’s forehead, Han Su-jin pointed towards Shepherd. Covered by the two, Shepherd safely reached where Chief was.

Having been with Shepherd for quite a while, Chief didn’t hesitate to stab an ‘Alpha Zombie’ in the neck. A zombie that seemed about to stir lay lifelessly ended, and Shepherd discovered a thermite grenade in its chest.

“Hey! Lieutenant! Found a grenade!”

Son Tae-hwan gave a thumbs-up towards the sea, with both the preacher and Shepherd silently watching him. Though they attacked an orca with a Molotov, the beasts were unscathed.

“Senior, the Molotov didn’t work, remember?”

“Their sensory system doesn’t regenerate. Just look.”

The burning orca tried in vain to douse the flames, but the gel fire, thickened with sugar, stubbornly clung on. It breached the icy ocean like a dolphin show, only to plummet back into the water with a splash.

All on the ice floe ducked down to avoid its glowing assault. The cold seeped through as they pressed against the ice. Despite water-resistant thermal clothing, some water had gotten through their necks.

“Senior, we need to warm up quickly, or it’ll be dangerous.”

“Ugh, I can tell that even without being a doctor.”

Both Han Su-jin and Son Tae-hwan shivered, teeth chattering from cold. Given that Son Tae-hwan had suffered from hypothermia just days before during a sniper encounter, Han Su-jin frowned even more. They were at their physical limits, and their stamina was a concern. Now, soaked gloves and shoes, they had to beware of frostbite as previously.

“Senior, should we retreat? Get a boat and head somewhere else? Ah…may I curse in your place, senior? This is just…”

Looking towards Chile Base, Han Su-jin heaved a heavy sigh. “When it rains, it pours,” seemed apt, seeing harpoons and zombies advancing their way. The option to retreat elsewhere on King George Island was now gone.

“Miss, cursing doesn’t suit you, does it?”

“Hmph. You don’t know how much I scolded my juniors back at the university hospital!”

Son Tae-hwan fixed her with a stare before bursting into giggles. He tried to hold it in, but her adorable antics made him laugh.

“Why are you laughing?”

“Never mind. I can’t imagine you getting angry.”

“Senior, you might wet yourself in fear of my wrath. I can be quite scary.”

“Be quiet.”

Son Tae-hwan placed a finger to his lips, assessing the situation. The harpoons would reach the coast in minutes. While watching the distant black smoke from the harpoon steam, he sighed deeply. Leaving Chile Base in time had been incredibly fortuitous. They might have died to the approaching hordes if their timing was off by even a little.

Despite using booby-traps and numerous strategies, more than half the zombies still survived.

“Hey. Lieutenant. What now?”

Shepherd was about 15 meters away, and the preacher slithered closer to Son Tae-hwan’s side, eyes signaling silence. There were no good cards to play. Meanwhile, the harpoons and zombies continued their slow advance.

“Shepherd…”

“Toss me the grenade.”

“What are you planning to do with this?”

“Do you like fishing?”

Shepherd tilted his head in disbelief. However, he soon decided that Son Tae-Hwan must have a plan and carefully threw the grenade to him. Son Tae-Hwan caught it with both hands and slowly pulled out the safety pin. Fortunately, there was no black blood on it, and the grenade itself seemed to be in good shape.

He surveyed the surroundings, thinking the situation was akin to the earlier whale attack. Multiple possible attack methods by the whales came to mind.

‘Their attacks aren’t trickier than a spear. They have two methods of attacking us: knocking us into the water or biting us directly. Either way, they can’t attack without opening their mouths.’

Son Tae-Hwan thought it might be time to take another gamble as he observed the situation. His body was growing colder, and there was no certainty that only two infected orcas were around. If more whales showed up, as per their attacking habits in groups, surviving would be even more difficult.

“Preacher. Throw the body parts into the sea.”

“What… are you serious? Those crazy whales will come!”

“We need to take our chances here. You want to live, right?”

Son Tae-Hwan looked at the preacher’s face, which was filled with a desire to live. He wanted to say something about the afterlife being a better destination, but he needed the preacher’s help.

“If you want to live, throw the bodies. And Han Su-Jin, get ready to run to where Shepherd is.”

Han Su-Jin looked towards Shepherd. The preacher was already throwing pieces of bodies into the water, and Son Tae-Hwan was wrapping the grenade with a fishing line. She quickly realized they were trying to send her to safety.

“Let me help too.”

“Do you think this is a game?”

“I hate that you always take on the dangerous tasks. It was like that on the day we went to get lumber to the Youngsun shipyard.”

Han Su-Jin looked at Son Tae-Hwan with a pout, really looking annoyed.

“Hey…”

“Let me play a part in this, too.”

She tugged at Son Tae-Hwan’s cheek with determination. She was quite stubborn indeed. Before their quarrel could continue, there was a reaction. The whale, lit up by flames, was approaching Son Tae-Hwan’s direction, and he casually drew his chainsaw toward his feet.

“Miss! Run!”

“Darn it!”

Son Tae-Hwan grasped the chainsaw with one hand and leaped to the opposite ice floe. The whales’ combined attack was faster. The ice floe where they had been standing flipped over, and some of their supplies tied to the clothesline were sucked into the ocean.

“Damn it, will we be fooled twice? Humans are still the reigning species on Earth!”

Suddenly, one of the intact whales was glancing at Son Tae-Hwan with one eye shining. It was the exact situation as when it had slid onto the ice earlier. If one form of attack didn’t work, they would come up directly for an attack.

The orcas had calculated where their prey would move and responded sequentially. Son Tae-Hwan was waiting for their reaction.

“Come on!”

The whale approached, sliding toward Son Tae-Hwan and Han Su-Jin, just like it would swallow a seal whole. Even if they weren’t bitten, being crushed under that massive body would at least result in severe injury.

However, Son Tae-Hwan had a rotten grin on his face. He had already pulled the pin and even sent the safety handle flying.

“Senior!”

“How would you even handle this! That’s why I told you to run! Duck!”

Son Tae-Hwan was ready for the whale to slide in their direction if they weren’t submerged in water. Having already pulled the safety pin, he wrapped the grenade around the calf of a corpse and threw it at the zombie orca.

“Eat this! It’s Captain Ahab’s leg!”

While the twirling leg didn’t go straight into the orca’s mouth as he hoped, Son Tae-Hwan burst into a grim laugh. It was a ‘trap’ he had prepared just in case, knowing from battles in Chile that Beta-zombies or Alpha-zombies react reflexively to human blood and body parts.

Likewise, the whale gulped down the piece of the leg reflexively as it slid across, just like a piece of chicken. At the very moment of swallowing, there was an explosion, and the whale’s skull burst open just like the lid of a pressure cooker flying off. Brain matter and bone splinters sprayed in all directions, and the whale’s body, now smashing past Son Tae-Hwan and Han Su-Jin, plunged into the sea with a splash.

“Dumb creature! Run!”

“Argh! Consult me before you do something like this!”

“Hey! When was there time to discuss!”

“Typical men!”

“Han Su-Jin, run!”

Due to the weight of the whale, the ice floe they were on flipped over again, and the pair ran sideways off the inclining slab. The ice was where the preacher had been throwing body parts, and Son Tae-Hwan grabbed the preacher’s collar.

“Ah. Aaaaah.”

“Good job, Preacher! And if you want to live, run!”

The preacher, having just witnessed an orca get demolished in an instant, was completely mortified. He struggled as Son Tae-Hwan grabbed him by the nape, and then saw another whale approaching. Was it angry? Nobody knew if zombies had emotions.

Regardless, the head-on-fire zombie was now hot on the heels of the three sprinting people.

“Dammit, is it that mad?”

“It’s because you provoke it!”

“Not you, the whale!”

As soon as he finished speaking, the whale flipped over their ice floe with its nose.



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