Dead End Chapter 77

Dead End

Dead End Chapter 77

Chapter 077

Son Taehwan brushed the frost off Dragnov and slung it over his shoulder. It was finally time to bid farewell to King George Island. He glanced back briefly before continuing forward.

Nelson Island was exactly as Son Taehwan had described—a flat basin terrain. A modest Czech base called “Echo Nelson” was faintly visible leaning against the eastern basin hill from a slight elevation near the beach. Roughly 8 to 9 kilometers away?

“Damn it all…”

With a sigh, Son Taehwan observed Echo Nelson base’s surroundings through his sniper rifle’s scope. There were figures wandering aimlessly on the snowfield near the Czech base.

There weren’t many, but recalling the two he had just killed, Son Taehwan shook his head. Facing something like an iron spike alone didn’t guarantee victory.

“Alpha ones?”

“Hard to tell.”

Han Sujin tilted her head as she peered through the scope, noting that unless they were wounded, it was difficult to distinguish between Alpha and Beta zombies.

“Ah, senior! Over there, a building! One looks intact.”

Despite the black dust and traces of bombing, Echo Nelson base still had buildings standing, just as she had said.

Naturally, Echo Nelson seemed homely compared to the elaborate facilities of the Chinese or Sejong bases—it looked like a country house and the quality of the facilities seemed poor.

But for those shivering in the cold water, finding shelter from the wind was urgent.

“What do we do about those zombies?”

“We can be a bit wasteful with ammo. Doesn’t matter if we save it.”

Shepherd gave a wry smile at Son Taehwan’s words. Confronting Alpha zombies directly was risky, so the plan was to use more bullets if necessary to take them out from a distance. After all, there weren’t many wandering outside, just about four or five.

Son Taehwan gripped his sniper rifle and lay prone, only for Shepherd to step forward and say,

“Let’s try to save the sniper rifle for now. It’s our only weapon for hitting targets beyond 100 meters. Also, I have a feeling that the zombies on this island are different from the others.”

“Hmm, you might be right.”

The zombies they had just encountered seemed too dimwitted to be Alpha types. Son Taehwan organized his thoughts from the recent encounter with the orca while following Shepherd’s lead.

‘Evolution. Is it really influenced by environment? The zombies on King George Island are cunning from battling humans, while here, without humans to fight, do they become dumb?’

He looked towards Han Sujin, recalling a group of Alpha zombies they encountered at Sejong Base, including the strange one that had tried to infect him.

“Why?”

“No, it’s nothing. I’ll ask you later.”

“You can ask now.”

“No…well, never mind.”

She blinked cutely, and Son Taehwan followed behind Shepherd. Shepherd then calmly took aim from the snowfield.

From roughly 100 meters, the targets appeared almost like dots.

“Nice shot.”

“Don’t mention it.”

A zombie’s head exploded with a distant thud.

“Alpha zombies.”

“I was right, wasn’t I, Lieutenant?”

Without fail, black vapor rose from the wound and the other zombies looked around bewilderedly.

Shepherd crawled forward and took aim at a second target, accurately blowing up another zombie’s head.

“Remarkable shooting skills. Perhaps you should be the one holding the sniper rifle?”

“No, it’s just a gun I’ve gotten used to since Iraq. I’m not that good at sniping either.”

Using just the iron sights, Shepherd hunted in a way that was more reminiscent of playing pool, calculating angles as he shot down four zombies, one after another. Though he missed occasionally, his subsequent shot always burst a zombie’s skull.

Having dealt with the zombies, Son Taehwan’s fingers began to freeze, and he felt the warmth draining from his body.

“Let’s get moving. Ugh, I can hardly speak; my mouth’s freezing too. We must be close to the base now.”

“I could go for something warm to eat.”

They had been away from King George Island for a while. Son Taehwan reflexively checked his watch.

“Damn it. Did it break during the fight with the whale?”

His watch had taken on water through a crack, ruining the display. He sighed after fruitlessly shaking the watch. The clumsy young lady had left her watch back at Peru Base, and neither Shepherd nor the pastor seemed to have one.

“Guess we’ll have to stick to a sundial to keep time.”

Lacking a watch was critical. They were able to hold their ground at Chile Base, working and resting at calculated intervals.

“Maybe they’ll have one at the building?”

“Let’s hope so. If not, the road ahead looks tough.”

He muttered, suddenly dishearted. Now that the rescue plane from Punta Arenas Airport in Chile couldn’t land, the future was unclear. Nelson Island might be spacious, but the terrain wasn’t flat enough for a plane to land—a rocky underbelly lay beneath the snow, littered with sharp stones and boulders.

Even though they were alive, Son Taehwan and the others didn’t know what to do next. The thought of the infected orca made the possibility of an even more terrifying future seem inevitable.

“Senior, let’s go.”

“Okay, got it.”

Han Sujin pushed him along gently from behind.

“Whatever happens, we keep going. We have to.”

Son Taehwan was grateful for her strength. She undoubtedly knew how bleak the future looked.

“Don’t forget about the black bean noodles.”

“Black bean noodles. Hehe.”

Even as he felt the sorrow from Chile Base and the loss of Park Donghyuk, his stomach grumbled at the mention of black bean noodles, and he gave a bitter smile.

“I’m grumbling over black bean noodles even with people dying.”

Her giggles resumed, and the mention of black bean noodles caught the pastor’s and Shepherd’s attention.

“Jjajangmyeon? What’s that?”

At Shepherd’s question, Son Taehwan went into detail about the dish (?).

“Ha, I’d love to try that. Who knew such a dish existed?”

“Well, you might be disappointed when you actually taste it, but right now, it’s all I want.”

The conversation shifted to what each person craved. Shepherd, hailing from the American South, wanted corn dishes or bacon, while the pastor just wanted a simple hamburger.

Soon, they had walked another kilometer and finally arrived at the Czech base.

“Those bastards didn’t completely destroy it.”

“No kidding.”

As Han Sujin mentioned, one building was in good shape and, surprisingly, smoke was visible coming out of a chimney.

Smoke? Just seeing it caused them to tense up. Smoke from a stove meant a higher chance of survivors.

“Lieutenant, we need to search. Stick close behind me.”

“Okay.”

Son Taehwan followed close with his sniper rifle while Shepherd cautiously cleared the room, calling out as they entered. Shepherd glanced at the room, his face furrowing—inside, they found nothing but a hanged body.

“Did they commit suicide? What do you think, Lieutenant?”

“I don’t know. If it were me, this isn’t how I’d kill someone.”

Despite his words, Son Taehwan cynically realized his growing familiarity with death. Han Sujin also matter-of-factly examined the body, nodding.

“By the looks of the bruises and state, it’s suicide.”

“How do you know?”

“I’ve seen it before in Africa.”

She confirmed there were no defensive wounds and nodded again.

“Could it be someone like the person we saw in the control room at Chile Base?”

Son Taehwan thought of the ‘Dead End’ message. Still clueless about what the suicidal individual had seen or heard and why they had done it, and after all their trials, to find a suicide here on Nelson Island deepened their sense of a grim fate. The dangling body seemed to symbolize that their hardships were far from over.

‘God damn it. So, it’s still not over? After Donghyuk’s death and so many others died so pointlessly!’

Human emotions can be like surface tension—a cup of water that seems never to overflow despite being filled to the brim, only to suddenly spill with one last drop. Son Taehwan swallowed that last drop, holding back his feelings.

If he had been alone, he would have completely broken down, but he had Han Sujin.

‘Survive with the doctor!’

Incredibly, Park Donghyuk’s last words sustained him. He held back the tears, narrowly preventing his emotions from crumbling. Son Taehwan was well aware that as the leader, his collapse would spread fear to everyone, from Han Sujin to Shepherd.

Sensing his turmoil, Han Sujin spoke up.

“Senior, let’s take down that person first. He looks pitiful this way.”

“Yeah, let’s do that.”

Son Taehwan steadied his rifle and cut the rope with his knife. The body fell with a thud, caught by Shepherd and the pastor.

Mulling over the pale-faced corpse that looked Eastern European, Shepherd inadvertently unfolded the man’s will peeking out from his pocket, which was wrapped in a ziplock bag with clumsy English written on the outside.

To any living human who receives this letter.

Surviving. The meaning of those words became clear to the survivors from King George Island as they gazed upon the zombies strewn outside. The expression held a special significance to those who had narrowly escaped death.



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