Dead End Chapter 81

Dead End

Dead End Chapter 81

Chapter 081

Son Taehwan watched as Han Sujin slightly crinkled her eyebrows. It seemed she had also noticed something eerie in the playlist.

However, Shepherd didn’t seem to notice anything about the playlist. He was simply looking at the pockets of Han Sujin’s parka in fear.

“Damn, Lieutenant. Is there any way to see that video again?”

“There’s no way to charge it. The batteries were lost in the ocean because of those killer whale calves.”

“Damn it!”

Shepherd, uncharacteristically, punched the wall and couldn’t keep still.

“Why’s that?”

“That’s the thing.”

Shepherd ran a hand through his hair and, with a sigh, continued,

“When we descend into Atlanta, that’s where my in-laws live.”

“Your wife? You were married?”

“I was.”

He showed his left hand, where a ring mark remained.

“Ah, sorry.”

“No need for Lieutenant to apologize. Anyway, my wife aside, let’s say we had a pretty nasty divorce. But my son…”

Sitting on the desk, Shepherd exhaled deeply and showed a photo in a necklace.

“I can understand my own death. It’s a wonder I’m still alive after enlisting in the Marines. Since my company was wiped out in Fallujah, I’ve always thought it wouldn’t be strange to die at any moment. But.”

Shepherd had only the photo of his son in the necklace. The boy in the picture must have been one or two years old?

“How old is he?”

“Five this year.”

Son Taehwan gauged his age in Korean years. At seven, he’d be in the midst of his mischievous phase, but to this father, he’d still be the apple of his eye.

“I couldn’t tell my son. Damn! That’s what’s troubling me. It shouldn’t have gone this way.”

“Tell…”

“That’s right. Before I went off to Afghanistan for Red Scorpion, I didn’t say I’d bring a toy back. I just left the house without saying anything.”

Son Taehwan made a bitter face.

“Beyond grand survival concerns, a father might be more troubled that he couldn’t say even a word to his child in such a chaotic world. It’d be a relief if the child doesn’t think he’s been abandoned.”

With a gloomy look, Shepherd nodded his head.

“He’d be resentful, huh… I wish it weren’t for this damn video on the laptop.”

“Forget it, Shepherd. If we keep worrying about that, we might not survive this Antarctic ordeal. Though it’s hard, getting out of this damned place comes first.”

Son Taehwan couldn’t hastily offer comforting words. Having never been married, he couldn’t know the heartache of a father worried about his child.

Instead, he thought about the unseen rest of the video.

The content was dire enough to make them consider giving up on escape. He couldn’t even fathom what it could be, but he felt he needed to find out.

Unintentionally, he took out his fishing hook case and took out the last remaining cigarette.

“Huh… I can’t bear it if I don’t smoke. Sujin, please understand.”

But Han Sujin was staring blankly elsewhere.

Son Taehwan grabbed her head and turned it like a doll’s to face him.

“I’m going to smoke, mind watching, Doctor?”

“Ugh, it hurts. Why are you turning my neck? Ah, I get it.”

Her voice cracked cutely, and Son Taehwan looked at her and tilted his head.

“Han Sujin, what’s on your mind?”

“Nothing, really.”

“Do you also have unspoken words? Maybe a lover. Tell me, I’ll listen.”

“Well, I don’t know? Ahahaha.”

Son Taehwan looked at Han Sujin skeptically, then turned his gaze back to Shepherd.

“Anyways, Shepherd, stay calm. I can’t say things will be okay, but let’s both keep our cool.”

“Huh. Damn, humans are cunning. Thinking of my son leads me to think about cigarettes next.”

“Hehehe, good thing I brought them along.”

Son Taehwan lit up the cigarette with a match, took a few puffs, and passed it to Shepherd. The two smoked in turns, blue smoke softly rising.

“Lieutenant. You’re right.”

“About what?”

“We have to think about what we can do now. If we die here, I wouldn’t know what became of my son.”

Although Son Taehwan also felt uncertain, he nodded. They had made it to Nelson Island, but the crisis was far from over. They had lost most of their equipment, and their food supply wasn’t plentiful.

Son Taehwan spread out a tourist map of Antarctica and sighed.

They had inadvertently arrived at Nelson Island, but they didn’t have many places to go. The land was painted white everywhere, and all that came out was a sigh. He concealed his sigh in the cigarette smoke.

There was no way for planes to land on Nelson Island now. Even if they could, was there any way to let people know they were there?

He had forgotten about the zombies and killer whales, but the Angel of Death was flying in the sky. Son Taehwan thought of the AC-130 and his eyes flashed.

“Sujin. What do you think?”

“About what?”

“Now neither Red Scorpion nor the American military have any reason to kill us.”

She caught on quickly to what Son Taehwan was getting at.

“Ah! If it’s making the news on CNN, there’s no longer any point in killing everyone to keep them quiet. It’s too late now.”

“Exactly.”

“So, do you plan to negotiate with that airplane next?”

Han Sujin seamlessly continued with Son Taehwan’s next steps, like a comedy duo. But Shepherd raised a practical question.

“Even so, how do we contact them? Those guys don’t care, they just obliterated everything. Would they listen to us now?”

“There is a way to contact them. They’re keeping the Red Scorpion frequency open.”

“That talk about the sniper rifle?”

“Right. And whoever wants us dead no longer has a reason to kill us.”

“So, what’s the plan?”

Son Taehwan pointed to where the King Sejong Station of the Republic of Korea was located. He had been to the Sejong Station only once by flying from the Chilean base with a light aircraft. Next to it was the largest scientific base in Antarctica.

Shepherd knew the location Son Taehwan was pointing to.

“McMurdo Station.”

“Yeah. AC-130 must have headed here.”

“Are you suggesting we go there?”

“It’s the most realistic option.”

Quickly, Han Sujin gauged the distance with her fingers as a ruler. Just by looking at the simple distance, it was farther than from Seoul to Busan. With the equipment they had, there was no way to attempt it even if they had a boat.

“Senior… That’s not a realistic distance at all.”

“…”

Son Taehwan already knew that was the case. Without snowmobiles, and with walking to either Sejong or McMurdo Station being impossible, the continental part of Antarctica was harsher than King George Island.

“We can’t just walk there. We can row, if we must, and if there’s any fuel left in the boat.”

“Senior, have you forgotten? There are killer whales in the sea.”

“Ah.”

Both Shepherd and Son Taehwan simultaneously let out a sigh.

Remembering the sea, there swam a foe no less formidable than the AC-130 — the killer whales. Considering their numbers, avoiding them and landing on the Antarctic continent would have been difficult.

“Damn these killer whale bastards. I liked watching documentaries about them.”

“I agree. I liked blankly watching them at aquariums too.”

Son Taehwan imagined her enjoying herself at a zoo and broke into a chuckle again. For some reason, it seemed to slightly ease the tension.

“Why are you laughing?”

“Oh, nothing. Anyway, we should forget the sea route. Fighting them on the sea is suicide.”

It didn’t need to be said. The cunning and sheer power of the killer whales were more terrifying than any other creature. Moreover, they had become zombie-like and were near-immortal unless their brains were attacked.

The three looked at the map again in silence.

It was fine they had survived the Chilean base, but where to go next wasn’t straightforward. If they just waited for rescue on Nelson Island…

‘Despair is contagious. Maybe, like that Czech, we’ll go mad and kill ourselves. Whatever he saw, we have to leave Nelson Island.’

The Czech had seen some kind of despair, which was why he took his own life. For now, they suppressed it with discussions about where to go, but if they stayed and waited for rescue, that despair would engulf them all.

Han Sujin and Son Taehwan simultaneously pointed to a place.

“Senior. As we discussed before, the worst-case scenario, we have to go there.”

“Livingston Island…”

The escape route they had discussed earlier brought them back to the starting point.

Unless they could break through the killer whales and reach Antarctica.

Son Taehwan idly flipped through the tourist map he brought from the Sejong Station and suddenly cried out in surprise.

The back of the tourist map had something written in Spanish, with several pictures attached. Son Taehwan had only looked at the front of the map before and had paid no attention to the back.

“A plane?!”

Because he said ‘plane’ in Korean, Shepherd and the pastor were puzzled.

“Shepherd! Have you seen a light aircraft at the Chilean base?”

“If there were, we would have escaped by any means.”

“It’s not that! Even the wreckage!”

Shepherd pondered with a blank face, then shook his head.

“Look, it’s a plane! If we’re lucky, we might be able to get away in one shot!”

Son Taehwan showed them the photo of the plane on the back of the tourist map.

“Ah! Senior! A light plane! Come to think of it, I came from the Chilean base on a light aircraft, but it wasn’t there! I’m sure there was a tourist route to Antarctica with that plane!”

“See, I don’t know Spanish well, but according to the route, the next stop is Livingston Island. Maybe if we’re lucky!”

Both Shepherd and the pastor’s eyes lit up.

If there was a light aircraft, they could survive!

‘If only that plane is intact…!’

The Chilean base had been devastated, and other bases were in ruins. Whether there was an intact light aircraft there, Son Taehwan couldn’t guarantee.

“If there is a light aircraft, can you fly it? Ah, you were an Air Force Lieutenant, right?”

Son Taehwan shrugged as he looked at Shepherd. Explaining about the pilot license was complicated, but he could fly a light aircraft.

He tried to lighten the mood by playfully ruffling Han Sujin’s hair.

“Ow. Why do you mess with my hair?”

“Because it’s a delight. You’re a lucky charm.”

“Don’t mess it up. And, it smells.”

“Really? Let me smell it.”

“Aaah! Gross! Are you a pervert, senior?”

Son Taehwan brought his hand to his nose, pretending to smell, and Han Sujin squawked as she struggled to push his hand away. Shepherd chuckled at their antics.

“You guys are funny.”

“Who?”

“Who.”

“You guys.”

Shepherd sat down beside the pastor, crunching on the remaining crackers. The pastor was mumbling prayers in English. It seemed he was somewhat reassured upon hearing there could be a light aircraft.

“Priest, would you like some?”

“Oh, no, it’s okay.”

“Do you have an injury? Why have you been acting like that?”

“No, it’s nothing.”

Son Taehwan tilted his head as he looked at the passage the pastor was reading. It was about Peter denying Jesus three times before repenting.

‘Why is he reading that now?’

The pastor had been acting strange since they watched the video from the Sejong Station, but Son Taehwan didn’t have time to worry about that now. Once they set a goal, he needed to overcome obstacles one by one with the limited supplies they had.

He focused back on the map when he suddenly felt a soft touch on his nose.

“What are you doing?”

“Look, senior. You’ve got a nosebleed.”

“What?”

Son Taehwan was startled and stepped back.

Bright red drops of blood fell onto the map.



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