Dead End Chapter 88

Dead End

Dead End Chapter 88

Chapter 088

After having a simple snack of biscuits, candy, and sealed water bottles, they boarded the boat.

The tedious task of rowing through the ice floes began again, and it wasn’t until well into the afternoon that they finally reached Livingston Island. Every time they heard the crumbling of icebergs, they hurriedly pulled the boat to land, which significantly prolonged their journey.

Furthermore, unexpected currents kept pushing their boat towards Antarctica, making it a challenge to simply avoid drifting away while rowing.

“I swear, if I have to row one more time, I’m a dog, a dog.”

“Tell me about it. My arms are about to fall off. We almost drifted all the way to Antarctica.”

Son Taehwan heaved the boat up the hill and sighed deeply as he looked down. It had completely exhausted all four of them just to bring the boat up the gentle slope.

Already on Livingston Island were creatures like Adélie penguins and seals that had come ashore to escape from orcas, and their squawking sounds could be heard from all around.

“Today was really hard on everyone…wow, crossing that sea.”

“Senior, but why did we even bring the boat?”

“Are you an idiot? How else were we supposed to carry all the stuff from the Angel of Death by hand?”

“Ah, right.”

The boat was indeed laden with a 105mm artillery shell and materials they had brought from the AC-130’s fuselage. Truly, such weight would be quite impossible to manage by hand.

Even so, they had obtained a decent supply of rifle magazines, and though the minigun turret and ammunition they found didn’t work, they still had plenty of it.

Unfortunately, a third of their food supplies had been lost underwater during the chase with the orcas, and precious materials the Czech had stockpiled were also missing, which was a critical loss. Still, there was enough food for the four of them for the time being.

From the wreckage of the AC-130, they had discovered a box of MREs and managed to get their hands on essential supplies like solid fuel and flares. Fortunately, there was also a generous supply of biscuits that seemed to be part of the Czech’s combat rations.

They scouted the terrain while munching on the biscuits, with Robert Island and Greenwich Island in sight. Other than penguins and seals, there were no other moving creatures on Livingston Island. Occasionally, a seagull would caw as it flew by, but compared to the rest of their journey so far, this was by far the most peaceful moment.

“Senior, according to the map, there is a Spanish base nearby. Let’s go there.”

“It probably got bombed too.”

“Still, there might be some supplies left, right? At the very least, there should be firewood. Even if there are no walls, we could freeze to death as it is.”

Son Taehwan patted her head playfully.

“But you smell awful. Didn’t you wash your hair?”

“Ah, really!”

Han Soo-Jin chuckled gently with Son Taehwan but then sighed deeply as she looked towards the Spanish Juan Carlos Base.

This base, along with the Bulgarian station, was permanently established on Livingston Island. The Juan Carlos Base was located like most Antarctic stations, on the beachfront, and from the hill where Son Taehwan and his companions were, they could spot its location. Son Taehwan scanned the buildings impressively marked with red walls using his sniper rifle.

“You’re right. At least it’ll shelter us from the wind.”

The area had indeed suffered heavy bombings, but parts of the building walls remained, suggesting they could at least obtain some firewood.

“Alright, let’s go.”

The pastor had already fallen asleep, worn out from the heavy labor, and Shepherd was sprawled out in the shape of a cross. Shepherd sighed and shook his head from side to side as he looked towards the beach.

“Come on, pastor. How about singing us a song?”

“Huh? Ah, yes.”

The four of them grabbed the rope attached to the boat and trudged on towards the Spanish base. It wasn’t too far from the east coast of Livingston Island where they had arrived.

However, as the evening approached, it got colder. They descended slowly along the slope of Tangra Mountains, and it wasn’t until past dusk that they reached the Spanish base. As soon as they did, they cheered.

“An airplane!”

“An airplane!”

Without waiting for each other, they all cheered at the sight of an airplane. Strikingly enough, a seaplane was tied up in the bay at the Juan Carlos Base. It was the same tourist seaplane Son Taehwan had mentioned before, tied at the end of the dock, creaking in the wind.

“Hold on! Why did the Angel of Death leave that there?”

“That’s…”

It was indeed strange. A seaplane tied up at the dock looked suspicious. Son Taehwan raised his sniper rifle, and Shepherd also lifted his rifle.

“Senior, what do you think?”

“It seems like hell unfolded here as well.”

Near the dock, bloodstains were frozen, and inside the airplane, frozen corpses could be seen. Son Taehwan had a rough guess of what had happened.

“They must have fought each other trying to escape on the plane. They killed each other, probably with knives.”

“Shepherd. There are bodies inside the plane. Look.”

As Shepherd handled the Dragunov rifle and scoped the interior, it was clear.

“Then the plane must be intact, that’s the conclusion!”

“If the plane wasn’t intact, there would’ve been no reason for them to fight and kill each other like that.”

Despite the presence of dead bodies, the survivors couldn’t help but express an intricate smile.

“People are truly deceitful.”

“Indeed. Anyway, let’s go!”

Son Taehwan rushed them along to prevent them from dwelling on any dissonance they might feel.

In truth, if they pondered the situation carefully, something felt off. But for now, everyone was drained from the day’s battle, including Son Taehwan himself.

The four of them moved towards the Spanish base, their eyes filled with hope. Shepherd, without being asked, took the lead, aiming his gun toward the ruins.

“Lieutenant, should we search?”

Son Taehwan glanced at the fallen bodies around him.

“No need. There’s no trace of injury among all these bodies lying around.”

“Oh, I see. If they were around, they would’ve ravaged these bodies by now.”

Shepherd looked at the dead bodies and nodded. If zombies were present, such a scene with so many bodies wouldn’t exist.

Shepherd casually put his gun away, and the group scrutinized the thoroughly destroyed Spanish base.

“Any survivors?!”

Even though it was pointless, Son Taehwan yelled into the ruins, but only the whistling of the empty wind answered.

“Senior, but why did this happen to these people? It doesn’t seem like they died from bombing.”

“I don’t know. Let’s start a fire first. Damn, the wind has picked up too much.”

Son Taehwan awkwardly diverted the conversation and gritted his teeth as he watched the setting sun. The winters were notoriously long, and the days were famous for getting shorter.

“We have to get out somehow.”

“I know, somehow. But wouldn’t it be better to launch the plane right away?”

“No, that’s not possible. We’d have to fly during the daytime. If we hit an iceberg and smash up, that’s the end of us.”

“Ah…”

Han Soo-Jin looked at the bodies bleeding red and nodded.

Surviving here seemed impossible. There was no heating fuel, and not enough firewood to last more than a day. Both had experienced firsthand how much oil and firewood it would take to survive just one day.

Son Taehwan once again gazed longingly at the seaplane.

‘If I’m right then there won’t be much fuel in that plane.’

He had quickly realized what had happened just by looking at the dead person in the cockpit.

Everyone here bore marks of having killed each other. Some had a kitchen knife stuck in their back, others had marks around their necks from being strangled. These people had realized that there was no aviation fuel and fought over “one seat.” Other than that, there was no other explanation for these intact bodies.

To live, kill another.

If there was a plane with a single seat in front of you, could you resist that sweet temptation? Even a saint would turn in the face of danger to their own life.

Son Taehwan was also reminded of the tragic events at Sejong Station. Decisions on the life and death of the weak were made by majority vote, with a single life determined in an instant. Perhaps despair and fear had engulfed both Sejong Station and this Spanish base.

True despair was not made of pure despair. It was human nature to create hell for oneself when the futile hope of survival was mixed in.

“Senior, are you okay? You look gloomy – didn’t you get hit by the ice earlier or something…?”

“No, it’s nothing. I’m fine.”

Shepherd and the pastor were setting up the arctic tent they had brought from the AC-130, while Han Soo-Jin was sorting out the items they had taken off the boat. Son Taehwan was grateful to have met them. If any of them had been greedy, he could have ended up like one of those corpses.

He absentmindedly stroked Han Soo-Jin’s hair and sat by the fire. They warmed up soup in cans and divided canned ham and biscuits that they had torn from the Spanish base. The aroma of cream soup filled the air while the crisp sounds of biscuits being eaten were the only things audible.

The exhaustion was evident amongst the group. While they had discussed their next steps upon reaching Nelson Island, now everyone had forgotten about taking turns on watch and fell asleep.

“Senior, aren’t you sleepy?”

“Nope, not really. You go ahead and sleep. I’ll take the night watch.”

“Can anyone really sleep with the pastor’s snoring like that?”

“That’s true.”

Son Taehwan tossed more wood into the fire and gave a half-hearted reply. The pastor, knowing or not knowing the severity of the situation, snored as loud as he could while asleep, and Shepherd cuddled up next to him, lost in dreamland. Son Taehwan watched them with a bitter smile and fed more fuel to the fire.

The flickering flames hauntingly illuminated the dead bodies, and Son Taehwan sighed again. Despair turned into a thin thread of hope, tempting him.

The plane was still tied to the dock. Alone, he could escape the dreadful Antarctica.

‘But…’

The snoring noises next to him continued. Han Soo-Jin had fallen fast asleep, leaning against him.

He hit his own head with a fist and tossed more wood into the fire.

‘There has to be aviation fuel somewhere. This place is a cruise liner stop-over, after all.’

Son Taehwan spread out a tourist map, searching for a likely fuel storage location, knowing that it would be unusual for such details to be marked on a tourist guide.

“No. The Angel of Death has completely destroyed the infrastructure. Even a tourist facility isn’t guaranteed to be safe.”

Glancing around, Son Taehwan let out a wry smile at the cruel fate.

Today, the Angel of Death, thanks to the very catastrophe it had created, was as good as dead. Had there been survivors and had the base facilities been intact, spending the winter at the base would have been an option.

“But in the end, McMurdo Station was in shambles too, right?”

Son Taehwan’s group had confirmed three deaths from Beta Zombies on the AC-130. They likely were fine until the mutation hit, at which point chaos ensued.

If put together, it was clear that McMurdo Station was also in tatters. Perhaps Alpha or Beta Zombies had broken in, and, like at the Chilean Base, zombies poured in from all directions and death ensued. The AC-130’s missing fuel supply and its urgent departure could only mean that much.

“…”

Son Taehwan suddenly wondered about the state of the world outside Antarctica and shook his head. The Czech’s laptop was still packed away, and for some reason, it felt to him like Pandora’s Box.

“Have I gone mad from futile hope too?”

He laid Han Soo-Jin down by the fire and covered her with a blanket. Son Taehwan himself began to nod off, Dragunov rifle in hand. None of this mattered if they were safe for the moment. Watching the flickering flames, he fell asleep.

Just as the sound of his own snoring felt pleasantly in his ears…

Lick, lick.

Son Taehwan jolted awake in horror.

“Aagh!”



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