Dead End Chapter 89

Dead End

Dead End Chapter 89

Chapter 089

“What the—Lieutenant! Is it an enemy?”

Shepherd grabbed his gun and bounded out of the tent hastily, while Han Sujin staggered to her feet, still groggy with sleep, and promptly collapsed with a thud after stumbling. The chaplain, unable to find the tent door, attempted to exit through the wall and toppled over clumsily.

Son Taehwan meticulously examined something that licked his hand, gun at the ready. The night remained dark, yet by the dying campfire light, something next to Taehwan became discernible.

“Heh, heh, heh.”

“What on earth is this guy?”

Shepherd and Son Taehwan found themselves unable to hold back hollow laughter at the sight of the unexpected visitor.

“A dog?”

“A dog, huh?”

The creature that had licked Taehwan’s hand was, surprisingly, a dog.

“Lieutenant, it’s wearing a harness?”

“There wouldn’t just be a dog in Antarctica for no reason.”

Among the Antarctic bases, there were some that kept sled dog breeds. The fluffy white dog resembled a mixed breed of a Samoyed.

The dog cheerfully licked a soup can, then hurried over to Han Sujin, who had keeled over again, panting heavily. Taehwan nearly pulled the trigger of his Dragunov rifle, but the dog began to nuzzle Sujin affectionately, wagging its bushy tail energetically.

“Wow, amazing. Senior, what’s with the dog?”

“I don’t know. When I woke up, it was here.”

Han Sujin burst into laughter, a rare sight, as she petted the dog.

“Doctor, be careful. It could be dangerous. Watch for infection.”

“Woah, don’t shoot, Senior. I’m already running some tests.”

“Do you even have a veterinary license?”

“Well, I’ve never treated animals before… Ah, but hey, you also agree, don’t you, my dear pup?”

Taehwan raised an eyebrow skeptically as he watched the dog. Sujin checked inside the dog’s mouth with her flashlight, thoroughly searching its fur for any signs of wounds.

“At least it doesn’t seem to show any signs of infection.”

“Are you sure?”

“Probably.”

“Probably is too uncertain.”

Taehwan deliberately clicked off the safety of his rifle.

“I’m tired of orcas. If that one turns into an alpha zombie, it could kill us all in one go.”

“Senior, remember? That African-American at Sejong Base. Alpha zombies become infectious right away, but betas aren’t as dangerous.”

Taehwan lowered the gun barrel with doubt in his eyes. He was still shaken by the previous day’s close call with the orca, unable to fully trust even in the presence of animals.

“I don’t like this.”

“Ahaha. It’s a cute dog. Look at how affectionate it is. Such an innocuous thing.”

The dog’s eyes sparkled as it showered Sujin with affection. It seemed to know who the most esteemed person (perhaps) in the group was.

“Blockhead. It’s just a dog. It’s not as intelligent as humans in movies or dramas. If something goes wrong…”

“But Senior, it’s the same as us. It survived through the disaster and made it here.”

“Hey. That’s that, and a dog is a dog.”

“Don’t worry. If it ever comes to it, I’ll put it down.”

Sujin unfastened the dog’s harness as she spoke calmly.

“Really?”

“Really. Humans are the priority.”

There was nothing more Taehwan could say to that. Before long, the dog was crunching happily on a biscuit it had been given by Sujin and was already getting along with Shepherd and the chaplain.

“Damn. With enough trouble as it is. Mophead.”

“Wow. What do you mean mophead? Such a cute creature.”

“Mophead’s a mophead. Anyway, we’re all awake now. Without a watch, we can’t even tell the time.”

At the mention of a watch, the dog suddenly barked twice and dashed off. Taehwan watched it run before following.

The dog reached a ruined spot, barked twice at one side, and then fell silent. Taehwan felt something odd as he scanned the ruins, then was shocked.

“Could it be this?”

He found a round wall clock amongst the debris, ticking correctly despite the bombing. The dog seemed to wag its tail as if to say, “It was here, right?” It appeared to be a trained search-and-rescue dog.

“Sit.”

He gave the command in English on a hunch, and to no surprise, the dog obeyed and sat down perfectly.

“See? I told you it could be helpful.”

“When did you say that?”

“Hehe, good boy.”

Taehwan held the ticking clock, looking foolishly between the dog and Sujin. The clock was pointing to exactly five o’clock by Livingston Island time.

“Could the clock be right?”

“Well, if I’m still sleepy, it seems accurate.”

“Sleepyhead. Can’t tell if it’s right or not.”

“Hehe. But what’s important isn’t the exact time, but how we divide it, right?”

Shepherd nodded in agreement with her statement. They all realized from yesterday’s events how crucial a watch was. It was greatly beneficial for survival to be able to rest according to time.

Taehwan held the moderately-sized wall clock and looked up at the sky.

“Let’s move out. The days are getting shorter, and we cannot stay here if the nights grow longer.”

The people naturally looked at the firewood they had burnt from yesterday until now. In just one night, desks and chairs were all used up, and no matter how much firewood there was, it wouldn’t last for more days. Everyone’s gaze naturally turned toward the plane.

Taehwan hesitated again. If there was no fuel on Livingston Island, their hopes would lead them to death. He had already discounted the fanciful hope of a rescue team coming. The symbolic crash of the AC-130 due to fuel shortage made that clear.

Even the wealthy United States would have arranged for a refueling aircraft or some method if it was an AC-130 in question. Considering the scale of operations that had taken place on King George Island, a substantial number of troops and support materials must have reached McMurdo Station.

But nothing at McMurdo could save the Angel of Death. The AC-130 had even crashed due to a beta zombie outbreak inside. If that was the fate of the AC-130, what about the others?

‘Is there also no hope outside?’

He felt that despair was perpetually following him. Initially, it seemed surviving was possible if they could make it from King George Island to another base. That hope shifted to the Chilean base, only for despair to engulf them again. They had made it so far by chance, but how long could this luck last?

“Whoa, you startled me. What are you doing?”

“The senior isn’t moving, so there.”

Sujin bumped into Taehwan’s back and stared full-faced at him.

“Senior, you alright? Not short on sleep?”

“No, it’s just… I’m okay. Besides, I have something to tell you. Remember the sweet potato fries?”

Sujin’s eyes lit up at the sudden mention. Shepherd and the priest, listening to their conversation in Korean, could only tilt their heads in confusion.

“Se, Senior, don’t tell me…”

“The plane likely doesn’t have fuel. That’s why this situation unfolded. Shepherd is trustworthy, but still, you never know. Desperation changes people, and I still can’t trust that priest.”

“Then are you going to keep it secret?”

“No, I have to tell them. But they’ll notice it sooner or later. And the problem is you.”

“Me?”

“I can pilot the aircraft, but once we leave here, we won’t need a doctor anymore.”

“Ah…”

She caught on to what Taehwan was implying and nodded.

Sujin, upon listening to Taehwan, figured out the mystery of the corpses that lay on the road. Their shelter was beside where they pitched their tent, with a woman’s corpse among the other bodies that had killed one another in a trail leading to the dock where the plane was.

There were five survivors in total with not a single one left alive.

Taehwan sighed as he looked at the final victor, whose body was slumped in the cockpit with a knife. After betraying his comrades, in the end, this person couldn’t leave Antarctica either.

“Help me, Shepherd? The body is completely frozen.”

The stiff corpse was clutching the controls, and Taehwan, with Shepherd’s assistance, struggled to move it.

“Lieutenant, let’s see what you’ve got.”

“Heheh. Luckily, it’s the model I trained on.”

Taehwan began checking the light aircraft’s gauges, tapping switches and pulling the throttle lever. Despite the cold, the altimeter and other instruments seemed fine.

He sighed as he looked at the fuel gauge.

“The problem is the battery and the fuel.”

Taehwan tapped the fuel gauge, then turned to Shepherd. After a moment’s hesitation, it couldn’t be helped.

“Fuel?”

“With this fuel, it’s uncertain how far we can go.”

“What are you saying?”

Taehwan gestured towards the cabin, where chairs and unnecessary items had been cleared out.

“This is…”

“People must have tried to reduce the weight. The lighter the weight, the longer the flight range.”

Taehwan glanced at Shepherd’s rifle, but Shepherd only gave a morose groan.

“How far can we go?”

“Well, this is a seaplane, so just reaching the tip of South America would let us head for the States. We need roughly 600 kilometers for that.”

“600 kilometers. About 370 miles in miles. So how far can this fuel take us?”

“Look at the fuel gauge. It’s nearly empty. 30-40 kilometers? Hard to say. Anyway, with everyone onboard, it’s certain we can’t fly 600 kilometers.”

Taehwan came out of the cockpit and went to tap the wing where the fuel tanks were. As with the auxiliary tanks, they were empty.

“We have two options. Find fuel or travel the 600 kilometers by boat.”

Taehwan had specifically brought the boat for that reason.

“Whatever choice we make, the days are getting shorter. We have to leave here within days. We also have the food issue to consider.”

Nobody was quick to suggest what to do next. They all had a bitter understanding of how terrifying the cold seawater was. Travelling 600 kilometers in those conditions seemed nearly impossible, and stopping midway to switch to a boat was equally absurd.

“Looks like you’re done, Lieutenant. We’ll search every nook and cranny here for the next few days for fuel. What kind of fuel do we need?”

“It’s not a jet engine, so any gasoline will do.”

“Does the fuel from the snowmobile work?”

“It doesn’t matter. They’re both gasoline engines. Still… Ah, right. Angel of Death barely passed through here and Red Scorpion didn’t sweep this place, so there’s a chance.”

The fuel for the propeller-driven plane was no different from gasoline, and though there were secondary issues, Taehwan wasn’t concerned. It seemed better than doing nothing and awaiting death.

“Here, Shepherd, take this. It’s the radio from the AC-130. I’ve set the frequency simply, so let me know if you find something.”

“Okay. Where should we search?”

“It looks like there’s a Bulgarian base here. Let’s split between here and the dock.”

The dock and the Bulgarian base were roughly equidistant. Given Livingston Island’s rugged terrain, it was impossible to search both locations simultaneously.



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