Dead End Chapter 9

Dead End Chapter 9

Chapter 009

The two people stared intently at each other. It was not a look of love or rational emotion. It was instead a reassuring feeling that they both could rely on each other. Son Taehwan, perhaps feeling a bit awkward, coughed pointlessly and headed downstairs, clearing his throat.

The first floor, already searched, was much better than before. And the feeling of having a comrade behind was indescribably reassuring. Han Sujin seemed to feel the same, frequently glancing back while sticking close to Son Taehwan.

“You dummy, we need to keep some distance to protect each other, right?”

“Hehe.”

Despite the obvious awkwardness that comes with a young man and woman close in age, the two cautiously guarded the front as they descended. The stairs still bore the body of the Chinese man holding a chocolate bar.

“In some ways, this is much more horrific than zombies.”

“Exactly. I was shocked myself when I first saw the body.”

“That’s not what I mean… forget it.”

Son Taehwan was contemplating not the dead body, but the very nature of people killing each other. He shuddered at the thought of potentially having to kill ‘Junior’ behind him to survive. Antarctica was now a place that forced one to become either a zombie or a murderer, abandoning humanity.

No matter how bad a person was, they didn’t just suddenly stab and kill another; humans are delicate animals that need a reason behind their actions. Even psychopaths who killed for pleasure needed a reason. However, Son Taehwan knew of three people who had been killed for reasons unrelated to zombies. It signified that there were people who had abandoned their humanity.

‘I won’t become like that. I refuse to.’

“Senior, what are you thinking about?”

“It’s not about you. Just watch our back properly.”

“Really? It’s not about me?”

“Huff, you really should look in the mirror.”

Despite their banter, they tiptoed past the corpse, the clanging sound of the metal steps echoing dreadfully. That sound made Son Taehwan hesitate for a moment.

“Can zombies hear sounds?”

“Who knows. Should we go directly and ask?”

“Go where?”

A thought flashed through Son Taehwan’s mind. Zombies that had been trapped in the adjacent generator building. They couldn’t see or smell him since the doors were closed, but they must have heard the sound and came running towards Son Taehwan.

“Damn it. Sujin, we have to be careful even with the sound of footsteps now. I think they can hear them. They seemed to respond to the sound of me knocking earlier.”

“We better be careful.”

Han Sujin’s voice became even more cautious. The two of them walked slowly down the stairs, examining the surroundings, until Son Taehwan froze at the sight of the first floor.

It was a faint, but noticeable light that should have been shrouded in darkness on the first floor. Son Taehwan and Han Sujin instinctively turned their eyes towards it. The door leading outside was open.

“Senior… did we forget to close the door when we came up?”

“No, I definitely closed it. There was a blizzard blowing, remember? Do you think I’m an idiot?”

“Then, what’s that?”

A fierce wind blew, piling up snow at the door of the machinery building, and faint footprints were visible. Someone had entered. Son Taehwan’s heart started pounding like it was about to burst.

“Listen. Raise the spear above my shoulder.”

“Your shoulder?”

“I saw it in a documentary. This way I can target enemies aiming at my neck. I’ll block approaching enemies with this monkey wrench. Can you do it?”

A clear division of roles. Han Sujin placed the handle of the kitchen knife spear on Son Taehwan’s shoulder, and he cautiously surveyed the surroundings.

‘Damn, if only we had a shield.’

He had seen a documentary about Alexander the Great’s campaign, which emphasized the importance of shields. A person armed with a close-combat weapon and a shield had an significantly increased chance of survival. Son Taehwan cast about for something that could act as a shield until he found an aluminum chair lying on its side. It was a practical ‘item’, suitable for deflecting attacks and also as a weapon.

“Senior, what now?”

“Let’s close the door first. If we leave it open, it might freeze shut with all the snow.”

The cold was one thing, but they also had to prevent others ─ or something else ─ from entering. With just the two of them present, they had to avoid any increase in the number of adversaries.

“Then let’s move slowly towards the door. I’ll watch our back.”

It was like children playing a game of tag. They jumped with any brush of wind, changing directions. While the distance was not far, it took a long time to reach the door.

Son Taehwan felt the howling blizzard as he reached the door. The sky outside showed nothing but a sheer white squall. He looked briefly outside, then prepared to venture out by adjusting his goggles.

“Senior, where are you going?”

“Just going to check outside for a bit. It’s dangerous if there are zombies nearby.”

Son Taehwan fought through the fierce winds and stepped outside. He saw his overturned snowmobile buried under snow. It was not immediately necessary, but he should have at least covered it with a waterproof tarp. Cursing under his breath, he scoped the area for zombies.

“……!”

Despite the faint silhouette, there was something walking around in the snow. It was from the generator building’s direction. Son Taehwan started frantically shoveling the snow piling up at the bottom of the door.

“Damn it. How did it get out? I must close the door first.”

But with too much snow piled up, his sole efforts seemed futile. Furthermore, the door was already beginning to freeze. If he were any later, breaking the ice or thawing it might be necessary before the door could be shut at all.

“Sujin! Come out here, too! There’s too much snow!”

Han Sujin set her spear aside and ran out, joining in flinging the snow madly to the side. With urgency, Son Taehwan started to scoop up snow like building a snowman and threw it outside. The situation was becoming critical. The door was nearly frozen shut, and zombies, standing out like shadows in the blizzard, were staggering towards them.

“This damn thing…”

Although he had resolved not to curse in this place, the situation did not permit restraint. Just managing to see the bottom of the door, Son Taehwan, in desperation, started kicking the door shut. The zombies, hearing the noise, collectively turned their heads in their direction.

At that moment, the frozen snow cracked, and the door moved. The two of them managed to close the door just in time before the zombies took notice. As soon as the door closed, Son Taehwan collapsed to the floor, gasping for breath. He could see Han Sujin’s legs trembling faintly through the dim silhouette.

“It’s, it’s okay. We closed it. We did it.”

“I know. I saw it, Senior. I was watching too.”

Han Sujin was still not back to her senses from frantically digging the snow. She caught her breath and suddenly patted Son Taehwan’s head.

“Senior. You did well. Really.”

“Why are you patting my head? Am I a dog?”

“It looks even more like a dog since you’ve grown hair.”

“Are you deliberately insulting me now?”

“You constantly curse as you live.”

“That’s because the world has hardened me.”

They looked at each other with bewildered laughter. While it was just digging snow and closing a door, they felt a kind of camaraderie.

“My hands are freezing. Now that the door’s closed, let’s hurry and get the generator running.”

“Me too. My hands are so red because I even took off my gloves while digging.”

Han Sujin wigglessly showed her reddened hands as she chuckled. Son Taehwan took her hand and held it still. His hands were somewhat warm since he was wearing gloves, and she could feel her hand warming.

“Senior. Is this a move?”

“Do you think I’d make a move in this situation? You’re the hand of a god, you can’t get frostbite.”

“Oh.”

As her hand warmed up a bit, Han Sujin giggled and pulled away.

“Senior, you better put on gloves quickly. That’s my medical opinion. We’ll both get frostbite at this rate.”

“Got it. Let’s go then.”

Son Taehwan clicked on the penlight to illuminate the way and moved forward.

“It’s better if you hold the light. Shine the penlight here. We’ve got to seal the indoor door completely.”

Son Taehwan took a fishing line from his bag and tightly bound the door handle to a nail on the wall next to the door. There was a lock on the door itself, so it seemed zombies would have difficulty opening it now. As he secured the door tightly, he reassured himself as if making a promise.

“It’s okay. They can’t come in anymore. It’ll be fine.”

Han Sujin glanced at Son Taehwan as he repeatedly reassured himself. She hadn’t noticed until now, but his eyes were clear and bright. She looked at his eyes reflecting the dim light outside the window and spoke.

“Senior, don’t bother hiding it. It was the zombies from the generator building, right?”

“How did you…”

“I too escaped here after hearing the zombies in the generator building. Anyway, rule number one. Don’t lie to me. If you don’t talk, even in scary situations, we both can be in danger.”

Han Sujin had some level of composure, perhaps because she was a doctor who often faced death. Son Taehwan nodded as he gazed at her pretty face.

“Alright. Rule number one. No lying. But what are the other rules?”

“I don’t know. I just said it on the fly.”

“Huff, that’s so like you.”

“Quiet. It’s just something that happens to people.”

“Are you some menopausal ajumma? Forgetting things and saying anything, “

“Wow. Is that sexual harassment?”

“Sue me if you want.”

Both of them didn’t find it particularly funny, but they let out a chuckle. Though the laughter was absurd, relaxing their tension was more important at the moment.

And after a while, Son Taehwan stopped laughing and looked at the footprints in the snow. Now that they had sealed the exit themselves, it was time to deal with the zombie that had entered the machinery building.



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