Dead End Chapter 91

Dead End

Dead End Chapter 91

Chapter 91

“Yes, they had a vaccine. It was imperfect, but they couldn’t have manufactured such an item without identifying the source of the infection.”

“They must have known. And they tried to use it. The dead come back to life, move even with fatal wounds, survive sub-zero temperatures, and can even walk on water.”

Han Sujin trembled at the maliciousness of humanity. She couldn’t quite comprehend how beings of the same life force would seek to exploit such a terrifying phenomenon.

“It’s human instinct. Sujin. Maybe you’re right. Humans use other humans.”

“From a medical and scientific standpoint, they must have seen significance in that phenomenon.”

Perhaps properly harnessed, the potential utility was boundless. Humanity has often turned various toxins and pathogens to their advantage. If ‘side effects’ could be minimized and safely managed, perhaps a great new drug or material could be created.

“Senior, but why exactly did they dig that up?”

“I’ve heard about it. There was research conducted on Livingston Island. I glossed over it when looking at the Antarctic development company’s reports…”

“What research?”

“Ancient geology studies.”

“Ah…”

“Antarctica is a museum where ancient strata are preserved intact.”

Unlike the North Pole, the Antarctic had real soil beneath the ice. Sometimes geologists and biologists drilled into this soil to study ancient environments.

The fact that Antarctica was once a warm place roamed by dinosaurs and had fertile land had been revealed through such geological studies. This drilling research was not only conducted on Livingston Island but continued on the mainland of Antarctica, and there was nothing unusual about it.

However, the drill had hit an unexpected layer of strata. What poured out was a mysterious black soil that infected life forms in an instant. What followed was the hellish landscape that Son Taehwan had experienced.

“The black soil was originally from Antarctica, right, doctor? Virus, bacteria, fungi? Could it be something that existed on Earth a long time ago?”

The black soil hidden in an ancient layer of strata—Son Taehwan couldn’t even begin to guess what it was or how it came to be and its composition.

“What exactly makes creatures like that?”

“I don’t know without research equipment. But someone must have researched it.”

Sure enough, the black soil, which should have ended in Antarctica, had left its home for research and caused a disaster in the United States. Furthermore, it spread a catastrophe called black soil across the United States and countless other places by everyone who tried to use it.

The two were speechless at the horrific sight. The black soil kept bubbling up, infecting the local wildlife like the oil spill from a sunken tanker. The reason the AC-130 hadn’t bombed the site was that no one knew what would happen if it came under attack.

“Han Sujin. What do we do now?”

“Wow. It’s rare for senior to ask me for advice, huh?”

“Now, dammit. I have no idea what to do with it. I don’t think we can just leave it.”

Han Sujin cutely furrowed her brows and turned Son Taehwan’s head with both hands.

“Focus. We’re not Captain Planet environmental heroes.”

“What is that nonsense?”

“Our goal is to survive here, not to risk our lives stopping this. Let the person who created this sort it out.”

Han Sujin pouted, feigning anger.

“But that…”

“We can’t help that part.”

Black soil flowed like a river beside the seagull nests. Of course, this place was inland on Livingston Island, so it would take a significant time to reach the sea, but that ‘eventually’ could come faster than expected.

“Is our survival more important?”

“I told you before. Don’t risk your life unnecessarily. Take that damned radio and tell Shepard we found oil.”

Han Sujin looked at Son Taehwan with a very serious expression. It was the most resolute face he’d seen amid the dozens of expressions since leaving Sejong Base.

Son Taehwan knew what she wanted to say. If they didn’t deal with the black stream, it could become a global threat. If the killer whale was contaminated and many other marine creatures followed, the situation would be dire. If penguins, which are birds, were contaminated, then fish and crustaceans would also be in danger.

The zombification of animals didn’t just mean an increased risk of attack. If one link in the food chain disappeared, the ecosystem would suffer severe imbalance, which could lead to the collapse of plant life, including crops.

Son Taehwan was aware that the problem with the black soil was not just local.

“Alright. I know what I can’t do.”

“Haha. Well then. I want to share the burden with you, senior.”

“Be my guest.”

“Don’t be shy now.”

Han Sujin grinned and tousled his hair.

“Not at all.”

Son Taehwan refocused on the fuel drums.

There were at least ten of them. Apparently, since the drilling facility had failed, the person in charge had simply left them behind.

“Another tedious battle with distance.”

Surrounding the drilling facility for about a hundred meters radius was the seagulls’ nesting area. Seagulls, acting on instinct to protect their nests, would definitely react if approached. The man strapped with red fuel drums moving around was a perfect example.

The people at the Spanish base must have fallen into despair and started killing each other after witnessing this scene.

Despair and a sliver of hope.

Son Taehwan was also tasting that chewy feeling. If what he assessed from the airplane’s wing earlier was correct, the plane could barely make it to the South American continent.

‘This guy, spouting unnecessary comments.’

Human instinct.

He didn’t want to admit that the cruel choice to push others off the ladder for survival was human instinct. Son Taehwan used his brain to remain human.

“Trying to rope it over would be impossible, right?”

“Even if you were a cowboy, it would be impossible, right, senior?”

“So, Sujin. The gulls surely didn’t attack anything bigger than themselves, right? How much can we trust that?”

“Well? It’s just a guess, but they’ll definitely react if you attack the nest.”

“I thought so too. This is like a scene from ‘The Lost World’.”

“Ah, that one. I enjoyed reading it too.”

Han Sujin joined in with a smile. The gulls’ habitat had a resemblance to the scene in the novel filled with yapping pterosaurs.

“Wait. The protagonists there certainly…”

Son Taehwan stopped speaking and looked back.

“Senior… You’re not seriously thinking of making a hot air balloon or something ridiculous, right? It was possible in the novel, but here it’s not.”

“No, that’s not it. Though I did think of balloons.”

Son Taehwan grinned, thinking of a preposterous method.

“Shepard, I found oil.”

-What!

“I found oil. There are some technical issues, but I think it’s manageable.”

-It’s hard to hear! And we have an urgent situation here!

“What’s going on?”

-Through the telescope… the other island… confirmed!

“I hardly hear you! What’s happening!”

-Barbed wires!

That much came through loud and clear. Han Sujin’s mouth hung open, and Son Taehwan looked back in astonishment. Since their arrival here, when the sun was already fully up, there was no way the Shepherds could be mistaken.

“How is that possible… It’s faster than the pace they showed on Nelson Island?”

“…Maybe they’ve been advancing all night safely since the killer whales are gone.”

“Through the sea?”

“No. If they’re this fast, they must have used the ice floes this time. Without the killer whales, it’s a safe route.”

With the plane’s fuel in short supply and the worst enemies hot on their trail, Taehwan asked.

“Shepard! The number of enemies!”

-Numbers? I don’t…

“Dammit! Climb up! The signal is too poor!”

-We are in danger… the enemy has landed on the island!

Next to Livingston Island was a small island called Greenwich, and apparently, the barbed wires and Alpha zombies had followed there.

“Shepard! Let’s join up! Where are you?”

-Bulgaria! Near the Bulgarian base, up the mountain!

Son Taehwan saw a rather high mountain, then sprang to his feet. He had to secure the oil before the enemy arrived.

“Did I say I’d survive every minute and second as a human? I’ll do the same.”

“Senior! Don’t talk nonsense, run! Something’s off behind us!”

Until now, the seagull nesting area, calm like a documentary from the Animal Kingdom, started to chirp incessantly. The recon gull, which had been circling above, flew down and then up again, showing odd behavior.

“My God. It’s a warning sign.”

On seeing that warning sign, the seagulls began to take off en masse. The sight of them rising and shedding black steam or soil was more like crows taking flight than seagulls.

Han Sujin and Son Taehwan ran again, and behind them followed a flock of black birds, reminiscent of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. The dog seemed to have expected this and barked at Son Taehwan before letting out a vigorous bark.

“Senior! Follow that dog! It’s a survivor who has lived here longer than us!”

“How reliable you sound!”

As if understanding, the dog snarled and then led them with barks.

“Senior! Should I fire the gun!”

“No! If we shoot, all those birds will come this way!”

The gulls, previously threatening, had turned into attackers. Seemingly feeling threatened, they began to move to drive away the nearby dangers.

Son Taehwan and Han Sujin ran again. Behind them, like the Hitchcock’s film, the black birds pursued. The dog led the charge towards a small building with a striking orange roof.

“Ah! A shelter! I didn’t know there was one here!”

“Look, huff huff, I told you this one’s smart!”

The King George Island had shelters too, halfway between bases to provide refuge against blizzards or for castaways. Seemingly close by distance, it was quite a strategic location given the extreme cold or other erratic weather of Antarctica.

That structure now served a different purpose, as shelter from the attacking birds. The seagulls, trying to hit Son Taehwan and Han Sujin, collided with the solid roof, cried out, and flew back up, while the two inside watched the black shadows filling the window, trembling. Even with dozens of automatic rifles, they couldn’t fend off those birds.

The handicap that any skin wound could be fatal remained, and worse, there was a massive number of gulls.

“What should we do with them?”

“We have no choice but to wait.”

“But Shepard said the enemies have landed on Greenwich Island, right? From there, Livingston Island is just a short hop away!”

Son Taehwan grew impatient. If the barbed wire reached Livingston Island, their plan to escape by plane would be ruined. For some reason, that Alpha zombie targeted Son Taehwan and the other survivors, and they didn’t have the strength to face it head-on.

Those zombies had easily breached even the fully fortified Chilean base. And here, they only had one automatic rifle, a sniper rifle, and one shell.



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