Dead End Chapter 99

Dead End

Dead End Chapter 99

Chapter 099

“Was it the skewer that finally finished him off, huff huff. The one that had been stuck in from the beginning…”

Ironically, it was the skewer—a nickname that had been given—that ended up having its own neck cut and killed by it. Someone, unknown who, had staked their life to pin the skewer into the neck of this alpha zombie, and in the end, Son Taehwan managed to accomplish what that someone could not.

Abandoning the steel pipe, Son Taehwan looked up at the sky. The seagulls that had been watching the fierce battle between the two men began to circle again around the area with the lit flare as soon as the skewer had completely died. They seemed to be on guard ever since the signal flare had been shot up.

“Craftily smart bastards, those seagulls.”

Without even the strength to feel the joy of victory, Son Taehwan staggered to his feet, picked up his revolver, and headed back towards the observation tent.

“Maybe this damn thing was more dangerous than killing that bastard.”

With a hollow laugh, Son Taehwan looked at the chuckling seagulls. He didn’t even realize he was laughing himself, and just dazedly returned to the observation tent.

“Damn it, I’m starving to death. Hehe, Donghyuk, I’m hungry. Being hungry means I’m still alive, right? Isn’t that so, pastor? I survived, somehow, somehow.”

It seemed as if the pastor, Park Donghyuk, Xiao Won, and others he had met at the Chilean base were waving at him from the snowy field. Tears trickled down his smiling cheeks as Son Taehwan couldn’t help but raise one hand high into the sky.

He was alive.

Meanwhile, Han Sujin was on tenterhooks, hearing the repeated gunshots.

“Shepherd, do you think he’s okay?”

“The lieutenant told us to hold this position. He can handle it, look. His leadership was perfect. Who would have thought there was an alpha here?”

Not having taken the automatic rifle and steering it in this direction turned out to be the right call in the end.

Son Taehwan had entrusted Shepherd with Han Sujin’s safety, but unexpectedly, another alpha zombie that had circumvented their position was present here.

The automatic rifle fire heard from afar was not meant for providing cover for Son Taehwan. Shepherd wouldn’t have made meaningless shots out of range. After a hard struggle no less than what Son Taehwan faced, the two of them managed to quickly deal with the nimble alpha zombie.

Using the strewn corpses as bait, they lured it in, and while it was distracted by a body, Shepherd mercilessly gunned the creature down in automatic fire. What made the situation tougher for Shepherd and Han Sujin was that the creature had been feasting on a corpse near the ‘plane.’

Had they not killed it, the creature might have taken residence in the plane, plaguing their group. Looking at the corpse of the alpha zombie, they once again swallowed the unease they felt.

“Do you think the senior is alright?”

“If something happened, there would have been a transmission. He took the walkie-talkie.”

Shepherd showed the walkie-talkie, still turned on, but he too was visibly worried. Shepherd had been at the Chilean base longer than Son Taehwan or Han Sujin and knew very well how terrifying the skewer was.

“But quite some time has passed already. I don’t know what time it is, though.”

“Darn. But you know the lieutenant, he’s pulled magic out of his hat on multiple occasions. That’s why he told us to retreat because he had a chance. There were still bullets left in that sniper rifle.”

The two of them waited helplessly by the plane for Son Taehwan.

And then, after some time had passed, the sound of a falling rock was heard from somewhere, and they heard a shout from a distance. Shepherd instinctively pointed his rifle in the direction of the sound, and Han Sujin placed her palm on her forehead, looking that way.

The bright sunlight reflected off the snow, making it hard to see the person approaching from far away. That person kept stumbling, giving off the impression of a zombie.

“Don’t tell me…”

“Another zombie?”

The person walked, fell over on the snowfield then dazedly stared in this direction and began hopping up and down, waving hands.

“Hey! Damn it! Don’t just stand there and help me!”

Han Sujin couldn’t help but smile widely upon hearing the senior hurling profanities.

“Shepherd! It’s the senior!”

“Puhaha! See, miss! What did I say? He would survive!”

“Sorry! For doubting you!”

The two of them also waved their hands above their heads, signaling Son Taehwan they were safe. Son Taehwan kept on rambling before collapsing again and grumbling. Though something about the way he twice attempted to stand and then fell looked distinctly troubling.

Upon sighting this, Han Sujin immediately sprinted toward him, and Shepherd also quickly followed her. After a short while, the three of them reunited atop the ridge.

Han Sujin rushed to Son Taehwan, palpating all over his face with her hands and checked his parka for any rips. Realizing Son Taehwan was unharmed, she hugged him tightly.

“Senior!”

“It’s exhausting, stop clinging to me.”

“Senior, are you okay?”

“I’m fine. As long as you don’t strangle me to death?”

Son Taehwan stroked Han Sujin’s head while pointing backward.

“Lieutenant sir? Oh, this is!”

“Gasoline. Careful, some touched the black soil.”

“How did you manage this?”

“I dealt with the skewer and got it from where the drilling well was.”

He pointed at more than ten red fuel cans, puffing out his chest proudly. Under the fuel cans was the slippery fabric of the tent laid out like a sled, which he had used to haul them all this way.

“Idiot! Why didn’t you radio? We were worried!”

“Ouch, don’t pinch my cheek. And yeah, I tried to radio. But I ended up like this because I fell into a crevasse.”

Son Taehwan spoke calmly about what happened after they separated. When he mentioned falling into a crevasse, Han Sujin flicked his forehead, leading to renewed bickering, but Son Taehwan conveyed that the battle with the skewer had ended.

“So the skewer is completely dead?”

“Yeah. Completely. Its neck was completely severed, and I even took care of the head.”

Shepherd and Han Sujin gazed dumbfoundedly towards the drilling site. That formidable zombie that had relentlessly pursued Son Taehwan from the Chilean base was finally dead, and Han Sujin found it hard to absorb the reality.

“But how did you move all these gas cans?”

“Curious? It’s a long story too, you know. Shit. When I think about it, bringing the gas cans here was even harder than fighting the skewer.”

Son Taehwan described the ordeal of transporting the fuel cans with a bit of mirth.

Like a documentary director using the observation tent, he hauled two cans at a time back and forth from the drilling site. The slightest odd movement would set the seagulls flying, greatly delaying the process.

Son Taehwan pointed at the fuel cans with a broad grin on his face.

“Shit, I’ve always been so unlucky, but this time the goddess of luck must have given me a kiss. It’s 100LL, for small planes. Probably emergency fuel stored for them. It’s a bit frozen, but it will be usable once thawed.”

Shepherd burst into hearty laughter upon hearing that.

“Lieutenant sir! The goddess of fortune isn’t somewhere else!”

Shepherd playfully stroked Han Sujin’s head and grabbed the corner of the tent fabric. Han Sujin looked puzzled and went “Huh?” and this time Son Taehwan pulled on her cheek.

“What’s with the pretend ignorance, goddess? Let’s go. It’s time for us to leave this accursed Antarctica.”

“Yes!”

The three proceeded to drag the fuel cans all the way to the Chilean base. Without snow, Son Taehwan wouldn’t have been able to bring the fuel this far. They utilized the snow, dragging them all the way to the Spanish base dock.

The campfire rose anew, and the three began to eat a simple meal beside the fuel cans. The only sounds were the snapping of biscuits and the gulp of water being drunk—nothing else. They heated a few cans of food and the remaining MREs from the boat, silently enjoying their own victory celebration of survival.

“Senior, is the drilling machine completely destroyed?”

“I saw it stop when the wire snapped and the facility itself broke. Plus, even if it had continued, it would have stopped in a few days anyway.”

“Then, that ‘soil’ won’t escape to the outside.”

“Unless someone else decides to use it again.”

At this moment, the three of them had witnessed the starting point of the zombie outbreak.

“Would anyone believe us?”

“Who knows.”

Son Taehwan silently stirred a can of tuna with his spoon. Would people believe what they had seen and heard in this Antarctic wilderness? Son Taehwan shook his head and watched the black soil evaporate into the air as it came into contact with the gasoline.

Soil that evaporates upon exposure to air.

Neither Son Taehwan nor Han Sujin had any idea where this soil came from or why it caused such phenomena.

“Sujin, Shepherd. One thing is certain. We’re alive and we’re going to leave this detestable Antarctica.”

Shepherd also nodded silently while rummaging through an MRE package.

“Let’s go. Let’s leave this ice palace.”

The three of them stood up at once. They left the campfire as it was and picked up two fuel cans each. The gasoline thawed properly and flowed easily, and Son Taehwan had already confirmed that it was not evaporating.

They went back and forth a few times, ferrying the fuel cans, and began to load the plane with their gear. As they loaded the supplies brought from the boat, each seemed lost in thought.

“Senior, should I put this window here?”

“No, take everything that can be used. Punta Arenas is certainly not in good shape either.”

Han Sujin nodded and loaded the spear gun and the rest of the supplies they had struggled with in Antarctica. To an onlooker, it might have seemed like loading garbage, but from the spear gun down to empty bottles and signal flare guns, every item was precious.

The plane’s interior was soon filled with necessary supplies, and Son Taehwan started to check the plane. It was a habit he had developed since obtaining his light plane license in Australia during college.

The plane was in good shape, but there was one more problem. Son Taehwan had no experience piloting a seaplane, let alone taking off from a sea covered in pack ice.

He looked at the sea scattered with small chunks of ice and swallowed hard. Could this plane take off?

Back in the cockpit, Son Taehwan stared at Han Sujin, who was sitting next to him.

“Do you trust me?”

“One hundred percent.”

“In Korean.”

“One hundred percent.”

“What if it’s a terrible miscalculation?”

“Hehe, it feels like we’ve already been through the worst, you know?”

Han Sujin playfully tugged at Son Taehwan’s cheek and chuckled.

“Aish, just stop. Once we get out of Antarctica, do whatever you want, and I’ll turn a blind eye, but let’s just get going first.”

The three of them laughed heartily again, then focused ahead. Son Taehwan skilfully started the plane. To Han Sujin’s eyes, Son Taehwan flicked what looked like identical switches, then adjusted a lever next to the steering, and the plane started with a lively buzz.

“Phew. We got past the first hurdle at least. This is my first time, so I was nervous.”

“Senior, I’m getting anxious.”

“What can we do? You’ve already stolen my lucky charm.”

“Wow, I should have seen this coming.”

Son Taehwan sported a grin as he steered the plane toward the sea filled with ice floes. The flaps on the wings moved, and the plane slowly began to leave the Spanish base dock, gradually picking up speed ahead.

Thump.

The situation Son Taehwan had worried about before the departure unfolded. Ice floes hit the plane’s pontoons, causing a chilling vibration.

“Hey, is it, is it okay?”

“Probably.”

“Hey, lieutenant, you know ‘probably’ is not enough, right?”

“She’ll take off magnificently. Don’t worry.”

Despite the boast, the vibration became more severe as ice continued to collide with the pontoons. Han Sujin, her face turned pale, noticed the plane’s wings shaking violently.

“Se, senior, is it supposed to shake like that?”

“Damn, have you never been on a plane or what? It’s normal.”

“That’s a lie.”

“Well… half true.”

Han Sujin looked even more sullen, glancing at Son Taehwan as if to say, ‘What’s up with this guy.’

“Alright, miss, let’s take off. Fly! Let’s go!”

Son Taehwan anxiously tapped the instrument panel, checking the altimeter and engine RPM. The thudding vibration grew, and the plane trembled as if it was about to crumple.

“Senior! Behind! Look behind you!”

“What?”

“A whale!”

Oops. Another whale was rapidly cutting through the water just behind the plane. Son Taehwan glanced at the rearview mirror, and the hairs on his neck stood up. The ice floes were starting to thin out into the open sea, but there was no chance of outrunning the whale at the current speed.

“Miss, let’s take off! Please, please!”

A killer whale, spouting like a steam locomotive, leaped from behind the plane. And as if a tidal wave had surfaced, a cascade flowed over the plane’s rear…

“Kyaaahoooo!”

Absurdly, the whale’s leap created a wave that gave the plane an unexpected boost. Riding the wave, the plane soared upward as Son Taehwan yanked the control stick. With an exhilarating roar of the engine, the vibration stopped, and the three cheered in triumph.

As the plane soared into the sky, they could see the whale jumping again from below.

“Senior, it’s so different looking from above, haha… The way we came is just… just…”

Han Sujin finally let her pent-up tears flow, viewing the islands they had swum, walked, and run across with Son Taehwan. They had traversed that ordeal over several days, but now, flying by in the plane felt uneventfully fast.

“Is there enough fuel to pass over where our base was?”

“…”

Son Taehwan silently adjusted his course, passing over the South Shetland Islands. From below, the whitened…



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