— “12th floor is clear.”
— “13th floor too.”
The recon team had split into two groups and searched through alternating floors.
‘They should come out any moment now.’
Their targets would soon run out. They were probably starting to panic since there was nothing they could do. It was pretty obvious that the recon team was trying to draw them out. Yohan looked at a pile of zombie corpses and licked his lips. Some of the zombies were manually stabbed through the eye by an arrow in the hand, as opposed to being shot by one. They not only were good at long-range, but were also able to handle unexpected situations as well.
“We’re starting on the 14th floor now.”
“We should see them soon. Go a bit slower and be careful.”
“Okay Yohan.” Jung Hwan nodded and yanked opened the door. It was an emergency door that triggered an alarm. A loud ringing filled the hallway.
‘This room is probably empty too…’ Jung Hwan stepped into a unit and immediately noticed that it was a lot cleaner than the other ones. He paused for a moment and then proceeded to search more quietly, slowly, and cautiously than before. He held a knife in one hand and looked in all potentially hiding places, but didn’t find any survivors. However, people might have spent time here before going somewhere else. He raised his walkie-talkie.
“This is Jung Hwan in unit 1405. I found signs of survivors but didn’t see anyone. I think they left for a different place.” Jung Hwan re-attached his walkie-talkie to his shoulder strap and decided to check a small cabinet in the living room.
The cabinet was too small for an adult to hide in, but there could be useful supplies inside. Jung Hwan had made a habit of checking things like this. Before he could open it, however, the cabinet door swung open and hit him on the nose.
“Jung Hwan? What happened?”
Jung Hwan caught a brief glimpse of a child-like figure as it ran past him. He nursed his tender nose as he spoke into the walkie-talkie again.
“Unit 1405! I found a survivor!”
The survivor quickly ran into the hallways and darted towards the emergency exit. However, Saeri was already there. The survivor growled and notched an arrow on her bow.
“A little girl?” Saeri rubbed her eyes. The survivor aiming her bow at her looked like a middle school-aged little girl. Her appearance surprised Saeri so much that she didn’t even think about fighting back. However, the girl noticed the gun at Saeri’s waist and didn’t dare make a move. As they stood in stalemate, the other recon team members arrived and surrounded the girl. They too were shocked to see someone so young.
“This is a surprise,” Yohan muttered. The girl looked like a tomboy in her sophomore year in middle school. Yohan had high expectations for the survivor that showcased such unique strategies. He felt disappointed, but didn’t show it.
“Hey kid. That’s dangerous. How about you put that down and chat with your big bro?” Sweeper spoke up. However, his words only made the girl pull back the arrow even more. Some of the recon team members wondered if referring to himself as big bro was too much.
“Everyone leave,” The girl growled, her tone was cold.
“Yoon Saeri, take out your gun.” Yohan’s response was even colder.
“Take out your gun and point it at her.” Yohan hadn’t decided if he wanted to add this girl as a comrade yet. That was something that could be dealt with later. Right now, there was an immediate problem of the girl pointing a weapon at someone that was unarmed.
“I—I’m really going to shoot.” The girl started stuttering. This was not the response she was expecting.
“Put your weapon down. I’m going to count down from three. If you don’t, we’ll put bullet holes in you.”
“Wait, Yohan. There’s no need to be that harsh…” Saeri started to protest.
“Wish card! I want to use my wish card!”
Yohan frowned. What sort of nonsense was Saeri talking about?
“Don’t act like you don’t remember. You promised, last night, that you would grant me any one wish.” Saeri pulled out a piece of paper from her breast pocket. Yohan groaned inwardly. They had spent the night together yesterday. He couldn’t endure Saeri’s pestering and eventually signed a wish card.
“Don’t pretend you don’t remember and don’t you dare blame it on the alcohol. You signed this yourself.”
‘Damn it, what the hell are you doing? Now is not the time for jokes.’ Yohan started cursing in his head.
The other recon team members watched the scene unfold with conflicted expressions on their faces. This was new to them. They had reacted similarly to Saeri, thinking that Yohan was being too harsh on the little girl. Yohan knew that it was the first time that they were on the other side of a classic underdog moment. They lacked his experience and didn’t know that a middle school kid was old enough to kill people.
“Stop joking around…”
“Are you going to break your promise? Things are going to be difficult for you if you don’t keep your promise…”
“Leave this one to me. I beg of you.”
“Disarm her first. I won’t compromise on this.”
“Um, I think it’s better if we put our guns down first. I don’t think that kid has any intentions of shooting us,” Ha Jin interjected. He was probably the most uncomfortable with the current situation.
“You heard him. Let’s put our guns down.”
“Hah…” Yohan let out a long sigh. Everyone was already complying so he put his gun down as well. Even if someone got hurt now, it was out of his control.
‘I have no choice. Hopefully it won’t be a costly lesson if things go wrong…’
Seeing Yohan lay down his weapon, the other recon team member’s faces instantly brightened. They all started talking at the same time.
“Well, as the old saying goes, hell hath no fury like a woman spurned. You made the right decision, boss man.”
“That’s awesome. The man might be the head, but the woman is the neck that can turn the head.”
“Mommy and daddy were fighting. They had to be careful so that the kids wouldn’t hear them.”
Even though Saeri didn’t say anything explicit, it was clear that her relationship with Yohan had changed recently. The tense mood in the room lightened up as the recon team members joked around. Meanwhile, Yohan could feel his insides boiling.
“Hey kid, can you lower your weapon? We’re not trying to hurt you. Let’s talk,” Saeri said gently, almost desperately. Hearing the tone of her voice, the little girl hesitated and then lowered her bow. Still, her reply was uncooperative.
“Just leave, please. I’m not as weak and young as you think I am.”
“Are you by yourself?”
The girl nodded.
“Don’t be like this and come with me. This place is dangerous.”
“And you guys aren’t dangerous?”
“…I’m sorry for scaring you before, but you pointed your weapon at us first. We have to take care of our own safety too.”
“Well, thanks for looking out for me, but mind your own business. Stop bothering me and get out,” The girl said, firmly. Saeri was at a loss for words.
“That kid has your personality,” Sweeper whispered to Yohan, with a laugh.
Saeri continued to do her best to convince the girl to join them. It took a while and the recon team members started shuffling their feet, wondering why Saeir was putting in so much effort. However, it seemed to be working as the girl started to open up more and more. Soon, it seemed like the two females had become close.
However, it wasn’t enough. Yohan glanced at his watch anxiously. The conversation had gone long. There could be other survivors nearby. They couldn’t afford to waste any more time.
“Huh?” Saeri was surprised as Yohan pulled her up to her feet and started dragging her away from the girl.
“I get where you’re coming from. I won’t hurt the girl. Let’s rearm ourselves and get going. You guys too. There’s no need to take someone along if they don’t want to come with us.”
“She was almost convinced, Yohan. Hey, say something. Despite being so young, she’s really talented. I think it would be good to have her in our group, especially with some training. Didn’t you want to gather more talented people?”
Yohan had no response to that. What Saeri said was true.
“I told you, I’m not a little kid.” The girl spoke up. However, her soft voice couldn’t be heard over the loud conversation between Sweeper and Jung Hwan.
“Hey Sweeper, I don’t get it. If you’re going to be fighting anyways, wouldn’t a gun be better? Even a crossbow would be better than a bow and arrow.”
“Archery is totally different.”
“It’s really useful in a big zombie fight. First, there’s no sound when it shoots. Even a crossbow still makes some noise when it fires and guns are still loud even with silencers. Think before you speak, new dick Jung Hwan.”
“What? I know you didn’t do anything perverted with Ah Young yet…”
It was true. A crossbow was much quieter than a gun, but its mechanisms still made noise. If a bow and arrow was as quiet as breathing, shooting a crossbow was like dropping your phone on the floor.
“Similarly, a bow and arrow is useful against other people because you quietly take them down. It’s also faster than the crossbow at shooting multiple times.”
“Well, that aside…” Saeri cut into the conversation, holding up the bow. She had taken it when the girl wasn’t looking.
“I think you need to grow up a bit more before using this scary weapon, kid.”
“I’m not a kid!” The girl yelled. She told them that her name was So Hee and that she was 19. The recon team members thought that she was just being stubborn, but then she pulled out her ID card to prove it to them.
[Birth Year 1998 — Choi So Hee]
“Is this real?”
“1998? Is this your big sister’s ID card?”
“I told you it’s not! Stupid!”
They felt that her insults were uncalled for. Just based on her looks, anyone would have thought that she was no younger and no older than a middle school student.
“Whoa, she’s totally legal—” Sweeper’s remark was cut off by Ha Jin’s hand on his mouth. Sweeper looked at him, puzzled.
“There are some things that a decent person should never say,” Ha Jin remarked.
Yohan clapped his hands loudly one time and everyone turned to look at him. His patience had worn thin.
“Stop. Time out. We’ll leave after we take out the zombies that we lured here, so don’t worry. However, if you shoot us in the back, you’ll have to take responsibility for your actions as an adult.” Yohan said to So Hee, practically growling. “We went easy on you because you looked like a kid, so consider yourself lucky. Okay everyone, finish up. We’re heading back.”
“That’s an order. I won’t say it twice,” Yohan said flatly. His words made everyone shudder. The only time Yohan enforced an order was when the situation was urgent. Otherwise, he would never mention it.
‘They put their guards down. We have to take care of this situation first.’
“Saeri, I think we have to give up on her.” Ha Jin remarked. Saeri’s shoulders dropped.
All the recon team members immediately turned their backs on So Hee. The girl was shocked at the sudden attitude change. Suddenly, she thought that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to join this group.
Yohan looked back with a blank expression on his face.
“I…I need to think about it a bit more.”
“What are you talking about? The offer’s off the table already.”
“What? You said it yourself. You’re an adult. You can take care of yourself. Oh, by the way, we noticed that there are some other people poking around the area. Be careful, I don’t know if they’re as nice as us.”
So Hee’s eyes widened.
“Good luck surviving by yourself. We don’t force people to come with us if they don’t want to. It’s not like we’re desperate for more people. I do think your skills were pretty and, for a middle school student, there’s opportunity for growth. However, with your actual age, there probably isn’t much room to improve your skills. You probably won’t grow and you’re not charming at all. Be thankful that we’re letting you live because of your child-like looks.” Yohan was beyond blunt. He was cold as ice. The other recon team members couldn’t believe how merciless he was, but Yohan ignored their chattering.
— Ω —