“Saeri, Min Seo, Elder Park. Please watch the doors. If you think the zombies are going to break through the glass and get in here, go out and fight them. Byung Jin, Jung Hwan. Hold Gunn.”
“Bite down on the cloth. I can’t guarantee that you’ll survive this, but it’s better than simply letting you die to the virus.” Yohan unsheathed his kukri from his thigh straps. It wasn’t the best tool to use to cut through bone. A regular steel knife or butcher’s knife would have been ideal. However, he had no choice right now.
This was the only clean knife he had. All of his other blades were stained with zombie blood. Yohan took out a lighter and used the flame to disinfect the knife. As he worked busily, he could see his hands shaking. He was in a race against the clock.
“Hyuk, stop crying. Go to the corner and shove your fist in your mouth or something. You’re just in the way right now.” Yohan tried to ignore Hyuk’s agonizing screams of despair, but it was very annoying.
Yohan tied a rope tight around Gunn’s bicep and then inspected the arm. He had a hard time figuring out where to cut since he didn’t know how far the virus had spread already. He wanted to cut off the entire arm just to be safe, but in order to prevent rapid blood loss, he had to at least keep the elbow. Ultimately, Yohan decided to cut about half a handspan below the elbow.
‘You idiot. I came here because of you. What am I going to do if you die now? How could you let your guard down like this? Don’t you die on me. If you do, I’ll ditch your brother and the others.’ Yohan’s pragmatic thoughts helped to calm his racing heart.
He clenched and unclenched his fist several times to further ease the nervousness he felt. He had done this several times, but it never got easier. Yohan wished they had some anesthetic right now.
‘Don’t go easy on him. It might cause more harm in the long run.’ Yohan reminded himself. He had to cut everything, including the bone, in one chop. If he needed a second swing, Gunn could die of shock and the virus wouldn’t even matter.
Yohan raised his hand in the air. The two volunteers holding down Gunn closed their eyes. With a loud crack, the shiny reflective blade flashed through the air as he brought his hand back down. The kukri passed through Gunn’s arm and hit the ground on the other side.
“Mmmmm!” Gunn’s body twitched violently as he let out a muffled scream. Fresh crimson blood splattered on Yohan’s face. He marvelled at his own ability. The amputation was clean.
Everyone watched on with a mixture of shock and fear. Hyuk’s expression convulsed in pain, as if it was his arm that had just been chopped off. A shocked silence lingered in the air. Gunn had fainted. Yohan quickly wrapped the amputated limb with some fabric and held the wound above Gunn’s heart.
“With this…will he live?” Jung Hwan asked.
“If he’s lucky.” Yohan replied quietly. Jung Hwan and Byung Jin looked as if they were on the verge of tears.
“He might die if the virus already spread past the arm. Even if that didn’t happen, he could die from the shock of the amputation. And if he survives the shock, he could die from excessive blood loss. Nine times out of ten, he’ll die.”
Silence loomed once more. Nine out of ten. The odds weren’t in his favor.
However, the biggest issue wasn’t shock, blood loss, or your run-of-the-mill infection. Many survivors believed that, as long as they didn’t get scratched or bitten by a zombie, they wouldn’t become zombies. However, this was wrong. If biting or scratching was required to spread the disease, then where did the first infected come from? Yohan was convinced that there was a more insidious way that one could become infected. This was why, in order to increase his chances of survival, he came up with a second golden rule.
The second golden rule for survival: Always disinfect and bandage injuries.
The zombie virus was airborne and could enter the body through open wounds. Even if someone was not bitten or scratched by a zombie, if they had an open wound exposed for a long time, there was a danger that they could contract the virus through ‘Atmospheric Exposure Infection.’ This terrifying fact meant that the likelihood of becoming infected increased just by having an injury. Even the smallest cut could be a threat if left untreated. Whenever Yohan encountered an injury, he would disinfect it with alcohol and bandage it.
Of course, there were people that managed to survive despite sporting big, infection-risky injuries. Some people might just hope for the best, but there had been cases where entire camps would disband or even tear itself apart due to this hope. Wishfully thinking like that could lead to a person turning undead and attacking their friends or family. At the same time, people might get overzealous and end up slaughtering someone just because they had a serious injury.
It was hard to pinpoint the exact chances of getting an Atmospheric Exposure Infection. If Yohan had to guess, he would probably say 1 in 10. If ten people had non-zombie related injuries, one of them would get infected through that injury and become a zombie.
That 10% risk was enough to sow uncertainty and anxiety. This was the real reason why fighting with other humans was dangerous. Major fights would no doubt lead to injuries for everyone involved. If the fighting went on for a long time, both sides would see more members become infected. It was a war with no winner. Yohan glanced over at Gunn.
‘If you die here, then it’s simply your destiny. Or, perhaps, your fate was exchanged with Hyuk’s when I saved him.’
“Yohan… it won’t stop bleeding. Should we cauterize it with fire?”
“Do you really want to kill him? Apply pressure on it and, when he wakes up, feed him this.” Yohan handed over some antibiotics.
“How many do I give him?”
“I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. Feed it to him until he throws up. Elder Park, are there any doctors or nurses among the survivors?
“Not that I know of.”
“Is there a first aid room?”
“It’s by the Customer Service Station.” Saeri interjected, as Elder Park was still thinking.
“Good. Let’s go. Hyuk, carry your brother on your back.” They had to do a blood transfusion and further disinfect the wound. Acquiring blood coagulant was vitally important right now.
“We’ll go back down to the camp first. Min Seo, keep applying pressure on Gunn’s arm. I’ll lead. Hyuk and Min Seo stay close behind me. Saeri take the right and Elder Park take the left. Jung Hwan and Byung Jin watch our backs. Don’t fall behind.”
“Understood.” The group replied meekly.
Yohan quietly opened the door and took down a nearby zombie without blinking twice. Hyuk and the rest followed closely behind. After experiencing the hell that was the entrance sealing mission, the journey back was relatively lowkey. The decreased number of zombies definitely helped.
Before long, the group reached the emergency exit door leading to the camp. Yohan turned the door handle and heard a click, but the door didn’t open. It was locked.
“What?” Hyuk looked bewildered.
Yohan knocked on the door, but nothing could be heard on the other side. Did a zombie appear in the camp? Yohan placed his ear on the door and heard some muffled voices.
“Someone locked the door from the inside,” he said.
“What? Those crazy bastards! Open the door!” Hyuk screamed, his voice filled with rage. “What do you think you’re doing!? Open the door you bastards!”
“Calm down, you’re still carrying Gunn,” Yohan moved Hyuk aside. “Listen everyone, if you don’t open the door, we’ll break it down.”
“Are there any infected or zombies nearby?” After a moment, a man’s voice could be heard through the door.
“Hurry up and open the door!” Hyuk demanded.
“There are no zombies around. Please open the door.” Yohan was being polite but the door still didn’t open. Yohan could feel his ire rising. They had to move quickly for Gunn’s sake.
“I’m going to count to three. If you don’t open the door, I’ll break it and then you’ll have to deal with the consequences afterwards. I won’t forgive this.”
“One.” After a pause, the door opened with a click. The man behind the door peered out at the group timidly. The other survivors at the camp looked aghast when they saw the volunteer’s condition. It was understandable, since the entire group were covered in blood. The stench of death was so strong that some people had to cover their noses.
Byung Jin was the last to enter. He slammed the door close loudly. Yohan looked at the man who opened the door. He was probably the same person who locked it in the first place. Hyuk glared at him as if he was going to attack the man at any moment, but Yohan raised a hand to stop him. Right now, giving first aid to Gunn was top priority. Hyuk spat on the floor and followed Saeri to the first aid room.
“Were you the one that locked the door?” Yohan asked. The man did not respond.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Yohan’s words seemed to have triggered Byung Jin. Min Seo’s husband leapt out in front and punched the man square in the face, causing him to fall.
“I—I had no choice.”
“If there were zombies behind us, we could have all died because of you!” Byung Jin shouted.
“Drop it. If that was the scenario, then locking us out was the correct procedure.”
“…What?” Byungjin frowned, surprised that Yohan agreed with the man.
“There isn’t anyone here that would be able to fight and zombies are swarming everywhere beyond this door. If an infected did get in here, the situation would have gotten out of control. Locking the door and checking to see if the coast was clear before opening it is a smart decision.” Yohan approached the man, who was massaging his bruise.
“Continue to guard the door from now on.” Yohan told him, loud enough for everyone to hear. He then knelt down next to the man, looked him straight in the eye, and grabbed his hair so that he could pull his head to the side and put his mouth close to his ear.
Yohan whispered, “Personally, I think you deserved to get punched. But for everyone else’s sake, your actions deserves some praise. What’s your name?”
“I’ll remember it. And you should remember for next time. If you hear my voice, open the door right away. If you delay like this again…” Yohan’s voice lowered into a growl, “I’ll tear you apart and feed you to the zombies.”
Yohan released Seo Jun’s hair. The man sunk down as if he had lost all the strength in his legs. Yohan turned and made his way to the first aid room.
Unfortunately, the room didn’t have any medical equipment. There was a basic first aid kit, like the kind you could buy at a convenience store. Thankfully, there was disinfecting alcohol. Yohan grabbed the bottle and was about to pour it over Gunn’s arm when Elder Park grabbed his hand to stop him.
The older man had rummaged through the cabinets and found some antiseptic cotton. He dabbed some alcohol on the cotton and used it to disinfect the amputation wound.
“I’ve learned many things in my years. Now, since Gunn still hasn’t woken up yet, I think we best force feed him some antibiotics. Can you open some capsules?”
“Okay, Elder Park.” Yohan poured out a handful of pills. Elder Park smirked.
“I think six is enough.”
Embarrassed, Yohan put some pills back into the container. He had survived through hell for three years, but first aid was always performed by a doctor in his group. Yohan only learned by watching from afar. He had accumulated some medical books in his home shelter, but they were useless to him.
They finished disinfecting Gunn’s arm. Yohan wished they had a blood coagulant and a transfusion pack, but they were unlikely to raid a hospital successfully with the people they had at the moment. For now, they had to leave it up to luck. Yohan took Gunn’s good arm and tied it to the bed frame with a cable tie.
“Don’t stay too close Elder Park.” Yohan cautioned, as he handed Hyuk a knife.
“If your brother turns into a zombie, you finish him.”
“Gunn would have wanted it that way.”
Hyuk didn’t reply, but Yohan stood up and left the room anyways. He had something else to do. He had to discipline those that were disobedient.
“Byung Jin, Jung Hwan. Follow me.” The pair followed Yohan’s orders obediently, they had become accustomed to following his commands without complaint. Yohan looked around for a secure room for his purposes and found a room that looked like a break room for female employees. There were already three women occupying the room, lying down in opposite corners. They frowned and complained as Yohan entered the room.
“What the heck—”
“I said get out.”
The three women frowned some more, but after eyeing the weapons strapped to Yohan’s waist, they left the room grumbling. Yohan searched the room and found the key to the room on top of a cabinet. With the key in his pocket, he had everything he needed for what he had in mind.
“Yohan?” Jung Hwan asked, watching him from behind.
“You two, start moving all the food and supplies in here.”
“What do you mean?”
“We’re going to control the supplies. No one touches anything without my permission.”
— Ω —
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