“It sounds like a hassle,” Sweeper remarked.
“It is a hassle. It’s such a hassle, so why did Gae Baek Jung go so far to do that?”
“Okay…and did you figure out why?”
“Maybe he got sick of it. Everyone constantly requesting or demanding something from him. He endured for as long as he could before he ended up making a ranking system. That way he would still have total control without needing to make every decision. The ranking system was a sort of top-down decision making system. Like the military,” Yohan explained. Sweeper gave him a sympathetic look.
“You’re tired. You take on everything yourself. I feel bad for relying on you to be the boss so much.”
Yohan didn’t want to think of himself as a villain. He knew more than anyone that everything he did was for the camp. However, as a result, he had to be more and more cold-hearted and determined.
“…We’re here. Let’s wrap it up.”
With a meaningful expression on his face, Yohan pulled out his pistol. However, Sweeper stopped him. He already had his glock out with a silencer attached.
“I feel bad that our leader always has to take everything upon himself. You see…this kind of dirty work is something that your right hand man should be doing.”
Yohan looked at Sweeper. Sweeper gave Yohan a bright smile and proceeded to shoot the sailors, who fell to the ground, eyes wide. Several more muffled gunshots echoed across the docks as the struggling sailors were exterminated. A few moments later, they had built a bonfire to take care of the corpses.
“It was nothing.”
Yohan knew that they had given the sailors an unjust death. Their officers were the ones at fault, but all the navy men paid the price for their trespassing. Still, Yohan didn’t feel any guilt. He knew that he was doing what he had to do to keep everyone safe. However, because of this, he could feel himself getting more cold-hearted and slowly turning into a monster himself.
‘Am I no different than Gae Baek Jung?’
It might be trivial in the grand scheme of things. Thus far, Yohan hadn’t bothered to think about what was good and what was evil. Rather, he simply identified people as either friend or foe and acted accordingly. However, if you were to ask someone if they were good or evil, they would probably say that Yohan’s actions were evil. The reactions of the three newcomers after the battle pierced deep into his heart.
* * *
14. Tangled Thread
While Yohan and Sweeper were traveling back to Sindo after completing their grim task, Lina was asleep and dreaming. She immediately realized that she was seeing a dream depicting a scene from the future. There was a familiar color and feeling associated with her prophetic dreams.
The blurry color cleared away as soon as Lina realized she was dreaming and the scene changed. However, it was strange. She didn’t see any people. As the scene changed rapidly before her, she couldn’t see any humans.
‘Oh!’ Lina gasped involuntarily. The scene revealed a mutant in front of a temple-like structure.
Its limbs were disjointed and it was hard to tell if it was sitting or standing. Its body was huge. If it was a human, it would easily set a world record and TV variety shows would have it as a special guest that week. Its body was large to the point where it seemed detrimental. The mutant stayed in one spot and didn’t move much.
‘If you happen to see another vision of the future, try your best to confirm two things: the location and time.’
Lina suddenly recalled Yohan’s words and did her best to examine the scene. The location was a temple by the ocean. She didn’t recognize the area, but could see that the temple looked like a boxy ‘C’ when viewed from above. There were Chinese characters written on a wooden sign. Lina did her best to memorize them.
It was difficult to pin down the time as well. It wasn’t spring, the flowers were only budding and not ready to bloom yet. There were no signs of snow, melted or otherwise, so it wasn’t winter either. Maybe it was fall? It could be in their near future.
“Blehhhhh!” A disgusting sound interrupted Lina’s train of thought. It sounded like a cow vomiting after chewing its cud, trying to move it between its four stomachs. The mutant stretched its neck and abdomen, the way a dog or cat would. It shuddered for a moment and then regurgitated something out of its mouth. It was round and covered with mucus.
It wasn’t really an egg, but something that looked a lot like one. It wasn’t solid, but rather a sticky mess that clung together in the shape of an egg. In the dark center of the mass, something was wriggling. It was a monster. A small baby monster.
Did the mutant just lay an egg from its mouth? Lina felt goosebumps all over her body. She never imagined that something could give birth in this fashion. The sticky mass quickly lost its egg-like shape as the monster within it stretched out its hands and feet, pressing out against the thin and sticky membrane. The huge mutant gritted its teeth and rose up. Lina didn’t think she would see anything stranger than a mutant giving birth to a monster, but what happened next did surprise her.
“Huh? What the hell is that!?” Someone had stumbled upon the mutant. Lina didn’t recognize him, it wasn’t someone from Yohan’s camp.
The person looked exhausted and disheveled. They were probably having a hard time surviving in the apocalypse. The stranger took a step away from the mutant and the newborn monster, but he suddenly fell down. Lina didn’t see the mutant do anything, but something did happen to the man. He stood back up immediately and Lina could see that his eyes had become red and his skin had become gray. The newly turned zombie looked around and locked eyes with Lina, looking as if it was glaring at her.
Lina gasped and woke up from her dream with a start. Her entire body was covered in goosebumps and cold sweat. The dream gave her chills. There was a bit of trauma every time she had visions of the future, but they weren’t as frightening or as horrible as this dream was.
‘I need to hurry and inform the others.’ A mutant that could create other mutants. Lina quickly kicked off her blanket and stood up.
“Huh? You’re up early, miss,” Verda remarked.
“I need to go see Mr. Yohan.”
“Hurry, hurry.” Lina urged on. Verda quickly realized what was happening and ran to the wellness center.
At Lina’s summoning, Yohan and the other recon team elites met in the situation room.
“You had another dream?”
“Yes…” Lina couldn’t hide her anxiousness. She tried her best to calm down and describe what she saw. As she went on, the recon team members began to look worried.
“A mutant that gives birth to more mutants…” Yohan mumbled, tapping his fingers on the table. Thanks to Lina, one of his big questions was answered. Mutant zombies. Up until now, he had guessed that zombies evolved into a mutant after eating something or that a person would transform into a mutant instead of a normal zombie after getting infected.
However, he had never seen a zombie in the middle of evolving into a mutant, so it was just a theory. Lina’s dream completely debunked his hypothesis. A mutant was fundamentally different from a zombie. He didn’t care if mutants came from outer space or if they were monsters that came from the abyss or fantasy novels. What was important was that humans couldn’t turn into mutants. Rather, mutants turned humans into normal zombies.
He still didn’t know where they came from or why mutants shared human-like qualities. All he knew was that they appeared everywhere around the world at the same time and started the apocalypse. A mutant gave birth to more mutants and, as those mutants wandered around, they turned humans into zombies.
“…An air borne infection.”
There was another important piece of information to be gleaned from Lina’s dream. The random man who encountered the mutant wasn’t injured, but he still became infected and turned into a zombie. This was different from what they had seen before. It was an airborne infection of the lungs just from being near the mutant.
“What the hell…”
“Does that mean that just encountering it would kill people?”
“Is it an anime monster or something? Who spits out eggs from their mouths?”
The recon team members started mumbling amongst themselves after hearing the shocking revelations. If what Lina was saying was true, then no one could fight these zombies unless they were immune like Yohan. The moment this mutant appeared, it would be a massacre. Unexpected scenarios were still coming up this far into the apocalypse.
“Um, Sister Lina.” Jae Ho spoke up after being quiet for a long time. “About this mutant…did its head kind of look like a snake?”
“Um…oh! Yes, it did.” Lina replied. Everyone looked at Jae Ho.
“Do you know something?” Yohan asked.
“I’m not certain, but I’ve been suspicious of something for a while. After hearing this information, I feel a bit more certain.”
“Tell me more.”
“You see…in the South American West Indies…in Haiti, there’s a religion called ‘Modou’.”
Jae Ho went on to explain that Modou was a spin off of Haitian Vodou. In Korea, people would probably consider Vodou to be blasphemous. There was animism, belief in the devil, fetishism, use of witchcraft, and black magic. However, the religion was just misaligned and unfairly associated with cults and black magic. It was more like a popular folk belief, like Taoism or Confucianism. Modou, on the other hand, heavily expanded on the occult part of Vodou and the monster in Lina’s dream was that religion’s only god. It was akin to the grim reaper.
“There isn’t much information about it because there hasn’t been many studies or research in it. The island where it originated from has cannibal tribes, so it’s on the list as one of the world’s most dangerous places. It has been off limits to civilians for several decades.”
“How do you know all of this?”
“25 years ago, a doctor visited the island and wrote a paper about it. There’s only one book about it left in the National Library of Korea. In 2011, I wrote an article about minor religions in the world and I remember reading about it in my research.”
Yohan felt a headache coming on. His thoughts and feelings were twisted like a tangled thread. All this information defied common sense and Yohan couldn’t accept it. He didn’t believe in superstition. Science was credible, not religion or the occult.
“I’ll keep this information in mind for now. Don’t worry about it too much. Let’s look at the facts. Since we don’t know the location, there’s no reason for us to be worried about the mutant. We should just focus on our own survival. The most important thing is to take care of the military bases on Yeongjong island.”
“Excuse me, Mr. Yohan. I have something to say about that.” Lina spoke up.
Ever since the navy invaded their island, the hottest topic within the camp had been around the nearby military bases. There were discussions on whether they should utilize their newly gained artillery units to attack preemptively. Ever since they got burned by the navy, who had evil intentions to take over the island, they couldn’t afford to sit still and ignore the military forces nearby.
There were equal numbers of pros and cons to the preemptive attack. Some people were of the opinion that they shouldn’t attack soldiers who were unrelated to the navy incident. Others were concerned that they weren’t entirely unrelated and, regardless, they were still a potential threat. The two sides were evenly split and Yohan had decided that it was best to just watch over the situation for now, but, if the time was right, they would get rid of them.
“I’ll be frank. Please cease your hostile actions toward humanity.”
“I know some people may think that I’m some sort of super villain that’s trying to exterminate mankind. Didn’t we already have a long discussion about this last week?”
“All of you are wrong. We shouldn’t be thinking about ambushing and killing people when we don’t know them. We don’t even know if they’re good or bad.”
“Look miss. We’re not asking you to come with us and kill them. Just don’t slow us down. If boss man says we need to kill them, then that’s what we’ll do.” Sweeper was obviously on Yohan’s side, but Yohan motioned to him to stop talking. He nodded at Lina.
“You were quiet when we were talking about this last week, so why are you bringing this up now?”
“It’s because of the dream that I had today. Our opponent isn’t mankind. Rather, all of humanity needs to unite against a common enemy. There is an unknown power that is trying to exterminate humans and my god is trying to guide me to prevent it. That’s why I think God chose us.”
Yohan frowned. It was the kind of superstitious answer that he didn’t like.
“Have you never felt this way before, Mr. Yohan? You never thought that maybe someone is deliberately trying to exterminate all of humanity?”
— Ω —