Yohan and Ha Jin tore through the wind on their motorcycles. Yohan felt a cold sensation on his back, making him uncomfortable. He could sense that they were being followed.
“Is it following us?” Ha Jin asked, seeing Yohan look back.
“I think so,” Yohan replied. Even though he couldn’t see it, he could feel its presence.
Yohan leaned to one side as he made a sudden sharp turn and sped up. He made his way to an open area where the mutant had nowhere to hide. Sure enough, they could soon see the grotesque figure of the Shark running after them on all fours. It looked like a leopard chasing down its prey as it went after them.
‘Its speed and endurance are ridiculous…’
The mutant was not only keeping up with the motorcycle, it was gaining on them. It was the best mutant Yohan had ever encountered, which made it the worst one to fight against. Yohan made zigzags with the motorcycle, as if he was putting on a performance. He led the mutant to the place he had in mind, an area right in front of the warship.
“Ha Jin, I leave it up to you.”
“Five minutes should be enough.”
“Enough to get killed?”
“If you die, I’ll bury you in a nice sunny spot where the skylarks chirp pretty songs all day.”
Yohan hit the brakes and slid the motorcycle sideways as it came to a stop. Ha Jin hopped off and Yohan revved up the bike again and took off to the warship. Ha Jin met the pursuing mutant head on. As the Shark got closer, Ha Jin could feel his whole body go numb, as if he was going into shock. He felt like he was about to face off against an apex predator and get mutilated. Ha Jin flicked out the hidden blade in his prosthetic arm and, with his good arm, grabbed the iron shield that was strapped to his back. He gripped the shield tightly. The wound on his side still throbbed, but it was a pain that he could ignore.
“Come at me.” Ha Jin shifted back slightly and braced for impact. He didn’t try to dodge out of the way. He could see the hulking figure of the Shark getting closer. 50 meters. 30 meters. 0 meters.
With a mighty crash, the Shark charged in with everything it had and ran into Ha Jin’s shield. It was a violent collision and Ha Jin felt the shock of the impact deep in his bones. His feet dug a straight line on the ground as he was pushed back, but he managed to endure the crash.
“You’ve lost some of your energy.”
The mutant was weaker than it was a few days ago. It was probably still recovering from the grenade it ate from their previous encounter. It might seem intelligent, but a zombie was still a zombie. It showed itself despite not operating at 100 percent. If it was actually smart, it would have waited until its stamina and body had fully recovered.
With a metallic clang, Ha Jin shield bashed the Shark in the head. It felt like he was striking a boulder and he could feel his hand go numb from the impact.
“Kyahhhh!” The mutant roared. True to its nature, it only cared about eating the human that was right in front of it. That desire was so strong that it occupied all of its attention.
‘Thanks.’ Ha Jin was grateful that it stuck to its basic instincts. It increased his chances of winning.
He shield bashed the mutant again, this time in the body. There was another loud clang and his hand went numb again as he struck as hard as he could, but the mutant didn’t budge at all. His attack was not very effective.
The mutant countered. Its claw snaked around again, this time the mutant wasn’t hiding its trick. Ha Jin rotated his shield horizontally to deflect the attack. He then dropped the shield and grabbed one of the Shark’s legs and began spinning it around.
“Kyahhhhh!” The mutant roared, displaying its displeasure as Ha Jin twirled it around.
“Haaaaa!” Ha Jin roared as well. It was as if the two combatants had made a bet on who could shout the loudest.
Yohan glanced at the rearview mirror as the roaring continued. He didn’t know why the two of them were shouting, but he was glad that Ha Jin was doing a good job at buying time.
‘What a monster,’ Yohan thought. He wasn’t thinking about the mutant.
According to Ha Jin, Yohan and Sweeper didn’t seem human. However, to Yohan, it was Ha Jin’s fighting ability that was superhuman. The mutant’s body was as hard as iron. He couldn’t begin to imagine how heavy it was. Yet, somehow, Ha Jin was able to lift it off its feet with one arm and throw it. What kind of skill, what kind of freakish strength did Ha Jin have? He was like one of those comic book characters who could do pushups from a handstand position and ate non-stop.
Yohan retrieved the Mistral supplies from the ship’s ammunition storage and began loading the heavy ammunition into the launcher. He removed the weather proof covering from the artillery and prepared it for action. He couldn’t help but feel anxious as the machine started up. Although it was a surface-to-air weapon, he had heard that ground-to-ground strikes were possible.
‘Will it work?’
Yohan had tortured enemies to learn how to use different kinds of weapons and war machines. He had killed them in order to avoid any possible future problems. He hoped that he wouldn’t start to regret these actions now. The Mistral was all they had, no one else could take advantage of the ship’s armaments.
The electronic targeting system beeped as it came to life. Various icons lit up and started flashing in front of Yohan. The gyroscope screeched menacingly as he rotated the launcher toward its target.
“Ha Jin! It’s ready!”
“Haaaaa!” Ha Jin barely managed to fend off another attack from the mutant as Yohan’s voice came over the walkie-talkie. He used the last of his strength to push the Shark back and toss a smoke grenade to the ground.
The smoke impeded the mutant’s sense of sight and smell. It roared in a frenzy as it swiped around blindly, trying to find him. Ha Jin deftly ran through the smoke and jumped out. He made his way to a SUV parked nearby. The mutant heard his movements and tried to give chase, but Ha Jin had already started the car and stomped on the accelerator. The car engine roared as the odometer on the dash jumped to the red. The SUV lurched forward and crashed head on with the mutant.
The Shark bounced off the front bumper, rolled over the windshield and roof of the vehicle, and fell in a heap behind it. It left a huge dent on the front bumper and hood of the SUV and the windshield looked like it was ready to shatter at any moment. The mutant rolled over on the ground and roared at the fleeing vehicle as it struggled to its feet.
‘He seems pissed.’ Ha Jin dug his foot down, putting the pedal to the metal as he sped the SUV as fast as possible along the coastline. The mutant chased after him.
While this was happening, Yohan aimed the Mistral’s infrared targeting system at the mutant.
“Please, please detect it.”
But the angle was too low. Yohan had already set the launch angle to its lowest possible setting and it still wasn’t enough. Meanwhile, Ha Jin was speeding toward a cliff. His driving was impressive, it was hard to believe that he was doing it with just one hand. The SUV launched into the air, hovered there for a moment, and then plunged into the ocean below.
‘Please jump. Jump!’
It was the scenario they were hoping for. If things didn’t go according to plan, then everything would be ruined. Thankfully, the mutant chased after the vehicle without hesitation. After all, the ocean was its domain. As the mutant leapt off the cliff, the targeting system flickered and lit up. As soon as it detected a target, Yohan slammed on the button and a huge explosion rocked the warship.
A guided missile fired from the Mistral, screeching through the air. It flew like a fighter jet, leaving a cloudy trail as it raced toward its target. It sailed right past the mutant and Yohan felt like everything slowed down to the point where each millisecond lasted many seconds. Suddenly, the missile made a sharp U-turn and dove down on top of the mutant Shark.
A second explosion rocked the warship. Yohan had to shut his eyes from the blinding light, but, when he opened them again, he could see there was a smokey cloud lingering above the surface of the waters. Bits and pieces of the mutant scattered through the air and sprinkled down over the ocean like cherry blossoms.
Yohan quickly got out of the Mistral and back on his motorcycle. He drove over the cliffs, where he saw Ha Jin, soaking wet and coughing out salty sea water. Yohan felt his knees give out as he collapsed to the ground, a feeling of relief washing over him.
* * *
The battle with the mutant Shark was over. It was a more gruesome fight than the one against David or the Seoul Survival Union. Yohan and Ha Jin watched the ocean carefully, making sure that the mutant wouldn’t regenerate from the tiny bits of flesh now scattered among the waves.
After confirming that it was indeed dead, they returned to the shelter and immediately held a funeral service for Jung Hwan and Ah Young in Sindo. Thus far, they had only paid service to the dead by offering a single glass of alcohol. However, this time, Yohan wanted to have a proper funeral for his close comrades.
Even though they had won, everyone was miserable. No one felt like talking. The camp members of Sindo were either crying or smoking a cigarette in silence, staring up at the sky and spacing out. There were no exceptions. After all, it was the death of a young female student and the man who had become the mental support of the camp. It broke the hearts of all the survivors.
People had come to depend on Jung Hwan more than they did on Sweeper, Yohan, or Ha Jin. Even though the trio were trustworthy allies, their supernatural strength and abilities made it difficult for people to approach them. Instead, people had leaned on Hyuk, Saeri, and Jung Hwan. In comparison, they seemed to be normal and relatable. They fought with everything they had, even though they were just ordinary people.
Jung Hwan had taken it upon himself to look after and take care of each and every camp member, more so than the other recon team members. Thus, there wasn’t a single person in Sindo who was unaffected by his demise. Jung Hwan had been the one that built the initial blockade at the mall escalators, saving the people there long before Yohan arrived. He had willingly sacrificed himself in the parking lot during the first zombie wave so that the younger survivors could retreat and close the door safely. He was in the front line at every battle and even killed a central member of the Seoul Survival Union. He had survived this far.
Yet, in the end, he was lured into eternal slumber on this island. Two new graves were made on Sindo as Jung Hwan and Ah Young’s bodies were buried next to each other. They found some white flower that no one was able to identify and placed it over the graves before pouring out a cup of alcohol.
They buried Jung Hwan and Ah Young with some items that they used often. Saeri and Ji Hye, who had been quite close to the couple, were crying non-stop in front of the graves. Hyuk was staring at the ground, looking miserable.
“Whew…” Yohan extinguished his cigarette.
“Will we be able to survive like this? How long?” Someone mumbled, admonishing themselves. However, Yohan didn’t seem to notice.
‘Do it properly, Jung Hwan.’
Yohan only realized now that the words he heard the most from Jung Hwan was ‘sorry’.
‘I just wanted to keep you safe. I was hard on you because I didn’t want you to die.’
Yohan didn’t cry. Too many people were already crying for Jung Hwan. Still, he felt a terrible pain pierce deep into his heart.
* * *
After a long moment, Yohan stood up and dusted himself off. People could curse at him and say that he was cold-hearted, but someone had to do it. One day was more than enough to mourn the dead. They still needed to keep on surviving.
There was still the aftermath of their battle. Zombies from the passenger ship could still float in despite the ship being sunk in the middle of the ocean. Lina’s dream had some zombies that were bloated with sea water, but still walking. The recon team could not afford to take a break.
They patrolled the shoreline and took care of any zombies that crawled out from the ocean. They collected all the bodies and burned them. By the time the sun rose the next morning, almost all the recon team members were exhausted and passed out on their beds. However, Saeri, Ji Hye, and Hyuk, were still at Jung Hwan’s grave.
“Go in and get some sleep. Please. Stop acting like children.” Yohan told them. It was a cold-hearted thing to say, but he was the type of person that could get away with it. One by one, the mourners stood up.
“…Wait.” Saeri stood unsteadily on her feet and walked over to Blackie, who was still sitting by the gravesite.
The dog had lost its family and was whining non-stop, almost as if it was admonishing itself for being unable to protect its owner.
“It’s not your fault.” Saeri comforted the dog, petting it gently on the back. However, Blackie continued to whimper.
“He’ll end up starving himself if no one looks after him. Does anyone want to take him?” Yohan asked. Everyone looked at one another for a moment before Saeri raised her hand.
“I’ll take care of him.”
Yohan frowned slightly.
“What’s with that expression? You don’t think I can take care of a dog?”
“I’ve told you before, right?”
“You’re really sharp sometimes.”
Saeri glared at Yohan, but was too exhausted to keep it up. She grabbed Blackie and tried to pull him away from the graves. The dog started whimpering louder and Saeri tossed her hands in the air, uncertain what to do. Yohan grabbed the dog by the scruff of its neck.
“You couldn’t even protect your owner. If you run away again, I’m going to put you in the warehouse, got it? Emergency food.”
Blackie continued to whimper, but it couldn’t escape from Yohan’s strong hands.
Yohan lifted the dog up and handed him to Saeri. Saeri hugged Blackie tightly.
“Make him a fighting dog, not a hunting dog. I don’t need a hunting dog that runs away during a fight.”
— Ω —