“It’s an extremely dangerous system.”
“Is that so?”
“Given our current circumstances, it would be hard to gather evidence and witnesses. If we don’t provide proof before doling out punishment, people might feel victimized.”
“You’re right.” Yohan nodded. It was a reasonable concern. “But Elder Park, do you know why an autocracy is so frighteningly effective?”
Elder Park did not answer. Yohan felt a bit uncomfortable lecturing someone that was much older than himself, but he the senior when it came to surviving in the apocalypse.
“It’s because one person has absolute control. All my decisions will result in one of three possibilities: forgiveness, execution, or expulsion. Oh, and when I say forgiveness, I don’t mean forgiving someone’s actions. That’s up to the victim to decide. I’m talking about pardoning someone for breaking the rules of our camp.”
In the apocalypse, an expulsion was the same as a death sentence. It wasn’t an immediate execution, but anyone abandoned by their group would find that they were more likely to squeeze a camel through the eye of a needle than survive. Yohan looked around to see if there were any more questions. No one said anything but, after a moment, Seo Jun raised his hand.
“If acts of violence are only prohibited against fellow survivors… are you saying that acts of violence are allowed when directed at someone outside of our group?”
“Any acts of violence towards people who are not a part of our camp will be considered self-defense.”
“I like to nip problems in the bud before they come back to haunt us.”
“So you’re saying it’s okay to beat a child, murder the elderly, and rape women, as long as they’re not a part of our camp? Are you trying to turn us into a gang or something?” Seo Jun asked pointedly, his words as sharp as a knife. There was clearly aggression in his tone, which made everyone else silent. They looked over to Yohan, but he seemed unaffected. It was as if they were looking at an android, which disturbed them.
“The wording of this rule may cause trouble for us in the future, but we can’t help it. I have killed people before and I’ll probably kill a lot more in the future. This is who I am, so what right do I have to stop others from doing the same? We can’t say yes to murder and no to violent acts. It would be a double standard.”
“We can either try to talk it out or, if we meet malicious people outside our camp, can’t we just scare them away?”
“A friend of mine was trying to help a group of kids and was killed by those kids. They were only 11 years old. Thinking that we can immediately tell if people are malicious or not is naive and dangerous,” Yohan firmly shook his head.
“However, there are some things I deem unnecessary because they do more harm than good. For example, people beating on the elderly or raping women in order to fulfill their desires. Even if they were outsiders that wronged us, I wouldn’t abuse them and would just kill them quietly. I think that would help us avoid any future problems. I can’t tell you if that’s better or worse, that’s something you guys will have to decide for yourselves.”
Yohan elaborated further, mentioning that he didn’t want to waste time on people that didn’t have common sense. Not punishing a behavior was different than condoning it. It was just hypocritical of Yohan, who didn’t have exactly the greatest moral code, to confront such people.
“Then the three men and Saeri…”
“Saeri’s actions were in self-defense. However, the three men should be punished.”
“Elder Park, how are the three doing?”
“The one that was injured is currently receiving medical help, not that there’s anything left to treat… but anyways, it seemed like they should be isolated, so that’s what we did.”
If the injury was deep, then it was possible that the eunuch would turn into a zombie. If that happened in that small room, it was pretty obvious what would happen to the other two men.
“Let’s banish them from the camp. That is, if they’re still alive.” These were cowards that had never fought zombies before. On top of that, one of them was injured. Banishment was no different than a death sentence for them. Seo Jun voiced his disapproval of the decision, saying it was cruel, but Yohan was firm.
“I’ve already said this a few times before. If there’s something that could cause trouble for us in the future, it’s better to deal with them now. Those three also tried to break into the storage room earlier when we were fighting zombies.”
“How do you know that?”
“I heard it from Hyuk.”
Jung Hwan and Byung Jin frowned. This was new information for them. While they were out there fighting and risking their lives, those three were trying to steal food. Their impressions of the three men were getting worse by the minute.
“If you guys are done, I also have something to say. We have to split up the camp. It’s dangerous to have so many people in one camp.”
“A zombie wave is coming. I’m sure some of you have heard about this.”
Only Jung Hwan nodded his head, so Yohan explained again about zombie waves. As the group listened, their expressions turned to that of fear and concern.
‘If a lot of people stay in one place for a long time, then a zombie wave will come.’
A zombie wave starts when a group of zombies begin to howl. Thousands of zombies will howl at the same time and the streets will be filled with their hideous screeching. Once this happens, the zombies will target an area and they will become different from ordinary zombies. Their movements will be a bit faster—if an ordinary zombie’s speed is a slow walk, then a zombie wave’s speed is like a jog.
The zombies in a wave had an appetite for flesh that was more ravenous than normal. This determination was extremely deadly. It meant that the zombies wouldn’t just wave their hands around if something blocks their way. No, they would even step and climb over other zombies in order to chase down their prey. They would break through eventually, no matter how big and strong the obstacle.
There were two ways to end a zombie wave. Either all the people in the area disappear, or the mutant zombie that initiated the zombie wave is eliminated.
“Mu—mutant zombie?” Seo Jun asked. Yohan gulped involuntarily, the memories of mutant zombies made his knees weak, even now. Up until now, all the fights were cakewalk for Yohan. In order to guarantee survival, he took many precautions. However, when compared to the battles he experienced in the previous timeline, the fights so far felt like child’s play.
Yohan recalled the third golden rule that he came up with during the zombie apocalypse. Third rule: If you see a red-skinned zombie, immediately run as fast as you can or, if possible, kill it immediately.
The red-skinned zombies, or mutant zombies, were very rare. Yohan referred to them as mutant zombies and advanced zombies interchangeably. Dealing with them was different than dealing with ordinary zombies. Although they were rare, the consequences of their presence was shocking.
At Yohan’s sixth camp in the previous timeline, there was a mutant zombie that was three meters tall. The image of it smashing down an iron door and opening the floodgates for the zombie wave to wipe out almost 1,000 soldiers was still fresh in his head. The soldiers looked like toys in front of the mutant zombie.
The 974 Amphibious Vehicle Platoon. Its soldiers were strong and the commander was wise. Out of all the remaining military bases, it handled the apocalypse the best. However, four days was all it took to bring the base down. Mutant zombies either had some intelligence, or were fast and strong. There was always some new variation. There were probably types that Yohan hadn’t encountered yet. Their arrival was always met with great fear and consequence.
Mutant zombies weren’t like necromancers or some other mythical being. They didn’t conquer humans using some devious plan. However, they could have trace amounts of intelligence. Yohan had seen mutant zombies howl at a certain area where there were a lot of survivors and zombies would move in that direction. That was how zombie waves came to be.
“That’s not possible…”
“It is possible. I didn’t believe it myself until I saw it with my own eyes.”
Elder Park sighed. The ideas and concepts from science that he knew and studied for years were being thrown out the window. Then again, probably half of scientific knowledge became meaningless once the apocalypse started.
“The good thing is that it’s rare. We still have time to prepare. First, we need to split up the camp like I said earlier.” Yohan’s first golden rule was to maintain a camp with less than 20 people in it. This was because mutant zombies targeted areas with more survivors first. The other group members nodded their heads.
“This is also why I’ve been thinking about going outside for a bit. I’ll check out the area around the mall, see if there are any survivors at the general hospital nearby, and check to see if there are any places where we can start a second camp. While I’m gone, the person that will be in charge is…”
Everyone looked at him nervously. Even though it was a small group, having absolute power was a sweet fruit and they couldn’t mask their anticipation.
“Jung Hwan.” Yohan announced the name that he had decided on earlier. He had mixed feelings about the decision still. Jung Hwan was obviously the best choice remaining. His growth wasn’t fast, but he was steadfast and often did the tasks that other people didn’t want to do. He participated in the majority of the fights. He wasn’t too soft, but he also wasn’t totally heartless. It also helped that he followed Yohan as if he were his older brother. Yohan definitely favored those that followed him. Additionally, Jung Hwan managed to get on Yohan’s good side with his quiet personality.
Yohan wrapped up the meeting so quickly that no one had the chance to offer a rebuttal. Yohan took Jung Hwan with him and they walked towards the room where the three men were being kept. No one was guarding the room, but the door was locked from the outside with a chain and padlock. As he turned the handle, Yohan heard noise inside. He stepped back a step and pulled out his knife.
“Jung Hwan, open the door.”
Jung Hwan unlocked the padlock with a key. The door creaked open and three zombies charged at Yohan. Yohan kicked the first zombie that approached him and stabbed the second one in the temple. The zombie waved its arms around, trying to grab him, but he ducked and avoided it. The zombie’s arms groped at the air instead.
From his lowered position, Yohan leveraged his arm between the zombie’s legs and tossed it to the ground. The first zombie that was kicked away came back and ended up getting stabbed in the eye. Meanwhile, Jung Hwan took care of the third zombie.
Yohan was relieved. If they weren’t infected, Yohan was going to take care of them himself. The banishment was just for show. Yohan was planning to hunt them down after they left and murder them. People that were kicked out of a camp usually came back with a vengeance. He wanted to avoid future headaches. He reminded himself of this several times. It was better that he didn’t have to deal with them anymore.
Jung Hwan quietly removed the three corpses from the room. Up until now, they were fellow camp members. However, they became zombies and the two of them killed them without any hesitation. Jung Hwan could feel his heart freezing.
“You’ve been in the military, right?”
“I produced and developed materials for the military.”
“I mean, you’ve done your military service. You received basic military training, right?” Yohan clarified.
‘Well, it’s not like the military teaches people how to use a pistol.’ Yohan pushed away his doubts and handed Jung Hwan the .36 caliber revolver, fully loaded with six bullets.
“Don’t ask and just take it. Oh, the gun isn’t meant for zombies.”
“What’s it meant for then?”
“It’s meant for human use,” Yohan said cryptically. Jung Hwan accepted the firearm, stood staring at it for a while, and then placed it inside his pants.
“She was isolated in a different room.”
“Why are you isolating the victim?”
“Um… she made a big scene, saying that she wanted to castrate all three of them…”
“…” Yohan was at a loss for words for a moment. He then placed his hand on Jung Hwan’s shoulder and walked out. “Let’s go. We should visit Saeri.”
When they reached Saeri’s room, Yohan knocked on the door before opening it. Saeri was sitting on a chair but, when she saw Yohan, she jumped up and walked up to him.
“Saeri,” Yohan said her name gently. Saeri quietly mumbled a response.
“I did what I had to do.”
— Ω —
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