“I know. We ruled it self-defense and we’re letting you go.”
“What about Ji Hye? And those guys?” Saeri asked, while looking around.
“Ji Hye is recovering and those guys are dead.”
“One of them turned into a zombie. Do you remember the second golden rule that I taught you?”
“If you don’t disinfect and bandage your wounds, you’ll get infected.”
“Correct. One person got infected and turned and then the other two that were trapped in the room with him got infected too. That’s how they died,” Yohan watched as Saeri’s face turned pale. “How does it feel to kill a human being for the first time?”
“I didn’t kill him.”
“Not directly, but you can’t deny that he became a zombie because you stabbed him in the groin.”
“You still think you did the right thing?”
Saeri didn’t respond immediately, but eventually nodded.
“That’s right. You were right.” Yohan patted her on the head and then began explaining his new plan, since Saeri wasn’t present during the meeting due to her isolation. Naturally, Saeri made a big fuss about going along with him.
“Me too, I’ll go too!”
“I told you, I need to save my sister!”
“That’s a reason for why you shouldn’t go. You’ll be a distraction.”
Saeri huffed and stared at Yohan as if she was going to tackle him at any moment.
“I’ll go too, Yohan,” Jung Hwan spoke up, making things even worse.
“Did you not hear what I just said? You need to be the leader while I’m gone.”
“Yeah, Jung Hwan Kim! You stay out of it. Go work, I’ll go with Yohan.”
“Both of you shut up. You’re too loud,” Yohan’s stern voice made the pair close their mouths. Yohan reiterated his decision firmly, “I’m going by myself.”
* * *
Yohan quickly exited the camp. While the zombies were being distracted by the parking lot entrance, Yohan went out the alternate side door exit. The warm breeze brushed his cheeks as he ran quickly to his destination.
He ran back to the Kkachiul Complex and got onto the roof of a nearby building. From there, he used the zipline to get back into his first shelter. There were still zombies lingering around. Yohan assumed that some wannabe looters got caught in his traps and became zombies as a result. These people were simply unlucky for targeting a place that was prepared. Yohan honestly felt bad for the victims of his traps. He had put up a sign at the entrance of the complex that said “Danger Zone”, but it probably wasn’t enough.
He reacclimated himself with his shelter, soaked his body in some warm water, ate a nutritious meal, and relieved some stress by playing video games. He could feel all of the built up tension in his mind and body wash away.
He took the whole day off and did not worry about anything, focusing only on rest and relaxation. As his stress decreased, the knots in his muscles loosened up as well. When he woke up the next day, his whole body felt refreshed.
Yohan started preparing for his next outing. He put the revolver that was on his waist in the gun locker and took out a Glock and a silencer. He put them in his pocket and then put a jacket on over it.
He had resolutely taken the revolver with him on his first outing because it was easy to carry. It was also the easiest gun to find ammo for, from places such as the police station. Now, however, there was a good chance that there was going to be a big fight. He needed a silenced weapon that used easy-to-reload magazines. He obtained the Glock three months ago from a battle with some gunmen. It was an indispensable weapon.
Yohan added two magazines to the pocket that held the silencer and put on a utility belt to use instead of a backpack. He needed to keep his load as light as possible. He packed some beef jerky and binoculars. Finally, he slung his crossbow on his back.
Yohan headed back to the Bucheon City Hall district again. He walked for 30 minutes before he arrived at the H Mall. The main entrance was littered with zombies. Unlike his mall, the H Mall had several entrances. It was connected to the general shopping center next to it and that place had all sorts of entrances. The main entrance doors were closed, but Yohan couldn’t tell if they were locked.
Without any hesitation, he headed for the parking lot. There were dozens of zombies there. They growled when they saw Yohan and approached him. Yohan pulled out his crossbow, shot the three zombies nearest to him, and then ran to the emergency exit as fast as he could. The zombies couldn’t catch up to him. Slowly, he opened the emergency exit door.
“Oh, who…” There was a guard. He noticed Yohan but, before he knew what was happening, Yohan was behind him. Once he came to his senses, he tried to scream and reach for his weapon, but Yohan already had wrapped his arm around his neck.
A loud cracking sound filled the hallway. The guard frothed at the mouth and fell to the floor as Yohan released him. Yohan quickly ran up the stairs to the top floor. Unlike his mall, the center court was wide open. Yohan could see people on the floors below him. He watched them using his binoculars.
The first floor was still filled with zombies and, just like his mall, there were people in the basement floors where the supplies were. As Yohan surveyed the scene, he felt a sense of deja vu. However, their actions and movements were strange. It was as if…
‘Are they high?’
Most of the people looked lethargic and their eyes were red and hooded. Yohan frowned. In the previous timeline, he had run into a group that was addicted to drugs. This group reminded him of them.
‘Society did crumble, but how did they get their hands on such a large amount of drugs? To get to this point, someone must be enabling them.’
Just then, Yohan noticed a group moving up from the basement floors and walking across to the general shopping center through the sky bridge on the second floor. Yohan followed them, but made sure to keep his distance. He was careful to be stealthy. While he was confident that he would be able to escape if he got caught, there was no reason not to be careful anyways.
There were piles of corpses all over the general shopping center. Yohan wasn’t sure when they started to rot, but the entire place reeked.
‘Diseases are going to spread once summer gets here.’
It was basic common sense. If dead bodies are not dealt with, disease will flourish. This group seemed capable of hunting zombies, but, as could be seen here, lacked an understanding of cleanliness.
Yohan tried to keep tailing the group from afar, but ran into a dead end. He looked around, but the path forward was getting narrower. He didn’t want to charge in, so it was dangerous to advance from this point on. After contemplating it for a moment, Yohan removed the vent grate on the ceiling. It wasn’t difficult to locate the gangsters. The shopping center was quiet and the ventilation systems had long been out of operation. Yohan crawled through the maze-like vents and, by following different voices, reached a room that seemed to be the shopping center’s office.
There were about 10 people in the office. A young, sharp-looking man sat pretentiously at the head of the table. Yohan could immediately tell that he was the leader. In front of him was a woman on her knees, her face covered in tears. In one of the corners of the room was a large, muscular man, tied up and covered in blood. Moments later, there was a knock on the door.
“Come in,” the man at the head of the table spoke with a low, deep voice. “Is something wrong?”
The group that entered looked strong, but Yohan was focused on the restrained man in the corner.
‘Seems like he got beat up pretty bad.’
Even after entering the room, the group stood in a row near the door. This was because the man, who definitely seemed like the leader now, had walked forward, towards the man tied up in the corner. He lifted the man’s chin with his index finger.
“See? If you weren’t so stubborn and just obeyed me, things would’ve been a lot better.”
The man spat at him. The leader wiped the spit off his face with his leather glove and then slapped the man.
“This is why martial artists are bothersome. They’re so stubborn. Hey you, report.”
“Yes, Director. Here’s the results of today’s hunt. We killed about 109 zombies. We lost two people in the process.”
“It’s hard to remember their names. They were some new members that joined recently…”
“Bunch of trash. Whatever, just keep sending them out. Weak bastards don’t deserve to live. It would be great if a useful guy like him would change his mind, right?” The director looked at the martial artist.
“Yes, of course sir.”
“If you wanted, I would even let you have all the women,” the director shrugged, “Even the drugs. Oh, maybe you wouldn’t want drugs since all your friends died from overdose.”
The martial artist growled and struggled against his bindings. The men rushed to hold him down, but he was so strong that all of them fell over. The director clicked his tongue and kicked the man in the stomach. The martial artist’s head hit the floor and he laid there, gasping.
“Take this girl away. Bring Sae Young.”
“There isn’t a bitch as delicious as Sae Young, am I right?”
“Um, excuse me, Director.”
“Hm? What is it?”
“It’s Sae Young. She said she’s not feeling well.”
“Haha, really? No choice then.” The director immediately punched the man he was speaking with across the chin. While he was reeling from the blow, the director grabbed the ashtray next to him and bash him over the head with it. He then stomped and kicked the man repeatedly in the head and stomach.
“Did you think I was just going to leave it at that?”
“What? You piece of shit.” The director grabbed a golf club. Everyone watched him in shock, unable to stop him. The director twirled the golf club a couple of times and then hit the man with all the force he could muster. The man’s body shuddered violently and then went still.
“Clean it up,” ordered the director, waving his hand in the air. His men moved in quickly.
“Throw him away. Bring Sae Young Yun on your way back.”
“Oh right,” the director walked back towards his chair, but spun around again, causing his men to flinch. “When will the meat shield be ready?”
“W—we are going to need more time. There aren’t a lot of decent ones in the trash…”
“Keep sending them outside. Until they are useful. Once the shield is complete, we need to visit the mall and the S Zone across the street and get our payment. It’s been a while since we’ve visited them, right?”
“Let’s take more people this time and bring them all back. This process is getting pretty old.”
Yohan clicked his tongue. These people were pieces of shit and he didn’t want to associate with them. The gangsters were taking advantage of the apocalypse to distribute drugs, kidnap people, and perform random acts of violence. He could already guess how the kidnapped people were being treated without seeing them. He wouldn’t want to join these bastards even if they offered it. It wouldn’t be easy to break apart a well-organized group or force a change in leadership.
Yohan already knew that if they didn’t do anything and tried to talk things out, there would be conflict between the two camps. He had to get rid of them. Yohan started formulating a plan in his head. Even though it was going to be a big fight, it was less dangerous for him to do it by himself. Yohan was confident in this fact. The unskilled members of his camp would only get in the way.
Yohan carefully scooted backward in the vents, making sure to memorize every face in the group. Yohan only saw one gun, which was the pistol possessed by the director. Since it seemed like they had access to guns, he had to assume that other gangsters might have guns as well.
After leaving the office area, Yohan slowly explored the rest of the mall. He wanted to see how much fighting power they had—how many people were in the camp and how much supplies they had. As the camp was fairly large, there were a lot of people. Thus, they also had a lot of supplies. However, it seemed like the abundant supplies weren’t being distributed evenly, as many people looked like they were sick and starving.
It was a tragic scene that reflected how wicked the camp’s management system was. It was also a reflection of how corrupt a human could be.
In order to leave the camp, Yohan had to go to the third floor. Just then, he was distracted by a disturbance on the basement floor. It was the sound of a woman screaming.
Then, Yohan heard someone speaking to him.
“Hey man, do you have some business in this camp?”
— Ω —
Enjoy the novel? Consider becoming a patron to read ahead while supporting both the author and us!