‘Shit.’ Yohan could feel the hairs on his skin standing on their ends as a shiver ran through his body.
He hadn’t felt this person’s presence at all. Yohan’s senses were more sensitive than those of a normal person. He was always watching his surroundings to ensure that no one would catch him unaware, no matter how carefully they moved.
Yohan grabbed his crossbow as he turned around and took aim at the person who spoke to him. At the same time, the speaker kicked at his hands. Pain coursed through Yohan’s fingers as his crossbow was sent flying into the air.
“What the heck?” It was the first time he failed to suppress someone in this timeline. Yohan moved to grab his gun from his utility belt. In response, the man threw a roundhouse kick at him. The force of the kick slicing through the air made an intimidating sound. Yohan ducked his head and managed to avoid the blow.
Yohan followed up his dodge with a low kick aimed at his opponent’s legs. The man stumbled and Yohan took advantage of the moment to tackle him to the ground and pin him. As he got into the full mount position, the man threw a fist that hit Yohan clean. Yohan lost his control of the position and the man kicked at him and rolled out of the pin. Yohan felt something in his mouth and spat it out. It was blood.
‘Injury.’ Yohan’s stress level spiked as soon as he saw the blood. Even though it wasn’t an exposed external injury, just having an injury was dangerous. At the same time, his opponent’s mere existence was dangerous. The opponent knew how to fight and wasn’t scared of Yohan’s weapons.
Yohan ducked under another strike, but the man tried to meet his duck with a knee up the middle. Yohan moved both of his hands to block the attack. Then, he headbutted his opponent, causing the man’s head to snap back violently. Yohan tried to follow up with a big punch, but the man tripped him, causing him to stumble. The man followed up with another kick, which Yohan took and rolled with. Yohan kept rolling away, using the opportunity to get some distance. The man started charging in to chase down Yohan, but then stopped and raised both his hands as Yohan pointed his Glock right at him.
“I’ll shoot if you move even one step.”
“Calm down bro, why did you attack a human all of a sudden? I just wanted to talk.”
Yohan made sure his gun was fully loaded and stood a good distance apart from his opponent. He allowed himself to take a deep breath now, knowing that he had the upper hand. A conversation was great, but the safest thing to do was fully suppress his opponent first.
“You’re the one that sneaked up on me first.”
“Oh, I apologize for that. It’s a habit of mine to walk around without making any noise.” The man smiled brightly. It was a strange expression to be wearing, considering the two of them were brawling just a moment ago. “Both of us will be in danger if you fire that gun. There’s a lot of gangsters down there.”
Yohan quietly took out his silencer from one of his pockets and deftly attached it to his glock. The man frowned.
“I just want to talk, that’s all. Don’t be so cold.”
“What do you want?”
“I was watching you earlier and noticed you were checking every nook and cranny in this mall. You have business here, right?”
“That’s none of your concern.”
“I have beef with them too. Let’s work together.”
“Are you alone?”
“Yeah, I’ve been living by myself. How about it? I’m Sweeper.”
“Sweeper?” Yohan asked, after reflecting on the name for a moment. It didn’t seem like the name of a group and the man didn’t look like a foreigner. The man noticed Yohan’s confusion and smiled.
“It’s my nickname.”
“Who gave you a cheesy name like that?”
“I did, why?”
‘This guy is mental. It’s a serious case of eighth-grader syndrome.’ Yohan shook his head. Looking at him, it didn’t seem like he was lying. Based on his fighting abilities and reflexes, he was definitely a Grade A survivor, especially considering he had the guts to be roaming around here by himself. He would probably be useful if they stuck together, but there was something suspicious about him.
While still keeping the Glock aimed at the man, Yohan slowly moved towards his crossbow. The man continued to smile while holding his hands up in the air. Yohan grabbed the crossbow, trained it at the man, and then holstered his pistol.
“Any last words?”
“I’ll just assume that’s all you have to say,” Yohan’s finger started to squeeze the trigger of his crossbow. At the exact moment that he decided to pull the trigger, Sweeper bolted for the railing. Yohan instinctively tried to follow his movement with the crossbow as he fired, but his movement was too sudden and he missed.
Yohan adjusted his aim as best as he could for the second shot. The sound of his crossbow firing filled the air. He had adjusted his aim to account for the speed of a normal human, but the man moved as fast as a mutant zombie. His unnatural movements allowed him to avoid every shot. Soon, the man reached the railings. He grabbed the handrails and jumped over it. Yohan’s eyes widened.
‘How did I miss at point blank range?’
“Damn it! Why did you start shooting all of a sudden!?” Sweeper yelled from the floor below.
“I was trying to kill you, you bastard!” Yohan cursed. They were now making a lot of noise and he was worried that the zombies and people in the mall could hear him shouting.
“Intruder! An intruder is on the third floor with a gun! Third floor in front of the beauty products store!” Sweeper screamed out as loud as he could.
Yohan could hear footsteps approaching from every direction. With his location called out clearly, the enemy’s movements were quick and precise. Yohan cursed under his breath constantly as he sprinted towards the emergency exit. However, he stopped once he heard footsteps coming from below and changed directions to run the other way. His breathing was starting to get strained.
All the while, zombies were approaching. It was impossible for him to move quickly, as he had to deal with the zombies near him. Yohan raced towards the escalators that went down to the second floor, but then changed his mind again once he saw people coming up from the other side. As soon as he turned around, he could see that even the escalator further away was swarming with people.
Yohan looked down. The floor below him was filled with zombies that were attracted to the noise they were making. The drop from the third floor to the first was huge. Jumping to the second floor wasn’t a problem, but there were too many zombies to deal with after he landed. They would tear him apart before he could recover from the jump. Was fighting the only choice?
Yohan pulled out his gun, but reconsidered after seeing that his enemies had guns too. He was confident in his ability to fight a large group, but that was only when he was the one on the offensive. Yohan racked his brain. If he fought, he had a high chance of winning, but against a large group, he wouldn’t be able to avoid getting injured.
Just then, Yohan recalled something that the director had said.
‘It would be great if a useful guy like him would change his mind, right? If you wanted, I would even let you have all the women. Even the drugs.’
He most likely wouldn’t be killed if he was caught. As long as he was alive, he would be able to escape anytime. This had a higher chance for survival than fighting. Yohan quickly devised a plan and then slowly raised his hands. Moments later, he was captured.
* * *
A heavy door swung open and Yohan was thrown into a large room. His hands were tied behind his back and his feet were bound together. They had taken his crossbow, gun, two knives, and his utility belt. It was a heavy blow to his gear. Additionally, the recent events were disturbing. He had unexpectedly ran into a Grade A survivor that he couldn’t suppress.
He wasn’t going easy on him, nor was he handicapping himself by trying to keep his opponent alive. Yohan simply could not kill him at all. If he could, he would have already done so without a second thought. Yet, despite knowing how dangerous this person was, he was unable to kill him.
On top of that, his opponent showcased his quick thinking and reactions as Yohan was trapped moments later. Even though Yohan had his guard up the entire time and confident that he had taken every precautious, he was still caught somehow.
‘Oh well, what’s past is past.’ Yohan stopped dwelling on what happened and focused on the present. He was correct in thinking that they wouldn’t kill him if he didn’t resist when they captured him.
Maybe it was because he surrendered so obediently, but his captors didn’t blindfold or gag him. Yohan took the opportunity to memorize the route and his surroundings. His eyes examined every part of the room. There wasn’t anything sharp that he could use. There were also no windows. Thankfully, there was a vent in the ceiling.
The steel door noisily swung open again and Sweeper was thrown in, also tied up. Yohan smirked. Sweeper had gotten him into this difficult situation, but was captured as well. Yohan gave him a contemptuous look, but Sweeper simply greeted him with a smile.
“Hey bro, have we met before?” Yohan joked.
“Shut up, you bastard.”
“Jeez, you have a dirty mouth. I got caught because of you. Don’t you feel bad?”
“Why did you attack me all of a sudden?”
“There wasn’t a guarantee that you weren’t one of them.”
“You have poor judgement, bro. Don’t mix me with those gangsters. I’m a really good person.”
Yohan was at a loss for words. Sweeper was beyond ridiculous. Before Yohan could reply, the door opened once more and some men wearing black clothing entered. In the middle of the pack was the man that Yohan saw earlier. It was the director.
‘He looks tough.’ Yohan had not expected to encounter him so soon. He continued looking around the room to assess the situation. The director pulled up a chair and sat down before addressing Sweeper.
“Oh, it’s our cleaning friend. It’s been a while. Didn’t I tell you that I would kill you if you came back?”
“If you just give back to me what’s mine when I asked nicely, I wouldn’t have to come back.”
The director laughed out loud and then slapped Sweeper across the cheek. The sound of the slap filled the entire room. Sweeper spat out some saliva mixed with blood.
“We’ll definitely have a lot of fun this time, so look forward to that my friend. You might even start thinking that death is the better option.” The director smiled and pinched Sweeper’s cheeks. Then, he turned his chair to look at Yohan. The director had cold eyes, like a predator. Yohan felt a sense of disgust when he noticed the gold tooth behind the director’s lips.
“Who the hell are you and what are you doing in our camp without our permission?”
Yohan studied the director’s eyes. They were calm and full of confidence. At the same time, the director didn’t seem to be looking down on him.
“I’m just a refugee wandering nearby. I came in to see if there were any useful supplies. I didn’t know this place was already claimed, so I apologize for trespassing.” Yohan replied politely. As always, survival was the priority. He wasn’t going to beg for his life, but also wasn’t going to be overtly hostile to them, especially since they were already known to be violent.
In times like the apocalypse, a leader would always value a talented person. Since Yohan was fully armed when he was captured, it was more than enough to make them curious. Yohan knew that they weren’t going to kill him until they squeeze every bit of information from him first.
“You’re pretty clean for a refugee.”
“Luckily, I found a home nearby where I was able to wash up.”
“Wow, that’s great for you. Why not, right? You need to take care of yourself. It’s great to be clean.” The director spoke as if he admired what Yohan had said. However, in an instant, his demeanor changed and he leaned closer to Yohan. Yohan stared back, wide-eyed.
“You had a gun.”
“Why aren’t you resisting?”
— Ω —
Enjoy the novel? Consider becoming a patron to read ahead while supporting both the author and us!