While Jung Hwan swung his zombie harpoon around to draw the zombie’s attention, the other two men climbed down the ladder. They ran safely to the emergency exit and called out to Jung Hwan.
The barricade had been reduced to a mere springboard for zombies to jump over. Jung Hwan knew he couldn’t hold out anymore and lept off of the truck. He landed with a roll, but still felt pain in his knees and palms. However, he didn’t have time to dwell on it. He ran through the gaps in the horde and rushed towards the metal door.
Sung Bae and Ki Moon, who had gotten off the truck ahead of him, had reached the emergency door and were fighting desperately against the zombies there. Jung Hwan ran a few more steps and then stopped. There were too many zombies between him and the exit. At this rate, neither he nor the two ahead of him would be safe.
“Close the door!” Jung Hwan shouted. They could no longer see him through the crowd of zombies. Sung Bae knew they could no longer hold out and closed the door. They could hear zombies pounding on the other side of the metal door. Ki Moon started to yell.
“Hey! Jung Hwan is still…!”
“Do you know how many zombies are in front of the door right now?”
Ki Moon tried desperately to open the door, but Sung Bae stopped him. The thunderous sound of the zombies banging on the door was terrifying. Just how many zombies were there on the other side, dying to sink their teeth into them? Ki Moon could feel the strength drain from his body.
However, the crisis wasn’t over yet.
There was a sound of something shattering. Ki Moon and Sung Bae’s eyes both simultaneously snapped to the glass door on the first floor. It had broken and zombies were rushing in through the jagged passage. At first, the passage was barely accessible, but the glass broke more and the passage expanded as zombies pushed their way through despite having their flesh shredded by the glass.
With a terrible ruckus, tens and hundreds of the infected squeezed through the narrow glass doors. Some zombies had their guts dangling around, mixed with broken pieces of glass. Other zombies had half of their face ripped off.
Shock filled the eyes of the camp members who were guarding that entrance, as well as those who were visiting the first floor to enjoy some sunlight. The expression on their faces showed that they didn’t know what was going on. As realization slowly dawned on them, their expressions became grim as blood drained from their faces. Zombies began biting and tearing through the camp members’ flesh.
The ray of hope that Yohan had sparked before leaving was fading fast.
The first to grasp the situation was Byung Jin. He and Min Seo were dealing the zombies that were pushing in through the glass. He shouted at the camp members who were still frozen in place with fear.
“Hurry and get up! The zombies are coming! Get away from here!”
‘If a zombie wave or something similar occurs when I’m not here, go down to the basement levels and hold out. Stay there until you run out of food completely. Don’t come out no matter what.’
These were the last words that Yohan left them on his way out. He also had some advice.
‘Don’t ever try to block a zombie wave. It’s not a number you can block.’
When the glass doors were initially breached, Byung Jin and the guards tried to barricade the area. Even though they were breached, there was only one entrance. Byung Jin was no longer the coward he was a few months ago. He no longer panicked and trembled with fear at a mere zombie.
However, there were too many of them. If they continued to try and hold out, there would be more victims. He knew that he couldn’t endanger his wife like this. Byung Jin saw that Min Seo was sweating profusely as she struggled beside him. He decided to switch tactics and follow the advice of their absentee leader.
“Let’s go down into the basement!” Byung Jin shouted. The camp members followed his instructions and retreated. At first, Byung Jin thought that they would be able to evacuate safely as long as everyone stayed calm. However, he soon changed his mind.
‘The zombies are too fast.’ These zombies moved at a speed that he was unfamiliar with. They moved as fast as an adult man, even though they were hobbling and limping after their prey. Some of the camp members got anxious and ran into each other as they tried to move faster. Soon, there was another victim. Zombies descended upon the fallen victim like hyenas. A shrill scream rang out and the camp members who witnessed the death began running frantically. Byung Jin grabbed Min Seo’s hand and ran. He couldn’t worry about the camp, he focused on saving his wife first.
“Ahh!” Min Seo let out a shrill scream of her own.
“Min Seo!” Byung Jin looked back at her with a startled expression. Min Seo was holding onto her arm. They were traversing through a narrow passageway and a piece of furniture that was jutting out had cut her on the elbow. Byung Jin was grateful that it wasn’t the worst case scenario. Still, he looked concerned as he tore his undershirt and bandaged her arm with it.
There were zombies approaching them. Byung Jin kicked a zombie in the solar plexus as he finished tightening the knot around Min Seo’s arm. The zombie let out a horrible shriek as it fell backwards. It got right back up and approached them once more.
“Let’s hurry.” Min Seo said. Byung Jin nodded and they bee-lined for the exit. Sung Bae and Ki Moon were the last to go through the emergency exit and they closed the door behind them. Once again, they could hear zombies on the other side. This time, it was the screech of them clawing at the door. There were also horrible shrieks as well as the zombies tried to break through the iron door. Fear filled the camp member’s eyes.
“What is going on Byung Jin? Where’s Jung Hwan?” An old man asked.
“There are countless zombies drawing closer. The glass on the first floor broke. No matter how I think about it…we’ll have to give up the first floor again. Don’t worry though. The zombies won’t be able to get through this metal door.” Byung Jin tried to ease everyone’s worries, but he could see that they were still anxious. As he tried to catch his breath, Byung Jin looked at Ki Moon and Sung Bae.
“Where’s Jung Hwan?”
“The parking lot was also breached. There were so many zombies that, no matter how many you kill, more would just step over the corpses…”
“Okay… but where’s Jung Hwan?”
“He wasn’t able to make it in…”
“He didn’t die. He probably ran to the other side,” said Ki Moon. Byung Jin’s face darkened as he listened. It was fortunate that Jung Hwan didn’t die, but if he couldn’t escape back to the camp, he was as good as dead. Yohan was gone and Jung Hwan, who was Yohan’s assigned proxy, was MIA. There was no leader. The predicted zombie wave has arrived and there was no one to see them through it safely.
Min Seo disinfected herself and changed into clean clothes. She thought that people would get more anxious if they saw her in bloody clothes. Even without anyone directing them, the survivors instinctively gathered in the middle of B1F. Even those who normally went about their day alone joined them, as if they couldn’t stand to be alone anymore.
“What about Saeri?” Byung Jin asked, taking head count. If they exclude the victims in the parking lot and first floor breaches, only Jung Hwan and Saeri were missing. Jung Hwan was last seen in the parking lot, but no one had seen Saeri.
“I—I’m not sure. Maybe she’s on the roof?” The rooftop was one of Saeri’s favorite places. Her latest hobby was going to roof and looking out for Yohan’s return.
The survivors exchanged worried looks. If you were trapped on the roof, food would be the first of many problems you faced. Fear reflected in their eyes as their ears were assailed by the loud banging and horrible shrieks of the zombies. Some of the infected rushed at the barricade around the escalator, intent on tearing it down.
The lives of their two senior members were important, but the failing escalator barricade was something that needed to be addressed immediately. As the furniture were stacked tightly, the barricade wouldn’t fall easily. However, the howling of the zombies ate away at their morale. Min Seo trembled. Byung Jin drew her into his arms to comfort her.
“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you no matter what.”
“I feel a bit dizzy.”
“It’s because you’re scared. Lean on me and rest.”
Min Seo nodded her head. Her husband was someone that she had trusted and relied upon for many years. It was hard to believe that someone who was just as easily frightened and timid as her could make her feel so secure in his arms. Byung Jin gazed into Min Seo’s eyes and stroked her head softly.
“This can’t go on. Byung Jin, how about we stack some more stuff on top of the barricade so that people feel safer?” Elder Park suggested.
“That sounds good. Will you guys help me out?” Byung Jin stood up. The camp members were starting to follow Byung Jin’s lead now that Yohan and Jung Hwan weren’t around. Some people were already piling furniture onto the barricade when they joined them. Together, they doubled and then tripled up on the defenses.
The sounds from the zombies on the other side got a bit more muted with each addition to the barricade. Soon, they could no longer hear them at all. Only then did the pounding of their hearts in their chest subside.
How much time passed? After a while, everyone managed to calm down as they acclimated to the situation. The heavy panting and wheezing of the group faded. They felt as if the danger had passed. Even the crying children had stopped wailing.
The mother of three children embraced her kids tightly, whispering words of reassurance. The children tightly clung onto the hem of their mother’s clothes. The older folks were holding each other’s hands. Byung Jin held Min Seo in his arms soothingly. Everyone distracted their hearts and minds with each other. They hoped that this commotion would pass by quickly.
Ki Moon was still feeling anxious. He played with his knife, folding and unfolding it repeatedly. Then, as that wasn’t helping, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his car keys. There was an emblem of a horse with its front hooves in the air. The car was spoils he had obtained from dealing with a zombie on the 4th floor parking lot. He looked at the keys to cheer himself up. He had yet to take the car out for a test drive.
“I was going to take the Ferrari and drive it around when things calmed down. This situation sucks, right?”
The foreign car cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and he wanted to see what he could do with it. Ki Moon noticed that his words fell flat with the group. He turned to look at Sung Bae, from whom he had expected a reply. Sung Bae looked tired. He had his legs pulled up towards his body and his face was buried in his knees.
‘Is he tired?’ Ki Moon tilted his head slightly. Sung Bae didn’t move for more than ten minutes. Finally, Ki Moon tapped him.
“Hey, what are you doing? If you’re tired, go lie down.”
Sung Bae didn’t respond to the prodding. Ki Moon tilted his head again.
Finally, Sung Bae lifted his head. There were no pupils in his eyes, only milky gray irises that bulged outwards grotesquely, as if the eyes would pop out of the socket at any moment.
It was at that moment that Sung Bae lunged at Ki Moon. Ki Moon’s mind knew that he had to fight back immediately, but his body still hesitated. He was unable to immediately stab his friend with whom he had shared many talks and laughs. Sung Bae bit and tore through Ki Moon’s neck as he tackled him to the ground. Blood splattered in the air.
In an instant, the hallway was filled with screams. As if reacting to the screams, Sung Bae switched targets to a nearby elderly man and bit him in the arm.
Pandemonium filled the room. One zombie had already infected two people. It was only now that Byung Jin noticed a wound on Sung Bae’s leg. There were teeth marks on his leg.
Byung Jin quickly intercepted Sung Bae. However, the newly infected Ki Moon stood up and started to approach him. It was difficult to deal with two zombies at the same time, so Byung Jin kicked Ki Moon in the stomach. All the while, the number of victims were increasing exponentially.
“Everyone, inside! You too, Min Seo!” Byung Jin shouted urgently, pushing Min Seo with his hand.
Sung Bae and Ki Moon seemed to benefit from the influence of the zombie wave, as they were moving with uncanny speed. Still, Byung Jin prioritized protecting Min Seo.
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