The time it took for people to turn into a zombie varied. If you were unlucky, it would take just a few seconds before you became part of the horde. It was too dangerous to deal with the zombies with Min Seo by his side, so Byung Jin pushed her into an empty office and stared down the zombies while brandishing his knife. Even though they had been long-time friends just moments ago, he had to eliminate them here and now. Byung Jin’s grip on his knife tightened until his hands started to shake. He knew he could not delay any more, or else there would be severe consequences.
“Ahhhhh!” Byung Jin yelled loudly as he stabbed Sung Bae through the eye socket. The knife went in deep. He pulled it out and embedded the knife in Ki Moon’s head. After dealing with his fallen comrades, Byung Jin needed to kill the people who were bitten, not giving them the chance to turn into zombies.
However, the problem was that these people hadn’t become zombies yet. Sung Bae was the first one to turn and had already infected eight people by himself. Even though they hadn’t turned yet, there was no hope for them once they were bitten.
Still, Byung Jin’s resolve wavered once he saw the desperation in their eyes.
“Everyone who was bitten, please gather together in one area.”
“What are you talking about!? We have to kill them!” Seo Jun scolded Byung Jin’s decision. Byung Jin shook his head. Even if this was something that had to be done, it was too much for him to kill people when they were still alive.
“Once they turn… that’s when…” Byung Jin was interrupted by the loud creak of a steel door opening. Everyone turned towards the sound.
“Mi—Min Seo?” Byung Jin saw the person, but questioned what he saw. Min Seo was walking out of the office, but her eyes had a blank look on them. She looked as though she was instinctively searching for her husband, as she was making her way towards Byung Jin, who also happened to be the closest person. Byung Jin dropped his knife.
“No…no way. This is a joke, right?”
“Byung Jin!” Elder Park shouted.
“Be careful!” Seo Jun warned.
However, no one could stop Byung Jin as he walked over to his wife. With shaking hands, he caressed her cheeks. Min Seo’s stared back at him blankly. Her once clean and pure eyes were gone, replaced with white pupils and strained red blood vessels. Byung Jin felt his whole body go numb as he looked at her.
“It can’t be…”
Min Seo opened her mouth wide and soon it was all Byung Jin could see.
* * *
“Ugh…” Yohan woke up feeling severe pain in his abdomen. He struggled to open his eyes, so all he could see was darkness. He tried to shake the cobwebs out of his head and instinctively groped around for his gun. Instead of finding the gun, his hands landed on a knife handle.
His bleary vision revealed a shadowy figure nearby. Yohan fumbled with the knife for a moment before grabbing onto it properly and waving it around.
“Hmph!” The man in front of Yohan avoided the dangerous attack simply by tilting his head back.
‘It’s not a zombie.’ Yohan shook his head again and looked around. The man turned out to be Ha Jin, the muscular unemployed athlete.
As his vision came back, so did his memories. Before they could escape, the director shot him from across the courtyard in the mall. Despite bearing three gunshot wounds, the director still attacked him. Yohan knew this was going to happen, which was why he wanted to finish what he started before leaving the mall.
It was strange that his enemies always managed to survive so tenaciously. Even when Yohan was certain they had died, they would pop up out of nowhere and hinder him again.
“Sorry. I thought you were a zombie.” Once his vision returned completely, Yohan looked over at Ha Jin and apologized.
“Your attacks are so precise, even though you just woke up. I almost got a hole in my head,” Ha Jin replied, “I really thought you died. I didn’t think you were wearing a bulletproof vest.”
Yohan didn’t reply, but instead tried moving his body. If the director was closer, he could have broken Yohan’s bones or caused severe damage to his internal organs. Thankfully, there was a good amount of distance between them and Yohan was able to avoid the worst of it. However, his body still ached and throbbed every time he moved.
“How long was I out for?”
“Not that long. Maybe 30 minutes?”
‘That’s a relief.’ He took a few deep breaths and tried moving again. He felt a cough coming and let it out without hesitation. There was blood mixed in with his saliva.
“Let’s… rest for 10 minutes and then move out. My body won’t listen to me.”
“We can rest longer. I don’t think it’s going to get any worse.” Ha Jin replied. Yohan stared at him. Unwillingly, he now owed him his life. The insurance that he had invested in was already paying off. There was a gun and some food, just laying there, on the table. An odd look crossed Yohan’s face.
At a certain point, Ha Jin was no longer just being nice. He was being stupid. One could pay dearly if they judged someone solely based on their appearance, but Ha Jin behaved exactly the way he looked. He had the mindset of a martial artist. His body just screamed the notion that he was going to do things his own way. That was it. Even if it was a life and death situation, he was the type of person that would want to fight their enemy fair and square.
“You didn’t leave me behind.”
“I don’t like being in debt. Also, it’s dangerous for me to leave by myself.”
“I see.” Yohan lifted up his shirt. There was a black bruise in the middle of his hard abs.
“What are you going to do now?” Ha Jin asked. Yohan thought about it for a while. The zombies were a problem, but, as long as the director was alive, it was difficult to try and escape through the emergency exit. Of course, the director could have already been eaten by the zombies after the racket he made, but Yohan wasn’t willing to risk it again after experiencing the consequences once.
“We have to find a new path. It doesn’t matter where. There’s got to be somewhere where we can escape.”
“I know a place.”
Yohan looked at Ha Jin, but Ha Jin shrugged. He wasn’t the one that just spoke. It was a voice from above. The ventilation grate above them started rattling and then fell to the ground. The grate cover hit the ground with a loud clang and started spinning on the spot. Two feet dangled from the vent shaft. Yohan quickly reached for the gun on the table.
“Let me in on the action. This escape plan of yours.” A familiar face appeared from the vent. The man held onto the vent shaft in the ceiling and stretched his body out as far as he could before dropping to the floor. It was the man responsible for Yohan’s capture, Sweeper.
Sweeper extended his hand out for a handshake while shaking out his flowy hair as if he was in a shampoo commercial.
“Hey bro. We meet again.” There was a smile on his face.
“You’re still alive.” Yohan returned the smile brightly, but he was still holding his gun tightly in his hand.
“It’s all thanks to a certain someone who totally destroyed the Gold Moon bastards.” Sweeper gave Yohan a thumbs up, his broad smile revealing a set of perfect, pearly white teeth. Yohan recalled that Sweeper had business here. It seemed like his fight with the Gold Moon gang had helped in some way.
“If you’re done with your business, why didn’t you just escape? What brings you here?”
“I was planning to escape. But, when I was about to leave, a huge group of zombies appeared. I do know a way out though, I can guide the way if you include me in your plans.”
“First, tell me the way out.”
“Only if you promise to include… no, wait, before that… why are you so rude to me? You speak so respectfully to that bro over there.”
“Speak for yourself.” Yohan tilted his head.
“Well, whatever. Anyways, instead of the upper exit, if you go to B2F, there’s a small passageway there that connects to the subway. There’s a good chance that we can escape that way, but there’s too many zombies for me to get through by myself. I need a gun.” Sweeper’s tone made it seem like he didn’t need people, but a gun instead.
“If you needed a gun, you could have taken it while I was passed out.” Yohan commented.
“That scary man over there was guarding it. On top of that…” Sweeper squirmed uncomfortably, like a young school girl confessing a crush. Both Yohan and Ha Jin frowned simultaneously. No matter how handsome you were, there was no excuse for behaving like that.
“I like you bro.”
Yohan frowned again.
“That cold-heartedness. The gun skills. Man… so cool, right? How many people in this world could take on those Gold Moon bastards single-handedly? Hm?” Sweeper’s easy-going personality made their faces turn sour. It was as if they were witnessing something that they shouldn’t have seen. Yohan rubbed his forehead, feeling a headache coming on.
“Why not just shoot him?” Ha Jin asked, carefully.
“That’s a great idea.” Yohan raised his gun. As soon as he aimed it at Sweeper’s body, Sweeper jumped and put his hands up.
“It’s a joke! I’m kidding! As you can see, I’m a law-abiding citizen. I don’t steal other people’s things.”
“You should be saying ‘Even though I look like this’ instead of ‘as you can see’. You look like someone that wouldn’t even follow the law normally.”
“Hey, that’s going too far!” Sweeper protested, but Yohan ignored him. Despite what he said, Yohan thought it through in his head and nodded.
‘It wouldn’t be so bad to work with him.’
Based on what had happened, he knew that Sweeper wasn’t part of the Gold Moon gang and they were all otherwise trapped here. It wouldn’t benefit Sweeper in any way if he betrayed Yohan and stabbed him in the back. Looking at him, Sweeper didn’t seem like the type that would slow him down either. Rather, he could be a big help.
“You said you knew the way. Have you thought about how we’re going to get underground?”
“No, but I know the location roughly. From here, we need to take the escalator and go down.” Sweeper’s plan was to get to the square-shaped area on the opposite side of the courtyard. In their current situation, it was very far.
“Since the director is alive, charging head first would be dangerous. We’ll be helpless if he ambushes us while we’re fighting zombies,” Sweeper continued, “Also, you said your name is Ha Jin, right? I’ll talk informally to make things more comfortable.”
“Sounds good. I was about to die from the awkwardness.” Ha Jin replied, with a straight face.
“First, we’ll head down to the second floor. The second floor is different than this one. All the stores there have huge glass walls so we can pinpoint the location of the Gold Moon bastards and zombies. So, we’ll go down a floor and make our way to the escalator while confirming the location of our enemies and the zombies.” As Yohan outlined his plan, the other two group members stared at him dumbly. Yohan gave them a look as if to ask, ‘What?’
“I’m not exactly sure if I understand what you’re saying. Don’t we have to go out in order to get to the second floor? Wouldn’t that put us at risk of the director? And what did you mean by confirming the location of the zombies?”
“Okay, below us are clothing stores. If we were to split the mall’s second floor in half…” Yohan drew a rectangle in the air and cut it in half with his finger. “On this side, all the stores have glass doors. It’s a great place to lure them to us because they’ll chase after us once they see us.”
“Am I stupid, because I don’t understand at all. How are we going to get to the second floor?”
The two couldn’t figure it out. Instead of answering, Yohan simply stood up and walked over to the window.
“Oh… no way…”
“I’m not sure if you guys have rock climbed before, but,” Yohan’s face was expressionless, but there was a hint of something sinister in his voice, “I’m planning on climbing there from the outside.”
— Ω —
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