Ha Jin and Sweeper looked outside the window. Even though they were only on the third floor, the high ceilings of the mall meant that it was equivalent to being on the sixth story in an apartment building. If a person fell from here, there would be nothing left of them when they hit the ground. On top of that, the ground floor was a sea of zombies. There wasn’t even anything in the office that they could use as a rope.
“How are we supposed to get down from here?” Sweeper asked. Yohan responded by patting a pipe that ran along the outside wall. It was conveniently close to the window.
“We’re going to slide down this.”
Sweeper anxious jiggled the pipe. It seemed secure, but he still looked worried.
“…I think it’ll be easier if we just leave the office normally and go through the mall. The two of us can deal with the zombies while you look out for the director. Or, we can use the vents to get to another office and leave from there.”
“And ignore this easy path? I think the racket earlier probably attracted all the zombies to this place. Trust me, this is the best way to avoid encountering zombies.”
Sweeper wanted to debate the definition of ‘easy’, but kept his mouth shut after seeing Yohan’s firm resolve. He nudged Ha Jin to see if he would say something, but Ha Jin simply shrugged.
“I’ll go down first and clear some space. Follow me immediately so that you can cover me,” Yohan said. With that, he grabbed the pipe and slid down slowly. He placed his feet against the wall to support himself and let his hands slide freely. It was obvious that this wasn’t his first time doing this. Whenever he felt like he was going too fast, he would slow himself down using the large bolts that affixed the pipe to the wall.
Sweeper frowned as he watched Yohan slide down, but followed him regardless. It was terrifying seeing the zombies below. They must have spotted the group, as they were gathering around the pipe.
“It would’ve been nice if I was this popular when everyone was alive. Stop looking at me. No matter how much you guys drool, I’m not that easy…”
‘There’s a zombie cushion below if we fall, so it won’t be instant death. But ours bodies would be instantly torn to pieces.’ Sweeper thought. The method that Yohan demonstrated was extremely safe. Their boots provided enough friction to control the speed of the slide and the pipe itself was sturdy and not as slippery as it looked.
Yohan got to the second floor first and knocked on the tinted window. He could hear noises from the inside, indicating that zombies were there. He tried opening the window, but it was locked. He stood on the safety rail and grabbed onto the window frame with hand and shot his gun with the other. The glass broke with a loud shatter and his hand reeled back from the recoil. The broken glass littered the floor and the zombies inside looked at him.
Yohan immediately corrected his posture and fired his semi-automatic at the zombies’ heads. He killed the eight zombies closest to him and was about to put away the gun when he heard Sweeper’s voice.
“I’m cominggggg! Don’t waste ammo!” Sweeper quickly jumped through the broken window and entered the mall. He was wielding a one-handed axe. Unlike Yohan’s knife, which required the user to strike the zombie’s weak points with pinpoint accuracy in order to get to the brain, Sweeper’s hand axe could cut through thick skulls. It wasn’t just brute force, Sweeper was using his weapon in a very deliberate way. Yohan could tell that he was very skilled.
“That weapon doesn’t suit you.”
“It’s my treasure, I’ve grown attached to it. I find knives tend to get dull easily.”
“What did you do before this?”
“Me?” Sweeper chopped a zombie’s head in half with his axe and then placed a foot on its stomach so that he could pull the axe back out. He turned to Yohan and smiled. “I sold insurance.”
“You’re taking your jokes too far.”
“It’s not a joke. Our company would go out of business if we had to pay insurance for all the damage caused by the apocalypse. Well, the company is probably gone now anyways!” Sweeper laughed at his own joke while he killed the zombies.
Ha Jin joined shortly after. He looked even more ridiculous. Despite having a large body, he was wielding a small knife to fight the zombies. His hand was so big that sometimes it looked like he was crushing their heads with his fist instead of the knife. Yohan smirked, thinking that the weapons and wielders had been accidentally swapped. Once Yohan joined in, the number of zombies they felled far outpaced the number that was coming in. If they weren’t surrounded, the three of them could probably take on 40-50 zombies at the same time. Despite the number of combatants, their explosive might was greater than any Yohan experienced in the previous timeline.
“Whew, that’s seriously a lot of zombies. You guys are good at fighting.”
“Hold on Sweeper. Wait.” Yohan stopped Sweeper from going outside. He closed the store’s glass door instead. Sweeper tilted his head.
“What are you doing? The number of zombies are increasing. Shouldn’t we leave?” Zombies had heard the loud fighting and were still streaming in. Yohan started jumping up and down near the glass door, as if he was trying to attract the zombies’ attention.
“I think it’s going to break soon.”
“If we leave them be, it’ll break. But it won’t break anytime soon.” Yohan continued jumping up and down. More zombies gathered in front of the store that they were in. It seemed like all the zombies nearby had been lured to the store.
“Alright bro, so now there’s a bunch of zombies in front of the entrance. What are you going to do now? Do you have a bomb or something?”
“Our exit isn’t over there.”
Sweeper raised his eyebrows. It was the only way in or out of the store. Yohan grabbed his rifle and the pair’s eyes widened once they saw what he was about to do. Yohan started shooting at the glass wall between stores. Once again, the sound of glass shattering filled the area.
“I’ll make a path. Follow me and don’t get left behind. Be careful not to get cut by the glass.”
The pair now understood Yohan’s plan. After luring the zombies to one side, they broke the glass wall between stores and ran out the other side. This way, they could avoid fighting zombies, no matter how fast the undead moved.
Yohan used the selective fire function of his gun. Everytime he fired, cracks would appear on the glass wall and Yohan would break it with a kick. They made several glass passages this way. The zombies tried to follow their prey, but it was too crowded and they hindered each other’s movement. They couldn’t catch up to the three men moving through the spacious stores.
Yohan made one more hole into the final store and they exited through the store’s front door. An empty escalator greeted the group. Sweeper looked back to admire the holes they made. It looked like someone had played an insane game of whack-a-mole. Yohan quietly inserted a fresh magazine into his rifle.
“You’re like a villain bro.”
“I’m worse than a villain.”
“And I think you’re smart.”
“You’re wrong. I just have a lot of experience. Where’s the entrance to the subway?”
“Great, it’s my turn! I’ll take the lead.” Sweeper fleet-footedly guided the group. His axe glinted in the air as he used it to crack open the heads of zombies that appeared from time to time. Yohan and Ha Jin didn’t even get the chance to fight. When they arrived, they could see that the subway entrance was a narrow passageway occupied by roughly ten zombies. The glass doors leading into the subway itself was closed. The three men stopped running.
“There’s quite a few. How about we just shoot them?” Sweeper suggested. Yohan shook his head.
“We don’t know how many there are beyond the door. I want to try and keep the door intact.”
“Oh yeah? No choice then. Hey, big guy, think you can keep going?” Sweeper asked Ha Jin, who was trying to catch his breath. He was understandably tired since they ran a long distance non-stop. The more agile people were tired, so Ha Jin, who had a bigger frame, was no doubt even more so. However, Ha Jin smirked.
“Don’t fall behind.”
“Wow, tough guy.”
While the two were talking, Yohan pulled out his crossbow and started shooting at the zombies. He wanted to disperse the crowd of zombies that had grouped up by the entrance. His arrows flew as fast as lightning and hit the zombies in the body, causing them to either fall or stumble. As gaps were made in the crowd, the three men advanced carefully.
Sweeper and Ha Jin took turns killing the zombies. Each zombie died with a loud groan. As Yohan reloaded his crossbow, he felt a presence behind him. With the crossbow bolt still in his hand, he spun around and stabbed it through a zombie’s head. The would be stalker fell weakly to the ground.
The three continued without any problems. A handful of zombies weren’t enough to hinder their teamwork. While Sweeper was agile, Ha Jin was tall and able to attack with his knife before the zombies could reach him. And even if multiple zombies approached the pair at the same time, they couldn’t avoid Yohan’s sniping.
“Go to the turnstile!” Yohan barked out an order. Sweeper followed the command and carved a path. He jumped up high and kicked at the zombies, causing them to stumble back and crash into the ones behind them. Yohan frowned at Sweeper’s actions.
“Do you really have to act so silly?”
“What do you mean ‘silly’? That’s rude. Do you know what’s the most important thing when you’re fighting?”
“I really dont—”
“It’s looking cool!”
‘This guy… how in the world did he manage to survive so long?’ Yohan sighed as Sweeper continued talking about how ‘fighting while looking cool is the best!’ As he was thinking this, Ha Jin chimed in with a low voice.
“I’m curious as to how he survived this whole time.”
‘You and I think alike.’ Yohan agreed with Ha Jin’s mentality. He hoped that Sweeper would refrain from yelling out the names of his attacks while fighting.
As soon as they passed through the turnstile, the distance between them and the zombies increased. No matter how low an obstacle was, it would still take some time for the zombies to recognize it and get over it. After escaping the zombies, they relaxed. The group had better chemistry than Yohan could imagine, which helped him conserve ammo.
‘What a shame.’ This group was too good. Even though Sweeper was annoying, Yohan couldn’t help but acknowledge his fighting skills. Even if he combined the power of everyone back at Gunn’s camp, it wouldn’t even begin to compare to these two.
The three followed the subway all the way to Jung-dong Station. After leaving Bucheon City Hall Station, where the bulk of the zombie wave was, Yohan thought about re-entering the mall to avoid the horde outside. There wasn’t any light inside the subway. Yohan had to rely on the two flashlights that he brought, which forced them to move slowly.
“Hey bro.” Sweeper, who was in the lead, stopped and called over to Yohan. Yohan took Ha Jin’s flashlight and went up to Sweeper. There was an odd figure in the middle of the subway track. It was humanoid in shape, but it had a lanky body and was completely red, as if its skin was peeled off. Its kidneys were exposed and dragged on the floor two meters away. It was a mutant zombie.
‘No matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find it above ground. Is it controlling the wave from underground?’ The mutant made a wailing sound not unlike what you would hear from a ghost child in a Japanese horror film. Its pale eyes were staring up into the air but, as soon as it discovered them, they turned red. Sweeper shuddered.
“Eww, what is that disgusting thing?”
“It’s a Gremlin.”
“It’s a nickname that I came up with. That… is a mutant zombie and it’s the one behind this mess. I can’t tell if we’re lucky or not.”
“Are they really that different from regular zombies?”
“Very much so.”
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