It was spreading quickly. In the previous timeline, this kind of chaos had only started happening around two days after the first zombies appeared. There had been a heated debate online during those two days. News surfaced about mysterious deaths and people violently attacking others after being declared dead.
Isn’t this the zombie apocalypse?
36 minutes ago | Report
The walking dead!
7 minutes ago | Report
Recruiting party members to raid the Blue House during the chaos (1/999)
1 minute ago | Report
Chaos erupted after terrible pictures of various incidents, eyewitness accounts, and other articles were posted online. It wasn’t until the third day, after the communication network went down, that the slaughtering started in earnest.
In the previous timeline, there was a clear patient zero. If the government had handled the situation better, they could have prevented the whole disaster. However, things were different this time. This time, the outbreak spread quickly, without warning. There were no early signs or news. The outbreak seemed to stem from more than just one or two sources. It really was both sudden and quick.
What changed? And why? Yohan suspected that his return may have had something to do with it. He turned his attention towards the large TVs on display in an electronics store. They were showing breaking news.
<Breaking news. December 16th, 2016. There have been reports of an unknown disease that is spreading rampantly. The number of victims is rapidly increasing within Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, and throughout the nation. Symptoms include loss of rationality, extreme aggression, and other various dangerous reactions. Those infected will attack or bite the people around them. The Blue House has declared a state of emergency. It was revealed that the national emergency order was proclaimed to examine…>
It was noisy on social media as well. The current situation was similar to the third day of the outbreak in the previous timeline.
‘I can’t afford to delay.’
As Yohan took a step away from the electronics store, someone approached him. His knife rang in the air as he immediately spun around and pulled it out. The sharp edge of the blade moved accurately towards its target, the eyes.
“W—wait!” a voice cried out.
It was a person. Yohan’s knife stopped midswing. It was actually someone that Yohan knew quite well. Jung Mi Lim, a female employee that had been working in the Gyeongseong Industrial Facilities team for two years.
“Miss Jung Mi?”
The woman rested her hands on her knees and gasped for breath. Either she had ran all the way over or something else had caused her to lose her breath.
“Is something wrong?”
“H—hold on a second.”
Yohan quickly scanned her body. There were red bloodstains on her shoes and pants. With a glance, Yohan could tell that it wasn’t her own blood. He had left the bar on the cusp of pandemonium and it seemed like she had quickly gotten out of there as well.
‘She has good judgement and knows to get away from danger.’ Yohan thought to himself approvingly. However, when she tried to hold Yohan’s arm, he stopped her.
“I said this before, but maybe you didn’t hear. Don’t touch me. I won’t be held responsible if I kill you accidentally. Also, were you hurt or bitten anywhere?”
“No. Just what is going on…?”
“I don’t know, and even if I did, I don’t have time to explain. Did you want something?”
“You don’t have to be so cold. I thought we were good friends.” Jung Mi looked a bit hurt. They had actually been pretty close when he worked at the office. However, for Yohan, that was almost four years ago. Enough time for distance to form.
“I’m sorry, but I’m in a bit of a hurry. If you don’t have any business with me, I’ll be off.”
“A favor… please do me a favor!” Jung Mi said, looking around anxiously. Although there were more zombies right now than Yohan expected, their numbers weren’t so great as to be a major threat yet. Only when they ‘suddenly’ appear ‘en masse’ were they truly dangerous. Of course, for novices who didn’t even know about zombies and had no idea how to deal with them, even a single zombie standing around would be dangerous.
Either way, Yohan was reluctant to accept her company. He didn’t want to be responsible for others right from the start. He knew that she was a good person, but he didn’t know how she might change when things got bad. Yohan was already determined to avoid anything unpredictable.
“I refuse. I don’t have the leisure of taking care of someone else.”
“Mr. Yohan, you live in Incheon by yourself right? At least, let’s go to Incheon together. I won’t ask you to do any more.”
Yohan remembered a bit more of the past life that he had left behind. They both used to commute to work from Incheon. Of course, that wasn’t a good enough reason for them to group up. He really wanted to avoid joining up with any survivors in the early days of apocalypse, no matter who it was.
“We could go by subway, bus, or taxi. It’s up to you,” continued Jung Mi. Yohan glanced over at the television display, which Jung Mi had walked past without regarding. It was replaying scenes of blood and flesh splattering against the inside windows of subway cars. Yohan frowned.
“I was looking through social media while we were eating. This situation… people online are going crazy and calling it the zombie apocalypse. A lot of terrible pictures have been posted. No matter how I think about it, it’s serious and scary. However, Mr. Yohan, you seemed to know about it already. You hastily left the bar before things went crazy there.”
Yohan revised his assessment of Jung Mi. As long as she didn’t encounter any misfortune, she was someone who could survive at least a year.
“So I quickly ran after you. For some reason, I thought that was the best thing to do. Normally it’s weird to carry such a scary-looking knife. And it’s weird to stab a person without warning. I got scared because you changed so much from the person I once knew, but—”
Yohan cut her off. Her quick thinking was praiseworthy, but they didn’t have time for idle chit chat right now. The situation was only getting worse as they talked.
“I’m going to Bucheon. I have a motorbike, but if the road looks bad, I’ll walk. If you can’t keep up, I’ll ditch you. If things get dangerous, don’t expect me to stick my neck out to rescue you. You can stay with me until we get to Bucheon.”
“Also,” Yohan held out his palm. Jung Mi looked up at him in confusion.
“Please pay me for my assistance. Anything is fine, but not money,” said Yohan, deliberately putting on a stern expression.
He didn’t want people to think that he was willing to help them out of goodwill. It would only lead to more unreasonable requests in the future. Jung Mi had a serious expression on her face as she handed over her watch and some accessories. She tried to force a smile, but only managed to look awkward.
Just then, a piercing scream was heard across the street. A woman was being chased by zombies before she tripped and fell. She was wearing high heels and one of the heels had broken and was now dangling impotently. She was about to be bitten.
“Um, uh…” Jung Mi shuffled her feet anxiously as her eyes shot back and forth between Yohan and the fallen woman. Yohan’s expression didn’t change as he ignored the scene once he confirmed it wouldn’t affect him. The sound of biting, chewing, tearing, and a final scream struck their eardrums from just across the street. The pair moved away with increased urgency.
Yohan headed straight for a nearby convenience store. The employees were long gone and the doors were locked. He picked up a nearby brick and smashed the window, which caught the attention of several pairs of undead eyes. Yohan deftly stabbed his knife into the temple of one zombie before going in. He glanced over at Jung Mi. Her jaw was clenched shut as if she was trying to contain her fear.
The store’s alarm was wailing incessantly. Yohan smashed it with his brick and proceeded to loot the convenience store. He was looking for simple groceries, water, lighters, and flashlights. He put as much as he could into his bag and pulled out a map, placing it on the ground.
‘Ok, we’ll need to go from Nodeul-ro to Gukhoe-daero and then take the expressway to Bucheon.’
He knew he should be able to get back to the shelter in about three to four hours. For now, the highway would be safer than the city streets. Naturally, once the infection spreads, it would be dangerous everywhere. Yohan stood up suddenly, causing Jung Mi to flinch. As she followed him towards the exit, he noticed her trembling hands taking a box cutter knife from the shelf.
“Do you think that can kill a zombie? Put it back,” said Yohan, sighing gently.
“Miss Jung Mi, if you try to kill those bastards with that thing, you’ll only get yourself killed.”
Yohan pulled out a knife from the side pocket of his bag and handed it to Jung Mi. It was a large knife, but light for its size.
“You have to aim for their brains or cut their throats. They will also die if you stab their heart, but it can take up to three minutes. Even if they fall over and looked like they’re dead, they might get up again and attack you. So, if you’re fighting in melee range, always aim for the head.”
Yohan could recall a lot of people who had fought in vain and died because they couldn’t hit a vital spot.
“The temples, the eyes, the nape. Those are the best places to stab. Stab deep into their brain and quickly pull the knife out. Even if you stab them perfectly, they can still attack for up to 30 seconds.”
‘That should be enough. Now it’s up to fate whether you survive or die.’
“Grab some slippers as well. If your feet start to hurt, you can change shoes.”
It was going to be a difficult journey. The pair went to where Yohan parked his motorbike. He got on and started it up. As the engine revved, he could feel Jung Mi getting on behind him.
* * *
The pair got on the highway through Nodeul-ro. When they encountered other survivors and their vehicles blocking the road, Yohan hopped off his bike without a second thought and ditched it. He had spare motorbikes anyways.
They walked for about four hours. It seemed that Yeouido was one of the epicenters of the outbreak. The number of infected encountered decreased significantly and were rare on the highway. However, the roads were jammed with cars honking at each other even though it was long past rush hour. Yohan’s watch showed 11pm. He wondered if they should keep going or stop for the day.
Unexpectedly, Jung Mi had managed to keep up with him. She followed his advice and switched shoes when necessary. She showed great willpower and did her best to not hold him back. Yohan reassessed her life expectancy score yet again.
In the previous timeline, he had picked up a habit of giving people a score based on how much longer they would survive. He wasn’t interested in what kind of person they were or what kind of life they had up until this point. He was more interested in whether they would live or die.
People who were smart and proactive survived up to 6 months. If they were lucky, they could survive a bit longer. To survive past the one year mark, they had to be lucky and a bit cold-hearted. And to get past three years, one had to go beyond cold-hearted and embrace their evil side in order to survive. These were the people who were willing to sacrifice others in order to save themselves. Most of the people that Yohan had met after three years were like that.
“It looks like the cars are all stuck in this traffic jam,”Jung Mi said. Even with all the chaos, only a few things could affect the traffic this drastically.
‘There’s something going on at the center of this.’
A traffic jam this big wouldn’t be caused by a simple traffic accident. It had to be zombies. Yohan considered his options. Should they could continue as they were, make a detour, or stop and rest until morning?
‘As I suspected, we’ll have to use the main road now.’
It was more dangerous to get attacked in a sparsely populated area, especially if it was dark. They had to move through large, open spaces. They would inevitably have at least one confrontation, but Yohan wasn’t worried. Before he went into hiding for a few months, he wanted to experience a real fight again just to reassure himself of his abilities.
After making up his mind, Yohan sat down on the side of the road and massaged his legs. Jung Mi watched him perform his warm-up routine with a weird look on her face.
“We may have to break through a swarm of zombies soon,” he told her.
— Ω —
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