Yohan told them about the biker’s acts of brutality and the threats they had made. He told them how their group had around 40 people. Seo Jun and Elder Park were shocked. They had been under the impression that their lifestyle was improving. However, the enemy had more people than their two camps put together. If they only tallied the people that could actually fight, they didn’t even have half their numbers.
“I’m not sure where they’re from, but those bastards have been driving around the mall and killing anyone they find.”
“Why would they do such a thing?”
“I don’t know what their goals are, but…I think they just want to slaughter and commit acts of violence rather than gather supplies and try to survive.”
Yohan didn’t think that the bikers originally went around killing people. They might have once been ordinary survivors who only thought about survival. Something must have triggered them and led them down a path of violence. Without the government or military to stop them, it was easy to lose sight of one’s humanity after tasting violence. If such a group isn’t suppressed from the start, they would go on to do even worse things. The thrill of violence becoming an addiction.
“Yohan, what should we do? I’m sure you have a reason for calling this meeting.” Elder Park asked calmly. He was more composed than Seo Jun, who was clearly shaken by the news.
“We’re actually pretty well armed. We can withstand ordinary threats. We also have enough supplies that we can just wait out threats and don’t have to act on our own. But…” Yohan took a deep breath. “We don’t have experience killing other people. Although we’ve killed a lot of zombies, homicide is a whole different matter. We can only fight the enemy if we have the determination to kill them. The enemies are human, but, at the same time, they’re not humane. The moment we hesitate to kill them, they’ll slaughter us with their knives.”
There was silence in the room.
“The reason why I requested this meeting was to ask everyone to steel themselves and prepare for the upcoming battle.”
The silence felt heavier than gravity itself.
“Please be ready to kill. This goes even for those that aren’t in this room right now.”
The recon team had probably already prepared themselves mentally for this, having already seen and experienced the situation before. However, it was different for the people who had been staying inside the confines of the camp. The only enemies they had were zombies, hunger, and survival. Asking them to kill people was a lot.
Yohan needed the support and cooperation of the managers. While the recon team was venturing outside, the managers had earned the trust of the survivors within the camp. Since Yohan couldn’t force everyone to be on his side unquestioningly, he had to rely on the middle managers and their ability to convince others.
“If we’re going to try to convince people, I should probably start using a gun again. I don’t even remember how long it’s been since I served with civil defense.” Elder Park chuckled.
“I was wondering why you were handing out guns. So this was your plan.” Seo Jun commented. It wasn’t the response that Yohan was expecting. He had thought that they would suggest talking to the bikers first or would be straight up opposed to the idea of killing other people. Before Yohan could say anything, Seo Jun made another remark.
“Hey Yohan, lighten up. Why do you have such a serious expression?”
“It’s not like we’re going to go hunt them down and kill them. We’re defending our camp against invaders. You thought we would be opposed to this? Did you think we would give up without a fight?” Seo Jun tore out a sheet from the notebook that he always carried with him. “We know that our lives are precious. It’s true that we lived a pitiful life for a while, but we’ve changed. What I’m trying to say is…”
Seo Jun handed him the piece of paper and Yohan looked at it. It was a list with several items:
– CAMP RULES –
1. Infected survivors will be killed no matter what.
2. Rape, violence, murder, or any other acts of violence towards a fellow survivor are prohibited.
3. Actions to protect one’s self will be considered self-defense.
4. Actions against outsiders will be considered self-defense as threats cannot be confirmed.
5. Any outsiders that may cause trouble for the camp in the future will be killed no matter what.
6. Essential supplies will be managed as a group.
7. Those that don’t contribute will receive no supplies.
8. Those with better skills or performances will get bigger rations.
It was the rules that Yohan came up with and essentially forced upon everyone when they first established the mall camp.
“Why do you have this?”
“I hand this out to everyone in the camp. I told them to keep it with them always.” Seo Jun smiled. He took the piece of paper from Yohan’s hand and put it into Yohan’s pocket.
“Remember it well.”
Yohan reeled. He had been looking down on the group, thinking that they were incompetent. Despite acknowledging the fact that they were growing, he still wasn’t giving them enough credit.
“Jung Hwan, tell everyone to come in.” Seo Jun requested. Jung Hwan opened the meeting room door. There were people eavesdropping outside. They were surprised by the door opening and quickly dispersed.
“Everyone please come in.”
The six camp members that weren’t already in the room entered sheepishly.
“Honestly, we already knew the situation. Jung Hwan told us.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah. So stop treating us like kids and guide us, leader.” Seo Jun said with a low voice, acting as the representative for all the camp members. “Because we trust you.”
Yohan feelings were complicated as the camp members looked to him with expectations.
* * *
After a long meeting, Yohan was studying maps of the mall and the city in his room. He went over various scenarios several times, trying to predict various behaviors and variables. As he went over worst case scenarios, complicated and unexpected results kept coming to mind. Despite experiencing a headache that made it feel like head was going to split open, Yohan forced himself to continue planning.
He was able to survive so long because of this unrelenting effort, considering all variables and repeating scenarios over and over. He had more experience than others, as well as a sense of intuition that came with the knowledge he’d gained in the previous timeline. While he was above average in athleticism and a decent shot, he wasn’t like a movie protagonist with super powers or extreme intelligence. However, his drive to survive was higher than others and it kept his body moving even in dire circumstances. He would often comfort himself by telling himself that it was the only option he had for survival.
Yohan let out a deep sigh. The incomplete intel and unknown variables were messing up his thoughts, creating chaos in his head.
‘Will those bastards attack the camp? If so, when? In what way? How dangerous will it be?’
Even though the camp was well prepared and had the upper hand in weaponry, Yohan felt anxious. He kept trying to see if there was anything that he had missed. He couldn’t help but feel like something was out of place, but he couldn’t pinpoint what it was.
‘Why were they going around slaughtering people?’
– ‘It’s their idea of fun.’
‘How do they bring people down?’
– ‘They check for survivors beforehand and, after exploring around the camp and getting info, they take them down in one fell swoop.’
‘Why do they gather intel first and not attack right away?’
– ‘If we’re looking at it from their point of view, they most likely need to prepare themselves. However, it could also be that they want to check the surrounding area.’
‘Why do the bastards not settle down in one place and keep moving around?’
Yohan paused. He couldn’t answer this question no matter how much he thought about it. He tried to think of something, anything, but their actions didn’t make sense.
‘Were they going around trying to find people? No. Even then, creating a camp and then going around to slaughter people was still safer, especially with their numbers. But if they made a camp, then they wouldn’t have survived a zombie wave. Wait a minute…no way…’ Yohan’s train of thought led to a new hypothesis. They knew about zombie waves. Immediately, he shook his head.
‘Only six months have passed. It doesn’t make sense. Even I only figured out the golden rules to survive zombie waves after a year and a half and many lost camps. There was no way they could have figured it out after just six months.’ He felt goosebumps, but did not know why.
“Wah! You scared me.” Yohan was still focused on his thoughts and trying to calm himself when Saeri barged into his room calling for him.
“I’ve never seen you so uncomposed like this.”
“Ji Hye made a snack. She said to come and eat.”
“Jeez, don’t be like that. Come eat. If you don’t, Ji Hye will be disappointed.”
Yohan tried to wave her off like a bothersome fly. Saeri pulled up a chair and sat beside him. She wasn’t going to give up that easily.
“You know what kind of person you are, Yohan?”
Yohan didn’t replied.
“All you ever do is work. You’re a workaholic. I’ve never seen you take a break.”
“I told you, I’m okay.”
“You should rest as much as you train. That’s what you said.”
‘She picks the worst times to be on point.’ Yohan let out a heavy sigh.
“What kind of snack?”
“I don’t like potatoes. They taste bad.”
“I’ll rest, so can you leave?”
Saeri puffed up her cheeks. With a playful expression, she got closer to Yohan and rested her head on head on her hands.
“What about me?” The way she tried to be flirtatious and batted her eyelashes made her look ridiculous.
“I refuse. You only do that whenever I’m resting. Be honest, you don’t want me to rest, right?”
“Jeez, that’s harsh.”
“And stop making sexual innuendos.”
“Why? You don’t like it?” Saeri opened here eyes wide and blinked. Yohan caught scent of some fruity perfume and frowned. He pushed her away.
“Man, I made a mistake not teaching you a lesson on day one.”
“It’s your fault for leading me on.”
There was no point in repeating himself.
“Let’s go. Let’s go get some potato pancakes.”
“I thought you said you didn’t like potatoes?”
“What are you talking about? Potatoes are delicious. It’s not good to be picky.”
Yohan’s chair screeched as he pushed it back to stand up. Seeing him leave, Saeri scoffed and stuck out her tongue.
Yohan had some potato pancakes in a cup and was chewing on them as he headed up to the roof. Once he got there, he could see the grey-colored city and feel the summer breeze. Originally, the area was empty and gloomy. As they burned more zombie corpses, the amount of ash and dust in the area increased, making the air murky. Yohan looked around with some binoculars.
After an hour, the bikers he was following suddenly disappeared. They had disappeared at a spot that was around twenty minutes away from the mall. They continued to appear and disappear sporadically. They were definitely circling around their camp. Yohan continued watching until the sun started to set behind some clouds. The grey sky became reddish. And then, as the sky shifted towards an orange color, Yohan lost all signs of the bikers.
Even after it was completely dark, he couldn’t spot them anymore. The last place he looked at was Gyenam Elementary School, which was around ten minutes away from both the mall and hospital camps. Yohan’s gut was telling him that the battle was going to happen soon.
— Ω —
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