In the darkness, a loud crash could be heard as Yohan broke the window of a pharmacy store. He had moved quickly in order to complete a high priority task before the chaos of the outbreak reached this area.
It was to secure more medicine.
Aspirin, anti-inflammatories, other painkillers, and—most importantly—antibiotics. He had to secure these life saving supplies. Band-aids and compression bandages were also important for survival, but one’s chances of survival would decrease drastically if their immune system was compromised.
Before he returned to his shelter, Yohan wanted to grab every drug he remembered using often. More supplies could always be gathered while on the move in the future, but for now he should have an emergency supply at home. Just then, Yohan heard movement and a voice behind him.
‘Damn it,’ Yohan frowned, ‘who knew there would be someone at the pharmacy at this hour?’ He brandished his knife and gripped it tightly.
It was a man that looked to be in his early 50s. He didn’t look threatening. Yohan carefully and stealthily put his bag of supplies on the ground and moved behind the man.
The man was on his guard, but Yohan still suppressed him quickly. He struggled fiercely but, as soon as Yohan moved his knife in front of his eyes, the man froze. Yohan could’ve tried talking it out right from the get go, like he normally preferred, but he knew he was trespassing. He didn’t want to risk any unnecessary commotion.
“If you don’t resist, I won’t hurt you.”
“That is to say, I am able, and willing, to kill you. If you resist.”
Yohan wasn’t bluffing. He didn’t want to kill for no reason, but he also wanted to avoid problematic situations. Thankfully, the man calmed down. Yohan nodded in appreciation and found a rope that he could use to tie him up. He untied the rope, which was wrapped around a box of medicine, and used it to bind the man’s hands and feet. The man’s eyes were full of fear.
“I came here for the medicine. I’m sorry for causing trouble. Since I know your face now, if we happen to meet again…” Yohan continued to talk as his hands worked, “I’ll help you. One time.”
He assumed the man was a pharmacist. It would be worthwhile to group up with him because of his skillset. Of course, the chance of meeting again was close to zero.
“I didn’t tie the rope too tight, so you should be able to free yourself easily.”
Yohan exited the pharmacy, making sure to blockade the shattered window.
* * *
After he got home, Yohan double and triple checked his locks and created an alarm system consisting of fishing lines and bells all around the shelter. Afterwards, he washed himself. It felt like the warm water washed away the fatigue he accumulated throughout the day. As time passed, things would get more chaotic outside. It would be crazier tomorrow and even more so the day after.
In about a month, people’s stockpile of food would run out and they will eventually come out from hiding. The number of infected would continue increasing exponentially and the cities would no longer belong to the humans.
Yohan was planning on staying at his place for about six months. Six months post-outbreak was when he had the most near-death experiences in the previous timeline. It was the city’s most chaotic period. It was a period of time when people could not roam around carelessly. Of course, zombies were a danger, but the true death sentence was the reserve force enlisting you if you were caught roaming around in the early period of the outbreak.
For six months, humans would be put to the test. A test to see if humans were qualified to survive. These six months were like a large sieve that separated the wheat from the chaff, only those who were qualified to survive would pass this test. And that was when Yohan would go out into the streets.
He wouldn’t be able to survive on his own, so he needed companions. His goal was to merge existing survivor groups into one big organization. In the previous timeline, the most powerful and cruel organization he encountered was the Seoul Survival Union. The Union would serve as a model for the organization that he was envisioning, minus the cruelty. Being objective and stern was necessary, but being cruel would eventually lead to bloodshed.
He wanted to create an organization that wouldn’t go down easily no matter who they went up against. That was Yohan’s goal. As he organized his thoughts, he turned on the TV.
‘There’s still electricity.’
It wasn’t a major concern for Yohan. Even if there weren’t any electricity, he would still be able to get some power from his solar panels. Yohan leaned back in his beanbag chair and turned on his game console. He was planning on beating the newest zombie survival game.
It was noisy outside. Through the window with the blinds drawn, he could hear people being chased by zombies.
‘Is it that bad already?’
The zombie outbreak was spreading fast. Yohan was glad that he had blocked the broken window back at the pharmacy. The outbreak had just started and he had already almost doomed someone. If this continued this way, he might need to move out in three months instead of six. It was hard to say whether this was a blessing or a curse.
Yohan frowned and refocused on the TV screen. Soothing background music started playing as the time of chaos approached outside.
* * *
2. First Camp – Jung-dong Super Mall
Six Months After the Zombie Apocalypse
Bucheon City Hall Station, Inside the Mall
There was a scream.
At the entrance to an electronics store on the first floor, a man was surrounded by zombies. The infected viciously grabbed the man, bit him, and tore him to pieces.
Fear filled the eyes of the people who were trying to escape together with him. The victim spat out blood and raised his hand with difficulty. His expression was stricken with pain and fear.
The leader of the group, Gunn Kang, screamed out his name, but intestines were already flowing out of Sung Hyun’s stomach. Soon there was nothing but the white in his eyes.
Gunn bit his lips. Even though they didn’t really have any choice but to venture out from the basement, it was still a dangerous decision. Out of the eight people that came, two had already died. To make things worse, zombies were closing in on remaining survivors.
“Don’t separate! Stay together!”
Gunn ran towards the emergency exit on the other side of the mall. His grip on his kitchen knife tightened, but he still felt as if the knife might slip out of his hand as soon as terror overtook him. Still, he had to take care of the people that trusted and followed him.
Gunn stopped running abruptly. There were three zombies in between them and the exit. They wouldn’t be able to deal with three at the same time. Just as Gunn decided to try a different direction, he heard screams behind him.
This woman, who had been following him, got caught by a zombie. Before she could even resist, a vicious hand tore away her flesh. Her horrific screams were painful to hear.
“Damn it, damn it!”
Even though they had changed directions after losing a member, there was another zombie in front of them.
The road before them seemed endless.
Gunn climbed on top of a tall display inside a cosmetics store. Three people followed behind him. Gunn’s little brother, Hyuk Kang, followed after them. As he was about to climb up, a zombie appeared out of nowhere and grabbed his ankle. Right before Hyuk lost his grip, Gunn cut off the zombie’s hand with his kitchen knife. He had to hack at it several times, as the hand was still fresh and strong.
Hyuk managed to climb up with the hand still gripping his leg. The group of five stood helplessly on top of the tall display, catching their breaths. There were roughly 30 zombies chasing them and they were now stuck on top on the display. Suddenly, one of the women let loose the tears she had been holding back.
“S-Sae Hwa…” she cried, calling out her dead friend’s name. Her sadness was contagious—the man next to her started crying as well.
“Shut up and stop crying!” shouted another woman. She sounded annoyed, but was more likely anxious, as she started to bite her nails. “I don’t want to die in a place like this.”
Her eyes were filled with spite. Gunn racked his brains for a way out while Hyuk swung at the zombies, hoping to kill at least one. However, there were too many enemies, all trying to get their food. Hyuk stopped attacking after almost being scratched and spat on a zombie instead.
“Brother, what are we going to do?”
Gunn didn’t know the answer. They could only stay in their position for a few hours. They didn’t even have enough room to sit down.
‘The number of zombies are increasing. I—I have to make a decision…’
“I’ll go down,” said Hyuk, interrupting Gunn’s thoughts.
“I said I’ll go down. In this kind of situation, we have no choice but to make one person the bait.”
“Stop talking nonsense. If you go down there, you’ll die 100%.”
“I know.” Hyuk’s voice was filled with both fear and conviction. “I’m the one that suggested we come here. I’m responsible.”
“Idiot. Why is this your responsibility?”
In the end, they had no choice but to venture out in order to gather supplies. Hyuk boldly made the suggestion, but Gunn was the one that made the final decision. It wasn’t anyone’s responsibility.
“We’ll all die if we stay here.”
‘Shit.’ Gunn couldn’t help but curse. After the outbreak, Gunn had gone back home, but his parents had already turned into zombies. Hyuk was standing at the entrance with a kitchen knife in his hand, his face covered in tears and blood.
Gunn was thankful that his brother survived. He was his only family now.
‘I can’t lose you.’
“You see that empty space over there? I’m going to try to jump over these zombies as best as I can and land over there. As soon as I land, I’m going to draw their attention and lure them away. Run for the emergency exit once the zombies thin out. If you guys can’t wait for me, head to the loading dock without me. If I can’t follow you directly, I’ll go underground.”
Hyuk looked at where Gunn was pointing. It was roughly a three meter jump. Although Gunn was athletic during highschool, it was definitely dangerous to attempt such a jump. Even if he somehow managed to make it, he would be surrounded by zombies as soon as he landed. It was no different than a suicide mission.
“I said I’ll do it!” repeated Hyuk. Gunn couldn’t die. People were still alive because of him. If he died, the survivors would lose all hope.
“I have to do it.”
As the brothers argued over who would be the bait, an ominous shadow slowly approached. A tall zombie, almost 190cm, was walking towards them.
“Gunn, ov—over there…”
Gunn looked where Min Seo was pointing and saw the giant zombie. The zombie could easily grab one of them just by extending its arms. Before they could act, the giant grabbed Hyuk’s leg. Hyuk tried to attack with his knife, but he lost his balance and hit nothing but air. The zombie dragged Hyuk off the display, but he managed to grab hold of the divider. However, he wouldn’t be able to hold on for long.
“Brotherrr!” Hyuk’s fingers slid off the divider and his body disappeared into the crowd of zombies. A blood curdling scream erupted from Gunn’s lips.
“Hyuk! Shit, let me go!”
“Gunn, you can’t!”
“Let go!” Gunn moved to jump down without any hesitation, but two of the survivors stopped him.
“Ahhhhh!” It wasn’t a scream, but a battlecry. Hyuk had cut off the giant’s hand and was escaping through the legs of the zombies. His movements rippled within the crowd.
Suddenly, they heard a loud blast as sharp projectiles flew through the air. An arrow struck the back of the head of a zombie that was attacking Hyuk. The zombie staggered and fell. The sound of more arrows flying filled the air. Zombies fell and Hyuk stood up with a confused look on his face. More zombies approached him, clamoring over their fallen brethren.
A mysterious figure moved in like lightning and began slaughtering the zombies.
— Ω —
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