The zombies had first started spreading on the first floor. In that hellscape filled with blood and screams, survivors either fled outside the mall or went underground. Jung Hwan Kim, a sales promoter working at the mall, reacted quickly and worked with his friends to stack furniture by the escalators in order to block out the increasing number of zombies in the mall.
The problem, however, was that the supplies were on B2F. After one person became infected, that place was now hell on earth. As such, they ended up blockading both the top and bottom of the escalators. At that time, there were around 60 people on B1F. They were waiting to be rescued and met Gunn and Hyuk in the emergency exit the following day while scavenging for supplies.
Gunn insisted that they needed to proactively seek out supplies, but people were too scared and avoided him. Four more days passed and there was still no signs of rescue. All communication networks were down and the sounds of gunshots outside further increased their feelings of fear. A few survivors dared to venture out through the emergency exit, but they came back bearing infected wounds.
They had thought that the emergency exit was safe, since Gunn and Hyuk had came in that way, but the brothers had to fight through zombies in order to reach them. After these failures, Gunn decided to try and organize everyone. They needed to conserve their energy in order to fight back before it was too late. Everyone would die if there was no water or food. The group reluctantly got motivated to fend for themselves.
Thankfully, they had weapons. People armed themselves with cutlery and blunt objects from the household goods section and went down to reclaim B2F. Gunn and Hyuk took the lead. During this campaign, almost half of their party got infected and died. It was costly, but they managed to acquire the supplies guarded by the zombies. This was the first and last fight for many people in their camp.
‘They lack fighting skills.’
Yohan quietly rubbed his chin while listening to Gunn’s story. The brothers were great fighters. They knew the zombie’s weak points and, even though they were afraid, they didn’t hesitate to fight back. However, Yohan wasn’t confident in the others. In order to clean up the mall, they needed at least 10 fighters, people who could fight zombies one to one, and a small support group.
“Hello, I’m Yohan,” he said, greeting the camp members one by one and asking if anyone needed the medicine that he brought. He largely received a warm welcome, helped by the fact that he had rescued Gunn’s group. It also helped that he was an outsider and had information about the situation beyond the mall.
“Is there anyone here like me, who came from outside the mall and joined recently?” he asked, but was met with silence. Everyone kept their lips sealed. Yohan felt something was off, but decided not to inquire further. He would find out eventually.
“Where’s the rescue party?”
“And the military! What is the government doing?”
“Are there really that many zombies outside?”
The questions came non-stop. Yohan was only able to answer a handful of them. He told them that the government was now practically non-existent and, though many military bases were still operating, they were focused on maintaining their defenses. He had acquired this information in the previous timeline and had assumed that the situation would still be the same now.
Even though the government and its infrastructures collapsed quickly, Koreans managed to persist, primarily due to the country’s population density. Korea’s unique city planning also contributed to this. There was a convenience store and supermarket on every block and apartment buildings were already predisposed to help their occupants survive a disaster.
Two years after the apocalypse, the fate of humanity was threatened more by in-fighting over supplies rather than zombies. When the Seoul Survival Union started to make its move, that was the beginning of the end. In an anarchist state, their ways became the law. If people didn’t abide by their rules, they were killed, just like Yohan and his organization in the previous timeline.
* * *
“Let’s take our time clearing out the parking lot. Please make sure the emergency exit door is locked. The problem is the first floor entrances…”
People had been stuck at the camp for a long time. This was due to the growing number of zombies crawling over each other to get in through the entrances on the first floor. The problem with trying to blockade these entrances was that there were two of them on the first floor. The doors were on opposite sides of the building and were filled with zombies. If they moved to bar one entrance, zombies could stream in through the other and surround them. Even with Yohan’s experience and skill, he couldn’t guarantee their safety.
A team of five could watch each other’s backs and safely control an area. Two teams would be needed to rush in and blockade both entrances at the same time. After that, they could put their backs against the blockade and deal with the zombies swarming around them.
‘But is anyone willing to participate? Gunn just took eight people with him to scavenge for supplies and three didn’t make it back. Gunn himself doesn’t seem to like my plan.’
“Could I at least ask?”
“Do what you want, it won’t make a difference. It was hard enough to convince people to go out with me before. A few might even…” Gunn trailed off. He looked like he was hiding something, but what? Yohan didn’t mask the suspicious look he gave Gunn, but also didn’t inquire further.
“How’s the water supply?”
“We haven’t tallied everything up, but we’ve used up the smaller bottles first. There’s still around 50 boxes of bottled water left.”
“No, not drinking water. I’m talking about the water supply. Is it in good condition?”
“The water’s a bit cold, but it’s flowing just fine. We’re using it sparingly.”
“That’s weird. The city water supply should’ve been cut off long ago. There must be a large emergency water tank on the roof.”
Some of the more recent buildings didn’t have emergency water tanks. Thankfully this building must have been built a while ago, since there was water that could only have come from a water tank.
“We’ll need to check on the water tank on the roof. It’s probably low.”
“I see. I didn’t think about that.” Gunn nodded, learning something new. If they had been using it for six months, it was probably pretty low by now. Once gone, not only would they struggle to wash themselves, but it would be difficult to flush away bodily wastes as well. Drinkable water was too valuable to use on flushing poop.
‘As I thought, we can’t avoid fighting the zombies.’
Yohan had already made up his mind. He just needed to convince the others to conquer the mall with him. The first person he approached was Jung Hwan Kim, whose quick thinking to block the escalators with furniture helped protect B1F. In the previous timeline, Yohan had spent a lot of time with him and, although he wasn’t a Grade A survivor like Gunn Kang, he did survive for a long time.
“Hey, I heard great things about you. Could you tell me a little more about the stuff you did at the start of the outbreak?”
Jung Hwan hesitated, clearly uncomfortable.
‘Maybe the heroic story that Gunn told me wasn’t the full story?’
“Don’t worry. It doesn’t matter what happened, no one’s going to blame you.” Yohan had to coax him a bit before Jung Hwan started talking.
“I was working on the first floor when everything happened. I saw the zombies flooding in from the front entrance and immediately sensed danger.”
Yohan nodded his head, impressed. Jung Hwan smiled bitterly and continued talking.
“I used to be a zombie otaku,” Jung Hwan said.
“Well congratulations on your successful otaku life!” The joke was somewhat inappropriate, but Jung Hwan still laughed. Yohan said it to ease Jung Hwan’s nervousness. It seemed to work, as Jung Hwan started talking more.
“That’s why I just ran. I was going to go outside at first, but there were so many of them at the main entrance. So many… I had no choice but to take the escalator.”
“You came down here because you knew there was food, right?”
Jung Hwan nodded. Yohan admired his decision making.
“People followed me. But then I saw someone get bitten by a zombie… I pressed the emergency stop button for the escalator and got people to help me stack up furniture to block the way.”
“…We blocked out a lot of survivors.”
“You could have been slaughtered. No, you definitely would’ve been killed 100%.”
“They were trapped on the escalator, screaming while the zombies ate them alive. We continued to stack up the furniture. Then it got quiet. While we were catching our breath, we heard some more screaming from the food court. Among the people that escaped, there was an infected.”
“And that’s when you blocked both sides,” Yohan said, nodding his head. This was the result of having the determination to survive and a bit of luck.
“How many zombies have you killed so far?”
Jung Hwan shook his head. He had survived six months, but had yet to kill a single zombie. This was a serious problem.
“It’ll be difficult to survive for even two months with our current supplies. We have to go get more. I need your help.”
“I can’t do it.”
“You can. It’s hard in the beginning, I know. But they’re just corpses that happen to look like humans. They’re not intelligent beings. They’re just rotten pieces of meat.”
“I… I just…” Jung Hwan shook his head again.
Aside from Jung Hwan, Yohan tried talking to a few more people, but they were also hesitant. In the previous timeline, they weren’t this passive. Did they need more time and the right opportunity? Even the people that he just rescued were wary, even though they had built up the courage to venture out not too long ago. The incident must have been traumatic for them, filling them with fear.
This wasn’t going to be easy.
While he was deep in thought, one of the women that he had saved earlier came up to him. It was the woman that he’d had a staring contest with. She introduced herself as Saeri Yun. She had a bob cut hairstyle and an attractive, tight leather outfit. She looked like she was in her early 20s, maybe mid-20s at most.
“Did you come to talk about what I was saying to the others?”
“I came because I wanted to say something to you, tough guy.”
“What do you want to say?”
“There’s something that Gunn didn’t tell you,” answered Saeri. Yohan looked at her in confusion but, with a serious look on her face, she continued, “there were some bastards that barged in here a week ago. A bunch of gangsters that were staying in the H Mall across the street.”
“Wait, there were intruders? How… no, why did they come? For supplies?” Yohan asked, changing his question mid-sentence. They would have to enter through the parking lot, force their way through the first floor and enter the camp using the emergency exit. This was the way that Yohan came in. The passage was narrow, making it easier for an experienced person to fight zombies and get through.
“At first I thought they were here for supplies, but that wasn’t it. They took alcohol and cigarettes. And women. Six of them. My older sister was taken.”
Yohan now understood why everyone looked uncomfortable when he asked if anyone came from outside. Why didn’t anyone tell him something so important? This was different than the past that Yohan knew.
‘Since the starting date of the outbreak was different, other things could be different too, but a gang?’
“Gunn said they left because they already have enough supplies but, if they run out, they’ll come back to take our supplies. That’s why he wanted to take over the loading dock. He wanted to store supplies there discreetly.”
Yohan knew that it would eventually be important to acquire the supplies from the loading dock but, to him, eliminating hostiles was more important. These gangsters weren’t an issue that could be ignored. However, Gunn’s group couldn’t even handle zombies. It would be impossible for them to fight against a malicious group of humans.
Still, something needed to be done. Yohan still had his own set of rules that he always followed—save the people that were useful and qualified to survive. Kill the people who lacked morals and could potentially be a threat.
Never ignore threats that could be an issue in the future.
— Ω —
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