It had been a tough couple of nights for Dong-yu, stressful, if not tiresome. The sounds of the city of Seoul, South Korea, had kept him awake: the horns from distant vehicles, sirens from ambulances, fire engines and police cars, the loud droning of train horns that echoed throughout the city, and not to mention the occasional wind howling like a wounded ghost.
There was no point in sleeping between the doorways to buildings, there was the possibility that hooligans would stir trouble for him. There was only one way in which Dong-yu would be able to get a good night sleep, and he deduced that he needed to find an alleyway. He knew this would be a more convenient place to sleep.
Night was fast approaching, the sky providing very little light as Dong-yu searched numerous alleyways to which he could call his new home.
Yes, Dong-yu was a homeless man. His life in South Korea had not been a fruitful one. What started out as a promising promotional add campaign to sell the latest residential buildings and boost the profit of his company, had ended in disaster. Before becoming homeless, Dong-yu had been a house salesman. His life practically revolved around his work. In truth, it was the only decent job he was good at, and, it placed food on the table. He had a loving wife and daughter who thought the world of him, and a proud family.
The moment news broke that the company he worked for had been declared bankrupt, Dong-yu lost everything. His wife divorced him, his daughter did not want to know her own father, and worst off, his entire family disowned him.
With nothing but the same matted clothes on his back tearing at the seams, which consisted of his business suit, black and now grubby with patches tearing in random parts, Dong-yu was forced to wonder the streets of Seoul, alone.
He cursed God and his Angels for placing him in this position, and held judgement against the whole universe. He even vowed to punish and kill Destiny and Fate, he was that angry.
The wealthy residents of Seoul remained clear of the beggar, whose audacious stench wafted in all directions.
As night and darkness loomed, the temperature he felt, grew colder.
Eventually, his search for a place to sleep, brought him to an alley that caught his attention. There was a pull about this alley, a pull that he could not describe. He had passed this alley several times since his disownment, but not once, had he ever thought of stepping down it.
He had moved from doorway to doorway, even slept in Seoul Station at one point. However, a kerfuffle arose between him and another homeless person that saw him being banned from the place.
He scratched at his filthy black beard that itched at his skin, and then scratched the back of his head, dandruff and fluff fell from his ruffled black hair as he considered whether he should step down this one alley.
He took a chance, and stepped into the alley that had taken his fancy.
The alley in which he now walked down, was dimly lit, straddled with assortment of bin bags, broken bottles, crushed cans of alcohol, used condoms, packets of empty cigarette boxes, the ends of cigarette butts and gum littering the floor.
There was also an acrid smell of urine that lingered in the air, mixed with something else he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
Is that…copper? His mind thought aloud. It was a ferocious aroma that ran up his nostrils, forcing Dong-yu to unleash a violent cough.
Despite the acrid smell of urine and whatever else may be lurking in this dark, damp, and isolated part of Seoul, Dong-yu’s mind was settled; this was to be his new home. It wasn’t much, and he had stayed in worst places before.
He had no other personal belongings with him, and made do with whatever was lying around. Dong-yu set himself to work by making a bed. He rummaged through the dustbins, finding a stained white plastic sheet that he knew would be suitable for keeping him warm during the cold nights. He scoured for a black bin bag, one which he found and fashioned it into a pillow. There were piles of discarded newspapers and magazines that he took and laid them down to form a thick mattress.
His bed made, and testing it, Dong-yu, to his surprise, found it to be startlingly comfortable, even for his own standards.
Laying down on his new bed, Dong-yu listened to the ambiance sounds of the city.
It unnerved him to notice, as to how quiet it was in this alleyway since he took those first steps down its dreary path. At least, for once, it seemed, he was going to get a good night’s sleep.
He closed his eyes and began to nestle himself down for a night’s rest. Until, something scuttled its way across the stone-cold floor. Springing up, Dong-yu’s dark brown pupils frantically searched the scuttling. He saw that it was but merely a harmless rat that took shelter under a skip.
Settling back down, and near semi consciousness, Dong-yu heard what to him sounded like faint moaning, he must have imagined it. Sitting up, he looked around for its source. There was no one else in the alley apart from him, maybe a few rats, but no other signs of life.
He heard it again, and traced the source to a stack of pallets of wood. It was at the base where his eyes caught sight of a hand poking out at the base of the stack.
From his view, it looked prosthetic in making. Approaching and kneeling, Dong-yu inspected the hand which looked ever so lifelike. A small sprinkling of blood covered the top half of the hand.
Fake blood, Dong-yu was certain of this.
He prodded the hand, expecting it to move. It didn’t.
The texture of the prosthetic hand felt convincingly real. Whoever had worked on this prosthetic hand, made the flesh so lifelike, the blood as well, was warm, and the smell emitting off it was that of the coppery smell that Dong-yu smelt when he first walked down the alley.
So, this was the coppery smell I smelt when I first walked down here!
Curiously, and through unknown, unexplained means, Dong-yu dabbed at the blood, and licked the blood that was on his finger clean. By tasting this blood that trickled down his throat, he found that it tasted eerily like that of human blood: coppery and salty. He had cut and sucked his own blood enough times to know the distinct taste of human blood.
He coughed and spluttered a few times, the blood was potently strong, like eating rust or ash. His face scrunched as the taste churned foul in his mouth and stomach.
Were it not for the faint moaning of a person buried underneath the pallets of wood, Dong-yu may have brushed the whole ordeal off.
“Hello?” he called to the moaning sound underneath. “Is there anyone under there?”
Dong-yu started pulling at the pallets of wood.
“Hold on!” Dong-yu called to whoever was underneath.
After throwing off the pallets, Dong-yu saw, staring back at him, a male Korean, lying face down, dressed in a smart black business suit. He was injured: blood dotted his face and hands.
The sight appalled Dong-yu.
What vicious people could have done this?
A violent bout of coughing struck Dong-yu.
“Sir, if you can hear me, I am going to get help.”
Dong-yu broke into a run back down the alleyway.
He had not gotten far when a surge of fire coursed through his stomach, forcing him to collapse onto the floor. His body began to spaz and shake uncontrollably and was soon awash with fire. His breathing became rapid, and through the breathing came the emergence of guttural snarling’s. His eyesight blurred, like he was under water.
In the back of his mind, he heard a faint voice coming into focus.
Obey me…Obey me…Obey me…Obey me…Obey me!
It was spoken to him in Korean.
What could Dong-yu do, but submit to it. Its will was strong.
Also having trouble sleeping, an old Korean man walked passed the opening of the alleyway in which Dong-yu had stepped down.
It was in this alleyway that the old man heard faint snarling sounds that caught his attention.
And so, into the alleyway he went, unaware that what was about to happen would put the whole of Korea at risk.
There he saw Dong-yu. To the old man, it seemed as if he was having a fit. He rushed to his aid, doing all he could to help him. Though what could he do? He was no medic. He spotted the other unconscious Korean, lying face down, bloodied and bruised on top of a pallet of wood.
What happened here? He wandered to himself.
“Sir? Can you hear me? Sir?”
Dong-yu suddenly ceased in his fit. No longer breathing.
The old man began to panic, unsure what to do. Was the man before him dead? Unconscious? He didn’t know.
He prodded the man a few times, getting no response.
He looked towards the opening of the alleyway. Would anyone passing by, the wealthy residents of Seoul, believe a poor old beggar like him, that another beggar needed help? Would they ignore him, thinking him to be a crazed delinquent looking for trouble?
The old man turned back to the body of the man.
When he turned around, a strange sight beheld him. The man, who had so died in his presence, was sitting up, staring at him.
“You’re okay!” he said, a smile breaking upon his old wrinkled face.
Dong-yu stared back at the old man. The impulse in his mind, to bite, infect him. Dong-yu started to snarl at the old man.
Infect him…bring him…to the fold. The voice in his head said.
“Sir? Is everything okay?” the old man asked. He noted the paleness of his eyes, and the rabid look on his face. He backed away slowly. “Sir, we need to help that other-ARGH!”
Dong-yu lunged forth and bit down into the old man’s neck.
The old man pushed his attacker away. Fresh blood now seeped onto his plain white t-shirt. Shaken and disorientated, the old man rushed from the alleyway, clutching at his neck.
Dong-yu screeched like a banshee, his bushy beard drenched and dripping with the old man’s blood.
Bring others…to the cause… ordered the voice in his head.
His orders given, the now zombified Dong-yu set forth into South Korea, ready and pulsating with new energy, to bring others into his master’s fold.
Several moments later, after leaving the alleyway, screams filled the area as Dong-yu began infecting nearby residents.
In the alleyway, the hand of the unconscious Korean, twitched. Slowly, his eyelids opened.