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Two Years Ago

It has been two months since the virus outbreak and everything has quieted down. We had no internet or cell phone access. The last text message I received was from my grandfather who said he and my great grandmother were safe. The connection was lost and I was not able to respond.

Most of the Eaters have left due to no source of fresh fleshy food, but it doesn’t mean it’s safe. Mai Ling’s father never returned home. He was a first responder and Mai Ling has accepted that he may be dead. I couldn’t stay at my apartment because of my deceased family. I stayed with Mai Ling instead. I cried every night for my mother and little brother. I would feel her spoon me and try to comfort me the best that she could. I appreciate her for that.

For those living on the 3rd floor, we had access to the ceiling hatch inside of our apartments. Mine was situated in the hallway. Mai Ling is from apartment 301, Mrs. Jeong and her husband are from apartment 302, I’m apartment 303 and Mr. Wu from apartment 304. Today is the day that we decided to leave this place. Our food source is almost finished and we must move on. Mr. Wu who is a truck driver has a portable CB radio and found out the safest place to go where Eaters don’t exist is Jeju Island. The Korean military has secured the island and there is food, clean water and medicine. That information gave my heart some happiness. That’s where my grandfather and great grandmother were, which means he wasn’t kidding when he said that he and his mother were safe. I have to get to my family.

I packed a first aid kit, tweezers, nail clipper, cuticle cutter, alcohol, flashlight, needle and thread, painkillers and change of clothes that have been duct taped in advance into my backpack along with three bottles of water and whatever edible left that didn’t require refrigeration or a can opener. It was the beginning of Spring and it was still chilly outside. Today’s forecast is 31 degrees. As a precaution, I took the duct tape and wrapped it all over our jackets. Mr. and Mrs. Jeong and Mr. Wu wore military pants, while Mai Ling and I wore black cargo pants. Combat boots were a must for all of us. We all met in the small space above our apartments. The ceiling was low, which made it difficult for my tall ass. I’m 5’11, but very slim. Mr. Wu, who is 43 years old and was 5’10 opened a hatch to the roof and peaked outside. There were no Eaters on the roof so that was a good sign. We all stepped out welcoming the minor fresh air.

I was mostly thankful for stretching my long legs. We helped Mr. and Mrs. Jeong on the roof. They were our older survivors. Mr. Jeong was 58 and Mrs. Jeong was 55 and they were both 5’8. He was a Lieutenant and his wife was a sergeant for the police. They were both on duty when the outbreak happened . Mr. Jeong served the Korean Airforce and was quite fit for a man his age. His wife put younger women to shame on how active and strong she is. Mai Ling was my age and stood at 5’9. She, just like me, is also a blackbelt in Taekwondo. She moved to Itaewon from China when she was 12 years old. She attended the same Taekwondo school. That’s how we met. She carried her staff, her preferred weapon. It had a hidden blade on the end. Mr. Wu looked down over the safety fence and sighed as he watched the Eaters growl angrily in search of someone fresh to eat.

“We need to be as quiet as possible climbing down.” Mrs. Jeong said as she adjusted the gun in her holster. She and her husband also carried the Geom sword safely in its sheath on their backs.

Mai Ling placed her arm around Mrs. Jeong, looking down at her with the biggest smile she could make. “That’s why you’re leading Ms. Tough Lady.” Mrs. Jeong pinched Mai Ling’s cheek, then smacked her upside her head making us all chuckle….quietly.

“You brat,” Mrs. Jeong said.

Mr. Wu searched in his bag and pulled out an instant coffee pack and passed one to everybody. “At least we don’t need a coffee maker.” He ripped his open and drank. We all followed his lead and drank ours. Mai Ling moaned in satisfaction as soon as the coffee made contact with her taste buds. “Ok everybody, my pick up truck is parked half a block down,” he pointed in the direction of our possible escape vehicle. “It’s navy blue.”

“Pickup truck?” I asked with an incredulous look on my face I’m sure. No mirror, but I’m sure.

“Three of us will have to ride in the back,” Mr. Jeong stated the obvious. “My wife will drive. Which one of you ladies will sit with her?”

“Abbie will,” Mai Ling nominated me.

I was about to walk up to Mai Ling, but she put her hands up stopping me in my tracks. “This isn’t a negotiation, Abbie.” I didn’t bother arguing with her cause time was wasting and we needed to move.

Mrs. Jeong checked the roof below us from the next building to make sure it was empty. “Look,” she pointed. “There’s a ladder. Once Abbie and I are on the roof, We will place the ladder for the rest of you to come down.” I tossed my long legs over the side as Mr. Wu and Mr. Jeong tightly held my hands. Mrs. Jeong held onto me as she climbed down my body, holding onto my ankles as she made it to her final jump landing smoothly. She removed her Geom, held it firmly as she slowly walked towards the ladder, her eyes focused on all blindspots.

Mai Ling swung her legs over as Mr. Wu and Mr. Jeong firmly held her hands as I climbed down Mai Ling’s body until I let go and felt the ground. I had my trusty nunchucks ready in my hand as I began to approach Mrs. Jeong. The door to the rooftop was locked, but we could hear growls on the other side. Mrs. Jeong looked at me and placed a finger on her lips to remain quiet. I only nodded my head. We didn’t want to alert the Eaters of our presence. That door will not hold for long if there are too many of them trying to break it down to get to us. We both placed our weapons back in it’s safety holder and quietly picked up the ladder and carried it over to the wall for the others to climb down.

The ladder was a bit rickety, but everyone safely made it down. We were one step closer to Mr. Wu’s pickup truck. We had four more roofs that were all on the same level and connected to pass before going down the building and into the safety of the truck. The only problem was that there were Eaters on the roof. I counted 32. Mr. Jeong swung his longshot rifle, attached the silencer before taking aim at the Eaters head. One by one we watched as they dropped. Some fell over the rooftop. Once cleared, all we had to do was jump down and run across.

We all began jumping down when the rickety ladder fell making a crashing sound. Mr. Wu and I were still above when the Eaters were banging into the rooftop door, busting it open. “RUN!!!” He yelled out. He and I jumped down and began running from rooftop to rooftop with the others ahead of us and Eaters behind us. The others had made it to the last rooftop and positioned themselves with weapons ready in hand to kill our unwelcome guests. Unfortunately these bastards run, not walk.

There was no way we were going to be able to climb down the side of the building without alerting the rest of the Eaters on the ground if we didn’t kill the ones chasing us first. Mr. Wu and I turned around and began fighting them. I swung my nunchucks as hard as I could at each Eaters head as they came at me. Three Eaters knocked down Mr. Wu who fought using his kitchen knife. One of the Eaters bit down on his duct tape covered arm. It didn’t break through, but it still hurt. Mai Ling used her blade from her staff, shoved it into the eye of that Eater. She kicked the face of the 2nd Eater while Mr. Wu jabbed his kitchen knife into the 3rd Eaters temple. Mr and Mrs. Jeong fought back to back, killing at least 7 Eaters. We killed a total of 15 Eaters.

We were all panting and exhausted from the attack. Mr. Jeong grabbed a garden hose and turned on the water. The pressure was low, but we were still able to wash the Eaters blood off of us. We looked at each other and smiled. However, the smiles on our faces began to fade away as we heard a rumble. The ground underneath us was shaking. Was there an actual earthquake? We all ran to look at the street below and saw a bunch of Eaters running towards our building. They must have heard the ruckus on the rooftop. In other words, we rang the dinner bell.

“Shit!” Mrs. Jeong deadpanned. “We better get the hell out of here and I mean now!” She pointed towards the rooftop where the broken door of the previous Eaters was. Eaters by the dozens were swarming the rooftop. Once we were spotted, they began to charge, falling off the rooftop, then getting up to charge towards us. We quickly began climbing down the building ladder. Mr. Jeong was shooting Eaters to slow them down as we made our getaway. He finally climbed down while Mr. Wu tossed his truck keys to Mrs. Jeong. She unlocked the door and I quickly jumped inside. She began driving slowly at first so that Mr. Jeong could get into the truck. Both Mai Ling and Mr. Wu had their hand out for him to grab. I looked up and saw more Eaters falling off of the roof, but got up to chase us. Some fell on park cars, sidewalks and of course each other. Mr. Jeong finally made it inside the back of the truck, but Eaters were coming from all directions. Mrs. Jeong stepped on the gas, swerving around cars that were left by their owners. An Eater fell from the roof and into the back of the pickup truck attacking Mai Ling. She kicked its face three times before Mr. Wu stabbed it in the head. He and Mai Ling then tossed out the truck while Mr. Jeong held firmly onto their legs to give them balance.

We headed towards Gangseo-gu to the Gimpo International Airport. Normally it would only take us 19 minutes to get to the airport, but with Eaters and probably lots of blockage, it will take us longer. We also need to find a car that can hold all of us safely inside.

Once we couldn’t see the Eaters, Mrs. Jeong slowed down. We had to drive towards Mapo-gu and cross the bridge over the Han River then stick to the back roads to avoid the city. We stopped before getting to the bridge because of all the crashed and abandoned vehicles. We move on foot from here. It was eerily deserted. I could hear myself breathing and that disturbed me. Mr. Wu jumped when an Eater stuck inside a car started banging on the window with it’s mouth open as it scratched at the window leaving bloody streaks in its wake. Then we heard more banging on the back of the car window. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who lost color at the sight before us. There were three small children. A two year old still in its carseat, an eight and eleven year old still buckled in the backseat of the car.

Mrs. Jeong’s eyes watered as we all thought of the same thing. We had to put them out of their misery before they alarmed other Eaters that may be nearby. Mr. Wu and Mai Ling moved to the passenger side of the car, Mr. Jeong on the drivers side, Mrs. Jeong and myself stood on either side of the back. Mr. Jeong tapped on the window to keep the Eater mother on him as Mr. Wu opened the door and Mai Ling used the blade end of her staff and shoved it into the back of the head. Mr. Jeong caught her and gently pushed her to her side. Mr. Wu unlocked the back doors, then closed the door to the passengers’ side. My heart raced as I had the side of the two year old. I froze. I couldn’t do it. My eyes burned with hot tears as I remembered my little brother Nolan. Mai Ling, seeing my distress, gently touched my arm as she took my place. I turned my back as the three children were silenced. This is such a cruel and hateful virus.

We continued our walk in utter silence. What could we possibly talk about after experiencing that? I heard someone breathing heavily and turned to Mai Ling. Her face was pale and wet from tears. She stopped walking then bent over to throw up. I tried my best to comfort her as I rubbed her back. Mrs. Jeong took out bottled water and handed it to her once she finished. Mai Ling swooshes water in her mouth before spitting it out. She then finished drinking the rest of the water, closing it and returning it to Mrs. Jeong. We kept emptied bottles to refill with clean water should we find any. Just as I suffered from my own nightmares, Mai Ling will suffer from this one until the day she dies.

Mrs. Jeong’s face was blank. As a police sergeant, she has seen many awful things in her line of work. I can’t help to wonder if this situation outranked any of her previous cases. Whatever it may be, Mrs. Jeong didn’t give a hint of what she thought or felt.

Mr. Wu, who was walking ahead, stopped suddenly. “We can’t cross the bridge,” he pointed towards it. Everyone looked only to be disappointed by the herd of Eaters on the bridge. Mr. Wu walked closer to the Han River and saw a yacht floating by itself. He motioned with his chin towards the immaculate 79 feet yacht. “That’s our transport out of here. It would be safer to travel by water than on the road.” We all looked at the water that had waves due to the current.

“I agree,” Mr. Jeong nodded. “Plus, I’m sure the Seoul World Cup Stadium is full of Eaters. We will either get attacked passing by the stadium or on the bridge.” They all watched from a safe distance, hearing the Eaters harmonize from inside the stadium.

When the virus outbreak happened, the Seoul World Cup Stadium was ground zero to help people, but some families hid the bite wounds of their loved ones and entered the stadium. Well, I can’t imagine the chaos that took place inside the stadium. Everyone was trapped because there were Eaters outside of the stadium and inside as well.

We slowly and quietly entered the cold water. My teeth immediately began to chatter as we walked deeper into the water. I don’t know about anyone else, but I hate it when my socks get wet. It irritates the shit out of me. We started to head towards the floating 79 feet yacht. I could see the rope ladder floating into the water. What happened to the people on board? Not even an Eater? Something felt eerily off.

We lifted our backpacks over our heads as we walked deeper into the frigid water that passed all of our waists. Mr. Jeong placed his backpack on top of his wife’s before taking hold of the rope ladder. He tugged it a few times to make sure it was secured. He then started up slowly with only the top of his head peeking over the top to see if the yacht was safe. He noticed blood and broken champagne bottles scattered around. He boarded, removing his Geom from it’s sheath as he continued to scan the area. Mai Ling came on board next, then me.

Mrs. Jeong was halfway up the ladder when Mr. Wu was pulled under. He came back up with an Eater trying to bite him. While Mr. Wu was occupied trying to kill his attacker, another Eater came up from behind him ready to attack. I dropped my backpack and quickly jumped overboard with my nunchucks in hand landing on the Eater about to attack Mr. Wu. I smashed my nunchucks over its head a few times until its rotted blood shadowed the water around me. More Eaters started breaking the surface, growling as they struggled against the waters current to get to us. I looked at one of the Eaters and she was dressed in a wedding gown. The side of her face was bitten off, exposing her cheek bone. Her shoulder had long deep open scratches. The Eaters posse didn’t look any better. This wedding party went bust. Meanwhile on the yacht, Mai Ling, Mr. and Mrs. Jeong was fighting the Eaters that joined in the attack.

“ABBIE!” Mr. Wu shouted out as he began climbing the rope ladder. “COME ON!” He was only a few feet above me when I began to climb right after him. One of the groomsmen grabbed my right boot, trying to pull me down. My cold aching fingers held onto the rope ladder as my left foot kicked it several times in the face until it let me go. When I boarded the yacht, I was immediately greeted by an Eater whose former occupation was a waiter. I spun, kicking it overboard to join the rest of the wedding guests in the water. I immediately pulled up the rope ladder and dropped in on deck.

We all stood still looking around at the dead bodies that have been permanently put down. My irritation grew with my current uncomfortable situation. Plus I’m freezing. “We have to make sure that no other Eaters are on board. I want to change into something dry and warm.”

Mr. Wu and Mr. Jeong checked inside where tables were set up. Another Eater came growling at them, but Mr. Wu stabbed it from underneath its chin. The Eater fell with a loud thump. Mr. Jeong walked over to the spiral stairs that led to a lower level. “Shit,” he whispered.

We ladies killed five more Eaters up on deck, which included the main room to drive the yacht. We met with the Eater, formerly known as the captain. Mrs. Jeong used her geom to cut off its head. Once we secured the entire outside of the deck, we headed inside. Mr. Jeong and Mr. Wu were standing by the spiral stairs looking down.

“What’s going on?” Mai Ling asked as she walked over to look down as well. “Oh shit.”

Mrs. Jeong and myself went to see what they were looking at and oh shit is right. There were more Eaters on the lower level. How many was unknown.

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