Ding Lan was arguing with the guards at the door. Xie Fenghua was still unable to enter the factory after all. Liu Yan walked past the both of them, and went upstairs.
The lights in the room came on. Meng Feng still had not returned. Under the light, Jue Ming was staring at a corner of the newspaper.
Liu Yan: “This is the lottery for July. What’s the use of memorising it?”
Jue Ming: “If someday we can time travel, I could go back to the past and use it.”
Liu Yan: “...”
Liu Yan: “But even if you win the lottery in July, the zombies will come in August. How are you going to use the seven million dollars that you won? As a bed?”
Jue Ming: “...”
Liu Yan and Jue Ming stared at each other for a moment.
Jue Ming: “You’re right.”
The corner of Liu Yan’s mouth twitched, thinking in his heart that this kid really was weird. Zhang Min said he was fifteen years old, but he looked thirteen or fourteen. His mind was even more like that of a ten year old. Was it because of Zhang Min’s overprotectiveness that he was so strange?
“Darling, have you memorised the lottery numbers for this issue?” After their bath, Zhang Min and Meng Feng returned. Zhang Min looked to Jue Ming: “There won’t be prizes anymore.”
Liu Yan: “...”
Jue Ming said: “I’ll stop memorising from today onwards.”
Zhang Min laughed as he kissed and hugged Jue Ming. With Jue Ming’s feet on top of his own, like a big penguin and a little penguin, they clumsily went back into their room.
Meng Feng sat on the bed, staring at Liu Yan silently.
“What do you want now?” Liu Yan already bathed in the afternoon. He was now lying on the bed reading.
The weather was getting cooler. Liu Yan was covered in a not-too-thick blanket, curled up very pleasantly.
“You can’t be a bit more gentle?” Meng Feng said.
“Gentle how?” Liu Yan said absentmindedly. “Like Jue Ming?”
Meng Feng said nothing, then patted the spot next to him on the bed and said, “Come here and rub my shoulders.”
“You come here and rub my shoulders.” Liu Yan retorted sarcastically.
Meng Feng knew Liu Yan would reply like that, and smiled cunningly. “No problem.” With that, he stood up and walked towards Liu Yan.
A knock came. Lin Musen called, “Meng Feng.”
Liu Yan immediately replied: “Come in.”
Meng Feng: “Wait!’
The door opened a crack, but stopped.
Lin Musen, displeased, said, “What are you doing?”
Meng Feng gave Liu Yan a look, put on a pair of military trousers, and went to open the door barefoot.
Liu Yan remained on the bed, looked at Lin Musen, and asked, “What’s up?”
Lin Musen: “How did the discussion go?”
Liu Yan closed the book, and gave an overview of the conclusion they reached. Lin Musen’s face showed that he did not seem too interested. Liu Yan said, “I think you didn’t come here in the middle of the night to ask me this.”
Lin Musen nodded, and said, “Go outside for awhile. I have something to say to him.”
Meng Feng: “I don’t hide anything from him.”
Liu Yan said discreetly, “No, I have some things to do. I’ll leave first.”
Lin Musen gave Liu Yan a look, then casually spread out a map on the table, and asked, “Do you know where my gun came from?”
The map on the table was the blueprint of an enclosed building. Meng Feng glanced down at the scale of the map, and mentally did some calculations. The whole map showed that it was about 90,000 square meters on the ground.
“The day before you all arrived, it was stolen from a nearby military barracks, about 35 kilometres east. Huanan Military Region, Second Garrison, Yuhe Barracks.” Lin Musen said, “They left on a special mission, maybe to rescue people, maybe to kill zombies. Either way, it’s almost completely empty. We killed a bunch of patrol guards, and managed to snatch six guns. We lost two men.”
Liu Yan stopped in the middle of closing the door, and narrowed his eyes.
From the opposite room came the sound of Zhang Min’s voice.
“Darling, do you want to go for a walk outside? Stuck in the house all day, Dad can take you to the riverside?”
Liu Yan hurriedly went over and opened the door, motioning with his hands for them to shush, pointed to the other room and mouthed the words: “The boss is here.”
Zhang Min and Jue Ming quieted themselves down. Liu Yan sat down on a chair, silent.
In the other room:
Lin Musen: “The last time we went, we gained a total of six guns, and three rounds of ammunition.”
Meng Feng: “So?”
Lin Musen: “What do you think our men are lacking the most right now?”
Meng Feng was quiet for a moment, then said: “Your people...”
Lin Musen: “Our people.”
Meng Feng nodded, and said, “Our people aren’t proper military, they can only hold a gun to scare people. If they really were to shoot, it would be a waste of bullets.”
Lin Musen slowly nodded. “I want you to train them. That guy with the surname Zhang, how’s his technique?”
Meng Feng said, “He was a sniper during his service. Honestly, his gun skills are better than mine.”
Lin Musen sneered. “Couldn’t tell.”
Meng Feng said, “His hands are very stable, he’s gone through proper training. These kinds of people don’t usually look fierce or have killing intent. It’s normal that you can’t tell.”
Lin Musen said, “Then, to let everyone be capable of resisting the zombies, I’ve decided on handing over everyone to you for training, including myself. We’ll practice how to shoot.”
Meng Feng: “There are not enough bullets. And not enough guns.”
Lin Musen gestured towards the map. “So, after a few days, you’ll bring a few people to go and steal some. The location of the armoury is marked on the map.”
Meng Feng: “That’s a military barracks. Do you know what that is? Everyone there is a soldier with proper military training.”
Lin Musen: “I sent someone to scout it out yesterday. It’s full of zombies now. Everyone inside is already dead. Other than soldiers, and a good number of civilians, all of them were evacuated from S City.”
Meng Feng: “...”
Lin Musen: “Because the barracks are completely enclosed, there are tens of thousands of zombies inside, all unable to come out. I need that firepower inside the armoury. As for how to solve this problem, I’ll give you three days.”
“Go find that Zhang person and work something out. Propose a solution to me, bring some people with you, and think of a way to get inside. Guns, ammunition, take whatever can be taken.”
Meng Feng didn’t nod, or shake his head, only narrowed his eyes in thought.
Lin Musen: “That’s all. We’ll start training. Work hard, buddy.” He patted Meng Feng’s shoulder as he said it, and added, “You can also talk it over with other people whom you trust. There’s always someone who can think of a plan. Get some rest.”
Lin Musen left the map on the table; and left Liu Yan and Meng Feng’s room.
Liu Yan returned, and looked at Meng Feng, expecting him to say something, or continue the conversation they left off, but Meng Feng simply said “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” Liu Yan said, and turned off the lights by the bed.
Liu Yan turned his head, using the moonlight to gaze at Meng Feng’s face, half of which was buried in his pillow. Meng Feng was showing a handsome side of his face. Liu Yan couldn’t tell if his eyes were squinted or closed, they looked only like a blurred line.
His eyebrows were very pretty and thick. His eyelashes were also thick and dark, and his nose bridge was high and straight.
Liu Yan wanted to say something, but Meng Feng turned his body over to face the fall and slept.
The next day, Meng Feng woke up with his hair in a terrible mess. On the other bed, Liu Yan had kicked away his blanket. Meng Feng went over to cover him with the blanket properly. He gazed with dissatisfaction at Liu Yan’s lips, nose, and fair skin.
He continued to look for awhile, before turning around to keep the map, head downstairs for breakfast, and find a place to look at the map.
Zhang Min carried his lunchbox over, and said, “Meng Feng, look at the yard.”
Auntie Yu was in the chemical factory’s courtyard serving porridge. Meng Feng lifted his head and scanned the area. Zhang Min said, “What kind of faction are we under? Will this cause some bad consequences?”
Meng Feng also realised that in the span of a few short days, the place had already been very clearly separated into two groups, other than Meng Feng and Liu Yan. One faction was the third wave of rag-tag survivors. Because this group of people was the one that Liu Yan brought in, they all sat somewhere not far from Meng Feng, as though they were following a leader.
Then the other faction gathered outside the factory, already eaten breakfast and now playing cards, was Lin Musen’s.
Meng Feng said, “No idea.”
Zhang Min: “I feel like this is a bad circumstance.”
Meng Feng: “You scared?”
Zhang Min laughed, “Of course not, but it’s not good for unity.”
Meng Feng said, “Look at those gangsters. If I gave you a gun, how many could you deal with?”
Zhang Min thought about it, and said, “I don’t kill people lightly.”
Meng Feng: “That’s not important, dear. What if I gave you the butt of a rifle?”
Zhang Min smiled, and said, “They’re all not a match for me.”
Meng Feng said, “They’re just little gangsters, you could beat them down easily. No need to be afraid of them.”
Zhang Min drank some porridge. “Liu Yan is aware, right? He knows you can protect him.”
Meng Feng said without much care: “Who knows what that kid is thinking. By the way, there’s something important I have to tell you.”
Later on in the day, Zhang Min studied the map, and his expression became more and more serious.
At last, Zhang Min said, “You going?”
Meng Feng: “I have to. I need guns. These rifles are toys, they’re not good enough. Even if one day we escape this place, and take all the guns, we wouldn’t be able to last long.
Zhang Min slowly nodded his head. “I also think weapons are important right now. But it’s not going to work with just the two of us.”
Meng Feng: “It won’t be just the two of us. Lin Musen said he will send ten people with us.”
Zhang Min: “I’m not talking about the number of people. In fact, I think the fewer people the better, since we currently don’t have any safety plans. He really scouted the place, and didn’t misreport anything? If there really are tens of thousands of zombies, then we have to pick a way in, break in quickly and enter the armoury, otherwise the ammunition…”
Meng Feng’s brows furrowed, wrinkling in a handsome way.
“The ammunition we have on hand is not enough. If we get surrounded, it will be unimaginable.” Zhang Min said, “We need preparations, and off-site command.”
Meng Feng was at a loss, and said, “I’ll ask around.”
Zhang Min borrowed the map, and studied it with much focus.
Meng Feng walked through the courtyard, and entered a factory building.
Liu Yan already ate breakfast, and was sitting in front of the machine, sanding something down with a file.
He sat in a tall chair, wearing a pair of straight trousers, a clean shirt tucked into his waistband, his collarbone peeking from under the collar. The light from the morning sun shone in from the sunroof onto his eyebrows, his eyelashes looked as though it contained a layer of delicate white light.
“There’s something I want to ask your opinion on.” Meng Feng said, “What are you doing?”
“From Senior Fang’s instructions. A centrifuge for serum extraction.” Liu Yan didn’t even lift his head as he answered, “Looks like you and Zhang Min are pretty talkative, together even when eating and playing cards.”
“It looks like an egg beater from a bakery store. Zhang Min and I are just friends.” Meng Feng said, “Are you jealous?”
Liu Yan didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “I just casually said it. Is that the only thing in your mind? One look and you know that guy’s a top.”
“Ah.” Meng Feng said, “That’s why two tops can’t get up to any funny business. Let me look at your egg beater…”
Liu Yan: “No blueprints and no explanation… I asked her to give me a vague description, but instead she gave me a pencil drawing that looked like a child drew it! This pile of tin plating is about to drive me insane. I’m warning you right now, don’t touch it, or else Fang shijie will give you a botox injection… Don’t touch it! It was so hard to…”
Meng Feng’s hand went ahead to give it a twist, and the centrifuge collapsed with a crash.
Liu Yan, fed up, said, “Go and play with Zhang Min! Don’t come here to mess around!”
“What is this? Stop working! I have something to ask you!” Meng Feng said, unhappy. He picked up the crossbow laying by Liu Yan’s hand. A thin wire was connected to the steel bowstring, tethering an iron fork to the tip.
Liu Yan took the crossbow to demonstrate, nudging the trigger with a click, and aimed it at Meng Feng.
The body of the crossbow was put together with a large stack of clothes hangers. The steel bowstring was made from scrap wire from the factory. Springs made of discarded barbed wire were also thrown into it.
Meng Feng: “The hell is this? You want to use this to fight zombies?”
“An iron pole from the roadside, clothes hangers, barbed wire, iron string…” Meng Feng didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Are you planning on-”
Liu Yan aimed using the crossbow sights made out of soda can pull tabs, and pulled the trigger.
With a “whoosh” a grey shadow brushed over Meng Feng’s shoulders, and shattered the glass window with a bang. The iron fork was stuck firmly in the tree outside the window, almost half of it buried inside the trunk.
Meng Feng couldn’t laugh anymore.
Liu Yan said, “What did you want to ask? If you have something to say, hurry up and say it. This is for you to use as defence. You’re going to the barracks to steal guns? How many people did Lin Musen give you? Are you going on your own?”
Meng Feng frowned, and said, “How did you know?”
Liu Yan: “I guessed. Yesterday when I was closing the door, I heard the first sentence he said, about the military barracks. He came over to find you, and it must have been related to the military barracks. Other than stealing guns and ammunition, what else could it be about?”
Meng Feng: “He gave me a map of the place. Do you think I should listen to what he said and go to take a look, or steal a car tonight and leave immediately?”
Liu Yan raised a brow, and said, “You didn’t come here to ask this. You already have an idea.”
A 90,000 square meters sized military barracks, with almost ten thousand zombies inside, it was sealed up very tightly. When Liu Yan knew the details of the situation, he couldn’t say a single word for a long time.
Meng Feng, Liu Yan, and Zhang Min met up inside the room for a discussion.
“If I remembered correctly,” Liu Yan said in disbelief, “That car of my senior’s, it was here.”
Meng Feng, “I’ll do my best to take a look. You have to help us plan a path.”
Liu Yan: “First, let’s talk about how you’re going to move. Zombies can move, they’re not a simple fort. How to think of a plan?”
Zhang Min’s slender fingers traced the passageway in the barracks. “I want to walk this way, and enter the deepest part of the armoury. Liu Yan, do you have any suggestions?”
Liu Yan was silent for a long, long time, then said, “Let me take a closer look.”
That night, Meng Feng and Zhang Min went out on patrol. Liu Yan was in the room looking at the map and thinking. The lights in Zhang Min’s room could not be turned to avoid suspicion. Jue Ming then came over and lay on Meng Feng’s bed to read.
Liu Yan also lay on the bed, opening the notebook in his hand.
August 19th, 2012.
I feel like I’m starting to know Meng Feng all over again. I didn’t know he was this kind of person back then. Maybe this is the real him: fearless, hotblooded. He’s no longer that good-for-nothing man, looking for jobs but never finding one.
Maybe it’s accurate that he was just unlucky in life. Selling insurance doesn’t suit him.
We plan to enter a military barracks 35 kilometers away and look for their remaining weapons. Meng Feng wants me to stay on the outside to monitor the area and pass information about the terrain to him. Zhang Min and he will take the team deep into the armoury. If anything happens, don’t even think about saving anyone. Evacuate immediately.
There’s no knowing if there are any survivors in the barracks. According to Lin Musen’s information, they should all be dead. Among those survivors would have been no small number of civilians, including senior Xiao, teachers, younger colleagues, and students from my class. All the people who evacuated with the army, would have turned into zombies in that barracks.
If we’re not careful and let the zombies out, then that would be another disaster. I hope Meng Feng can pull it off. He needs guns, and decided to go in. With his temper, there’s no point leaving. Might as well give it a shot.
What do I do if Meng Feng dies in there?
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cael.