On the third floor of the factory, in a dim room, sunlight filtered in through the blinds in stripes, shining on Meng Feng and Zhang Min’s faces.
Lin Musen sat with his back to the light, his expression unable to be seen clearly. Behind him stood four men.
“Five boxes of guns,” Meng Feng said. “Every box has 75 guns, a total of 375. One box has 5,400 rounds of ammunition. There are 120 hand grenades. It’s the most we could bring back.”
“How many comrades were lost?” Lin Musen asked.
Meng Feng, “They all returned. They’re waiting outside.”
Lin Musen, “No one was hurt?”
Meng Feng’s voice was cool, carrying an air of authenticity. “Not sure. You’d best take a look for yourself.”
Lin Musen, “And you two, you’re all right? If our people get hurt, that would be troublesome.”
Meng Feng didn’t reply.
Lin Musen gave the six boxes a sweeping look, and said plainly, “Good work. I’ll give the two of you credit. I’ll remember this. Go back, shower and rest.”
Zhang Min looked as though he wanted to say something, but Meng Feng gave him a look, telling him not to impulsively bring up other matters. The two of them turned around and headed out, closing the door behind them.
The members who took part in the mission were downstairs, exhausted. One of the men hurriedly came downstairs and said, “Brother Sen went out. He’ll only be back tomorrow. He made some arrangements before leaving. You two wait here. Where’s Liu Yan? Liu Yan, come up to discuss something.”
Meng Feng and Liu Yan passed by each other. Meng Feng said softly, “He’s here.”
Liu Yan replied, “Got it. Go and clean up.”
After a while, Liu Yan came back down from the second floor, followed by four men, and went downstairs.
Zhang Min went ahead to shower, but Meng Feng was standing in the hall, waiting for Liu Yan.
Liu Yan looked at Meng Feng without a word, and turned to the others to say, “Everyone, follow me.”
Eleven members left the factory to stand by the riverside. Liu Yan said, “Right here. Those who were injured, please come forward.”
Meng Feng, “What do you mean?”
Liu Yan lowered his voice and said, “I wasn’t referring to you.”
Meng Feng lowered his voice as well. “I wasn’t asking about that. Did he ask you to investigate and kill your own people?”
Liu Yan’s voice was low. His voice carried a barely suppressed rage. “What did he tell you before this? Did he want you to abandon all the members who were injured? Why didn’t you let me know first? I wasn’t prepared for this at all, and didn’t think of a plan for it either.”
While the two of them were discussing, a member standing five steps away from them asked, “Is Brother Sen abandoning us?”
“Brother Sen is not here!” Said someone in charge of supervising Liu Yan, as he started to load his gun. “This is Liu Yan’s idea. He’s in charge of carrying this out. All those who are injured, stand forward on your own.”
Liu Yan took in a deep breath, and said loudly, “You all know– Wait. What do you think you’re doing? Did I say you could kill people?” He grabbed the collar of the supervisor next to him, and said lowly, “If you dare to raise your gun, I’d wager that the first person to die is you. You wanna bet?”
Someone asked, “Are we killing our brothers who were injured?”
“No.” Liu Yan released the man beside him. “Tell me who was injured, now. Come on, step forward. Don’t be afraid.”
The golden-toothed fatty suddenly chimed in, “You’re not worth shit!”
Liu Yan said coldly, “You’re not counted. You weren’t bitten by a zombie. Get out of the way. If you talk again, I’ll shoot you!”
As if he was granted an official pardon, the fatty immediately turned tail and ran.
Liu Yan, “The rest?”
Meng Feng said, “I remember. Let me.”
Liu Yan, “No. He wants me to do it.”
Under the sun, everyone’s faces were pale. Liu Yan said, ”No one wants to move? Then we’ll change it up. Those who weren’t injured, stand forward.”
As soon as he finished speaking, six of the members took a step forward. The two who were clearly injured by the zombies, stayed in their place. After a couple of seconds, another two people stepped forward at the same time.
In the front row, there were eight people. In the back, there were two.
Liu Yan directed his words to the two people behind. “You two. Take off your clothes.”
“Liu Yan! You’re not fucking human!” Said someone furiously.
Liu Yan recognised that person as Wen Qiege. He didn’t respond.
The two people only started to take off their clothes when Meng Feng took out a pistol. Wen Qiege breathed heavily, and stood naked under the sunlight. There were no wounds on his body. The other person had a bloody mark on the side of his waist, and the wound was not healing. The crimson flesh was slightly swelling outwards, and it was already turning an obvious purple.
Liu Yan, “Put your clothes back on. What’s your name?”
“Wang Hui,” that person replied.
Wen Qiege put his clothes back on and watched Liu Yan. Someone subconsciously turned around, slowly backing away then breaking into a run. Everyone else was alert, their eyes fixed on Meng Feng.
“Come back!” Liu Yan shouted, taking a step forward. “I don’t plan on killing you! There’s still hope!”
Another person was just about to move, but upon hearing those words, they looked at Liu Yan with uncertainty.
Liu Yan said, “I’ll give you three days’ worth of food and water, and you’ll wait here, okay? Zhang Min said that he’ll come over and treat you. If it can be treated, then there’s nothing else to be said. It’ll all go back to normal.”
Wen Qiege yelled, “I… I’ll kill you, Liu Yan!”
“Don’t be like that, Younger Brother Wen,” Wang Hui said. “Everyone understands, this is life.”
Liu Yan, “The two of you are close, right? Childhood friends? Wen Qiege, you’re in charge of bringing him water and food, but you must take note of your safety. I… I’ll think of a plan, but now I can’t go into detail, all right?”
“I’ll kill you for sure!” Wen Qiege was yelling wildly. “I swear! Liu Yan! Just you wait!” He wanted to charge Liu Yan, but was held back by a number of other people.
At that moment, Meng Feng pressed his pistol to Wen Qiege’s forehead, saying coldly, “Looks like I’ll have to kill you first.”
“Forget it, Meng Feng,” Liu Yan said. “Everyone, go home.”
“Wait!” Zhang Min ran out from the factory, and stood by the riverside, panting heavily. Despite the distance being a short 50 metres, he was quite out of breath.
In his hand, he held two needles. He shouted, “Don’t run! Brothers! Where are they?”
Meng Feng frowned. “Zhang Min, what’s wrong?”
Zhang Min said with much difficulty, “I’m… fine. The two brothers who were hurt just now, where are they?” He gestured for Wang Hui to sit, and rolled up his sleeve. Pointing the needle at his blood vessels, he slowly inserted the needle in.
Liu Yan frowned. “How did you extract this?!”
On Zhang Min’s shoulder, there was still a scratch that wasn’t completely closed yet. His whole arm was red, his face deathly pale.
He slowly pinched the end of that syringe, and injected all the contents of another syringe into Wang Hui’s body.
A gunshot sounded in the distance. Someone had committed suicide.
Zhang Min couldn’t bear it, and closed his eyes. He sighed.
“Why go looking for death!” Zhang Min shouted, distraught. “There might have been a way!”
Another person was watching from afar for a long while. Eventually, they came over and accepted the serum injection from Zhang Min.
Meng Feng frowned and asked, “Does it work?”
“It’s just a try.” From Zhang Min’s eyes, he was at a loss. He lifted his head to look at Meng Feng.
Liu Yan, “How much blood did you give to get these two serums?”
Zhang Min stood up shakily. “I… used an indigenous method. It was used to treat the foot-and-mouth disease last time. After a large bowl of it cools… extract the supernate– ”
“He can be saved?!” Wen Qiege exclaimed. “What medicine is this?”
Zhang Min shook his head. “Not sure. We have to observe. I’m worried there might be an allergic reaction, but it’s a small matter compared to infection.”
Liu Yan really wanted to ask if the method used to treat foot-and-mouth disease in pigs could be the same for humans, but in the end he didn’t. Instead, he said, “Wen Qiege, you stay here and monitor the situation.”
He went back to report the situation. Lin Musen said coldly, “You really made a mess of this. More rations wasted.”
“Brother Sen.” Liu Yan said pointedly. “Meng Feng said leaving others a way out is also giving yourself a way out. If you open fire in these kinds of situations, you’ll never be able to rally your team together again. Think about it. Halfway through future fights, the moment someone gets hurt, they’ll immediately think ‘What am I still fighting for? If I cover for my comrades and survive, they’ll shoot and kill me.’ In these moments, the only choice for them is to kill their leaders and teammates and escape death on their own, and then become a zombie. You expect all of them to be self-sacrificing? That’s not quite possible.”
Lin Musen said nothing more.
Liu Yan, “Zhang Min started extracting serums to try and save them, but it’s not guaranteed to work. You’d best give Zhang Min something to eat, or else at the rate he’s extracting his blood, he’ll eventually die here.”
Lin Musen stood up and said, “He’s healthy, isn’t he? Looks like he’s very close to you guys. You guys don’t have AIDS, right?”
Liu Yan, “...”
Meng Feng went to the bathroom on the first floor to take a bath. Liu Yan was sitting in the courtyard on a stone chair. After a moment, there was a loud noise on the second floor, coming from the south. Zhang Min, looking as if he had gone mad, roared, “Where is that asshole!?”
Liu Yan laughed. Jue Ming ran out of the room, chasing him, saying, “Wait!”
“A zombie was coming for me, so in order to protect that child– Ah! Look, it’s that one. Even now, I still don’t know where he came from. Most likely it’s Mr. Liu keeping him inside that house…” The golden-toothed fatty was at one side of the courtyard, running his mouth, gesticulating as he narrated the story of his heroic acts to two girls.
Zhang Min jumped over the railing on the second floor and dropped to the courtyard, his eyes like that of an enraged cheetah. Without a word, he grabbed the fatty and pushed him onto the stone table, panting as he pressed a gun to the back of his head.
“Dad!” Jue Ming exclaimed.
“So even scum like you have courage!” Zhang Min shouted. “What are you doing!? What did you do to my son!?”
Liu Yan immediately stopped laughing. One of the girls saw that something was wrong, and quickly went upstairs to call for help.
Jue Ming wore a thin, loose, sleeveless shirt, the style of which was the same as Liu Yan’s. One side was lifted up, showing the bruise on his waist. Liu Yan immediately understood. Zhang Min noticed something was wrong with Jue Ming when he went back to his room. Jue Ming told the details after being asked.
Liu Yan didn’t expect Zhang Min’s temper to change so quickly. He thought it was a joke at first, but then he saw Zhang Min’s hand, which was holding a gun, shaking, wanting to pull the trigger several times already.
That golden-toothed fatty thought Zhang Min was only threatening him. Feeling bold, he shouted, “Come on! Shoot if you have the balls!”
Meng Feng had finished showering, and upon hearing the commotion in the courtyard, came out wearing only a pair of pants. He said seriously, “Zhang Min, don’t be rash.”
Zhang Min was breathing heavily. Liu Yan added, “He isn’t worth killing. Let him swear an oath, then let him go.”
The dispute had gotten bigger. There were only a few who knew what was really going on. The courtyard was filled with people there to watch the show, and they were whispering.
Zhang Min, “Swear! Don’t ever touch Jue Ming again! I’m not afraid to kill people. I’m not afraid to kill!’
The golden-toothed fatty said, “Whatever, if I can’t touch, then I won’t touch. Didn’t do anything to him anyway.”
“All right,” Liu Yan said. “Zhang Min, put down your gun. Go back.”
Zhang Min slowly put his gun away, he was fed up. He said, “Remember that.” With that, he turned and walked towards Jue Ming and took his hand.
“Wait and see, slut…” The fatty stood up, cursing vulgarity at Jue Ming, and then flipping Zhang Min off.
After he said that, Zhang Min whipped around and pulled the trigger without mercy.
With a bang, the bullet opened a hole in the fatty’s forehead.
The courtyard was silent. The fatty was staring, his face filled with disbelief as he fell backwards, crashing onto the ground.
Zhang Min, with Jue Ming in hand, stood there quietly for a moment, then said, “Darling, dad will take you away, don’t be scared.”
“Who shot a gun downstairs?” From the third floor finally came Lin Musen’s voice.
“I did,” Zhang Min replied.
Lin Musen, “Why did you shoot? You killed Boss Wang?”
Zhang Min, “He hurt my son.”
Lin Musen placed both hands on the railing and looked down. Zhang Min and Jue Ming lifted their heads, meeting his gaze from a distance.
“Since when do you have a son?” Lin Musen laughed. “What’s his name?”
Liu Yan gave Meng Feng a look. Meng Feng said, “He came together with Brother Zhang.”
Lin Musen, “Zhang Min, put your gun down. What are you pointing it at me for?”
Zhang Min, “Sorry, Brother Sen. No one can touch my son. Thank you for your care these few days…”
Lin Musen interrupted him. “You are the one who killed him.”
Zhang Min was quiet.
Lin Musen added, “So clean it up.” With that, he went back into his room.
Liu Yan and Meng Feng both let out a breath. The bystanders dispersed. Zhang Min sat down on the stone chair, and gestured for Jue Ming to come over. He sat, Jue Ming stood.
Jue Ming hugged Zhang Min’s head, patting his hair.
After finishing his patrol, Meng Feng stood downstairs for a while. All the lights in the building were pretty much off, only his and Liu Yan’s room was still bright. There was always that one person waiting for him to come back.
Liu Yan looked indifferent as always, except this time he was looking at the blueprint of a gun under the light. He peeked at Meng Feng from behind the blueprint.
Meng Feng undressed expressionlessly, and changed into slippers. He did 20 pull ups using the top of the door frame, and took a cup to go and brush his teeth.When he came back he was wearing only a pair of military pants, his torso bare.
Liu Yan had already turned off the lights. Outside, the sky was starry. The autumn wind carried the scent of hay into the room. Meng Feng vaguely felt that something was off. This was clearly the time when he was living in the dormitory in high school.
After night classes, Liu Yan would go back to the dormitory and shower. Meng Feng, whose grades were an absolute mess, would determinedly stay in the classroom and read, then go back at 10:30 to shower, turn the lights off at the dormitory at 11, then sleep.
Those days were so dull that it was infuriating. It was a straight line from the cafeteria, to the classroom, then to the dormitory. With Mathematics and a whole pile of incomprehensible English, it was like… Meng Feng didn’t even want to think about it.
Yet, those dull and tasteless days of his third year in high school held an unforgettable subtlety and magic. The mocking when the annual grades ranking were announced, the textbooks and assignments that made one want to bang their head on the wall, the messy handwriting, within the words of essays that didn’t make any sense, it was as if they hid an indescribable sort of romance.
Meng Feng was used to the lightless dormitory nights. He lifted his eyes and saw the smile in Liu Yan’s eyes.
“Do you remember?” Meng Feng sat at the side of the bed, drying his feet off with a towel. He said seriously, “In the third year of high school.”
“What about it?” Liu Yan stretched lazily.
Meng Feng, “If I got into the top 10 for the quiz…”
Liu Yan immediately said, “Stop. I’m going to sleep.”
Meng Feng, “...Then I could kiss you. I could hold you when we slept.”
Liu Yan, “How do you still remember this? Enough.”
Meng Feng, “If I got into the top 20 for exams, not including 20th place… then I could…”
Liu Yan, “...”
Meng Feng continued, “If I got into top ten for the whole year, then you said I could do whatever I wanted every day…”
Liu Yan, “Who doesn’t have a dark history? Even smart people have their childish moments. I wanted to urge you to study, then we could attend the same college…”
Meng Feng, “Oh! So I studied so hard, so I could accompany you more. How was I so foolish and stupid back then, to be motivated by such conditions? It was so nerve wracking, waiting for the test on Friday afternoons… Now that I think about it, it was really…”
Liu Yan retorted, “That’s right, how were you so stupid? Even now you are still so hopeless. Studying is supposed to be your own business, but I had to use…”
Meng Feng, “Use what as a reward?”
Liu Yan, “Enough, if you say anymore I’m really going to get angry!”
Meng Feng didn’t take off his pants, and just lay like that on top of the blanket, lifting his head to gaze at the starry sky, the bright galaxy, outside the window. He said, “You were always so frustrated when explaining math problems to me. I still remember when you started talking about sin and cosine…”
Liu Yan, “I’m already very frustrated right now, dear.”
Meng Feng shouted angrily, “But you obviously explained it wrong! You didn’t even know how to solve that question!”
Liu Yan, “What are you trying to say?”
Meng Feng, “Now do you know how amazing I am? I don’t know how to study, but without me…”
Liu Yan, “Aha, so this is what the conversation is really about. What do you want to hear? Why don’t I express my worship for you for a bit?”
Meng Feng, “You’re always so dominant, I’m always getting bullied by you. Can’t you be more gentle? Like our neighbour, Little Ming? I’ve done so many things, don’t I deserve your praise?
Liu Yan said sincerely, “I’m really worshipping you with my whole body bowed to the ground.”
Meng Feng snorted. “I’ve protected you for so long, but you haven’t even said one word of thanks. If not for me, you’d be dead already.”
Liu Yan, “Sure, thanks.”
Meng Feng: “See, even when you’re saying thank you–”
Liu Yan, “Isn’t it a given that you will protect me? You love me, and I also love you. Other than me, who else do you want to protect? Other than letting you protect me, who else would I want to follow? Like Zhang Min and Jue Ming, one of them only lives while the other is living. If one of them dies, then the other one will be meaningless. I still need to say thank you in this kind of situation? When did Jue Ming ever say thank you to Zhang Min?”
Meng Feng was at a loss for words.
“Good, you finally admit that you love me…” Meng Feng said. “It isn’t a joke this time, right.”
Liu Yan changed the direction of the conversation. “But does mutual love mean that we must definitely be together?”
Meng Feng, “That’s not important. I think I qualify now.”
Liu Yan, “Qualify for what?”
Meng Feng, “To be with you.”
Liu Yan, “You’d better make this quick, or Lin Musen will come by again later.”
Meng Feng said hotly, “If he comes again, I’ll blow his head off!”
There was a long silence in the room, then Liu Yan inquired, “What?”
Meng Feng, “What do you mean what?”
Liu Yan, “Aren’t you coming over?”
Meng Feng, “Why don’t you come over?”
Just as Meng Feng was about to get up, Liu Yan actually came over. He wore a sleeveless top and briefs, and stood beside Meng Feng’s waist.
The two of them looked at each other. Liu Yan suddenly said, “You’re so nervous.”
Liu Yan had once again pushed Meng Feng’s buttons. With an angry shout, Meng Feng roughly pressed Liu Yan down, kissing him fiercely.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cael.