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Liu Yan only had to tidy his collar and follow Hu Jue upstairs. “You’re in trouble. I don’t really know what the reason is, but you have to be very careful. Don’t say anything wrong,” Hu Jue said to him in a low voice.
Liu Yan nodded his head to show his understanding, and Hu Jue pushed open the doors to Lin Musen’s office. Everyone else exited the room.
“I’ve been looking for you all day. What were you doing?” Lin Musen was sitting in a swivel chair with his back towards Liu Yan. He was looking out the window at the heavy snowfall outside, his hand playing with a gun.
“I was chatting. Isn’t today the day off?” Liu Yan replied.
He sat at an angle on the office table behind Lin Musen. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see two books placed on the corners of the desk: Jue Ming’s diary and his own.
Liu Yan’s diary referred vaguely to Lin Musen, but it was far from anything incriminating. As for Jue Ming’s diary, it was hard to say.
Liu Yan understood immediately. Lin Musen continued, “Oh? Chatting with who? Chatting about what? From what I see, you’ve been getting along quite well with our new friends.”
“I’ve been gazing at the moon and stars and snow with the pastor and the philosopher, talking about poetry and the ways of life… We’ve invited you before. If you’re willing, you can join us anytime,” Liu Yan replied.
Lin Musen swiveled around in his chair and looked Liu Yan head on as he laughed. “Brother Sen doesn’t have any sort of culture. Whatever you scholars are talking about, I can’t understand. Today, someone found two diaries in the corridor. I don’t want to just look through it. I’ll respect the privacy of you new human beings. Take it and ask around to see who it belongs to.”
“Okay,” Liu Yan replied. “Leave it to me.”
He kept the notebooks. Lin Musen said, “I’ve been thinking the past few days and asked for Mr. Hu’s opinion. I’ve made two decisions.”
“If I recall correctly,” Liu Yan said, “it was either Hu Jue or I who recommended it to you.”
Lin Musen nodded his head appreciatively, “The people you recommended weren’t bad.”
Liu Yan, “That’s right, where’s Meng Feng?”
Lin Musen, “This is the problem I want to solve first. Our rations have almost run out.”
Liu Yan mentally called bullshit on that. Tons of grain, noodles, cows, pigs and food were transported back just yesterday. Taking everything into account, based on a hundred people eating sixty kilograms of food a day, one ton of food would be enough to feed everyone for more than twenty days. In addition, the potatoes were able to feed people for a month. Lin Musen’s reserves were nearing hundreds of tons. How could it have run out in the short time span of a month? If anything, not even 20% of it was gone.
Lin Musen’s attitude was very clear to Liu Yan. He lacked security.
Lin Musen was anxious, desperate to reduce rationing, afraid that if he goes one day without gaining more, the rations will eventually run out. Even when he collected nearly ten years’ worth of rations, it didn’t remove this fear from his mind.
Even if he continually gained resources, it would not put him at ease. To solve this way of thinking, there was only one origin, and it was to prove to him that they have the ability to produce their own food, and that the rations are enough to sate everyone’s needs.
Liu Yan, “I’ve discussed this with Hu Jue in great detail before.”
Lin Musen’s eyebrow twitched, as though he was a bit surprised. “Hu Jue’s suggestion was your idea? You two talk in private often?”
Liu Yan silently cursed at letting that slip, and tried to change the topic, putting on an expression as if he was unhappy. “He didn’t tell you? Taking credit for other people’s ideas isn’t a good habit.”
Lin Musen smiled like a cunning fox and shook his head. “Liu Yan, you’re too young. As long as the suggestions and ideas are good for us, it doesn’t matter who came up with them. Why bother getting hung up over petty things?”
Liu Yan said blandly, “Okay. Brother Sen is right.”
Lin Musen leaned out of his chair to put out his cigarette, then sat back heavily in his chair. He interlaced his fingers together in front of his belly and said, “Hu Jue thinks that we can’t rest on our laurels, and that we should actively look into irrigation channels.”
Liu Yan nodded his head, a little absentmindedly.
Lin Musen, “There are quite a lot of resources around us that we can use, unlike when we were in Yu village. The hill to the east can be used for hunting. The river can be used to fish. I’ve sent Zhang Min and Meng Feng to each bring a team and explore the terrain in the east and west, and look for lakes and fields along the way.”
Liu Yan, “Actually, this idea was one that I put forward the most. We brought back a sack full of grain. When spring comes, we can reclaim the fields in the village and start farming, and everyone can migrate there. I’ve seen it. The soil there is definitely good enough for planting. I recall from the last recruition that there was a senior student from Huazhong Agricultural University…”
“Very good,” Lin Musen said. “The plan is a bit different from what I had imagined, but it’s basically the same.”
“What’s different?” Liu Yan asked.
Lin Musen, “The base will remain here. Split into batches where one goes over there to clear the area for cultivation. Not everyone has to go over.”
Liu Yan understood immediately. “But the terrain and buildings there aren’t favourable for defending against zombies. I’ll need to use a lot of the defenses we’ve set up here.”
Lin Musen, “So this brings me to my second decision. How are we going to take apart the defenses? It took a lot of work to put them up. You’ll have to build it up from scratch and solve this problem yourself. You might need to find some of your buddies and plan a little bit ahead. This winter, you can ask Meng Feng to head out and scrounge up some resources for you to prevent a panic when the time comes. I want to see results by spring.”
Lin Musen was calculating in his mind. He planned to stay in the school, like a king who didn’t do anything, with his followers around him to enjoy their success.
The others would then be banished to that rundown village to farm and rear livestock, to provide three meals for him every day. If there could be rice wine and tobacco, it would be even more perfect.
Liu Yan already had a secret plan. As of now, this was the best outcome. They only had to break off from Lin Musen to solve a lot of the problems that would arise from conflict.
As for the idea of making everyone labour to take care of Lin Musen’s wants and needs, as soon as Meng Feng heard of this, he would just give Liu Yan a kick.
“Okay, no problem,” Liu Yan said. “I’ll go and do that right now.”
“Leave your workshop here,” Lin Musen said as he nodded. “You’re very important to me, so you have to protect yourself. Meng Feng is very capable. He can protect the people going to live in the village.”
Liu Yan, “I’m heading back now. How far away did you send Meng Feng and Zhang Min to scout? Where are the transportation equipment?”
Lin Musen, “180 kilometres, in jeeps. I drew the perimeter on the map myself. Why?”
Liu Yan did the math in his head. Going and returning, in addition to scouting the area, the time taken to circle the area would take at least two days.
“Nothing.” Liu Yan smiled. “Just asking.”
Just as he was about to leave, Lin Musen suddenly spoke up. “Liu Yan.”
Liu Yan turned around and looked into Lin Musen’s eyes.
Lin Musen, “I always get the feeling that you don’t really like me. Is that right?”
“Brother Sen, you’re exaggerating.” The corner of Liu Yan’s lips twitched. He never would’ve thought that Lin Musen would be the one who couldn’t help himself and be the first one to say that. Since Lin Musen showed the intention of being open and honest, he and Jue Ming would be safe for the moment.
Lin Musen, “You have a lot of potential. You have to listen, all right?”
Liu Yan, “To be honest, Brother Sen, I do feel a bit uncomfortable sometimes.”
Lin Musen, “You can say something when you feel uncomfortable. In my gang, they’ve always been free to speak. I’m the oldest here. From the moment you guys came to me seeking shelter, I’ve treated you all as my own younger brothers.”
Liu Yan sighed, and said, “Brother Sen, you’ve given us the resources to survive and live on. You took us in during the first outbreak when we were escaping, and you gave us food and drink. Meng Feng and I are very grateful to you for that.”
“But I feel that everyone is born equal. You’re our leader, not an emperor. I believe you give us food and drink because you have compassion in your heart. You’re willing to protect us in a time when everyone is unable to protect themselves. We’re willing to do our best, to sacrifice when you need it, to fulfil your happiness and that of others as a way to repay you.”
“Meng Feng has always thought like this too. He’s very strong. But who can say for certain? This is friendship, not obedience. It’s trust between one another, not… like what those elitists like to say about ‘slavery’ being in a Chinese person’s bones. I don’t believe that we’re slaves.”
“So if the day comes where one of us is hurt, I hope you’ll give us some food and drink, to give us a chance to say goodbye and wish you well, then send us off when we leave together and say ‘Goodbye, friend. Good luck.’ and not point a gun at our heads and shoot us.”
Lin Musen listened to his words quietly. He had nothing to say.
Then he spoke, “I’ll reflect on it. How does the saying go? ‘Every day, I examine myself in three aspects’ is that it?”
Liu Yan, “Yes.”
Lin Musen, “I’ll consult with you on everyday matters in the future. Oh right, you mentioned the protection I’ve given you. It suddenly made me think of an important question . It’s about Pastor Wu. I almost forgot.”
Liu Yan, “What about Pastor Wu?”
Lin Musen, “I don’t really like some of his actions. Like when he collects his rations, he always says ‘Thank you, Lord’ and asks others to also say the same. When it’s time to eat, he’ll say ‘Thank the Lord for this food’. Before he sleeps, he’ll say ‘Thank the Lord for giving us a safe place to rest’... There are even more similar things like that.”
Liu Yan, “...”
Lin Musen, “It’s like he doesn’t know that that one who gave him all the food and drink and places for him to sleep is me. The people who protect him are my subordinates. He tells other people that it’s the Lord and Saviour who protects them, including me.”
Liu Yan, “This is usually what members of the clergy do… How should I put this? Brother Sen, you can pretend that the ‘Lord’ he’s talking about is referring to you…”
Lin Musen, “I’m very sure that he isn’t referring to me.”
Liu Yan had a headache. There was no way he was going to be able to explain this to Lin Musen. Just as this problem was about to be resolved, Lin Musen said, “Since he thinks that the Lord is protecting him, go and let him out later. Give him food for three days, and tell him to leave and find his Saviour.”
Liu Yan frowned and examined Lin Musen carefully to make sure that he wasn’t being serious.
Lin Musen waved his gun and said nonchalantly, “Do you think it can be solved like this? Look, I’ve reflected on myself and started asking you for your opinion.”
Liu Yan breathed in deeply. “Brother Sen, let me plead on his behalf.”
Lin Musen, “Or you can be in charge of making him change his thanks to the Lord to thanking Brother Sen instead. That can work too. Then the past will be in the past.”
“That… would be a bit difficult,” Liu Yan said.
Lin Musen, “Or go and tell Hu Jue to make that pastor just shut up.”
Liu Yan nodded. “Okay.”
“If I hear it one more time, I’ll really send him to meet his maker. Actually, I’ve thought about other ways to send him to the other side with a bullet,” Lin Musen said lazily.
Liu Yan nodded. He didn’t want to waste his breath. He turned around to leave, and another knock on the door came.
Hu Jue opened the door and came in. Liu Yan wanted to leave, but Hu Jue said, “Liu Yan, hold on.”
Liu Yan paused. Lin Musen lifted his gaze towards Hu Jue. “There’s a car outside. In the car are two people who escaped from Xi’an.”
Liu Yan, “There are refugees?”
Lin Musen, “Hu Jue, you’re in charge of resolving this. See if they have any qualifications to stay.”
Hu Jue, “There’s a man and a woman. I think you should meet them yourself, because they’ve brought some bad news with them.”
“Zombies?” Liu Yan immediately sensed that something was off.
Hu Jue nodded his head, confirming Liu Yan’s prediction. “It’s winter. All the zombies are in the south. A huge wave of zombies one hundred thousand strong is heading in our direction. According to them, they’ll be here in less than a day.”
There was a long silence in the office.
Liu Yan, “One hundred thousand zombies?”
Hu Jue, “One hundred thousand zombies.”
Lin Musen, “Liu Yan, go and prepare. I know you understand. You’re a smart person. Hu Jue, bring those two over here. I want to ask them about this situation.”
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cael.