17th October, 2012, Dusk.
The atmosphere was as though everyone was facing a terrible adversary. People either stood in the hallways looking out into the distance through the windows, or hid inside the school building to pray. Liu Yan was up on the rooftop. He couldn’t shake a feeling of worry. “Bring Brother Wen here,” Xie Fenghua said.
Wen Qiege arrived. He looked extremely dejected, like a tree about to wither.
“Brother Wen, I want to ask for your help with something,” Liu Yan said.
Wen Qiege lifted his gaze to look at Liu Yan. Liu Yan continued, “Can you help to watch Lin Musen?”
Wen Qiege nodded his head slightly. “If he wants to run away, you have to do everything you can to stall him.”
Wen Qiege, “I’ll try my best.”
Liu Yan, “I need a precise answer.”
Wen Qiege, “I’ll do it.”
Liu Yan, “You don’t have to fight. Just follow him. When the time is right, I’ll send someone to notify you that you don’t need to watch him anymore.”
Hu Jue frowned. “You want to let him go?”
Liu Yan looked at Hu Jue for quite a while, then said, “When the very last wave of zombies is approaching, there’s a chance that he may run. That way, we can evacuate ourselves, or organise new defenses and stand our ground. If he wants to run, then he can take whoever he wants with him, and we don’t have to care about him anymore.”
Hu Jue, “And if he doesn’t run?”
Liu Yan, “Then we’ll call him ‘Brother Sen’ as we always do. We’ll deal with everything at a later time. His life is his own.”
Hu Jue nodded. Wen Qiege went downstairs to look for Lin Musen.
The barbed wire fence was three metres deep in the ground and surrounded the entire school. Outside, buried in the snow, were hundreds of canned bombs, like a huge minefield that covered the area of a mile around the school.
The last person who went to bury the bombs came back. They closed the wire fence firmly. Thirteen iron poles that stood four metres tall surrounded the entire area where the refugees were. This was Liu Yan’s final defense: the Tesla coils.
The sky was gloomy. The electric currents running through the poles crackled like restless blue spirits.
The currents would dance across the wire fence from time to time, and make a popping sound each time a snowflake landed on it.
The soldiers who had gone through training were armed with guns, each standing thirty metres apart, behind the sealed wire fence.
Liu Yan was standing on the rooftop, binoculars raised as he looked afar.
“Attention! Attention! A large wave of zombies is approaching!” The fat boy who was part of the Scaredy-shroom squad said.
Jue Ming, “Let me see.”
He passed the binoculars to him, and he looked into the distance. Hundreds of zombies were following the road and heading south.
Jue Ming, “Why aren’t they carrying a flag?”
Liu Yan, “What flag?”
Jue Ming, “A red flag that says ‘A large wave of zombies’.”
Liu Yan, “...”
The wind swirled fiercely, and the sky was already pitch black. The single piece of canvas that was set up on the roof was blown around wildly, then carried off by the wind into the distance. In the darkness, it was hard to tell whether the faint moaning and howling was from the zombies, or from the wind blowing in from the northwest.
Liu Yan, “Turn on the lights.”
A large, incandescent light in the centre was turned on. Using mirrors, the spotlights on each corner of the rooftop shined their light into the darkness beyond the barbed wire fences, onto the mass of rotting zombie faces.
Their clouded pupils shrunk slightly, their faces covered with a layer of frost. They approached slowly from the north, getting closer and closer to the landmines.
“Fire!” Liu Yan roared.
The first gunshot went off, followed by a string of bangs and bursts. Three teams took turns firing, exploding the heads off the zombies that were scattered around outside.
“Keep firing! Don’t let them get close to the landmine perimeters!”
The zombies were growing in number, and the sound of gunshots were growing denser, until there were more than a thousand zombies pouring in. Liu Yan lifted his binoculars to look into the distance. The night was absolutely dark. The zombies were gathered together like an ocean’s waves, and more were coming.
The guns could no longer hold the perimeter, and the first zombie triggered a mine with an ear splitting explosion.
The deafening blast was followed by another, and another. The gunshots stopped. After a brief silence, the explosions became more and more intense, like bursts of thunder that shook heaven and earth. The yellow flames from the explosions curled up and filled the entire night sky in a majestic display. Even Lin Musen could not help but stand and watch from the window.
The huge explosion was too shocking that no one could speak, or shout. Their cries were all covered up by the violent explosions. Innumerous broken limbs had been sent flying by the blast and tossed into the perimeters of their defenses, drawing out terrified shouts and causing people to hide.
After nearly ten minutes, the bombs had all gone off. It started to quieten.
The inside of Liu Yan’s ears would not stop buzzing. He had been shocked until he was dizzy.
“Get ready…” Liu Yan was panting, “to drop the second round of bombs!”
“There are more! They’re not cleared!” Someone shouted from downstairs. “More are coming!”
Under the light, the bodies of zombies littered the ground. Even more zombies were slowly getting closer, walking over the corpses of their fallen comrades until they finally arrived at the outside of the wire fences. The humans finally saw the faces of these monsters up close once again.
Their guts were spilling out of their stomachs, their entire bodies burnt and blasted open, their rotting bones embedded with iron nails. Their grotesque faces and prominent gums shone a terrible white under the lights.
“Ru... Run!” People were starting to panic.
Deng Changhe pulled the trigger and blew the head off a zombie that was close to the fence, and shouted, “No one is running! What are you afraid of? They can’t come inside!”
The first zombie bumped into the fence. Desperate shouts arose from inside the school building, but with an electrifying crackle, that zombie was shocked into a spasm until it was firmly stuck onto the wire.
The screams and shouted stopped, and someone started to cheer softly, and others joined until they were roaring in celebration.
Liu Yan’s heart was pounding. This was just the start. Tang Yichuan was standing by his side, his expression serious.
“The fence will collapse,” Liu Yan said slowly. “There are too many of them.”
Tang Yichuan, “Yes. When the fence starts to bend, you’ll have to start up the Tesla coils.”
Liu Yan nodded. At this point in time, he was nervous beyond compare. When the fence was first built, it was set so that it tilted outwards at an obvious angle to prevent zombies from pushing it over with their weight and collapsing it.
The dark mass of zombies was growing. Fortunately, their movements had slowed a lot from walking in the snow. The fence was starting to flash blue and let off sharp crackles, causing row after row of zombies to be electrocuted until they fell over. With each wave of zombies that fell, the cheers in the schoolyard grew livelier and livelier.
The people were no longer afraid. They were either sitting on the windowsills of the school building, or running up to the rooftop to look at spectacle as though they were watching a great movie.
“Everyone go back down!” Liu Yan instructed. “This is just the beginning! Get back inside!”
This was just human nature. As soon as the fear in their hearts was subdued, it was hard to avoid the start of some form of excitement. But Liu Yan and Tang Yichuan knew very well that there weren’t even ten thousand zombies in front of them.
After this, nearly ten times the number of zombies would flood their lonely island as it sat on this vast wilderness.
The wave of zombies stretched further than the eye could see, and it seemed like it would not stop. They fell one after another, the bodies piled up outside of the fence, and the zombies that followed just stepped on those corpses, slowly pushing and tilting the barbed fence inwards.
Even more zombies passed the northern defenses, like the swelling of the high tide, surrounding the school in a crescent-shaped formation. The bodies were piled all around the school, the stacks almost two metres tall. After half an hour, the fence was bulging inwards under the pressure. When the first zombie stuck its hand through the fence, and was shot dead by Deng Changhe, the people started to become uneasy again.
“Turn on the generators. Connect it to the batteries,” Liu Yan ordered after taking one last look at the mass of zombies.
The fence was tilting at a forty-five degree angle. The people were panicking and loudly shouting, “What do we do?! They’re coming in! Hurry up and shoot!”
Lin Musen was trembling all over and slowly backing away. He retreated into his room and grabbed his pistol.
On the rooftop, the batteries buzzed as they started up. The twelve diesel-powered generators let out a deafening noise. The wind turbines rotated fiercely. The lights in the corridors and main hall grew dim.
The spotlights on the rooftop suddenly went out. The world was covered in darkness.
The sudden darkness elicited a number of fearful screams mixed with desperate calls that sounded like they were falling into hell.
In the midst of the cries and shouts was the pastor’s prayers.
“Oh, Lord, please bestow upon me the dawn of salvation, bless your people with hope in this long night…”
“Light the fire in my heart, be the guiding light in the dark…”
Liu Yan raised his head. The hand he was holding the switch box in would not stop trembling. Finally, he slowly pressed the button.
The core of the Tesla coil device and the tube on the tip of it that discharged electricity gave off a blinding blue light, like a flash of lightning that pierced the night sky. The hum of the current gradually rose in pitch, and the sound of the other mechanical devices were also getting louder.
With a deafening roar, spider-like currents of electricity burst forth!
The bolts of electricity were entangled. The blue flashes from the thirteen coils that surrounded the entire school rose up into the night with a thunderous noise.
In the midst of the endless night, on this vast land, a miracle was occurring.
The thousands upon thousands of zombies were surrounding their lonely fortress. In the middle of that fortress, a bolt of electricity flashed. The currents quickly encircled them, forming a giant, blinding ring of electricity that whistled outwards relentlessly. The millions of volts were like a furious dragon, sweeping the zombies away.
In the short span of ten seconds, the ring of electricity started to expand faster and faster, covering an area of nearly ten miles. All the zombies were electrocuted in that moment.
Like a God of Thunder in Western Mythology, the wonderment and mystery of science was a symbol of the brilliance of mankind.
The deity’s hand annihilated thousands with furious thunder, sweeping away all the zombies in a hurricane.
With one final boom, the world fell silent once again. The glare of electricity disappeared, the long night was plunged into darkness.
With a buzzing noise, the Tesla coils began to gather energy again.
After three seconds, hundreds of people burst into wild cheers that almost brought the walls of the school tumbling down.
“Congratulations. You did it,” Tang Yichuan said.
Liu Yan nodded his head tiredly. He was covered in sweat, as though he had been pulled out from a river. His back, neck, hair were all drenched.
He flipped the switch, and the lights came on. The cheers that came from downstairs were borderline hysterical. As he ran down, there were endless numbers of people who came over to hug him. “Good job! Liu Yan!” Lin Musen called from above.
“It’s not over yet! Everyone, get back inside, return to your positions! Take shifts. Count the wounded! Assemble! Everyone, assemble!” Liu Yan shouted.
In the dead of night, Liu Yan left Hu Jue to scout from the top floor. He opened the wire fence, and started up all the cars. He installed shovels in front of the cars. Ten vehicles were sent out separately to very slowly shovel all the bodies of zombies out of the way.
After almost four whole hours, it was confirmed that they had gotten rid of nearly thirty thousand bodies.
This was more than Liu Yan had estimated. If the horde of zombies was really numbered at a hundred thousand, then they might not have to evacuate.
“Quickly, quickly!” Liu Yan stuck his head out of the jeep and shouted. “Jue Ming, stop playing around! Hurry and shovel them!”
Jue Ming had been manoeuvring the armoured vehicle and shovelling the zombies around in a circle. After he was scolded did he listen and shove them all into a pile.
During that time, a few zombies came over. Hu Jue, who had been scouting from the roof, turned on the lights signal. Liu Yan used only a small bit of electricity to start up the coils, and used the electricity to deal with them.
Before dawn, the gusts of wind raged as they always did. They poured oil over the mountain of corpses, and started to burn the bodies. Then, they pushed the fences back into their original positions, and welded the areas that had broken.
They were racing against time with every action. There were two shifts taking turns to rest, and each had to return to the intense labour in less than three hours each time.
Liu Yan would pick up his binoculars from time to time and look to the west.
Meng Feng had not returned… According to logic, he would not return until evening.
His only hope was to send people out to quickly find Meng Feng, and hope even harder that they had not gotten into an incident with a large group of zombies… Liu Yan shook his head to clear that terrible thought from his mind.
The first rays of dawn appeared over the tops of the mountains. A jeep was driving over from the east.
That was Zhang Min’s team, thank the heavens.
The door opened. A gunman from the team was covered in soot from burning bodies. His eyes were rimmed with red, his tears endlessly flowing.
Liu Yan stopped in his steps.
“Zhang Min is dead!” That person shouted from afar, his voice trembling with tears. “We couldn’t find his body! We came back ahead of time! What happened here?!”
With a bang, it was as if Liu Yan’s brain had been hit with a sledgehammer. The world was spinning.
Jue Ming came over. He asked, as if he hadn’t heard it properly, “What? Where’s my dad?”
No one answered.
Jue Ming, “Liu Yan, what did he say?”
He wanted to walk towards the jeep, but Liu Yan held him back.
“Zhang Min… is dead?” Hu Jue said. “What are you saying?! Say that again!”
That gunman handed them an army cap – it was certainly Zhang Min’s – and a gun.
“On the mountain, ten miles out, not long after we set out! At the first inspection site, when he got out of the vehicle to go on foot, the cave… A group of zombies jumped out. Zhang Min opened fire to draw them away and to let us escape.
“He… As he ran and fired, who would have known that… There were many caves there… It seemed like a bomb shelter, and there were also a few rooms... inside… It was all zombies… They probably went in there to take refuge…”
“When we got to the mountainside, there wasn't the sound of gunshots anymore,” the gunman continued. “We… couldn’t abandon him, we couldn’t. So we… we went up the mountain to search for him, but we couldn’t… We only found his gun… No bullets. The zombies were also dead.”
“Did you search in detail?” Liu Yan asked.
“We killed a lot of zombies,” the gunman replied. “We didn’t abandon him! We searched everywhere! He set off explosives and collapsed the bomb shelter! The zombies were all blocked off and trapped inside! He could have buried himself!”
Jue Ming listened silently, never saying a word.
“When we went up to look for him… We heard him shout once, then it was quiet… On the path, there… seemed to be a few pools of blood, and… some kind of bone, covered in blood. He could have been… eaten…”
After a long, long silence, Jue Ming finally spoke.
“I’m going to look for him.”
“You’re insane!” the gunman said. “When Brother Min told us to escape, he said ‘Help me take care of Jue Ming, don’t let him go off looking for death’. How can we let you go?!”
Jue Ming did not cry, nor did he faint, he only said, “I don’t need you to look after me.”
“You can’t go,” the gunman said. “Brother Min died to save us. You’re his only family.”
Liu Yan, “Jue Ming, the zombies are everywhere right now. Can you wait until Meng Feng comes back?”
No,” Jue Ming said. “I’m going now.”
Liu Yan, “You’ve thought about it? Don’t be rash, Jue Ming.”
Jue Ming, “I’m not. I will go. I want to take a look.”
Liu Yan’s eyes were a little red. “I’ll prepare some things for you. You can’t drive, can you? I’ll get someone to accompany you.”
Jue Ming, “I know a little bit. You taught me last time. I can drive.”
Liu Yan, “I’ll get you a car.”
Jue Ming, “Thank you.”
Liu Yan turned around and grabbed a gun. He reloaded Zhang Min’s AK with ammunition, and started to pack some things. He made a quick judgement in his head. The zombies all came flooding in from the west, and Jue Ming was heading east. As long as they held the line here, he would not have to worry about any danger on his back.
Zhang Min and Jue Ming had successfully fought the infection before. Maybe Zhang Min was still alive.
His mind was a mess. He handed the gun to Jue Ming, along with a flare gun with three flares. He taught him how to reload it, and repeatedly instructed him to be extremely careful.
“If you can find him,” Liu Yan said. “Fire a flare into the sky. The life detector is in the bag. I specially modified the swiss army knife. There’s a small explosive inside. It’s very dangerous. If it’s not crucial, be extremely careful with it. There’s markings on the map, follow the road, and you’ll find where Zhang Min last split off from the others.”
Jue Ming took the gun and nodded. “What if he got bitten, and is dying?”
Liu Yan, “Then try and fire a flare as well.”
“What’s the point?” Jue Ming raised his head.
Liu Yan, “If… Let’s say, Meng Feng returns, and if we are able, we’ll respond to your signal and come.”
Jue Ming lowered his head. He didn’t seem to have any opinion on these tiny, negligible chances.
He put his things in the bag. “I gave you five days worth of food and water, some rope, and medicine. The car is full of gas,” Liu Yan said.
“Goodbye, Liu Yan. You haven’t wished me luck yet,” Jue Ming said softly.
“Goodbye,” Liu Yan said. “Good luck, my dear Jue Ming.”
Jue Ming took the map, his weak frame getting into the jeep, and driving out of their field of protection.
“Captain!” The fat boy, along with the rest of the Scaredy-shroom team rushed down the stairs.
“Captain! Good luck!” The Scaredy-shroom team all came over to bid Jue Ming farewell.
“Captain! All the best!” The youths all shouted.
Jue Ming drove away from the school, and disappeared into the snow.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cael.