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22nd March, 2013
Just when I thought this long winter would never end, Jue Ming pulled off yet another jaw-dropping miracle.
Counting the time that he used a wooden sleigh to cart Zhang Min all the way down the mountain, and how he turned on the radio on new year’s eve so we could listen to Meng Feng’s father’s voice, this is the third time already.
The other day, he went skating on the river. He did a few circles on the ice. It broke under him and he fell into the river.
Zhang Min, of course, immediately pulled him out, rushed him back to make him drink ginger soup, boiled medicine for the chill and covered him in blankets.
Apparently, the hole that Jue Ming made started a chain reaction on the entire river surface. All of the ice started cracking and broke apart completely. The river that had been frozen still for nearly five months started to flow frantically, carrying the ice blocks downstream.
That night, Meng Feng insisted he had heard the call of a cuckoo.
Today, all the snow melted. I couldn't figure out why this winter was so cold. When spring came, the temperature outside actually dropped to negative twenty-seven degrees.
The winter nights were long. Those few nights were the coldest. Meng Feng and I lit a brazier. He held me, and we just stayed like that, watching the flames, talking about the times in high school when we dated.
He said a lot of things. I also said a lot of things. He was always very conscious about the fact that he didn’t have the ability to provide a good environment for me, to give me a good life… He wanted to prove his own worth by opening a company after retiring from the military, like Zhang Min. Or making a big business. He didn’t want to be a mediocre office worker, and wanted even less to be a man who only did housework.
Actually, I never cared about those things, and I never looked down on him.
After all, how can someone shine without being tempered? The first cornerstone of a large economic empire has always started from marketing and selling insurance. Of course, I never told him my thoughts about that. Meng Feng would only say: He was never someone who suited marketing or sales.
All these things are not important anymore. The whole world falling apart has made our love for each other whole. However, things have already started to change. What about when the zombie outbreak is over? Maybe Meng Feng will still have to sell insurance.
Hu Jue mentioned that he used to represent his company in the Asia-Pacific environmental conference.
The conference was about carbon emissions and the global greenhouse effect. Based on that, he thought that the demise of humankind in 2012, as well as all of the abandoned factories, directly caused this November’s long and harsh, cold winter.
This was the weather’s emergency response as a way of cleansing the environment. Next year’s winter might be very short, and the cycle will be stable after ten to twenty years. If the native people’s waste gas and sewage are no longer discharged into the air and the seas, the environment will return to the end of the ice age. The four seasons will alternate, rather than just the scorching heat and freezing cold.
Perhaps there was some logic to this.
The rescue team has yet to arrive, yet spring is already here. Will the zombies head north again? I hope they won’t. I’ll have to keep a close watch.
The curtains fluttered in the spring breeze. The windows were wide open, the sunlight shining onto Liu Yan’s desk. He didn’t like busying about in the study every day, so he simply stayed in his room.
On the left was a large bed. To the right of it was Liu Yan’s workstation which had a mess of parts and tools scattered all over it.
The spring sunshine was lovely. It was almost April, and the weather was slowly getting warmer. The weather here actually could not get any better. The days were warm and the nights were cool.
The mountains are wide and the wilderness is vast, the flora and fauna are blooming. Who knows how many people were harbouring feelings of despair that were difficult to dispel in their hearts.
Meng Feng disliked the heat. He wore a tight, sleeveless shirt and a pair of exercise shorts that showed off his strong thighs as he lay on the bed, flipping through a magazine. The perfect curve of his ass was strong and pert under the red fabric.
There was a knock on the door.
Liu Yan, “Come in.”
Meng Feng, “Wait.”
Jue Ming heard Liu Yan say “come in” and automatically ignored Meng Feng’s “wait”. He pushed the door open. Meng Feng immediately went into a frenzy, tidying his shorts and shoving his erection back into his shorts, then clambering back onto the bed, his face completely red.
Jue Ming, “Liu Yan.”
Liu Yan, “Didn’t you go fishing with your father? What’s up?”
Jue Ming, “I think my Dad is acting very strange lately.”
Liu Yan, “...”
Meng Feng, “...”
Liu Yan, “What? It’s not like you to say something like that, Jue Ming.”
Meng Feng, “You should be saying, ‘Goo goo ga ga, my daddy is being a widdle strange…”
Before he even finished speaking, Meng Feng was hit in the head with Liu Yan’s dictionary as ammunition. “What do you mean by strange?” Liu Yan asked.
Jue Ming, “He keeps hugging that woman…”
Meng Feng, “Who? Dear, come here. Do you like women too? Lie down and look at pictures of pretty girls. I’ll give you a book of them to read. Reading is knowledge.”
Jue Ming, “I’m not going over. My Dad said, lying down like that will squash and bend your pee pee.”
Meng Feng, “It definitely won’t be squashed. Your dad is lying to you. If you don’t believe it, ask Liu Yan. It’s thick and straight and hard. Last night, it was so good he cried…”
Liu Yan, “Don’t teach children bad things.”
Jue Ming, “According to what I saw just now, you’re not a lot bigger than my Dad. It looks more or less the same, except he is a bit thicker…”
Meng Feng, “See, he already knows about these kinds of things. He knows even more than you, right, darling?”
Liu Yan, “Stop talking about this! Jue Ming, which woman?”
Jue Ming frowned. “The woman whose nose is always runny…”
Liu Yan, “...”
Meng Feng suddenly spoke up. “Liu Yan, Zhang Min is helping that Tang Yixiao quit drugs, do you remember?”
Liu Yan immediately remembered. Ten days ago, the heroine that Lin Musen had left behind for Tang Yixiao ran out. The morphine was taken by the pastor to use as pain relief. They were busy last year. Having more people was no big deal, but losing someone was major, and because of her special position – as Meng Feng and Zhang Min’s idol, she in turn got special treatment.
If Liu Yan didn’t bother with her, then nobody bothered with her.
However, once the heroine ran out, Tang Yixiao could only quit taking the drugs. Pastor Wu Weiguang and her brother Tang Yichuan could not control her, so Zhang Min stepped forward to assist Tang Yichuan help his sister quit. Every day, with her face full of snot and tears, she slammed around and made a ruckus. Zhang Min was strong. Most of the time he was holding her down or tying her up.
Jue Ming never knew about this. Yesterday, as he passed through the corridor, he saw Zhang Min picking up Tang Yixiao from the floor where she was crying, and carried her to the bed. Today, Tang Yixiao was doing much better, even heading out on her own for some air. Zhang Min then brought Jue Ming to the river to fish. Tang Yixiao then sat down and spoke with Zhang Min, and thanked him.
“She’s just quitting drugs.” Liu Yan took out a pair of binoculars from the drawer, and looked towards the river. “Jue Ming, do you know how quitting a drug addiction happens? Have you been in contact with drugs?”
Jue Ming shook his head.
Meng Feng, “Your dad is basically treating you like a weak-minded child… He probably hasn’t changed anything he’s said to you since you were eleven until fifteen years old. This won’t do, dear.”
Jue Ming, “That’s because he loves me. What’s happening now? He doesn’t love me anymore?”
Meng Feng stared at Jue Ming, a confused expression on his face. “?”
Jue Ming, “??”
Meng Feng and Jue Ming stared at each other for a long time. Jue Ming was absolutely confused now, and could not tell if Meng Feng was being serious or was just joking with him.
“Your dad wouldn’t not love you, dear.” Meng Feng flipped through his magazine nonchalantly. “If you’re worried about this, you might as well worry about your big panda. Why hasn’t the store delivered it yet–”
“They won’t,” Liu Yan said. “Look.” He passed the binoculars to Jue Ming. Jue Ming looked outside.
Tang Yixiao sat down by the river. Zhang Min was also wearing a pair of very short exercise shorts and a small vest, his strong chest exposed. He was very well-proportioned, his muscles were strong, and he was wearing flip flops that dangled off his feet. It was an outfit that Jue Ming liked very much.
Zhang Min was used to sitting with his legs open, where he would hold Jue Ming in front of him as he fished. Occasionally, he would talk and give Jue Ming kisses. Just now, when Tang Yixiao came over, he hugged her just like that. Tang Yixiao always heard Jue Ming call Zhang Min “Dad”, and thought that Jue Ming really was his flesh and blood son, and it was normal for his son to be clingy. Most of the time, if she wasn’t on drugs, she was a crying mess trying to quit taking them, and did not have time to listen to people’s gossip, so she didn’t know anything else.
Seeing her come over, Jue Ming left.
“Thank you for these past few days,” Tang Yixiao sighed, and laughed.
“It’s nothing,” Zhang Min said politely. “Your brother did the most, I just did what a doctor had to do.”
“I never would have thought that traditional medicine would be so useful,” Tang Yixiao said.
Zhang Min smiled modestly. “A lot of people think that Chinese medicine is experimental,” he said.
Tang Yixiao continued. “It’s actually not. When we filmed movies, we used to invite people to do Gua Sha. At that time, there was a heat stroke in Jiuzhaigou. The doctors there were brilliant.”
“Ah, the film in Jiuzhaigou… The one that came out in 2012?” Zhang Min asked.
Tang Yixiao’s eyes glinted with joy as she smiled. “You watched it?”
“Jue Ming and I went to the theatres to watch. I always… Uh… Liked to watch your movies. You did pretty good in that role,” Zhang Min said.
Tang Yixiao laughed and said, “They say you’re very accurate with a gun, and you’re the leader of the fire team.”
Zhang Min smiled. “I used to be in the military.”
With the spring breeze blowing, Tang Yixiao felt very comfortable. The two of them watched the fish floating in the water, then Tang Yixiao laughed self-deprecatingly. “You’ve… already seen my most embarrassing side. Your impression of me must be shattered.”
Zhang Min smiled. “Why would it? Everyone has a disastrous time, we’re all the same.”
Tang Yixiao closed her eyes, pursing her lips in a smile, then said, “Thank you, Zhang Min.”
Zhang Min, “?”
Tang Yixiao brushed her long hair and said, “Since I was young, this is the first time I’ve met a stranger who’s helped me for no other reason than to lend me a hand. I’m… very touched. I don’t know how I should repay you. These days, I’ve been wondering what I can do for you…”
Zhang Min seemed to notice something, and immediately stood up. “That… Miss Tang, as humans, the difference between us and animals is the ability to love and help one another. It’s what I should have done.”
Tang Yixiao smiled knowingly. “I’m the one who made a mistake. These are words from the bottom of my heart.”
Zhang Min was very conflicted, and did not say anything else after that, only picked up the bucket and shouted, “Darling! Where did you go?” then left.
Liu Yan, “Did you see that?”
Jue Ming’s head was full of question marks. Meng Feng asked, “See what?”
Liu Yan explained it to them, then sat back down at the table.
“His concern is that of a doctor for his patient, not to mention that Tang Yixiao is his idol from his youth. Zhang Min is a very… very good person, Jue Ming, you have to cherish each other,” Liu Yan said.
Meng Feng, “Oh, with the way his brain works, I’d bet that he doesn’t know what that means.”
Jue Ming, “?”
Meng Feng didn’t even look at him, and simply continued flipping through his magazine. “You have to say it this way: Jue Ming, at least you know how to fix the radio and write in your diary, and drag wooden planks. What can that woman do?”
Liu Yan, “...”
Jue Ming fell silent. Meng Feng made a “nothing” gesture with his hands, then said to himself, “You can try hiding under the bed and let your dad come and find you and play a “Darling, where’s my wife?” brain teaser… I can guarantee that if that woman hid under the bed, she’ll only become smelly, and your dad definitely wouldn’t even think of her.”
Jue Ming seemed somewhat baffled, then suddenly, as if a lightbulb had gone off above his head, he understood, and left.
Meng Feng continued reading. Liu Yan continued drawing out his designs as if nothing had even happened.
Half an hour later, Liu Yan suddenly spoke. “What are you looking at those pictures for? You’re not even into women.”
“I am,” Meng Feng said confidently. “What’s not to like about beautiful women?”
Liu Yan, “You’re bi?”
Meng Feng, “I’ve always liked women, just that my luck is bad. When I met you, you just happened to be a guy.”
Liu Yan, “...”
Meng Feng handsomely and infuriatingly turned his head to smile at Liu Yan.
“Do you know what I’m thinking about right now,” Liu Yan said flatly.
Meng Feng, “You’re thinking that if I fell in love with an idol, your days would be…”
Liu Yan, “No, I’m not thinking about that. I’m just wondering, that with you lying like that, I suddenly want to fuck you in the ass.”
Meng Feng, “...”
Meng Feng tossed his book away and shouted, “Come on then!”
Liu Yan jumped forward. In a short two minutes of “Come on, come on!” and a messy struggle, Liu Yan started to beg for mercy. After an hour of gasping, Liu Yan had screamed every single word. Only then did Meng Feng say in a satisfied manner, “Be good, got it?”
It was dusk, and Zhang Min was about to go crazy.
“Where is Jue Ming?!” Zhang Min roared. “Where did Jue Ming go?! He was all right in the afternoon, what happened?! Liu Yan!”
He grabbed Liu Yan. “Have you seen Jue Ming? Bring me to him!”
Meng Feng said, both sympathetically and regretfully, “He’s too busy to even take care of himself. He can’t even walk straight.”
Liu Yan, “...”
“You haven’t seen his legs, they’re basically jelly,” Meng Feng explained.
Liu Yan, “Are you finished? Be careful at night, I might stick something up your…”
Zhang Min, “You two…”
Zhang Min finally realised. “You’re teaming up to pull my leg, aren’t you? Stop messing around. Give me my son.” He sighed heavily, and sat down on the sofa, unhappy.
Meng Feng, “Have you looked under your bed?”
Zhang Min immediately rushed upstairs, entered his room, pulled off the bed sheets, and lo and behold – Jue Ming was lying under the bed, his diary opened in front of him as he slept.
Zhang Min, “...”
“Darling?” Zhang Min breathed a sigh of relief, unsure whether to laugh or cry. “Wake up.”
Jue Ming woke up, and got pulled out by Zhang Min, an unhappy look on his face.
“Where’s my panda?” Jue Ming asked.
Zhang Min remembered what he had said last year, and was dumbfounded.
3AM that night.
A clap of thunderous sound rolled through the earth. Meng Feng stopped snoring, and opened his eyes.
Liu Yan turned over. Meng Feng held him as he sat up, and shook him from side to side a bit.
Liu Yan suddenly opened his eyes. “Listen,” Meng Feng said.
It was another rumbling sound. The window panes were humming.
Liu Yan turned and got off the bed, standing up and trying to recognise the sound that was coming from afar. Meng Feng picked up the pair of binoculars and looked into the distance. A knock came from the door.
Zhang Min walked in, barefoot, and asked, “Is it thundering? Or is it an earthquake?”
“No,” Liu Yan said. “It’s coming from Xi’an.”
Liu Yan put on his clothes and ran to the rooftop. At the ends of the dark sky, Orion shone brightly in the distance, a magnificent red light glowing halfway across the sky.
The piercing light was just a flash, then it was silent again, as though nothing had even happened.
“What happened in the city?” Liu Yan frowned as he muttered. “Is it an explosion?”
“There are no explosives,” Meng Feng said curiously. “It shouldn’t be. Could it be the rescue team?”
The next day, after Liu Yan and Meng Feng had a discussion, they decided to head to Xi’an to investigate. Zhang Min and Jue Ming also wanted to join the team, and find their panda along the way.
25th March, 2013:
After the new year’s broadcast was sent out, everyone had a feeling of burnout. They felt that since the military was already beginning their search and rescue, it was only a matter of time before they arrived here. All they had to do was wait.
With this kind of attitude, the residents of Hope Town became less alert. I think this is a very dangerous thing.
Spring is here. What if some new variable arose? Who can guarantee that the zombies won’t head north again? In theory, the cold would cause permanent damage to their brains, but that’s only in theory. It’s not reliable to totally depend on the military. I have to make sure that Hope Town won’t fall to a zombie outbreak before the military’s rescue arrives.
Even if the possibility is slim.
We drove a stolen, modified van into Xi’an.
The gusts of wind and sand had caused the ancient city walls to look extremely desolate. A layer of black sand had built up at the foot of the walls, like a ruin, and also like a garbage pile. White bones jutted out from the black sand.
Those were from the bodies that had been buried under the snow, after the ice melted. It seemed that in summer last year, not long after the virus outbreak, the city had still put up a fight.
Just that we don’t know where the survivors are now.
Now, sprouts were starting to spring out from the pile of black sand, thriving. We entered Xi’an three times. The first time was when we went north against the cold current, passing the Beilin district, leaving the city through the northwest Lianhu district.
The second time was when Meng Feng brought a squad to look for supplies, and investigated the western part of Chang’an district.
“People have come here before,” Meng Feng said. “Look at that blown-up building.”
“Mn,” Zhang Min said. “Traces of explosion.”
They headed deeper into the centre of the district. The buildings were becoming messier. “At least three hundred kilograms of TNT explosives have gone off here last night,” Meng Feng said.
Zhang Min’s expression grew serious. Their car stopped in the city centre.
Meng Feng got out of the car. “Liu Yan, act as dispatch. I’ll patrol around and take a look.”
Liu Yan opened the communicator in the car, and took out a map. “Where are you going?”
Meng Feng, “To see what the train stations are like.”
Liu Yan, “Look for vending machines. If possible, help me remove the navigation console from the trains, it’s right at the front.”
Jue Ming, “Can I walk around?”
Liu Yan looked at Zhang Min. He took the communicator. “I’ll accompany him.”
Liu Yan opened the map in his hands and looked at it closely. This car had gone through a special modification of his. The tires had four rotating saws around the outside, the front of the car had a sharp ram, the tail of the car had an oil container that could be controlled, so that they could dump the gasoline at any time.
There was even a small Tesla coil on the top of the car. Although the electrical power was not strong, it was definitely enough to deal with tens to even hundreds of zombies.
The wind rose in the abandoned city, picking up withered, yellow leaves and floating them across the long, desolate street.
Jue Ming stopped at the entrance to a shopping mall. Most of it had been blown up. The remaining parts of the floors were exposed to the air, the reinforced concrete looking like a ferocious monster. A muffled roar sounded from the depths.
Jue Ming looked around. Zhang Min, holding his gun, said, “Darling, what are you looking for? Let’s head back.”
Jue Ming picked up a pack of batteries. “Liu Yan wanted this.”
“Let’s go,” Zhang Min said.
Jue Ming frowned, as if he had seen something. Dozens of zombies were gathering in a place deep inside the mall, wailing one after another.
Zhang Min and Jue Ming stood outside, feeling as though there was something strange inside. Jue Ming noticed that there was a cymbal-banging monkey toy under the counter, and put the battery inside the monkey’s butt.
“Oh, darling, what are you trying to do?”
Jue Ming put the monkey on the ground, and flipped the switch. Immediately, Zhang Min pulled Jue Ming behind a column and hid.
Bang Bang Bang Boom Boom Boom–
The monkey banged and clanged, turning around in circles on the spot, then the wheels underneath pushed itself towards the zombies with an air of arrogance. The group of zombies circling that unidentified something turned their heads. The cymbal monkey bumped over the uneven ground, turned, and rolled off to the side.
The zombies each started to chase that monkey.
Zhang Min and Jue Ming poked their heads out from behind the column.
Jue Ming walked towards the inside of the mall. Zhang Min held his gun up and patrolled behind to prevent any incidents. Jue Ming knelt down on one knee at the area the zombies had been gathered around earlier, and moved a piece of plastic board out of the way. Underneath, there was an elevator, its doors opened a crack.
Inside the elevator was a man covered in blood who was panting non-stop.
The man was almost entirely naked, his lower body covered by a pair of tattered military camouflage trousers. His chest and waist were covered in injuries. His trousers and boots showed that he was a soldier – or used to be.
“Liu Yan,” Zhang Min said. “Drive the car over. We discovered a survivor.”
Zhang Min, “Are you okay?”
The man said, “Barely… How did you find this place? Were you attracted by the explosions?”
Jue Ming frowned. “What are you doing in there?”
“I fell from ten metres high… I was in the elevator when it fell. Now I’m taking a rest,” the man replied.
Zhang Min gritted his teeth and pulled the elevator doors open. The man managed to climb out, with much difficulty, and asked, “Do you have water? I feel a bit like I’m about to collapse.”
Jue Ming took out a water bottle from his bag. The man took a drink and said, “Thank you.”
Liu Yan reversed the car. The man, with his injured arm, ran out of the mall. “Do you have any food? Give me some food.”
Liu Yan opened a packet of biscuits for him, and opened a bottle of energy drink for him. The man wolfed it all down, and gulped down the whole bottle of drink. “You have to leave this place immediately. Give me a gun,” he said.
Liu Yan frowned, alarmed, and asked, “Are you from the rescue team? What are you planning to do?”
The man had recovered some of his strength, and wiped the corner of his mouth.
“One bomb didn’t detonate,” the man said. “The mission almost failed. I have to set off the last round of explosives.”
Liu Yan looked towards Zhang Min, who nodded slightly, meaning that they could give him a gun and that he could control the situation.
Liu Yan got a gun and passed it to the man, who took it and gave Liu Yan’s shoulder a pat. “Thanks,” he said tiredly.
He turned around and ran. “Hey!” Liu Yan shouted.
“Leave now! Don’t stay!” The man shouted. He made a symbol with his hand, then staggered his way towards the ruins in the city centre.
“Meng Feng, did you hear that?” Liu Yan said. “I discovered someone who seems to be from the rescue team. He’s heading towards you.”
“I’m following the train stations, and I’m already in the sewers. There aren’t many zombies here,” Meng Feng replied.
Liu Yan, “Is that so? Why do I feel that there’s danger everywhere here… You’d better come out first…”
Meng Feng, “What did that person from the rescue team want to do?”
Liu Yan, “He wants to detonate a bomb that didn’t go off.”
Meng Feng, “I think I’ve already seen that bomb you’re talking about.”
Meng Feng was standing at the end of an underground tunnel, where there was a sewer exit suspended in the air.
There were seven similar sewer tunnel openings around the domed drainage vault. In the middle was a large drainage pipe, a small trickle of water flowing down onto the ground and into the sewer, which then flowed down the wall and into the underground ditch.
Inside the vault were thousands of zombies. They were wandering around inside the space under the ground, and had not noticed Meng Feng whose body was halfway exposed.
In the centre of the drainage vault, there was a three metre tall water pump.
On the top of the water pump was a cone-shaped explosive charge. The safety bolts on the bomb were scattered all around. A wire hung loosely-tied to its cable, having been chewed by a zombie.
On top of the charge, a red light flashed.
Meng Feng put the sights of his gun up to his eye and muttered. “Damn, that’s a mini nuclear bomb.”
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cael.