Always support our Chicken Lord by buying the original work whenever you can! Link for each platform's guide to purchase the raws can be seen on our FAQs.
Lai Jie smiled. “At least give me some clothes to wear.”
The members of the Hurricane squad came down. Liu Yan swept a glance at them. Lai Jie, the female officer, a young person… They did not look like the fighting type.
There were only three of them.
In Hope Town, the people saw that Liu Yan and the others had returned, and started to chatter and talk among themselves before slowly quieting down.
“Open the fence,” Liu Yan said. “They’re here to rescue us. All of you go back in. Meng Feng will talk with them.”
Deng Changhe led some people to open the steel fence defences. Lai Jie wore a white sleeveless vest, and put on a pair of fingerless gloves. He dangled a cigarette from his fingers, and the young person helped him light it.
“Let’s start with introductions.” Lai Jie stood in the entrance to Hope Town, and smiled through his cigarette. “This beautiful lady is Wu Shuangshuang. He’s called Li Yan, an intern soldier… Where’s Old Xiao and that drug addicted fellow?”
“Didn’t Old Xiao die already? That drug addict couldn’t handle it as soon as he came out, so we buried him in a ditch by the roadside. No one was driving. He was dragged over.” Wu Shuangshuang smiled.
Sadness flashed across Lai Jie’s eyes, but he said nonchalantly, “Oh, then that’s that.”
He took the documents from the female officer’s hand, looked at Meng Feng, then looked at Liu Yan, as if trying to judge who had more authority, then turned to Meng Feng in the end. He opened the document for him and said, “According to wartime collection order 371 issued by the country, I have to temporarily claim your shelter, and gather all the resources for redeployment…”
Meng Feng did not take the documents, his hostility obvious as he looked at Lai Jie.
Lai Jie continued, “And, according to Article Four of the military service order, all active servicemen, veterans, public security, and armed forces are to report to me. Please notify everyone, see how many there are. Also bring the men who are of a suitable age to me, and we’ll select them… I want people, and rations and supplies.”
“And after we give them all to you? What do we get from fulfilling these obligations?” Liu Yan asked.
Lai Jie avoided Liu Yan’s question, looking around.
Before they returned, the children had been flying kites. Jue Ming forgot about his panda, and joined them. Zhang Min and Jue Ming flew a kite in the spring breeze, laughing as they talked and slowly backing.
The colourful kites soared in the air.
“You have many reserves here, and a lot of people. Take me around to have a look?” Lai Jie said and laughed. He patted Meng Feng’s shoulder. Meng Feng immediately raised a hand to push it away, but did not turn down Lai Jie’s request.
He turned and went into the farm. Behind the sign for Hope Town was a large field of blooming flowers, all of them flourishing and thriving. “How much time did it take for this to be built? This isn’t a bad place to take shelter,” Lai Jie said.
Liu Yan frowned slightly. Meng Feng did not flare up, and explained. “We arrived last winter.”
Lai Jie came to a stop in the middle of the flower field and said seriously, “We want to enter Xi’an to rescue people, and need to search the area properly. We’ll save all the survivors and bring them back here. Then we’ll clean up the zombies and use the tower to send a rescue signal. After about ten days, the country’s support team will come and bring all the refugees to the underground base in the sea.”
Liu Yan sat on a railing at the flower field. Meng Feng lit a cigarette. Neither of them made a sound.
“Now, I want to assume control of this place. Call everyone out,” Lai Jie said.
“No.” Liu Yan firmly refused Lai Jie’s suggestion. “Please send out the signal first. I want to make sure of everyone’s safety and that you won’t lead all the zombies from Xi’an here, then I’ll give the resources and land to you.”
“I can't do that,” Lai Jie said. “The country’s rescue team can only go to each place once. They’ll come and then go. If you mess around like this, it will make things difficult, little brother.”
“Then how will you prove that what you’re saying is true? What if you’re a pirate?” Liu Yan asked.
Lai Jie laughed, thinking nothing of it as he replied with a rebuttal, “If I were a pirate, would I waste time running down into the sewers to blow up those zombies?”
“Hope Town is our home, we’re not giving it to you, but you can bring people here,” Meng Feng said.
“Then let’s each take a step back. You gather all the veterans and the men able to fight zombies. I’ll be honest, the military will bomb the whole country in the future to ensure that all the zombies are destroyed. You’ll have to leave this place sooner or later, or it will be very dangerous. I’m very sorry,” Lai Jie said.
“I’m also very sorry. We don’t have the soldiers you want here,” Liu Yan said.
Lai Jie looked at Liu Yan. He licked his lips, his expression relaxing. He walked to the front of the railing and sat beside Liu Yan, switching sides as though he were an old friend. He smiled secretively at Liu Yan and said, “There’s at least one.” He pointed at Meng Feng as he spoke, then murmured to Liu Yan again, “You’re a mechanics expert, he’s a veteran from the special forces… If I’ve guessed it correctly, that tall and thin one… He’s an amazing sniper?”
“You’ve guessed wrong,” Liu Yan replied, expressionless.
Lai Jie turned his head, sizing Liu Yan up, then laughed like a bandit. “And, you two are gay?”
Meng Feng, “…”
Lai Jie, “I could tell from the very beginning. Truth be told, so am I.”
Liu Yan, “...”
Lai Jie, “And I’ve liked you ever since I first saw you guys.”
Lai Jie stretched his arm out to put it around Liu Yan’s shoulder.
Liu Yan immediately hopped off of the railing and ran towards Meng Feng. Meng Feng was already yelling, outraged. “You better fucking keep your tongue in check!”
Meng Feng stepped forward and lifted Lai Jie up. With an angry shout, the two of them started fighting. Liu Yan came back to his senses and yelled, “Meng Feng! Come on! Beat him down!”
That moment caused an uproar in the farm. The groups of people who had dispersed earlier all came running out of the buildings to watch. Liu Yan kicked it off, and the crowd started to shout and cheer for Meng Feng. No one knew what was happening, but this squad was foreign and aggressive, and everyone here obviously would help their own.
Lai Jie was also a fighter. He twisted Meng Feng’s collar, and the two of them crushed most of the flowers in the field, the flower pots smashing on each other’s heads. Lai Jie was punched down aggressively by Meng Feng, and he squashed several flowers. This was immediately followed by Lai Jie kicking a leg out, sending Meng Feng crashing to the ground.
Once the fighting started, the surrounding shouts grew louder and louder. Lai Jie’s subordinates – that female officer and youth – ran to the area outside of the railings, their expressions helpless.
At last, Meng Feng gave him a punch with all he had, and fiercely knocked Lai Jie down.
“Very good.” Lai Jie backed away on his elbows, nodding. “You have an excellent fighting physique. You’re from K3, aren’t you…” Before he even finished speaking, Meng Feng punched him in the face again, and he finally stopped.
“That’s enough, Meng Feng.” Liu Yan heard the sound of the punch coming into contact with the eye socket. It was a soft sound, but he was afraid something would really happen, and stopped Meng Feng.
Meng Feng had also met his match. His face was swollen and bruised. He struggled to get up, and sat down in front of the steps.
“You’re called Lai Jie,” Liu Yan said. “Hm, now we can talk properly.”
“First of all, Hope Town cannot currently be given to you,” Liu Yan said. “But please feel free to carry out your plan to save the people in Xi’an. I’ll provide the resources for your mission, and will only take responsibility for what I can handle.”
“Secondly, I have set up defenses here. The strength of these defences are formidable. You can drive your car inside to this place where I am standing. You can roam freely up until that river border. As long as you stay within Hope Town, you don’t have to be afraid of the zombies.”
“Thirdly, I will properly take in the survivors you bring back. I’ll take in as many as there are.”
“Lastly,” Liu Yan said. “I have no interest in you. You can try and talk to the others, and see if anyone is willing to join you, but please don’t forcefully conscript soldiers, or I will use those high-voltage Tesla coils and send all of you to the Western Paradise.”
That evening, Liu Yan applied medicine for Meng Feng. Meng Feng examined himself in the mirror and harrumphed a few times.
“He doesn’t have enough people,” he said.
“That’s his business,” Liu Yan replied. “If he thinks he can persuade them, I won’t stop him.”
“Will you join?” Meng Feng asked.
Liu Yan was silent for a moment, then said, “No… I think.”
“Really?” Meng Feng said.
“If you go, I’ll go. But I believe you won’t go with him. It’s too dangerous, isn’t it?” Liu Yan said finally.
Meng Feng did not say anything else. Liu Yan kept all the maps on the table, and brought his and Meng Feng’s lunch boxes down to the canteen for them to eat.
Lai Jie and the people he brought were mingling among the residents of Hope Town standing in line for food. When Liu Yan entered the back of the line, Wu Shuangshuang turned around and met his gaze, her eyes carrying a hint of a smile.
“He’s a good person, just that he likes to run his mouth, like he’s crazy. We also have our times when he really can’t stand him.” A youth turned his head to look at Liu Yan and said, “The captain just wants to test you and your friend’s capabilities, so he planned to agitate him. Don’t take it too personally.”
Liu Yan nodded and shook hands with Li Yan. “You’re Li Yan, right? Did you drive the car inside?”
Lai Jie was carrying his military lunch box, at the front of his squad. “Ah! It’s been so long since I’ve had food from my hometown.”
Auntie Yu gave him a look, then said, “You’re from the south?”
“Every day I eat biscuits, water… Beautiful Auntie, please give me a little more.”
Auntie Yu gave him a big ladle of braised potatoes. Lai Jie walked away, satisfied.
Liu Yan glanced at him. Lai Jie had squeezed in between a few guys, listening in on their discussion before he started to drum up support.
As soon as he sat down, everyone was quiet.
“Congratulations, you can leave very soon,” Lai Jie said.
“Really?” Someone asked.
Lai Jie spoke as he ate. “Wait until my mission is over. We’ll send a signal to the base, and the military will send people to take you away.”
Someone else immediately asked, “Take us where?”
“To the open seas. But I have to make sure that in my squad of three, one of us survives,” Lai Jie said.
A lot of people started to ask more questions. Liu Yan stopped listening. He got his food and headed upstairs. At the entrance of the stairs, Wu Shuangshuang’s head was lowered as she used the spoon to fiddle with the rice. She lifted her head and smiled. “Hello, handsome?”
“What?” Liu Yan said.
“This place isn't bad. You’re not bad either,” Wu Shuangshuang said.
Liu Yan, “Why.”
Wu Shuangshuang, “Because you eat the same thing as everyone else, and even line up.”
Liu Yan nodded. “Thanks.”
That night at 9PM, someone knocked on the door.
Wen Qiege’s voice came from outside the door. “Lieutenant Lai wants to speak with you, Meng Feng.”
“There he is again,” Liu Yan said.
Meng Feng put down his magazine and got up, put on a pair of pants, his torso bare. He wore flip-flops as he headed downstairs, saying carelessly, “Be right back.”
Under the moonlight, Meng Feng walked out into the flower field. There, Lai Jie’s squad’s three cars were parked. Liu Yan watched from afar. Meng Feng and Lai Jie stood in the field, talking, but he could not hear what they were saying.
Lai Jie, “Meng Feng, I know someone who looks a lot like you.”
Meng Feng, “Is that all you wanted to tell me? If you say those three words, I can’t guarantee I won’t hit you again. Want to bet?”
Lai Jie laughed, sizing Meng Feng up. “How did you all survive? Your dad always thought you were dead.”
“Don’t act so senior,” Meng Feng said coldly. “You’re not that much older than I am.”
“I’m twenty-nine, almost thirty,” Lai Jie said. “I’m five years older than you. How did you survive after all this time? Bringing your lover with you, killing zombies, running from death? Just a conversation. Sit.”
Meng Feng sat down, one foot tapping on the muddy flowers rhythmically. The air was fresh and comfortable.
He told the story of their journey.
Lai Jie listened for a long time, then interrupted at the end. “Fuck, you’re so selfish.”
“I’m selfish?” Meng Feng was immediately furious.
Lai Jie blew out a puff of smoke, then tossed his cigarette away. “Any more? It’s your turn to treat me to a smoke.”
Meng Feng, “Yeah, but why should I give it to you?”
Lai Jie, “Because the one you smoked was the last one I had in my supply.”
Meng Feng pulled out a pack and tossed it over. Lai Jie caught it and said, “Why didn’t you take the initiative to hunt and kill zombies?”
Meng Feng, “Why should I kill them? My life is important, there are so many people whose lives are in my hands…”
Lai Jie, “That’s being selfish! Every time one zombie is killed, that’s one person who’s free from being infected. Your family, friends, loved ones. The zombies can only get fewer in number. What the hell is the point of having all these people hiding here like cowards?! When everyone else in the entire world is dead, the zombies will find you eventually. If you don’t save people, then no one will come and save you! Don’t you know that feeling of despair, that you’re one of the only ones still alive in this world? The loneliness, without any comrades. You can’t even find someone to talk to if you wanted. In this endless world, you’re the only ones still alive…”
Meng Feng took a deep breath. Just as he was about to rebuke Lai Jie’s words, Lai Jie laughed mockingly. “Or are you afraid of zombies? Someone from K3 is actually so scared that they’ll crowd with others, like a stupid fool? You have so many people on hand, why don’t you make a squad to hunt these zombies, and cleanse the districts, making your own militia?”
Meng Feng, “I have absolutely no interest in doing that.”
“What did you even learn from the instructors?” Lai Jie said coldly.
His voice was cold and threatening. It was as if he was a completely different person than the one from that evening.
“Your instructor should be taken aside and shot,” Lai Jie said. “The country tasked him with developing soldiers, but ended up having a student like you. There are tens of thousands, even millions of people in this country waiting for you to save them, yet you hide in this comfy place, afraid to die…”
“I’ve already retired from the military!” Meng Feng shouted, furious. “When I retired and switched careers, where was the country?! They said they would assign me a job, but they didn’t give me a single day of work! I ran for a month under a 40 degree sun, just to have a job that could feed my family! I just want to be able to feed my wife! I don’t care about not being able to raise my head in front of other people! The country made me wait! Always waiting, forever waiting! Why don’t you talk about that?!”
Lai Jai roared. “So what?! You hate this country! This country raised you! Just because it didn’t give you a decent job where you can just eat and work to death! It didn’t let you be proud in front of your wife! And even made you run under the sun for a month! When disaster struck, you sat and watched as thousands of your comrades struggled and died on the frontline! You didn’t notice! You’re a shame to the K3! What did you swear an oath to when you enlisted?! You’re an embarrassment to General Meng Jianguo!”
“Only you can give yourself face! You have to fulfill your own character! Don’t always fucking compare yourselves with other people until you’re in the ditch! Where are your ideals?! General Meng sent you to the K3 with five years of training, and instead of it turning you to gold, it’s turned you into a pile of cowardly garbage!”
“You still have the gall to ask me where the country was for you? Let me ask you, where’s your pride in being a member of the special forces?!”
The thunderous roars woke up the entire farm. Quite a few lights in the rooms had turned on.
Meng Feng took in a deep breath.
Lai Jie gently flicked off the embers on his cigarette. Scarlet embers fluttered in the night air. “Sorry, I shouldn't have yelled at you, I was too emotional. Take yourself and your loved ones to a safe place in the next few days. I promise that if you can stay together in this life, you’ll never separate.”
Meng Feng silently got up and left.
“Where was the country? It’s not just a hollow name,” Lai Jie said indifferently. “Sergeant Meng, it’s this farm, the people in this farm, and that includes the people you love.”
“To the Nansha islands in the south, to Mohe in the north, where you stand, every inch of land that you’ve run across in your escape, the devastated homes, the cities that have turned to ruins, that is your country.”
1st April, 2013
This seems to be an April Fool’s day joke. Lai Jie and his squad brought news of the outside world to us. I have a hunch that maybe, Meng Feng and I’s next separation is nigh.
Meng Feng’s dad isn’t a good thing to bring up… If Meng Feng stole a peek at my diary, he would surely get angry.
My mom said before, Meng Jianguo was a loafer. Meng Feng’s mom left him because of that reason. As neighbours for so many years, she knew a lot of things about Meng Feng’s father.
Can a person with such a dysfunctional private life be a general? Probably.
I still remember the summer, after exams had finished. In those three years of high school, Meng Feng called his father once.
Apparently, it was the only conversation between Meng Feng and his father in all of those three years. The conversation was short, the contents were simple. He said that he didn’t like the result for his college entrance examination, and asked his father to pull some strings to get him into a university in S City, because he wanted to be closer to me.
“It would be great if you could get me into my first choice of college.”
He squatted by the roadside on his phone. Probably one one sentence was said on the other end of the line before the call was hung up. After Meng Feng ended the call, he brought me across the street to eat at the TCBY at the entrance to the park.
I always thought that his dad would help him find a school. It was such a short conversation, wasn’t his response “Okay”?
Even if the answer was “No”, I would understand it as: Meng Feng’s father just wanted to give him some hardship, but would still find one for him.
Until he came to me with an enlistment notice. On that August night, we argued horribly downstairs and woke up every neighbour in the building. After I finished arguing, I went upstairs. He sat downstairs for the entire night, smoking two packs of cigarettes. The next day, he was on the train.
Will Meng Feng go with me to the refugee centre in the sea?
t/n: lai jie is so annoying my god
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cael.