S City, University Town.
The police had blocked most of the roads. The students in the university town were being evacuated in batches underneath the military’s protection. There were six universities, that were divided into two major areas. The East and the West, which were the largest and most prestigious campuses within South China.
From North to South, the bus of the School of Politics and Law had already left. Liu Yan’s car passed by. Liu Yan looked outside and saw the students on the school bus causing noise as if they were excited about going out for an autumn outing.
Outside the three joint university area, an armed police officer stopped Liu Yan’s car.
Liu Yan showed his student ID; Meng Feng--who was driving the car-- didn't make a sound, allowing Liu Yan to negotiate.
Liu Yan asked, “What’s the situation now?”
The armed police officer replied, “Rabies outbreak. Are there any injuries on your body, small classmate? If you are wounded, then go get examined and vaccinated immediately." As he spoke, he pointed to several sterile tents in the distance.
Liu Yan replied, “Don’t have. We just came from home, is this place being evacuated?”
The armed police officer said, “The healthy people are temporarily quarantined, two hundred kilometres from here where the South Chinese army is stationed. Go back and look for your Dean. The instructors and the hospital will arrange for you to take a sanitised bus. What about you? Take out the Student ID card so I can see.”
At the side, Meng Feng asked, “Can we go by ourselves?”
The armed police officer waved, his white gloves stained with a trace of purple and black blood. He looked at Meng Feng, still waiting for him to show his student ID card.
“This is my cousin.” Liu Yan said. “He was afraid that I would be unsafe, so he's sending me to school.”
Meng Feng pulled out his veteran’s certificate. When the military police officer saw that he was a veteran, he no longer examined them and let them go.
Liu Yan turned on the radio broadcast. “The summer rabies virus has an outbreak. The relevant departments have called for local governments to respond well. Some heavily-affected areas need to temporarily isolate and quarantine the crowd...”
Meng Feng said, “It’s not rabies at all. They're lying without even blinking.”
Liu Yan, “They've already begun to isolate the healthy people, this is much more serious than that year’s SARS.”
Meng Feng, “The SARS outbreak that year was very serious, it was just that a lot of the illnesses weren’t reported.”
Broadcast, "The people of the whole country are united and the leaders of the central government..."
Liu Yan laughed out loud.
Broadcast, "...Go to the S-city in the most affected areas to visit patients..."
Liu Yan muttered, “The leaders go to the areas affected the most?”
“I don’t think so,” said Meng Feng. “As I said, we should go to the South China Military station ourselves and take a look.”
Liu Yan was silent. At the bottom of his heart, he felt what Meng Feng had said was feasible and logical, but...
“But this car isn't mine.” Liu Yan said, “Cui Xiaokun is my good friend, what kind of action is driving his car away? What do you think?”
Meng Feng nodded, turned past a corner and parked in front of the dormitory. Liu Yan flung open the car door, ran to the dormitory. Downstairs, there was a huge arrow-- “Returning students please quickly head to the indoor stadium.”
“Follow me,” said Liu Yan.
“What about your things?” said Meng Feng.
“Don’t care about it first! Fast!” Liu Yan pulled Meng Feng along the road, running across the empty campus roads to the indoor stadium.
The field was surrounded by stands that towered over in a circular formation; they were enough to accommodate nearly 20,000 students. Annual celebrations and large-scale cultural performances were held here. Currently, the stadium had been divided into different jurisdictions for each college; the stands held up banners.
The students waited for evacuation underneath the scorching sun. The girls held umbrellas, listened to music and whispered occasionally.
From the stadium’s central broadcasting box, a broadcast could be heard every five minutes, “Students please arranged yourselves in order and stay there. For alumni, please report to the administration office before heading to the medical area to vaccinate...”
Liu Yan found the post-graduate students in the basketball hall on the east side of the grandstands. He hurried through the stands with Meng Feng.
The two sweaty men entered the basketball hall that was filled with students; the central air-conditioning poured in.
“Liu Yan!” shouted Cui Xiaokun from the side. “Thank god, you’re finally back.”
Liu Yan sighed, stepped forward and hugged Cui Xiaokun.
"The car key, Meng Feng,” said Liu Yan.
Cui Xiaokun took the key. “How is auntie? Is everything all right?”
Liu Yan was silent. Cui Xiaokun said, “The broadcast said that the spreading of the virus in Z city was very serious and that most of the citizens have been quarantined or left.”
Liu Yan said, “Still okay, I didn’t find her but I’m guessing that she had already left.”
Cui Xiaokun comforted him. “That’s good, everything should be okay.”
Liu Yan tiredly stroked his messy hair, his eyes slightly red.
“What is the situation now?” asked Meng Feng.
Cui Xiaokun knew Meng Feng. When he had first arrived in S city, he had once lived in their dormitory room for a few days. He immediately greeted Meng Feng and explained, “They'll take us to a nearby barracks and evacuate in batches. It's said that only when it's five o’clock in the afternoon will they get here.”
Meng Feng walked forward and whispered, “You have to go right away. You don’t know what happened outside, it's very dangerous.”
Liu Yan said, “Wait a moment, Meng Feng. Xiaokun, where are the deans?”
Cui Xiaokun held a glass of water. “They're having a meeting inside the office. You can’t get in right now.”
Liu Yan waved his hand. “The two of you wait here, I’ll be right back.”
There were anxious phone calls everywhere, there was a girl crying out loud in the corner. Her boyfriend was hugging her and whispering comforting words.
“Liu Yan!’ shouted the guy. He then bowed his head and said, “Xiaoshu? Don’t cry, your friend is here.”
The girl looked at Liu Yan with tears in her eyes. She was Liu Yan’s junior. They were all from Z city. They had started calling home since the radio broadcast last night.
“It’s okay! Xiaoshu?” Liu Yan said from a distance. “The signal is unstable right now. I went home, most of the people already left. My mother also... saw your brother.”
The girl said, “What happened to him! What about my parents?”
Liu Yan subconsciously made up a lie and said, “Your brother’s girl was uncomfortable, they went to the hospital to check. Your parents accompanied them.”
The girl breathed a sigh of relief. Liu Yan said, “They'll be transferred to the hospital on Friday evening. Should be down to the provincial capital, followed by the army’s car. We also chatted for a while.”
Xiaoshu almost fainted, cried out and said, “Thank you, can you contact them?”
Liu Yan waved his hand and looked at Xiaoshu’s boyfriend. He wasn't an engineering student, but from a local society in S city. No one cared about him when he came in with his girlfriend.
Xiaoshu stood up and wanted to go to Liu Yan, but Liu Yan said, “I’ll tell you in detail, I still have something to do.”
The man held Xiaoshu in his arms and whispered, “Be at ease, you see, Liu Yan is still busy.”
Liu Yan walked through the corridor. There were many students sitting or standing in the corridor. At the end of the corridor was the office.
He knew most of the people here. Most of them followed the postgraduate tutors for research projects. Their tutors were in the office; those that had the closest relationship with the tutors waited for arrangements and shared miscellaneous chores.
There were quite a few boys in the School of Mechanical Engineering. They were called science geeks by people in other departments. The girls from the Biology department were standing at the side, looking at their fingernails.
Liu Yan said hello one by one, and was about to knock on the door. Sitting on the floor, a male with his back against the wall retracted his feet and asked, “What’s up? The teachers are in a meeting, you can’t go in right now.”
Liu Yan pulled off his earphones and said, “Senior brother, do you know what’s going on outside?”
The male’s name was Xiaoyu. When Liu Yan was a graduate student, he had gotten to know him very well. After Liu Yan went abroad as an exchange student, Xiaoyu graduated and remained as an assistant teacher. They were still used to calling each other Senior brother and Junior Brother.
Xiaoyu stood up and said, “Is your family all right?”
Liu Yan whispered, “My mum might already be dead. It isn’t rabies, its zombies... you...”
Xiaoyu was startled and said, “Liu Yan, you're exhausted. Take a good rest first, don’t think about it.”
Liu Yan said, “Trust me! Let me go in, I'll talk to the heads of departments in detail. You'll understand later.”
Xiaoyu was in disbelief. His eyebrows furrowed and his eyes were doubtful. He raised his hand to touch Liu Yan’s head. He hugged him again, and asked, “What did you see when you went home?”
“It’s too late.” Liu Yan calmed down and knocked at the door. Xiaoyu didn’t stop him.
“Come in.” The voice of the old vice-principal rang.
Liu Yan pushed the door open and entered. Inside was a circular table, and there were ten people with high statuses that were currently discussing the students' evacuation and the modification of their teaching plans.
“What’s the matter?” asked a woman, looking up. “Which college are you from?”
“This is my student.” The Dean of the School of Mechanical Engineering laughed. He asked, “Liu Yan, you’re back? Is everything okay?”
Liu Yan closed his eyes and shook his head. “Where is the principal?” asked Liu Yan.
The old man who presided over the meeting was the vice-principal, and he answered, “The principal went to converse with the police. Your name is Liu Yan? What’s the matter?”
Liu Yan took a deep breath and said, “I’ve just come back from Z city, and I have brought you bad news.”
Liu Yan carefully retold his process of returning to Z city in detail once, and the office was silent. “My mother is a doctor, I won’t lie you to.” Liu Yan glanced at the deans and said uneasily, “I think it's better for us to leave here immediately, and go to a secluded area.”
Liu Yan closed the door and saw Xiaoyu who whispered, “The corpses you saw... those living dead people, are they all real?”
Liu Yan glanced at him, took his earphones and stuffed it into his left ear. It was a slow opera, which relaxed his tense nerves.
“Yes,” said Liu Yan tiredly. “What will they do?”
Xiaoyu said, “It’s very troublesome. They aren’t saying we can leave. Still waiting for the armed police escort.”
“I’ve already done my best.” Liu Yan rubbed his eyebrows.
Suddenly somebody came running towards them and said, “Liu Yan! Your friend is outside arguing with Mr. Lin!”
Liu Yan listened, and two question marks floated above his head. Unkindly, he said, “Meng Feng, what did you do again?!”
Liu Yan pushed Xiaoyu away and ran out of the corridor. He saw Meng Feng and a tall physical education teacher fiercely arguing.
“Security!” The teacher surnamed Lin was very upset. “Notify the security to come over!”
Enraged, Meng Feng said angrily, “If Liu Yan hasn’t come out, I won’t go anywhere! Give me a break!”
The P.E teacher yelled, “You are not a student at this school! A bunch of gangsters! Go away for me!”
The two men quarrelled until their faces were red and their voices hoarse. If they didn’t agree with each other in this situation, then they would break out into a fight. The P.E teacher coached basketball. He was nearly 195cm tall, taller than Meng Feng by a bit.
Meng Feng pointed at him and threatened, “Don’t be rough. I’m warning you, even two more of you wouldn't be enough for you to deal with me.”
The physical education teacher said, "This is simply lawless..."
Liu Yan said, “Teacher Lin.”
Liu Yan pulled apart the two and glanced around. There were many people behind Meng Feng, many weren’t from the school. Most of them were men, and they had come to protect their girlfriends.
Liu Yan said, "Sorry, Teacher Lin..."
The P.E teacher said, “Whose boyfriends are you? Come and claim, let them leave here! Our own students are out in the sun, and you post-graduate students are just inside with air-conditioning. How did these people come in?!”
Xiaoyu went up and said, “Okay, Mr. Lin. Please cease your anger. They are not malicious. If the other students come in then I will ask them to give up their positions immediately.”
“Teacher Lin!” Someone anxiously said. “A classmate passed out due to heatstroke. Where are the deans?”
Xiaoyu came out to mediate. Although he wasn't very old, he was still a teacher. He guarded Liu Yan and the others. It wasn't easy for the P.E teacher to say anything else. In addition to the situation in the stadium, he only pointed at the ground and said, “Mr. Xiao, sorry for troubling you.”
After saying that, he shook his sportswear impatiently and coughed a few times before following the medical staff out.
Xiaoyu went to pick up a cup of water and gave it to Meng Feng. Meng Feng said in a muffled voice, “Thank you.”
Liu Yan’s physical education teacher, who was looking far away, kept silent and seemed to feel something.
“Is he vaccinated yet?” Liu Yan asked.
“All the students here have been vaccinated. How about you?” Xiaoyu said, “If you haven’t vaccinated, hurry up. What are you called?”
"Meng Feng.” Meng Feng took the cup and squatted at one side.
Xiaoyu said, “Meng Feng isn't from our school. I’ll write a note for him. Hurry up and line up to get vaccinated.”
Liu Yan nodded to show his thanks. Meng Feng squatted in the corner to drink water. Cui Xiaokun crossed his long legs and sat beside Meng Feng to play on his PSP.
Liu Yan took the note and came to stand in front of Meng Feng. He said, “Go, vaccinate.”
Meng Feng looked at Liu Yan with displeasure before staring at the ground without saying a word. A moment later he said, “You look down on me.”
“No.” Liu Yan said, “You always like to think nonsensical things. We didn’t break up because of this reason.”
Meng Feng shook his head. Liu Yan simply knelt down on one knee and looked at his eyes. Meng Feng said, “Listen to me. Leave now, don’t stay here.”
Liu Yan let out a sigh and thought about how to persuade Meng Feng. He thought it would be safer to be with his classmates instead of rushing outside. After all, the military would escort them and take them to an isolated, quarantined place. If Meng Feng drove by himself, what would happen when he ran out of food and drinking water? What would he do if he encountered a large number of wandering zombies?
Without looking up as he played on the PSP, Cui Xiaokun said, “The army is coming to escort us. You two shouldn’t act alone. It’s safer to have more people.”
Meng Feng didn’t answer and whispered, “Listen, Liu Yan. Your P.E teacher’s face is a little strange. He was very upset; he was about to attack people at any given moment. I saw it that night, they were very violent and aggressive before they became a zombie...”
“Zombie?” Cui Xiaokun exclaimed.
Liu Yan immediately hissed and gestured to Cui Xiaokun to calm down.
“Why are so many people suffering from heatstroke?” said an anxious voice in the distance.
Liu Yan, Meng Feng and Cui Xiaokun looked at the basketball hall entrance.
The P.E teacher told the boy from the sports institute to carry the student who had fainted due to the scorching sun into the basketball hall. His face was more ugly compared to when he had just quarrelled with Meng Feng. His face was grey, his eyes were slightly protruding. His hair was soaked with sweat as it stuck to his forehead.
Liu Yan said, “No matter what, go get vaccinated first. Come on, get up.”
Liu Yan stretched out his hand and took a photo with Meng Feng. Meng Feng took advantage of the situation to stand up but held onto Liu Yan’s hand as he led him out of the basketball hall towards the medical centre.
There were fewer people in the stands. It was three o’clock in the afternoon, the hottest time in the day. The ground was burning hot. Many students had been on duty in shifts and had secretly run back to the dormitory so that they could be cooled by the fans.
Many people were sunburnt. The logistics department began to distribute mineral water bottles. There was still a long queue at the vaccination site. Meng Feng held onto Liu Yan’s shoulder in a domineering way, many people pointed and talked about them. Liu Yan didn’t struggle, his mind was currently focused on other things.
The students affected by heatstroke in the stands were carried into the basketball hall. There were thousands of people watching the situation.
“So serious?” Liu Yan’s heartbeat quickened for a moment. He asked a student, “What time did you start gathering at the stadium today?”
The man replied, “At eleven o’clock in the morning. They asked us to come after lunch.
The queue procession was slow. Meng Feng suddenly said, “Liu Yan, look over there."
Liu Yan looked at the temporary medical site that was underneath a few sunshade umbrellas where several tables were placed together. The nurses were vaccinating people one by one. They were surrounded by foam boxes which were filled with crushed ice; the boxes contained medicine.
Meng Feng took out the telescope and asked, “What kind of vaccine is that?”
Liu Yan took the telescope and looked. He couldn’t understand the colour codes on the bottle. “Is it a new vaccine? I don’t know the specifics...”
Meng Feng whispered, “It’s no use at all, let’s not get vaccinated anymore.”
“How do you know?” asked one of the students in the queue.
Liu Yan frowned and said, “Maybe it’s really a variant of rabies. I’m not sure...”
Meng Feng trembled and whispered, “Liu Yan, you see that doctor, can you see him and the nurse next to him? Where did these people come from?”
Liu Yan’s brows furrowed as he frowned. He murmured, “The hospital staff came. In short, not the people of our school... God, Meng Feng I see it.”
On the necks of the two nurses vaccinating the students, was mottling skin. It was very light and wasn't very obvious. Occasionally, they would impatiently shout for them to hurry.
Meng Feng whispered, “The medical staff is also infected. Liu Yan, they don’t seem to know of their own situations.”
Liu Yan said, “No. If they're scratched or bitten, they would’ve been quarantined. They mustn't have any wounds, how else can they come out to vaccinate others?”
Meng Feng, “Is it possible that if you've frequent contact with patients infected before this, you'll also be infected?! How does this virus spread? Sweat? I suspect that everyone in this medical team has been infected.”
Liu Yan breathed deeply and shook his head. “I’m not a medical student. How would I know?” he asked, “I don’t even know what the disease is.”
Liu Yan thought of the P.E teacher with the strange face and suddenly turned his head sharply. Outside the queue, there were many students in the basketball hall who were affected by heatstroke. The post-graduate students had given up their positions.
“Listen to me. Don’t go there first.” Meng Feng’s voice was a little shaky. He held on to Liu Yan’s hand and they ran towards the basketball hall.
“What about the car key?” Liu Yan gasped.
Meng Feng said, “Gave it back to your roommate.”
Liu Yan entered the basketball hall, there were noisy people everywhere. The P.E teacher shouted, “Give them some water, bring a towel and put it on their foreheads!”
The teacher was quite hysterical. After watching for a while, Liu Yan shouted, “Cui Xiaokun! Cui Xiaokun!”
The crowd was in a mess. Liu Yan couldn’t find where Cui Xiaokun was. Liu Yan asked people, only to hear a roar, “Why are you little punks still here! Get out!”
The P.E teacher walked towards Meng Feng. Meng Feng took a deep breath but was unable to bear it. He rolled up his sleeve and was about to brawl with him. Liu Yan hurriedly pressed into him and motioned him not to be impulsive.
The P.E teacher stood in front of Meng Feng and gasped heavily. All the students looked at him suspiciously.
His pupils were turbid, then he opened his mouth and rushed at Meng Feng.
Liu Yan immediately shouted, “Don’t touch him!”
When Meng Feng realised what happened, he dodged deftly and kicked the man’s waist. There was confusion around them, and the students shouted. The P.E teacher was kicked away by Meng Feng and fell to the ground. The P.E teacher then climbed up, and the student who had helped him up was bitten on the neck.
Blood splattered all over the place, countless girls screamed loudly and shouted. The timid girls fainted immediately.
Liu Yan gasped for two seconds and shouted, “Cui Xiaokun! Bastard-! Where are you!?”
There was an unprecedented commotion in the basketball hall, and a heartbreaking cry came from the corner.
A student with heatstroke suddenly woke up and bit the first person they could see. Liu Yan wanted to go look, but Meng Feng grasped his wrist and dragged him to the front of his body, and shouted in his ear, “Go!”
“No car,” said Liu Yan. “Where can we go?”
Meng Feng roared, “Think of another way! Quick!”
Liu Yan saw Cui Xiaokun in a corner. He was crying due to laughter.
Cui Xiaokun was wearing earphones and had turned the volume to the extremes as he played on the PSP. It was accidentally pulled off by one hand. Liu Yan shouted with anger and laughter, “Run, you’re going to die!”
Cui Xiaokun exclaimed, “What happened?!”
Liu Yan forgot that the basketball hall was still full of people. When he shouted like this, it stirred everybody restlessly. Nearly three to four thousand people screamed. They rushed towards the exit.
The people rushed at the doorway like the tide. Nobody knew how many people’s feet had been trampled on. There was blood everywhere. A broadcast loudly called for the students to calm down. The door deepest in the basketball hall opened and the vice-principal came out.
“Don’t panic!” shouted the vice-principal. “What the hell! Don’t panic!”
The doorway had been blocked. Meng Feng turned his head to looked around, gesturing for Liu Yan and Cui Xiaokun to follow. The three rushed into the corridor behind the vice-principal.
The deans were all confused. Meng Feng rushed into the corridor of the back hall with the two of them. He grabbed the vice-principal’s collar and dragged him to the ground. Then he closed the door, and they blocked the door.
The moment the door closed, the P.E teacher who had become a zombie, came and slammed into the door.
Blood gushed from the door, splashing onto the vice-principal’s face.
Liu Yan smashed the fire cabinet and took the axe and placed it so that it held the door firmly. Meng Feng said, “Take the safe passage! Hurry!”
“Teacher...” Liu Yan panted and was about to speak to the deans.
“There’s no time to explain!” Meng Feng shouted.
Cui Xiaokun was a little dazed, nodded frequently and said, “Goodbye... teachers.”
Liu Yan and Cui Xiaokun followed Meng Feng’s footsteps and escaped the basketball hall through the safe passage.
Cui Xiaokun, "God..."
Cui Xiaokun, "Call...call... my God..."
Cui Xiaokun, "God..."
Liu Yan, "Xiaokun, you better shut up. You won't consume your energy when you run..."
Meng Feng, "You both... don't talk. “
Cui Xiaokun, "My parents... No, I have to go back to my parents..."
“Don’t be silly!” Meng Feng and Liu Yan shouted in unison.
Cui Xiaokun was so shocked that he didn’t dare to say a word. There were students running everywhere in front of them. A zombie tide broke out from the basketball hall and into the stadium. The glass was smashed. More and more students affected by heatstroke began to wake, becoming zombies. They chased after their classmates and bit them.
Blood stained most of the stands. Everyone was scared crazy. Meng Feng opened the door and left the basketball hall.
"I will scout around first,” said Meng Feng. “Be careful not to make too much noise.”
Meng Feng took a step forward, and a broadcast sounded from a helicopter in the sky. “Follow the instructions of the South China Military. Please gather at the fifth teaching building gate immediately! Evacuate the place now!”
The army finally came.
Meng Feng asked, “Follow them?”
Liu Yan nodded reluctantly. The three escaped from the stadium and ran towards the teaching building.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cat.