“What do you do?” asked Liu Yan.
“Me?” said the man.
Liu Yan asked, “Well, what is your profession?”
The man said, “I’m a webmaster. I work in the city, my parents are out of town...”
Liu Yan waved his hand without saying anything more to the man, and said, “Next.”
“What about food?!” asked the webmaster suddenly.
Liu Yan said, “You don’t... meet our requirements. Sorry, I can’t give you anything to eat. You can go along this road and try your luck in the west...”
Lin Musen said, “Liu Yan! If you explain so much, it’ll take three months before you finish!”
“Go away! Don’t block the way!” A younger man pushed him roughly.
“At least give me some biscuits! I haven’t eaten or drunk any water in a day!” The man was struggling angrily.
Without saying a word, Lin Musen held the gun against the man’s temple and coldly said, “Go or don’t go, if you don’t go then you’ll be killed.”
The queue turned silent, and the man had to turn away and leave.
“Next.” Liu Yan sighed and then asked, “What do you do?”
“I’m unemployed.” The man in front said, “Little brother, you're not the same as them, I can see it. Please give me a box of instant noodles. I’m bringing along a family of people. They're still on the road. No food, no drink. Everything was looted before we could. Many people died in Yu Town. I don’t know what happened. I can’t buy anything. My mother is seventy, my old man's in poor health and can’t withstand the hunger. I’ll find my own way to collect water, give me something to eat, okay? If I survive in the future, I'll surely find a way to repay you. Give me something to eat and I’ll go right away.”
Liu Yan was quiet for a moment. Lin Musen came over, and Liu Yan had to say, “Next.”
“Don’t mingle with them!” The man’s tone changed.
“What are you doing!” Someone at the table came over and pushed the man away.
“What? What are you doing? This is against the law!”
The man left the queue and angrily said, “Did you buy all the food?! I’m afraid not! How many people did you kill in Yu Town? What kind of robberies have you done along the way? Did you really think that such actions wouldn’t be found out?! You are a group of robbers. There are zombies killing people outside, and yet you're even starting to fight against your fellow living compatriots!”
Lin Musen acted according to his words and placed the gun on the back of the man’s head. The man said, “All the people have heard! You have a...”
A shot slammed into him from behind. The man’s brain matter was all over the floor.
Lin Musen coldly said, “Really cocky, let’s see who is cockier?”
Four younger men dragged the man’s body to the river behind the factory. Someone came out with buckets to mop the floor.
Liu Yan was silent for a moment but said nothing.
Liu Yan, “Next, what profession?”
“Express delivery...” said the person.
Liu Yan said, “Next.”
The man shivered and turned away.
After half an hour.
"What do you do..." Liu Yan was numb as he repeated.
The girl in front of him introduced herself, “My name is Ding Lan. I’m an accounting major. I'm responsible for bookkeeping and warehouse management in a small supermarket.”
Liu Yan’s eyebrow rose and he said, “We're short of a warehouse manager, would you like to stay?”
“Me!” Someone in the queue immediately shouted, “I also deal with logistics! I’m much better than her!”
Liu Yan stared at Ding Lan’s eyes, and Ding Lan nodded.
“Young man, brother, big brother.” Someone said, "You’re letting a woman take care of the warehouse? You should be recruiting men!”
Liu Yan said, “Because she's in front.”
After saying that, Liu Yan wrote the word ‘Warehouse’ on a piece of paper, tore it off and handed it to Ding Lan. “They'll give you food when they take you to the back. Go get food and water first. You're welcome to join us.”
Ding Lan nodded, walked out of the queue, but didn't leave, instead she stood aside as if she was waiting for something.
Liu Yan, "Next, what do you do?”
“My name is Xie Fenghua, student.” The girl pushed up her thick glasses and looked similar in age to Liu Yan and Meng Feng. “This is my student ID card.”
“Post-graduate student?” Liu Yan glanced at the student ID and said, “From the University of Political sciences and Law.”
Xie Fenghua nodded, “You too? I don’t seem to have seen you.”
Liu Yan said, “Do you know someone called... called....” Liu Yan was trying to think of Li Song’s younger brother’s name, but he didn’t know his name. So he gave up and said, “What is your major?”
Xie Fenghua said, "Philosophy department, it’s written on the student ID card.”
Liu Yan, “Post-graduate Philosophy student... I’m sorry, Ding Lan, what are you still doing here?”
Ding Lan said, “We've been neighbours since we were young. Can’t she stay? Why?”
Liu Yan said, “I’m sorry. Her major is useless to us.”
With a smile, Xie Fenghua said, “It’s understandable. Don’t say anything, Ding Lan. Sir, can you give me something to eat?”
Ding Lan said, “Let’s go together. We agreed...”
Xie Fenghua said, “No, I said it earlier. Ding Lan, you stay here.”
Liu Yan’s nose was a little itchy. He looked up at Meng Feng, and Meng Feng’s eyes were also a little red. It seemed that he had thought of when they had grown up together as children.
Liu Yan, “Next.”
“Wait.” Ding Lan, despite Xie Fenghua’s obstructions, came over and asked, “this factory is very big. Can’t you give her a place to live? She doesn’t eat much and isn’t troublesome...”
“Enough!” A younger gang brother came to pull Ding Lan and Xie Fenghua apart.
Meng Feng clutched the younger gang brother’s arm and coldly said, “If you have something to say, say it properly. Don’t be rude to women.”
Liu Yan, “She can’t live in the factory. I said no, I’m sorry...”
Ding Lan, “Who's in charge? Who has the final say? I’ll go ask.”
Liu Yan, “If I were you, I wouldn’t go to him. You should be glad he’s gone now. Didn’t you see him kill someone then?”
Ding Lan didn’t say a word. Meng Feng said, “Let’s go. You’ve wasted too much time. There'll be trouble when the boss comes back.”
Xie Fenghua said, “If I stay downstream or across the road, I won’t be in your way, will I?”
Liu Yan thought about it and replied, “No, there won’t be any trouble.”
Xie Fenghua said, “Thank you.” She then whispered, “Ding Lan, it’s a rare opportunity. I'll stay with you. If it’s not good here, then we can leave together.”
With tears in her eyes, Ding Lan reluctantly nodded. She turned away and entered the factory, taking the note to report her situation.
“Next,” said Liu Yan. “What profession?”
“Private detective,” said the young man.
Liu Yan said, “Let me see the employment certificate.”
Xiao Qingnian said, “Don’t have a license. You know this business is a secret occupation.”
The young man said, “Don’t look at how I’m not tall or how I’m thin. I can fight, think logically and carefully."
Liu Yan squinted and said, “Really? Do you think he looks like it?”
Meng Feng raised his gun and placed it on the man’s forehead. “Tell the truth. Three.”
Liu Yan knew that it was impossible for Meng Feng to actually shoot him, but the young man’s face paled immediately and said, “Medical staff, but I don’t have a certificate. You need a doctor...”
Meng Feng, “Two.”
Xiao Qingnian, “Writer!”
Liu Yan, “Next.”
Xiao Qingnian said, “I’m also a screenwriter. I can write stories for you to relieve boredom and drama rehearsals...”
Liu Yan said, “No. I don’t want to hear stories. They probably don’t want to listen either. We're living in a long and helpless story now.”
The young man sighed, his head drooped and he nodded. “Everyone has entered a story, that has to be accepted.”
“You can try your luck in the northwest,” said Liu Yan.
The young man helplessly said, “I dwell in the house too much, I can’t move anymore. Those that rely on their brains will always meet tragedy in disaster films.”
Xie Fenghua comforted him. “Hope is a tough crutch, patience is a travel bag, and with them, a journey can last forever.”
The young man smiled and said, “Thank you.”
Liu Yan said, “Give him biscuits.”
The young man took the biscuit. From a distance, Lin Musen looked at them before coming over and saying, “Liu Yan, I didn’t let you sit here to let you waste food.”
Liu Yan paused for a moment, then said, “Okay, give it back.”
The young man quickly unwrapped the biscuit, spat on it, licked it and said, “Oh, giving it back to you.”
“You!” Lin Musen shouted angrily.
Meng Feng said, “Brother Sen, forget it. Just a child.”
The young man walked under the tree, unwrapped the biscuit and began chatting with Xie Fenghua, the girl from the philosophy department. He gave her the other half the biscuit. The two began to drink water and ate the biscuit.
Meng Feng commented, “A young literate man with a strong spirit.”
Expressionless, Liu Yan said, “Next. Can a spirit even eat food? He sells words, not face.”
Meng Feng, “Huh? Jealous? In fact, you aren’t bad.”
Liu Yan said, “It’s a child there. Do we have anything to eat in the car? Give him some water. It’s pitiful.”
A teenager was squatting under the tree. He looked like a middle school student.
He was the youngest living person Liu Yan had seen ever since they had begun on their journey of fleeing. No matter how young the child was, if he was physically weak or ran slowly, then he would either die in the zombie tide or die on the road. This was different from facing hunger, the cold and other difficulties alone. Few wildflowers and weeds could survive tenaciously.
The boy’s hair was a little messy, but his shirt and trousers were very neat. He squatted underneath the tree and watched them silently.
Meng Feng arrived at their car, took a bottle of water and chewing gum and gave it to the boy. The boy took it silently and said nothing.
Liu Yan, "What do you do?”
He listened absently to the people in front of him as he glanced at the boy underneath the tree.
The feeling of the boy squatting there felt very strange. As if he didn’t fit the scenery like a road didn’t fit with the landscape. His silent appearance had him contrasting sharply with the people around him. He was unlike a human being... of course, he couldn’t be a zombie. Liu Yan also couldn’t say what he thought.
Meng Feng gave him biscuits and water, and the man in the queue turned his head, smiled at the young boy and shouted, “Darling, do remember what to say?”
“Thank you,” said the young boy, his eyes fixed on Meng Feng’s gun.
Meng Feng called out to the group and the man gestured, then turned around and asked, “What’s your name?”
The strange boy began to chew on the fruit gum and said no more. Meng Feng said, “The man in line is your brother?”
“My father,” said the boy.
Meng Feng nodded in understanding. It seemed that the boy was a bit reluctant to talk to strangers, so he had to turn around and return to Liu Yan.”
Liu Yan, “Are you a docker?”
The strong man smiled arrogantly. “Without my wife, there's only one bachelor. One person is full, the whole family isn't hungry. Why?”
Liu Yan, "Are you willing to stay?”
The strong man said, "Of course! I can do some physical work. If you ever need me, call me.”
Liu Yan nodded, wrote the word ‘Preparation’ on a piece of paper and gave it to him. He said, “Not necessarily enough for you to be full.”
The man said, “Having food to eat is enough.”
Liu Yan, “Next, what do you do? Oh my god! Senior sister! I thought you were dead!”
“No... Liu Yan, why are you here?” The girl cried as she lunged forward, hugging Liu Yan tightly across the table. She choked out a few words. “Your senior brother?”
Liu Yan’s tears rolled around in his eyes and he gasped out, “When the last bus was evacuating, he got on the bus. Now isn't the time to say it. You take the note to the factory building and someone will welcome you. Let them take you to Cui Xiaokun, he will tell you in detail.”
The girl was named Fang Xiaolei, she was Xiaoyu’s girlfriend. She graduated from the Chemistry department and worked as a counsellor in the Biology department in another school. Liu Yan didn’t meet her that day.
“You fucking bastard! You let someone in just because you know her!” Someone in the queue immediately shouted, “What’s going on! What can that woman do?!”
Liu Yan said, “It has nothing to do with you. Next!”
“It doesn’t matter!” Another person scolded, “Everyone wants to survive! What right do you have to allow an acquaintance through the back door!”
For a while, the crowd was furious as they shouted at Liu Yan.
“What?” Lin Musen’s voice sounded behind him. He had been patrolling outside, and the noise made him come.
Liu Yan’s heart was sore from the sad reunion. He reacted instantly, knowing that he mustn't make a mistake at this time.
Liu Yan, “My senior sister is here. She’s a chemistry major.”
Lin Musen, "So what?”
Liu Yan, “So I let her in. This is a chemical factory. Her expertise can help you a lot. Explosives, filling traps, if you're not satisfied, you can let her try.”
Lin Musen nodded and said, “Okay.”
The queue calmed down again, and they all looked at Liu Yan with hatred.
Liu Yan, "Next...”
“Next... Next... Next... Don’t stand in the way, auntie. I’m sorry. Don’t cry. I can’t help it... yes, I have a mother... Don’t say it, you go...”
“No, no, I’m really sorry. This is not a shelter... You have to go northwest and find a rescue station...”
Three hours later, Liu Yan had five pieces of paper left in his hand and there was less than a quarter of the queue left in front of him.
Lin Musen returned. “No doctor? No medicine majors? What about soldiers?”
Liu Yan shook his head regretfully. “No, the doctors rescued the wounded, and when the infectious disease broke out, they were almost on the front lines. There were even fewer soldiers...”
Lin Musen nodded, not satisfied with the result, but was unable to help himself saying, “Hurry up and finish to have lunch.”
Liu Yan nodded and asked the man in front of him, “What do you do?”
“Hello brother, my name is Zhang Min.” The man stretched out his hand and Liu Yan shook it.
Liu Yan said, “Oh, it’s you... I remember you, who’s that kid?”
Zhang Min said, “My son.”
Liu Yan had a headache. Zhang Min said, “Is that brother your friend? Thank you for what he gave to Jue Ming.”
Liu Yan, “You’re welcome. Forget it... We can’t... bring family members here, I’m sorry.”
Zhang Min, “What’s the situation now? I can’t get on the radio. My cell phone can’t get through. I’ve been driving from F city, and the road is totally deserted.”
Liu Yan, “The provincial capital has also fallen?”
Zhang Min nodded, his eyebrows tightening.
Liu Yan said, “What industry do you work in?”
Zhang Min, “My father was a traditional Chinese medicine doctor. I originally joined the army. After retiring, I inherited a little... family business. I had a little knowledge and opened a pharmaceutical company in F city.”
Liu Yan frowned and Zhang Min said, “This is my discharge certificate.”
Liu Yan looked at the young boy in the distance and asked, “His name is Jue Ming? You don’t look old.”
With a smile, Zhang Min said, “I'm 28, and I'm his guardian.”
To Meng Feng, Liu Yan said, “Come here, take my place for a while. Zhang Min, you come with me.”
Liu Yan and Zhang Min walked under the trees on the side of the road. Zhang Min took out a pack of cigarettes and gave one to Liu Yan.
“You're a hypocrite!” Meng Feng shouted in anger from afar. “You told me to give up smoking, and you still smoke! Did you take me for a fool?”
“I’m under a lot of stress! I’ll go mad without a cigarette!”
Meng Feng was silent.
Liu Yan turned to Zhang Min and asked, “You able to bandage and treat internal injuries?”
Zhang Min replied, “This... Without sufficient herbs, I may not be able to cure the patient completely. What’s wrong? Are you sick here? Could you show me the patient?”
Liu Yan shook his head and asked, “What are your plans?”
Zhang Min sighed, obviously a little tired, and said, “I don’t know. Can you let us stay for one night? I’ve been driving the car from home to here. There’s no gas as the intersection ahead. Most of the gas stations along the way are empty. Jue Ming’s body is weak, I want to find a place to rest for a night before walking to the north to take a look. What about those monsters?”
Liu Yan, "You're optimistic. To be honest, it's not good. It's dangerous everywhere.”
“I don’t have the heart to do so. I dare not sigh in front of him,” said Zhang Min. “Jue Ming is very sensitive, he doesn’t say much with his mouth, but he's afraid of dragging me down. If he runs away when I’m asleep and dies somewhere, I can’t bear to live.”
“Understandable,” said Liu Yan.
Zhang Min stroked his forehead and was very upset. After a long time deliberating over something, he said, “Jue Ming and I, can we live here?”
Liu Yan also wanted to talk about this problem, but what could that teenager do? Most likely, Lin Musen wouldn’t agree. Previously, he was already suspicious of his senior sister. If Zhang Min was allowed to stay, he would have to find a way to show that his role was indispensable. To convince Lin Musen to allow one more person that did nothing.
Zhang Min said, “I’m a veteran. I’m good at shooting. Although I’m not proficient in medicine, I can treat minor illnesses without problems. I can identify herbs, cook, play the guitar, cure livestock, manage well and cut hair...” His fingers formed scissors as he mimed a clipping motion. “Dirty work, I’ll do the tiring work. Or else, I’ll try to talk about it. I’ll do two people’s work, and get more food? It’s enough to have a single bed for sleep. We’ll squeeze together and make do with it.”
Seeing the difficulty, Zhang Min changed his tactics. “I can do two people’s work, get a share of food and give it to my son. Spare some leftovers for me and I'll solve the rest by myself... Your three meals are not enough.”
Liu Yan said,” There isn’t much in the beginning. You want one person’s share of food for two people, then there's only... if you don’t eat anything every day, then you’re superman already.”
Zhang Min, “...”
Zhang Min, “We also brought some food. It’s all in the car, but there’s no gas. It can last ten and a half days...”
Liu Yan thought about it again and said, “I’m not busy right now. This way, you can take the note to report. I will take your son and find him a place to hide first. After a few days, all the people will be almost gone, we can let him out then.”
“Hide as many days as you can. It’s easy when Brother Sen and you know each other. He doesn’t seem like the unreasonable type. If you're useful to him, then he won’t be too harsh on you.”
Zhang Min was relieved. “Thank you so much. I’ll tell Jue Ming. He's very sensible.”
Zhang Min suddenly thought of something again and said, “Do you want to check if there are wounds on our bodies?”
Liu Yan, “We don’t have a doctor. Now all the newcomers are concentrated in the side warehouse. You can...”
“Yes. I know what happens to people who are ill, no need to take off the clothes,” said Zhang Min. “But what should I do? Find a place to show you?”
Seeing that Zhang Min still seemed normal, Liu Yan thought about it and said, “No, what about your son? You’re not hurt, are you?”
“No, we're not infected,” said Zhang Min with a smile.
Liu Yan said, “Then come with me. You're healthy. You are responsible for checking other people. Come on, I’ll get Lin Musen to bring some people together.”
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cat.