Chapter 12: Strange Tree
Chang repressed the twitching in his stomach, then he turned his head away from the operating table and reached for the surgical instruments.
He collected some needles and threads for stitching, and then turned to the scalpels.
Scalpels were one of the sharpest knives. The purpose of its existence was to cut. Hence, Chang didn’t doubt the sharpness of these tools.
Compared to the scalpel, the kitchen knife in his backpack was dull, not to mention the material it was made of. Chang simply picked up a few of the largest ones, then tightly grabbed them in his hands and left the operating room.
The girl outside of the operating room was still vomiting, so Chang stepped forward and patted her on the back. “There, there, they were just flies. If you want to survive in this world, you need to prepare to face any circumstance. Here, take two of these and man up. We’ll fight with these knives if we ever encounter anything.”
Chang handed the knives to the girl, then headed back to the pharmacy department.
He walked towards Tao’s corpse, which already had a pungent odour.
Tao had “smoked” half of the cigarette.
“Sorry buddy, I have to leave you here.” Chang glanced at Tao, then gave the body a big hug. He put Tao’s body back into hid original spot, then pulled on his arm. A finger was sliced off using the scalpel.
Chang then scraped off the flesh from his bone and soaked it in alcohol. He rubbed off any remaining pieces and threaded it together with his father’s finger. He put the necklace on his neck.
“I’m taking your finger with me, thank you for the last journey.” Chang called the girl who was mourning her family member. Then, he loaded a backpack that he found somewhere else with antibiotics and antiseptics.
This was the second time he left the pharmacy, but this time he was going to leave it behind forever.
Following the girl and being once again exposed to the sunlight passing through the red fog, the first thing that caught his attention was that the visibility seemed to have improved.
“Is the fog dissipating?” Chang looked at the girl beside him. He clearly remembered that the visibility was less than 3 meters yesterday morning. But now, he could see bushes that were seven or eight meters away, causing Chang to be astonished.
“No…The fog didn’t change one bit.” The girl squinted and carefully observed the fog, confirmed, “It didn’t dissipate; rather it’s even denser than yesterday.”
“Really?” Chang looked around and found that he was able to see within a range of seven to eight meters, so he asked with uncertainty, “Are you sure?”
“Hundred percent sure, why?” The girl was puzzled too.
Seeing her face, Chang no longer suspected her, and instead created a new perception of this world.
The chance of the fog dissipating was low; he knew that before he even asked the girl. If the fog wasn’t dissipating, but vision had broadened, there was only one conclusion he could make – His vision had improved.
“Does this mean I’m the one that mutated?” Chang muttered to himself, “every other organisms has evolved, so it must be the human’s turn.”
Thinking of this, Chang clenched his fists tightly and spent a moment to feel the changes in his body.
First, he clenched his fists, causing his skin to rub between his knuckles. Chang felt that his power had improved, but not by much.
Secondly, he could now capture the soft sound of the air flowing with his ears, and his nose could smell the fresh grass meters away – his sense of hearing and smell were greatly improved.
“What are you doing?” Noticing that Chang didn’t move with his eyes closed, the girl urged.
“Nothing …” He quickly changed the topic, “How did you get to the hospital yesterday?”
“I was bitten by a stray dog and came after my wound got infected.”
“How do you feel now, anything unusual?”
“Unusual? Not really, the festering has healed, and except for some minor itching and pain around my wound, nothing’s different.”
“Oh.” Chang nodded, “Let’s go.”
The two walked side by side and entered the grass jungle that was as high as an adult in the hospital courtyard.
“It’s strange.” She seemed to realize something suddenly.
“It is strange. To be honest, there should have been more injured and sick people that came to the hospital for medication, but since this morning, we haven’t seen anyone enter. It’s eerie, be careful-”
Just as Chang finished his sentence, he suddenly frowned and felt something coming from behind him. He jumped aside unconsciously and escaped an attack from behind.
What attacked him was a cane branch, which looked like willow branches, but thicker. It was glossy and red and covered with barbs; it truly was a ferocious weapon.
Chang heard a short scream while he managed to escape. The girl beside him was pulled up by a branch of wicker by her ankle. She hung upside down and soon disappeared in the fog.
“Fuck!” Witnessing the girl being towed away, the instinct of saving a companion as a social animal crowded his mind and he chased after her without a second thought.
He ran after the cane until he came to the center of the courtyard. Through the thick fog, he saw a terrifying scene.
It was a tree – a huge willow tree.
Willow trees were those kind of trees that grew on sidewalks for landscaping, but now that it was seven or eight meters high, Chang couldn’t even see the crown of the tree despite standing under the tree.
This wasn’t even the most horrifying scene; on this willow, pieces of shriveled human skin were hanging all over the branches. Seeing this, Chang didn’t dare move an inch.
The shriveled skins were hung on the barbs of stout wickers; the faces of skin hanging on the branches were extremely grotesque because it no longer had any fat or muscle. These wrinkled faces could create nightmares for anyone who ever saw them – the willow had completely mutated and evolved, other relatively small flourishing willow stretched their arms towards the huge willow as if they were paying respect to it.
Chang wasn’t brave enough to chase forward after he saw this scene – he knew it was impossible to save the girl even if he tried his best.
There was no way he could beat this monster.
The girl was dragged under the tress. Then, a few more stout wickers reached over and curled the girl up with their soft and sharp arms. The barbs on the wickers poked into her body at the same time, sucking up her blood while injecting digestive juices into her body.
The whole process took less than 20 seconds, and another human skin was hung onto its branch.
Her empty eyes were still looking at Chang before she died, as if she was looking for a sense of security in her last moments.
“I’m sorry.” Chang stared at the fresh human skin and silently apologized.
He couldn’t save her, and even if he tried to, he would only end up as another decoration for the willow. In the apocalypse, there were no heroes that could always save others’ lives. The ones who could survive were the heroes.
Therefore, Chang repressed the guilt in his heart as he stood still in the grass. He carefully observed the willow, trying to obtain some information on the way the willow hunted.
How did it hunt for its prey? Smell, vision, vibrations in the ground, or by something else…