Chapter 19 To Stay or Go
With Jing’s Help, they managed to avoid countless dangerous creatures, as well as some gangs, until they finally reached the south end of Kaifeng.
A regiment was stationed here, which meant that there were about 1500 soldiers in this military base – Since Kaifeng was close to the capital of the province, the size of the military base was relatively large.
Unlike other places in Kaifeng, it was crowded with people in front of the wired fence – It seemed like no matter what the circumstance was, only fools made up the minorities. If Chang could think of obtaining shelter in the military base, tons of others obviously had the same idea. The world was facing food shortages and it was impossible to drive – the grass was a meter tall, vision was limited within three meters, and the ground was filled with potholes. These were all conditions that limited mobility. The military base was still a reassuring location despite being surrounded by all kinds of monsters and suffering from food shortages.
A large amount of people gathered here, but since vision was restricted, none of them could estimate the size of crowd. But judging from the smell in the air, there were at least 50,000 people – about one-tenth of the population of Kaifeng.
“Attention please! May I have your attention.” While Chang was pondering what to do next as they stood in the crowd, he saw a man standing in a Jeep shouting through a megaphone.
“All of the residents who managed to come here are welcomed, but please listen to the instructions and don’t push against each other to avoid injuries.” The chassis of the military Jeep was far from the ground and the vehicle top was convertible, hence the driver could slowly drive forward with this man standing in the vehicle.
When the Jeep passed by Chang and his company, they quietly listened to what this man was going to say.
“Silence, silence!” the man yelled through the megaphone, intending to make more people hear his voice. “As you’ve seen what’s been going on in this world, you might have a basic understanding of the situation. So don’t push around as you wish; you know the consequence of getting injured. I don’t want to talk nonsense either, so there are two things I need to tell you.”
“First, you can choose to either stay here or leave Kaifeng.” The soldier who was talking through the megaphone seemed skillful and experienced. He was obviously a carefully chosen spokesman of the military. Also, the crowd didn’t want to miss any useful information either, so when he spoke, everyone stopped discussing and complaining.
“Our plan consists of two parts; first, half of our soldiers will remain stationed here to construct temporary fortifications. We’ll do as much as we can to create a relatively safe living environment.”
“Second, the rest of our soldiers will leave for Zhengzhou, the capital of the Province. They will be meeting another regiment there. Furthermore, they might move to Beijing to seek help from the central military. Hence, you have two options; for those of you who want to stay, please go south to enter our base, and for those of you who want to leave with our soldiers, stay where you are as we are leaving soon.”
The spokesman took a breath after making the long announcement, “The second problem we are facing is food shortages. We all know that the food supplies are insufficient. The same applies to the military, so we hope you have prepared your own supplies, as our food distribution is very limited!”
As he finished the sentence, the quite crowd suddenly became lively, and even became enraged.
“Why don’t you give us food?! I heard that the grain reserve in our country is sufficient to last for three years even if the farmers stop farming,” a person in the crowd shout loudly.
“We grew the crops, so why are you in charge of our property? Plus, we paid taxes to support the military too; you should be the last person to have food!”
“Why don’t you give us food; you are crueler than those man-eating monsters out there!”
The crowd clamored vigorously, but no one had the guts to climb on the Jeep – The army was still a deterrent for civilians. They didn’t dare fight, so they kept talking to express the unfairness.
The man on the Jeep patiently waited until the heated shouting calmed down, then said, “Listen to me, please.”
He repeated the sentence twice, but the crowd had barely calmed down; he quickly announced when he caught a gap between their venting, “With regards to food supplies, I would like to explain why. The crops in our warehouse are no longer edible. If any of you still are suspicious about this, you are welcome to visit the depot. The rice and wheat are infested and moldy, and the place is too stinky to even walk into; those crops are poisonous.”
His words were quite convincing, and sure enough, most people in the crowd had calmed down.
“Therefore, the military suffered from the food shortage too. We really don’t have many supplies left except for some crackers and instant noodles. We do hope that you can find and bring your own food.”
The spokesman left as he made sure the crowd understood what he had said. He patted the driver on the shoulder, and then they drove to the other side to make the same announcement.
Chang and his company started to consider their own future.
“Are you going to Zhengzhou or staying in Kaifeng?” Qing shui whispered to the group when the crowd became quiet.
“I don’t want to go anywhere else.” Chang said, “Other places must be pretty much the same, so there’s no point in fleeing to another city. I know this city better and I want to go home to see whether my mom is still alive or not some time in the future. What about you; are you staying or leaving?”
“I’d like to follow the army and go to Beijing; I feel like they must have known something was going to happen, but I’m not confident that I’ll be able to survive all the way to Beijing, so I’m staying,” a wry, self-mocking smile appeared on Qing shui’s face as he spoke.
“I’m staying too; I don’t have confidence in staying alive once I walk out of here.” Pangzi was the person who bragged about how he would run out from school safely even if all his classmates turned into zombies suddenly, but looking at the fog and the vigorous grass, his eyes expressed a clear look of fear. “To be honest, if I wasn’t following you guys, I wouldn’t even have had the courage to come here from the city center; I would’ve died at the beginning. Therefore, I choose to stay here.”
“I’m staying too,” Lin also whispered. She had been following them silently all the way here.
“What about you?” Chang hunkered down to the little girl.
“I’m following you.” Jing smiled, and the cut on her face slightly opened as she smiled.
“Good. Since we all chose to stay, we need to discuss our plans for the future.”
“Our mission is to survive as long as possible.” Qing shui gave a small smile, “but the difficulties are the food shortages and finding a safe shelter to live in.”
“As for a shelter, the spokesman said that they would open up a place.” Chang added, “Though the military in Kaifeng isn’t equipped with heavy firearms, living here temporarily wouldn’t be dangerous.”
“Then, there’s only one problem.”
“To obtain food!” They responded at the same time.