Chapter 2 Oxblood Fog
The boarding students’ morning began with no surprises. Since morning attendance was recorded, some students arrived to class at 6:30 AM.
At dawn that summer morning, Chang woke up with droopy eyes. He woke up the snoring Pangzi and Glasses who stayed up all night reading his novel. He slowly moved towards to the bathroom with his toiletries to wash up.
Being the good student, Tao had left way before the rest of them had even woken up. After putting on his school uniform, Chang left the dorm and stood in front of the gate. The hazy sky reflected in his eyes.
It was usually never foggy in summer mornings, but over the past two years, the fog had become normal. What was even stranger was that the fog had a constant tinge of pink.
However, if anything strange lasted for a long time, no one would pay attention to it over time. The weather forecast said it was a normal “cloud condensation nuclei” phenomenon. As long as the fog was harmless, normal people would care more about how to squish onto the crowded buses than anything else.
Walking across the campus, Chang’s back disappeared in the fog, and his mouth and nose were overwhelmed with the sweetness of the fog.
He began studying when he arrived in the classroom.
As morning passed, Chang didn’t remember what he read, only that he was reading aloud. He felt that the life he was living was tedious and repetitive. Anyone living a monotonous life like his was the same as living the life of the walking dead.
Deep down in Chang’s heart, he craved for change. He looked out the window and saw the pink fog as he finished his breakfast in a daze.
Like this, the first class had begun. It was biology class.
Beginning last year, Biology became a mandatory course in high school, regardless of the degree, whether it be art or science. The oddest part was that it became a primary course because the portion of this subject in the entrance examination was insanely large.
No one would’ve ever anticipated it, but the sudden policy made Biology a particularly important subject. Fortunately, Chang enjoyed studying Biology, so he paid extra attention to the first class.
“Today we will once again review some key chapters—ones you will definitely see in the college entrance examination—the Cambrian explosion. This concept has been on the exam for two consecutive years, so it is worthwhile remembering everything about it.”
On the podium was the teacher who passed by Chang’s dorm last night. He was young and seemed kind, wearing black-rimmed glasses today. He didn’t talk much in the lecture, but he definitely talked about the most important things.
“The Cambrian explosion is one of the ten myths of modern science. Can the individual sitting next to the sleeping student please wake him up and tell him to explain to me the Cambrian explosion?”
The biology teacher pointed at the kid sitting beside Chang, so Chang woke up Glasses.
“The teacher’s asking you what happened in the Cambrian explosion.” Prodding Glasses with his elbow, Chang whispered the teacher’s question to his desk mate.
Still half-asleep, Glasses reluctantly stood up, adjusted and cleaned his glasses using his shirt, then murmured, “The Cambrian explosion probably happened hundreds of million years ago. It was a short and sudden evolutionary event. Evolution speed was hundreds of millions times faster during this event. According to my vague memory, there were no mammals or plants prior to this, but after that event, the species we know about today appeared on Earth for the first time.”
“Hundreds of millions of years ago? What has changed in species morphology? These are key concepts. You also have to remember specific numbers of years.” The teacher waved his hands, allowing Glasses to sit down.
“While your summary wasn’t bad, pay attention to one thing in particular, the period of the Cambrian explosion. Not only did all species evolve at greater speeds, but new species were also born at unimaginable speeds. The ancestors of modern species all came from that period. Sponges, coelenterates, priapulida, lobopodia, brachiopods, molluscs, arthropods, echinoderms, chordates and more all evolved in that era.”
“Such amazing creatures! The Cambrian explosion is strong piece of evidence against Darwin’s theory of evolution, and Darwin himself had been wondering about too.”
“Sir, are you criticizing Darwinism?” A loud voice came from the corner of the classroom; it was Tao.
“Uh, yes, why not?” The teacher smiled and said, “Well, there are three levels of arguments: Hypothesis, Theory and Law. Darwin’s theory of evolution was just a theory, so why can’t I criticize it? You can certainly criticize a theory—even Darwin himself criticized his own theory.”
“Since we’ve discussed this, it wouldn’t be harmful to mention the reasons why the Cambrian explosion occurred.”
“The main stream academic notion for the Cambrian explosion is that the sudden abundance of free oxygen resulted in a large number of species rapidly evolving. However, I think this argument is flawed. With only free oxygen, how could species evolve that much in a short period of time?”
While he was making his statement, the classroom darkened in seconds.
“What’s going on?” Chang looked out the window.
The fog outside the window became dense! That’s why it got dark. The pink fog didn’t dissipate, but rather grew thicker. The fog filled the entire world outside the building as if a giant piece of cotton had expanded in the air.
Perhaps it was because the fog was getting thicker, but for some reason, the pink fog now turned an oxblood red colour. Over time, the world turned bloody red at a noticeable pace. The sun was completely blocked and the whole world sunk into edgeless darkness.
More accurately speaking, with the oxblood red fog, the world now looked like a territory with patches of black and red scattered randomly.
The bizarre colours gave Chang the shivers. As he turned around, he realized that his classmates’ faces had become blurred in this black and red fog.
Usually if it is only darkness, some naughty kids would take the opportunity to tease the girls, but no one would even dare to speak at this moment. Everyone has seen this world in darkness before, but never a bloody red colour.
Every student was deeply terrified. Their face explained everything, and the classroom was overwhelmed with silence.
“I’ll go to the office to see what’s going on.” In this solemn atmosphere, the biology teacher broke the silence.
He left with these words, and then his figure immediately disappeared into the redness.
“Look, the fog is sneaking through the seams of the doors and windows,” one student screamed. The fog was opaque; it was clearly visible to the students.
Glasses subconsciously covered his nose and mouth after seeing this scene.
“It shouldn’t be toxic, and even if it is, how long can you hold your breath?” Seeing the red fog drift in front of him, Chang sniffed. He noticed a strong scent of a fishy sweetness.
“Oh, it smells awful!” The classroom was now filled with complaints. After their initial shock, they all began discussing the strange phenomenon.
“What is THIS??”
“Bloody fog, I bet there must be a lot of car accidents out there.”
“The fog is so thick; I can’t see what happened out there!”
“Hey! Call your family!” Chang took the phone out of his pocket and dialed his mother’s phone number.
The response was a busy signal ———
“The phone call can’t be connected!” Chang stared at the strange fog and felt panic from his gut. “Is the fog blocking the signal?”
“I need to check out what’s going on!” A daring student stood up and walked to the door.
This attracted the attention of all the students. After he went out the door of the classroom, everyone flocked to the window to look at him.
The visibility was less than five meters outside the window, and when the daring student was only two steps away, his figure had already become obscured.
“Hey, don’t go too far! We can’t see you if you go further,” a friend of his faced the window and shouted.
“Oh! Okay, it’s really red out here, I can’t see anything. I can’t even identify which room is the teacher’s office,” the daring student shouted back. His voice came through the fog, forming small ripples.
As the daring student’s response came from the other side of the hallway, further ripples tore apart the fog as a group of sparrows rushed towards the source of the sound.
Sounds of flapping wings—-
A group of sparrows fearlessly crashed onto the daring student’s cheek!
When the first sparrow made contact with the daring student, it made a strange noise as if a tomato was being smashed. A few more similar sounds were heard after that.
Chang turned his head and saw the daring student utter a shrill scream as his face was immediately pierced by the sparrows. More sparrows noticed the prey, and in less than a second, his whole face was ruined like a rotten watermelon.
The daring student scream desperately. he was pushed to the ground by these monster sparrows. However, his screams were very short, as if he chocked on his own flesh and blood. He kneeled and finally fell on the ground, only emitting meaningless sounds. The normally timid sparrows began to peck the blood-soaked flesh as they heard the sounds.
The horrifying feeling paralyzed all the students in the classroom. No one was able to even move an inch. They’d never seen this scenario, not even in a horror movie.
A moment ago that student was still jumping around, but now he was crawling on the ground. The timid sparrows became completely bloodthirsty. At this moment, no one dared to go out and stop these monsters; rather, fear flooded the crowd and no one wanted to do so—not until those sparrows finished their “meal”, and until the daring student stopped twitching.
“Can someone please tell me what…has happened to this world?” The ashen-faced Glasses muttered.