Chapter 42 First cycle
“Sure.” Chang caught the cracker in the air and sniffed it. “It’s not musty but the smell of the cracker has faded. It won’t last for long.”
“It seems like we have no other choices.” Qing Shui looked at the small pile of crackers. “The military has already noticed us and their food reserve will soon run out. The trade of meat and crackers is going to be cut off.”
“But recently I heard someone was trying to grow crops.” Hearing the bad news, Pangzi anxiously joined the conversation “The plants outside of the base are lush and someone suggested to grow grains and wheat. If the plant has adapted to the environment, the food production cycle should be able to be shortened to 10 days!”
“It is not as simple as you think. A lot of plants that were edible before the red fog had evolved. Some of them smell and taste really bad whereas some of them have even become poisonous, how could you guarantee they are still edible by then? You need to understand all these varieties of crops are part of the plant family, they are evolving and mutating as well.” Qing Shui explained unhurriedly, “Even though they are edible by the time of harvest, what about the ten days of waiting? Are we going to eat grass and roots like the other people do in our base?”
“Then what should we do? The meat we get is easily perishable; we could have a ton of meat but it is going to be wasted in the end!” Pangzi almost yelled.
But his words only garnered silence.
“Do you remember the preservation method we were talking about a few days ago?” Chang broke the depressing silence, he glanced at Lin and said “Formalin, we need to preserve t.”
“You mean…” Qing Shui immediately thought of Lin’s suggestion when he was reminded by Chang. “You meant the same formalin that is used to preserve corpses and organs?”
“Exactly, we can dilute the formalin; and even now, the meat should be able to last for two or three days. If the meat is preservable, then our effort is not wasted; the chance of running out of food is much lower.” Chang slightly squinted his eyes and said.
“But where can we find formalin?” Pangzi asked again.
“In the hospital, there is an abundance of it.” Chang couldn’t help thinking of the first time he went to the hospital for medication. “It’s funny just how scary the word hospital sounds to me.”
“This approach is feasible.” Qing Shui stood up from the stool and said “Let’s go back to our room, it’s pretty late now, we can talk as we walk.”
Chang and the others followed him, they cleaned up the kitchen as they discussed. In a short while, the kitchen returned to what it looked like before they came.
Their dorm room looked wider and more comfortable compared to the day they first stayed there. A lot of people died in the “Deadly evolution” period, the crowded barracks had become spacious again.
The room they had was for eight people originally, but 12 people squeezed into this room in the beginning, leaving 4 of them to sleep on the floor. However, after only 15 days, no one needed to fight for a bed anymore – because the other families had lost half or more than half of their family.
In the family of four, the older brother was torn apart by the mysterious tentacle on the second day and during the “Deadly evolution” period, the father didn’t withstand the invasion of bacterial infection; now it was only the mother and the younger brother.
As for the miserable family of three, the only survivor was the quiet young woman long before the “Deadly evolution” came. And her parent’s death almost made her collapse mentally. She relied on eating roots and barks every day and looked tortured but surprisingly she withstood all the difficulties.
“Humans are tenacious.” Qing Shui lamented.
At the same time, since four the had passed away, the number of beds finally matched the number of people. But Jing was too scared to sleep by herself, she usually stayed on Chang’s bed – there was even one extra bed in this room, however, no one needed that extra bed anymore.
Although disputes and fighting was less seen these days, the tension was not reduced as people passed away, it turned out to be more depressing – death and hunger had made the air heavier. The strange atmosphere made this room lifeless as if it was a morgue. If someone had not been through apocalypse and entered this room by accident, the atmosphere could cause that person chest pain and nausea.
Therefore, when they walked into the room, they remained silent to blend in, so that their mood wouldn’t upset others.
The five would do their own thing tacitly once they climbed on their bed, and they would sleep at the same time when darkness enveloped the city completely.
Another night without speaking and talking.
The next morning, everyone opened their eyes at the same time when the first ray of sunshine lit up the red fog, and immediately they sat up as if they were programmed.
Chang and Jing always went out for hunting and Pangzi and Ling always went after Qing Shui to look for edible plants – these were the food that would ensure their life when Chang and Jing didn’t come back with meat. As well, they were side dishes if they only had hardtack for dinner – somehow these plants were as important as meat.
Therefore, the clear division made the wo groups depart for different directions in the gentle sunshine in the early morning. They lived like their ancient ancestors now, struggling for food and survival every day.
“I wish you luck, Chang.” Qing Shui patted Chang on the shoulder and grinned “Get us another chicken!”
“Finger crossed buddy.” Hearing Qing shui’s blessing, Chang laughed spontaneously, he squatted down to let Jing climb on his back and after waving to Qing shuis group, Chang and Jing disappeared in the red fog completely.
Walking through the lush grass bush, even if he carried Jing, he could still walk steadily with a relatively fast pace – the evolution in that period made him a stronger person physically, and he could see broader and further. Within 15 meters, the world had not been this clear to him.
“Jing, did your perception range expand as well?” Chang asked while he sneaked through the grass with his long crossbow.
“Yes, it is about 130 meters now, but the expanding rate has slowed down gradually.”
“Just as he said; Mr. Li told me the first large-scale human evolution and mutation period had passed, and we don’t know when the next one will come. By the way, what is my danger index now?”