Chapter 7: Wild Grass
“Wait for your parents?” Tao was puzzled.
“Yeah, my parents weren’t home when I went back, so I left them several notes in the house telling them to look for me at school. If I leave now, I’m afraid they’ll never find me.”
“How long are you going to wait?” Glasses continued on questioning.
“At least until sunset.” Chang replied.
“Then we’ll wait here with you,” Pangzi said. “We aren’t in a hurry anyways.”
Pangzi’s mother pulled him aside immediately after Pangzi said so. Chang knew that Pangzi’s mother would complain. She was that kind of woman who would haggle over everything, but was usually not assertive—she usually agreed with the majority. However, she wholeheartedly cared about her son, otherwise she wouldn’t have shown up in school right after the red fog emerged.
She didn’t want to her son and herself to be left behind with the majority of people, so she drew him aside and tried to rush Pangzi to leave with her.
Chang glanced at them, then turned his head away.
“I don’t mind if you guys to go first; I’m just going to wait for my parents here, so if they come, we’ll go and look for you.” Chang seemed to be carefree, but everyone knew that without radio communications in this world, separation meant that they might never meet again.
After listening to Chang, Pangzi and Glasess both showed unwillingness on their faces. Then, they got pulled over by their parents. One of their parents cracked a brief smile, “We shall go first then, good luck.”
Without delay, they then left with their children. Their figures quickly became blurred in the fog as they walked away. However, Tao didn’t leave with them.
“I’ll stay with you.” Tao sat on a desk around Chang, “I don’t get to see my parents anyways, so there’s no room in that little group for me to fit in. I’d rather stay with you.”
“Huh?” Chang was surprised that Tao decided to stay with him.
Tao was the most unsociable one in the dorm; he spent eighty percent of his time studying, so he rarely communicated with others. In addition, he liked to show off his mastery of different subjects, so no one really liked to talk to him. Therefore, Chang didn’t expect Tao to choose to stay with him.
“Tao, are you coming with us?” Pangzi’s voice came from the fog.
“I’m staying with Chang; if his parents don’t show up before sunset, we’ll leave together.” Tao waved to the four dim shadows. The shadowy figures soon disappeared completely after someone responded to Tao.
“Actually, you don’t need to stay with me, I don’t mind waiting alone.”
“I know you’re just saying that because we don’t know each other that well.”
“Even we knew each other well, it still wouldn’t be worthwhile to stay.”
“I just don’t want to stay with those two families,” said Tao as he reached to Chang with his hands open. “You got any cigarettes?”
“No, I told you I don’t smoke.” Chang shrugged, “Do you even know how to smoke?”
“I just want to try; the atmosphere here is too depressing. I’ve never smoked before because I didn’t want to spend money on cigarettes, but now the world is f**ked up, so who cares about money?”
“That’s true.” Chang smiled and took out several candies from his backpack, “I don’t have cigarette, but do you want any candy?”
“Haha, candies are high-calorie foods and one of the scarcest resources during an apocalypse. Are you sure you want to waste it on me?” Tao unwrapped the candy paper and popped it into his mouth, then slurred, “Do you want to know why I don’t want to go with those two families?”
“Why?” Chang was also curious.
“I lied. I’m an orphan, and they are two families, so there’s no way I can fit in…”
“Orphan?” After listening to Tao, Chang’s heart shrunk and he unconsciously reached into his pocket and touched his father’s finger. Chang had only pinched them gently, but the tissue of these fingers had lost it elasticity, causing the shape of the finger to become deformed.
“Orphan…” Tao looked at blood-red sky feebly, and then their conversation ended in complete silence.
They waited for a while until they were bored. Chang went out of the classroom to look for his parents, then came back soon after and continued waiting. Time flew by, and after going back and forth a few times, the surroundings slowly darkened bit by bit. However, Chang’s parents still hadn’t come.
“We can’t wait any longer, the world is changing too quickly.” Tao and Chang stood at the school gate, gazing at the wild grass that was shrouding the world.
“The height of the grass has reached our waist; if we keep waiting, we probably won’t be able to see the path by tomorrow.” Tao frowned, ”It’s become more and more dangerous now. This place reminds me of the Amazon Rainforest. You know the law of the jungle; the night is ten times more dangerous than the daytime.”
“I know… we can’t wait any more.” Chang toughly nodded. Though he desperately hoped that his parents could come, his mind told him that he had to leave and there was no point of risking his own life on waiting.
At this point, most of the crowd had departed. They had probably found some safe shelters, since no one would want to spend a night in school.
“Come on, bro.” Tao patted Chang’s shoulder after he saw his sorrowful face.
“Let’s go.” Chang nodded, then he took the first step out of the school before Tao did.
They both had strange feelings when they wandered on the street. Within less than a day, the humanistic atmosphere of the city had almost completely vanished. Wild grass was everywhere, and all sorts of plants had poked through the pavement and continued to grow vigorously. For the first time ever, the hard cement pavement gave into the vitality of these plants. The pavement was shattered and occupied by clusters of different plants.
The street was even quieter. The onlookers on the street were gone; no one was foolish enough to wander around in this miserable red fog. After the initial panic, it seemed like they all had plans for themselves. Some stayed indoors, some sought help, while only a few wandered around idly.
Chang’s and Tao’s goal was to look for a convenience store.
Like many other cities, there were plenty of convenience stores and small supermarkets on both sides of the street in Kaifeng. Every few hundred meters, there would be one. Because it had only been hours since the sudden spread of the fog, the majority of people were still alive. Being a store owner was a unique advantage towards survival, hence most of the store owners had locked up their store before anyone else wanted to occupy them.
Unsurprisingly, Chang and Tao weren’t able to get into any convenience store they found. But when they walked past a supermarket, they heard a brawl inside.
“Someone inside is fighting.” The red fog had lingered for a few hours and its permeability was strong. Whether it be indoors or outdoors, visibility was limited within three meters. The two stood in front of the supermarket, watching the world in the red fog and listening to the curses and fighting in the supermarket. Each of them had different thoughts.
“There’s quite a lot of food in this supermarket.” Tao knew this supermarket chain; it was pretty big and had a lot of variety of foods, sufficient for hundreds of people for a long period of time.
“However, it’s too risky to enter. There must be at least a hundred people fighting for food in there.” Chang frowned.
“Yeah, it seems so.” Tao also frowned, “Let’s go, we can’t outcompete them, and it’ll be dangerous even sneaking in there.”
“Yea, let’s find another one.”
Once again, their figures faded into the red fog. They were shooed out of some stores and finally found one that wasn’t locked. The two were delighted and were about to enter the store, but a person came out before they took the first step.
“Who are you?” A person blocked the entrance, yelling and clenching an iron bar.