Chapter 35 Journey to the North (I)
The sentry led Wang Sheng across the old streets in the small town. Wang Sheng was not interested in the old buildings and the people who were starving to death on the streets. He lit another cigarette and took a deep puff then asked, “Yo, kid, how old are you?”
The sentry boy was a tanned and skinny teenager who was no taller than 1.7 meters. He looked at Wang Sheng with hopeful admiration and answered, “I’m sixteen years old.”
“Sixteen? I was already a mercenary fighting mutated beasts with rifles when I was your age.” Wang Sheng laughed as if he remembered the days from when he was young. But when he was sixteen years old, he was already a hot-blooded strong man who stood 1.8 meters tall.
The sentry boy was quite flattered by what Wang Sheng said, and he thought of it as a rare exclamation from a Big Shot. He said timidly, “I, I am also a member of the safe zone’s security team. I’m responsible for the lookout. I watch the north mountains every day to see if any mutated animals come down. I don’t own a rifle, but I do get paid.”
“Mhm.” Wang Sheng was not going to comment on how the people at a poor and dangerous place like the safe zone define happiness. In the wilderness, the biggest happiness one could feel was to be alive.
Wang Sheng told the sentry that he was looking for Wu Qi, then the sentry led him to resident area B. Resident area B had the best houses in town. Two six-floored old apartment buildings made with white bricks and cement stood in the center, the other resident buildings all became ruins during the turmoil of the Dark Night Era. Rebars and other materials that could be recycled had all been scavenged within the past fifty years, other junk had been swept up to the side, leaving a twenty-meter-wide space on the side of the two buildings.
Just as Wang Sheng was about to go upstairs, tromping sounds of footsteps came from the stairs on the first floor. Wang Sheng realized the sounds came from two people and stood still to see who they were.
The two people made a turn and appeared at the end of the stairs on the first floor, then, they opened the iron door and stepped out.
Yang Dongchen was dressed in casual clothing and looked no different from when he left. Wu Qi changed to a neat and simple black top, black bottoms, and black jacket. He carried his backpack and a leather-sheathed long blade, there was an energetic fiery red shadow jumping around near his feet, which was his cute and vivacious little red fox, July.
“Commander Wang?” Wu Qi was a little surprised.
“Hey, boy. How are you recovering?” Wang Sheng smiled and asked.
“He’s fully recovered.” Yang Dongchen pointed his thumb to Wu Qi and said.
Wu Qi gave Wang Sheng a sincere look. “You saved my life. Thank you.”
Wang Sheng waved his hand. “Don’t mention it. You saved us as well.”
Then, Wang Sheng carefully studied Wu Qi again. After all that happened during the battle in the plague-breeders’ tunnel, he now completely viewed Wu Qi as a strong, alpha-male who could get to his level.
“I’ll just cut to the chase. Wu Qi, the reason I came back here is that I would like you to come with us.”
He and Yang Dongchen both looked at Wu Qi. Wu Qi was not shocked at all as if he wasn’t the one being invited. The sentry boy looked at the two Big Shots, then looked at Wu Qi with overt admiration in his eyes.
“Please wait, I have to visit An Yi.” Wu Qi said.
Wang Sheng nodded.
Where An Yi stayed wasn’t far, just inside the other building in resident area B. The sentry boy waited downstairs, Wang Sheng, Yang Dongchen, and Wu Qi walked up the stairs. Once they reached An Yi’s room, Wang Sheng indicated he’d just wait outside the door. Wu Qi followed Yang Dongchen inside.
The first thing they saw was a spacious living room. The electronics from the civilized era that were completely useless now had been moved out, leaving only some necessary furniture, making the living room look extra empty. The walls that had no decorations were a rare, pristine white color. Such a pristine white color was very hard to find in this poor, old, small town.
Wu Qi finally saw An Yi as they turned into the bedroom. An Yi was lying on a 2.3 meter big bed with his eyes closed under a thick cotton quilt. Most of his body was covered by the quilt, only leaving his head and two arms outside. His arms were wrapped in medicated bandages that covered the bite mark from the sharklizard. Wu Qi saw some eye-catching green patches on An Yi’s arms under the clear bandage wraps.
Those green patches were formed by countless green mold clusters that had some purple dots inside. The majority of these patches were on the outside of the bandages, almost covering An Yi’s entire arms. These patches were commonly seen on the decaying cadavers of humans or animals, disgusting and terrifying.
“I was also treating An Yi when I was treating you. But he wasn’t so lucky and got infected by viruses.” Yang Dongchen commented.
“When did An Yi become like this?” Wu Qi asked slowly, his eyes were looking at the green patches on An Yi’s arms the entire time.
“The symptoms showed up five days ago. Now these viral patches have spread to both arms, even his torso. He wouldn’t live for long.”
Wu Qi felt the air on his shoulders had gotten heavier after the last few words. He clenched his fists involuntarily, then slowly relaxed.
“Why? Aren’t purebred humans immune to viruses?” he questioned.
“The viruses inside the plague-breeders are different from the viruses in air, food, or water. They have mutated to become stronger and more invasive. An Yi’s immune system had been compromised after fighting with the viruses for two days and now finally destroyed by the viruses,” Yang Dongchen explained, “it’s a sad, sad situation, I already tried my best to clear the mutated bacteria, but the medical equipment I have are completely useless against the plague-breeders’ viruses.”
“If there is anything you would like to say to him, say it now.” Then, Yang Dongchen quietly stepped out and closed the bedroom door.
There were only Wu Qi and An Yi in the bedroom. The beige curtains covered half the window, the sky outside the window was covered in lead-like dark clouds. It seemed to be storming any minute. The humidity in the air outside was very high, Wu Qi’s sharp senses could still feel the oppressing sensation from across the glass window.
Wu Qi trotted beside An Yi. An Yi’s eyelids trembled and slowly opened a little.
“Wu Qi.” An Yi’s voice was extremely weak. It didn’t seem to be coming from a strong, genetically enhanced body that had been in countless battles. It seemed to come from a terminally ill patient with more than ten years of severe illness and had trouble breathing.
“An Yi, Wang Sheng said he wanted me to go with them.” Wu Qi met An Yi’s weak gaze and said frankly. There was no sadness on his delicate face, and there was no watery fog in his black obsidian eyes.
To a person on the verge of death, that was an indifferent, even cold-blooded face. But An Yi smiled gently. He only met Wu Qi for so long, all there existed between them were some mutual benefits and a battle that they fought side by side. He searched in his soul and believed he treated Wu Qi pretty well. It was enough for him that Wu Qi paid him a visit before he left.
“Go with them. Just go.”