Chapter 20 Water Bottles
Seeing that the two brothers were pulled aside by their mother, Chang and Qing shui returned to their own place, leaving the family of three standing there feebly. They never even had a chance to say anything.
Chang returned to his own bed and organized his sheets, then sat on the lower bunk bed and said, “We weren’t nice doing that…” Chang glanced at the family of three and whispered, “The old couple seems weak; they’ll get sick easily if they sleep on the floor without blankets.”
“We didn’t decide that, and it wasn’t a matter of being fair anyways.” Pangzi sat beside him and said, “We got less beds than we should have. Now isn’t the time to be thinking about others. We should decide who’s going to sleep on which bed.”
“Jing and Lin should have their own beds and us three will take turns to sleep on beds. Is that fine?” Qing shui looked at Pangzi and Chang following his suggestion.
“It’s fair,” Chang nodded. “Each of us can take turns sleeping on the floor. That person should try to pay attention to the surroundings so that we can watch out for these strangers.”
“I agree.” Pangzi nodded.
Lin agreed silently, but Jing surprisingly opposed the idea.
“We can share the same bed… I’m scared of sleeping by myself.” Jing quickly glanced Chang’s face and asked gingerly, “If you don’t mind?”
“Okay.” Chang nodded. Then, we have enough beds for everyone, but we should still take turns staying up even if we don’t need to sleep on floor.”
“Since everything’s settled, let’s have dinner. We’ve been tossing around the whole day and it’s getting dark out there.” As Qing shui spoke, he took out some vacuum sealed bread from his backpack and ripped open the plastic package.
A musty smell wafted from the opening after Qing shui opened the pack.
“Sh*t, the bread is full of mold too!” Pangzi looked at the bread and complaine. “The packaging was such bad quality… If it was sealed better, the bread should’ve been able to last for two or three days in this environment.”
“We’re lucky that it’s still edible.” Chang took the bread and peeled off the top layer of green and hairy mold from the crust. He took a big bite and then frowned. “It really doesn’t taste nice at all though!”
The moldy bread left a strong stale taste in their mouths as if they were eating blankets that had been left in the closet for years without cleaning. The bread had a waxy texture.
“Eat more.” Qing shui took out all the bread he had from his backpack. “We might not even have moldy bread to eat tomorrow judging by how fast it’s rotting.”
“Yeah.” Chang took another bite; his voice was slightly slurred, “If we try to save the bread for tomorrow, I am afraid we’ll only have green hairy mold and no bread.”
Pangzi sighed heavily, then opened a package and removed the green mold like how Chang did. He smiled wryly and said, “To be honest, despite how bad the bread tastes right now, it might taste delicious in 15 days, if we can even survive that long.”
“Really?” Chang suddenly laughed as he heard Pangzi’s comment. He was surprised as he chewed the bread more carefully, “I think you’re right; it tastes a little like grass!”
Chang torn open another package as he finished speaking and handed the bread to Jing and grinned. “Try it yourself!”
Jing nodded heavily and imitated what Chang did to his bread. She took big bites from it as if it was hot and fresh.
Their dinner ended with a weird atmosphere; it seemed like everyone understood the importance of staying optimistic and imagining a better situation, even it was woven with lies.
“It seems like listening to the censored news wasn’t as useless as we thought,” Chang and the other four teased each other for a while, then laid down on their own beds.
“At least I can get an understanding of the current situation by listening to the news, even if it might not be the truth.”
Since Chang was sharing a bed with Jing, he chose the lower bunk bed so that it would be more convenient for them.
Lying on the bed, Chang and Jing faced each other. Even though his eyes were closed, he still knew Jing that was trembling as the bed was slightly shaking. He knew exactly what this meant.
“Are you afraid?” Chang looked at the long and deep scar on her face. At this moment, he finally realized how strong she was – she had been suppressing her fear of this terrible world. She was alone and had no relatives or friends. Not only did she face mutated animals, but she was also assaulted by other humans; she was cut on the face, leaving a long and bloody scar.
Chang recalled how the journey had been since she followed along. She didn’t cry in pain or fear, nor did she weight down the team. Her trembling made him aware of how scared she was and how much she carried in her heart.
She was such a brave girl!
“Are you okay?” He patted her on the shoulder.
“It’s okay, I’m better now.” As she spoke, she slowly stopped shaking and closed her eyes.
Seeing this, Chang loosened his guard and was soon overwhelmed by fatigue. Tonight was Pangzi’s turn on guard duty, so Chang slept soundly.
As the sun first rose up into the sky and shined through the red fog the next morning, Chang sat up. Though his movements were swift and quiet, everyone in the room opened their eyes almost at the same time. This proved how wary and alert everyone was. It was as if they were soldiers who were on alert even while resting.
When Jing sat up, Chang gently touched her forehead to see if she had a fever – luckily, her body temperature was normal.
Chang stood up and noticed the three people who slept on the floor last night – two of them were the father and daughter from the family of three, and the other one was one of the two brothers.
The father and daughter turned their heads as they saw him got off bed, but the brother stared at Chang’s face for a long time without hiding his displeasure.
However, Chang wasn’t provoked by him. Instead, he gave a friendly smile to the brother, and then put on his shoes and went out of the room.
“Where are you going?” Jing shouted behind him.
“To the bathroom!” Chang waved his hands and then walked out of the room.
The soldiers’ dorms didn’t come with private bathrooms in each room. Chang finally found the bathroom after he passed by three rooms – it was a large shared bathroom for the whole floor.
However, Chang hesitated as he stood in front of the bathroom, and then returned to the room.
“Do we still have the plastic water bottles from yesterday?” Chang pushed open the door and asked Pangzi loudly.
“Here.” Pangzi nodded and took out a water bottle that had some water inside and threw it to Chang.
Chang caught the bottle and drank up the water and then walked out of the room again. But this time, someone followed him – it was the brother who had slept on the floor last night.
“Yo bro, why do you need a water bottle when you’re going to the washroom?” The man put his arm around Chang’s neck with great force, and his voice got even louder. “You got a problem or something down there? I bet your piss drips on your feet while you pee.”