Half an hour later, Wang Shishi was finally willing to go back home. She was leaning on his arm all along the journey with a sweet smile on her face. She had given her heart to Luo Yuan and she wished they would never be separated. However, as they got closer to the villa, Wang Shishi started feeling nervous and guilty. She finally let go of his arm. Luo Yuan was relieved. He had not been able to come up with a way to explain this to Huang Jiahui.
The two of them had not exactly been in love. They were more like sex partners, but they had gotten used to each other’s company after going through so many ups and downs together. He did not want to hurt her feelings if he could help it. Things had happened too fast, and Luo Yuan had not had enough time to get prepared. It was an exciting experience to enjoy the obsessive love of a young girl, but it was also a huge headache.
“Let’s see what we can do,” Luo Yuan thought with a sigh.
Suddenly, he heard someone in the villa scream and a woman cry.
“What’s going on inside? Is it…?” Luo Yuan asked Wang Shishi with a worried expression. “There’s something wrong. I’m going to check first, you take care of yourself.”
Wang Shishi had also heard the scream. Although she wished that Luo Yuan would stay with her longer, she did not ask him to. She said, “Brother Luo, go quickly. I’ll be fine.”
Luo Yuan nodded. It couldn’t be that big of a problem or the lizard would have sent him a warning. He quickly rushed to the villa and found everyone gathered at the empty space in front of the house. Zhao Gang was rolling around on the floor, screaming. Jin Meili was crying in Huang Jiahui’s arms.
Luo Yuan rushed to them and asked what had happened to Zhao Gang.
“We have no idea. We were resting by the entrance after training, and suddenly he said he had a stomachache. Then he fell on the floor and started rolling around non-stop,” Huo Dong quickly explained.
Zhao Gang’s face was twitching and pale, sweat dripping down his forehead. He looked like he was in severe pain, and blood had begun to flow out of his nose and mouth. It was obvious he would not last for long. Everyone kept shouting and stepping back.
“Let me go! Let go!” Jin Meili looked very pale. She kept struggling in Huang Jiahui’s arms, but she was too weak to get free.
She seemed to have lost her mind and started to curse Luo Yuan, "You! You killed him! You forced him to train! Otherwise, he wouldn’t be like this! All of you! None of you are willing to save him! You will never lead a good life!"
Luo Yuan did not respond. He did not want to seem harsh. He knew they were a loving couple. She had almost collapsed just watching her husband suffer from pain. However, that did not mean that other people would not be harsh with her either. Cao Lin suddenly rushed up to Jin Meili and slapped her. “Shut up!” she shouted at her.
“How dare you!” Jin Meili was stunned. She covered her face and tried to scratch Cao Lin, but Cao Lin avoided her successfully.
“So what? All of them were doing the same training, but none of the others are feeling sick! It was an accident. Please control yourself. We owe you nothing!” Cao Lin said.
“Both of you shut up!” Luo Yuan shouted.
Cao Lin was clearly upset, but she did not speak another word. Jin Meili looked like she wanted to say something, but she did not dare talk either. She had come back to her senses after being slapped by Cao Lin. Luo Yuan walked towards Zhao Gang and realized he was getting weaker. He had stopped struggling. His breathing was weak and he sounded like something had been stuck in his throat. Blood kept coming out of his nose and mouth. He was going to die soon.
Jin Meili began to cry again while she watched him. Luo Yuan carefully flipped his body over with his knife instead of his hands. He wanted to see whether there was any wound. Zhao Gang did not seem to have been bitten or stung by mutants. His blood was the usual red.
Luo Yuan asked everyone doubtfully, “What did he eat just now?”
“Not sure. He was with us all the while. He did not eat anything besides lunch. Oh, he did drink water after the training,” Huo Dong said.
“Water? What kind of water?” Luo Yuan asked.
“Mineral water,” Huo Dong said.
Everyone ate the same food and the mineral water was vacuum sealed, thus it should not have been a contributing factor. Luo Yuan got up from the ground and checked their surroundings once again, but he did not find anything strange. He glanced across the water bottles on the floor and realized there was a bottle of a different brand. He immediately felt suspicious. Although he had been collecting different brands of mineral water, it was strange that this was the only different brand among the lot.
“Whose water bottle is that?”
“Zhao Gang’s,” said Sun Xiaowu.
Everyone had their own water. Most of the mineral water in the district have been collected by them during the past few days. There had been a total of about 50 cartons of mineral water from different brands. Huang Jiahui distributed one to each person every morning.
“Jiahui, did you distribute the same carton of water today?” Luo Yuan asked.
Huang Jiahui looked confused as well. “I’ve been distributing the Farmer’s brand mineral water for the past few days. I’m not familiar with this brand."
He suddenly recalled something and quickly looked at the water bottle. “Indeed!” He was shocked.
He could see many semi-transparent worms swimming in the water. The worms were tiny and their color was similar to the water, which made it difficult to notice them. He also discovered a tiny hole on the bottle cap which looked very familiar to him. Lin Xiaoji took the water bottle from Luo Yuan and looked at the water. He immediately dropped the bottle and stepped back. “Why are there worms inside?” he asked.
A few of them walked closer to check it out and then quickly stepped back. Jin Meili looked shocked. She was idling and shivering at the same time. Luo Yuan asked in a very serious tone, “Jin Meili, where did this water bottle come from?”
“I, I picked it up,” she replied.
“Where did you pick it up?”
“It, it was the night I was sleepwalking!” Jin Meili kept crying from the guilt. “I didn’t know there were worms inside it. I wouldn’t have taken it if I knew. I didn’t know it would kill him!" Jin Meili looked very regretful.
Luo Yuan sighed as he watched her cry. He had not expected the water bottle she had brought back to kill anyone. Fortunately, everyone had their own water bottles. Suddenly, Zhao Gang’s body shook once and he farted very loudly. His pants were wet and an awful smell came from his body. His eyes were wide open and staring at the sky. His body shook, but there was no sign of breathing anymore. Wang Shishi covered her mouth in shock as she watched the scene.
Luo Yuan felt depressed. He could not believe that someone he had just talked a while ago was dead. He remained silent for a while before he said, “Sun Xiaowu, you guys go get some firewood for the cremation. We can’t keep the dead body for long.”
The parasite worms would come out of the dead host body to look for a new host. It would be too late if they hadn’t burnt the body by that time. Jin Meili was crying and trying to stop them, but no one bothered with her. In order to prevent the haunted tree from growing, Luo Yuan had had to chop most of the trees in the district and cut them into firewood.
“Go see him one last time,” Luo Yuan said to Jin Meili.
Jin Meili looked at her husband and cried out loudly.
“Take him away,” Luo Yuan told everyone after waiting a while.
Other than Luo Yuan, there were four men at the scene. Lin Xiaoji was very arrogant, and he did not move. Huo Dong looked at Sun Xiaowu and Chen Xianfeng anxiously. Suddenly, Chen Xianfeng got a cloth and wrapped up the legs of the corpse. Huo Dong followed.
Sun Xiaowu wanted to go initially, but he did not as he was afraid of both the worms and the corpse. Huo Dong and Chen Xianfeng moved the corpse onto the firewood. The burning flames swallowed it in just a few minutes. Everyone remained silent and stood far away while they watched. Jin Meili was still crying from the guilt.