There were many bones and dirty rags with blood stains all over the buss’ floor beside them. A few white skulls were still rolling due to the earlier collision, which made them feel like they were wandering in hell. Water was dripping down and the bus was filled with a pungent smell of urine. A rat jumped onto the bus beside them and walked towards Luo Yuan. Those who were sitting in front started moving to the back.
"Get some weapons! I don’t believe we can’t defeat them!" a ferocious looking guy shouted out, standing up. He glanced across the bus, then walked to the front and grabbed the fire axe. A few other guys found some tools nearby the driver’s seat, such as a spanner wrench, hammer and an iron bar.
The rat squeezed through the broken grills and jumped onto the dashboard of the bus. A few of the women screamed and some of the guys subconsciously swallowed their saliva, then looked at each other. They could not move. However, the rat did not attack immediately but kept on making a noise.
“Hit it! It’s trying to call its buddies!” the old man shouted out.
Everyone was scared. The guy with the fire axe looked at those with weapons and said,
"Let’s fight, we have no choice anymore. Otherwise everyone is going to die."
"Fine! Come on!"
"I’m going to bring them along if I really need to die!"
All of them were trying to boost their courage. The guy with the fire axe shouted loudly and walked towards the rat. The rat screeched and quickly ran back to the other bus, disappearing from sight.
Everyone applauded the victory! However, it did not last more than 30 seconds. There were more rats coming into the bus, and slowly the cabin became very dark. Luo Yuan sensed the danger and quickly took out his Zhanmadao and stood up. He pulled Zhao Yali up and whispered, “Follow me.”
“I don’t have my luggage.” Zhao Yali said.
“Just leave it behind. Hold my hand now, we need to leave. This is very dangerous!" Luo Yuan urged her.
"Alright, alright." She had lost her mind and could just follow.
“Trust me! I’ll protect you. Do you remember I’ve told you that I’ve learned martial arts before?” Luo Yuan tried to comfort her. He held her hand and walked toward the driving area. Luo Yuan wouldn’t be able to utilize his skills in this small space once the rats rushed into the bus. The people around would only burden him. He pressed the switch to open the door.
The door slowly opened.
“What do you want to do?” a guy asked in a mad shout. “Are you trying to kill yourself? Close the door! Hurry up!” Everyone was frightened and scolded Luo Yuan.
Luo Yuan did not show any expression but spun his knife for a short while and said coldly, “The knife has no eyes, I don’t want to hurt any one of you, so please don’t make me. I hope you could give way, we need to leave now.” A few guys were trying to stop him by force but they quickly thought better of it and backed off. “Let’s go!” Luo Yuan quickly escaped with Zhao Yali and ran toward the exit. The bus’ door was shut immediately once they got out.
Luo Yuan took a quick glance of the surrounding area and realized that it was better than what he imagined. There were only five rats further away in front of the road, and the rest were gone. Apparently, they were all inside the bus which they had just escaped from. He felt relieved for a second and then quickly ran away with Zhao Yali. Soon, the rats noticed them and began to rush after. “Yuan!” Zhao Yali screamed.
“Don’t be afraid! Keep running!” Luo Yuan said calmly after taking a glance at the mutated rats which were getting closer. Suddenly, those rats stopped chasing them. They seemed to be scared.
The rats began to slowly turn back when Luo Yuan walked toward them. “What’s happening?” Luo Yuan wondered. Then he realized the snakeskin bulletproof jacket he was wearing had the effect of terrorizing rats and frogs. However, it did not seem to be working on mutated animals. After a while, the rats overcame their phobia and continued their chase. And they were getting nearer! 10 meters, 5 meters, 3 meters! It was so close!
Suddenly, Luo Yuan released Zhao Yali’s hand. He bent down and increased his speed. Zhanmadao shone due to the reflecting sunlight. Two heads of the mutated rats flew up to the sky, followed by blood spilling on the floor. Luo Yuan spun his knife and slaughtered another rat which had tried to jump on him. He managed to avoid the blood gushing out of it. He just simply pulled the knife, and one of the rats’ abdomens was opened up. Luo Yuan was good at using his knife, and the rats were dead even before they could get near him.
Zhao Yali was shocked by what she just saw, it was beyond her imagination even if she knew that Luo Yuan had learned martial arts before.
The dead rats were lying on the ground. There was a lot of screaming in the bus behind them, and they could see the bus shaking vigorously. From time to time, they also saw blood spilling on the windows. Luo Yuan turned his head around after watching for a few seconds and said, “We need to leave as soon as possible. Otherwise, we will be in big trouble after the rats conquer the bus. They will come after us!”
Zhao Yali turned around and looked at the bus. She covered her mouth with a sympathetic expression and asked, “Are they going to die?”
“Don’t think about it, it’s too late for us to go back. Let’s go!” Luo Yuan sighed. He might consider helping them if he was alone. However, he had Zhao Yali with him and her safety should be his priority.
Zhao Yali nodded her head and grabbed his hand tightly. Both of them continued to run forward. Luckily, there weren’t many rats along the journey after that. Perhaps, they were all having a feast on the bus, or have been killed by the bombs.
The two of them didn’t bump into any big group of mutated rats along the way. And the few animals they did see, Luo Yuan managed to kill them easily.
The mountain pass was only about 4 km away, and they had been driven to around a midway point. It took them around half an hour of running to finally leave this ‘road of hell’. The highway was very quiet as they did not see a single person, nor a car pass by. The trees on both sides of the highway had been chopped down, and the farmlands nearby hadn’t managed to escape from the fire either.
The sun was going down and Luo Yuan turned around to ask Zhao Yali, “Shall we find a place to stay first? The sky is getting darker and it will become more dangerous once the night comes.” Zhao Yali nodded her head anxiously while holding his arm tightly.
“Are there any hotels nearby?” Luo Yuan asked.
“I have no idea, I haven’t come back for a long time,” she said, trying her best to recall old memories.
“Let’s go to the village ahead of us then,” Luo Yuan suggested, looking at the place where the smoke kept coming out from.
“That’s Choo Village but I don’t know anyone from there,” Zhao Yali said.
“Let’s check it out first then,” Luo Yuan replied.
Suddenly, Zhao Yali’s phone rang and she picked up the call. “Hi mom, do you need anything? Oh, I don’t think we can make it back by tonight since the bus’s tire punctured. I think we need to stay overnight in the city and will have to go back the next morning.” Zhao Yali’s cheeks suddenly became red, she turned away to avoid facing Luo Yuan and said, "Alright, he will be staying in another room which is very far from me. Yes, mom, I got it. I’m not a kid anymore. Thanks, mom. See you tomorrow."
Zhao Yali tried to calm herself and walked toward Luo Yuan. She did not hold his arm anymore but kept a distance instead. Luo Yuan definitely knew what the content of the phone call was about. He understood that all parents worried about their daughters’ safety.
Choo Village was not that big. It had a population of approximately 500 families.
However, it was near an industrial area which helped to increase the population, as well as the income. The main road of the village became a commercial street and both sides of the street were filled with shops. Soon, it would be a well-developed and properous place. However, it was almost empty now, and most of the shops were closed.
Luo Yuan and Zhao Yali could not find a single hotel after walking around for a long while. As the sky was turning darker and darker, they agreed to knock on the door of a double-story house. After a few minutes, the door opened.
Behind it stood a skinny man who looked to be around 50-years-old. He let the door open only by a small margin, and peeped through it with his entire body pressed against the door. He was ready to shut it the moment it seemed necessary. "What are you doing here?" he asked in his local dialect.
Luo Yuan hinted for Zhao Yali to talk to the skinny guy by rolling his eyes and moving his eyebrows as if he couldn’t understand what the skinny man had just said. Zhao Yali replied in the local dialect as well. “Hi, we’re from Zhao Village. I should have gone home by now but the bus’ tire punctured. Do you think it would be possible for us to stay at your place for just a night? We would leave the very next morning.”
“No way! Please go somewhere else. We don’t have space to accommodate you!” The skinny man felt relieved when he found out that they were from the nearby village. However, what Zhao Yali had said wasn’t convincing enough. Recently several crimes had happened in Choo Village, and the man didn’t want to take the risk.
Zhao Yali wanted to continue talking but Luo Yuan stopped her. He took out his wallet and pulled out three bank notes which were CNY 100 each and said, “How about CNY 300 per night, dinner included? You should know we are not bad people.”
The skinny man looked at both Luo Yuan and Zhao Yali. "The girl looks polite and gentle, even if she’s full of anxiety. The guy looks quiet and is fair. Besides that, his eyes are clear. They shouldn’t be bad people," he thought in his head. The skinny man looked at those bank notes in Luo Yuan’s hand and seemed to be keen on the deal. He then changed his accent and spoke in Mandarin, "CNY 500 per night. Come on in, please, if you agree. Otherwise, please leave!"
Luo Yuan was happy with the counter offer and said, “Deal!” He then took out another two 100 bank notes and passed it to the skinny man. He took the money and began to count. Finally, he felt relieved and opened the door wide. “Come on in!” he said.