“Friends outside, where are you all going? Can you bring us along?” A movement nearby caught everyone’s attention as the window to the building beside them opened and the figure of a person appeared.
Everyone looked at Luo Yuan which gave him a headache. “How many of you are there?” he asked.
It was fine if there were only a few people. Luo Yuan would only reject them if there were too many of them. His place was small with limited inventory.
“Two! Just two of us. It’s too dangerous here, I want to leave with you all. We can watch out for each other if there are more of us,” the man quickly said.
“Then come quickly. We’re leaving.” Luo Yuan replied.
“Okay, okay. Right away,” the man was beyond delighted and disappeared promptly from the window.
In a brief moment, they came down.
They were a man and a woman in their thirties carrying a handful of bags. They looked like they were spouses and were covered in layers of clothes. Each of them had a pan hanging in front of their chests. The man who spoke earlier even had an iron bar in his hand. They seemed like they had been ready by the looks of it.
Wang Shishi could not help but chuckle at their rather funny appearance.
“I’m Zhao Dagang. This is my wife, Jin Meili. How do I address you all?” Zhao Dagang breathed a sigh of relief and asked gratefully.
The team introduced themselves. These two people were very lucky as they had never encountered any danger even since the apocalypse. They had even stayed at home safely during the wave of beasts that attacked five days ago.
“Where are you guys going?” Zhao Dagang asked.
“Jingyue Residential Area, where I used to stay.” Luo Yuan replied.
“Why there? I remember there’s a dugout nearby. We thought you guys would be headed there actually. If that is the case, isn’t it better for us to stay in our own house? Sigh, wasted our effort for nothing,” Zhao Dagang’s wife, Jin Meili, suddenly said. This made the atmosphere awkward.
Sun Xiaowu was furious listening to what she had to say. It was maddening to see her simply disregarding their kindness. He would have charged over to slap her if not for Luo Yuan who remained still.
Zhao Dagang was feeling awkward as well but did not say anything. It would seem that he thought the same.
Luo Yuan frowned and paused for a moment before he smiled and said, “You’re right too, the dugout is indeed safer.”
“Then let us go to the dugout!” Jin Meili did not seem to sense the lingering awkwardness as she continued saying, “It’s spacious and filled with people. The defense is strong too. Listen to me, you guys are going to die if you go back to Jingyue.”
Wang Shishi could not hold it in any longer and retorted, “It’s none of your business where we are going, busy body.”
“Young lady, how can you not see that I’m only thinking of what is best for all of you. It’s only for your own good,” Jin Meili replied with disbelief.
“Enough.” Zhao Dagang said and pulled her sleeve, not wanting to make things worse.
“I can’t even talk now” she replied. Jin Meili then flung her arm as she glared at him.
Luo Yuan initially thought that they might have looked too docile to them even though they were carrying knives and guns but he had finally realized now that they were just simple-minded.
“Alright, there’s no use bickering. If you guys are going to the dugout, my advice would be not to go there because we just came out from one. That’s that. Now, if you guys are still going to the dugout or returning home, or even following us, it’s up to you. It’s getting late, we still have some distance to cover, we’ll take our leave!” Luo Yuan turned to leave, not wanting to be involved any longer.
Both of them stayed rooted.
“Are we going or not?” Jin Meili asked.
“Where to?” Zhao Dagang grabbed Jin Meili’s hand so they could run if needed as he began to be aware of the surrounding as the team left.
“The dugout of course” Jin Meili said righteously.
“Go? Go your ass! You go if you want to die. Maybe you would be dragged away by mutated beasts halfway there.” Zhao Dagang was still rational. He had been observing the surrounding these few days. There were low level beasts everywhere. He did not think he would be able to make it to the dugout by himself.
“Then why are they alright?” Jin Meili questioned.
“They have knives and guns, of course they’re not scared. I only have this useless iron bar, you really think I’m Superman?” Zhao Dagang said as he was annoyed. He began to think- even if they were not going to the dugout, it was still safer than them staying at home since there would be more people to lookout for each other.
“Why didn’t you say this earlier!?” Jin Meili stomped her feet and pinched her man.
Footsteps were heard from behind the team after just a few minutes of walking.
Luo Yuan and his team turned and saw both Zhao Dagang and his wife coming over.
“Hold up, just now… I’m so sorry for just now. My…my wife is bad with words, I apologize. We want to follow you guys!” Zhao Dagang said apologetically.
‘Why didn’t you guys go to the dugout?” Sun Xiaowu who is young and rash replied in a sarcastic manner.
Jin Meili was flushed in embarrassment, her mouth was twitching as if ready to say something but nothing came out after Zhao Dagang signaled her with his eyes.
“Then just follow us since you’re already here,” Luo Yuan did not mind. It was only human nature to want to gain more and avoid loss anyway. Besides, the woman meant no harm.
“Great, great, thank you, thank you!” Zhao Dagang thanked him profusely.
They had been taking the long route so it was already near nightfall when they reached Jingyue Residential Area. Other than a light blue beast for Wang Shishi’s training, their journey had been otherwise safe and smooth.
However, just that one adventure was enough to scare everyone- especially Zhao Dagang and Jin Meili who got intimidated by Wang Shishi seeing how she had killed the beast. Who would have known that this docile young lady was an evolved person.
Jingyue Residential Area looked more forlorn than when Luo Yuan had left. Most of the houses had already collapsed yet surprisingly, the mansion he had been staying at looked the same from the outside.
“We’re finally home!” Wang Shishi cheered happily and ran into the mansion.
Huang Jiahui, who had been almost expressionless was now relaxed too. A joyful smile could be seen on her face.
The team entered the mansion and observed the new surroundings they were in. It was not exactly homely as the inside seemed to have been destroyed by beasts (it was, in fact), the pillar in the middle had already collapsed and the steel fixture in the cement was exposed. Cracks "decorated" the walls and the whole property looked like it was not far from collapsing.
Luo Yuan checked around and frowned when he saw a lot of unfamiliar footprints on the floor. They seem fresh… probably one or two days old judging from how distinct they looked.
"Did someone come in?" he thought to himself.
Huang Jiahui noticed it too and exchanged a look with Luo Yuan. He then hurried to the bathroom leading to the basement.
Opening the concealed door to the basement, Luo Yuan walked in and Huang Jiahui followed with a torch.
“Damn it!” Luo Yuan cursed. Most of the racks were empty, and the floor was in a mess as rice was scattered all around. Only two bags of the most crucial food remained- one and a half boxes of mineral water, two boxes of Sprite and Coke, three to four boxes of canned food, a box of compressed biscuits and three boxes of wine. About a third of their daily necessities were missing.
Huang Jiahui covered her mouth as she dropped to the floor saying, “How is this possible?”
Luo Yuan did not care much about food, they could still replace it with mutated meat after all, but there was only one and a half boxes of mineral water left. He remembered clearly that drinking water and other beverages lined half the wall in here before they left but only these few were left now.
The whole city was contaminated by radiation now and so was the water source outside. While the actual severity is unknown, Luo Yuan suspected that normal people would not be able to drink it. He dared not try even with a 13-point Physique.
“Don’t let me know who it is!” Luo Yuan grinded his teeth while replying.
“I think it’s Huang Yuying.” Huang Jiahui sighed and continued, “She knows this basement, she’s the biggest suspect. If she didn’t die from the wave of beasts, she would definitely return here.”
It would have to be Huang Yuying if they had to point fingers. She had even brought people over to move most of the things away.
“It should be her!” Luo Yuan agreed after some thought.
“Seems like she’s not totally cruel though, at least she left something for us.” Huang Jiahui replied with a forced smile. She was upset as someone she had saved had turned around to stab her in the back. Of course she would feel hurt.
“I don’t think so. They probably could not manage to move everything at once. She’ll return after some time,” Luo Yuan said coldly.
“Are you going to kill her?” Huang Jiahui quickly asked.
Luo Yuan did not know what to do with her either. Logically, Huang Yuying did nothing wrong. After all, she would have thought that they had gone to the underground base and would never return. It was understandable that she would take these items as they would have belonged to no one.
Luo Yuan was silent as he thought of this and said, “I’ll give her a chance.”
“Huang Yuying…she’s not that bad really. She couldn’t have known that we’d return. Let’s go back up, I still have to prepare dinner,” Huang Jiahui said as she stood up and squeezed Luo Yuan’s hand before picking up some canned food and walked towards the stairs.
Luo Yuan knew what she meant and nodded, following her up.
People were already cleaning the place outside, some swept while others mopped the floor.
“Sister Huang, where’s the rice? I’ll cook!” Cao Ling put down the mop and told Huang Jiahui.
“I…I can help too!” Ning Xiaoran said with a flushed face.
Zhao Dagang promptly used his eyes to signal his wife who also walked over albeit a little more reluctantly.
Huang Jiahui was stunned at first but then smiled and said, “Then let’s go together. What can you guys make?”
“I can cut vegetables, make soup, and be an assistant.”
“I can make the usual home-cooked dishes as long as there are ingredients.”
The few women chatted as they moved to the kitchen.
“Boss, this place is too damaged. Why don’t we move somewhere else? I saw a few mansions around here that are still well kept,” Huo Dong passed a cigarette over and wanted to light it for Luo Yuan.
There was a large hole in the wall on the first floor and it was only a matter of time before this hazardous house collapsed.
Luo Yuan was not used to being treated this way. He waved his hand as if to reject the help offered to him. He lighted his cigarette with his own lighter and said after a puff, “Indeed we should. But it’s late today. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.”
Empty houses were everywhere now. One with a basement would not be difficult to find either. A lot of rich people loved having basements and wine cellars in their homes, especially during the period right before the apocalypse.
Everyone worked hard to clean the place. Other than the areas that were already wrecked, the place looked brand new.
After they cleaned a huge marble table covered in cracks from being smashed by cement from the ceiling, dinner was served. The women’s hard labor produced a pot of mixed stew which was basically canned meat and vegetables that were thrown in and cooked together.
The taste was delightful though. The pot of stew was completely clean by the end.
After dinner, Huang Jiahui gave up on cleaning as the few women once again fought to clean the utensils.
Luo Yuan arranged for everyone to sleep in the basement after some thought as it was dangerous outside. However, he had still separated the three of them from the others to prevent the two girls from feeling awkward. He set up a tent and three of them slept together.
They were used to sleeping together now after so many days, even Huang Jiahui felt that it was normal. Though it could also have been her subconsciously trying to ignore her issues with Wang Shishi.
Wang Shishi had clung herself onto Luo Yuan just as he entered the tent, pushing her lips near his ears and said, “Why are all the things gone? Even the racks are empty. It must be Huang Yuying who took them, right?”
Luo Yuan was a little shocked, not because she guessed that it was Huang Yuying but rather because she had whispered it to him instead of shouting it out loud just now.
“I’m correct, right?” Wang Shishi spoke excitedly in the dark, with her leg wound on Luo Yuan. “I already felt that she wasn’t a nice person from the beginning. She looks like a vixen who only knows how to seduce men. She isn’t some saint.”
“Must looking like a vixen be related to being a bad person?” Luo Yuan thought, not understanding her logic.
“Huang Yuying had a tough life.” Huang Jiahui added and sighed from the other side.
“Those who are pitiful must also have their detestable sides” Wang Shishi retorted and blew a gust of hot air against Luo Yuan’s neck with a slight tremble.
Luo Yuan knew something was odd. Wang Shishi’s body was warm and she kept puffing warm breaths of air; her chest slid against his arm lightly and her body writhed from time to time. If he did not pay attention, he would not have noticed.
Even in the dark, Luo Yuan could feel that her skin was red like a cooked shrimp. Her sighs got more erratic and what was more unbelievable was that the two women were still bickering softly throughout the night.
Trembles in one of their voices were getting more obvious, however.
Luo Yuan’s eyes were wide open even in the dark though his body was not moving at all. After a while, Wang Shishi’s body gave a strong shudder. Only then did he brace himself to say, “Alright, it’s very late already. Don’t talk anymore. Sleep!”
As he spoke, he pulled his arm away from the warm softness and turned towards Huang Jiahui to sleep.
The night was quiet just like the surrounding.