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Under the relentless glare of the sun, an unyielding cold persisted in the air. Exhaling a frosty breath, Lin Feng made his way towards the imposing shopping complex.
This architectural marvel boasted eight primary levels, crowned with an additional mezzanine, effectively giving it the stature of a nine-story edifice. The mall radiated opulence, its periphery enclosed by thick, tempered glass panels. Yet, prolonged neglect had rendered a veneer of grime over the once pristine surfaces.
In his earlier days, Lin Feng seldom visited such places. The rare occasions were during university functions when he was coaxed into joining by classmates. His collegiate years were largely characterized by introversion, venturing out only when prodded by friends like Song Zhe to frequent internet cafes.
The mall’s façade bore the brutal remnants of a zombie horde’s rampage, with the ground floor windows in shattered disarray. However, the structure’s robust engineering, bolstered by colossal pillars, ensured its unwavering stance, unlike neighboring structures teetering on the edge of collapse.
“Liu Tao, Hao Jian, join me on the second floor,” Lin Feng instructed after a swift appraisal. “The rest should focus on cleaning up the zombies on this floor.”
A shadow of discontent momentarily flitted across Song Zhe’s eyes.
Lin Feng knew his friend wouldn’t be happy about this arrangement, but there was no way he was leaving the clean-up of the first floor to just Chen De and a half-injured Anna; someone adept like Song Zhe was needed.
Once roles were divvied out, Lin Feng activated the elevator. Thankfully, the electrical systems were still operational.
The elevator doors creaked open with a haunting slowness, revealing the ghastly visage of a grotesquely disfigured zombie. With eyes devoid of humanity, it emitted a chilling shriek that echoed through the hallway. As it lunged with frenzied hunger, Lin Feng, brimming with a calmness borne of experience, deftly sidestepped its attack. Spotting a discarded brick, he smoothly snatched it up, delivering a precise blow to the creature’s skull. However, as that threat was neutralized, a procession of undead in tattered elegance emerged from the elevator’s shadowy depths. Seeing Hao Jian instinctively notch an arrow, Lin Feng gave him a measured look and a subtle gesture to hold
“Save your arrows,” he whispered. Using himself as a lure, he began a calculated retreat, drawing the zombies away. Hao Jian, heeding Lin Feng’s advice, slid his bow onto his back and drew a razor-sharp dagger, its blade glinting ominously. Meanwhile, Liu Tao, gripping his battle-worn axe, took a deep breath, readying himself for the onslaught.
As they dispatched several of the advancing undead, Lin Feng decided to secure the surrounding elevators, eliminating potential threats from those quarters. Each elevator door groaned open to reveal its gruesome passengers, their lavish garments a grim reminder of a time when status mattered. Now, in this bleak world, wealth and privilege offered no shield against the relentless hunger of the undead. Every soul, regardless of their past prominence, was just another meal.
“Woah, look at those teeth!” Liu Tao remarked, fixated on a zombie dressed in an ostentatious attire. “In our village, there was a swineherd who had good teeth just like him!”
“Focus,” Lin Feng lightly chided the boy. “Last thing you want to get is an infection from some random accessory you scavenge.” He attempted a jesting tap on Liu Tao’s head, but considering their stature disparity, he ended up with a slap on the back instead.
“Fine. Second floor?” Liu Tao queried.
“Yup, but I doubt we can use the elevators now,” Lin Feng replied, warily eyeing the bloody mess they just created. If there was ever a threat of infection, it would be in that sanguineous death trap in front of them.
Identifying the fire exit, they commenced their ascent.
The second tier was a gourmet’s delight. After days of potatoes, potatoes, and more potatoes, he already had given up on any semblance of taste.
“Man, even our entire village didn’t have that much food,” Liu Tao mused, evidently excited about the culinary heaven they stumbled upon.
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“Can you be any less pafethic?” Lin Feng sneered playfully at his friend, though he too struggled to resist the allure of the savory wafts. Particularly, one from a bistro named ‘Fish 2 Meet You’.