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Chapter 18: Man’s a Liar

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Mi Dashuai
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“Haha, amusing indeed!” Zhu Hanfang declared with a smirk. “I plan to see this out until the very end. So let me offer you an opportunity: join me, and I promise your survival until this apocalypse is over.” His narrowed eyes fixed on Lin Feng, who stood a level above him.

Separated by the staircase, their intense gazes met, suspending the moment as if time had halted. Growing restless, one of Zhu’s henchmen looked as if he wanted to question Zhu’s motives.

“It seems your men don’t possess your level of patience,” Lin Feng noted dryly. “I have other pressing matters to attend to. As for your offer, I’ll consider it.” With that, he walked past Zhu with an air of defiance.

As Zhu’s henchman began to voice a protest, he was cut off by Zhu’s dismissive gesture. “Enough. Let’s return to our poker game.”

“But boss, you said we would…”

“Now’s not the time,” Zhu interjected sharply.

“Alright, but you promised that I’d…” Clearly puzzled, the henchman trailed off, scratching his head, following Zhu as they moved upward.

Stepping out of the teaching building, Lin Feng inhaled the crisp air, his face momentarily clouded with concern. Zhu Hanfang’s blatant attempt at recruiting followers only validated Lin Feng’s suspicions: the man was up to something major. Regardless of Zhu’s ulterior motives, Lin Feng’s stance was unwavering. He would never ally himself with someone responsible for almost endangering his dear friend, Song Zhe.

Piecing things together, Lin Feng surmised that the driving factor behind Zhu’s actions was a dwindling food supply. Old Liu had previously warned that their provisions would last a mere 3-5 days, and they were already on day four. Likely, upon realizing that the teaching building’s pantry was depleting, Zhu had made his enticing offer. Yet, Lin Feng had an ace up his sleeve: a recently discovered supermarket. While much had already been taken, the remaining stockpile would keep his group nourished for some time.

For a more lasting solution, the campus canteen was their best bet. Given its capability to cater to multitudes daily, it should comfortably sustain Lin Feng’s small band.

Armed with a burgeoning plan, Lin Feng’s next step was to secure the essential medicine. Once he had that, he would rally his group and lay out the roadmap. Slipping through the moonlit corridor by the lotus pond, he stealthily headed back towards the infirmary.

He rapped on the door. From inside, yesterday’s voice questioned, “Who’s there?”

“It’s Lin Feng. I promised to assist with the circuitry repair.”

“You’re back. Deal with the circuit. Once that’s done, you’ll have the medicine,” the voice stated flatly.

“Right, could you also check the fusebox, if the fuse is fried, I can grab a spare fuse at the same time.”

“Okay…” As Lin Feng detected footsteps, he also discerned a faint whimper, much like a woman stifling her cries with something obstructing her mouth.

He leaned in closer to the door, trying to hone in on the sounds. However, as the footsteps returned, Lin Feng discreetly stepped back, adjusting his hat over his face.

“Uh, how do I check it?” queried the man from behind the door, sounding genuinely perplexed.

“Perhaps I should assist you inside? I assure you, I won’t touch the medicine prematurely. I study mechanical engineering and have a fair grasp on such matters.” Hoping to instill trust, Lin Feng slid his student ID card under the door, an item he consistently carried.

There was a momentary pause.

“Okay.” Accompanied by the sound of movement inside, the door to the infirmary eventually swung open.

As Lin Feng had pictured, a man in his mid-forties greeted him. Unkempt stubble shadowed his face. His tattooed, bare right arm was stark against his slightly rotund body, and his round face bore an expression of mild surprise upon seeing Lin Feng.

A sudden thought seemed to cross the man’s mind.

“Whoa, hold there, this student ID isn’t you,” the middle-aged man remarked, holding up the ID card to examine it with his flashlight.

“Oh, that’s my boyfriend’s ID. I grabbed it by mistake,” Lin Feng replied, suddenly remembering he’d been looking like Liu Mengqi for several days.

“Is that so? Did you two…you know, get intimate?” The man prodded.

“Excuse me?”

“Aren’t many college students these days quite open about that?”

Lin Feng’s brow furrowed, taking a moment to assess the man. He looked untrustworthy, almost like someone you’d find in shady alleys. A quick glance at the man’s pocket revealed the distinct shape of a hard, elongated object. A chill went down Lin Feng’s spine.

He might have a weapon.

Resisting the urge to act hastily, Lin Feng countered, “No, we’ve committed to wait until marriage.” He glanced around, noting the firmly shut doors of the clinic and pharmacy, wondering about their security.

“Aren’t you just a look though,” the man remarked, his caution seemingly diminished upon realizing Lin Feng was in the form of a young woman.

“Let’s focus. We need to check the fuse,” Lin Feng said, steering the conversation.

Following the man upstairs, Lin Feng found himself on the second floor of the infirmary. The space was simple: a room adjoining a storage area. Lin Feng caught a glimpse of scattered tissues on the floor through a partly ajar door before the man quietly shut it.

“Fuse box’s over there,” the man said tersely, nodding towards the storeroom. Affixed to the wall inside was a fuse box, its screws conspicuously absent, suggesting someone had previously tampered with it.

Lin Feng approached with caution, sensing the weight of the man’s watchful eyes. There was something predatory about the man’s stare that unsettled him. While the man’s demeanor was passive, his hardened features hinted at a life brushed with danger, possibly even crime. Even though the man appeared somewhat relaxed, he kept a calculated distance from Lin Feng, as if ready to react at any moment.

A wave of anxiety built inside Lin Feng, but he steeled himself, acutely aware of the precariousness of the situation. He couldn’t afford to misstep.

“Evaluating it, the fuse looks intact. However, there might be an issue with the power source,” Lin Feng noted, pointing to a compromised fuse.

The man raised an eyebrow. “So, what’s the plan?” Clearly out of his depth with electrical matters, he seemed inclined to trust Lin Feng’s judgment.

“I’ll check out the generator. If we fix that, we should get the power back on.”

“You sure you can handle that by yourself? Don’t you have others with you?” The man’s gaze was probing.

“I have a female classmate, but she’s unwell. My boyfriend…he sacrificed himself during the outbreak’s onset. Now, it’s just her and me, holed up in the academic building, living off whatever food we find.”

“Are you by yourself too, uncle?” Lin Feng’s voice trembled, tears brimming as he sought for sympathy, almost whispering the words.

“That’s right. Before this whole mess, I was a security guard. When the chaos hit, your school, and this infirmary, became my shelter,” Lin Feng shared.

The man’s eyes reflected a similar pain. Quietly, he brushed away a tear that threatened to fall.

“I’ll attend to the circuitry,” Lin Feng stated, making his way down the stairs and out of the infirmary without hindrance.

However, the moment he was outside, his griefing façade faded.

Had the man lied to him? He clearly heard a woman’s whimper from behind the door.


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