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“We’re in the same boat now,” Dr. Hu remarked, her voice tinged with both resignation and concern. She gently examined Lin Feng’s wound, her hoarse voice betraying her fatigue.
Dr. Hu had donned Lin Feng’s pants, her upper body modestly wrapped in a towel, though it struggled to conceal her figure which seemed even more voluptuous than Liu Mengqi’s.
“Have you been apprised of the situation outside?” The elder Mr. Liu inquired, his gaze fixed on the map sprawled out before him.
“I have. Song Zhe and Yan Aoxue filled me in,” Lin Feng responded, easing himself into a chair. He set his spear aside, momentarily relieved from the pain in his ankle.
“When can Lin Feng be up and moving?” Mr. Liu asked, his eyes betraying worry as they darted to Lin Feng’s injury.
“Lin Feng’s ankle is dislocated. Normally, one would need around three weeks to recover,” Dr. Hu noted as she delicately held up Lin Feng’s unfairly silken ankle. But she had no choice but to admit that this feminine specimen of a boy was, in fact, a boy, especially given that she was the one caring and cleaning him these past few days.
“How does it feel right now?”
“Excruciating.” Lin Feng winced as Dr. Hu gently manipulated his ankle. The immediate surge of pain made him shiver and perspire.
Recognizing his discomfort, she eased his foot back down. Despite his mild protestations, she assisted him onto the sofa.
“Given the extent of the injury, I’m not entirely confident that three weeks will suffice for a complete recovery.”
“We can’t afford to wait three weeks. By then, hunger would have taken us. I… How did I ever mentor such monsters?” Mr. Liu said with a heavy heart, gazing desolately at the school map.
“It wasn’t your doing, sir. That scum has always been problematic. Do we have any provisions left?” Lin Feng asked, massaging his feet that felt unfamiliar to him, raising his eyes to meet the remorseful gaze of Mr. Liu.
“Nothing, not a scrap,” Mr. Liu responded, his eyes drifting to the barren box in the corner.
“We’re subsisting on just water. The staircase is under the watch of Zhu Hanfang’s goons; there’s no descending,” Dr. Hu chimed in, taking a seat beside Lin Feng and absentmindedly twirling a strand of his long hair.
A hint of discomfort flashed across Lin Feng’s face as he gently pulled away. ‘Isn’t the doctor being a little too touchy recently?’ He found himself asking silently.
“Doctor, have you… recovered from your recent ordeal?”
“Are you referring to what happened to me? There’s no recovering from that, but I’ve come to terms with it. We must persevere, regardless of the challenges or heartache,” she murmured, nuzzling against his cat ears.
This time, Lin Feng didn’t shy away. Sensing her subtle quivers, he embraced the anguished woman comfortingly.
“We need to make our way down.”
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“Downstairs? But Zhu Hanfang’s thugs are equipped with baseball bats, and the majority of our spears are there,” Mr. Liu interjected, alarmed by what he perceived as Lin Feng’s brash intent.
“Not through the stairs,” Lin Feng clarified.
He gestured towards the window. “We’ll fashion ropes from the curtains to descend. Once night blankets the area, I’ll venture out to scavenge food.”
“That’s out of the question! With your compromised ankle, you would just be offering yourself on a platter to those zombies,” Dr. Hu countered with concern.
“Rest assured, Dr. Hu. Even hobbling, those fiends wouldn’t stand a chance against me in the cover of night,” Lin Feng said with a playful grin, attempting to lift his leg, but a pang of pain quickly sobered his jest.
“Has anyone heard from the principal lately?” Lin Feng asked. “When I saved the school doctor recently, I noticed the principal’s broadcast room was besieged by zombies.”
Mr. Liu paled at Lin Feng’s words, emotions surging even stronger.
“I’ve been haunted by that thought. Since that last broadcast… silence. My dear friend…” Mr. Liu whispered, the weight of sorrow pulling his words to a hush. He slowly settled into the couch across from Lin Feng, his eyes misting with unshed tears.
The bond between the two was well-known throughout the school. Some even said that without them, the institution with its storied history would never have thrived.
But now, all that history, all that legacy, seemed to be crumbling away. Everything…
“Mr. Liu, I’ll venture out tonight to find the principal. We must cling to hope. Perhaps…” Lin Feng said, limping gently towards the older man in a gesture of solace.
“Would you undertake such a risk for our sake, Lin Feng?”
“You can count on me. I won’t go alone – I’ll have Song Zhe and Liu Tao by my side.” Looking at Mr. Liu’s white-tinged hair and the deep lines etched into his face, Lin Feng was reminded of his dearly departed grandfather.
After chatting with them for a bit, Lin Feng exited the lounge, his mind a whirl of thoughts. He thought, “End of the world and all, and here I am, still caught up in all these feelings. Is this just the human thing to do? Would I stand a better chance if I played it as selfish as Zhu Hanfang?”
As he came out, Liu Mengqi flashed him a familiar, teasing grin. “There you are! I still haven’t thanked you for the meds. What kept you so busy inside?” She laughed lightly, playfully tugging on a strand of Lin Feng’s signature ash-white hair.
“Nothing much; the whole world has gone to heck and we’re about to starve -go find some food, and all that. The usual.” Lin Feng replied, deftly slipping his hair from Liu Mengqi’s grasp.
“Come on, at least let me stroke that soft hair of yours. Tell me, have you come up with a plan yet?” Liu Mengqi said, her voice teasing as she made another playful attempt to grab him, causing Lin Feng to shiver involuntarily.
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“We’ll venture out under the cover of night,” he said, neatly sidestepping her playful advance.
Suddenly, a desperate cry pierced the air. “Hurry, Xiaoling!”
Lin Feng’s head snapped in the direction of the commotion, anger rising when he took in the scene.
A group of boys, previously still on the side of Mr. Liu, were now chasing after a frantic Xiaoling. Her hurried steps betrayed her panic as she dashed toward the staircase, her clothes torn and disarrayed. Higher up, Chen Fang, her hand outstretched, tried to pull Xiaoling to safety.
In a heart-stopping moment, as Chen Fang strained to bring Xiaoling up, one boy from below gripped Xiaoling’s foot, holding her in a dangerous standoff.
Tensions soared as the girls above worked feverishly to rescue Xiaoling, while the boys below brazenly exploited the situation to their advantage.
Even with his injured foot throbbing, Lin Feng sprang into action, leaping down the stairs. He kicked the boys aside, swiftly catching Xiaoling in his arms.
“Have you lost your minds? Where’s your decency?!” he thundered, urging Xiaoling toward safety.
Up on the seventh floor, several girls had already managed to yank a distraught Xiaoling back to safety. However, witnessing the fresh blood staining her leg, they became inconsolable, their tears flowing anew.
“Lin Feng? You’re back? We thought you were dead!” exclaimed a boy, still sprawled from Lin Feng’s earlier intervention.
“Regardless of who told you of my so-called demise,” Lin Feng retorted, “I’m still very much alive and standing!”