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Zombies began to emerge one by one from beneath the trees. As they moved, pieces of broken organs and torn flesh dropped onto the ground. As this haunting procession passed, filled with the scent of blood, Lin Feng and Anna, who was covering her nose, slowly descended from their perch in the tree.
Once safely on the ground, Anna brushed off the spot where Lin Feng had held her, her face showing a mix of irritation and disdain.
Lin Feng looked at her, puzzled. ‘Why is she so against the idea of a lily? Has she had some kind of unsettling experience in the past?’
(TL: Female homosexual)
In the dim light, Lin Feng’s eyes darted around, quickly assessing the situation. Although the majority of the zombies had been distracted, a few still lingered in the shadows near the generator shed, eyes gleaming menacingly.
With swift and precise strikes, he took down several zombies, each movement masked by the silence. But each step was a reminder of his throbbing leg injury; his normally agile form felt weighed down.
From the corner of his eye, he saw Anna move like a shadow, her weapon flashing as she expertly silenced two more threats, ensuring they wouldn’t rise again.
Moving in tandem, they ghosted their way towards the old broadcast room, minimizing noise. As they approached the door, they knocked with urgency, listening intently for any movement inside.
“Principal! Open the door! We’ve come to rescue you!”
From within the dimly lit room, muffled sounds of shuffling reached their ears. The principal’s voice, now a fragile whisper tinged with despair, barely made it through the aged wood. “Children, leave me behind and flee. The horde outside is too vast.”
The heart-wrenching weariness in his voice was so profound that had it not been for Lin Feng’s acute sense of hearing, the old man’s plea might have been lost in the eerie silence.
“We’ve managed to draw most of the zombies away, Principal. Please, come out quickly.”
They tried the iron gate again, but it remained steadfastly locked. The tools at their disposal—Lin Feng’s spear and Anna’s dagger—were ill-suited for this challenge. They scanned their surroundings for an alternative entrance, but the walls, topped with sharp shards of glass as an anti-theft measure, proved an insurmountable obstacle.
With a hint of desperation tightening his voice, Lin Feng called out, “Principal!”
From the other side, the weak voice came through, wavering, “Go now, children, I…”
Whatever followed was lost, barely a breath, even to Lin Feng’s sharp ears, heightening his unease.
‘Damn it,’ Lin Feng thought, frustration and worry gnawing at him. ‘Can we really afford to come back another day? But will the principal even make it till then?’
In a burst of quick thinking, Lin Feng scaled a nearby tree to gain a better view of the courtyard. From his perch, he saw the principal, an image of exhaustion and resignation, slouched over a desk. A short distance away was the principal’s meticulously cared-for vegetable patch. Lin Feng gave a wry, almost exasperated laugh; it seemed his list of injuries was about to grow.
Mustering strength in his good leg, Lin Feng took a brave leap toward the vegetable garden, using his limbs to cushion the impact.
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A muffled gasp escaped him as pain lanced through. His right foot, which had held up just moments ago, now refused to cooperate.
Whispering a rueful apology to the crushed, wilting plants underfoot, he picked up a shovel for support and limped toward the house.
“Principal? Are you there?”
Lin Feng’s entrance into the room brought a sight that froze him in his tracks. Bound to bedposts, zombies writhed, their school uniforms now grotesque reminders of a life before. Among them, an older woman in sophisticated attire had also been restrained, her regal appearance marred by her undead state.
The principal lay slumped over a desk, a pen fallen beside his motionless hand. Discarded empty water bottles told a story of desperation and survival. In the dim light, Lin Feng took in the principal’s cracked lips and weathered face, so stark against the backdrop of the chilling scene.
Suddenly, a frail, raspy voice pierced the silence, “How… how did you make it in?” Struggling, the principal attempted to raise his head, his eyes clouded but filled with a sense of despair, faintly mixed with surprise as he directly met Lin Feng’s own shocked gaze.
Instinctively, Lin Feng gripped the shovel, readying himself to deal with the restrained zombies.
“Stop!” The principal’s voice cracked in desperation, fresh blood streaking from his already chapped lips.
Lin Feng hesitated, his grip still firm on the shovel.
“Principal, they’ve turned. They’re zombies now.”
“No! No! They’re my students, your fellow classmates! And one of them… she’s my wife! What are you planning?” The anguish was palpable in the principal’s voice as he gestured with trembling arms.
“Principal, you have to face reality. They’re no longer…”
“You’re expelled! Just leave!” In a final burst of fury and exhaustion, the principal lost consciousness.
The quiet that followed brought Lin Feng an unexpected sense of relief. Dealing with someone in denial had always been a challenge, and in these dire circumstances, it felt even more so. It was hard to believe that the principal, always composed and clear-headed, had now succumbed to his emotions.
But regardless of his perplexing feelings, Lin Feng was certain of one thing: this man was still his principal and a dear friend of Old Liu. Inaction wasn’t an option.
Lin Feng held the shovel steady, resisting the urge to end the zombified students’ and principal’s wife’s existence. He knew the potential fallout; he didn’t want to further destabilize the principal’s already fragile sanity. Looking around, he took in the stark reality of the confined room: the once-commanding principal, previously surrounded by a bustling environment, now had only a desk and the haunting presence of the undead. Outside, a horde of student zombies threatened, while fresh water had become a luxury.
Understanding the principal’s harrowing circumstances, Lin Feng gently picked up a half-completed letter — possibly the principal’s final message — from the desk. He folded it wordlessly and secured it in his pocket. A subsequent search of the principal’s robe yielded a key, which Lin Feng immediately used to unlock the door.
“Lily, did that door give you a tough time? The music stopped, and those zombies could be just around the corner,” Anna griped while casting a glance at the mud-covered Lin Feng with his shovel.
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“Anna, help with the principal, and hands off the zombies inside.”
“Alright, Captain Lily,” Anna begrudgingly replied. Despite her petite frame, she managed to carry the unconscious principal, though barely, her fair face turning bright red from exertion.
“Hold on a little longer. We just have to make a quick stop at the supermarket then we can return to the school building,” Lin Feng responded. He wasn’t trying to be inconsiderate; his leg had far gone past the point of pain and was completely numb. Whether or not the good doctor could help was a big question mark.
The duo made their way to the supermarket without much incident. Thankfully, previous noises had lured the nearby zombies toward the lotus pond.
Stepping into the supermarket, Lin Feng gratefully took a long drink from a water bottle he stumbled upon. Anna, every bit of her looking spent, stopped for a moment, breathing heavily. She shot Lin Feng a weary look as if silently blaming him for her sweaty state. When she reemerged, she had swapped her damp stockings for a dry pair of socks, also taking a moment to stash away several more.
As Anna tended to her feet, Lin Feng, driven by the same need to prepare, limped over to an adjoining electric bike repair shop. When he returned, it wasn’t empty-handed; he pushed a cart with freshly oiled wheels, its silent glide a minor victory in their dire circumstances. He positioned it beside the unconscious principal, signaling their next move.
“Anna, ready to help? We need to get the principal on this cart and move,” Lin Feng urged.
“Just a second,” she answered, lacing up her shoes. Together, they carefully lifted and settled the principal onto the cart.
“Nice legs, by the way.”
“Keep your comments to yourself, Lily. Want some stockings? Go find a pair.”
Lin Feng rolled his eyes, “I don’t need any. And for the last time, stop calling me ‘Lily’. It’s Lin Feng, and last I checked, I’m not a girl.” His voice carried a hint of exasperation, it was clear he’d heard the nickname one too many times.