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Lin Feng’s eyes sparkled as he bit into Mengqi’s potato cake. “You’ve seriously outdone yourself this time!”
Expecting an average dish, Lin Feng was pleasantly surprised. As a testament to his delight, his tail wiggled enthusiastically.
“Hey, Lin Feng, mind your tail!” Anna, sitting next to him, put down her bowl in annoyance and swatted the tail brushing her cheek.
“Hey!” Lin Feng yelped in indignation, reclaiming his tail. ‘Seriously nya~ who messes with a cat’s tail?’
Drawing his tail protectively to his side, he took a deep breath, attempting to regain his composure. Anna’s interruption had clearly ruffled his mood.
Yan Aoxue entered, offering a fresh bowl of aromatic soy milk. “Try this.”
After a sip, Lin Feng teased Hao Jian, “A soybean presser? Someone’s been living the high life.” He didn’t miss Hao Jian’s perturbed expression.
“No. No. The essence of the potato isn’t fully captured at all. The fire’s off. The –”
Lin Feng, ever defensive of his childhood friend, responded by stuffing another potato cake into Hao Jian’s mouth. “Come on, if you’re no chef, spare the critique.”
Muffled, Hao Jian protested, “It’s about the potato! Respecting its essence!”
“Yeah. ..The potato is respect,” Lin Feng drawled, relishing the warmth from the under-table heater, slowly basking in the pall of drowsiness coming over him..
“These potatoes were a labor of love, Lin Feng. Do you understand the deep relationship those potatoes had with me?” Hao Jian declared.
Lost in the warmth, Lin Feng mumbled, “Sure, sure.”
Seeing Lin Feng’s drowsy state, Hao Jian chided, “Snap out of it! Don’t drift off under the heater!”
Amid their banter, Old Liu, intrigued by the potato dish, chimed in, “Are these homegrown?”
Caught off guard, Hao Jian hesitated, “Yes, um… sir?”
“Just call me Professor Liu. I teach engineering.”
“Oh! So you’re the infamous ‘credit-snatcher’ Professor Liu?” Hao Jian immediately blurted out without a second thought. Lin Feng, trying to save the day, quickly jammed a potato cake into Hao Jian’s mouth, leaning back down onto the heated table for a nap..Everyone knew Old Liu liked to dock a student’s credits, but no one was mad enough to shout it out!
Before the situation could escalate, the principal entered, slightly sweaty, “Liu, seems like you’ve built quite a reputation for yourself.”
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“Principal!” Hao Jian exclaimed, nearly choking on his potato cake.
The principal, noting Hao Jian’s surprise, said, “It’s been a while, Hao Jian.”
“You’re here because… wait, Lin Feng probably rescued you, didn’t he?” There was a hint of wariness in Hao Jian’s voice. He hadn’t exactly been thrilled about crossing paths with the principal, especially given his hand in shutting down their club.
“Right. And about the archery club incident involving Wan Yun… I deeply regret it.”
Hao Jian’s face darkened. “Wan Yun?”
The principal explained, “She used to be one of our top students. However, her grades dropped so bad that even graduating became uncertain. Her parents, both practicing lawyers, had immense expectations for her, and their concern grew deep.”
Swamped by a wave of guilt, Hao Jian whispered, “I didn’t know.” Every ounce of her downward spiral seemed to point back at him. It was on him that her grades slipped. It was on him that she changed into a monster. He was the one unworthy of her.
Feeling the weight of Hao Jian’s despair, Lin Feng flicked him lightly with his tail. “Hey, don’t beat yourself up. We can’t change the past. And it’s not like you set out to ruin things on purpose.”
“I appreciate it, Lin.”
(End of Chapter 59)
Over a flurry of morning flavors, breakfast was done and dusted.
Lin Feng, after scarfing down his meal, crashed right next to the heater. His fatigue had been building up of late –most likely a result of looking after Hao Jian.
Though Hao Jian made a half-hearted attempt to wake him, he soon gave up, letting his friend rest.
The afternoon rolled in with Hao Jian sulking in front of a dead TV. The automated power supply had inexplicably failed. Since the principal was rescued, no one had been near the generator or the electrical lies. Plus, Lin Feng’s crew had been on the move lately, so they weren’t paying attention either.
After enduring Hao Jian’s continuous complaints, Lin Feng made a peace offering: “Alright, I’ll check out that moody generator tonight. And since we’re heading out, might as well swing by the old radio station.” Their original plan to inspect some suspicious spider activity at the pool would have to take a backseat.
Lin Feng, trying his hand at a traditional bow, quickly discovered the extra strength and skill it demanded. A dozen pulls and his shoulders cried out in protest. Glancing at the sleeker, modern bow, he asked Hao Jian, “Are you sure you’re alright with me using this?”
“Just use it,” Hao Jian chuckled. “Besides, it’d be a shame to let it gather dust after she… left it behind.”
“She’s in a better place now. I had Song Zhe bury her on the hill behind the archery hall. When you’ve got time, visit. And get acquainted with the others, especially Song Zhe. He’s a mutant; the others are all experienced with hunting zombies.”
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With those parting words, Lin Feng vanished into the embracing darkness.
The school, shrouded in a haunting stillness, echoed with distant zombie groans. Fleeting shadows intertwined between trees, culminating atop a tall pine.
“Should’ve swapped out of this ratty uniform,” Lin Feng muttered, eyeing the tears and snags from his tree escapades.
Navigating his clothing options, Lin Feng cursed himself for overlooking his clothing options. There were exercise wear back at the hall, but he had completely forgotten about them. Instead, he found himself drowning in these billowy medical scrubs. But luck, it seemed, was on his side when he spotted a zombie fervently guarding a luggage bag.
Moments later, Lin Feng was sifting through the zombie’s former belongings. Among the items was an oversized black hoodie, which enveloped him from neck to knees. Yet, the sensation of his tail being confined was unsettling. Using an arrow, he craftily created an opening for his tail.
As for the pants? Way too big. And just his luck, the other zombies in the vicinity were all female, predictably donned in skirts. Making do with his situation, he chose a pair of baggy sweatpants from the bag, cinched them tight, then made necessary alterations for length and tail comfort.
The bag was, unsurprisingly, devoid of shoes. So, Lin Feng’s gaze settled on the surrounding female zombies, some of whom bore a studious, literary look. After a quick scan, he dispatched a zombie whose footwear seemed about his size and swiped her sneakers. The pristine white of the shoes was quickly overshadowed by a grim wash of zombie blood.
Fully decked out, Lin Feng set his sights on the pool.
— Scene Shift —
Something felt…off. Way off.
Navigating the maze-like school, Lin Feng realized that familiar paths now felt oddly twisted. The pool, usually a straightforward walk through the girls’ dorm, now seemed an impossible destination. His steps, though many, led him nowhere.
Hiding amongst the tree canopy, Lin Feng tried to shake off his growing unease.
(End of Chapter 60)