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Lin Feng jolted upright, his head crashing into the wooden board overhead. As he crouched to regain his bearings, his hand instinctively reached for the dagger at his waist.
“Who’s there?” He cast a wary gaze around the room, a chill running down his spine when he found himself alone. As he felt the lump forming on his head, a faint squeak diverted his attention.
“What on earth…?”
His eyes darted downward, spotting a shadowy form by his feet. Reacting instantly, he kicked it away and grabbed his bow, taking aim at the mysterious object.
Lin Feng squinted, identifying the creature before him as a spider — though as large as a soccer ball. It had a deep purple hue to its body, contrasting sharply with its eight ghostly pale legs. The tiny eyes that adorned its face were unnervingly chilling.
He found himself pondering, ‘Where could this creature have come from?’. While he refrained from releasing his arrow, he kept the bow taut, aimed unwaveringly at the unsettling spider.
As he watched with bated breath, the spider started to animate. In an uncanny display, it tilted its head side to side, much like a human would. And then, in a move that left Lin Feng utterly bewildered, the spider sank into a squat right before him.
Indeed, it squatted. A spider, walking in a crouched posture, was a sight Lin Feng had never imagined and one that words could scarcely capture.
With a surprising dexterity, the spider gestured towards Lin Feng. Seeing no immediate threat from the man, it then reoriented itself, balancing on four legs, and began to cautiously inch closer. Its movements and posture were eerily reminiscent of a cinematic character, and for a surreal moment, Lin Feng could have sworn he saw a semblance of a smile on the spider’s face.
Relaxing his bow, yet still wary, Lin Feng’s right hand instinctively clutched the dagger.
/You’re poisoned!/ The spider etched onto the ground.
Intrigued, Lin Feng watched as the spider crafted its message, “Poisoned? What are you talking about? I feel completely fine!” Impulsively, he extended his hand to feel the spider’s textured surface – it was rough, rougher than he had expected. As for why he even thought about touching a spider, well, he just felt he should…
/Hands off! It’s rude!/
A hint of amusement played on Lin Feng’s face. ‘The day has come where I’m getting etiquette lessons from a spider,’ he mused.
/I can assist in cleansing the toxins from your system, but considering your fragile mutated state, you must contribute to the process as well./
“So, I’m poisoned? I don’t sense anything wrong. And why extend a hand — or leg — to help? Aren’t we from entirely different worlds?”
/We require the assistance of humans. As for the question of our species, now’s not the time for answers. Just know this: if you refuse, you’ll become a meal for the zombies./
Having conveyed its message, the spider paused, flinging the residual ink from its legs with an air of authority.
“Do I even have a say in this? Fine, I’ll assist. But I won’t do anything against my human nature,” Lin Feng declared, raising his hand as if swearing to an invisible force.
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/Very well. Let’s commence the detoxification./
“And what’s my role in all this?”
/Breathe deeply and focus on waking up./
Inhaling deeply, Lin Feng murmured under his breath, “Come on, wake up! You can do it, handsome me!”
He then felt a sharp prick on his leg and shot a furious look at the spider.
/I meant for you to concentrate, not vocalize your thoughts. Get serious, or you’ll be zombie food soon./
“You could’ve led with that warning!”
(End of Chapter 62)
Lin Feng inhaled deeply, the sensation of waking up bringing back memories of times he felt paralyzed, as if held down by a spectral presence.
Jolted awake, Lin Feng caught his breath, disoriented by the surreal scene around him. As his equilibrium faltered, he lurched backward, teetering on the edge of panic.
Zombies lunged, their snapping jaws barely missing Lin Feng’s ear.
Coming to grips with his surroundings, Lin Feng’s eyes widened in realization. He wasn’t plummeting to the ground; instead, he was suspended mid-air, ensnared by a spider’s silken web, dangling from a tree branch. Beneath him, an overwhelming horde of zombies swelled, dangerously close to reaching him.
In a desperate attempt, Lin Feng wriggled free from the binding webs and clung to the bark of the adjacent tree. An unexpected chill from his grasp made him turn sideways. There, unmistakably, was the spider from his dreams, seemingly smirking at him. It gestured with one of its legs, directing Lin Feng’s attention towards the rooftop of the girls’ dormitory.
Lin Feng acknowledged with a nod. The sky suggested it was around 10 am. Astonishingly, he hadn’t realized so much time had elapsed during his intoxicated state.
Shedding the remaining webs from his legs, Lin Feng scooped up the spider. Using his powerful legs, he leapt clear of the encroaching zombies below. Swiftly, he sprinted across the courtyard, eventually leaping effortlessly through an ajar window into a second-floor girls’ dormitory. Upon landing, he swiftly dispatched an approaching zombie with a well-aimed kick and cautiously scanned the corridor.
The hallway was populated by a handful of female zombies; some draped in pajamas, while others appeared caught mid-dress. To his surprise, they lacked the enchanting allure he’d expected. Their bodies bore brutal wounds, gaping and bloody, with some revealing the bone beneath. Only a scant few were less marred, but even they bore the disheveled, grotesque look of the undead.
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Silently cursing his misfortune, Lin Feng looked for the fire exit. Entering, he found only one or two zombies on each floor and quickly reached the rooftop.
The rooftop door loomed ahead, locked as always. Tragic remnants of a last stand scattered before it: torn-apart female bodies and a desperate, outstretched arm, its owner’s back shredded beyond humanity.
Breathing hard, a memory flashed— the fire ax from downstairs. Those poor girls, if only they’d looked one floor below! They might’ve stood a chance against the oncoming horror, maybe even made it out. The identical nature of their pajamas painted a haunting picture of close friends caught in the nightmare.
Nearing the door, the remaining zombies weakly lunged, eyes vacant yet insistent. Lin Feng sidestepped with grace borne of experience, plunging his dagger into their skulls. Heart calm as death itself, he swung the fire ax at the door’s handle. A couple of thunderous thuds later, the handle crashed to the floor, accompanied by the eerie thump of the severed arm.
Rubbing his sore arm, Lin Feng eyed the remnants of the door with a mix of surprise and respect. Even with his enhanced strength, he hadn’t expected such resilience.
He gently placed the silent spider on the ground. But then again, what objections could it raise without a mouth to voice them?
The spider skittered towards a body, dipping its foot into the chilling black ichor oozing from a zombie.
/Time to uphold our bargain, whiskers./
“I remember, spider. What do you want?”
Surveying the expansive rooftop, Lin Feng settled onto the ground. The passage of time was evident. Layers of dust blanketed the surface, and assorted debris danced in the sporadic gusts.
/Our leader, the spider you crossed paths with, is in dire straits. We’ve always been nestled by the pool, and occasionally, we’d capture a few humans for sustenance./
“You… feed on humans?”
(End of Chapter 63)