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/Rotten’s an understatement. Zombie flesh? It’s like the stale leftovers of the insect world. Sure, some of us aren’t picky, but it’s not exactly our top pick on the menu./
“You’re telling me spiders have… culinary preferences?”
/Stay on topic. Yes, we’ve got our own way of tasting things, just… not where you’d expect. Our base was by the pool, and sometimes, humans were on the menu./
“And how do you decide what’s gourmet and what’s garbage?”
Lin Feng, scratching his ear, was oddly fascinated. “Who would’ve thought? Gourmet spiders.”
/The hairs on our legs — all varied in length — they sense it. We did snack on humans, but things changed when that school peach tree mutated on us. Blooming when it shouldn’t and before we knew it, chaos ensued. We chose this spot because of the pool’s water, but suddenly, it became a hot commodity. Those peach trees started to spread like weed, and even began to develop a hallucinogenic ability as well./
Finishing its tale, the spider deftly leaped to the building’s edge, gesturing towards the pool.
Lin Feng’s gaze followed. Instead of the expected spider-filled, pungent zone, it looked like a scene straight out of a manga — colossal trees dominating the landscape, their petals creating a delicate dance in the air. But something felt wrong. These trees dwarfed the usual ones, looming at nearly 10 meters high.
Typically, peach trees reached heights between 3-8 meters. Those nurtured and pruned by human hands hovered around 3-4 meters. From his vantage point, Lin Feng had spotted people atop the pool building, seemingly entranced. Directly below, zombies clawed and scraped at the pool’s walls in their desperate ascent.
But since the zombies hadn’t managed to reach the rooftop, the dazed humans remained untouched by mutation.
/Enough gawking/, the spider had chided. /See that person? Their sanity’s a shattered mirror. Your salvation came because the pollen barely touched you, just a fleeting breath of it. While you might’ve woken up sooner or later, who’s to say if you would’ve awaken as a human or… something far more sinister./
With a sense of urgency, the spider used its leg to sketch a more detailed message on the ground.
“How do you expect us to help under these circumstances then? Heading there would mean falling prey to that mind-bending pollen. You might as well just tell us to go kill ourselves.”
/You humanshave fire, right? That’s their Achilles’ heel. Round up some gasoline, a few matches. Your generator station has diesel, I believe? I’ll task some of my squad to grab gas masks for you. With the unfortunate demise of many police officers out there, there’s plenty of gear from the disease control center lying around. I can secure about 4-5 pristine sets for you. Doesn’t sound too challenging now, does it?/
Hearing the spider’s intricate plan, a nagging doubt tugged at Lin Feng’s mind. It seemed like the spider had mapped out the entire journey for him, yet there was something bothering him that he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
“Your plan sounds solid,” Lin Feng began, flicking away an annoying mosquito from his ear, “but there are a few things I need to ask.”
“For starters, any intel on the bats that have been seen around the school?”
/Oh, those damp-dwelling bats? When our leader was establishing our nest, we unearthed their hideout. They’re bland to our taste, to be honest./
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“Wait. You mean you evicted them?!”
“Okay. My next question: if you’ve mapped everything out so meticulously, why not execute it yourselves?”
“And another thing! Why are these plants such a menace to you? Why the urgency to have us incinerate them?”
“Lastly, and this one’s been bugging me, how come you know so much about our world?”
(End of Chapter 64)
Gazing at the unmoving spider, Lin Feng subtly felt for the dagger secured by his side.
While on the surface he appeared to be engaging peacefully with the spider, Lin Feng was ever vigilant, unwilling to jeopardize the safety of his team. Blind agreement was out of the question; he needed to ensure minimal risk first.
Caught off guard by Lin Feng’s volley of queries, the spider hesitated momentarily. It then delicately raised a leg, using a dab of blood to script its response on the floor.
/Regarding your second and third questions: do you think us spiders can put on protective gear like you humans?? Additionally, the pollen’s peril extends beyond just humans. Several among us have been mentally ravaged by it. We’re not keen on confronting this hazard directly, especially after the effort we expended to save you. And yes, we’re naturally wary of flames./
/As for your fourth question, I… was once human. I’ve nothing more to add on that./
The spider, after conveying its message, withdrew into a somber state and settled despondently on the ground.
“I apologize,” Lin Feng murmured.
Seeing the spider’s evident sorrow, empathy welled up within Lin Feng. Transitioning from human to this current form must’ve been agonizing. Maybe he’d been too forthright. The apocalyptic world was rife with inexplicable changes, and it seemed any trace of the spider’s humanity had vanished.
/There’s no need for apologies. Fulfill your promise. In two days, my kin will bring the protective suits. By the fourth day, I hope to see the flames you promised./
After the spider finished writing and saw Lin Feng nod in agreement, it started climbing the staircase.
Lost in thought about the spider’s words, Lin Feng remembered the creature had just saved him. At the very least, it was worth discussing this matter with his team. If they weren’t comfortable with helping, perhaps a solo job then – that would repay his debt to them.
With that in mind, Lin Feng descended the building and headed toward the power station.
As he made his way down, a tiny spider stealthily climbed up his pant leg.
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He deliberately avoided the path by the peach trees to prevent suffering any hallucinations. He encountered no significant obstructions and soon reached the place where he had initially rescued the principal.
With the gates ajar, the principal’s courtyard had become a breeding ground for zombies. The generator’s hum had drawn them in, creating a thick ring of the undead surrounding the vicinity.
Lin Feng was aware that elevation was his ally. Quickly leaping over shrubbery, he managed to scale a nearby roof. From his vantage point, he watched as a sea of zombies swarmed and amassed beneath him.
Remaining stationary was not an option. Contrary to sparse zombie appearances in movies, the vast urban populace had birthed an overwhelming number of the undead. Their ability to pile atop one another was alarmingly swift. In mere moments, they’d sculpted a grotesque cushion of human flesh below.
Thankfully, the humming generator had distracted the zombies enough that they did not think to rush him immediately.
Casting an eye over to the generator, he could see it was a veritable horder. The main unit seemed okay, but it looked like a couple of zombie arms were causing a jam in the start-up system. The start-up system itself was a stroke of genius. It operated on a set schedule, automatically refueling and starting up the generator. It was that very system that was now jammed by a stray zombie limb.
He mentally tipped his hat to the principal. Apparently the principal had an engineering background himself in university.
Now, Lin Feng found himself in a familiar conundrum: either create some sort of noise diversion for the zombies or just go in, guns blazing.
(End of Chapter 65)