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“Really, let’s go then,” Anna revealed a playful giggle as she slid aside the quilt.
“Junior! Junior, we’re in trouble—serious…trouble!” Hao Jian careened into the room, each breath a ragged pull.
“Is it the spiders?!” Lin Feng, pain throbbing through his chest, bolted upright.
“No, it’s not… that. Just give me a moment~ I need a drink,” Hao Jian said, casting a sly glance towards Lin Feng’s discarded cup, swiftly seizing it and downing its contents in a single, smooth gulp.
Almost instantaneously, a shiver coursed down Lin Feng’s spine, infiltrating even his nethers. He cast a subtle, disapproving glance at the man.
“Spit it out already. What could possibly be so urgent, besides those spiders?”
“The TV, man! It’s the TV channels!” Hao Jian, catching his breath, blurted out the reason for his frantic entry with a mix of excitement and trepidation.
“Wait, what?!” Lin Feng, Anna, and Liu Mengqi chorused, their faces mirroring each other’s shock.
“Guys, the TV’s getting channels now; it wasn’t yesterday, but today it is. I was, um, watching cat videos—no, I mean, playing games—and outta nowhere, there was a signal when I switched it to TV mode.”
“Quick! Lead the way!”
Assisted by Hao Jian and Liu Mengqi, Lin Feng made his way to Hao Jian’s room.
“Ah, Lin Feng, welcome,” greeted Old Liu, his fingers thoughtfully caressing his chin as he stood before the TV, while the principal tinkered with something within Hao Jian’s prized television set.
“I hear the TV’s picked up a signal.”
“Yes, it’s baffling, to be honest. By all accounts, the TV stations should’ve fallen to the zombies quite a while ago. However, it seems the situation is more intricate than we anticipated. Mobile networks are down, but the TV broadcasts aren’t? It’s perplexing, isn’t it?”
Lin Feng’s eyes locked onto the TV screen. Impossibly, a reporter, microphone clutched in hand, interviewed pedestrians on a bustling street, a backdrop of serenity and normalcy playing out behind them. Street vendors hawked their wares, seemingly untouched by the chaos they had all become so accustomed to. An unsettling suspicion crawled through Lin Feng’s mind, whispering the dreaded possibility that this might just be another slip into illusion. The tension hung palpably in the air, a stark contrast to the everyday scenes flickering on the screen before him.
No, something’s not right!
Perhaps he had already been drawn back into the spider’s cave, and this seemingly serene world was merely a fantasy woven by desperate wishful thinking?
Lin Feng, shivering, retreated, his mind spiraling into chaos. Without Mr. Spider’s assistance, how could he escape this illusion? Had the peach trees never burnt? Had his group been doomed from the start, or perhaps from the moment he entered the girls’ dormitory?
A torrent of jumbled thoughts and fears shook Lin Feng, his body trembling, his ears quivering amid his hair.
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Noticing Lin Feng’s distress, the doctor approached cautiously.
“Lin Feng, what’s wrong?”
“Ah! Stay back, you flesh-eating spiders! Don’t touch me!”
His blunt fingernails clawed the air, catching the doctor’s outstretched hand in a desperate scratch. Lin Feng’s bright blue eyes narrowed into slits, revealing menacing, feline-like fangs.
His unsettling, feline scream pierced the room, drawing everyone’s attention away from the TV. They turned, eyes wide and expressions painted with shock, toward Lin Feng, his frame quivering uncontrollably.
The doctor, gazing at the blood welling from the scratch on her arm, recognized the signs—Lin Feng was collapsing under the residual stress from the spider incident.
“Lin Feng, please, calm down. We’re your classmates, your teachers, your principal—we’re all your friends here. It’s time to rest now, okay?”
The school doctor, seasoned in managing the psychological challenges of numerous students, had never anticipated addressing the mental strain in Lin Feng, the one who had been their savior.
Whimpering and hissing like a frightened cat, Lin Feng continued to scuttle backward on all fours. His eyes, wide and fear-stricken, darted among the people in the room while his chest bandage slowly darkened, absorbing fresh blood.
Lin Feng let out a panicked shriek and bolted out the door. As Yan Aoxue moved to chase after him, the school doctor quickly intervened.
“Lin Feng’s psyche is fraying right now,” she said, her voice tinged with worry. “I’ll handle this. Stay here and keep an ear on that broadcast. Let me know if they say anything important.”
With a swift pivot and a look of deep concern, the doctor dashed in the direction Lin Feng had taken off.