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Liu Mengqi watched with sorrow-filled eyes and an aching heart as her childhood friend Lin Feng walked towards her other classmates, of whom Yan Aoxue was conspicuously one of them. Wasting no time at all, she immediately squeezed herself between the two and quipped.
“I know the fastest way to get there.”
Lin Feng eyed the girl, who suddenly squeezed in with a smile. He was a little unhappy with her behavior, but chose not to say a word. Personal feelings had to be put aside for now. So why was she even sulking? Going to the top floor should take precedence over everything else.
In the end, they decided to have a sketch drawn of the building’s layout, with the help of a classmate who just so happened to be good at art. The staircase they needed to ascend was located next to their classroom and two other classrooms. Normally, it would take just a few minutes to get there, but now they had to plan. The whole classroom had over 30 people, so they couldn’t all go together directly; otherwise, it would result in heavy casualties. It was best to divide into groups, with a mix of boys and girls heading towards the top floor, and the first group had to be familiar with the route.
Liu Tao, who was strong and one of the braver ones in class, was first chosen to conduct a preliminary test with the two zombies already in the class. These zombies seemed more sensitive to sound but had poor eyesight. As long as their heads were covered with a cloth bag, they wouldn’t attack as long as no sound was made, and their sense of smell seemed to be completely dead.
The test was done, and plans were ready to be set in motion. But just when everyone had decided on the plan, there was a scream from behind, followed by an ominously loud pair of clicking sounds. Lin Feng whipped around towards the source and saw, to his horror, a giant spider swiftly climbing up and towards the only one open window in the classroom.
There was no time to lose. With a wizened gasp and a stout heart, Old Liu charged straight towards the opening. Merely seconds to spare and death right at their doorstep ,he managed to slam shut the windows, sweat dripping from his forehead and chest heaving from his old age.
The spider raised its bristly legs and banged on the glass a few times, but it didn’t shatter. Its eight black eyes glared angrily at the people inside the room.
Now everyone finally understood how Deng Liang had died earlier. These spiders were apparently the ones responsible, and there was not just one either; the claw they saw earlier wasn’t as large as this spider’s.
“It seems like humans aren’t the only ones being infected,” Lin Feng said as he slowly walked to the window and peered outside.
Immediately he was assailed by a chilling sensation running up his spine and up to his scalp.
Not too far away, he spotted a giant spider scaling the campus walls, but due to its prodigious size, the spider couldn’t enter the classroom. Instead, it preyed on those curious people who had poked their heads out.
In the classroom next to him, he sneaked a peek through the windows and saw a group of desk-sized spiders ransacking the room for any survivors hiding in the room. The playground outside was already a mess, with half-eaten body parts strewn everywhere, and a small horde of zombies feasting on students who had fallen.
He took a deep breath and glanced at the “Made in China” label on the glass, feeling relieved that they were safe as long as they stayed inside this classroom. He then pulled the curtains closed.
“Let’s get going. There’s a huge spider outside and it won’t stay quiet forever. By the way, Teacher, have the glass panes been installed on the windows upstairs?” Lin Feng asked.
“Yes, we installed it a couple of days ago,” Old Liu replied after some thought.
With that, the stage was set and the plan put into action. The first group consisted of three boys and one girl, with Liu Mengqi being the sole girl. The reason was that she was familiar with the map, and the aforementioned Liu Tao was also among the pioneering batch.
The main role of the first group was to clear the way. Since Mr. Liu was too old to lead the charge, Liu Mengqi, who knew the route well, took his place.
Lin Feng wanted to join them, but everyone rejected the idea. His display of calmness earlier earned him a spot in the last group.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I’ll wait for you up there, Xiaofeng,” Liu Mengqi said with mixed feelings as she put on a few thick clothes, hoping they would provide some protection if she got bitten.
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“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of your sister,” Liu Tao walked over, looking at the couple of childhood friends locked in a fervent gaze, and flexed his muscles.
“I’ll… leave it to you then. Please take care of her,” Lin Feng looked at the brawny boy, ironically relieved by that otherwise silly display of muscles and strength.
The tension was palpable in the classroom, and even despite the hustle and bustle of the three departing boys removing the heads of any broom and mops they could find to fashion a makeshift wooden staff, the room felt deathly silent.
Lin Feng tightened his fists as he watched the boys ready themselves, wooden weapons clutched just as tightly as his fists.
“Yeah?” Liu Mengqi turned back with anticipation.
“Stay alive until I get there. Send me a W-chat when you arrive safely,” Lin Feng said.
Liu Mengqi felt somewhat disappointed as she turned back and gripped the wooden stick in her hand.
Finally, the door was opened, and just as swift as the rush of air coming into the classroom, a zombie immediately spotted them and charged at them, roaring and waving its single arm with unholy vigor.
Smack! Liu Tao struck the zombie squarely with his wooden stick and knocked it away.
“Let’s go!” With that shout, silence descended once more as the door closed.
“They’ll be fine,” Song Zhe comforted Lin Feng, who looked lost.
“I know,” Lin Feng swallowed and sighed.
All he could do now was pray that Liu Mengqi would safely reach the top floor. The three boys in the first group were the strongest in the class. If they couldn’t make it to the top floor, the chances of the others surviving were basically nil.
Worry gripped his heart, quite literally in fact, as he felt his heart rate spike noticeably while his surroundings started to slow down, as if cast into a thick quagmire.
“Hey! Are you feeling alright?”
Suddenly, Lin Feng was startled awake, realizing in an instant that he had just experienced a strange phenomenon; like he was part of some slow-motion capture video.
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“Ah… I’m fine. Just too worried about Mengqi,” Lin Feng replied, as Song Zhe patted his shoulders.
What is happening to me? He muttered to himself, beset with worries still.
“Mr, Liu, can I be put into the second group? I wish to go up earlier.” Lin Feng regretted allowing Liu Mengqi to go up alone. Earlier, when he had tried to join the first group, the whole class had opposed it, but he still couldn’t shake off this unease that plagued him.
“Are you worried about your sister?” Old Liu asked.
“Alright, I’ll make the adjustment.” His student’s worries hadn’t escaped his notice, and was it any wonder that the boy would worry about someone who was as close as a sister to him? Thus he decided to make the change.
Although the students had their own opinions about this arrangement, they generally followed Old Liu’s decisions. After all, he was their teacher, and during the recent incident with the spider, he had fearlessly closed the window himself to protect them. His brave actions earned him respect and obedience from the students, despite his age.
“I want to go along as well,” Zhu Hanfang chimed in abruptly, fingering his brass knuckles as if to send a message.
“You are in the fifth group,” Old Liu replied.
“As if I care. I’m not stupid; I want to be in the second group.”
“Hey, that’s not fair, you’re not following the rules.” A chubby girl spoke up. She was originally in the second group, and if Old Liu were to replace someone, she might be swapped out as she was slower.
“Rules? And who made these rules? You?” Zhu Hanfang sneered, raising his brass knuckles at the frightened girl. “Don’t force my hand here, I don’t feel like fighting now.” He glared menacingly before continuing, “You seem to be in the second group. How about this, I will give you a sports car later, you give up your spot to me.”
“That’s enough, Zhu Hanfeng. I will put you in the second group, it’s just one more person after all. But your new group will have to bring along one of the other female students.”
Seeing that this discussion was basically dead at this point, Old Liu sighed and decided to let Zhu Hanfang join the second group. In the past, Old Liu could use punishment to threaten the students, but Zhu Hanfang often ignored the rules anyway. Now, he had no choice but to temporarily go along with Zhu Hanfang’s demand.
“In that case, I’ll join the second group,” Yan Aoxue stepped forward and looked at Old Liu.
The distribution of female students was random because, in general, they had little combat ability and needed protection from male students. Some female students even refused to leave the classroom after seeing the consequences of the class leader’s action, feeling that staying in the classroom and waiting for rescue was safer.
“Alright,” Old Liu nodded after some thought. Yan Aoxue was the daughter of the Yan Family Group, and as long as this epidemic didn’t develop into something terrifying, her presence might attract better rescue opportunities. It was said that the Yan Family Group had several private helicopters.
All of a sudden, the otherwise ordinary second group was now the strongest team they had to send.
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Although Zhu Hanfang wasn’t diligent in his studies, he had excellent combat skills due to his regular fighting. Additionally, Lin Feng was not short, standing at 1.8 meters, and even though he wasn’t burly, he was an average-sized adult male. What set him apart was his calm demeanor.
Lin Feng wasn’t interested in the class discussions and instead glanced through the crack of the curtains at the huge spider outside. He clearly saw a student and a teacher who thought they were safe being crushed by the spider breaking through the glass. Small spiders followed the broken glass into the classroom.
“Everyone, be quiet,” Lin Feng whispered to the students chatting behind him, then signaled Old Liu to have a look.
Old Liu carefully walked to the window and looked in the direction Lin Feng pointed.
“There’s a change of plans. Everyone, Group 2 will be its own large team while the remaining Groups 3 and 4 will merge. Same with Groups 5 and 6. When the signal arrives for each group, we’ll set off,” Old Liu closed the curtains, signaling everyone to remain quiet.
“Is something wrong, Teacher?” Yan Aoxue asked Old Liu in a low voice, confused.
“It’s those spiders. We need to move quickly–” Old Liu replied.
As if on cue, the clarion chime of a handphone’s notification rang out in the cavernous classroom setting, capturing the attention of every student present, cutting short Old Liu’s explanation.
Lin Feng looked at his phone and let out a sigh of relief.
“They’ve arrived safely.”
A wave of relief washed over the students. After the string of continuous bad news they received earlier, this news was like a ray of sunshine, bringing a glimmer of hope to all the frightened students.
Lin Feng himself was relieved and thanked his lucky stars. The 5th and 6th floors were specialized equipment classrooms, and only relatively technical courses would have classes there. He just didn’t know if there were any other classes on these two floors besides the one that had just been eaten by the spider and the one that turned into zombies.
Since the larger group had been formed, Lin Feng checked the list. His group had ten students, and the other two groups each had eight, which added up to 30, excluding the class monitor who turned into a zombie. Yan Aoxue, Zhu Hanfang, and his best friend Song Zhe were in his group, and the remaining six were a chubby girl, two taller and thinner girls, and three boys who rarely talked. Old Liu had originally planned to join the last group, but under the joint request of Lin Feng and Yan Aoxue, he decided to go with the second group.
“Are you all ready,” asked a boy from Group 3 as he held the door open.
“Open the door,” Lin Feng nodded while holding a table leg that he had dismantled in his hand.