Chapter 14: Dark and Difficult Days (1)
Darkness before dawn was always the hardest.
It is when everything hits you like a thief in the night and you’re left to wander in the solitude of your mind.
It holds you captive and close to its arms until the promised dawn.
It robs you of your best sense and leaves you with a paralyzing fear.
Ye Ke hadn’t closed his eyes shut throughout the night. He hadn’t caught any signs of infection. It would seem that skin contact poses no problem.
He couldn’t sleep… he was left without a choice.
He’d tried to close his eyes and rest come nighttime but the roars and groans echoing from the other side of the wall hit the core of his heart.
He could hear it well.
When left in the dark, you’ll find that your senses grow extremely sensitive. You begin to notice things you’d normally not see during your everyday life.
Perhaps the reason why he couldn’t sleep was due to the guilt consuming his heart and soul.
But even then, man managed to grow impervious to all things.
Hours after, Ye Ke slept albeit quite briefly.
He had a nightmare. He had yet to escape from his dormitory room. Wang Hao was already infected from god knows what. Ye Ke looked at his friend.
He couldn’t fight back.
He dared not to.
So he laid and moved about frantically while his flesh was eaten and torn by the person Ye Ke considered a friend.
He’s not sure why but when Ye Ke looked at himself, at his motionless self, he saw in his eyes a dead soul who had given up.
Ye Ke’s body convulsed profusely and he quickly woke up gasping for breath. Cold sweat dripped on his forehead and clung to his clothes. His body seemed stiff at the moment and he found it difficult to move.
Calming himself, he closed his eyes.
He wanted to scream, truly. He wanted to let out sounds of pleas and help. But he couldn’t.
At the same time, the campus seemed eerily quiet like nothing existed.
So he stayed up till dawn. The second night was more tortuous than the first.
He wanted to tell the survivors the tap water had been infected but without any proper strength and planning, he was unable to. The few others who hadn’t drank from the tap water would most likely be trapped in the cages of their companion who’d already drank the infected water and was sooner or later ready to turn.
If not the tap water, then they’d either die from starvation or from suicidal fear provided they’ve managed to find other counter measurements.
But even then, what’s the point?
He didn’t want to stay in this place for even a second longer. He’d rather die. Though he knows he shouldn’t think like this, he couldn’t help himself. He knows he should rid himself of this toxic mindset. But he couldn’t. For now at least.
Ye Ke chuckled miserly.
He guesses he’ll now have to live like a dog—a homeless dog scrounging for food, for water, for resources, anything to get through the day and live on to the next.
Just that… he’s not sure he has the courage.
Putting the toxic mindset away, Ye Ke sighed helplessly.
Thereafter, he pulled out the food scrapped earlier from his bag and stuffed himself with a box of biscuits and a packet of instant noodles coupled with a bottled water.
He hadn’t eaten since last night. He felt hungry and shriveled.
Though considering the state of the world he lived in now, what he ate could be considered the new luxury for him but for some reason, even though he was gnawing with hunger, he didn’t have the appetite.
He felt full and empty at the same time.
Once finished, Ye Ke tied the coiled rope made from the curtain around the iron balcony railing. He tugged on it twice to make sure it’d be strong enough and wouldn’t slip off. Next, Ye Ke tied the other ends of the rope around his waist.
When he was in the army, he’d also gone through many obstacle courses and some of them entailed the use of the ropes.
His body had grown acclimated and familiar to the ways of the military and so when put into this sort of situation, he more or less knew what to do.
Breathing deeply, Ye Ke placed his hands on the railings and pulled his body over to the other side.
He turned his head and looked at the outside view.
It was painfully quiet.
The university from the first year to the fourth year housed over 20,000 students alone. Including the teachers and staff members, the numbers alone was insanely frightening.
Ye Ke didn’t know how many had turned and how many had survived from the great cataclysmic event.
Apart from the few slow-moving monsters he saw from the far distance, beneath him was a vacuum of empty spaces with a few exceptions of dead bodies who died on the very first day. It is most likely those who’d already turned managed to leave the school grounds.
After all, they’re always in a state of movement looking for the next best thing.
They can’t think, they have no purpose, and the only thing on their mind is flesh.
The current temperature wasn’t too hot but the bodies below him showed faint signs of decay.
After death, one will lose its immune system to keep the skin fresh and alive. Those microorganisms will begin to invade the human body and thus accelerate the decay.
Ye Ke took a quick glance of the dead bodies below him and saw a few maggots creeping onto the torn skin of the dead.
“This is the world now…”
Ye Ke gripped on the rope. He placed his feet on the edge of the balcony and leaned backwards. He’d fall surely if the ropes weren’t there.
Bit by bit he gradually fell to the ground under his own control. He did so quietly and slowly for fear of alerting those monsters.
Wang Hao, bless my soul! Keep me alive, I’m about to go out!
It was early in the morning and white misty fog roamed the earth. The fog affected Ye Ke’s ability to see from the far distance. At most, he could only see no less than ten meters before it’d affect his field of vision, but it should pose no problem to him at all.
His goal was to get to the trash can standing straight next to the road.
Five large posters pasted on the windows greeted him as he slowly made his descent to the ground.
Soon as he landed, Ye Ke felt as if he’d landed into a lion’s den.
The air smelled dangerous. Looking at the rope on his hand, he suddenly felt the urge to climb back but it was only a fleeting thought and disappeared just as fast as it came.
Ye Ke quickly tore off the rope tied to his waist and swiftly ran towards the trash can with his body hunched over.
He grabbed the garbage out off the trash and quickly flipped the trash can over his head. His presence was now hidden.
Ye Ke never imagined there’d be a day in his life when he’d find himself caught inside a piece of garbage. It was horrendously dirty. Accumulations of dirt clung to the piece of green plastic. It was moist and wet which clamped on top of his head. The stench lingered on the tip of his nose.
He felt a lump in the back of his throat and soon after, he vomited.