Chapter 2: Campus Life (2)
The clock hanging on the walls indicated that it was only seven in the evening.
After washing his face, he walked over the balcony railings and gazed at the city lights.
Tens of thousands of lights lit brightly yet the bottom of his heart was a dark abyss.
Unsure what to do with his life, Ye Ke pulled a cigarette from his pocket and placed the filtered end in his mouth. Holding the cigarette between his index finger and thumb, Ye Ke pulled out a lighter and flicked his other thumb down on the spark-wheel which created a small flame. He brought the small flame to the tip of his cigarette and lighted it up.
His appearance hadn’t changed much after leaving from military services.
He was still over six foot tall and with short faded crew cut hair. He wasn’t a burly man or anything like that, but he was lean and strong. He worked out at night regularly, maintaining the ripe muscles of his body.
“Hey, today I saw Miss Shi in a place where clubs were recruiting new people. She asked why she hadn’t seen you recently. I gotta say man, she looks hella interested in you. You really don’t know how to cherish something good!” Wang Hao complained and grabbed an extra cigarette from Ye Ke’s pocket and lit it up.
Once the cigarette was lit up, Wang Hao inhaled and puffed out a smoke.
“I’m not familiar with her.” Ye Ke flicked his cigarette, the ashes like a red meteor falling from the night sky and landing into the ground.
Once finished, he walked to the closet and grabbed a sweatshirt from his wardrobe.
“Are you going out?” Chen Zihan suddenly perked his head up, somewhat distracted from the game as he looked at Ye Ke.
“Do you have anything you want me to get?” Ye Ke asked while tying his running shoes.
“No. Just that I’ve been hearing that there’s an outbreak of infectious diseases going on recently. Apparently, there’s been many people who’ve been quarantined. It’s best that you pay attention when going out. Sh*t might happen.”
“Yeah, I heard the same thing too. My uncle was working in a city hospital but apparently, it got so bad that he quickly resigned. My mother said their family went back to the countryside. Said that the city was too bad to live in.” Zhou Kai boasted of his knowledge.
The other five members of the dorm looked at Zhou Kai incredulously. A doctor resigning from his job was a rare occurrence.
“It’s true! My mother said so herself.”
No one paid attention to Zhou Kai any longer.
Chen Zihan turned back around and resumed his internet addiction.
Han Song who’d just awoken from his slumber happily ate the food provided.
Wang Hao was out standing on the balcony smoking.
Ye Ke walked out of the dorm after putting on his earphones, beginning his nightly routine exercise.
Life continued on.
However, inside a municipal hospital, an ominous change was brewing.
In an isolated section of the hospital, dozens of wards were filled with infected people.
Their faces contorted disgustingly, eyes blank and soulless, and their pale green skin looked cracked and withered as if deprived of water.
It was disgustingly horrible but even so, the most frightening scene was their actions.
Their hands and feet were tied together with a strong belt tied around on the sickbed.
They struggled violently to free themselves from the restrictions.
The isolated area which started small had expanded at such a rapid rate, indicating that more and more were infected.
“Leader Wang, is there any progress in the research?” Inside the conference room, on the top floor of the municipal hospital, an old man sitting on a black chair asked indifferently, yet… there was a sort of unspeakable anxiety in his eyes.
“…..” A group of middle-aged men dressed in white lab coats donned a painful expression.
They had been assigned by the Chinese Academy of Science to research life, genetics, viruses, microorganism, chemicals, and so forth.
On the first day of their research, they were asked to study a case of infection.
Two days passed, there was little progress achieved.
“According to current data, it’s a completely unknown strain of virus which attacks the cerebrum through an unknown neuropathic pathway after entering the human body.
“Once inside the body, the virus affects the early stages of cell replication, destroying them in the process of entering the cerebrum.
“Then… the entire body stops functioning. There’s no heartbeat, no flow of blood, no cerebral activity… nothing. The virus leads to death.
“But it’s strange. The cerebrum remains dormant as if waiting for the virus to mutate and turn the cerebrum’s brain cells into a new organ. It’s remarkable. Humans no longer rely on oxygen for life.
“By eliminating the need for oxygen to live, the “dead” cerebrum have been rewired, acting through a highly independent path which is different from the complex physiological life functions of the human body.”
“That is to say… that the infected people in the quarantine zone are no longer human beings but are simply put, a walking corpse?” The old man asked nervously, fear filling the whole entirety of his body.
He’d gone to the quarantine this morning to take a look at the infected people and what he saw struck the core of his heart.
“Yes, their brains are severely damaged, only retaining the most basic biological functions of any creature such as walking. Though the cerebellum functions are largely preserved, it loses the coordination of the body and more importantly, they no longer feel pain nor fear.
“All they have is the congenital desire for human flesh and blood. When bitten by the infected, the virus will enter the human body and from there, the cycle repeats itself.”
“What is the status of the infection?” A voice asked.
“Not good. The government has been unable to control the spread of the infection. By large, the infections have multiplied exponentially. I fear that in less than two days time, the infection will spread into all corners of the street.
“We haven’t yet developed an antibody for the virus strain nor have we figured out where the source of the virus comes from.”
The plump middle-aged man who was the dean of the hospital counted the numbers of people infected.
He sighed and shortly glanced at the so-called researchers.
The resentment was clear in his eyes.
“Is the end of mankind coming?” The old man closed his eyes painfully.
He knew the origin and source of the new strain of virus but he could not tell them in order to avoid a great panic.
The more the old man knew, the more he understood the situation was getting out of control.