19 June, after 18:00
After observing Zhang Qian, Xue Li Hong slowly ambled his way out of the restaurant. Standing under the roof, he silently watched the dark rainwater fall onto the ground from the roof, slowly being absorbed into the earth.
There was no puddles of rainwater, and nary a sign of accumulation of rainwater on the floor.
Under normal conditions, if the rainfall was heavy, the rain would form some sort of puddle on the floor. But now, the earth was like a dry sponge thirsting for the rainwater, all the water was being absorbed and not a single drop was let off.
Was it that the earth was too dry, or the abnormal dark rainwater too penetrating?
Xue Li Hong observed the black rain washing through all kinds of buildings, vehicles and living beings. He looked for a while before discovering something. His face showed a trace of surprise and he immediately dug out a device from his haversack.
He collected some rainwater and placed it in the devices’ sample tray and pressed some buttons.
Five minutes later, the device spitted out a few pages of printout with multiple figures and several graphs.
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Dwl Nk Tsdt plakswpzu zssjle vbaswtb vbl plhlayz rytlp sq alrsav.
Mbl nsdvldvp sq vbl aykdoyvla olal vss ycdsaxyz; vblal olal lhld psxl nsxrsdldvp vbyv bl oyp wdyczl vs keldvkqu.
Jwv vbkp aykdoyvla…
Mbl jke elnkpkhlzu vwadle yde oyzjle cynj kdvs vbl alpvywaydv, cakdtkdt swv y nyasd sq lxrvu clla csvvzlp. Tl rzynle kv swv kd vbl aykd vs nszzlnv psxl xsal aykdoyvla pyxrzlp.
Jlpkelp vbl clla csvvzlp, bl yzps vssj swv y pxyzz csvvzl qasx bkp cynjrynj yde rzynle kv dlmv vs vbl lxrvu pvynj sq clla csvvzlp.
“Ebyv yal usw eskdt?”
“Lsvbkdt.” Mbl jke nszzlnvle vbl csvvzl sq aykdoyvla yde jlrv kv cynj kd bkp cynjrynj. Tl vwadle vs vbl xyd obs bye fwpv oyzjle swv, “Tso ycswv usw, psxlvbkdt sd?”
Xd vbl xyd’p qynl, kv oyp oakvvld hlau nzlyazu ‘R dlle y qyhswa’.
Xiao Mo nodded his head and recalled what the system offered him as a choice for the reward.
“Can you help me to analyze which reward is the best one to pick? I can’t decide.”
The kid brought out two plastic chairs and placed it under the eaves. He sat down on one of them, “Tell me the whole conversation you had between you and the system. The entire process.”
Xiao Mo glanced worriedly inside the restaurant, “Oh, could we go look for some medication first for the injured before I slowly explain it all to you?”
The kid was speechless. He had chosen this man to protect him for a while because he saw that he had a soft and kind heart. However, at certain times, like now, he felt that this soft heart was a major problem, and was causing him quite some headache. The kid did not know, Xiao Mo not only had a soft and gooey heart, but inside him, he also had a certain guilt that was pulling his heartstrings, making him all the more anxious. He wanted to do something to patch up the mistake he made, which was the first mission he missed, since he had no ability to turn back time.
“I’ll go with you to grab the medication.” Just nice, he could re-fill his own personal stock too. It was free anyways, and he did not mind grabbing more.
“The clinic is nearby; I will be back soon.” Xiao Mo thought that the kid had feared being left alone, so he quickly dug out the key to the 3rd level unit and passed it on to him. “You go up to level 3 and take a bath. Don’t take too long and catch a cold though. I will go to the supermarket to buy some children’s clothes for you to change.”
“We’re going together.”
“No.” Xiao Mo saw that the kid was entirely soaked. His heart felt a pang. Feeling sorry for the kid, he rubbed his head, “If you fall sick now, there is not even a doctor available for you. Be good and listen to me.”
He was focusing on his family and did not notice that the kid was with him all this while. He was also under the rain for 2 hours too. Luckily, it was summertime now and the temperature was still bearable.
“Bro, you’re so annoying.” The kid did not appreciate his care and concern at all.
“…” Xiao Mo turned and left to look for an umbrella. However, after walking 2 steps, he turned back and held the kid’s hand.
Just bring him along, or else who knows what the kid might do when he isn’t around. Wouldn’t want him to go around disturbing those cats and dogs. Or worse, do things that will cause more trouble and headache for him.
The kid looked at Xiao Mo’s big hand that engulfed his, before looking at his expression. The corner of his lips lifted up slightly. He held onto Xiao Mo’s hands tightly. The two of them jumped up and down across the living and non-living things that laid scattered on the road.
Xiao Mo was sighing in his heart. It sure was not easy raising a free son. As he thought, he tilted the black umbrella towards the kid more.
Xue Li Hong thought, how long can this man continue to treat him well? Especially during such chaotic times of the world. As he thought, he let it go. Only for a period, don’t be too bothered. Who knows? He may be the one that will leave him first.
The sad melody of the song sang by the great superstar Yue Wei Er was playing in the barbershop they passed. One could even hear it from the outside, about a heart-breaking love story that was sung in an emotional and deep, depressing voice.
Darkness, light, music, walking in the rain. If the one accompanying you was the right one, then it could be considered a romantic night. However, if the only conscious human around you was you yourself and a kid, and everyone else was motionless…
“All are drunk except me?” Xiao Mo unconsciously quoted a Chinese saying.
“It is the best time to rob.” The kid followed up with the next line.
“Nonsense!” Xiao Mo slapped the kid’s head and laughed uncontrollably. He pushed a stroller to the side of the road. Under the eaves, in the stroller, the baby was sleeping soundly and its mother was on the floor. Her face was facing down, so Xiao Mo kindly flipped her back up and dragged her to the side of the road.
Next to the baby stroller was a white van. The black rain flowing down the van’s body made the rain’s colour even more contrasting.
“The colour of the rain is funny.” Xiao Mo finally took notice that the rain was slightly different from the usual one. He stretched out a hand to catch some of the rain drops and went near to the shop to look at it under the lights. “It is black! Is this polluted rain? Will it cause harm to our body? Is it linked to this virus or is this another new type of virus?”
He was just rambling away and did not expect anyone to answer him. The system was heartless as usual and remained in silence.
“This rain is not related to the virus.” Unexpectedly, the kid answered him. He sounded so sure of his answer too.
“Oh, how do you know?” Xiao Mo tilted his head and glanced at the kid questioningly.
“According to the test results.”
“Test results? Exactly how high is your IQ?”
“Better than… Old Xiao, don’t move!” Xue Li Hong pulled Xiao Mo to one side.
Xiao Mo stopped, unintentionally lowering his voice, “What happened??”
The kid slowed down his breathing and lowered his voice even softer, “Look in front and don’t move. Lower your breathing.”
The two of them were standing at the same place and holding the umbrella. Xiao Mo felt as if all his pores had combusted open simultaneously.
The weather was terribly hot, but right now, he felt freezingly cold inside.
There was something at the side, right in front of the entrance to the narrow alley.
The ray of street light was projecting on to part of the body of the animal on the wall.
A bony wing was stretched out widely and vibrated slightly. The side view almost looked similar to an ancient western demon.
Cold sweat poured down Xiao Mo’s head.
He had not seen that thing, but from his heart, an impending sense of doom and pure horror had started spreading all over his body, making him unable to move a single inch.
He was unable to sense the kid’s breath at all. It was as if he had vanished, even though Xiao Mo knew in his mind that he was standing next to him all the time. It was like the kid had not existed at all.
Bathump, bathump. Xiao Mo could hear his own heart pounding pounding very hard and fast, he could almost hear the sound getting louder and louder.
He lost count of time, totally unaware of how long had pass.
Swat! The huge bony wing flapped once and disappeared deep into the alley.
Xiao Mo lightly breathed out and asked, “What was that?”
“I’m not sure. But I can sense that it’s very strong.”
Xiao Mo muttered, “The world had changed. All kinds of demons and monsters are out and about now!”
The kid abruptly threw his hand off and ran into the alley.
“Ah, come back!” Xiao Mo was worried sick for the kid. Fearing that he would come across danger, he quickly chased after him.
In the alley, a motorcycle was lying on the floor. Under the motorcycle, there was a lady. There was also a man and a young woman beside it too.
The smell of blood was strong and all three of them were injured.
Xiao Mo wanted to bypass the kid and check their conditions, but the kid had already stood up and announced, “They are all dead.”
Xiao Mo who was about to bend down froze in his tracks.
“All their brain matter and blood are gone too.”
“What did you say?”
“Look at their head, there is a hole right at the center of it, and then look at their skin. It had already started to shrink all the blood in their body have been drained dry.”
Xiao Mo’s pupils contracted, “You mean that thing that we didn’t know what it was, it was going around, sucking dry the people’s brains and blood?”
“The truth is right here.”
Xiao Mo pulled the kid and bolted out of the alley. It was way too dangerous there. Who knew if that d*med thing would come back or not.
Despite knowing that the system would not answer him, Xiao Mo still could not hold back and tried his luck. He ran while asking the system, “System, do you know what that is?”
“Have not seen the actual thing; unable to answer.”
Xiao Mo did not want to head to the clinic anymore. He felt like there were all kinds of monsters hiding in the endless darkness.
But he had to go.
Most of the people in the clinic were unconscious.
Xiao Mo quickly searched and obtained some commonly used medication and emergency items. He quickly threw a few bills and pulled the kid, intending to leave.
Xue Li Hong refused to move. He was trying to swipe some syringes and inflammation medicine as well as some other medication that Xiao Mo did not know of its uses.
“Ah! You really think this is free? It’s time to go back!” Xiao Mo had no choice but to put another 200 dollars on the counter. He grabbed hold of the kid and brought him out of the clinic by force.
The kid was unhappy, “Why are you still spending money? Are you foolish or stupid?”
“You are the foolish one! You think they won’t wake up? Be careful of the police catching you and beating your butt!”
“Are you kidding me? Even if everyone was awake, the police would have too much on their plates to stabilise the situation. Where do they even have the time to care about such a trifling matter.”
Xiao Mo put down the kid and gave him a whack on his butt. He then lectured, “Don’t think that it’s alright to do a small bad deed! Be careful or the demon will catch you if you do bad things!”
After saying that, Xiao Mo felt that is was too ominous and forbidding, and quickly spat twice.
The kid touched his butt and stared hard at Xiao Mo with a weird expression on his face, before holding up his head and walking off.
“What is that expression of yours?” Xiao Mo held onto the plastic bag and big black umbrella. He hurriedly chased after the kid, dumbfounded.
“Believe me or not, the first batch of survivals are already collecting their rewards. Well, most of them.” The kid turned around with his hand behind his back. He started leisurely walking backwards while he spoke.
“Others are others, and we’re ourselves. If eventually, everyone really… No need for you to say, and I will personally bring you around to plunder all those useful items. But not now alright, who knows, perhaps everyone will wake up tomorrow.”
Xiao Mo was worried that the kid will head down the wrong path in life, so he continued on, “Exactly how many first batch of survivors are there? The world is so big, how much resources could they collect?” He and the kid could wait.
“You might be right.” Xue Li Hong stopped, as though he had decided, he opened his mouth, “Actually, this rain…”
The kid did not finish his sentence before he closed his eyes and collapsed silently.
“Little Hong!” Xiao Mo was stunned. He frantically rushed out and grabbed the kid.