Luo Yuan felt very energetic despite the fact that he had not slept the entire night. After breakfast, he took some money with him and set out to explore the district. Soon enough, he had found the location of every single food market in the district. There was always a big crowd inside food markets, but the layout was arranged to fit all the stalls perfectly. Luo Yuan entered the market to check it out, and he discovered that there was a purchasing limit there just like in Donghu City. However, the purchasing limit was a lot higher than the one in Donghu City. Plus, identity cards were not required and everyone could purchase up to 25 kilos of food.
Apparently, there was no shortage of food in Hedong City, which was probably due to certain policies that had been established to provide the capital with a large quantity of food supplies. Of course, the main reason was the fact that the largest granary of the military base in the province was located in the city. The whole market was brimming with the awful smell of food packaging. Some of the dried food had been in storage for more than 10 years. Previously, all this food had been used to produce fodder, but now it had become the kind of food that everyone struggled to get their hands on. Five hundred grams of food stamps were equivalent to five hundred grams of food, and the price of fresh food was 1.5 times higher than the price of canned food.
According to the information on the posters inside the food market, this amount of food could sustain three million people for a year. Of course, there was the possibility that the government-issued posters were not telling the truth. However, in the worst case scenario, it would still be possible to sustain three million people for half a year. Luo Yuan was surprised to see there was even a stall selling maize. He was amazed by the size of the fresh corn, which was quite different because it had mutated. Each corncob was about 65cm long and each corn kernel was just as big. It smelled so good it made people drool. However, there were more people looking at it than actually buying it.
Luo Yuan squeezed through the crowd to check the price on it. He was shocked. One had to pay 2,500 grams of food stamps for 500 grams of corn, and it was mandatory to buy a whole corncob. Each corncob weighed about 3 kilos, which was equivalent to 15 kilos of dry food. Daily food expenses already cut away a big portion of the average citizen income. No one could afford to buy such expensive corn. Apparently, this kind of corn was new to the market and most people questioned its selling price as they thought it should not be that high. It didn’t make any sense considering corn was easy to plant, especially during that period of time when it was growing taller and wasn’t affected by weeds anymore. Most people actually thought maize would soon replace paddies and become the main food source.
In the end, the official operations manager had gotten so annoyed by the crowd’s questions that he said, “Indeed, corn stalks grow very quickly and can grow up to three or four meters tall. Maize is also the only plant that can grow in almost any type of soil. However, what you aren’t aware of is its low pollination and fertilization probability. A corn plant can only grow one corncob and most of them don’t even succeed at that. Anyway, this is just the first batch of corn. The scientists in the Ministry of Agriculture are trying to modify the seed, and the price will go down when the quantity increases.”
After listening to what the manager had said, Luo Yuan realized that he had not seen any plant bearing fruit or flowers ever since the mutation had begun.
Survival and reproduction were related to genes and there used to be no conflict between the two in the past as reproduction was a process necessary for survival. However, all living things were undergoing evolution and every single species had to find a way to survive. In order to obtain a competitive advantage, they had to sacrifice a lot of energy and put on hold the fertilization or pollination process. Similarly, when a new employee entered a very competitive company, the first thing that came to mind was how to survive and remain in the company. Only after they had achieved that, did anyone start to think about a promotion or a raise.
When he left, Luo Yuan walked to a second wet market about 10 meters away from the first one. Vegetables were the core products there. The prices were quite affordable and the sizes relatively big. There were many vegetables which were about 4 kilos in weight, but those with intricate small netted veins on the leaves did not taste good and were difficult to swallow. The quantity of the meat was relatively smaller. There was mutated pork, chicken, duck and a few other animals. Luo Yuan secretly identified the different kinds of meat and discovered that all of them were white ranked meat. None of them was light blue. All kinds of meat were very expensive, costing around 3000 grams of food stamps for 500 grams.
He actually wanted to buy some, but he could only walk around as he did not have any food stamps. He walked out of the market and went straight to the bank. It would be tough to live in Hedong City without any food stamps, but Luo Yuan did not plan on exchanging all his money for them. He realized that all food stamps there were being issued by Hedong City and could not be used in other places. Therefore, even if his money was depreciating, that was still better than what would happen if some kind of tragedy befell Hedong City and caused all food stamps to become worthless. In the end, he exchanged 1000 kilos of food stamps for CNY 46,000. Now he had less than CNY 80,000 left in his bank account.
He thought the food stamps plus the food he had stored up should be enough to sustain them for a long period of time. There was some kind of commotion when Luo Yuan walked out of the bank. There was a big group of people outside who looked like refugees. As they walked in his direction, he noticed that there were several blood stains on their shirts. A few of them looked extremely depressed and teary-eyed while the rest looked anxious and grateful.
“Who are those people?” Luo Yuan asked a middle-aged man who seemed to be watching them too.
“They are refugees from Donghu City,” the middle-aged man replied, looking disgusted. Apparently, he was not happy as he went on, “Seems like they got attacked on the highway and some of them died.”
“This is just the second batch. I heard there will be a third and fourth one coming. I can’t imagine what life will be like in the coming days,” a guy in spectacles who looked like a university student joined the conversation.
“I think they really shouldn’t help them. There are so many people in the province. Is the government going to move all of them to Hedong City?” a woman said as she stared at the refugees.
Luo Yuan could understand their concern. It was like a poor suffering family hearing that there would be several strangers coming to their house to stay and eat for free for an unknown period of time. It was normal for them to feel appalled and insecure. However, even though Luo Yuan understood how they felt, he was still quite mad to hear them say that they wanted the refugees to die. After all, he was also a refugee from Donghu City.
“I’m also a Donghu City citizen!” Luo Yuan said, glaring at the people around him. Since his knife skill was at expert level, he looked even scarier. That made things worse as he was not able to fully control and master his emotions. A few people nearby looked very pale while others looked extremely frightened. One of them, who had a heart condition, touched his chest and fell to the ground.
The onlookers shouted, “Murder! Help! Help!”
“Help! Officer! Someone has been killed here!”
Some people responded quickly by starting to shout cruel words, but no one dared try to catch him. Luo Yuan was stunned. He had not expected that to happen. A few security guards were made aware of the incident, but they seemed hesitant to check it out. Luo Yuan quickly squeezed into the crowd to avoid getting into trouble. He managed to escape in less than a minute, and he headed straight home. He was worried that he might get arrested. When he got home and entered the living room, he found some fresh meat and vegetables on the table along with a big cob of corn.
“You’re back!” Huang Jiahui had heard him and immediately come out of the kitchen wearing an apron.
“Did you buy these?” Luo Yuan asked while he pointed at the groceries on the table.
“Of course I did!” Huang Jiahui replied.
“I meant, how come you still have money? I totally forgot that you have a bank card. By the way, how much money do you have left?” Luo Yuan asked as he smiled awkwardly.
“My account still has about 1.7 million. I just withdrew 100,000 to exchange it for food stamps. Why?” Huang Jiahui asked him.
Luo Yuan was quite surprised. He had not expected Huang Jiahui to have so much in savings. However, when he thought about the chaotic situation earlier, he said, “I think it might be better for you to withdraw all your money from the bank. I’m afraid you might no longer be able to withdraw it in the near future.”
Huang Jiahui seemed worried by this possibility. She frowned and said, “Withdrawing money doesn’t seem safe either. Money depreciates faster than gold and antiques. Maybe we can still exchange money for gold at the bank.”
Huang Jiahui was more knowledgeable than Luo Yuan, who was actually quite young compared to her. She had immediately come up with a solution to preserve her money’s value.
“Shall we go out? It’s still early for breakfast,” Huang Jiahui said as she lingered around the house.
“Maybe another day. I got into some trouble earlier and I don’t think it’s safe for me to go out yet.”
Luo Yuan smiled awkwardly again as he realized he had crossed the line outside the bank earlier. He doubted the guy could have survived his chest pain.