It was already seven days after the appearance of the mutated mosquitoes but the situation was not getting any better. The whole city was like a ghost town and nobody could be seen on the streets.
“Mom, I’m very hungry!” A fat kid of about five years old said pitifully.
“Be good, my little Yu, and wait a little longer as it is not dinner time yet!” Yu’s mom responded.
“But I didn’t eat any rice during lunch! I’m so hungry that my stomach hurts!” The little boy, Yu, said bitterly while he was playing with his remote-control car which had now run out of battery.
The eyes of little Yu’s mom turned red and she looked at Huang Wei. He sighed and nodded saying, “alright, go cook then. We’ll sleep earlier tonight.”
“Oh! Finally, I can eat!” Little Yu threw the remote-control car aside and jumped for joy.
Little Yu’s mom sighed, stood up, walked to the almost empty rice bag and scooped a small cup of rice. Then, after some thought, she poured half of it back before she went to wash it in the kitchen. After she put the rice on the wok, she added in three large bowls of water, started the gas, and began cooking.
After half an hour, she scooped three bowls of porridge and put them on the table. She weakly uttered, “it’s time to eat.”
As Huang Wei and his son walked over, he noticed the porridge on the table was as clear as water. He asked in surprise: “Do we not have any rice left?”
“We only have about five scoops left and we don’t know how long this situation will last.” Little Yu’s mother sighed heavily while she replied and continued, “We should save as much as we can now.”
Huang Wei nodded in disappointment. Fortunately, they had bought a packet of rice weighing about 20 catties prior to the incident. They thought the chaos would end soon but instead the number of mutated mosquitoes increased every day.
Other than the first few meals of rice the three of them managed to have at the beginning, they had been eating porridge every day. Even a person with a strong body cannot survive over a long period of time solely on porridge. It was only the fifth day so far, but only their son was still about the same size. Both of them had clearly lost weight. Sadly, their rice grains were also depleting soon.
Little Yu was slurping the porridge and had forgotten all about his toy. Even for a kid who is very particular about food, he enjoys anything edible when he is starving.
As he looked at his son who was gulping down the porridge which was still hot, he kept silent for a while and said, “I’ll try to borrow some food from Mr. Wang opposite us!”
“Do they still have rice?” Little Yu’s mom asked.
“They should have since they managed to buy a lot before the incident. I think they’d still have some. I’m also quite close to Mr. Wang. If we can’t borrow, maybe we can buy some even though the price is high.” Huang Wei comforted them though he himself was not certain. After all, it was not the good old days and food today was more expensive than gold as it was more scarce and necessary for survival. Nobody would lend food to you unless you are their relative or their friend.
He and Mr. Wang actually just got to know each other as he used to sell him insurance. Mr. Wang might be annoyed with him now since he had lost all his money in insurance now that there are no insurance companies around anymore. Huang Wei was weighing the personal gains and losses as he thought more about when he wanted to request for help.
He blew gently towards the porridge to cool it down before quickly swallowing it into his stomach. As he ate, he felt even hungrier. His stomach was growling and rumbling with pain. He touched his disappearing belly which he used to try hard to lose, stood up slowly and said: “I’ll go opposite and ask.”
He walked to the wardrobe to put on a raincoat and a pair of boots. Then, after some thought, he wore a helmet as well although he was unsure if it could protect him from the mosquitoes.
“Please be careful. Come back quickly!” Little Yu’s mom said worriedly.
“It will be alright. The government’s campaign vehicle said that those mutated mosquitoes can’t bite through a raincoat.” Huang Wei smile insincerely, took a deep breath, opened the door and closed it as fast as he could.
He looked around the corridor carefully and when he found that there were no mutated mosquitoes, he walked quickly to the house opposite his and knocked on the door gently saying, “Mr. Wang, are you home?”
After about 10 seconds, a reply came from the inside, “Who is it?”
“Mr. Wang, it’s me, Huang Wei from the opposite you!” he quickly replied.
“Why aren’t you accompanying your wife and son at home? Aren’t you afraid of being bitten to death by those mutated mosquitoes?” Mr. Wang said with a teasing tone but he did not seem to want to open the door.
Huang Wei was lost for words. After hesitating for a few seconds, he found the courage to say, “I was forced to… We no longer have rice and we have been eating porridge for a few consecutive days. I’m here to buy some rice from you. At a good price of course.”
Mr. Wang’s wife suddenly entered the conversation and she asked in a low voice, “What does that Huang Wei want from you?”
“He said he wants to buy some rice, shall we sell him some?” Mr. Wang whispered.
“Why should we? We don’t have enough ourselves. Who knows how many days such conditions will last? If we don’t have rice by that time, what shall we eat?”
They argued for a while and Huang Wei anticipated bad news.
“Huang Wei, I understand that you won’t borrow rice from us if you don’t really need it but we don’t have much rice too as we have four family members who need to eat every day. I’m sorry, why don’t you try to ask someone else? I’m so sorry!” Mr. Wang said embarrassedly.
“Oh, it’s alright, it’s alright. I understand that you have your problems as well.” Huang Wei said insincerely again.
He stood there for a while, sighed and walked back to his house. As he was about to take out the keys to open the door, he heard the conversation inside and stopped moving.
“When will dad come back with borrowed rice?” His son asked in a clear voice.
“Soon, then we can have a nice meal.”
“Can I have the rice instead of porridge?” his son asked with hope.
“Sure!” his wife paused and continued, “but only for a meal.”
“Oh, that’s great! But why isn’t dad home yet?”
He slowly squatted down while leaning against the wall and sighed. Then, he stood up abruptly and went upstairs. He did not believe that out of the many people in this building, nobody would sell him some.
“150, 151, 152…”
Luo Yuan was doing push-ups in the living room and his speed was so fast that he can do about 5 push-ups a second. Sweat was dripping down his back and his fair skin appeared to be coated with a layer of oil. He still kept going like a flawless speedy yet accurate machine.
His back muscles were like the two wings, contracting and relaxing along with his actions which also pulled other long and narrow muscles together forming a dense muscle network.
Wang Shishi was standing at the corner and watched Luo Yuan secretly. As she was in her adolescent period, she was curious but felt shy. Additionally, the sounds which occasionally came from Luo Yuan’s bedroom further intensified her curiosity. She took a deep breath, rolled her eyes, and walked into the living room boldly to Luo Yuan’s side while trying to act normally.
At that moment, Luo Yuan stopped. He was panting heavily, grabbed a towel to wipe his sweat away and wanted to take a bath.
“Brother Luo, aren’t you doing push-ups anymore?” Wang Shishi stared at Luo Yuan’s body and acted like she was surprised.
“No!” Luo Yuan was panting so heavily that he could not speak. This high intensity training tested his stamina and he was already exhausted in less than a minute. However, considering he went from 170 fast push-ups at the beginning to 200 times now, he has already shown a slight improvement.
The best training method for him was to do short distance sprints which will lead to heavy panting like a dog after a few seconds. However, it was still daytime and someone would notice him even though there weren’t any people on the street. Thus, he dared not practice sprinting on the street or he might be seen as a mutated person and get into trouble.
His stamina was the restraining factor to all his status points. His body was like a machine with a flaw since it could only work at full power for less than a minute, thus limiting his abilities. Because of this, it did not matter to him whether it was day or night, as long as his physical strength recovers he will continue training his stamina.
Though the mutated mosquitoes outside threatened the life of normal people, they were not able to go near a person who had already mastered sword fighting. Once he entered the state of combat, his surrounding would become very quiet and all the insects would retreat. Occasionally, some unlucky mutated mosquitoes might go too near and later find themselves lying on the floor.
After successfully controlling his powers before, he basically spent his nights outside every day. Even though the blazing light from the blade of the Zhanmadao was surprisingly powerful, it could not help much in actual battles due to his current constraints because nobody would give you enough time to focus your power in an intense battle!
Though he managed to kill the huge lizard, it was mainly down to luck. After all, it was dizzy and fell on the floor as it was hit by the high explosive bomb and grenade which gave Luo Yuan a good opportunity to attack it. However, if it could dodge Luo Yuan’s attacks, his rhythm would be interrupted and he would not able to focus anymore.
Therefore, what Luo Yuan needed to do was to shorten the time taken to focus from more than 10 seconds down to only a second so that he can control his power at any time. However, maybe this was all wishful thinking. Luo Yuan felt disappointed with the results of his training even though he had been practicing for a few days.