Luo Yuan punched the air relentlessly, which produced sounds like fireworks!
Sun Xiaowu who was standing at the passage entrance was watching the incredibly fast punches from Luo Yuan with eagerness; he then swallowed and passed a towel to Luo Yuan when he stopped huffing.
“What happened outside? What was causing all the noise?” he asked as Luo Yuan wiped his sweat with the towel he received.
This young man who had smashed the door out of anger earlier seemed to really admire Luo Yuan, he was aggressive and brute, but he was a simple man. Ever since he witnessed what Luo Yuan was capable of, he was enthusiastically trying to befriend Luo Yuan. Luo Yuan did not reject his friendship; instead, he tasked him to collect information.
“Someone passed away again. Those people who were starving are ruthless for a mouthful of food… recently a baby was stampeded on when they were fighting, it was terrible.” Sun Xiaowu spoke softly and continued, “But nobody dares to provoke us, a lot of people have been avoiding us after what they had witnessed.”
It has only been five days since Luo Yuan entered the dugout. With the depletion of food, irritable anxiety began to permeate the once peaceful dugout. Injuries and death were an everyday occurrence and the stench of decomposing corpses filled the air.
“What about Su Jianhao and his gang?” Luo Yuan asked.
“There has been no news from them, perhaps they are afraid. Other than Huang Chongshan and a few others, I haven’t seen anyone else the past few days. I’ve also collected the information you asked for… Su Jianhao used to be the boss of the Xingan Gang in Hedong City’s Anpu Area but he gradually turned the gang legal a few years ago. I heard that he had killed a few people before.”
Luo Yuan nodded and after some thought lifted his head and spoke, “Tell the people outside who want to follow me that we will depart later this afternoon.”
“We’re leaving this dugout?” Sun Xiaowu asked alarmingly.
He nodded and took a sip from his bottle before resuming his workout. He had said what was needed to be said. It was up to them if they could discern the situation or wanted to listen.
The strong gust of the wind from Luo Yuan’s punches made Sun Xiaowu’s clothes flutter. He slowly calmed down after looking at Luo Yuan who was inhumanely strong, “I understand, I will go and inform the others now.”
Luo Yuan did not say anything else as he continued punching.
“Why are we leaving? It’s dangerous to be outside. The man-eating mutated beasts are everywhere. We finally made it to this dugout, why are we going out again?” A young woman asked anxiously.
“Yeah, Xiaowu, please talk to Boss Luo. Why take the risk? The conditions here are bad but at least we are safe. Where will we go once we leave? What will we eat?”
“Why can’t you understand that the food here is limited? A lot of people are already beginning to starve! We need to leave here sooner or later, why not now?” Sun Xiaowu said loudly.
“I understand this logic but I don’t plan to go out anymore. I have heart problems; I won’t be able to withstand the environment outside. Actually, what would we do when we leave? Maybe we will die as soon as we leave. If I remain here I may survive for a few more days, that itself is enough for me to stay.” A middle-aged man sighed in reply.
Everyone could understand the situation easily. It was just that if one had to choose between temporary enjoyment and a future filled with danger, most of the people would lean towards the former. The future was uncertain, only the present was real. He really did not want to leave. This place was almost like heaven compared to the world outside. His heart thumped faster just from the thought of that gory night.
“I’m not leaving either. I’m fat and won’t able about to run fast. I’ll only slow you all down if I follow” a plump middle-aged man shook his head after being in a daze.
“If Boss Luo can guarantee our safety, we will leave,” a young man in a blue tracksuit responded in a soft voice.
Before Sun Xiaowu could say anything, Huo Dong who wanted to stand out sneered loudly, “Very funny, no one is begging you to leave. Who do you think you are to Boss Luo? Did you give him money or save his life? We can still breathe and have something to eat now thanks to Boss Luo. It’s fine if you don’t plan to repay his kindness but don’t drag him behind, you’re so ungrateful!”
“Please don’t distort the trust… it’s up to you to kiss someone’s feet but don’t use me as your stepping stone. Since Boss Luo is asking us to leave, he should at least be responsible for our safety. Otherwise, who would follow him?” He defended himself and flustered while despising gaze landed on him from all around.
“Ren Qi, are you able to kill mutated beasts or humans? Look at you, fair-skinned and young, you probably couldn’t even kill a chicken! What can you do besides selling your ass? Trash like you regard yourself too highly,” Huo Dong Sneered. He initially had the intention to entertain but he was really angered now that he met such an unreasonable person.
The man named Ren Qi was furious and charged forward but was tripped by god knows who and fell to the ground. Everyone around him scattered and not one soul was willing to lend him a hand.
A girl hesitantly walked over to help him but was pushed away. She almost slipped as she staggered a few steps back. Her eyes started to get filled with tears.
“Ning Xiaoran, I don’t need your fake sympathy. Does every one of you see me as a joke? Just you wait, all of you will regret this,” he angrily stared at everyone around him as if he wanted to remember every single person before he shoved aside those watching and left.
Luo Yuan wiped his machete and sheathed it back into its scabbard.
His possessions were scarce… only a tent and a backpack.
Luo Yuan had initially wanted to leave the tent behind but thought that it might come in handy in case of emergencies and so he packed it along.
The tent looked big but once folded, it was only the size of a duffel bag. It was light and did not hinder his movements. Besides, the distance would be short if everything went smoothly. It would take at most 2 – 3 hours to reach Jingyue residential area.
Some 20 – 30 came together but only 5 left in unison now.
Other than Huo Dong, Sun Xiaowu and 30-year-old Chen Xianfeng who was rather expressionless, there were also two other women. From Luo Yuan’s memory, one of them was the lady who reminded them about this dugout earlier. She was pretty judging from Sun Xiaowu’s passing glances. The other one looked young, about 18 – 19 years old, and was quiet and small like a student.
Everyone was watching them with mixed emotions; their stares had a hint of sympathy.
“Only these few?” Luo Yuan asked.
“Most of them didn’t want to leave,” Huo Dong said.
Luo Yuan scanned the crowd as they tried to avoid his gaze. He sighed inwardly thinking, everyone has their own choice. Who would know who was right and wrong? Perhaps staying here was the best choice for them.
“You pick your own road, now let’s leave!” Luo Yuan inhaled deeply and said.
The crowd sent them away. For some, their hearts faintly regretted the decision to stay.
Su Jianhao’s brows were locked together. He was basically smoking cigarette after cigarette. Within a few days, he became thin and seemed to have aged several years. Every day he was woken up by nightmares, constantly feeling the chill down his throat. It was driving him nuts. He didn’t even dare to go out. To the people outside, he would say it was because his son had a strange high fever; but on the inside, he was really scared and did not dare to meet the man.
If it had been in his old days, he would have stood up against Luo Yuan without hesitation. Everyone would have been afraid when the name ‘Lunatic Hao’ from Xingan Gang was mentioned last time.
The aggression and bravery from his youth had been washed away by age, especially since he had gone legal for several years now, being as businessman-like as he could be. He knew how to calculate gains and loss, and discerned when to tolerate or retreat.
Suddenly, the doors were pushed open with a bang! Su Jianhao almost jumped with a twitch, but seeing that it was only Huang Chongshan, he said unhappily, “How many times have I told you… knock before you come in.”
“They left…They finally…” Huang Chongshan could not even register what he had just said, his body was trembling from excitement and suddenly he realized the implications of his words. He swallowed the other half of his sentence and took a breather before saying, “They finally…ran, do we chase after them?”
“Left?” Su Jianhao was surprised, and continued, “They come and go as they wish! These scums must have enjoyed themselves the past few days, eh? A dozen of them must have already died by now, right? Discarding their bodies all over the place and making the dugout smell so bad. If I wasn’t so busy with my things recently, I’d have gone against them.”
A dozen? But he only killed one person, Huang Chongshan thought. His boss seems to have gotten it wrong. Yet from his many years of experience being Su Jianhao’s right wing man, Huang Chongshan knew him inside out. He knew that he should only go along with the words that were spoken and smiled, “Brother Hao, you should have stood out earlier. Then we will see who would dare to defy you and I’ll shoot them down.”
“Right, so who wanted to leave? They must have guts for not being afraid to be eaten by the beasts,” Su Jianhao calmed down after venting and said calmly.
“It’s the murderous devil, he just left.”
“Murderous devil…” Su Jianhao was stunned before suddenly standing, the ashes from the cigarette in his hand began to scatter, “The murderous devil you mean, That Luo something?”
“Boss Luo… that Luo Yuan guy, he just left.” Huang Chongshan said once more in agitation.
“His reaction was pretty fast,” Su Jianhao’s eyebrows raised as he sneered and took a long drag from his cigarette.
In an instant, Huang Chongshan could feel the return of the old Brother Hao. He was filled with high spirits and his interlocking brows smoothened. Even the wrinkles between his eyes were radiating with joy. The gloomy cloud that had been looming over him these recent days was gone in the blink of an eye. Huang Chongshan quickly retracted his gaze, lowering his head slightly to conceal what he was thinking.
“How long has he been gone?” Su Jianhao asked.
“About ten minutes ago, I was the one who opened the door for him.” Huang Chongshan said smiling as he elaborated once more, worried that his boss would misunderstand, “Initially, the Luo…loser was about to break the lock with his sharp knife.”
“Forget it, I don’t blame you guys. No use throwing your lives away for such petty things.” Su Jianhao said generously.
“Thank you for your consideration, Brother Hao. Some of them didn’t leave with him though. Should we still continue to send them meals after this?” Huang Chongshan asked.
“Send them meals? Are you f*king stupid? Do you think my food drops from heaven!?” Su Jianhao said furiously,” I’m glad they didn’t leave… I want them to vomit whatever food they’ve eaten from me, especially the rice we provided them.”
Of course, he had only sent them meals before when the murderous devil was still here as he posed a big threat. Now that the devil has left, if he continued to provide food for them, that would only show that he, Su Jianhao, was utterly scared of the devil. That would not sit well with those who had been following him. Without enforcing authority, they would no longer stay loyal to him. He would not only stop providing meals to them but also get payback.
“I understand.” Huang Chongshan understood more than what was being said, “Do you want me to call them over?”
“No, that would be regarding them too highly. Let them starve for a few more days. They can go and steal the food if they don’t get to eat. There are too many people here anyway; we can clear a bunch of them through this. After that, we will finish off those who don’t obey us by seizing their food. By then, we will be in total control of this dugout. In this era, whoever has the food is the boss… unless you plan to die from starvation,” Su Jianhao said coldly.
“Would this end up getting out of hand?” Even Huang Chongshan who had experienced dark days before could still feel chills just thinking about the number of deaths that was bound to happen.
“What’s there for us to be afraid of when we have guns? The society is wretched now. Nobody would care even if everyone here dies,” Su Jianhao said indifferently.