For the Cabbage
Zhang Xiao Qiang recovered, the half pack of instant noodles that he ate has been digested. He felt hunger even more strongly, so he had to force himself to not look at the desk that had the remaining instant noodles. He downed a glass of water, hoping that it can fill him up. Since the day of the crisis, half a month passed and everyday he woke up, reflecting. Is his current life a dream? The noodles are finished, the eggs are finished, there are 3 packs of instant noodles ; a pack for two and a half days and a pack for a day and a half. Before, he ate two bags plus two fried eggs as well.. He didn’t dare go out to search for food nor did he have the strength to run.
Watching his stomach slowly flatten, he used to try to lose weight but he couldn’t do it, but now he has already lost at least 5 pounds! That thought made him laugh, but also made him want to cry. Normally he doesn’t care much, but he didn’t know if his sister was alive or dead. He couldn’t stop thinking about that, because there was nothing to do these past 2 weeks so he just reminisced past events. Thinking about back when his parents were all together at home, thinking about his teachers, the first time he was bullied, when naughty girl tried to draw a turtle on his back, thinking about his classmates, even thinking about the street corner where he bought breakfast from sister Ba Dong. He kept trying to call his sister’s phone but no one picked up, he thought about the worst possible situations, but he did not give up hope for a miracle.
The zombies outside the window downstairs continued to wander, occasionally you could see nearby residents that are now infected. The streets were strewn with broken glass, torn clothes, some bones, different types of rubbish, there was also the burnt remains of a bus. A feeling of desolation gripped his heart when he thought about himself becoming a zombie, wandering the streets, when he thought about running out of food and starving to death, when he thought about close good friends becoming zombies and eating each other alive, the feelings of desolation quickly turned into feelings of despair. He numbly went to the kitchen and picked up a knife, slowly raising the knife to eye level. He was clutching the knife really hard to the point where his wrist hurts, but he couldn’t plunge the knife into his heart. He put down the knife and held his head then slid to the ground with his back to the wall, tears were streaming down his face, he’s so afraid of death that he didn’t have the courage to kill himself.
He hated that he was useless, that he wasn’t smart, that he can’t do any work, can’t even kill himself. He slowly calmed down, but then he thought about how 90% of people have mutated into zombies, and he was still alive! 6.3 billion people have been infected, and he was unharmed? Was this arranged by God? After thinking about it for a while he began to feel better, and looked at God’s [TL: Its what it says in the raw] watch on his phone; it was about 10 o’clock, if he didn’t want to starve to death he would have to go look for food. He would have to fight the zombies in fight or die situation. He went to the lobby and pulled aside the curtains, carefully ripping of a small piece of newspaper that he stuck onto the glass windows 2 weeks ago and looked out. He saw a few rows of cabbage in the middle of the garden platform, the sight caused him to start salivating. He observed the vicinity around the cabbages; there weren’t many zombies on the platform, the two houses opposite have a greenhouse built between them, with the door open on the balcony. The door that was open had a few zombies going in and out, the stairs for the platform had a zombie walking up and down the stairs, there were 7 altogether 1 near the stairs and 6 across at the other 2 houses. It takes 3 minutes to walk from the other side, his goal was to reach the middle of the platform where the cabbage are.
Going bare-handed against the zombies is not an option, the house doesn’t have any actual weapons, but he found the tools that his dad left behind. The first thing he saw was an 8 pound hammer, he lifted it and took a swing and shook his head; it was too heavy, he doesn’t have the strength, he could swing it 3 to 5 times but not anymore. As he continued to look, he pulled out another hammer, the weight was more appropriate. Then he went to the kitchen and picked up a steel pot lid to be used as a shield. He practiced in the living room to get a feel for the weapons and after he was ready, he prepared to leave. When he reached the door he began to hesitate, putting his hand on the doorknob and dropping it repeatedly, he thought that he would rather die in battle than of starvation. He said to himself “if it was meant to be, it will work out for the better”, and opened the door and went out.
Zhang Xiao Qiang planned to kill the zombie at the stairs first, as it was too close to the garden, then using the 1 minute that it will take for the zombies on the other side to reach he will take as much cabbage as possible. He was wearing army shoes, his dad’s army overcoat, and thick leather gloves. Whilst the zombies haven’t noticed, he quickly ran to the stairs. A zombie was coming up, noticing his scent the zombie rushed towards him threateningly. This was the first time he had seen the zombies up close; the skin was grey, the eyes were white and their mouth was wide enough to fit a fist. The mouth was filled with black teeth that were shaped like triangular knifes, the sight gave him the chills. As a strong stench wafted over, he felt nauseous. The zombie hit the pot lid shield and the shock of the impact cause him to take a step back, then he snapped back into his senses and his fighting spirit returned.
He moved his shield to the right and kicked the zombie in the chest and the zombie rolled down the stairs. There wasn’t any time to think so he quickly ran to the garden and laid down his weapons. He took out a snakeskin bag and pulled out the cabbage from the soil, putting it in the bag. In his peripheral vision he could see the zombies from the opposite side slowly walking towards him. Faster, faster, he panted as he put the cabbages in his bag, he relentlessly reached into the dark soil to find the roots so he could pull out the cabbages. He didn’t even feel the mud and leaf juice splashing into his eyes, he was only thinking of getting a few more, this was food, which is hope! The zombie was too close so he couldn’t continue to be greedy. He needed to go, grabbing the bag with one hand and the weapons with another he desperately started running towards the house. He saw the corridor opening right ahead and picked up speed, entered the corridor and started running towards his house.
Suddenly the opposite iron door opened, his neighbour had turned into a zombie with a dense stench, it turned and threw itself at him. The sharp claws were less than 10 centimetres away from his eyes, a chill ran through him, he wanted to scream but he couldnt make a sound, two words formed in his mind:
He fell back onto the floor and his shield was knocked away, the zombie missed, his brain was empty, and he kicked the zombie’s calf with both legs, throwing it off balance. As it fell towards him, he rolled to one side, using the hammer in his hand he hit the zombie’s body again and again and again, when he came back to his senses, the upper half of the zombies body was a bloody pulp, there was sticky black blood everywhere, with a strong stench that made his head feel like it was going to explode.
The platform on the opposite side of the zombie is only about 10 metres away from him. The 3 strong ones walked in front, behind them was a mutated elderly lady slowly following behind. When they caught his scent, they became very excited, because there was potential prey nearby. He jumped up from the ground. There was not enough time to get back the shield, so he just brought the bag back home.
Locking his entrance door, he leant against the iron gate. He deeply retched and took a few deep breaths. Zombie blood splashed on his body. He couldn’t stand the smell, so he promptly ran to the toilet to change clothes.
Zhang Xiao Qiang turned out the bag and neatly arranged it on the floor, there 11 cabbages, roughly 20 pounds. Outside the zombies were scratching the iron gate. Zhang Xiao Qiang for the first time, has confidence in continuing to live.