Chapters 26, 27 and 28

“Can zombies swim?” Baishe asked me as we put the oxygen tanks back on.

I tried to recall all the ancient books I had read, but there didn’t seem to be any records of zombies swimming in any of them. But now that they were dead, it should be impossible for them to drown.

“The dead are heavy, the dead are very heavy.” Fatty said. “When that thing goes into the water, it’ll sink to the bottom. It doesn’t stand a chance.”

Even our whispers echoed in the cave, making it sound like a lot of people were whispering. It was really creepy. Or maybe it felt that way because my pores had shrunk after I got out of the water, and my body was feeling colder and colder.

Fatty found the sound interesting, and said another sentence: “Wu Xie’s a little bitch.” The whole cave reverberated with the subtle sound.

I glared at him and put on my goggles, but Fatty grabbed my hand with a serious expression.

“It might not necessarily be Chen Pi Ah Si. Are you really going to look?”

“You mean it could be Little Brother?”

Becoming an old zombie underground was a really suitable ending for him. But it was impossible.

The pebbles made it difficult to walk with flippers, so we all sank down into the water.

The part along the rock wall wasn’t deep, which made it difficult to maneuver. We could move forward by using our hands to pull us along the bottom of the beach. I got used to it and swam to the place where the old man was standing.

When I swam to the place where I thought he was, I turned on the flashlight, held the beach bottom with one hand, and slowly lifted half my face out of the water. I stuck my other hand out of the water and shined the flashlight over there.

The place where the naked old man had been standing just now was empty.

Gone? I wondered. Fatty and Baishe also raised their heads out of the water. We looked around, but didn’t find any signs of the old man.

“Did he go for a walk?” Fatty shut down the oxygen tanks and lifted his upper body out of the water. “Hey, this old man is pretty quick.”

I estimated how much time had passed since we put the diving suits on. We didn’t spend a lot of time doing it, so we couldn’t go far.

Fatty looked to me to see what we should do. I had to find some clues, so I shined my flashlight underwater. I looked around and suddenly saw a head in the distant water that was about two people away.

The head and face were covered in hair, so I couldn’t see what it looked like, but I could see the shadow of its torso underwater. The nails were very long and curling like aquatic plants after soaking in the water for so long.

“Grandpa, are you taking a bath?” Fatty whispered. “Why don’t you ask him if he wants his back rubbed?”

We were in an awkward position. We had flippers on our feet and the heavy oxygen tanks didn’t have any buoyancy. We were just like stranded fish in shallow waters. We couldn’t stand up and run away, nor could we swim fast.

I motioned with my head, and the three of us slowly retreated to where the water was deeper so we could sink down.

I pulled my flashlight beneath the water, and then moved closer. In two steps, the light beam passed through the muddy water and showed the portion of the corpse that was underwater.

From where it was standing in the water, I could see that its skin was wrinkled and pale, and it almost looked like a skinny wax figure soaked in formaldehyde.

I saw a tattoo on his body, but it definitely wasn’t a Qilin. It looked like something from the old society. It was a very pale cyan, but I couldn’t see what it was because of the wrinkles.

It was Grandpa Si. Even though I couldn’t see his face or eyes, I definitely recognized these tattoos.

Fatty pulled me away quickly, but at that moment, I saw something hanging around the corpse’s neck.

I squinted, but couldn’t see what it was. I had a hunch that the rope still hanging around its neck after so long was of exceptional quality, which meant that the thing it was holding must be very important.

I pointed to the thing around its neck, but Fatty shook his head. I pointed again, but Fatty still shook his head. I glanced at Baishe and pointed to the thing around its neck, but Fatty and Baishe both shook their heads.

I shook Fatty’s hand off, sank down until I was on the bottom of the river, and tried to dive behind Grandpa Si. There was a sudden jolt in the water, and my vision was obscured by the bubbles that immediately formed. I froze where I was and saw that Grandpa Si had disappeared from right in front of me. At the same time, I noticed a shadow swimming in the water that moved just like a sea monkey.

It’s not a zombie, I thought to myself as I suddenly recalled Grandpa’s will.

This thing wasn’t a zombie, but something else.

It was too late to think carefully about what was on my mind. Baishe was the first to respond, and disappeared from my side as soon as there was movement in the water. Fatty and I swam towards the deeper section of water, and saw two white shadows flash past us in the flashlight’s beam. Baishe had ran away in an instant. It seemed that when he found out the zombie could swim, he immediately utilized his strengths to slip away.

I really didn’t know what to do. Whether it was the first or last time I had encountered this kind of thing, I always adopted the same strategy—run. When Fatty and I looked at each other, I immediately calmed down, and my reasoning instantly returned.

Don’t think about anything, run first!

Fatty and I swam back wildly and followed Baishe’s shadow all the way to the shallows. Fatty dumped his oxygen tank and flippers, looked up and saw that Baishe was already climbing up the mountain wall, and then immediately followed him.

I shed my flippers and stepped into the waist-deep water to catch up, when suddenly, there was a wave of water around me, and my ankle rubbed against something strange. Then, a strong force pulled me directly into the water.

As I struggled to get up, my respirator fell out of my mouth and I was surrounded by bubbles. In a panic, I saw a pair of blank, pupil-less white eyes appear among the bubbles.

Then, the great force pulled me to the bottom of the river. I felt a sharp pain in my ankle, and knew I had obviously been hooked by something.

The last time I tried to get out of the water, I saw Fatty jump down and rush at me, but then I was dragged deeper into the depths. The last bit of reasoning I held onto made me grab the breathing tube and shove it into my mouth.

I started to spin, and my head kept hitting the bottom of the beach. I could feel myself being pulled into a narrow gap, and managed to grab my flashlight. I knew this was my only hope. As long as I had two or three seconds, I could come up with a solution, but I would need light to do it.

I quickly found, however, that my grip wasn’t as strong as before—probably because of the fracture—and then the flashlight was knocked out of my hand. I watched as it quickly fell away, and then everything became dark.

I exhaled in the chaos, and the oxygen tank’s warning light came on. I soon found that inhaling wasn’t as effective as before—there was no oxygen.

I immediately broke out in a cold sweat and forced myself to be quiet. Once I slowed my breathing and stopped struggling, I found that it was very quiet all around. I slowly felt the rocks on the bottom of the river. I couldn’t see anything besides the oxygen tank’s warning light, but based on the speed at which the stones swept across my face and the current, I knew that I was moving very quickly through the water.

I didn’t know how long it took— maybe only a minute or two— but I felt as if I was being dragged in the dark water for a long time. My body temperature dropped rapidly, and my sense of touch and consciousness began to blur.

I quickly regained my senses, and found that I felt warm. I didn’t know how much time had passed. It was like I had nodded off a bit while driving, but when I woke up, I felt as if I had slept for a long time.

I noticed that the respirator wasn’t in my mouth, but I could breathe just fine.

My face hurt.

I opened my eyes and found that the oxygen tank’s red warning light was illuminating a small area. My upper body was out of the water, but my lower body was so cold that I could feel my ankle throbbing.

I tried to get up with one arm—I couldn’t even tell which—but found that I didn’t have any strength at all.

I tried the breathing method Black Glasses taught me as I worked to move my whole body. After a short amount of time, I finally started to regain feeling in all of my limbs and sat up.

I found that the oxygen tank itself was missing, and all I was left with were some accessories hanging on my diving suit.

I touched the ground and found that it was a slate.

I picked up the oxygen tank’s warning light, and felt as if I were picking up a star in the universe. I touched the gap in the slate and stuck the red light close, trying to make myself remember.

This was a man-made building, and considering how dark it was, it had to be underground. In this underground area, the only man-made building was the imperial tomb. I screwed up. I didn’t have any lighting, and the warning light would go out in twenty hours at most. I could only continue to grope around in the dark while I waited for Fatty and Xiao Hua to find me again. I didn’t know how long it would take, but maybe I would get closer to that door in the meantime.

As long as I could take a look around and know where I was…

If I was already within the imperial tomb of the Yin and Shang dynasties, then I could deduce countless routes and even walk around blind in the dark.

I didn’t know why, but I suddenly smiled.

It wasn’t like anyone could see it in the dark anyways.

My eyes slowly adapted to the absolute darkness, and the oxygen tank’s red warning light helped illuminate the fuzzy outlines of my surroundings.

I took off my diving suit. The temperature around me was so low that I could breathe out white puffs of air, but I obviously couldn’t see them clearly.

I took the oxygen light, walked a few steps forward, saw a stone wall, and walked a few steps back. I was on a step sticking out of the water.

I immediately discovered that I was on a long, wide step that extended all the way up from the water. But there were a lot of other incomplete square stones sticking out of the water, all of varying sizes. The big ones were as big as trucks, and the small ones were the size of gravel. They were all stones that had rolled down from a collapsed building above the steps. These collapsed stones were blocking the only way up the steps.

I looked at it bit by bit with the oxygen light, and found that I kept kicking something at my feet. I glanced down at the ground, and saw a lot of metal sheets, traces of bonfires, and some empty rusted cans.

There was some rotting leather on a rock with some fungi growing out of it, and a lot of broken bones.

Someone had been living here. And based on the number of broken bones, they must have lived here for some time. It was probably Chen Pi Ah Si.

It was a miracle that he had such a strong sense of survival when he was so old. Of course, I had no idea know why. At that time, I felt that his body was in a constant state between death and life, but his physical strength wasn’t like an old man at all.

I slowly probed forward with the oxygen light, and saw a pair of bare feet. The nails were very long and had naturally broken, just like a bird’s claws. They were standing in front of a huge rock.

I didn’t dare go forward. Under the faint red light, I could see Chen Pi Ah Si’s body standing there facing a huge boulder that was blocking the path. It was practically glued to it.

It wanted to go forward, but couldn’t get through.

It was the one that brought me here. I took a deep breath and noticed that some words had been carved onto the boulder it was facing.

The light was very dim and the corpse was blocking the words, so I couldn’t see them clearly at all. Plus, the oxygen light was fading.

My heart was pounding as I continued watching it face the rock. I wasn’t afraid of this scene like I would’ve been before. I only felt a strong anxiety, uneasiness, and sadness. Maybe it was because I wasn’t afraid of death now, but more afraid that I wouldn’t achieve my goal.

The thing around its neck was still there, and looked like you could reach out and snatch it from this distance.

I picked up a stone and threw it into the water. It made a sound as it fell, but the corpse remained indifferent. I couldn’t understand why it brought me here. Maybe it was just repeating what it had done during its life.

When the diving suit was dry, I looked at it and remembered Uncle Three’s experience at the bottom of the sea, when his diving suit had saved his life.

This was the only clothing I had at hand. I thought about it, took off my diving suit again, tied a stone to one of the legs, and made a meteor hammer.

I leaned over carefully. This would either give me an advantage or completely plunge me into the worst possible situation.

“Grandpa Si!” I called out. “Remember me?! I’m from the Wu family!”

The corpse in front of me slowly turned around, and only the reflection of its white eyes could be seen in the extremely weak light. Then, I heard the familiar “gege gege” sound come out of its throat.

“Grandpa Si! Come on, give us a hug.” I took a deep breath and began to fall back. It turned around and seemed to be looking for the source of the sound.

<Chapter 25> <Table of Contents><Chapter 29>


2 thoughts on “Chapters 26, 27 and 28

  1. Well, when you’re friends with Xiao Ge and Fatty and you’ve faced death as many times as he has, I suppose it makes you a little fearless. This should be interesting.


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