Chapter 34: Stop choosing, let’s transport them all!
Zhang Xiao Qiang sat at the driver’s seat of the tractor, the wooden box lying on his lap. The gun was black in colour, a little heavy when carried, and it had a black star carved on the side. It was a Type 54 pistol, also well known in Hong Kong movies as the “Black Star” pistol.
Although the gun was obviously much older than even Zhang Xiao Qiang, the original owner had kept it in good condition. There was no sign of wear or tear anywhere. He pulled back the safety, and aimed at a small tree before firing.
“Ka” The click from the empty chamber resounded. He was pleased with this accidental gain, with this item, he had an additional form of insurance. However, the bullets were lacking, there were only 50 rounds left after filling the 3 magazines.
He loaded one of the magazines, before raising it to point it everywhere. As long as one was a male, it was impossible to not like guns. Especially for someone like Zhang Xiao Qiang who only ever managed to handle toy guns before, it made him more excited.
“Uncle, did you find this inside?” Yang Ke’er had an expectant look, as though she wanted to try.
“Kids are not allowed to touch firearms!” Zhang Xiao Qiang exclaimed, while shoving the gun into his back. Yang Ke’er became even more dismal.
Huge sacks of rice, coarse grain, bean, vegetable oil and meat were all loaded up into the compartment, as they moved back to the cave. The once huge and bare platform of 500 sqm was suddenly loaded with a lot of items.
The village had a bountiful harvest this year. The virus had happened during the end of the year, where most of the families had just started smoking their bacon. It had indirectly benefited Zhang Xiao Qiang.
“When will we be able to finish all these?” Looking at the little molehills of food, Zhang Xiao Qiang felt a little worried. Most of the villages had the habit of feeding pigs, furthermore, due to their attractive prices, most families actually kept 3 or 4, while the larger ones kept a dozen or more. Although they would slaughter a few near the end of the year, they would still keep about 1 or 2. Adding all these up, each household actually had about 150 jin of dried bacon, not counting the dried fish, chicken, duck or even rabbits and lambs.
“One 5 equals 5, two 5s equals 10, three 5s equals 15, four 5s equals 21?” As he counted the dozens of smoked pigs in front of him, in addition to the hundreds of smoked trotters, and even some ribs, he gradually blanked out, and got confused with his calculations.
After finally tallying the amount of meat he had, which weighed a total of 10,000 jins, the rest of the goods were about a 1000 jins as well.
The village seldom eat fresh meat, preferring to eat their own dried meat. Only during occasions would they purchase from the neighbouring towns. The total amount of meat amassed in one year was truly awe-inspiring.
In his estimation, the amount was enough to feed him and the lass for a hundred years. However, these were all perishables, not lasting more than 2 years. The towns have been occupied by the zombies as well, and most lifeforms were slowly evolving. The problem of food will only become bigger as time passed. Thinking about having all these food go bad, Zhang Xiao Qiang could not help but feel agony.
Suddenly, he recalled a childhood memory where he was at his maternal grandmother’s place. When he was 8 or so, life wasn’t as good in the villages, and they seldom got to eat meat. His parents had brought him and his younger sister to visit their grandmother, who had brought out the dried meat she had painstakingly saved just to welcome them. At the time, because Zhang Xiao Qiang had not seen his grandmother for long, he had longed to be close to her so he followed her about everywhere. He remembered seeing his grandmother taking out a piece of golden brown dried meat from rice bran.
He had then asked out of curiosity, the purpose of storing the dried meat in rice bran. His grandmother had explained that keeping dried meat in rice bran helped to extend the storing period to 7, 8 years with no problems. There were some who had even kept meat for 10 years and found no change in taste.
“Haha! Rice bran!” Zhang Xiao Qiang had the burst of inspiration, “Come, let’s go for one more round while it’s still early!!” He told Yang Ke’er excitedly.
“Wuwuwu….. Uncle, you’re bullying me, I’m still tired, look! The skin on my hands are all flaky!” Yang Ke’er groaned as she tried to sob while displaying her hands to Zhang Xiao Qiang!
“Sure, don’t go then! Next time, you won’t get any meat!” Zhang Xiao Qiang gave an ultimatum in irritation.
“Wuwuwu…. You only know how to bully me, I am not yet grown up ok?” Yang Ke’er grumbled but followed nonetheless.
“Not yet grown? Hell, you ‘non-adults’ have already done those things that even adults are unsure if they should be doing, you still got the cheek to say you’re not yet an adult? Hmph!’ Zhang Xiao Qiang retorted, while feeling a little sour inside.
The tractor rolled along with “tutu” sounds until they came to the village again. The zombies under the bridge had stood up by then, and had caught scent of humans, shoving and pushing as they tried to go near the sides. Zhang Xiao Qiang ignored them, since both sides of the embankment was high and steep enough. Even a normal adult male would not be able to climb up, not to mention these zombies that couldn’t see!
As per their established procedures, after they stopped the tractor, they entered the house and began to search. They would search for their targeted items and move them quickly. Rice bran was usually kept in the store areas, or near the pig sty, since most families used them to feed the pigs.
Zhang Xiao Qiang would transport the items from the ground, while Yang Ke’er was in charge of placing and arranging in the compartment.
“Uncle!” Just as Zhang Xiao Qiang was prepared to turn to go on a second trip, Yang Ke’er called out.
“What?” Zhang Xiao Qiang stopped, eyeing Yang Ke’er as he pulled out his cigarette, preparing to take a breather.
“Uncle, can I go upstairs?” Yang Ke’er pointed to the building and asked.
“Whatever for?” Zhang Xiao Qiang felt curious, since rations and food items were usually in the kitchen or store areas on the ground level, there was no need for either of them to head up.
“It’s because… because my “items” are running out, I want to go check upstairs. See if they have any.” Yang Ke’er had an unfriendly gaze as she stared at Zhang Xiao Qiang.
“Hu!” He blowed out a mouthful of smoke in irritation, “Just what is it? Speak properly!”
“You’re so hateful, Uncle, it’s that thing you used to bait the zombies! Ah… your expression then was truly flustered!” Yang Ke’er spoke unabashedly.
“Oh! Go go! Go find more, those are important!” Zhang Xiao Qiang became flustered again.
“That item was truly a divine weapon!” Seeing Yang Ke’er walking into the building, Zhang Xiao Qiang thought back to the scene.
“What was that guy again? Archi-something who said, ‘give me a place to stand and I will move the earth’. I say, give me a sanitary pad, and I can get zombies to even commit suicide!” Zhang Xiao Qiang felt somewhat smug about himself. “It must be fresh, of course!” He added with an afterthought.
“Uncle, come quickly! There’re good stuff here!” Yang Ke’er called out from the upper level.
“Don’t tell me she found a safe deposit box?” Zhang Xiao Qiang hurried up.
Arriving upstairs, he thought he had entered a flea market of sorts. The living room on the 2nd storey was about 70-80 sqm, the walls were filled with rows of shelves, on which all sorts of items were displayed. There were all sorts of military and camouflage uniforms hanging on the walls, including older versions of green uniforms, and blue navy ones as well. It seemed as though they were sold to the farmers to be used during their work.
Zhang Xiao Qiang took in the sight in wonder, while Yang Ke’er bustled about excitedly, picking items of her preference.
On one particular shelf at the corner, there were a number of farming and training shoes, rubber boots, brushes, towels, soap, etc. There was a small hardware cabinet that revealed screwdrivers, switch plugs, electric bulbs and other various electrical items. Female sanitary items and toilet paper were placed on another shelf together with shampoo. Zhang Xiao Qiang even saw a shelf that contained men’s wear and undergarments.
“How many days have I not switched out of my underwear?” Zhang Xiao Qiang thought back. Although he had changed twice at other places, his undergarments had not been changed, as he didn’t dare wear other worn ones. However, upon seeing clean ones, he felt his own undergarments dirty and becoming itchy.
The rest of the shelves contained all sorts of tools, as well as toys and study materials of children. Finally, he came across a shelf that contained all sorts of cigarettes, of different prices and quality. It seemed that the owners were preparing to welcome the new year with guests.
Yang Ke’er that lass on the other hand had gotten a backpack from goodness knows where and started to select items to pack.
Zhang Xiao Qiang immediately cut her off: “Stop choosing, let’s transport them all!”
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