Safety Manual Labor Tips with a Twist of 2D Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Hard Survival

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After attempting to climb the social ladder, Lin Zhaohe made the decision to return home.

Wearing a helmet with bunny ears, Lin Zhaohe calmly embarked on his own electric scooter.

It was getting dark, past 6 o’clock in the afternoon, and the neighborhood gradually quieted down as fewer people roamed the streets. Here and there, amidst the tall, black buildings, some dilapidated structures added an unexpectedly harmonious touch.

Today’s afternoon turmoil felt like a mere illusion to Lin Zhaohe, as he walked amidst reminders of the past in the form of crumbling walls. Otherwise, he might have mistaken this world for the peaceful and tranquil one he had known three years ago.

Whether it brought luck or misfortune, the remarkable adaptability of human beings had made him accustomed to this way of life.

And it wasn’t just him—almost everyone had grown accustomed to it.

On this day, three years ago, a comprehensive fusion between the realms of two-dimensional and three-dimensional began to take place.

Fast forward three years to today, and the world as a whole had became riddled with countless cracks and vulnerabilities.

Creations that were once deeply cherished by humanity had become forbidden—they no longer wished to witness their own works come to life.

No one knew why this phenomenon occurred, but it simply did.

In this two-dimensional world, the more popular a work became, the more destructive its impact. It wasn’t just the characters. Every fantastical scene melded with reality in peculiar ways. Initially, fans rejoiced, but soon, their excitement transformed into panic.

As the killing machines from the world of 2D creations materialized out of thin air, life transformed from a mere collection of cold numbers into a haunting series of gruesome scenes right before their eyes. In the face of such horrifying reality, nobody could find it within themselves to crack even the faintest smile towards their once-beloved, but now bloodthirsty, 2D idols.

Lin Zhaohe glanced at the sky. Today was a clear day, with the setting sun hanging on the horizon, casting a radiant crimson hue on the clouds. The breeze was gentle, pleasantly brushing against his cheeks.

Lin Zhaohe took a deep breath, silently giving himself a boost, hoping to make it through another day unscathed.

No traffic jams meant a smooth journey, and after about fifteen minutes, Lin Zhaohe arrived at his apartment building.

A park lay beneath his apartment, once bustling with people taking leisurely walks. But now, it had become sparsely populated, with only a lone elderly man using the fitness equipment.

Lin Zhaohe knew this elderly man well. He was the security guard of their apartment complex. Every time Lin Zhaohe saw him, he felt a warm familiarity, as if he were a cherished elder.

Security was no longer assured. Even if it were Schwarzenegger himself, facing those peculiar creatures from the 2D world would be futile. Hence, Lin Zhaohe saw this elderly man more as a symbol of good fortune or a mascot, rather than merely a security guard.

The thought of a mascot crossed Lin Zhaohe’s mind, and he involuntarily exclaimed, “Uncle Ji!”

Elderly Man: “?”

Lin Zhaohe: “Oh, no, it’s Uncle Chen.”

Uncle Chen squinted his eyes and gave Lin Zhaohe a brief glance. “Mm.”

Lin Zhaohe: “Have you eaten?”

Uncle Chen: “No rain today.”

Lin Zhaohe: “Yes, the weather is lovely.”

Uncle Chen: “Indeed, finishing work early today.”

Lin Zhaohe smiled and said, “Then, I’ll head upstairs first.”

Uncle Chen: “Take care!”

Lin Zhaohe had grown accustomed to these chicken-and-duck exchanges. He nodded at Uncle Chen, turned around, and made his way upstairs. The old man was still fairly fit, though his hearing wasn’t the sharpest.

This apartment was a shared rental and had seen better days. Several fixtures had started showing signs of aging, but Lin Zhaohe had no plans to move out.

After the fusion incident, the world’s population drastically decreased, especially in areas heavily affected by the fusion. Empty houses were a common sight. Fortunately, Lin Zhaohe’s situation was relatively stable here, and besides, he still had some mortgage payments left… The bank had made it clear that even if the world were to crumble, the mortgage must be settled.

Climbing upstairs and unlocking the door, Lin Zhaohe immediately heard the neighbors above making a ruckus with their hurried footsteps. It bothered him a bit, and he let out a deep sigh, gazing at the ceiling.

The residents in this apartment came from various backgrounds, and it was possible that even creatures from the second dimension resided here. While these second-dimensional beings could be quite extraordinary, not all of them were dangerous. For instance, characters from romantic novels or animated series posed no harm. It was quite unfortunate for them to be unexpectedly dragged into this massive fusion, becoming vulnerable and lost souls.

Not only were these individuals aesthetically pleasing, but they also lacked combat prowess, making them quite popular among the younger generation.

Lin Zhaohe found his new upstairs neighbor a bit peculiar. They would constantly rush around the apartment, as if they couldn’t stay still. Lin Zhaohe had tried to approach them twice in the past couple of days, but they refused to answer the door, leaving Lin Zhaohe at a loss.

And today, it started again, even before evening arrived.

While preparing instant noodles for himself, Lin Zhaohe listened to the steady thumping of footsteps from upstairs. A slight pulsing pain throbbed in his temples, and his hand gripping the chopsticks revealed a couple of visible veins. He took a deep breath, reminding himself of the wonders of the world and how he shouldn’t let his impatience get the best of him. However, as he lifted his gaze to the ceiling, he couldn’t hold back a frustrated exclamation, “Oh, come on!”

A faint dark water stain emerged on his ceiling, starkly contrasting with the pristine white paint surrounding it.

“Damn it!” Lin Zhaohe vented his anger. “What on earth is that person doing upstairs?” He forcefully placed the chopsticks on the table with a loud thud, his irritation consuming him. Determined, he stormed upstairs.

“Is anyone there? Is anyone home?” Lin Zhaohe suppressed his anger and politely knocked three times.

As expected, there was no response. Lin Zhaohe’s anger reached its peak, and he started banging on the door. “Open the door! If you’re so capable of doing triathlons at home, then show me your skills and open the door for me! I’ll show you what’s true capab—”

To his surprise, the door he was trying to break down remained intact, but the door behind him swung open, revealing the face of a young girl. Astonishment was written all over her face as she mumbled, “What are you doing?”

Lin Zhaohe explained, “I live downstairs, and I’ve been hearing someone constantly making noise and running around in their apartment. I couldn’t tolerate it any longer!”

“You don’t need to knock anymore. That unit is vacant.”

“Huh? Vacant?”

“Yes, it’s empty. Are you sure you’re looking in the right place?”

“I didn’t make a mistake. I live downstairs from him! Every day, I hear him doing parkour inside his apartment.”

“But there really is nobody next door.”

“No one? Could I have misheard? That shouldn’t be possible…”

The girl giggled, covering her mouth. “Could it be that there’s a ghost living in there?”

Lin Zhaohe fell silent. He had a foreboding feeling.

The girl couldn’t contain her joy, her eyes sparkling. “Do you want to show him what true capability means?”

Lin Zhaohe: “…”

Unable to open the door no matter how hard he tried, Lin Zhaohe had no other option but to retreat. Fortunately, once he entered his own apartment, the exasperating sound of running upstairs finally ceased. Otherwise, he might have gone upstairs, wielding a hammer, ready for a real-life showdown.

The room fell quiet, and Lin Zhaohe finally relaxed. He switched on the television, took a seat on the sofa, and started to diligently read the materials provided by his boss.

Their company was involved in the insurance business. Even though the world appeared on the brink of collapse, they managed to survive. It was a time that gave rise to all sorts of bizzare companies.

Their company, though labeled as an insurance firm, resembled more of a security agency. Their work had a broad scope, primarily focused on ensuring policyholders didn’t meet untimely ends. Lin Zhaohe once thought that working at a funeral parlor would be less challenging than what they did.

The so-called “materials” were actually a novel. Lin Zhaohe carefully read every word. In the beginning, it seemed fairly ordinary, but as he progressed, his eyes widened in astonishment. “Wow, is this even possible?”

He marveled at the boundless imagination of humanity and the extraordinary complexity of human anatomy depicted by the author.

The story revolved around two men in a love affair. A liked B, but B didn’t like A. So A approached C to get closer to B, but unexpectedly, A fell in love with C. However, when C learned that A liked B, C decided to leave A. But A wouldn’t let C go, so C approached B, and in the end, B also fell in love with C… It was a tale that sought to prove the equation a+b ≥ 2ab.

Lin Zhaohe finished reading and thought, “If the author has spare time, they could consider taking a writing class.”

A question arose: Could the characters in this kind of novel continue living in this world? Lin Zhaohe had his doubts.

The domineering CEO from the novel would become insignificant in this reality. They couldn’t spend every day at home simply being in love, right? Besides, with the world in such a state, finding regular jobs would be challenging… These characters must be exceptional individuals since they had the resources to approach his boss for insurance. It appeared they were facing some sort of situation. He planned to contact them tomorrow. Putting the materials aside, Lin Zhaohe lay on his bed and sighed once more. As he stared at the ceiling, he noticed the dark water stain seemed to have expanded slightly.

Could it be an illusion? Lin Zhaohe pondered, realizing that even if nobody lived upstairs, the ongoing water leakage needed to be addressed. Tomorrow, he decided to find a suitable time and ask Uncle Chen for the key to inspect the situation upstairs. Otherwise, his own ceiling would inevitably face damage. Lost in his thoughts, the TV coincidentally started airing the day’s incident on Min’an Street.

The once solemn news program had transformed into an entertainment segment. At this moment, a charming reporter stood before the smoke-engulfed Min’an Street, earnestly recounting the essence of a novel. Ironically, the book happened to be a widely recognized fairy tale, commencing with the phrase, “Once upon a time…”

Lin Zhaohe clicked his tongue in disapproval. He immediately reached for the remote control and switched to another channel.

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