Chapter 72.2 Savage Expansion (5)
Zhuang Lao remained expressionless. He didn’t quite understand why these people were reacting so strongly. He had no intention of arguing or passing judgment, but this seemed to further fuel their anger.
“He’s no longer our comrade,” Brother Xiao said. “He’s a creature that looks exactly like a human… After devouring him this time, he will reappear again as long as we keep going there… He will come back with us.”
“So, this isn’t the first time you’ve eaten that person,” Zhuang Lao seized on the loophole in their words. “How many times have you consumed him?”
No one answered.
In the apocalypse, meat was an incredibly precious resource. The thought of having regular access to meat was unimaginable.
The slim young man would return time after time, only to disappear again. Each time he vanished, a lavish feast of meat would appear. Over time, even the most foolish person could figure out what was happening.
However, no one exposed the truth. Everyone tacitly chose to ignore the matter. Even the hunting teams that ventured outside would deliberately go to that specific location to search for their missing comrade and bring him back. This cycle repeated countless times.
This secret became deeply buried in everyone’s hearts.
Humans were hypocritical and pitiful creatures. They preferred to live in the lies they constructed rather than face the harsh reality. The sudden arrival of an outsider shattered the web of lies they had woven, and the panic and indignation of trying to preserve their secret instantly took hold.
“Kill him, then nobody will know.” Whispers emerged from the crowd, but it was unclear who started it.
“Yes, yes, kill him, and no one will know what we’ve done.” Rustling voices like devilish whispers filled the air.
“Kill him. It’s better here. We don’t need to go outside.”
“Kill him, kill him, kill him.”
The murmurs grew into loud shouts as people spontaneously took action, encircling Zhuang Lao. They had ferocious expressions and held various weapons—blades, hammers, even chair legs—looking more terrifying than the creature itself. They waited for the leader’s command, ready to rush forward and tear their prey to shreds.
“Wait, you have one more choice—join us,” Brother Xiao seemed somewhat regretful for Zhuang Lao. “Killing your comrade as a pledge of loyalty will spare your life.”
As those words escaped, Zhuang Lao couldn’t help but laugh. A faint smirk curled his handsome lips, and a mocking amusement gleamed in his eyes. “Do you all not understand the situation?”
Brother Xiao asked, “What do you mean?”
Zhuang Lao replied, “You can’t even handle this thing in my hand, yet you want to kill me?”
He loosened his grip ever so slightly, and the creature he held slipped to the ground.
The creature, which appeared to be on the brink of death, regained its vitality the moment it touched the ground. Its body rapidly grew and expanded, exaggerated muscles filling its form. In the blink of an eye, it stood as tall as a small mountain. Although resembling a human, its appearance had completely distorted, resembling a hybrid of a human and a bull.
The monster stamped its foot on the ground, creating a massive crater. Its crimson eyes glared at the surrounding people, resembling an enraged bull. With a bellow, it mercilessly charged through the crowd.
The people who held weapons, who had gathered around Zhuang Lao, were instantly scattered and thrown into disarray by the monster’s onslaught. Fragile human bodies proved feeble against the monster’s might, as if made of paper. Those who were once imposing and full of bravado could now only flee in terror.
Brother Dong, as the leader, refused to show fear. He feigned composure, clutching his hunting rifle and firing multiple shots at the creature before him.
Despite hitting it with every shot, the powerful hunting rifle proved futile against the monster’s resilient skin. Instead, it only further infuriated the creature, causing it to charge toward Brother Dong.
Brother Dong was sent flying, crashing heavily into the wall. His fragile body shattered into pieces, his eyeballs even popped out of their sockets. Normally, a person would have died instantly from such an impact. However, Brother Dong’s body remained functional. He clutched his hunting rifle, staggered to his feet from the ground, and fired several shots at the monster. Unfortunately, it was as futile as scratching an itch, utterly useless.
The crowd screamed and wailed, running for help. Blood splattered on the walls, leaving vivid marks. Limbs flew through the air, turning the scene into a living hell.
Zhuang Lao stood still in place, not moving. He even leisurely lit a cigarette. In his black pupils, a beautiful crimson reflected. In the darkness, only the glow of his lit cigarette emitted a faint light, like the only stolen fire from Prometheus.
The monster wrecked the room, reducing it to ruins. Those fortunate enough ran to the staircase to escape unscathed, but the unlucky ones were either instantly crushed or trampled into a bloody pulp by the monster’s hooves.
Lin Zhaohe descended the stairs in the darkness under such circumstances. Several panicked individuals bumped into him, brushing past his shoulder as they rushed towards the upper floors. Lin Zhaohe had intended to ask them what was happening, but all these people wore terrified expressions, as if they had seen a ghost. They couldn’t even speak a complete sentence, leaving him no choice but to let it go.
Turning around the corner of the staircase, aided by the flashlight’s beam, Lin Zhaohe finally understood why the fleeing individuals were so terrified. The ground floor resembled a hellish nightmare. Human limbs flew everywhere, and a colossal monster stood amidst the crowd, drenched in blood. It panted heavily, and its gleaming green eyes met with Lin Zhaohe’s.
Lin Zhaohe immediately drew his gun, on high alert. However, the monster didn’t continue its attack. Instead, it turned its body and leisurely walked away, leaving behind a scene of devastation.
Zhuang Lao remained the sole person standing on the ground floor. He stood in the darkness, a cigarette between his lips.
Dim light illuminated his partly concealed face, his exquisitely carved profile resembling a precious gem. It exuded an aura not of an ordinary person. Upon hearing Lin Zhaohe’s footsteps, he turned his head, and a gentle smile softened his initially indifferent expression.
“Boss,” Lin Zhaohe called out. He descended the stairs and approached Zhuang Lao, his footsteps sticking to the sticky floor. He didn’t need to think twice about what was on the ground, but he wasn’t too concerned about that. Instead, he focused on whether Zhuang Lao was injured. “Are you alright?”
Zhuang Lao shook his head, indicating that he was fine.
“That’s good.” Lin Zhaohe felt relieved, his hat with the furry earflaps twitching slightly.
The sound of hurried footsteps echoed from the direction of the stairs. It was Yun Yuzi and Xiao Yu rushing over. Both of them were panting heavily. Yun Yuzi looked at the chaotic scene, her eyes widening in shock. “What happened here? Why does it look like everyone’s dead?”
Before Zhuang Lao could speak, Xiao Yu, who was behind Yun Yuzi, burst into a sorrowful cry. She rushed down the stairs and stepped on the blood-soaked ground. Her trembling voice choked, “Why is everyone dead?”
Yun Yuzi thought that Xiao Yu was upset because something had happened to her companions. She was about to offer some words of comfort when she heard Xiao Yu continue, “What do we do? What should we do?”
Yun Yuzi was puzzled, “What do you mean, ‘What should we do?'”
Xiao Yu said, “There’s nothing left to eat—”
Yun Yuzi was taken aback, almost taking half a minute to grasp the meaning behind Xiao Yu’s words. She even wondered if she had overthought it. “What do you mean? What you eat has nothing to do with your companions.”
Xiao Yu fell silent, standing in place while wiping her tears. She didn’t respond to Yun Yuzi’s words. Hunching her back, she appeared quite strange, to the point that Yun Yuzi involuntarily distanced herself from her.
Zhuang Lao had reached the end of his cigarette. He exhaled the last puff of smoke and extinguished it. “This isn’t the first time, is it?”
Xiao Yu kept her head lowered and remained silent.
Zhuang Lao said, “With the strength of these monsters, is it really effective for you to hide in this building?” When the monster appeared, it almost immediately broke through the walls, and people scattered in all directions. They were completely helpless against it.
The only weapons this group of people had were the aging guns in Brother Dong’s hands, but they couldn’t even inflict the slightest harm on the monster. These circumstances were truly unbelievable, making it hard to fathom how this group of people managed to endure in such a high-intensity apocalypse for eight years.
Xiao Yu lifted her head, a mocking expression appearing on her thin, sunken cheeks. “We didn’t survive for eight years. In fact, by the eighth month, everyone in this building was dead.”
Lin Zhaohe froze.
“The monster came down from the eighth floor,” Xiao Yu said, sounding a bit weary. She slowly, hesitantly found a chair and didn’t mind the traces of blood and flesh on it. She sat down and began nibbling at her own fingernails, her expression somewhat neurotic. “It’s a massive monster made of human skin. It’s incredibly strong and knocked down the walls of the eighth floor. Some people were lucky and crushed to death, while others had the misfortune of being caught by it and were devoured alive.” Despite talking about life and death, she seemed completely indifferent.
Lin Zhaohe licked his lips, feeling the urge to smoke again. Before he could make a move, Zhuang Lao had already lit a cigarette and brought it to his mouth, holding it between his fingers.
Zhuang Lao’s cigarette was stronger than his own, and Lin Zhaohe couldn’t help but cough a bit after taking a couple of drags.
“And it got even worse later on. Although the remaining people were alive, they started falling ill. I had stocked up on a lot of medicine, but it was useless,” Xiao Yu said. “They all died from sickness. Within a month, more than twenty people died. The graves weren’t even dug yet, and the people assigned to dig them died first.”
As she spoke, several survivors who had previously escaped to the upper floors appeared at the stairwell. When they saw that the monster was gone, they all breathed a sigh of relief. They slowly made their way down from the stairs, holding brooms and mops they had found somewhere, and began cleaning up the remnants on the floor.
Flesh, bones, hair, organs, and even eyeballs—all the fragmented parts of the human body were carefully collected and thrown into the garbage bins. The bloodstains on the ground were washed away with clean water.
Judging by their expressions, they showed neither disgust nor fear. Instead, they displayed a numbness born out of familiarity, as if they had completely grown accustomed to such scenes.
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