“There is no rule in this world that men can’t like sweets or chocolates!” Standing alone in the elevator, Fu Shiwu mumbled to himself sorrowfully.
Just like the fact that the bastard didn’t take the elevator and climbed the stairs instead!
The weather was so hot but there was no air-conditioner in the emergency exit. He climbed all the way to the 18th floor, doesn’t he feel hot?!
“He’s not claustrophobic, right?” Fu Shiwu widened his eyes in surprise, thinking he had discovered the secret of that annoying guy.
Fu Shiwu returned home and put the chocolate in the refrigerator. Because he lived here alone all year round and purchased a lot of things each time, his refrigerator was a double-door extra-large model. This also meant that each time he stuffed it, he wouldn’t need to go out and deal with other people for another month.
“These things should be enough to last me until the supply goes back to normal.” Fu Shiwu thought naively.
The director’s abstract words probably implied that some extremists might take the opportunity to stir up more havoc, but the next turn of events would be far beyond anyone’s expectations.
Because he went home early, Fu Shiwu took a nap after a meal in the afternoon. In the evening, Fu Shiwu paid close attention to the red clouds that were once again floating above Huaxia1.
This time, besides watching the TV station’s programmes, he also didn’t forget to take a look at the latest news on the website his colleagues were browsing during the day.
Some of the content in it really made his blood run cold.
The red strip that suddenly appeared had slowly expanded into red clouds, and after 24 hours, it seemed to have made a regular orbit around the earth, just like the moon. On this second day, it was seen at the exact same place, at the exact same time.
This was nothing like a normal astronomical phenomenon.
Now people were having heated discussions, suspecting that this was a man-made phenomenon, and even more people were trying to guess which country did this. Several powerful countries in the world had entered the suspect list, while some pessimists even believed that their own government had pulled this off.
At this time of anxiety, people needed someone to stand up and make a conclusion. The mass would only stop guessing and scaring themselves stiff if a believable conclusion was bestowed upon them.
Fu Shiwu was patronising a hot topic on a forum when all of a sudden, he heard a rhythmic siren from downstairs. Heart almost skipping a beat, he quickly ran to the window to look down.
It wasn’t a police car, but an ambulance.
There were a lot of elderly residents here, perhaps an elderly fell ill suddenly? Fu Shiwu guessed to himself.
But what followed frightened him to the core. One after another, many people were taken away by ambulances.
The corridor became noisy, so Fu Shiwu pushed his glasses up and looked out from his apartment’s entrance. The door next to him was wide open and someone was yelling.
“…No! Only one family member can accompany him! We’re not sure if it’s infectious or not, there’s no use asking us…”
Hearing the word ‘infectious’, Fu Shiwu felt as though his heart just leapt out.
Immediately after that, two fully covered medical staff came out carrying a stretcher. Fu Shiwu was determined to glance over and found that it was the old man from the apartment next door. His face had turned blue and was drenched in sweats, himself seemingly in a coma.
Following the stretcher was the head of the family. At this moment, he was carrying a heavy expression while his wife standing next to him was looking extremely nervous. From time to time, the man turned around to urge his daughter, who was still in high school, to quickly get back into the house, obviously because he feared that she could be infected by the old man.
The family must be scared out of their wits upon seeing the medical staff coming here with standard protective clothes. If it really was an infectious disease, how could they even avoid it now?
The husband and wife were quarrelling heatedly about who should go to the hospital. The medical staff urged them anxiously: “Don’t just stand here, the ambulance is very busy now, there is no time for you to waste. You come with us.”
He nodded at the head of the household and the middle-aged man nodded back wearily, then he followed behind the two staff.
After they entered the elevator, the wife finally couldn’t hold it back anymore and started crying. Hearing her sobs, the daughter dashed out and asked some questions, her voice full of worries.
Listening to the lady resisting her fear and sorrow to comfort her daughter, Fu Shiwu closed the door softly behind him and sighed.
With his crappy interpersonal skills and the disease being potentially infectious, he didn’t dare to get close to them.
Also by this point, news about this disease had started to surface on the Internet. Fu Shiwu’s face turned as white as a sheet as he sat in front of the computer and scanned through those emergency articles fully complemented with pictures.
Since afternoon, people in Yun City, where Fu Shiwu stayed, had been continuously sent to hospitals, all with the same symptoms of high fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
These people came from all parts of the city. All of them abruptly fell sick and their condition worsened at a frightening speed.
The hospital soon noticed something must have gone wrong and immediately raised an alarm, at which point the government decided to activate an emergency plan and took measures to transfer all patients to the infectious disease center. However, the center quickly ran out of space as more and more people went down with the symptoms, and the situation ultimately turned ugly with the first death. The Internet instantly blew up as the matters got out of control.
Soon enough, someone hypothesised the connection between this and the appearance of the red clouds. The astronomical phenomenon had already been on fire, and now more oil was added to the blazing accusations.
As everything happened too suddenly, the hospital could only do their best to offer help, leaving themselves with neither the time nor the energy to study what caused the large-scale disease or whether it really was infectious. However, regardless of whether it could spread or not, the city first required all citizens to take epidemic prevention measures.
At the same time, Yun City wasn’t the only place that the red clouds paid a visit to. One after another, bad news came as the disease broke out in more and more cities, terrorising the entire nation.
With this large-scale outbreak, people with too much imagination immediately thought of zombie virus or things of the sorts, but Fu Shiwu, who would never entertain such exaggeration, thought of the SARS outbreak that took place a few years back.
As his mind wandered back to SARS, a long police siren could be heard from downstairs, and before long, an emergency barricade was put up.
“You kidding me?!” Seeing this, Fu Shiwu couldn’t help but spit out of his female colleagues’ daily mantra.
The rapid turn of events truly caught everyone off guard and panic rippled out uncontrollably.
Fu Shiwu decided that he shouldn’t stagger outside his place at this critical point. Who knew if there would be an infected person among those rushing towards the barricade?
He just looked down worriedly from the window. At first, the crowd was extremely triggered, but they were soon deterred by the police armed with real guns. Then one of them said something to the crowd with a loudspeaker in his hand, but all kinds of noises were jumbled up downstairs so Fu Shiwu couldn’t hear clearly.
After a while, the crowd dispersed, then a group of people fully clad in protective clothes entered the building, walking from house to house to issue an Emergency Situation Manual.
Before long, Fu Shiwu got the manual handed to him right at his door. Even though labelled as a manual, it was actually just a few pieces of paper crudely stapled together.
As Fu Shiwu was looking down at the manual, the man in protective clothes at his door said in a hoarse tone: “What’s your name? How many people are in the family?”
Fu Shiwu looked up at the face behind the transparent safety shield, which seemed to be a familiar face of someone from the community management office.
“My name is Fu Shiwu, and there’s only me here.” Fu Shiwu said.
With both hands covered in gloves, the man awkwardly drew a tick on the clipboard he was holding.
“If you have some guests at home now, you must report to us. This will determine the distribution of food supplies in the future.” He said.
“Oh?” Fu Shiwu’s eyes widened. “Are you giving us food?”
“Of course, if we don’t let you go out and don’t give you food, how are you going to hold up? Don’t worry, this matter is all taken care of by the government. Once the quarantine period is over, everythingrything will be fine.” The person from the office said with a soothing tone.
After giving out all the manuals and confirming each household’s information, the office staff turned around and left. Only then did Fu Shiwu close the door and start reading the manual.
The manual’s content was actually emergency management regulations, for example, residents must not leave the premises without permission, inform the management if something happened, three meals would be supplied as for now, and the residents could also ask for any daily necessities that they were in need of.
Speaking of why Heavenly Gardens was quarantined this time, it was really because their community was one of the unlucky ones where the probability of people getting sick was too high. Beside Heavenly Gardens, several other communities were also barricaded.
In the evening, Fu Shiwu managed to garner more information from the local forums of Yun City. It was said that among the people who caught this disease, 40% were babies under the age of 1 year, 20% were children, 30% were the elderly, while young adults accounted for less than 10%.
Fu Shiwu was stupefied to see these statistics. Heavenly Gardens was the largest urban renewal project of Yun City, where most of the households that relocated here were retired people or grandparents who brought their grandchildren along to render support to the parents. Wouldn’t that make the infection rate of this place exceptionally high?!
But by now, there was no point thinking about it. They could only hope that the quarantine would be over in due time. And it was lucky that even with this home quarantine, they wouldn’t have to worry about food, while the TV and the Internet would still be around to keep them sane.
Two days later, the ambulance took away a few more patients from Heavenly Gardens. As the quarantine enforcement officers monitored the place more strictly, it could be felt that the tension in the air had risen even further.
Having no idea when this quarantine might ever be lifted, Fu Shiwu could only call the director to ask for leave. Of course under such an unavoidable circumstance, the director had no choice but to let him go.
“Aiya~~~ Let’s just think that I’ve earned this time off, at least I don’t have to go back to the hell of overtime.” Fu Shiwu tried to find a bright side for this gloomy situation.
When Fu Shiwu finally remembered to pay attention to the red clouds after being distracted by all the quarantine anxiety, he discovered that they had changed again.
The red clouds were spreading even further.
Translator and reviewer at Strictly Bromance blog. In essence, she lives to indulge in plot-driven stories sprinkled with camaraderie and slow-burn drama-free romance, especially more so if they belong to adventure, mystery or supernatural genre. A trope that she always thirsts after: “Comrades who go through life and death together”.