Embers Ad Infinitum

Chapter 34: Nothing Left

Chapter 34: Nothing Left

Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong watched Jiang Baimian and Bai Chen return to the jeep and drive it to a relatively obscure spot not far away. They then checked their Ice Moss pistols, United 202 pistols, and the Berserker assault rifles that they had slung over their shoulders.

After confirming all the details, they took turns crouching down to re-tie their military boots’ shoelaces again so as to ensure that nothing would go wrong. After carrying this out, they carried their assault rifles and walked along the derelict cement path at a moderate speed, heading towards the square.

Although it was autumn, and the weather had already turned cold, there were still many mosquitoes amidst the weeds. They incessantly buzzed around Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong.

Long Yuehong held it in for a while before finally asking, “Do we have to take turns swatting away the mosquitoes?” He believed that someone had to be in charge of keeping vigilance at all times.

“Why don’t I help you?” Shang Jianyao asked as he looked at the black mosquitoes lunging at Long Yuehong’s face.

Long Yuehong warily asked, “Are you trying to slap me?”

“Do I leave such a bad impression on you?” Shang Jianyao laughed involuntarily. He then took out a small plastic bottle the size of a finger from his pocket, unscrewed the cap, and sprayed it at himself. “Have you forgotten that our company is called Pangu Biology? The mosquito repellent has excellent effects.”

Long Yuehong’s eyes widened as he asked, “W-when did you take it? Wasn’t it in the car?”

There were almost no mosquitoes in Pangu Biology. In the few days since he came to the surface, Long Yuehong had not been troubled by mosquitoes. Therefore, he had forgotten about mosquito repellent.

“I had it on me when I was on night duty,” Shang Jianyao replied frankly.

“I-I... Why didn’t I encounter any mosquitoes when I was on duty?” Long Yuehong was deeply confused.

Shang Jianyao glanced at him. “Use your brain and think about it. You’ll figure it out.”

When Long Yuehong remained stumped, Shang Jianyao announced the answer. “During the two days when Team Leader and I were on night duty, she would spray mosquito repellent into the surroundings. Actually, when we first start a bonfire, she will also spray into it. Did you never see that?”

“...” Long Yuehong didn’t expect the answer to be so simple. In order not to be mocked by Shang Jianyao, he immediately pointed to the right and said, “Let’s take a look at those buildings first. Team Leader said that they’re a hospital and radio station.”

He was referring to the three buildings that surrounded an open square on the right side of the concrete path. One of them had already collapsed.

“Alright.” Shang Jianyao casually put away the mosquito repellant.

“W-what about me?” Long Yuehong’s mouth fell open. He was shocked, astounded, and confused.

Shang Jianyao laughed silently. “You didn’t say you wanted it. How would I know if you didn’t tell me...”

“Stop, stop! Don’t repeat the lines from radio programs.” Long Yuehong immediately interrupted Shang Jianyao.

Shang Jianyao didn’t tease him any further. He quickly unscrewed the cap and sprayed the mosquito repellent on Long Yuehong. After all, they were in the wilderness, the ruins of a steelworks factory. Every joke had to be done within reason. They couldn’t afford to lose focus and lower their guard of the surroundings.

After getting rid of the mosquitoes, the two of them turned towards the place that Jiang Baimian called a hospital and radio station. The first thing they saw were two lone columns.

“The—the door has been moved away?” Long Yuehong suddenly felt a headache.

Shang Jianyao tersely acknowledged it. “This is called human subjectivity. If it weren’t for the shattered cement and bricks that can’t be exchanged for anything, these two columns might not even be standing here.”

“Tsk, tsk.” Long Yuehong sighed and walked past the columns.

It was only then that they realized that a row of houses was beside the wall in front of the building closer to the roadside. They only needed to make one right turn to reach it. If they went straight, they would head up the slope and arrive at a small pond, a garden, and a parking lot.

Through this square, it seemed like one could directly enter the second floor of the building by the side of the road.

Long Yuehong signaled to Shang Jianyao and led the way to the aisle between the row of houses.

There was a not-too-wide drainage ditch, overgrown with moss and weeds.

Long Yuehong looked around and realized that there were doors at the bottom of the building. The space inside varied greatly. The two rooms closest to the slope were connected. The windows facing the outside were completely open, not covering anything. The row of single-story houses was neatly divided into small, almost identical units. As far as they could see, there were tables with all their drawers open and high stools that had been overturned.

Long Yuehong combined the terms ‘hospital’ and ‘radio station’ in an attempt to determine which area this was. However, he couldn’t figure out the answer. “What place is this?” he asked without much anticipation, not believing that Shang Jianyao could answer.

Shang Jianyao retracted his gaze, lowered his right elbow, and raised the Berserker assault rifle’s muzzle slightly. “Outpatient department.” His voice was low and confident.

“Huh?” Long Yuehong was surprised and confused. He was about to ask how he recognized it when he suddenly recalled something.

Within Pangu Biology, there was a small sickbay in each floor’s Residential Zone. It was responsible for treating the ordinary ailments that were similar to headaches and fevers, which each floor’s residents might suffer. Such a sickbay was divided into two sections—the exterior section had a pharmacy on one side and a doctor’s consultation room on the other. In the interior section was an infusion room and an injection room.

Apart from these, Pangu Biology had three large hospitals. They were located on specific and different floors. They mainly handled employees that the sickbay couldn’t treat.

Long Yuehong had been healthy since he was young. His parents and elders also never had any major problems. Therefore, he had only been to the sickbay on his floor and the university’s floor. He had never been to the hospital, so he did not have a direct impression of the outpatient department.

Shang Jianyao’s mother passed away because of an illness. She had also been hospitalized for a long time prior to her demise. Back then, Shang Jianyao had to rotate between the school, the hospital, and his home every day.

After figuring out the reason, Long Yuehong shut his mouth.

Shang Jianyao used his chin in place of his right hand and pointed at the single-story building. “On this side should be the outpatient department, injection rooms, and infusion rooms. There’s more than one of each.”

He then faced the building area. “The two rooms that are connected to the outermost area should be the pharmacy. There should be a metal grill on the windows. There should also be a gap for handing out medicine. However, they have all been taken away. The other rooms might be the machine room, the finance department, or the laboratory. There’s no way to be sure.”

“Yes, yes.” Long Yuehong didn’t retort.

The two of them carried assault rifles and searched the rooms one by one. However, they couldn’t find anything useful. Even the wooden tables and chairs were in smithereens or in shambles. They were clearly taken to light a bonfire.

When they arrived at the last room in the row of buildings, Long Yuehong kicked open the half-closed wooden door and saw a white skull. He stared at the two black sockets for a full second. Startled, he suddenly raised the Berserker assault rifle a little higher and prepared to fire.

Shang Jianyao looked around and said in a deep voice, “It has been dead for a long time.”

Long Yuehong relaxed a little and carefully observed the situation inside.

A wooden table had fallen to the ground, and a few yellowed, tattered pages were scattered messily. The skeleton leaned against the table. There was no flesh or blood left, nor was there any cloth to cover it. Furthermore, it had lost many bones.

“The Ruin Hunters from before didn’t even let the corpse’s underpants go... Many beasts have also been here...” After all, Long Yuehong had undergone strict training. Therefore, he could determine many things from the minute traces left behind.

Just as he said that, a small black figure jumped out of a corner, ran to the wall, and burrowed into an inconspicuous hole.

“...Rat.” Long Yuehong almost peppered it with bullets.

Shang Jianyao nodded thoughtfully. “Is it edible?”

“...In theory, yes. However, it has too many viruses and bacteria. It’s very easy to end up getting infected with serious diseases.” Long Yuehong tried his best to explain, in case his good friend had any ideas. “If Team Leader were here, she would definitely say, ‘Do not eat such things unless there’s no other choice.'”

Shang Jianyao exhaled, seemingly a little regretful. “Look around.”

He took a few steps forward and squatted beside the yellowish pages. Unfortunately, there was nothing on it. However, Shang Jianyao also saw something. The outline and size of the complete pages were basically the same. They must have been torn from the same notebook.

“If there’s any important information on them, they definitely would’ve been taken a long time ago,” said Long Yuehong.

Shang Jianyao did not comment. “Put them away first. I’ll get Team Leader to do some research on them later.”

With that said, he took out a bag and a plastic tweezer. He then picked up the pages and placed them in the bag.

The two of them searched the side of the building again, but they still didn’t find anything.

After returning to the slope, Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong walked up to the small square. They saw that the opposite building had collapsed, and the four-story building on the right was covered in green plants.

Above the building’s first-floor door were three large red words. They had already mottled and faded, vaguely visible in the greenery: “Inpatient Department.”

“It really is a hospital.” Long Yuehong turned his head to look at the building beside the slope. “This is also part of the hospital. Then, it seems like the radio station is the one that collapsed.”

The bricks at the top of the collapsed building had been removed, indicating the Ruin Hunters’ professionalism and patience.

“Let’s go in and take a look.” Shang Jianyao led the way to the inpatient department.

There were lots of glass shards and animal feces inside, but they were preserved relatively well. However, there were no hospital beds in any of the wards.

“No way. The beds should be very heavy...” Long Yuehong was rather surprised.

“They can be pushed,” Shang Jianyao said simply. “They also might have brought cutting tools.”

“There really isn’t anything left... Are these what Ruin Hunters are capable of?” Long Yuehong sighed and followed Shang Jianyao up the stairs to the second, third, and fourth floors.

Walking in the inpatient department gave him a constant feeling of gloominess and coldness. The scent he breathed in also had an indescribable weirdness to it. It didn’t resemble the residual smell left from excessive rot.

“I think that’s about it? There’s nothing else.” Long Yuehong couldn’t help but urge Shang Jianyao to leave.

“Yeah.” Shang Jianyao looked at the bathroom close to the stairs, took out a pen and paper, and began to draw a map of the hospital against the wall.

“Can’t we go out and do it?” Long Yuehong paced back and forth.

“Soon, soon.” Shang Jianyao’s pen flew across the paper. Finally, he drew a strange symbol that resembled a squatting person in the inpatient department.

“What does that represent?” Long Yuehong asked curiously.

Shang Jianyao did not answer him. He drew a similar symbol to the side. He then drew a horizontal line before labeling it. “Bathroom available.”

“...” Long Yuehong didn’t want to bother with Shang Jianyao any further.

After completing this portion of the map, the two of them left the inpatient department and went down the slope.

After entering the main road, they saw two figures emerge from the steelworks factory’s depths before they could search for their next target. Each was on a bicycle and carried a rifle.

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