Global Evolution - Chapter 61
Chapter 61: Flower Shrub
Translator: Letty Editor: IceTea
’’I see.’’ Chang nodded with sorrow - the soldier was dead, without anyone having known his name. A life vanished in this lush jungle, without the accompaniment of friends and family.
’’God...’’ Chang turned away from the corpse and found Jing, who was pushed to the other side of the bush. He picked her up and held her tightly and silently as if he feared that Jing would pass from his sight before he could notice. Chang loosened his arms after a second or two, and started to repack his backpack, he said to Mingyi without looking at him, ’’Let's go, we still have others to look for.’’
’’Sure.’’ Mingyi's voice came from the fog, he again followed Chang to return to the Zheng Kai Avenue.
The subsequent 15-minute walk was filled with the intermittent joy of discovery, but unfortunately, none of these traces of life belonged to humans. To avoid potential trouble and danger, they did not really look into them. Chang was always aware of the timeframe that Qing Shui set to them, and a few minutes later, they decided to return as they didn't find any human.
’’We should go back now. It has been almost half an hour. We'll be delaying the expedition if we don't leave now.’’
They returned with a shade of blue, after about 15 minutes, they re-joined the troop.
’’You didn't find anyone?’’ A look of disappointment passed over Zhao's face when he noticed the number of people did not increase as they came back.
’’We actually found one, but a mantis attacked him...’’ Mingyi turned in the clips and food he found on the corpse to Zhao.
’’These belonged to Cao Wei...what a pity.’’ Zhao was sentimental over the soldier's death.
Although Zhao was upset about the loss of soldiers in his troop, he didn't let the emotion keep him in place. ’’I guess the other one has gone missing already. In consideration of the majority, we should leave now.’’ Zhao waved the military flashlight in his right hand while announcing his decision of abandoning the other soldier.
Zhao didn't command Chang to do more for the troop even when he knew of Chang's capability. Chang was still placed in the middle of the troop to look out for losing soldiers, however, even without Zhao's orders, he was already wary of the surroundings.
The journey kept on going for nearly three hours straight. The Sun radiated over their scalps, and the red fog was lit up into its most saturated color. They, fortunately, did not encounter any danger but the physical exertion was so intense that the troop had to rest for a few minutes to hydrate and snack.
The military prepared crackers for the troops but they were almost inedible. Chang unzipped his backpack with both his hands, he took out a plastic bag with frog meat and unwrapped it. They made a small circle when sitting on the ground.
The military had their own circle while Chang and his friends had their own. There was only one person isolated from the groups - Dr. Huang.
’’You should have some of our meat, we brought enough for all of us.’’ Qing Shui politely invited Dr. Huang to join as he noticed she was excluded.
’’Pretentious.’’ Dr. Huang glanced at Qing Shui but she was not at all interested - she still resented Qing Shui, the person who forced her to join this journey.
’’You are a doctor, so you should be more aware than me of the consequence of lacking water and food after tramping for hours in this hot weather.’’
As Qing Shui talked, he ripped a small piece of frog meat and wrapped it with leaves, and placed a cup of water in front of her.
Qing Shui turned his head again as he finished doing so. He didn't look at her expression nor did he speak more to comfort her.
’’Just eat your food... Being alive is more important than anything.’’ Pangzi also turned his head, but he had lost a significant amount of weight since the start of the red fog, he was not that chubby teen anymore. His shriveled face made a smile, ’’We are probably not good people in your mind, but we are not as bad as you have imagined us either.’’
’’But, who cares about how you would see us now.’’ Pangzi shrugged, ’’Isn't able to survive more important than anything else for now?’’
The doctor didn't expect what Pangzi just said. She was frozen in place for a moment but she then picked up the meat and water and almost swallowed the piece of meat whole.
The troop was ready to depart again as they were well rested - lost two soldiers this morning but one-third of the trip had been completed; it was an acceptable rate of death for this journey so far. The atmosphere in the troop was relatively light-hearted.
The group of 20 moved within the jungle for another hour - until someone in the front stopped.
’’What happened?’’ As soon as one stopped after the other, few of the alarmed people held up their rifle right away - they looked at all directions, ’’Is something wrong?’’
’’Not at all, put down your firearms.’’ Zhao's voice came from the front.
’’Why did you pause then?’’ Chang didn't see anything either, he quickly made his way to Zhao.
He soon learned the reason why Zhao was suspicious - he saw a scene of a bright and splendid flower shrub.
The flower shrub was bright red. The color was so vibrant and saturated that it even stood out from the thick fog. It was a type of red that made the flowers look on fire.
The shrub was wide and tall, even wider than Chang was able to see. It lay on the gravel path absurdly, it planted a seed of hesitation and fear of the unknown in everyone's mind.
’’The color gives goosebumps...’’ Qing Shui caught up with Chang, he noticed the unusual color of the flowers as Chang did.
’’Do you think they are poisonous?’’ Zhao asked with deep worry.
’’I can't tell. But considering their strange appearance, we should at least avoid them.’’ Qing Shui pointed at the shrub, ’’And you know what makes them weird? There are no other plants growing around them at all, this is not common.’’
’’You are right.’’ Chang squinted his eyes to look further, he didn't even see one grass shoot under the flower shrub. It was strange compared to elsewhere, where a great variety of plants grew on each other, and, as if they were competing, tried harder than the others to reach higher for more sunlight.
’’They are definitely special in some way, otherwise they wouldn't be able to dominate this area with all other competition eliminated.’’ Qing Shui sighed, ’’My one and only advice is, regardless of their abilities, do not touch them under any circumstances.’’
’’Do you think they are carnivorous?’’ Zhao stretched his imagination to picture what nature could create in this world.
’’Could be. Let's test that then.’’ Qing Shui took out a piece of frog meat from his backpack and threw it right in front of the flower shrub. However, the flowers didn't even move an inch, they were completely calm, they didn't have a row of teeth poke out from the stamens to reach the meat.
’’They are not interested?’’ Zhao clenched his fist.
’’Nevermind, let's pass around them.’’ Qing Shui didn't put down his guard even though the shrub showed absolutely no interest in protein.
’’Passing around them? But we will be deviating from the original path, which is right in front of us. What if we get lost?’’
’’Tell me what you would choose then? That we should wade through them without considering any potential hazard?’’ Qing Shui was slightly annoyed.
Gazing at Qing Shui for a few seconds, Zhao again turned to the bloody flower shrub, and he gave up eventually. ’’Let's pass around them.’’
Zhao took out his compass from the pocket in front of his chest, recalibrated the direction, and then asked Chang to come to the front of the troop.
’’Please stay at the front when we pass around, you can look further than any of us, and with the compass, I have more confidence that we won't get lost.’’
’’Sure!’’ Chang nodded, ’’I don't have much experience walking through the jungle, though, I will listen to you as long as I can.’’
’’Let's not stray too far from the flower shrub, just inform me as soon as possible when you see anything.’’