Doomsday Wonderland Chapter 24
Lin Sanjiu could feel something pressing uncomfortably against the back of her head. Half a day had already passed. She felt exhausted and did not feel like moving, so she just flipped sideway hazily. At that very moment, she suddenly heard a line from a song, "You are my little, little apple". It broke the tranquility of the night and sounded rather irritating.
[Whose ringtone is so loud? That's too disturbing. I can even hear it from the 38th floor.]
Lin Sanjiu suppressed her sleepiness and opened her eyes. She saw a row of orange round circular grab handles. [That's right, I am not in that 38th floor penthouse—this is the New World…]
She sat upright and saw the rows of seats which were filled with cardboard cartons of supplies. On the side of the wall beside her, there was still a green sign stating, "Priority Seat for elderly, disabled, pregnant, and injured". The rare starlight from outside the windows illuminated the rim of the sign dimly.
At the top of the exit doors, there was a piece of route map of something similar to that. But the only thing she could discern was the numerical "3".
Suddenly, there were a few quick knocks on the door of their public bus. The volume of the "Little Apple" song grew louder and was followed by Voley's voice, "Hey, it's already ten, you should all wake up. Let's go!"
Lin Sanjiu rubbed her eyes as memories of the current reality flooded her mind.
That's right. This afternoon, they had agreed to bring Voley along their journey. They even went into his car, eating, drinking, and chatting for a long time. Even though Voley looked like a timid guy, they only found out that he was quite an attentive person after interacting with him. To conserve their energy for the night, all of them went to rest quickly. Voley, being the only person with a mobile phone, had volunteered to set an alarm so that they could set off at ten pm. Lin Sanjiu jumped up and walked over the driver's seat. She pressed a button, and the door of the public bus opened, showing Voley who was still cladded in that oversized western suit.
Lin Sanjiu eyed him a little moodily, "You should switch that alarm off quickly. What will we do if it attracts the duoluozhongs here? And the volume of that thing is way too loud!"
Voley responded with an "Oh. Oh." and quickly switched his phone off. Once that "Little Apple" song faded, Lin Sanjiu felt that the world became much more peaceful. Voley smiled and asked, "Where is Miss Marcie? What about Xiao Lu, are they awake?"
"They're at the back…" Lin Sanjiu replied.
Meanwhile, Marcie yawned and walked over. She rinsed her mouth with mineral water and sat down in the driver's seat sleepily. Luther nodded his head at Voley acknowledging his presence and rubbed his eyes as he headed back to the truck. From the back, he also looked listless.
Everyone looks so tired. Lin Sanjiu thought as she could not help yawning again.
On the contrary, Voley seemed to be in high spirits. He went back and forth checking all the engines. Once he saw that there were no problems, he waved his arms enthusiastically, "That's great. We set off now!"
After she washed up and sat in the truck for a while, her drowsiness slowly abated. She was finally fully awake. She looked at the map in her hands searching for the road towards the industrial park in Xijiao and was the first one to start up her vehicle.
Xijiao was one of the famous industrial parks in the city; there were all sorts of factories and processing plants there. The factories there usually had their own dormitories and canteens—basically, they were pretty much small self-contained ecospheres. Once they reached there, finding backup electrical generators, supplies and shelter shouldn't be a problem.
The other vehicles followed her lead and slowly started their engines.
She had to admit that allowing Voley to join them was right. He not only knew how to maintain cars, but the most surprising thing was that he had a few sets of walkie-talkies in his car. Even though the walkie-talkies could only work within a short distance, but at least they could communicate with each other while driving their own respective vehicles now.
Luther's jovial voice came through the walkie-talkie on the seat beside her, "Xiao Jiu, how far are we from the industrial park?"
"It depends. If we don't meet any traffic obstructions, this shortest route should only take an hour. After we go over this hill, we will be able to see a traffic sign soon…" just as she said this, her stomach suddenly made a weird grumble. [That's bad,] she silently thought to herself.
Sure enough, Luther heard that sound, "Haha! What's that sound? Do we have to stop for a while so that you can relieve yourself?" There was a sound of a laughter escaping from someone—obviously Marcie. "I am just a little hungry," Lin Sanjiu scolded jokingly, "I'm sure a brat like you doesn't have a girlfriend!" while she said this, she searched for a packet of cookies irritably, opened up the packaging and ate a piece, as the others laughed over the walkie-talkies.
They were actually quite lucky since most of the cars, on the road they were on, parked lawfully at the side of the road. Even when they occasionally met some abandoned cars blocking the road, they managed to squeeze through—due to the serious desertification, the boundaries between the road and the sidewalk was no longer so clearly defined. As a result, even after they had been driving for over ten minutes, the group of vehicles was still heading toward the industrial park via the shortcut.
"I heard a 'pop' sound just now, did any of you heard that?" Marcie suddenly asked while driving. Voley immediately responded worriedly, "Miss Marcie, let's hope that it is not a problem with your engines. Where did that sound come from?"
"It is too muffled, so I am not sure. But there is no sound now."
"If you hear it again, I will help your check the engines again!"
After hearing that, Lin Sanjiu could not help looking at her rear mirror. Behind the second truck, she could see the public bus. It was moving normally, and she could even see Marcie's vague outline sitting in the driver seat. Nothing looked out of place. Not thinking anything more about that, she casually winded down her window. A gust of hot night wind rushed in, and her hair instantly flowed behind her.
The subsequent turn of events played out like a movie. It happened so clearly yet so unrealistically.
Almost suddenly, she heard a loud cry over the walkie-talkie. That was Luther's voice, but she could not make out what he was saying. Lin Sanjiu's heart trembled and just as she was about to ask, "How are you?" She heard a sharp screeching brake. Thereafter, a loud boom of collision rang out in the air.
Lin Sanjiu's heart skipped a beat, she stuck her head out of the window braving the strong winds and turned to look behind. Her heart almost stopped…
In the scene she saw through her flowing black hair, the front portion of Luther's truck was now sideways, and the truck was stopped horizontally across the middle of the road. As there was no time to react, the bus that was behind it collided with it violently. Plumes of thick smoke rose immediately. Luther's body flew out of the driver's seat, as countless broken glass sprayed outwards, his body was stuck in mid-air as if time froze.
A long mouthpart was protruding out from his stomach, and the thing behind the mouthpart was hiding within the truck.
All these happened so quickly that she didn't even have the time to blink.
Lin Sanjiu's eyes turned red, she yelled and stopped her truck. Once she got out of her truck, she raced toward Luther. But before she could reach him, the bus suddenly exploded with a boom. Along with the smoke and flames from the accident, glass flew out everywhere. The glass rain instantaneously scratched Lin Sanjiu's exposed skin, covering her with bleeding cuts all over.
She was pushed to the ground by the shockwave of the explosion, and her whole body was covered with wounds. However, Lin Sanjiu sat in a daze on the ground, as if she did not felt a thing. This was because she could see very clearly: As the glass fragments fell, she also saw pieces of blood covered flesh falling and that familiar red hair.
[You've got to be kidding, right?]
The Citroën that was at the back of the line nearly hit the bus. Voley was so shocked that his face was a ghastly white when he opened his car doors. He shouted, "How… how did this happen?"
After she sat startled for a long time, she finally stood up. Without a word, she ran toward the truck with her red rage filled eyes.
Voley, who was panting heavily, quickly pulled her aside and yelled, "You have to calm down…"
Before he finished his sentence, a dark shadow loomed over him. He lifted his head and was shocked. Probably because Lin Sanjiu did not secure the brakes on the truck when she stopped her vehicle so suddenly, it had rolled backward toward them. Voley wanted to let go of Lin Sanjiu and escape but the truck was too close—he had only lifted his feet when the large steel body of the truck swallowed the both of them.
First round: it was a complete wipeout.
Translator Note:  This is a real viral Chinese song called Little Apple (小蘋果).