Chapter 186: My Profession is Zombie King 18
“Hey, the ground has cracked.”
That night, Li Dong organized a group of people to go into the mountains and see if any leaks could be found.
The feng shui of Hou’an Village was excellent. Before the disaster, abundant produce, sufficient rain, and ample underground water systems existed. Hence, the soil felt very fertile and moist.
But now, the plants were all withered, and the earth’s surface was cracked. Even a piece of soil felt as hard as a stone, and when you squeezed it, it turned into dry sand. How could crops be planted in such soil?
“This elm money tree (Malabar chestnut) was already one meter thick when I was a child. Now it is so big that three or four people can’t hug it. I thought this tree could live for another hundreds or thousands of years, but now it seems uncertain.”
The speaker was an old hunter from the village. Jiang followed his finger and looked in the direction he was pointing at. Due to the lack of night light, he also shone a flashlight in that direction.
There was only an extremely tall and sturdy old tree, but unfortunately, it struggled due to the scorching sun and lack of water. Most of the elm trees in the forest had already died or were on the verge of dying, and even the few leaves hanging on the branches had turned yellow.
Not only was the elm money tree in poor condition, but most of the trees in the forest had already withered or were on the brink of death. As for the bushes and grass, they were the first to dry up, and the sound of crushing dead grass could be heard when they stepped on them.
“Wild chicken, there are wild chickens here!”
When they heard a shout from ahead, Jiang Liu and the others quickly ran over.
“They have been dead for a long time and have turned into dried meat.”
Only two completely dead wild chickens were seen on the ground. Their bodies had been sun-dried and were as hard as a stone, with almost no meat left on them. These chickens probably died of hunger after an extended period, and their sun-dried meat stuck to their bones, making them look like skeleton frames.
“Can we still eat these dead chickens?” The one who found the chickens asked with a mouth full of saliva.
Almost every household still had some preserved or smoked meat left uneaten. However, people couldn’t bear to eat them now. Occasionally, a few thin slices of meat were cut to add flavour to the vegetables, but most of the meat would end up in the children’s stomachs.
Everyone craved meat so severely that their eyes were red at the sight of the two wild chickens.
“Should we eat them?” they wondered.
Nobody was sure since they had never eaten this kind of meat before. What if there were any harmful bacteria in them? After all, nobody knew how long these chickens had been dead, and there could be problems if they were eaten.
“How about letting the stray dogs try them first?” someone suggested.
The people of Hao’an village loved dogs; since the disaster came, they needed spiritual comfort even more. The incense of the dog temple in the village had become more and more abundant. Even if they were starving, they would not dare kill their dogs and eat meat.
It was said that offending the dog god would bring divine punishment, and now they respected the dog god so much, hoping that the dog god would protect them in the future. But if they angered the dog god, who knew what would happen? Perhaps they would wake up the next day to find four suns in the sky.
Of course, most of this devout belief was held by the older people in the village. Younger people, especially those who had gone to school, did not believe the legends about the dog god that the elders had passed to them. In their view, when people couldn’t survive, what did dogs matter?
Therefore, when the man suggested using the stray dogs in the village as test subjects, no one spoke out to stop him.
Jiang Liu did not join in their conversation, as his gaze was drawn to a faint green hue emanating from the inside of a hollowed-out tree at the forest’s centre. If he was not mistaken, it seemed to be a newly sprouted seedling.
Although he didn’t know what kind of plant the young seedling was, the fact that a sprout was growing in such a sterile environment was a miracle.
Jiang Liu didn’t dare to speak out, as too many people were present. He feared mentioning the seedling would draw unwanted attention, so he took the opportunity. At the same time, everyone focused on the two mountain chickens covering up the hollowed-out tree and waited for the right moment to transplant the young seedling back home.
The villagers quickly descended the mountain with the wild game they had picked up. They processed the game and then fed the heads, which had little meat, to several stray dogs in the village.
These dogs were resilient, as nearly two months had passed since the mutation began, and they were still alive and well, albeit thinner and with sparse hair due to sun exposure, resembling those of mange dogs.
The dogs wolfed down the wild game that the villagers had fed them, and because of their previous intimacy, a few stray dogs rubbed against the villagers who fed them after finishing the game. Their throats made comfortable snoring sounds. The villagers who had planned to use them as test subjects felt ashamed and embarrassed, and their thoughts of waiting for these dogs to starve to death before sharing their meat had diminished.
“It seems like nothing is happening.”
After observing for several hours, the stray dogs that had eaten the sun-dried or starved wild game showed no discomfort. The villagers who discovered the wild chicken were excited.
Wild game was edible, which meant there was still a lot of meat in the mountains, which meant they had a huge treasure trove.
Whether it was for meat cravings or to save up more supplies for their families, the villagers squeezed their brains to march towards the mountains, and whenever they found a sun-dried wild game, they would hide it in their homes.
Li Dong was very uneasy because the stray dogs in the village were still alive, which meant that not all the animals in the mountains had died. After all, wolf packs and bears were in the deep mountains of Hou’an Village, and these animals did not usually come out of the mountains.
But now things were different. When herbivores lacked food and died in large numbers, carnivores would also expand outward due to insufficient food sources. Going into the mountains recklessly now was very likely to lead to trouble.
Moreover, everyone had run into the mountains, so what about the village’s safety?
Unfortunately, people are often driven by their interests, and at this moment, Li Dong’s words are no longer effective. Moreover, he is infuriated by his foolish son, who also went into the mountains to search for a game with his dog grandson while he wasn’t paying attention.
Li Dong intended to scold his foolish son, but unfortunately, his son had a good harvest in the mountains, relying on his dog grandson’s keen sense of smell to bring back many sun-dried sparrows and wild rabbits. The old women and daughters-in-law in the family protected the foolish son and even turned around to scold Li Dong for being short-sighted and lacking foresight.
Due to the wild game incident, the village’s original patrol and defence strength was significantly reduced. Many night patrol team members who should have been on duty secretly went up the mountain. Li Dong could not stop them and was blamed for dragging everyone behind.
Perhaps because he was heartbroken, Li Dong gave up and waited for these people to come and apologize when a big mess broke out.
Of course, this was also a desperate thought. If possible, Li Dong would certainly hope that no bad things would happen.
Of course, there were also smart people in the village. These people did not blindly follow the trend but were even more vigilant and guarded when everyone in the village rushed to the mountains.
At this time, Jiang Liu was in the cellar of the Jiang family.
Apart from a few barrels of salt left by Grandma Jiang, there was nothing in the cellar. Jiang Liu was experimenting there.
A few days ago, he went up the mountain too, not to find dried game but to look for plants sprouting in harsh conditions.
Fortune favours those with a prepared mind. These days, Jiang Liu found four live seedlings in total.
He marked one of them, left it in place, transplanted one to the yard, and kept the remaining two in the cellar. To make a comparison, Jiang Liu also planted some vegetable seeds in the cellar and watered them regularly.
This was also an idea that Jiang Liu came up with inadvertently. Since the sunlight was intense, plants could not grow outdoors. But what if the plants were planted underground, where the temperature was moderate and occasionally some sunlight was refracted with a mirror? Could plants generally grow in such an environment?
Of course, the villagers couldn’t dig large cellars with their own strength. After all, this was a construction project. However, if the method of cultivating plants in cellars was feasible, every household could at least grow some vegetables and sweet potatoes in their small cellars, increasing the food source.
Since he had not tested it yet, Jiang Liu did not immediately tell others in the village about his idea. He planned to wait until his experiment succeeded before sharing the news with everyone.
However, Jiang Liu was not the first to think of this method. At this time, a secret organization in the capital had already begun experimenting with an underground planting program called “Underground Spring”.
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