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35 Chapter Thirty Five - Washing Clothes in the Apocalypse

    After the now unmoving corpses were dealt with beneath a flurry of flames, the men rested for the afternoon and evening before travelling down the length of the third property's large drive in the truck.  Of the three properties, it was clearly the largest and probably oldest, sprawling over the centre of the estate with two grand wings either side an imposing central manor.  There were also several outbuildings, including an stable and adjacent building for stablehands to wash up and rest in.  The former was empty, not sure what had happened to the previous occupants, perhaps they mutated and fled.  The men hoped whether they mutated into zombies or variants, they did not seek to return anytime soon.  The washroom was occupied, temporarily at least.

    There were a total of seven zombies still in the house or its surrounding buildings, however, all were weak and unable to break out of the places they were shut within, unable to take advantage of the broken patio doors in the rear of the property that had been forced open.  There were also three rotting, but not diseased bodies in an upstairs office room.  From the holes in their heads and the gun upon the floor, it was clear these three 'survivors' had opted for suicide rather than become a zombies appetiser.  They also found bones scattered throughout the house of those who had neither become infected nor escaped the undead hunger.

    Dexter and his men sighed.  It was not as if they had not seen such gruesome sights before, but this large mansion come mausoleum really did remind them of the times they were living in.  In the tranquil gardens and simple comforts of the place that they had begun to call home, it was all too easy to push those thoughts to the backs of their mind.

    Of course, they didn't just come here in order to eliminate the last of the threat to their safety, a property of this size with that many once living occupants had to be heavy on supplies!  The large kitchens smelled to high heaven, the smells of rotting meats and vegetables permeating through the door despite the sealed door.  They decided to ignore this for the time being, maybe do a thorough cleaning in the near future just to prevent flies and rats.  As it happened, the large kitchens had a good sized larder and this was brimming with grains, packets of pasta, tins and jars.  There were some potatoes, but they had turned into shrivelled things with long roots and there were bunches of onions, but again they looked far from healthy.

    However, they all cheered when they discovered bottles of soda, cordials and more happily alcohol.  Beer and ciders were found in the kitchens, whiskey and rum in the office that was grave to the suicidal three and there was a basement with many bottles of wine.

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    They did not only clear out the edibles, but also claimed cleaning products, soap and toilet paper.  They also found mens clothing in wardrobe that might fit them or could be altered for Nathan... not that any of them could sew; they didn't bother to sweat the fine details.

    Tyler happily listed all of their fought for supplies, adding them to the lists he'd made in order to keep track of certain things.  The food was, of course, a welcomed thing as they had been running low on a few things, mostly tinned food, but they'd also eaten a fair bit of rice and pasta.  They had several mouths to feed after all and with the main harvest only just beginning, they'd eaten a large percentage of what they had claimed from the village.  Tyler felt more than confident that they could last through this winter without too many worries.

    The one thing they did not lack was washing powder, liquid and tablets.  It was the apocalypse, water was precious and so they would not be able to wash clothes often and even then it was in the soapy water that had previously been used to soak at least three adult, Male bodies.  However, Tyler's ability had improved, he could produce almost double the quantity of water than when they had first settled here.  Most of the week, he filled empty plastic bottles with the excess (not drank or used for washing dishes or roughly wiping bodies).  So it was with great pleasure that he partially filled up one of the large twin sinks in the utility room and scrubbed their dirty clothes in water made soapy by washing powder and conditioner, before rinsing them in the second sink and hanging them out to dry.

    Seeing him industrially cleaning garments, Nathan dropped his hoe and hurried back to the cottage to bring out the large pile of dirty clothes he and Lucy had accumulated.  Unlike the men from the squad, he couldn't abide wearing clothes for more than one day and he also had a habit of changing out of gardening clothes before eating.  So he would easily go through two sets a day.  As this was his habit, he also saw no reason for Lucy not to develop it as well.  Tyler looked at him with narrow eyes, but did not refuse his unspoken request.

    After Tyler took the heavy basket, suddenly wondering how Nathan was hiding muscles in those skinny arms of his, the boy hurried off.  He wished to check on Ren Zexian.

    Following the battle outside the manor, Ren Zexian had gone back to cultivate.  As they had been attacked by a fair few zombies, the core in his stomach had begun to fluctuate, the poisonous yin-half stirring violently against the yang barrier that kept it in check.  Had the battle lengthened in time, the man was not at all certain that his inner defences would remain in tact, thus naturally he had to withdraw and recuperate.  Fortunately, it was the height of summer with long days in which he could cultivate in the brilliance of the sun, infusing his innersea with the strong yang energy, which in turn was circulated through his meridians before curling around the poison core.

    In amidst his meditation, he could only sigh at the loss of this energy, stunting his growth towards the next level of cultivation.  However, once the core was once again firmly in his grip and its barriers greatly strengthened, the energies absorbed could settle finally within his innersea and strengthen him.

    He did not cultivate for an overly long time, this time, opening his eyes on the second day after the battle and the first thing to come into his vision were two beautiful blue eyes that warmed his ancient heart.  He smiled, expressing his happiness as the boy began nodding in self reassurance.

    "You are awake," he stated.  "You did not sleep so long this time.  Good."

    Ren Zexian's smile faltered for a fraction of a second, then his lips curled to a higher degree.  "It's not sleeping, but yes, I have finished cultivating for now.  I've mentioned before that cultivating helps increase my strength.  Sometimes, I need to cultivate for a short while, other times, I will need to cultivate for many days.  Once, I cultivated for ten years in order to break through a stage."

    Nathan frowned as if trying to imagine Ren Zexian 'sleeping' for half his (Nathan's) lifetime.  He could only shake his head.

    "You could cultivate with me..." Ren Zexian coaxed as he watched the myriad of thoughts through Nathan's eyes.  While it was true that the boy had difficulty expressing his emotions or understanding the emotions of others, did not mean he did not have them and the Cultivator could not help but believe that Nathan really did not like it when he 'slept.'

    Nathan shook his head once more.  "Sleeping at night is enough," he replied, before dusting himself off and climbing back through the window, leaving Ren Zexian to sigh over his seemingly insurmountable task.
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