Zhang Heng slept until around 8 pm. The sky outside the window had darkened, and the traffic on the street downstairs had also increased significantly. Almost all of the cars were heading out of the city. Forming a long line, the road was completely choked, not to mention the steady stream of cars joining in along the way.
Although there was no official evacuation announcement, more and more people chose to leave Pripyat. In fact, the school had already announced the suspension of classes in the afternoon, and students were required to stay indoors. However, the hotel had just sent people to check room by room, and all hotel services, including the restaurant, were not affected.
However, the seven players did not dare to eat the freshly baked bread and sausages. Even though they looked delicious, Zhang Heng and the others still chose to eat canned food in the packaging. They only used the hotel’s kettle to boil two bottles of mineral water to drink.
Zhang Heng took over from the previous doctor on duty and sat in the lobby of the Pripyat Hotel. He took out a newspaper, but in reality, he observed the people coming in and out of the door.
According to the hotel receptionist, the current Pripyat Hotel was at more than half of its occupancy rate. Guests mainly came for travel and business, including a small number of foreign guests who came to admire the modern atomic city.
It could be seen that the guests were also worried about the current situation. Some were already considering whether to leave early, but some decided to stay.
At around 10:15, Zhang Heng saw a group of people walk in from outside. There were more than 20 of them, and each of them was dressed in a suit. Some of them were even dressed in military uniforms. They escorted a short but agile man into the hotel.
When the waiter saw them, he quickly went up to welcome them. However, before he could say anything, he was interrupted by the short man in the middle. He waved his hand impatiently, and the waiter immediately became silent, not daring to say anything else. He quickly led them to a restaurant at the side.
It seemed that the head chef had been informed in advance and had already prepared the meal. However, it had been a while, and the temperature had dropped. Most importantly, there was already a lot of radioactive dust on the surface, but the group of people did not seem to notice. After they had prepared their own food, they found a place and started wolfing it down. There was almost no conversation during the whole process. It was clear that they were all worried, and many of them looked exhausted.
Zhang Heng knew that he had finally met the right person.
Although he had never met the people from the committee, the clothes and behavior of the group in front of him, other than the committee members and experts who had just arrived in Pripyat, seemed out of place. The short man in the middle, if nothing else, was the chairman of the accident committee, Shelbina.
According to Bryuhanov, the short man was a serious and stuffy man with a strong sense of control. Whenever he gave an order, there was no room for negotiation. This was why Bryukhanov was so afraid of him. Even now, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant director was still insisting that the water tank had exploded.
However, the experts who had arrived first realized how serious the situation was. After dinner, they split up. Shcherbina and the other two took the elevator, but the rest did not return to their rooms. Instead, they turned around and left the hotel.
Zhang Heng hesitated for half a second before standing from his seat. He picked up the newspaper and followed Shcherbina.
If everything went as planned, the people who left would return to work. Shcherbina and the other two would probably take a break first. However, when they entered the elevator, Zhang Heng saw him press the button for the top floor.
Zhang Heng chose the lower floor. When the elevator arrived, he left the elevator with the newspaper in hand. He took three steps to ensure that the people in the elevator could no longer see his position. Then, he immediately sped up and ran to the safety corridor, following the stairs to the top floor of the hotel.
Zhang Heng poked his head out to look in the direction of the corridor. Shcherbina and the other two had just walked out. However, they did not go to any rooms. Instead, they went up the fire escape to the rooftop of the hotel. There, a helicopter was already waiting for them.
Although Shcherbina had been persuaded by the experts at the previous meeting to agree to the evacuation, he still wanted to see for himself the real situation of the reactor.
Zhang Heng didn’t expect the committee to have a quick dinner upon their return to the hotel after such a long trip. They didn’t even return to their rooms to rest before they went back to their own work. However, Zhang Heng wasn’t in a hurry. He knew that those people would come back to sleep sooner or later. Furthermore, they had gotten the keys to their rooms while they were eating and had asked the waiter to carry their luggage to their rooms. In other words, he could already find Kovitz’s room from the waiter.
Therefore, Zhang Heng went to Coconut’s room. He was about to ask her to continue translating and discuss with Besnova how to get the room number. He didn’t expect that he’d receive no response after knocking on the door.
Zhang Heng frowned. Among the players, only Coconut and the maintenance worker lived alone. He couldn’t rule out the possibility that she was sleeping and didn’t hear the knocking at the door. Therefore, Zhang Heng emboldened himself, but the door next door opened first. The maintenance guy poked his head out and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“There’s no movement in Coconut’s room,” Zhang Heng said.
“What a troublesome woman. Should I call the uniformed boy to open the door?” the maintenance guy muttered. He had a deep impression of the lively iron wire of the boy.
“No need. This kind of lock is very simple. I can open it too,” Zhang Heng said. He had checked the door lock the first time he checked in, and he was very familiar with opening it now. However, before he entered the room, Zhang Heng still shouted, “We’re in.”
After saying that, he pushed the door open. However, just as he stepped into the room, he smelled the sour smell of vomit.
Zhang Heng took out a mask and put it on. When he entered the room, he saw the Coconut lying on the floor. Her face was now completely red. Zhang Heng touched her forehead and realized that it was frighteningly hot. She was probably suffering from a high fever and had fainted from it. Perhaps the only fortunate thing was that she hadn’t eaten much previously, which prevented her from dying from choking on her own vomit.
Zhang Heng turned to look at the stunned maintenance worker behind him. “What are you still standing there for? Go get the doctor!”