"Stinky girl, scram, I need to use the bathroom."
Early in the morning, in a narrow bathroom, Hua Man, who was sound asleep, was rudely awakened by her sister's kick.
As for her sister Wen WanWan's arbitrary behavior, although Hua Man felt helpless, she was long used to it.
She got up from her bed in a daze. Due to the cramped space of the bathroom, and the fact that she had just been woken up, she was still not fully awake.
As Hua Man edged past Wen WanWan, she accidentally bumped her arm, and this slight collision instantly piqued Wen WanWan's anger.
"Stinky girl, picking a fight early in the morning, huh? I think you're asking for it!"
As she said this, she grabbed Hua Man's collar and dragged her out of the bathroom, pulling her through the living room and driving her outside of the house.
This was the early onset of spring, with the outdoor temperature barely reaching 5 degrees in the early morning.
Presently, Hua Man, only clad in thin pajamas and barefoot, stood shivering in the cold wind.
"Sister, open the door, it's so cold outside! Open the door……" Hua Man, with her hands reddened from the cold, cried out, repeatedly pounding on the front door.
Even though the wind outside was strong, howling in Hua Man's ears, she could still clearly hear the dissatisfied grumblings from inside the house.
"Making such a racket this early in the morning, didn't Mom say she was going to send her away? Why is she still here?"
"I wish she'd leave too; it's just too inconvenient to use the bathroom. We'd be more comfortable with one less person in the house......”
Upon hearing this, Hua Man abruptly stopped knocking on the door.
Mom wants to send me away?
Is she being sent to join the pioneers?
Although Hua Man had a premonition in her heart that she would be sacrificed for her family, she still felt sad deep down.
She had never left the base since childhood, and she had no superpowers. If she was sent to join the pioneers, there would only be two outcomes, either death or disability.
Now it is the second decade of the post-apocalyptic era, and major bases are gradually being established. Not only can people have meals in the bases, but they can also avoid attacks by zombies and mutant creatures. Therefore, many survivors swarmed to the bases.
In order to survive, everyone is desperate to settle down in the base, which eventually leads to an explosive population growth and land scarcity in the base.
Hua Man's parents had the good fortune to be assigned a two-bedroom house of 60 square meters because they were among the first batch of engineers involved in the construction of the base.
Under normal circumstances, this two-bedroom apartment should be enough for a family of three.
But Hua Man's parents are a couple who met halfway in life. Before Hua Man was born, both of her parents had formed their own families and had children with their previous spouses.
Hua Man's father, Hua Yanguo, values boys over girls. He felt bad for his two sons from the previous marriage, who didn't have a place to live. So he brought his sons to live with them.
Seeing this, Hua Man's mother, Zhou Huaihong, was upset. She decided to invite her daughter, Hua Man's half-sister from the same mother but different father, Wen Wanwan, to live together.
When Zhou Huaihong went to pick up Wen Wanwan, considering that her daughter was already married, she eventually decided to bring her daughter, son-in-law, and three-year-old granddaughter altogether.
So, in the end, a family of eight was living in the 60-square-meter apartment.
At home, Hua Man was forced to sleep in the narrow bathroom. It was not only damp and dark, but also, her bed was right next to the toilet.
And every time Wen Wanwan came to the bathroom, she would scold her for being in the way, calling her a drag.
With many people in the house, conflicts were plenty, and peace was scarce.
Furthermore, the government had issued a policy that every household must send an adult labor worker to join the Pioneer army, or else they will confiscate their housing.
In the end, Huaman became the sacrifice, her fate decided upon by her birth parents after weighing the pros and cons.
Huaman felt as if she was freezing to death. She pounded on the door more forcefully and yelled, "Mom, open the door, I'm freezing out here."
In a little while, the door was opened.
Upon seeing her mother at the door, a warmth rushed to Huaman's heart.
Inside, she couldn't help marveling. So her mother did care about her!
But the next second, her mother's words caused her to sink from warmth to the chill of despair.
"Huaman, you can come in if you want, but you have to promise to join the Pioneer army."
"You know, our house is so small yet it accommodates eight people and with you sleeping in the restroom every day, it's very inconvenient for the rest of us."
"Now you have a chance to join the Pioneer army. I've heard that they provide food and accommodation, and the conditions are quite good. You’ve always been a sensible child, your father and I have raised you all these years, it's time for you to show your gratitude."
"Mom, can you not send me to the Pioneer army? I don't have superpowers, joining the army is like a death sentence for me!" Huaman pleaded.
Upon hearing this, Zhou Huihong's face darkened, "Give it a serious thought before you speak to me again!"
Immediately after, with a "bang", the door was slammed shut.
Was this giving her time to think clearly? It was clearly forcing her to agree!
Looking at the cold, closely shut door, Huaman felt a chill in her heart.
She crouched at the doorway, curling into herself to fend off the cold.
Before long, the smell of breakfast wafted from within, accompanied by the sounds of her family's cheerful chit-chat.
Listening to their light and merry voices, Huaman couldn't help but feel like she was but an unnecessary existence in this house.
She thought to herself, perhaps if she were to freeze to death outside, her parents wouldn't even shed a single tear for her.
At that moment, a mechanical voice suddenly sounded in Huaman's mind, "Energy collection complete, loading successful."
What's this noise? Is she hallucinating?
"Would the host like to bind to the Landlady System? Upon successful binding, you will receive a basic one-bedroom house for your use."
Caught off guard by this supposed hallucination, Huaman clearly remembered four words in her mind, "gift of real estate".
Huaman had always dreamt of owning her own house. Then, she wouldn't have to sleep in the damp bathroom every night, wouldn't be kicked awake and insulted by her sister, and wouldn't be despised by her family.
Subconsciously, she thought, even if she hadn't enjoyed life, it wouldn't hurt to indulge in a daydream before freezing to death.
With that in mind, she plucked up her courage. Regardless of this so-called binding to the system, as long as she could have a house, she'd even agree to fight zombies up close and personal.
"Binding successful. Please accept, host."
In the next instant, a house key card appeared in Huaman's hand. In front of her, a transparent panel popped up, on which was displayed a 3D rotating image of a one-bedroom house.
Looking at the spectacle in front of her, Huaman's eyes widened in disbelief.
Is this real?
Is she really not daydreaming?