I’m not sure how much time has passed. A few days, at least. My injury hasn’t healed. The hole left from the spear was filled in, a blackish blob in its place. My arm lacks its full range of motion. But it regained a little bit more. Cutting the prey into reasonable chunks wasn’t a problem; the bone saw was really useful. There were some parts that were questionable to preserve. But I decided to preserve the whole thing, see if there were any parts that didn’t work. To make meat last a long time, salt is required. And the other powder that’s like salt, sodium nitrite. It’s a really simple process: rub the two powders into the meat. Cover it thoroughly. Let it sit. There’s a metal rack that I placed the meat on. Not all of it fit; the rest I hung on hooks. Now, I’m waiting. After two weeks, or fourteen days, the next preservation process begins: smoking.

But keeping track of time is hard. The sunlight peeks through some gaps between the door and wall. But other than that, I’m isolated. To prevent the others from being attracted to this place, I can’t go out, can’t open the door, can’t make windows. I know they’re out there. Their groans are loud. I worried about them leaving the area for nothing. The fence keeps them in place. There’s only one exit: the funnel the prey had as a chokepoint but didn’t get to use. But it seems like the others aren’t leaving. Maybe two tried to leave at once, getting stuck in place. They’re dumb enough for it to be possible.

When the hunger stirs, I eat some of the salted meat. The hunger doesn’t reject it. It does taste a bit off. Not rotten. But not good either. The process works though. Days have gone by without the meat rotting. It’s a different story for the experiments. All the innards that’ve been exposed to infected blood, saliva, bites have rotted. They turned black, little spots at first, then more. The infection takes time to spread, starting off small before consuming the whole thing. The innards that haven’t been exposed to anything infected are still fine. I’m going to leave them out, see how long they last compared to the salted meat.

The others’ noses should still be clogged. But if I step outside, the noise from the door opening will attract them. How annoying. But I’m restless, being cooped up in this room. It’s boring. I need something to do. With this food preservation, I can’t transport food until after I’ve smoked it. But that process comes after salting for two weeks. Will I sit here for that long, doing nothing? That’s a lot of wasted time. I can go out, harvest the traps. Pick up the metal spikes on the ground. Find some more trees that provide rope. Search the interior of the building for anything I’ve missed. Sharpen more arrows. Create spears. There’s so much I could do. But can’t.

I’ll try. I’ll open the door, see how many others there are. If it isn’t too crowded, I can slip out, tie the door shut with a rope. Or I can distract the others, throw a piece of meat out, then tie the door shut. It’s decided. I’ll do that. But first, a quick check. The door opens inwards. I don’t have to worry about being trapped inside if others are pushing from the outside. Not like they were doing that. The sun’s out. They’re sluggish. Not many are by the door. There’s only ten on this side of the building. That’s not a lot. Maybe it’s not as safe as I thought. I don’t even have to throw out innards as bait to lure the others away. After several days, they settled down. The door was easy to tie, the doorknob to the barrel around the corner. The others didn’t even react, too sluggish to do anything.

Around the corner of the building wasn’t any different. The others were mostly sitting. One was standing. All of them basking in the sun, unmoving. The dead bodies were still there, lying next to the walls, their blood solidified on their faces like black masks. If their blood could turn prey into others, how did stink sauce work? It covers the clothes. But what if it gets on the prey’s skin? Wouldn’t they turn? Maybe there’s another requirement. Like innards only. I still have the skin from the prey. I’ll split that in half, experiment with it as well. See if it rots after spreading blood on it.

At the front of the building, the door was still open, blocked by the corpse I placed there a few days ago. The others hadn’t pushed it out of the way while walking. There were imprints on its chest; they stepped on it to get over. I’m amazed. I thought they’d trip. From here, I can see the chokepoint of the fence. There’s nothing blocking it. It seems the others aren’t leaving because of their sluggishness. But don’t they become more active at night? They haven’t left despite the days passing. Maybe they heard the sawing sounds coming from my room.

The inside of the building is unchanged. The four prey that were eaten, only bones, scraps of cloth are left. But they’re twitching. Are they alive? Even with the flesh stripped from their bones, are they alive because their brains are intact? They can’t move. Without muscles, tendons, bones can’t move. I noticed it while butchering the prey. The flesh is stretchy, contracting, uncontracting to move the bones. But without the bones, the flesh doesn’t move as well either. They’re both required for movement. But it really does seem like the others are alive. With what little flesh they have on their faces, their jaws are opening, closing, their teeth clicking together. But without being able to move their arms or legs, they might as well be dead. I wonder. If I cut off an other’s head, it won’t have a body, but its brain will be left intact. Does that mean it’s still alive? I’ll have to test.


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