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The others left the pork alone. But they gathered around the dead prey. Why? There’s no flesh left. There’s nothing to eat. Only the tough parts remain. But the others, they’re eating. What? The white rod that I broke. They’re sucking on it. Is something inside? Yes. There is. Is it in all the white rods? I’ll break another. I smashed apart the other leg rod. The others flocked towards it, but I smashed their heads too. This is mine. But what is it? Some strange substance inside the rod. It looks solid. Can I eat it? I copied the others and sucked on the rod. It’s moving. Bits of it are coming out. Crunchy but soft. It’s delicious. Marrow. Is that it? Bone marrow, yes. These whitish rods are called bones. Why did I remember that now?

It doesn’t matter. What matters is finding more. I can eat this; the hunger loves it, falling deeper into sleep. Is it more filling than flesh? Why? Compared to flesh, there’s so little. But I feel fuller. Marrow. Will it rot too? For now, I’ll store some bones in my bag. Do all bones have marrow? I’ll break them all and see. The long ones have marrow. The flat ones have marrow. The little tiny ones don’t have much. They’re not worth breaking to eat. The skull has lots of marrow. And brains. By splitting the skull open, I can have brains. The others are too weak, too dumb to open the skull. They dig out the eyes, but the brain is left intact. It’s delicious. Even more filling than marrow. The hunger, it’s fallen so deeply asleep; I can’t feel it anymore. The tendrils have receded. I found it. The path to God. Eating brains is hundreds of times more efficient than eating meat. And the others don’t know how to eat brains. If I lead them to hunt, they can eat all the flesh, but the brains will be mine. This is it.

I’m full. But I’ll finish the prey’s brain. Like before, I don’t know when I’ll eat again. I’ll save a portion. See if it rots. It most likely will, but I have to test. Only through testing can I learn. Learning will make me smarter, make hunting prey easier. But hunting may be more difficult now. The sun has set. It’s dark out. The light from the sign is very faint. But the others can smell, hear. If there’s prey nearby, they’ll find it. But there’s a problem. If I guide the others through sound, prey will hear too. Alerting the prey as I hunt, isn’t that dumb? Then how do I lead the others? I can’t hunt strong prey by myself.

With smell. I’ll smear some brains on my metal rod. Will they follow? Yes, they follow. Like this, I can lead the others around. But only for so long. When the brain rots, they won’t want to follow anymore. That doesn’t matter. I can guide with noise then. I have to move now. Time’s ticking. Does time tick? I’m remembering little bits and pieces. Maybe it was the marrow. Or the brains. If I eat more, I’ll remember more? I have to find prey to test.

Outside the convenience store, there’s a space with metal hunks. Sometimes, others are trapped inside them. Were they eaten like the prey I ate earlier? They don’t have bite marks. I want to ask, but I can’t speak. And they’re too dumb. Pulling on the handles only works sometimes. Sometimes all the handles work. Sometimes none of them do. Most of the time, when they work, only one or two open. The hunks aren’t worth opening. There are enough others following me. It’s a waste of time if none of the handles open the hunks. It isn’t efficient, spending time without gain. I have a limited time to hunt prey, to stave off the hunger.

Past the space with the hunks, there’s a road. Beyond that, there are trees. Which way do I go? Where would prey be? Down the road? Which way? Into the trees? I don’t know. What about the others, which way do they go? To me, to the brains on the metal. That’s not helpful. It’s hard to see too. But what was that? Light. Something flickered inside the woods. Prey? Others? I’ll investigate. Even if there isn’t any prey, there’s light. I can use light to see in the dark. I want to take the store’s sign, but it’s too big, too heavy.

Walking in the woods is annoying. Troublesome. The roads are flat. The woods are gnarled. Roots and bushes and rocks everywhere. The others are tripping, crawling. Is crawling easier? Not with my metal rods. But I can press them to my back with my bag’s straps. Yes, crawling is easier. I can’t fall; I’m already on the ground. How far is the light? Am I still heading the right way? It’s impossible to tell. It’s dark. There’s no light. The sign can’t be seen anymore. Will the sun rise soon?

There it is again. The flickering. Like a beam cutting the air. And that smell. Prey. The others have noticed too. Their drool is hitting the ground. It’s very quiet, but I can hear it. Like tiny footsteps. Their groans are growing louder. What’s this? A thin material, like hair, floating above me.

Clank.

Odd.

Clank, clank.

What is this?

Clank, clank, clank, clank, clank.

Metal cans are attached to the material. When the others press against it, the cans shake. What is it for? Did others set this up? Can there be others like me, leading with sound? No, this is different. A warning. For the prey. I guide the others with smell. Sound alerts prey. Then, the prey that I smell, are alert now? Troublesome. I’ll smash it. The cans fell to the ground. Clanking sounds rang out. There was a gasp.

“What was that?”

The flickering. It stopped. But the light, it landed on me.

“Oh, shit.”

It was hard to see, but at the end of the light, there was prey.

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Virlyce

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