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Troublesome. Annoying. The others can’t accomplish anything. I threw a bit of brain at the prey on top, but the others didn’t react. Still charging forward into the trap. So dumb. Can’t the others climb? No, I already knew from before. They couldn’t climb a small metal hunk; they can’t climb this big metal hunk. Unless I help? But I’m too weak, the others too heavy. I can’t lift them up there. Seven others have died already. The open invitation created by the prey to kill us. It’s similar to before, back in the store. The prey bundled up in the aisle. Only a few others could attack at a time. I broke it with a brick, but I can’t hit the prey inside. The entrance is too narrow, blocking the prey. No, it’s not blocking the prey. The prey are taking cover. It’s different. Similar, but different. At this rate, all the others will die. There are a lot of them but not enough. Then I’ll call more.

“James! The hell’s that sound?”

The prey communicate through speech. It’s not fair.

“One of the infected fucks is banging two metal rods together! Shit, what the hell? I think it’s trying to call more here!”

Infected fuck. That’s what the prey call others. But an infection…. Isn’t that a disease? I can’t remember. Maybe the others are diseased. No. I shouldn’t assume based on faulty memories. It doesn’t matter either. What matters is hunting these prey. There’s glass, but it’s high up. Unpressable. Is there another way in? Maybe not. The prey are smart. Their strategy only works if there’s one entrance. Except the prey on top. What about it? How does it get back inside? Does it wait until all the others are dead? Before that, how did it get up there? It must’ve climbed. If I can climb, prey can climb. Is it up to me? Do I have to climb up there to kill it? What if it fights back? I could die. Would I? I have weapons too. Should I try? Maybe. But first, I have to test something.

“It stopped! But there’s a shit-ton more coming this way. We might want to drive out of here, guys. Eh? Wait. Where’d it go?”

Like I thought. Like us, prey can’t see in the dark. The prey behind the glass is holding a light. And the prey up top spoke after its light caught me. The light helps them see. If the light isn’t on me, the prey can’t see me. But I can see it; it’s holding the light. If I can avoid the light, I can sneak up from behind. Crawling helps avoid the light. It keeps me close to the ground. The light is shining behind me, at the trees, towards the new others that heard the banging. There’s clanking sounds too, coming from everywhere. Others must’ve heard the shouting, walking into the floating cans.

For now, I can’t get inside. If I succeed in hunting the prey up top, it’s enough. Its brains should last me for a while. But if I fail, I could die. Or the prey escapes and I live. If it escapes, I can study it, see how it gets inside the metal hunk. Three outcomes. Two outcomes are good. One outcome is bad. Two is greater than one; I’ll do it. I’ll go around, behind the prey. It shines its light forward, so it can’t see behind. Going around the metal hunk is easy. But climbing is tricky, almost impossible. It’s dark, hard to see, but this ledge, above it is glass. The light from the prey shines through. I have to be quick. The prey inside may notice, but the others are distracting them. They aren’t useful, but they’re a little useful. Still dumb.

Climbing with rods is tricky. I hit the side of the metal hunk. Maybe that’s why the light is pointed at me. But I’m up, on top with the prey. It has a weapon, a long stick. It’s time to see if prey are similar to others. I’ll hit its head.

“Fuck! Fucking fuck!”

It blocked with its stick. What was that? It pushed me away. With its foot. I almost fell off. It’s running at me. What do I do? Protect my head. It blocked my strike by slanting its stick. I can do the same. Yes, it was easy. And now its foot is coming again to push me off. The prey is bigger. I can’t push against it and win. Then what do I do? Grab it. Its foot hit my stomach, but I grabbed its leg. Now we both fall off.

“Ah! Shit, shit, shit! Help!”

I landed on an other. The fall wasn’t hard. The force wasn’t enough to break my bones. I succeeded. I didn’t hunt the prey, but I did enough. The others can get it now.

“James!? What happened?”

The prey didn’t answer its companions. Instead, it screamed. Two others sank their teeth into it. The prey dropped its light and stick. I climbed to my feet. Then I swung my rod at its head. It was still screaming. I swung again, and again, and again. It stopped. Good. I didn’t break apart its skull, but it still stopped. Odd. Is it dead? No. It’s still trembling, but the others are eating it.

“What do we do!?”

Not all prey sound the same. Some sound deeper. Some higher. Not like the others—all of them groan the same way.

“We drive. Jen, start the engine.”

“But James!”

“He’s gone. Tragic, really, but that could be us next. James would want us to live on after his sacrifice.”

“Like hell he would! I know I wouldn’t.”

“Shut up and keep swinging, or your opinion is going to matter as much as James’ in a second.”

“Fucking brat, who do you think you’re ordering around?”

The prey … don’t get along? I see. Interesting. If everyone thinks, who do they listen to? The others follow me because they’re dumb. I guide them with sound and smell. They don’t complain. But I wouldn’t follow someone else. Is thinking a weakness? Maybe in groups. If I meet a smart other, I’ll kill it. Only I can think. The others will follow me.

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Virlyce

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