I couldn’t find hunger. Seventeen others, hunger inside none. Only tubes and tubes and more tubes. The sun is up; the day is bright, but hunger is hidden. Annoying. I ate the fallen prey’s brain before it rotted. I broke its bones up and stored the fragments in my bag. I left the sated others alone, waiting to see when they’d move. The hunger came back before the prey rotted back in the metal hunk. It wasn’t the same for the others. They still haven’t moved. Why? Are they not hungry? Does their hunger not come back? But it’s not only them. The remaining others are more docile: less groaning, less drool. Is it the sun? I don’t know. They still react to sound and smell. But they’re sluggish. One of the others is lying down. It didn’t eat. It should be hungry. But it’s lying down in the sun, unmoving. Why? Not all others are the same. This one could be special. A stupid kind of special, but special. Maybe this is what it’s like to be fully consumed by hunger. Living but dead.

I’ll crack its skull open. The hunger reached its brain. Will I find it there? Four swings later, the other’s brain appeared. Unlike preys’ the other’s brain was green. It smelled like rot. Disgusting. Even the others are shying away. I don’t see hunger. Unless it’s the green color. If it is, it can’t be removed. Removing things from a living brain, impossible. Exposing the brain kills. Will this be me one day? Succumbed to hunger, lying in the sun waiting to die? Never. I won’t allow it. I have to find more food. Marrow is good, but not enough. I need brains. At least one a day. Two would be ideal.

Now that the sun is out, the floating cans are easy to see. They surround the clearing, suspended between the trees. The hair-like material is rope. I don’t know why I remembered its name, but it’s rope. Rope is useful. It can suspend cans. When something hits the rope, the cans clank, making noise. Like I thought, prey is alerted by sound. It makes sense. When dark, they can’t see, but they can hear. If they hear clanking, they point the light at the sound. Once the prey sees, they kill the one making the sound. If the sound lingers too long, others will hear. Prey have fewer numbers. They can’t fight many others at once. It makes sense. When prey dies, they become others. But this one didn’t. But maybe it’s because I ate its brain. And broke its bones and left only the annoying small bits behind. Doing that to an other kills it. If the prey is in a state that others can’t survive, it doesn’t come back to life. Or only the prey that ask God come back. This one didn’t ask. It didn’t come back. It makes sense.

But other than suspending cans, rope is useful. It can tie things together. These trees are tied together by rope. Trees can’t move, but what if rope connects a tree and something that moves? Like an other. Or a prey. It took a while, eating marrow once, to untie one tree. The bulge around the loop is called a knot. Twisting the rope a certain way creates knots to maintain the loop. To untie the knot, I tugged until the rope came loose, then guided the loose end through the twists. It took a long time, but it was fun, interesting.

The second tree didn’t take as long to untie. The third was even faster. The fourth faster still. By the time I untied all the ropes, I only ate another piece of marrow. Now, what happens when I tie an other to a tree? It was tricky, tying knots, but reversing the twists to undo the knots tied them again. Also, my finger nails are growing back. Tiny slivers peeking out of my skin, but they’re there. Once tied to the tree, the other didn’t do anything special. But it couldn’t move too far. When it tried, the rope held it back. It was stuck to the tree. It didn’t try to untie the rope. It’s too dumb to realize. This is only useful for others. Tying prey won’t work, they know knots. No, it can work. I use my fingers to manipulate rope. If I tie the prey’s hands, or break their fingers, they’ll be trapped. Yes, rope is very useful. I can preserve prey this way. Dying causes prey to rot. One prey is enough to sate my hunger. If there’s a second prey, it’s a waste to let it go, a waste to kill it. Tying it won’t kill it or let it go. I knew prey were the best to learn from. They have so many useful things. Lights and rope and the ability to command metal hunks. I don’t know how they do it, but one day I’ll learn. But to do that, I have to catch more prey.

Which way? Which way do I go to find more prey? The sun is high up; the prey won’t use lights. There’s no sound either, just soft groans. The only smell is the smell of rotten brains. What if I follow the prey? The metal hunk left tracks behind. Some gouges in the earth. Prey are like me, afraid of dying. I surround myself with others to decrease my chance of death. Wouldn’t prey do the same? Prey should know where other prey are. If I follow them, they should lead me there. But the metal hunk was moving fast. How long will it take to catch up? I don’t know. But this is the only way. Come, others. Come. I banged the metal rods together, and the others groaned at me. One of them came close, then fell over. It was still tied to the tree. I forgot about it. And the rope. I have to bring it with me, but it won’t fit in my bag—it’s already filled with bones. How? The others. They follow me. If I put the rope on them, the rope follows me too.


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