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It took a long time. Climbing down pits, throwing up spikes, climbing up pits, untying ropes, shredding ropes, tying spikes to wrists. Enough time passed for the sun to set. All the others were equipped with a spike. Thirty-four had two. There were one hundred four spikes, seventy others. Is it enough? I’m not sure. Prey are dangerous. Maybe others with spikes are equally as dangerous. It doesn’t matter how many others die; I can always find more. But not all of them can die. If they all die, I’m next.

Should I wait for day to hunt? No. For some reason, the others are less sluggish at night. When the sun is out, they shamble. When the sun is gone, they walk. Is the hunger greater at night? I’m not sure. But I’ll find out soon. My stored marrow will rot soon, when the sun rises. One prey lasts me one day. Is it possible for me to survive even if all others die? If the others hunt one prey, I can retrieve its bones and brain, then run away, leaving the others to fight the prey. But without me, the others won’t succeed. They’re dumb. They need me to guide them. What if they fall for the prey’s tricks? Who’s to say there aren’t more traps inside?

Just the heads, then. When the others kill a prey, I’ll take its head and store it. A brain can last me half a day. And it won’t take long. I’ll be able to lead and observe. If it’s dangerous, I’ll run. One head won’t hinder my movements. If all the others die, I’m guaranteed to come out on top anyway. As long as I don’t die. But there’s no such thing as an easy way to survive. If I want to live, I have to hunt. Hunting is dangerous. Living is dangerous. But I have to. To find God. To ask him questions. So many questions.

But it isn’t the time for that. The longer I delay, the higher the chance the prey will discover me. And then they’ll be ready. I can’t allow that. The sun has set, but the prey’s territory is still bright. Parts of it. The outer edges are darker, and the woods are impossible to see in. That’s why I’m crawling. My light will alert the prey if I use it. Crawling feels more natural. The others are still stumbling. Maybe the spikes prevent them from crawling. Why is the prey’s area still bright? It’s not like the other prey’s light, the cylinder with the button. That light was white. This light is orange, moving, flickering, coming from behind the cabins. I’ll see when I get there.

How? The first obstacle is getting to the fence. The easiest way to check for traps in the dark is to use one hand and push down. If the ground sinks, there’s a trap. But there weren’t any here. Would the prey trap so closely to their territory? What if they fall in? Prey want to live, they wouldn’t put something dangerous so close. There was one open trap, the gaping hole that I saw earlier. But it was easy to avoid even in the dark. The others avoided it to, following me in a wide arch around it. They’re listening and following the clicking sounds two metal rods make when they collide. It’s not loud enough to ring out, muffled by the ground. But it’s loud enough for the others at the front of the herd to hear. The ones in the back can’t hear. But they follow the ones in the front.

The next step is removing the fence. I saw how the prey did it. The long beams in the back, they support the fence. The light coming from behind the cabins is enough. I don’t have to pull out my own light to see. The fence has hooks jutting out the back. On top of those hooks, there’s a long board. And the beam is somehow connected to that board. The prey disconnect the beam by lifting, like this. It looked big. But the beam wasn’t heavy. I’m not sure why. Did I get stronger? I don’t think so. I can’t pull the fence open. Is this one that I have to lift to open? No, it’s too heavy to lift. Why? Maybe this section of the fence doesn’t open. There’s another beam over there, not too far away.

The second beam was light. It didn’t make a sound after hitting the ground. The fence wobbled a bit, but pulling and lifting didn’t work. The others aren’t helping either. Some must’ve heard something. They’re walking into the fence. I have to hurry before prey notice. The third beam was just as light. Something happened when I detached it. The fence buckled inward. The others were pressing against it. I can’t pull or lift with them in the way. Is pressing enough? The beams supported the fence from being pressed down. I removed the beams. Can the others force their way through?

“What’s that sound?”

The prey. Did they notice?

“What sound?”

The noise is coming from a tent. The others have all noticed. They’re gathering, pressing in one spot, towards the source of the sound.

“You don’t hear it? It’s like creaking.”

“Oh, I hear it now.”

“What is it?”

The fence is buckling backwards. The first others are practically touching the ground.

“That’s the sound of two people getting it on when they think everyone else is asleep.”

“On the ground? The ground doesn’t creak.”

“From the cabin, idiot.”

“The cabin’s that way. The creaking is coming from behind us.”

“The only thing behind us is the fence.”

Snap.

The fence broke. Two of the boards that the beams were supporting snapped. A section of the fence toppled to the ground. The top part hit the tent, and there was a scream. If the prey weren’t on alert earlier, they’re guaranteed to be alerted now. I’ll wait and observe. See what happens. React appropriately. It’s dangerous. But I don’t have to be in danger. Yet.

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Virlyce

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