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Fire. Fire is amazing. The smoke coming off of it attracts prey. There’s no need to move to hunt; the prey come to me. I’ve copied the prey, suspending cans in the air with ropes. As long as prey think other prey live here, they’ll come. It’s safe. No one will hurt them. Prey are smart. But, sometimes, they’re dumb. Like others blindly attracted to smell and sounds, prey are blindly attracted to signs of other prey. It’s wonderful. My food comes to me without the danger of hunting. But there’s a problem. The prey come in groups of three to four. The others usually catch one or two, the rest escaping. Prey communicate with one another. What if the survivors inform other prey? Let them know that this region isn’t safe?

Then I’ll have to leave. But the fire, it’s hard to take. It burns, consumes everything. But it dies if it isn’t fed. Wood is good, lasts for a long time. It can even transport fire a short distance before burning out. But it burns out, needing to be constantly fed. Then how did the prey have fire? If fire can only be created by more fire, where did the first fire come from? It doesn’t make sense. The prey must have a way to create fire.

There was one prey, it fell into a trap. The first living prey I caught and kept the others away from. Its leg was impaled. I spread rotten brains on it to prevent others from noticing the smell. It worked well. But when I placed wood in front of it, it didn’t make a fire. Even when I pointed at the fire, it didn’t understand what I wanted it to do. Being unable to speak is frustrating. And the prey collapsed soon after. It was breathing. But it wasn’t moving. As if it were dead. A little similar to the others after they finish eating. Unresponsive to stimuli. And the next day, when the prey moved, it had turned into an other. I don’t know why. It didn’t die. It wasn’t eaten. It didn’t ask God. Is there something else that triggers the transformation? Perhaps I wasn’t eaten before I lost my memories. Maybe I became an other due to something else. There aren’t any bite marks on me. But that doesn’t mean anything. Injuries heal. My nails have grown back, the burnt skin from the fire regaining their color: pale, sickly gray.

And before I leave, there’s something I have to take. The feathered-spike shooter. The weapon that almost killed me. It was dark, hard to see, it’s understandable I made a mistake. The feathered spikes weren’t thrown at me by a freakishly strong prey. It was shot at me with a tool. A curved wooden and metal stick with a rope tying its two ends together. I saw it in action when the others broke inside the cabin. And I took it after the prey died. It doesn’t exclude the possibility of a freakishly strong prey existing. But in the case that one does, I can copy its strength with this tool. But I don’t think it does. If prey like that existed, there wouldn’t be so many others. Prey survive by living in groups, thinking, outwitting others. Not through pure strength.

The feathered-spike shooter is difficult to use. But as I use it more and more, it gets easier. There’s a notch on the stick portion to rest the feathered spike on. To launch the spike, I pull on the feathered end, pressing it into the rope. The rope doesn’t like being pressed, wanting to return to its original position. When I release the end of the stick, stopping the pressing, the rope snaps back, the spike flying forward. It wasn’t difficult to figure out how to use, having watched the prey use it. Perhaps making fire is the same, easy to create once the trick is discovered.

I’ve tested the feathered-spike shooter on the others. It’s not very good for killing, not yet. The prey was better with it than I am, able to aim at the others’ heads. But it’s difficult. Hitting an other, depending on the distance, maybe one in five shots will land. When I first started, it was one in twenty. The odds become five out of five if the other is right in front of me. But the metal stick is more useful at that point. And hitting the other’s head with the feathered-spike, impossible. One out of five to even hit the other. Its head is a tiny portion of its body, maybe a tenth. That means one out of fifty spikes will hit its head. I have twelve feathered spikes. Killing with the feathered-spike shooter is impossible. But that’s a good thing. If prey die, their brains only last for so long. If prey live, their brains last longer. Injured prey are easier to catch alive, like the one caught in the trap. While the odds of killing prey is low with this weapon, it’s why I’ll keep using it. Until I run out of feathered spikes. They’re retrievable, reusable—to a certain extent. They break after multiple uses.

I want to make more. But it’s puzzling. The feathers, I don’t know where they come from. But the tip, the sharpened spikes, I know how to make those now. I do it with this tool, the one used to dig the traps. Not only is the metal end good for upending earth, it’s good for making spikes. Striking a piece of wood at an angle, the metal end shaves off the wood. It’s slow, tedious, loud. But it works. I don’t know for how long. After hitting a lot of wood with it, the metal dents, deforms, no shaves off pieces as well. It’s much easier to gather the spikes from the dead others, reusing those, instead of creating new ones. Maybe prey know a better method. I should’ve waited, watched the prey more before invading. But I was scared. Scared of the hunger consuming me.

Clank, clank.

Speaking of hunger.

“Hello?”

Here comes more prey.

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Virlyce

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