Is this meat from prey? It doesn’t smell as good. Is it from others? It doesn’t smell as bad. How does it taste? Salty. Dry. Another flavor that tastes like smoke smells. It’s not saliva-inducing, not tasty, bland. But it’s not disgusting. The hunger isn’t rejecting it. How long until this meat rots? I’ll store this piece. And this piece. And this piece too. The bag can’t hold anymore. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have these too. It seems safe for now. The others won’t listen now that they found food. To stop them from eating my meat, I’ll kill them. Simple. I don’t want to make a lot of noise. Arrows are useful that way, they kill silently. The metal stick makes a loud sound. But the arrow, I can stab it into the others’ eyes. Sometimes they live. But if I wiggle it around a bit, they stop moving. I don’t even have to use the arrow shooter. I can use the flat metal sticks tied to my wrists to kill them too. But then my hands smell disgusting.

Is there anything else in here that’s useful? I don’t know if I can come back safely. The prey might kill all the others. Then I won’t have access to this place. On the ground, other than the dead others, there’s a fire. The wood is positioned oddly though. Not burning directly, still close enough to let off smoke. There’s a table. It smells like blood, faintly. It doesn’t smell rotten. There’s a bag of white powder on the table. It doesn’t smell like anything. I wonder what it’s for. I’ll leave it alone for now, my bag doesn’t have much space left. There’s a drawer. Inside, there’re flat metal sticks. These are useful; I’ll take them.

What’s this? It looks like a brick. But bigger. And less sturdy. There are words on the front. Bern’s Guide to Preserving Meat. It opens too. Inside, there are more words. Salting Instructions. Read this section very carefully. If you don’t, you’ll spend a long time on the toilet. The toilet’s the last place you want to be during a zombie apocalypse. Step 1. Wash your goddamn hands. Step 2. Make sure your goddamned hands are washed. Step 3. Dry your hands (not on your pants that have infected blood on them!). Step 4. Make sure the table is clean. Imagine washing your goddamn hands and the table has infected blood on it. Step 5.

There are a lot of steps. I don’t have time to read everything right now. The others are still being killed. But this openable brick is exactly what I was looking for—a method to make food last longer than a day. This is enough. Along with the meat I took, I gained a lot from these prey. Whether or not they kill all the others doesn’t matter. It’d be nice if I their brains were available for me to eat. But I shouldn’t get too greedy. I might die. There’s nothing left in the room to take. There are hooks with more meat suspended in the air by ropes. But they’re too high up to take. I’m not sure I need them. If they’re tied in a different method, it’ll take a long time to get them down. I’ll leave now. And I’ll close the door behind me. The others wouldn’t be interested with the stench coming off the dead others. But it doesn’t hurt to make sure.

How are the others doing? They’re still surrounding the building. Not a lot of them are dead. The corpses are blocking the holes, not letting the prey kill anymore. But the others haven’t made any progress. They can’t press the walls down. They can’t press the doors down eithers. There’s no way for them to go in. Should I bring them away? It took a long time to tie all those spikes onto their arms. Would they even follow, knowing there’s prey inside? I can’t prod them all, can’t bring them all away. What a waste. All the rope, all the spikes. Did I really gain enough from these prey? Others are expendable; there will always be more. But the time I spent on them. I can’t get that back. That’s another period of sunrise I’ll have to spend on gathering spikes, tying them too.

But I did get a lot from the prey. The method of food preservation. Meat. Isn’t it safe to burn the building down now? If I can’t get inside the building, why should I care about what’s still inside? It’s better to burn it. But starting a fire may take a while. The trees are far away. There aren’t any logs lying around. I should’ve brought logs, should’ve brought many things. I could’ve tied a tent to an other, put items in the tent. Why didn’t I think of it earlier? I always realize things too late. First, the wood-cutting tool. Now, this. It’s a learning experience.

Where’s the other with all my ropes? It should be easy to see with its bag. But I can’t see it. There are too many others. It must be near the center. Or in the front. Am I going to lose my ropes too? And the spare bag. I don’t want to. But there’s no way inside. The others are dying, slowly. But still dying. The prey will kill them all eventually, leaving only me behind. The difference between the prey and the others is too great.

Wait. When I was in the tree, I saw a fire. Where is it? It was over here, by the smoking logs. But it’s out, already gone. The big logs are left. Can they still be used? After burning something once, it can’t be burned again. But these logs still have edges that aren’t burnt. Are they enough? I don’t think so. Wait. There are dead others pressed against the walls and doors. They’re wearing clothes. What if I light them on fire instead? Others don’t catch fire; I’ve tested. But their clothes do. Is it enough to set the walls on fire? There’s only one way to find out.


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