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I almost couldn’t believe it. An infected dressed in camouflage with a bow. Was it a hunter before it died? That seems to be the most likely answer. Who knew infected could retain their memories after turning? It almost makes me feel a little bad for killing so many. Almost. Since my kill count mostly consists of traps, I don’t feel too guilty. A normal person would’ve avoided them with ease. There’s even a sign outside that warns of caltrops and tripwires ahead.

Honestly, I never thought I’d be done in by an infected. I figured if I died, it’d be from old age or another person. Infected people are just like animals, brave animals, but still animals. They flock towards food. Traps work on them. They can’t speak. The only difference is they don’t run when startled. Well, they do run—towards the sound, not away from it.

And dehydration. Dehydration is a big killer. I nearly did die from it at the start of the outbreak. But even that time doesn’t compare to the crisis I’m in now. A pile of burning bodies is right next to me. The door can’t be shut because of them. The second door can’t be locked into place because the first one opened. Paul is holding it shut, but he doesn’t seem like he’ll last much longer. I can’t stab at the infected pushing against the door without exposing myself to the infected with the bow. I did say burning only the clothes and hair wouldn’t set the building on fire, but for some reason, this pile of bodies is burning really well. I think there’s a layer of grease and grime on the corpses that’re serving as fuel, but it should burn out soon. Whether or not the door catches fire before that happens remains to be seen.

“Bern, what do we do? I don’t think I can hold them back much longer.”

What do we do? We’ll die if this situation keeps up. The infected don’t get tired during their pursuit. I’ve noticed they get sluggish when there’s nothing to eat around it, but they seem to have unlimited energy when chasing people. As for us, we don’t have that. We’ll gradually lose our strength, and one slipup will cost us our lives. There’s wooden stakes tied to the infected’s hands, and their tips are black. It’s safe to assume they’re infected considering what happened to Mark. It’s unbelievable how fast he turned.

“Bern?”

“I have a plan.” It’s a risky plan, but it has a higher chance of survival than continuing what we’re doing. “Josh, get all the stink sauce we have. Now.”

“Stink sauce doesn’t work on the smart one,” Spencer said. “It doesn’t hunt by smell.”

“But it works on all the other ones, right?”

“I think…? But that doesn’t matter. Once the smart one draws their attention on us, we’re screwed.”

“How does it do that?”

“How the hell would I know?”

If this infected leader really could command all the infected as it pleased, then I don’t see a way out. Originally, I wanted to cover all of us in stink sauce. The infected would ignore us and eat Lacy instead; Spencer already killed her when she opened the door. While they were distracted, we’d escape, but the odds of that happening depend entirely on the infected leader’s capabilities. “Where’s Josh?” He should’ve been back by now. Don’t tell me, did he escape out the window in the back?

“Bern? Where are you going?”

“Hang on a second, I’ll be right back.” Did he really? It’s high up to prevent others from seeing in, and there’s a pitfall trap underneath the window outside, but it’s easily avoidable by hanging on to the ledge and swinging. If all the infected are at the front door, then the back should be completely clear. We could escape that way; the only problem is two people have to hold the doors shut. And once everyone’s out, they’ll have to make a run for it. If the infected are distracted long enough by Lacy’s corpse, they might not even be in danger. “Josh! Where are you?”

There was no reply. I entered the storage room, and just as I suspected, the window was wide open. The jars of stink sauce were left untouched in the corner of the room. I looked outside and didn’t see a single infected. Even their groans sounded extremely faint, the noise coming more from behind than from outside.

Everyone knows how the saying goes: Everyman for himself. I went to my room next door to the storage, took out the bag from underneath my bed, and slipped it onto my back. Then I went back to the storage room. I threw my spear out the window, making sure it avoided the pit. I might not be as nimble as I once was, but climbing out a window isn’t a difficult task. Supporting myself on the ledge with my arms to swing and avoid the pitfall trap’s doable as well. My shoulders might be a bit sore in the morning, but at least I’ll live long enough to enjoy the feeling of being sore. Do infected get sore? Probably not, considering they don’t react to painful stimuli. Why am I struggling so hard to survive as a human when I can live pain-free with infinite stamina by turning into an infected? There’s even a chance I’ll retain my sanity.

I’m not sure. I figure the chances of me staying sane is similar to the chances of me winning the lottery. Of all the infected I’ve encountered, only one has been smart. I don’t like those odds. The spear I threw was wet from the morning dew. Not much time had passed since that infected horde chased me and Spencer down. The brief struggle was intense, making it seem longer than it actually was, but at least I escaped. I really invested a lot of time into this place just to have it taken away. It’s almost like I’m getting divorced again. What an awful way to start the day.

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Virlyce

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