The prey collapsed. I don’t think it’s dead. I didn’t damage its head. But it’s not moving. Its arms and legs are broken, the flesh puffing up like the others’ did when I broke their bones to test. It screamed a lot, attracting a couple of others’ attentions. Most were trapped in the building. There were a couple that came from the woods. But they tripped over wires, impaling themselves on spikes, dying instantly. Nothing is going to prevent me from taking this prey.

It’s too heavy to lift. But I can drag it; the back of the building isn’t very far. There isn’t that much space inside, with the dead others from before just laying around. I dragged those out first before taking the prey inside. I didn’t close the door. It was dark inside the room. Without the sun, it’d be too hard to see. There weren’t any windows either. The prey groaned, signaling it was still alive. It didn’t smell like an other, meaning it hadn’t died.

Now, what was the method to preserving meat. I took the openable brick out of my bag, flipping it open. Here it is, salting instructions.

Step 1. Wash your goddamn hands.

Wash my goddamn hands. What exactly does that mean? I’ll skip it for now.

Step 2. Make sure your goddamned hands are washed.

It must be important to wash my goddamn hands if the first two steps are identical. Is the next step the same?

Step 3. Dry your hands (not on your pants that have infected blood on them!).

It’s not. Drying my hands, implying they’re wet. From the previous two steps? There must be some way to wash my hands inside this little room. The prey come here to preserve food. It doesn’t make sense if the food preservation steps can’t be taken in the food preservation room. But there’s nothing wet around here except the blood on the ground from the others. But the third step implies I want to avoid others’ blood. The first two steps are already impossible to do. If only the prey didn’t attract the others’ attention earlier. I could’ve watched the prey wash their hands. Maybe I missed something. I’ll go through the room again.

There’s a table, rectangular, pressed up against the corner of the room. On the table, in the corner, there’s a bag with a white powder in it. I don’t think it’s used to wash my hands. Above the table, attached to the wall, there’s a shelf. There’s a bag on top of it. Inside the bag, there’s a white substance. It looks dry, can’t be it either. Next to the bag, there’s multiple cylindrical containers. They’re see-through. But there’s a label on them: Sodium Nitrite. Inside, there’s another white substance that looks dry. There’s nothing else on the shelf.

Underneath the table, attached to it, there’s a drawer. That’s where I found the openable brick. There’s nothing else inside. There were the flat metal sticks with the pointy ends. But I already took those earlier. Underneath the table, there’s a box that can be opened. I didn’t realize I could open it the first time I was here. It’s similar to the boxes by the foot of the prey’s beds. There’s a latch that I can flip, allowing me to lift the lid. Inside, there’s more cylindrical containers, dozens of them. They’re filled with liquid. Hand sanitizer. Is this it? It must be. It’s wet. It’s applied to the hands. This container is half full. It must’ve been used before. How do I open it? There’s a lid, similar to the box. Apply a little pressure; it pops open.

But first, I should untie the metal sticks attached to my wrists. I wouldn’t want to stab my hands while washing them. The hand sanitizer is viscous like others’ blood. Not like prey’s blood which is runny. There, I washed my goddamn hands. I inspected them, following the second step. They looked washed. No longer smudged. Now to dry them. If I can’t wipe them on my pants, can I use my shirt? If the point is to avoid others’ blood, probably not. But the liquid is disappearing on its own. If I wait a bit, my hands will dry.

Step 4. Make sure the table is clean. Imagine washing your goddamn hands and the table has infected blood on it.

The table has blood on it, from the others I killed earlier. The blood is dry. Will applying hand sanitizer to it clean it? Maybe. But then what? Do I wipe it away with my hands and wash my hands again? No, if that were the case, the fourth step would’ve been the first step. There must be something else. Beside the box underneath the table, there’s another box. Inside of it, there’s a roll of paper towels. Maybe this is what I was supposed to dry my hands with. I can use this to wipe away the blood and sanitizer. Okay, the table is clean.

Step 5. Place the meat you want to preserve on the table. Make sure the meat is butchered and prepped properly (this is specifically directed at you, Brandon). If you don’t know how to butcher and prep, turn to page 32.

I don’t know how to butcher or prep. Page thirty-two. The brick has numbering on the bottom corner. It seems the slices of the brick are called pages. And here’s thirty-two. Bern’s Butchering Guide – Prepared Specifically for Brandon (and any other city dweller who ends up coming here). Ideally, whoever hunted the game will have already done these steps but removing a deer’s entrails right after killing it is a great way to attract infected, so don’t be surprised if the hunters bring it back without dressing it.

Step 1. Determine whether or not whatever you’re butchering is alive. If it’s alive, go to page 34. If it’s dead, go to step 2. (It’s dead if it’s dead, Brandon. I can already hear you asking dumb questions.)

The prey is alive. Page thirty-four it is. And it seems like the prey is active again, no longer sluggish. It’s screaming. At this rate, it might attract the others. What if they press through this wall? That’d be a disaster. I’ll hit the prey into sluggishness again. Then I’ll start with the food preparation.


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