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Step 6. Let the halves chill overnight unless you think you’re a cutting maestro who can make perfect cuts with soft meat (hint: you’re not, Brandon).

Now I wait? Separating the prey into two halves wasn’t difficult. It was tedious. But I realized something. This bone saw, there has to be a tool like it called a tree saw. Its cutting method can definitely topple a tree. I don’t want to test it on wood though. What if it breaks? Using a tool outside of its intended purpose, it might get damaged. This is the only bone saw I have; the risk isn’t worth taking.

The sun is setting; night is coming. The prey hasn’t rotted despite all the time passing. The meat in the bucket is still fresh. Why? Compared to the prey that died and turned into others, what’s different? Begging God to save them? There were plenty of prey that’ve rotted despite not coming back to life. I ate their brains. But their meat didn’t last long at all. I think it has something to do with blood, specifically, the blood of others. Why else are steps one and two the same? They’re important. They don’t directly contribute to the butchering process. But they’re the first steps in the preserving process. Even step seven mentions it again.

Step 7. Wash your goddamn hands. It’s been a whole night.

Washing my hands, avoiding patting it down with my pants that might have infected blood, I can’t think of any other reason. The blood prevents prey from preserving properly. Maybe, the blood is what turns prey into others. No, that’s not right. I wasn’t bleeding when I ate the prey in the metal hunk. Yet it turned anyway. Or is it? Perhaps there’s more than one factor that converts prey. There’s a simple way to check. There’s two lungs that I took out of the prey. I’ll separate them. One lung, I’ll leave on a paper towel, keeping it off the ground. The other lung, I’ll smear with blood from that dead other by the door. Then I’ll wait, see if both lungs rot at the same time. The second lung should rot first if there’s something in the blood that prevents preservation.

And there should be multiple trials in case it’s a coincidence. I’ll split the brain into three parts. One to leave out without blood. Another to leave out with blood from a different dead other. And the third part to be eaten by me. The hunger isn’t awake. But it’s nice to keep it sleeping. I can think more clearly when it is.

But what else? What other factors turn prey into others? God. But I can’t ask him. I can’t speak. Maybe my saliva. Or contact with my teeth. Contact with my hands? No, it can’t be my hands. I’ve had plenty of contact while butchering the prey. I’ll test my saliva too. And I’ll test my bite. I can test the dead others’ bites and saliva too. I can’t test live others’. They’ll eat the test pieces. It’s a good thing there are so many parts inside of prey that I can split in half. The liver. And the kidneys. I don’t have to cut the kidneys; there’re two. And the guts, they’re so long. They can split into so many parts. It might seem like a waste of food. But it isn’t. I’m already full. And this will help me learn.

Now that I have all the pieces spread out on paper towels, I can add blood, saliva, bites. But these paper towels; where do I get more? Are they reusable? It doesn’t seem like it; otherwise, they wouldn’t be torn off the roll. How do prey get this? Maybe it grows on trees like rope. Though I might not know how it’s created, I do know where to get more. From prey. Paper towels are essential for drying to avoid wiping hands on bloody pants. More prey are bound to have it. There probably were paper towels in the cabins that I burned down. But I burned them down.

The test is set up. Untouched flesh on one side. Bloody, saliva-soaked, bitten flesh on the other. Once again, there’s more waiting. There’s so little time in a day. Yet much of that time is spent waiting. I can do something else in that time. Like search the building, see if I missed anything. But I don’t want to open the door; it’ll let the others out. Their sense of smell might be blocked off. But if they stumble into this room, they’ll definitely eat everything I have prepared. I can’t let that happen.

There’s other things I can do. The traps in the field, I can gather them. The metal points that were in the grass. The wires that tripped the others, killing them once their heads fell on wooden spikes. But it’s dark out, hard to see. I have the light in the cylinder. But what if I make a mistake? My vision is obstructed by the dome. The dome protects me from spikes impaling my head. Ironic. I’ll trip more, impale myself more because of the dome. It’s also unsafe to travel alone without the others around. If a group of prey appear while I’m alone, they’ll kill me. It might be difficult for them to do it with my dome protecting my head. But it’s possible. And that’s a chance I’m not willing to take. Maybe I should let the others out, come back to this shed, close the door. That way, they won’t discover the prey. And I’ll be safe if they’re out there. It’s not a bad idea.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“Shut up.”

“What if they already ate all the meat inside?”

“The meat’s hanging on hooks. They’re not infected birds.”

“That’s—holy shit. That scared the crap out of me.”

“They’re already dead. Look.”

“Double tap.”

“What?”

“You heard me, double tap.”

“You’re being ridiculous. Its brain is hanging out of its head.”

“Always double tap.”

Squelch.

“See? Already dead?”

“And now they’re even deader.”

A pointy stick just impaled one of the dead other’s head. It retracted, then stabbed into the other dead other. It’s too late to let the others out. Prey have arrived. I can’t see them, they’re still hidden by part of the wall next to the door. But it sounds like there are two of them. I’m so dumb. If the prey are hungry, they’d come back to the place with food. I can’t hide. I can’t run. My metal stick is leaning on the wall, on the other side of the room next to the table. If I move, they’ll notice me. All I have is this bone saw. And these knives. I won’t use the bone saw; it’s too slow. The knives then. I have no choice but to fight back. I can’t die before meeting God.

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Virlyce

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