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I didn’t die. I killed a prey. The other prey escaped. Things went well. A pointy stick, which the prey called a spear, stabbed my shoulder. Raising my right arm is difficult now. But the injury will heal; I’m sure. Like my fingernails grew back, my flesh will fix itself. But it’s inconvenient having only one arm. I’ll free the others, let them out of the building. Then I’ll close the door to the food-preservation room, stay inside until I’m healed. Hopefully the others won’t go too far. Is there a way to keep them nearby? Yes, if I throw a piece of bloody meat on top of the building, the smell should attract them. But their noses are blocked, stuffed by rotten brains. Annoying. How else can I keep them around? Feed them every so often? Maybe I can rope off the area, fence them in. But the trees are far from the building; the area’s too wide. I don’t have enough rope.

What if I tie the others to the building? They won’t wander far that way. But it’ll be easy for prey to kill them: Pick them off with arrows. Stab at them with spears. The others will die without having a chance to fight back. This is difficult. I thought surviving would be easier after learning to preserve food. I’ll think about it while butchering this prey. I skipped washing my hands. Hopefully, it’ll still work. I don’t think any of my blood got on the prey. Only it’s clothes. I’ll take those off. The bleeding step is already done. But I have to tilt it, leave it for a while, let all the blood run out. Just in case, I’ll use the bone saw, cut off its head right now. It won’t turn into an other. I won’t risk letting it eat the food I skinned.

Yes, this injury is inconvenient. Even sawing is difficult. Will I be able to tie ropes? I think I can. My fingers still move. Only the range of motion of my arm is limited. I can’t raise it higher than my ribs. But I can bend my arm, my hand reaching up to my neck. How long will this take to heal? My fingernails took several days. This wound is more severe, larger. At least I have food. I don’t have to worry about hunger. If I’m lucky, it’ll heal before I run out. While I wait for the blood to drain, I’ll let the others free. It doesn’t matter if they don’t stick around. As long as they chase all the prey out of the surrounding area, it’ll be enough. I can set my own traps later: The four-pronged metal spikes. The tripwires. Even a pit trap.

I won’t use the light to walk in the dark. Pressing my hand against the wall of the building is enough. Light may attract prey; they’re very sensitive to it when it’s dark. There are still dead others on the ground. Leaving them should be fine. I’ll turn them into stink sauce later. Maybe I can make spikes out of their bones. I won’t have to walk as far to the trees. And with my arm injured, cutting down trees would be difficult. I haven’t even found a tree-cutting tool yet either. When it’s brighter out, I’ll search inside the building.

The door’s stuck. Maybe the others are pressing against it. I’ll try the other one. It opens. I’ll push it as far back as it can go. Hopefully, the others won’t be too dumb, closing it on their way out. No, I can’t assume that. The others are really, really dumb. I’ll put this body in the way, preventing the door from closing. Alright. That’s enough. I’ll go back to the food-preservation room, close the door, block it off. I’m lucky I have this light. Even without the sun, I can see. Without the light, the room is completely dark. I’ll cut a window out of the walls. But then the others will be attracted to the smell, pushing down the door.

The others, annoying to live with, annoying to live without. If only there were a way to make them a little smarter, a little less dumb. Feeding them doesn’t help. It’s impossible. Why am I the only intelligent one? It’s not a bad thing. By manipulating the others, I survive better. They don’t argue. They won’t kill me. They don’t run when it’s dangerous. If only I could tell them what to do. Then they’d be perfect. A shame. So much more can be accomplished if they weren’t so dumb. I wouldn’t have to gather the rope by myself. I wouldn’t have to harvest the spikes in the pits by myself. I wouldn’t have to tie the spikes to their wrists. I wouldn’t have to worry about them eating the prey before I can preserve them. How inconvenient. Am I better off surviving alone? No. Prey travel in packs. I can’t compete against a group of prey by myself.

What can I do now while waiting? The two halves of the prey have to hang overnight to cool. The other prey has to bleed out before skinning. I still have to wait to see if infected blood affects the flesh. It’s a good thing the prey didn’t die near it. Only a few of the tubes were tainted with its blood. The lungs, kidneys, liver weren’t affected. They’re still clean. And dirty. Lots of waiting. Little to be done. I can’t leave; the others might come in. This’ll all go to waste if it’s eaten. Then what can I do in this room? Read. I can learn the steps from the brick now, save time later.

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

I read this one already.

Step 8. Begin the butchering process. It’s different for each animal. Essentially, cut out parts of meat into reasonably sized pieces (that means not too large, not too small, not too thick, not too thin, got it, Brandon? I don’t want to see anymore goddamn pieces of meat that are shaped like testicles run over by a lawnmower). If you screw up, you screw up, and you learn from your mistakes. That’s it for butchering. Don’t forget to dispose of all the crap you got. Soak the skin in the salt bath for tanning later. If we ever find a meat grinder, save the intestines for sausages. Hand the organs to the hunters to use as bait for traps. Yada-yada, the end.

There’s nothing on the next page. It did say that was all for butchering. Then I can turn back to the first page, start the meat preserving process, placing the meat I want to preserve on the table. I’ll read this whole brick. Maybe by the time I’m done, the prey will have chilled enough to cut. But first, I’ll eat this brain.

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Virlyce

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