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It took a long time. Digging holes. Planting spikes. Hiding holes. Gathering metal spikes. Scattering metal spikes. But it’s all done. Many days passed. But there’s still a lot of meat left. It makes sense. Compared to the size of the stomachs I’ve seen, a body is much larger. How many stomachs can a whole prey fill? I’m not even halfway through the first prey, only finished eating one arm. A little bit of its upper back too. As for the rest, I’ve hung them up, started the smoking process. Once that’s done, the meat should last for a long time, enough time to catch another prey to preserve. According to the brick, the meat should rest in smoke for two weeks—fourteen days.

If I eat a portion of it every day, it’s still worth preserving. I won’t finish at the end of the fourteen days. And I’ve finished everything that needed to be done. Once the meat finishes smoking, I’ll move on. My arm’s already healed as well. But there’s something strange about it. The injury site is a different color from the rest of my skin. It’s dark green. It’s not only the color that’s different. My arm’s range of motion is greater, bending further back than my left arm can. It’s not particularly useful, just interesting. I’ve noticed it on the others too. Some had injuries, mostly on their arms and legs. Those were dark green too. And they were a bit more flexible than other parts of their bodies.

“…uck.”

What was that?

“Ah, shit … hurts.”

Prey? It sounded muffled, far away. But that’s because the door is closed. Is there really prey here? It’s a shame there aren’t any windows in the food-preservation room. Do I step outside to check? Or do I wait inside? Maybe I misheard. The sun’s out; the others are sluggish. Actually, even when the sun went down, the others hadn’t moved much. They’re still alive. But they’re like fire without wood, not lively at all.

“… said th… no …trops.”

Unless the others learned to speak, there’s prey outside. Pressing my ear against the door helps me hear better. There’s shuffling noises. It seems like the others are stirring. The only reason for them to move is prey. How many are there? Do I run? Why did they have to come at a time like this? Why not after I finished smoking the meat? I’ll open the door, assess the situation. There’s prey in the distance, halfway to the fence from the trees. I relocated the metal spikes to that area, thinking if prey were going to run from the food-preservation room, they’d have to go through that field.

The others have noticed the prey too. I made a mistake. I dug holes along the fence, put spikes in them for the prey to step in once they hopped over. But the others, they’re dumb; they walked right into the holes that I disguised with the thin materials, impaling their feet on the spikes within. I only thought about dealing with prey; I didn’t think about how the others would ruin what I set up. At least they didn’t step in all the holes. There are still empty areas along the fence.

For now, I’ll shoot at the prey with my bow. I don’t think it’ll be very effective. They’re all wearing the green, black clothes. They all have domes. There’s five of them. Should I run? Take the meat even though they haven’t been fully smoked? No, I’m curious. Now that I’m in this situation, how will prey defeat me? When prey had the building for defense, it took many others to press the door down. If I’m defending, how will they attack? This could be a useful learning experience for the next prey I encounter. But it’s dangerous. And the others don’t behave like prey. Instead of holing themselves up inside the building, the others are trying to get to the prey, getting stuck on my traps. Maybe it’s not as useful of an experience as I thought it’d be. If I act like a prey would act in this situation, wouldn’t finding out how prey break through lead to my death?

First, I should figure out why the prey are here. Food seems to be the most likely reason. Or the supplies that were left behind. A combination of both. If that’s the case, if I run away with the meat and the tools to preserve the meat, the prey will chase me down. I’d rather engage the prey here with the spiked fence on my side instead of out in the open. Running is a poor choice. I’ll have to leave too many things behind since the others won’t run with me. They’ll run towards the prey instead, delivering them the bags that I packed full of stuff. But fighting seems like a poor choice as well. The prey have domes, protecting them from instantly dying to my metal stick and spear. My knives should still work; the domes don’t cover all of their necks. And I know stabbing them there kills them. But I won’t be able to get close to them with the fence in the way, only spears will work. What if I tie the knife to the spear? It seems like I have time to do that. The prey are being careful, watching out for the metal spikes on the ground.

But first, to make them even more cautious, I’ll shoot an arrow at them. I don’t have many, just three left. Will any of them even hit? Maybe all three of them will hit. If I hit my target one out of five times, what happens if there’s five targets? I’ll hit one every time. Ideally, I’d want to kill the prey in one hit. But the domes make that impossible. The next best option is to shoot their legs, hamper their movements. Pulling the bow’s string seems to have gotten easier. There’s less resistance. Could it be because of the dark green scar on my shoulder?

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Virlyce

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