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“It dodged just now, didn’t it? You all saw that, right?”

“Well, I’ll be. Chris was right about the infected listening in on our broadcasts. Its radio’s still playing.”

The prey in the trees are relaxed. They haven’t readied their bows after shooting, chatting with each other instead. Are they dumb? Confident? Both? The others can’t reach them; they’re too high up. But that doesn’t mean I can’t shoot them with arrows. They’re wearing armored clothes. Domes on their heads. The standard gear of prey, similar to what I’m wearing. There’s three of them. In the time it takes me to shoot one arrow, they can shoot three. I’m at a disadvantage in terms of numbers. But I’m in a better position.

The three prey, they’re up in trees, unable to be attacked by others. But it’s actually not that good for them. If I shoot an arrow at them, how will they dodge? By jumping off the tree? They can’t. Taking shelter isn’t an option for them either. The branches don’t wrap around the tree. They’ll have to climb higher to reach branches out of my line of sight. But when they spend time climbing, that’s less time they can spend shooting. For me, it’s different. I can duck, jump to the side, make large movements to avoid the arrows. There’s dozens of trees perfect to hide behind. If I didn’t have a bow, the prey would be in an excellent position. Too bad for them, I do.

First, I’ll hide behind a tree, prevent the prey from seeing me ready my bow. If I’m lucky, they won’t be prepared to shoot me when I reappear, giving me a chance to fire one arrow. There’s a one out of two chance I’ll hit. Depending on where I hit the prey, I’ll only have to deal with two prey in the trees after. There’s a lot of others in the way from me to the nearest tree. But the prey haven’t readied their bows; I have plenty of time.

“It’s hiding. If there’s a smart infected, it’s certainly that one.”

“Yep. I’ll call it in to the chief. …Hey, Chris was right. There’s a smart infected leading the herd. Over.”

Their voices are loud; they have to be to be heard over the groaning others. But there’s another voice, crackly, that I can’t hear as well. It must be coming out of a black box.

“Yeah, we’re safe, just chilling in some trees. The herd’s huge by the way, way more than a hundred infected here. We’ll thin it out, but I don’t think we have enough arrows to get all of them. Over.”

Thwip.

Thwip.

Were they shooting at me? No, the prey were killing the others. Two others fell down, an arrow planted in each of their heads. The prey were out of my line of sight currently; the others they shot were not. Are the prey trying to kill all the others? With just the three of them? How ambitious. But it’s possible. I can kill all these others by myself if I had enough arrows. But the prey are forgetting about me. I readied my bow, taking it off my back, loading an arrow. I’ll wait. The prey are shooting the others. Once they fire, they’ll have to spend time to reload. In that time, I’ll shoot them.

Thwip.

Thwip.

Thwip.

Now. I stepped out from behind the tree, raised my bow. Which prey do I shoot? They all look the same. There wasn’t any way to tell which one had the black box. If I knew, I’d shoot it first. But since I don’t, the closest prey is the priority. The closer something is, the greater my accuracy. The prey noticed me. But what could it do? Jump off the tree?

Twang!

The arrow flew true. It hit the prey’s chest. The prey screamed. Then it fell over, falling backwards off of the branch. It landed on top of a few others, breaking its fall. But that didn’t matter, the others got ahold of the prey.

“Gerald!”

The two prey still in the trees shouted. But they didn’t panic. They didn’t run either. Instead of using the prey on the ground as a distraction to flee, they drew their bows, pointing them at me. They really were relaxed earlier, taking their time to ready their arrows. After they realized they were in danger, their loading speed increased a lot. But they can’t hit me if I step behind the tree. It doesn’t matter if I ready my arrows slower than them. We’ll shoot at the same time. I’m lucky the first arrow I fired knocked the prey down. But at the same time, it means I’ll probably miss my second shot.

Gurgles came out of the prey on the ground. There was the tearing of cloth, then the squishing sounds that accompanied others when they ate. The prey in the trees were unfazed. They didn’t shoot any arrows to try to save their companion, waiting for me to reappear instead. These prey are different, not acting strangely after their companion fell into a helpless situation, waiting for the best result. What do I do? I’ll see how they act once I step out. If both prey shoot at once, I’ll have a chance to fire back. But if they alternate shots, it’ll be tricky. I hope they both try to shoot me. I stepped out and—

Thwip.

—only one of them fired. How annoying. I’ll step out again, force the second one to fire before the first one can prepare another arrow.

It’s not shooting, staring at me instead. I raised my bow.

Thwip.

And stepped back behind the tree. Isn’t this simple? The prey were talking earlier, said they might not have enough arrows to kill the herd. I’ll force them to use all their arrows. Then they won’t be able to defend themselves. It might take a long time. But I have plenty of that.

“We need some help. The smart infected knows how to use a bow. It got Gerald. Over.”

Or not.

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Virlyce

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