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I placed my spear against the wall beside me. Then I picked up my bow. The prey didn’t react. Wasn’t it going to stab me? I took a step back. The prey took a step forward. It was maintaining its distance, just two steps needed to attack me. But it isn’t attacking. What is it waiting for? Probably for me to take my shooting posture. My right hand went into the bag by my waist and grabbed an arrow. The prey took a step forward, and I dropped my bow, grabbing my spear.

The prey retreated back a step, maintaining its distance again. It doesn’t seem like it’ll commit to attacking me unless it knows it can kill me or attack me without getting hurt. I leaned my spear against the wall again. The prey didn’t react. I bent down, grabbed my bow, keeping my vision on its feet. The feet are the most important part; it doesn’t matter what the rest of the body is doing. Without moving its feet, it can’t reach me to attack. After standing up properly, I reached into my bag again.

As expected, the prey stepped forward. I took a step back, pulling an arrow out of my bag. The prey took another step forward. Instead of readying my arrow on my bow, I threw it at the prey. It took a step back, raised its arms in front of its face which was already being protected by its dome. The arrow struck its forearms before bouncing off. I’m too weak to throw an arrow fast enough to pierce through armor. But that moment of distraction was enough. I grabbed my spear, thrusted forward, aiming for the prey’s shoulder.

The prey jumped back, avoiding my strike. It steadied itself, taking a step back, maintaining a further distance than before. It looked like it’d run if I chased it. But if I chased it, I’d lose the chokepoint. Prey could swarm me. “Hey, hey, let’s calm down a little, shall we? There’s no reason for us to fight. You can understand me, right? I know you can. You listened in on our broadcasts.”

Prey, when they talk to me, like to talk a lot. I relaxed, lowered my spear. The prey did the same. Perfect.

“If we fight, you might die. Now, if you let yourself be captured by us, you’ll live. We’ve developed the cure, you see. I don’t know if you know what the cure is or not, but if you drink it, you’ll be able to turn back into a human.”

Is that appealing? I might be able to remember what I’ve forgotten if I turn back. I could figure out who I am, why I was infected. The creator of the cure, is it God? Is the chief of these prey God? It must be. Commanding prey, turning infected back into prey. If only I could speak, then I could ask. If I’m cured, can I speak again?

“So, what do you think? Not a bad deal, right? We don’t have to fight. None of us have to die. You don’t have to go around eating people to survive anymore.” The prey paused. “Are you able to speak?”

I shook my head.

“Oh, yeah, I didn’t think you could. See, we cured someone, and she couldn’t speak either even after turning back. But even without being able to speak, don’t you think being a human is a lot better than being an infected?”

Is it? I can do anything prey can do. Except speak. But even if I’m cured, it seems like I won’t be able to speak. Then, there’s no reason to cure myself other than to remember who I am. Isn’t that what I decided I’d do? Find God, ask him who I am. Remember what I’ve forgotten. And now I found God. The fight against my hunger, the struggle against prey, seeking ways to survive, wasn’t it all for this moment? I planned on using the cure to turn others into prey, creating a scenario where I’d never starve, never lose my brain to hunger. But for what? To find God.

I nodded.

“Perfect! How about you lower your weapon? Surrender to me. If I don’t tie your hands behind your back, my friends are definitely going to think you’re a threat.”

I put my spear down. There’s something I don’t understand.

“Place your hands behind your back.”

I placed my hands behind my back. Why is the prey helping me? Its companions are killing the others. But if they have the cure, wouldn’t it be better to capture the others, turn them into prey? That way, they’ll have more prey, more prey to fight against others.

“Lie down on your stomach. It’s not that I don’t trust you, but … yeah. I have a rope here, see? I’ll tie your arms with this.”

I lay down on top of the dead prey by my feet, resting my stomach on its back. Is it because the others are fighting senselessly, unable to be convinced? The prey can’t afford to capture the others without killing them. It’s impossible for them to cure them all. Not after I ruined their defenses, split their group, destroyed their formation with my motorcycle.

“Alright. Stay still.”

The prey took a step towards me. There’s something wrong. The prey didn’t even try to capture the others. Before I split their group by setting buildings on fire, the prey were killing without pause. They weren’t looking to cure others. Why would this prey offer me special treatment?

The prey took another step towards me. It was one step away from striking distance with its spear. And lastly, if God knew who I was before I became an infected, why didn’t God turn me back right then? God had the cure. But I’m still infected. What does that say about my relationship with God?

The prey took its third step. It’s simple. God and I, we aren’t on good terms. For whatever reason, God left me as an infected despite being able to turn me back. Can I count on God to cure me? Of course not. Like I relaxed to make the prey drop its guard, the prey spoke words to trick me as well. But I’m not going to fall for it. It was in striking distance with its spear. I’ve used the spear a lot. And I learned something about it. It’s good for poking things at a distance, through holes, behind prey wielding shields. But it’s not so good at close distance. A knife is much better.

I sprang forward at the same time the prey stabbed downward. Its spear scraped my side. But a nonfatal wound like that doesn’t matter. I took my knife out of my bag while climbing up. The prey’s stomach was in front of my face, obscuring my view. At this close range, my knife is more effective than the prey’s spear.

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Virlyce

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