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“Yo. This is a smart infected and not a person? Are you pulling my leg?”

The prey wasn’t coming out from behind the door. Should I shoot its hand? But it’s much easier to move a hand to dodge an arrow than it is to move a whole body. It’ll dodge, maybe take advantage of the time I have to spend readying another arrow to strike. I’ll wait.

“It’s really an infected.”

“Bullshit. Hey! I know you can hear me. Why don’t you drop the bow and we talk this out peacefully?”

The last time a prey convinced me it wanted to be peaceful, it tried to impale my head with a spear. But I can play along, lower the bow, hope the prey exposes itself. I’ll keep the arrow on the string.

“See! Look at that. It’s definitely a person.”

“Hey, hey! Careful! It’s really an infected, you fucking moron!”

The prey exposed itself. Its weapon was a metal stick. It seems like the other prey don’t want to give it something more dangerous. The stick is dangerous, yes. But I already know it takes many hits for it to break a bone, even more hits for it to break a dome. But if the prey is close enough to use the stick, I’m close enough to use a knife. And in an exchange of blows between the two, the knife wins. The knife can kill in one hit. The stick can’t.

“Alright. Let’s—”

But since the prey was willing to get shot by an arrow, I wasn’t going to decline. I raised the bow while pulling the string back, shooting the instant the bow was aimed high enough. The arrow hit the prey’s chest. There was a loud cracking sound. The prey took two steps back, lowered its head. It touched the arrow with its hand as if confirming it actually existed. It didn’t look like it was in very deep. The prey grabbed it, pulled it out.

“Shit. I, I think it broke something.”

I readied another arrow since the prey didn’t seem like it was going to do anything. It was standing there, watching blood stain its clothes, the wet spot growing larger and larger.

“Didn’t we warn you!? What the hell were you thinking!?”

The prey didn’t answer. It coughed. Liquid splattered against the inside of its visor. The coughs became more violent. The prey dropped to the ground, avoiding the next arrow I shot at it. The arrow flew over its head, sinking into the wall behind it. The prey was curled up on the ground, clutching its chest while coughing. “M-my lung.”

I readied another arrow, waited for the next prey. I didn’t need to waste my arrows on a prey that couldn’t fight. Even if it didn’t die, as long as it wasn’t able to kill me, it’s good enough. If I win, I can kill it later. Its meat will be fresher that way.

“Fucking addicts, can’t do anything right. It’s your turn!”

Another prey stumbled into view. But before I could fire, the prey disappeared from sight. The door partially closed as the prey hid behind it. It left the first prey curled up on the ground.

“You want me to fight with only a bat? Give me a knife or a spear!”

“No can do, sorry.”

“I’ll die!”

“Weren’t you so proud of being able to fight yesterday, kicking us while we were down? Weren’t you chanting blood for blood? Where’s that fucking bravado now, huh? Bastard. You better kill it if you want to live, or you can just die, piece of shit.”

“Hey, hey, let’s not be so hostile right now. Remember the deal, if he kills it, we let him go.”

“These motherfuckers killed Kenny!”

“Alright, step outside. You need to cool off for a bit.”

As I thought. The prey didn’t want to give the new prey a proper weapon. If they did, what if it succeeded in killing me? What if it took my chokepoint, used it to fight the prey? They’d be in the same situation. But I don’t mind. Internal fighting between the prey is good. And the new prey, they aren’t crazy. They don’t charge forward, uncaring about the injuries they’ve received. Maybe their brains aren’t spicy.

“Did you burn my baggie too?”

“We burned all your shit.”

“Really? You didn’t cop some for yourself? How do you expect me to fight sober? If it really is an infected that fights like a person, how the hell am I supposed to win? Don’t you know, in times of crisis, people can exert huge amounts of strength? There was that one lady in the news who lifted a car off her child! Humans are naturally capable of doing feats like that, but their brains suppress them because actions like those will cause lots of damage to their bodies. Infected don’t care about damage to their bodies! An infected is way stronger than a normal person. It’s only because they’re stupid and bite arms that we can hold them still to stab their heads to kill them!”

“Sure, they’re a little stronger than normal people, but we held them off just fine with shields yesterday, didn’t we?”

“And look how many of you are left, fucking idiot!”

What? Others are stronger than prey? That’s not true at all. I’m weak. So pitifully weak. Moving a body is a hassle. I’m not like Big Other, capable of lifting prey with one hand. I can barely shove others out of the way. But if what the prey is saying is true, doesn’t that mean the others I was trying to shove are also strong? Could it be that I’m naturally stronger than prey even as a weak other that can’t compete against other others? Prey have tried to pin me down. They failed. Could the prey be right? If it’s true, it doesn’t matter. This newfound knowledge doesn’t affect me. The only thing I can do is continue what I’ve already been doing.

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Virlyce

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