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The prey were shouting. They were loud. But it was hard to make out words. They were shouting at the same time. Could they even hear each other? There were a few words I could understand: kill, stab, fucker. I didn’t have to hear the whole thing to know what the prey wanted. But I wasn’t going to let them do it so easily. I don’t know why the door closed so suddenly. Maybe there was a prey inside, saw me coming, closed off my only hope. But it doesn’t matter. Now, I can only fight.

I climbed up. There were seven prey with spears creating a semi-circle around me. My back was to the door of the building. More prey were coming, not many, just double what there currently were. Without a chokepoint, my chances don’t look that great. I have to break past the prey, find one. There, that prey looks weak. It’s the same size as me, smaller than the rest. I’ll charge it, injure it, make my way past it. I switched my shield to my right arm, placing my knife in my left. The prey took advantage of that movement to stab at me. I stepped to the side, avoiding the strike. Then I lunged forward at the smallest prey.

“Jen! It’s heading to you!”

There was a sound behind me: the door opening. But it didn’t matter. I was already rushing forward as fast as I could, turning would put me in a terrible position. I can only move forward. My left shoulder was defenseless. When it looks like the prey is going to stab it, I’ll drop down, attack its leg. The tactic was effective earlier. The prey took a step forward. Its upper body twitched. It was going to attack. I dropped down. But instead of avoiding the spear or having it hit my bag like expected, it stabbed directly into my shoulder.

“I already saw you do this, bastard!”

I lost my balance, fell to the ground. The prey was using all its weight to push down on its spear which was planted in my shoulder. I raised my arm. But the prey was leaning at an angle, its legs too far to slash. Instead of attacking, I have to stand. Being on the ground, that’s how all prey die to others. I can’t stay down.

“That’s our Jen!”

I pushed against the ground, lifting my body. The prey struggled to keep me down: grunted, shifted its weight around. Then it shouted, “What are you guys waiting for!? Attack it!”

Even if others are dumb, I really wouldn’t mind having them around right now. The prey swarmed me, stabbed me, aiming for my limbs. The right side of my body was protected by my shield. Only my right arm and back were spared. Spears dug into my legs. The extra clothes I wore helped. Instead of piercing my limbs in one strike, it took two or three stabs. I wanted to curl up into a ball, defend my limbs. But that was the wrong way to go. Curling up means death. I rolled over onto my left side, wrenching the spears out of my legs, crushing the spears in my left arm underneath my body, leaving their wooden fragments inside. I kicked at the spears stabbing at my legs, raised my shield to protect my head from the spears coming towards it.

My stomach was stabbed. My thighs too. I used my left arm to push my torso up, curled my legs underneath me. My right leg wasn’t moving like I wanted it to. But it was enough. I straightened my left leg, bounced upright to a standing position. I wasn’t going to die on the ground like a prey. A spear stabbed at my side from the left. I grabbed it with my right arm, yanked forward, tugging the prey towards me. I stabbed down with the knife in my left arm, aiming for its neck. I missed, hit its back. I raised the knife, stabbed down again, over and over until it found its mark, ignoring the spears stabbing my legs and back. With this prey in front of me, only my legs and back were exposed.

The prey turned limp, dropped down. Instead of decreasing, the number of spears stabbing towards me increased. The rest of the prey had arrived. I took too long to break out of the semi-circle. My right leg wasn’t responsive. I could move it. But it couldn’t support my weight. I can’t even run anymore. I can’t get close to the prey. I dropped my knife, switched the spear that I had grabbed with my right hand into my left. Shield and spear, isn’t that how the prey did it? Though, the others didn’t have spears to strike at the prey back then.

The prey’s spears were targeting my unguarded spots. The extra clothes really did help. If it weren’t for them, I would be in an even worse position. But it was still pretty bad. I limped back, fending off spear strikes with my shield, stabbing when I could. None of my attacks reached. And for every attack I attempted, four would attack in return. I have to press my back to the wall, confine the strikes to only my left side. It’s a good thing I didn’t get to run very far. It would’ve been better if I had made it through. But this situation isn’t a dead end yet.

The wall was only a few steps away. But those steps were the hardest ones I ever took. I had to use my shield to support my body, replacing my right leg with it. That left me even more open to attack. But the prey were wary, didn’t strike like I expected them to. They didn’t want to be stabbed back. They were surrounding me in a semi-circle again. The door, it was open. I didn’t hear wrong. A prey must’ve come out of it, joined in on the attacks. A chance.

“Why won’t you just die!?”

“Chief, no!”

A prey rushed towards me from the left, charging alone. I raised my spear. If it could stab me, I could stab it. I waited for it to stab me to stab it in return.

“Now, Chris!” the running prey shouted.

A shadow fell over my vision from the right. I turned my head. A prey had come out of the door. It was holding a metal stick. The metal stick was heading towards my face. It slammed into me, pushing my head back, knocking it into the wall. If I wasn’t wearing my dome, that would’ve killed me for sure. My left arm was pierced, my spear kicked out of my hand. The prey with the metal stick struck my head again. I raised my right arm. But it kicked the edge of my shield, forcing my arm down, then hit my head again with the stick. I fell over in a bad position, my shield caught underneath my back. The black visor on my dome was shattered, letting in the sunlight. The prey was standing over me, stick raised up, poised to deliver the strike directly to my face, shattering my skull, destroying my brain. But for some reason, it didn’t.

“Chris! What are you doing!?”

The prey on top of me dropped the metal stick. The only thing I could move was my left leg. But I couldn’t do anything useful with it. The prey grabbed my head, dug its fingers underneath my dome, ripped it off. It wanted to guarantee the kill, remove my last form of protection. And I couldn’t do anything to stop it.

“Kait…lyn?”

The prey said something I didn’t understand. But it sounded familiar.

“Chris?”

Something was wrong. The prey pinning my left arm down with its spear realized it too. The prey on top of me was abnormal.

“Chris! Snap out of it!”

“Chief. This smart in—no, this person, she’s … my sister.”

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Virlyce

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