I stepped off the pedestal immediately after hearing the canon fire ignite the start of the Games and wished for a second that I would see Clarice running towards the forest. But she wasn't. She was running right towards the knives, just as I was running right towards the bow, Keaton towards the long sword, Kadence towards deadly spiked mace, Grayson towards the long axe, Harper towards the dart pole, and Piper towards the axes. Then I saw Ashton running towards the tridents, Cecilia running towards the same set of axes that Piper was running towards, Blaine running towards the big war hammers, pushing the smaller kids out of his way, one of them hit the ground so hard their necks snapped, causing a cannon fire to go off. Two kids already dead, and no one has reached the Cornucopia yet. I looked a little past Blaine and saw Sierra running towards the short swords, and lastly saw Griffin running towards the spears.
Keaton, Piper, Cecilia, Clarice, Blaine, and I were the first people to reach the Cornucopia. I dove forward into the crate that the bow and arrows were resting on, grabbed the bow, and swung the sheath of arrows over my back, placing the strap across my body so it wouldn't easily slip off. By the time I got up, a boy from District 8 was charging towards me, looking as if he was hoping to get the bow first. He jumped towards me, I moved out of the way and he slammed against the ground, no injures being given to him. It wasn't my time to kill yet, I had to protect Clarice.
As soon as those thoughts processed through my mind, I looked over at Clarice to see she was quickly trying to put what seemed to be a bulletproof vest onto herself, which was loaded everywhere with different sized knives and even some darts. She looked at me and saw that I had found the bow, and noticed that every Career including Griffin and Piper got to their weapons as well. Piper was rolling around on the ground with Cecilia on top of her, clawing at each other, biting each other, punching and kicking each other, fighting for the axes that Cecilia desperately wanted and needed. Piper got up and began to run towards the forest, but Cecilia caught hold of her leg and pulled her backwards, causing Piper to slam her chin into the ground and be dragged back towards Cecilia. No doubt her ethnicity of being black gave her more of an advantage with strength. For some reason, something made me do it. Something made me draw an arrow, load it, and shoot it at Cecilia's back, which killed her instantly, causing a cannon fire to go off. Three dead. Piper looked up to see her rescuer, stared at me, and then turned around and ran towards her Career group.
Keaton had just finished killing the boy from District 8 that charged at me, sending off another cannon blast. Four dead. Kadence threw her spiked mace at the girl from District 8, which landed deeply into her skull. Cannon blast. Five dead. Clarice threw a knife at Kadence when she had her back turned, but somehow turned around and caught the knife in her hand, and smiled grimly back at Clarice, who looked at me and rushed over to me. That's when I was knocked to the ground by Grayson. He raised his long axe and swung down at me, but watched himself miss as I rolled to the right, out of his long axe's direction. I rolled far enough to where I could get a clear shot, but before I could do anything, a spear came flying my direction and soared right past me, finding a home in Grayson's chest. Cannon blast. Six dead. I didn't bother looking around, because knives, swords, blood, screams, and people were all soaring past me in every direction. I grabbed Clarice's hand, we grabbed a pack that was lying near us on the ground, and made our way towards the woods. As I was running I kept having playbacks of how I killed Cecilia, and saved Piper. It wasn't that I wanted to do it, it was just a weird impulse that I felt I had to do it. It wasn't time to think about it now, we had to get somewhere safe in the forest, or the cannon blasts will sound, encoring mine and Clarice's deaths if we didn't get away from the Cornucopia soon. We didn't look back to see who was matched with who, who was still alive, who was dead. We ran and ran, knowing that our parents were watching us. Knowing that the world was watching us. Knowing that Snow was watching us.
Clarice and I now ran in a line into the forest, and as soon as we made it fully inside the green filled world, a blast of fire soared our way, bent on making its home our faces. I pushed Clarice out of its way and fell to the ground as fast as I could. The Gamemakers were not happy we survived the Cornucopia blood bath. No wait, Gamemakers can't specifically target a tribute. It was under the orders of President Snow that the fire bolt was sent to kill us.
"You're going to have to try harder than that!" I yelled up at the trees, knowing that the Gamemakers and all of Panem could hear my yells towards Snow. That's when I rolled up my sleeve to reveal the new addition to my tattoo. I could imagine the reactions of everyone watching the Games, seeing the Capitol Seal being split apart by the lightning bolt crack, it was almost glorifying.
I held my sleeve up for just the amount of time I needed for Snow to be able to get a close look at it. After seeing this, he would know that I knew he sent the firebolt at Clarice and I. One more outbreak from him against us in the Games, and it would be obvious the Gamemakers are rigging the Games to Clarice and I die.
I rolled my sleeve down, loaded by bow, and continued to run with Clarice at my side. We were panting so much from running that after about fifteen more minutes of sprinting deeper into the woods we found some sort of haven to stay in for the first night in the Games. It consisted of huge, think plants surrounding a fairly large tree where we would lean against to sleep. By sitting in the right spot, the plants shadowed us so well, no one walking anywhere close to us would see us unless they moved the plants out of the way.
We were far away from the Cornucopia, the sounds of the clashing metal from the weapons and screams from the dying tributes were muffled so low we could barely make out what was going on. I still had my bow loaded, just in case we had an unfriendly visitor that could have followed us into the woods close behind. Clarice had a medium sized deadly looking knife held tightly in her right hand, scanning the forest floor for intruders.
"Do you think we should move further into the woods or do you think we'll be fine here?" I asked her, and she responded with, "We should be okay, if we feel the need to move before nightfall, we will."
Clarice opened the little canvas pack that we picked up while running towards the forest and opened its contents. A silver can of matches, spices, butter, blade sharpener, and the most glorious gift of all. A water bottle.
"Oh my God!" Clarice screeched, opening the cap and taking a small gulp of it, then handing it over to me. I took only a few sips, giving another gulp to Clarice. She was the one that needed to stay alive, not me. We needed to conserve our water anyway, so we put it back inside the canvas pack and sat against the tree, safely covered from the big think plants around us. I told Clarice to get some rest, and that I would keep watch. She didn't hesitate. As soon as she closed her eyes, I grabbed my bow and loaded an arrow into it, and sat down, the weapon not leaving my grip.
We ended up staying put when nightfall came, which pretty much was whenever the Gamemakers pleased. All they had to do was press a button in the shape of a moon and the arena went pitch black. The muffled screams and metal against metal sounds died down an hour before nightfall, so we anticipated seeing who was killed during the blood bath at the Cornucopia. Seeing what our actual competition is. We know so far that six tributes were killed, but from the screams and yelling we heard while running further into the forest, a few more were probably killed.
The anthem that the Gamemakers play before they show the fallen tributes plays, and that's when we see the faces, one by one, of the dead tributes, their district numbers underneath the picture of their faces. We saw Grayson's picture, followed by Cecilia, than the 12 year old girl, and both kids from District 6, 8, 9, and 11. That means 12 tributes are now dead, and 12 still remain alive. I wasn't expecting anything more, or anything less. Perfect. My guess is that the two Career groups will either do one of the three following ideas: fight only each other until one group is still standing, go after Gunner and Peyton, or specifically target Clarice and I.
"The odds aren't exactly in our favor." I said to myself, and then pulled the sheath of arrows off of my shoulders and counted how many arrows I had left. There were 9 left total. I would go back and retrieve the 10th from Cecilia's body, but the Capitol already made their rounds of getting the dead tributes out of the arena when everyone cleared the Cornucopia, grabbing all the weapons and materials that they needed. Whatever was left behind the Capitol took with them back to the city so we couldn't use it again. They left the Cornucopia in place though, thinking it could possibly become a temporary hide out for any of us tributes. It would be a pretty bad one though, considering its location: the middle of an open field where everyone and everything can see you.
Clarice slept through the anthem of the Fallen and I decided to let her sleep the night off. She woke up around 3 in the morning Games time, and told me to get some rest. I still haven't let go of my bow, which was still loaded. I even slept with it in my hands, just in case I needed to wake up and shoot something or someone close by that poses as a threat to us. Clarice was well equipped with her vest of knives around her, which actually gives her some protection if she were to be stabbed.
As the rest of the night lingered on while I was sleeping, when I woke up and it was broad daylight, I asked Clarice if anything else happened, regarding any more deaths or any messages from the Gamemakers or the Capitol. She said no, but she managed to capture some brunch. A squirrel.
"And how did you manage to do that?" I asked. She laughed, "Don't be mad…but I took your bow while you were sleeping and went hunting. I shot it with an arrow. Don't worry, I cleaned the blood and guts off with my tribute jacket."
I didn't care. What she did wasn't foolish, and it actually rewarded us with some food. Even though squirrel meat isn't really flavorful, some of the spices that the Gamemakers placed in the canvas bag really gave it a good taste after we cooked it over a fire. I told her who died at the blood bath of the Cornucopia. She wasn't surprised by any of the deaths, and was glad that Grayson and Cecilia were out of the way. She was confused as to why Piper just stared at me after I saved her from Cecilia, since she didn't seem like the most sentimental type of girl. We dropped the conversation once the squirrel was done being eaten, and immediately put out the fire because we didn't have the special wood that is smokeless while being burned. Besides, with the huge tree behind us, the smoke blended in with leaves so no one really caught onto where we were. More squirrels came near us though, and we decided that this place could maybe be our hide out for the entire Games. We came to the conclusion that it'd be better not to stay in the same spot and to move about a little, this way we could possibly find more tributes off guard, instead of them finding us off guard.
We got up, packed our things, and moved. We decided we could burn the haven we had so no one else could use it, and maybe a tribute would see the ongoing smoke from the fire that we wouldn't put out. This way if someone were to come this way, we would kill them from a distance, since we'd hide somewhere out of view and I could shoot them dead with an arrow or two if need be for a second one. Distance doesn't matter to me, I can still shoot well yards away. The matches being best for this death trap, we took two of them and left one in the small silver tube they came in, and lit the matches on fire from using the bark against the match tip. We started by slowly burning the leaves and then the fire escalated and eventually the whole batch of plants was catching fire. We moved quickly throughout the forest and made refuge between two trees and a couple plants that would only hide us from someone looking far away. If someone were to walk two yards away from us at most, they would see us completely where as if we were in the haven still, no one would see us. After waiting a half hour, going onto 45 minutes, no one came.
"Well I guess that wasn't unexpected. Most of the tributes that are still alive are smart, and they're mostly all Careers. We could all be Careers I guess, from how much skill we have. The only difference is the Districts were from." Clarice said, which was true. Now it was sort of like a battle between the Careers and the anti-Careers, being Clarice and I, Gunner, and Peyton. Griffin and Piper were automatically considered Careers now by default since they were hanging out with the Careers now. Or were they? I never saw what actually happened after we left, considering we were in the trees by then. Griffin and Piper could have ran off by themselves and deserted the Careers, only using them as a protective shield for the Cornucopia blood bath, ensuring their safety until after it was over. It would be a smart plan, but nonetheless, it could be entirely a made up scenario in my head. Odds are, they are still separated with their own Career groups.
The fire was still burning, the smoke was still rising, and after waiting a final fifteen minutes, we got up and made our way west of the forest, hoping to find a water source. Unfortunately, that day, we found nothing. No more food, no water, no tributes, nothing. Clarice's fatigue was really catching up with her, and she fell to the ground due to extreme exhaustion from walking and running so much after thinking we heard tributes behind us.
"C'mon Clarice, get up, please. We can rest soon, I promise. We need to find another hiding spot to spend the night." I said, looking up at the trees. The trees!
It was a perfect idea. We could rest in the trees just like this girl named Katniss Everdeen did before in one of the Hunger Games years ago, she found vines and tied herself to the trees and slept up there all night like a baby.
"Clarice do you remember what Katniss Everdeen did when she was looking for a place to rest? She found this willow like tree somewhere in the same arena that we're in right now, and sliced down some think vines and tied herself to the tree. We can do that, the tree above us is perfect. It has two steady long, strong trunks coming out of the left and right side of the shaft of the tree. You could keep watch from the left, and I could keep watch from the right. Look!"
I pointed up and lead her eyes to the next haven we found. She could imagine it, how perfect it would be, shielding us from any close combat that the forest floor would give us if a tribute were to come by during the night. The only tribute we would have to be cautious of is Harper, because she has the dart pole. That's when I thought of another idea when she asked how we would avoid Harper's darts.
"Well, that's even if she comes this way. But either way, we need to be cautious, right? We can take more vines than we need and a bunch of branches with leaves on them, and sort of make a blanket of leaves. Then we can tie the blanket of leaves in front of us so one knot would be tied from the branch above us, and one knot would be tied on the branch we would be resting on. Get what I'm saying?"
She nodded, and ran the plan through her head. The only problem we had was finding the willow like tree that contained these vines we needed to tie everything together. I tried remembering the Games when Katniss found them, and remembered that the tree had different colored leaves than the rest of the trees in the arena. The leaves were a very light green, almost yellow looking, while everything around it was green. Only one way to find it. I'd have to climb up the tree near us and look around the whole arena. The only problem with that, would be a tribute noticing me close by or from far away, but just in case, Clarice offered to keep guard with her knives. She loaded two in each hand and gave me the go to start climbing. Once I did, I slipped a few times but eventually made my way up to the top of the tree and peaked half my body, up to my waist, out of the tree and gained my balance so I don't fall out of the tree. I saw the river with water, about five miles away, and then looked to the east. Nothing. Looked behind us, nothing. One last direction would be north, and still there was nothing. Where was this tree? Did they get rid of it so no one would mimic Katniss Everdeen's brilliant idea? Or did they camouflage it to match the rest of the trees so it would be harder to mimic Katniss's plan? These questions, I would never know the answer to until I find the tree. It wasn't even 2 o'clock yet, so we had plenty of time to search. I looked around one more time and saw a suspicious looking tree, that looked very different from all the other ones. It was in the middle of a very dark green meadow, and the leaves almost looked black. It was a mile walk away. If this was it, and the leaves were indeed black, it would be the best cover we could have for sleeping at night in the tree.
I climbed down the tree and noted to Clarice what I had found. She agreed that it was worth the mile walk to find out, so we made marks in the trees to remember which way to walk back. Luckily there were so many trees, that they were almost in a straight line the whole walk. We marked every tree with a simple X, wanting to mark them with lightning bolts instead. But then it would be obvious it was us that made them, and people would wait anxiously for us to return back to whichever marking of ours they had found, waiting patiently to kill us. An X would help disguise our identity, and make it seem like anyone could of made it.
We stopped walking after about half a mile and marked the half way mark with two X's instead of one. I took out the water bottle, which was about ¾'s gone and gave most of it to Clarice' who looked so beaten up from walking and dehydration.
"You need some too, not just me." Clarice said, forcing the water bottle back into my hands. "I won't drink anymore until I know you've had some, don't be stupid. Just because I'm a girl and will complain more about how I'm feeling physically, doesn't mean I'm gonna just quit you know!"
I laughed which caused her to break a small smile, realizing how ridiculous she just sounded. We took fifteen more minutes of resting time and got up and continued our mile walk to the black tree. When we almost got there, we saw a raccoon past us, which I shot and killed and carried with us until we made it to our destination. The black tree, was indeed, black. The whole thing as a matter of fact, and we saw thick, dark vines hanging from the tree.
"Wow, I can't believe we actually found it!" Clarice said, walking quickly over to the black tree and grabbing one of the vines. She took out a cutting knife from her knife vest and began chopping down some long lengths of vine. We had 10 long vines total, and by 4 o'clock, we made our way back to the tree where we were planning on resting for the night. The raccoon almost looked too delicious as my stomach began to growl ferociously, so we decided to stop and cook it really quick and eat. We carved all the fur off and cooked the meat over a fire, ate, and put the fire out and threw the excess parts of the raccoon into the forest floor. We made our way back to the tree by looking at the markings we left on each tree we had passed, and finally made it back to the tree. Only there was a surprise waiting for us. He must have followed us around the whole time, or found our markings on the trees. Now that I think of it, it was rather stupid of us to mark the trees, but we couldn't think of any other way to do so. Luckily he hasn't seen us yet, so I dropped the vines that I was carrying, quietly loaded my bow, and aimed the arrow directly at Gunner's head.
Do it. He'd kill you if he saw you were standing near his hide out. He would sink the arrow that you're pointing at him right into your skull. It would bring him closer to winning the Games, and would also give him great honor in killing you and Clarice.
All of these thoughts flew through my head and for some reason, I couldn't bring myself to let my arrow fly and make a new home into Gunner's head. Clarice looked at me anxiously and was catching on that I was struggling to kill him. Something was telling me not to do it, and that maybe, just maybe he was the right ally for surviving further into the Games. Clarice wouldn't go for this, mostly because I would be going back on what I said for not having any allies, and just having Clarice and I as a team. She took out a knife and winded her arm back and while she was in mid throw, I caught her arm and the momentum from the attempted throw knocked the knife right out of Clarice's hand and landed on the forest floor; and because it was so quiet, Gunner's head turned towards us and he raised his sword, calling out "Who's out there?" sounding confident, yet very nervous.
Without thinking, I raised by bow again, pulled back the drawstring tightly, and shot an arrow purposely past Gunner's head, and saw the arrow tip sink into a tree that he was standing right next to. A warning shot. I wanted to make a small treaty with Gunner, because for some weird damn reason, I felt that he could help.
"Not so good now, are you Kade?" Gunner shouted into the forest, and saw as I showed myself from his blinded view of us. Clarice followed, two knives ready in her right hand, one in her left. No doubt if she threw them all at the same time, they would all find a spot in Gunner's body. I told her to keep calm as we approached Gunner, having another arrow loaded and pointed directly at Gunner.
"You're out numbered, Gunner. Give it up and let's talk." I said, walking slow towards the angered, nervous Gunner who couldn't stand in one spot. His sword trembled in his hands knowing that if he were to advance forward, he would be taken down with my arrow and Clarice's knives before he could take two advancing steps towards us.
"Talk about what? I'm not joining you're rebellion! You're going to cause the districts enough trouble as it is with your stupid tattoo and your defiance of the Capitol! I don't need any of that blood on my hands!" Gunner shouted at us, looking left and right to find an escape route. But he knew perfectly well that I was a good shot, and he wouldn't make it three steps in any direction he took. "The boy from District 6 who was blown to bits on his pedestal, his blood is on your hands! If it wasn't for your defiance he wouldn't have drawn your tattoo with his own blood and he wouldn't be dead right now! He could've hand a fighting chance!"
Gunner wouldn't stop yelling. For someone acting so tough and skilled in the arena, Gunner was a little too emotional. I thought for sure I was going to have to kill him, but I was still hesitating. Either he knows something, or I'm just a coward. Something's telling me that killing him would be a bad idea, whether he knows something or not is the case at all. It was just a guess.
"The Capitol killed the boy! Not Kade, you don't see an arrow in the boy do you? We had no idea that he was going to do that! He saw the evil in the Capitol, and knew that fighting against the Capitol was the right choice! He died a hero, nothing less!" Clarice shouted at Gunner, which still didn't give him a change of heart. The course of blood going through his veins and showing, identified his anger well. He was just a boy from District 5, trying to save his family and friends from the grieving they would do by his death. Trying to keep his district alive, and reward them with honor and feast. Which was understandable to say the least, but he could be a great ally against the Careers.
"Let's talk Gunner, we have a proposition for you. No fighting, no killing. Just talking." I said, lowering my bow and placing it on the ground, with my hands up. "I swear, the bow will stay here as long as you hear me out."
Clarice was hesitant about putting her knives down, and after I looked at her, she rolled her eyes and put the knives on the forest floor. Her knife vest still had many knives in it, waiting to be used, but she took it off as well and laid it against the knives that were already resting on the ground. We were completely unarmed.
"Your turn, Gunner." Clarice said, hoping for a positive response from him. Any sudden movement of aggression or anger towards us, that arrow that's loaded into my bow will surely find a spot in Gunner's head if he were to try attacking us unarmed. That sort of act from him would show he's untrustworthy and relentless.
"How can I trust you two?" Gunner said, more calmly.
Well, you can't. Just like we can't really trust you, either. I wanted to say this to him badly, but it would only cause more unrest. So lied.
"You can trust us. Put the sword down and we don't have to move any closer. We can just talk." I said, still with my hands elevated in the air at my waist.
Gunner studied Clarice and I a little further, waiting for that 100% assurance we weren't pulling any shit, and then sat his sword down onto the ground. "Fine...let's talk."
Relieved, I put my hands down against my sides and began.
"There are two Career groups out there. They both already recruited two people, one for each of them. Griffin and Piper, the tributes from District 7. You've seen them fight, and know how deadly they are."
Gunner didn't respond. He must have thought I was going to continue, which I did after noticing no sort of comment was going to come out of Gunner just yet, until he was fully convinced. I could see the sky already getting a tad darker. Looks like the Gamemakers knew what we were up to. Of course, we're not breaking any rules. We're just trying to form an alliance, just like the Career groups did. But since it was Clarice and I, I guess you could say they had a reason to be nervous about us having Gunner at our sides. He wasn't a Career, that's for sure. But he was still pretty useful.
"I saw and heard how good you are with a sword. And I saw your skills at the survival skills station. I'm sure you saw our skills as well. Being a trio alliance would benefit all of our chances in surviving a little further. Then, when the time comes, and most of the Career tributes are out of the way, we can all go our separate ways." Part of this was a lie, because when the time came, Clarice and I wouldn't separate. We would kill Gunner, before he had a shot at killing us. It was sadistic, to manipulate him like this. But we're in the Games now, and nothing that we do in here changes us as people. Well, entirely. If we had to kill Gunner at the end of our alliance, I would feel shady, almost like a Career. But what needed to be done to protect Clarice and get her out of here alive needed to be done, whether it's breaking promises and chasing lies.
"How can I trust you?" Gunner asked, reassuringly. "Everyone knows that you two are trying to get out of here alive so you can lead your rebellion against the Capitol, so what makes you wanting to have an alliance with someone good for anyone, when you need to live. When you need to win."
I couldn't answer that question without lying. I thought of a way to try and avoid the question, but I had nothing. So, I spoke without thinking.
"We can't win if someone already kills us, can we?" I said. Surely this was pouring in some pretty backstabbing thoughts into Gunner. At this moment, he was probably thinking that forming an alliance with us would benefit him, because he could kill us easily in our sleep. Well, he could try.
Gunner chuckled to himself, which made my assumptions correct. He was thinking exactly what I had expected, and said, "Alright…alright. You won me over, District 12. What's the game plan?" He bent down and picked up his all silver metal sword. I picked up my bow and Clarice picked up her knives, our eyes fixed on each other, trying to sense our automatic trust we have to have for each other now since we were a team. It was really a team of two, being me and Clarice, with just another extra, being Gunner. So really, the odds aren't exactly in his favor if he were to betray us early. Then again, we were already going to betray him, so I guess that makes us equally bad.
"We gather food, and set up camp. Until we can trust you, you sleep on the floor. We get treetop." I said, showing him the black vines. He rolled his eyes, huffed, and then agreed. He noted that we're going to need food, and that he could get us a few squirrels with some traps he learned to do in the arena. I told Clarice to go with him, so she could keep an eye on him, making sure he doesn't run away and try and make alliances with the Careers; and tell them where our hideout is.
"Why do I have to?"
Clarice sounded annoyed, but I gave her a look that expressed, "Just do it."
She rolled her eyes again and walked with Gunner a few yards away from me. I took the black vines and began to tie them together.
By the time Clarice and Gunner got back from hunting squirrels, I put together two blinds from the black vines and climbed up the tree to tie the blinds from the thick tree trunk above the trunk that I would be sitting on to rest, and after I was done doing my side, I climbed over to Clarice's side and did the same. After eating the cooked squirrels over the fire we just put out since it was getting darker by the second thanks to the Gamemakers, I tested out the side I was sleeping on in the tree and sat on the trunk with the blind completely covering me into darkness from the black vines and leaves. Perfect.
"We're all set. Gunner, here's a few vines and leaves to make yourself some sort of pillow or bed." I said, throwing down the vines and leaves as I jumped down from the tree. He caught it, said his thanks, and constructed a soft pillow to lay on. There wasn't enough leaves left to cover him as a blanket, so he took a bunch of think bushes from around the area we were resting in and covered himself with that, pulling in his sword tighter to his body as he began drifting off to "sleep." I don't blame him for being so cautious, making an alliance with two rebellion leaders who actually need to survive the Games at any cost, whether or not it's both of us or just one. The rebellion needs some sort of face, and Clarice and I were the faces that made up the entire thought of rebellion now. We were the leaders, and a rebellion can't go on without the leaders. It makes me think what's going on out in the real world right now while Clarice and I were in the Games. I was hoping to God that Snow wasn't harming my family or friends due to my lack of understanding in how he ran his government. Or should I say, "government". I wonder if Haymitch has approved so far of how well we were adapting to the arena. I knew he was probably very displeased with the events that happened at the Cornucopia, noting that we don't listen very well. Indeed, we could have gotten killed by the Careers if we remained around the blood bath of the Cornucopia. But something happened with Clarice that must have caused her to react that way after being casted into the arena from the pedestal. When we climbed into our spots in the tree, I took the spot which was right below Gunner, wanting to keep a close eye on him just in case he tried being sneaky and running off into the woods while we were sleeping, or to see if he was going to attempt to kill us. Surely, he knew I was watching him. He was still wide awake, probably being consumed by millions of thoughts right now just as I was. No doubt Clarice was feeling the same way, and I realized I never got around to asking why Clarice was in such a state of shock after being lifted into the arena. Curiosity ran through me like a rage of fire in an old, dried forest, and I asked her what had happened. At first, she didn't seem to want to talk about it. But she knew that it was only fair to me that I knew exactly what happened.
"Before I was lifted up into the arena, I was with Cinna. When I walked into the glass tube, and it shut tight, three Peacekeepers walked into the room and started beating Cinna to death. They shot him in the head and while I was being lifted, set the whole bunker on fire, burning his body to ashes slowly." That's when she started to cry. "And before all of this happened, he smiled and looked at me and told me to have faith, as if he knew he was going to die seconds after saying that."
Rage. Fire. Shock. Anger. Those are the four things running unstoppably through my veins right now, throughout my entire body. Filling my brains with images of Cinna's death, what would have happened if I had been in the bunker, what I would of done and how I would have reacted. Then I imagined sinking an arrow right through Snow's temple. Making sure he dies a gruesome death, just like Cinna. Peacekeepers are under the control of the Capitol, which is under control of President Snow. He ordered Cinna's death, and knew that Clarice would try and fight like a wild animal in the Cornucopia blood bath if she was filled with such rage and emotion from Cinna's death. And he was 100% accurate, because the both of us could have gotten killed. I almost did, twice. Snow was probably very disappointed the instant he saw Clarice and I run into the forest with our weapons. When he saw I killed Cecilia, and when Griffin killed Grayson before Grayson could chop me in half with his long axe. What a sight that would have been for Snow, he probably would toast my bloody death to all of the Gamemakers and the Capitol.
I didn't know how to respond, and I was left speechless. I think it was better not to respond, anyway. But then that's when fear and anxiety ran through me like wildfire. Clarice just announced to the world what happened to Cinna, possibly revealing to the world what and who Snow really is. Of course, there is no evidence it actually was Snow, but at this moment he was probably contemplating how he is going to kill our family for this secret that was just revealed. I didn't want to think about it any longer, hearing the screams and shouts that my family would make as Snow tortured them. It's throwing me off my Games focus, and I need to snap back into a reality where I know that my life could be taken away from me at any moment, and then no one would be safe if I was dead and Clarice were gone too. The world would shatter even further into darkness if Snow wins this war against the Hunger Games and himself.
After an hour went by of complete silence, muffles and groans from Gunner told me he was fast asleep and experiencing nightmares. I knew how he felt, of course. Nightmares nowadays aren't anything special or unexpected. I couldn't fall asleep, but when I did, I didn't dream of anything. My mind was still wide awake and ready for an attack at any moment. Of course with the black vines and leaves, no one could possibly see us. After an hour went by of me constantly waking up and going back to sleep, I woke up because of heat and smoke rising into my nose. I opened my eyes quickly and saw nothing but fire. The forest around us was completely emblazed in an ongoing fire, so bright filled with orange, red, and yellow that it was almost beautiful, and mesmerizing, to the point where I just wanted to watch it. A spark flew down on me from above and I looked up. The tree we were resting in was on fire, and so was Clarice's blind that was right in front of her. She was fast asleep and couldn't feel or hear a thing.
"Clarice!" I screamed loudly, climbing over to her side and noticing that the fire was catching onto her feet. I shook her awake and she jumped instantaneously and screamed. Before I could catch her, she rolled out of the tree and slammed against the hard forest floor, rolling away from the tree, almost rolling into a pocket of fire. I jumped down, ignored my instant thought of grabbing my bow, and ran to her. She was in pain from the fall, but with the amount of adrenaline running through her, she was able to get up and I noticed that from rolling onto the forest floor after her falling out of the tree put the small fire out on her boots.
When we turned around, Gunner was already awake and standing across from us, with my bow in his hands, my sheath of arrows across his shoulder, his sword in his sheath on his right side, and Clarice vest resting on his arms. "Let's go!"
Confused, I decided that the only plan we had was to trust Gunner and run with him through the forest that was now blazing rapidly with fire. It was an unnatural fire, because it was hotter and moved faster than normal fire. Gamemaker fire.
Clarice, whose arm was across my back while I was supporting her up, ran just as fast with me behind Gunner. We jumped over falling trees that had given into the fire, ducked when a fireball was flying towards us, and heard the fireball slam against the forest floor, causing an explosion of fire and sparks, adding more fire to the forest floor that was already consumed by flame and ash.
I looked behind me as I continued to run my hardest while supporting Clarice, I saw that the fire was not retreating, but following us. Gunner shouted to keep moving, and lead us into another direction to the right. The path he lead us into contained more fire, but by the expression and determination that he was portraying while leading us, he knew somewhere to go. Somewhere safe.
A burning log fell right in front of Clarice and I just as Gunner was able to run fast enough and avoided it. When it fell, it created an eruption of sparks and blew Clarice and I to the ground. While I was laying on the forest floor, I looked up and saw another burning tree trunk was falling directly above us, about to crush and burn us any second.
"Get up!!!" I shouted to Clarice, who looked up and yelled. She rolled forward as I got up and moved closer towards the burning log that was already on the ground. She got up and we both jumped over the first log that fell, and heard the second crash against the arena floor, sending a large heat wave against our backs. Gunner wasn't too far ahead, and I could see the glimmer off his sword and Clarice's knives on her vest. We picked up the past a little since Clarice was forcing herself to run without any support from me, and caught up with Gunner, who was now only a few yards in front of us. I looked past him and saw an opening of the forest, and in front of him was the most magnificent thing that I had ever seen, due to my surroundings right now of fire and ash. The river, filled with fresh, drinkable water, was waiting for us to plunge our bodies into. Gunner through us our weapons as we got closer to him and we dove into the water, surfacing from the bottom of the river to the top, turning around to see the burning forest that the Gamemakers had failed to use against us to end our ongoing luck of life.
Destruction. That's all the Capitol brought everywhere it's evil eye looked. We swam to the other side of the arena and sat on the rocky ground near the edge of the river bank. I wasn't in the arena while staring at the fire now, I was somewhere else. Seeing white and stone buildings burning down to the ground, the Capitol on fire looked beautiful. I imagined this while my eyes were glued to the blazing fire destroying a quarter of the arena, burning everything in its path. I hoped for a second that maybe the fire would continue and eventually find more tributes to prey on, but almost instantaneously it went out. I owed Gunner; and the thought of having to betray his trust later on in the arena if we're all still alive felt terrible. But it wasn't for my own personal reasons, well maybe some of it was, but it was mostly because Clarice had to survive and get out of the arena and fight the rebellion against the Capitol. If we were both to die in the Games, Haymitch would probably take the reigns as leader of the rebellion, but Clarice and I would always be the face of it, which scared me. My family and friends would forever pay for it if the rebellion fails. If we die in the arena, they won't have anyone to protect them which just makes it worse for me to comprehend all of this. There was no way I was going to let Snow touch my family, or any of my friends for that matter. And their families, and their friends, and so on.
Clarice sat down and untied her left boot and rolled up her pants, which revealed a very large black, blue, and purple bruise on her leg. It was broken. I walked over to her and lifted up her leg and she closed her eyes and bit her lip in pain. Shit. Walking on this leg wasn't going to do anything for us, and on top of it, I could tell that Gunner was freaking out about it.
"Get a grip and man up Gunner." I said, then looking up into the arena. "Haymitch, we need your help. Please. Help us."
I didn't know what else to do. Do we just wait to see if Haymitch could send us anything useful? Or do we move on? There was no way we would make it far with Clarice's broken leg, which seemed to get worse by the hour. I filled up our water bottle at least twice within the hour that we waited, and we decided to move further into the forest, just in case a Career group came out of the forest across from us which was highly unlikely because it was burnt and smoking, but we didn't want to take our chances. They could come out from the side of the forest opening where we were at anytime, anywhere on the left or right of us, since the river bank didn't just begin and end where we were.
"C'mon, we have to move a few feet deeper into the arena, we can't sit here and be open targets like this. Especially when Harper and Griffin are still alive." I told Clarice, bending down to her side and putting her arm around my neck, helping her up. We walked slowly into the forest, Gunner still having said nothing. I forgot to thank him.
"Hey, Gunner…sorry about what I said earlier. You were a pretty brave soldier back there, your family and district are very proud of you. You saved us, and saved yourself. If it weren't for you, we wouldn't be here, so yeah, thanks."
Gunner nodded, "You're welcome, and don't worry about what you said earlier. I do need to man up, seeing a broken leg is far better than having it spit out blood or completely off. Which I'm sure you both have seen from watching the other Games."
Clarice laughed with a sort of relieved tone after Gunner said that, feeling a little better that she wasn't the one causing such a downfall in everyone's mood. Although, a broken leg is a huge setback, and tributes could attack from anywhere. But like I said before, I'm getting Clarice out of this arena alive whether or not I have to die doing it. I have 9 arrows left, and am more than willing to sink them into all of the Career tributes bodies. Especially Keaton.
Nightfall was on its way, and the arena had sort of a cold feel to it tonight. The Gamemakers want us to create fires so other tributes can find each other. Of course, some people might be dumb enough to do it, but looking around the arena, from what I can see, no one has built any fires. We decided that Clarice could sleep the whole night, so she doesn't have to worry about being in a huge amount of pain. I told Gunner that he could sleep first, and that we'd take shifts of watch, and when it's his turn, I'd wake him up.
I sat against a tree which Clarice was sleeping near and loaded my bow with an arrow just in case of an attack from a tribute or something that the Capitol sends to us. They've already tried burning us alive, so my guess is they can't do much for a while if no one starts dying soon.
I began to doze off a little and kept waking myself up, thinking that I hear something moving towards us in the darkness. There was nothing actually out there, but I couldn't help but think it. As a few hours went by I woke up Gunner and told him it was his shift. By then, it was almost dawn and the arena's sun was starting to come out, warming up the forest floor a little bit, which was relaxing because when I laid down, I could feel the heat rising up from the ground, putting me fast asleep.
I was awoken from Clarice who had Gunner hunt some squirrels again for breakfast since her leg was still broken, and getting worse. I added whatever was left of the spices to everyone's meat and we ate in quiet. All of the sudden, something broke that silence. It was a beeping sound, which sounded really familiar. We looked up and saw a tiny parachute with a steel box strung underneath it. Finally, a gift from a sponsor. Thank you, Haymitch.
When it landed in Clarice's hands, she opened it and revealed the contents inside. A small, purple and blue pill.
"Must be medicine for your leg." Gunner said, taking the pill and examining it. Of course a sponsor couldn't send anything lethal to any of the tributes in the arena, because that was against the rules, so I wasn't worried about Clarice taking it. Sponsors could only give gifts by talking to mentors first, being Haymitch, before actually sending them into the arena. Clarice took some water, popped the pill into her mouth, and swallowed. Within a half hour, the swelling and color from the broken leg began to fade, and her leg looked half mended already.
A sigh of relief went through Clarice and she looked up and said, "Thank you." I stood up and held my hand out to her, and she grabbed it and stood herself up. She was at least able to stand.
"Great! Now let's see how good you can walk." I said. Gunner got up and took Clarice's other hand and supported her other side. We walked carefully forward, sort of like training a baby to walk, and Clarice could manage a few steps until her leg began to get pain rushes since it wasn't fully healed yet.
"It's definitely a lot better, if we wait another half hour I'm sure it'll be healed and I can sprint again." Clarice said, releasing mine and Gunner's hands and walking over to the tree where she sat down and rested against.
She was right, because after another half hour of mending went by, her leg was pretty much healed. She could get up herself, walk, even jog a little. There was still a bruise where her leg was broken, but it was fully healed now and we were ready to move on further into the forest.
"We need to start hunting." I said to Clarice and Gunner as we packed up and got our weapons ready. Gunner and Clarice used the blade sharpener to make their blades even sharper while we were walking in the forest.
"What do you mean? We just ate." Gunner said, giving the sharpener back to Clarice, who zipped it away in the canvas pack. I looked at him hinting that that's not what I meant. "Oh, gotcha. How are we going to do that?"
That was a good question. I didn't really think it through as much as I should have. We were left clueless. After fifteen minutes went by of just walking, we heard muffled footsteps behind us. They got quicker and quicker and we decided to hide when we didn't see anything coming from behind us. We ran over to a bush with a tree to the side of it and crouched down, waiting to see the source of the footsteps, which began to gain speed as it got closer to us.
I loaded my bow and pulled the bowstring back halfway, waiting to make a shot. That's when we saw him, running towards us. But not at us. Running from something.
"Kade its Peyton!" Clarice whispered, nudging on my jacket. Gunner tried getting up to go attack but I pulled him back down and told him to wait, because we still didn't know what he was running from. A few seconds went by and we saw the beast that was chasing after Peyton, a mutt that was created by the Capitol. Only, it wasn't a regular mutt. It was half human, half lizard with razor sharp claws and teeth, and a sharp tipped tail. And the part that made my heart race quicker was seeing it crawling on all four legs, and hissing "Peyton." The face of the mutt was in the form of his mother.
Before Peyton could turn around and take a swing at the Capitol designed mutt, it jumped off of its four legs, grabbed onto Peyton's back, and swung its tail over Peyton's head and brought it back, the sharp tipped tail entering Peyton's neck, then breaking it. That's when my arrow sank into the heart of the mutt's chest, having Clarice's knife compliment my attack with a knife to the head of the mutt. Canon blast. Peyton was dead, and so was the mutt.
We ran over to Peyton and while knowing there was nothing we could do to save him, took the mutt that was laying on top of him off, rolling it far away from him. I took my arrow out of the mutt and Clarice's knife, tossing it back to her, then looking back at Peyton's dead body. "8 more to go."