The only person I could think about right now was my sister. What she was thinking, how she was reacting to Peyton’s terrible death, how she must have seen me watch Peyton get killed by the Capitol mutt that resembled his mother. Then I thought of Peyton’s family, wondering what his mother was thinking while she watched herself kill her son, only it wasn’t truly her. She’ll be having nightmares for the rest of her life.
“I could’ve saved him…” I said, as we walked away from the body so the Gamemakers could come into the arena with their hovercraft and retrieve Peyton’s body, along with the Capitol made mutt.
Clarice shook her head, “No, you couldn’t have, I know Peyton was your sisters friend but you have to think inhuman now. There aren’t any feelings in the arena, remember? In order to survive we have to kill without overthinking anything.”
Gunner agreed, “And that’s going to be much easier now because all we have left are us, and the rest of the Career packs. Once they’re dead, hopefully two of us are dead so we don’t have to worry about facing off on each other.”
Clarice and I looked at each other, knowing that we were going to have to eventually either betray Gunner or get him killed somehow. Both ways were sadistic thinking to do, but Clarice was right. Gunner even agreed, inhuman thinking now. No more overthinking with feelings before a kill, because you’ll be the one getting killed if you continue to act as a human being in these Games.
We walked for two hours in the same direction, coming across familiar territory. The Gamemakers really got lazy with the arena this year, since the forest kept stretching for so long. We wondered if we would ever see a Career again, hoping the answer was no. Night came and we slept soundly throughout it, having turns keeping night watch. When the morning came, we gathered and hunted some squirrel for breakfast and heard a canon blast. Someone must have died. Instead of waiting for night fall to come, the Gamemakers decided to show the picture of the dead tributes right away, to make the Games more interesting. Sierra was dead, which meant that the Career’s had probably found one another. Unless they ended up splitting their groups.
“One less Career we have to deal with.” I said, looking at the screen of the arena, seeing Sierra’s face and her district number.
No one replied, but I could feel the intensity of the Games becoming heavier on both of them, including me.
“We should split up, not permanently, but to find some ground area. See if we can spot some Careers, and then meet back here within an hour.” Gunner said, looking at both of us for approval. Clarice agreed to it, as did I. I made sure of one thing, “If you come back, and try to kill one of us, don’t make any mistake. We will kill you before you can finish the job on us.”
Clarice laughed annoyingly, “Kade…really?”
“No, he’s completely right. I won’t even do that, but Clarice, he’s got a point. If you saw me running towards Kade and knew I was about to kill him, your knife would fly at me so fast I wouldn’t even have enough time to realize it’s coming at me. You know that.”
Gunner understood perfectly well than how the odds really are in these Games. He was somehow catching on that Clarice and I really weren’t in a pact with him, we were sort of using him as bait to get to the Careers. If he were to be attacked by Careers, I would almost be hesitant to aid him, but he did get us out of the burning forest that the Gamemakers set on fire to kill us, so I did owe him. Okay then, maybe I would help him out. But only one time, because it’d be returning the favor.
With that said, we split up into three separate directions. I made sure I was close enough to Gunner to where he was still visible, just in case he decided to go after Clarice as my suspicions were telling me that’s exactly what he was thinking. That’s when he went out of view.
I loaded my bow with an arrow and kept walking through the trees, trying to find a reason to shoot. I had a bad feeling about something, but I couldn’t rest my hands onto it. I almost began to lead myself back to where we started walking in the first place and follow Clarice’s trail to make sure she was alright, but I knew she could handle herself. At least, that’s what I thought because when the terrifying screams coming out of her mouth filled the arena, my spine turned cold and chills went throughout my body. I immediately turned around and began to chase myself through the trees, jumping over logs and bushes that were in my way. I gripped the arrow tighter in between my fingers, starting to get really anxious. What was happening? Was she dead? Who was she fighting against? Questions and questions. That’s all that was soaring through my head. Questions that would soon have bloody answers, and a dead tribute waiting for me to discover.
When I saw the tip of Ashton’s trident flying my way, I almost instantly flew onto the ground, spitting dirt out of my mouth. My bow was a foot in front of me, Ashton only being five. I leaped forward, loaded my arrow, and shot it as fast and accurate as I could. It just grazed the side of Ashton’s arm, causing a small cut. Before I could load another arrow into my bowstring, Ashton rushed towards me with a dagger that looked exactly like the one Clarice was carrying on her.
When he came close to me, he swung the dagger at my throat. I stepped back, and then pushed myself forwards towards him, my fist colliding with his jaw. He flew back and regained his balance, giving me time to reach down to the ground for a long, thick log since I didn’t have time to draw an arrow. I rushed towards him and swung the log at him, hitting his side. He fell to his knees and swung the dagger at me, cutting my thigh. Hot, sticky blood oozed out of my leg and I could feel myself trembling to stand. That’s when I heard more of Clarice’s screams.
“We’re going to kill her,” Ashton yelled, “Just like we’re going to kill you!”
Now that I could actually study Ashton’s face, I could see that he was in a fight not too long before he followed me. But how could he have found us? Maybe the canon fire drew them closer to us?
“We’ve been following you three ever since the forest fire! We saw you get out of the river and into the woods! Thinking you’re so clever all this time, and so special because of you’re stupid rebellion. You’re not going to have a rebellion to get back to!”
“That’s what you think.” I said, pain speaking louder than my actual words. Ashton flung himself at me again and knocked me to the ground, stabbing the dagger near my face. I turned my head fast enough so it landed in the ground, just avoiding my ear. While he was regaining his strength, I pushed him backwards and grabbed an arrow out of my sheath. I dug the tip of the arrow into Ashton’s chest. There was a whelp of pain, and then silence. I took the arrow out, watching the blood seep through his tribute uniform and then out onto his jacket.
“Didn’t put up much of a fight as I thought.” I said to Ashton’s body, which was now growing paler by the bleeding minutes. Clarice’s screams were heard once more. I got up, trying my hardest not to limp as I began to walk away from the fight scene. I heard leaves rustling behind me and drew another arrow and loaded my bow right away. I turned around and saw Ashton, half standing half wobbling, trying to make his way towards me.
“You’re as tough as I thought, just not skilled. Such a waste.” I said, pulling the bowstring back and releasing the arrow, knowing that it was soaring right towards Ashton’s neck. I didn’t watch to confirm the death because I was in a hurry to Clarice, who could be dead. The thing keeping me going was the fact that no canon was shot, and when there was a cannon fire, I looked in the sky and saw Ashton’s face and district number. Blaine and Griffin were the only ones left in Career group 2, which meant one of them was the one attacking Clarice. We were getting closer to winning. I only had five arrows left in my sheath.
I began to break into a full out sprint, beginning to hear metal clash against metal. When I found myself at the start of where we trailed off separately. I could hear the fighting getting closer as I pressed on, and finally found Clarice face to face with… Harper?
“Clarice!” I shouted, loading an arrow right away and aiming it at Harper, who wasn’t carrying her dart pole anymore, but two short swords. Clarice wielded her two biggest daggers that she had in her knife vest and blocked all of Harpers strikes, returning more powerful blows back. Ducking, screaming, slashing, Clarice and Harper put up a good fight.
Clarice was just about to swing her dagger at Harper’s throat until she saw an arrow sink into Harper’s temple, killing her instantly following a cannon blast with a picture of her face and district number. She looked over at me and fell to her knees, and then sat down in pain. Her hands and face were bloody, along with one of her daggers.
“Thank you, I don’t know how long I could have lasted. She caught me by surprise and shot a dart at my neck, causing me to become unbalanced and dizzy. It must have been her last one because she started attacking me with those two short swords.”
“She must have been the one to kill Sierra, because Sierra specializes with short swords. I was attacked by Ashton. He’s dead now. So much for Gunner coming to the rescue.” I said, my thoughts becoming filled with anger towards him. Clarice could have died, and he was closer to her. There’s no way he couldn’t have heard her.
“That means there’s only him, Keaton, Kadence, Griffin, Piper, and Blaine left.” Clarice said. “Let’s get out of here before Gunner returns, this is the best chance to leave our alliance before it gets messy and shady. Help me up.”
I slung the bow behind my back, took the arrow out of Harper’s temple, cleaned it off, and took Clarice’s hands and pulled her up. We walked away from the body and heard the hovercraft coming to retrieve her body, moments after just getting Ashton’s.
“We need to be smart now. Create traps, and kill whoever comes in them. We need to trap Blaine somehow, there’s no way we can take him on without being killed within a matter of minutes.” I said, remembering how big Blaine was compared to all of us.
Clarice nodded, “I just don’t know what though.”
Silence took over us after wanting minutes, maybe even an hour to recuperate what just happened and regain our strength. The Games were ending quicker than I thought. Snow must be hurrying the process of the Games to get to one of us faster, having the chance and opportunity to kill us himself. We made camp underneath a big willow tree and I stayed up most of the night, Clarice taking my shift after she woke up close to dawn. No deaths were reported.
“Let’s go, you know what’s going to happen soon, and we have to be on our best guard when it does.” Clarice said, waking me up and giving me squirrel to eat. I refused it at first, but she forced me to eat it. After I was done I realized what she was talking about. If four of us die today, than that means tonight could only mean one thing for us. The Gamemakers favorite part, where they are licensed to release anything to us to kill us until one person is left standing. The Finale.
There was 8 of us left out of 24 tributes. The Games were coming to a close faster than I had expected, which means more surprises from the Capitol and the Gamemakers to end it all. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, tributes from District 12, both won the Hunger Games by dodging the rules set by the Capitol. Both of them attempted to commit suicide, thus ending the Hunger Games and allowing both of them to win. A rebellion ignited, Katniss and Peeta attempted to overthrow the Capitol and assassinate President Snow, but failed when most of their allies were blown apart in an air raid. Afterwards, President Snow killed their families and left them to grieve in our Victory Village, where all of the tributes who win the Hunger Games live out the rest of their lives filled with riches and harvest. Considering the Capitol won’t allow two more tributes to win, and not wanting to chance the consequences of what could follow if we deceived them this year, we decided to continue the plan of Clarice killing me if I had to die in order for the Games to end this year. It would put on a good show, a dark twisted Hunger Games that no one will ever forget, where the Capitol forced two cousins to fight in the deadly arena and kill one another. It was truly show the cruelty of not only the Games themselves, but the Capitol as well. President Snow was going to swim in his own glory after watching me die by the hand of my cousin. Seeing my families expressions would be even more glorifying for him.
“I promise that once the Games end and the rebellion begins, I will kill Snow. For making us do this.” Clarice said in a soft, low voice so we weren’t overheard by the Gamemakers who have cameras hiding in multiple places in the arena, such as the trees, ground, bushes, even in animals, such as the Mockingjays that were in Katniss Everdeen’s Hunger Games way back then.
“And if things go differently than we plan, and I survive, I will kill him. For you, for our family, and most importantly, for the future’s sake of Panem.” I said, returning an answer. We found a small stream in the middle of the forest and rested there; taking sips of the water and cleaning ourselves so all the blood was washed off our hands and faces.
Daylight turned to night and we found ourselves camping there for the rest of the night. I woke up to screams across the arena, hoping that someone was going to die any second. But there was no canon blast, only more screams. Someone was shouting a name, it sounded like a boy calling to a girl he knew before being sent into the arena. A mother, sister, or maybe even a girlfriend. The screams ended after twenty minutes still with no canon blast. I drifted off to sleep and woke up the next morning, seeing Clarice next to me cooking a squirrel over a fire for breakfast. I almost vomited when I ate the meat, since I’ve been having it for so long. Every day in the arena that was all that was available to eat. No matter, I guess that’s one of the reasons why they’ve named it the Hunger Games. Another reasons could be hunger for thirst, love, blood, money…life.
“Did you hear those screams last night?” I asked Clarice, hoping that she did and I wasn’t going completely insane. She shook her head. Great, maybe I was going insane.
“What happened?” She asked, looking at me curiously while taking a small bite out of her squirrel meat. I shook my head, “I don’t even know. I could have been dreaming, but it all felt so real. Someone was screaming, it was a boy, sounding like Keaton now that I think about it. He was screaming a girl’s name from the sound of it, but I can’t put two and two together to form the name he was yelling. His voice while he was yelling sounded like a mixture of love, anger, and fear all mixed together.”
Clarice didn’t know what to say back, thinking the whole thing was sort of strange since she didn’t experience it herself. The only thing she came up with is that I was dreaming something surreal.
“Try not to think about it, we’ve only got 6 more tributes to kill and then…well yeah, than it’ll all be over and the rebellion can begin. At least, that’s if they haven’t killed Haymitch. He’s our only commanding leader left for the rebellion that we know. I’m sure there’s more people involved in it that we know, but for the sake of their safety, Haymitch probably didn’t want to mention it to us in case we let something slip while we’re in here.” She was speaking softly again, considering we were discussing the rebellion. Of course, saying it out loud would make the Games more interesting, seeing two cousins wanting to fight to end the Games for themselves, only making a bigger game up after escaping death in the arena.
“Let’s go, I don’t like staying in one spot anymore. There are too many chances that someone is already watching us and moving around our camp.” I said, looking around myself as I spoke.
Clarice agreed and put out our fire, continuing on into the forest. We continued for two hours until we came across another stream of water, where we stopped for five minutes to drink. The Games were quiet, and nothing was happening. This usually happens towards the end of the Games though, considering there’s a small amount of tributes left, all expanded across this huge arena. If it continued like this for another day or two, the Gamemakers would make things interesting for us to get the pace going again. To spill more blood of innocent kids to gather together the excitement of all the people in Panem, mostly the Capitol citizens. District 1 still has a chance of winning, considering both Keaton and Kadence are still alive and well. Most of the Career kids were dead already. Ashton, Sierra, Harper, Grayson, and Cecilia all failed their districts in coming home with the glory and riches you receive when winning the Hunger Games. The only Careers left alive were Keaton, Kadence, Griffin, Piper, and Blaine. Career group 1, consisting of Keaton, Kadence, and Piper had a better chance of winning than Griffin and Blaine do. I wonder who was going to die first. Probably Gunner, since he’s all by himself now.
“I think Gunner knew that our alliance was over when we split apart. It was the perfect time to split, anyway. And when you were screaming, I’m sure he wasn’t that far off. If he was truly still a part of our alliance, he would have come running to your aid.” I said to Clarice, who unassumingly agreed.
“I still wish him luck though, and hope he dies fast. You know how brutal and gruesome the finale deaths are; they all probably come from President Snow’s handbook of wonderful ideas.” She said loudly enough so any cameras around us could hear her whole rant to Snow.
“The way that they made those mutts resemble all of the dead tributes was almost as disturbing as making Peyton’s mom into a killing mutt.” I said, remembering how Peyton died, almost feeling bad now that I didn’t save him. He was only 15 years old, but would have eventually died anyway.
Before we could speak anymore, we heard a twig behind us crack and break. I whipped around, loading my bow faster than I think I ever have before, pointing it directly at the twig that was snapped. The intensity of the Games now kept my adrenaline on full blast.
“Who’s there?” I yelled. Clarice pulled out two large daggers out of her knife vest, taking a few steps towards the area where the twig was snapped. I eased up on the tension I had on my arrow and grabbed her arm, pulling her back and shaking my head. Without speaking, I hinted to her I would go and check it out, since she was the one that needed to survive. I pulled back my bowstring and walked closer towards the area where the twig was resting in two pieces, my heart beating faster as I imagined my mom turning into a mutt and attacking me. Good thing about the Gamemakers is they never use a trick more than once, so that was automatically ruled out in my head, thankfully. There was no one there.
“I don’t see any…” As soon as I turned my back I was pushed to the ground, receiving three long claw cuts down my back. I yelled in agony, my eyes watering and stinging from the pain. I heard rustling of leaves on the ground which was probably whatever clawed at me running towards Clarice, who was oddly silent. I looked up and saw the beast, not being able to make out what it resembled. It was a mixture of deadly animals, and looked so demented and frightening that it reminded me of some kind of monster that would reappear in a child’s nightmares for years. Once there was one glance at the thing, there was no going back. I could already feel my strength weakening and my fears growing up inside of me while I saw the beast making its way towards Clarice, who in a matter of seconds finally turned around and screamed, pushing her daggers outwards in front of her to stab the beast that jumped over her, dodging her attack. It wheeled around, the black naked skin of its body advancing towards her, it’s long yellow sharp teeth and pitch white eyes glaring at her. She swung one of her daggers at it in a horizontal swing, hoping to cut its throat, but only found her arm in its mouth. She screamed in an ear piercing tone, giving me the motivation to get up and protect her out of instant instinct. I felt like an animal protecting its family, which in a way, was exactly the situation. When I drew my arrow and sunk it in the beast’s chest, it wailed a bit and released its jaw from Clarice’s arm, which was bleeding immensely. She took one of her daggers and with all of her strength, stabbed it directly in one of the eyes of the beast. Green blood spilled from its face and mouth, also starting to flow out of its chest wound where my arrow was.
“Clarice stand back!” I said, drawing another arrow. When I yelled, the beast focused on me with the one eye it had left and jumped high in the air. I aimed my arrow for its other eye, and released it before the beast’s open mouth could consume my head. More green blood, and in a matter of seconds, the beast wailed off into the forest, not looking back.
“It’ll come back, but it’s blinded now. It’ll be more dangerous once it comes back and acts on instinct with all of its senses. It might bring friends too, we have to go.” I said, running over to Clarice, grabbing one of her daggers. I took off my jacket, and Clarice noticed that the razor sharp talons of the beast clawed through my black tribute t-shirt that I wore underneath my jacket. My tattoos were now showing. I almost knew for a fact that the cameras around us were zooming in onto my tattoos, revealing the addition that Cinna gave me to my broken shield.
“You’re hurt too,” She said, looking at my cuts. I pushed her back, knowing that my cut wasn’t bleeding as much as her arm, which had one of the beasts teeth still, jammed in her skin. I took it out, releasing a red ooze of blood, and cut my jacket down with the dagger so it was one long, thin piece of clothing. We quickly walked back towards the stream we found earlier, put water on her wound, and wrapped my jacket tightly around it, stopping the flow of blood out of her bite. The color in her body which was almost pale and cold turned warm and toned again after a half hour of stopping the blood.
“This has to end soon, that cut is going to get infected.” I said, looking at her arm again. She took her arm back, “So is your back!”
She should know by now that it didn’t matter for me, that no matter what was going to happen with my cut or the Games, I was going to die either way. If it was from infection of my overexposed wound, so be it. Better than having a dagger jammed into my body. But since it was close to the Games being over, sponsors weren’t allowed to send medicine anymore to us. We were completely on our own with healing ourselves.
Night came, and we found ourselves sleepless, fearing the return of the beast. Fortunately, it didn’t come back for us. We began to get paranoid where we were sleeping out for the night, and decided to press on in the dark. Something about tonight didn’t give me a good vibe, and as screams filled the night once more, I trembled with my steps because the boy that was screaming shouted Clarice’s name, and mine. Our names were followed up by screams of help, and heavy, loud growls. The beast had found Gunner, and was most likely ripping him to shreds. We began to run for him, following his screams and shouts that got louder and louder, than eventually faded. By the time we got to his gruesomely torn apart body, where his limbs and guts were making up more of the forest floor than the actual trees were, we recognized the teeth marks in one of his arms that was laying by a tree. It had the same tooth sticking out of it. The beast that was attacking Clarice and I wasn’t just hunting us down, it was hunting everybody. Clarice and I looked at each other and knew that the beast wasn’t going to be the only thing coming for us. As the canon blasted and we looked up at the sky that showed Gunner’s face and district number, one of the announcers came onto speaker.
“Ladies and Gentlemen. There will be no more announcements after this, the Finale has begun. All sponsorships have officially ended. You are on your own. The arena has transformed and contains what you fear most. Adapt, fight, and survive. And may the odds, be ever in your favor.”
I looked at Clarice, whose chest began to move faster. What did I fear most? I asked myself over and over, and then I realized what it was when I began to hear screams in the distance, which must have happened to Keaton. Only they weren’t just random screams, they were the screams of my sister. That’s when I began to make the connection to what I was thinking before. It all made sense. The beast that looked like it could be from a child’s nightmares, the dark moon lit sky, and the creepy blacked out forest in the arena that now contains things you fear most. The Gamemakers have turned the arena into an actual nightmare.
I bolted away from Clarice immediately, not caring if the beast was still around. Everything that Clarice and I had planned was out of my head, and the only thing I focused on was my sister’s yelling. Clarice screamed and ran after me, telling me that the Gamemakers were playing tricks on me. I ignored her and drew one of the five arrows that I had left in my sheath, gripping the end of the arrow tightly on the bowstring. Arabella’s screams were getting louder and louder, forcing me to run faster. Clarice was able to keep up, but couldn’t hear the screams of my sister like I could.
“Why are you running!? Kade, come back! The beast is still out there, Arabella isn’t here! You’re hearing things!”
I still ignored her, and in a matter of seconds, I found myself out of the forest and into the large, open plain field where the Cornucopia was still standing, weaponless. The screams were coming from the other side of the Cornucopia, and I made my way towards it as fast as I could. When I turned the corner, I saw Arabella’s bloody, dangling body chained against the Cornucopia.
“Kade…please, save me.” Arabella whimpered, sobbing as soon as she saw me. I turned around and saw that Clarice had just gotten out of the forest. I waved her over and called her name, “Clarice it’s Arabella! She’s over here!”
Clarice ran towards me, with her daggers in her hands. When she approached me, she seemed confused. “Kade, where is she?” She asked, almost looking directly at where Arabella was.
This confused me for a second, and I pointed at Arabella. “She’s right there, are you blind?”
Arabella began to scream again and cry, tears of blood running down her cheeks. The blood inside of me was boiling with anger and fear. I dropped my bow and arrow and walked towards her quickly, trying to unchain her. She looked at me again and said, “Kade…Peyton’s dead, I saw him die.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I wanted to save him, I really did.” I said to her, shaking the chains that grasped her blood stained wrists.
Clarice turned me around by placing her hand on my shoulder, “Kade…what are you doing? And who are you talking to?”
I turned back around and looked at Arabella, who had blood dripping from her nose now. She began to scream again and I covered her mouth with my hand. When I did this, she began to cry even harder. “You could have saved him…you just let him die! You watched him get killed!”
I shook my head, beginning to get hot tears in my eyes. “Arabella I couldn’t, if the beast found us, it would have attacked us. I could have died.”
She spit blood in my face, “You’re a monster. You let him die!” She screamed louder, in agony and grief. Before I could say anything back to her, Clarice turned me around again.
“Kade seriously, let’s go. Arabella isn’t really there, you’re just imagining things. Remember what the Gamemakers said, ‘The arena has transformed and contains what you fear most.” Seeing whatever you are seeing of Arabella is exactly what they want you to see! They’re trapping us! Please, let’s g…” Before she could speak, a spiked mace flew directly past us and hit the side of the Cornucopia. I looked at Arabella in fear that she was hit, but something strange and terrifying happened. Arabella looked at me, while blood was now streaming out of her mouth, and grinned at me. She turned her neck all the way around, cracked it, and then hung there, chained to the Cornucopia. Dead.
I screamed in emotional pain as my sister hung there dead, ignoring the fact that Keaton and Kadence were charging directly at us.
“Kade!!!” Clarice screamed loudly, causing me to turn my head and see that Kadence was getting ready to throw another spiked mace, aiming directly at me. My instincts came into play and I swiftly picked up my bow, loaded two arrows into my bowstring, leaving three left in the sheath, and shot it at Kadence’s spiked mace that was flying towards me. The two arrows collided with the spiked mace, causing it to fly backwards onto the ground.
“Nice trick!” Kadence shouted, running towards us, picking up the spiked mace that I deflected with two arrows. When I looked at where Arabella’s body was lying dead, I saw nothing. Clarice was right. It was a cruel trick the Gamemakers had played on me to trap us, leaving us free to pick off and be killed by the existing Careers.
Clarice and I backed up a few steps as Keaton and Kadence got closer towards us. Keaton had a huge gouging cut going across face, which split open his mouth. He could barely talk.
Clarice sheathed her daggers and took out her throwing knives, throwing them at Keaton and Kadence, who dodged all of them besides one, which hit Kadence in the arm, grazing it with blood. The mixture of emotions Clarice was feeling completely threw off her throwing skills. The only thing she has left was her two daggers, and her hope that my aim was good enough to get us out of this.
Kadence was almost close enough to make a swing at Clarice when the unexpected happened. Clarice, Keaton, Kadence, and I were blasted off our feet’s as mines went off all around us. Not only have I trapped Clarice and I, but I also sent Keaton and Kadence into a trap as well. The Gamemakers had activated mines to try and kill all of us, since we had the biggest bets on all four of our heads for being the most likely to win the Games. The only person who also had a bet on their head was Blaine, who was nowhere to be seen.
Minutes went by before I could open my eyes and when I did, all hope drained out of my body. My bow was shattered. Clarice looked at it, and I could see the fear emerging in her eyes and the hope being drained out of her as well. When we looked at Keaton and Kadence, they were laying on the ground still knocked out.
“What do we do?” Clarice asked, breathing heavily and coughing from all the smoke around us that was being given off by little fires burning on the grass from where each mine was blown apart. I was still in shock while looking at my shattered bow, which was my only hope in staying alive until Clarice, needed to kill me. If Clarice’s knife skills fail her within the hour, we would have no back up to survive. I got up and ignored Clarice for a few moments, walking over carelessly to Keaton and Kadence. I realized Kadence was dead when half her hair was burnt off of her head and her face consisted of ash and melted skin. I couldn’t tell how the rest of her body was, since she still had her entire tribute uniform on. Keaton wasn’t breathing either.
“I think they’re both dead. They won’t blast canon’s now, since it’s the middle of the Finale.” I said, walking back towards Clarice.
She wiped her face clean of blood and ash, “What do you mean?”
“The Gamemakers don’t set off canons so we don’t know how many people have died in the Finale.”
It made sense, at least to me. If the canon’s went off every time someone died, we wouldn’t go looking for anyone to kill if it were down to three tributes, they all wouldn’t go after one another thinking that staying in one place and letting the other two battle it out could mean victory for them.
“We should find some cover at least, let’s head for the trees.” I said, helping Clarice up. She picked up her two daggers that were laying apart from one another and handed one to me, just in case. Before we could enter the forest, we heard growling behind us. I was so numb from being terrified and hurt that I turned around as soon as I heard it, knowing exactly what it was. The hairless, black skinned beast that had two missing eyes and wounds all over its body.
When Clarice turned around she gasped, “Violet?” She said, walking towards the beast, her defenses down. Her trap must have been the beast taking the form of Violet, not being twisted around by the Capitol or anything. Perfectly plain, healthy Violet. This made it more believable to Clarice that she was really there. Considering after almost being blown apart by mines and killed by Kadence, Clarice’s mind was elsewhere and she was more gullible to the situation.
“Clarice, no!” I yelled, as she got inches away to the beast. When it lunged towards her, I threw my dagger at it, hoping for the best. Fortunately, it sunk right into the right temple of the beast and killed it instantly. The only unfortunate thing was that as I killed the beast, Clarice still saw the beast as Violet. So in her eyes, I killed her sister.
She turned around, with fresh tears running down her blood stained face. She dropped her dagger and began to hug the body of the dead beast, sobbing.
“You killed her! You killed Violet! How could you?” Clarice screamed, momentarily picking up her dagger and gripping it tightly. She got up and looked at me, with rage and revenge filling up in her eyes. She really, truly thought I had killed Violet. She began walking towards me, raising the knife.
“Clarice, no it wasn’t Violet! It was the same trick they played on me with Violet! It was the bea…”
I was swept off my feet from behind and slammed into the ground by a fist. I was dizzy and light headed as the fist kept pounding into my head. I was being killed.
Clarice screamed and jumped onto Blaine’s back, attempting to stab him. Since he was so much bigger than she was, he purposely fell backwards and landed onto Clarice, who was crushed underneath his heavy muscled body. I heard a cracking noise, and feared that her neck was snapped. Her screams indicated that maybe one of her arms, or legs were broken. As I opened my eyes and turned around, clearing the blood off my face from my bleeding ear, I saw that Clarice was gripping her side. One of her ribs were broken.
“No…Clarice…” I said, trying my hardest to crawl towards her. Blaine got up from the ground, unhurt, and said, “Stay off me, bitch! You and your cousin are going to die!” As soon as he finished his sentence, he stepped directly on top of my right hand, twisting his boot on it, breaking it. I yelled in pain and clutched my hand as he lifted his boot off of it, and saw him reach for Clarice’s dagger. She was in so much pain that she didn’t even notice his movement towards it. He picked it up, and moved towards me. Placing the blade in his mouth, he picked me up with both hands and then clasped his left hand around my neck, which was the only thing he was holding me up with. He took the dagger out of his mouth with his right hand and twirled it around.
“You know…I really thought you had more in you two. Especially you, being the rebellion leader and all.” Blaine said, staring into my eyes with nothing but the craving of blood.
I tried my hardest to speak back to him since his hand was clutched around my throat so tightly, “You never…really,” I began to choke, “Gave me a chance…you snuck up behind me. You’re…” More coughing, “Just as cowardly as Snow…”
Blaine’s response to that was placing the dagger against my face and running it across my cheek, leaving a small wound on the side of my face. I grimaced as the sting from the blade and the hot blood took over the side of my face. This was it. There was no one to save me from Blaine’s dagger, not even Clarice, who was barely moving on the ground.
“Well when I get out of here, and come face to face with Snow when he crowns me Victor, I’ll be sure to give him the message.” Blaine said, moving the dagger behind his body, ready to plunge it deep into my chest. As the movement of the dagger towards my body was engaged, a spear flew right through Blaine’s back and out of his stomach, the tip of the spear inches away from my stomach. When Blaine fell to his knees, I almost fell right on top of the tip of the spear. I pushed myself off of Blaine with my feet and slammed onto the arena floor onto my back.
I closed my eyes and acted as if I was dead, just in case Blaine’s killer came running towards me. I looked as if I could be dead, with the cut that Blaine gave me on my cheek and all the cuts on my arms and the rest of my face. But when a pair of hands wrapped around my body and picked me up to my feet, I stood there, waiting to die. Waiting for a spear to be thrown into me. I began to make the connection with who wields spears, and realized that Griffin and Piper, who both must have ditched their Career groups, were now aiding Clarice and I.
“We need to get out of here,” Griffin said, walking over with Clarice in his arms, one of her arms around his neck. Piper looked at me and said, “Can you walk?” I nodded.
Instead of walking further into the forest, we began to walk closer towards the center of the arena in the open field near the Cornucopia, leaving Blaine’s body behind. Griffin pressed down on his ear and said, “We’re ready.”
Wait, what? Who’s ready? How did he get an earpiece? What’s going on? Questions once again began to emerge themselves into my brain as Griffin continued to hold onto Clarice, not letting her go. Piper took my hand and continued walking towards the center of the arena, with an axe gripped tightly in her hands which I now noticed. It was stained with blood.
“Who did you..?” I asked Piper, who shushed me. “Keaton. That nice gouge on his face was made with my axe. When we finally realized that the Careers were mostly targeting you and Clarice, I turned against them and played Keaton’s love interest well. We both snuck off into the woods, and he thought he was going to kiss me. While he was leaning in, I sliced his face with an axe hoping to decapitate him. He pulled away too fast before my axe could grace his neck and instead it cut his face. He fell down and screamed, which was my cue before Kadence and Harper could come looking for us.”
I was still really confused and dizzy. I pushed away Piper’s hand and bent over, letting out the puke that was waiting to come up since I was lifted up into the arena from the pedestal. Piper came over and patted my back, telling me it was alright. When she did this, I made a movement for my bow which I thought was on my back, thinking this was all a trick. I only found the three arrows and the sheath that remained, remembering that my bow had been shattered.
“Relax, we’re not going to kill you.” Piper said, looking at me and taking my hand again, walking me over to Griffin and Clarice. I looked at Griffin, “Thank you…for saving my life and taking care of her.”
Griffin nodded, “Don’t thank me just yet, we’re still in the arena. The Gamemakers are probably very confused right now and are probably making preparations to blow us sky high like that one kid in the beginning of the Games before we were legally allowed to move from our pedestals.”
I looked around and all I saw was darkness, smoke, fire, ash, blood, bodies, and weapons. We waited around for several minutes until Griffin placed his finger on his ear again, “Okay.” He said to whoever he was talking to, and looked at Piper. “They’re coming.” I could see Griffin’s face clearer now that I wasn’t focusing on throwing up, and his whole face was covered in blood stains, and his arms were covered in cuts and bruises. Piper had minor cuts on her face, and only small bruises on her arms.
Who was coming? I decided to not even ask and just go along with it. The ground began to shake and before we all knew it, the arena began splitting into two. The Gamemakers were trying to kill all of us, hoping to plunge all of us inside the crack that was now consuming the dead bodies, the Cornucopia, and the weapons. A bright ray of light appeared over the arena and the glass bubble consuming the arena was shattered, causing small and large handfuls of sharp glass to fall against the crumbling arena floor.
“Haymitch, hurry!” Griffin yelled, looking behind him as the crack began to get closer to all of us. A hovercraft that had the Capitol seal crossed out with red spray-paint and instead replaced with District 7 written across it lowered itself into the arena, lowering a back drop bridge so we could all climb into it. We ran for it. Griffin put Clarice on his back and ran as fast as he could, jumping over the cracks that his foot kept falling into. Once we were inside of the District 7 hovercraft, it was immediately flying back into the air and lifted itself away from the arena, which was now collapsing into the large crack the Gamemakers had set off to finish us off.
Griffin and Piper set us down onto the floor and leaned us against the wall. Haymitch came over with Effie and an old District 7 Victor named Coriolanus, and gave us water. Both of us were so dazed out during the last moments in the arena that once we took in water, we passed out.
Within the hour that we were sleeping, we were moved to small comfortable beds. When I opened my eyes, I saw Haymitch, Griffin, and Piper all looking down at me. Clarice was still sleeping when I looked at her, noticing momentarily that she had large white patch on her rib cage.
“She’s going to be fine, kiddo.” Haymitch said.
I sat up in my bed and looked at Haymitch, and by the look on his face, he knew the answer to the question I was going to ask. He allowed me to ask it anyway.
“What the hell just happened?”
Haymitch took a moment to gather his thoughts, and looked up at Griffin and Piper who nodded their heads.
“District 7 Victor Coriolanus and I met as soon as you guys were chosen as tributes for the Games and discussed things. He told me that District 7 has been long waiting to see the Capitol crumble after the incident that happened with the betrayal of the little girl from District 7 and the girl from District 1. Griffin and Piper here, who as you know are both from District 7, both volunteered on purpose to go into the Games and make sure Clarice and you both survived long enough for the plan to work. Luckily, it did. Both of them got the Career packs trust and joined them, so they could keep them away from you as long as possible. Griffin’s sponsor was working with us at the time during the Games, and sent him an earpiece inside of a match container, which was also filled with matches. No one noticed it until the Finale began, when Griffin was caught talking to me. His sponsor was executed immediately.”
All of these thoughts were trying to be processed through my mind and it began to overload everything that I was trying to consume at once. Griffin and Piper were both sent to the Games from District 7 on purpose to keep Clarice and I alive, while Haymitch and Coriolanus gathered rebellion supporters and troops while we were fighting in the Games.
“What of our family? I asked Haymitch after looking at Clarice, who was rolling around in her bed, surely having nightmares. Haymitch fell silent, and then spoke, “As of right now, they are alright. But we can’t risk going back to District 12 and retrieving them. They weren’t told of the plan either, otherwise if they were taken and tortured about your whereabouts, they would have no idea what happened, just as Snow doesn’t either.”
Some part of me was angry with Haymitch for not rescuing my parents before coming to get Clarice and I, but he was right. The little they know, the better their chances of staying alive was. Unless Snow planned to use them to get to me.
“So, what now?” I asked, looking from Haymitch, to Griffin, to Piper. Haymitch spoke instead of Griffin and Piper, who also looked at Haymitch for direction.
“Well, that’s a stupid question.” Haymitch replied, “What do you think, kid?”
During the time he spoke I answered myself. It was a stupid question, really. Depending on how you wanted to take it. Now that we were saved, and out of the arena, there was only one thing left to continue. Now that our escape was filmed on live television across the nation, things began unfolding from the ignited sparks that were set off across the country when my tattoo was revealed during the Tribute Parade, to an emblazonment of fire that moved swiftly across Panem that only spoke one word.
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