These games will be considered an athletic event.
There is a fine line between murder and athletics, you’ve crossed it.
Two tributes will be reaped from each of the twelve districts. You should be honored if you are chosen, and excited for your potential victory.
Killers are not honored, they are thrown into a prison for the rest of their lives by peacekeepers. Why is this any different?
“Bonus Crowell and Dreanna Hayes, the tributes from District 5 are happy to compete, now aren’t you?” the bubbly escort’s voice is haunting me now, even as I realize that this is no athletic competition. That I am no longer honored, happy, or athletic. The golden horn in the center of the arena is full of weapons, and I know what weapons are used for. But still, I may need one to hunt. I see lush forest all around me, a river just beside the cornucopia.
I glance over at Dreanna, who gestures towards the weapons. I nod, and give her a brave look.
If only it was real.
I am not going home, I am NOT going to see anyone I love again. I’ll surely die here, here in this deathtrap. The Capitol is probably startled too, wondering why we’re being forced to kill each other.
However, they ARE the Capitol.
I take my stance on the metal plate. I am fast. I can run.
Five. Four. Three. Two. One.
A loud gong echoes around us, twenty four startled teenagers dashing to choose from an arsenal of weapons.
As I pick up a sword at the mouth of the horn, I look around for a sign of Dreanna.
That’s when I see the first death. The first murderer’s stern look as he guts a twelve year old.
I see her with a spear and chase after her, I will stay with Dreanna and we will win. No wait, she will win.
We make our way into the forest. This is wrong, I think. Walking around, hunting fellow tributes. We have to survive, but murder is not part of survival.
Although, some tributes embraced the fact that they were to kill each other. Maybe in order to survive, we have to kill the ones who are after us.
I have no clue about how to start a fire, because we never needed one in District 4, what with all the water around. The moisture in the air around us would probably extinguish it before it fully ignited.
“Can you start a fire?” I ask Dreanna, who gives me a look. “Right, I guess you’re just as competent as I am when it comes down to that stuff.”
“I don’t know about this,” She blurts, sitting down and burying her face in her hands.
“Neither do I,” I reply, sitting next to her. “But don’t worry. Everything will be okay. We won’t use our weapons for anything other than hunting for food.”
“I’m scared,” She admits.
“You’re not alone on that one.”
“Bonus, I, I wish I’d never been picked at that reaping, I wish I’d never fallen for the Capitol’s trick. We know what they did during the uprising, we know who they killed.”
“Dreanna,” I start. “Dreanna, did you really expect something good to come out of this?”
“No, I guess not. Maybe, I don’t know what I expected.”
“I think I do. I think you expected riches. I know I did.”
We sit there in silence, but it is soon broken by the blast of a cannon.
More than one blast.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen.
“Tributes, small announcement.”
“Each time one of you dies, it will be signaled with a blast like those recent thirteen. Every night we will reveal the faces of the fallen in the sky. That is all.”
“Where do you want to go?” I say. “What’s your strategy?”
Dreanna stands up and looks around for a moment. “We should find water. Something we can drink. We’ll worry about food then.” She begins stomping in a small circle around our area.
Clump, clump, clump, clump, clump.
“What are you doing?”
Clump, clump, squelch. Squelch, squelch.
“Mud.” She states. “We’ll follow the mud.”
After around, well, I can’t tell time in the arena, but let’s just say we’ve been here somewhere around six hours.
After around six hours, we’ve grown fatigued and I’m starving. I need some meat, I need something. The sun is setting and I’m hungry. I’ve been lucky to live in District 4, away from poverty, but I still know what hunger feels like.
A small bell ringing seems to fall closer to us and it startles Dreanna.
“Wh-what was that?” She gasps. “What if they’re here, here to kill us?”
“It’s a sponsorship!” I yell. The small metal capsule reminds me of the objects they said we may see. When we were training. Training for ‘athletics.’
“Who would sponsor us?” Dreanna says, looking over at me with relief.
I pick up the gift and examine it. “I, I don’t know.” I say, opening the container.
“It’s, it’s a bottle of pills. The container says, ‘Getting close you two. 1 per stream for 30 minutes.’”
“So, there’s water somewhere?”
“Yeah, we’re almost there, Dreanna.” I smile. We may just have a chance.
We eventually stumble upon a pond as we reach dusk. Frogs swim around as a large one croaks on a rock.
“Get a fire going,” I say, grabbing a frog and skewering it with my sword.
“I don’t know how, I told you.”
“Just try, we’ve seen our parents use fireplaces before.” I plop a pill into the pond and decide we’ve got about 30 minutes until night. We’ll wait for darkness.
Sparks light as Dreanna gets a fire going. She breaks some small cattails next to the pond and throws them into the fire. It slowly begins to roar as we feed it.
It’s completely nighttime now, and I’m cooking frogs and slurping water from the pond. The frog meat is tough, but it’s food and I love it. I’m nearly full when Panem’s new anthem blares out. A blue glow lights up the sky as faces from the districts’ fallen tributes appear. Apparently, 3 others were lost after the beginning of the games. That means there’s killers, or they got dehydrated way too quickly. Only 8 tributes left. This is shaping up to be a short lived celebration.
Snap, snap, snap, thud, snap.
“Who’s there?” Dreanna grabs her spear and stands up, swinging it around in the darkness. Suddenly, it hits me. The fire.
“Dreanna!!” I hiss. “The fire sent out a smoke signal, they’re here!”
But is this twelve year old boy a killer?
“I won’t hurt you!” He says tears streaming down his face. “I want to go home! I WANT TO GO HOME!!!”
A shortness of breath and a gasp of a scream. Just like that the boy is dead.
“Hey there four!” A voice yells. “That make you sad?”
It’s a girl from six, she’s meaty and carries a bow and arrow. Her eyes look to be gray, gray, dark and scornful.
“Hopefully, you’re not a softie.” She says. “ ‘Cause you’re next.” She knocks an arrow and aims, but it never leaves the bow. A long metal shaft comes from Dreanna’s direction and I realize what’s happening just as the body of the girl comes to rest next to the boy’s.
“Dreanna, you, but…” I stammer. “I thought you said that…”
“It’s part of our survival, Bonus.”
“You can’t just do that though!” I snap.
“She killed that boy!”
“And you killer her! Dreanna, we have to win without kills!”
“I never planned on winning without kills! I want the same as that boy, I want to go home!” She stomps the fire out and runs off, taking the pills with her.
“No!” She turns around. “I don’t want to kill you now!”
“Just do it, okay?”
A cannon sounds.
Her lifeless body.
“No!” I yell, tears welling in my eyes. The only friend I had is gone, and I realize why she did that. Why she killed the girl. Hatred overcomes me as I run in her direction.
A small outline.
“I will find you!” I scream.
I dash even faster.
The body turns around and I chuck the sword like a kunai as it meets its mark.
Cannon. Again. Cannon.
The number that motivates me the next day. Five tributes.
I walk in seeming circles, around and around.
I’ve no clue where I’m going, but I know I’m hunting. Hunting for the others.
I must win.
Ding, ding dong.
I open the package to find a small disc with an LED screen.
Useless, I think. An arrow that lights up. Useless.
Footsteps. The arrow changes in the direction I hear them.
A young girl.
But I must win.
I cannot kill her, she’s too innocent.
The knife she holds may prove otherwise though.
She throws, I dodge. I throw, she’s dead.
I must win.
It’s another two days before an announcement.
“Attention, there will be a feast held at the cornucopia in 1 hour. There you will find food and drink to keep you alive. Happy Hunger Games.”
I begin hiking with the tribute compass, taking in the forest that surrounds me. It looks so natural. But it, it cannot be. There’s something behind this that is cold and dark. It’s the Capitol.
I reach the clearing and find a table lined with silver ware and platters of gold, silver, and bronze. I see a pack of the other three tributes just as the bulkiest one turns on his buddies and stabs one of them with the dual daggers he wields. The other tribute tries to bolt but a ring of fire ignites around us. We’re trapped.
I run. Run to the table. It was a hoax, a way to end the show. I must win.
I reach the supplies as the other one with the daggers does, his former ally not far behind. The boy turns around and throws the daggers into the one who caused the fire. He’s dead.
I jump up onto the table and swing my sword. I realize this will not be easy. He’s at least sixteen and I am fourteen.
He joins me and grabs two forks from the table. We grapple for awhile as he tries to take hold of me.
Soon I am in a headlock.
“So four, you ready? The Capitol needs a show…” He takes my sword and throws it right over the ring of fire. “Hope you taste good.” He stabs both forks into my shoulders and I fall back with pain.
But I will not back down.
I stand up and run, hopping over the platters like hurdles. I kick a butter knife into my hand and conceal it in my sleeve.
The boy from seven shoves my onto the ground.
“Please,” I fake, laying down. “M-make it quick.”
He leans in. I whip the knife out and plunge it into his chest.
“Now that’s a surprise ending to the show.” He chokes, falling onto his back.
I’ve won. The hovercraft begins to land in the arena.
“Ladies and Gentlemen!”
“The first victor of the HUNGER GAMES!!!”
END OF PART ONE