Surprises: The 68th Annual Hunger Games

For 68 years the Capitol has held the Hunger Games to keep the rebellious Districts in check. This year will be full of surprises and shocking twists that nobody could have anticipated. So watch as the 24 tributes battle it out until one remains in an arena guaranteed to surprise the entire nation of Panem.

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11. Burnout

Maia Kentner, 16, District 5 Tribute

I look to the slowly darkening sky as the seal of Panem vanishes from the sky, not to be seen again until this time tomorrow. Ten have perished. A high number, but that still means that thirteen other tributes are out there, ready and willing to kill me. I wrap myself up in the massive leaves that adorn the tree, and shut my eyes. I wake choking a few hours later. The first hints of sunrise are showing over the horizon, and a steady black stream of smoke is rising from the edge of the forest, near the beach. I hear laughter and leaves crunching under the weight of someone. The Careers.
"Let's burn this one next, Nick!" I hear one of them say. I look, and see a tree only a few yards away from me become engulfed in fire. Suddenly, I remember the sticky residue on the leaves. It isn't poison, like I thought, it's oil. A flaming section of the tree flies out, sending the top of my tree into a smoking hot spiral of flames. My hands fly to the rope fastening me to the tree, and I pull it off, the heat from the fire causing sweat to flow down my face. I hop down, just as a flame licks my arm, sending an intense pain coursing throughout it.

I land on the floor, and an arrow flies by my head. I turn to see the girl from 2 loading her bow again, and I run. The thickness of the foliage allows the fire to spread as fast as I run, cutting off several escape routes. I look behind me. The Careers haven't pursued me. A thick cloud of smoke engulfs me, and I begin to choke, the toxins filling my lungs. I begin to cough, the lack of oxygen making me feel dizzy. I stumble forward, leaning on a tree for support, my only thought to survive. I walk forwards, away from the heat and the black clouds, and fall to the floor, choking. My lungs are burning, my throat stinging. This is how I'm going to die. I curl up in a ball, light headed and vulnerable, willing for death to come sooner. But it doesn't come. I'm still alive. I crawl forward ever so slightly, my lungs still on fire. I look up. The dense canopy of leaves has burned to a pile of ash floating on the slight breeze, the air whipping it around, like a breath of fresh air. Fresh air. I inhale sharply. Intense pain fills my chest, but air is reaching my lungs. Shakily, I stand up, and survey the damage.

The Careers have destroyed the forest. Very few trees actually remain, all of them just blackened logs that stand upright, or not at all. I can just make out the Cornucopia's golden shine in the distance, and the looming mountain towering over the island. So far, that seems to be the safer place to be. I grab my bag, sliding it on my back, and begin to hobble through the burned forest, constantly looking out for any sign of another tribute. The area is eerily silent, not even a gust of wind is around. It's so silent, I feel self conscious breathing. I take another painful step forward, sounding like the heaviest creature in existence.

Suddenly, a piercing scream cuts through the air; a female's, and close. I hear laughter, and the screaming grows louder. One last scream, and a cannon blasts. The entire forest is suddenly filled with the sound of footsteps on the dead leaves.
"Hey, there's another!" I see one of the Careers badly hiding behind a tree. I pull my pack up, and run.
"Quickly! She's getting away!"

I dive into a bush, just as one of them pass by, their heavy tread seemingly the loudest thing I've ever heard. Suddenly, they stop, and turn, facing the bush. My heartbeat begins to go through the roof as they take a step towards me. I hold my breath, and peer out, to see a dark hand grab a sword. It jabs into the bush, missing my head by mere inches. I edge to the far side of the bush, and spot something. A small plant, shaped vaguely like a mushroom, but a bright orange. What is intriguing, though, is the purple cloud of spores emanating from it. A spider crawls past me, and walks around the strange fungus. It shoots a cloud of spores right at it. The spider does a strange flip, and its entire left side goes limp. It tries to crawl away, but it freezes as the paralysed half shrivels up into its body. It flails about, trying to move, but the remaining side goes limp too, and it shrivels into a melted pile formerly known as a living creature. If I were to use this plant as a weapon...

Pain courses through my shoulder as the sword strikes. I turn and see my attacker, and let out a gasp of surprise. It's the boy from 11, his golden eyes glistening with blood lust. I roll out of the way as he brings his sword down again, striking the mushroom. A purple cloud spews out, enveloping his arm. It's thrown into a spasm fit, and flails around, as if the bones had just melted away. His hand goes limp, followed by the rest of his arm, and he cries out in pain, dropping his sword to the the floor. He staggers towards me, and I leap to my feet. He grabs me by the throat with his one good hand, and I look at his other arm. The flesh is bubbling, and looks as if it's melting. I resist the urge to throw up last night's food.
"Look what you've done," he growls, tightening his grip. I gasp, but no air comes in. Panic fills me as I begin to suffocate. "I'm gonna enjoy killing you." No. This can't be how I die.

I move my leg back, and swing it forward, kneeing him right in the groin. He lets out an unearthly squeal, and lets me go, staggering back, in complete agony. He falls backwards into another bush, and a mass of purple explodes out of the bush. There must be a whole colony of those mushrooms there. I run out of there as the cloud rises, and the boy from 11 cries out in pain. I trip on something, and fall on my back, watching as the purple cloud vanishes into the blue sky above. I get to my feet, trying to ignore the pain in my shoulder. I begin to walk away, but something strikes the back of my legs, and I drop to the floor. The boy from 11 towers over me, half his face sagging, his legs looking like they're on the verge of falling apart.
"Think you could escape, did you?" I'm trembling with fear as his sword dangles over my throat. "Well, back in 11, I used to walk straight through nests of tracker jackers, and came out far worse than I am right now. So your mushroom plan failed, you pathetic little-"

An arrow flies seemingly from nowhere, burying itself in his eye. He falls back, and I roll out of the way of the falling sword. He falls to the ground, and I look at the arrow. There's a mushroom attached to it. A massive purple cloud suddenly bursts out, covering his entire body. He screams, and I watch helplessly as his face melts, becoming a lump of goo attached to his skull. His entire body convulses, until his limbs go limp, and he stays there, motionless. A cannon.

Suddenly, a figure emerges from the foliage. His district partner, Afya, if I remember rightly.
"Traitorous fiend." She mutters as she retrieves the arrow, the now deflated mushroom sliding off it. "I'm sorry about that. Turns out he was planning on backstabbing me; he was in with the Careers." she says this coldly, wiping the arrow on her jacket as she looks at her district partner's corpse.
"How come you saved me?" I ask her, trying to ignore the intense pain in my shoulder, but failing. 
"Well, I find it wrong when a tribute from an outlying district joins the Careers, and I didn't want him to kill anyone else. That, and," she trails off, seeming unsure about something.

"I would like to propose an alliance."

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