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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12. Cracked

Magnum Flowes, 15, District 3 Tribute

Boom. Another cannon sounds out. Already two tributes have perished today, which leaves twelve tributes remaining. In the first twenty four hours, half of us have been killed. I crawl further back into the small cave I found last night, and grab my bag. I've already eaten half the food and drunk nearly all the water. At this rate, my supplies will have run out by tonight.
"Just gotta be more resourceful Magnum, is all." I mutter to myself as I put my bag on. I look out of my cave. Footprints are embedded into the sand, ones that weren't there earlier today. Someone's nearby. Every muscle in my body tenses up as fear threatens to engulf me. What if it was the Careers, looking for another helpless tribute to kill? I try to discard the thought, and step out.

The midday sun blinds me immediately, and a few beads of sweat begin to form on my forehead. It's definitely hotter than yesterday. I look hopelessly at my empty bottle. I need water, and fast. I look behind me at the calm, almost hypnotic ocean. No, I can't drink salt water. Not without some way to remove the salt at least. I look at the footprints. It seems whoever they belong to had the same idea as me. They then turn around, and vanish into the forest. Of course, there's always a fresh water supply somewhere, usually hidden. And what better place than the thick, dense forest to hide it. Where there could be tributes laying in wait, prepared to kill me. I pull my knife out, and clutch it close to my chest. I take one step forward, into the dense green in front of me.

I hear a twig snap, and let out a yelp. Someone's close, there has to be. I lift my foot, and see the stick underfoot. Just me.
"Keep a hold of yourself Magnum, we don't want you going crazy." I tell myself, and walk through the thick wall of leaves, my hand wrapped around my knife, prepared to kill. But I'm not. I couldn't kill, especially anyone in this arena. We're all the same; innocent kids, forced here against our wills. Even the Careers; just kids, just like me. Just innocent kids, forced to kill, and live with the guilt of taking another life, knowing you've destroyed a family.

I collapse to the floor, a wave of sobs racking me. I can't do this, I can't be expected to kill another, I just can't. My throat releases another wave of tears, and I hold my knife tighter, as if it's life itself. I curl up, into the fetal position, and begin to shudder.
"Macro, I'm sorry. I can't do this. I'm sorry!" I choke out, my voice hoarse. "I'm sorry." I repeat, quieter. I look at my knife, its blade reflecting the sunlight. All I'd have to do is plunge the cold metal into my neck, one motion, and I'll be put out of my misery. I lift it up, positioning it, so it'll penetrate my throat.
"I'm so sorry." I say one last time, my voice barely a whisper.

Memories begin to fly by as I prepare to leave this world, for one last goodbye. I remember the time I met Macro for the first time.

I was thirteen, and was making my way back to the abandoned factory I resided in with that month's tesserae. It was freezing cold, the snow up to my knees, visibility so poor I could barely see the streetlights in front of me. But since I knew this place like the back of my hand, I managed to make my way to the street with the factory with relative ease. However, when I made it to the doorstep of the factory, I found him. A boy, no older than ten, curled up and lifeless. Dead. Swallowing up my fear, I rolled him out of the way, when he cried out in pain. I looked back to find he was still alive. Just barely, but living. I helped him up, and brought him in. I shared some of the grain with him, and learned his name; Macro. His parents were killed in a factory explosion five years back. Learning he had no home, I took him in, and we developed a bond that could never be broken.

Except if you happened to be a fifteen year old girl that had their name called out by a fashion challenged freak and forced to fight to the death, killing twenty three other kids, one from your home. Killing, blood, all on your hands. All caused by the primal instinct to not die. Not to be killed by another. The tip of the knife has just begun to pierce my flesh when I hear shouting.

"Hey! That's Magnum!" The voice startles me, leaving a shallow gash across my neck. I look up. It's Hunter, Nikki's partner. Nikki. Another innocent kid lost to this monstrous game. He approaches me, holding a slim sword. The word rapier comes to mind. No, he's going to kill me with that rapier, just like anyone else would. Even though we're all just kids, just innocent kids, forced to play this game. Forced.
"Magnum, are you alright?" he says, holding a hand out, the rapier in his other hand. "Don't worry, you're safe. We're not going to kill you." We?
"Is someone else there?" I ask, my voice weak.
"'Someone' has a name, you know." I see someone else step out of the greenery. Dark hair, olive skin. The Girl from 12. "And don't even think about suicide, that's what the Gamemakers want you to do; playing right into their hands." Hunter takes my hand, and pulls me up, the blood from my wound staining my shirt.
"We should probably clean that," Hunter says, "We have bandages back at our camp. Come on." I follow them through the slick greenery, the smell of soot strong in the air.

We make it to a clearing, and I see two tents set up, alongside a pot that's bubbling over a fire.
"Welcome to our humble abode." April says dryly, picking up a bow. "Well, I'm off to catch some dinner. If I'm not back by tonight, I'm either dying or dead." She loads an arrow, and disappears into the forest.
"So," I begin as Hunter wraps bandages around my neck, "How did you two become allies?"
"Well," He replies, cutting off the roll, "We both wandered into one another whilst mourning our dead partners. Call it a mutual hatred of this sick game." He puts the rest of the roll in his bag. "And she's got quite the sense of humour, always viewing death with a smile." Hunter's right; April has been cracking jokes a lot. Perhaps it's her way of preventing her resolve from cracking. Whatever it is, she's still going strong.

"Hunter," I say softly, "When do you think we're gonna die?" He seems taken aback by this somewhat.
"Excuse me, but what?"
"You heard me, when do you think we're gonna die?" His face contorts into a concerned frown.
"Now Magnum, that's not the right mind frame to have. Think positive. Think that we're gonna live. Think like that, and you won't be driven to do similar things to the stunt you tried to pull off in the woods earlier." I smile, and tell him I'll try to do that. But it's too late; the Games have already put too many cracks in my sanity, and only time will tell when everything will fall apart.

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