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.


6. The Wrong Move

Flax Baize, 14, District 8 Tribute

I'm slowly brought into consciousness by the banging on my door. Yet again, District 8's escort feels the need to wake me by slamming on the door of my room. I get up, and find the training uniform, neat and cleaned, at the foot of my bed. I slip it on, and open the door of my room. I walk down the hall, to breakfast. My district partner, Quinna, is already there, alongside our mentor, eating breakfast.
"Flax, as much as this is going to make me sound like an escort, rising late isn't good when you have training." Our mentor says as she takes another bite of her breakfast. I take a slice of toast, and begin to chew on it, thinking about how training's going to go. Yesterday I managed to get through the survival based stations. I decide that today I'll try my hand at one of the weapons.
"So, what are you going to be trying in training?" Quinna asks, her voice shaky. Ever since she was reaped, she's been constantly terrified. I can't say I don't feel the same, but I've managed to get my nerves under control.
"I'm gonna try for a weapon. You can join me if you want." I say, and she smiles warmly at this. Our escort then bounds into the room, looking slightly irritated.

"This is disastrous! We should have arrived at training five minutes ago! How on earth did I manage to not stick to my schedule! Come on, before the day is over!" She drags me and Quinna to the elevator, and furiously punches the buttons. It flies down at a remarkable speed, stopping abruptly at the training centre. We're pushed out, and the elevator closes. Already the tributes have dispersed around the various stations. I look at the weapons stations and find the archery one free. I run over to it, as if it'll vanish in the next few seconds. I make it to the station, and it's still empty. I grab one of the bows, and it's heavier than I thought it would be. I load an arrow, and shoot it at a target. It misses entirely. Frustrated, I load another arrow, and prepare to shoot, when a someone puts their hand on my shoulder. Startled, I jump, the arrow barely avoiding the trainer. I turn, and see the boy from 11 standing next to me. He smiles at me.
"Hey." I say, unsure what to do.
"Hey," he replies, "I saw your shooting from the other side of the training centre, and it was so bad, I couldn't help but come over here and show you how to actually shoot." I edge away from him slightly, not trusting him. "Don't panic, I'm not gonna kill you. In fact, I'd only kill you if we were the last two left in the arena." He says, "Name's Kyle." He shakes my hand.
"Flax." I reply, returning the handshake. He takes a bow, and loads it.
"Watch." he says, as he eyes up the target, and fires. A perfect shot. "Now you try. Just focus on hitting the target."

I load my bow again, and concentrate on the target. I shoot the arrow, and it hits the target. Not the centre, like Kyle's, but it hit it.
"Good job. It's much better than your last shot. There's still room for improvement though." He comments on my shot, and I smile at the praise. "And, Flax, was it? If you'd like, we could stick together in the arena. We'd stand a better chance together." I'm taken aback by this offer. Alliances aren't uncommon in the Hunger Games. In fact, most victors were in an alliance, and I can see why. There's more food, strength in numbers, and a higher chance of getting gifts from sponsors.
"Okay then. Allies?" I say, and he nods.
"Allies. I'll try find you after the bloodbath." He walks off, and I continue to practice shooting. After quite a while, I manage to get close to the centre of the targets. I'm about to fire again when I hear yelling.
"Hey! Get out of here!" I look behind me to see the Career pack heading towards my station.
"You heard me, scram!" I quickly run away from the archery station, and head to the traps station where Quinna is. She's in the middle of what looks like a complicated snare.

"How's training been going?" She looks up.
"Okay, actually. The little girl from 9 helped me at the edible plants station. She's really smart when it comes to those things." Quinna finishes her snare, and the instructor compliments her.
"I managed to learn how to use the bow, and befriended the boy from District 11." I tell her.
"That's good; having allies might keep us alive." I nod, and begin to work on a snare. After several failed attempts, it's obvious my strengths aren't with trap setting. I move on to the camouflage station, and pick up a paintbrush. I begin to paint my arm to match the rocky backdrop. At first, I have the wrong shade of grey. I try several lighter and darker shades, but to no avail. I look closer, and finally see what's missing from my paint. There's a faint hint of red in the rock. After washing my last failure off, I grab the red paint, and add a small splash of it into my current mixture of paint. I grab the brush again, and carefully apply the paint to my arm. Once my forearm is covered, I put it next to the backdrop. It blends almost perfectly. Satisfied, I wash the paint off and leave the station. I walk across the training room, and head towards the assault course. I step on, take a deep breath, and begin.

I sprint down the first stretch, jumping over the obstacles with relative ease. I turn to the left, keeping my pace, and receive a club to the face. All feeling in my face turns to agony, and as I stand, I notice the flow of blood from my nose. I cover it with my hands, but that just succeeds in dying my hands blood red. One of the trainers gives me a small pill. I swallow it, and the bleeding stops immediately. I make my way to the bathroom, and wash the blood off my hands and face. As I walk back into the training room, I see the Career tributes staring at me, and laughing. Instantly I feel the blood rush to my cheeks, and run to the elevator, humiliated. I step inside, and hit one of the buttons, not caring where it takes me, as long as it isn't here. The doors open, and I'm met by a gust of wind. I'm on the roof of the training centre. I look around. There's a small garden of sorts and a few benches dotted around. I sit on the bench closest to the flowers, and let out a sob, followed by several more.

I don't want to be here. I want to go home, and see my baby sister's warm face as she giggles at everything. I want to see my parents. My mother, constantly at a sewing machine, and my father, delivering the outfits my mother made to the transport trains. The tears flow freely down my face as I wish for my life back. I look over the ledge, and see the sun beginning to dip down, the brilliant orange orb giving the luxurious city a golden glow. I marvel at the beautiful spectacle, until I hear the elevator on the other side of the roof. I look behind me, and see Quinna running towards me.
"Flax! What are you doing?" She cries out as she approaches, "Training isn't over for another half an hour! And I'm not even sure we should be here." She says, looking around anxiously, as if there's some hidden danger.
"It's just that, I'm tired," I begin, "I'm tired of the games. There is no chance of me making it back. None!" I slam the bench with my fists, tears running again. If only there was some way to end it all, some way to... I look at the ledge, and peer over. It's a straight drop down, instant death. I stand on the ledge, and lean over.
"Flax, what are you- No. Don't. Please, don't!" I hear Quinna's frantic yelling, but I don't care. I jump right off the ledge, and begin to plummet to my doom. I hear the horrified yells of my district partner, but it's too late. I'm sorry that I couldn't come home to you, the thought fills my head as I'm mere inches away from the ground. Suddenly, I feel a sharp tingling sensation throughout my body, and I'm being launched upwards. I fly over the ledge, and crash into the flowerbed, destroying the small garden. Something falls on my head, and everything goes black.

I open my eyes. I'm back in my room, dressed in a surgical gown. I see stitches along my forearm, and I'm aware of a sharp pain in my head. I try to prop myself up, but I can't. I pull the covers off and see that I'm strapped to the bed by a strap around my waist. My door opens, and my escort is standing there, looking horrified.
"Flax! What were you thinking, committing suicide! You should have known that there's a forcefield surrounding the building! And now look, you're injured! You'll be in no fit state for the games. This is disastrous!" She begins to pace the room, looking nervous, "If the Gamemakers hear of your suicide attempt, then they'll be sure to kill you! Now, did anyone see you jump?"
"Only Quinna." I say. She relaxes slightly.
"Let's just hope it was only her." She walks out, mumbling something under her breath. I glance out of the window. It's dark. How long have I been out for? My eyes begin to feel heavy, so I close them, for just a moment.

When I open them again, sunlight's streaming through my window. I look down. The strap's gone, as is the surgical gown. The training outfit's on the other end of the bed. I get up, stretching my back after several hours of not moving it. I walk into the bathroom, and step into the shower. I push the same button I did yesterday, and warm water and blue foam is scrubbed all over my body. I get out, drying myself, and put my clothing on. I walk out, and head to the dining room. Quinna's there, looking terrified, and our mentor seems somewhat concerned.
"Flax," she begins, her face deadly serious, "Let's just hope your failed attempt at suicide doesn't affect your private session today." That's right. Today's the day of the private training sessions, where every tribute is given exactly half an hour to demonstrate all the skills they have learned over the past two days to the team of Gamemakers. They'll then assess their skills, rating them with a score of 1 to 12. 1 being exceptionally bad, and 12 being unbelievably good. Fear fills my body as I begin to understand the potential side effects of my jumping off the buildings. The Gamemakers could give me a ridiculously low score, which'll destroy any chances of me getting sponsors, or a ridiculously high one, essentially putting a bright flashing target on my back for the deadlier tributes to see, essentially ensuring I meet an early demise. I sigh, picking at my breakfast. Is this what it's like to truly have a sense of hopelessness? Either way, I begin to regret ever being born. At least that way, I'd never have had to worry about it being my name that was drawn from the bowl by the Capitol.

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