The Perks of The Hunger Games

For the Fan-fiction crossover competition. When Charlie is reaped into the Hunger Games, he really doesn't expect he is going to win. He's quiet, small, and not the bravest, but definitely the most observant. This is his journey through the games. In the style of Stephen Chbosky.

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7. Day One

Dear Friend,

I am alive. That is the only good thing about today.

I woke up, my head ached, my heart ached, and fluttered everytime I thought about today.

No one spoke at the dinner table. No one had to. The expressions on our faces were enough to tell how we all felt.

Padma lay out my clothes, and I examined them. We are only given half the outfit here, as not to give anything away. I pull on my stretchy-fabric T-shirt and bottoms, and huge, clumpy boots, that look like you could trek anywhere in them. I wondered what on earth our arena was going to be like. Mostly they are forests and jungles, or sometimes ruined cities. Forests are the easiest, but anything else it tough. I hoped it was a forest.

They march us to the hovercraft, and we shudder as we see the other tributes strapped in, smiling around at each other with excitement. I see Aspen, who waves at me, grinning.

We get strapped in, and they put the tracker in my arm. It stings, and makes me feel like crying, because pain is all I'm going to feel for the rest of my miserable life now, here in the arena.

We set off, and I try to enjoy the ride there. There are no windows in the hovercraft, so I access the other tributes. They are a whole lot scarier than I remembered. Then there's the non- careers, all with bags under their eyes, like mine, and tug at their sleeves and tap their fingers nervously. I look at Lydia, who smiles bravely. She's so small and pure, the arena is no place for her. Why did no one volunteer for her? Why did no one volunteer for me? Why does no one stand up to these people? These games have been going on for exactly sixty years now, and they'll go on forever. How can anybody stand another year watching these kids die? Someone has to do something.

We touch down in a special, roofless room, which must be somewhere beneath the arena. We are taken, each, to our own special room, where our stylists wait for us, with our very last outfit. The outfit twenty-three of us will die in, and one will succeed in, and grow to fame in.

Padma welcomes me with a nod, and I wonder if other tributes get close to their team. She holds out a huge, waterproof coat, lined with fur, with a fluffy hood. Carefully, I put it on, and feel instantly warm. Too warm for my liking. How cold will the arena be?

Padma gives me my token, which I'd forgotten all about. A small, smooth pebble, in the shape of a heart, which Sam found me one day, by the railway tracks where her father works. I rub my finger along it, and feel calm. I slip it in my pocket, and thank Padma. She says she'll miss me, and that I was a nice boy to know.

The countdown begins, and I feel like curling up in a ball, and ignoring it, but instead, I walk to the tube. It small and tight, and I feel claustrophobic. The doors slide shut, and I scream lurks in my throat, but I refuse to release it. Taking a deep breath, I feel the pebble in my pocket and think of Sam, who'll no doubt be watching this now. That makes me feel better.

The tube begins to slide up, and I wave to Padma, trying to be nice. She waves back, nervously, and I really do think she'll miss me.

Cold air bites my cheeks as the tube pops out of the ground, and a bright, white light shines in my eyes. As they adjust, I realize what sort of arena this is.

The Cornucopia sits in front of my podium, sparkling in the sunlight. In the distance I see some shining, white mountains, capped with snow. The ground is dusted in snow, and behind me is a massive, frozen lake. I look to my right and see Lydia, who is staring at her surroundings, and to Aspen, who is eying the gleaming Cornucopia, and the treasures inside it. I look too.

Around the Cornucopia are rucksacks, waterproof sheets, tins of food, boxes and a few random weapons, but the best stuff is inside, but I know that is a death sentence to go in there. A few feet away from my podium is a little white rucksack, and about three meters away is a slingshot. That was intended for me. But should I risk it? One second to pick it up could be enough time to get a spear in the back of my head.

The countdown is nearly at it's end, as I make my decision. As it strikes zero, I leap off the podium and run towards the rucksack, grab it, then pelt towards the mountains. As I'm running, I see the slingshot, untouched, and far away from everyone else. Without another hesitation, I have ran back to get it, among the fighting. Kids all around me are being stabbed and slashed at, and it hurts to watch. Lydia is racing after me, but I decide not to stop. I run for the mountains, and hope against hope that she is following.

I run and run and run, and although I am tired, I don't stop. I hear whooshing behind me, and know I am being aimed at. The ground is slippy, but the boots have a good grip, and I'm doing alright. The ground begins to slope upwards, and I climb. I climb for about ten minutes before I realize I am being followed.

"Should we stop now, there's no one else around." Lydia says, and my head whips around. I didn't know she was still following me. I am about to reply, when I see the trail of blood behind her.

"What happened?" I ask, rushing towards her and examining her back.

"Career threw a knife into my shoulder." She says, wincing. I'm anxious to get going, but Lydia is badly hurt. The knife- a large, extremely sharp one, is lodged into her left shoulder, and blood trickles down at an alarming rate. She could bleed to death here.

Looking around, I spot a cave, deep in the crevices of the mountain, and pretty out of reach.

"Can you get there? I'll see what I have in the rucksack." I ask, and she nods. We begin to walk, but she is going pale and weak, so I lift her up over my shoulder, and carry her all the way there. I am not a strong person, but Lydia is as light as a feather.

I lie her down on the cave floor, and empty out the contents of my rucksack. There is a lot of things in there, but nothing to treat wounds.

"It's OK. I'm gonna die, you carry on."

"Lydia, no, you won't die." I say, and I feel tears trickling down my cheeks. Losing Lydia would be like losing Sam now. Losing the sweet, caring little girl that taught me so much, this early in the games, is inevitable.

"We should get this out my shoulder." She says, faintly. She's drifting away.

"OK." I say. "You ready?"

"Yeah." She whispers, as if she is saving energy, and on the count of three, I pull it out her shoulder. She clenches her teeth, and sort of screams, and I feel terrible.

"I'm sorry, is it OK?" I ask, holding my sleeping bag I found in the rucksack against the wound, but the blood soaks through it. "I'll make it better." I say, pressing it tighter.

"Charlie, it's OK. Just leave it. Please, just speak to me to. Just make me forget."She whispers, staring at me. Lydia is dying, and it's my job to make her last moments as nice as possible. I lie her down on the sleeping bag, and stroke her hair as she breathes, raspy and uneven.

"Please win, Charlie. You deserve it more than them. You're a great person."

"Thank you. I'll try. I'll try really hard." I tell her, my voice going squeaky and scared. 

"Tell me about Heaven." She whispers, her eyes going hazy. I don't know her views on Heaven, but I decide to tell her mine.

"It's safe there. It's warm, and safe, and no one can ever hurt you again. There's a meadow, full of beautiful flowers that smell so great. There's trees to climb, and the sky is so clear, you can see the stars every night. It's almost always sunny, and when it rains, it's the warm, summer rain that soaks you through, like a shower. The sunsets are deep orange and pink and yellow, and breathtaking. You'll love it there, Lydia."

"Will you be there, Charlie?" She whispers, gazing at me.

"Soon." I whisper back.

"Please try. Please, Charlie." She says, going paler.

"Of course. Of course I will." I say, and press my lips against her soft, white cheek. She breathes short, scared breaths, and I know they're her last.

"It's OK. You'll be safe. Just escape from here. Just wait for me there in that meadow, just wait. You'll be fine." I whisper over and over again in her ear, as she breathes out one last time, her blue eyes locked on mine. My tears drip onto her face, as I close her eyes with my bloody hands.

I sit there, staring at Lydia's little, sleeping body. Just a tiny little girl, who would do this to her? Who would be so cruel. Right now, I'd give anything to switch places with her. I know they're waiting for me to move, so they can take her away, but I don't want her to go. They can't take her away.

I'm in my sleeping bag now, which is soaked in Lydia's blood. She can stay in this cave tonight, because I'm not moving. I don't have a single clue what to do next. I don't want to live on this planet anymore. The cold is seeping in, and I know it's going to be a long night.

I'm not happy to be alive.

Love always,

Charlie

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