"Stay alive."

This is my entry for the Two Weeks In Panem competition. Hope you like it!

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1. 1.

  "You drunk yet, Haymitch?" Finnick Odair slumps into the seat next to me, a familiar twinkle in his sea-green eyes. I grunt, eyeing my empty glass longingly. No way would I let him know that I was trying to stay sober for the sake of my tributes, Katniss and Peeta.

   Katniss and Peeta. I look up to the enormous screen covering the entire wall of the plush room. I can see the fear and determination etched onto every single one of the tributes faces, as they waited for the countdown to their death.

Fourty. Thirty nine. Thirty eight.

  I hate this. Hate all of it; the Games, the cameras, the Capitol. As if it wasn't enough to force children to fight to the death, the winners, like me, are compelled to watch history repeat itself year in, year out. Every year I reach for the bottle to block out the unwelcome memories - but still they seep in. My mind flashes back to so many years ago, when I was the one standing on the plate. Grainy images, as if on a ill-kept film reel, stream across my vision: the deceptive beauty of the arena; stubborn Maysilee my only ally; and finally that awful showdown, now just a mix of blood and exhaustion in my mind.

Nineteen. Eighteen. Seventeen.

  The cameras zoom in on Katniss' face, jaw rigid her eyes set on the Cornucopia. This year the arena is lush and green and filled with trees to hide in. I can only hope my words got through to her -clear out, find water. Stay alive. She's a survivor, and despite my indifference, the thought of her slaughter bears a weight on my heart.

  I am still lost in thought when the screen fills with Peeta Mellark's earnest face. Sadness wells up in me-he is such a kind, good person. So definitely not  a victor in the making, just another waste of the Games. I scowl at the thought, and automatically reach for the comfort of liquor. But the sight of Peeta's determined face stays my hands, and sticks it to the table. I made him a promise I would get sponsers. But not for him, no for Katniss. Little does she know the star-crossed lovers is not a strategy for him: it is the truth. I steel myself for the days ahead. I have work to do.

  The crowded room suddenly quiets in anticipation. The start of the 74th Hunger Games draws near and I smile coldly at the people filling the room, despising their excited expressions.

Three. Two. One.

  "Good luck, Katniss," I whisper.
 
  "You're going to need it."

 

 

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