Together, We Survive

“Who taught you to hunt?”
“My father. He is in the mines at the moment.”
“Mine, too. You know Catnip, I can show you to use these snares, if you teach me how to hunt. My family would be pleased,” Gale suggests.
“As would mine,” I respond.

This is only the beginning of their journey of helping each other survive the deadly, dystopia society they are forced to live in.

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1. Chapter 1.

I take in the smell of the fresh dew lingering in the cool morning air. Very familiar, but always so relaxing. Weekends are my favorite; I can hunt all day long. It’s more fun when Father is with me, but he is at work today. He sings the most beautiful songs, each lyric full of meaning. I wonder if he sings while at work…

I hear the leaves rustle in the bush to my left. It’s a wild berry bush, so an animal must be eating. I place myself behind a tree, waiting for the kill. I soon see a little black nose, and shoot. Right in the nose.

I go over to the animal, reclaim my arrow, and find it’s a rabbit. Good for stew; I should shoot a squirrel so I can exchange it for bread. Then we’d have a meal.

I spot a nice big oak tree, standing tall in it’s spot, asking for me to climb it. I stealthily walk over, careful not to disturb my next victim. I place my hand into a small hole, and bring my foot up to the trunk. I pull myself up, higher and higher, finally reaching the sturdy branch that caught my eye. It’s about 10 feet up, a perfect height for hunting.

***

After waiting about an hour, I see a brown coat of fur move. A doe. I take pull an arrow from my quiver and string it. I draw back the bowstring, and I look down the shaft of the arrow, pointing right at the doe.

Snap. I quickly withdraw. My head snaps from side to side in alert. The doe does the same before trotting off to find shelter. I jump from the tree, landing hard on my left ankle. Pain shoots through, but I can’t let that bother me. Being in the woods is risky, so I can’t be caught. Who knows what would happen to me. I could be shot in the middle of the square, for all public to see.

I look around, and I find a large shrub about 20 feet away. I jog over, and quickly conceal myself. Snap. This time the sound is to my left. I peek through the tangle of leaves and branches, spotting the creator of the  noise. It’s a snare trap. I come out of my hidden location, and I walk to the snare. It’s amazing; nothing I’ve learned. I inspect it’s qualities and how it’s tied together. Once I figure it out, I look around. Seeing no one, I unlock the snare’s tight jaws and take the squirrel. Perfect for trading.

I walk over to the other snare that made the noise. I take a chipmunk. Not the best, but it will work. I examine the area, noticing these snares are all around. I walk over to another one, to see what it looks like when not yet touched by prey.

But I don’t walk fast enough. I hear leaves crunching under a pair of feet. I look around for a hiding spot, my heart pounding against my chest. I’m unfortunate.

“Hey!” I’ve been spotted. I whiz around to face my penalty. To my surprise, it is not a Peacekeeper, but another boy, a little older than me. He has some muscle, and is quite thin, like me and the rest of District 12. “What are you doing with my game? Why are you messing with my traps?”

I swallow hard, but my throat is dry. “I… I… I didn’t know they were yours. I was inspecting them…” I took the two animals from my belt, placing them on the ground before me.

“It’s called stealing,” the boy said, picking up his animals. He had anger in his voice, but once he took the animals, he looked at me with his grey eyes. “I’ve done it before, so I’ll let it slide.”

I nod.

“What is your name?” he asks.

My eyes flick away from his face to the ground. “Katniss,” I say in a whisper.

“Catnip?” he asks, confusion in his voice.

“Katniss,” I say louder, looking him in the eye.

“Well, Catnip, I’m Gale. What I’d like to know is why are you in the woods?”

“You should be asking yourself the same question,” I shoot back.

“I’m hunting so my family can survive. Got many siblings and two parents to look after. Got any siblings?”

“One sister. Her name is Prim, short for Primrose,” I answer.

“A family of plants,” Gale responds. “Who taught you to hunt?”

“My father. He is in the mines at the moment.”

“Mine, too. You know Catnip, I can show you to use these snares, if you teach me how to hunt. My family would be pleased,” Gale suggests.

“As would mine,” I respond.

Gale reaches past my left arm and strips a branch’s berries. Raspberries. Gale pops one his mouth. “Catch,” he tells me. He throws one in the air, and I open my mouth. It hits the right corner of my mouth and bounces to the ground. Gale can’t help but chuckle. “It’s nice to laugh every once in a while. Thanks, Catnip.” He smiles at me, with the whitest and straightest of teeth. I smile back.

Just in that moment, my stomach growls at me. I didn’t eat this morning; I didn’t want to miss this beautiful morning. “I’m going to go now,” I say, turning to go.

“Wait,” Gale says, stopping me. “Take this.” He holds the squirrel in his palm.

“No, but thanks,” I say, dismissively.

“Why?”

I turn to my right, drawing back my bow. I shoot at a tree, and hear a thud as my target hits the ground. I go over to where it fell, and pick up a squirrel. I retrieve my arrow from it’s eye. “I got one,” I say, holding up the animal. Gale stares at me.

“How old are you?” he asks.

“Twelve,” I respond. He nods.

“Meet me here tomorrow.”   

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