I don't bother to say goodnight to Fisher before slipping out of my dress and lying it carefully on the vanity next to my desk. He still can't be trusted, not now, not ever, not as long as I'm here. I leave my hair in the knot behind my head and pull on a green, silk nightgown. Then I come to my precious boots. I leave them on. Wait, I didn't bring a District token, did I? Will these be allowed as my only sign of home? I'll ask in the morning, I'm too tired now to even unlace them. It's close to midnight anyway.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, very much sure." Ileana answers my pleading voice the next morning. I'm really allowed to keep my boots! They said the ones we will be wearing will be the same thing pretty much, so I might as well. I remember something for the first time since I got here, the knives in the soul, I still have them. I could keep them, but I can't take them out, or they'll blow me up in pieces. Then if I get home, I'll still have my beloved knives. I wake up from my daydream of home, before I can get there, all I have to do is step in the glass tube in front of me.
"Ten seconds." An automated voice reads, bored. I wish my job was to count down from ten to one once a year. I take a small step toward the tube. My entire body is overcome with fear. I can't move anymore. I wonder what Fisher is doing. I get rid of his image in my head. Part of me hopes I'll see that face In the sky, the other screams that he alone could help my District.
"Go on, good luck!" Ileana pipes, trying to move this along. She probably can't wait to get home with a big bowl of popcorn and watch twenty four tributes starve and kill each other.
I walk again, this time stepping up onto the plate, equipped with bombs that will kill me on instinct if I move off of it.
"One second." The voice finishes, and a glass pane closes between my stylist and I. Between the world, and I. I fell like I'll be stuck in this tube forever, until it finally moves upward.
The arena is vast, and plain. A field covers most of what I can see, with a huge, golden cornucopia in the center. I see that about half mile radius from that horn, is a forest. It's sort of like the one's at home, only everything seems gloomy. Like a dark cloud is not only over me, but the entire arena. It's kind of dark in consequence. I can't hear any creatures around, but that just means there are more than planned, perfect.
However, the left side isn't forest, but all rubbish. A graveyard-if you will- of fallen trees, underbrush, dead plants. A wasteland, open with only few hiding spots. I figure, I can run, but they might be faster, so I'll take the edge of the forest, close to the wasteland. Once I get a ways back through the forest, I can check things out. On the edge, if trouble arouses, I can quickly move into the open wasteland.
I think all of this in the time it takes to count from fifty to ten. I count along in my head:
10 I prepare to run.
9 I discard all my memories from warm nights at home.
8 My mind starts to focus on only the cornucopia
7 I find a nice small backpack within the range of my path to the edge of the forest.
6 I think of what could be in it.
5 Giving up, I take my last safe breath.
4 I clench my fists.
3 I take a quick look at every Tribute.
2 I shake my head, clearing all thoughts except for the games.
1 I catch a glance of hatred from Doger.
The cannon goes of, and I spring from my plate.
I run, not taking my eyes off of the backpack. It's black in color, and the straps blow in the cool wind. It's almost soothing, a springy kind of climate. Perfectly formatted to adapt to the loose black tee shirt, tight leggings, brown combat boots, and bulky belt we each where. But one's different from the others, my boots. My hair, unlike everyone else's, is in a loose fish tale braid behind my back. The other girls have ponytails.
I continue to run, hearing screams and squeals in every direction, I drown them out, tuning in on only the backpack. An arrow whizzes right in front of my face, and I let a small scream from my lips escape. I turn only for a moment, stopping my bee line for the pack. It was Doger, who seems pleased he scared me yet mad at himself for missing. If I had a bow, I could kill him right now. I reach down, resuming my speed. I grab the pack and swing it over my shoulder in one move, still not stopping.
Nothing else comes at me, although I could have done with catching a knife. I hope there are weapons in the pack, because I'm nothing without them except sitting prey.
For four hours, yet it seems like days, I scale the very edge of the forest green. Nothing different than I've seen in other woods, a few normal birds, nothing special. Every once in a while, I get a glimpse of the wasteland. Just discarded , fallen limbs, and animal carcasses, and every other kind of forest junk you could imagine. Like everything that dies in this woods, somehow transports itself to the wasteland.
Finally, I decide to stop, and examine my precious backpack. I don't sit, because nothing is low enough to the ground unless I go out in the wasteland, which is open, and dangerous until the tributes spread out more.
I climb as far as I dare in a tree, and sit on a sturdy limb, then take the backpack off my shoulder, which hurts slightly from my former injury. Unzipping it, I find everything I hoped for- a knife. long bladed, with a metallic handle. It's shiny silver, but by the time someone sees it, they'll be dead.
I also have a stick on beef jerky, and some matches. The last things inside are a few bad aids, and a bottle that fits in my palm. It contains liquid, but orange, so not water. The outside lable reads: Poisonous, do not drink or contact to skin.
Great, so I have poison that could kill be on accident if I even open the cap. I guess it could come in handy, in more ways than one.
A small pocket that I didn't notice before is on the outside of the bag, it also has a bottle identical to the one in my hand. And a thermal bottle for water, empty.
I smile, all this together equals survival, and that's exactly what I need.
I start to think of my next move, finding water is key, but it's already getting dark, so I decide to stay in my tree. The temperature hasn't changed at all, but the wind is starting to get a little stronger, which will ward of over heating in the sun. I also go back to a few hours ago, when they blew the cannons after the bloodbath. Ten are dead, twelve still left to play. I wonder, for a second, if Fisher died. I might be all District Four has left.
The sky gets darker by the minute, and I set up camp to sleep up here. I tightly strap my back pack on my shoulder and back, and clip the knife to my belt for easy access. The sky lights up again, with the faces of the fallen.
District Three Girl- Tulip
District Five Boy- Budge
District Seven Girl- Xinia
District Eight Boy- Ridge
District Eight Girl- Yuliana
District Nine Boy- Nate
District Ten Boy- McNatt
District Eleven Boy- Grain
District Eleven Girl- Reacher
District Twelve Girl- Monet
The sky goes blank again, and the pictures fade with the music. Fisher is still alive, that's good, I guess. But I've seen District partners turn on each other, and it isn't pretty. That took out most of the people with low training scores or bad attitudes in general. I bet Doge is cursing the sky, because my name wasn't in it. And he's making it his personal business that it will be, all too soon.