I run and run, coughing and spluttering through the smoke. All I can think about is getting to the Cornucopia, but I know it’s a bad idea. Callie, ahead of me, does the same. In my hand I carry my axe, incase we run into Marca. She’s the only one left. I can’t believe we’ve made it this far. Josef hasn’t. No! Don’t think about Josef. Just concentrate on getting to the lake.
But what about Marca? She will be there aswell.
We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but you will be in no fit state to fight her if you slow down. Keep moving!
I follow my own advice, and let adrenaline take over, let it drive me forward. I can’t stop, even though my thighs are aching and I’m in desperate need of air. But the air here is so bad I might as well not breathe, for all the good it’ll do me. I keep running though. I keep running despite every muscle in my body screaming for me to stop.
I can see cracks beginning to form in the dense trees. We are nearing the edge of the forest. I push on, desperate to escape from this burning furnace. I can hear Callie shout a yell of triumph, and thirty seconds later I see why. I burst into dazzlingly bright sunlight and soaring, cloudless skies. For a moment I forget where I am. For a moment. First I see the Cornucopia, then I see the arrow fly. I stand still, stunned, but Callie pushes me out of the way, and we land on the snow, Callie on top of me. The arrow lands with a ‘Thunk!’ on the trunk behind us. “Thanks,” I say.
Callie shrugs, then stands up. She offers out her hand, and I take it. She pulls me up, before we both turn to face Marca. She’s running at us, teeth bared, with a knife in her hands. I guess she doesn’t know how wicked I am with an axe. Besides, it’s two against one.
Marca puts on a burst of speed, and charges straight for me. I sidestep her, hoping the momentum will carry her forwards. It doesn’t. She jumps on me, and knocks my axe out of my hand. It is all I can do to keep her knife away from me.
“You’re not going to win, little Willow.” She says softly. “I’m going to kill you, just like I killed your useless, pathetic brother.”
Her words hit me harder than any blow from a sword would. She killed… She killed Josef? She killed Josef! I begin to struggle more and more. I have to keep her focused on me. And not on the dark figure creeping up behind her. “I’LL KILL YOU! I WILL, I MEAN IT! YOU KILLED JOSEF, SO I’LL KILL YOU!”
Marca laughs loudly. “Ha! Like I’m going to be frightened by little Willo-“
Her sentence is cut short, and she slumps forwards. I hold onto her arm to prevent the knife from slitting my throat. Callie rolls the body off me, then holds out a hand. Once I’m standing, we laugh and hug each other. We did it! Oh who cares, I think, as I pull Callie into a kiss. She looks surprised, but then she kisses me back. I’ve never felt this way about anyone my entire life. I love Callie. And I can tell she loves me. This kiss comes with a fiery passion, a sense of deep longing. And it doesn’t just come from me. We break apart, and look into each other’s eyes. And Callie’s crying.
“What is it? Callie? What’s wrong?”
What she whispers next chills me to my core. “There can only be one victor.”
She’s right. How could I have forgotten? Only one of us can live. The Gamemakers aren’t going to change the rules for two people who love each other. Two people who aren’t even from the same district. And suddenly I know what to do. I pull Callie into another kiss, but this time it’s softer, more gentle. I close my eyes, capturing this moment forever. I take hold of Callie’s hand, and direct the dagger, still slick with Marca’s blood, towards me. I let the tip of it touch me. Callie’s eyes widen, but it is too late. My gaze meets hers, full of regret and sorrow, as I pull her hand towards me, along with the dagger.
Pain explodes in my body, intense and fiery. My gaze slips in and out of focus. At least Callie will win. My stomach is on fire, but the flames slowly begin to die down.
“I love you Callie.” I whisper, as the pain begins to leave my body.
And Callie leans closer to me, and whispers in my ear, “I love you too Willow.”
Then she kisses me gently, and doesn’t let go of my hand. The touch of her lips on mine are the last thing I’ll ever know as I slip away.
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