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The 34th Hunger Games

By @GuineaPigWriter13

May the Odds be Ever in Your Favour

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Let the thirty-fourth Hunger Games begin. May the odds be ever in your favour.” Then we wait. I look around at my surroundings. Behind me, there’s a forest. To one side is a frozen lake, to the other there’s a mountain, and directly opposite me is the golden horn of the Cornucopia. And still we wait. For a minute. One whole minute before the killing begins. I look around for Josef, but I can’t see him. He must be on the other side of the Cornucopia. This is it. My final hours, days, weeks? Who know how long I’ll last? I certainly don’t. Focus Willow. You don’t want to be caught off guard when the gongs sounds.

And sound it does. Everyone dashes off their plates, but immediately slow down as they encounter the 15 inch snow. Not me though. There’s plenty of snow in District 7, so I’m used to it. I head straight for the Cornucopia, leaving everyone else to struggle through. I grab as much as I can pick up in a short space of time. Two rucksacks, a knife, and an axe. Then I dash back to the forest. By now most people have reached the Cornucopia, a few grabbing items. Then a huge force collides with me, knocking me to the ground, and I feel fists grabbing my neck. They squeeze tighter and tighter, until I can barely breathe. This is it. Black spots are beginning to appear in the corners of my vision when his grip slackens entirely, and he falls forward onto me. Instantly, hot slick blood cover my hands, as, gasping for breath, I stand up. The male tribute from District 1 is lying on the ground with a knife in the back. I look up and see the female District 2 tribute is standing there, looking at me. I make eye contact, then look away. I start running. I can hear her chasing after me, but I am no match for her in the snow. She is calling out now, but I don’t try and decipher her words. she must be brutal, to not even join up with District 1 and form the usual Career pack. I reach the forest, but I’m running so fast I don’t see the branch up ahead. And suddenly the world turns deepest black.

“Willow! Willow! Are you OK?”

I open my eyes to see a young, female face close to mine. I immediately sit up. It’s the tribute from 2, the one who was chasing me. Why hasn’t she killed me?

“Willow, it’s ok. I’m on your side.”

“N-no you’re not. You-you’re with the other Careers.”

“Ha. Them. They’re idiots. Why would I want to be allies with them? I want to be allies with you.”

“But…”

“Think about it, I could have killed you, but I didn’t. Besides, we would last a lot longer together, don’t you agree?”

I’m still wary. “Where’s my stuff?”

“I’ve got it, it’s all here. Why don’t we have a look at what’s in the packs, then we can divide it up and have a pack each.”

As it turns out, we don’t need to divide it up, as the packs contain the same stuff: an empty water bottle, a packet of crackers, dried fruit, dried meat, and a rope and sleeping bag each. Convenient.

“You keep your knife and axe, and we’ll each have a pack with us at all times, incase we get separated. Got it?”

I nod, still stunned that she wants to be allies with me. I try to stand up, but I get a sudden pain in my head at the movement that I’m forced to sit down again. 2 smiles at me.

“Take it easy. I carried you as far away as possible. We can rest for a while yet.”

She carried me? She could have just left me to die, and no one would blame her. But she didn’t.

“I’m Callie, by the way.”

“Willow.”

“I know” Callie says. “You’d better get some sleep.”

I nod, before getting into one of the sleeping bags. As I drift off, snow begins to fall.

*

“Willow, Willow wake up.” Callie hisses at me. I still feel drowsy until I hear the sound of distant footsteps. Distant, but getting closer.

I’m immediately on my guard. “We need to move, now.”

“Are you going to be ok?”

I feel exasperated. “I’ll be fine. Or at least, I’ll live. Which is more than can be said if we run into whoever is coming.”

Callie nods, grabs her rucksack, then stands up. I do the same, ignoring the pounding in my head. We head away from the footsteps as fast as possible. We run and run and run, all the while aware the the footsteps aren’t retreated. And is it my imagination, or are there more than one?

“Callie. Callie.” Callie turns.

“What?”

“We need to head sideways, and try to make as little noise as possible.” I hope she gets my meaning.

She looks confused, but sees the determined and desperate expression on my face. We turn right, and, after a couple of paces, slow down to a careful walk. Thank god for the lack of snow in the forest, or else we might as well have left a trail of breadcrumbs. I spot a small shelter underneath the roots of a partially uprooted tree. Perfect for hiding. I pull Callie towards it, and crawl underneath, careful to make as little noise as possible.

Once underneath, I slump down, breathing heavily.

The sound of footsteps makes me straighten up again. But all they do is head straight past us.

“Willow, are you ok?” I nod, despite the raging headache I have.

“You should get some rest Callie. I’ll take watch.”

Callie looks ready to argue, then obviously decides against it, as she closes her mouth again. She takes her sleeping bag out, then gasps. “We left your sleeping bag back where we started running. Willow I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine Callie. One of us is going to keep watch, so only one person will need the sleeping bag at any one time. Now get some sleep.”

She snuggles down into the sleeping bag. There’s a question that’s been nagging me. Two, actually.

“Callie?”

“Mmhmm?”

“How old are you?”

“13”

“And… Why are you helping me.”

“My partner, the other tribute from District 2 I mean, is very abusive. He was intent on being the first person to not form a career pack. He’d threatened to kill me first. He’s 17, you see, so four years older than me. Everyone here is older than me by at least two years. There’s no one who is 14. You seemed so much like me. Lost, confused, young. I didn’t volunteer you know. Just my luck. The only person who doesn’t actually want to participate in the games from my district gets their name pulled out the one year no one wants to volunteer. I guess I just wanted a friend. Someone like me, as equally scared, and lost, and lonely. Does that make sense?”

I nod. “Thank you Callie. Now you really should get some sleep.”

She snuggles down again. I watch the sun fade gradually over the horizon, slipping away. I wonder how many sunsets I have left? I look back at Callie. She looks so peaceful, sleeping there. Her auburn hair is silky smooth, and spread out like a fan. She has soft skin with rosy cheeks. I never realised just how beautiful she was. I guess I never had to.

*

After about half an hour of me standing guard, the Panem national anthem begins to play. I swallow. I know what’s coming next.

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