Hesitation; she had her chance but she hesitated for a half a second. Because of it she had no choice but to run, at full speed, to the first thing she could get her hands on; a metre square sheet of plastic that shimmered in the bright morning sun. Katniss then grabs a backpack, as does another boy, and they grapple for barely any time and then she's showered with a sticky, bloody spray that she staggers back, repulsed by it. She sees the girl aim her knife, goes pale at the sight of it, eyes widening, like a small rabbit against a raging wolf; then runs faster than I've ever seen; the girl throws her dagger, aiming at Katniss' head. It flies through the air, then thuwmp straight into the backpack. The knife thrower doesn't follow the girl on fire. I allow myself to exhale. She's made it - she has a chance.
Others aren't as lucky.
A few kids have been slaughtered already, their guts and flesh covering the dusty ground, Careers are spread out, guarding the Cornucopia as well as taking from it. A girl runs for it foolishly, dodges one Tribute by luck, then gets hacked in the stomach by another; Cato. Tributes that haven't already disappeared among the foliage lay bleeding with severe wounds that nobody can survive from. The deadly Careers slaughtering all in their path with every weapon that I know, plus others that I cannot fathom the names of: maces bludgeon skulls, swords slice skin and flesh, and arrows fly aimlessly into the air. Within two minutes, the terrified screams have reduced to sickening sounds of skin being pierced and the sigh of Tributes dying.
Then the Careers gather to discuss what to do.
Three of the strongest and richest Districts tend to become Careers to stay alive; 1, 2 and 4. But this year, it seems that one of the strongest has already died. I'm relieved as well as surprised, for now there's less chance of Katniss being killed by a Career.
The self-proclaimed leader of the five Careers is Cato from the quarrying District 2: from what I've seen he's a nasty Tribute with a passion for murder and butchering with a wicked long-sword. His blonde hair and brown eyes, handsome face and fit body make him also deceptive to the eye. He calls to the Careers, already with an air of superiority among them. "The best option is to keep together as a pack, because as Tristan got himself killed, we can't split up as planned. We'll be overwhelmed by the huge 11 guy if he finds just three of us-"
One of the boys appears out of the foliage kicking and punching another Tribute violently. I can't see the Tribute's face, but the Tribute had the idiocy of being so slow to escape that a Career caught up and is currently beating him to a pulp. The Careers gather around the fight, watching the show and probably wondering how long the Tribute will last. The sounds of the boy grunting, and the pain that the Tribute groans out makes me flinch more than once, and I cannot believe how the Careers stare at the show. A miniature Games within Games. I hope that his suffering ends soon.
After a minute passes Cato intercepts the boy and holds him back. "Stop it, Marvel." He hisses.
"I can take him. He's nearly gone, Cato."
"How do you expect to get her, idiot?" I assume that 'her' is Katniss. That eleven in training must've unnerved the Careers, and I assume that the boy is Peeta, which would make sense as he's one of the few blonde haired boys in the arena. Using Peeta as bait for Katniss is low – but sly. The boy called Marvel relaxes and lets Cato through to the beaten up body.
He offers a hand to Peeta, who accepts while wiping blood off the corner of his lip. "What are you good with?"
Peeta shrugs, and then cringes from the pain. "I don't know, a hammer or a club, I guess."
Cato doesn't smile. He throws a roll of bandage to him: "Clean yourself up, then get something. We leave in five."
The group nods to their leader, and although some aren't pleased about hunting as a larger, riskier pack, they prepare themselves to move out. Most retrieve canteens full of water in the Cornucopia mouth to carry with a little food for the day and night of hunting. Others get torches and tents to share with District partners. Some just exchange foul looks with Peeta as they walk to follow their leader, including the knife throwing girl Clove. I suppose that she doesn't trust or like Peeta, I don't blame her, very strange things happen when love is involved. As Peeta collects his bounty from the Cornucopia, ignoring her venomous stares without emotion, he takes one fleeting look at the trees. The camera zooms in on a Tribute, and I gasp as I realise that there was a slower one. That Peeta went back to save him – why? They both lock eyes for a moment. The boy mouths a 'thank you' as tears come to his eyes; Peeta does nor says nothing and turns his back, then catches up with the others.
The morning stretches on, with the Tributes all walking aimlessly towards any source of water or food; except for the Careers who all spread out at Cato's command to search for any trails leading to Tributes. Even though I am scared of what might be around every corner for Katniss; whether traps Crane has set or hunters waiting to pounce, I try to subdue my worries. She can – and must – look after herself in the arena. Despite all the blood and horror occurring constantly in this deadly arena, I can't deny that the forest itself is very serene and beautiful, and even though I hate that place of nightmares, I wish that I could live there with my friends. I've never been to a forest; I've never seen wild animals prance freely without anybody to dictate them. It looks so peaceful despite the death and horror it has, and will soon, house.
As the hours fade away, I begin to worry of the lack of water, and if Katniss will ever find any in that place. It has happened before in the Games, if an unpopular few years, it has occurred. I don't want the girl to die now, not of something as pathetic as dehydration or starvation; she doesn't deserve to get out of the competition like that – like she's nothing.
By afternoon, nobody has found water, and I watch as Katniss eventually stops to check her supplies. Within the bright orange backpack, she finds a thin black sleeping bag that will keep her warm in the cold nights, a packet of crackers and beef, a small bottle of iodine that will be useful in purifying water, black sunglasses, a coil of wire and a large plastic bottle. Like everything else in the dense forest, bone dry.
When she appears on the largest screen in the Gamekeeper's Den, I can only see her walking and chewing on what appears to be a thin layer of tree bark. I smile – Katniss is already realising how her endurance will be tested and is keeping her mouth busy to keep it off the burden of food or water, unlike most of the other Tributes who are trying to find shelter for the night. Smart, she'll need that if she wants to stay alive.
I watch her as the path she walks dips into a valley – I wonder if this could be her downfall, as the Careers could be on her back at any second, but when I think of the head start that she has, my worries subside. As I continue to watch her and her situation, I suddenly realise that this would be perfect for her to find water, as the precious liquid always runs downhill. She's basically walking right into a bowl. Maybe she already figured this out and is going down into this valley on purpose so she can find water.
But then she flashes off and it cuts to the Careers gathering around Clove as she rallies to her allies. She's found something, and it can't be good from the triumph on her face.
"These can't have been made more than a few hours ago." She explains, vaguely tracing the outline. "The feet are small, too, must be one of the girls."
"Whoever she is she can't have gone too far. If we can find her in an hour, we can sleep until night and attack the others unawares." Cato replies, pointing in the direction where the feet left the ground. "I'd say she was heading south-west. Clove?"
"I make it south, but either way we need to head that way."
Their slight disagreement isn't as bothering to Cato as I expected, on the contrary, he smiles at it and heads in a near south direction.
Peeta is silent and serious, probably considering the same thing I am; have those footprints been made by Katniss? I don't know what this boy feels, whether the boy does love her like he claimed during the interviews or if it's all a rouse; but he does care about her, I can see that he does. But if that is love or not, I can't be sure; even if he has joined the Career pack for some bloodlust that would rare in a poor District like Twelve, I doubt that feeling has gone.
Darkness descends upon the arena slowly, the boredom beginning to show with the Sponsors. The Head Gamekeeper is lucky that he isn't here – but when he does sometimes look in the Den everyone stares at him to make something happen. Keep everything as fiery as he promised. Katniss must be careful to not aggravate this man; why I have this intense feeling of distrust or what he will do I cannot be sure of, but unknown, terrible feelings have been stabbing me every time I look upon Crane.
As the night creatures appear, the Tributes follow the same pattern of disappearing to rest. They all collect the supplies they retrieved from the Cornucopia (for each of them got something from the Bloodbath, although some objects are truly useless) and hide themselves. Some hide in caves they found, trying to keep warm underground, others stupidly stay out in the open, but only a select few – Katniss, the District 11 girl, whom I think is named Rue and the sly red-haired fox-face – climb a tree to sleep in.
After so long standing, listening and staring; my legs, eyes and ears strain. I'm on the verge of collapse when I am sent to the Shacks late; very late. The moon stretching far into the west and the stars beginning to shine at their best; despite how calm the night rarely is all I can think about is Katniss. I don't want her to perish in that terrible place; she's so young.
As I collapse on my bunk, I start reciting the song mother used to sing. Not for me, or Cinna, or even Fynnick, tonight I hum for Katniss. My mother sung about a world with pretty daisies and meadows, grass and trees, where colours are vibrant and where skies are full of beautiful mockingjays. My final thought before I drift into sleep is of the girl on fire. Katniss, who I hope will be alive a bit longer; so we can both go to that place my mother sung to me so long ago. Then I fall into the embrace of a dreamless sleep.