Bloodbath Part II
Damian Blackwater by xXTeamFinnickXx
"It's just another war, just another family torn,
My voice will be heard today,
It's just another kill,
The countdown begins to destroy ourselves."
When the gong sounds, my body goes into battle mode. I can't let myself get distracted. I can't continue wondering if my mother was telling the truth about my father back at the justice building. I can't even dwell on the fact that Bandit got himself lost somewhere in the Capitol. Right now, as much as it pains me to do so, I have to focus on getting out of this hellhole alive, and sadly, this will be my mindset for the next few days. Or is it weeks? Who knows? Either way, only one person matters in the arena, and that person is me.
In a way, this lifestyle isn't too different from what I've endured back in District 8. I mean, I have just as much a chance of dying back home as I do here. The only thing that bugs me is the actual killing. Sure, I've stolen and I've ruined lives and I've beaten people up, but I've never murdered someone. I'm not a killer, I'm really not, but I guess that's what I have to become if I want to survive.
Snap out of it, Damian, I tell myself. Really, it shouldn't be that hard. I just need to think of each kill as another robbery. I steal so I can support myself, so I can continue living. Isn't that the same as winning the Hunger Games? Besides, none of these people matter to me. They're all either Class A or B anyway. Well, except one.
That girl amazes me. She's no moronic Class A or selfish Class B. She's different, like me. She's Class C, and that in itself means she deserves to live more than anyone else in this arena. She shouldn't even be here, fighting for her life. She should be doing so much more with her life. And I'm sure she would be…if she wasn't wasted half the time.
But there's more to her than alcohol, another side that no one bothers to look at. I don't know what it is exactly, but in the moment she kissed me in the elevator, drunk or not, she opened my eyes. She made me realize how amazing she truly is. How thoughtful and inspiring she can be.
I shake my head angrily. That kiss of hers got into my system and now it's tearing me apart from the inside out. I have to forget about it if I want to stand a chance at winning this thing.
The gong sounded less than a few seconds ago. I guess the appearance of the arena and my mindless wondering distracted me, but luckily, I don't seem to be the only one taken by surprise. In one swift movement, I'm off my plate and sprinting full speed across the open field. My eyes jet around frantically, searching for any sign of Anya, but in all the chaos, I can't seem to find her.
The monumental watchtowers are still a good distance away, allowing me to worry about other things for a minute. The rest of the tributes have finally recovered from the initial shock of the all out war going on around us and started their fight for survival. Several people dive into the maze of trenches, which is pretty dumb if you ask me. How do they expect to find the Cornucopia that way? Well, maybe they're trying to find a way out. Not that I care. Right now, I'm focused on the tributes who have decided to take my path, straight towards the golden horn.
My pace slows down as I realize I have some time to save my energy. After all, I'm the closest person to the Cornucopia, and the fastest tribute here by far. I have nothing to worry about until…
"Are you freaking kidding me?"
Barbed wire. They just had to throw that in here, didn't they?
I frown at the large layout of wire before me. For a second, I contemplate taking a few steps backwards and jumping over the obstacle, but what if I don't make it? That'd be messy.
Distracted by my strategizing, I pause for much longer than I should have and the other tributes begin to catch up. I watch as one girl, the ditzy blonde from 1, dives nimbly under the wire, pulling herself quickly along, despite her complaints about all the mud. I growl, hating myself for not being the first one under, when I'm shoved from behind. I lose my balance and almost go toppling into the wire.
"What the hell?" I shout angrily, whirling around to face my opponent. He stares into my enraged eyes in horror, taking a step back. The boy obviously didn't mean to run into me, but before he can protest, I realize who he is and smirk.
"Ah," I say wickedly. "The Armani boy, huh? Think you stand a chance just because your sister dominated last year?" He grits his teeth at the mention of his sister and regains the ground he lost. My grin widens. "Well, let's see if you've got as much game as she did, shall we?"
One solid punch is all it should take to get this guy down. I mean, he doesn't exactly seem like the biggest threat in the arena. Unfortunately, he's quicker than I give him credit for. Three swings and three misses. Damn, I've gotta get it together if I plan on winning. Finally, I land a jab to his stomach and he doubles over in pain. "Pathetic," I say to myself as my other fist collides with his jaw. Suddenly, I freeze. How the hell am I supposed to kill this guy? I don't even have a weapon.
Shrugging, I decide not to waste anymore time and seize the back of his military jacket, throwing him face-first into the barbed wire.
"See you around," I say cheerfully as I hit the deck and begin to crawl, now delayed by my fight. Desperately trying to make up for it, I crawl as fast as I can, successfully managing to score minimum scratches. I don't stop until I'm greeted by the sole of someone's boot. Adjusting my course, I crawl up next to the tribute to see that it's Admire, the blonde from 1. I guess she counts seeing me as an excuse to start talking.
"Look at this!" she shrieks, shoving her muddy hand in my face. The nail of her ring finger still looks perfectly manicured, but the rest are broken and jagged. "Do you know how long my stylist spent on these?"
I'm sorry, I just can't help myself. I have to laugh. She's in the middle of a fight to the death, and she's worried about her broken nails? If I were her, I'd be a little more concerned about getting out of here alive. I crawl away, being sure to splash some mud in her face as I go, inducing another squeal. Isn't District 1 supposed to supply us with terrifying, highly-trained warriors? I'm not quite sure where they went wrong with Admire. I'm definitely sorting her into Class A.
I hastily pull myself out on the other side of the barbed wire, getting to my feet and scraping away some chunks of mud. The only thing between me and the Cornucopia now is the row of watchtowers, and of course, the fighter jets swooping in from overhead.
At about the same time, two other tributes get up from under the wire on either side of me, Juniper from 9 and Eric from 11. We exchange a looks of anger and determination before all three of us take off towards the horn. By the looks of it, we're the closest people to the prize that awaits us. There's no way I'm letting them get all the good stuff.
The distance between us and the Cornucopia slowly begins to close, and before I know it, we're halfway there, with yours truly in the lead. But that's when the jets begin to fire.
I stop in my tracks next to Juniper, her mouth gaping at the aircrafts, but Eric keeps going strong. It looks like he has the right idea, because the next thing I notice is a single plane opening fire on Juniper and I.
Instinctively, I dive roll forward, narrowly avoiding a bullet to the head. I come up running, my breathing heavily increasing. Seconds later, I'm hit with an ear piercing scream from behind. Glancing over my shoulder, I spot Juniper on her knees, clutching her shoulder. Looking past the dust cloud left behind in the fighter jets' wake, I can see it oozing blood. A bullet wound, no doubt. Well, it's partially her fault. She could've gotten out of the way like I did.
But that's not the only thing I notice. My keen eyes make out another shape walking quickly from the direction of the wire. She has one hand out in front of her and the other clutching one of the many cuts on her arm. Her face is also decorated in blood. It takes me a minute to realize it's the blind girl from 6. She trips and basically falls on Juniper. I force myself to look away. Hey, I'm a thief, not a heartless monster. I know Londyn is one person I could never force myself to kill.
Not willing to let anything set me off course again, I press on, sprinting behind Eric on our way to the Cornucopia, jets shooting at us the whole way, but it seems now that they're not trying to kill us. None of their shots land, but instead kick up more puffs of dirt around us. I cough and close my eyes, but I don't stop. Not until I hear a loud explosion.
My eyes jerk open and I'm suddenly at my highest level of caution. I jog up next to Eric who has stopped as well. For some reason, a fight doesn't seem to be in order here, so instead I shout over the chaos, "What the hell was that?"
Eric barely has time to shrug before shouting, "Look out!" I'm not sure why he warned me, but I'm glad he did. We dive in opposite directions as the ground beneath us explodes, sending bits of rock and shrapnel into the sky. I hit the ground hard, but Eric is already back on his feet, running for the Cornucopia once again. The horn is so close, within sprinting distance, so I shakily get up and chase after him.
With no warning, landmines begin going off left and right. My ears are ringing at this point, but my nimble feet and swift movements manage to keep me alive. I'm just about to catch up to Eric when I notice a bulge in the dirt in front of him. I duck and cover my head, but he isn't quick enough. He dives sideways as the mine explodes and a piece of shrapnel flies straight at him, slicing a shallow gash in his arm. He grunts in pain, but reluctantly continues to move.
In all the confusion, I hadn't even realized that there are people in the watchtowers, and they appear to be shooting at us. Unlike the fighter jets, these guys are out to kill. My mind begins to try and figure out if they're mutts or actual human beings.
I slowly begin to move again. I'm so close to the Cornucopia now. I can already feel the security of the supplies in my hands. I stay on alert, however, as one wrong move could-
My vision blurs and I slam into a wall, a searing pain erupting in my right leg. I slide down into a sitting position as I grip the wounded area with my hands. I yelp, immediately retracting them. What I just felt was definitely not my leg. My eyes begin tearing up as a result from all the dust and the unbearable pain as they gradually move down my body.
A large chunk of shrapnel is jutting out of my thigh. It must have gone in pretty deep too, as I can barely feel any of my leg. Blood tries to make its way out of the wound, but there isn't much room for it to escape.
"Be a man, Damian," I say out loud. "Just rip it out." But the second I begin to pull, the pain only increases. I grit my teeth and decide it's better to stop. Right now, that shrapnel is keeping all my body's blood from escaping. I need to keep it in until I can find a quick, clean way to patch it up.
My head is racked by another explosion. I shield my eyes as a cloud of dust barrels my way. I hear a thud against the watchtower I lean against and know right away that it wasn't caused by a piece of shrapnel. I slowly remove my hands from my eyes and immediately wish I hadn't.
Sitting in the dirt next to me is the head of Alexis Spurling, the District 7 girl. The worst part? Her horrified eyes are still very much alive.
I scramble backwards, having some difficulty, thanks to my leg. I let out a shout of disgust as the bodiless head stares at me longingly, like there's something I'm supposed to do to help. I've heard somewhere that people remain alive for a few moments after their head is severed. Something about the brain still functioning. I watch as what's left of Alexis struggles to move her mouth, but in a few seconds, her head goes limp and her eyes become still.
My whole body shudders. In the distance, I can see the motionless corpse of the poor girl in the middle of the minefield. Beside it is Alexis' hat and a boomerang-shaped chunk of metal, slightly colored with blood. I assume that's what sliced off her head.
The overwhelming sensations of shock, disgust, and horror going through my mind make me want to stay still and take everything in for a second, but of course, that can't be allowed. I curl up in a ball as two shots are fired from the watchtower above me. The first strikes the dirt, but the second goes straight through my right boot, digging into my foot.
"Son of a bitch!" I yell, clutching my second injury. The blood from this one pours out more steadily, but I shake it off. It's only my foot, I should live…right?
Angrily looking up towards the watchtower, I spot a flag waving in the wind, bearing the number eight. A boy around my age smiles down at me, brandishing a gun. "I hit him!" he shouts excitedly. "I got him!"
I shake my fist angrily as I stare in disbelief at the boy. "What gives?" I shout. "What the hell was that for?"
After a minute of trying to put things together, I recognize his face. It's some boy I went to school with a few years back. His family's wealthy, so when I first started my life of crime, his house was the first one I hit, and I didn't hesitate to take anything that seemed valuable. I can only imagine the hate he feels towards me right now.
I want to apologize or something, not out of generosity, but to keep him from shooting at me again. I'm about to open my mouth when a few more people come to the edge of the tower. Their faces are all familiar. They're all from my district. You would think they'd take pity on me, being from the same place and all, but I guess I've caused them too much trouble in the past.
"Listen guys," I say smoothly. "Can't we talk this out or something?"
I flatten myself against the wall and get to my feet as they open fire, thankfully missing every shot. My right leg, having suffered two notable injuries so far, is nothing but dead weight, and it poses more of a problem than I expected. I'm known for my swiftness, stealth, and speed. Without that, I'm nothing and right now I can barely keep myself upright.
But there's no way I'm sticking around. I've got at least a dozen angry people up in that tower trying to kill me. On top of that, I have a minefield to cross and a pile of supplies to secure. And let's not forget, I still have an arena of bloodthirsty teenagers and hidden traps to take care of. In short, I need to get going.
Moving as quickly as possible, I hobble back out into the open, heading straight for the body of Alexis Spurling. The fighter jets must see that I'm going through enough at the moment, because they leave me alone and aim for the other tributes. Several of District 8's watchtower's bullets come close to hitting me, but they must have pretty bad aim, because I make it to Alexis' corpse in one piece.
Bending down, I reach for the chunk of metal, because right now, it's the closest thing I've got to a weapon. I grip it in my right hand, but drop it soon after as a long but shallow cut forms in my palm. I curse under my breath before scooping up Alexis' hat. I would use my own, but I think I lost it back by the barbed wire. Using the flimsy cap as a sort of hand guard, I grab the metal again, being careful not to cut myself. I turn it over in my hands. Despite it's jagged shape, it could pass for a short sword, or at least a really big knife. You know, if swords and knives were bent at a hundred degree angle. Maybe I can fix it up later.
I'm about to take off when my eyes catch something glistening in the dirt. Curiously, I scoop it up, immediately knowing what it is. Engraved in the metal is:
I examine the dogtag carefully. I have one of my own, hanging around my scratch-covered neck. I guess they're supposed to go with our whole military look. Looking around cautiously, I shove the necklace in the pocket of my black cargo pants. Alright, I know what you're thinking, but I'm not stealing it. While I do have the strange urge to rob someone, something I haven't done since I slipped the ring off our escort's finger on the train, that's not what this is about. If Alexis' body is taken away, what will be left of her? What will let anyone know that she was ever thrown into this arena in the first place? I'm not even sure myself, but maybe I'm holding onto it to keep her memory alive. Like I said, I'm not heartless. No matter the motivation, I just don't think someone should die like that, with nothing but pictures and memories left of them.
Please don't think I'm turning my life into a chick flick. If anyone asks, I'll tell them it's to keep track of who died so far.
Another landmine explosion reminds me that I have things to be doing. Giving Alexis' headless body one more look, I turn and limp the rest of the way to the Cornucopia. I may be slowed to the extreme, but I have a weapon now. I'm ready to take out anyone who stands in my way.
Finally, I stumble into the area surrounding the Cornucopia. My head is down, but I can tell no one else is here. It strikes me as a little strange, but hey, maybe they all got what they needed and left. I drag myself the last few yards to the horn until I reach it. I look up, and realize immediately why there're no other tributes here.
"Seriously?" I say quietly. Looking around. No supplies. Nothing. No weapons, no food, no health kits, nothing. Just a big, stupid horn.
Strangely, I begin to laugh. Not the happy, joyful kind, but the kind when someone gets so stressed that they can't believe what's going on and the feel the need to do something. "I hope you're having fun," I say loudly, directing my comment to any gamemaker that's listening. "Because I definitely am not."
Taking another look around the barren space, I decide it's best not to stick around. Sure, I have a shabby, homemade weapon, which is probably more than the other tributes can say, but I'm not in the mood to kill. After all, I have two wounds that need mending. I sigh as I remember I have nothing to bandage them with. Whatever. I'm resourceful. I have been my whole life. I'll figure something out.
I hobble to the other side of the Cornucopia. The pain in my leg is slightly more tolerable, but I know that if I don't do something about my wounds soon, there's no way I can go on.
There's still no sign of Anya, and considering I have no idea where she could possible be, I don't look for her. I guess for now, I have to take care of myself. On the other side of the horn is a sparse, practically dead forest. Most of the trees have little to no leaves and the ground is barren except for a few shrubs. The mud seems deep and virtually unnavigable and who knows what kinds of mutts and traps are lurking inside.
Seems like the best direction to go in, right?
As I head for the pathetic excuse of a forest, I realize what I've just accomplished. I've made it out of the Bloodbath of the first Quarter Quell. That's something to be proud of, I guess. I can only wonder how many tributes perished in the battlefield behind me.
What also crosses my mind is a more negative thought. The Games have officially begun, and from now on, things are only going to get worse.
As I disappear into the shadows of the woods, I spit between barred teeth, "May the odds be ever in my favor."