You tell me to hold on,
Oh you tell me to hold on,
But innocence is gone,
And what was right is wrong.
'Cause I'm bleeding out,
So if the last thing that I do.
Is to bring you down?
I'll bleed out for you,
So I bare my skin,
And I count my sins,
And I close my eyes,
And I take it in.
And I'm bleeding out,
I'm bleeding out for you (for you).
The sword rattles in my hand, silver sliding against my flesh. My head whips around, eyes needy to find an escape of some sorts. Never before have I ever felt real terror. You're always on your toes in here, constantly paranoid, but I've never felt truly scared. Each thing that has happened has had some logic behind. Everything has been played for a reason, and in a sense, I'm here for a reason.
The paintings at the beginning. The bracelets. The fallen tributes returning to come after us.
All of it was planned by the Gamemakers. We are their toys, and they wanted to push us as far as they could until we broke. Till eventually, after all the trauma and pain and terror, we just fall apart. That's what it has all been for at the end of the day. The Capitol doesn't want a Victor that's wholehearted and great as can be. Sure, they want their perfect Career Victor, but even then, I'm almost sure they must go back at least a little bit tarnished.
No-one, absolutely no-one, can walk away from this completely fine. It's just not possible.
They want someone so broken and torn, they are easily manipulated.
That's what they want, and a lot of us don't fit into it. Me, as an example. I'm scared, terrified, but I'm far from broken and torn, bleeding from the loss. Guilt weighs down on my heavily for both Modessa and Rowen, even Bridge and Aimee, but that guilt isn't dragging me down. It's just sitting there, like a brick in my stomach, slowing me down but never fully stopping me.
The water laps at my boots, washing over the leather.
My eyes snap to Andromeda and then Caspian, two Careers that look like they've been to hell and back.
We could be in hell for all we know.
Caspian stomps his foot forward in a fighting stance, looking at me and Andromeda through his matted, mashed locks that don't look as neat as they did in the Capitol. The room smells a mixture of chlorine and potassium, dabbled with the smell of dry blood and concrete.
Andromeda's wide eyes look at me, before no-one makes a move. We just stand there, looking at each other and listening to the geysers of water rain down on the floor, swamping it. My orange backpack floats idly near me, vials, surprisingly also afloat, poisons still encased. Maybe I could dip the sword into it and attack?
"Come on Andromeda, do something," Caspian taunts in a weak, crackled voice. "I'm not moving until you do."
"No chance." Andromeda replies rather quietly, and then it hits me.
Caspian talking weak. Andromeda replying quietly. Neither of them are the same person that was shot up through the glass tube, prepared and ready. I know nothing about either them besides their scores. I mean, who could forget Andromeda's 12? It's a rare feat, something rarely done nowadays. She was a sure Victor, no doubt, gaining all those sponsors - the daggers, encrusted with gold, prove my theory.
The water laps over my boot, ankle deep.
No-one ever understood me. Back in Three, a district full of brainiacs and technical people, you'd think I would fit. But I didn't. I was an outcast. I spent all my time in my room, creating all these amazing things, spending all my time alone. That's why I've never learned to interact with people as much as I could. That's why Modessa was always quick to point out my biggest flaw; my social skills. A pang of guilt hits my heart at the thought of Modessa. I'm kind of glad she didn't make it this far. I doubt the pressure and the fear of all the water, the cameras trained on us three solely now, would have settled with her well. No, she would have been so self-conscious, she might not have moved.
Suddenly, a piece of concrete flooring flies up into the air, a geyser of water much larger and stronger than the others pushing through.
They want us to do something.
Andromeda spins around in a flash, a gold dagger sliding along her arm, into her hand and then through the air, sailing towards me.
I manage, barely, to avoid the fatal shot, but I still get hit. It darts straight into my calf, and I fall, splashing into the water, letting it fill my ears. I watch, hissing through gritted teeth, as Andromeda throws another knife towards Caspian. He lightly smacks it away with his sword, proving that just like her, he's trained, he's just as capable, and the knife pings across the room and into the water. Andromeda runs forward as best as she can with the rising water, throwing another knife at him.
I don't miss the guilty, ashamed look in her eyes.
I guess that the two of them were close in the Careers alliance. A surprising cry bubbles from my throat as I curl my fingers around the knife, yanking it out. Water is not good to be in, and so, I lift my leg out, ignoring the pain sheering through my lower body and the numbness travelling down my leg. Water has a habit of pulling more blood out of your body, like liquids mixing, meaning you lose blood a lot quicker.
My leg gives out as I try to climb up onto my feet, just as I hear a scream. I gaze over to them, noticing how blurry my vision. Andromeda without knives, Caspian without a sword, all abandoned in the water as Andromeda struggles to pull her foot free from something.
My eyebrows furrow at the sight. What could be containing her? But I don't get the chance to answer.
I look down at my leg, noticing the bright purple tendril wrapping around my calf. My leg is so numb from the knife, I didn't feel it slivering and wrapping tightly around me, pining me down. Blood continues to seep from the sound, staining the grey, murky water a skin pink. Underneath, I know it's a creature. Many suction cups sit on the tendril, meaning it's either probably an octopus mutt, hidden in the chamber of each hole, waiting and creeping.
Blackness takes over my eyes, and I strain to keep them open as Caspian plucks Andromeda from the animal by chopping straight through the tentacle.
I find the knife bobbing down, and desperately, I reach for it and stab my own tentacle, hearing a guttural hiss as the wounded leg retreats.
I'm still unable to stand, though, and everything in me becomes beyond heavy. Everywhere around me, the grey water in tinted pink. All my blood wasted like that. One would never survive without this much blood. Even if I could stand, it's probably too late and I'd probably be too weak.
The Careers stand there, not far away, and I can feel the burning stares on me.
But as Caspian walks over to me, scooping up his sword along the way, a pain hits home and finally, I realise everything.
I was never meant to get this far. I was never suppose to survive.
They want their Victor, a Career... And I'm far from that.
I was simply an extra to their amazing fight. A Career versus a Career, one to beat the ages. I was simply a shadow, an extra, waiting to be taken out so the Capitol audience can have their amazing, blood battle between the best of the best. Tears prick at my blurred eyes, and barely, I see Caspian raise and lower the sword swiftly into my gut. I don't feel any pain though. I see a blinding light, and a soft but bitter voice.
"Are you coming or not, Surge? Seriously, you're suppose to be smart so stop acting so dumb."
And my cannon finally rings out to the tune of the Capitol audience cheering.
I don't feel no satisfaction as I pull my sword from Three's stomach, his lifeless body just floating there on the small waves created from the geysers. It's getting higher, I know that much. Before, it was at my boots and then my ankles, now, it's halfway between my ankles and my knees. For Andromeda, it's almost touching her knees.
Those creatures were quick to grab her when she stepped into one's nest.
As I look at Andromeda, whose managed to collect two knives, I can the girl from Six, her body, I mean, floating near the Cornucopia, head banging lightly against the golden skin with each roll. Then, swiftly, purple tentacles shoot up and wrap around her body, pulling her under towards the larger hole near us where the bigger geyser pours. I see a flash of her pale face and blonde hair before she dips down into the blackened hole.
"Just you and me," Andromeda says, causing me to turn around as Three's body too is consumed. "I guess it could have been worse."
"It could have been a lot better," I laugh bitterly over the soft roar of the geysers. "I could have been fighting Hollis or Beauty. At least then I wouldn't mind killing them."
Andromeda's sad smile turns more to a smirk. "Or at least I wouldn't mind killing them. Who says you'd be here at this point if the tables were turned?"
I smile back. "I did. Let's face it, I was the best one out of our little gang."
A short, bright laugh erupts from Andromeda's mouth, and if you ignored the water, death, smell of blood and evil purple octopus, you could really understand where she's coming from and enjoy it. It's like a ray of light in a dark, drowned cupboard.
"Don't get cocky, Casp," Andromeda breaths, and I watch her body raise and lower with it. "You and me. One of us will and the other will die. We both knew this would happen when we came in here. You believed you would win, I believed I would win, but only one can, so at some point, we were going to be in this position... J-Just in our heads, we were fighting different people."
Her grip appears on one knife, but she lets it drop into the water. The other follows.
"You want to fight without weapons?" I frown.
Andromeda sloshes over towards the Cornucopia, skillfully dodging each and every hole, though a few tentacles spring to try and trip her. It doesn't take long for her to find something, and I can't help but crack a smile despite my pain and resistance.
"You want to use swords?" I ask.
Andromeda nods. "I remember watching you and Misty in training when you were teaching her to use them. You switched hands from your right to left, to make it more fair and dumb you down a little."
I throw the sword in the air and catch it with my left hand. "Sure did. Sure you can swing it?"
"I got a 12, didn't I?" Andromeda smirks. "You don't know what I'm capable of, Caspian. Just because I prefer throwing knives, doesn't mean I don't know how to use all the others. I'm a fast learner, you know. Thought you would have guessed that from the score better than yours."
I'd be lying if a little bit of terror didn't spike in my core. She got a perfect score, and true, nobody truly knows how Andromeda got it. She never spoke about it, not to Hollis, who I always thought she was close too, not just a simple puppy dog. If she can use a sword, using my left, weaker hand, isn't so wise.
We move closer, ignoring the water that now rises to my knees, skimming Andromeda's thighs. We're close, so close, I could try to hear her heartbeat.
Our swords touch to start the battle, then, we stance.
I swing my sword as hard as possible, despite all the urgency in my body reminding that this is Andromeda, your friend, as well as Misty's little nagging voice reminding me that I'm at least being noble and honorable. Metal rings out over the water as sword upon sword collides.
We continue to joust, staying relatively away from the holes, though one tentacle almost has my ankle, and it's even.
Panic sets in.
Swords was always something that I excelled at over everyone else. Yet, Andromeda is just as capable, just as skilled as me, and I've been training with them for years now. Either she is a fast learner like she said, or I was never that great in the first place. The ground beneath us between to rumble, shaking and quaking.
We feel it but here nothing until it cracks, rock exploding up from the water.
A piece of rock smashes into my face, making me see stars as I fall backwards. I barely make out Andromeda's scream, no doubt hit too, as I splash back in the water and allow the blackness to take over.
Demetria comes running out of nowhere, her face wet with tears and bulging. She wraps her small arms around my legs, gripping hard and sobbing loudly. I hear the stomps and instantly know what's about to happen. I grab her by the shoulders, swinging her around behind my legs as my uncle clambers into the room drunkenly.
He slurs at me, mouth wide and full of spit, but I don't hear anything.
His hand raises and slams across my cheek, sending burning anger and rage through my body, coursing through my veins.
I fall to the floor, hitting it with a thud as Demetria screams loudly. I blink back tears as I see my uncle, that horrible man, shaking my little sister violently, large, grubby hands wrapped around her pale flesh. She cries and cries as he continues to shake and shake her. His hand raises once more, and I throw myself outwards, knocking Demi out the way and taking yet another large slap to the other side of my face, a burning sting washing over my face in an instant before stomping out to get more alcohol, no doubt.
She crouches down besides me, still crying, and I manage to wipe away her tears and brush her hair.
"Hide under the bed, Demi," I mumble. "Go. He won't remember you were here, so hide."
She nods frantically, ducking down and crawling under the small bed both me and her share, day by day. I lay weak as he comes back in the room, hefting me up from the floor, continuing to shake, shouting my face. I feel his spit spray my face, the smell of hard alcohol on his breath hot.
Another slap to the cheek.
Another slap to the other cheek.
I blink back the darkness, just in time to see a closed fist smash into my eye socket. I fall, a crumpled heap, feeling a large foot slam in a swing into my chest. A pained cry escapes my throat, but it's gurgled. He continues to kick me, over and over again, no matter how hard I cry. Through wet and blurred eyes, I can see Demetria, hidden quiet under the bed and crying silent tears. Through the slants in the closet, I can see Sterling's worried and red eyes staring at me.
Another kick to my stomach, only this time, I wake to water filling my eyes.
And not my tears.
A large hand yanks me from underneath the water, and I quickly register Caspian in front of me, a large bruise forming on his forehead, trickles of red blood stemming from his nose. He looks shorter. My heart drops when I realise, even standing up, my hands are submerged in water. It's at Caspian's lower stomach, just above his hips, and for me, just underneath my breasts.
He could be attacking them right now.
They could be crying, needing me, getting hit over and over again because their stupid sister got reckless and idealistic and wanted to save them despite not being emotionally ready herself.
Caspian opens his mouth to say something, but I don't let him.
I can't be nice anymore. That dream, hallucination, whatever it was, it was a major wake-up call. I've held everything back and been merciful, when the Gamemakers have been as cruel and breaking as possible.
My hands attempt to wrap around his throat, but my hands are small and his throat is rather large. We stumble back and forth, until finally, Caspian snags his foot on a hole and tumbles down into the water with a splash, taking me with him, hands tightening closer and closer around his throat. I fight my hardest to ignore shame and guilt in my chest, and let the sense of protectiveness and ferocity take over.
I'm not just playing for my life here. I'm playing for theirs, too.
I look at his eyes, submerged under the water, begging for air as bubbles escape his mouth, my hands never letting go. But suddenly, I feel my body going heavy, a sheering pain spreading out across my chest. I look down to see my blood washing out into the water over Caspian's body. His hand, my dagger...
My hands go limp, releasing his throat and Caspian rises with a heavy breath of air, gulping it down. I stagger back, swishing in the water, letting the blood trail away from my stab wound. Caspian raises his hand, showing me my knife and dropping it in the water. He must have collected it at some point, probably when I was completely out cold. It would make sense, sadly. I couldn't expect him to give his life up for me, could I?
He wades through the water to me as my legs give way. He grabs me, holding me in the water. Water laps at my face and body, and I just drift there in his strong, loyal arms.
Arms that were never going to betray me like I did to him. Arms that killed me out of instinct, not desire.
Tears slide from his face, a guilty look in his eyes, a bruise forming on his throat. "I-I-I'm s-s-"
"Shush..." I manage to breath out. "S-S'okay..."
I feel a rough tentacle of one of the creatures wrap around my ankle, followed by my other, then my arms. Finally, one manages to snake around my waist. They don't hold me roughly, but more tenderly, like they know I'm on the edge. They slide me out of Caspian's arms as tears stream his face. I begin to submerge, the water rushing into my nostrils and lungs, burning and scorching them. He'll feel guilty, but he shouldn't be. It's a game we all had to play. He just played it better than the rest of us.
I float downwards, down to the large hole in the center, watching Caspian's blurred face from the waves change and shift repeatedly.
I hear a crackle of static, before the familiar, haunting sound that's been chasing me around this whole time sounds. A cannon, only this time, it's mine. I didn't save them. I didn't free them. I failed in my quest to be a good sibling; the protector that I was deemed to be.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to present the Victor of the Fifty-Second Hunger Games, Caspian Coburn! I present to you - the tribute of District Four!"
Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons.
The blog for this story is - childsplayhungergames . blogspot . co . uk/ - just take out the spaces. Deaths will be notified there.
Surge Dalton, District Three.
Andromeda Lynx, District Two.
On the blog, an obituary has been created under Remember, Remember - all filled with details on each character and what happened after the Games, as well as what happened to Caspian, too.
If you could, a review would make my day, especially if you answer these questions?:
-Who you thought would win Child's Play?
-Favourite character (besides your own)?
-Are you happy with who won?
-The most shocking death of the entire story.
-The most jaw dropping moment of the story.
-Your favourite chapter?
-Your favourite line from a character?
-Thoughts on the obituary on some characters/your character?
Compared to Nowhere To Hide, everyone seemed undecided on who they wanted to win. Before, Rye was a dead certain, but this time, I had a Team Caspian, Andromeda and a small one for our darling, geeky Surge.
Firstly, I should point out one thing - Andromeda is a character-relative of a character I created. If any of you know BeccaJoy's You Better Run, Sterling Lynx (District Two Male) is indeed the younger brother that Andromeda refers to, as well as being my character that I created. I created his back story with his older sister, Andromeda, going into the Games a few years back and failing to save the family from their uncle.
Sadly, she was always destined to die.
Becca was super excited and created the idea herself of me using Andromeda, so give props to her.
There might be some controversy on Caspian winning, but in all fairness, I believe he would have. He had the power to back up the talk, a likable, non-sadistic personality and well, just a genuine heart.
I loved each and every character I was giving for this story, all the way from Cypress, who died first, to Andromeda, who died last. That includes broken Rowen, insecure Modessa, little Maybelle and Rudy and Aimee and Bena. Beautiful and sadistic Beauty, too. Each one was great and I want to thank you submitters for staying with this story and creating memorable tributes to work with.
I hope no-one hates the final fight... I just didn't feel like a massive fight would be what Andromeda and Caspian would do to each other. They care for each other, and I don't seem them willingly having it out.