The 79th Hunger Games
During the 74th Annual Hunger Games...
"Clove!" Cato's voice is frighteningly close now. Judging by the pain and uncertainty in it, I can tell that he sees her on the ground.
"You better run now, Fire Girl," says Thresh.
I don't need to be told twice. I flip over and my feet dig into the hard-packed earth as I run away from Thresh and Clove and the sound of Cato's voice. Trying to run away from the nightmare that had taken place at the Cornucopia a mere few minutes ago. Only when I reach the woods do I turn back for an instant. Thresh and both large backpacks are vanishing over the edge of the pain into the area I've never seen. Cato is kneeling over Clove, desperately whispering to her. He'll soon realise it's pointless. He's holding her hand, a gentle look on his face that contrasts sharply against the arrogance he had always projected. For a moment, I'm reminded of when I held Rue's hand in that meadow, singing her to sleep. Then he looks up and our eyes meet.
That's when I start running for real. He saw me. Cato saw me.
It seems like every root is making an effort to trip me up, every branch slapping me in the face, every step I take is like wading though quicksand.
He saw me.
I'm still trying to run away, loping like the injured deer that I am with blood obscuring my vision and a wolf on my tail. My entire world has shrunk to the thudding of my feet – my feet which make no attempts at being quiet just as long as I get to Peeta alive – and the blood steadily pouring down my face and mixing with the mud. Mixing in with the fear and confusion, I stumble though the forest, disorientated. I've dropped my bow and I stop for a few moments, fumbling around to pick it up with uncooperative fingers. My world is spinning like a kaleidoscope from the steady loss of blood from the wound Clove gave me.
I didn't do anything to prevent her death. Clove was trying to kill me, pinning me to the ground and preparing to turn my face into a nightmare. He would be after me. Could I stop now, just for a second? I didn't have Cato's backpack, Thresh did. Thresh had killed Clove, hadn't he? Cato would surely go after –
A branch snapped and my head whips around. It came from my right, otherwise I wouldn't be able to hear it. It's enough to get me running again. It seems like it'll never stop, me being the hunted while the hunter laughs. Firstly it's me, running from the Peace-keepers back home. Then it's just me against the Capitol. They already have me trapped. Now they've set Cato on me and he's not going to give up. It seems like my entire life has consisted of running but now I have no choice. I'm in no state to fight anyone. There's only a few of us left now; Cato, Foxface, Thresh, Peeta and me. Any one of them could easily knock me to the floor and end my life. Except that Peeta is on my side, Foxface is on the other side of the forest and Thresh is in the fields.
Cato, he's here. Cato's here and he's going to kill me if I stay still for too long.
It's that fact that keeps my legs moving, although they burn with every movement. Burning because I am the Girl on Fire and the Capitol are waiting for that fire to turn on me.
All I can hear is the erratic beat beat of my heart and my footsteps, which are slowing down as I hear nothing else. Not even the twittering of birds. I slow down until I ground to a halt in front of a tree. I recognise the tree, the dried shell of the tracker-jacker nest. Bad memories swarm around here like a swarm of invisible tracker-jackers, waiting to overpower me with fear. I remember hiding up there, injured, while the Careers surrounded me while Peeta hung by the sides – Peeta!
I have the bag. Peeta's going to be okay, as soon as I get back to the cave then he'll be okay, he'll be alive and back to his normal –
Pain blossoms in my stomach as I'm flung though the air and into the tree. I look down and to my horror, there's a spear though my stomach, embedded into the tree. I'm literally stuck to the tree by the spear. Every movement, even breathing, hurts so much. My mouth opens in pain but no sound comes out. If any did then I can't hear it. The spear is yanked viciously out of the tree and I'm dropped into the waiting arms of my killer, Cato. My limbs are lifeless, limp like a rag doll as he shoves me harshly onto the forest floor.
"Looks like the Girl on Fire's about to be extinguished," Cato smirks, kicking me in the stomach, sending another tidal wave of agony though my chest, and splattering blood on his boot, "District Twelve isn't going to be going home this year." He gestures to my backpack.
The fire that I was named for returns and I give him a snide remark back, "Neither is Clove." I manage to gasp back, my defiant tone ruined by my breathy voice.
He stops being amused and before I can blink, he swings his foot at my ribs. I hear a popping sound and wince slightly in pain – at least two ribs were broken from the force of the impact. Any chance of me escaping have disappeared when he did that. Now I'm completely at his mercy. Completely at the mercy of the tribute who wants me dead the most.
"I kill her in my own way, and nobody interferes." Cato's words echo in my head, mocking me.
Since everybody else is dead, nobody's going to interfere now. No Peeta in shining armour and chivalric manners was going to run in and take out Cato for me. I'm on my own. Completely on my own.
Cato smirks at me, his good mood making a reappearance, "You know, I've wanted this ever since you dropped that tracker-jacker nest on us," He says in a conversational tone, like we're eating lunch out in a park, "Every night, I watched the sky, hoping nobody would take the joy of me killing you away from me," His eyes are fixated on mine, a triumphant grin twisting his lips. It's terrifying how much he's enjoying this, "You blew up the supplies, didn't you?" When I don't reply, he slaps me, "Answer!" He orders.
Just to be slightly rebellious, I nod instead of saying something. His eyes light up, "Didn't do you much good, did it?" He asks but I get the impression that I'm not supposed to answer. I do have one though but my voice seems to be in my throat, incapable of escaping, like my words are stuck to my throat with glue. He notices this and looks annoyed, "Can you even speak?" He asks me, no concern in his voice, not that I was expecting any. I try again to make a coherent sentence. This time a choked gargle is released, which is answer enough.
His face darkens and he picks up his spear again. Looks like I've ruined his fun, "You're already dead then," He points out, "Might as well let you and Lover boy be reunited in heaven," He prepares to plunge the spear into my heart.
"At least I'll go to heaven." I finally get a few words out, in defiance of my current condition, as the spear enters my chest. However, I doubt this very much. I've killed, I've lied, I've stole my way though this life.
Cato glares at me, "Like you're so great." He sounded angry, a scowl etched on his face as he rips out the spear, "You had nothing. Nothing," He spits out, "You're from District Twelve, the coal district. The freaking coal district." He seems lost for words and I'm surprised at the depth of his bitterness, "You had nothing," He repeats, "And yet you got an eleven. A eleven. I trained my entire life for this and I only received a ten. You got an eleven and you, and you..." He trails off, struggling to complete his sentence. He gives up and changes it altogether, "What makes you so special?" He asks me, nudging me with a boot for an answer. If he wants one, none is forthcoming. "You had nothing. And you're here, same as me." He shakes his head, not really paying any attention to me as he vents his feelings out on someone. Someone who you had just killed, but still a person, "You didn't really have a choice, not in your mind."
I was about to say – or try and say – that I didn't have to volunteer but when he says the last part, my mind flies back to my sister. My little sister.
It was all for Prim. Selling her baby clothes so that she could have a slice of bread on the table, buying her the goat, Lady, volunteering for her at the Reaping. I was only trying to keep her alive. At least I've succeeded. She's back at home with my mother and Gale and Peeta's father to feed her. If only the burden of the world wasn't going to be dumped upon her little shoulders at thirteen. Why did Effie have to reap her? Did she have any idea of what would happen to my family when she pronounced, loud and clear "Primrose Everdeen"?
And suddenly I'm not in the arena anymore. I'm back home in District Twelve, deep in the recesses of the woods, far, far away from the prying eyes of the Capitol. Up on the very top branches of a tree is my ally and friend, Rue. Not Prim, Rue. I do not know why, maybe it's because Rue was the closest I had to a human confidante in the arena. Maybe it's because Rue is dead while Prim, sweet little Prim, is still alive.
Rue's singing to me, singing like I sung to her as she slowly slipped away from me. Although I have never heard Rue sing that song to me, here I can hear her voice bright and vibrant as she repeats the same verse of the lullaby to me as my world starts to flicker with shards of black.
Deep in the meadow, under the willow,
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow,
Below me, I can feel the grass against my skin, tickling me like fingers as the breeze stirs a few of the grass blades to stroke my arms gently. I smile at Rue, forgetting that she's starting to go a little blurry, who grins back at me with an innocence that reminds me of Prim. She's not here and my smile fades. Where is she? I think, but only a faint twang of concern runs though me as I start to feel sleepy.
Lay down your head, and close your sleepy eyes,
And when again they open, the sun will rise.
Any traces of stress roll off me like rain rolls off one of those cars you find in the Capitol. It's a nice, warm day and it'll be perfect to just close my eyes for a few hours in the kind sun rays. In the distance, I can hear a constant murmuring but no matter how hard I strain my ears, I still can't make out any words.
Oh well, it doesn't really matter. I try and laugh but a jagged breath of air being let out is the only thing that I can manage. Looking down, I see a spear protruding from my chest. Now my vision is fading, fading like paint fades when you dab a wet tissue onto a picture repeatedly. Watching the colours merge together into sludge, meaningless sludge that is abandoned for the clear, strong colours that remain untainted. Untouchable. Maybe that's all I was. Sludge, being cleared away so the Capitol can marvel at the pretty colours of the victor and laughing as they push and push and push until the victor breaks into nothing. They've succeeded with me, haven't they? They've succeeded with so many others before. Now I will be nothing and they will be everything.
Then I see Rue. She's in front of me, still smiling while holding out a hand. Without hesitation I grip it and her eyes light up.
"Thank you," She whispers before I take my final breath. Rue's smile is the last thing I see before I am enveloped by the darkness.
As the spear pierced her heart, as her cannon fired, the small orange backpack she held in one hand fell to the ground, her mouth moving like she was trying to say something but no sound came out.
I didn't feel sorry. Well why would I – plenty of other rats like her from the lower districts had died at my hands. However, I didn't feel triumphant as I had with the other kills. If Clove was here, I would be dancing in joy at being instrumental in the downfall of the fabricated 'star-crossed lovers' from District 12. If Clove was here, I would shout to the skies my victory over the one tribute who outscored me, who dropped a nest of tracker-jackers on me, who had blown up my supplies and killed at least three of my pack.
If Clove was here...
But she isn't, a snide voice whispered in my mind, because Thresh killed her. You could have won together if you hadn't tried to kill District Five. You could have stopped her dying but you didn't.
"Shut up," I mutter, "It doesn't matter because I'm going to kill him anyway." Then I stopped talking as I realised that talking to yourself wasn't exactly a sign of sanity. I doubted that anyone would have classed me as sane before the Games. I couldn't doubt that they had a point, it was just the way that they thought that I was inferior to them because I had a different view on life to them.
Kill or be killed.
I remember snapping that wimpy boy's neck like a twig. And I enjoyed it. Now I just felt empty. If I had to kill District Three over again, I would still do it. I just wouldn't care. That's why I hadn't bothered giving the Girl on Fire a slow, purposeful death. I just wanted for all of this to be over, so that I could actually mourn the loss of Clove without the whole world watching me. Without my every move being analysed for the Capitol reporters to eat up. The sooner the better. That was why.
I walked over, unzipped the backpack and a small syringe fell out onto my outstretched palm. Soon it was nothing but a mess as I crushed it under one boot. Now the other romantic fool would die too. Grinning, I raised my head to the sky and yelled "I'm coming for you Thresh. You'd better watch out!". As I spoke, clouds rolled across the horizon and the first few drops of rain fell on my face like tears. If I wasn't in the arena, I could almost believe that the forest was mourning Clove's death as well. If only.
I guess she still was here, I thought bitterly. Just a few feet away with a large dent in her head, brown eyes still open and as blank as a doe's. Only a few feet away was where she had taken her last breath. Stretching out a hand, I close her eyes. Even then, she doesn't look like she's asleep. She still doesn't look like she's resting in peace. Well it's not difficult to see why.
It's only now that I realise that the arena kills twenty-four, not twenty-three tributes each year, your mind, your body or your soul. If you were really unlucky, you lost all three.
Two days and only one cannon later, I found him. Well actually he found me first, if the rather large rock aimed for my head was any indicator. I ducked and it settled a few feet to my left. On closer observation, it looked suspiciously like the same rock that had ended Clove's life. Except he had tried to throw it. Anger boiled in me: the coward didn't even have the guts to face me directly? My head spun around and I glared at the tall imposing shape near a bush in the field of grasses that would mark out one of our demise's. Namely, District Eleven's. He took a few steps forward and took out a admittedly impressive-looking sword which must have come from sponsors. I drew out mine and immediately lunged for his chest, no longer having to glance around to see if the Girl on Fire was ready to shoot with a bow and arrow. Of course he dodged. I guess three easy kills in a row is too much to ask for. Why couldn't he just make it simple for me? Well I already knew the answer, he hadn't lost yet. He's still alive, still sane and still unbroken. He's still fighting for the simplistic ideals, money, fame and your life. I'm just fighting for my life.
We circled each other, swords drawn, the world reduced to just him and the arena. I lunged again but slipped slightly on the grass and missed. While I was distracted, he raked his sword down my arm and a thin trickle of blood started pouring out. It stung like hell but didn't stop me from retaliating with a vicious slash on his right leg. He gasped slightly in pain and backed up slightly. Encouraged, I aimed for his legs again, hoping to stop him moving so I could get my final revenge.
However he did something unexpected; he lunged forward and before I knew what what happening, his sword pierced though my stomach. Pain surged though me as I fell to my knees in a mockery of subservience. My sword hadn't even scratched him when he had moved forward and it hung like a broken wing in my hand. I looked up at my killer. There was no expression of triumph or joy there. His face was perfectly expressionless as I screamed. Robotic, even. But I didn't scream just because of pain.
It was a war cry.
As he leaned over to retrieve his sword from my stomach, so similar to how I had speared the Girl on Fire, I lifted my own and with all of my remaining strength, I swung it at his neck.
A cannon fired, but it wasn't my own. Yet. Vaguely, I realised the rain had stopped pouring but it didn't matter anymore. I was dead now. But now I thought about it, I always had been.
Always been soulless, heartless and empty of anything that meant anything. No values, no morals and no regrets.
Dead inside as well as outside.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to present the victor of the 74th Hunger Games, Felicia Woods. I give you the female tribute of District 5."
The look of surprise on Felicia's face was quickly replaced by a knowing smile, as if she knew she would have won all along. A hovercraft materialises and she obediently climbs onto the ladder and is immobilised by the current as it slowly ascends out of the arena. Her red hair glinting in the morning light like a ribbon is the last thing Panem sees before the cameras stop recording. Before everybody put away their banners for Cato and Thresh and hastily change them. By the time Felicia is ready for the Capitol, everybody would be the '#1 Fan of Felicia'. She was currently the fashionable thing to worship, you see.
Nobody had expected the seemingly unskilled girl with the red hair to win. Never would have thought that she would have outlived the ruthless killers from 2 or the formidable star-crossed lovers from 12. The fact she did is almost rebellious in itself. But unlike with Katniss Everdeen, Felicia's every move will not set Panem on fire.
Nor add fuel to the small pockets of resistance.
Not like the Girl on Fire would have done.
Just because she wanted to live.
Hey there, this is my first fan fiction which is about the Hunger Games. This prologue is just my version of what I think might have happened if Katniss and Peeta hadn't won the Hunger Games and started the rebellion. The next chapter is set just before the Reapings of the 79th Hunger Games and it'll continue from there. Yeah, the POVs will change quite a bit, usually being one POV per chapter.
If you like my writing then some reviews would be much appreciated :)