Countdown

Sixty . . .
Newly emerged from my tube, I take in the arena
The Cornucopia, filled with supplies
Supplies for which we must fight
My fellow tributes and I, twenty-four kids
Forced to fight and die for our ancestors' crimes

Fifty-five . . .
I see my district partner, standing on his plate
The handsome boy I might have to kill
If someone else doesn't kill him first
For that is how these Games work
If I am to live, others must die

Fifty . . .
I remember the reaping when my partner and I
Were torn away from our families and friends
And taken on a journey from which
We were unlikely ever to return
With almost certain death waiting at the other end

Forty-five . . .
We arrived in the Capitol, saw the bright lights
Rode through the streets in a chariot
Greeted by cheering crowds of people
People who will soon be watching their screens
As, one by one, we die for their "entertainment"

Forty . . .
My fellow tributes, waiting for the gong
The gong that will free us to kill
The Careers, who have trained all their lives
Who knew how to handle weapons
Long before they arrived at the Training Centre

Thirty-five . . .
And then there are the others, the ones like me
The reaped, the barely trained
Some of us will not last the day, our fate to fall
In the struggle for supplies
The violent struggle they call the bloodbath

Thirty . . .
The waiting is half over - I must make a plan
To try for the supplies or to escape
And flee into the wilderness
If I go into the fight, can I survive?
Will it be worth the risk in the end?

Twenty-five . . .
And, if I flee, how long can I last
Without food and water to keep me alive
Without weapons to fight my fellow tributes
Should any of them find me
Alone and completely unarmed?

Twenty . . .
I think of my home, my family
Waiting and watching, not through choice
But because the law compels them to do so
As I prepare myself for what may be
The final minutes of my life

Fifteen . . .
I feel my token round my neck, a small heart
Moulded from clay, painted red
And threaded on a piece of string
It is all I have left to remind me of home
The home from which I have been taken

Ten . . .
I've reached a decision, to enter the fight
And try to grab some supplies
If I succeed I'll be safe, at least for a while
But it's risky - should I fail to get clear
I know I am certain to perish

Five . . .
Time's almost up - the gong will soon sound
And, then, the Games will truly begin
The Games which will ultimately cost the lives
Of twenty-three of those standing here
But who will be the first to fall?

Zero . . .
The gong sounds - I jump off my plate
And race towards the waiting bounty
I grab a pack, but cannot escape
Before another tribute cuts me down
Tonight my face will appear in the sky