Deep in the Meadow

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Chapter 10

Twenty seconds, thatโ€™s how long before the gong. The gong that will determine my fate. Ten to survey the surroundings, and ten to get ready to run. I look around the arena. The cornucopia, a huge golden horn, is filled with supplies, packs, weapons, food, medicine, all things that will make the difference between life and death. Around the cornucopia spread out, are less valuable things, packs, little weapons, and less food. I set my sights upon a medium sized dark green pack about fifty metres in with attached knives and a sword. There is also a bow and arrow close by, I think Iโ€™ll grab that too. I look down. The area around the cornucopia is full of snow, white, glistening snow. There is a forest to my right, filled with different types of trees, some I donโ€™t recognise and a frozen lake to my left. Over the trees I can see mountains. I position my feet to run at the cornucopia. The gong sounds. I sprint to the pack and position it on my shoulder. Then I run a few steps and retrieve the bow, itโ€™s already loaded, ready to draw blood. I swing round, dodge a knife and find the girl tribute from District 5 towering over me. I take a step backwards and trip, my bow flying from my grasp. I lay on the ground as she towers over me, axe in hand. I have no weapon. I canโ€™t reach my knives. I am going to die.

The girl brings down the axe as I roll aside. My fingers grab my bow, I spin and shoot her in the heart. I jump up and run into the woods. Iโ€™ve been running for a few minutes before I realise there isnโ€™t any snow. The ground here is leafy, with twigs but free of ice or snow. This is both a good and a bad thing, leaves and pine needles should cover my tracks, but I will need water, the snow should suffice for that but to return to the cornucopia would be downright stupid. I decide to head for the mountains. There, there is high ground, snow and possibly a cave or two to hide in. I string the bow in case there are any other tributes nearby, but hear and see nothing to suggest their presence. Iโ€™m just stepping over a log when I realise I have no idea where Iโ€™m going. Yes Iโ€™m heading to the mountains but what am I going to do there? Find shelter I guess.

Iโ€™ve just reached a clearing when the cannons start to fire, each shot means one tribute is dead. I count on my fingers Bang,One, Bang,Two Bang, Three, and on until they reach Ten. Ten dead, fourteen left, thirteen more to die. I suppose I should check my supplies, I wonโ€™t have time soon, it will be too dark and I need to make camp for the night. I sit on a stump and start. I have fourteen gold arrows, a silver bow, five knives and a sword. I open my pack and spread the rest of the belongings out. A bag of dried apples and a pack of crackers. A pair of night vision glasses. A small bright silver sleeping bag that reflects body heat. A bottle of iodine, a small tube of cooling balm and a water bottle with about one sip of water in it.

One sip. ONE SIP. How much trouble would it have been to wait a few more seconds for a good amount of water. I wonโ€™t survive long without it. And where to find it? Obviously I canโ€™t go back to the cornucopia without killing myself. My only hope is the mountains but Iโ€™ll need to make camp. I also need to eat, but I dare not light a fire. A fire light at night is like telling the Careers exactly where you are and not caring if they find you. I get one of my knives and scrape off a layer of bark to chew on, not the best meal, but helps my hunger. Then I cut down a pine cone and break it open, exposing the sweet nuts inside. I eat a handful and set three snares. I donโ€™t know if there are rabbits in the arena but it is worth a try. I walk for about ten more minutes then choose a tree.

Itโ€™s a dragon tree, set within a clump of bushes, not too tall but good enough. I shimmy up the trunk and reach the top part. I squeeze through a gap between two branches and enter the open part. I sit on a thick branch and lie down. I can see through the top branches, and the sides. Itโ€™s like Iโ€™m in a room with tinted windows, I can see out, but others canโ€™t see in. I detach the belt from my bag and wrap it around my waist, then I hang my pack on an overhanging branch. I then get into my sleeping bag and wait. Knowing what is coming. I put my glasses on as the anthem of Panem begins. This was a way they figured out to show who is dead. In the Capitol, they watch the whole death, but that is an unfair advantage to living boys and girls in the games. For example, the girl I shot. If they showed that, the other tributes would know I could shoot accurately. If the girl had been able to kill me, everyone would know she was strong enough to. Now they show only simple headshots with district numbers. Suddenly, overwhelming emotion sweeps through my body, one day in the arena and Iโ€™ve killed someone. I killed a girl whoโ€™s name I donโ€™t even know. I destroyed an innocent life for no reason. Only for the show, only to survive. Somewhere, her family is crying, maybe they really believed she could return.

The anthem finishes and faces start to shine in the frosty air. First is the girl from 3, then the boy. That means Kenji, Shine, Venia and Abbot are all alive. Then the girl from 5, whom I killed. So Izack and Coral are alive too. Iโ€™m not really surprised, most Careers survive the first day. Then the girl and boy from 6, both from 8. The two from 10 and then the boy from 11. Fourteen left.

I count the survivors off on my fingers, the six Careers, the boy from 5, Jazi and Thren. Jazi and Thren! So they are both alive, I wonder how they are doing. Probably up in a tree, hiding.They will have teamed up, surely. I canโ€™t help feeling happy. Sara, her district partner, the girl from 11, me and Dean. I decide to climb a different tree, this one gives me a feeling of being too safe. I retrieve my pack, weapons and climb down. I go to check my snares, I know it is dangerous but I have to, I need to find out if there is anything to eat except stuff from the cornucopia and bark. I find the snares with one fat dead squirrel stuck on the line. I stick it in my pack, silently thanking there being other food than just bark and nuts. I walk for about twenty minutes and pick a tall pine, I climb to a suitable branch as something catches my eye.

Placing my pack and bow on the branch I climb up further, and almost fall. With my night vision glasses I can see it all. The cornucopia. The figures on the snow. The snow that is slick with blood

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