Chapter 11: The Games, Day 3, 4 & 5
Haymitch woke, crawled out from under the fallen tree he's slept under for cover, and chewed on a piece of dry meat before he started walking.
His mind couldn't help but go back to Maysilee and what weapon that bamboo stick was supposed to be. Or maybe it was her source of food?
A small chatter stopped him in his tracks. An animal.
Haymitch bent down and grabbed a knife from his boot. He looked around and finally found the source of the sound.
A squirrel with soft golden fur and a luxurious tail, bigger than he had seen back at District 12, was staring right back at him on its hind legs, it's nose twitching as it stared right at him.
"Hey little guy," Haymitch said, smiling and loosening his tight grip on his knife. This thing he could easily catch with his hands, therefore not ruining the body - more meat.
But then it let out a shriek and jumped, flying right at his face.
It latched onto his cheeks and he yelled out at the claws digging into his skin. He grabbed it, pulling it off his face and threw it, almost smiling at its cry of distress. That's when he felt a weight on his leg, and looked down.
There were more of them - a lot more of them - and they were quick.
Haymitch started swinging his knife as fast as he could, his pain and anger accelerating his speed. He heard squeals and cries but kept chopping; bending down as he grabbed another knife from his boot with his other hand. Even as he felt one scratch deep into his arm, and one on his neck, he kept fighting.
He felt two fly onto his back, and he dropped down to the ground, squishing them as he rolled two times and then jumped back up. He shook his legs, not feeling any of them on his body, and started running. He heard chatter and clucks and squeals following him, but he kept going.
He didn't know how long he ran, but the sounds of the rabid squirrels decreased, though some were adamant to follow him.
He reached a small clearing and turned both knives in his hands, at the ready as he turned to face them.
There were only three of them left, looking at him maliciously.
The first one jumped and Haymitch was able to duck and give it a big cut on its stomach mid-air; it fell dead to the ground. The other two jumped at the same time, and he stabbed one and ducked the other, throwing the knife to where it landed a few feet away. He figured the way the knife stayed in its body that it was finally dead.
He stood there breathing heavily, only now feeling blood trickling down his face and arms, the pain kicking in amongst the adrenaline.
"Holy shit!" he yelled out.
First it was poisonous butterflies, and now evil squirrels? What was this distorted dream of an Arena? Who the hell designed this thing?
He caught his breath for another minute or two and then began collecting his weapons along with the bodies, even going back to where the first attack happened, quickly retrieving the bodies before he ran away from what he figured was their nesting grounds.
He would have all of the little devils for a meal.
He built a small fire with rocks. When they turned red, he diminished the fire and cooked the squirrels slowly, not wanting to put himself out in the open with too much smoke.
The first two squirrels were delicious. The third one was meaty and juicy, and the fourth was so good he closed his eyes. And he still had some left over.
He had never been so full in his life – but revenge was best served warm and juicy this time around.
He wrapped the others in big leaves and packed them into his backpack. He took a deep breath, let out a burp, took a sip or two of water, and then kept walking.
This time however, he held a knife in his hand, now always at the ready.
When the night sky fell without a Captiol anthem to signal any deaths, Haymitch made shelter in the brush. Surprisingly he fell asleep easily, nestled under a roof of branches he had arranged over some rocks next to a big pine tree. In the morning, he cooked a half of a squirrel for breakfast, and then continued forward.
It was afternoon when he felt the ground tremble below him.
He stopped, and his heartbeat quickened as he held his breath. It was a few more seconds before it happened again, yet this time more faint.
With dread, he climbed the nearest tree clumsily, wrapping his body around the thin trunk as he reached the top with a good view of most of the Arena.
The big snow-capped mountain was now spewing thick black smoke at an alarming rate. He heard and felt another rumble and watched in awe as orange hot liquid spewed from the mouth of the mountain, spilling down the mountainside at an alarming rate.
This wasn't a mountain... he remembered reading about them in school: this was a Volcano.
Something about plate tectonics breaking, and allowing the inner earth's core to spew from the top... something like that. He read of big volcanoes creating islands, wiping out cities, and even fossilizing bodies.
He never expected to see a real one in his life. They had all been erupted and rendered immobile by the Capitol long before he was born.
He could only watch in slight fascination -but mostly horror- as red hot lava flowed down the mountain side, eviscerating everything in its path but stopping short of the large field that held the Cornucopia, slowly turning to black rock.
In a daze he watched as layer after layer of lava spewed from the mouth of the mountain, destroying everything on it's side of the Arena. When he heard the first cannon he jumped, but readjusted his bodily grip on the branch as he counted the rest in his head.
Ten blasts total.
The group led by Slater, it had to be. He was so intent on setting camp at the top of the mountain... they probably died in seconds, unable to escape in time.
He climbed down the tree but stayed on a branch until the sun set - the sound and commotion could've drawn other tributes out, and he didn't want to run into anybody. Then he heard the anthem. This time, he didn't have the heart to look. He was tired of seeing scowling faces, now dead, staring down at him.
But he counted the canons, leaving thirteen left.
He had thirteen lives to beat before he could go home… if he ever did.
Haymitch woke the next morning, this time in a small cave, and stayed there lying for a while before he sat up. His back felt sore, and he stretched for a while until he heard the first cannon of the day.
These games were moving a lot faster than he thought they would. The last Quarter Quell lasted a week and half. It was only the fifth day – and more than half of the tributes were gone.
Something was definitely at hand from the Gamemakers. Maybe a quicker Games lead to a happier audience.
He then made the choice to stay where he was, regaining his strength and mentality. He ate a piece of dried fruit and then started on exercises to pass time; push-ups, crunches, and using a handful of knives as weights – though they didn't do much.
There were three more canons throughout the day, and he looked up to watch the projection in the sky at the end of the night.
A girl form District 2, the brunette who followed Remy around in the training gym. Guess she became useless to her… then another girl from District 10.
He smiled, sure it was over, and his heart dropped at the next face.
It was Dylan. The words District 12 floated below his projected face. Dylan even had a slight smile in his photo, unlike the other scowling faces of the dead tributes projected to the sky.
Haymitch took a few deep breaths before he went back the cave, reset two blankets for a lame mattress, and fell asleep; trying his hardest not to think of the friend he had made so quickly and lost even sooner.