Chapter 19: The Games, Day 10
He stood back up, shaking his head of the small rubble, and took a step towards the cliff when he heard a scream.
It could be May…
The sound was close enough... she couldn't move that fast on the thorny brushes...
The next scream was longer, however it sounded different.
They broke alliance - actually, she broke their alliance - but he wouldn't ignore her screams. He wouldnt live with himself he stayed here, just listeneing and not doing anything.
He snapped into movement, tightening the straps of his backpack as he climbed onto the blanket he'd left on the thorny brush, moving forward at a fast pace, ignoring when he encountered some sharp pricks at his skin. But he was still moving slow... and there hadn't been any screams. Or canons. What was happening? Was May okay?
He stopped, and looked down at the blanket, and then at his hands. He needed them for combat if that's what it came to.
He bent back and grabbed a knife from his boot, bringing it forward and cutting through the blanket, making two large strips. He stumbled at first but managed to wrap the fabric around his hands as makeshift mitts, deciding that should be enough.
He started moving again, climbing over the thorny brush, ignoring the cuts on his knees and legs, his ahnds staying unharmed as he moved.
There was another scream that was cut short, followed by the blast of a canon.
He stopped, his breath leaving him as though he'd been punched in the gut. He shook his head.
"May!" he yelled out again. It wasn't her. It wasn't her.
He moved even faster now, finally coming to the end of the brush and jumping down. He shook his hands away of the blanket scraps as he started sprinting.
There was another scream, this one prominent and long.
"NO!" he yelled out, dodging tree trunks as he sprinted towards the sound.
He came into a clearing and saw May fighting off large pink birds the size of ducks. They had sharp beaks, and all he could see was blood. In the distance, he saw what he was sure was a body, with a few of the same birds pecking at it - but the majority of them were swarming around May, and she let out a soft, barely there yell as she crumbled to the ground.
He yelled out, getting the attention of a few of them. He sliced through their bodies with his knife as they attacked him, giving out high-pitched squawks as they fell to the ground. The rest flew away in fright, squawking as they left.
He yelled and killed the rest surrounding her body, not letting any others get away.
He dropped to his knees next to her, the sight of her making his eyes wet. She had cuts all over, bleeding freely.
"Mitch! Thank god," she whispered, reaching out to him, her hands cupping his cheeks. He covered her hands with his. "I'm glad it's you here," she said, wincing and crying out in pain.
He reached forward and added pressure to a wound on her neck, another on her upper chest, right near her heart.
"Pressure, right here," he said, lifting one of her hands to cover the wound on her chest. Her hand stopped his, grasping his wrist as she gave a curt shake of her head.
He bent forward and pressed his forehead against hers, closing his eyes.
"I should have made you stay," he whispered.
"That would've made it worse..." she said, gasping.
"Worse than this?" he said angrily, pulling back.
"It's my fault… don't worry."
"What could you have possibly done wrong-"
"I was too loud…" she said shakily.
He shook his head vigorously.
"Your feet were just attracted to twigs that one day-"
"I was crying… and then I saw him - I don't know who he was. He was ready to fight, about to throw a knife at me, when they attacked. I was too loud... that's what drew them…" she said, looking ashamed, turning her head to look away. He grabbed her chin to turn her head to make her look at him.
"Why were you crying, May?" he whispered. More said tears streamed down her face, cleaning the blood from her cuts.
"I knew I had to leave you… but I… " she said slowly and shakily.
Without another thought he bent down and kissed her. It wasn't as passionate as the night before they went to the Arena, but it was enough to still his heart.
Her lips were cold.
He felt the first tear fall. Trailing down his nose, falling onto her cheek.
"Oh, god," he whispered against her lips. He turned his head away, trying to find something to throw, to get this anger out, instead of crying.
She grasped his hand, and he turned back to her.
Her skin was now a pale, unnatural white. She was shivering, crying, and yet still smiling up at him.
"Fucking birds," she muttered softly.
He shook his head when he broke into a grin.
"Fucking birds. Squirrels, butterflies, everything," he replied.
She closed her eyes, but he shook her, and they blinked open.
"Still here. So are you. You've got one left."
The sob ripped out of him, he couldn't help it.
"How?" he whispered, and leaned down to give her another slight kiss. She let out a happy sigh, and she gripped him tightly, pulling him down so her short breath brushed at his ear.
They were both crying silently, tears streaming down their faces, the dirt and blood clearing away. She released her grip, falling back to the ground, shaking her head.
"Only one of the heartbreak kids will die in the Arena," she continued.
"Look at the state I'm in, you handsome fool..." she gasped, fighting for breath. "Just… I hate to ask you, but… stay?" she whispered.
He gave a shuddering sigh and pulled her up against him, cradling her in his arms.
"You beautiful fighter," he whispered, and she let out a small laugh, wincing. He kissed her forehead and continued.
"I grabbed your hand at the Reaping, and we ran away. We fought the guards and soon everybody joined in... we all escaped."
"We lived in peace," she whispered, her eyes bright, living in the fantasy with him.
"No tessera. No Games."
"No death," she gasped.
He shook his head and held her tight, rocking her again.
"I taught you how to hunt. We laughed, we fought," his voice broke, but he continued, "we lived."
"Thank you, Mitch." By the second her body was growing colder, her body shaking as she she cried. He squeezed her tight, tucking his face in her neck to hide himself as he let go and cried with her.
His heart stopped beating when he felt her body go limp in his arms.
The canon sounded, drowning out his scream.
He heard the hovercraft approach and take the other body. He heard and felt the strong wind as it came to a stop above him. He tucked his head onto her shoulder to shield his eyes from the heavy draft. The horn sounded, ready to take her away.
He shook his head and stayed, grasping her now lifeless body tightly.
The horn sounded yet again, this time longer.
He pulled back, his face set in stone.
He was alone now.
He lay her down on the ground and crossed her hands over her stomach. He bent over and kissed her forehead, his eyes squeezed shut.
The hovercraft sounded the horn again, this time short and to the point: 'It's time to go.'
He slowly stood up, raising his head to look at the hovercraft. He refrained from giving it the bird and instead clenched his hands into fists as he walked to the edge of the clearing, watching as the hovercraft came down, the claw descending and picking up her lifeless body.
He rubbed his hands over his face, wiping away the last evidence of his tears.
"Fight," she told him.
He took a last shuddering breath, gaining his composure and setting his face straight.
He had to get back to the edge - that was his only advantage.