Chapter 20: The Games, Day 11
Two tributes remaining.
Even though he knew he had to get back to the edge of the Arena, Haymitch aimlessly wandered around as he tried to clear his thoughts and get his mind away from the shivering, dying Maysilee in his arms. Her final breaths, final words, the odd indescribable way her body felt during her last seconds of life before her body gave-up and accepted death.
Whoever was left, he would have to kill them. He could only wish that the Arena killed them; but he knew better.
This was the final battle - the last two remaining.
The Gamemakers never interfered with that. They had to have a final showdown, the final Act, didn't they?
Now it was kill or be killed. Simple as that. No loopholes, no waiting it out - a fight was coming, and he had to be ready.
Nightfall came quicker than expected. The thorny brush was just in sight, but he knew better to make himself an easy target. In the last rays of the sunset he managed to find the scraps of the blanket he had cut to protect his hand and pocketed them before he jumped onto a low hanging branch of a nearby tree and settled to rest. The Capitol anthem started blaring, but Haymitch kept his head down, ignoring it, the same he had done the past few nights. He was numb about it - and if he saw Maysilee's face, it would set him back.
The Anthem was short; there were only two faces to show.
He closed his eyes during the closing anthem, spinning a knife he held in his hand for distraction - something to focus on. But soon enough, sleep overtook him.
A nightmare of May, blood dripping from her eyes as she cried out for help jarred him out of his sleep.
It was now morning, the sun peeking through the trees.
The snap of a twig made him jump and he turned his head towards the sound. His heart stopped and he frowned at the sight of Remy walking towards the tree - towards him. The other trribute remaining.
How had he gotten this far?
He stopped breathing, hoping she would move on.
She had bloody cuts all over her body, some looked fresh, other were deep red, obviously infected. She still walked strong, wielding nothing except a large axe and a wide grin as she checked her surroundings.
Unfortunately she slowed to a stop, just past the tree he was hiding in.
"Too bad about your girlfriend, Twelve," she said.
He sighed, clenching his eyes tight for a moment before he swung his leg over and jumped down, landing steadily on the ground.
"Who's to say I didn't lead her straight to their nest?" he asked as he stood up straight.
She tilted her head, looking him over the same as he was doing to her.
"Those dried tear streaks on your face say something different," she said, a grin creeping in on her face.
He only stared, refraining from wiping at his face. That would show even more weakness, and Remy was confident enough to only be holding a weapon and nothing else.
"I would say sorry that it had to come to this," she continued, "but I've only been killing other girls. It's quite a setback for our gender, but I've found that they're easier to kill."
She spun the axe in her hand.
"So this is a challenge. A boy as my first and last kill will make my victory sweeter, don't you think?" she asked, using both hands to spin the axe around, moving so lightly it might've well have been a baton she was twirling.
"Funny, I was thinking the same... a little girl as my first kill," he replied, clenching the knife he had fell asleep with tight in his hand.
Her smile flickered as the axe stopped twirling, her knuckles turning white on the handle of the axe.
She took a step forward, the same time he did.
"You ready to die, Twelve? Any last words to your loved ones? I'm sure there are at least a few cameras on you right now, just look up and they'll broadcast your final message."
He grinned at her almost too blasé attitude - she had to be compensating for something with that tone. Maybe she was just as scared as he was.
"Not really," he replied slowly, "but this should be fun."
With an exaggerated battle yell, she ran towards him and she swung her axe forward when she was in range.
It gave him enough warning to dodge the blade and bring the hand holding the knife down onto her arm, blood spurting out as she yelled out in pain as she dropped the axe. She staggered back as he kicked the weapon away, leaving her empty-handed.
Or so he thought.
She lifted her leg and grabbed a knife from her boot, twirling it with unnecessary showmanship as she stopped in a fighting stance before moving quickly, swinging her arm forward and cutting him across his chest, the searing pain making him grunt.
She threw a punch to his face, following with a jab to his gut. He regained his stance and took swings with both hands, one a fist, the other holding his large knife; but she dodged every blow.
He swung another punch but faked it, bringing up his other arm to cut her with his knife, making her cry out again.
With no warning she threw herself to the ground and rolled, standing up quickly at his side, throwing her arm and stabbing his stomach with her small knife, making him yell out. With the knife still embedded in his stomach she pulled her arm, tearing at his skin, making the wound larger. The terrible pain made him yell out as he heard an odd suction sound, and he suddenly felt lighter, as though he had suddenly lost weight...
He felt small hands wrap around his neck and he laughed. She actually thought she could snap his neck? The size of her hands: no matter the exertion, she didn't have the right grip to finish the job.
He reached behind him and grabbed her body, bending down to throw her over his head and onto the ground, yelling out at the piercing pain in his stomach at the movement. She groaned, and then yelled out when he bent forward and landed stabs at her shoulder, chest and stomach; his grasp on his knife never faltered. She whimpered, staying still.
He took the moment to stagger back, barely able to stand on his feet, letting go of his knife as he brought his hands forward to the wound at his stomach. He froze, feeling something protruding from the wound - meaning something that belonged inside of his body was currently hanging out. He closed his eyes as his head felt lighter. He took in a deep breath, clenching his jaw tight as he tucked whatever it was – he refused to look down – back into his body.
He almost stumbled at the abnormal feeling of putting his body back together, but stayed on his feet as Remy groaned loudly. He took a deep breath, and then another before he bent down, keeping one hand on his stomach, his other picking up his knife, feeling lightheaded but determined.
She had to die... before he did. He didn't make it this far for him to be killed, the final death before the end of the Games.
He could win this. Even if he died in the process, all he had to do was outlive Remy, and his family could get the winnings.
He grasped his knife tightly as he kicked at her hip the hardest he could, still keeping his hand on the open wound on his stomach. She cried out and her body fell limp again. He brought his knife down to her face, cutting across her nose and sinking it into her right eye - but surprisingly despite the wound she brought her arms out to stop him in time before the blade pierced her brain.
But enough debilitating damage had been done - just as she had done to him.
She screamed and kicked at his knee from the side, making him let go of the knife as he crumbled to the ground. He felt weight on his stomach, and groaned as he opened his eyes in time for her to land a punch on his jaw. He aimlessly punched at her, trying to aim at her newer and infected wounds, landing only a few hits.
She screamed and faltered, grabbing the knife embedded in her eye and tearing it away.
There was another piercing scream, and he looked over to see that the knife, with it's serrated edge, had ripped Remy's eye-ball from her head, the now dead clumps of tissue hanging on the blade. Without a second thought he reached for her face and pushed his thumb on her now empty eye socket, making her scream even more. With his other hand he tried to reach for another knife on his boot, bust she surprisingly landed a well placed punch on his Adams apple.
He took in a breath, choking, and brought up his knee to hit her on the back. She came forward and he butted his head against hers, taking her momentary stun to shove her away and roll over, leaving her on the floor alone.
He stumbled to stand up, groaning as more blood spilled onto the hand he held against his stomach. He left the knife, knowing it was lost in the grass and that he had many others as he rushed the best he could for the border of the arena, climbing on top of the thorny brush, ignoring the extra WHAT of pain as he climbed over it without protection - he didn't have any time to wrap his hands.
He heard her curse and scream at him and he quickened his pace - or as much as he could with using only one hand, his other holding what he had now figured were his intestines inside of his body. Remy's following screams and yells gave him the needed motivation to keep moving.
He finally reached the edge of the brush and fell, groaning as he hit the hard dirt ground.
"There's nowhere to hide now!" she shouted, sounding too close for comfort. It only took hat moment for him to realize that all other signs of life - the twitters of the birds, the breeze rustling the leaves of the trees, small chirps or caws of creatures - it had all stopped.
He stood and stumbled towards the edge, his head lighter, his legs barely holding him upright.
He started seeing memories flash before his eyes; the end was near.
Finn, after Haymitch took him on his first hunt, holding up a dead squirrel with a big smile. Finn, jumping on top of Haymitch to wake him up, laughing with abandon as he groaned and they wrestled; their morning ritual.
His dad, hugging him tightly, giving broken and awkward yet confirming words of love and comfort. His dad, coming home from a long day of work, but never without a smile to give them, opening his arms wide the second he walked through the door, always lifting Finn high up in the air.
Maysilee. Maysilee, smirking at him after he coughed on his first alcoholic drink. Maysilee, pushing at his cheeks so he would spit out the berries she thought were poisious in the Training Center. Maysilee grinning above him after she saved his life - the first time - in the Arena. Her soft blush at his compliment of her expert campsite at the top of the quarry. Her grinning face the second time she saved his life.
May, smiling at him as they walked through the Arena as though they were back home. May, shaking, bleeding, dying in his arms, whispering a final command.
"Can do, May," he whispered to himself before he turned around, facing Remy. She was limping towards him, her axe back in her hand.
He stumbled in his step but managed to stay standing, keeping an eye on her as he shuffled back towards the edge. If he could lure her over… it would be an easy push. If, or when she came back the fall would probably kill her, or mangle her body enough for him to finish the job easily.
She took a few steps towards him, smiling grotesquely as blood flowed from her left eye socket.
There were no more words.
She raised her hand and threw the axe. He ducked in time and it flew past him, flying over the cliff's edge.
He fell down onto his knees, hoping that it would work.
He smiled at Remy, standing there weaponless, her own legs shaking - but she stayed standing. He reached to his boot, and brought out his last knife, small and useless.
She smiled. And when he raised his hand, holding the small and useless blade, she just laughed.
He fell over on his side, feeling faint, his body shaking uncontrollably. He let his hand go from his stomach and heard a spurting noise. Remy laughed even harder.
Then Haymitch heard a whooshing sound, and a beep.
He only watched.
The sound of the spinning blade of the axe cutting through the air was all he focused on as it flew through the air, heading straight towards Remy.
He closed his eyes so he didn't see it - but he heard it: the axe finding it's new target, a few seconds after, the thump of her body falling dead to the ground.
And a canon blast soon after.
He fell down onto his back, opening his eyes to a clear blue sky. It took a moment or two for him to comprehend it.
He blinked and then suddenly started laughing even as he felt tears well up in his eyes. Once he started, it seemed that he was unable to stop.
He heard the sound of a hovercraft, but kept staring up at the bright blue sky, still laughing. He'd never seen this color of blue before, even back at home. His laughter finally faded as his head felt lighter - he knew he was at his end.
There was a split second of eerie, still, immovable silence before an overzealous and too loud string of a trumpet blasted around around him - a musical accompaniment to his last kill.
"Ladies and Gentleman, the Victor of the Second Quarter Quell, the 50th Hunger Games, Haymitch Abernathy!"
He closed his eyes again, taking small breaths. A part of him thought it was a dream - but the sounds were so loud he knew it was real.
He made it.
He actually made it.
He heard the sounds of yet another hovercraft – god he hated that sound – and opened his eyes to see a crowd of Peacekeepers in their white uniforms swarm around him, the said hovercraft right above him.
This time, there wasn't a claw descending to pick his weak, almost dead body up.
Instead he felt a pinch on his neck, the words of the Peacekeepers surrounding him fading into nothing as white surrounded his vision and overtook him before he fell unconscious.