The 100th Games

The Arena: Collapse

Ivy -

Bas and I check the remaining supplies by the river while we dry off. It’s warmer down here with the sun shining right on us. Maybe the Gamemakers are just trying to keep us in good light. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful for it.

The contents of the pack are spread out before us. There are two apples left, some wire we can use for traps, and a grey plastic tarp.

“The fish I don’t think we should eat.” Bas throws the remaining fish to the side. By the looks of it, it’s the right call.

He pulls up the corner of the grey plastic tarp. “This might be useful.”

“Any water?” I ask. Bas opens his canteen, its low. He checks the pack and removes a canteen. He shakes it, it sounds empty. The number reads eleven.

“There’s some left in mine.”

“How much do you have?” I ask Beck. He checks the three canteens at his belt. We’ve been smart, rationing the water, but still we should be running low soon.

“This one has half and this one is just about empty.” He shows the two with water. I nod.

“The last thing I have is this hatchet,” Bas says, pointing to it at his belt.

“That’s good.” I take a breath, figuring out what to do, “We need to find shelter. We need water. Some food wouldn’t hurt.”

Bas checks where his cut was. The salve is working, healing him. There won’t be a scar once it’s done. He reapplies the bandage to keep it covered.

“How many tributes are left?” Beck asks.

I try to count the faces I’ve seen, both in person and in the sky, the faces I don’t want to remember and the faces I never really knew. Bas beats me to the number, his voice dropping at the realization, “Eight.”

I take a deep breath. I don’t know how I’ve made it this far, but I have. My brother and I both have. But in order to stay alive we have to be smarter. The Gamemakers are going to try to push the tributes together. They’re going to want to keep things exciting.

“We could hide out. Keep moving every day. Make it harder for anyone to track us,” Beck suggests.

“You really think the Careers are good at tracking?” I smirk, though I know I shouldn’t. At the moment I’m too flooded with relief at finding my brother again that I can’t help it. My plan is back on track. He can win. He has to win. He has to go home.

“Cain is.” Beck looks at me pointedly and my smirk disappears. “He was trying to give us tips in training. I don’t know how much of it was show, but he said he would hunt down tributes if he had to.”

“You would know,” Bas accuses. “You were hanging around them for training.”

“Not by choice,” Beck answers.

“Seemed like choice.”

“Bas,” I interject. “He saved my life. Allies, remember?”

“Thought you said no allies.”

“Things change.”

He nods. He knows well how things can change. “Then, what’s the plan?”

Beck and I look to each other, silently deciding. He starts, “We make a camp. Find some food. Maybe some water.”

“Stick to the tree line. It’s safe, sheltered,” I continue.

“And then we move further into the woods tomorrow,” Beck finishes. I nod in agreement.

“There’s power in the ruins twice a day. I watched it turn on when I was staying around the river. They might have running water,” Bas offers.

“By now Cain, Emery, and Victoria are probably back there,” I counter.

“But we don’t know for sure. We could look and if they aren’t, there could be something for us at the cornucopia at least.”

“We don’t want to be anywhere near there, Bas,” Beck says.

“You two killed a Career, right?” Bas asks. I look down. I remember the arrows piercing Stone’s knees, the trident in his chest. Before I even ask Bas answers, “I saw his face in the sky, figured it was you.” He looks at me, “There are three of us, three of them. We have a chance to get what we need and get out. Or take the cornucopia from them.”

“It’s not just three tributes. Its three fighters. Warriors. When you’re raised in a district that loves the games, expects victors, expects you to kill and if not then die gloriously, you don’t go down easy. And Cain and Victoria are no exception to that,” Beck says.

“You kind of are,” I mutter.

“I was raised in Four, not Two, we’re kinder.”

“Is that so?” I ask and a part of me is amused, another knowing that means he’s going to be the toughest opponent I’ll have to fight.

“I’ve been known to be kind, occasionally.”

Bas watches us and rolls his eyes, scoffing. He crosses his arms, staring me down. If we were younger and at home this would be the moment I push him into the mud and he runs crying to our father. But we’re not at home. And we’re not safe.

“We’re not fighting them,” I say with finality. His eyes narrow and I’m waiting for the fuse to snap. It doesn’t take long.

“You’re afraid of them,” Bas says, his voice rising. Whatever peace we’ve been in since our reunion is gone now with the weight of survival.

“I’m not afraid. I don’t want to go looking for a fight,” I lie. Of course I’m afraid of them. They’re bigger, they’re stronger, and they want this victory. Cain more so than anyone. He’s hungry for blood, especially mine. I killed one of his allies. I’m the daughter of two victors, two victors who won the same Games. I’ve been on camera since I was born. The country knows my name. They love me. I’m the kill that makes him a household name. I’m the kill that puts him above any other tribute from Two.

Bas knows I’m lying, he’s always known when I lie. He shakes his head, “You’re scared. Admit it.”

“Fine,” I snap. “Yes, I’m afraid of them. And you should be too.”

“Well I’m not. The only thing I’m afraid of is what we can’t fight.” He drops his voice, “What we can’t control.”

I know he’s talking about the Gamemakers. And I’m sure right now they want us to go to the cornucopia, they want us to take risks, and they want us to keep it interesting. They won’t do anything if we try to pick a fight or if we have a plan. But if we run they will. And Bas knows that.

If we stick around the river, if we make it look like we’re going to fight them, maybe it’ll buy us some time. But it’s too close. I don’t want to take my little brother anywhere near that kind of danger. If I die before they do, there’s no way for me to make sure he would win. Even if Beck promised, even if he would keep my brother safe, there’s no guarantee. I’m the only guarantee. And the woods are our safest option.

“No,” I tell him and his anger falls.

Bas sucks in a breath, standing, “Back to the woods, then.”

“It’s the best option, Bas,” I repeat, standing with him.

“You won, stop trying to convince me,” he says.

“It’s not about winning.”

“Funny, considering we’re in the Games.” His mouth forms a flat line as he avoids looking at me.

“Bas,” I try.

“We should get moving.” He throws the pack over his shoulder abandoning the empty canteen with the shining eleven on the case.

Beck picks up his trident and hurries to follow Bas. I’m behind the pair of them, hearing everything whether they want me to or not.

“Who was it? That you saw go.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Seems to matter to you,” Beck replies with ease, it’s the same candidness that works on camera and cuts right to the truth.

Bas sighs, “The two from Eleven.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah. So am I.”

“Are you angry at Ivy?” Beck asks.

“It’s not really your concern.”

“I’m your ally, I’m her ally. If you two are fighting it does concern me, because my life is in your hands. I know you’re not used to me and you probably think I’m going to turn around and…”

“Why do you care what I think?” Bas asks sharply. “If you don’t want to be around us, leave. Don’t put your life in my hands. I’m not in charge of it. I don’t want to be in charge of it. And my sister isn’t in charge of it either. Just as much as I’m not in charge of hers. So if us fighting bothers you, go.” He breathes out through his nose, “And we’re not fighting.”

“She didn’t stop looking, you know that, right?” Beck asks and his voice is small, his eyes narrowed like he’s trying to understand Bas’ anger or frustration.

“Of course I know that.”

“Then what’s…”

“We’re not friends. Back off.” Bas picks up the pace and Beck waits for me to fall into step with him.

“What’s with your brother? One minute he was happy the next he’s…that.”

“He’s fourteen,” I try but Beck gives me a look and I know he doesn’t believe me. I sigh, “We’re at the top eight. He knows it’s not going to be much longer now.”

“Until you kill me?”

“Or you kill me,” I say and it doesn’t come out as a joke anymore. Beck’s smile fades and he understands the joke is gone too. The Games aren’t games, but at this point in them the weariness starts to creep in, the survival instincts are too much, and the tributes are ready for it to end. The Capitol is ready for it to end. They want to celebrate their Victor. It won’t be long now.

I’ll be dead soon and Bas knows it. We both know it.

We’re in the tall grass by the time clouds start to hide the sun. I feel a chill creep from my spine to my neck forcing me to look around. No one is here, no one is watching, but it feels like they are. There’s the sound of flapping and I catch up to Beck and Bas, reaching for an arrow just in case.

“We need to hurry, the jabberjays…” I hear another sound and turn, stopping, the arrow drawn. There’s still no one.

Beck pushes Bas forward. There’s no attack, nothing, and it all falls silent. There’s not even a breeze.

“Ivy,” Beck whispers and I follow them.

The clouds cover the sky in grey when we exit the grass and reach a small clearing. The trees aren’t far. We’ll be in the woods before it starts to rain. And if it does, we’ll need the tarp. I only hope it can stop the acid. I don’t want to be running for shelter again in the downpour.

As if he’s reading my thoughts Bas asks, “If it rains will we be safe?”

I shake my head, “I don’t know.”

“Maybe it’ll be regular rain,” Beck says with a smile before, “What? I can’t be hopeful?” He laughs and I find myself smiling. Bas fights his smile but not for long. And it’s a small moment of relief that fades before we can truly appreciate it.

“We should keep moving,” I say and Beck leads. Bas waits for me before we walk side by side.

“Are you going to apologize?” I ask.

“No,” he answers, “Maybe. I’m not sorry for being mad. You shouldn’t have come looking for me.”

“Why wouldn’t I look for you?”

He stops. His voice softens to barely above a whisper, “I don’t want you to die for me. I don’t want anyone to die for me or because of me.” His eyes drop to the ground and he’s thinking of Teddy and Callie, I know he is. And I don’t know what happened. I don’t really want to know, not unless it makes Bas feel better to talk about it. But he’s like our mother in that respect. He doesn’t like to talk about whatever he’s feeling. And I don’t much care for it either, but it’s always been easier with him.

“Bas…”

He shakes his head and shifts the pack. He cringes.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah. The salve helped. I just…I’m sore.” He rubs the side where the cut used to be.

“Want to switch for a little bit?” I reach for the pack.

“I’m not the best shot.”

“You’re good enough.”

He smiles and nods. I hand him the quiver and the bow and take the pack from him. It’s heavy, the wire weighing it down more than anything else, but I can carry it.

“Beck’s already at the trees,” Bas says and I can see him waiting for us, watching.

“Powers back on at the cornucopia,” Beck calls. I can’t make it out over the tall grass behind me, but when I reach him I can see the lights in the ruins.

They go out a few minutes later.

“Do you know how long it was?” Bas asks.

Beck shrugs, “Maybe ten – fifteen minutes.”

“The boy from ten died on the train tracks when the power came on,” Bas says, his voice far away in the memory.

I look over at the large bridge and tracks where the ground bottoms out below it.

“Springer from Three was hiding there, setting traps,” he continues, “Maybe we don’t go near there when we’re moving.”

“Good idea,” I tell him.

Beck faces the opening to the woods and sighs, “Back in we go.”

“It’s the…”

“Safest option,” Beck finishes for me, “I know.”

There’s rustling in a nearby bush a few steps in and we all stop. Bas removes an arrow and waits. A squirrel comes running out and Bas fires. He misses. When the squirrel climbs the tree he fires again. The shot lands and the squirrel is pinned to the tree, dead.

“That solves the food problem,” Bas says as he pulls the arrow from the tree with the squirrel still attached.

I nudge him on the shoulder, “It’s a start.”

“Probably need about two more of these, don’t we?” He asks and he looks so much younger than I remember him looking before.

“It’s better than nothing,” I tell him. “Told you, you were good enough.” He smiles.

The woods seem darker as clouds continue to fill the sky, hiding the sun. I’m starting to get cold again with the possibility for rain worrying me. I hope the tarp can keep us safe.

I remove it from the pack once we find a spot to make camp. The trees have low branches for us to climb if we need to and there are clear exits if we need to run. The only problem is that means there are clear entrances for someone, or something, to get to us. I pull the wire from the pack and set it on a small rock. I can use it to set a warning system or at the very least it could slow someone down.

I look for the best branches to set the tarp when Bas steps up beside me. He holds the quiver out for me to take, “I’ll set up camp if you want to go find some more food.”

I shake my head. “We shouldn’t split up. And if it rains…”

“So don’t go far. We need firewood too and we have to find some way to tie the tarp up. The wire won’t work for that.”

I look at the bow and quiver. I feel free without them, like I’m not a killer or a weapon, like I’m not me. But it’s stupid to go without it in here. Still, I like not having the weight. I don’t want to go back to holding the thing that has taken lives. In Bas’ hands it’s clean. It’s just a tool for survival. In mine it’s another piece of the arena, another piece in their Games.

“I know how to make rope,” Beck announces, walking to us. “I can find some plants, or the tall grass would work better.”

“That’s too far,” I interject, “If it starts to rain.”

“I’ll stick around here,” Beck replies, “I’ll find something useful.”

“How do you know how to make rope?” Bas asks.

“We make fishing nets in Four all the time.” Beck starts to pass one of the trees. I want to stop him. We can’t split up. We shouldn’t split up. Not with the clouds darkening the sky, not with the Gamemakers waiting for something. It’s been a quiet day, that’s never good.

I say nothing. I don’t stop him. We need the rope. We need to get supplies.

And if he dies out there at least I don’t have to be the one to kill him.

It’s a cold thought, but we’re at the top eight now. I have to think like that. I have to start considering how to cut ties, how to kill him. There’s no more room for kindness here. And I know there never was room for it, there never should be room for it. But even trust has its limits in here. And those limits are going to be reached soon.

Bas holds the quiver out to me, shaking it a little to grab my attention. “You want to find some food, princess?” He asks with the hint of a smile.

I cock my head to the side, my mouth falling into a stern line.

“I’m sorry,” he says abruptly, almost scared by my look, “I know you hate that.” I push the quiver away, back into his hands.

“Yeah I do. We’re not splitting up. Now go clean the squirrel,” I tell him, handing him my knife. He stalks off to where he left the arrow with the squirrel.

I have to set the perimeter. I grab the tarp and shake it out, throwing it over a branch. It’ll do if we have to duck under it, but I’d rather tie it up with the rope if Beck comes back with it.

And then I start to wonder what would happen if he didn’t come back. If he ran off to survive on his own. Would it be easier? I don’t know the answer. I can’t think of the answer.

I have to set the perimeter. I have to focus on setting up camp. I can hear Bas working on cleaning the squirrel. He cuts swiftly, cleaning it with ease. I know it’s not much for the three of us, but it’s the only food we’ve got.

I turn back to the rock where I left the wire, but it’s gone.

“Hey Bas, did you see--” I hear a breath as the wire comes over my head and wraps around my throat. It stings at it digs into my skin. I grab at it, pulling as hard as I can, but it’s cutting off my airway and cutting into my neck. My feet are off the ground with heavy hands dragging me back.

“You’re done, Ivy,” Cain huffs in my ear. “This was always my game.”

The blood is rushing in my ears while more of it trickles down from where the wire cuts into me. The world gets darker with each passing second.

“Beck!” Bas is shouting as Cain’s arms hold me in place. I can’t breathe. I can’t feel anything but the tearing at my neck. I can’t even hear anymore.

An arrow flies by me and slices into Cain’s shoulder as it passes. The blood spurts from the wound and spatters onto the side of my face, mixing with my own.

And then the wire is gone and I can breathe. I’m choking, sucking in as much air as I can but it hurts, it burns.

Every sound comes back in a rush while I still see spots. There’s rustling. There’s running. There’s shouting. I blink desperately, standing on shaky limbs. I have to help. I have to do something. I don’t know where I’m going.

A trident flies from the tree line as Victoria avoids it. Victoria is here too. Which means Emery can’t be far behind. They’re all here. The ones I’m afraid of. The ones I didn’t want to face. And I have no choice but to.

Victoria tackles Beck. He rolls to the side, struggling with her. I see someone running just outside the perimeter, but I can’t tell if they’re joining the fight or leaving it.

Cain throws Bas through the tarp. Bas kicks him in the side. Cain must have an old injury because he doubles back.

I pick up a rock and jump onto Cain’s back. I’m clawing and trying to rip at any piece of him I can. I have to keep him away from my brother. I scratch his cheek before I bring the rock down onto his neck and I draw blood. But he’s too strong and he throws me off of him.

Bas fires another arrow and this one misses Cain, landing in the ground behind him. I need something else. The trident. It’s still in the tree. I can use the trident.

I’m running for it as Bas fires once more. I’m just about to reach it when Emery makes her appearance. I see her sword before I see her face and I drop to the ground. I kick her leg and grab her wrist, pushing her as hard as I can. She kicks me back. I swing around to grab the trident from the tree. I use the hilt to block the swords next blow as I see Beck punch Victoria across the face.

“It’s over. We win,” Emery says, the sword getting closer and closer. Bas is trying to keep distance between himself and Cain but he’s failing. Beck pushes Victoria off of him as she brings her spear down. He barely makes it out of the way in time.

Cain punches Bas in the stomach, the arrows spilling out of the quiver as he falls. The bow is gone from his hand and forgotten to the side. I need to save him. I need to save my brother.

I gather whatever strength I have left to fight Emery. I’m against the tree when I knock her sword away. I swing the trident and the point catches Emery’s stomach. She lurches to avoid the full blow as the edge drags across her skin. She backs off and she’s running before I have a chance to finish it.

Beck grabs Victoria’s spear, hitting her with the back of it in the nose. Her face is more red than her natural skin tone. I have the trident. I have to throw it. Cain picks Bas up off the ground.

Bas’ eyes find mine and there’s a determination in my brother’s eyes, an anger. He notices the bow and he kicks as hard as he can before Cain drags him. The arrows are all over the ground, but it doesn’t matter. I only need one.

And that’s when I throw the trident at Victoria. It doesn’t get far, but it’s enough to grab both her and Beck’s attention.

Cain tries to hold Bas in a chokehold but I fire before he can position himself. The arrow pierces his hand and he drops my brother. There’s blood dripping from the wound when Bas knees him in the stomach then kicks him in the chest. He falls back beside the same tree I was at a moment before.

Bas picks up the hatchet and I grab the closest arrow and fire it at Victoria. It lands in her shoulder as Beck picks up the trident.

I’m reaching for another arrow when it happens.

I turn to fire at Cain, to help Bas finish him, when I see a flash of something shiny and metallic in the last beam of sunlight. I hear a crack of thunder and Bas swings the hatchet.

I try to scream at Bas, to tell him not to, but it doesn’t come out in time through my still raw throat. Bas swings the hatchet and Cain is ready. Bas swings the hatchet and the sword pierces him in the stomach.

“Cain, we need to go!” Victoria yells as another crack of thunder sounds. And I don’t know if Beck survived. I don’t know if they’re still fighting. I can’t look at anything but my brother crumbling to his knees, the blood seeping into his shirt.

Beck tackles Cain before I can move. I see him twist the arrow at Cain’s back before he’s punched in the jaw. Cain runs away as the first rain drops hit the ground. But they don’t burn. It’s just water, not acid.

Bas coughs, the shock of the moment still on his face. I finally move, grabbing him before he falls. I hold onto him, gripping the edges of his jacket, his breath shallow against my skin.

“No, no, no,” I repeat as his hands grab my wrist. It’s weak, fading. This can’t be happening. This isn’t real. This can’t be real. He’s not dying. He can’t die. I have to save him. I’m supposed to save him.

“Ivy,” Bas croaks out as I lay him on the ground. Blood soaks the dirt beneath him and I find myself kneeling in it. He needs salve. He needs bandages. He needs something. Why isn’t there a parachute? There should be a parachute. They wouldn’t let him die. They can’t let him die.

“Please, please,” I start quiet before I’m screaming to the sky, “Mom, Dad, someone, please!” And I keep screaming for help through my mangled throat until my voice finally gives out and I can’t scream anymore.

My hands try to stop the bleeding. I can’t remember how my aunt does this. I can’t remember what she told me about wounds and pressure. And I should have learned. I should have paid attention. I’m stuck in this moment, watching my brother die, and more than anything I just want my parents to make it better.

“Fix it, please, mom, dad, please,” I whisper, trying and failing to keep it together.

“It’s okay,” Bas says in a shaky voice, “It’s okay.”

My throat hurts worse than ever as my eyes well up and my stomach constricts. I feel like I’m being crushed, that every bone in my body is breaking. This can’t be happening. I shake my head.

“It should be me. You were supposed to go home,” my voice breaks and cracks through the tears that are already falling.

I smooth his hair back and he’s breathing too quick, too shallow. He’s scared. His eyes are red and he’s crying too and he’s scared. I can’t help him. I can’t make it better. I can’t stop the inevitable.

I can’t do anything.

He takes my hand and guides it to the wedding rings hanging around his neck.

“You need to bring these….they need…need them back,” he breathes out. I shake my head and I’m scared. I can’t be alone. My breathing hurts, everything hurts. I reach for the pin still in my pocket, still safe and I nod.

“And you need to hold onto this for me.” I pin the mockingjay to his jacket, sniffling, as more tears fall, mixing with his. “I’m sure mom won’t mind.”

He takes another shallow breath, “It doesn’t hurt,” he says, surprised.

I nod, closing my eyes. It won’t be long now. There’s a knife in my ribs, twisting and clawing and cutting me until I’m nothing. I can barely breathe. My hand shakes as it runs through Bas’ hair. And there’s blood on it, there’s blood in his hair, there’s just so much blood.

“I ran from you…at the cornucopia…I ran.” He swallows. “I didn’t want you…to…”

“I love you,” I tell him in a rush. I don’t know if he hears it. I don’t know if he sees me anymore. He’s no longer breathing.

And then I hear the cannon and everything inside of me breaks. I fall forward, sobbing, my brother’s eyes frozen in his last moment.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” I keep repeating as I bury my face in his chest. I failed. I couldn’t save him. I couldn’t do what I was supposed to. I failed him. I’m supposed to protect him and I failed.

I take a shuddering breath as more sobs wrack my body and my throat is ragged and raw. I can’t move. I’ll never move again. They’ll have to drag me out of the arena with him.

The rain stops just as quickly as it started. The sky stays grey and I have no tears left in my body. I have nothing left. I curl my knees into my chest, staring at Bas’ frozen face, one hand still holding onto his jacket. They can’t take him. I won’t let them take him.

“Ivy,” Beck’s gentle voice breaks the silence. He sits beside me, his hand resting on my shoulder while the other closes my brother’s eyes. He’s got a split lip and some bruises starting to spread on his face and I’m sure I look no better, but neither one of us cares about our injuries.

He sucks in a breath, holding his canteen over Bas’ face. He pours a little bit of water onto his hair and forehead. “In Four, when we lose a loved one, we bury them with some salt water and sand to bring them peace and remind them that we’ll see them again. And then we decorate their headstones so that they know they were loved and that we won’t forget them.” He closes the canteen and picks up some of the dirt, “It’s not sand, but it’ll do.” He places the dirt in Bas’ hands and crosses them over his chest.

“How will we see them again?” I ask, my voice small and child-like. We don’t put much thought into the after in Twelve. It’s more burying them, sending our quiet sympathy to the family, and if they were older celebrating their life. There’s not much to it. There’s some singing. They wrap the body, not many in Twelve can afford a casket, and then they bury them. Like everything else in Twelve, the coal dust covers them after death too. We are born in it, we die in it. That’s how it goes.

That is unless we die in the arena, unless we go like Bas. I look at his cold face again and there’s something crawling inside of me, something raw and unhinged. And it’s screaming, trying to tear its way out of me.

“All water leads to the ocean.” Beck places a hand on mine, “That’s how it was explained to me.”

“And you believe it?” My voice is shallow, so quiet it would be lost to the wind. But somehow he hears it.

“It’s a nice thought.” There’s no mask in his eyes, no hint of a lie or a front. He’s not doing this for sponsors or to make himself look better. He’s telling the truth, the real him.

I look at Bas again. I’ll never hear him laugh. I’ll never see another painting. He’ll never make me another terrible cookie because he wants me to feel better. I’ll never get to thank him for saving my life. He saved me. I should have saved him. This is my fault.

“We can’t stay here,” Beck says, and he says it like he’s apologizing, squeezing my hand as he does so. And I know we can’t stay, but I can’t stand. I can’t leave.

There’s one thing we do in Twelve to honor the dead when they’ll be missed most. One thing my mother did for the girl who died during her Games. The very same thing the people of Twelve did for my brother and I when we were reaped.

But I can’t bring myself to move and to do it for him now. I can’t leave him. But I can’t stay.

I close my eyes. How do I keep going when all I want to do is lie in the dirt? I remember the snow. I remember my mother telling me to fight. And I have to fight. I have to remember what she said. How does she do it? What was it that she told me? How does she get through the day?

It was a mantra she repeated to herself, with people who helped her, who mattered to her so that she would have a reason to stay. And one of those things was my brother. But he’s gone. And I feel like I’m falling and I’m burying myself as deep as I can. The person I would think to help me get through the day would be Bas.

This is all my fault.

No. It’s not just my fault.

My hands curl into themselves, the nails digging into my palms and I feel everything. That thing screaming and clawing through me tears into my stomach and lungs, curling around my heart and setting it on fire with some new emotion. It burns into my skin and through my veins, thrumming in my blood and giving me a purpose, a focus.

“Cain, Victoria, Emery. They all did this.” My voice is low, dark and angry, and filled with all the rage I can muster. And I remember what my mother said. I remember her words. I start with what I know and I end with what I need.

I hear her voice telling me what to say and then it’s my own. And I repeat it until I can stand. I repeat it as I kiss Bas’ forehead and then I salute him, my hand raised high and strong. I repeat it when the hovercraft comes and I wear the wedding rings on my own neck. I repeat it as I pick up my arrows and bow and we leave the place where my brother died.

I repeat it like a prayer, like it’s all I have left. I repeat it and repeat it until it’s the only thing I know.

My name is Ivy Mellark. I’m seventeen years old. I’m in the 100th Hunger Games. My brother is dead. I’m going to make them pay for it.

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Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.