As the sun rises, the birds and other forest creatures spring to life. Our footsteps through the forest are joined by the soft song of the birds, the screaming of squirrels when we pass their trees, and the occasional snake slithering through the brush.
“I’m hungry,” Glimmer whines, and all five of us groan.
“Suck it up,” Cato says under his breath. “We’re going to keep moving. If I’ve got any say in it, there’s gonna be a few more faces in the sky tonight, and it ain’t gonna be one of us.” He gives me a sidelong glance. “I think I underestimated you, twelve. Killing that little beggar last night-” A round of chuckles goes around. “-Showed me that you aren’t as much of a wimp as I thought.”
I nod good-naturedly, not sure how to respond to that. Uh, thanks?
Cato turns away. “So who’s left?”
Clove thinks for a moment. “Let me see. Um… who did we kill by the fire?”
“The girl from eight,” Marvel puts in. When Glimmer gives him a weird look, he adds, “What? She was cute! I talked to her during training.”
Glimmer rolls her eyes.
“Okay, so we killed the girl from eight,” Clove says with a nod. “So that leaves Glimmer, Marvel, me, Cato, Mallory…” she starts jokingly.
“Ha ha,” Mallory says flatly.
“Okay, fine,” Clove grins. “I guess you mean not including us.” As she lists them, she counts on her fingers. “The boy from three is alive, that redhead from five, both from ten, that little girl, Thresh, and…” she grits her teeth. “Ms. Everdeen’.”
“Ah, don’t worry Clove,” Cato says with a wide smile. “We’ll get ‘er. We’ve got lover boy, remember?”
Clove turns and gives me a sharp look. “What do you know, twelve?”
“My name’s Peeta,” I say boredly, because the nicknames are starting to bother me.
“Watch your tone,” Cato warns.
“Sorry.” My apology is dry and obviously not sincere, but he doesn’t say anything else about it. I sigh and continue. “If we want to find Katniss, we need to keep a lookout for snares and other traps. Also, she’s a good climber, so we should be looking at the trees as well.” I make up this last part; I have no idea if Katniss is good at climbing. I know she’s smart, though, and if she was in a tree she’d be sure to hide herself well. I don’t mention this last part, but it gives me a sweet sense of satisfaction to know.
Cato pulls out his canteen and starts chugging. “Alright, so that means we’ve got seven left not including us.”
“We’ve got this,” Glimmer says, her green eyes flashing. “Everyone’s afraid of us. They wouldn’t dare attack.”
Does she not realize that eventually her own allies will become her enemies?
Cato stops moving, so the group grinds to a halt. He looks into his canteen and frowns. “I’m getting low. Anybody seen any water?”
“Only at the lake,” Clove says grimly.
Cato shrugs. “That’s alright. I won’t be thirsty for another few hours, anyway.”
“And I don’t mind sharing. I’ve got almost a full canteen,” Clove adds.
So we continue our trek, and soon not even the thick clusters of leaves above can block out the scorching sunlight. My own canteen is getting low, though I don’t bother saying so. Cato will learn that it’s hard to hike without water soon enough, and then we’ll be heading back to the cornucopia.
It’s painful, though, how long it takes. It isn’t until after we stop for lunch that Cato announces that we’re heading back to the lake, and at this point we’re over a mile away. We might as well lay here and die of thirst right now.
“Anybody got more water?” Cato mumbles. He’s been grumpy. Or, grumpier than usual.
Clove offers him the rest of hers, and surprisingly he takes it and drains it. I’d never take the rest of a girl’s drink like that.
“Let’s get moving,” Cato orders, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. “We want to get back to the lake before we all shrivel up.”
And so begins the treacherous journey back.
Somehow, we arrive. I’m completely exhausted both physically and mentally, and practically throw myself down on the ground to sleep. No one bothers me. I drift off, and when I open my eyes again it’s to Cato’s authoritative voice echoing in the early morning air. “Everybody up. We’re hunting again.”