Cato leaves me for dead, and as time melts away I begin to wish that he’d just finished the job. I lay in the clearing for who knows how long, sure that I’ll be gone any moment. I can almost hear the cannon, my cannon, ringing in my ears.
Finally I decide that I should make an attempt to live. I’m easy prey for animals and tributes alike, laying here in the open. And if the tracker jackers come back…
I groan and roll over a bit, careful not to let my wound touch the ground. I don’t even try to look at it. I’m not sure I could handle it if I did.
Over the next few minutes, I manage to get up on my hands and knees. It feels like an achievement, a painful one, but an achievement none the less.
But once I’m propped up like this and ready to move, I have to wonder, Okay, now what?
I start to ponder the most important things for survival. Food, obviously. And shelter. Most importantly, though, is water. I think of the lake, but that’s too close to the careers. There’s the small, spring-fed pond we found, but I have no idea where that is.
It’s worth a try.
I start off slowly, but as my vigilance increases the need for water grows more intense. I pick up speed, staying low and keeping an eye out for any sign.
My mind grows foggy after the first ten minutes, and as the pain in my leg sparks up my vision becomes spotted. I lay back down on the ground and try to hold back the tears, clenching my jaw and forcing the pain out of my thoughts.
After a few more minutes pass I manage to get up again, and continue my search for a water source. I’m not sure I’ll ever find it. I grow more and more hopeless, practically dragging myself forward, when my hand meets the cool surface of water.
I crawl into the shallow water just beside the bank, and though the cold, rippling water stings, I know it’s good for my leg. Washing out any dirt that got into it is important. I don’t have to be an apothecary to know that.
After a moment, I make my way across the stream to the other side. Luckily for me the current is rather slow, so it won’t carry me away with it. When I reach the opposite shore, I get to work on camouflaging. If I’m going to heal, I need to be hidden from predators.
I start with my face, finding some clay at the edge of the bank and coating my skin with the gray substance until I’m satisfied. I tear up some moss and lay it around my neck and body once I’m situated in the rocky brush, add some gravel for an extra touch, and then lay still. If only I had a mirror. I just have to hope that I’m disguised well enough.
The day passes on rather quickly, and I begin to grow drowsy. The sun goes down. The moon goes up. The anthem plays, revealing the deaths of Glimmer and Mallory. I feel a slight pang in my stomach at the familiar faces. They might have been cruel, but I’d known them personally. We weren’t friends, maybe not even true allies, but I’ve seen a lot of them the past few days. It just feels strange that they’re gone.
I sleep, and time passes. I can tell by the way that the sun comes up, then goes down. There’s never an in between. It’s night, it’s day, it’s night, it’s day.
I’m not hungry anymore. I force myself to drink water a few times, but the thought of food makes my stomach tie itself in a tight not.
I begin to wonder if I’m not dead, after all. Nothing feels real anymore. My whole body is numb, my brain is foggy, and the world around me doesn’t make much sense.
What I really can’t make sense of is the booming voice that fills the air one night.
“Congratulations to the six remaining tributes!” He says. I vaguely recognize the voice as Claudius Templesmith, the head game maker. “I’d like to announce a rule change,” he continues, and there’s a slight pause. “Under this new rule, both tributes from the same district will be declared winners if they are the last two alive.” There are a few moments of silence before he repeats himself.
I don’t understand what he means. Two can win?
I give up on trying to make sense of it. I drift off again, letting the drowsiness take me once more.