Monday, 11 March 2013

Training Sessions

The 25th of January has passed. In fact, it passed a long time ago. Unfortunately, a few of the competitors required extra time to complete their entries, and extra time was given. I do, however, apologize for the length of time delayed from the last event to this one.
That being said,  Vestige Vicissitude of District 1, Nixion Strange & Helena Sky of District 3, and Kestrel LeStarre of District 10 have failed to comply with the deadline of the entry - even with extended time - and as such are henceforth taking no further part in The Hunger Games Competition.
So with those competitors gone, the number of competitors has been narrowed down to six... I have to say, it doesn't look like it's going to be much of a bloody competition.

...The next task is the Training Sessions. This entry in itself will not affect your Sponsor Rates directly, but will definitely have a lasting affect on what you will be able to show the Gamemakers in the next task as well as what you will be able to do in The Games.
You do not need to work with your District Partner in this necessarily, but it is still a good idea to talk things over with them especially if your characters will be interacting. On top of this, now that we are entering a stage where Alliances are coming into play and District Interaction becomes more essential, the option to Request CPU's will become open to you all. You do this in the way you would expect - send me an email. Send me an email, request a CPU for you to either use or involve in whatever other alliances you may have and then I'll give you a verdict on it. If they're already taken by some other player, then you will not be able to use that CPU. If the CPU is already partial to the actual Player of that District, then you will also need to contact that Player (Miss Cain for example) and then come to me.

Simply mentioning a CPU is allowed, though only in passing, nothing major. This goes for mentioning an actual Player as well - only in passing, and it has to be something that they've actually done. Which will mean you will have to have either talked to them or read their already-commented entry.

All notifications of Alliances MUST BE SENT TO ME THROUGH EMAIL. If I am not given a notification of an Alliance and find out about it later on, that Alliance will be disbanded. All Alliances also must be realistic, the same applies for your training. Any unrealistic stupid behavior will not be accepted and will be required to change.

For example, a twelve year old boy will not be able to lift the heaviest weight in the room. I don't care how long he's been training or how much determination he has, no twelve year old can lift something like that.
As for Alliances, it will be unlikely that a Career Tribute will come to one of the outline Districts for an Alliance unless they display some sort of relevant and useful skill to catch their attention. And again, if displaying such a skill, it must be realistic.
The schedule is as follows. All Tributes are required down at the Training Rooms at 10:00 am every morning. The Tributes are free to train throughout the day. There is a thirty minute break at midday for lunch before Tributes resume again until 4:00 pm. This lasts for three days.

With the Chariot Rides finished, the next day brings the start of the three-day Training Sessions for all the Tributes. At 10am they all make their way down to the Training Rooms and make their start. 
Upon arrival, the announcer instructor reminds all Tributes that there is a large chance that they will be killed by something such as dehydration and infections rather than at the hands of another Tribute, so do not overlook the smaller stations.

In Training, there are a set of Stations you can move around to freely.

Start! You have THREE weeks to send your entries to me via email [] and then comment it on this post after you get my approval. By the 1st of April it has to be completed.

Updates And Announcements:
Eden Threatening, you are required to comment you entry. Comment it now, if you would.
Statistics [Pre-Games] page has been updated.
Statistics [In-Games] page has been added.
Eyeless Eyeball has joined and is now using Shaun Gray of District 9.


  1. I'm getting unhealthily excited about this competition.

    Shame about so many people dropping out...

  2. Training.

    After the Chariot Rides Phoenix and I were taken into a building, which Claravella explained, we would be staying on the fifth floor of, because we came from District 5. We ate another delicious dinner, and then Phoenix and I split up to go to our own suites. The next morning we woke up, had a huge breakfast and were told to change into the clothes we would be training in. I chose a pair of black shorts and a dark singlet. Which is basically what happened between the Chariot Rides and now, because here I am, standing between Phoenix and an annoyingly cocky looking dude for someone who nearly passed out when they were chosen. That guy from 4. Threatening, or something. I recall his first name sounding decidedly feminine. Next to him is a manic looking girl, the other one from 4. Rose. I think. The head of Training staff was talking to us, telling us to concentrate on our survival skills, because as much as we all wanted to pick up a weapon, the elements would kill the majority of us. Wonderful. Avoid the throwing knives and mid-length sword. You know how to use them; you don’t need to show off yet. Concentrate on learning how to survive. I nodded to myself very slightly.
    ‘Okay, go.’ The instructor says, and people immediately start moving off to the different stations. I turn to face Phoenix.
    ‘I think we should go through the basics. How to make a fire, knots, tracking skills. That sort of thing.’
    ‘You’ve been thinking about this, I can tell.’ He says, nodding. We start towards the fire building station.
    ‘Haven’t stopped thinking about it since I stepped out of that crowd in 5.’
    ‘Really?’ he asks.
    ‘Well, close to. But I have been thinking.’ I say. We reach the station. It looks a bit like a forest setting.
    ‘I’d say we have to go through the grass and find wood.’ He says. We shared a look, and then started searching. After finding a large number of dry branches, I take them back to the front of the station, as I set the wood down I look up and see one of the Careers disarm a sword fighting instructor in less than seven seconds. You’re better. Maybe. I shake the thought away and take a closer look at the Tribute. Miss Cain. District 2. Keep an eye on her. Jeez, I don’t need to be told twice. Phoenix arrives and we build a fire. There’s a specific type of fern that burns really well, so what you have to do is create a pile of it, and the build small sticks around it in a pyramid shape, then bigger sticks around that. We used a flint to light it and our fire is burning strongly. I look up at the clock over on the wall of the facility and see that it’s been twenty minutes since the head instructor finished talking to us.
    ‘Well, that wasn’t so bad.’ I say.
    ‘As long as you don’t mind getting dirty.’ I send him a withering glare.
    ‘I honestly think that getting dirty is at the bottom of the list of things that I care about.’
    ‘Okay, okay, just don’t look at me like that!’ he says in mock fear. We laugh and head over to the knot tying station.

  3. Having learnt how to tie a variety of knots- bowline, reef knot, thieves knot, figure eight knot, arbor knot- we move onto trap setting. We learn how to set up a basic snare, the kind where you tie a small bush to the ground with a loop so when an animal steps on it it’s trapped, and then moved over to the to the station where we learnt how to skin, bone and cook animals. The first thing that I noticed was that the knives are the same kind as the throwing knives- never said I couldn’t look at them- so when I pick one up, I’m careful to note the weight distribution of it. Phoenix then gives me a crash course on how to skin an animal.
    ‘You have to make sure to only skin it in one direction, like this.’ He says, showing me. I nod and try, and find it comes to me without much trouble.
    ‘It’s the same with scaling fish.’ He says. I try and see that it isn’t too hard. He folds his arms.
    ‘You’re good with that knife.’ He says.
    ‘I know.’ I murmur, taking the squirrel that I skinned and trying to figure out how to bone it. Phoenix laughs and shows me on one of its legs, and I soon get the hang of it.

    ‘Alright. Now. To cook it.’ I mutter. I light a fire and set up a spit over it, which proved to be more difficult than I expected. After that I manage to tie the meat to the spit with some twine and Phoenix and I take turns turning it. I check the clock and see that we’ve been at work for two hours, and my stomach rumbles as I smell the squirrel.
    ‘Ugh, when’s lunch?’ I say. Phoenix smirks.
    ‘Soon. I hope.’ He replies, concentrating on the rotating meat. We both laugh. ‘Hey, Sparky, I was wondering…’
    ‘Are you going to try out any of the weapons?’ he asks. I furrow my eyebrows.
    ‘I’m not sure. I don’t think so, though. I’m going to be concentrating on other things. I know how to fight.’
    ‘Oh.’ He says.
    ‘It’s just, I wanted to check out some of the weapons that I’m not as familiar with, y’know?’
    ‘You’re free to go check them out.’ I reply.
    ‘Will you come?’
    ‘I’m not your babysitter, Phoenix, I’m sure training together doesn’t mean spending every waking second together. I reckon it just means giving each other help where it’s due.’ I say, concentrating on how brown the squirrel is getting.
    ‘Oh.’ He says again. I chuckle quietly and pull a bit of the meat off of the spit and cut into it to see if it’s cooked.
    ‘Food’s done.’ I say, taking the rest of the squirrel off. I wave a supervisor down.
    ‘Are we allowed to eat this?’ I ask.
    ‘When’s lunch?’ Phoenix asks.
    ‘How soon?’ I ask.
    ‘Soon.’ The supervisor walks away again and I groan.
    ‘Whatever, I’m going to the tracking station.’ I say, getting up.
    ‘I think I’ll go check out the clubs.’
    ‘Go for you’re life. See you later, Flame.’ I say. He frowns.
    ‘Your hair, carrot top, you’re on fire.’ I say. As I walk away I throw a wink over my shoulder and chuckle my way to the designated tracking area.

  4. I learn the footprints for foxes, deer, bears, boars, wolves, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks. And shoes and boots. After passing the identifying tracks test, I get to try the practical course. There are three different terrains- forest, snow, desert- that we walk through, looking for tracks. We then determine the animal, what direction they’re headed in and which direction I would have to travel in for me to go by unnoticed by them. I should mention that there’s also a breeze, which makes my scent drift. Just as I leave this station, headed for the plants station, a gong goes off, indicating that it’s time for lunch. I catch up with Flame and walk with him into the cafeteria.
    ‘How were the clubs?’ I ask. He shrugs.
    ‘Graceless. How was tracking?’
    ‘Useful.’ We stand in silence for a moment. ‘Do you reckon you’re going to care about grace when the Games start?’ I ask, picking up a plate. He thinks while we load food onto our plates.
    ‘No.’ he says. We sit down opposite each other and start eating.
    ‘Then why mention it?’ I say, taking a bite of my steak. Boy, I love steak.
    ‘I’m not sure. It’s what sprang to mind.’
    ‘Interesting…’ I trail off.
    ‘It is?’
    ‘Not really.’
    ‘Do you think the Gamemakers would appreciate grace?’ he asks, after a moment. I pause and think.
    ‘I think that they would, because grace is a sign of eloquence with what you’re doing. Was today your first time using a club?’
    ‘I guess.’
    ‘Then you would have less grace than a person who had been using it for several years.’ I say.
    ‘I suppose.’ He agrees.
    ‘Which means if in the Private Training, you, hypothetically speaking, of course, were to only showcase your ability to use a club, which you described as graceless, and then another Tribute came in and did the same thing only with much more training, they’d get a better score than you.’
    ‘Which means me saying it was graceless would matter.’
    ‘It seems it would. I voided my own theory.’ I muse.

    ‘So, what’re you going to do now?’ Phoenix asks me, after lunch is finished.
    ‘Well, I was heading down to the plants thingy, you can come if you want.’ I say.
    ‘Think I’ll pass.’
    ‘Suit yourself.’ I say, giving him no further attention. Don’t get emotionally attached to him. That’s what got you here in the first place. Wait, what? I keep walking towards the station, trying to decipher that thought. How did I get here? Compassion. Oh yeah… Wait, am I talking to the voice now?
    ‘It seems I’m in more trouble than I thought.’ I mutter to myself, inspecting the different kinds of berries and whether they’re edible or not. I also pay attention to what the poisonous ones do to a human and pay extra attention to the ones that kill.

  5. ‘Nightlock…’ I murmur. I walk over to the test and watch another Tribute take it to see what it requires. After watching I go back and take another look at all of the plants and move over to the test.
    ‘You get a name or description of a plant at the top of the screen and you have to match it up with the blacked out image of the plant. You have a limited amount of time to complete it. Go.’ The instructor says. I start the test, and I have my eyes half shut, imagining the pictures of the plants with their descriptions next to them as I work. I stop and open my eyes all the way again and check how I did. I finished seven seconds before I ran out of time, with 94% accuracy. I check what I got wrong and go back to re-learn them. After that, I check the clock and judge that it’s been half an hour since lunch finished. I tuck my thumbs in my pockets and make my way over to the rock climbing station. Well, I say rock climbing, but it’s more of a climbing station. There’s a ladder- for beginners, I guess- a net and a rope hanging from the ceiling. After that there’s a tree, then an expanse of manmade cliff, to replicate potential Arena conditions. I line up for the rope ladder, and notice that Phoenix is on the net. He’s almost at the top when I see his foot slip while he’s reaching for the roof. His whole body drops but he manages to grab onto the net with his free arm. He grunts when his weight collapses onto his shoulder, and then drops off the net completely, onto the safety mat below. He stands up slowly and walks over to me, rolling his shoulder back and forth.
    ‘Smooth.’ I say, watching a Tribute on the rope in front of me. Phoenix scowls.
    ‘I’d like to see you do better.’ He grumbles. The Tribute (Elizabeth something, I think) falls and I step forward.
    ‘Just watch, Flame.’ I say, holding the rope still with my right hand. I wait for a moment, making sure it’s steady, and then I jump onto it, using my feet together to push myself up and keeping my arms- for the most part- above my head to act as an anchor if my feet slip. I pause briefly and look up to see the roof just out of arms reach. I clamber the rest of the way up and put my palm against the ceiling. I look down.
    ‘You were saying?’ I smirk. I slide down the rope again, concentrating on not getting a rope burn and jump to the ground and making sure I land on my feet, not my face. He clicks his tongue, and then nods towards the net.
    ‘Do that.’ He says.
    ‘Alright.’ I say, looking at the net. It’s set up so it can swing, which basically means we have to carry ourselves, not have our weight on the net. I climb onto it, then make my way up, making sure I always have a grasp on where I’m holding my weight, so I have a better chance of knowing which way I’ll tip. As I’m reaching up for the next section of rope, the net flips. I swing my body with it so it turns 360° and I end up where I started. I stop and steady the net, then keep moving upwards. It turns again, but this time I lean in the other direction, which makes it stop so I’m underneath it and prevents it from swinging wildly. My upper arms scream in protest, but I keep climbing anyway. Any workout’s a good workout, right? I reach the top and then look down. Phoenix is still watching me. I frown, slightly. How do I get down from here? I climb down a bit, and my foot slips. My body swings away from the net, and I’m hanging by my arms.
    ‘Shit…’ I hiss. I look around; I’m definitely closer to the ceiling than the ground at this point. Bloody typical. I swing my body and latch my feet through the net just as my fingers slip and I barely manage to keep myself from flipping upside-down. Talk about embarrassing. I carefully keep climbing down, and drop about two metres from the ground. I land on my back, but keep my chin tucked forward to keep my head from hitting the ground. I get up straight away and walk over to Phoenix.

  6. ‘Happy?’ I say, ignoring the dull pain in my back, which I know is going to make falling asleep tonight absolute hell.
    ‘Uh.’ He says. I roll my eyes.
    ‘I’m trying the tree now.’ I say, walking past him.

    While I was scaling the tree Phoenix must’ve wandered away, because when I got back down he was gone. Giving little thought to his disappearance, I spy a shelter building station and walk over to it, but as I go, the gong goes off again, which means it’s the end of the day. I head out of the hall and get to the fifth floor before Phoenix does. I walk in and move right past Claravella, telling me something about needing a shower, and into my room, where I crash onto my bed. I lay there on my stomach for a while, then, with a lot of effort, roll onto my back, which immediately starts to throb with pain. I groan loudly.
    ‘Note to self- don’t do that again.’ I say out loud.
    ‘Do what again?’ I yelp and sit up, to see Ari standing in the doorway.
    ‘Oh, it’s you.’ I say, lying down again. Ari giggles. She sits on the end of my bed and looks at me.
    ‘Do what again?’ she repeats. I sigh.
    ‘I was at the climbing station, and I may have fallen and landed on my back. Hard.’
    ‘Is you’re head okay?’
    ‘My head is fine.’
    ‘I thought you said that you could climb.’ She says. I sit up again.
    ‘I can climb. I was on the way down when I fell.’
    ‘Uh huh.’
    ‘Ask Flame, he’s a witness.’
    ‘Phoenix.’ I groan, falling back.
    ‘Anyway, I’ll be fine. They probably have some special kind of shower for potential bruising here.’
    ‘Oh, they do. Now I’m more curious about your new nickname for Phoenix. What brought it on?’
    ‘His hair. His name. Fire’s a tacky word, Flame is not.’
    ‘Sparky, when I was in the Games, Samuel was my Mentor. You know what he told me?’
    ‘Take a guess.’
    ‘He told me to make a strong alliance, and stick to it. Then he said, with any luck, I’d be able to kill them and then win. He said teaming up with the male Tribute from District 5 was the only way I could get out of the Arena alive.’ Ari says. I frown at her.
    ‘I don’t think I like what you’re implying.’ I mutter.
    ‘Do you consider Phoenix to be your friend?’
    ‘Are you sure?’
    ‘Yes. I’m not making friends with anyone, except maybe you.’ I say.
    ‘Are you sure of that? Sometimes you can’t help it.’ She says.
    ‘If I become friends with anyone,’ I stand, ‘They’ll be at the top of my kill list.’ I walk out of my room, and stop at the door.
    ‘What did you do to the boy from 5, in the end?’ I ask, looking at my shadow.
    ‘He died in the bloodbath.’

  7. I wake the next morning, tangled in my bed sheets yet again, and moan. The shower with special coloured water did not stop my back from hurting last night. I roll out of bed and hit the ground on my side.
    ‘Ow…’ I say, propping myself up.
    ‘Honestly, Sparky, at this rate you’ll be your own death.’ I hear Ari say. I grunt in reply and stand.
    ‘You never know.’ I say, rubbing my eyes, ‘The Arena might be painstakingly flat.’ Ari laughs. ‘I’ve been meaning to ask you, are there any other abilities you may have forgotten?’
    ‘Like?’ I yawn, stretching.
    ‘Are you flexible?’
    ‘Not flexible, per say, but I can do tumbles and flips, if that’s what you mean.’
    ‘How long is it since you last… Y’know.’ She waved her hand at me. ‘Did that?’
    ‘I dunno, a month?’ I shrug, chuckling.
    ‘Shut up, I haven’t had my morning coffee yet.’ She scowls. ‘You should practise that, though. It could be useful.’

    I dress similarly to yesterday and find myself in the training center between Phoenix and Threatening- that is his name, I checked- being reminded that I’ll be killed by the sun and not the seven-foot tall monster called Ariston Nevmer. Riiight. I head over to the shelter station immediately and get told that knowing how to build a shelter is important, but it’s all about location. Rather than build a stick house, I should find a cave and make it look like the front of it look like more rock/snow/bush/whatever. Which really relies on camouflage. Which relies on detail. After finishing there, I leave, sighing. I see the pool in the corner, and consider trying it out before deciding that, even if it ends up being life or death, getting into the water and looking like a dying walrus will never be worth it. Instead I go to the weights station and start on a basic strength workout. Ari told me to work on it, right? Well this is me, working on it.

    ‘You look incredibly bored.’ Phoenix says, catching up with me as I walk towards the obstacle course.
    ‘Hadn’t a clue of that, really.’ I scowl, standing in line. ‘You staying here?’ I ask, folding my arms.
    ‘Don’t see why not. Are you sure about the whole ‘not touching a weapon’ thing?’
    ‘Very.’ I reply. ‘What have you been looking at?’ he shrugs. ‘Flame, you know I hate silence.’
    ‘I know.’
    ‘Then contribute to the bloody conversation.’
    ‘You’re very picky about this.’ He says.
    ‘How observant.’ I look over the obstacle course and note its layout. The start is a steep ramp upwards, which becomes a wall we have to climb over. From there there’s a horizontal ladder that we have to swing from rung to rung on, then a section of floor that moves as you run across it.
    ‘Looks like fun.’ I say. Phoenix gives me a look. ‘What? It does look like fun!’
    ‘It’s not about having fun.’ He says.
    ‘Doesn’t mean I can’t have it, though.’ I shrug. ‘You can go first, if you want.’ I keep looking across the course. After the fall-away-floor there’s a rope, which you have to use to swing across to the next spot, where you crawl under a net, and I think that’s the end.
    ‘Ladies first.’ Phoenix says.
    ‘I insist!’ I reply, laughing.
    ‘I really think you should go first, though.’
    ‘So you can see where I screw up?’
    ‘Pretty much.’ He admits.
    ‘Good luck with that.’ I sigh, stepping forward. I wait for the supervisor’s okay, and then start sprinting up the ramp. I reach the wall and scramble over. I jump to the first rung of the ladder and swing across, and hit the ground on the other side. I sprint forwards as the ground falls away beneath me, and I grit my teeth to help ignore the throbbing in my back. I leap onto the rope, swing across the drop and roll when I hit the ground on the other side. I crawl under the net and come out the other side without much difficulty. I stand up and twist my back, which is very, very sore. Distractingly so. I wave at Phoenix and wait for him to complete the course.

  8. ‘I think I’m going to check out the self defence station.’ I say, once Phoenix reaches me. He frowns.
    ‘I thought you said you weren’t using the weapons.’
    ‘I’m not. I’m learning how to defend myself in a hand-to-hand combat situation, which is likely to happen. Wanna come?’
    ‘Why not.’ He replies. We walk over to the station and catch a glimpse of one of the male Careers- Cieran, I think- throwing an instructor down.
    ‘Holy Moses…’ I mumble. I glance at Phoenix and see he’s wearing a stunned facial expression, which probably matches mine. Oi, what happened to your spine, Sparks? I swallow and scowl, shaking my head. You gotta stay in control. I glance at Phoenix again, and see that he’s still frozen.
    ‘Yo, Flame, come back to me.’ I say, snapping my fingers in front of his face. He scowls at me, and I glare right back at him.
    ‘What?’ he grumbles. I arch an eyebrow.
    ‘Do you want to look like you’re out of your league?’
    ‘Then don’t look so scared, carrot top!’ I exclaim. His scowl deepens and I mess up his hair.
    ‘Suck it up, I’m only looking out for you.’
    ‘Why would you?’ he asks. I frown at him.
    ‘Ever heard the phrase “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, Flame?’ I say.
    ‘Yeah. I don’t think it’s very wise for my to live by it at this stage in my life, Sparky, wouldn’t you agree?’ he counters.
    ‘Because you’re a friendly face.’ I say, after a moment. He lifts his chin slightly and nods. I look back at the mats where the hand-to-hand combat is taking place. I can already tell that I’m not going to be good at this. The only way I can manage being coordinated, I’ve found, is to have something as an extension to my body. Like a sword, or a knife. But, then again, I know how to dodge from my sword fighting, and I can read an opponent. You should start looking for tells in the way other Tributes fight.
    ‘You’re going first this time, you know.’ I say to Phoenix. He sighs and steps forward onto the mats, and I watch carefully as he gets taught a few basic blocks and grabs. Maybe if I acted as though the person I’m fighting is an extension… I might be able to use their weight against them. Still watching Phoenix, I notice a chart to the side of the mats, which has the outline of a human body with pressure points marked on it. I read it and keep watching Phoenix fight. He comes over to me when he’s done.
    ‘You’re go.’

    I learnt a few blocks, and the instructor told me that it would be best for me to try and take out my opponent’s legs, due to my small size. When I eventually fought the instructor, I managed to duck under a swipe from him and turned as I moved down, and snaked my leg out just in time to knock his legs out from under him. Phoenix and I are now making our way to the lunchroom.
    ‘What are you doing next?’ Phoenix asks. I shrug.
    ‘Well, Ari told me to work on my strength and vigilance, and I’ve been mostly focusing on vigilance up to now so…’ I trail off as I grab a roll of traditional District 5 bread (my favourite) and we sit down at a table.
    ‘I think I’ll work on cardio.’ I start thinking aloud. ‘Maybe I’ll set up a circuit thing. Chin-ups, push-ups, sit-ups…’
    ‘You seem to know what you’re talking about.’ Phoenix murmurs. I scoff.
    ‘I’m an athlete, Phoenix, I know how to exercise.’

  9. After lunch I do exactly what I said I would. I went over to the weights section and did basic strength and cardio exercises for a good 45 minutes. By the end of it my stamina had definitely increased, which is what I’d been aiming for. I also performed a few tumbles and flips, for good measure. After that I went over to a station that seemed to show us how to purify water (basically I need iodine to do that, so I have to pray that I get some from a sponsor- provided I get any of those) and to tell if food had gone off or not, seeing as we won’t have any refrigeration in the Arena (which I must wonder why they bother to point that out to us). After I left there, the gong went off and it was the end of the day. I got to the lift and took it to floor five and walked in to see Clover and Ari waiting for me. They take me into a separate room and we sit down.
    ‘I’m curious, Sparky.’ Ari starts.
    ‘What exactly have you been doing in the Centre?’
    ‘Learning how to live.’ I reply, coolly.
    ‘Anything else?’ Clover asks.
    ‘Not really. I was working on my strength earlier, and my stamina, but that would contribute to learning how to live.’ I repeat. Ari nods.
    ‘Then you must be able to fight.’ She says. She leaves the room without another word. Clover watches me for a moment.
    ‘Are you okay?’ she asks. I nod, slightly.
    ‘I’ll figure it out, Clover. I can handle it.’ I say. We’re left in silence for a moment and Clover looks like she’s thinking about something deadly serious. She speaks without looking up.
    ‘What’s your secret?’ Clover asks me. I frown slightly.
    ‘Instinct.’ I mutter, as I get up and walk out.

    The next morning starts similarly to the first one, which is to say that I didn’t fall out of bed, and my back doesn’t hurt anymore. I had breakfast and Phoenix and I went to the centre together without anything eventful happening.
    ‘I’m going to camouflage.’ I tell Phoenix. He considers it.
    ‘I’ll meet you there a little later.’ He replies. I nod and walk over to the camouflage, and get told right away that a good camouflage is one that is basic, but detailed. I start to work on a forest camouflage and soon discover that my eye for detail does not reach to appearance. This is what Clover’s for, dammit. I’m going to be here for way too long, and that thought does nothing other than aggravate me.

  10. A while later, Phoenix walks up as I’m still angrily trying to make my fingers look like bark. I’m in a ridiculously bad mood, and I can sense the beginnings of a headache when he leans on the table and gives me what I can only assume to be his ‘serious’ face.
    ‘Look, I know what you’re plan is, but the Career’s are laughing about you. You’re the only person in the room who hasn’t picked a weapon up and everyone is looking at you like you’re an easy target. I don’t care what you do, just use a weapon.’ He says, watching me.
    ‘Forget it!‘ I throw the tool down and snarl. ‘I was terrible at that anyway!’
    ‘Uh, okay, but-‘ he starts.
    ‘Oh, for god’s sake, get out of my way.’ I say, pushing past him towards the throwing knives station. I hear him follow me at a reasonable distance. The supervisor for this station comes over to tell me how to hold one of the knives.
    ‘Step aside.’ I growl, and she backs off right away. I pick up a knife, stand in front of the targets at the recommended distance and scowl at how close the targets are. You can do better. I turn around and take a few steps away and as I walk I weight the knife in my hand. I end up about ten metres further away than I’m technically supposed to be when I stop. Go for it. I watch the Careers watching me as I visualize the targets behind me. My eyes get caught on Cain’s arched eyebrow, which causes something to snap in my mind. Okay, that is it. The little voice pipes up again. Show her who’s boss, Sparks. I turn and throw the knife, smiling as it hits the furthest target about three centimeters from the middle of its head- right where an eye would be. Without hesitating I walk back over to the camouflage station and scrape the remaining material off my fingers. Phoenix follows me and I look at him.
    Whaaat?’ I groan.
    ‘I just…’ he sighs, ‘That worked.’
    ‘Cool.’ I grunt. I hear Phoenix walk away. I decide to try the snow camouflage now. I mean, how hard could it be to look like snow?

  11. I’m merrily working my way up my arm, making it look like powder when I hear footsteps approach.
    ‘What.’ I grunt.
    ‘I just wanted to ask you a question, nothing more, nothing less.’ A girl’s voice says. I look up and see the girl from 2 in front of me.
    ‘You’re Miss Cain, 12 year old killing machine from District 2, incredible at hand-held combat, sword fighting and seeming innocent to an audience. What could you possibly want to ask me?’ I say, arching an eyebrow and returning to my work. She smiles.
    ‘How did you do that?’ she asks. I stop and look at her again.
    ‘Do what?’
    ‘With the knife. As you said, I’m very good at sword fighting, but it took me a try or two to be able to fight with my usual skill. You held that knife for twenty seconds, tops. How did you do it?’ she says. I inspect her- She seems genuinely interested.
    ‘With practice and discipline, two things I assumed you of all people would know about.’ I say, frowning slightly. I keep working, and notice she hasn’t left a minute or so later. I stop for the third time.
    ‘I was wondering, would you like to have lunch with us today? Y’know, Vestige, Nevmer and Cieran.’ She says. ‘And me.’ I furrow my eyebrows. This is good.
    ‘Can Phoenix come?’ Why’d you say that, fuckwit? Gee, the little voice is bipolar. Who knew. Cain shakes her head, chuckling.
    ‘No.’ she says, simply. I nod. ‘Does that mean you won’t come?’ she asks.
    ‘Hah! Of course I’m coming. I’m not stupid.’ I bark, smiling. She gives me a funny look, and it’s my turn to laugh.
    ‘Well, pretend you’re me. Who would you rather have as a potential ally or person less likely to try and kill you?’ I keep working on my camouflage as I continue speaking, ‘The boy from District 5, or the Careers?’ I finish, giving another laugh. She considers it for a moment then shrugs.
    ‘Makes sense. See you at lunch.’ She walks away, and I resist the urge to watch her go. Act indifferent. Like you know more. Much more. I keep my head down at work until someone walks up again.
    ‘It’s only me, don’t look so bothered.’
    ‘Oh. Hi Phoenix.’ I say. He begins to camouflage himself with- what looks like- desert sand as he starts a conversation.
    ‘What did she want?’ he asks.
    ‘Who, Cain?’
    ‘Yeah. What did she want?’ he repeats. I shrug.
    ‘She invited me to lunch with the Careers.’ I smile at Phoenix’s double take.
    ‘That’s good, right?’
    ‘That’s very good.’ I answer. Of course it’s a good thing, kelp-for-brains.
    ‘Awesome, so do we just-‘
    ‘Ah.’ I cut him off, ‘That’s just it.’ I say. He frowns at me and I sigh. ‘You weren’t invited, carrot top.’ I explain. Phoenix goes from enthusiastic to angry in matter of milliseconds. It’s kind of funny.
    ‘What? Are you kidding me!? Come on, Sparky, I thought you were looking out for me!’
    ‘I asked if you could come, she said no.’ I’m forcing myself not to smile.
    ‘You could’ve insisted-‘
    ‘No, Phoenix, I couldn’t’ve. The notion is silly. Anyone who goes looking for a compromise when they have nothing to offer is stupid. I have nothing for them to want, not yet.’ I hold my arm over the small pile of snow provided to test against and smile as it virtually fades away. ‘The only way to get with them is to prove that you have what it takes to be there.’ I brush the powder off my arm and continue. ‘Hence why the kids from District 4 haven’t been training with them.’ I finish, stepping away from the table.
    ‘No hard feelings.’ I say, before walking away, grinning wilily. I see a fishing station and walk over to it. I pick up one of the provided weapons when the gong goes off and I sigh, putting it back down. I walk out of the center and go to the lunchroom.

  12. I fill my plate with food and sit with the Careers, and mostly observe their conversation. Cain engages with me a few times, or least tries to. I, whenever approached, have taken to ending the conversation before I can be pulled into it. That is, until Cain asks me an outright question, rather than imply that she wants me to answer.
    ‘So, how long have you been learning to throw like that, Sparky?’ she asks. The other Careers all look at me and I curse internally.
    ‘A year and a half, two years.’ I shrug.
    ‘Not very long.’ Sever comments. I shrug again.
    ‘I pick things up quickly.’ I look at my food. ‘I notice things.’
    ‘Like?’ Nevmer prompts.
    ‘Like how you favour your left side, even though you’re right handed.’ I say, reaching for a napkin. I wipe my mouth and stand up. ‘Well, it was great to eat with you guys, but I think I’ll get back to work now.’ I walk out of the room, chuckling as soon as I’m out of their sight.

    I walk into the centre and back over to the fishing station and learn some basic techniques like trap setting and spear fishing. After that I move over to where the nets are and figure out how to rig one in the branches of a tree so that if someone were to walk past they would set off a tripwire, which in turn would cause the net to fall on them. After that I go back to the plants and roots station and look over the different fruits, leaves and berries again. Then I go to the fire building station, and the tracking station to consolidate what I’ve learnt. Before I know it, the final day of Training is finished and I’m making my way to the fifth floor in the lift. I haven’t seen Phoenix since before lunch, which is odd. He must be really, really pissed off. The lift opens and I see Phoenix sitting on one of the cushioned seats. I walk over and sit in the chair opposite him.
    ‘What do you want?’ He snaps.
    ‘To let you know that I don’t think sitting with them really did anything for their impression of me.’ I lie. What he doesn’t know won’t kill him. Not completely true, though. Fine. What he doesn’t know won’t kill him until you’re in the Arena and you have to kill him anyway. I blink the thought away as he scowls at me.
    ‘That makes a difference?’ he barks.
    ‘Everything does.’ I state. Phoenix scowls harder.
    ‘I thought we were getting along really well.’
    ‘Then why did you just dump me when something better turned up?’ he asks. I eye him, carefully.
    ‘It’s easier that way.’

  13. And that, children, is what your entries should look like.

  14. I'm sensing a lot of hostility to district four.

  15. And here is my poorly written, typo-filled entry.


    When I wake the next morning, I don’t open my eyes immediately. It had taken a longer time to drift into the arms of sleep last night. Though I suppose that should have been expected, I don’t understand why. I am not afraid of dying, because I came here to die. I open my eyes and frown at the ceiling of my room on floor nine. No, I do know why. It’s because of what Hayden told me last night. I have hope of winning. Hope of winning lowers my disregard of my safety. Keeping my disregard of safety and my attitude towards death is essential, especially if I want to win. But if wanting to win lowers both those things, how can I possibly keep them close to me while wanting to win?
    I sigh to myself and sit up, pressing a finger to each of my eyes. Maybe it would be better if I just let this settle for a little while and decide on what I’m going to be doing later on. Besides, I won’t even have time to think about it today. Today is the first of the three days of training we get before The Games begin. I check the clock on my bedside table and frown again when I see the time it flashes at me; 6:12 am. Training doesn’t start until ten, so I have absolutely no reason to be awake at this time. I could go eat, but I could also go eat in two hours and still have plenty of time to get ready for training. But it quickly becomes apparent that I’m unable to sleep anymore, however, so I stand from my bed, sighing again. I don’t look especially disgusting when I look at myself in the mirror, but I decide to take a shower anyway. I don’t bother with the dozens of different soaps and shampoos that The Capitol has available for us to use. I grab one of each, wash myself properly and dry off. As far as I know, we can wear whatever we want to training as long as it’s fitting for the activities. So I grab loose black jeans, a white shirt and a black hoodie, and walk out of my room.
    To my surprise, Elizabeth is also already up, sitting on the couch, gazing at the television blankly, even though it’s not playing anything. We don’t speak to each other. Maybe I don’t have a problem with death, but Elizabeth and just about every other Tribute this year were drawn in the Reaping, so I’m betting that they all have a rather large problem with death. I continue on through our floor and to the large table that holds all our meals. There are only a few different assortments of bread and fruit and such on the table at this time of the morning, but I don’t mind. I grab a loaf of bread, and walk into the elevator, pressing the ground floor.
    I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing, but staying in the building, confined to it, doesn’t seem like it would accomplish anything. There is always the option of talking to Hayden more, but he’s probably still sleeping or else attending to other matters. Besides, I think he’s given me enough to think about until at least this afternoon. When I reach the ground floor, however, there are two Peacekeepers waiting for me, blocking me from the exit. Regardless, I walk up to them and raise an eyebrow, asking the question that would most likely be obvious. But one of them shakes their head once, and I turn back to the elevator, grumbling to myself. It takes me back up to level nine with alarming speed that I already happen to be used to, and I step out again, letting the doors slide shut behind me.
    As it turns out, Hayden is awake and up by the time I arrive back on level nine, and I’m hardly surprised when he calls me over to him to talk. Elizabeth isn’t on the couch any longer, so I have a suspicion that Catherin has called her away to discuss Training strategies as well.

  16. “So,” Hayden says to me as we sit at the breakfast table, picking at bits of fruit and bread. “In the events of last night, we didn’t really get time to discuss Training today. So that’s what we’re doing now.”
    “Joy,” I say, grabbing a slice of bread and buttering it with jam.
    “Now,” he proceeds. “I’ll try to keep this short for both our sakes. I know you can use a basic array of weapons, but what kinds do you specialize in? Do you have a preference?”
    I shrug. “I can work with scythes, knives, axes, canes, swords... Most weapons really.”
    “That’s good,” Hayden nods.
    “I’m probably best with knives and swords, though,” I say, thinking. “But better with knives out of those two.”
    “Can you throw at all?” he asks.
    I shake my head. “I don’t think so,” I say. “Never had much of a reason to throw anything in Nine.”
    “In that case,” Hayden says, “In terms of weapons, focus on bettering yourself with the other general weapons, and learn how to hit a target. Throwing knives and a bow and arrow if you like as well.”
    I don’t nod. I just look at him, not making a confirmation. Eventually, Hayden sighs.
    “I suppose, given your circumstance, hiding your best skills until your Private Sessions won’t give you much of an advantage…” he mutters, and this time my head does incline slightly. It’s true after all. I came here to die, and I didn’t have any intention to come out on top when I volunteered for Jeremy Soft at this year’s Reaping. And even if there may be some conflicting thoughts in my head right now, I’m still going to go with my original plan for as long as I can keep my mind set on it. “Alright then,” he says with a hint of exasperation. “Feel free to go for swords and knives. But at least consider what I’ve told you, alright?
    “Sure,” I tell him, and I mean it. It’s good advice, all things considered, and will definitely come in handy if I decide to change my mind half way through The Games.
    “Good,” Hayden nods. “Aside from that, I think you know what I’m going to want you to do. Learn as much as you can, go to as many stations as possible, and don’t let the Career’s show you up.”
    “I’m here to commit suicide, Hayden,” I say with a small smile. “I doubt there’s much of a change of being intimidated by anyone.”

    Ten o’clock sees myself and Elizabeth standing down in the Training Room along with twenty two other Tributes. The lady in charge of Training talks to us, saying something about the importance of every station, and how most Tributes will not be killed due to actual combat, and something and blah, and so on. I don’t know, I’m not really listening. I don’t really have a reason to, so I don’t bother. She sends us off, and most of the Tributes set off for different stations. I look around and see Elizabeth walking off to the Snare Setting station, and I turn and head for the Knot Tying station.
    I stay there for twenty minutes and learn how to tie the bowline knot, figure eight knot, reef knot, thieves knot, and arbor knot with three different kinds of rope. I’m not sure if knots will end up being at all useful in The Arena, but I take the time to learn them anyway, and then move on to the Firework station.
    The Firework station is fairly simple. There is a large landscape of woodland behind the front of it, and I set off to gather various forms of wood, leaves and other things that will burn. I manage to gather four large pieces of wood and a few handfuls of leaves before returning to the front of the station and set about burning it all. I assemble the majority of the leaves in the centre and arrange the pieces of wood on top of and around them. Actually creating the spark proves to be more difficult than I’d anticipated, but I finally set a flame on one of the wood logs and added it to the pile. Once my campfire was successfully burning, I left it to die and proceeded to move on to Snare Setting.

  17. Basic snares prove to be simple for me to master, and I quickly learn how to set up four different snares designed to yank people or animals from the ground and into the air.
    Tracking & Senses becomes one of the more difficult ones of the day, and the course takes me through until lunch time. I manage to learn what footprint belongs to which general animal fairly quickly, and even take to figuring out how recently it was made in different wind and environmental conditions. But I can’t for the life of me work out what body type each human foot print belongs to. This is mostly because they are all footprints of shoes.
    I end up giving up on body types and manage to work out how to tell which way is north under three different environmental conditions before the signal for lunch goes off and I head for the cafeteria.

    Even though I’m not very hungry, I still down a substantial amount in case I decide to do venture to some stations requiring physical energy before the day is out. While I eat, I observe the other competitors. I don’t remember all the names of the Tributes from The Reaping recap, but I have a few people that stand out and remain in my mind. Vestige Vicissitude from District One, because of her winning demeanour at The Reaping. Miss Cain and Ariston Nevmer from Two, because of her small size, and his huge build. Death Rose from Four, because of her tears. Sparky Braginski, from Five, because she volunteered. And Masi Script from Six, again because he volunteered. So far, Ariston Nevmer is the one making the largest impression on me, due to his sheer size. But as I had said to Hayden a few hours earlier, there’s no way any of them are intimidating me. I’m here to die, what do I have to fear? The Careers also seem to be different this year – District Four don’t appear to be a part of the pack.
    Not wanting to waste any more time, I grunt, stand, and return to Training.

    Now, I head to Animal Skinning. I already have a general idea of how to cook an animal, so I spend half an hour learning how to successfully skin one instead. I practice on a second, and then on a fish before moving on to the Plants station.
    By now, I’m getting almost bored, but make myself concentrate. This station is going to be vital for my survival in The Arena. And while I have no plans to survive at this point in time, it’s going to be important if I change my mind. So I spend another two hours learning as much about plants as I can. After I think I’m confident enough, I turn to the instructors and ask to take the identification test. I go through dozens of different plant descriptions and when I finish, my accuracy turns out to be at 90% exactly. Cursing myself, I return to the bulk of the station, learn what plants I missed. I don’t bother to retake the test, and move on.

  18. I have spent the whole day without doing any kind of physical activities whatsoever. There isn’t enough time to focus on any of the major activities that involve physical exertion, so I resign myself to heading to the Animal Hunting station, making a promise to work on more interesting stations tomorrow. As it turns out, Animal Hunting proves to be not enough to save my mood for the day, and I end it by stabbing a huge dummy bear in the throat with undisguised boredom, and walk away.

    “How’d it go?” asks Hayden as I return to floor nine after Training ends and I just groan before throwing myself onto the couch.
    “It was…” I struggle to find a word accurate enough to describe it.
    “Difficult?” he suggests. “Complicated?”
    “No,” I say. “It was just boring. Tomorrow, I’m going to do something more interesting.”
    “Ah,” he says. “Fair enough. How much of the stuff did you already know?”
    “Not a lot,” I say. “The plants I knew nothing of. I knew a few knots, and they pretty much just did an advance knots class in Snares. But it was just boring.”
    He nodded slowly.
    “But,” I say, sitting up. “It doesn’t matter. Tomorrow I’ll do things that are more fun, and everything will be fine.”
    “If you say so…” he says slowly.
    There’s a brief silence that seems too awkward for my liking, and I look at Hayden. “What?” I ask.
    “Nothing,” he shakes his head. “I just don’t think I’ve ever seen a Tribute this relaxed in the upcoming for The Games. Except for the Career Tributes.”
    “Well, I am here to die,” I say.
    “I know,” he says. “It’s just… ‘refreshing’ isn’t the word for it. But it’s different, at the very least.”
    “Alright,” I reply, unsure.
    Another silence.
    “Well,” I stand again, “I’m going to shower, and then eat.”
    “Good idea,” he says, and walks off.
    I head to my room and shed the cloths before stepping into the shower. I dry myself and then search for some more comfortable clothing to wear before heading to the dinner table in a simple black top and black pants.
    Dinner tonight is just as extravagant as the usual Capitol meals, and while there is conversation between Hayden, Catherin, Gean and Elizabeth’s stylist, Elizabeth and I eat in silence.
    I finish eating first and turn in early, seeing no point in wasting any more time being awake.

    The next day turns out to be somewhat the same. I rise early and spend the time until Training by eating small pickings of bread, and talking to Hayden. I head back down to the Training Centre at five to ten, and meet up with the other Tributes again. The head instructor dismisses us again, and we all head for different stations. As I promised myself yesterday, I’m going to do some more interesting activities today. As such, I head for the weights station at once.

  19. I spend an hour at the weights station, exercising my muscles as much as possible, and actually find it somewhat enjoyable. Looking forward to something a little different, however, I head for the obstacle course and stare one down.
    The obstacle course looks to be one of the most difficult in the centre. Even as I join the station, I see one of the Tributes falter and break his leg as he falls from the highest point of the course. Despite the danger, the course makes me grin, and I head for it at once. One of the instructors calls out “Start!” and I launch myself forwards, leaping over a platform and begin climbing the net that slopes upwards.

    The net is not as tight as I had anticipated and find myself in the centre point, unstable and wobbling. Forcing myself to continue and to ignore the height I was now at, I reached for the next rope of the next, and pulled myself along. I grab the stable ground in front of the end of the net, and drag the rest of my body up. From there, there are ropes that we have to swing from to reach the other side. If there was any point that I was unsure of from the ground, it was this part, and I am still not sure if I can make it across now. But adrenaline was pumping through me at this point, and I was vaguely aware of a few people from the ground watching me. So a run up and jump onto the first rope. My grip is tight, and even as the instructors assemble below, in case I fall, I make a swipe at the next rope. I hit it, but don’t get a grip on it, and swing backwards to push of the platform again. This time, I grab the second rope and quickly transfer my weight from the first to the second.

    I get to the third with the same about of trouble as from the first to the second, but by this point my momentum is dying down – and there are still two more ropes until the next platform. My breaths become deeper and longer, and I make myself concentrate. I start to swing my legs back and forth, and slowly the rope moves in the same directions. When it’s close enough, I grab for the next rope, and I think I have it when I transfer, but my grip falters, and I slip, and only manage to grab the rope again at the last moment before it is out of my range. After I realize that I still have a hold of the very end of the rope, I am surprised to see that my breaths are still deep and calm. My heart beat tells a different story, but it’s visibly obvious that I am not panicking. I allow myself a moment to feel some pride before I pull myself higher up the rope again, and latch onto the final one.
    Planting my feet back on firm ground again is by all means gratifying, but I make sure not to let any form of relief show on my face, and head straight on to the next task in the obstacle course.

  20. The next task happens to be just a flat length of platform to run across, so I complete this with ease and look over the edge of it to see that the ending of this obstacle course is a steep drop onto a series of moving platforms. I don’t curse, but I come close to it. Jumping from this height down onto platforms that I may end up missing, and then hitting the ground that is further away than the platforms themselves are – that is what I have to do, and I’m not entirely sure about it. But I only take a few seconds to prepare myself, observing the speed in which the platforms move. And then I throw myself off the ground, and fall. I fall. I fall for a bit longer. And then land in a crouch – which is purely for effect – in the centre of the first platform. Leaping from platform to platform after that is easy, and I leap off the final one and land on the ground with my arms at my sides and fists clenched, forcing my facial expression to appear almost bored.

    I turn around to look at the instructors and the group of three Tributes who had been observing me, and feel a small amount of gratification that the Tributes and even some of the instructors seem impressed. Though, really, it wasn’t that difficult. The danger in this obstacle course is height, and unless this year’s Arena happens to be a lava covered ground and the only cover from it are trees, then the course wasn’t actually that useful at all.
    Regardless, I am proud of that completed task, and I am about to move on to Hand-To-Hand Combat when the signal for lunch goes off again, and I shamble off to eat.

    I down a large lunch comprised of sandwiches, baked potatoes, bacon, and chicken, and then return to work. I am not sure why I’m so eager to return to training, like I was yesterday. Death was the sole purpose for my coming here, and the training offered no preparation, nor compensation for that. Perhaps it is just my mind’s subconscious way of enjoying as much of the time I have left before I end up dying. Or perhaps this is genuine enjoyment. Perhaps I had not been able to experience it while in the company of my father. But regardless, it isn’t very important, and I head to the Hand-To-Hand Combat station.
    Having already had experience with fighting off my father numerous times, I have already learned the basics of general combat as well as the general mental and physical strength required to successfully execute each attack placed upon an opponent. As such, I don’t waste time trying to learn things I already know, and signal to an instructor to come over.
    “I’d like to practice,” I say, and he nods before settling into a stance that I don’t bother to mimic. I wait for him to make the first move, having always had to expect that from my father’s beatings, but it seems that he is insistent that the first blow comes from me. So I take a step forwards and put my weight into a left punch to the jaw, but switch to a low blow to the gut at the last moment. The instructor, seemingly not expecting me to be using feints already, falls for it, and I follow the attack up with a round kick to his face. He takes two steps backwards, but I don’t pause and launch myself forwards with more aggression. This time he is expecting more, but I am already one step ahead, so I feint to the left, then switch to the right, and then to the left again before ducking under a punch from him, and try to sweep his legs from under him. He jumps over the sweep, but I follow it through and kick him hard in the shin, then in the groin, and get to my feet as he bends over slightly. I hit him in the head once more for good measure, and he holds up his hands, signalling that I have beaten him.
    I grin.

  21. I battle against the instructor three more times, each time going for different tactics, and testing myself as he begins to get more of a feel as to what I can and can’t do before I retire from Combat and move to a different station. I know that he hadn’t been going all out in any of the rounds, but the fact that I was good enough to down a Capitol instructor without being given any advice on which to improve is something, isn’t it? It is.
    By now, I have spent so long on Hand-To-Hand Combat that there’s not much time left before the day of training is up again. Considering I’m planning to use tomorrow entirely for Weapons and a small bit of revision over the other stations, I head for Shelter Building, and end up wasting the rest of the day because I’m too bored and tired to be bothered learning anything.
    Elizabeth and I head back to the lifts with all the other Tributes and ascend to level nine again.
    “How’re you going?” she asks me abruptly.
    I look at her, half frowning. “Not bad,” I admit, but decide to say nothing more on the subject. “You?”
    She shrugs. “Rubbish.”
    I nod slowly, and don’t answer. What do you say to something like that?

    We step out of the lift as the doors open, and she heads off to her room, and I head off to mine. When I enter, however, Hayden is already in there. He turns and I frown.
    “What?” he asks.
    “Why are you in here?” I shoot in return.
    “I was just waiting for you,” he replies in a mutter.
    “I’m honoured, really.” My body collapses on the bed and I relax.
    “How did today go?” he asks.
    I give half a shrug that might not even have been noticeable now that I am lying down. “Not bad,” I repeat, just like I did with Elizabeth. But I don’t mind talking to Hayden, so I elaborate a bit more. “I went to weights, which was meh, then the obstacle courses which was fun.”
    “Fun?” he frowns.
    “Why shouldn’t it be fun?” I ask. “Not like I have anything else to look forward to.”
    He nods, and I continue.
    “It was one of those really high ones, so it made me look better than it’s probably going to be useful for, but who am I to complain?” I sit up. “And then – after lunch – I spent most of my time at Hand-To-Hand Combat, which went better than I was expecting. I mean, the instructor wasn’t going all out, obviously, but he didn’t give me any advice on what I should improve on. That’s good, right?”
    “Sounds good,” Hayden agrees. “No weapons yet?”
    I shake my head. “Saving that for tomorrow,” I reply. “And maybe a few more obstacle courses, but I doubt it.”
    “Well, it sounds like you’ve got it under control,” he says.
    Silence falls, but he doesn’t walk away. I begin to frown again.
    “What?” I ask. He just gives me a look, like he doesn’t know how to say what he wants to say. But then he shakes his head.
    “Don’t worry,” he says, and I feel frustration rise in me. “I’ll save it for later. Dinner’s soon, get ready.” And then he walks out, leaving me to scowl at the wall.
    Dinner that night passes quickly and I turn in as soon as it’s over. Four nights left before The Games start…

  22. I wake just as early on the third morning of Training as I did the other mornings. Hayden attempts to talk to me again this morning, but there isn’t much left to say, and I’m not in the mood to be chatty in any case. I eat a larger breakfast this morning, and then head down to the Training Centre at half past nine without Elizabeth. I’m surprised to find that a few of the Tributes are already down in the Training Centre, but I don’t remember any of their names.
    Half an hour slowly filters by, and the rest of the Tributes slowly make their way down to join the rest of us, and then we get started. The head instructor reminds us that today is the last day we have of freelance Training before we perform for the Gamemakers and get a Score. She makes another few reminders on how the smaller stations are also vital, and then dismisses us to stations again. I’m almost tempted to return to Hand-To-Hand Combat for a bit, but decide against it, and make a beeline for the Weapons Station.
    The Weapons Station is undoubtedly the largest station out all of the ones set up around the Training Centre. I take a few moments to examine the variety of weapons set up for us to use before heading to the sword station and call over an instructor.
    “Would you like to practice?” he asks.
    “No,” I say, picking up a two-handed sword and testing its weight. “I just want a chat.”
    “No need to be snappy,” he replies, and takes a stance. Why does everyone take a stance?

    Again, I am the first to strike, and I got for a horizontal strike based across his neck, but he blocks it easily. Expecting this, I bring it back, but strike again quickly, then twice more, all of which are blocked. I duck under a swipe from the instructor, and come up again, aiming for his arm. The instructor only just manages to parry this strike, evidently not expecting my speed to be as advanced as it is.
    I pull away, then push forwards while I strike, again and again, pushing the instructor backwards. By the way he blocks and parries every strike, I can tell that I’m not nearly as good with a sword as I had been in Hand-To-Hand Combat yesterday. I begin to put more power and energy behind the strikes, and when that doesn’t work, I change quickly and make each of my movements faster and lighter. The instructor doesn’t expect this either, and I feint for a strike at his leg, then at his arm, and then bat the sword away from his body.
    The instructor nods once as the tip of my sword directs towards his throat.
    “Good,” he says. “You should work on a way to balance speed and power rather than switching from one to the other – unless that was a strategy used purposely to throw me off. Other than that, be aware of your footing; more than once you almost tripped.”
    Did I? I hadn’t even noticed. But I take his word for it and set the sword down before heading to the knife station. Finally…

  23. “Come on,” I say to an instructor as I grab two different knives similar to the ones that I’d used back in District Nine.
    “Ready?” she asks. I don’t bother to answer her, and launch myself at her, one knife at her head, the other at her stomach. She moves to avoid the knife speeding at her head and parries the one set upon her stomach, but her eyes widen slightly, and I grin and press on. I strike at her with my knives again and again, stepping forward as I do so, forcing her backwards. The clatters that are made quickly being to reverb around the general area, and get louder and louder as I quicken my assault.
    But then I stop and shake my head. “This isn’t a challenge at all,” I say. “Step it up.”
    “I’m not allowed to hurt you,” she says.
    “I don’t care, do it,” I say, and grip my knives again. “Go.”
    She sighs, looks up, and strikes. The speed in which she attacks takes me completely by surprise, and I barely have time to throw my head out of the way of the knife as it soars past. I force myself not to curse as I am pushed backwards slowly. It takes all my knowledge of combat with knives to continue blocking her attacks, and I don’t even manage to parry all of them. Some I have to dodge, which not only uses more energy, but makes me look like a fool. I scowl to myself, block another strike at my chest, and then fling myself forward.
    Evidently, this was the last thing she seemed to be expecting me to do, and she fumbles with one of her knives, dropping it on the ground. Neither of us advance in any direction this time, and we just stand there in the same spot, exchanging blows and swipes at each other with knives. I duck and weave and block and parry as she strikes and jabs and continues to attempt to put me off. I lose one of my knives in a failed parry attempt at a particularly vicious swipe.
    This was going on for too long. I was going to lose all my energy before it was even close to lunch… I strike a few more times, at her neck, head and chest, and then switch, using the hilt of my knife to slam into her hand. In a quick succession, I kick at her shin, bat the second knife away from her hand and hold my knife close to her throat.

    Done with fighting for the moment, I move on to the second part of the knives section of Weapons, and begin to learn how to throw a knife at targets properly. I spend twenty minutes listening to an instructor teaching how to hold and throw successfully, then step up to try them myself.
    The first two I throw miss the target by a large amount. The third ends up a bit closer, but I have a feeling that this is a fluke. The instructor comes over to me and corrects my stance a bit before telling me to throw again, and when I miss one more, he reminds me to relax.
    I force myself to do so, despite the fact that I have every inclination to do the complete opposite of whatever he tells me, and take another throw at the target. This time it lands a lot closer, and he tells me to keep at it.

  24. I throw for another ten minutes before I finally hit the target in the shoulder, and then for another twenty minutes before I my target has a steady stream of knives flinging themselves into its stomach and head. I’m still not very good at knife throwing, but I have a feeling that I’ll improve with time.
    Afterwards I try out the Spear station and go through the same process before most of my spears end up hitting some part of the target. Controlling the spears are a lot harder than the knives were, but I manage to get most of it under control after thirty minutes…
    I’m about to make my way back to throw some more knives when I see Sparky Braginski of Five storming her way up to the same station. Looking around, it seems that the Tributes from One and Two are gathered some distance away, watching her intently. I see Vestige say something and then grin as Sparky practically growls at an instructor to move away. She looks at the target with a throwing knife, then turns and walks another good ten metres away from the target. At this point, I almost shale my head. There’s no way that she’s going to be able to hit this. I’m on the verge of turning away, when I Sparky spins and hurls the knife at the target – and it hits…

    Right where the eye should be.

    I actually swear under my breath. If I was actually in these Games to win, I’d want her as an ally, no question about it. But after that display, the Career Tributes will undoubtedly already be making offers to her.
    Sure enough, at lunch half an hour later, Sparky is sitting with Vestige, Cieran, Ariston and Miss.
    Grumbling to myself, I finish my meal, then head back to training.

    I will away the rest of the day by alternating between the obstacle course, throwing knives, Hand-To-Hand Combat, and sword fighting, and actually feel as though I’ve enjoyed the day by the time the signal for the end of Training goes off.
    “Remember,” says the head instructor as we head towards the lifts again. “Tomorrow you have your private sessions with the Gamemakers.”
    I return to level nine and collapse into the couch.

    I awake, and leap out of bed, not even the slightest bit groggy. I have no idea what the time is, so I quickly look out the window, which overlooks the Capitol. Even though I’m only on the second floor, the view is pretty good. Not the best, but whatever. The sun has only just started to rise over the city, so I guess I have plenty of time to get ready. As I turn towards the wardrobe, I notice the clock on the wall. I shake my head in disbelief at myself. I mustn’t have noticed it last night when I first entered the room. Or when I woke up. I doubt I notice anything, really. My mind must be elsewhere.
    I pull open the wardrobe and take out a dark green top and black three-quarter pants. I hear rustling behind me, and I whirl. I see Zoe learning against the wall, holding up a pair of black combat boots. The pair I was looking for.
    She grins.
    “Damn you.” I say, and take the boots from her.
    “Breakfast in five.” She replies, still grinning.
    I nod, and she leaves the room. I change quickly, tie up my hair, and then head out to the table. Everyone is already there, and is already eating. I scoff my breakfast, as everyone has nearly finished. I’m nervous, to be honest. I have to prove to everyone that I am a ruthless Career from District 2. I hope I can pull it off.
    I finish my breakfast, and sit at the table, watching the clock. Soon, it’s time to head down into the training room. Ariston has been told where to go, so he leads us both into the elevator, and down into the training room. There are some tributes here already, but I can’t really remember them. The person, whom I think is the head instructor here, starts talking to us about the Training area. While she talks, I look around at the other tributes, and at the all the stations. My eye catches on the swords, over in the weapons area. I study it, noting its shape and size. It seems perfect to me. I make up my mind to head over there instantly. The head instructor finally wraps up her speech, and people start heading off the various stations. I quickly head over to the weapons station, ignoring Ariston, whom seems to be trying to keep up with me. I take the sword that seems to be most like the ones I’ve used before. I step up to an instructor, my weapon at my side.
    “I’d like to… practise.” I say, hoping that practise was the best word to use.
    He nods, and retrieves a sword himself. I take some deep breaths, and concentrate on my opponent. I close my eyes, and then fling them open. I strike, but too softly. The instructor blocks, and the strength of the block nearly throws the sword out of my hand. I scowl at myself for making a stupid mistake. Before the instructor strikes again, I hold up my hand.
    “Can we try again?” I ask whilst trying to get my grip on the sword correct.
    “Yes, we may,” he replies.
    I nod, and get into a better position than my first. I relax, tense up, and then relax again. I strike quickly and more confidently this time, hopefully surprising the instructor. The instructor blocks, but they’re clearly unprepared. The sword loosens, and I strike again, the sword flying out of their hand.

  26. To finish, I point the sword at his throat.
    “Nice,” the instructor says. “7 seconds.”
    I remove my sword from the direction of him, and grin. A new record.
    “Can we go again?” I ask, still grinning.
    “Sure,” replies the instructor.
    We have battles for what must be about half an hour, then for the other half hour I practise with full-body targets, sticking my sword through plastic chests, and slicing off plastic arms and heads. I return the sword to its rack eventually, my arm sore from waving the weapon around.
    I sit on the edge of the mat, and push back my hair from my forehead. I take out the hair tie, and brush my fingers through my hair. As I re-tie up my hair, Ariston walks over and sits next to me.
    “How’d you go?” He asks. I notice he too is covered in sweat and is breathing heavily.
    “Pretty good,” I reply. I glance around the Training centre, and then ask Ariston, “What did you do?”
    “Spears and axes mostly. I did some archery also.”
    I turn to face Ariston and raise an eyebrow.
    “Yeah,” he turns to me. “What’s wrong with archery?”
    “There’s nothing wrong with archery. It’s just… I’d imagine you’d use a messier weapon. Like a sword, or even a trident. You just don’t seem the type to shoot an arrow from a bow. Especially from a distance,” I explain.
    Ariston nods in understanding.
    “Good thinking, Cain. But someone’s got to have some experience with archery.”
    I shrug.
    “You could’ve asked me, you know. And by the way, I have a first name. It’s Miss.”
    Ariston laughs.
    “OK, Cain, or Miss. You go practise archery now.”
    I act horrified.
    “You only tell me now to go practise archery?” No matter how hard I try to act offended, a grin slowly creeps across my face.
    Ariston gets up form the mat, and I do the same. I follow Ariston as heads over to the tridents. He turns, and frowns at me.
    “I thought you were going to go to archery?” He asks, clearly confused.
    I shrug.
    “I really suck at archery, and I really hate it. Plus, I’m happy to go try out tridents.”
    Ariston rolls his eyes, and I grin

  27. Tridents are hard to manoeuvre. Well, they’re hard for me. They’re heavy, and they’re big.
    I gave up after ten minutes, and went to try out knife throwing, leaving Ariston as he impales a target straight in the chest.
    I line up for knives. The male tribute in front of me throws the knife, and it lands in the stomach of the target. My own stomach growls in hunger. I glance at a clock on the wall. It’s about forty minutes until midday. The tribute (I can’t remember who it is) steps down from the mat and walks off.
    I step up and look at the range of knives. I pick up a random one and weigh it. It doesn’t seem too heavy, so I get into position and aim. The target is about ten metres away, so hopefully it shouldn’t be too hard.
    I throw, and the knife sticks in the target near what would be the elbow of its right arm. I make a face. Hearing laughter, I look to my left and see that Ariston is the one laughing at the face I made. He only laughs harder when I glare at him. I roll my eyes, and take another knife. This one is a bit heavier. I throw it, and it hits the board, but right next to the neck. I take a couple of knives at once, now. I throw them one after the other. Out of four, two hit the target, whilst the other two hit the board, but close to the target. The two that actually did hit the target were in its shoulder and near where the heart would be. I smile. It wasn’t bad.
    I throw some more knives, and then throw bigger knives. My aim isn’t really improving, so I step down and head over to Ariston, who’s obviously moved on from the trident area and on to the hand-to-hand combat.
    I’m about to open my mouth to speak when the bell rings for lunch. Ariston turns, and grins at me. I grin back.

  28. We walk together to the food hall. There’s an assortment of food, and I pick some fruit and a salad sandwich.
    “Did you beat up an instructor?” I ask.
    Ariston looks at me. I sigh.
    “Fine. Did you kill an instructor?”
    Ariston rolls his eyes. I laugh.
    We find a table, and sit.
    “How was hand-to-hand thingy?”
    “Good,” replies Ariston. His eyes are darting around the room, watching and waiting. It takes me a second or two to put it together.
    “Do you want me to go find them?” I ask, whilst starting to stand.
    He mumbles a reply in between eating his steak sandwich.
    “Chew first,” I say and before I know it, my eyes are looking for the District 1 pair. I spy them just leaving the line of people with food. They see me immediately and walk over.
    “Don’t be stupid.” Ariston mumbles quickly.
    I look at him. What?
    Vestige Vicissitude and Cieran Sever sit down, Vestige next to me and Cieran next to Ariston. We sit there awkwardly for a bit, until I speak up.
    “So,” I start, hoping this is the right thing to say. “Are we going to be an alliance?”
    Ariston glares at me, like I’ve said something incredibly stupid. Which is what I probably just did.
    Vestige shrugs.
    “It’s fine with me,” She says, and I silently sigh in relief.
    Uh oh.
    “We need to know your strengths and abilities.”
    I silently sigh once again in relief.
    “I’m good with pretty much everything,” Ariston admits. “The only thing I need to work on my running. I was a good runner back home, but I need to work on it a bit more. Haven’t run in a while.”
    Ariston pauses to finish off his steak sandwich, which is only a few seconds.
    “And Cain-“
    “I can explain my own strengths and abilities,” I say, interrupting Ariston.
    Who cares if I say something stupid, or whatever classifies as that? Definitely not me.
    “I’m excellent with a sword, and I do extremely well at hand-to-hand combat. I’m also very skilled in snares.”
    Vestige nods.
    “Nice,” she says.
    I grin.
    I quickly finish my own sandwich, and I clear my throat.
    “Well,” I say, standing up. “I’m off to practise my hand-to-hand combat. I’ll see you guys later!”
    “Can I come?” Asks Vestige.
    I smile. May as well see how well she does, as Vestige hasn’t explained what she’s good at.
    “Sure. Let’s go.”
    We walk off, leaving Ariston and Cieran sitting there. I wonder if Ariston thinks I’ve said something stupid. Well, who cares? If I win, he won’t be there to bother me about it.

  29. I try to swipe out the instructor’s legs with my own, but they move back. I grumble to myself, and try kicking the ribs, but they sidestep the attack. I give up going simple and go behind the instructor quickly and try swiping their legs from underneath them. This time it works and they fall, but quickly recover and try sweeping my own legs out. I jump back, and then aim a kick for the head. It would’ve connected if the damn instructor didn’t catch my foot, and pull me off balance.
    “I’m so out of practise,” I mutter to myself as I fall to the floor.
    I jump back up, and so does the instructor. They come towards me and instead of swiping their legs; I kick at their legs. They hiss in pain, and I then swipe their legs from underneath them once again. Before they can get up, I place my boot triumphantly on their chest, keeping them pinned to the floor.
    “Well done,” the instructor says from the floor. “I think you need a bit more practise, though. And you need to try something other than sweeping out the legs.”
    I remove my boot from their chest.
    “Yeah,” I reply. “I know.”
    I step off the mat, panting heavily.
    Vestige looks at me.
    “You OK?”
    “Yeah,” I say. “I’m fine.”
    “You look tired.”
    No. Really?
    “Yeah, that guy was good,” I reply instead. “You want a turn now?”
    Vestige laughs.
    “No, I’m fine. Hand-to-hand isn’t my strongest.”
    I nod.
    “OK. What do you want to try out?”
    “Um, I’m not sure. What about you?”
    “I think I might go re-learn my snares and stuff.”
    Vestige bites her lower lip.
    “Well, I don’t really feel like setting up snares right now. So, I guess I’ll see you later?”
    Dammit. She’s not going to demonstrate her skills in front of me.
    “Yeah, see you later,” I reply, already walking away.

  30. After a bit of revision on snares by myself, I decide to learn some new ones. I wave over an instructor, and they come see me straight away. She teaches me some different techniques on the basic snares, and then teaches me totally new ones.
    “What are the best snares for killing?” I ask the instructor.
    “Tributes or animals?” She replies.
    “Tributes,” I answer.
    “I see,” the instructor says, and she begins to show me some more new snares.
    I learn about five new snares, and I’m proud of my progress.
    I get up, and walk over to the spears. On my way over, I glance at some of the survival stations. I shake my head at myself. You don’t need them, I tell myself. You know all about surviving. Practise your fighting skills.
    I pick out a short spear, shorter compared to the others anyway. It’s around the same weight as a sword, so I instantly feel comfortable with it. I decide to practise throwing it. Fighting with it, I can practise later.
    I step up and get in line with the target, carefully aiming the spear. I squint, and then throw the spear. It hits in the leg. I wince. I’m terrible at throwing.
    I take another spear and head over to an instructor.
    “Can you-“ I’m interrupted by the end of the day bell.
    I place back the spear, and walk towards the elevator. I see Ariston ahead of me and I catch up.
    “Hey,” I say.
    “Hi,” he replies.
    We step into the elevator and step out on the second floor. I turn to Ariston the second the elevator doors close.
    “What did you mean by ‘don’t be stupid’?” I demand.
    Ariston looks at me. “What?”
    “At lunch,” I remind him. He shrugs and begins walking. I walk after him.
    “Don’t ignore me Nevmer.”
    “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” replies Ariston.
    “You know what I’m damn talking about, so quit it.”
    He stops walking and turns and faces me. He looks annoyed.
    “Cain, I don’t want you ruining the alliance with 1,” Ariston explains.
    I glare.
    “Why would I ruin the alliance? How do I know you won’t ruin it?”
    “Because you’re young. And you can be… foolish.”
    “Me? Foolish?” I’m close to punching him. I could punch him, actually…
    “Listen Nevmer. Stop being an arrogant fool. I know how precious this alliance is, it’s not just you. Just chill, OK?”
    I storm off to my room, leaving Ariston call out to me,
    “Chill? This is the Hunger Games, Cain, where only one of us comes out, and we can’t be sure it’ll be one of us.”

  31. I slam my door, and sit on my bed. The truth of what Ariston said was 100% accurate. It scares me.
    I take off my shoes, and lay on my back on the bed, staring at the ceiling. The seriousness of the Games is stuck in my head, and no matter what else I think of, it comes back.
    There’s a knock on my door, and I sit up.
    “If it’s Ariston, or about Ariston, I’m not in the mood.”
    Zoe walks in. She doesn’t say anything.
    “You can talk, you know,” I tell her, and lay back on my bed.
    “I know,” she replies.
    Zoe comes and sits on the end of my bed.
    “What did you do today?”
    I shrug. “Stuff.”
    “Miss, I know you’re in a bad mood, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of something that’s happened today involving Ariston. You can tell me anything, you know. I won’t tell anyone and I’ll listen.”
    I sit up, and cross my legs.
    “Ariston thinks I’m stupid,” I mutter, looking down at my hands in my lap.
    Zoe doesn’t say anything so I continue.
    “He think’s I’ll ruin the alliance between 1 and us because I’m young and foolish. He even admitted it.”
    “Is that what’s been bothering you?”
    “I guess so.”
    “I don’t think that’s everything, Miss.”
    I look up at Zoe. I sigh.
    “When Ariston and I were arguing, he brought to light the seriousness of the Games. Only one comes out and stuff.”
    Zoe shuffles over and puts an arm around me.
    “You’ll do fine, Miss.”
    Zoe removes her arm from around me, and stands up. She moves towards the door, then remembers something and turns back to me.
    “Oh, by the way, practise with the weapons a lot. I know you’ve already learnt survival skills, so ignore them for now. Make them know that you’re not going to go down without a fight.”
    I nod, and Zoe leaves the room.

  32. I awake from my sleep when the suns rays stream through the window. I get dressed in something like what I wore yesterday, and I run a brush through my hair. As I tie up my hair, someone knocks on my door.
    “If it’s Ariston, get lost.”
    I hear someone chuckling on the other side of the door, and I open it. Ariston leans against the corridor and grins.
    “Morning, Cain.”
    I roll my eyes, and shut the door. I then realise I was going to leave my room. I wait for five minutes, and then open the door again. Ariston is still leaning in the corridor.
    I ignore him and start walking to the table. I take a seat, and hear someone sit in the chair next to me.
    It’s Ariston.
    “Good God, you’re annoying,” I say, whilst grabbing some food off the table.
    He shrugs.
    “I might be.”
    Ariston clears his throat, but I don’t look his way.
    “What?” I say instead.
    “Listen, I can be an idiot sometimes. I was one yesterday. Can we please get over this?”
    I pretend to think about it, although I already know the answer.
    “Hmmm, umm… No.”
    I begin to eat my breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast.
    “Please, Miss.”
    I nearly choke on my breakfast.
    “Whoaaa, Ariston actually called me Miss,” I say, trying to act sarcastically, although it really did surprise me.
    He grins, and starts picking out his breakfast.
    I look at him, and give him a smile.
    “You’re forgiven, I guess.”
    “Victory!” Ariston exclaims.
    I laugh.

  33. We’re back down in the Training centre, and I’m back at the sword station, battling the same instructor from yesterday.
    I mean, if I have to practise with weapons all day, I may as well practise with what I’m good at.
    I duck under a swipe and flick my wrist, my own sword striking against the instructor’s sword, and it flies out of his hand.
    “Well done,” he says, impressed. “You’re getting better and faster. Just watch where you place your back foot.”
    I have a lot more battles with the instructor, before he decides I need a different opponent. While he goes to find a different instructor, I practise with the dummies, again slicing off plastic arms and heads.
    The instructor returns with some other instructor.
    “Alright, you two are up.”
    My grip tightens on the sword, and the other instructor grabs a sword. She gets into her stance and I get into mine.
    She strikes first, and I block. She continues to strike, and all I can do is block and step backwards. But I know I have to strike soon, or I’d lose. I block, and then step forwards and strike. The instructor takes a couple of steps back to avoid my sword. I continue to advance, watching the instructor block while I strike. I put weight into a strike, and the instructor, completely unprepared for the weight addition, loses her grip on her sword. It falls to the ground, and I point my sword at her throat. Sweat covers my forehead and my hands.
    “Your going to do well in the Games with a sword,” says the instructor, and I take away my sword from her throat. I grin.
    She takes her sword and places it back, as I do with mine. My arms and legs suddenly feel like lead. The bell rings for lunch. I’ve basically done two whole hours of sword training. I find some energy, and use it on another grin.
    I hear someone catch up with me. It’s Ariston and Cieran. Cieran nudges me.
    “Can you stop hogging up the sword station?” He asks.
    I laugh.
    We grab our food, and sit at the same table. Vestige soon finds us, and sits next to me.
    The boys are already talking about God knows what, so Vestige turns to me to talk.
    “How’d you go with your sword fighting?”
    I shrug.
    “I did fine,” I reply.
    Vestige laughs.
    “I know you’re lying. I saw you for five seconds, and you were so confident with that sword! It’s amazing!”
    “Really?” This is weird, being complemented from another Tribute. But then again, we are in an alliance…
    “Yes, really.”
    “I agree with Ves. The way you move with the sword, it’s amazing,” says Cieran.
    Ariston reaches over and ruffles my hair.
    “That’s my Cain, already impressing the kids from 1.”
    I laugh.

  34. I walk out of the food hall with Vestige.
    “Where do you want to go?” I ask.
    “Hmm. How about climbing? Or even the obstacle course?”
    I grin, “You sick of weapons for today?”
    Vestige grins back, “Yeah. Spent the whole morning on weapons. I need something different.”
    “How about climbing first, and then the obstacle course?” I suggest.
    Vestige shrugs.
    “Yeah, why not?”
    We both make our way to the climbing area. There’s a ladder, a rope, a net, a tree and a cliff-face generated by the Capitol.
    “What are you doing first?” Vestige asks.
    “I dunno,” I reply. “Not the ladder, that’s easy. Maybe the net, or even the tree.”
    Vestige nods.
    “I might try the cliff, actually.”
    I look at her.
    “Are you good at climbing?”
    She shrugs, “Yeah, a bit.”
    “Well, I’ll watch you first,” I say, standing back.
    Vestige grins, “OK.”
    She walks up to the cliff, and places her hands against the cliff. She waits for the OK from an instructor, and then she’s off. She starts off slowly, getting used to the cliff, but Vestige slowly picks up speed. I stare in amazement as she reaches the top with barely any difficulty.
    She waves at me, and I wave back.
    Vestige climbs back down, then jumps off from around a metre high.
    “Whoa. That was cool,” I say in complete astonishment.
    “Why, thank you. Your shot.”
    I stare at her.
    “Erm, what?” I give her look which says, Hey, I don’t climb cliffs, so why would I go now especially as I’d look like an idiot compared to you!
    “Your turn to climb. What are you going to climb, anyway?”
    Oh, my turn to climb anything. That’s better.
    “I might climb the tree,” I say, and I hop in line.
    Vestige stands to the side, waiting for my turn so she can watch.
    No pressure. No pressure at all.
    It’s my turn now, and I step up to the tree. It doesn’t seem too difficult, so I being to climb. The branches are thick and sturdy, so the thought of falling to the ground because of a thin branch disappears.
    I climb, surprisingly easily, to the top. Now, it’s the climb down. I go a lot slower coming down, and that annoys me, but I eventually get to the bottom, and without falling.
    I walk over and grin at Vestige.
    “No offense, but that was really slow,” Vestige says.
    I shrug, “I know, but I climbed it and didn’t fall, so I don’t really care.”
    Vestige laughs.
    “You’ve got a good spirit, Miss.”
    “Why, thanks.”

  35. We arrive at the obstacle course. We decide to go for one with a low wall in which we have to jump over, and then jump on to a rope. We swing off the rope, and on to a small platform on which we must go on to a thin balance beam, and then under a net. We must then run up a ramp that goes steeply upwards and then downwards. Then there’s a ladder placed horizontally, on which we must swing across to the end.
    “You’re going first,” Vestige says, whilst nudging me.
    “Alrightio,” I say, and step up to the starting line.
    The instructor signals that I can go, and I sprint and leap over the low wall. I jump, my hands grabbing the rope. I shimmy upwards, and then leap off on to the platform. I nearly lose my balance on landing, but I quickly regain it. I slow down and start making my way across the balance beam. The fact it’s so thin scares me, but thankfully with my little feet I make it to the other side without falling off. I basically dive under the net, which I quickly wriggle out of. I start sprinting the minute I get up. I reach the top of the ramp, breathing heavily. I slow down to go downward. I nearly trip over my feet at one point. I reach the end of the ramp, and place myself under the first rung. I jump upwards, just grabbing the rung. I swing across and land safely at the other end.
    I grin at Vestige, and Vestige grins at me.
    I stand to the side as Vestige finishes off the course.
    “Well,” she begins. “That was a fun workout.”
    “Yeah, it was,” I agree.
    “Shall we go find the boys?” Asks Vestige.
    We walk over to the weapons area, and sure enough we find the boys practising with the axes.
    “Having fun?” I ask.
    Ariston turns and smiles at me.
    “Yeah, axes are immense fun.”
    He sure sounds like he means it.
    The end of day bell goes, and Ariston and Cieran place back their axes.
    “Maybe you girls should try the axes,” suggests Cieran.
    Vestige laughs.
    “I’ll stick to archery, thank you very much.”
    “I might try it tomorrow,” I say.
    “See, Cain is adventurous,” Ariston points out, for no particular reason.
    We walk to the elevator. Cieran and Vestige get out on the first floor, obviously. Ariston and I get out on the second floor. I find a couch and flop on to it.

  36. “I’m tired…” I mutter to myself.
    Ariston’s head appears in front of mine.
    “What you think of Cieran and Vestige?” He asks, right in my face.
    I sit up, and face Ariston, who’s leaning against a wall.
    “I dunno about Cieran. Haven’t really interacted with him much. I like Vestige, though. She’s cool.”
    “Did you hear her say that she’ll stick to archery?”
    “Yeah, I did. Have you seen her shoot?”
    Ariston folds his arms.
    “Nope. You?”
    I shake my head, “Not I.”
    “What’s Cieran good at?” I ask, interested.
    “He’s pretty much good at everything,” Ariston sighs.
    I nod, and twirl a lose strand of hair.
    Eventually, I stand without speaking and head to my room. I don’t see Ariston, so I figure that he’s already gone to his room.
    When I enter, I see that Zoe is looking out my window. She sees me, and smiles. I notice Trianna sitting on my bed, also waiting for me.
    “Hey,” I say.
    “How’d you go today?” Zoe asks, not even bothering to say hi.
    “I did fine,” I reply, and sit on my bed.
    “Did you practise with your weapons?”
    “Yeah. The whole morning I was on the sword.”
    Zoe turns to me and frowns, “Sword?”
    “Yeah, sword. It’s my best weapon.”
    “You never mentioned it before.”
    I frown, “I haven’t?”
    Zoe shakes her head.
    “I would’ve remembered.”
    Trianna smiles at me, and stands.
    “I’ll see you both at dinner,” she says, and leaves the room.
    “I should go now too,” says Zoe. “Let you get ready and stuff.”
    Zoe leaves the room after Trianna.
    What was that about? I ask myself.

  37. The morning started pretty much the same as the previous mornings. I changed into similar clothes, and had breakfast early.
    Now back in the Training centre, I walk with Ariston, Cieran and Vestige to the axes. They all pick up an axe, and so do I.
    It’s not heavy, but it has more weight at the front than at the back. I don’t know much about axes, and neither does Vestige, so we leave to boys to it.
    “You ready to show the Gamemakers what you’ve got?” Vestige asks.
    “I guess,” I reply, not as confident.
    “Don’t worry,” she says, smiling. “Just grab a sword. Or even see if you can do hand-to-hand.”
    That reminds me.
    “Oh, I have to practise some more with hand-to-hand. You gonna to come?”
    Vestige shrugs, “Yeah, why not?”

  38. I did much better this time with hand-to-hand. Each of my fights lasted around fifteen seconds, my fastest time being nine.
    “Y’know, it’s your turn to do hand-to-hand,” I say, as I step off the mat.
    Vestige makes a face.
    Cieran and Ariston walk over to us.
    “Hey, you know the girl from 5? Electric or something or other, well she hasn’t picked up a weapon at all,” Cieran says, the moment we’re in earshot.
    Vestige smiles, “Thank God there’s at least one easy target this year. It would get tiring if everyone was good with a weapon.”
    “Do you know where she is?” I ask anyone.
    “Over there,” Ariston points towards the camouflage station.
    I look, and see her learning over her hand, and working on some sort of camouflage.
    Vestige laughs, “Bless her, trying to use camouflage.”
    I watch as her District partner -his name had something to do with fire- walks over to her. She throws the tools down, and pushes her way past him. She makes her way to the knife throwing area, her partner following from a distance.
    Ariston smiles.
    “You think she’s gonna fail?” He asks no one in particular.
    “Yep,” Vestige replies, her answer certain.
    An instructor comes over, and the girl must have said something, because the instructor backs off.
    “Feisty, much,” mutters Vestige.
    The girl takes a knife and stands at the line. She turns around, and moves further away from the targets. Her name floats into my head.
    I raise an eyebrow, and Sparky’s eye catches on me. She turns and throws the knife. It hits the furthest target, and right where the eye would be.
    I hear Vestige curse, and Cieran widens his eyes. Ariston stares, and I blink a couple of times.
    “Dammit. She’s not an easy target,” Vestige mutters.
    “She’d be handy, actually,” Cieran says. “It’d be good to know how she did it.”
    Sparky has already made her way back to the camouflage station, her District partner back talking to her.
    “I can ask,” I say, half-aware of what I’ve actually said.
    “OK, Cain. You might even want to ask her to lunch while you’re at it, so we can know a bit more about her,” Ariston pats me on the shoulder.
    I smile at the others, and make my way over to Sparky.

  39. “What,” grunts Sparky. She’s busy making her arm a powdery white colour. I expect she’s making her arm look like snow.
    “I just wanted to ask you a question, nothing more, nothing less,” I say.
    She looks up and see’s me.
    “You’re Miss Cain, 12 year old killing machine from District 2, incredible at hand-to-hand combat, sword fighting and seeming innocent to the audience. What could you possibly ask me?” Sparky says, raising an eyebrow. She returns to her camouflaging.
    Hah. Innocent.
    I smile.
    “How did you do that?”
    Sparky looks up again.
    “Do what?”
    “With the knife. As you said, I’m very good at sword fighting, but it took me a try or two to be able to fight with my usual skill. You held that knife twenty seconds, tops. How did you do it?” I ask, and I hope she answers. I must admit, I’m interested in how she did it.
    “With practise and discipline, two things I assumed you of all people would know about,” she replies, frowning slightly.
    Sparky returns to her work, but I stay there. She notices, and stops.
    “I was wondering,” I begin. “Would you like to have lunch with us today? Y’know, Vestige, Nevmer and Cieran. And me.”
    Sparky considers it for a moment before asking, “Can Phoenix come?”
    Ah. That’s the name of the boy from 5.
    I shake my head, and chuckle.
    “No.” I answer. Sparky nods. “Does that mean you won’t come?” I ask.
    “Hah! Of course I’m coming. I’m not stupid.” She barks, grinning.
    I give her a funny look, and Sparky laughs.
    “Well, pretend you’re me.” She starts. “Who would you rather have as a potential ally or a person less likely to try and kill you?” Sparky works on her camouflage as she speaks. “The boy from District 5, or the Careers?” She gives another laugh. I consider it, then shrug.
    “Makes sense. See you at lunch.”
    I turn and walk back to the other Careers.
    “Yeah, she’ll come.” I say.
    Ariston nods.
    “She say anything useful?”
    “Na, not really.” I reply.
    All four of us walk around the weapons area.
    “What are you going to do?” Vestige asks me. I notice the boys have gone off already to the tridents.
    “Not sure, maybe a quick sword session.”
    Vestige shrugs.
    “OK. Well, I’m off to archery. C’ya.”

  40. I head over to the swords, and thankfully no one is there. I take a sword and head over to the targets. I start slicing and stabbing the targets. I notice Vestige load her bow, over in the archery area. She shoots, but I don’t see where it hits, but Vestige smiles, obviously happy with her result.
    The bell for lunch rings, and I walk over to Vestige, and we walk to the lunch hall.
    Cieran and Ariston catch up with us, and we grab our food, and sit.
    “You sure she’s gonna come?” Asks Vestige.
    I nod. “Yeah, I’m sure.”
    Sparky soon walks over and sits with us. I try engaging conversation with Sparky, but she quickly ends it. I talk mostly with the others, until a question pops into my head to ask Sparky.
    “So, how long have you been learning to throw like that, Sparky?” I ask. We all look at her.
    “A year and a half, two years.” She says, shrugging.
    “Not very long.” Comments Cieran.
    Sparky shrugs again.
    “I pick up things quickly.” She looks down at her food. “I notice things.”
    “Like?” Inquires Ariston.
    “Like how you favour your left side, even though you’re right handed.” Replies Sparky. She reaches for a napkin and wipes her mouth. She stands.
    “Well, it was great to eat with you guys, but I think I’ll get back to work now.”
    Sparky walks out the room, leaving us sitting there.

  41. We all walk out of the lunch hall, making our way to the weapons.
    “That was weird.” Ariston comments.
    I turn to Ariston. “Is it true? What Sparky said.”
    He nods.
    I nod. “That was weird indeed.”
    “She could be a worthy ally, y’know.” Says Vestige.
    “Or a dangerous opponent. I mean, how could she have noticed that about Ariston when she’s only been with him for half an hour or so?” Cieran adds.
    “I don’t really want Sparky for an opponent, but I’m not sure about an alliance, either.” Vestige sighs. “This is going to be difficult deciding.”
    “I know.” I sigh.
    Vestige goes over to the archery one last time, and go to swords.
    I battle with the instructor for the rest of the day. Ducking, blocking, advancing…
    The end of day bell goes, and I meet up with Vestige and Cieran.
    We say our goodbyes for now, until we see each other in the arena. Vestige and Cieran get off the elevator first, and Ariston and I get off second.
    “Ready?” I ask Ariston, as we make our way to our rooms.
    “We have two days left, Cain.”
    I sigh. “I know.”
    Ariston grins at me. “And may the odds be ever in your favour.”
    I smile back. “And may the odds be ever in your favour.” I repeat.

    1. Amazing writing. :)

      As usual. :)


      I just feel compelled to point out to everyone that in fencing, the proper word for a block is a parry. And an attack after a parry is a repost. Parry, repost, parry, repost. Why do you parry? So you can repost. And there are eight parry positions and they all have odd names that ae connected to what number parry they are. And I can't spell the few names I know, sorry.
      And there are different types of parry. There are probably all loads of complicated ones, but the basic ones are the simple parry, the circular parry and the semi-circular parry, which is odd because you move your blade AWAY from your opponent's blade when it attacks . . .
      Yeah, I'm such a show-off. XD Just ignore me being a show-off. Unless you want to point out what a show-off I am.

  42. Mornings included sun. Sun was now my official enemy. I hated the sun in that moment. The sun rising was one less day of freedom. Of my life. Of my existence. I felt drained from yesterday, the Chariot Rides were cool and all but listening to Snow’s speech for the umpteenth time made me almost fall asleep. I think I did a pretty good job of hiding it though…
    The horse I had talked to earlier that day I had named Boxer. Boxer was a good name for such a pretty horse. Boxer had neighed as I left the chariot so I gave him a quick hug and a kiss on his strong neck. He then nosed me in the back and I patted his cheek. A minor fight then broke between us, well, it was going to become a massive war if, I hadn’t noticed a boy from District 11. He was dark skinned had long black hair with gold eyes. I was staring at me with an amused smile so I smiled back at him, punched the horse lightly in the side and skipped away. When I was out of sight, I sprinted for the elevators to take me to the fourth storey where Simon, Eden and out designers were having dinner.
    I walked out of my room with my hairbrush stuck in my hair. “Does anyone one know where the bathroom is? I need to find a better brush!” I shouted.
    Lux Tempest poked her head out a door and looked at my tangled mess of curly brown hair. “Oh dear Lord,” she muttered as she fumbled through her room.
    Something flew out and hit me in the face. “Ow!” I yelled rubbing my nose.
    “Sorry!” Lux yelled back. “You need it!”
    I looked at the floor and saw a medium sized toiletry bag. “So, where is the bathroom? I have no idea.”
    “Go to your room, turn left then right.”
    “Thanks!” Crazy throwing evil lady, I thought and walked quickly back to my room.
    I got my hair under control, finally, and grabbed an apple for breakfast. Simon disapproved. “You should eat more than that, Death,” he scolded in his fatherly tone. “You will need your energy.” This brought tears to my eyes. My uncle never spoke to me like that, only my dad had. I knew they were looking at me, expecting me to grab a warm soft roll but I sprinted to my room and locked the door. The tears raced down my face as I got changed into a black singlet and grey sweatpants. I sat down on my bed and there was a knock on my door. “Go away,” I moaned, hiding my head under one of my many soft pillows.
    “It’s me,” Simon said. “Are you okay? I’m sorry if I said anything.” The door opened and there was a hand on my exposed back.
    “Leave me alone!” I shouted. “I’m a messed up kid! Alright! You sound just like my father!” The tears returned to fall down my face and a lump formed in my throat. “My uncle doesn’t care about me, the last thing he said to me was, ‘maybe if you're chosen, some good will come to this place!’”
    “We’ve got to go,” he said, pulling me away from my bed and dragged me, not as roughly as I would have imagined, to the elevator where Eden waited. I smiled slightly at him as the doors closed.

    “Have some lobster! It’s divine!” Simon had said when I had returned from my horse fight. I looked at him and then sighed as I had reached for a piece of the red lobster. My eyes had flashed to Simon’s face; saw the soft smile that had played on his lips and then glanced at Eden’s. He had been toying with his food, a piece of salty, fish-shaped bread and his eyes had been cast down. My hand had touched the lobster and I had torn a piece of its claw off. I placed it on my lips and sucked the meat out from the inside. I had felt something unfamiliar in my mouth and pulled it out. Be brave, stay strong, aim fast, be safe., was written in black marker. I had looked back at Simon but he was looking into his food like it was the most interesting thing in the world. “Thank you,” I mouthed.
    That night I had lain awake, tossing and turning. At that moment at dinner, I had felt some glimmer of hope but at then at night, I had felt distressed. The end was approaching…

    I found myself rubbing at my tired eyes. A woman was in front of everyone, speaking about what each training station was for and the importance of the survival techniques.

  43. Then she said something that made my heart leap with joy, there was a pool. A POOL! I felt like screaming and dancing then diving into the cool blue water that I had missed so badly.
    I turned my head slightly as we were allowed to go to the stations, and asked Eden, “What are you going to do first?”
    He looked around as people walked off, some pushing each other like good friends. “Probably hand to hand combat,” he said as he found the station he wanted. “You?”
    I screwed my mouth up. “Not quite sure… Maybe tracking.” I waved as I walked off.
    As I meandered around, I quickly noticed that there were already too many people at that station, I cursed and moved on. The knots station had no one else there so; I walked up and introduced myself. I had always been good with knots, it was one of my father’s hobbies, and he was intent on teaching me everything he knew, well, before…
    The course was hard and took me about twenty minutes to complete all the knots they were willing to teach me. The wild brown haired man with bronze skin and green eyes who was leading the course smiled at me, flashing his white teeth. He congratulated me and shooed me off.
    I found myself in the Tracking and Senses station. “Here,” a burly man with green hair and a sharp nose said, “you will learn how to track animals, people included, by a single print. You will be able to tell how fresh the print is, how heavy the body is, if they are injured or not and even if what type of shoe if it is human.” We began a tough training and soon I could feel all this being stapled into my brain.
    “Yay!” I shouted. Tyson someone, the man who was teaching me, smirked. I looked around and noticed some people staring So what? I don’t care what they think of me! I’m gonna kick their butts! I thought. I saw the sixteen year old guy from District 11 looking at me sternly and decided not to poke my tongue out at everyone.
    “Are you alright?” Tyson asked.
    I glanced at him. “Yep… I’ll uh… Move on now…” I waved to him and walked away.
    He waved back and I forced my legs past the pool… I love pools… I want to go swimming… I’m going to… I swallowed, not jump in…
    A bell rang and people started to file out into another room. There was food in this room, that’s always good. I glanced around to find Eden but I couldn’t see him anywhere. I got my food, prayed that he hadn’t been accidently murdered and sat down at an empty silver table. I started eating one of those soft rolls. Eden sat down next to me and I smiled at him. “How did you go on?” He asked, opening a banana.
    “Okay, I tried both knots and the tracking one, it was pretty good. That guy from eleven was looking at me though… He was freaky!”
    Eden nodded. I think his name is Tug or something.”
    I nodded. “How’d you go?”
    He shrugged and took a bit of banana. “Yeah, I did self-defense and saw the trainer get thrown like a rag doll.”
    My eyes widened. “By who?”
    “Guy from one.”
    “Oh,” the trainer was tough on that course. To even imagine him being tackled was… Strange.

    Lunch passed quickly and I did another course, the self-defense one. Tug was there and he was looking at me again. I knew I was going to regret whatever I did now but, what they hey! I walked up next to him and smiled. “Hi,” I said softly. “I’m Death Rose, from four.”
    “Tug Daniels,” he said and nodded at me. He had a very nice voice. “From District eleven.”
    “How are you?” This was getting awkward already. I really hated this decision. I could feel my checks getting red so I looked at the trainer.
    “I’m good, you?” I could hear the smile in his voice.
    “Scared,” I admitted, looking at the tackle the trainer did on the dummy. “I’m too weak for this.” I glanced at him to see his reaction.

  44. He smiled and nodded. “I bet-” he was interrupted by the trainer.
    “So this is the easiest way to knock someone over,” the instructor began. “Try and aim for their hips.”
    I nodded and he continued. “You there, girl from four.” I stepped forward, as was polite to do so. “You are the smallest of this group, are you not?”
    I surveyed our group of five. Tug was massive; there was some tall fierce looking girl, and two other tall boys. “Yeah,” I admitted. “I guess I am.”
    The trainer beckoned me forward. “Try and tackle me.”
    “Go on.” He incouraged.
    I bit my bottom lip tightly and prayed quickly to whomever there was to pray to. Please let me knock him over! Please!
    I took a deep breath and sprinted at the trainer, pushing my feet harder and harder against the ground. When I was about two meters away from him; I sprang. My arms encircled his hips and my body slammed into his.
    He looked down at my with a humours grin on his face. He had pretty eyes. They were really dark green. They were pretty. “You alright down there?” He asked and everyone laughed. I told him he had pretty eyes and he laughed again. “Okay, who can tell me what was wrong with that?”

    We were told to test out what we had learned on dummies. I watched Tug go first, saw the dummy slam to the ground and I knew if that was me, I would be dead. Then it was my turn. I glanced at Tug and he flashed me a thumbs-up. I smiled uncertainly at him and then ran at the doll. I pushed my feet hard against the ground as I pounced at the dummy. I could feel it start to move and I was sure it was going to rock back with my hanging on it; but it fell and I had enough time to jump away from it before it hit the ground.
    I spun and looked at Tug open-mouthed and saw he had a similar expression. He clapped even though no one else did. I grinned at him and hugged him. “Thanks a million.” I said in his ear.
    “No problem.” He said back and wrapped his long arms around me.

    I didn’t see Tug again that night, mainly because we had to leave to go back to our rooms. As I was in the elevator, I told Eden about Tug. “He is really good at hand to hand, combat kinda stuff. He taught me how to tackle and I got the dummy over!” I was pretty sure he had stopped caring by this point, but the next words would get his attention. “I’m going to ask if he wants to team up, with us, if you’re okay with that.” I left it open as a question.
    He looked up, as I thought he would, his blue eyes wide. “No, yeah. That’s fine with me.” The doors opened and I walked out and smiled at Simon. I had forgotten about what had happened that morning until I saw his eyes. They were apologetic. I walked to him and wrapped my arms around him. He stiffened for a moment and then, slowly, embraced me. “I’m so sorry.” I said.
    He patted my back rhythmically and didn’t say anything.

    Dinner came and passed and I went to bed early. I actually found myself looking forward to seeing Tug tomorrow and I wondered if he felt the same. I would breach the subject to him at lunch when everyone was talking about, well, whatever they were talking about.
    I closed my eyes and laid my head on my soft pillow. I stretched my arms out as far as I could and wilted into the mattress, falling asleep quickly.

    I woke up and had more success than I had the previous day with my hair. I had a quick shower and decided next time I would use the bath instead. I could not get the temperature right no matter how hard I tried, and ended up burning my skin. At least my hair was washed. I couldn’t stand it being dirty and I hadn’t had a shower for the previous two days.
    I skipped down to breakfast, nodding to all the Avoxes I passed.

  45. They didn’t look up from the floor but I really didn’t care. I sat down at the table, surprised that I had arrived before the others and helped myself to the food. Prawns and shrimp and crab galore! I could almost make a song about how good this tasted. A few more days of this, I thought with a sigh and stuffed my mouth with bread. I finished my serving of food and felt full so I went back to my room to prepare for my day.
    Lux had never taken the black bag back from me so I decided to use that to my advantage. I brushed my hair again then sprayed something sweet-smelling in it; it smelt a bit like apples. Then I found some make-up. I thought about using it and decided against that; I didn’t know how to use it. I’d probably make a mess of myself before Training anyway. I heard chatter coming from the dining room and smiled. They were awake so that meant I probably have an hour left to myself. I decided to explore a bit.
    I found an identical looking room to mine down the hall and guessed that was Eden’s. I established the location of another room, more silver and light pink than mine and guessed that to be Lux’s. She always wore those colours so it wouldn’t surprise me. The next room was Simon’s. It was black and barley furnished. One wall was a big window, looking out towards the glittering Capitol. Dawn had just broken over the horizon and the silver city turned pink in the morning light. I sat down on Simon’s black bed and watched the sun rise.
    “What are you doing in here?” Someone asked me.
    I spun around and saw Simon leaning casually in the doorframe. “Uh… Watching the sunrise.” I said and sighed in relief. I had no idea why I had sighed. It just, felt right, I guessed. Simon came and sat beside me. I rested my head on his broad shoulder and sighed again. “I don’t want to die.” I said in a scared whisper.
    He stiffened and took a deep breath. “I’d like to say that you will win this but I’d be lying. I would like you to win without a doubt, but I am a realist. There is little possibility for you to come out. If the arena was by the ocean without any nasty critters that could kill you, then yeah, you’d have a fighting chance. We will always hope that there is an ocean for us to hide in.”
    The sun rose higher and we stayed that way until a thought took Simon out of wherever he was. All I thought about was how my father and I used the sit on the beach and watch the sun rise, just like this.
    “Come on,” he said in my ear, pulling up my hand so as I was standing. “You have another day of training ahead of you. This time, I want you to go rock climbing. I know you are good at it, your father told me so.”
    “What?” I half shouted, looking at him as if I had new eyes. “How do you know my dad?!”
    Simon smiled and shrugged. “I don’t think he ever told you how I volunteered for him, did he?”
    “Dad was chosen for the Hunger Games? How old was he?”
    “Yeah, we were great friends and you father had just met your mother; he was seventeen. I couldn’t stand to see him die so I put my hand up.” Simon was quiet for a while, looking out towards the faint sparkle of the ocean. I looked there too. His voice changed to a softer, quieter tone. “Go on the hardest wall and pretend to fall, have a fear of heights and make sure that kid from eleven-”
    “Yeah, make sure he is there with you.”
    I nodded and walked out of Simon’s bedroom and headed towards the elevators.

    Eden and I split up almost immediately when we got there. I looked around for Tug and saw him in the pool. I grimaced and decided I would go there later, a lot later. I looked around and saw someone plunging a sliver spear into the heart of a dummy. I walked over to where all the weapons were and picked up a small throwing knife. This won’t be too hard, I thought as I measured its weight in my hand. I looked around for an instructor to teach me how to use it properly and cursed as there was no leader there. I held the knife at the end of the handle and flicked it at a dummy. It landed slightly too far right of the centre.

  46. I picked up another and flicked it with more aim and power. So close. The third time, the handle hit the dummy and bounced off, hitting the floor with a soft clatter.
    I grinned as I left that station. A new skill. I was going to find some pencils and foam to practise on tonight, if I could. I glanced at the large clock on the wall and saw that I had been in here for a half hour. I glanced at the survival stations and saw a shelter making one. That girl who had that strange green hair at the Chariot Rides… Sparkles, Sparkly, something to do with Spark anyway. She had just finished in that station and I glared at her as we passed.
    That station was pretty easy, I had always been good with building; one of Bret’s passions was building. I was always told to get the materials while he figured out the design. We had built many hidden places around District Four and made them fit in with their surroundings; so this station was very familiar to me. I passed easily and looked around for Tug.
    He was standing in line for the obstacle course so I walked up and stood behind him. I put my hands over his eyes, having to reach on my tip toes and said, “Guess who!”
    Tug laughed and reached behind himself, going for my stomach. My hands slipped off his eyes and he laughed. “Is she small, blonde and has blue eyes?”
    I smiled as he turned around. “How did you know?” It was mock confusion but I didn’t care; it was fun!
    “I am a genius!” He laughed and mussed my hair.
    I growled and tried to fix it. “You are so dead,” I said in my most threatening voice.
    He laughed and gestured for me to go ahead of him. “There is a ramp that leads to a wall, a ladder that you have to swing across, floor that moves as you run and some fall away, and then a rope to swing on. Let’s have a race to see who can get to the end quickest.”
    “Duh,” I said.” You are so going to win!”
    He smiled. “I’ll go easy on you.”
    I laughed and sprinted towards the ramp. I jumped up, my hands grabbing the top and did a forward roll over. I landed on my feet and swung swiftly from rung to rung, using my legs on every second one so I was flipping over gracefully. I landed on my hands, flipped over to my feet and sprinted across the floor. I lost my footing once and had to flip over myself to regain my balance. I jumped onto the rope and swung lightly, leaving to rope at the apex of the swing. I rolled and crawled quickly under the net, thanking God for being rather small. I sprinted to a red button and pressed it. My time came up and I grinned. There was no way Tug could beat sixteen seconds!
    I grinned at him and he started running, jumping, swinging, running again, swinging again and crawling. He pushed the red button and his time came up.
    “Woo! I win!” I shouted as he pouted at his twenty nine seconds.
    “I was going easy on you,” he grumbled and the bell rang.
    “Wanna sit with me for lunch?” I asked as we filed into the cafeteria.
    He shrugged. “What’s the harm?”
    We got our food in silence, he fruit salad and I grabbed salty bread again and some blue berries; a delicacy in District Four. We sat down at a silver table and began eating. Tug groaned and shifted his body slightly to the side. “Aare you okay?” I asked in concern.
    “It’s just…” He sighed. “My district partner, Tarny Ganz, is being a bitch, again.”
    I turned behind me and saw what he did. There was a girl pointing in my direction, screwing her face up and rolling her eyes. “Seriously? I do not envy you.”
    Tug stood up, his hand gesturing for me to stay put. “I’ll be back in a moment.”
    He started walking off before I could say anything. I jumped up and followed him. “The Gamemakers won’t like you if you hit her.” I cautioned him.
    He shrugged. “So what do I care?” He muttered, balling his dark hands into fists.
    I grabbed onto his shirt, trying not to attract any stares. “Don’t. Please. Please don’t.” He kept walking up to Tarny.
    “Did you see her with that knife?” She said in a nasal voice. “She just threw it, y’know? Just like this.” She pretended to throw an imaginary knife at me. “Oh, look who showed up.”

  47. .” The people around her looked like they wanted to move but there was nowhere else. Our seats were the only vacant places.
    “Tarny, leave her alone.” Tug said in a deep, menacing voice. I shivered and he took a step in front of me, blocking me from her view.
    “Why should I?” She said and laughed.
    “Because I will pound your face in if you don’t.” He said.
    “Ha-ha.” She said without a hint of humour. “I’d like to see you try.”
    Tug’s elbow shot backwards and I grabbed onto it, holding it there. “Tug Daniels, don’t you dare. You have plenty of time to do that in the Arena.”
    He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Dibs,” he muttered under his breath.
    I smiled and grabbed his hand. “Seems fair.”

    Lunch ended too soon and I didn’t get to ask Tug about the alliance. We got back into the training room and he finally spoke. “Sorry about that.”
    I shrugged it off. “You should see my uncle, he is twenty times worse than Tarny any day.”
    “Oh really?” He asked me as we made our way to the rock climbing station. Well, the ladder, rope and net, tree and rock face station.
    “Yeah, he didn’t see me off and his last words to me were,” I made quotation marks in the air with my fingers. “‘Maybe if you're chosen, some good will come to this place.’”
    Tug stopped and looked at me. “Really?”
    I kept walking and nodded. “Yep. Family died, mother, father and older brother, Bret got eaten by a shark a few years back. Just me and my uncle.”
    “Sorry,” he said as he caught up to me.
    I shrugged again. “Don’t be. I’m sorry I refused to go on the boat with them. They gave me a choice y’know? And I refused.” I sighed as we reached the course. “I will regret that decision for the rest of my life.” I could feel the tears burning in my eyes, rioting to be set free, but I blinked them back and grimaced. “Come on, let’s climb!”
    He took the rope first while I decided to go for the tree. I placed both my hands around a branch and flicked my legs up over the top. I stood up and jumped again from branch to branch, pretending to fumble a lot. I was almost to the top when I looked down. Have a fear of heights Simon’s voice echoed in my head.
    I started to whine and sat down on the branch, one leg over each side. “I wanna get down!” I shouted. I brought the ever present tears to my eyes and let them flow down my cheeks. “Help! Please get me down from here!”
    A trainer looked up at me. “What is the matter?” She asked.
    “I have a terrible fear of heights!” I shouted, trying to keep the grin of my face.
    She paused and took the ladder from the easiest climb and placed it near me. It was about five metres too short. “Can you get down or do you want me to help you?” She asked.
    “Death!” Tug shouted at me. He was on the ground beside the ladder. “What are you doing?”
    “I’m scared!” I shouted back at him. I had to cover my face with my hands because the grin started to break free from my control.
    “Do you think you can get down?” The trainer asked again.
    I had attracted a little crowd by this time. I hope you know what you are doing Brown, I thought as I fell off the branch towards the ground. I heard someone shout my name as I reached for the rungs flitting past my face. My hands finally grabbed one and my arms felt like they had popped out of their sockets. “Aw…” I moaned as I placed my feet onto the ladder below be to take some of my weight.
    “Death! You stupid jackass! Why did you go up that far if you were scared?” Tug said. I didn’t realise I was two metres off the ground. That was probably why my arms died.

  48. I jumped down and ignored the laughs I got.
    “I wanted to look brave,” I told Tug once we had left the group of bystanders.
    “Well, you looked weak.” He said.
    “I need to ask you something,” I said. “I need to know if you and me, alliance?” I paused then added, “with Eden too… Maybe?”
    He took a deep breath and looked away. “Why?” He said in a small voice.
    “Because we need you and you need us.”
    “Oh really?” He said sarcastically. He turned and his golden eyes assessing me. “How so?”
    “The obstacle course. I aced that. Did you see me at the start of the climbing? I was a monkey. I know what I am doing.” I put my hand out. “Please.”
    He paused and then sighed. “Fine.”
    I grinned up at him. “You won’t regret it.” I promised.
    “I better not.” He grumbled.

    I didn’t see Tug for the rest of the day. I finished the fire making station and then went back to the fourth floor.

    Dinner was delicious and I ate more than usual. My arms hurt and Simon noticed my reluctance to use them. After dinner, he called me to his room. “Yes Simon?” I asked as I stood in the doorway.
    He was sitting on his bed, facing the window like we had this morning. “What happened today?”
    “I fell off the tree in the training room, grabbed onto the ladder that they put there and strained my arms.” I murmured.
    “I won’t bite,” he said. “Come in.”
    I hesitated for a moment then walked in slowly. I sat on the corner of his bed, facing the window. “I’ll be fine.” I said, not sure if I believed myself. It was worth a try at least.
    He handed something to me, something in a tube. “Rub this into your shoulders.” Was all he said.
    We sat in the dark room, the only light coming from the bright moon and the artificial glow of the Capitol building lights.
    I stood up after ten minutes and excused myself, saying I had to have a shower; which was true. I had a quick shower, burning myself again and rubbed the medicine into my shoulders. The effect was almost immediate. My shoulders became numbed and relaxed. I went to bed and slept the best I had in my entire stay in the Capitol.

    Morning light blinded me. I sat up and stretched my arms. I did not want to leave my bed. I refused to leave my bed. I wanted to enjoy today without going to the training room. I wanted to sleep more. I grabbed my necklace from the bedside table and put it around my neck. I didn’t want to take it off ever again.
    Eventually, Lux came in and jostled my shoulder. I moaned and remembered yesterday. Falling. Laughter. Pain. I buried my head further under my pillow. “Come on,” Lux said to me. “Last day of group training.”
    “I don’t want to.” I muttered into my dark mattress.
    Lux huffed a bit before leaving the room. I thought she was going to leave me but two footsteps approached me.
    “Death. Up. Now.” Simon said.
    “No.” My face was still pressed into my bed and it was making it hard to talk.
    There was no answer. Two minutes passed without sound and then arms wrapped around me and carried me out.
    “Hey!” I shouted. “Put me down right now!”
    Simon smiled triumphantly. “And let you go back to your room? I don’t think so.”
    I thrashed around for a moment and then stopped, finding it useless. He set me down in a chair that Lux had pulled out at the table. “I hate you,” I muttered to him.
    I could see his smile reflected in my spoon. “No you don’t.”

  49. “Oh yes I do!” I ate breakfast without talking again. Today was a mixture of caviar and berries on dry, salty crackers made of seaweed. It was, to put it lightly, to die for.
    I went back to my room and got changed. Lux came in as I was putting my shirt on to make sure I hadn’t collapsed in my bed again. I screamed and threw a pillow at her. “GET OUT!”
    She laughed and closed the door. I got my runners on and left my beautiful room. I walked out to the elevators, wishing there were stairs so I could sprint down and stretch my legs. Before the doors closed I told both Simon and Eden, “Tug and I are now in alliance.” I shot a glare at Simon, hating him for what he did earlier that morning.
    Eden noticed. “What’s going on between you two?” He asked.
    I looked at him and then rolled my eyes. “Nothing.” I said it too quickly.
    He noticed. “Last night he called you into his room and you were in there for a bit and now you’re angry at him…?” I could see he was envisioning what I didn’t want him to think.
    “GOD NO!” I shouted, my calm face being replaced with a mask of horror. “No. Nothing like that! My shoulders were sore from falling off the tree yesterday and he gave me something for it. Then he carried me out of bed because I didn’t want to leave.”
    “And yesterday morning?”
    “Exploring. There was a good view of the sun rise from Simon’s room. Then apparently he and dad were good friends… Simon saved dad from being in the Games.” Chills ran through my body when I said that and goose bumps rippled along my arms. I rubbed them quickly, wishing I had a jacket to hide them.
    “Right.” Eden said. I didn’t know if he was agreeing with me or if he was being sarcastic. I hoped it was the former.
    “Don’t believe me, ask him.” I shrugged and used my long stride to my advantage. I walked quickly in front of him and burst through the doors. I didn’t wait to see if Eden caught the door or not and strode to where all the other Tributes waited.
    Tug saw me and gestured for me to join him. “Rough morning?” He asked in a whisper as the woman in front of us started talking.
    “When isn’t it?” I replied, stretching my arms above my head.
    He laughed. “Moot point.” The woman dismissed us. “Where to?” He asked as he looked towards the hardest rock wall.
    “I think I am going to train a bit by myself today.” I admitted. “See you at lunch!” I walked off in the direction of the Snare Setting station and left Tug behind. I could feel his eyes on me but I didn’t care. I sat down and listened to the instructor’s teachings about several types of snares for different sized animals, from mice to horses to small buffalo. That confused me. “How are buffalo supposed to get trapped in that?” I asked, indicating the small, palm sized snare the instructor had used as a demonstration. “It’s tiny!”
    The instructor laughed heartily. “Put your foot in.” I did what I was told.
    “Take a step forward.” I felt unbelievably silly but I took a step and the wire tightened around my ankle. Next thing I knew, I was upside down.
    “Okay,” I said laughing, trying to grab my foot to undo the trap. “Get me down.”
    The instructor walked a little ways away and told me to put my hands on the ground. I did so and he kicked something behind me. I fell, my arms taking the weight and flipped my legs over my head so I was on my feet.
    The instructor nodded in approval. “That might come in handy,” he said and then told me to do that type of snare. I stuffed it up a bit and had to ask the instructor to show me again. I finally got it and left. Animal Skinning was next.
    I found that skinning animals was similar to scaling fish. It reminded me of a several summers spent with my mother as she scaled fish and taught me how to do so. I was pretty confident about the Games actually. I thought I posed a fighting chance now. I knew how to climb, skin animals, build shelters and snares. I was fast and sneaky, intelligent, sly and flexible, and most of all, I was manipulative.

  50. I heard the bell for lunch rang and jumped up, leaving my skinned possum where it was, promising the sceptical instructor that I would be back to cook it after my meal.
    As I piled food onto my plate, I heard someone behind me snicker and whisper something about me. How did I know? I heard my name. I spun around and faced a sullen looking boy and girl with bright green eyes. “Can I help you?” I asked looking down my nose at both of them.
    The girl giggled and whispered something to her male friend. Sullen spoke first. “We were just talking about how you and your partner, what’s his name?” He paused for a moment and put his finger to his lips. “Eden Threating? Yeah, how you and him were going down at the Cornucopia.”
    I smiled and huffed. “Is that so?” These guys were retards. They were so stupid. Really stupid.
    Bright eyes raised an eyebrow. “Have a problem with that fishbreath?”
    “Have a problem with what big nose?” I shot back with the same amount of venom she gave me.
    “Is there a problem?” Someone said behind me. I tensed until I recognised the voice.
    Bright Eyes and Sullen took a step back from this new person and bit their lips. They looked so similar; both seemed to be glancing around for the nearest exits. “No. There is nothing wrong. We were just saying that Death looked really amazing as she was on the…” Sullen looked back towards the Training Room.
    “The obstacle course.” Bright Eyes said. It sounded like a question.
    “Yeah. How she was, uh, doing the thing.”
    They both left to go to the back of the line and I turned to Tug. “Nice timin’” I said with a grin and a punch on his broad shoulder.
    “You saved my butt, I save yours.” He grinned back. “I better get in line,” he muttered. “Save me a seat.”
    I nodded and grabbed a banana, berries and that fruit salad stuff Tug had the day before. I walked to an empty table, thankful that I was near the head of the line and there were still vacant tables. I sat down at the furthest bench from the Training Room doors, a tiny bit paranoid about dead possum germs getting on my food. Then I remembered my hands. That caused me to hold my fork gingerly and caused a rather long laugh from Tug when he arrived.
    “What are you doing?” He asked and a blue berry that I had just managed to get on my fork slipped.
    I cursed and ended stabbing it onto my fork before I answered. “Eating. Trying not to infect my food with dead animal ickys that I have on my hands.”
    He half smiled. “You won’t care when you’re in the Games. You will be jumping for joy if you get food.”
    I sighed as I realized truth behind his words. I decided not to answer but Tug obviously didn’t get my drift. He jabbered on to me about all the courses he did, telling me about his techniques in the vertical net until I interrupted. “Shut. Up.” I looked up and his hurt golden eyes met my ice blue ones. “I’m sorry. I have a headache.”
    His concern, it only made my fake headache worse. I didn’t want to become attached to Tug. I couldn’t. I needed to make him think that but with his constant ramblings about cute little stares… Ugh! I was going to let myself develop feelings if I wasn’t careful.
    We stared at each other; the only sound between us was that of the tearing flesh of my banana. It seemed to be too loud in our bubble of quietness. I wished he would speak but I knew he wouldn’t. “Sorry,” I muttered when the silence between us became unbearable.
    Tug looked at me and smiled. “Head better?”
    I nodded and tapped my temple. “All grand inside the little weird place atop my neck.”
    He laughed and we finished eating in silence. More unbearable, painful, pressured silence. I looked at Tug properly for the first time. He had a long cascade of black hair; his eyes were the colour of a pirate’s doubloon, his skin was dark like ebony. He had strong arms that looked like they could lift a tree from the ground, broad shoulders, a muscled chest and strong legs. I was happy that I had made the decision to speak to him on the first day… The first day…

  51. As we were walking out of the Dining Room doors and into the Training Room, I asked him why he was staring at me after the Chariot Rides.
    He shrugged. “I guess you were the weakest of the Reapings this year. Your family were dead, you were pretty much crying and that was weak. I was actually,” he laughed nervously and then didn’t continue.
    “You were what?” I persisted.
    “You’re not going to like it.” He warned me. “I was finding the best way to kill you.”
    My eyes widened and I looked at him. “What?!” I shouted. Everyone within three metres looked at us. “You seriously were-”
    He placed his hand over my mouth to keep me quiet. “I said you wouldn’t like it.” He reminded me and flashed one of his dashing grins. I mentally facepalmed. I couldn’t let him do that to me. His grin is normal, average, below average even. Ugly. He has an ugly grin. It makes me want to vomit. My mental lying wasn’t working; it was only making me laugh.
    I nodded and my laughter stopped. “Okay. When I saw you, I thought, ‘Geez, I wish I had a better dress… He is just staring at me… Let’s all hope he doesn’t come into my room at night…
    He laughed. “Really?”
    “Nope. I just thought that you were weird.”
    He smiled and we split up again; me back to my skinning course and he off to the weights.
    I looked at the instructor for my course I was doing and he looked at me. An awkward moment passed. “Why are we looking at each other?” I asked and he grinned.
    “No clue. Here, this is how you make a spit…” And life went on.
    I completed that course and went to the Plants identification station. This one was vital. There may not be animals where we were but there would have to be plants. I knew most of the plants that made their residence near the ocean and a bit further back but some of the berries I had no clue about. I nodded as they were explained, wishing I could write everything down. I was put onto a test and barely passed. I relearnt what I got wrong and redid the test. Ninety-seven per cent. I cursed and did it again. I could never remember the deep red berry. It was poisonous and I didn’t want to die on that. I aced it on my third turn and looked at the clock on the wall. An hour left. I only had one hour until I didn’t see Tug until the Games. I decided to find him and do the Weights with him.
    He was happy enough to spend the last hour we had together. I picked up a small sandbag with ease. It was only ten kilograms. I tried the twenty and definitely felt the difference. I could still pick it up one handed but only just. Tug didn’t have the same reaction as me. He went straight to the thirty kilo bag and picked it up one handed and threw it up in the air over his head. “Too easy.” He muttered and went for the forty. I watched him exert his muscles until the torture of eighty kilos made him groan. I could only lift up the fifty with both hands before I had to drop it again. I cursed all the strong people to the furthest pit of Hell where they belonged.
    I picked up the thirty kilo bag that Tug had previously thrown over his head and, making sure I lifted with my knees, threw it as far as I could. It landed about five, maybe six metres away from me. Not satisfying but it was good enough. My shoulders started to ache again.
    I rolled them forward then back but it didn’t seem to work. Tug noticed my discomfort. “You okay?” He had dropped his bag and was heading over to me, his fingers hovering above my shoulders.
    I nodded. “Arms still hurt from yesterday, damned buggers.” I muttered the last part under my breath.
    He smiled at me and in that moment, I realized how manipulative I really was. I grinned back at him for a completely different reason. I couldn’t shape up in my remaining days of training, no. I would use different skills to corrupt people. A siren from District Four. It seemed suiting.
    The bell rang and we looked at each other for what might be the final time until the Hunger Games. “May the odds be ever in your favour,” I whispered and looked around nervously.
    He smiled and patted my head. “May the odds be ever in your favour.” He repeated.

  52. My alarm clock woke me, making me jump. I wasn’t used to having one.
    I jolted awake, fumbled to switch it off, then lay there collecting my thoughts.
    I groaned once they collected. It was training today.
    I lay there for a bit, thinking gloomy thoughts about the Hunger Games and training and death, then got up, got dressed and walked out of my room. I was lost as soon as I walked out of the door, because I’m that unobservant, but I hesitantly walked right down the corridor and a few seconds later the dining room was right in front of me. Phew.
    Cambric was already eating breakfast. He probably hadn’t done the gloomy thinking part. Me and Cambric had decided to train together – because why not?
    “Hello,” he said.
    “Hello,” I said.
    I sat down in the nearest seat, nearly opposite him.
    I’d made myself jam on toast (harder than it seems. I had to open all these different lids off all these different pots and look carefully at the contents to try and find the strawberry jam. They had lots of pots, most of which contained spreads I couldn’t name. I knew jam, butter and honey. That was enough for anyone) when Lin and Jon came in.
    We did the ‘hello’ thing again, then they sat down and started finding breakfast amidst all the pots and things.
    “Remember, today, focus on survival,” Lin instructed us.
    “We know,” Cambric nodded.
    I nodded along too.
    “It’s the survival that’s going to keep you alive,” Jon reminded us. “It’s no good learning how to kill people if nature is going to kill you. Once you can survive on your own, then focus on how to survive against them.”
    “Yes,” I nodded impatiently.
    “We know,” Cambric repeated.
    “You won’t be able to fight against the Careers. They’re too good. You won’t become a master at fighting in three days, so do something useful with your time instead.”
    “We know,” me and Cambric said in unison, then looked at each other like startled rabbits (in my opinion startled rabbits don’t look any different to non-startled rabbits, but it’s just an expression).
    “Snap,” I muttered.
    “Well, that’s good,” Lin nodded.
    We finished eating breakfast as they asked us questions and we answered them, then it was time to go for training.
    The Training Rooms didn’t look that scary, which was scarier than if they had looked scary, because it showed they were intelligent enough to hide their scariness, which meant they could use their intelligence when being scary, which meant they would be scary well, so would be scarier than if they were stupid and weren’t clever enough to be scary properly.
    “Where do you want to go first?” Cambric asked me, as the other Tributes started to wander off and find stations.
    “I . . . don’t mind . . .” I replied slowly. “Somewhere survival-y. Those stations will probably be the most useful, like they told us.” If different speech were different animals, my last few sentences would have been snails.
    “I think learning to build campfires would probably be one of the most useful,” he said.
    His speech was slightly faster, but still slow. Relaxed cat speed. When cats just trail along lazily in the sunshine. Or when they slowly creep up on prey. Either way, slow, but faster than a snail.
    “Okay,” I nodded.
    We walked over there and had a go at it. We were the only Tributes there – a girl from somewhere (I’d forgotten her name) walked up to the station, but wandered off when we got there first. Maybe she was shy, or didn’t want to get to know us as she’d have to maybe kill us, or didn’t want to be dragged into an Alliance.
    Collecting the fire material was easy, but the matches kept breaking on me. I think I got the hang of it in the end, but I may have just got lucky.
    The instructors told us where to put this stuff and that stuff. There was more to making a fire than there seemed. They also told us which wood was best for burning – I was proud I knew that old wood was better than green wood, but there was also different types of wood. I’d probably forget most of it, but it was good to have some knowledge.

  53. “Where now?” Cambric asked after the Fireworks station.
    I shrugged. “I don’t . . . We could go to Animal Skinning, because nobody’s there and it’s going to be useful.”
    He shrugged too. “Okay.”
    I was half-afraid I was going to be icked out at the dead animals, but I was okay. It was interesting, actually. Once again, I doubted I would remember it all, but I came away knowing quite a bit more than I’d done before. Skinning was easy once you’d got the hang of it, but getting the hang of it was the challenge. Your blade had to have the right angle, or you cut too deeply or didn’t skin all the skin, so I messed up on a few animals before finally getting it. There were different rules for cooking different animals, which I wasn’t expecting. I suppose I just vaguely assumed you put them on a fire and cooked them until they looked cooked. Actually, my vague assumption was correct on a basic level, but still.
    “Where do you want to go next?” I asked Cambric whilst he was skinning an animal. See, if I asked, I didn’t have to answer.
    “I don’t know, where do you want to go?”
    Oh. Dammit. I did have to answer.
    “I don’t know, that’s why I asked you.”
    “I don’t know, that’s why I asked you.”
    What scintillating conversations me and Cambric had.
    I thought. “Well, let’s not go to Shelter Building, because it would be best to go to Camouflage first.”
    “Do you want to go to Camouflage?”
    “Not especially. I don’t mind.”
    “I don’t mind.”
    “We could toss a coin.”
    “There are only two sides to a coin.”
    “We could toss it between two stations, then the winner could toss with another station.”
    “Do you have a coin?”
    “ . . . No.”
    “Then why did you suggest tossing one?”
    “I don’t know.” I’d been thinking. “ We could go to Snares, because there’s no point learning how to skin animals if you never get animals.”

    Before, when I thought of snares and traps, mousetraps came to mind. This was nothing like mousetraps.
    My memory was the kind of memory that would probably remember the basic snares we were taught, and for that I was grateful. We learnt how to catch rabbits and other small animals, deer and other large animals, and Tributes. If I attempted to trap a Tribute, it would probably fail or they’d escape or something, and then there’d be one more angry Tribute trying to catch me – plus why would I want to trap a tribute? – so I wasn’t really planning on doing that. I think Cambric was more interested in trapping Tributes, though. He pointed out, when I voiced my opinion, that if you trapped a Tribute then you could just keep them there and it was one less Tribute you had to worry and predict about. He had a point, but I was still doubtful about how successful trapping would be long-term. Maybe I was overestimating my fellow Tributes’ escaping skills, but it was better than underestimating them.

  54. After Snares, we were just looking around for another station to go to and having a conversation that mostly consisted of “Okay” and “I don’t mind,” when it was lunchtime.
    Me and Cambric ate lunch with just each other like loners. Most of the others sat with their District partners. The Careers, of course, all sat round a table together talking and laughing.
    Me and Cambric did less talking and laughing and more being awkwardly silent. We vaguely talked about snares and the lunch and that was about it. This whole being awkwardly silent was actually a good thing, from a certain point of view, because when the Games started we would each be stranded alone in the wilderness, cut off from human beings, trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to attract the attention of humans and other animals. Me and Cambric would be fine, because we would be used to the eternal silence, but the lack of noise would drive the Careers mad and so they would lose the Games. The flaw in my theory was that the Careers would probably be allied together and so would talk to each other in the Games anyway, and also they didn’t need to be silent because they could just kill anything dangerous instead of hiding away from it.
    So we wouldn’t have any advantage over them at all.
    But being silent now would still stop us from going mad.
    But it wasn’t silent now because we could hear the sound of them talking and laughing.
    After quite a while poking at my theory to try and make it infallibly point to me and Cambric getting an advantage from this silence, I finally admitted it had more holes in it than the holey cheese I had seen last night at dinner (why anyone would make cheese with holes in it when they could make it without holes in it, I have no idea. It’s probably fashionable or something. Ah, so I do have an idea).
    “We could go to Survival Skills after lunch,” Cambric said to me. “We’re looking for ways on how to survive, so that place could tell us a lot.”
    I nodded. “I was going to suggest going there first, but most of the rest of the rubbish Tributes were crowding over there immediately.”
    “ ‘Rubbish Tributes,’ ” he sighed. “Yup, that’s us.”
    Lunchtime ended and we went to clear our plates.
    “Sorry,” I muttered.
    “Well, we are, aren’t we?”
    “Not from a certain point of view. Morally, they’re far rubbisher than us, because they’ll go round killing us and also, they have an unfair advantage and have no qualms about using it.” I was talking about the Career Tributes. Cambric would know that. “At least when we get killed by them, we’ll die knowing that also we looked like we lost, we actually won, because we didn’t cheat and lie and kill so were much better than them. Not that they probably lie any more than us. And I’m sure we’ve all cheated in our lifetimes as well. And we’re going to kill animals and some of us are going to kill people too. But . . . oh, never mind.” I cringed and gave up.
    Cambric laughed. “I get what you mean.”
    “Thanks. I don’t.”
    My speech had slowed from a flying bird of prey (fast) back to a lazy cat (slow). So I’d slowed from fast down to slow. Yes, because you can so slow down from slow to fast. Well done for being specific, Star. It was really needed.

  55. We spent quite a while at Survival Skills, because there were quite a few different skills to learn. Seeing as it was different bits of knowledge scattered in different areas, I thought I’d remember most of it. But some of it seemed mostly pointless. For example, hammocks mean you can sleep off the ground fairly comfortably at night, but you’d need trees and some form of cloth to make one, plus you were very visible to other people in a hammock (unless you had a tree-coloured hammock in a forest, or something like that, which wasn’t an impossibility but you’d be pretty lucky to have those circumstances), and also, assuming you managed to get in your hammock without falling all the way to the ground and potentially breaking something (stringing a hammock a few feet off the ground was stupid, because it still left you open to as many attacks by humans and other dangerous animal in the night, plus not only made you even more visible but also easy to access), you might fall off your hammock in the night. In my opinion, if you somehow managed to find hammock-making material, you should tie yourself to a tree with it whilst you slept because then not only were you far off the ground, you were much less likely to fall. I told this to Cambric and he said “Oh yeah.” I was too shy to point it out to the instructors.
    “How on Earth is learning how to make hammocks useful, then?” Cambric wondered.
    I shrugged, then thought a bit. “If you were the winner of the Hunger Games, I suppose you could use your hammock-making skills to have a TV show teaching people how to make hammocks or something stupid like that.”
    Cambric nodded. “The Capitol people would love it, because they’re idiots.”
    “I know, right?”
    “How many episodes would it take to explain just how to make a hammock, though? Probably only three. It took us a lot less time to get it, but we aren’t stupid Capitol people.”
    I was getting the impression Cambric either didn’t like the Capitol citizens or just like mocking them. “You could teach people how to construct a different form of hammock every episode.”
    “How many can there be, though? Although you could make up a few. They wouldn’t have to work, would they? Nobody watching it would try them out and if they did, they would just think they’d done it wrong.”
    “Yeah. That’s a good idea, actually. You could make up some totally ridiculous ones - it would probably make your show more popular. And you could decorate them as well. There must be tons of stupid ways to decorate hammocks. Different ones for every month, week, day of the year . . .”
    “Outfit. Weather.”
    “Yup. If I win, I’m going to do this TV show.”
    “Why? It’s stupid.”
    “Yeah, but maybe I’d have to do less tours and stuff if I did it.”
    “True. Couldn’t you think of something more worthwhile, though?”
    “I don’t think they’d appreciate worthwhile things.”
    “True. If I win . . . I’ll start the TV show instead.”
    Cambric got the instructors to tell us a few different types of hammock after that, to give us a head start.

    After that we went to Animal Hunting, to tie in nicely with the catching-and-killing-animals theme of our day. Lovely theme, that.
    It was fun, and I learnt a lot from it, not having known much previously about tracking and killing animals. At times I had no clue what I was meant to be doing, partially because we were put into these different scenarios and environments and what I’d learnt in one sometimes completely didn’t apply in another. Thankfully, fishing was pretty simple.

  56. I stated the obvious as we walked into the Training Rooms the next morning. “So, today is Day Two.”
    “Do you want to split up today, look at training sessions separately?” Cambric asked out of the blue.
    I shrugged. “Why not? Because we’ll probably want to go on different stations. Okay.”
    “Okay then.”
    “Okay. Sorry, I say okay too much.”
    “That’s okay. Oh.”
    I laughed. “Okay.”
    He wandered off past Animal Skinning to somewhere else. I turned around and wandered the stations for a bit, looking. I felt freer and less awkward without Cambric, anyway.
    After looking round for a bit, I headed to Plants. It seemed important. After all, there might not be animals to snare and skin.
    There were a few other Tributes there. We didn’t talk. The instructors told me so much at the Plants station. My head was crammed with all this new knowledge and I just knew most of it would fall out and get lost. The stuff that remained would probably get all mixed up, too. But I did better on the test than the other Tributes had done, although I only beat one of them by one plant.

    After that, I went to Swimming. I could swim, but not as well as some. I knew the basic strokes, and used to enjoy swimming when I was younger before they demolished the pool.
    At the Swimming Practises station we had to swim in our clothes we were wearing, which made me think maybe I should have come back at the end of the day. The logic was that in the Games we would just be wearing what we would be wearing. We were told to remove jumpers, socks, shoes and watches, however. Not that I had a watch.
    An instructor watched me swim (pretty badly) and neatened up the few strokes I knew, plus taught me another one. She knew way more than my friend’s dad who’d taught us all to sort of swim. But I was lucky to know the bit I did – another Tribute nearby was being taught from scratch. As I was there, however, a Career Tribute arrived and started powering up and down the pool.
    How was it fair that we were against them, really?
    I also got taught some basic water fighting, too. That could be useful if I was being attacked and escaped into the water, except was followed and had to fight. In fact, the whole swimming thing would be useful for the escaping-into-the-water part.
    They had big dryers to stand in and dry ourselves in after we got out. The dryers were weird and slightly scary, but cool. I didn’t get completely dried, but I was drier than soaking wet.

  57. Sometime whilst swimming, I decided to go and look at knots next. I learnt how to tie different knots for different purposes from now until lunch. Once I’d been shown a knot, I did it over and over until I could tie it without problem and I thought I might remember it. There was no point in learning tons and tons of knots and forgetting them all. I learnt quite a few, though.
    I stayed there until lunchtime, at which point I drifted awkwardly after the over Tributes trailing off to have lunch. Then I spotted Cambric, and ran to catch up with him.
    “Hello,” he said.
    “Hello,” I said.
    We got our lunch and sat on the same table without saying anything.
    Hello again, awkward silence. Just delighted to see you again.
    Then I realised I actually had something to say today, so I asked Cambric, “What did you do today?”
    “I did Tracking, and I had a go at a few of the weapons . . . Also I looked at Plants,” he replied.
    “Sounds fun. I did Plants too . . . Must have been at a different time to you. I went there first.”
    “I went there just before lunch, so that makes sense.”
    “I doubt I’ll remember barely any of it.”
    Cambric shrugged. “Don’t think it’s possible to. What else did you do?”
    “Swimming, that’s why my hair’s still damp, and I looked at knots. I think I’ll remember the knots more than I will the plants, but that isn’t saying much.”
    “Knots. Cool. Did you used to swim at the swimming pool in our District before it got demolished?”
    “I did too. Probably saw you there, but I don’t remember you . . . no offense.”
    “I’d be a hypocrite to take offense, because I don’t remember you either . . . sorry.”
    “That’s okay.” Cambric shrugged and changed the subject. “Where are you going after lunch?”
    “I thought I might try camouflage . . . ?” I told him hesitantly.
    “Okay,” he nodded.
    “Where were you thinking of going?” I asked him.
    “I thought I might check out self defence,” Cambric replied. “If I’m attacked, I’ll need it, won’t I?”
    I nodded. “Good luck.”
    “You too.”
    We finished lunch to the sound of more awkward silence.

    I liked the camouflage station. It was peaceful, and you didn’t really have to think about anything. You couldn’t really think about anything; camouflage took up your whole brain, so it was fairly stress-relieving. Therefore I spent ages there, more time there than I really should have done.
    Making my hand look like sand was relatively easy. Snow was even easier than that. Stone was harder – or the type stone I picked was, with lots of irregularities. I then tried another type of stone – that one was easier, but still challenging. Bark was the hardest by far, though. I spent ages on that, but it stubbornly refused to look anything like proper bark, so I decorated most of it with leaves and happily concluded that if I was trying to hide in bushes, I would do okay.
    I then vaguely experimented with making my arm look like grass. Say if I was lying down in some grass . . . The only way to camouflage myself would be to cover myself in grass, but getting the grass to all stick to my arm and stand the right way and be the right length was difficult – it was really fiddly and they kept being knocked out of place. However, one grass stalk could vary quite a bit from the next, which was lucky. I didn’t get very far with that, though, because the day ended before I finished it. Never mind.

  58. I caught up with Cambric as us Tributes were flowing out of the Training Rooms towards the elevators.
    “Hello,” I said.
    “Hello,” he said.
    This ‘hello’ thing was becoming a routine.
    “What did you do after lunch?” he asked as we got into the elevator.
    “Camouflage,” I laughed. “I got really carried away with it, so I spent ages there . . . Lin’ll probably tell me off for that.”
    “I looked at knots, went climbing and did self defence like I said I was going to.”
    I nodded. “Cool. I want to do climbing and self defence tomorrow . . . Plus I’d like to quickly stop off and Plants and Knot-Tying to see how much I remember.”
    “Good idea,” he nodded. “I’ll come with you . . . I want to do Swimming tomorrow. Plus Shelter Building.”
    “Is ‘cool’ your new word then?”
    “Yeah . . . It’s cooler than okay,” I laughed.
    He paused for a moment, then got it and laughed.

    Lin told me off for spending the whole afternoon camouflaging myself, as I had predicted. But said now would be a good time to look at weapons, which was cool.

    The next day me and Cambric went straight to Knot-Tying, at which he remembered more than me, and then Plants, at which I remembered more than him. Then he went off to Shelter Building whilst I hurried to Tracking & Senses. I think we both had a sense of urgency to get everything done now. I was sad now my Training was almost over. It hadn’t been the best thing ever, but it had been okay, and that was more than what lay ahead would be.

    At Tracking & Senses, I learnt a lot of information, most of it useful, and I’d probably forget a lot of it. Hey, hadn’t I said this about a station before? There was a pattern forming here.
    This pattern made it fairly boring, to be honest, but I did learn useful things there. The footprints frustrated me though. Many of them were so similar. I at first didn’t really see why learning the subtle differences mattered anyway, seeing as I’d kill and eat it no matter what, but then I realised that knowing what animal it was could help me when making plans to hunt it, as different animals acted differently. Not that I knew very much how many of these animals would act at all, but there you go.
    The human footprint thing was more interesting, learning how much this person might weigh if their footprint was this deep and the surface was this deep. And could be useful. If the footprints were small and light, I could guess it was that small girl from 2, and if the footprints were big and heavy, I could guess it would be that large boy from 2.
    They taught us that the footprints would be deeper if the person were carrying a heavy weight, which made it more confusing, but if I knew what someone’s footprint would probably look like and it was heavier than I thought it should be, it would tell me that they had been walking this way carrying a heavy weight. Now that was cool.
    The injured thing was also useful. Say I saw injured footprints and I knew a human who had been injured, I’d know it must be them.
    The ‘how recent’ and ‘injured’ thing would also come in very useful when hunting. I would only follow recent footsteps, and injured ones meant I was more likely to catch the animal.

    After Tracking & Sense, I headed over to Climbing Courses. I went up the ladder first, which was incredibly easy. I had a try on the rope, but couldn’t get very far up it. My feet kept slipping off, and I couldn’t lift my hand up much.
    I had a go at the tree, which was okay. In places it was easy, just like a wonky ladder. In others I had to try and get up onto this branch over and over, whilst all the while my muscles were growing more tired.
    I got to the top eventually.
    Now to come down.
    I hadn’t really though about that.
    Climbing down was more difficult. Once I fell, but not far and got tangled uncomfortably in the branches.
    I jumped once I was at a safe distance to the ground.
    I left after that. I’d be insane to attempt the cliff face, and the tree was probably more useful than the net as there were more likely to be trees in the Arena than nets.

  59. I went to Self Defence & Hand-To-Hand Combat like I’d said I would, and got taught some basic blocks, basic offensive strikes and basic counters. They could be useful.

    After that I went to Shelter Building. After lunch I planned to focus solely on weapons, but for now I might as well learn this.
    It was more useful than I thought. I learnt how to make different shelters in different environments, and if I camouflaged my shelter using my camouflaging skills, I would be pretty safe there. A sort of home ish.
    I didn’t bother trying to camouflage any shelters I built there. I concentrated on the building.
    I stayed there till lunch, because I wouldn’t have time to start much else.

    “Did you go swimming?” I asked Cambric when he came and sat down on the table I’d grabbed.
    “No, my hair’s wet for a different reason.”
    “I’m going to Weapons after lunch.”
    “Me too . . . I want to check out the bows. I’ve done some archery before, not much, so I want to remind myself how to fire them.”
    He nodded. “I mostly want to go round trying stuff out.”
    “Good luck.”
    “You too.”
    We finished our lunch in silence, which was less awkward as we were getting used to it.

    We went to Weapons together and I went towards the archery whilst he separated off to get a sword. I remembered how to aim and fire, which I was proud of, and practised hitting targets. I wasn’t brilliant by a long way, but I did okay considering I hadn’t learnt much archery.
    Then we both moved to the throwing knives. Cambric was okay at it. I was terrible. I decided if I wanted to hit something, I’d grab a bow.
    I’d taken lessons with a sword previously, so I was alright with that for a rubbish Tribute, but I was hopeless with the axe. The trident was easier, but not by tons.
    We spent the rest of the day being instructed and getting better at fighting. I knew I wouldn’t last five seconds against a Career Tribute, but I might have a chance against a rubbish Tribute.

    And so our Training was completed. I’d learnt a lot, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough to keep me alive. I could push the knowledge I was going to die out of my mind, but when I thought about it, I was terrified. I just hoped the other rubbish Tributes were as well.

  60. I woke up feeling a bit groggy after the chariot rides the day before.
    The training sessions were starting today, the next three days would be the make or break of me. It was fine and well to have sponsors but what good was a tub of cream or tablets when you were hacked to death by a sword.
    I'd have to win someone's trust other than Death.
    I got a plate of eggs and a roll, I remembered how I used to find seagull eggs and boil them for breakfast before I'd go out for a jog and to fish.
    These were different they were bigger and I could never figure a way to scramble seagull eggs without a whisk.
    Darren and Simon were in the kitchen lecturing me on what I should do and who I should try and make an alliance with. " Go for another career, even though your smaller they'll think twice before messing with a career group. "
    Said Simon.
    I was shown into the clothes I'd be wearing a pair of track suit pants and a skin tight short sleeve polo shirt. I met Death and we went down the elevator to the training centre. The head trainer started to give a lecture on what to chose, I lost interest after they mentioned survival skills. I knew how to survive it was the weapons and hunting I needed to focus on, spears would be there and if I could use one as a weapon me months fishing would be an advantage.
    The lecture finished and most of the tributes walked off to the stations.
    " What are you going to do first?" Asked Death. " Probably hand to hand combat, you ?" I replied. " Not quite sure maybe tracking " and she walked off.

  61. The self defence station was a series of mats lying on the floor. I walked up to an instructor and he showed me a series of blocks and grapples after I tried this he said I should probably go for my opponents hips as I'm not really big enough to throw them down, as if to emphasise the point the boy from one Cieran Sev... Something or other throws a trainer to the ground. " Make sure you don't go up against him." My instructor replied. " What would I do to beat him if I did ?" I asked. " Well sometimes the best thing sometimes is to play dirty, try to throw something into his eyes then go for his stomach, you should try to get a knife from the cornucopia not to through but just to stab if you get into close combat. " he finishes. After I make a mental note about getting a knife and am about to go to the weapons station it's lunch time and everyone files into the cafeteria. I grab some more bread and a banana then go to sit down next to Death. "How did you get on ?" On I ask, hoping for news of an alliance for the two of us. " Okay" she answers " I tried out tracking, it was okay. "
    I'm determined to impress someone, I realise by now that it isn't very likely that I will team with another career, the girl from two Miss Cain would slaughter me before I could even get close enough to use my knife and the giant boy from two he'd probably break my spear in half.
    I suddenly noticed that I was standing in the middle of the training centre and some people were beginning to stare. Snap out of it, go to the weapon stations and try out the spears.
    I walk over and grab a spear that's above my shoulder, it's made of this material that feel like plastic but lighter. It's lighter than my own wooden spear at home this'll be brilliant.
    A grin on my I see a few careers watching me there facial expressions seem to say "as if you're going to throw that, you could barely lift it ". I take a deep breath and raise the spear over my shoulder using my other hand to aim I exhale and try to pretend the manikin is the tree I practice on at home I tense my shoulder and arm and throw the spear with all my strength and with a dull thud it punctured the manikin right where the heart should be. I pulled out the spear not bothering to look at the people who had been staring at me, it was one thing to show them up but to anger them would be suicide.
    I pulled one of the knives from the holder and began to slice a dummy open with it, the trainer was wearing a wide smile as he showed me how to kill someone with a swift stroke. He was probably glad someone had picked up a knife and hadn't thrown it.
    After I left the weapons station I went on to animal hunting, this was nearly the same as weapons but I learned where to aim for and that the vital areas on an animal such as a bear were petty much the same as a human just a little bit lower. Next I went on to snare setting here the instructor stressed that you would never even see any animals in the arena and the only way to hunt was to set traps over a wide area and check them often. The trick was to lure them into thinking there was no trap.
    I could see that working for me where I was charged at and the attacker fell into a pit of sharp sticks. Somehow I doubted that would work though.
    Finally I moved on to skinning animals making a note of trying out plants tomorrow, what good was it to be able to kill a bear if I ate poisonous berries.
    I went up the elevator with Death, grabbed some food and went back in my room to plan the next two days out.

  62. I got up later than I had hoped and I trudged into the kitchen to get myself something to eat. I grabbed a plate of crab meat and some juice then I was in the elevator heading down with Death. We split up and I headed towards the plant station. The only remedies I'd ever known about we're that dock leaves cured nettle stings so I decided that I should spend a good while at this.
    I looked at all the plants trying to remember distinct traits and try to make rhymes to go with them like if its white and oozes do not choose it.
    I laughed at my self then took the test on the large screen in the centre of the station. 75% right not perfect but at least the odds were in my favour if I picked up a plant. I start to look over the plants but the trainer tells me I should go onto survival skills because at least I'll learn how to make some of the poisonous stuff a little more edible before I head over its time for lunch, wow I did spend a lot of time at the plants section I hope it pays off.
    I went grabbed a banana, a fried egg and a roll putting the egg in the roll like my mother used to. I sat down at the table next to Death and the guy from eleven named Tug, she had talked about making an alliance with him but I didn't realise how big he was. He looked kind and carefree but he could probably finish me pretty easily no wonder Death said he was so good at hand to hand combat.
    I didn't put much pass on them after that and I headed over to the survival station keeping my eye on the obstacle course. I learned that boiling most of the plants would make them safe to eat and the same pretty much went for animals if you took out the organs, I remembered sitting on the beach gutting fish, you sliced open the middle and it would all nearly fall out. Something told me animals with rib cages would be more complicated.
    I went over to tracking and senses seeing Death halfway up a tree. I studied the tracks and not much else because I realised that I would only really go after animals I could see and setting snares would go after animals I couldn't see but I thought studying how to tell how old a track was could come in pretty handy so I focused on that and identifying what animals made what traps after this I thought I deserved a bit if a break from learning so I headed over to the obstacle course and prepared myself to run the gauntlet of obstacles.
    I set off with a jolt of speed, leaping over a barrier then nearly taking my head off sliding under another in the end I got a decent 19 seconds but I knew I could do better so I decided to spend all of tomorrow on physical training.
    I step into the elevator beside Death and we step off on the fourth floor I sit down and eat planning out tomorrow I would do freelance, weights, climbing and then as a relax for the end I'd have a little swim probably the last time I ever would. I went to sleep dreaming of the sun on my back and the salt water covering all the skin on my body as I jogged out of the sea spear in hand and a large fish slung over my back, it's scaly tail brushy against my shorts occasionally as I ran around around the rocks that dotted the beach that had once been my home but I would probably never see again.
    I woke up annoyed at how my paradise was ruined I pulled on my track suit pants and shirt for the last time, everything was for the last time today even though I would still have to do it in front of the game makers tomorrow.
    I grabbed a banana and a boiled egg eating it hastily and then I jogged into the elevator ready for the horrors the day would bring.

  63. .
    I went straight to weights deciding to get that over with. I hefted up the thirty kilos over my head remembering the record fish my father had caught that was closer to fifty maybe even more all that I remember is that it took me and my three younger brothers to heft it onto the kitchen table but then I was only nine at the time. I grabbed onto the fifty kilo bag and I was only able to make it up to my stomach remembering what my grandfather had told me when he had built his house you've got to lift the blocks with your knees but you rest them on your stomach, so thats where I kept the wait until I hurled it about three metres away, that was tiring. I did some more work at the weight station throwing smaller weights farther distances my best was throwing a fifteen kilo six metres. I headed over to the freelance station and went over to a cross bar that was about a foot above my head I leaped and grabbed the steel bar, tightened my grip and started to haul my chin over the bar I repeated it until my arms could take no more then I kept going feeling my shoulders scream. I had always been good at this my Father always said it was my muscle to weight ratio or something like that all I knew was that there was a tree in four where the branches hung out over a cliff and my brothers and I used to hang from it and see who could stay up the longest, those who fell landed in the sea.
    I won every time. I awoke to reality as my hands slipped from the bar and I landed knees bent and arms out onto the mat beneath. I was about to move onto push ups when the bell rang for lunch, I decided dirty something different for lunch seeing as it was my last time (not really though). I grabbed a tub of what was labelled rhubarb but was to shredded to tell, I also grabbed a mango and passion fruit smoothy something unheard of in district four. Before I could finish my drink the tributes were called back out for training I went over to the freelance and worked on push ups but I got tied of using my arms so I started running my feet pounding against the plastic like floor of the tread mill, it started to ascend either I wasn't working hard enough or the instructor was just messing with me, I look over and the instructor said "didn't think you were pushing yourself enough but seriously I think you stop and take some time to calm down, maybe try something less intensive like skipping" she then led me over to a rack that was full of equipment and handed me a skipping rope.
    I went over to a corner and started to get my breathing into a rhythm as I got into the pace of the skipping rope.
    After I had relaxed I jogged over to the climbing station determined not to laze about. I skipped the ladder because if I was good at hanging off of things I was better at climbing them, I shimmied up the tree and threw myself onto the cliff face hand after hand leg after leg like my very life depended on it because it very well could. I finished in the climbing station and with a half an hour left I strolled over to the pool and once I was ready dived in taking whole lengths on one breath, overjoying with the feel of water on my body. I dived to the bottom of the pool and then burst up out of the water as the siren sounded the last day was over (not really the last day ). I walked over to the elevator and myself and Death had to the fourth floor.