Today’s lucky winner is…Sarah of District 11!
Congrats Sarah, your training score is now 9!
Day 16: The Finale
It’s time. I take one last gulp of water before exiting the SUV, leaving all my supplies behind.
I won’t be needing anything. Just my sword.
The fallen skyscrapers add some time onto my journey through the arena, but I don’t mind.
“I’m going to die.”
The thought racks my mind so hard that I have to stop and catch my breath. 16 days stuck in this arena, watching everyone around me die. Could all of that be for nothing? Could I have made it to the end, only to die now?
I climb over the ruins of the final skyscraper, seeing my final destination straight ahead of me. The wasteland. It’s the only part of the arena left untouched by the fallen skyscrapers. It’s totally empty.
Save for the girl from 5, who waits for me with a sword in her hand.
The girl from 11 finally appears, and the knot in my stomach tightens intensely. This is it. Winner take all.
We’re both going home. One of us in style, and the other in a hard wooden box. I will not die here. Not after making it this far.
The girl approaches me cautiously, sword held at the ready. I hold my own with shaky hands, trying to give a confident face. Yesterday, in my panic, I lost the vial of poison somewhere in the rubble. This sword was the only weapon left at the stone table from the feast. It’s all I have to keep me from life and death at this point.
The girl comes to a halt a few feet from me. There’s silence for a while as we size each other up.
“What’s your name?” asks the girl. “I’ve been calling you ‘the girl from 5’ for the longest time now.”
I barely manage to hold back a smile. “Maureen.”
The girl nods. “Maureen. I’m Sarah.”
More silence. The wind whistles through the crumbling ruins. Off in the distance, I see the two skyscrapers that fell into each other and saved me. I’m far away from that tent now. Out in the open, and very unsafe.
“Are you ready?” the girl asks, squeezing the handle of her sword.
I nod sharply.
We rush at each other, and steel meets steel in an explosion of ferocity.
I stumble backwards, breathing heavily. Maureen, having put a lot of energy into her last swing, stands with her feet planted to the ground, taking in heaving breaths as well. We’ve been fighting for over an hour, with neither of us having an advantage over the other.
With a burst of energy, I rush at Maureen with a yell, swinging my sword at her chest. She spins and deflects my swing, sending me sprawling back. Then she presses forward, throwing powerful but inaccurate swings at me. I deflect most of them, but the last one slices me in the leg and sends me falling backwards to the ground. Maureen stumbles forward, raising her sword above her head to deliver the killing blow.
“It’s over,” she says, before sending the sword flying down at me.
I scream, and reflexively kick out with my uninjured leg. My foot makes contact with the flat side of the blade, and it flies out of Maureen’s hands and into the air. She and I both look after it, in a state of shock.
I recover much faster than her though, and by the time she’s turned back to face me, my sword is already sailing towards her heart.
My entire body flinches as the sword enters my body. It’s cold. I stand upright for a moment before falling to my knees, overcome with fatigue and shock. I look down at the weapon lodged in my chest. Blood spurts out of the places where the wound isn’t sealed. Sarah has released the sword, and has scooted a short distance away. We stare at each other. And suddenly, catching even myself off guard, I start to cry.
Maureen bursts into tears, and I can no longer contain my own. We cry together, her because she won’t be going home, and me because I’ve killed yet again.
Slowly but surely, Maureen’s cries become softer and softer, until she goes completely silent. I look up and watch as she slowly falls forward, folding over herself until the sword handle catches in the ground and keeps her held erect. Hands clasped together and chin against her chest, she looks like she’s at prayer.
The final cannon fires. Trumpets blare and a voice projects throughout the arena.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, your victor! Sarah Harrist of District 11!”
I hardly notice the commotion. I’m fixated on this praying corpse, this peaceful creature. And suddenly I’m remembering Abby, who sacrificed herself for me. The girl from 4, who’s life I took. All the other tributes.