Today’s winner is…Jennifer Fu of District 1!
Congrats, Jen, your training score is now 9!
From my position in the bushes, I can see the girl from 1 standing near the mouth of the Cornucopia, waiting for me. She stalks back and forth, a meteor hammer dragging around her, pulled by the chain in her hand.
I need a strategy.
Since the islands fell, I was able to scrounge up enough minerals to make one incendiary potion. To the naked eye it looks just like water, but all I’ve got to do is drop a reactive agent into the bottle, close the cap, and give it a throw to make a fireball that will engulf the girl in flames.
But if I miss…
I don’t have any weapons except my knife, and I don’t even know how to use it that well. And the girl from 1’s not gonna get close to me, not when she’s got a meteor hammer. No, if I miss my throw, I’m as good as dead.
The girl from my district won last year. Her final battle was pretty painless; she brought down the boy from 11 without a sweat.
I can only hope for the same amount of luck.
The girl from 10 finally steps out of the forest, and I start whirling my meteor hammer at my side.
This is it.
A Career hasn’t won the Games in the past three years. The closest we’ve gotten was Avery from District 2 in the first year, but even she was beaten, despite her skill. I’ve got to be careful.
The girl holds a half-full water bottle in her right hand, and a knife is clutched in her left hand.
She stops a short distance from me, and we stare each other down.
“What’s your name?” she asks me after a moment.
“Doesn’t matter,” I respond.
Her face wrinkles up, clearly confused by my hostility.
“Look,” she says, “I don’t wanna be here any more than you do. I was just trying to—
“To what?” I shout back. “Trying to be friendly? Trying to get to know me? Maybe you should have woken Zack up and asked for his name before you melted his face off!”
My plan is working. In her frustration at my false friendliness, the girl doesn’t even notice as I move my left hand over the bottle, dropping the reactive agent tucked away in my palm inside. I screw the lid on.
“No need for names. No one will remember you once I kill you,” growls the girl from 1.
“We’ll see about that!” I scream as I launch the bottle at the girl with a mighty throw.
I release my meteor hammer and send it flying towards the girl, just as she throws her concoction at me. Bottle meets hammer in mid-air, and a massive fireball erupts between us, knocking me to the ground singing my face with heat…
I cough and pick myself up off the ground, looking at the cloud of smoke in front of me. Did I get her? Did the fireball make contact?
The girl’s meteor hammer suddenly flies out of the smoke cloud and smashes into me. I fall back to the ground, groaning in pain as ribs crack in my chest.
The girl from 1 steps out of the smoke cloud, whirling the meteor hammer at her side. I feebly crawl backwards as blood begins to collect in my mouth.
“Please,” I sputter as the girl stops in front of me.
I hesitate to make a final blow, and in that moment of hesitation the girl whips her arm out and slices my ankle with her knife. Screaming in pain, I fall to the ground.
The girl climbs on top of me, rearing up to stab down at me with her knife. I grab her wrists at the last moment, and we struggle against each other. Blood pours from in between her clenched teeth and down onto my face and neck as she groans and presses her knife closer and closer to my left eye.
I grin savagely as the girl’s strength starts to give out.
In a last ditch effort to save myself, I release the girl’s wrists and throw my head to the side. I cry out in pain as her knife slices down across the back of my neck and slams into the ground. Thrown forward by the sudden loss of resistance, the girl’s head drops down in front of mine. I rear back and then slam my head into hers, knocking her off of me.
She scrambles for her knife, but I’m already grabbing my meteor hammer by the heavy hammer end, holding it with two hands like a boulder over my head. The girl rolls over and screams as I bring it down onto her face. A sickening crunch cuts off her scream.
I lift the hammer and bring it down again. And again. And again.
They say I didn’t stop beating her face in with the hammer, even after the trumpets had sounded and proclaimed me the victor. Attendants had to pull me away from her body and help me onto the hovercraft.
They say I wouldn’t stop screaming.
Sometimes I see them in my nightmares. They surround me and taunt me simply by standing there and staring me down. Andrew, with an arrow through his head. A headless Edwin. Joseph, his head hanging loosely from his chest. Zack, his face bubbling and dissolving. And the girl from 10, whose name I later learned was Ellen.
Her face a bloodied pulp, she strides towards me and pours a potion into my eyes, one that forces me to live through the horrors of the Games, night after night.
I still haven’t stopped screaming.
The Victor: Jennifer Fu of District 1!