The ebbing of the water against the pier is an eerie soundtrack to the brutal scene in front of me; my mother is hung in the gallows as a loud crack echoes through the air. The leather of the peacekeepers whip slashes open my mother skin, but my sisters and I can only sit there and cry, our father holding us back, tears brimming over the edge of his eyelids too. The red liquid streaming down my mothers back sparkles against the moonlight as the whole town stands in the town square, just next to the bay, watching my mother die slowly. My father can’t bear this any longer, and he nudges me, signaling that I must comfort my sisters in his place. I am the eldest of us, and I know that I must be strong now for them. My father leaps past the barrier and in seconds his fist has connected with the Peacekeepers smirking face. He stands for a second, the Peacekeeper now lying on the cobbled ground, stunned into stupor. In no time at all though, my cries return as my father is hauled away by two other Peacekeepers, I didn’t know it then, but that would be the last time I ever saw him.
Rumour had it that the capitol had taken him hostage as an Avox, cutting his tongue out to teach him never to protest the capitols agenda again. As for my mother, I watched on as she took her final breaths. The whips crack filling the tense square as I was paralyzed, unable to do anything but cling onto my sisters for dear life. Suddenly stones start to fall from the night sky, bouncing off the scene before me.
But this isn’t part of my memory, I think, now drifting out of the nightmare and straight into a real nightmare. Stones from the roof of the cave fall upon Terlum and I leaving clouds of dust in their wake. I panic and rush to Terlums side, shaking him awake. I gather our belongings and pull the drowsy Terlum out of the cave, just in time to watch it collapse. The earth shakes beneath my feet and I drop to the ground, pulling Terlum with me. The two of us are safe for the moment, at least. But wait… The two of us? Leigh! Was she in the cave? Waves of guilt roll through my system as I wonder if, in the hysteria of the moment I missed Leigh, leaving her to die in the cave.
“Are you guys okay?” a voice calls in the distance. It’s Leigh, thank god.
“I don’t think any of us are injured,” I reply, dusting myself off as I rise.
“We’ve got to go. Now that we’re exposed, who knows what the Game Makers could throw at us?” Terlum says. I agree completely, and nod as I pick up our bags, ready to head off in seconds. We make our way, even more cautiously now. We don’t have the leafy walls of green foliage to cover us anymore and are now nearly completely vulnerable to an attack. Terlum is still unable to walk at full pace after the flood so we decide that we can gather food as we walk slowly through the remnants of the jungle. Leigh gathers roots and shows Terlum and I which berries and plants to collect.
As I glance around the jungle I’m filled with a warm tingling sensation… hope. The jungle itself is the epitome of hope right now. It’s been set ablaze, flooded with poison and shaken by a huge earthquake, and still, that familiar hum of life surrounds us. Animals, plants, insects all carry on; rebuilding and re-establishing their lives. It gives me hope that if I don’t survive, my family can do the same. And If I do survive, it gives me hope that I can help the citizens of Northern Ridges rebuild their lives as they would have been before the Capitol controlled every aspect of them.
My stomach rumbles and I’m brought back to more basic thoughts, “We need to eat,” I tell the others. We sit and set out our gathered foods, silence filling the void between the three of us as we chew.
Looking around, I study the worn and world-weary faces of my allies. I ponder how much I’ll miss them when one of us dies… Leigh stands up abruptly and puts my train of thought to a standstill.
“We have to end this” she declares. We look at her blankly, until she continues. “If we don’t take action now, we are going to die here. We have to seek out the other tributes. We must track them down and kill them, or die in the process. No more hiding” she imparts.I can see where she’s coming from, but Terlum is in no shape for combat at this stage.
“The capitol wants a fight. Let’s give them a fight.” Leigh smirks, and the defiant air of it all makes me grin myself. I rise up and nod in agreement, reaching out a hand to pull Terlum up.
“We have food and water that should last us a couple of days. If we start tracking them now, we could catch up with a few tributes by tomorrow” I suggest, pulling my pack around to check through it.
“We’ll have to keep our weapons at the ready” says Terlum, leaning on his spear. I gather everything up again and we set off again, a new found vigor in our gaits. Our communications are now limited to signals and hand movements. We don’t want to risk being found by making unnecessary noise. After hourse of padding over the damp mossy earth the sun sets and flourishes of warm pinks and red paint the sky like a masterpiece. We soon come across an upended tree and decide that this is probably the best shelter we will find before dark. We lay our leaf blankets out and set down our packs. The humid air is now filled with a spark of vehement rebellion, and as I drift off, a grin plays on my lips, thinking of the excitement yet to come…