Chapter Six

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~~ Bryony ~~

I'm racing through the trees. Twigs snap behind me, the branches reaching out like fingers and plucking the clothes from my body. My heart is hammering in my chest.

Suddenly I emerge at the edge of the forest. I am on a cliff. There is a swish-swash noise coming from the trees. I back up. I am stuck; trapped.

A man bursts out from the greenery, causing a huge flock of mockingjays to flutter up into the sky, as startled as I am. The man is my father.

"Please, Bryony. Forgive me," he shouts across the distance between us.

I shake my head and step back. I can't do it. I reach up to touch my cheek, where I can feel a bruise forming.

Suddenly I am falling backwards, through the sky. I can see the ground rushing up to meet me, death stretching out its hands, welcoming me. Before I can open my mouth to scream, I am yanked to the side, into a cave, by some invisible force. But the cave is far from a safe haven. Inside are bats, thousands of them flying around my head, tangling themselves in my hair. They are biting at my skin, their sharp teeth piercing my veins. They must be hungry.

Then they stop. They fly back to whatever hideous hole they came from, as if summoned to torment someone else. I can see. I can see my father.

He is standing only a metre or two in front of me. How did I miss him? He, too, looks like he has been devoured.

"Why can't you forgive me Bryony? Why?"

I can't speak.

I scream.


I'm drenched in sweat. My heart is pounding so loud I'm scared Marco is going to come bursting in. He would never let me live it down. Although I might not have to face embarrassment for very long; in just a few days, I'm going into the arena.

It's this fact that makes me crawl out of bed and shrug on my dressing gown. My stomach rumbles, and I realise I'm starving.

Then I remember: training starts today. All of a sudden I am racing down the corridor. I need to eat quickly, so that it can settle. Then I need to train.

I know enough about the Games to know that even if you get reaped and have no experience in fighting or survival, you still have a chance. A small chance, yes, but a chance nonetheless. That's why it's vital I use this training time to the best of my ability. Two days might seem a while, but I have a feeling it's going to go faster than I expect.


The elevator doors slide open. I step out, and find myself in a massive hall, with many stations dotted around the room. There is an instructor at each one, ready to teach us how to kill.

Everyone is gathered in the middle of the hall. Although I hurried as much as I could, I still slept in, and Marco and I are the last ones here. I search the crowd anxiously for Celestia's face. Seeing her smiling at me, I sigh in relief.

"Now we are all here, let's begin," starts a strong-looking man at the front of the pack of tributes. I assume that he is the one in charge of us until the day after tomorrow, where we will have our private sessions with the Gamemakers. Although this is a special, Capitol-only Hunger Games, all other rules are going to be the same - same sponsors, same mentors, same training. Same dying.

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