Chapter Sixteen

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When I wake the next morning, my body aches from tossing and turning all night. I don't think I got a single minute of sleep, as I was constantly scared that someone would attack us in the middle of the night.

I stand up and walk to the window. Outside the sun is still rising, but I doubt any of the tributes in this arena will still be sleeping. None of us have the nerves to - and it isn't just about taking a risk. If you are asleep and a tribute comes near, chances are the first thing that tribute will do is make sure you never wake up.

I'm learning a lot of things, being in the arena. Nothing that could be very important outside of the Hunger Games, but things that all tributes must find out, at some point.

I glance back at Grace. She smiles grimly, and gets up to stand next to me.

I wonder how the Capitol, and all of the districts back home are reacting. Lots of the Capitol will be heartbroken and in mourning, their loved ones dead already. Lots more will be worried sick.

And the districts...I think about how they must see this as revenge. As justice served for us cruel Capitol kids. It makes me angry how they are putting us through this, until I realise that this is what we did to them for 75 years.

Suddenly, I am knocked out of my thoughts by a loud boom. A cannon. Someone is dead.

The noise sets my heart racing, reminding me not to get too comfortable, that I am in the arena and I could never breathe again. That I need to watch my back.

Grace's breathing increases speed, too. I can tell she is worried. She has changed so much since I first met her in the Training Centre. It's like the Capitol Games has turned her from an innocent child into a grief-stricken, broken adult. And I know it must have changed me, too.

And Bryony. Where is she now? Hopefully she will have betrayed the Careers by now, maybe even killed one of them. Maybe that cannon we just heard was Violet's. A sick part of me hopes so.


We are starving, literally. We have already eaten the last of the cereal bars, and we have no other food. The water is almost gone, and things are looking very grim. A part of me wants to venture out of this desolate District 12, abandon Bryony and the other boy, Harry (although if he hasn't turned up by now, I doubt he ever will), and find something to eat and drink. But another, more loyal part of me is protesting. I need to wait for my best friend. The very fact  that I am even thinking about leaving disgusts me. After all this time Bryony has been by my side, I can't abandon her now, when she needs me the most.

I need to distract myself. Something other than thinking those horrible thoughts.

"Hey, Grace," I say at some point in the ever-lasting hours of waiting, as I look out into the clone of District 12. "Tell me about yourself. Your family, back home."

She thinks for a minute. "I have a brother."

I pause, waiting for more. When it doesn't come, I say, "That's it? That's all you have to tell me about yourself? You have a brother?"

"Well... he's two years younger than me. I have a sister too, but I don't see her much. She's a lot older than me and my brother - fifteen years. She has a job, or she did: she was an escort for the Hunger Games."

"Oh?" I say, eyebrows rising. I didn't know that. "What district?"


Ah. Three is a district that rarely wins. Although the tributes from there are generally quite clever, not many are ruthless and strong enough to eliminate the competition and emerge victorious - and alive.

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