Chapter 7

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I have a brilliant plan for part three, the part where we can go off the mats but no longer than an hour. A couple of years back, a guy was on the same part as me and he was starving, however, he did not leave his mat when the gong went off. He waited ten minutes, and then left. All but one of the ones who left were caught but he was out ten minutes after the other people who were caught, so technically he lasted longer than them. He came fifth place but if he raced out as soon as the gong sounded, he Would've placed tenth. Smart move.
I am thinking about this and laughing to myself a little for the first few minutes of the day and at 11:30, I eat my very last peach. There will be food, water, and supplies scattered throughout the woods today and I can go retrieve them. I am out of food right now, but I am not very hungry so I won't have to go into the woods immediately.
Time passes. Then more. I organize my stuff and get excited for the rush. That's what they call it when most of the players sprint into the woods at the same time. During the rush lots of people get out. Sometimes only two or three, but one year there were only four people left after the rush.
"Congratulations! The eleven of you have advanced to part three. The remaining contestants are as follows: Melissa Green, Blaze Farrell, Erik Finley, Andrew Chang, Franklin Reilly, William Johnson, Mason Stein, Dorris Macbeth, Justin Tillerman, Paige Harper, and Connor Reid. As you know, when noon strikes, you will be released from your mats. You will be free to roam the wilderness, for there are supplies scattered across the woods. But if you are not able to return back to your mat within one hour, you will be eliminated, and the monsters will try to make sure that happens. Noon strikes in ten minutes. Good luck!"
I watch the clock tick by, one second at a time. Tick tock, tick tock. My heart is pounding and after ten minutes a loud noise is heard, signaling us to be free. Many stagger off into the woods looking for food. Others go in a full sprint. Only three people stay on their mats, including me. Paige has gone off into the woods, and the guy next to her, but the girl next to him has stayed. I think her name is Dorothy or something. I've waited a full minute but I can't wait any longer, I jump off of my mat and walk in the grass. I let out a huge breath. After a few paces, I turn around and stare at my clock. It reads 59:47, and it is counting down. I quietly step back on my mat and it resets. Then I play a game with it. Jump off, and it starts. Jump on, and it resets. One foot on and one off and the clock is fine. If you are touching the mat at all the clock doesn't start the countdown. Haha.
I check the time. 12:09. Its go time. I grab my satchel and sneak off into the woods swiftly. My heart is pounding. If I get caught it's all over. Making sure to look out for monsters, I search the woods for supplies. I soon find a small water bottle leaning against the trunk of a tree. I venture further. Then I remember why that guy's plan was so genius. If I hear an announcement stating someone is eliminated, I know I have less than ten minutes to get back.
I keep walking while remembering which way leads to the mats and looking out for monsters. After a few more minutes, I find a small note stapled to a tree. It just has an arrow pointing upwards on it. My eyes look to the sky, to the canopy of branches above. I am looking and looking all around me and above my. The cameramen that have been following me zoom in on my face. This is probably on television right now and everyone is seeing if I fall into the trap. Then I spot it. A bright red backpack dangles from a high branch of a nearby tree. It is stuffed to the limit. But it is definitely a trap. Nevertheless, I run and literally jump into the tree and start climbing. At that moment at least six monsters spring from the bushes and grab at me. One has my leg but I manage to shake it off. Adrenaline surges through my body as I climb high into the tree like a monkey. A few of them try to climb after me but they are much heavier. They cannot make it. I eventually reach the large bag, nearly 100 meters in the air. I look down. The eight of them look small now. Some  are women, some men. I sit on a skinny branch, catching my breath. Then, an idea comes to me. How can I avoid them if they are going to stay there the whole time? Easy. They can't climb the trees, so trees will serve as my way back to the safety of mats.
I put the backpack on my shoulders and climb down until I am sitting on a sturdy branch about halfway down the tree. I inch my way out, little by little. It is scary but worth the 6,000 Kappoz. The branch begins to bend and another branch from a neighboring tree is just out of arm's reach.
I stretch my arms further and lean forward, just touching the other branch. I grab hold of it and pull it closer. Then the branch I am sitting on finally snaps. I hang on for dear life and am left dangling fifty feet above the ground. My fingers hurt, my pack is heavy, nevertheless, I move my hands towards the trunk a few inches at a time. Soon enough I am standing on a sturdy branch again with my heart pumping like crazy.
That is when I hear Jeff Rogers tune in on the loudspeaker. Horns blow and Jeff begins announcing the names of the people who were eliminated during the rush. Andrew Chang, Mason Stein, Dorris macbeth, and Erik Finley. That's not a lot of people. Usually there is six or seven. Wait, I almost forgot, that announcement means I have ten minutes to get back to my mat. I peer down below only to see the cluster of wicked black-clothed people has grown larger. I spin around to the other side of the tree, blocking myself from their view. Then I change directions, going left instead of straight back to the mats. I walk out on a limb and hop into the neighboring tree. I then repeat this for five or six trees, then turn around to see that the monsters haven't caught up with me.
Idiots.
Now I am only racing against time. I probably have about five minutes left. I begin to hop from tree to tree in a wild frenzy to get back in time. It drains all of my energy but I keep pushing forward. Then I see the clearing, and my mat, and my timer. It has less than a minute left on it. I hop to the next tree and climb down it as fast as possible, but it is not quick enough. The seconds tick by. 50. . . 40. . . 30. . . Still twenty feet up in the air, I jump down and do a roll so I don't break my foot. Then I dash across the field, surely all cameras are on me at this moment. Everyone at home leans forward in their chairs. I push myself to go faster and faster, tearing up the grass and the dirt. 7. . . 6 . . . 5 . . . And I collapse on the mat. The timer resets. I am safe.

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