Chapter 8

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My chest heaves up and down, and up and down. I slip off the red backpack and turn on my side and puke my guts out.
"I'm okay. I'm okay." I say. I don't want little Fiona thinking that I am really sick or something. I, first rinse my mouth out with water, then drink some. It is cool and refreshing. Once I regain my bearings I begin to look through the red backpack. I find a tin cup, a hat, a large thermos with hot chicken noodle soup in it, two blankets, a chocolate bar, two oranges, a packet of potato chips, and a small water bottle.
"Whooo!' I cheer. I have struck gold!
All of this food will definitely give me an edge over most of the other players. They will have to go into the woods for resources but I risked it all and lucked out with this big red backpack.
Later, I eat the potato chips and half of the chocolate bar. It tastes really good. Then, it gets dark, and really cold. I am gracious for the blankets because without them I would surely be shivering my head off.
Then I hear something faint. An animal? No. It sounds like a person whimpering. Its Paige! Oh I feel so bad for her. I wish I could help her. Wait, what if I can help her? Are there any rules against teaming up with another contestant?
And so with two blankets, a thermos of hot soup, and my two cups, I set off to do something no one has ever done in the history of the run. Paige is curled up in a ball and shivering so much it looks like she is having a seizure. She looks up at me and sniffles.
"What are you doing Connor?"
"I just want to help." I reply.
I sit her up and wrap one blanket around her shoulders. She grabs it tightly. With the second blanket around my own shoulders, I poor two steaming hot cups of chicken noodle soup and hand one to her with extra broth.
"Thanks" She smiles and grabs the cup with both hands.
I smile in return.
The two of us sip hot delicious soup without a word until the thermos is completely empty. Then I look back at my timer and see that I have about twenty minutes.
"I should go."
"No wait," she holds onto my hand while digging through a small bag, "here. At least it's something." She hands me an apple.
"Oh no I don't need this. Please," I try to give her the apple.
"No. No. You have done me a great good. It's the very least I could do to repay you. Take it."
"Okay. Bye Paige." I take the apple and the thermos and walk off.
"Wait" She says.
I turn around as she is standing up  face me. In the bitter cold, her soft lips meet mine. She drops her blanket and I put my arms around her. I can't help smiling through the kiss. When she starts shivering we pull away and she grabs her blanket again.
"Goodbye Connor." She says with those beautiful lips. I smile, then begin to walk away.
When I get back to my mat I put the apple in my bag and the hat on my head. Then, with the blanket around me, I fall asleep dreaming wonderful dreams about Paige.
I awake in a warm, lazy state. I feel as if I was waking up in my bed back home. The time is 10:15am. I think back to our tender kiss last night. It was so cold but now it is sunny and warm.
I peel an orange and pour myself a cup of water. Then Jeff Rogers gives us the wake-up call.
"Congratulations Melissa Green, Blaze Farrell, Franklin Reilly, William Johnson, Justin Tillerman, Paige Harper, and Connor Reid." My heart jumps with joy every time he reads my name off of those cards, "You are the final seven competitors of. . ." He turns to the camera and points into it for dramatic effect, "The Run!" He walks down the field and reads from the TelePrompTer. "Here's what you missed on The Run! The thirteen eager contestants were finally released from their mats in the rush. Melissa struck gold when she found a basket of fresh bread and water. William had trouble finding anything at all and nearly stayed out too late. Close call! Connor ventured into the woods and found a large pack stuffed with food! Only it was sixty feet up in a tree and there were monsters near. . ." An interviewer taps my shoulder.
"You mind?" Says the interviewer.
"No it's good." I say to him and he waves the camera lady over.
"Well. . ."  He looks down at his cards, " That was quite the adventure you had yesterday, what were your thoughts going into the woods?"
"Uh, I wanted to get some food so. . . Yeah." I know I must sound boring but I have a great story for the part where I get the backpack. If he would only ask. . .
"Then once you were in the woods, describe what happened when you first saw the backpack. Take us through the experience." He says. This is the good part, surely to be televised.
"So I was walking through the woods, and I found a few little things, but not much and then I look up and all of a sudden there is this huge bright red backpack stuffed to the brim. But it is way up in a tree. So what do I do? I climb it! And there was monsters all around the tree. I had to hop from tree to tree to get out of there."
"Wow that really is a great story. Thank you. Can you tell us what it was like at the end when you were climbing down the tree and then you jumped and everything?"
"Yeah sure! Well I kept going from tree to tree for a while until I got back to the field but I had about forty seconds left so I climbed down as fast as I could but it wasn't fast enough! I had to jump out of the tree and sprint back to my mat and I barely made it. It was crazy."
"Great, that was perfect," he turns to the camera lady, "You got that?"
She nods. Then they both leave. With a grin on my face, I finish eating my orange and drinking my water. Things are looking pretty good for me right now.

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