Fifteen Down Eight to Go

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I stand up and step back. Jake's arm drops to the ground. I quickly pick up Glimmer's bow, which I had grabbed before they took her. I choose an arrow and pull the string back.

Jake's eyes widen and he drops the sword. He holds his hands up in surrender.

"You betrayed me," I say angrily.

"I did not! Okay, maybe I did. but I was trying to protect you!" He says.

"What?" I lower the bow. "What are you talking about?" How could Jake be protecting me when he had been prancing around with the Careers all along?

"I was following you when they found me. I hadn't completely found you, but I'd seen tracks, signs. I was trying to get to you." He says.

"To kill me,"

"To be your ally."

"How do you know I wanted to be your ally?" I ask.

"Well, I had to hope. It was a chance I had to take!" He says, sitting down on a rock. I walk towards him, but still held the bow close. "They found me and Jack wanted to kill me. But Mary Rose wouldn't let him."

"Mary Rose?"

"The girl who killed Amber."

"Oh."

"Anyways, Mary Rose said something about 'finding her' and Jack let me live." Jake says explains.

Jake continues. "They asked about my plan and I lied and said I was trying to hunt you down and kill you. They believed it. They said they wanted you dead too, and asked if I had a lead. I knew the only way I might be able to save you was to lead them away. So I did. Of course, I had lost your tracks. We camped a little farther off from your camp. That night, I tried to run away. But Mina and Henri, the girl with the knives and the guy with the scar, caught me. The blood's from knives piercing my jacket and pant and the bruises are from Jack pounding me into a pulp. Even Mary Rose couldn't save me that time. I don't know how they didn't kill me, maybe their contact was off."

"Wait, so they didn't kill you off?" I ask.

"No. They heard noises so they packed up and hid a little closer to your camp. Even though I wasn't flashing red, they left me there. I wasn't gone yet. I felt strength so I found a sword they had left and followed them. Jack sent Henri and Mary Rose to scout out for tributes wandering around. They found you guys. I followed them and was able to take Mary Rose out." He says. I studied Jake's face. My subconscious told me not to believe him, that he was a selfish jerk, but my heart said different.

"Thank you, I guess. I would have been out of the Games if it had not been for you." I say, sitting down next to him.

"You are welcome." He says simply, his cheeks flushing. I smile at his embarrassment.

"We should get out of here. Jack and Mina are bound to check out what happened. We don't want Amber's sacrifice to be for nothing." I remind. Jake nodded and picked up the backpack. I sling the bow around my chest and the arrows around my shoulder.

We follow the river down until it becomes a small pond. We fill up our water bottles and rest in a nearby cave. We are far away from the last campsite.

Suddenly, as we're settling down, Jake cries out. I jump up. "Are you okay?"

"Yes, but I am in so much pain." He says.

I spot a long gash in his thigh. Blood is starting to come out again. Blood usually makes me sick to the stomach, but I know I have to be strong.

I grab my water bottle and leave the cave for the stream. Once the bottle is filled up with fresh cold water, I find some wet leaves.

Back inside the cave, I try to use that water to clean up the wound a little, but it only makes Jake cringe in pain. I place the wet leaves over the wound and pat them down a little, hoping they might soak up some blood. I'm no doctor, but I was trying my best and probably failing at helping Jake.

"How many are gone?" He asks me.

"Fifteen, I think." I say, assuming he's talking about the number of dead tributes.

"Fifteen down, eight to go." He says, allowing a small smile.

"Til what?" I ask, confused.

"Until you win."

*

That night, I let him sleep in the sleeping bag and I took 1st watch.

Jake slept soundly, his brown hair matted down with mud and dirt. I kneeled down and checked his leaves. Bloody. Too bloody.

"Oh no." I say to myself. He need sponsors otherwise...I squeeze my eyes shut, hoping to clear my mind of the thoughts of Jake's bleeding to kick him out of the Games.

I hear the anthem and walk outside. I sit down with my back against the front wall of the cave.

Mary Rose and Henri faces' flash. I shiver at the sight, especially Mary Rose's. How wrong I had been to falsely judge her intensity, how wrong I had been to think so lowly of her. A tribute from 4 and 5 each. Then Amber. Alex's face does not flash. He's alive.

Fifteen down, eight to go.

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