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Deviant for 3 Years
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When it gets dark Pepper is shown in the sky. She was the tribute of district eleven and she was a rather pretty girl with dark-skin. She was taller than most male tributes. I think her district chose her because she was the daughter of someone whom people did not like. I am not sure of why.
Who is left then? Let's see... Except for me and Natan it must be... Elsie and Jeanne. So we are two guys and two girls. I have forgotten why Jeanne was chosen. I do not remember anything special about her. Kind of average face as well. I remember why Elsie was chosen though. She had murdered her own sister two days before the reaping. She was quite controversial. It was unclear if they would accept her as a tribute, considering that she was likely to be facing a death sentence anyway. In the end they accepted her since the trial for the murder had not yet been concluded. And now she is one of the last tributes alive. Killing really seems to be her thing. I suppose she has been doing a good deal of that since the games started. I wonder what her district will do if she wins and comes back alive. They cannot execute her then, can they?
I lay down in my little den. It feels so cold and lonely without Melissa next to me. If we had not been sent here, would we have kept together? I think that even people around us kind of assumed that we always would. They probably expected us to get married one day. It is strange to think of it. Could we really have been a married couple? I used to observe the people around me a lot. Mostly people of my age. It was interesting to see how they lived their lives. It hurt at times too, though, because it all seemed so much easier for them than it was for me. For them things seemed to float on so smoothly. There were many who had girlfriends and boyfriends. As for me, no other girls than Melissa even spoke to me if they did not have to. So I guess that she was the only hope for me, although she did have other guys who seemed to like her too. She had no reason to choose me, stupid and ridiculous me. So many made fun of me.
“Still playing war in the forest?“, they would say, for instance, with scornful smiles. “You're going to be a peacekeeper, right?“
I would try to ignore them but they would continue.
“Vitus, would you kill someone?“ Once someone asked me that. I do not know why I opened my mouth but I had been thinking a lot about it and, of some reason, I felt that I wanted to explain that there are times when it might be necessary to do it.
“I would if...”
“So you would kill someone?”, they interrupted me. “So you want to kill people!”
I lost my thread.
“Yes. I mean...” Words really are not my strong side. Have never been.
The others had expressions of fake horror on their faces.
“Vitus wants to kill people!” they exclaimed and everybody laughed. “Vitus is a murderer! He is dangerous!”
Those are the kind of things that would happened to me all the time. So it is not strange that people thought that I was an idiot. I was so easy to make fun of. Nobody wanted to be the person who others made fun of so they would do it to me instead. They always needed someone to be below themselves. I have never cared about who is below me and above me. I did not care about the fight for status and respect going on amongst the people of my own age. Maybe it is because I never had a chance but I would prefer to believe that it was because I did not want to sacrifice the one I was in order to be just like everybody else, to be popular or something. Not even to get a girlfriend. I wish that I could get rid of my weaknesses, though. They are too many. And I wish that I had had a few more people who cared about me. That is all. That is the thing that hurts the most: that the majority did not even choose me for the Hunger Games in order to be mean or because they hated me. They just chose me because I was the one that they would miss the least if he died. But whatever. There have been good moments in my life too. I do not want all the bad things that have happened to define me. I do not want the scornful smiles, the mean words, the votes with my name at the reaping nor the Hunger Games to be the things that describe my life, to describe who I was. If people were to remember just one thing about me let it be something good. Let it be my dreams or let it be the sunny days that I spent with Melissa or the evenings, when I was small, and listened to grandpa's stories from the past to make me sleep. Or my hikes in the mountains. There have been many good moments.
I keep going the next day. I continue along the border of the forest, only stopping once or twice to eat and drink. Still no cannons. Still no signs of Natan either. What are the chances that I am on the right track? Where would I have gone if I had been Natan? If I had been confident that I would win a fight I would have stopped and prepared for it in a good place. He must be suspecting that I am following him. Or maybe he is actively seeking out new victims alone. But what makes me think that he is alone? Maybe he is allied with one of the girls. Or both.
In the night I have problems sleeping again. I keep waking up in panic, convinced that the others are sneaking up on me.
The third morning after Melissa died arrives. It is another day of walking. The forest and the mountains are yet so still. From time to time I sneak up to the edge of the forest again and examine the land beyond with my eyes. I can see more and more of the glacier. The tall peaks are wrapped in fog today, the peaks that Melissa had wanted to climb. Now it will never happen.
In the afternoon I notice that the sound of the river has grown a bit fainter so I go to the edge of the forest once more. I see that the river has bent away from the tree-line. It disappears from view behind the edge of a ravine. I feel my skin tingle. Now I am at the mine field for sure. I look for the rock shaped like a shark fin, the one where those others died. There are many large rocks and I cannot make out any that is more similar to a shark fin than the others. I get a sudden impulse. I will examine the riverbank from closer up. I wait a while before leaving the shadows of the forest, making sure nothing is moving. Crouching down under the trees I choose the path that I will take. I look for places that can shelter me and hide me. Then I stand up and quickly move over to my first shelter, by a heap of stones. I continue to the next, and the next and the next after that, always moving short distances at a time. It is the first time that I am outside of the forest since the first day. I feel exposed but it is nice too see a little further too. It is a little windy. There are small clouds on the sky. Their shadows run across the ground as they move. I keep climbing further up, making sure to keep a good distance from the mined river-side.
I turn to see how far I have gone. The trees are small and far away now. Suddenly I see the shark fin-shaped rock. I do not have any doubts about which it is. Its triangular silhouette reaches above all the surrounding stone masses, about a hundred meters down from where I stand. I passed it without  noticing it. I climb down a bit again to take a little closer look at it, and at the place where Melissa witnessed that horrible thing. Are the blood stains still going to be there?
A slight movement in the corner of my eyes catches my attention and I quickly and instinctively turn my head in its direction. There, far away though, are other tributes. I look for a hiding place but don't find any close one so I kneel down and stay still. Movement is what gives away.
The other tributes are gone from view again but I wait, without moving as little as a finger. I am a stone amongst all the others on the mountain side. There the others are again. They are just two. They walk slowly and from time to time they disappear behind the stones. They stay hidden a little before making their appearance anew and moving to a new hiding place. I am not the only one who tries to be stealthy. They should move quicker between hiding places though. They give me too much time to spot them while they are out in the open. Maybe they are tired. Or injured maybe even.
I have a bow in my hand. I am a hunter now. I should not let them get away like I am doing. Natan might be amongst them too.
I wait until they are out of view again. Then I take a few quick steps to a hiding place of my own. I wait again, let them move, and repeat the procedure again. When I do not make it to a hiding place in time I stay still.
You have already got the blood of two people on your hands, Vitus, I think to myself. This time you will not even have to look them in the eyes. It will be easy. Two more people will be out of the way and you will be closer to victory and to safety.
When I have reached them I will have to wait for the right moment, when they are still and in a position where I have good sight of them but they do not see me. The sound of the river has grown faint now. I try to make my steps lighter so that the others wont be able to hear the sound. Sometimes I think I hear their steps. Maybe the right moment will not arrive until this evening. They do not seem to have the intention to stop. Where are they going like that? From my hiding place behind some rocks I see them now again. I am quite sure it is the two girls. Yes, it must be. None of them seems to have clear blond hair. One has really long hair even, long, brown, hair hanging in a pony-tail down her back. It must be Elsie. The other one is short compared to her. It must be little Jeanne. I cannot make out much more from this distance. They have increased their pace a bit, I think, because I don't seem to be getting much closer.
What if this does not work out? I could miss with all my arrows. Or even just miss a few but give the others enough time to kill me first. My mouth feels dry. All my movements seem to cause such tremendous noise. I trip and scrape my leg on a rock. The burning sensation shoots up from the injury and I clench my teeth. The trousers are a bit torn and I stop a little to press down on the injury in order to stop the blood flow. Although it is just a little blood I do not want to risk leaving a bloody trail after me for any hunter to follow. When peeking over the rocks in front of me I can see the two girls continuing. Maybe I should let them get a bit ahead. If I do not kill them yet then they might lead me to Natan. He is the one I really want dead. Yes, I think that is what I'll do.
When the girls aren't but two dark dots that move across the stony landscape I resume following them, limping a little in the beginning but then walking quite normally after a while.They keep going and going without breaks. They must have a clear goal because you need quite a bit of motivation to keep moving like that in a place like this.
The sun is on its way down now. From here, outside of the forest, I can see the mountains around us clearly. They are dramatic and mighty in the vivid light of the evening.
“I just hope the arena will be beautiful this year. It would be kind of sad to die in an ugly place.“ Jeanne said that when they interviewed her in the capitol, I remember that now. It is one of the only things that I remember about her. She said it laughing, as if she was joking, and the audience joined in the laugh. Some made empathetic sounds and gave her empathetic looks, the kind of sounds and looks you make at a cute little kitten meowing for its mother. At least they did really give her a beautiful arena.
The girls disappear behind a bulge in the terrain. I am afraid that I will loose them and speed up a little. When I reach the edge of the bulge I see a small lake. It is almost perfectly round and its clear water reflects the cliffs around. Beside the lake is a small hut. It is so small and the wood that it is made of is so old and gray that I barely distinguish the house at first. When I see it I am astounded. I have not seen any real buildings since I entered the arena. I did not think that there would be any. The building does not have any windows on the side that I can see and the roof goes almost all the way down to the ground. A small, metal chimney sticks out through it. The girls stop outside the hut for a little and then one of them disappears inside and the other sits down on a rock, probably keeping guard. I wait to see if something is going to happen but it seems like the girls intend to stay in the hut for the night. It must be their shelter. They probably use it like a base, leave it during the days and return to it in the evenings. Good, now I know where to find them. However I should get back to the forest and build my own shelter before it gets too dark. The sun is already about to disappear behind the peaks.
When I get back in the forest it is rather dark already but I am so used at building shelters by now that it goes quickly non the less. It feels safer to be back in the forest. It is my home-environment by now. Still, the knowledge of the other tributes being there, so close by, makes me nervous. They are not that close, I tell myself. There is absolutely no reason for them to come into the forest at night and even if they would then the chances that they would find you are very small. You have built the shelter in a hidden place just as always.
No matter what, I still lay there with eyes wide open, tensed muscles and am unable to fall asleep. Grandpa should be here to tell me stories as he used to do when I was small and could not sleep. He had many stories to tell. I liked to hear about the war, when he was a police which I think was some kind of predecessor to the peacekeepers. He did not take part in any big battles but he did see some fighting in the cities and people dying. At some point he was in charge of rounding up rebels who were hiding amongst the civilian population. There was this specific story which is especially clear in my mind although grandpa did not tell it often. When he did tell it then he talked with a slow and thoughtful voice and he would look down at the floor while he spoke. It was about this spring and they were looking for the families of some known rebel-leaders in order to arrest them and get the rebels to surrender. They found out about a couple who were hiding some families in their own home. This couple were decent folks, apparently. No previous criminal records or anything. They were seemingly honest and well respected people, good citzens who had never done anything against the government before. Now, the punishment for hiding the enemy was death and everyone knew it. So grandpa went to their house and first they arrested the couple and then they went in and found the families. There were about ten people but the police had to shoot a few already as they rounded them all up because they were posing resistance. In the mean time the arrested couple was kept just outside, in case the two could provide any information, and my grandpa could not refrain from asking them why had they done it. Why had they sacrificed their lives for these enemies? They just answered that if you do not help other people in need then you're not really human. That was it. And then they were shot at dawn the next day.
They were brave, no doubt about that, but what was this thing about being human a thing to die for? Isn't every human really human? What did “being human“ mean to them? Us tributes, for an example, all killing each other brutally, and still we live, we breath, eat, sleep and poop just like everyone. We still look like humans. Skinny, dirty, bloody humans but still humans non the less. We are as biologically human as anyone else. It is not even our choice to kill each other. It is the government that makes us behave in this way. So is it the people in the government who are not really human? But even they are doing what they are out of a reason. And the rebel-families that those two were hiding? Those families were arrested in order to weaken the rebels and the rebels were not angels exactly. Far from it.
Grandpa told me a lot of stories and while I think about them, while I imagine his old voice speaking, I eventually fall asleep for some time.
The next day I dismantle my shelter and do my best to make the place where it was look as untouched as when I arrived. Then I head back up towards the lake and the hut where I am planning to spend the day keeping an eye on the two girls again and see if Natan shows up. The clouds are low today and as I get out of the forest it soon becomes so misty that I only see around a hundred meters in every direction. I don't like it. I do not like it at all. I am afraid that I might get lost or not see dangers in time so I return to the forest. I build up the shelter again and cook and eat some of the meat. The meat is almost finished now. Oh well. It is already getting old anyway and I cannot keep raw meet like this forever. Unless I want a quick way out of the arena through food poisoning. Didn't one of grandpa's old friends die that way? I only half remember hearing something. I will go hunting tomorrow.
There are lightnings further up amongst the peaks of the mountain. The light from the flashes reaches me through the mist and the forest. It is strange to think that it is only about a month ago that I was caught in a lightning-storm up in the mountains at home. I was hiking with Melissa and we were right in a large meadow. The lightnings were striking very close and we knew it was dangerous but the situation and the fear, or whatever it was, made us start laughing like fools. We just laughed and laughed and joked as we hurried down from the mountain. It was not the first time that we were caught in a similar situation anyway. We never respected the weather as we should. Luckily it always went fine. So we survived until we ended up in the Hunger Games and Melissa got killed by Natan. I wish there weren't any games. I know that they might be necessary but I still wish it. If there weren't any then there might be a war again. But who knows if it will not come anyway, eventually? Maybe it is just taking more time. If it comes anyway then we have all died for nothing. Maybe it should come so that everything can be settled for good. And I wish that there weren't any games also because they ruin us, they ruin us tributes and they ruin the viewers. In here it is everyone for him and her self. We all put our own lives before that of others. How can people grow up with the games, see them each year for their whole lives, and still believe in values like empathy, solidarity and self-sacrifice? I was one of the few who did believe in some of that shit before but now I have killed two people myself and caused the death of my only real friend too. How could I ever go back and be the person whom I wanted to be, even if I survive? Grandpa never seemed to like the games much either, although he never said anything straight out. He was always quiet when they were on the screen and his lips were pressed hard together so that many fine wrinkles formed around his mouth. I think he had many stories yet to tell when he died. I see him in my mind: tall and lean, always clean-shaven and with the tattoo of the snarling dog on his neck, still visible in spite of the faded ink and wrinkles.
I wait the rest of the day for the weather to clear up but it does not. It seems to me that it actually gets more and more foggy and it feels ominous. Are the gamemakers preparing something? I try not to think about it. I go to sleep early and hope to find clearer weather when I wake up but I do not. This definitely does not feel good. I will stay in the forest today too. Maybe I will go up to the lake if the fog clears later today. In the mean time I go hunting but I stay close to the shelter and move very carefully and slowly through the forest because it feels like the fog is concealing dangers. I doubt I will get any prey today either. It is not that kind of day. But the games might be getting close to the end anyway. I will not have to be hungry for long. There are so few of us left and someone will probably die today, that seems likely. So if no animal is killed then that is one death less and that is something to be happy about. It is kind of funny that we all need others to die in order to live ourselves. I mean: we eat meat and meat comes from other living creatures and those living creatures have killed other living things in order to live themselves: other animals or plants. And even the plants live out of the death of others: their roots grow in earth that is made of dead animals and plants. The whole world is one big arena. Does that make the Hunger Games more ok? Does that excuse me for having killed others so I could survive myself?
It is rather late when the fog does start to clear up and I am considering heading up to the lake when I feel the first snowflakes. I realize that it has gone pretty cold. The parachute is empty now so I clean it with some moss and use it to reinforce the shelter although I can still smell the blood. I make a small fire and heat some rocks. Then I put the rocks inside my little shelter, to heat it up a bit, and when I go to sleep I put one big rock inside my jacket to keep myself warm. I feel its heat against my stomach and it is like having an animal curled up close to me. A cat maybe.
Birds are singing. It takes a while before I realize how odd it is. Birds! I have not heard any during the whole time that I have been in the arena. Except for crows. I have heard crows but no birds twittering lively and melodically like now. I open my eyes and at first I think that it is just because of the sleep that still lingers in them that the world looks so strange but then I realize that it started to snow yesterday evening. The ground is white, except for right under the trees, and the branches of the trees are white too and so are the bushes and stones and everything else. But it is not too cold, maybe because there is no wind and because the sun is shining down, making everything sparkle and glitter.
I know it.
I don't really know how. Maybe because the bird-twitter and the snow and the strong sunlight are all so strange. Still I know that the games are reaching the end now. It is almost over. I feel calm. Right in this moment I am not afraid at all, as if I could not possibly understand the existence of fear on a morning like this. It is like some mornings at home, when I would wake up and find the sun shining in through the curtains and whatever bad that had happened before would be forgotten. I would feel happy and full of hope and enthusiasm for the future. Maybe I do not look upon the future with enthusiasm now but at least everything feels alright. I sit up in my shelter and, inside my jacket, I feel the stone which isn't warm any more so I take it out. I tear down the shelter and prepare myself for the day, just like usually, and then set out hunting again. I leave shallow footprints in the snow, which someone could follow, but there is nothing to do about it. When possible, I walk under the trees, where there is less snow. The forest smells fresh.
Two cannons fire.
The sound echoes between the mountains and lingers for a while before dying out completely.
The lake. I must go to the lake. If Natan is not one of the dead then maybe he is there. Him and me, are we the last two tributes? Or is it one of the girls? The murderer girl maybe? I go back to the end of the forest. Beyond the last bushes the mountain-side is blinding. The snow reflects the bright sunshine and makes my eyes water. It looks like the glacier, maybe even more stunning. I search for the landmarks which I passed on the way down from the lake and leave the forest. Many features of the landscape look very different under the snow but in the end I still find my way. I have the bow in my hands. The arrow with the sharp and deadly point is ready.  I try not to slip and twist my feet in any of the snow-covered holes in the ground, while I move from cover to cover.
This is just like the war-games which you used to play, Vitus. A deadlier version, yes, but it is not that different. Think like that. I laugh a little in my head. I used to picture myself being a peacekeeper, fighting for the sake of good, so that the world could be a stable place where less people would suffer and die, where everyone would feel safe. I used to picture myself being someone who was brave, selfless and ready to sacrifice for others.
My eyes are burning now and I can barely hold them open. The house is there, down by the lake. When I squint my eyes I distinguish it as a small, dark spot. The lake dos not seem to be frozen, except for at the edges maybe. I cannot see anyone, either living or dead, so I take the risk and move closer. When I am quite close and everything still is calm and quiet I walk all the way to the little house. I can see how the years have worn its wood. It is full of fissures and the dark gray annual rings stand out where the softer wood between them has eroded. The wood between the annual rings is light gray, almost white. It is clear that there have been people here this morning because there are a lot of footsteps all around the building. Some are about my size, some smaller. They must belong to the girls because Natan is much larger than any of us. Then I find his footprints as well. He has been here! There are most footprints in front of the building. The smooth surface of the snow is all broken there and there are blood stains a bit everywhere too. In the mess of prints I can still distinguish the silhouette of a head and a shoulder. Footprints lead in and out of the hut. The door is ajar. I hold my breath, let go of the bow with one hand and give the door a sharp pull. Then I jump to the side while it swings open a bit, squeaking loudly. I cannot distinguish anything through the darkness inside. But nothing attacks me or comes flying at me, at least, so I wait just at the entrance until my eyes have adjusted a little and then walk inside.
I am almost sure that the door is going to close behind me and trap me inside but nothing happens. There is nothing in the room. It is completely bare. But when my eyes have adjusted a little more I see that the walls and the floor in one corner are all stained with blood. Quite a lot of it. It is not completely dry yet and it shines a little in the light from the door. Of course they must have picked up the bodies already. Two bodies for the two cannons. Who is still alive? I step out in the strong light again and look for footsteps that lead away from the hut. It does not take long to find them. They go straight out from the door and disappear into the whiteness on the mountainside. It looks like the person who made them did not even try to hide them. Not that hiding them would have been easy to accomplish. They are considerably larger than mine. Natan. I smile a little. So it really is us two then. The last two.
I follow the footprints. They lead me away in about the same direction that the girls came from when I followed them to this place the day before yesterday. I start running, or at least going as fast as the snow and the uneven terrain will let me. I will find him. He cannot shake me of his tracks now. They are clear as a railroad. I have my deadly bow ready. Then I remember this thing that I heard about somewhere. During the war, when people knew that they were being followed, they would make a wide turn so that they came up parallel to their original tracks, if possible on higher ground, with a good view of the tracks. Then they would wait for their pursuers to arrive and ambush them. I'd better slow down a little and look around a bit more. Especially keep an eye on the slope above me. There is so much white all around me, like an empty snow desert. It is as if someone has erased all the features of the landscape. Only across the valley can I see forests, meadows and cliffs but where I stand everything is blinding white. I wonder if this is how people before used to imagine that their heaven would be, where they would go after death and be close to God. It must have been strange when people still believed in God. All since the war we believe only in what we see ourselves, with our own eyes.
Me and Natan, the last tributes alive. Who could have imagined that I would have gotten this far? It is thanks to a lot of lucky circumstances, certainly. This could all be over before the end of the day. Before the sun is down I could be out of the arena. It is so hard to imagine but it is true. I just have to kill another human being first. Maybe it is ok. It is not really my fault that I have to do it. It is not really me who will kill him. We tributes never really have much of a choice. We just want to live, that's all. It is the Capitol that kills us. The Capitol killed Melissa too and she had to die for me to be alive now. And I am happy to be alive. It is ok. I want to be alive and it is good that she died because if she hadn't then I'd have to. It is all ok. It is all ok.
The landscape around me is so empty that I barely see that I am going forward. The arena this year has certainly been unusual. I wonder how it will look next year. If I make it out of here alive then next year I will watch the Hunger Games from the safety of my home. There will be new tributes and they will do this thing all over again. The years will go by and each summer there will be new Hunger Games and the people of Panem will keep believing in what they see. And what they see is blood, violence, death, hate, selfishness and betrayal. If that is what they see then how could it not be true? That must be how we all are in our hearts, they'll think. But isn't there more to it? Isn't there anything more?
I hear the river now. Just like the lake its waters aren't frozen either. The sound grows louder and louder as I get closer. I remember the rivers at home. Some of them were a bit like this. When we were smaller, me and Melissa and other children, we would build small boats and let them race each other down with the current. Those times are long gone but when I think about them I can still put myself in the head of the child that I once was and it all comes alive again. There were many good moments in my childhood. And afterwards as well. Sure, it was hard at times but there were still many good moments. There have been good moments in the Hunger Games too, like those with Melissa, in our little clearing in the forest or when we sat shoulder to shoulder in the shelters. She volunteered as a tribute to keep me company and protect me. It is such a great thing that someone should ever do that for another person. It should never be forgotten. They ought to build a statue of her. See, humans are capable of doing good things! Just like Melissa. Or why not that couple from grandpa's story? Or just the love that my grandpa always showed me when he took care of me, just loved me without expecting anything back. That must be the way that parents love their children. There are some good things in the human heart.
From up on a bulge in the terrain I see the river down in the ravine. It looks so violent, almost angry. It is foamy and white and its roaring noise is deafening. It sounds cold. I don't know how something can sound cold but this river does. Maybe because I know how cold the water that causes the sound is. Ice cold.
The tracks continue forward. He would not be able to get across the river, so either he has stopped before it or he is somewhere up or down along it. I look carefully but I cannot find him anywhere ahead of me. Then I look downstream and see a black dot that is moving. That must be him. I deviate from the footprints. He does not seem to be going very fast. Could he be looking for a way across the water after all? He would have to get across the mine field too. That seems like a stupid risk to take. Why would he do that? I am so close now that the black dot has acquired a clearly human shape. Sometimes it disappears behind rocks but it always reappears soon again. Could he be trying to get away from me? Maybe he is injured. He probably also understands that I have Melissa's bow now. There rarely is more than one bow in an arena and also the tracks from the fight around the little hut indicate that he did not have any weapons which he could use from far off. I did not see the girls having any such weapon either which he could have taken. So he knows that I can sneak up on him and kill him from far away, without him ever seeing me. Also, he does not know where I am or what I am up to. And he did not try to do anything about his footprints because he just wanted to get away quickly. Maybe he even thought that I was hiding somewhere close by, following his every movement. The thought is strangely satisfying. Prince Natan could really be scared of me, of short, skinny and ridiculous me. No human being has ever been afraid of me earlier.
Or maybe he is just trying to trick me into the mine field? That could have been a smart tactic but it will never work because I already know about the danger that lurks under the surface. I see him stop now. Then he moves straight towards the river.
Wait. Maybe he does not know.
He must be standing right in the middle of the mine field now because beside him I see the rock that looks like a shark fin. It casts a large shadow over the snow, in the opposite side of the one where he is. He has stopped again. I am close enough to see his blond hair, although it looks darker now that the surroundings are so bright. I am also able to see that the only weapon in his hands is his old pick. He is between me and the river. I am quiet as a spirit. I have got rather good at this. It is really strange how we adapt to the circumstances. We get used to most things and find ways to survive and live.
Natan is looking at the rock. He seems to be examining it with his blue eyes. Well, from here I would not be able to tell that they are blue but somehow, each time that I look at his face, I still think of those blue eyes. I don't know what so many girls seem to like about them. They are quite scary actually. If I had met him on a street, anywhere that wasn't here, I would still have thought: wow, such unpleasant eyes. This is a guy to avoid. Or maybe that's just because nobody ever liked your eyes, Vitus. There isn't much about you that is likable.
I lay down flat on a rock. It is cold under my stomach. Natan is still standing by the shark fin. Sometimes he looks towards the river and then back at the fin again. It must be those blood stains that he is seeing. They are probably still there. Like some kind of macabre painting.
I slide down behind the rock. I hope that he is really scared. Invincible prince Natan, who everybody wants that he wins. Handsome prince Natan, who can get all the girls that he wants to. Athletic, strong, talented prince Natan. What has he done to deserve all of that? The worst is that most probably consider him to be a nice and kind-hearted person too. Before he left the crowds and walked to the podium, on the reaping, he gave his family and friends hugs. There were so many who wanted to hug him, most never got the chance. When he was standing there, above them, he said: I love you all, I really do. He must have meant it too because then he started crying and he is that kind of guy who does not need to hide his tears. The camera zoomed in on them but then Natan wiped them away and smiled. I will win for you, he said to his district and everybody was shouting and cheering.
I look at him again. He is still standing there, like an idiot, in the middle of that mine field. I hate him. I hate him because he is all which I could never be. But I had Melissa. And grandpa. I think of them as I move closer, close enough to have a chance with my bow. Natan is looking at the rushing water again which I still cannot see from where I am.
I aim. Entire Panem must be holding their breaths as they witness yet another exciting finale to the Hunger Games.
It would be so easy to think that we are hopeless. When you are in the arena you see it so clearly how doomed mankind is. I wish that I could let everyone know that there still are good things to human nature. There are. I want them to know that.
I see Natan lift one foot to take a step.
“Don't move!“ I shout. “Or you'll die.“
He spins around. The time in the arena has changed him too. All the way from here, his cheeks look hollowed out and his hair is a mess.
“Not me...“ My voice is shaky and barely obeys me. It is hard to hear it over the sound from the water. “Mines... In the ground.“
My legs aren't happy to obey me either as I stand up and come to view. Natan's eyes find me and lock on me. There is no way of making this undone now. I open my shaking finger and let the bow drop to the ground. I hear it sink through the snow.
I do not want to do this. It goes against everything. I am human and being human means being scared too as well as it means many other things which I never understood that it meant before arriving to the arena. Still I manage to get myself to move forward, towards Natan in the mine field. He raises his pick but I see the fear in his eyes too. I see it on his whole body.
I try to say something but it is incomprehensible.
Natan looks perplexed.
“What?“ he shouts.
I breath in deeply and exhale.
“Stand still.“ I repeat. It is a little better this time. “You'll be alright.“
We both stare at each other for a while. I continue forward through the snow.
“You win.“
I close my eyes. The roar from the river rushing down from the glacier is deafening and erases all other noises. It envelopes me and carries me away.
Snow Globe part 4/4 (fan-fic)
This is a hunger games fan-fic about the 25th hunger games, from the point of view of a character who is rather different from Katniss, with a different perspective and a different voice. Critique is welcome.
I thought that I would not be able to fall asleep but it turns out I was wrong. It becomes harder and harder to stay awake. My eyelids are heavy; my mind drifts away into the world of dreams without me noticing. Time after time I wake up from this half-sleeping state with a jerk, wondering for how long it lasted. I try to force myself to focus in every way that I know of. I try to remember stuff, like the names of people I once knew and stuff we learned in school. When that does not work I start singing songs in my head and thinking about food. Nothing helps for long. My fight against sleep becomes more and more painful. In the end I decide to wake Melissa although only a couple of hours can have gone by. She is leaning against my shoulder, I only notice it now. I feel warm inside. I do not want her to wake up. I do not want her to move away. And it feels as if I am no longer about to fall asleep at all. Melissa. I lean my head against hers. I imagine that we are not in the arena at all. We are warriors, and this is the night before a combat. At daybreak we will fight for each other and stay alive both of us while defending the values which we believe in. All of this could have been our reality, one day.
When it feels as if half the night has gone past, I nudge Melissa gently.
“Can you take over?” I whisper. “Half the night left, I think.”
She lifts her head from my shoulder. The branches creak around her as she moves. She yawns quietly.
I lean back and close my eyes, let myself drift off towards unconsciousness.  
I sleep for longer than I have done all the other nights in the arena, I think. It is the first night that I do not wake up with chattering teeth. When I open my eyes it is already light enough to clearly distinguish the silhouettes of the trees around us. I find that I am leaning on Melissa as she was doing on me. Her body heat has helped keeping me warm. She is shaking my shoulder lightly.
“I'm going hunting”, she says as she sees that I am awake. “Maybe I will have more luck now, at dawn.”
I sit up and nod. Melissa takes bow and arrows and creeps out of the shelter, out of our little den. Without uttering any more words she sneaks away amongst the trees.
She used to be this really joyful little girl, back home. Kind of childish maybe. While the other girls were busy growing up, she never seemed to care. While the other girls started talking about boyfriends and parties, Melissa was playing child games with me and a few other friends from her school class. Unlike me she did have other friends, although I think that, maybe, I was still her best one. She had a sharp tongue and always seemed to know what to say. She teased everyone but never in a mean way. Now she has become so serious. This childish girl is grown up, in a way that the other girls of her age never were.
It has become light in the forest. A bubble has formed on the parachute. I poke it. It is heavy and full of water which must have dropped down from the trees around us as the snow melted on the branches. I realize that I am really thirsty so I move out from the den and drink as much as I can. It is unpleasantly cold to drink, in this chilly morning, but it is still wonderful to feel it rehydrate my body.
Melissa comes back around noon. She is almost running. When she sees me she just waves at me to follow her and barely even gives me the time to tear down the shelter and take the parachute. Together we hurry as fast as I am able to walk, further down into the valley. She puts an arm around me and steadies me so that we can move faster.
We reach a clearing. In the middle of it a huge and dark animal is lying on its side. It is at least the size of a horse.
“What is that?” I ask.
Melissa shrugs.
“Have these enormous things been roaming about all the time without us seeing a single one of them until now?”
Melissa laughs.
“Of course. It’s just you who never notice anything.”
I give her an offended stare, for fun. One of those stares that I used to give her at home, when she teased me, since I never knew how to give her a good come-back.
Melissa’s expression changes and she is the serious arena-Melissa again.
“I am almost sure the game-makers sent it”, she says. “It would not have been any fun for the viewers to see another fruitless hunt.” She is quiet a little before continuing. “And also it gives us a dilemma.”
Melissa goes to the dead animal and kneels down next to it. Then she looks back up at me.
“We are hungry right? We need food. The game makers know it. But how long do you think it will take to eat this? Or at least prepare the meat enough to take it with us? It will take a while. And it is not as if we can hide our presence here with that thing laying here in the open. Who knows what might show up in that time? Other tributes maybe, or beasts which are drawn by the smell of blood like sharks.” She makes a pause. Then she says: “The viewers want action and the game makers will make sure they get some.”
We are both quiet for a while. Then I shrug.
“It’s not like we've got any choice.”

We spend the rest of the day preparing the meat and building a well-hidden shelter a little further away. Melissa insisted that we would use the parachute for storing the meat so we are back to an only-spruce-branches shelter. It feels like the wilderness equivalent of degrading yourself from a luxury villa to a little hut.
“Let’s build traps”, I say, when I am done with the shelter.
Melissa is covered in blood up to her elbows. She does not look up from her work.
“I built one before we met. I dug a hole with sharp poles at its bottom. I caught… something in it.”
“What?” She finally looks up, at least quickly, before returning to her work. It is the question I did not want to get though.
Melissa nods. “Ok, ok. I understand.”
“So, should we build traps?”
She shrugs. “We need to finish here now.”
I feel oddly disappointed about her lack of interest. The thought of Twelve-Twelve still makes me sick but at least traps are something which I know that I can do to improve our situation. Maybe I will ask again later.
I gather a lot of wood. Then I make skewers and prepare a fire-place.

Later I sit with the skewers over the fire while Melissa keeps watch. She sits behind me, on a little mound.
“Do you think my family is watching right now?” she says, all of a sudden.
I do not know why I feel so surprised about the question. Maybe I was not expecting her to open up and start talking about such things with me anymore.
“Of course, if there is nothing more interesting going on, somewhere else, which they are showing on the screens instead.”
Melissa is quiet for a while. Then she resumes with a voice that sounds overly flat and emotionless. I know that she cannot use any other voice because if she let the feelings come forth then they would carry her away like tide water.
“My parents came to say bye one last time, you know. Mom could not even speak. She just stood there and cried and then run away. That morning she had not even been afraid. All since I got old enough, it was the first reaping that she didn’t seem to be scared. She did not think this could happen to me. She was sure everyone loved me as much as she did. How could they not? she said.”
“Well, at least you had a mom that cared about you.”
“Yeah, but sometimes I wish that I hadn’t. It would all have been easier then.”
It must be hard to die when you know that someone will miss you, that you will ruin another life along with yours. I will not ruin any other lives.
“You should not have come.” I say to Melissa. “It was good we were chosen, me and that other girl. Can’t you see that? We were worthless anyway.”
I am so worthless that it almost makes me laugh. So ridiculously worthless. What would I even come back to, if I do come back? People who ridicule me as they used to? Now they can laugh at all the stupid things that I have done in the arena too, which they have witnessed from the comfort of their warm homes.
“Maybe this is how it was always supposed to end for me.” The words seem to leave my mouth off their own accord. “I always kind of felt that this world was not for me, after all. I never deserved it. Sometimes, when I saw things that were beautiful, like the mountains or the stars, I felt ashamed. Do you know that? I felt that they were not intended for someone like me. I felt that I was abusing something which was meant for others, for normal people, people who had families, who loved and laughed and had friends. Do you know how that feels?” The tears are coming back now. I have never told anyone about all of this.
Melissa turns and looks at me from her mound. She just looks at me, without saying anything. I look back at my skewers. One is ready and I hand it to her while averting my eyes. She starts eating. I hear her mumble something that sounds like:
“You are not worthless.”
Then we don’t speak any more and concentrate on eating.
When we are done Melissa goes back to work on the dead animal and I take the watch on the mound. I can see the mountain peaks through gaps between the trees. So tall and desolate.
Melissa walks up to me and suddenly she is hugging me, tightly. I hug her back. I wish that I would never have to let her go. Never ever. We sit next to each other on the mound for a while, staring at the peaks together.
“I was thinking”, Melissa says. “We could climb one of the mountains. We could make it all the way up to one of the peaks and admire the view. It must be wonderful. Do you think anyone has ever been up there?”
“Don’t know”, I reply. “But why should we do that?”
Melissa shrugs.
“It could be our goal. Something to live for. Every life needs a meaning, everyone needs a dream. This is something we could still do, even if they took everything else away from us. We could be the first humans to climb all the way up.”
I smile a little.
“You’ve always been a dreamer.”
She gives me a light shove.
“Look who’s speaking!”
I smile again and examine the peaks around us. Could we really do it? Is it possible? They all look so tall, so steep and rocky from here.
“And then what?” I say.
“Don’t know.” Melissa sighs. “Then nothing. Then we’ll end it.”
Maybe she is right. Maybe that is what we should do.
Melissa stands up and goes back to the carcass of the animal. It looks like a mess of blood, meat, bowels and bones. She closes the parachute around the cut-up meat that she has put in it.
“I need your help, Vitus. We have to hang this in a tree, where it’s safe from animals.”
I walk over to her and help her carry the parachute. It is really heavy. We bring it out of view from the clearing.
Melissa climbs a few branches up a spruce while holding the cords of the parachute. Then she pulls it and I push. The thing opens up and two slabs of meat fall down on the ground.
“Shit!” I try to clean the slabs from all the spruce needles and dirt that has stuck to them. Then we start all over again. This time we are more successful.
“This will do!” we exclaim contemporary. We look at each other and laugh.
We work for the rest of the day, preparing the meat and coming up with ways of storing it. As the sun is hanging low over the mountains we have finally finished cutting up the animal and eat a second meal. It is so wonderful to have the possibility to eat this much! We have all the food we could dream of. It is more than I had even hoped for. When we are done eating we purify water from the puddles on the ground by boiling it in the container which I had used for the squirrel earlier. Then we hide the remains of the animal as well as we can and kick up dirt to cover the blood on the ground.
“This won’t do for long”, Melissa says and sighs. “Not if they send beasts with fine noses after us.”
We go and sit down in the shelter, to wait for the night. The sky lights up and the anthem starts playing but there are no faces this time. Nobody died today. Well, our dear friend the huge animal did, but they don’t care about him.
I’m sorry, I think to him. You died for a good cause though.
Right before the last tones of the anthem have even gone quiet, the cannon fires and for a short moment I almost believe it is for the animal.

When the morning comes we do not immediately creep out from the shelter. We sit there for a while and listen to the forest. A light breeze whispers through the woods and makes the tops of the trees move a little, almost as if they were dancing.
“We should leave this place”, Melissa says. “We take what meat we can carry and leave.”
“But we might never find other food”, I say. “We’d better stay here a little longer. Also, we should build traps. All around the place.”
Melissa does not reply.
We sit still for a while more. Then we go and prepare breakfast. Yet another meal consisting of meat. I feel that my energy is returning already. It is strange how fast it comes back. What a wonderful feeling! I go to the mound and sit there for a good part of the day, admiring the landscape and picking my teeth with twigs. One tooth hurts. I remember now that it was hurting already before all of this started. I even had a dentist appointment booked. I must have been total nuts to book an appointment! What had I been thinking? Was it not obvious that I would be chosen? I wonder what the dentist thought as he read my name in the appointment schedule and crossed it out. If I do survive I will have to book a new appointment. It is so funny to think of such a think now, here. What did people do before dentists, anyway? Did they lose most of their teeth before they turned forty? And doctors! What did people do before them? People must have died of all possible small diseases back then. I wonder how it is in the poorer districts. From the looks of some of the tributes one would say that they do not have too many doctors there.
Melissa is saying something but I do not hear what. She repeats louder:
“I said: we should really leave! I don’t like this at all. They’re planning something, I feel it.”
I am a bit irritated. Of course they are planning something! They always are. But we do not know for sure that it is safer to leave than to stay here, do we? We have food here.
“I stayed in one place for several days before, and nothing happened”, I say. “I built a trap. I told you we should build traps! We will be safer then!”
“Stop talking about your fucking traps!” Melissa yells. “Go build them yourself then. I’ll leave and you can stay here and build all the traps you want!”
I am taken aback by her sudden anger. It hurts a little that she dismisses my idea in this way, as if it was stupid. Still I say:
“No traps then. But let us stay a little longer. Just a little.”
Melissa leans back against a tree and sighs.
“Ok. Just a little. Very little.”
I look away from her again and twist the twig around my fingers. I am scared too, Melissa. I am scared too but we cannot leave now. Not now!
Maybe she really should go though.
We are only six tributes left. It won’t be long now.
“Melissa”, I say. “I’ve decided I’ll stay right here. Can you stay with me just a little longer?”
I hear her sigh again. She sighs a lot.
“I won’t leave you like this. Not really. You know that.”
“No, but you must leave. As soon as we’re down to four tributes. When we’re only four left I want you gone.” The twig snaps in my hands. “Well, I don’t really want your gone. But you understand? Don’t you?”
She does not answer. Of course not. Always this quietness, Melissa! Always silence when I ask you things. You’re the one who’s good at talking! You should say something! But you have to understand me now. Now that you are here and have seen: how could you want us to be the last survivors? How could you wish for something so cruel?
A ladybug lands on my knee. It is the first one I see here. Its colors are so vivacious in the sunlight. When we were younger we used to go around and look for them. We used to collect them in a glass jar, I remember. One summer we had fifty-six. Eleven of them died though, before we decided to release them all.
We do not do much today. It is funny how I never used to think that it would be like this. When they show the Games on the screens they make it look as if there is action and stuff going on almost all the time. I am fine with how it is now but I see that Melissa is really restless. She would rather do something than just wait for whatever will come. Maybe she feels that doing things keeps her mind off what awaits us.
Time passes anyway. Even this day eventually comes to an end as all the others. Again we go back to the shelter. We lean against each other and wait for the anthem. I fall asleep before it.
Melissa is shaking my shoulder.
“Wake up!” she whispers. “Did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” I say aloud, still half sleeping.
She puts a hand on my mouth.
“There is something out there!”
The forest is almost dark now. I listen with my heart beating fast behind my rib cage. Nothing. Then I think I might hear a weak shuffling noise, like the sound of twigs breaking and of branches brushing against something. It comes from rather far away and could be anything, really. It is not very different from the noises I have heard each night. Melissa’s scared whisper was far more fear-inducing than the sound itself.
She puts her mouth to my ear: “Did you hear…”
Then the anthem starts playing and it drowns all other sounds.
Lionard’s face appears in the sky. First it puzzles me, because I cannot recall anyone dying today, but then I remember the cannon last night. I did not think that I would live to see his face up there. There were two youth gangs, back in his district. They committed crimes behind the peacekeepers’ backs and bullied people all the time. He was the leader of one of them. Too bad for him the rivaling gang was larger.
I feel Melissa leave my side. She bounces to her feet and crouches. She is a shadow in the ghostly light from above. Her bow is lifted and an arrow is ready. Right then her thoughts reach my own head as if they were radio waves. It is as if an electric charge goes through my body and I can feel my hairs stand on end. I know what she is thinking. I hurry out of the shelter and take my knife. This is their tactic! This is how Lionard died the other night, right when the anthem was playing and he could not hear his attackers approaching.
My back feels terribly exposed so I sit down back to back with Melissa and stare into the deep forest. The light that reaches down between the trees covers it in gray patches. My eyes dart from one corner to another. I lift my knife a little higher.
The anthem finally ends and the light fades away with it. It has ruined our night vision so now everything is even darker than before. We try to make our ears into radars, to map our whole surroundings with them. All I hear though is our quick and shallow breaths. We hold them back, from time to time, in order to hear better. Still there is nothing. I cannot remember the forest ever being this silent. We should have left as Melissa said! Why did I insist on staying? Please, let there not be anyone or anything out there!
I lose track of time as we wait. There is always a limit to how long you can go on being on your toes when nothing happens though and eventually I feel my heart beat slow down. The worst fear gradually leaves. What was the silliness that made us panic, after all? Just some noise and a guy who died last night. I sit down where I am standing. A surprising tiredness swallows me as the adrenaline-levels sink. I start to fall asleep. Then the thought hits me that maybe the ones out there have been waiting for us to relax before attacking. My heart immediately starts racing once more. Still nothing happens and eventually I calm down anew. As I drift away into sleep I see Melissa standing motionless as a dark statue besides me, gazing into the night.
The light through my eyelids calls me back to consciousness. I open my eyes, blink a few times and move my head away from the spot of light. Melissa is sitting against a tree, looking at me with an expressionless face. I can see that she has not been sleeping at all.
“It’s been a long night, huh?” I say.
She nods slowly.
I stand up and brush off some pine needles from my clothes. As if that would make them look cleaner.
“Let’s go eat some breakfast.” I suggest. “It’ll make us feel a little better”
She nods again and I take her hand and help her to her feet.
We walk towards our food-storing place. It is sort of fascinating how familiar places get after only a short time. This part of the forest could be our little home. We know it by heart now: the gentle slope towards the clearing, the muddy puddle that we walk past now, the rotten fallen tree, the small animal trail that turns before the rock and then goes straight out to the clearing. The clearing is our sun-drenched garden. There are even a few pretty flowers. We cross the clearing and continue in under the tall spruces. The parachute is not that far ahead. We can already see it. Just a few more steps and now Melissa is standing right under it. She puts the bow on her back and reaches out with her hands towards the tree.
He seems to materialize out of nothing. In one moment we are alone, me and Melissa. In the next he is there, flinging himself out from the bushes and onto Melissa with a sharp pick in his raised hand.
“No!” It is the only word that manages to leave my lips.
I pull my knife out and rush towards him. I do not really think about what I am doing, just that I need to do something in order to save Melissa.
The tribute turns his head and looks surprised at me, as if he had not noticed my presence earlier. His blue eyes widen. I recognize him. It is Natan, Prince Natan with eyes as blue as the mountain lakes and clear blond hair. He is much larger than me and he barely budges when I shove him. I bring the knife down on his shoulder and feel his muscles pose resistance to the blade. Still it slides in, as it is designed to do. He howls. In the same instant someone grabs me from behind. Instinctively I try to twist free but it is not of any use so I slash behind myself with the knife. My attacker loosens his hold a little and I turn around. It is Ugly Timmy. I try to push myself free with a hand against his face and slash at his arm. Everything happens so quickly. I am not even sure of why but suddenly we both fall to the ground. We twist like angry snakes, fighting desperately. The only thing I know is that I want to stay alive. I know this with every fiber of my body. I pull my knife-hand free from Tim’s grip and stab him in the chest, in the shoulder, in his neck. I do not look him in the eyes, I just keep bringing the knife down on him again and again.
I feel that his grip on me has loosened so I roll off him and jump to my feet. We are both covered in blood and there is blood all around us.
The cannon fires.
A feeling of utter relief washes through me and makes me feel light. Everything seems funny now.
“I killed him! I killed that bastard!” I exclaim. I turn the guy’s head with my boot. His empty eyes stare at me, still large with terror. Yes, it is Timmy indeed. Ugly Timmy! “No wonder that you got chosen. You must be the ugliest vermin in the whole of Panem!” I laugh a little.
When I finish laughing it gets quiet. Alarmingly quiet. I look around myself. So much blood everywhere. Where are the others?
My eyes find Melissa laying on her side by the tree. I forget about Timmy. He is gone from my mind. All that matters is the girl who is the only true friend that I will ever have. I want to run to her but I am too afraid of what I might see. So I walk and then I kneel down slowly beside her and pull her over to her back.
The cannon fires again.
As she lays on her back I see it. Even if I am prepared for it I still feel shocked. I avert my eyes and let go of her.
Well, Vitus. This is how it had to end. You always knew it.
A part of me wants to run away, just run blindly into the forest as I did when I found Twelve-Twelve. Another part of me wants to stay right here, wants to stay by Melissa’s side forever.
Look at her! Look at what is left of her! That is what happens to those who are your friends, Vitus. Even if you survive this hell, you’ll never find someone like her. You will never find someone who cares that much for you.
She sacrificed herself for me. It feels as if someone has punched me in the chest. She sacrificed herself for me. That is what she did!
A light breeze blows and the trees whisper around me. The sun keeps climbing on the sky as if nothing has happened.
I must find Natan. I must kill him. That is what you do to someone who has murdered your friend.
First I have to take the bow and the arrows. I hesitate a little but I know that I need them. I lift Melissa’s arm over the string and push her hand under it. Its unnatural limpness makes me cringe. Then I turn her back over to her side and pull the bow over her head. The weapon is slippery with blood and worse. I turn Melissa over to her other side and repeat the whole procedure to extricate the quiver as well. I go to the place where I fought with Natan and examine the ground. I quickly find a clear trail of blood stains that leads away into the forest and follow it with the bow ready in my hands. I was not very good at shooting with it at training. Actually, I think that I only got to try it for ten minutes or so. Now, however, I feel the power it gives me. It feels good, like having more control. I am a hunter. I sneak swiftly through the forest and my eyes notice all the blood traces. There are drops on the ground and on the leaves of the bushes. They go rather straight out into the forest for a while and are easy to follow. After a while, though, they begin to turn to the left and then become fewer and fewer. Sometimes I lose them and have to turn back on my steps. In the end I accept that I am not able to follow them anymore. Natan could have gone in any direction from here. I stop and consider my options. My head feels empty, as if there was not one thing that I would rather do than the other. Anything is just the same.
Ok Vitus, I tell myself, first of all you need the meat in the parachute because you cannot go without food again.
Fair enough. I head back.
I do not even feel the time pass. When I am back at the tree where Melissa died I cannot even remember how I got there.
They are gone. Both Melissa and Timmy. Gone as if they never existed. Only the blood on the ground still witnesses of what has happened. Still for a little while. Soon it will be washed away too.
A feeling that should not be there fills me. Still it is there: relief. It is all over. I do not need to worry about Melissa anymore.
Vitus, how can you feel something like that? I ask myself. No, no! It cannot be.
I climb the spruce to retrieve the parachute. I feel the rough bark under the palms of my hands, just like Melissa must have done in her last moments.
Here you died, my friend, at the roots of this tree. The emptiness and pain chokes me. Still, there it is: that other feeling too, that one which makes me feel ashamed.
The parachute is heavy and slips right out of my shaky hands. Some of the meat falls out as it hits the ground but I leave it there. I throw away some more meat so that I can tie the parachute to my back.
The last thing I do before leaving is to camouflage myself with mud again. I smear the brown goo on each single square centimeter of exposed skin; eyelids, ears and hands included. Let people laugh if they want to.
As I set out on the hunt again I throw a final look back at the place where Melissa lived her last few hours. There they are: the tree, the glade, the hill and the forest that had become like a home for a short while. Then it is all out of sight. I will probably never see it again.
I follow the blood stains all the way back to where I was before. Afterward I proceed more slowly, looking for signs which can confirm that I am going in the right direction: sometimes I find a broken branch, another time I see what could be a foot print on some moss. They could have nothing to do with Natan but there is nothing better to follow.
I hunt for him the whole day, only taking short breaks from time to time. Late in the afternoon I carefully chose a place where to build a well-hidden shelter and light a small fire. I light the fire first, to make sure that there is still enough daylight to hide it, and boil some water. Then I prepare a few skewers. I prepare enough of them so that I will have ready food for tomorrow as well. While the meat cooks over the embers I build the shelter between the branches of a spruce. I have become fast at it and the result is rather good. It looks sturdy enough to keep me dry in a heavy rainfall and it is almost invisible from only a few meters away. After having eaten a little I settle down for the night. The anthem starts playing at the usual time. Melissa's face appears first. She looks straight down at me from the sky. On the photo she is still alive, unknowing of how she will meet her end. Then she fades again as quickly as she appeared. Ugly Timmy's ugly face appears the next. He is dead because of me. But no, it is his own fault. He attacked me. Well, It is not even his fault really. It is the fault of the games. They killed him.

The next morning I dismantle the shelter and continue my hunt. I decide to head uphill, back towards the mountain which we came down from. The games are nearing their end and I would guess that Natan prefers returning to well-known territories, rather than wander off into unknown dangers. It is just a wild guess, of course, but as good as any.
Prince Natan from district one, he is a special one. He is not like the rest of us, common mortals. He was not chosen because his district did not want him. They chose him because they thought that he would have the best chances of winning. When his name was called, he accepted it right away. He even smiled a little as the camera zoomed in on his face. He seemed to know that it was his duty to go. As he walked to the podium people in the crowd were taking his hands, patting him on the back and shouting his name. Some even cried. He was a hero to them.
I keep going. The slope is not that steep but as time passes it still gets more and more exhausting to walk. Although the air is as chilly as always I am drenched in sweat. It would have been nice to have some dry and clean clothes to change into. I have been wearing the same ones for a week now. I have not even been taking my jacket or my shoes off. Maybe I should do that, this evening. I will take my shoes off, just for a little, and let my feet dry. Let's just hope that I do not get attacked while I am barefoot.
A cannon fires. Now there are just four of us left. Three more have to die. It is incredible that I have made it for so long. Who could have guessed that? It would be so easy to start hoping. I would so much like to believe that I will make it. I want to long for a time when all of this is over. But the last days of the games are the hardest, I know this. I must accept it so I do not delude myself. There will most probably not be any time after the games for me. Nothing will come afterward. I will have no other days than these and I must try to appreciate them.
In the evening I reach the edge of the forest. I slowly sneak to the last, small, trees and crouch down in their shadow. A bit in front of me there is a rushing river, lined by pebble banks. I should probably not go any closer to it. This must be the river that is lined by the mine-field. Could it be that they have used the mines to mark the end of the arena? Is the land beyond it outside? Beyond it is an open grassland, similar to the one which I passed on the first day, but not quite as large. I do not see any movement on it. At its other end, before the cliffs start, there seems to be a lake. I cannot see much of it from here due to bulges in the terrain which partially hide it. The glacier is almost completely out of view as well. I retreat further into the forest and build my shelter for the night. Then I take my boots off, as I had planned too. It feels wonderful. I realize that I should have done it earlier. My feet are not very nice to behold now. At least I have been lucky enough not to get any blisters.
I think of Melissa. Two days have gone now, since she died. Maybe she has been brought back to our district already. Back home. Am I still relieved that she died? Well, it is good that we will not have to kill each other. Did I ever wish for her to win?  Did I ever truly want her to live instead of me? If she really mattered that much to me, would that not have been the right thing to wish for? I tell myself that I am selfless but in the end everything we do is just for our own gain, even our apparently selfless acts. Do I not, deep in my soul, still value my life over that of others? I have already killed in order to save my own life. What had those others done that they deserved to die for? They just wanted to live too.
I take on my boots again. I do not dare to stay barefooted for long, in case I have to move. The feeling of the wet and cold socks touching my skin makes me cringe.
I wanted to use my life to do good things for others but how can I ever be a good person if I survive the games? How can I ever insist on being selfless if I have proven my selfishness here, by killing others to save my own life? The games have brought forth the worst parts of my soul.
Snow Globe part 3/4 (fan-fic)
This is a hunger games fan-fic about the 25th hunger games, from the point of view of a character who is rather different from Katniss, with a different perspective and a different voice. Critique is welcome.

Part 4:…
I decide to build a shelter. I will have to sleep eventually so I'd better try to find a way of staying warm.  Sneaking around carefully, trying to be as silent as possible, I search for the things which I will need. There are enough dead, but not rotten, long tree branches on the ground, so I will not need to cut down any more. Good. Without a knife it would have been hard. I carry everything back to the place where I spent this night and then go and gather spruce branches. I do not need anything to cut those. I only need short ones, which I can pull off with my hands. I wish I had gloves, though, because the needles sting my hands bloody. No matter where I go, I always keep my stone with me. If I need to use both my hands I put it down, temporarily, and as soon as I am done I pick it up again. Now I have everything I need. Except for rope. Where can I find that? I go through the things that they thought us in training and try to find something useful. Spruce roots! That is something I can use. To get those I would need to dig a hole.
Suddenly I have an idea.
I go closer to the river and look for a good place. I find an animal path that weaves through the forest and leads to a calm section of the river. I start digging my hole right there, in the middle of it, with the help of my stone. I often have to stop and rest, for a while, before continuing. When was the last time I ate? It must have been before the games started. When I think of the previous day it already feels like ages ago. It is hard to believe that just a few hours have passed. The vomiting, the exertion and the fear, during those hours, have drained my energy reserves. I never knew what it meant to be hungry before. Sure, I have felt my stomach rumbling many times but I have never been hungry for real. I never knew that it made your legs feel so heavy, that it made your whole body move in slow motion, that it made the least movement so damn much harder! It is not even the longing for food and the empty feeling in my stomach that are the worst anymore. I feel like some helpless toy that is running out of battery. In my district we always had enough food for everybody. That is not how it is in most other districts. Rumors say that many starve to death each year and, seeing the carved out cheeks and the hollow eyes of some of the other tributes, I do not doubt it a second. The Capitol has its way of punishing rebels. I wonder how those tributes are dealing with the situation that we are in. Since they are used to it, this must be easier for them.
It takes a long time before I have gathered enough roots but eventually I have what I think that I will need. I go back to my other materials and start building. I use the long branches to create a skeleton for the shelter, against the tree. Then I use the spruce branches to build the roof and to do an isolating mat inside it. I pick some branches form the bushes close by and use them to camouflage my creation a bit better. When I am done I step back and inspect it from further off. It is hard to spot so I am happy with it.
I take the remaining roots and use them to build small traps for animals. They showed us how to do this at training but I have forgotten so it takes a while before I manage to get it right. I have to build a loop attached to the tip of a sapling, a tree branch or something else of that sort. Then I have to keep it down by doing a notch in it and put a stick with another notch in the ground and make them interlock. To make the whole thing worse I do not even know if it will work with roots instead of rope. I am almost on the point of giving up when I finally succeed. I do some more traps, each above the small animal paths which I find and one on a low branch. If I am lucky I might catch some squirrel, although I have not seen any yet.
When I am done I go back to the hole. I resume digging. It goes so incredibly slowly. The ground is full of rocks too which make the whole thing even worse. Not even the frequent breaks are enough to make it possible for me to keep going for much longer. I go back to my shelter. I sit down by the tree and use one of the shards I made yesterday to sharpen the tip of a stick into a point.
It is already getting darker. It has been a calm day. The spectators from the Capitol will start to get bored if nothing happens and the game makers could pull some trick in order to get things exciting again. But as long as they see that I am up to something they might leave me alone for a while.
I wonder where the cameras are. I get up and look for them. I examine the trunks of the trees and the bushes around me but I cannot find any. How do they do it? How can they hide them so well? If I had not known this was an arena I might as well have thought that I was alone in wilderness. What is there to suggest that this is such horrible place? What is there to say that we have to kill each other?
And still we have to.
Will I be able to do it? To kill someone? I wanted to be peacekeeper and I always told myself that I could have done it if it had been necessary. But then it would have been for a reason other than that I just valued my own life over that of others. Really, living or dying here does not make that much of a difference. The one is not more right than the other. But I care too much about my own life to only let go of it like that, without a reason. I suppose I will kill, if I get the chance. I think we have a demon inside us. Humans had to develop this, in order to be able to hunt for meat and fight for survival. It allows us to be peaceful and respect life but then switch to brutal killers, still keeping that other side of us intact. I think I can let that demon loose, if it comes to it.
It is dark again. The anthem plays from the sky but there is only the face of the girl who died this morning to show tonight. Still not Melissa. I creep inside my shelter and curl up into a ball. I lay and listen to the sounds from the forest for a while but eventually I drift off into sleep and only wake up some time later, when the cold of the night has managed to conquer my little den.
It is clear that finding food has to become my priority. As I walk around and check my snares I find that they are still all empty. I have to find other food sources. There is no point in sitting around and waiting for something to get caught. I could have starved to death already, by then. The problem is that I remember almost nothing of the things we learned about edible plants. At training they told us a lot of names which meant nothing to me and showed us some pictures which I already knew would not help me the least in identifying the plants, once in the arena. Pine needles and spruce shoots I remember though. I already knew, since a long time ago, that they could be used to make some kind of tea. Unfortunately I have nothing for heating the water and not even something to store the water in. Still, I pick a few spruce shoots and put them in my mouth. They taste like a mixture of lemon, snot and something bitter. Not very appetizing even in my starving condition. I look for insects. I remember they said that ant eggs were a good source of nourishment. I remember that because, back then, it seemed so gross. I do not find any ants though but I do find a few spiders. I have no idea if they are good source of nourishment but it is either them or starving to death somewhat quicker. Good thing that I have never been arachnophobic. I pick five from their webs and swallow them before going back to my shelter where I sink down against the tree. I am so weak. If I do not get any real food soon I am lost. I wonder if it is a good death to die of hunger. I could just sit here, slowly getting weaker and weaker until I slip away into the void. The cold would probably take me first. As I got weaker I would no longer be able to fight it. However I doubt that they would let me die that slowly. The audience wants action. So they would probably send something to kill me in a more brutal and bloody way before I could get away so easily. They would hunt me down, in my weak state, and I would not have a chance of escaping. But what can I do? I have already done what I can.
I run a hand through my short hair. It is all greasy and dirty. Really disgusting. I cannot be a nice view to behold for the people watching me on their screens, all dirty as I am. Good thing that they cannot smell me.
I should keep digging. That is something I can do, at least. I stagger to my feet and slowly make my way back to the hole. I dig slowly but I keep working for a good part of the day. At some point the canon fires. Twice.
When the shadows envelop the forest once again I stop my work and stand there panting for a while. The forest is so still around me. How I wish that there was someone to talk with. Anyone. I guess that I could speak straight out and people would listen. If no one else, then at least those in charge of monitoring us around the clock. They would have to. I could force them to take part of my story. I would become an individual and not be just a tribute anymore. How could they see me that way if they knew me? If they really knew me? Nobody really knows me. And I will die unknown because I am not the one that is good at talking about such things with others. And besides I cannot do it here because another tribute might hear me and come for me. Nobody will know my dreams, my fears, my favorite food, what I was scared of as a child and all the funny moments with Melissa when we would laugh till our stomachs hurt and we felt immortal. Nobody will know how good it was to be alive those days when we played with the neighbor kids, when we played war in the grove behind our houses. The neighbors were the rebels and me and Melissa, we were the peacekeepers of course. We would build shelters and fortifications and then hunt each other down, destroy each others’ fortifications and shoot each other with the sticks that were our rifles. “You’re dead!” we would shout but nobody would ever accept being dead so we would answer with a “No, I’m not! I shot you first!” and sometimes fights would break out. But it was all game and in the evening we would go home and forget all about it, already looking forward to the next day. On the way back, as the moon already made its appearance on the pale sky, I would say to Melissa:
“When I grow up I will be a peacekeeper for real, you know. Like my dad.”
And she would answer:
“Me too. We’ll be peacekeepers together.”
And I would say:
“And we’ll go to war together and fight side by side.”
Back then it felt like that really was the way things would turn out. We had all our future planned out. It felt good. It felt like a big thing. Melissa’s parents were not so happy about it however. They said I had put bad ideas in her head, that I was a bad influence.
I make it back to my shelter before the anthem starts playing. Above me the sky lights up with the faces of the dead. Melissa is not amongst them this day either, the rest does not matter.

There is a squirrel in one of the traps, the one on the branch. It is hanging dead with its neck broken, all limp, with the long tail almost touching the ground and huge black eyes that stare unblinking at me as I struggle to get it loose. I rub my own eyes with the palm of my hands, trying to clear them of the tiredness. I did not get much sleep this night either. The hands come away muddy from the newly applied layer of camouflage. Oh, I had forgotten about it. I guess I look like some panda with reversed colors now.
I finally get the squirrel free from the trap. My first pray. I have captured something! I have managed to procure meat on my own, in the wild! I hold it in both my hands. Its body is already quite cold. It does not look like food. It just looks like a dead animal, not something you would eat. I thought that hunger would make you want to eat anything but I do not feel any particular appetite when looking at the thing in my hands. All the meat that I have ever eaten has been meat that was already cut up. I need to skin the squirrel and gut it. Then I need to find a way of heating the meat. Damn! I had not been thinking of that. I do not have any matches or lighter or fire steel or anything at all. I have to try and make a fire with sticks or stones. We got to try it at the training but I did not get the methods to work properly then. I have to make it work, somehow, even if it should take me a bit of time because I do not want to take any more risks and eat it raw. What if I end up like after eating the snow or even worse? I will do it later. First, I must keep working on the hole. It has been taking me too long already and I need to get it done. I eat two more spiders and some insect. Then I put the dead squirrel in a pocket and set off towards the hole. Each step is ten times as heavy as it used to be. Just standing up straight is a challenge. I feel like an old man and it is hard to concentrate on anything else than the pain in my stomach and on how heavy and tiring everything is. The fear and the hunger have grown together. It is hard to distinguish them. They have become this dull sense of helplessness and anguish. I would like to lay down where I am and stop struggling. Why struggle when it is pointless? It would be easier to just lie down. I can feel it, how soft the shrubs would be against my back while the sun shone down bright between the trees and I would know that it was all over. I lift my eyes to the sky. It is an intense and serene kind of blue. There is something small floating around on it, however. It glistens a bit as it catches a sunbeam. I blink a few times. The thing is growing. It seems like it is getting closer. Could it be… My heart rate increases as if someone suddenly had given me an adrenaline injection. That shape… What else could it be? It is a silver parachute!
I start running. I did not think that I had energy left to do that. I reach the parachute right as it gets caught on some branches. It is not higher up than I can reach and I pick it down. I hurry to untangle and pull aside ropes and parachute to reveal the little silver box that it was carrying. It is about the size of my hand and not too heavy. I do not stop to guess what it could contain, I just open it as quickly as I can. Then I stand there and stare at what is inside. What is that? It is something whitish and square shaped. I pick it out of the box and examine it in the sun light. There is a script engraved on one side of the thing. It is written with neat and curly cursive letters. “Soap” it says. Soap? It could be some kind of magic Capitol soap with super powers. It could. But I don’t believe it is. My hands are trembling now. Everything they send us costs insane amounts of money. I can see it in front of me how a group of rich capitol citizens came up with the idea and laughingly agreed that it was brilliant, how they grabbed a bunch of bills in the pockets of their tailored trousers and put it down on the table in front of my mentor. I can imagine that she probably did not really want to, but she could not really say no to such influential people and besides she always did what capitol people asked her to do. She never cared much for me anyway. I guess that is the way it goes when you watch the people you mentor die one after another, year after year. Maybe she even thought this idea could be some fun, just for a change. They are just like the bullies in school all of them. And just like then I do not know how I should react. I stand still for a while, with the soap in my hands. People are probably laughing their heads off right now. I throw the thing on the ground and kick dirt on top of it. I keep the parachute and the box though. Those might come to use, anyway. I put the dead squirrel in the box and wrap the parachute around it. Then I tie the parachute around my waist, like a belt.
The hole is finished. I have done a nice job. At least I think I did. I stuck the pointy stick, which I had made earlier, on the bottom of the hole with the sharp edge pointing straight up. I did more of those sticks, four maybe, and placed them in the hole as well. Then I put really thin sticks across the hole and covered the whole thing with fallen twigs, moss and leaves. I am really proud of the result. If you were not careful, you would not even notice the hole when you stood right next to it. I know that it has been taking me far too long and that I should have done many more of these by now let me be proud just for a little! Let me feel a bit more optimistic for a short time! It is such a nice feeling for a change. I will start building the next one this afternoon but now it is time to take care of the squirrel. First of all I have to find the things I need. I leave the hole and start by gathering fire wood. The lowest twigs of the spruces are dead and dry, perfect for starting fires. I take as many of them as I can carry in the rolled-up parachute. Then I pick larger, dry branches as well and some small but robust twigs. I spend some time looking for the last thing: a good piece of bark. In the end I manage to peel some off a dead tree. It does not look too rotten yet so maybe it can work. I bring everything to a sheltered place and put it down in front of me. I lean back a little and rest before I proceed. The next thing I do is to break the dry spruce twigs and prepare a fire place. After this I take the bark and place it in front of me and then I choose one of the small, robust twigs and start to rotate it between the palms of my hands against the piece of bark. I roll it back and forth as quickly as I can. It is exhausting and I have to stop and rest. I touch the hole in the bark which has been left by the rotating stick. It is barely a bit warm. Sighing, I force myself to do a new attempt. This time, I rotate the stick slower so that I can keep going for longer.
Someone is screaming. Someone or something.
I stop at once and sit still.
There it is again. I think it is human. It is loud and gut-wrenching. I get up on legs that are shaking with anticipation and horror. It can’t be… Did someone already fall in? I pick up my stone and hold it ready as I set out in the direction of the sound. Now it is but a faint moaning. Just sometimes it grows a bit in strength but overall it seems to be getting weaker and weaker. I am getting closer now. Between the trees I can see the animal path where I dug the hole. The camouflage on top of it is gone and it is gaping black. I stop. A foot is protruding from it. Everything around me is still so I raise the stone even more and continue. I am not sure if I want to see what is in the hole. But I made the trap, I dug it and put the sharp sticks at its bottom, I camouflaged it so it would not be visible. I prepared someone’s death so I have to see. Now I notice how small the foot is. It is the foot of a child. It moves a little and the toes scrape the earth. There is a boy lying face-down in the hole, with sticks piercing his side and stomach. Another stick has cut a wound in his head. I recognize him as Twelve-Twelve, the twelve-year-old from district twelve, chosen because he is a thief. His face turns towards my side. As he sees me coming his eyes glue on me. They are so huge and dark that they remind me of the squirrel. His mouth moves, as if it is trying to shape a word, but then it contorts into a grimace. He is the first other human that I have seen since the day when the games began. I do not know what brought him this way, if it was the sound of the river promising to ease his thirst or if the game-makers had anything to do with it. I only know that he is badly injured and that it is my work. I feel sick. I kneel down on the edge of the hole. The rock is resting in my shaking hands. Can I do it? Where is the demon now?
I put the stone down next to me and reach down to search his pockets. They are all empty. He has a knife in his belt though. I detach the sheath and hold it up. My hands are covered in blood. I pull the knife out. It is a black combat knife, with a pointy tip that is sharpened on both sides. Its heavy blade is grooved in order to allow the blood to flow along it without posing resistance as it sinks in. It is a tool completely designed for killing, in its smallest detail. We got to train with knives like this a little, before the games. I would be able to end it quickly with this. Maybe it would be the best thing for Twelve-Twelve too. He would not have to suffer any more. Slowly, I bring the blade to his neck. He lifts one hand and locks his thin fingers around my wrist. His eyes meet mine again. I shake his hand off mine and sit back up. Twelve-Twelve is one of those kids who look as if they are well acquainted with hunger. He is small for his age and his cheeks looked hollowed out already upon arriving to the Capitol. Now that part has not got any better and he is covered in a mixture of dirt and blood. I should kill him but I do not know how to. Where is the demon inside me? I attach the sheath to my own belt and stand up with the knife still in my blood-covered hand, leaving my stone on the ground. Then I walk away. I do not know where I go. Eventually I find myself sitting against a tree in a part of the forest that I do not recognize.
Vitus! Go back! You have to finish it! You are in the Hunger Games! You wanted to be a peacekeeper, remember? You thought you would be able to do it! Yes, yes I did. But when I thought of killing, I never thought of killing someone this way. I thought of killing an unknown enemy with a weapon in his hands, not a helpless kid! But the boy is lying there and slowly being tortured to death. He wants you to do it! Go back!
I pull my legs towards my body. My hand clutches the knife tightly. Can they not fire the canon soon? Can’t it just fire? I see Twelve-Twelve before me, staring at me with those large black eyes and holding my wrist with those thin, bony fingers. I feel the sticks pierce my own body in the same points that they are piercing his, right through veins, arteries, guts and vital organs, causing irreparable damage.
I cannot bring myself to do it. I stand up and just walk away.
I walk through the forest without a goal. Everything is so very still around me. Where is everybody? The forest is getting denser. It is getting darker as well. I look up and notice that the sky, suddenly, is completely covered with clouds. The temperature is sinking quickly. At some point in the afternoon it starts snowing. Summer snow. So strange. I know everything is possible in the arena, though. Big flakes float down from the sky. The ground is still warm and they melt as they touch it. I think of Twelve-Twelve lying in the hole while the flakes fall down on him.
I am too weak and tired to keep walking. I unfold the parachute and use it to make some kind of small shelter under a big spruce. I put some spruce branches on the ground as insulation and then I crawl in and curl myself into a tight ball. A canon resounds distant, through the snowfall.

I am lying under the parachute again. I had to get up earlier and move a bit because I was getting too cold. Well, I am still cold. My fingers are difficult to move and I do not feel my toes any longer. I should get up again but is there any point to it? The forest floor is sprinkled with white.
Should I get up?
I make an attempt. I stand up on all four and stay like that for a while, gathering strength.
The canon booms. It is quiet a little and then it booms once more. Am I wrong or did it sound a little different than usually? As if it was oddly close.
I lift one knee and put a foot down. Then, with all my willpower, I force myself to stand up. And now? What do I do now?
The canon goes off once more. It sounded normal now. It goes off twice more. What a massacre.
OK, I will start by trying to make a fire again. There is a dead spruce close by. Maybe I will find what I need there.
I am on my way to it when my ears register a rustling sound from quick steps against the underbrush. They sound rather light but still make quite a bit of noise. A deer would not cause that much noise, would it? I dive down behind a sapling and throw a glance towards my shelter, a few steps away. It is partially hidden by the branches of the tree next to it. Will it be enough?
The steps are coming closer. I feel the fear pulsate through my body, forcing the very last energy I have into my muscles and making my senses sharper.
Some thirty steps away from me a hand pushes aside a spruce-branch and the person who was making the noise comes into sight. I still cannot see who it is though, because there is still some vegetation in the way but he or she is moving swiftly. Then she reaches my shelter, notices it and stops. I can see it is a she now. She sinks down into a crouch, lifting a bow. She stands quiet as a predator with tensed senses. You can almost see her ears stretch and become pointy. Her eyes are sunk in and wild. Her red hair is so greasy that it almost stands on end on her head. Her gray clothes are muddy and spotted with red. She looks haunted. I must look even worse.
I draw my breath and then I raise my voice:
The arrow only barely misses me.
I pull my head in and raise my hands.
“It’s me! Melissa, it’s me!”
She stares at me shortly with expressionless eyes.
“It’s only me!” I sob, still holding my hands up.
“We can’t stay here”, she says, with that well known voice from home which does not fit in this place at all.
She goes to retrieve the arrow. I take the parachute and follow her. She is already quite a bit ahead of me. I try to run faster to catch up but the best I can do is to not be left further behind. Not for so long though.
“Melissa!” I yell, panting. “Melissa!”
She twists around and hushes me.
My legs cannot carry me any further. My knees are shaking. I drop to the ground. I think that Melissa will leave me now. She will turn away once more and start running again and I will never see her again. The others will come and I will just lay here and my end will at last have come.
But she turns back.
“Are you injured?” she asks with low voice.
“No”, I whisper. “I… I’m just tired and haven’t eaten.”
“Since before the games?”
“Well, a few spiders.”
She makes a grimace and looks around. Then she grabs my hand.
“Stand up!” she says and pulls me.
I force myself to follow her orders. The world goes black in front of my eyes for a little but Melissa steadies me. She leads me to a fallen tree and makes me sit down against it. The branches of the tree and a large rock beside us are shielding us from view, somewhat.
“What are you going to do?” I ask her.
“Shut up!” she says. She squats down next to the rock and peeks around it. She holds her bow ready. An arrow is in place. I look from the bow to the red spots on her clothes and back. I wonder what she had to do in order to get the weapon.
We sit like that for a long time, so still that moss could start growing on us. We are like rocks, like part of this landscape. We are the ears of the forest. If anything moves under these trees, we will hear it.
Then Melissa finally turns.
“I will go hunting soon”, she says. “I’ll see what I can get.”
She sits down with her back towards the stone but she still does not look relaxed. I wonder if tributes are ever able to relax again, even if they win the games and get out of it alive. I try to see our mentor in front of me. Was there not always a little of that wilderness in her eyes, as the one I see in Melissa’s eyes now? Did I ever see her lean back in a chair? She won the games six years ago and has killed four people.
“I have not tried hunting yet”, Melissa tells me. “I took some dried meat at the Cornucopia but it is finished now.”
“Where did you get that one?” I nod towards the bow.
“I took it just now. From Clara, as she laid dying at the mines. I was scared to cross the mine field but I had to get it.”
“What mine field?”
She gestures in the direction that we came from.
“Out, that way. A whole stretch of river bank is lined with it. It starts at a ravine and I don’t know where it ends. I saw Clara and that tall guy… They did not know about it… They did not… “ Melissa looks away. “They wanted to go down to the river and drink, I think. When they reached a rock shaped like a huge, black shark fin they were blown to pieces. First Clara and then the guy tried to help her but instead… I was watching them and… I did not know either. Suddenly their blood was everywhere. There was a big, red splash on that black rock, like some weird red flower. I knew I had to get the bow so I walked in their footsteps because there weren’t any mines there.”
She sighs and rubs her eyes with the palms of her dirty hands. Somewhere, far off, a crow is cawing.
“Have you got something else than the bow and the arrows?” I ask her.
She nods.
“Not much though.”
She shows me the knife. It has a sharp point for stabbing with, just like mine, but for the rest it is less designed for combat and more for cutting things with. Unlike mine, its blade is not grooved and one edge is really sharp and serrated at the bottom. She also shows me a fire-steel.
“I got this from the tall guy.”
She puts her belongings away again and asks: “What about you? I saw you got a parachute.”
“Yeah.” I unfold the silver parachute which is lying in my lap. “I have a parachute but it did not bring anything of value.”
“Well, whatever it is, it is still more than they sent me. They did not send the smallest thing to me! Nothing at all. I am worthless to them.”
“I am not sure the thing they sent me qualifies as something.”
Melissa raises an eyebrow.
“It was just a joke. The Capitol people thought it was funny or something. They sent me a bar of soap.”
“Yup. Soap. But I buried it deep under the dirt.”
Melissa nods approving.
“But the parachute served you well for the shelter at least. What else have you got?”
I show her the knife and the box with the dead squirrel inside.
“I caught this yesterday morning but I think we could still eat it if we cook it first.”
Melissa looks enthusiastic.
“I’ll go gather some firewood right away if you start preparing it.”
We learned how to skin and gut animals at the training. At least in theory. As Melissa sneaks away I lay the dead animal on the parachute and cut its skin open.

The little fire is crackling pleasantly. Its small, dancing flames are hypnotizing. We have made some skewers with what meat we managed to pull off the bones of the tiny animal. There was not much left when we had removed all that wasn’t edible.
“I’m sorry”, I say, without removing my gaze from the flames. Melissa is quiet. “I’m sorry”, I say again. “Do you understand why I run away and left you? I did not want to.”
Melissa does still not reply. She turns her skewer over the fire. The flames lick the miserable little morsels on the stick.
“Why did you do it?” I ask, at last. “You know what I mean.”
Melissa shrugs.
I want her to talk. I need her to say something so I insist:
“It’s either you or me now. One of us will die, you know it. There is no way this can end happily now.”
She looks at me.
“End happily? Of course it can’t! It never could! Haven’t you watched the earlier games? Twenty-three people will die and would have died in any case.”
I don’t know what to reply to that so I look back into the fire. I always use the wrong words.
Melissa speaks again:
“I never thought I would survive. When I volunteered I knew that I would die.” Sighing, she pulls away the skewer from the fire and inspects the meat. She decides that it is ready and starts eating. “Not everybody gets to choose what to die for”, she says and shrugs. She tries to sound indifferent but I can hear that her voice is a little shaky.
I look back at my own skewer and start eating as well.
Melissa has already finished hear meal. I wanted to share the meat equally but she insisted I’d have almost all.
“By the way”, she says and stands up. “We should take turns keeping watch all the time, from now on.” She leaves me and goes to the other side of the rock, where I cannot see her. She wants me to leave her alone. She could have kept watch while staying closer if she had wanted to.
I finish eating slowly. I only eat because I know that I have to but I have lost all appetite.
After a while Melissa comes back only to say:
“I’ll go hunting now”, and disappears anew. I hear her steps get more and more distant until I cannot distinguish them anymore from the whisper of the light wind. They are gone like they came this morning.
I smolder the fire. I feel sad at watching the beautiful flames die and once they are gone I miss them. I spread out the ashes and strew dirt and pine needles on the burnt ground, both to be sure that the fire will not start again and in order to hide the signs of it. I have become good at hiding all my tracks. I have become good at disappearing, at playing that I do not even exist. I hide myself amongst the branches of the fallen tree and resume being a still sentry. I wait for Melissa to come back while the shadows creep over the forest floor. It surprises me how fast they move. I always assumed that their movement was too slow for the human eye to register. I was wrong, it turns out. If you only take the time to watch them, you can see how they shift centimeter by centimeter. I have never had this much time in my whole life. I will soon die but I have all the time in the world. I sit here, hour after hour, while the shadows move around me.
How many of us are left? I have lost count of the dead. Never mind. I will know this evening. I wonder if I or Melissa will die first. She volunteered for this. She chose to be here and she never expected herself to survive. Would it not be more right if she died than if I did? I was forced to come here. But she has a family, she is loved and she certainly is a better human being than I am. Would I ever have volunteered to come with her? I don’t know. I don’t know! Deep inside something tells me that I would not. I would have watched her being taken away and then die far away from me. But I did not want her to come! She would not have wanted me to come if the roles had been reversed, would she? She chose to come here! If I have one wish left then I wish that we will not be the last two survivors.
The melting snow drops from the dead branches around me. I put my mouth under one of them and drink what water falls on my tongue. Then I take the parachute and make a small roof above me. I use spruce branches to make the shelter a bit better and then sit back inside.
Melissa returns as the shadows in the forest have grown long and started melting together. She is empty-handed.
“Nothing”, she says. “The forest is dead.”
She looks at my shelter then sits down next to me. Together, we sit there and watch the night come. The anthem starts playing.
“Fifth night” I say. “Congratulation”
You have to appreciate the small things in life. One more day of life is a thing to be very grateful for. At some point it will all be over and then I will not care if I had many or few days to live. Then death will be all there is and I will not be aware of anything else than it. But right now I do care. Right now it is nice to be alive, even if it is a shitty and miserable life.
The faces of those who did not survive the day illuminate the black sky and cause ghostly shadows to fall on the ground.
Clara died and long Marlin died and so did that clumsy guy with glasses and almost no eyebrows. Did I not hear more canons today? Then those two ones, the ones that sounded odd, must have been the mines.
The anthem plays again and then the sky goes black.
“I’ll take the first watch”, I say.
“Are you sure?” Melissa asks. The way she says it makes me suspect that she is not asking out of thoughtfulness. Probably it is just because part of her still has problems trusting me. That is what the arena does to you.
I nod.
“Very well”, she says and tries to make herself comfortable enough to sleep. There really is not much space in the shelter. She switches side a few times and I am a little scared that she will cause the entire construction to collapse but in the end she is still. It takes some more time before she falls asleep but in the end I hear her breaths even out.
Sleep is precious, I think. Now that she has managed to fall asleep I will let her sleep uninterrupted for half the night. When it feels like half the night has gone I will wake her up. Although she is sitting right next to me I cannot see her anymore in the darkness but I feel her presence. It feels like warmth and safety. It strikes me how wonderful it is to have someone there, to not be alone any longer. I feel as if I have been alone my whole life, as if I have spent all my days until now wandering on my own in this valley. Yes, she barely trusts me and she probably hates me but she is here! I am not lonely any longer. And still, we will not be able to stay together for long. In this place we are all doomed to be alone. We can live or die but still we cannot be anything else than alone. I would like to scream, straight out into the darkness. I would like to yell at those who condemned us, who abandoned us. Can they not see that we are worth something? That we deserved something more? And still, I myself believed in the necessity of this all. I believed in this system. Do I still believe in it? I don’t know. Tears fill my eyes. It is the first time that I cry in a long time. Through the whole of this, I have not been crying once. Not even when I got chosen. It feels good to cry, in a way. Do I believe in all of this? I do not know…
Snow Globe part 2/4 (fan-fic)
This is a hunger games fan-fic about the 25th hunger games, from the point of view of a character who is rather different from Katniss, with a different perspective and a different voice. Critique is welcome.

Part 3:…
As I surge upwards, the light comes down towards me and engulfs me. Blinding, white light. It is all that there is around me and the air is cold. So cold that it stings my skin and sucks the heat out of me. It would have made my teeth start chattering if they had not already been doing so. I am not aware of anything else than this cold and the light. Not at first. And I am fine with it. I could pay this price for not having anything come after, for making time stop right here. It is still all fine.
Spots start to materialize themselves against the light. Gray spots, and darker spots. The sky starts to separate itself from the earth. It is a clear, pale blue, the kind of merciless blue that seems to be saying that it does not give a damned shit about what happens to the beings living beneath it.
I am alone.
Even if I am being watched by more people than have ever seen me before, I am alone. It is a loneliness the like of which I have never felt before. My legs are barely strong enough to keep it up. It squeezes my chest.
In front of me is a large, twisted shape and around it are other people. People like me. Young people. But being young does not matter that much when you know that you will never get to be older.
I still do not really see anything else than the light.  I do not want to. I try to keep hold of it. I make my eyes into narrow slits and blur my sight so that everything else gets unclear. Just ominous, dark spots.
The voice echoes straight through the light, piercing it like the blade of a knife, digging right into me.
It starts counting down from ten.
“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three…”
Please, let it not say two.
Please, let it not say one.
Let it stop right there.


Somewhere a gong is struck.
I do not know anything. I don’t. I do not have a past. I do not have an identity. All I am is a beating heart, lungs that fight for oxygen and feet sinking into snow as they run.
I do not go to the twisted shape, the cornucopia, where weapons and supplies lie and where many of us will meet their end in only a few moments. I turn and run in the other direction, empty handed. I do not escape, no, because there is no escape. Going without weapons and supplies might be my end just as much as going into the eye of the storm in order to get some. I run only to buy myself some time, because a part of me still believes time has any value.
Between my breaths I hear the screams from behind but they are already distant. There is not a living thing in front of me. Not that I can see at least. Just snow, ice and, further off, immense, black cliffs with jagged peaks.
I do not see it until it is almost too late. I manage to come to a stop right before I tumble down into the gap that opens up in front of my feet. It is an icy mouth with icicles at its edges for teeth.
The sound of running steps reaches me. I throw a quick glance back and notice that at least one person is following me. Panic surges through me. I take a few steps back and accelerate towards the mouth. And I jump. I fly for just the time necessary and land right on the edge. The snow under one of my feet gives way and I almost fall in but I manage to keep my balance and get away from the hole. The sound of running steps has stopped. I suppose that the fear of death can push you further than the determination to kill someone. As I turn I see my pursuer. She is standing on the edge of the gap, in her gray tribute clothes meant for dying in. It is so strange to see her wearing those clothes. She holds a knife in one hand. With the other hand she moves away some loose strands of red hair which hang down in front of her face.
“This isn’t what we had decided”, she says.
I am silent.
“We were going to keep together. Remember? We were going to fight side by side.”
I look down and shake my head.
“I can’t” I mutter.
“What? You can’t? What is that supposed to mean?”
I raise my head again and look into her eyes which normally are bright green but now are thin, black lines, shielding themselves from all the surrounding light and whiteness. I try to come up with something good to say but my mind will not find anything. No, there is simply nothing good to say. How could I ever explain?
“I can’t” I repeat.
“What do you mean?!” she yells.
I turn and start to walk away. I cannot take this any longer.
The knife lands a few centimeters from me, its blade burying itself into the snow.
“I volunteered to come with you!” I hear Melissa yell. “I didn’t have to but I volunteered! You can’t do this!”
I don’t want to listen anymore. I did not ask her to volunteer. Damn, I would never have done that! How can I explain to her that I cannot stay with her? Because only one will leave this place alive.
I start running again, my feet shuffling through the snow, and Melissa’s words do not reach me any longer.
When my legs get too tired to run I start walking. The landscape is as dessert as before but the cliffs are closer. I wonder if they are the edge of the arena. The sun is on its peak now although it still will not heat the air up by much. The effort has made me warm but my breath is still a cloud in front of my mouth and I know that I will get cold again once I stop. My clothes are also sweaty now, so the cooling down will be quick. The chances of surviving the night are small for me. I scoop up handfuls of snow and eat them, in order to still my growing thirst. My mind is still blank. I cannot think of much except of continuing forward. I often stop shortly and look over my shoulder, to make sure nobody is there. I listen but I only hear the whistle of the wind past the peaks of the cliffs and occasional rumbling sounds, like distant thunder, which I think originate from the ice masses. The arena this year must be the coldest and most hostile one that has ever been created. It fits the theme this year very well. This year, the 25th, we tributes have not been randomly selected as we usually are. This year we have been chosen, consciously abandoned by our own districts and the people who knew us. There is no warmth in this world left for us.
The ground is sloping more and more down towards the cliffs. The cliffs are as dark and ominous as death itself. They are steep and perpendicular, with drops which must be a few hundred meters. I imagine myself falling down one of those precipices, still alive as I fall but aware of being hopeless. That is exactly what the Hunger Games are like.
There appears to be a gap in the cliffs, right in front of me. I still cannot see what is beyond it because it does not go straight out from where I am now. It takes a while more before I reach it. Distances towards towering cliffs like that are always larger than they appear. I know this because my district is in the mountains. As a kid I was always surprised by how much further away things were than what they looked like. I would set out on hikes, enthusiastic and determined to reach one peak or another. After much walking and climbing I would find that the peak had still, barely, got any closer.
Eventually I do reach the gap though. As I turn the corner I have to stop for a moment. For a moment I am just not able to move. It is so wonderful. So unexpectedly magnificent! I can see the glacier stretch down between the cliffs and continue past them in a long, glittering tongue. Where it ends are small, blue lakes. Towards the horizon, as far as I see, are mountain peaks. They appear to be taller than the ones where I lived. Some of the peaks are snow covered and I even see some other glaciers. The further away the mountains are, the bluer they seem. Forests are growing in the valleys. That is where I have to go, if it is still within the arena. Of course it will not be free from dangers but I know that I will not be alive to see the next sunrise if I stay on the glacier. There is almost no doubt about that. If there is somewhere where I have a chance of surviving a little longer then it is further down. It will be warm and nice down there and I might find food as well. My stomach is rumbling. It is funny how my body keeps asking for such things as food, water and heat even though it will soon be dead and cold. Nothing will be of any use to it then.
I start making my way down, between the rock faces. Although the passage between them is very broad, the cliffs which close in on both sides make me feel trapped. As I look up at them I see large rocks which look as if they might break loose and tumble down at any instant. I hope that I am far enough, if they do fall. Would they immediately punch holes in the ice, upon hitting it, and get swallowed up by the glacier? Or would they be able to roll along the surface, all the way to where I am? I have always had respect for the mountains. Where I am from we learn that, early on. We joke that when a child is born, in our district, it can already name at least five ways in which the mountains can take a human life. As it grows up it will learn many more. There were accidents with deathly outcomes each year, I think.
And I am still learning.
The snow disintegrates below my feet.
I only have the time to throw my arms out. Before I even realize what has happened I find myself half swallowed by a hole. My feet are dangling in the void but my head and arms are still over the edge. First, I am too shocked to do anything at all. I just hang there, afraid to even breathe, as if that could make more snow break loose from the edge. Then, when nothing more happens, I slowly try to pull myself up. I am stuck. I cannot get out. I start to fight harder. I pull with my arms and kick with my feet. After a while my feet find holds and can push me up. Finally I start to get somewhere. I pull one knee over the edge, then the other. I am out! I’ve made it! I crawl away from the hole on all four and collapse on the snow. My whole body is shaking, from head to toes.
I do not want to be here! I do not! I don’t want to die! The anguish squeezes my chest and draws all heat out of me. I wish a miracle could happen that took me out of this place. Something! Anything! Through the years I have witnessed countless tributes die since it is obligatory to watch the games on the screens. Now their deaths flash past in front of my inner eye. Cruel, gruesome deaths. Each year all the youths which are sent to the arena die except for one. There was never an exception. There were never miracles. Nobody will save me. That was clear already as they abandoned me. Nobody even really cares about my death. Except for Melissa, maybe, if she can forgive me.
If I want to have a chance I must get up. I must try to save myself.
I stand on shaking legs. I barely dare to take a step, afraid that more cracks might lurk under the snow. But I must move. I cannot stay here, so I take one careful step at a time.
It was not completely unexpected that my district would choose me as tribute. To start with I did not have a family. I did not have brothers or sisters and my mother died of some sickness when I was three or two. My father could not stand it to stay in the house where they had lived together. He was a peacekeeper officer and when he got an offer to work in another district, he took it immediately. Within a short time he was gone as well. I was left in the care of my grandpa but he only lived until I was eleven. Then I had nobody. And I was always rather quiet, because I am no good at talking, so I did not really have many friends. Well, until I was twelve I had a few. Then I started to lose contact with them, one after another. As I was chosen, three years later, I do not think that I had many left. Probably only Melissa. When they called my name, on the reaping, I realized that not all people are equally worth. When a loved person, a person with family and friends, gets taken away to the games then everybody grieves them. As they watch them fight on the screens they want them to win. These loved people deserve to win, they think, because they would leave too much emptiness and sadness behind if they were gone from this world. As to me: nobody would even remember the quiet and skinny boy with the short, black hair and childish face, who lived alone and who nobody really liked.
The moment when I was reaped is still so vivid in my mind. Everything got quiet. I could feel it. In the moment before it happened I could already feel it coming. Then, in the silence, my name was called. It was like falling. It was like being pushed down one of those cliffs that surround me now. My mind refused to take it in and accept it but at the same time it still was so painfully real so that I doubt anything had ever felt as real before. It was as if everything else - my life until then, my dreams for the future - suddenly were nothing more than lies. I could not move. The peacekeepers had to come and get me. They seized my arms and pushed me to the podium. A girl was already standing there but I did not know her. I guess that she was as unimportant and unloved as me. I did not even take a closer look at her. I just looked down.
Then I heard Melissa’s voice.
“I volunteer”, she said. She sounded self confident. The trembling of her voice was barely audible.
I looked up and saw the crowd part and clear a path for her. She did not look at me. She just kept staring straight ahead as she walked. Still I knew that she was doing it because of me. I wanted to yell at her to stay back, to change her mind. But I could not. And it got too late. The peacekeepers were already seizing her and the other girl was being pushed down from the podium. She stumbled a little as they pushed her, then she started running and disappeared in the crowd. Oh, I couldn’t help but wishing that someone would volunteer to take my place! People actually volunteered more and more often, all since our district had started to train and prepare its youths for the Hunger Games. Technically it is illegal to prepare, but our district has always been one of the Capitol’s favorite ones. So they close an eye to it.
This year, there was no male volunteer from district two.
The mountain is so desolate around me. I wonder who is watching me now. Although I cannot see them, there are cameras all around me. They are hidden in the cliffs and crevices in the ice. Maybe even in the sky, what do I know? They see me but I cannot see a single one of them. Wherever I look, there is nothing to indicate that this is an arena. These mountains existed long before the Hunger Games. They must have existed for billions of years. To them, this is just a short little episode, which takes place in an insignificant fraction of time. They must have seen more lives end than can be counted. They seem so eternal. They almost smell of eternity.
Melissa. For the first few days after we got reaped I could not even talk to her. Not even look at her, to tell the truth. Until she had raised her voice, there in the silent crowd, I had still nurtured a foolish hope to win the games. But now winning means her death.
Up on the sky, the sun is moving steadily towards the horizon but I am also closer to the edge of the glacier. I have passed the cliffs, at least. They look even higher and more ominous from here. The slope of the glacier is getting a bit steeper. There are more cracks in the ice. Some are even broader than the one which I jumped over earlier. I lose valuable time walking around them but I do not have enough courage to try jumping again. Even after I have passed the visible cracks I keep walking extra carefully, in case there are more cracks hidden under the snow. I have the impression that the surface of the glacier is getting more and more slippery. The boots we have been given have rough soles but they would need spikes in order to get a good grip. My feet slide away from under me. I land on my butt and slide a few meters before I can come to a stop. I get up, take a few steps and then I lose my balance again. This time I almost slide straight into a crack. I stop only a meter, or so, from it. I do not dare to stand up again, here, and instead I move sideways on my butt, digging my heels into the glacier to secure myself from sliding further. I must look ridiculous to everyone watching me from the Capitol, in their safe and warm homes. I can almost hear their laughs. Still I keep going like this until I am far away from the gaping ice mouth. Only then do I get up carefully.
The last part to the left edge of the glacier tongue is the one that goes the slowest. In the end I slip once more and slide right off it. I land hard on stones. My whole body is aching from bruises and tiredness but it does not matter. I need to keep going. I continue along the edge of the glacier, balancing on heaps of loose stones. I can speed up a bit here but still the terrain does not allow for running. It would be very easy to twist a foot and a twisted foot could make all the difference between life and death in this place. I finally arrive to a stretch of good, solid rocks. There are many really nice feelings. Still I do not think anything has ever felt as nice as finally having something solid and reliable under my feet. At last I am free! A little more free at least. I proceed with new energy and even run at times.
The echo of a far away yell reaches me.
I freeze and listen. There it is again. Alarmed, I try to identify its origin.
I move to a large rock and kneel down behind it, peeking over the edge.
Say, they can’t have seen me from there? They can’t, right? They are too far away.
Further up, under the tall cliffs, on an ice-free slope covered with loose stones, I see three figures move. They are too far away for me to even be able to tell if they are girls or guys but from the yells I would say that one is a girl and the other two are guys. I see that one carries a spear and one something that looks like a pick. One seems to be unarmed and somewhat in front of the other two. But the others are closing up. They get closer and closer. Now they are there. The yells intensify, bouncing between the cliffs and echoing over the glacier. The hunted does not defend him or herself for long. He or she drops to the ground, curls up and disappears from view behind the others. They keep hitting and slashing with their weapons for a while, as if to make sure that their victim is really dead. In the end one stands up while the other one kneels down, probably to search the dead one’s clothes. Afterward they both stand there a little. Before they leave one leans forward and seems to vomit.
I wonder how they always made it all look like exciting action on the screens.
I stay behind my cover while I make sure that the two go in another direction. They disappear behind a cliff and I cannot see them any longer. I leave my hiding place and continue my journey towards the valley, moving as fast as I can.
I hear rumbling from behind. It is not that strong to begin with but then, before I have even finished turning around to see what is going on, it has grown in strength. It is loud as thunder. I know it. Last year five people were killed by one single rockfall in my district and the echoes from the shattering rocks reached all the way to my home, many kilometers away. Even then it made me want to curl up in a corner.
I see the rocks break loose from the cliffs. Some of them must be as large as an average house from my district. They break loose and fall through the air, unstoppable. The violence of their impacts with the ground send shivers through the mountain. I am able to feel them where I am standing, through the soles of my boots. It is a wonder if the two I just saw are able to survive this. They were right there.
I turn towards the valley again. There is no time to lose. From behind I keep hearing the thunder. Then the sound starts to become weaker again, growing fainter and fainter until it is just an occasional, deep, echoing bang from the last few rocks hitting the ground.
I am starting to feel ill. My stomach is not alright. No, it does not feel alright at all. But who would feel alright, finding themselves in all this shit?
The ground suddenly drops steeply. It is not completely perpendicular, like the precipices of the cliffs behind me, but if I do a mistake here I can still rest assured that it will cost me dear. Although the drop must be of around twenty meters, it gives the impression of much more because the mountain continues to slope downwards beyond it. It feels like standing directly above the grass-covered land further down. I look for the best place to climb. A bit to my right there are plenty of cracks and rock shelves. Perfect. I go there, turn and kneel down next to the border. I slowly push my legs into the void and start lowering myself. I lower myself more and more and still my feet will not touch anything. In the end I am hanging with only my hands on the edge. What if I am wrong? What if I miss the rock shelf? My hands start to slip and for a moment I feel pure panic rush through my veins. Then my feet finally touch the surface. I have to take a break there and I stand panting for a while. If I ever survive this hell I will have exhausted all my body’s resources of adrenaline. Nothing will ever scare me or excite me again.
Ok, the break is over. I continue downwards in much the same fashion. I see images in front of me of all the tributes who have fallen to their deaths, in previous games. I remember six. No, seven actually. One, the first one I think, lost her mind a few days into the games. It all drove her mad and finally she jumped. I remember that the commentators made great fun of it. They kept replaying the scene, showing how she plummeted through the air and finally crashed and shattered her body against the rocks below. They added a splashing noise to the end in order to make it even more funny. I was around five years old and could not understand it. I kept asking grandpa why she had done it. Now I look over my shoulder, at the ground far below. It would be so easy to just take a step back. Just an irreversible step back and everything would be over. No more fear, no more anguish. So, so easy. Maybe it would be the only sane thing to do. I turn and face the emptiness.
I know that I cannot do it. Not yet. Part of me still refuses to accept my own mortality, even confronted with all the evidence.
I am not very good at climbing. I used to climb trees and cliffs, like every other kid, until I was nine. Then, one day, my grandpa made me stop. He scolded me and told me that if I kept climbing the Capitol people would make me go to the Hunger Games. The Games. Grandpa always used them as a means to scare me into being a good kid. Terrified, I accepted to do as he told me.
Grandpa, I suppose it is ok to climb now?
The rock is rough and cool against the palms of my hands. It is older than I would be able to comprehend. It has seen more years than I have seen seconds. It has seen the continents move, it has seen immense forces shape the world and living beings come and go like streaming water. It is both safety and danger, both protector and killer. Mountains are like the stony souls of nature, protruding through all the soft green that covers the rest of the ground, showing what it all really is like. Nature is beautiful, kind but also merciless and life is necessarily a fight against the elements. All this is so visible and clear when observing the mountains.
The ground becomes more and more horizontal and I can stop using my hands to help myself proceed.
There starts to be some plants, sprouting forth from crevices in the rocks: grass and even some flowers. I am almost at the edge of the glacier now.  The ground ends in a series of steep precipices leading all the way down to the fields. Following the edge of the glacier, however, is a ridge made of the rocks and sand left behind by the retreating ice masses. I balance along its top. The view from it is wonderful. If this was another time I would have liked to sit down here and just look at everything around me forever. I can see far in all directions. I assume this means that others can see me pretty easily too. Not good. Not good at all. I start running again. My legs are aching, especially my knees. The constant downwards slope has put them under a lot of stress. At my side the glacier has ended. Where it ends is a clear, blue and glittering lake.
As I arrive to the end of the ridge the ground is alive, covered in short green grass that grows on sandy earth and gravel. There are even more and more flowers. Wild, mountain flowers are probably the most beautiful. Their stalks look so tough, each day of their existence being a challenge. And then, at the top, is such a startling explosion of bright colors!
I become aware of a sound that has been growing louder and louder over the past hour. I must be getting closer to a water stream. The sun is low now. I would say that in just about two hours it will be gone behind one of the glacier peaks. I need to get much further down before that happens. I hope that the remaining stretch to walk will be quicker than the last. Seems to be pretty straight forward now. No glacier and hopefully no precipices. The mountains look even more ominous as it gets darker. It is so quiet. Just the sound of the wind and that of water. Even before the Hunger Games people must have felt small and vulnerable, as they walked here.
My stomach is feeling worse and worse. What is the cause of it? I have not eaten anything since I entered the arena so I cannot have been poisoned already, can I? Is hunger the cause? But that cannot explain why I almost feel like vomiting now. And I do not feel particularly hungry. Actually, the thought of eating repulses me.
The sound of rushing water is loud now, deafening. As my path leads me up on a tiny bulge in the terrain, I see an icy blue river flowing across the grasslands. It runs violently as if intending to smash through any obstacles in its way. A smaller rivulet crosses my path, further down, to join with it.
When I reach it I do not immediately look for a path across it. First I kneel down on a flat boulder by the water and scoop up water in my hands to drink. I have not been getting any fluids for the whole day, except for the snow which I ate in the beginning.
The snow!
I have a vague memory of being told not to eat snow, as a kid. It could be dirty and also the crystals could cause stomach upsets. Now it is too late. Of course my brain has to remember the warning now. Of course! Thanks brain.
I have just swallowed the water as my stomach rebels. It turns itself inside out. At least that is what it feels like. I stand on hands and knees and vomit my soul. All the last food that I had left in my stomach, to give me energy, is gone. My legs and whole body feel too weak to ever be able to stand straight again. This is not a good start in The Games.
Vitus, it is time to face the truth! You won’t make it. You won’t survive. Like this you won’t live a day more. Look at you! You’ve always been a pathetic piece of shit. That’s why you’re here to begin with.  
I am scared. So damn scared.
In just a short time I will not be alive anymore. I will not exist. Just emptiness. Incomprehensible emptiness. It is really going to happen! It is as if I have looked over the edge of a cliff and am staring down into an immense, dark precipice. The anguish is so overpowering that I barely can keep myself from screaming straight out.
The sun sinks below the mountain. The shadows slowly start to drain the world of color. If I could only make it to the forest... It is not far away. I am so vulnerable here.
Somehow I manage to force myself up on my feet again. I was planning to cross the stream by jumping from boulder to boulder but I have not got the energy to do that so instead I just walk straight out into the water. It is rather shallow but some water still gets into my boots, making my socks wet and cold.
When I arrive to the first trees it is already too dark to see far into the forest. The smell of tree needles fills my nostrils. I bring an arm up to protect my face from the low spruce branches and walk towards the sound of the river. The trees open up again and I can see the dark, shifting shadows of the rushing water. I stand still in its deafening noise for a while. It is a sound that drenches all the other sounds of the world. I listen to it, let myself disappear in it.
I kneel down and scoop up some mud and then smear it over my face, neck and hands. Like this I will be a bit harder to spot. Then I take two rocks and smash one onto the other, hoping to get some sharp pieces to use as a weapon. All I get are a few shards, not larger than my fingernails. I pick them up, none the less, and put them in my pocket. I also take one of the stones. At least it is better than nothing. If someone comes my way I could maybe smash their head with this. But, probably, I am too weak for that right now. Maybe I should have taken Melissa’s knife, the one she threw at me…
I still do not feel well. When I go to the “toilet” I discover that I have diarrhea. Also that caused by the snow, I suppose.
I make my way between some closely-growing bushes and sink down with my back against a spruce tree. The undergrowth that covers the ground creaks under my weight.
This is it for today. Congratulations Vitus! You somehow survived the first day!
The trees around me are already nothing more than darker shadows against a dark background. The sound of the river is not that loud anymore and if someone comes I will be able to hear their steps on the underbrush before they can surprise me. As long as I do not fall into a deep sleep, that is. But I doubt that I will.
The canons start to fire.
In my district there are several training grounds for peacekeepers. Once I happened to be nearby one as there was an exercise. I could hear the echoes from the grenades filling the air like sudden thunder, both ear-piercing sharp and rumbling deep. It was a sinister sound that reverberated through the ground. I remember that it struck me as the most sinister sound that I had ever heard, even more sinister than the noise from the rockfall.
Now I know that the canons are worse.
Tomorrow and all other days, until only one person is left, they will fire at each death. Today they wait until the evening because too many lost their lives in one go.
All in all I hear nine shots. Nine people dead. I remember them as I saw them at the training, at the interviews and in the hovercraft on their way here with me. As alive as I am.
When the canons stop firing it is quiet for a little. Then the anthem of Panem starts playing out of the sky. The melody, which normally is so happy and pompous, resounds melancholic over the dark and quiet mountain. The sky lights up and there are the faces of the dead, floating in the air over the living, bright like stars! The faces and district numbers of the dead are projected, one at a time, on an invisible screen that is so large that the images are visible from the whole arena. I see the girl and boy from district three, the girl from district four, the boy from five, the boy from six, the girl from nine, both from ten and finally the girl from twelve. The anthem plays once more. Then the light and the music fade and the darkness and the silence once more reign.
So Melissa is alive.
I wonder where she is. Alone under a tree like me? Together with some other allies? Is she crying? Is she still angry? Probably. All we had talked about, dreamed about and believed is meaningless now. We were going to fight side by side, were we not? One day we were going to be peacekeepers, us two. We were going to be the soldiers of the Capitol and fight its battles, so that history would never more repeat itself. If necessary we would even give our lives but we would do so side by side.
All of that is gone.  
I guess, in a way, I will still die for the greater good here.
To tell the truth, I have never been sure of what to think about the Hunger Games. Yes, I know that they are necessary. It is of utter importance that fools in the districts are reminded of how meaningless it would be to start another war and that another war would mean millions of deaths like the previous did. It is necessary to keep the wound bleeding just so much that they cannot forget the pain. But I cannot help but feel disgusted at how the Capitol makes the Games into some kind of entertainment and how detached they are from the real suffering it causes. Maybe I just feel like this because I am from the districts myself, I don’t know. Another thing that makes me uncomfortable with them is that killing off a bunch of young people, each year, is such a waste of potential. We could grow up to do things. Me and Melissa, for an instance, we were going to be peacekeepers and serve the Capitol loyally. And I cannot forget Valerius. He was amazing. He could build useful stuff out of anything. He had a mind that, if confronted with a problem, would immediately find some smart and innovative invention that would solve it. Then his name was called at the reaping and he died within the first few minutes of the Games.
Again the thought of what awaits me fills me with a terror that threatens to choke me. I can feel my heart beat so alive, my heart that a blade soon might pierce. My body, that now moves so smoothly at my command, will be cut to pieces and rot away.
And there will be nothing more.
Above the trees the sky is sprinkled with stars. They are so many so that it looks as if someone has thrown heaps of sand at it. The universe is immense. Just like the mountains it cares nothing about what happens to me. From time to time I see shooting stars as short lines of light which appear and then are gone, never to be seen again. Maybe each of them represents a human life.
It is so cold. My body is starting to shake worse and worse and my teeth are chattering again. I try to pull my hands further in into my sleeves but they are quickly turning ice cold, just like my feet which are still humid from when I crossed the stream. I must get up and move. Each motion I do causes plants and twigs to creak. The sound is so tremendously loud against the silence. Someone will hear me for sure! For sure! I listen. As I listen really carefully I can hear that the forest is full of faint sounds: clicking sounds, rustling sounds, swooshing sounds. I jump at each one that is a bit louder than the others. They could be caused by animals or by twigs falling from the trees. But they could also be caused by other tributes on the hunt or by hideous Capitol-created predators. Each time I hear a sound like that I feel chills run down my back and expect to feel a knife suddenly sink in between my shoulder blades. I keep spinning around and throwing glances over my shoulders like a maniac. The forest is so lonesome. I know that even now I might be on camera but that cannot chase the feeling of absolute loneliness and helplessness. I can barely distinguish anything at all. The forest around me is slightly more than compact darkness. Only slightly different nuances of pitch black. Still I feel it around me as a presence. Yes, a watchful presence from the trees themselves and from the concealed threats that might jump at me in any second. Minute after minute drags on. Time flows as slowly as some dense syrup tonight.
Light eventually starts to come back. The contours of the trees slowly become more and more distinct. After a while I realize that I can distinguish details on the ground and that the world is regaining its color. A lonesome canon resounds. Someone did not make it till dawn.
When the rising sun drenches the forest in its golden light it has already been rather clear for a while. I have the impression that, although the slow passing of time here, the sun is actually rising earlier than it uses to where I lived. In the chilly air my breath is a glittering cloud in front of my mouth. Now the cameras will be on us. The screens will show each tribute so that people can see how we are doing. I look straight ahead and force a smile.
“Good morning Panem!” I say quietly.
I head back to the river. Each step I take is tremendously heavy. I feel drained of all energy.
Before leaving the concealing shadow under the trees I stand hidden behind the last bushes and observe the river. I want to make sure nobody else is there. It is likely that other people have reached the valley by now. However everything is calm and still. Only the rushing water moves, raising clouds of droplets in the air which seem golden and phosphorescent in the light of the rising sun. I wash my hands and face with the ice cold water and drink as well. Then I apply new mud to my skin. I do not like the feeling of it but it is necessary. I wonder what the people watching me are thinking. I turn towards the forest because I assume that there must be cameras hidden amongst the branches of the trees. I smile and wave.
“Hello Panem!” I say, only as loud as I think the hidden microphones will be able to register over the roaring river. “This miraculous clay will do wonders to your skin! It will erase your wrinkles and make your face smooth as a baby’s butt!”
I even throw a kiss in direction of the trees. I feel utterly stupid. After all, I am not one of those people who find it natural to joke. I only learned to act for the cameras upon arriving to the Capitol, where we were prepared and interviewed before being sent to the arena. If people like you then you might get sponsors. If your get sponsors you might get supplies sent to you. If you have supplies then you have a better chance of surviving.
Snow Globe part 1/4 (fan-fic)
This is a hunger games fan-fic about the 25th hunger games, from the point of view of a character who is rather different from Katniss, with a different perspective and a different voice. Critique is welcome.

Part 2:…
The snowflakes are dancing down over the forests and towns in Sweden. Silently, they cover the ground for a little. Then they melt and freeze again as the shadows of the evening approach. The small towns are quiet and dark but there is warm lights in the windows of the houses. The icy streets are like skating rinks. There will not be gravel on them until tomorrow morning.

Later it snows on the cities of the Po Velly in Italy. It snows on Venice, it snows on Padua. The big snowflakes whirl around the white statues and blow in on the sidewalks under the old arcades. The stone pavements, worn by all the steps which have walked over them year after year, become slippery with the snow slush. The clear domes of the churches appear to be transparent against the white sky.

It snows in Vienna. Light, soft snowflakes accumulate on the streets and on the houses of the Austrian capital. The snow crunches under your shoes. But do not stay on the ground! Climb up somewhere high! This city needs to be admired from above on days like this. From above you will see its hidden secrets: the yards between the tall, white, old houses, the small terraces on the top-floors, the walkways on the ridges of the snow-covered roofs. You will wish you were a cat! The city stretches on towards the horizon, towards the gentle hills in the distance. Their forests are all black, now that the leaves have fallen, and they stand in sharp contrast to the white of the snow-covered vineyards.

It is snowing in Europe, and in its different countries people pause to look up in wonder, as the first flakes whirl down, almost as if they were taken by surprise.
Ok, now I'm open for commissions again. Don't know for how long however since I don't have that much time. The price for speed paintings and other relatively quick digital paintings is 8$. These should take one to three days to complete depending on how much time I have.
Some examples:…………

The price for more complicated digital paintings is 15$ These will take maximum a week to complete which sadly is fast for me since I'm still very slow. Here are some examples of how I draw:

This is the first experience I have of taking commissions so please be patient!

If you are interested or have questions please note me!


ClickoClicko's Profile Picture
I am Swedish-Italian and in my still short life I've lived in several different places around Europe. I newly moved back to Sweden from Austria to do basic military training and to study, however I have troubles imagining staying in one place for the rest of my life so we'll see where the future will bring me. I draw, paint and write on my free-time. I like to draw a bit of everything and experiment with new techniques

My blog:

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