The cylindrical glass where I’m in closes as Mr. D, our mentor, bids his farewell to me. I wave back at him as the nervousness that I’m feeling grows. The 73rd Hunger Games is about to begin any minute now. The metal circular plate I’m standing at starts to escalate and darkness fills the claustrophobic area.

I’m in the district where fishing is what we do for the Capitol. My co-tribute, Clarisse, I don’t know where she is. I don’t like her anyway.

I’m expecting a blinding light that will strike my eyes, but there’s nothing. No lights as the metal plate reach the end of the tube. I can’t see anything. The tributes, they are nowhere to be found. A girl from a distant place from mine shrieks and I know it’s Clarisse. More voices fill the arena – I know this is the arena. A fire hologram pops out on the centre as the countdown begins. Ten seconds. Ten seconds and the bloodbath will start. Where’s the cornucopia? Where are the weapons? How can I find them?

Four more seconds. Three seconds. Two seconds. One second. And glittering stars fill the arena. It is already night. Or is the arena forever a night? The cornucopia glows in the centre of the arena and the plates where we are standing at incinerates. I have to jump before I get all burned out. Our white jumpsuits glow like there are UV lights.

I see Clarisse joined the bloodbath while the male tribute from District Twelve, Nico, runs away and hides. I follow Nico’s direction assuming that I can make him as my ally. I didn’t join the bloodbath because I still want to live a little longer. I know that I don’t have the chance of winning this game, but I’m still persistent.

I can’t see anything in this type of arena; everything’s all black except for the cornucopia, the tributes, and the starry sky above. I stumble down as I step on something. A weapon. I grasp it and continue to run and hide. The bloodbath’s not yet over, the shrieking and the screams of despair’s continuing to crash my eardrums.

I run through places I don’t know what. I’m crouching, and leaping at things, just a precaution.  I don’t even know if I look like a crazy lad crouching at something even though there’s nothing in there.

I’m about to leap again when someone clasps my left elbow and covers my mouth. I close my eyes when the person pushes me to a wall and grips its arm onto my throat, supressing the oxygen to enter my lungs.

‘Who are you?’ I whisper, my eyes are closed still.

‘It doesn’t matter.’

The voice comes from a man.

‘You’re Perseus Jackson. The male tribute from District Four.’ he says.

I nod even though I know it doesn’t require any answer.

‘Call me Percy.’

I open my eyes and he’s still gripping his arms on my throat while his force is heaving me against the wall. I’m standing using the tip of my toes. The glow of his jumpsuit’s blinding my eyes. As my eyes are finally adjusted to the dimness and partly illuminating glow of the vicinity, I finally recognize who the man is. The man I’m looking for as an ally, Nico.

‘Nico,’ I mutter, ‘release me.’

He releases me and I stumble down the floor.

‘Sorry,’ he says, ‘you told me to release you. So I did.’

‘It’s fine.’ I answer as I stand up.

I look at him and I notice that he’s wearing a weird goggles.

‘What’s that?’ I ask him.

‘A night vision goggle,’ he answers, ‘my mentor gave this to me before the games.’

He looks around the place and readies himself to run again.

‘Follow me.’

I follow Nico’s glowing jumpsuit as he run through the place. He’s telling me what to do; if I’m going to crouch or leap or to run faster or whatsoever.  As we reach the spot of Nico’s hiding place, maybe, I settle down in a corner while Nico gather – I don’t know what are those – things.

Canon explosions start to boom the arena. First explosion. Second. Third. Fourth. Fifth. Sixth. Seventh. Eighth. Ninth. Tenth. Ten deaths in the bloodbath. Fourteen more tributes are hiding in the arena, including me and Nico.

Nico goes back in our spot as he fixes things in a distant place to mine’s.

‘What are you doing?’ I ask as I stand and go to his place to help him.

‘Ugh, for our protection.’ he answers without looking at me.

I can’t see what’s he doing, maybe snares? Nico is so smart, even though his district is the poorest of all; they have this ‘Nico’ that will surely bring up his district’s reputation. I don’t know why I knew that Nico is smart, I just feel it.

‘Can I help you with that?’ I ask, ‘what can I do?’

‘Oh, just sit back and relax.’ he faces me and smiles.

I didn’t argue, because I really want to take a nap. Maybe Nico is a trustworthy person. I feel that he can be an ally from the very start, I trust my instincts. Amongst the twenty-two tributes, Nico’s the one I really want to befriend. I don’t know why, but he’s just… I don’t know. Why do I feel such thing?

 I look for a good spot where I take my awesome relaxation, because I’m definitely an awesome lad. I close my eyes, and all I can feel is I’m relentless to win this game. But how about Nico?

Light strikes my eyes and I realize that the night already passed. The arena isn’t forever a night. I sit up and finally, I see what the arena looks like. It’s a labyrinth. There are so many ways, and I don’t know where we came from. I don’t know where the cornucopia is.

I see Nico lying on the ground, sleeping.

I look around where we are, and I see snares in each passageways. There’s only one way that isn’t snared, and maybe, that’s where we’re going. 

The Capitol hymn plays and the faces of the dead tributes are shown above. Clarisse is still alive, how she survived the bloodbath? She’s great!

Nico grunts in his place and I know that he’s already awake. He sits up and scratches his eyes. His hair is messed up but it looks normal to him. A weird necklace is hanging on his neck. He notices me looking at him, he grimaces and lifts an eyebrow.

‘What’s your problem?’ he asks.

‘What’s that?’ I point at his necklace.

‘This?’ he holds the weird bead of his necklace, ‘this is a memento mori.

I stand up and go nearer to him. I want to see clearer the bead, to know what a memento mori is.

‘Is that a skull?’ I ask as I look at it a little closer, ‘why is it a skull? Who gave it to you?’

‘My dad gave this to me when he talked to me when my name was picked up,’ he says, ‘he said that this will serve as a symbol, to remind the inevitability of death here in arena.’

I look at him straight in his eyes, and all I can feel is conscience. His father didn’t believe in his ability to win in this game that’s why he gave Nico that memento mori. Nico can’t just die, I will protect him.

I hold his shoulders, ‘You won’t die as long as I’m here.’

‘I won’t let you do that.’ he takes my hands off of his shoulders and looks at me sternly, ‘I should be the one doing that.’

‘Wh-what?’ I ask, ‘why?’

‘Because Percy…’

He faces the floor as I take his hands. I lift his head up, his eyes are closed.

‘Because—‘

I stop him from saying the next words with my index finger. I don’t want to hear the next words. I know what he’s going to say, I can feel it. I’m not numb to not feel it. That’s the reason why I want him as an ally.

I lean closer to him. My forehead sticks to his forehead.

‘Open your eyes.’ I say.

He opens his eyes as I lean a little closer. My nose sticks to his nose.

‘I know the reason, Nico. I can feel that.’ I say, ‘let me give back to you the same reason why I wanted you to be my ally.’

I kiss him.

***

Days passed and more tributes died. Nico and I were like nomads because every day we’re looking for a place to hide. The love that I’m feeling over him is genuine that it kills me every time I’m seeing him hurt. His worst injury is when the male tribute from District One, Jason, stabbed the side of his chest. I thought he was going to die that time, but he didn’t. Thank the gods he didn’t. Because I will kill myself if he did.

Today, three tributes are left. It’s me, Nico, and Jason. The day that maybe, Nico and I will both die and let Jason win this game. This day might also be the day that I will die as I kill Jason and let Nico win this game. Nico can’t die because he needs to prove to his father that he’s great. A hero of District Twelve.

Nico and I is about to reach the cornucopia when a Capitol mutant attacks us. I don’t know what it’s called but it looks like a half-bodied woman with wings like a bat. Her fangs are as sharp as an ice pick, and her nails are as sharp as a kitchen knife. Her intestines’ shredding is hanging in her belly as blood’s dripping. 

I slide up my sword from my backpack, and Nico gets his knife from his knife bag that’s belted around his hips.

‘Nico,’ I say as I look at him, ‘run.’

‘No,’ he answers, ‘I will help you.’

He stabs the mutant in its back as the mutant clamps her claw on Nico’s shoulder. Nico shouts in pain. I feel the pain, like his soul is also my soul. She then bites Nico on his chest. Nico falls on the ground as blood starts to flow from his right shoulder. His heavy breathing is the sign I’m looking forward as a sign of that he’s still alive.

‘Nico!’

I jump and slash the mutant’s neck. She falls on the ground while I’m over her body, I stab her chest three times as the agony fills the jar of my emotion.

Nico’s on the verge of death.

The mutant burst into ashes.

The sound of canon explodes.

My knees tremble as I realize that the canon explosion signifies a death. A death.

I kneel on the ground and face it.  

My hands are on my chest as the tears stream down my face. I crawl to Nico’s place as I turn him to me. His unconscious bloody body pains me.

The Capitol hymn plays and a hologram from a sky appear.

‘Per…cy’

The picture of District One’s male tribute, Jason, is shown in the sky. He’s the one who died.

I look down at Nico and hug him. He’s smiling at me.

‘You scared me.’ I say.

‘Sorry.’

I release myself from the hug and kiss him.

 Only one of you needs to survive. A bonus point will be given to the victor.

The voice of the game master, Zeus, says.

‘Kill me.’ Nico says.

‘No.’

I stand up from my place getting Nico’s knife from his hand.

‘Never forget that I will always love you Nico,’ I say, ‘tell your sons or daughters when you get married, someday, that there’s this friend of yours that sacrificed himself for you, because he loves you. For eternity.’

I stab myself and the last thing I heard is Nico’s shout of disagreement. 

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