Rue's Lullaby

I hope you enjoy this story. As you can probably tell, it's Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games in the POV of Rue. (:
Please, please, please leave an honest comment for every chapter. I love hearing from readers, even if it's just a smiley face to show that you're still reading the story! :D

Chapter 11

The Cornucopia

“Ladies and gentleman let the Seventy-fourth Hunger Games begin!” Claudius Templesmith’s voice bellows as a flood of bright sunlight enters my vision.

I blink rapidly to rid my eyesight of the bright spots that have appeared, swallowing down the bile I can feel rising to my throat.

I allow myself to take a few steadying breaths before my eyesight clears.

The Cornucopia is the first thing I see. The golden horn looks so much more real than on the fuzzy TV in the District courtyard. Behind it I can see a large, blue lake, the soft ripples reflecting the bright sun. To my left, the flat land I’m on slopes downhill into a bushy meadow with tall, cream-coloured grass. To my right and behind me is what gives me most promise. Sparse woods- pine trees, I can tell immediately.

My eyes quickly dart back to the Cornucopia. There are weapons as well as survival equipment and food brimming over the top of the Cornucopia and across the hard-packed dirt, the quantity getting less and less the nearer to me.

There’s a small plastic bottle directly in front of me, around ten strides away and little behind that, a two-edged dagger and large loaf of bread that could keep me alive for days.

I know that out of everything I need from the Cornucopia, food is the least important. Now that I’m certain that there is a forest in the Arena, food won’t be difficult to find. On the other hand, the dagger glistens in the bright sunlight, tempting me to retrieve it. Even now I can imagine the feel of the short, smooth black handle in my grip and the safety holding a weapon would make me feel.

It’s tempting. It feels like the blade is tantalizing me, drawing me in to at least attempt gaining it.

A weapon could come in handy. It’s unfeasible to even think that you could win the Games without a weapon to help you along the way.

Then I realise which two Tributes are on the podiums either side of me.

On my left, the girl from four smirks at me as I bite my lip caught in my moment of indecision. To my right, the large, ruthless Cato is stood at the very edge of his podium, in a fierce stance that can only mean that he is ready for the battle. Both of them look ready to leap off of their platforms in a moment’s notice, and the more kills they can gain on their journey to the Cornucopia, the better.

Ultimately the presences of these two bloodthirsty Careers make my decision easy. Diving into the Cornucopia is a definite death trap. Since my goal is to avoid knocking on death’s door, that plan doesn’t seem a particularly genius idea.

That’s why, when the gong’s echo bounds through my head, my feet take the lead, causing me to take a 180° turn and sprint as quickly as I can to the canopy of trees.

The only noise I can hear for the first few seconds of my sprint is the blood pounding through my head with every stride I take. Then half-way to safety, the noises begin to rip through the silent air.

An agonised scream pierces my ear, followed by the thud of bodies hitting the ground, gasps and grunts, the pounding of heavy footfall. I can hear the short squeals like that of an animal being slaughtered.

I don’t dare to peek behind myself, for I know that the sight won’t be pleasant. I see a flash of ginger in my peripheral vision before it disappears in a flash of leaves and further behind, a brave soul ploughs into the meadow, parting the long grass like a blade to the skin.

Most people will take to the trees, for sure. The woods provide everything you need; food, water, wood and cover. For one, I cannot think of anything else that you could need to survive.

As soon as I pass into the cover of the trees, a sweet scented breeze of pine drifts into my face. In that one second, I am home. I am surrounded by the trees, the friends that will always be there and the wildlife that accompanies them.

I don’t stop running for what I estimate to be around twenty minutes, before I come across a small stream. I’m lucky, extremely lucky. I’ve seen plenty of people die of thirst because they can’t find water, yet I have found a source in less than half an hour.

The stream is small, bubbling through a valley of pebbles in the direction of the Cornucopia, where I guess it probably veers off course into a river of some sort, or even to the lake I saw.

I peer around myself, listening carefully for any sign of someone following me, but hear nothing. Feeling safe enough, I bend down and dip three fingers in the stream before lightly licking the droplets from my finger. It’s fresh water- a good sign. I had feared that it would be salt water, therefore useless to cure thirst.

Satisfied with my finding, I push myself back upright, nibbling at the inside of my lip again. There are some mint leaves growing around the edge of the creek that I decide to pick a handful of and stuff in my mouth, chewing thoughtfully.

I don’t have anything that can clear the impurities that may be in the water, nor anywhere to store the liquid. I remember what my mother always taught me.

“Everything is pure at the source,” I whisper to myself.

The stream has to come from somewhere.

Swallowing the lump of mint leaves, I walk to the nearest tree and reach for the nearest branch. I pull myself up easily, and before I realise it, I’m leaping from tree-to-tree like I haven’t been away. Everything from the smell of the wood, to the feel of the bark against my skin, feels natural.

Someway along, a black and white belly catches my eye, causing me to teeter precariously on the edge of my branch. Sure enough, my eyesight was correct, and there it was- perched in the branch above mine.

My eyes widen. I never thought I’d see one again, yet here one was, right above me- a Mockingjay.

Quietly, so as not to alarm it, I perch on the branch to keep my balance and raise two fingers to my lips. A familiar soft four notes fill the forest and there is silence for three seconds, only my breathing to be heard.

Then suddenly, from above, the tune starts again- chirping at me from all directions as every Mockingjay tries to add their own twist to the tune, performing their own beautiful melody.

I wonder if all cameras are on me, watching the little display. It’s quite possible. If so, I should take the chance to show off.

I feign slipping backwards from the branch, until I’m hanging upside down by my legs. I grab the branch directly underneath myself, unhooking my legs at the same time and using the momentum to swing myself in the air to the next tree. For a second, I fear that I have underestimated the distance of the tree as the trunk quickly grows bigger. But I haven’t, as my flight slows and I reach the tree in exactly the right position, so that I land poised on both feet on a steady but thin branch.

You could say that I’m showing off. But there’s no other way for a scrawny twelve-year-old like myself to get sponsors.

Right now, I couldn’t care less what people what thought of me.

In the trees, I am home.

I remembered to update on Quibblo! YAY TO ME. Even if there was a long wait to it. XD XD
~ Katie

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